Monthly Archives: August 2012

Why Mitt Romney Bothers Me…A Transgendered Perspective

There are a lot of reasons why I find Mitt Romney’s participation in the 2012 Presidential Election thoroughly disturbing; mostly because in this day and age I find it revolting to see fear-mongers such as himself rise to such powerful positions, and teeter on the edge of turning our beautiful country into a white-washed wasteland, reflective of his own distorted societal views.

This is a man who makes big promises and pretends to be what you want him to be (fine, like every politician you’re saying and, to a certain extent, you’re right), BUT this is also a man who bullied his classmates on the suspicion that they were gay and forcibly attacked a suspected gay classmate with a pair of scissors, shearing off his hair because he found its length inappropriate. What his supporters, especially the ones sympathetic to LGBT causes for whatever reason, fail to see is that he wants to project that same juvenile attitude onto all LGBT families on a much wider scale. He wants to cut us out of his vision. A vision that sounds fine enough if you’re a straight, non-minority with a lot of money and an undeserved superiority complex. That I’m not so offended by, because quite frankly, I wouldn’t be a part of this man’s anything if he paid me by the million. The part that offends me is that he’s taking that skewed thinking even further and wants to cut us off from our fundamental human rights. This is a man who actively supports measures that would strip LGBT folk of marriage equality, and anti-discrimination policies in the workplace. This is a man who was too afraid to attach his name to an anti-bullying pamphlet because it contained the words ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgender.’This is a man who “threatened to shut down the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth and vetoed a $158,000 budget item meant to counsel violence victims in the LGBT community.” This is a man who believes there is a “gay agenda.” What exactly is it, pray tell Mr. Romney? Requesting help to recover from the life-long trauma that bullies like you have caused us throughout our crucial formative years? Trying to heal the suicidal near-misses because a lot of us have been so put off by the kind of hate you and your kind engender that we would rather end our lives than continue dealing with you? No sir…if anyone has an agenda, it’s you and your camp. The “gay agenda” if you can call it that, is a cry for equal human rights and the same life, liberty and pursuit of happiness you have. It’s not a “gay agenda,” it’s a “human agenda.” Because like it or not, Mr. Romney, we are human beings…just like you, some of us just happen to be gay or transgen- oops, I forgot…that word’s scary for you.

That being said…I must admit, I’ve never been the most politically active person in the world. I always tried to stay away from ‘stuff like that,’ deeming it too frustrating and too complicated to deal with. Additionally, having to deal with the intricacies of my own transition all these years left me little time to involve myself. Until I realized that all of that thinking is horse-puckey. ‘Stuff like that’ is what effects every American person’s life and we should all take an active stake in seeing that things continue to evolve by not allowing them to decay. I don’t typically vote (mostly becuase my mother always told me once I registered they’d be able to make me do jury duty…don’t believe it, they got me long before I ever registered anyway), and I know a lot of LGBT people who are either politically apathetic or Log Cabin Republicans, but please…for all our sakes, stop Romney! Stop him because he doesn’t want you to be a part of anything he does. Stop him because he wouldn’t have supported you in high school and he won’t support you now! Stop him because he doesn’t see you and he never will. If you can’t recognize another person’s human rights, you essentially fail to recognize them as human. I can’t wait until November to show Mr. Mitt Romney how very human I am by voting for Obama and making my voice count, just like you hopefuly will, even if you don’t usually…so that you can show him how human you are too.

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Magic

I’ve always believed in magic. The kind of magic that allowed a little Spanish woman from Honduras, my grandmother, to divorce her ogre of a husband and single-handedly raise two daughters on a seamstress’ income in the United States of the 1970’s, despite only knowing limited conversational English.

I believe in the magic of making something from nothing, just as my grandmother did when she stretched each dollar to ensure that her two princesses were always well-educated, impeccably groomed and treated to those mainstays of American culture…ice cream, movie outings and hamburgers, every once in awhile.

I believe in the magic of supplication. Of asking for help and summoning assistance…be it from God…or one’s family…or one’s own inner reservoirs of untapped fortitude in order to endure the otherwise unendurable. I believe in the magic of family that supports one another in those times of great need, like my grand-uncle helped his sister those many years ago.

I believe in the magic of time travel, for when my grandmother tells me of those days, the past comes alive and through the windows of her eyes I can see every tear, every fear…every unyielding hope that brought her from there to here. I make that journey with her and know that magic exists.

I believe in the magic of filling a grandchild’s Paterson-poor holidays with a treasure trove of toys bought through scrimping, saving and layaway plans. In the magic of multicolored lights, popcorn tins, a glazed ham in the oven and the symphonic strains of friends and family swirling throughout the living room of a tiny third story apartment, stretching it beyond its limits and, for that day, transforming it into the grandest of palaces.

I believe in the magic of inheritance. For that same woman’s magical strength of will has been passed down from mother to daughter to me. I believe in the magic of the undying dream, which resulted in a much sought-after home for my mother and a much sought-after son for my aunt. I believe in the magic of the seemingly impossible and the magic of transmutation, for I became what I ought to have been through the same magic that’s swelled through the veins of three generations of my family’s women.

I believe in the magic of recording this for posterity’s sake, so that this magic never disappears from the world. I believe in the magic of sharing and the way that sharing can make ideas flourish and spread like ivy…so I share this fable, born of magic but grounded in truth with any and all who will listen. I share this magic with you.

Transitioning With Dignity

Alright. First off, I hate judging ANYONE, really I do. But I’m a human being, so I do it anyway. That being said, I’m really irritated about certain high-profile people in the TG community who shall remain nameless but who’ve been in the spotlight recently. I don’t want to come across as closed-minded, because I don’t feel that I am…but I am offended. Offended by some girls who think that what they’re doing, either in the adult film industry or as “burlesque” performers (i.e., strippers), is helping the community out. Despite your delusions, girls, having men view you as a sex object for your plastic parts is not doing me any favors, I’ll tell you that right now. Some of these girls even go so far as to insinuate that they’re helping to garner respect for all trans people everywhere through these public appearances. May I ask how? How can you garner respect when you’re devoid of respect for yourself…and when this utter lack of respect becomes painfully apparent through the choices you make in your everyday life, from what venues you decide to attend to what clothes you wear? Still, a lot of these girls are too caught up in the whirl of admiration they get for their “work,” that they really do think they’re, dare I say, positive role models. Many of them do have their own positive attributes, beauty or some less savory skill…but a pretty face alone does not a role model make.

A quote from Candy Darling comes to mind, said to a co-star during one of her first Warhol collaborations, “Why don’t you try developing your brain instead of your bust?” Intellect is the sexiest thing around. And intellect dictates, by virtue of common sense, that if you want to be viewed as a role model, you set a good example…primarily through your interactions with whatever target group you’re hoping to influence…not with rooms full of sex-starved fetishists looking for a good time and a glimpse of your under-bits. It’s not only in poor taste, it’s offensive to me. Personally offensive. I try to keep an open mind about certain people’s circumstances, but, I really feel there’s little justification for engaging in such a lifestyle in today’s day and age. My family wasn’t wealthy by any means, and as far as trans-girls go, I’m pretty damned cute…still I was never tempted to make “easy money” by exploiting that and debasing myself. How can you presume to call such money easily gained when it comes at the price of your very dignity?

Dignity. That’s what it SHOULD be about. Our journey to ourselves is a beautiful thing. We follow our paths, compelled by one of the strongest forms of loyalty a human being is capable of possessing…that undying, unflinching pledge to our very own souls that we will be what we were meant to be. Why cheapen such a beautiful experience? To “get there first” by coming up with money for surgeries? That’s all well and good…but then where are you? Where is it that you ‘got to?’ And what did you truly become? It is true that in many cases, desperation drives us, but ignorance should not. We should always be mindful of what we’re willing to sacrifice and what we’re hoping to gain, ensuring ourselves that one does not outweigh the other and that we can live with such choices after the fact.

Part of what I hope to do, both by studying at school and by going to different government agencies to discuss my past, is to put a very real, very human face on what science has labelled an aberration, under the heading of “transgendered.” I’m someone who’s done a lot of growing up, just like you…or you…or you. And it’s been hard, but I struggled through and did it right. Now, I want to give back to the youngsters by helping those who help them understand better what struggles they go through…and who knows, maybe I’ll eventually go back for my MSW and help these kids directly as a social worker. Either way, I help. Even now and as someone who helps, goddammit, I have a right to be upset…our kids deserve better and so do you girls, yourselves! Respect yourselves…it’s daunting to trudge this path with honor and self-respect, but it certainly is not impossible…and don’t let anyone lead you to believe otherwise.

The Rise Of Magick – A Snippet

Hey guys, so this is that snippet I promised you a few weeks ago of the fantasy story I’ve been working on…It’s centered around a Mystic named Martine who just so happens to be a Eunuch, as well. In this scene, Martine is roused from sleep by a vision of impending doom. I’ve never written anything like this before…so, hopefully it isn’t completely atrocious…but if it is…lie to me, anyway and tell me how amazing it is…no, j/k…give it to me straight!

Black clouds of sulfur darkened the horizon. I could smell the stench of destruction. Bright flames swirled amidst the grey shambles of Arcadia’s Royal Palace. I find myself running. I can hear my own footfalls slapping the dry, ashen ground as the frigid pearls of sweat rain down my body. Behind me, there are men giving chase. Men in elaborate suits of armor, glinting gold and crimson under the torched city’s light. I know this, though I only see them in my mind’s-eye. I know what I’m running from. What am I running to?
Just then I spot Calliope, my childhood friend and the resident court jester. Her bright garments, now blackened by coal. She is in disarray.
“Calliope! What’s going on? We have to get out of here!” I shout.
“Martine. Look up and you can see.”
“What? See what?” I ask as I tilt my head toward the sky.
The black clouds break at that very moment, giving way to a ray of sun and a torrential downpour.
“The flames…of magic.”
“Magic? Are you saying one of the mages did this, surely they weren’t powerful enough to?”
Calliope stood silent.
“Was it those men…they caused this?”
Still no response.
“Did I? I couldn’t have,” I murmur incredulously.
“Whenever there’s a sun shower, it means a fox has married.”
“Calliope, what are you saying? Why can’t you answer me?!”
Then the light seized me and it was over.

This was the third time I’d had this dream, and each time it made even less sense. I’d told Calliope, who’d of course thought it was the result of over-work and recommended I take a vacation. Recreation was her panacea and in her eyes, there was nothing it couldn’t fix. Morgana, my other friend and Court Herbalist brewed a tea for my nerves and gave me some bitter herbs to chew daily. They hadn’t been working.
I couldn’t help but re-visit my dreams, not only because I was the Chief Court Mage and took dreams very seriously as a matter of habit, but because this dream did what no other had…it chilled me to the bone. I felt this was a vision, a premonition. I’d had them before, owing to my nature as a Eunuch. We were a culture of mystics, prone to seeing beyond the veil of ordinary existence. I was no different, however, I kept telling myself that this dream wasn’t, couldn’t be. Though I suspected in my heart that it was.
What caused the fire? I had the ability, which had taken years of dedicated training to perfect, to supplicate the elements, bend them to my will, speak to the spirits, the raw essences of the very fibers that comprised our world. I could beseech the Spirit of Earth for a good harvest, or the Spirit of Rain to send a downpour, and indeed, would whenever our crops grew dry. In this way, my presence at the Royal Court of the Arcadian Empire became a necessity to our people. As a rule and a show of respect, I usually stood aside and let nature take its course, but whenever the energy became unbalanced as it was prone to do, I’d intercede and marvelous things would happen. There was pride in what I did, but also a deep reverence for the true power behind the mystic…the Spirits themselves.
Those men in my dream. They were…invaders. Nothing of them looked familiar, it was all foreign and menacing. If that type of fire broke out, well, I suppose they could have set fire to the kingdom, but our magical barriers and protective measures would surely have proven mightier than any invader. Then again, how could I know what they were capable of? Perhaps there did exist, beyond the wall we lived behind, a kingdom of stronger means than ours. But that was why the wall existed in the first place, to keep us hidden from the outside world…that world where magic could not thrive, where fantasy went to die. Long ago, we’d all been part of that Golden Age, but our cousins…they let their baser feelings take hold of them…that’s what was passed down throughout the generations, anyway.
If what transpired in my dream were any indication of times to come, then it would seem that the tales were all true. But that fire…what I asked Calliope still weighed in my mind. Why did I feel that I was responsible for it? For the very fall of my home? Did something go wrong? Did my powers betray me? Did the Spirits fail me for once? This type of senseless anxiety was getting me nowhere. I suppose the only thing I could do, was wait for the next night.

TMJD In Transgender Women

So…recently I was diagnosed with TMJD or temporomandibular joint disorder (erroneously, yet widely, known as TMJ) which is basically a mandibular joint issue akin to arthritis, where there is a misalignment of the muscles. Boxers get it after too many knockouts to the jaw and so do anxiety-ridden tooth-grinders. Guess which one I was. Imagine being in excruciating ear pain for a week or so, not being able to talk really due to the pain but still being asked questions every five minutes, having to sustain yourself on a mostly liquid diet because eating solids feels like you’re swallowing daggers and knowing that there’s no cure but “waiting it out” until the next flare-up. As you might expect, it’s rather awful.

Currently, I’m doing well, but every now and then I’ll have a flare-up, usually when I’m stressed. I’ve read that TMJD is more common amongst menopausal women on hormone-replacement therapy, and by extension I’m assuming, transgendered women who are not only hormone-laden, but also perpetually stressed out…so in my case, it makes a lot of sense that I developed this. However, I’m also keenly aware that the initial trigger for my jaw issues started one Thanksgiving weekend long ago, when in my engorged holiday mind-set, I decided to raid the fridge for leftovers and sunk my teeth into some stale chunks of french bread, unhinging my jaw like a cobra and hearing a tell-tale ‘pop,’ which I assumed was perfectly normal. Only, after that, every time I would try to stretch my mouth open, the left side of my jaw would click. I thought it was nothing but then this happened years later. At first, I thought it was an ear or sinus infection because I was prone to those and because it felt like one, but upon consulting an Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist, I was told that wasn’t the case.

So, what is all this preamble leading to? I want you girls out there to keep healthy, of course! ^_^ So, if you’re dealing with this terrible ailment too, here’s a list of tips to keep those flare-ups few and far between!

1) DON’T STRESS THE SMALL STUFF…WHICH, BASICALLY, IT ALL IS! Seriously, I know I’m stealing this phrase from somewhere, but that’s because it’s good and also, very true. Go meditate yourself! Nothing’s worth ruining your health over, so as difficult as it is, try to just let whatever stressful thoughts you have drift on by. Don’t force yourself not to acknowledge them, because forcing anything is a stressful process in and of itself. Just let them pass through you. Unless, of course it’s a thought like, “Oh I have to pick my son up from daycare,” or “I have a deadline…if I don’t do it, I’ll get fired,” those you should probably deal with. But everything else? Nah…

2) USE A MOUTH-GUARD AT NIGHT! They’re like 15 bucks at Target, so price shouldn’t be an issue. Honestly, I started doing this whenever I have a flare-up and the next day I feel waaaaay better. You may look funny, but at least it’s in the bedroom where crowds won’t see you.

3) AVOID COOL AIR DURING A FLARE-UP!! Air-conditioned rooms, blasts of fan-swirled air on the face…they’re all bad during a flare-up because they make the muscles contract in a way that makes your jaw ache so much worse.

4) HEAT, THEN COLD, THEN HEAT!! Hot compress to the jaw (not too hot, but here’s a tip…heat up some salt in a frying pan then bundle it in a towel, it stays hot longer), then a cold compress, then another hot compress all while slowly opening the mouth to condition the muscles to be okay with that sort of thing.

5) NO CLENCHING, NO GRINDING!! Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth, leaving a space between the top and bottom rows of teeth…like singers do!

6) JAW MASSAGE!! A quick fix, but when that flare-up hits, you need all the help you can muster. A quick massage in circular motions of the jaw and ear area is a big help, calming spasms and generating heat to relax away tension.

And lastly…

7) PUT DOWN THAT STEAK!! Or corn, or apple, or carrot, or practically any other hard food that forces you to open your jaw wide in order to eat it…at least until after your flare-up’s over.

There you have it, my dears…TMJD is a rotten break, but like everything else in life, not insurmountable! ^_^

It isn’t often I do this…

Use the blog to air personal concerns, that is. But this is something that’s been bugging me for a while, now. It’s sort of an accumulated frustration which needs to be excised, so let’s do this sh*t.

I’m finding that I really love the time I live in for all the numerous technological advances and whatnot, but at the same time I quite hate it, as well. We’re constantly being driven to interact mindlessly with other people who we may not even like or know, just because we’re expected to. The whole thing is so fake it leaves the taste of spray tan in my mouth. All of our little networks keep us tethered to elements of our past that a lot of us would be better off without. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in karma and all that jazz and that everything’s a lesson and people are here to help you along on those lessons, for better or worse, but STILL. Lessons in school are learned, processed and then overwritten by the next wave of lessons. That’s just life. Why do we, as a society, feel so compelled to hold on…even to the insignificant? Does the hypocrisy of social networking really undo all the wrong that high school bully did you? And why have they been so conditioned to think that it has? And why have we been conditioned to just gloss over it? Um, no. If I were to do that, you’d just find justification in your own stupidity and encourage whatever misbegotten spawn you eventually hatch to follow in your same, misguided footsteps. People need to know there’re consequences for being douchebags, for hurting people, for bashing them, for irritating them. You know what else is irritating? Zits. And what do you do when you get one of those? You don’t accept them.

You pop them, of course. ^_^

So seriously guys, don’t let yourselves fall into the trap of “one, big, hypocritical FB (or whatever social network you use) family.” Don’t hold on to people who could care less whether you live or die. The people who do…hold on to them like gold!! Because they are.

I’M THE LADY-IN-WAITING…AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE!

Angel…a little boy’s inspiration

Just a little blurb I wrote about Shelley Hack on Tumblr, submitted for your perusal my dear WordPress chums ^_^

So…in case anyone was wondering…why all the sudden Charlie’s Angels-related posts? It’s not just because I’m super-psyched about the September boxed set release of the entire series, though believe you me, I AM!! There’s something more. Allow me to explain.

When I was 17 and I began questioning my gender identity and exploring my own inherent femaleness more deeply than I’d ever been allowed to before, I took some time off to just meet myself for the first time. While living this life of leisure, my daily ritual included some Wai Lana Yoga at the crack of dawn. One day, after finishing my yoga session, I flipped through the channels and saw that a Charlie’s Angels re-run was playing on…TNT I think it was, or maybe TV Land. Either way, I’d always been intrigued by the show, having heard from my mother, aunt and grandma how much they enjoyed it during its original run in the seventies. My very first episode was a season 4 Shelley Hack episode, I can’t remember which but I know she wore a stunning wine red jumpsuit which made her jump out at me. It was my first taste of seventies fashion which would eventually come to influence a lot of my own looks.

I just thought she was spectacular…such a model of grace and sophistication. So, I kept watching and became enthralled by the series and later on in life, once Wikipedia had become a “thing,” I read a lot about the Angels, especially my favorite and was surprised to find Shelley Hack was as unpopular as she was. I couldn’t understand why, I thought she was very talented and in my opinion, lovelier than the other two (though of course they were also stunning). Anyway after reading more Charlie’s Angels-related material than I care to admit, I learned that it was all just a very poorly-handled business tactic; Hollywood ever in need of the proverbial scapegoat. Having always been something of an underdog myself…this only made my admiration for Shelley Hack and her character of “Tiffany Welles” that much stronger. She was someone I could identify with and strove to be like. Then I learned about all the fabulous causes Ms. Hack’s been a part of throughout her life, about how she strives to aid war-torn nations by utilizing media as a way to introduce impartial democracy to them, about her part in aiding numerous women’s organizations, and her advocacy of higher education above all. Coupling that with the winning smile, sumptuous seventies fashions she wore in her hey-day, her fondness for the Supremes, apple pies and the fact that she portrayed a transgendered housewife in an episode of Tales From The Crypt…well, if there was ever any doubt in any detractors’ minds…Shelley Hack IS an Angel, in more ways than one.

Family Ties

Family is a wonderful thing. And I don’t mean exclusively blood-related family, but that sense of community and “you can count on me” that you get from a group you consider yourself to be a part of, be it comprised of relatives, friends or any other type of person.

But, as transpeople, can we always count on our families to be there? The harsh reality is that we can’t. Many of us live in fear of our families. Still others, like myself, have faced disappointing attitudes despite being from tightly-knit families that otherwise have had no significant problems.

When I first began my transition, my grandmother wanted to have me visited by a pastor because she thought I was insane and her antiquated solution was to drive that insanity from me through spiritual warfare, which to me, seemed much crazier than anything I was doing. The real obstacle was a lack of understanding and dialogue. But sometimes, despite numerous attempts at fostering that kind of open dialogue, there will be people who are unwilling to or are not yet ready to listen. That kind of stone-cold silence can breed a resentment in both parties that ofttimes isn’t easy to shake. People don’t remember words or actions, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel. Still, it’s important to let go of resentment eventually. It’s fine to be angry, and in our situations we need to allow ourselves the benefit of being mad, but it’s equally important to not stay angry the rest of our lives. For me, my anger was channelled through isolation and self-improvement. I’d read, do exercise, watch old films, study how-to videos. My only ally in those days was my mother. As is so often the case, family can be a double-edged sword. Some members will protect you through thick and thin, while others can’t wait to cut you down.

I am blessed to say that I had the benefit of a truly loving mother, whose compassion and empathy saw me through those days of isolation. Some might say that isolation was self-imposed, and in a sense, it was, though it’s also true that I was driven to it. From my own experiences, I can say that isolating yourself is one of the best things you can do in these situations. Walking away gives both parties time to reflect and examine their own biases. It always helps to have friends who understand, but not everyone has that luxury. And during a transition one really needs to rediscover oneself as one’s own BEST friend. Whatever you do, don’t let your anger drive you to self-destruction. So often in our community, we resort to drugs and alcohol and other vices that will only hinder our chances at a successful transition and mar us forever.

During my transition I recall another family member’s attitude. How she told me she didn’t want me to come over her house dressed as a female because I ran the risk of confusing her two year old regarding gender identity. So I stopped going to her house, there was no compromise. And I think it’s important, that we as transfolk, establish not only a firm identity as our true selves, but also a firm sense of what we are and are not willing to compromise. Understanding is great, but only when it’s reciprocal. Sometimes, this will entail conflict and accusations of being selfish. Guess what? That’s okay. It’s alright to be selfish. This is something that’s taken me years to realize, sacrificing yourself doesn’t gain you anything, it doesn’t make you noble, it makes you a puppet, controlled by the whims of others. As a transperson, you’re your own ally and advocate. Fight for your right to exist, without apology and without excuse. The people who truly love you just may come around eventually. But they may not. And learning to live without them is a harsh reality that one just may have to accept.

In my own case, they did luckily “come around,” but I realize it’s not so simple for other transpeople and my heart goes out to you. It’s never easy, but know that you are worth it. There’s only one life and its yours! Whether family ties are meant to be double-knotted or unravel themselves completely, depends not upon you, but on them and the place they’re in emotionally. The inherent urge for freedom is never an illness and it shouldn’t be treated as such…but hatred, bigotry, fear…those are very real illnesses and we shouldn’t let them infect, control or hold us back from achieving our own dreams and strengthening the most important tie we have…to our souls and to our selves.