Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wild Week (thank god it's over)

No, I didn’t really disappear into a black hole. I’ve just had a wild and crazy week. My apologies to taking so long to post, and I (almost, fingers crossed) promise to post sooner next time.

It started last Monday when I helped a woman and her six-year-old daughter at the intake counter. I did my part and didn’t think anything of it. On Tuesday I held a panel presentation for my workgroup division, where a transman friend and I sat in front of a group of about 35 people and talked about what it means to be a transsexual. It was pretty easy, preaching-to-the-choir type stuff, but still took a bunch of time to prepare. It was also fun and rewarding. It’s always fun to be told you’re the most courageous person in the room, even if it’s not really true and all you’re doing is trying to survive.

Afterwards, a friend told me that a guy had called in wanting to talk to a manager to complain, because I had been helping his wife at the counter. Who’d’a thunk you could offend someone so badly, just by existing? It’s the transwoman’s lot, I suppose. Nothing new. But god, it gets tiring.

Wednesday I had dress rehearsal, followed Thursday and Friday with performances of the Vagina Monologues sponsored by our local university’s women’s center. That was fun! It was an amazing and special time, to be welcomed into the depths of women’s space. My part was in a dialogue among tranwomen, and I think I did a pretty good job of it, thanks to K’s help. She tutored me in connecting with the lines, and with the movements and gestures I could make.

I loved it. I made new friends and enjoyed just about as pleasant an experience as I could imagine. It was kind of like Jan Morris describes in her autobiography. For so long I’ve been invited with full privileges into the locker rooms of the opposite sex, where I observed from a point of invisibility, and now, for the first real time, I was welcomed into my own locker room, and shown that I belong. My god! Do you know how good it is to belong? I do. And I got flowers, too! (Thanks, Dana!)

And so I’m sitting there on Friday, doing my job, and I start to hear bits of conversation that pique my interest. My desk is right down the corridor from one of the intake stations, and the guy’s voice carried right to me. Pretty soon it was clear he was talking about me, and how upset he’d been when he’d heard that his daughter had seen someone like me. It got kinda hard to concentrate on my work. I listened for awhile, to the intake staff talk back and forth with him. I couldn’t tell what they were saying to him, but it didn’t distract him from the subject. I finally reached the end of my rope and went to the ladies’ room to get away from it and cool out and think a bit, and all I could come up with is that it just didn’t feel right to ignore it. So on the way back to my desk, I stopped by for a chat with him. Then I took a break and cried on a friend’s shoulder. (Together 18 years, she’d just gotten ‘domesticated’ on Wednesday under Oregon’s new Domestic Partnership law. She understands discrimination, prejudice, and the slings and arrows of ignorance.)

In the afternoon, my boss took me aside and chewed me out for ‘inappropriate contact with a client,’ and by golly, I actually had a real hard time finding an argument that she wasn’t right. So I ended up crying in front of her, too. Special. I didn’t feel so bad, though, realizing that the box of tissues she keeps on her desk was there for just that purpose. I ain’t the only one who’s spilled tears in front of her.

So there you have it. Looong story. Then, this weekend, it got sunny, and I spent a lot of time outside. Yum! And Sam had a birthday, with two lemon meringue pies. Real yum! And a friend brought over her daughter for a playdate with the kids, and a six-pack of beer for me. Ahhh! I needed that. It is so good to have friends, and family.

To cap it all off? I got the news today that my nephew is going to move here, and attend the local university next year! Now that REALLY made my day!

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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz