Thursday, May 29, 2014


In 2007 Newsweek published it's weekly news magazine with a cover story, "The Mystery of Gender".  It contained a number of stories on various aspects of the transgender "phenomenon" (their word, not mine).

At the time I felt it was one of the single-most significant events in the trans "movement" (I hate to use that word, but I can't think of another one that's more descriptive of what we are).

I grew up in a time when I searched high and low for any reference to transsexuals.  That's the only word there was.  There was no such think as "transgender", or "cross-dresser".  There was transsexual and transvestite.   That's it.

My mom was (and is) a notorious hoarder.  I don't think I've ever seen her throw a magazine away.  She puts them in piles, and keeps them.  As a pre-teen who was recognizing a deep-seated sense of self that was NOT aligned with what I appeared to be I searched through years and years of Time magazines looking for any reference to trans anything.  I needed to learn.  I needed to know that there were more people like me.  There was nothing.

In the early days of my transition the IFGE used to publish a magazine titled "Tapestry".  It was the most significant resource that there was before the internet, and a very big deal.  They sold it at a magazine store in Pittsford, at the corner of Monroe and Clover (I think it's a wedding store now).  To find it was no easy feat, as it was tucked away in the adult magazine section along with Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and those kinds of magazines.

Fast forward to that issue of Newsweek in 2007.  It was a big deal.

The reason I mention any of this is that it has happened again.  The cover of this week's Time magazine is titled "The Transgender Tipping Point".

And yes - we are at a Tipping Point.  And yes, we are "America's next civil rights frontier".

No amount of money can buy this kind of cultural validation.  And the haters are blue with anger over it.  But that's no surprise....

There is no putting this genie back in the bottle.  It's not hard to find news about us these days.  This week, just go to any magazine rack in the country.

My Crack

I realize that the title is a bit titillating.  I enjoy having a little fun with words.  But the "crack" I'm referring to isn't the crack that probably first comes to mind.  :)

I have a "thing" for backpacks.  I wish there were a support group or something for people like that, and I'm sure there's an official word for this particular ailment.  The reason I mention it is that I am blessed to live within a few miles of an REI store, and recently went to take advantage of their annual sale.  Some people get all goopy when it comes to shoes, or purses, or clothes.  For me - it's backpacks.

I can't explain it.  I've already got several.  And of those several, many have never even been used.  My opportunities to go on a long enough hike or excursion that would require something as big as I've got only comes along once in a blue moon.  I miss my annual adventures with Molly - we used to go to places like Banff National Park in Canada, Glacier National Park, the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon...I have wonderful memories from those trips.  She was my adventurous muse.

The good news is that no two of my backpacks are alike.  All are different sizes, and manufacturers.  After trying several on this past week I ended up with an Osprey.  I am making a promise to myself to take at least a couple of long weekends this summer in the mountains between here and Asheville to go hiking and camping this summer.

The problem I'm finding is that time is flying faster and faster - so much to do and so little time.  The fact that I qualify for "Senior Citizen" discounts at places like IHOP and Jack in the Box, that consider anyone 55+ to be a "Senior", is still absolutely crazy to me. How can that be?  I still feel so young (well, at least most of the time I do).  Yeesh.  But at this stage of life I find my bucket-list is getting longer rather than shorter.

I have seen a disturbing trend on Facebook lately where "Friends" are dying.  I've learned that 3 have passed away in the last ten days.  The most unnerving of which is the sudden passing of Matt Kailey.  Matt and I shared the podium as speakers at events like Colorado Gold Rush in the past, and his positive attitude and willingness to give left a mark on anyone who knew him.  His website, his speaking, his blog, his writing, and his dedication to helping others navigate the treacherous waters of self-discovery feel very similar to my own background and mindset.  His passing is yet another reminder to truly appreciate and make the most of each and every day because you never know when you will run out of tomorrows.

Anyway - Matt left his mark on many of us.  He lives on in those whose lives he touched.  And, he will be missed.

Last year on Memorial Day Monday I flew from Charleston to Nebraska to begin my contract at an Air Force base near there.  It was the beginning of a new chapter of my life.  In retrospect, it was a unique set of circumstances that brought me there.  And, more importantly, I'm glad I went.  I met some wonderful people, experienced an area of the country I had never been to before, I really enjoyed my job there.  There were 2 problems that became more difficult to deal with.  One was winter.  The other was the strong pull and need to visit Charleston on a more regular basis.

As I've mentioned before, I've got pretty good balance going on right now.  I suspect that something will eventually change things.  But for now - I appreciate what I've got rather than dwell on what I don't have.  I'm thankful for every day, for my health, for a future that looks bright, for my friends, and for the opportunity to make a difference.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The New Normal

I'm experiencing what has become the new normal in my world.  I work during the week.  I drive home to Charleston on Friday and back on Sunday.  My job is frustrating, mundane, and at times I just want to chuck it but I'm paid too well to be that rash.  So - I'm at work by 7:30 and I leave by 5.  The dogs and I go for a nice walk along 4-mile creek most evenings.  My ongoing efforts to get to the gym are usually sidetracked by other things that pop into my schedule.

My heart is in a good place.  I'm healthy.  I'm generally happy.  All things considered, this would be a pretty good normal for some extended period of time.  I'm just enjoying it while it lasts, because it will change.

My screensaver at work is a picture of my dogs.  It was taken while getting gas during one of our cross-country drives.  It will be the photo that I always remember them by:

I've been thinking of the past lately.  Not in a bad way, and nothing specific.  Last night I was struck by memories of running along the Canal on evenings like that when I lived near Rochester.  Those are pleasant memories...

Speaking of Rochester, a couple of radio morning show morons there went on an ignorant rant about transpeople earlier this week.  The city just announced that they will include trans wellness benefits (including SRS) to employees as part of their benefits.  This was enough to set these two yahoos off (if you want to listen to it - it's at the bottom of this blog post).

There was a time when this kind of thing happened quite often, and it passed without repercussion.  We were easy targets - defenseless, really - for any buffoon who wanted to poke fun at someone.  The fact that allowing this kind of degrading, insensitive, hostile talk would be unthinkable in other contexts and is a form of bullying seemed to pass without a second thought to most.

Times have changed.  We have a voice now - not just ourselves but our allies and others who recognize us for who and what we are, not for the silly outdated stereotypes that these kinds of morons would reduce us to.  Whether they really believe what they say, or it's an on-air persona, is irrelevant.  Whether they believe it or not is irrelevant.  What IS relevant is using a broadcasting platform to spread that kind of hate without any kind of accountability.

The good news is that there was an immediate, loud, national outcry and these fools have been suspended.  Unfortunately, all too often it's just a way to placate the outcry and they're back doing the same stuff as soon as things die down.  That simply sends a message that you can get away with this stuff with a simple slap on the wrist.  I hope this outcome is different.

Anyway - bravo to the station for acting so quickly.  My question - now what?  Is this a teaching moment?  Is there something positive that can come from this?  I believe there is, and I hope they move in that direction.

As most here may know, I lived in the Rochester area for nearly 15 years.  It's the closest to a "home" I've had in my adult life.  Our first house is there.  My son was born and raised there.  I was included in a big story on transpeople that they published in the local paper.  I was a guest on the Brother Wease Morning Circus radio show back when he was the biggest morning personality in the area.  I've spoken there a handful of times since transition.  My brother and sister continue to live there.  My connection to the area is a lifelong one, and I'm glad to see that it steps up when needed.

We're not defenseless anymore.

For anyone who cares - I'm going to take the test to get my Motorcycle learner's permit today.  I have no idea whether or not I'll be comfortable on a bike that has no pedals.  But I'm gonna find out.  :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The View from the Bit*h Seat

It's Bike Week in Myrtle Beach.  This is an annual event when upwards of 300,000 bikers (we're talking the vroom-vroom-VROOM kind...not the pedaling kind) descend on Myrtle Beach SC for 10 days of partying, biking, vendors, and whatever else that many bikers do when they get together.

To be perfectly honest, I've never had a reason to care one way or the other.  I've never had a "bike", and my general tendency is to avoid crowds - not to seek them out.

Over this past weekend we rode up to Myrtle Beach for the beginning of it all.  It all hits high gear later this week, so the BIG crowds are only beginning to swell.  Based on some of the descriptions I got from others about some of the mayhem it sometimes brings I Google'd images of previous Bike Weeks (link here).  All I can say is that I didn't see anything nearly that interesting or colorful yesterday.  But as I say - it's just beginning.

Other than the sounds of motorcycles wherever you go everyone was well behaved and seemed to be having fun.  I can't speak to what it's going to be like over the weekend, or at night when things can get rowdy, but my experience was a positive one.  I had a blast.

For one thing, I enjoy going places where others are far more interesting than I am.  Bikers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and walks of life, all colors, genders,'s fascinating.  And there is really such a thing as a biker "lifestyle".  The vendors were full of biker gear (mostly leather, lots of skulls and chrome), bike accessories, fancy bikes, and anything biking.

Someone mentioned "RUBS" (Rich Urban Bikers).  I had never heard that term before.  I suppose they were part of this eclectic mix.  All I can say is that this beginner had fun.

One of the things I most liked was being reminded that getting somewhere is sometimes more about the journey more than it is about the destination.  Riding the bike puts you in the elements with very little between you and the road.  All the fragrances, all the weather, the wind and the sun - it's all there and they're things you typically don't "feel" in a car.

I love this time of year.  During the week I'm still doing the work I was brought here to do.  On weekends I go home to Charleston.  It's a bit more hectic than I like but it's ok for now.  Things have been so busy that I would have loved to have spent some time downtown - it's magical during the springtime - but given the classes that have consumed my weekends since late March I've had to get comfortable that I can't fit it all in.

I've talked before about how Transitions take time.  More to the point - successful transitions take time.  Well- it's my experience that they also take money.  When I transitioned years ago one of my biggest fears was getting stuck in the middle with no income and no way to move forward or back.  Thank God that didn't happen.

As I slowly get my fledgling new career off the ground I'm acutely aware that the sucking sound I'm hearing is the vacuum on my pocketbook.  $400 for National Assoc of Realtors.  $125 for SmartCard access.  Business Cards, website, etc. etc. etc.  It all costs.  Sigh.  The only things I take solace from are the fact that (a) I've got a little money to do these things and (b) this is necessary.  I'd rather by arranging a trip to Europe or spending it on something more exciting but I'm well aware of the costs involved in starting a new business.

One thing I'm arranging is getting a new professional Head and Shoulder shot.  The last one I had was 10 years ago - it's the shot on my website.  It's probably time to do that anyway.