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

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Official election endorsement

After several candidates pulled out of the race, the front-runner of the Republican race became clear (not that we’d vote for any GOP candidate), and due consideration, there can no longer be any doubt about who is the best choice left on the slate. Barak Obama. And I hereby heartily and officially endorse Mr. Obama for next president of the United States of America.

Finally, for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to enthusiastically vote FOR a candidate, instead of for the lesser of two evils – with, of course, this caveat.

Now, let’s just hope that he doesn’t hire Bob Shrum for campaign manager, and he runs a campaign far more competent than Kerry’s. Shouldn’t be hard.

Go, Obama!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wild Week #2

Well, here’s another wild week in the past, though this one was less insane than last week. Things should slow down considerably over the course of the next week, and I’ll make more entries, perhaps even get back into a groove.

This one started with the insanity of last weekend close in the rearview mirror. We’re going through a computer transition, so that doesn’t help anything – except that everything is faster on the new one. Finally got the new one basically running, though setup remains incomplete (we can’t print, for example).

Work was fine. And so was performance.

That’s right, I was right in it again, out on stage, this time for Body Talk: Women talk about their lives, a new production produced by our university’s Women’s Center. Smaller cast, more informal. I can’t say more fun – both this one and the Vagina Monologues were fun – but different. I was gone pretty much all day Wednesday through Friday, coming home only to sleep and perhaps eat a bit and wash up. The rest of the time, I was at work, at rehearsal, or performing.

It was a fine time, and a successful show. We had a question and answer period after each show, and it was clear that the audience felt they got their money’s worth, that they felt empowered and informed. Their horizons had expanded.

It was wonderful, again, to be in women’s space, to be working with so many other wonderful, fascinating women – to share their lives. I’m so very glad I did it. But I’m glad it’s over, too. I’m ready to spend more time with my family, more time writing, more time exploring life at home.

And next year, I’ll be glad to do it all over again!

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!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Joy

Entering the door to the Tango Center tonight, a wave of music, cheering, and sheer joy washed over me. Electricity crackled in the air. Couples danced across the floor, dodging the children who ducked and dived under their feet. Among the tables along one side of the dance floor, several women in wheelchairs held court. At the back, plastic cups filled with champagne fizzed in partners’ hands. Old couples, young couples, music, dancing.

Joy.

There is no other single word I can conceive to describe so well the feeling of these many same-sex families, celebrating their new ‘domestic partnerships.’

It has been six days now since Oregon same-sex families have finally been granted a decent proportion of those marriage rights and responsibilities taken for granted by those of us privileged enough to be born into the majority orientation. Most of the people who filled the room had lined up on Monday to file; others had gotten ‘partnered’ later in the week. One lesbian couple, together for 28 years, was planning on getting partnered next Wednesday; “We didn’t want to rush into anything.”

(As if they could, when the right of marriage had already been withheld so long.)

I laughed, I hugged, I toasted old friends and met new ones. Some of these couples had been married before, only to see their union torn away when the state nullified the Multnomah County marriages. But no one can take this night away.

On the way out, I took a moment to look over the “Congratulations” board. “Tom and Mark – 22 years.” “Elaine and Joy – 28 years.” “Ken and Tom – together 16 years.” Again and again, commitment writ large – and long.

Get real, people. These folks are married, they have been married, they are more married than many heterosexual couples have ever been or will ever be. It’s time to honor them with the same recognition the rest of us have enjoyed for so long.

Thank the good people of Oregon, and our legislators, domestic partnerships are a real good step on the way. Hallelujah! What a celebration!

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. I wrote in the morning, had a great breakfast of homemade waffles and bacon, and played with the boys for awhile. Then I biked off to campus, where I had coffee with a friend and enjoyed a long afternoon practicing ‘body theatre’ and rehearsing for the Vagina Monologues. Kristin said she loved Sunday evenings, because I come home from practice relaxed and talkative.

Well, how could I not? Working with this cast of women inspires me and fulfills me in a way that was impossible before. I am finally living in women’s space! It’s fun, it’s exciting, and they get my pronouns right.

To top it all off, the Giants won the Super Bowl! It was a good game, a close one, and I had little hope my cousins’ hometown team would pull it off, but they did.

Missing that was the only disappointment of the day, but what does that matter? I was where I belong.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Imbolc!

Happy Imbolc!

‘Tis mid-winter day, and the weather is lousy – just what we want. The Old Crone stayed snug in her bed, and didn’t come out into the sunshine to collect more wood to make the winter longer. We celebrated the holiday with a hearty feast beef soup and fresh bread. We read a special Imbolc prayer, lit candles, and feasted with our friends Dana and Joellen.

This day marks the end of the darkest quarter of the seasonal year, and life is good.

Reflecting this morning, I realized how much peace I’ve come to know since breaking out of my male persona. It feels so good to not feel like I’m going insane! It’s a good time to consider it. I’ve been a year on hormones, six months presenting full time as a woman. It is at a turning point of sorts – a turning point in the season, a turning point in transition. I have dismantled much of my male persona, and I think my real self is shining through more and more.

Best of all, I like what I’m seeing.
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