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I'd excused myself after the meal for a moment, telling her I'd be back after dealing with my biological imperative. Stepping around the corner, I was rebuffed as one of the staff held the door to the women's room open for her colleague as he tried to clean. "It's pretty bad in there," she explained as she asked me to wait.

After a few moments where I was awkwardly pressed against the wall to stay out of the way of the staff passing in the narrow hallway, they conspired amongst themselves to confirm the men's room was empty. "I'll guard the door for you," she told me. Two others repeated the offer.

I might have been tempted to decline were my need not so urgent. I knew what to expect. Indeed, I left the busser outside the door to step inside, and found that it hadn't changed since I last saw it in 2013. Slipping into the stall as I always had before, I took care of my need, washed my hands, and walked back out, thanking him as I passed.

Perhaps it's an overcompensation: even when faced with a single-occupant restroom, a colloquial "one-holer", I reliably bypass the ones marked men unless there's obvious signage explaining why there's no other option. After being forced in the moment to contemplate my reasons, I wondered if perhaps I could afford to be pragmatic even as I contemplated my peers for whom it wasn't and might never be true.

As countless friends had pointed out, I'd gone from being scared of who I might be perceived as to being unapologetically myself. It's a gift I hope others can find in themselves, and if I can figure out how to help them find it, I owe it to them to do that.

Jul. 7th, 2016

I'd placed the video call while sitting in the car atop a remote hill. The state park campground hosted my tent as well as a dozen friends, and tho I'd be staying only one night, I was anxious for the respite.

As we chatted, zie told me my stream had become choppy. "I'll drive out to the road for better signal," I told hir. Slipping out one earbud and tossing the screen aside, I started the car and headed toward the entrance.

Partway out, a car appeared ahead of me as I exited a hairpin turn. It moved aside, then pulled in tight behind me. I knew what was coming.

Sure enough, when shortly after exiting the campground I turned off, the car pulled in behind me and turned on its flashing lights. I rolled down the window, shut off the car, and made a show of tossing the car keys on the roof above me.

Zie chatted with me between moments with the officer. He verified my information and that I was allowed to be at the campground, and let me go on my way. When zie commented that it had gone smoothly, I could only reply that of course it had. "I'm white."

I can't indict every official involved in law enforcement, but more critically I can't excuse a system which ignores, or worse excuses, the culpability of individuals who show themselves to be undeserving stewards of the trust we have placed on them to pursue the peace in the guise of the whole public.

Being unable, or more likely unwilling, to protect all of us means you cannot be trusted to protect any of us. And that these failings are allowed to continue without any effort to understand how to ameliorate the issue let alone hold accountable those who have abdicated their duty to us means the entire system must be treated as unworkable. Its failure is our failure, and the lack of change is our shame.

Jul. 2nd, 2016

What if everyone is wrong about me?

Periodically, I ask myself this very question. It comes to mind the most after offers of praise, whether it be for reasons emotional, empathetic, or physical.

I'm actually more scared they're right. At least if they're wrong, every little bit of pain and anguish makes sense.

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Jul. 1st, 2016

I sat facing the wall, a window to my left. The desk in front of me held a laptop, which I occasionally gazed on at. Through the closed door, my colleague was asleep. 48 hours earlier, I was surrounded by folks whose experiences I knew intimately well. The dramatic change in circumstance, almost completely to my detriment, did not suit me at all.

Rationally, I knew it would be fine, but the flame, the passion for life that burned inside me felt like it was dimming. The silent hotel room offered no comfort. I had no inkling where to turn, what to do at 1am.

Even in the midst of executing a plan for life which I felt assured would set me on a level course toward the support I needed, here was my reminder that I didn't have all the answers, that I was still fragile. I suspected rest might bring me stability, so I took the only action that seemed likely to fix it: I did my best to set my vulnerability aside and sleep, despite the lack of anyone to hold me or even whisper that it'd all be fine.

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As I skimmed along the freeway though the rift valley of the well-known fault line alongside, the first evidence of morning sun shone over the hill to my right. How fitting, I thought, and shortly diverted to the bayshore to watch the sun rise as I concluded my morning journey to the airport.

Monday seemed simultaneously an instant and an age ago. My solstice began with sunrise near one ocean, and peaked watching it set over another. If it were to be the longest day of the year, it was an excellent day to have lengthened with a transcontinental flight: the evening included an utterly delightful date, my first steps in the other ocean 61 hours after the first, and a chance encounter with Morris dancers as we watched the sun drop over the sea. Those experiences were but an ellipsis on a night whose terminal punctuation was an equally magical moment.

Thus begun, the week included days accomplishing the tasks I had been dispatched for, and evenings catching up with old friends and making new ones, til Friday. The confluence of circumstance allowed me the indulgence of the Trans March -- culmination of Pride festivities -- as the lead-in to a weekend that would be just as magical as the way the week had started.

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We paused for a moment as our bus dropped the poles that had given us power as we moved quietly underground, and the diesel engine started. The operator opened the doors while doing so, and I was momentarily whisked from my train of thought. The cool breeze! The scenery! The lovely scent of the trees outside! I sighed softly, sad to be leaving. I looked at the water to my left, knowing we'd shortly turn into the tunnel that would connect under the harbor through to the airport, and my impending flight to the other coast.

Ocean to ocean, it would be. I recalled again the conversation from the previous day. As I sat in a coffeeshop, I closed my laptop on my work for a bit and made a call. With his greeting, it was evident he knew who was calling. I wished him a happy Father's Day, and we proceeded to gab for a bit. Knowing I'd be at the other ocean soon, I said as much. He then recounted a story I'd forgotten.

New Jersey, he said. He'd been cast into the ocean and told that it was time to swim.

I remembered my own childhood: too many years of swimming lessons in the local high school's pool. I passed, after a while, but a placid pool is hardly a match for anything you'd find in the world. Regardless, I hadn't drowned in the intervening years. That was something, at least.

We learn the lessons of the generation before us, what we feel they might have done better, and hopefully carry it forward. At least, that's our hope. It seems rather unlikely I've have an opportunity to do better at passing on water skills, or anything else. But I'm still going to observe, remember, and learn.

Jun. 18th, 2016

It was just over 90 minutes since I'd clambered aboard the borrowed bicycle for a morning ride. I knew the end of the trail was unpaved, but it wasn't clear where the trail ended. When the ever-narrowing dirt rut I was following ended, I looked at a map, and realized how far I'd gone. Might as well spend a couple more minutes, I told myself: I was so close, even though it would change my return travel plans.

As I called her, the brief stop was still on my mind. After negotiating a large, multi-lane traffic circle, I locked the bicycle to a sign, snapped a picture, and walked east a very short distance, until the land ran out.

I'd thought, as I looked at the picture of the water beneath my feet, that maybe I should have called from the beach. That moment had been my first steps in the ocean. I wondered when hers had been. Now we were chatting, and I mentioned where I'd been. She volunteered an answer before I could ask the question.

"I won't make it back for dinner for your birthday," I told her. "I'm still in Massachusetts." All week I'd been musing to myself and others that I wish I lived here already, but as we talked, I realized the impending move wouldn't be without a different set of burdens.
As I strode into the terminal, I yawned. It wasn't yet 5 am, but I'd be departing soon from the airport that saw the most takeoffs and landings of any in the world. I wouldn't likely be done with the combination of air and ground travel for another 5 hours.

As I stepped onto the escalator, a voice screeched loudly in distress. Instantly, I was awake and alert. The escalator carried me on, but I listened intently. Nothing of note followed.

I might not have given it a second thought last week. Now, though, I was worried. I feared what I might find waiting for me as I was carried into the ticketing hall below. In the end, it was just a child. Who could blame them for being cranky: it was an inhumane hour to be awake.

I am unashamed, indeed proud, of who I am. My blue hair is a beacon, calling out to the world that I will not be cowed. The reminders keep coming, though: I am still hated -- we are still hated -- by people who know nothing of us. We are in the cross-hairs of groups which believe us to be unworthy of our lives.

I don't believe in respectability politics. Everyone is different, and I will not devalue the way anyone else manages to be themselves. If you want to hate me for who I am, though, know that you hate a loving, caring, nurturing person. You hate someone who strives to lift those surrounding them. My life is not a wild orgy; it's holding people close and trying to feel safe, secure, and fulfilled.

If you want to hate me for who I love, know that you hate me for loving people who have worked hard to understand who they are, and live that life as themselves as best they can, against incredibly steep odds and many hardships.

If these are values you hate, we have nothing in common, not even our humanity.

At the same time, I see many offering hatred based on the religion of others. It is saddening to see what justifications for hatred are cherry-picked in moments of convenience to hold up one's own prejudices. I won't condone that, either. Just the opposite.

You shouldn't have to understand someone to respect them, to celebrate that they are living their life as the best person they are able and understand themselves to be. Not even if they're not doing it the way you would.

Actually, especially not then.

Jun. 7th, 2016

A couple hundred meters from the turnpike, I rested. After ordering a small lunch, I committed the very political act my #IllGoWithYou button prominently advertised, and settled in to catch up on work as I ate.

The morning began with an early alarm. I threw on the dress I'd been wearing the night before and grabbed my camera. Twilight was rising fast, After several flights of stairs, I emerged to be greeted by the vast urban amphitheater encircling me below.

There were a few photos off the northern edge of the building, capturing the hill I'd climbed the previous day as well as the hospital I'd come home from just over 43 years prior. Then, though, I moved to the eastern edge and waited.

5:49 came and went. Shortly, though, the sun peaked slowly over the ridge that made the lip of the bowl around me. Just as the sun appeared to, I knew it was a climb I had made.

The shutter clicked several times, as the bright ball hazed pink on the horizon moved visibly upward. Then, it was done.

I put the camera away, returning to my laptop for some work before a brief nap, some cuddles, and then my escape. The emotional burden was as yet there for me to face, but this wouldn't be the day -- even over a few hundred kilometers alone. Perhaps, indeed, especially not then.
"Slow down," she told me. "You sound really excited!" As we chatted, I barely noticed the sting in my ear. Instead, I concentrated on the calendar in front of me. "January 17th," I repeated back as I blocked it out. Another click: All day. A blue block appeared on the grid to remind me.

Hours earlier, I'd spent a few minutes having some marks made, and then a needle driven, through my ear. Once, then again. He advised me to take deep breaths as he penetrated it. I deadpanned, "I'm wearing a corset. There is no such thing as a deep breath," which caused him to pause and chuckle. As he slid the tiny bars through the newly-formed holes, I acknowledged what I knew: "This body is finally mine to inhabit."

The corset arrived in Pittsburgh while I was away. I'd worn it nearly daily since that time -- even to bicycle -- thus pinching my waist to an even fiercer hourglass than the one exercise and hormones had graced me with. Seeing the person in the mirror slowly take a form I could acknowledge as myself was uplifting, even in the moments where life was otherwise crushing. I pushed hard, doing all I could to make the vessel ensconcing my consciousness into a home. I needed a place to be mine, and the only space totally within my control was the one ending at the exposed surface of my flesh.

The course I was plotting for myself, combined with my marginally-improved fortunes, gave me a little leeway. There would still be much to accomplish before the coverage which would pay my way was ready, but I knew I'd get there. If today my body was mine, it was time to do what I wanted with it. As I worked, the phone rang. After the customary greeting, I offered a succinct summary of the question I'd emailed. Her answer cleared the path ahead, and I assented. She replied, "We do the vaginoplasties on Tuesday. How about the 17th?"