Thursday, October 19, 2017

"People like you"

I was having a good day at work today- the customers were, for the most part, Pleasant. There were a lot of returns, but nobody was asking me to return something from 3 years ago, and it just seemed like a nice day.  I was enjoying doing my job.

However, about 20 minutes before the end of my shift, that changed.

Up came a young guy with an impeccably ironed shirt and a big smile.  He was buying a book on real estate investing.  I did my job professionally as always, and having a good day I joked around with him a little bit.

As he was leaving, he said he handed me a little flyer and said "so you know our doors are always open, and we welcome people- especially people like you."

I looked at the flyer.  It was for the same church that the DVD woman attends.  Before I could even draw another breath, he was gone and a middle-aged woman with bad plastic surgery had filled the spot in front of me, and instead of a greeting, she just started reciting her phone number for her member card.


Earlier today.

I didn't have a chance to react, so I just swallowed all the negative emotions I was feeling, smiled, and did my job.

I'm an expert at swallowing negative feelings.  I've been doing it my entire life.

Maybe five minutes later, I finally finished the cluster of customers, and I contacted the manager, informing him of what happened.  He offered for me to take a minute, and, for a change, I took him up on it.  I walked a slow lap around the store.

I am filled with anger and frustration- angry that they are still targeting me, and I frustrated that there's nothing I can do except stand there and take it.

Maybe corporate will tell me to run and hide again.

 I did exactly what was expected of me: I did my job.  So there I stood: angry, frustrated... and there was nothing I could do.  Absolutely nothing.  Yet another person has clocked me as trans, and has targeted me. I am so very tired of this. As I said, I reported it to a manager, so I guess we'll find out what happens next.

Part of me says I should email that church and tell him to stop harassing me or something bad's going to happen.  Another part of me says that I should attend a service and confront them- maybe invite a few of my trans friends along.  But, they're evangelicals.  Rich ones.  I won't win that battle.

In the past, people told me just to ignore it, but it's getting to the point that I can't ignore it any more. The hatred is coming from all sides; coming from the law, the church... it's coming from just people.  I'm not made of stone, and my armor, after the battering it it's been taking for the past few years, is almost gone.  What else can I do at this point?

What else can I do?

I have decisions to make.


Legalizing Discrimination

The past couple of weeks have been pretty nasty as far as the current United States government versus trans people.

First off attorney general Jeff Sessions declared that the LGBT especially the transgender protections that were in place by President Obama are no longer in effect he has made them null and void which means that there are no more protections federal law after all does supersedes state law

In addition to that the Republicans have introduced several bills to essentially destroy the nation (dismantling the EPA, etc).  The only one that I'll discuss is House Bill 2796 which is titled Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2017.  It states:

"This bill prohibits the word "sex" or "gender" from being interpreted to mean "gender identity," and requires "man" or "woman" to be interpreted to refer exclusively to a person's genetic sex, for purposes determining the meaning of federal civil rights laws or related federal administrative agency regulations or guidance.

No federal civil rights law shall be interpreted to treat gender identity or transgender status as a protected class, unless it expressly designates "gender identity" or "transgender status" as a protected class."


So what does that mean?

Well, put succinctly, that means that they are going to legislate me and mine out of existence.


Endangered?

There will be no such thing as transgender- it will only be boy or girl.  No intersex.  No gradual shades of grey when it comes to gender- even though gender is all about the shades of grey.  I have no doubt that the FRC is behind this. In fact, 45 went and address them at with their "Value Voters Summit." It's the first time a sitting president has addressed a known hate group in the history of this country.

Given Trump's record on human rights- after all he says Nazis are "good people"- this should not be a surprise.

Oh, then there's 45 joking that his vice president, Pence, "wants to hang all gay people."  This is in the New Yorker.

How bad has it gotten?  Even Clueless Caitlyn Jenner has said “They are by far the worst administration ever towards the LGBT community and particularly the trans community."


Also in possibly related news, Azerbaijan which is one of the former Soviet Republics, just this past week rounded up LGBT people: especially transgender women.  Why?

Historically, Azerbaijan’s anti-Western campaigns targeted civil society and pro-democracy groups. This time, the regime targeted the LGBT community, more vulnerable in the Trump era. The LGBT community is also widely disliked in Azerbaijan; it’s a group no one is willing to defend. (emphasis mine)

Chechnya, another former Soviet republic, did the same thing last April.

It is my belief that this is what's coming to the US as well- that we will be rounded up. I thought this when I found out that Trump won the election- that it was only a matter of time before they came for us.  So what will I do if they do?


I've said it many times- I don't expect to survive a Trump regime. 

And you wonder why I think this?

What will I do?  What can any of us do?  We Fight. We document.  We Agitate.  And when they come, we fight like Hell.

I am older.  I do not pass.  I am a known Liberal.  I have a Big Mouth.

And when they come, I will Fight.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Falling Stars

Last week was pretty horrific.  One of the things that happened was the sudden death of Tom Petty.

Don't worry- I'll be writing about Sessions stripping me of my civil rights, and the GOP launching legislation outlawing me soon enough.

Many of my friends were deeply affected by Tom Petty's death.  While I understand how they feel, I do not feel it.

I was very sad when David Bowie died.  Prince's death also left a mark.  Jerry Garcia affected me most.  One of my close friends made fun of me for being so down, and he was absolutely ruthless about it for days, especially after I asked him to lay off.  Our relationship soured, and hasn't been the same since.

A friend should acknowledge another friend's Pain.  

Tom Petty was an amazing musician.  I saw him in 1985, when he was touring with Bob Dylan.  He and his band believed in the Power of music, and it showed.  He had some great songs as well (though, that said, I'm SO tired of every song from Full Moon Fever!)

Music has Power.  For many, the Music is a major part of their lives (I'm one of them.)  To drag an old cliche out, the Music we love is the soundtrack of our lives.

I saw Tom Petty live when he and the Heartbreakers toured as Bob Dylan's backing band in 1985.  he was amazing, with and without Dylan.  But that isn't my favorite Tom Petty memory.

No, that came in 1986-7: my first year at Penn State.  I met a pair of girls through working at Burger King.  In my book, I call them Judy, and Virginia, so that is what I'll call them here (in the wildly unlikely case my book gets published.)  They were roommates in Sutton Court apartments, and the relationship I had with them really defined my PSU experience.



I'd go down there most nights to study, do homework, drink, etc,  and we'd listen to music.  Judy had a record player, but only a few albums.  The ones we listened to the most were a Queen hits compilation... and Tom Petty Damn the Torpedoes.  Usually only side one.  On that side was a song that spoke deeply to me:  Even the Losers.

I saw myself as the biggest Loser of all time.

Still do.

But that's out of the scope of this entry.

I shared some amazing times with those two, and, in many ways, this was a year that defined me.  And Tom Petty had a part in it.

Years later, I bought the CD.  Listening to it takes me back to those months at Penn State in that apartment with the two of them.  Oh, and it's a damn good album too!

Part of the soundtrack of my life.

Be well



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kings

I attended a birthday party last Wednesday night.  It was a birthday for the boyfriend of someone I used to work with at the bookstore. I was the oldest person there by far at 51.  The next youngest person was the birthday boy, who turned 42.  Everyone else was in their 20s or very early 30s.

The host was a fellow Penn Stater who I met an on a few previous occasions, and he also invited another Penn Stater who used to be his roommate. Also present was a woman who graduated from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.  My friend who graduated from University of Alabama (who is very proud of it) and a couple other people.  It was a fun night, and quickly the discussion turned to colleges and drinking games.

Now when I was in college, I knew a lot of drinking games.  In fact, I used to say I was a walking Encyclopedia of drinking games.  I knew them all.

Talk about a useless skill.

However, they were talking about a game that I'd heard of many times.  I know it's extremely popular now, but I had never played it- in fact I didn't know the rules:  Kings.

As it turns out, Kings isn't too much different from a game that I knew in college called Ace Face.  The similarities are that each card means something- each card makes everyone or someone do something- usually drink.  I asked the Goucher Grad if she could teach it to me.  She was drinking water, so we decided that we will play the game, but we would not drink.  Well, we would all drink water or whatever, and I was fine with that.  After all, I was driving.

And so she taught me Kings.  There were four of us at the table; all women.  Again, I was by far the oldest. I don't think any other woman was past 32.  We had a good time of it, and I learned the rules fairly quickly.  Little rules like "the little green man" that I've never heard of, as well as other rules that I was quite familiar with, such as "Questions" and that sort of thing.  In fact, they were rather surprised that I knew "Questions" so well.

Well, it was a game we played back in the day.

And so I have learned another drinking game.  So what?  Aren't I a little old for that?  Well, it made me think of times long past (as most things often do nowadays.)  In this case, in college and for many years after, the only time that I was happy drinking was when I was playing drinking games.

I love drinking games.  The idea of drinking, getting drunk, but also showing my superiority- my manhood- in defeating others in a game simply by outlasting them (because I could drink more than them.)  It stoked my ego, what little I had of one.  It showed me that I was a Man.


Macho... at the party

Yeah, we know how all that turned out.

After she showed me Kings, I told her about Ace Face, which apparently is completely unknown to people of this era. I know the games right now are Kings and Beirut (which is also known as Beer pong.)   We used to play Ace Face.  We used to play a lot of Thumper, Up the river Down the river; Quarters was a major one.  All kinds of games. 3 man was major as well.

So I taught Ace face, again with water, and, as it stood, if we have been playing with alcohol I would have been crushed! Ace face is a type of poker game. I drew a 5 Card flush.  Why can't I do that when I'm playing for money?  It's funny- the only times I've ever drawn natural straight flushes in a seven card hand was it at Ace face, and I've done it twice.  (In Ace face the winning hand loses and drinks very substantially.) 

We followed up with another card game called "that's what she said" which is essentially a rip-off of Cards Against Humanity. 

It turns out two people with the the party have been laid off from their jobs within the past couple days.  I thought about how things have changed so much (aside from transition) and how even if I WANTED to play drinking games like I used to, there's no way my body could handle it anymore.  I just don't like drinking now, because it doesn't make me feel good like it used to.  The Hangover afterward is just horrible! I could have one drink these days and have a hangover.  In any case, I'm also not used to drinking in a group setting.  It's easier with just me, or just me and Linda, and that's all.

Also being in the presence of so many younger people, I felt a LOT out of place. I was 20 to 30 years older than some of them, and I felt a little awkward.  Not only were all these people cisgender and single, but they were half my age- sometimes more.  That sort of thing shouldn't bother me, I know, but it did- because after all, I'm a human being.  I was actually a lot more Awkward about being older than everyone else then I was about being the only transperson in the room.  There were two people in that room tonight whom I've never met, and I'm wondering if either of them clocked me.


As I said before, so much has changed in my life.  So many things that I was able to do before I can't now.  Twenty years ago, I could still drink a ton.  Twenty years from now will I even still be alive?  I don't know.  If I could predict the future would I be in the lousy situation I am today?

As I was leaving, the Goucher woman said that she would love to play games with me someday when we were drinking, and I smiled.  I said "that would be wonderful.  Maybe then I can teach you other games that we played back in the 80s."  She looked at me with this strange look, and I thought about it.


Swell party!

That would be like someone telling me during my college days that they wanted to teach me drinking games from the 1950s or even the 1940s.  It's that far long ago now.  I'm a relic to them- a museum piece.

This is why I rarely go to parties now. 

I overthink everything.  I figure everyone else sees weaknesses and failures, and that they look at me as "why is that OLD person here?"  It would be like me attending an apartment party at Penn State now.  It would be creepy for the students.

Yes, I've gotten old and lame.  I've aged out of partying.

Be well.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Excerpt: Pilgrimage (My first Penn State Football game)

Another chapter from my as yet unpublished book.  This one is about my first Penn State tailgate and game.
Yes, this all happened, except I changed the names.  (My name back then was Lance.)

Chap 2.7 Pilgrimage

Saturday, September 6, 1986    Gunfire Kills 17 on Hijacked Jet

I had never felt anything like it.  Or seen anything like it.  Everyone was animated, electric, on fire--name the cliché and it fit.  Game day: Penn State vs. Temple.  Even God seemed happy, as the sky was an absolutely perfect and cloudless shade of blue. 
I stopped at the house around ten AM, and the kegs were already tapped.  I overheard the House tailgate was ten rows down the south hill with a Jolly Roger and a tie-dyed flag flying above.  I tapped three beers and melted in with several brothers, handing two of them beers to replace their empties.
“I don’t know--we were about to leave!” said one of them, dressed in a white polo shirt. 
Dogger smirked.  “Then chug it, lame ass!”
And chug we did.  As always, I finished last.  The brothers tossed their plastic cups aside, and one belched loud enough to rattle the windows across the street. 
“Thanks Lance!” said the belcher.  “Hey we’re heading up to the tailgate.  Want to tag along?”
“Sure!”  I was glad I wouldn’t have to go alone.

Season Ticket- 1986 season
The walk to the stadium was a full mile, and it was all uphill.  We followed the flow of people.  Several sorority girls joined our group around Pollack Halls.  The closer we came to the stadium, the larger the groups--capillaries to veinoles to veins heading for the heart. 
Standing proudly at the top of the long hill, the pinnacle of the campus, was Beaver Stadium.  Filling all the fields within sight of the stadium were people, cars, RVs and other vehicles.  People of all ages laughing, shouting, throwing footballs, and grilling.  And drinking.  Above them fluttered hundreds of flags in every combination of colors.  Many of them were navy blue and white, with every possible Penn State theme imaginable.  Beaver Stadium was a light battleship grey--the largest all steel stadium in the country.  Hours before the game, and it was already starting to fill.
As we passed Shields building, hundreds of people were trying to sell tickets, holding signs, yelling, quietly imploring.
The crowd dispersed into the surrounding fields.  Dogger and the other guy, Keemo, cruised through the RVs and flags down the south hill.  We passed rows of Porta Potties with long lines in front of each one.  They found the tailgate quick enough.  The Jolly Roger was black and white.
“Why don’t we fly our fraternity flag?  Wouldn’t that be easier?”  I asked.
“We were allowed to until this last spring.  The school banned it because they said it implied that the houses were sponsoring the tailgates” Dogger added with disgust.
“Isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but we’re not allowed to.  Get it?”
The tailgate centered on an alumni’s new red pickup truck.  The grass was flattened by so many people walking around on it.  The flags flew from a tall makeshift wooden pole.  Four kegs sat in the back of the truck while three barbeques smoked and sizzled behind it.  On a large folding table in the space next to the truck (I guess he set up the night before) were plates of rolls, condiments, napkins, and, most important, cups.  Each of us took our turn at the keg next to the lowered tailgate of the truck.  Swarming all around this set up, the space between the sides of the truck and the twenty feet between the back of the truck and the next row of cars were brothers, older guys (alumni?), and women.  Whole bunches of women, mostly wearing blue and white, some pink, all collars turned up, lavalieres and expensive sunglasses.  Tri Delt (Delta Delta Delta) was our special “invited” guest to the tailgate.  Maybe thirty of their hundred plus sisters were here.  The rest were probably flitting between the tailgates of various other houses: smiling, flirting, and mooching free food and beer.  Sororities were really good at that.
Back of ticket, showing stadium seating chart.
Several beers and hot dogs later, I was standing with Ernie, a pledge named Pluto who I met during the Triangle fight, and a recent alum.  Ernie was flirting with a blue dressed Tri Delt with a little blue paw print painted on her cheek who seemed enraptured with his every word.  Even I could tell she was faking interest.  Two other sisters joined us, both blonde like every other Tri Delt. 
“Hey Steph!  We’re going in soon!  Coming?” the taller one chirped, smiling.  Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail that dangled just below the collar of her white polo. 
“In a minute.  I want to finish my beer!”  Steph, Ernie’s target, replied.
“Would you ladies like a beer?”  I asked.
The shorter of the two girls looked me up and down and rolled her eyes.  “Who do you know in the house?” she asked a sneer.
“I’m a brother.  What does that have to do with the beer?”
“Oh.  You must be a legacy then.”
“No, I just transferred up from Drexel.  Why?”
“It figures” she said with a giggle.  “You’re too dorky to be a real Skull.”
Ernie, Matt, and the alumni all laughed.
The taller one jumped in. “Yes, a couple of beers would be great, thanks!”  She said with an embarrassed smile.  She was cute.  And I loved tall women.
I went and tapped three beers--one for myself.  I held all three in both hands walked the ten feet back downhill to the group. 


Me, September 1986.  I've changed a bit!

Just as I arrived, I accidentally on purpose tripped on a stone, spilling all three beers all over the shorter girl’s white polo, her hair, her blue shorts, everywhere.  She shrieked, and everyone in the area turned to see.  Brothers and others nearby started laughing.  Some of her sisters tried to hide their smiles, while a couple other sisters came to her aid.  The cold beer made her nipples stick out quite nicely I noticed (as I’m sure everyone else did as well.) 
“I’m so sorry!  I tripped!  Let me help you!”  I said, attempting sincerity.
“You asshole!” she shouted breathlessly.  “Look what you’ve done!”
The truck owner pulled a dark green beach towel from the cab of the truck and handed it to a couple of sisters who wrapped the cursing blonde with it and tried to dry her off.
“Oh!  Now my underwear is wet!”
“Hey Lance--you got her excited!” shouted a voice I recognized as one of the alums I’d met that day.  More laughter. 
A few sisters bundled the now crying girl off, a couple of them glaring at me.  Steph stayed with us, and laughed when the girl was out of earshot.
“She can be such a bitch!”  Steph said, smiling.
“I guess a real Skull wouldn’t be so clumsy” I replied.
“Face it, you’re too dorky to be a Skull” replied Pluto.
“Thanks, pledge!”  I said with mock anger.
'86 National Championship Poster

A pledge came over with a plastic pitcher and refilled all of our beers.  Dogger joined us as well.  He held two bags of marshmallows.  “Finish up.  We’re heading in.”
Ernie and Pluto chugged theirs and looked at me.  I slowly chugged my sixth beer, stopping twice.  We tossed the cups into the trash and flowed up the hill toward the stadium.  As we walked, one of the other brothers punched me in the arm.  Really hard.
“Hey dork!  What did you do that for?  She’s a fuckin’ Tri Delt!  She’s better than you’ll ever get!  You want them pissed at us?  Use your fuckin’ head, asshole!”
“Hey Veal, cut him a break!  It was a fucking accident!”  Ernie said.
Veal glared at him.  Veal was as tall as me, strong, with reddish blond hair and strong features that people would call “All American.”  He wore a blue and white rugby shirt.
“Fuckin’ tool!”  Veal hit me again and melted into the crowd.
I turned to Ernie.  “Thanks.”
“Don’t worry about him.  He hasn’t been laid yet this semester.”
The crowd thickened as it slowly passed through the gates of the stadium.  The security people punched a hole through the number one on the bottom of my season ticket.  Up, up we all climbed--thousands of pairs of feet clanging on the steel walkways.  Then we walked into daylight and up even steeper stairs until we found several seats together about two thirds up the stadium.  I noticed that somewhere we’d lost Steph.
After we all sat down, Dogger, who sat next to me, tossed one bag of marshmallows to Ernie, and opened the other.  “Marshmallow?” he asked.
“No thanks.”
“Trust me--you want one--just don’t eat it.”
I took one and looked around the place.  Beaver Stadium sat aligned North South, with the student section being all around the south end.  The freshmen sat on the south “curve,” and as your class year advanced, your seats moved up the east end toward the fifty yard line.  We sat at the south side of the east stands.  The upper decks on the north and south stands were still years away, so all the freshmen sat out in the sun below the scoreboard.  The west stands were all alumni.  North stands were alums, others, and fans of the other team.
Looking over at the freshmen section, I saw what Dogger meant: streaking about the section like shooting stars were marshmallows.  The whole south end was a huge marshmallow fight.  I smiled and prepared to throw at some dude in a florescent orange cap--seemed as good a target as any. 
“No… wait ‘til the game starts- everyone else will be out of ammo” Dogger said.
Then, as if on cue, a sticky marshmallow hit him in the left ear with a dull splat.
“Mother fucker!”  Dogger shouted as he grabbed at the gooey mess.  The rest of us looked in the general direction where the shot came from, and saw two guys high fiving.
“There!”  Keemo pointed.
All five of us whipped marshmallows at the two guys.  Maybe one came close, the others impacting innocent civilians.  Suddenly the section was a war zone, marshmallows flying everywhere.
Then the crowd roared!  Eighty thousand people welcomed the number six ranked Nittany Lions onto the field.  I cheered and yelled…and two marshmallows hit me in the chest.

Me at PSU 2017

The announcer directed our eyes toward the bright blue sky.  You see, this was the opening of Penn State football’s one hundredth season, so the powers that be wanted to make it special.  A plane flew over, and we could see a speck, small and black.  Then a blossom of color- a sky diver.  He bobbed and directed, and landed right on the fifty yard line, where he handed an official the game ball to the approval of the crowd.  I cheered and then threw a marshmallow down toward the area I thought the two that hit me came from.
The navy blue-shirted Nittany Lions scored quickly.  The cheerleaders bounced and yelled.  Any time a Temple player came close to the student section, a rain of marshmallows fell upon him.  The Nittany Lion mascot- a guy dressed in a brown Lion costume, did one armed pushups for every point Penn State scored.  Then he was blanket tossed.  The “Wave” swirled around the stadium several times. 
As directed by the distant cheerleaders down on the field, the East and South sides of the stadium shouted “WE ARE!”
The people in the West and North stands shouted “PENN STATE!”
This made sense:  we were the students, and they currently were not.
“WE ARE!”
PENN STATE!”
After a few exchanges like this, a pause.  The cheerleaders then pointed at our side and everyone shouted “THANK YOU!”
The other side replied “YOU’RE WELCOME!”
That was kinda neat.  Years later, I figured out the metaphor.  All of Penn State is based upon tradition-hell, it’s all we heard about.  Where did all that tradition come from?  It was handed down from the people who were students there before us.  Because they kept traditions alive, we had them to enjoy.  Those students were now the alumni- sitting on the other side of the field.  So whether we knew it or not, the students were not only thanking them for helping with the cheer, but also were thanking them for all that Penn State was and “is.”  Will be?  That was up to us.  Deep shit, eh?
The crowd shouted and waved and threw marshmallows and all kind of fun stuff.  A fight broke out in the freshman section, and everyone chanted “ASSHOLE!” as the two guys were forcibly ejected by security.  When the game ended, everyone was hoarse, sweaty, happy, and for the most part sober.  We all were working another kind of buzz- Holy Shit that was awesome!
We made our way back to the tailgate, drank a few more, then walked back to the house.  Tonight, the House, and all of Penn State, would party.
Oh yeah, by the way, the Nittany Lions beat Temple 45-15. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Do I Gain?

For the second straight week, I attended therapy. I guess I'm on the roll.  After discussing a few things: current events in my life, we revisited the question of Courage.

More specifically, my therapist pointed out that I "have courage" and I "fight [her] tooth and nail on the topic." I do, and the question she asked last week still stands:  "what do I gain out of it?"

My point being, this week anyway, was that why do I have to gain anything from it?  If I say I'm not courageous, then I'm not courageous, and that's that.  I've written a few times in this blog about having the "inner voice" that chastises me fairly often.  For example, when I'm being misgendered I think "you know it must you- what have you done wrong?  You obviously know you're don't even count as a human being- you're definitely not a woman.  What the hell are you thinking?  Who you trying to kid?" and all that sort of thing.   But what I didn't say was whose voice that was that I heard saying all that.


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” 
― E.E. Cummings

Because that goes back in time doesn't it?  Goes back to that voice I've always heard in my head; every time I didn't get a good score in a test; every time that I forgot to do something; every time that I made a mistake, either in school or in my working life or whatever; I would always say to myself what the hell is your major malfunction? what is wrong with you?  Other people can do this- why can't you? Etc, Etc and I hear THAT voice on playback in my head.

I used to talk to this about this with all of my older therapists- the ones that I had over the years, but most specifically I spoke about it with Dr. Osborne, who was my therapist before my current one.  Dr. Osborne has since retired.  She helped me realize my Truth.  She just facilitated my own realization- she didn't prompt it.  Anyway, we talked about this.  We talked about that repeating loop in my head- that constant voice in my head that is always saying "you are not worthy; you are not wanted; no one likes you; no one that cares about you; why don't you just fucking die already?"

Because that is the soundtrack of my life.  Has been for as long as I remember.

I expect so much of myself.  I know what I'm capable of- at least I'd can imagine what I'm capable of- and I try to achieve that.  Yet somehow I never achieve it.  I know I'm more than capable getting a doctorate.  I know I'm more than capable of doing any job for which I apply.  I know that I can write better than most people.  I know also all kinds of things...so why don't I just go ahead and do it?

Because I don't know these things. It's that simple.

Because, in my head, every time I begin to get some confidence in something, and I make a mistake; like, for example, oh I don't know- get fired from a job, or get refused for promotion because of "non-metric intangibles," I hear that soundtrack in my head.  Over and over.  "Obviously you are not worth it!  Obviously, you suck!  There's no way in hell anybody would want YOU!  You're just worthless! Why do you even bother?"

Earlier this week, my bestie and I had a bit of a falling-out.  It was over something stupid. We have since made up, but when it happened, all I could think of was "Congratulations! you fucked up again!  You can't even get your keep your bestie happy!  You're constantly making other people miserable!  You just aren't worthy of being in public- you suck that bad!"

I'd go on a job interview, and I never get the job.  In fact, I never hear anything back.  So what's the first thing I think?  "Well obviously no one will hire you!  Look at you!  You're some kind of a freak! What kind of a person would hire a freak like you anyway?  You don't have the skills you know.  Why do you even bother?"

As I said before, the soundtrack of my life.

So Dr. Osborne said that what I had to do, so among so many other things, was that I had to stop that soundtrack.  I had to stop playing it my head.  I had to replace it with something more positive and more affirming.

All that makes sense, but here I am, years down the line, and I still hear that voice saying that "you're worthless; that you can't do anything right; you screw up Everything you Touch etc etc."

I was supposed to be in Atlanta last weekend.  I planned to be in Atlanta for a Vanity Club function.  I promised people that I would be there, but I'm not.  Why?  Because I flat-out can't afford it.  Meanwhile, there's a lot of people there who have money to burn, and can travel all over the country, because Obviously they're better than me.  They were able to get good jobs, and make the Right Moves, and retire comfortably.  I will never be able to do those things.  How do I know that?  Economic reality and because the voice in my head tells me so.  I try and I try and every time I fail I hear about it.

I am my own worst critic.

What do I gain out of debasing myself? Why do I do it? I don't know.  I really don't.  I don't gain anything, and I know that, in fact, all I get from it is reaffirmation of my own worthlessness.  All I gain from it is to cower back into my shadowy corner.

It used to be that voice was my motivation for good.  When I went to college, it was "you're never going to graduate; I don't even know why you're bothering; this is all kinds of money you're spending; it could be going to other things; but no- you had to show off, and try to show off that you of all people could graduate college; what the hell were you thinking anyway, asshole?"

And then I graduated.  There I was with teaching degree and I didn't have a job.  I was bartending- I couldn't find real work- we were in a recession- "but course no one's going to hire you; who the hell would want you in front of their kids; don't even want something like you; after all you have that dark secret inside of you; don't you even try; you have that dark secret and we all know it; we all see it; you can't hide shit; you are worthless."

Well, I DID hide it.  And hide it well.


So why do I have that soundtrack in my head and why can't I stop it?  What is it that gives that voice so much Authority that I obey it so instantly- so unflinchingly?  It's giving me orders.  Orders are to be obeyed: you follow orders.


Well, I'll tell you.

That voice in my head that I constantly hear berating me and telling me I'm worthless and all those wonderful horrible things...

When I hear those things...

I hear it in my father's voice.

That's the voice in my head.

And he doesn't even know it.

I was raised back in the 60s-80s.  Back then, it was common to spank your kids.  I remember a conversation we had in first grade at lunch.  We (the boys) were comparing what our dad's used as implements for spanking: belt, hand, fist, hot wheels track, etc.  It was given that we'd all been spanked.

Back then, you did what you were told or you got hit.  That's how a Man was raised.

There's much more to it, but that's where I'll leave it.  My father busted his ass working to keep food on the table and a roof over our head.  He worked HARD for his family.  He did the best he could.

Yet

That voice in my head... telling me I'm worthless, telling me I'm unwanted, a screw up...  is His.

The voice in my head- the Darkness- telling me I should just end it?  That's mine.

Courage?

Soldiers have courage.  People who speak Truth to power despite consequences have courage.

I did what I HAD to do to survive: Transition.  I did what I NEEDED to do- that's not courage.  Courage is going above and beyond.

I catch Hell for transitioning nearly every single day.  I've destroyed my life.  Courage would be removing myself from the Pain.

What do I gain from denying I have Courage?  I sleep at night, knowing I'm telling the Truth.  No longer living a Lie.

If I wanted to keep living a Lie, I would've never come out to anyone.

So I gain Peace of Mind.

Such as it is.

Be well.








Friday, September 22, 2017

"Filled with Hate"


Someone whom I respect posted the following to me on Facialbook:

"Sophie Lynne When I call you crazy that is not personal insult, it is a description. You don't see how filled with hate YOU are, do you?" 

I sent the following via PM (edited to remove person's name)



Crazy?

*****************************************************************


Actually I do, *****.  And I hate myself for it.

I come by my hate honestly.  I love this country.  I love my friends.  The GOP has committed TREASON multiple times.  They are coming after me and mine.  My friends.

I would die for my country.  I would die for my friends.

I am a passionate person.  I am driven by Pain- a pain that even I barely understand.

I want to be the "better" person.  I want to be happy and carefree.  I want to discuss things logically and reasonably.  But those who are in the thrall of Trump seem incapable of it.  God knows I've tried.

Yes, I hate.

I hate what has happened to our nation.

I hate those who are complicit.

And above all, I Hate myself.  Because I am helpless to stop them.


All my writing, my speeches, my lectures, demonstrations...  none of it matters.  All they understand is violence.  I don't endorse Antifa's methods... at all.  But I fear they may be the only way at this point.

And doing nothing?  Saying nothing?  Not an option.

*************************************************

Good people doing Nothing and saying Nothing is how Fascism came to Power here in America.

And make no mistake- it's now in power.  The GOP thought they could control Trump, just as the German political machine thought it could control Hitler.   The GOP has learned that not only that they can't control Trump- that they are powerless before him.

His followers are armed, and they are fanatic.  Even if Trump is impeached, if his entire regime is thrown out, that won't be the end.

The America that we, as decent people, knew it, is gone.  Forever.  The Trumpies want to bring about a state where the white man reigns supreme- where minorities and women "know their place," and LGBT?  Back into hiding at best, if not exterminated.


Silence is no longer an option.  Hasn't been for a while.

I've written many times that I don't believe I will live to see the end of the Trump regime.  I still believe that.

God help us all.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

4

Dearest Lisa,

It's been 4 years since you left us- four long years. I hope that you have found happiness there in the Light.

4 years since that day when we all learned about what you had done- that horrible deed- done in the back of a van.  A dirty painting van that you had cleaned out just enough to fit you, a pillow and a few mementos of the life that you were leaving behind.  I was at work when I heard, and then I drove like crazy to get down to Baltimore comfort your Widow, Sandy.


The Last night I saw her alive

I wonder if you knew what the day was like after you left this world.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was incredibly bright- barely a cloud in the sky.  And it wasn't too hot.  It actually reminded me a lot of September 11th 2001- a day that nothing horrible could possibly happen with the weather that was given us.

And while your death is hardly a blip in the total consciousness of this world, in my world it is still an open sore- a wound that will never heal, and I don't even have the worst of it.

It was a very beautiful day- the type of day that one could not believe for such an occasion.  I like to think that the beauty of the day reflected the Light welcoming you into it, and that the Joy of you going home to the Light was reflected in the weather. I know you didn't believe in an afterlife. In fact, we talked about it several times, and decided that we would just agree to disagree.

I guess now you know who is right and who is wrong.

Four years: four long years.


The funeral home.  Lisa lay below the cross.


So much has happened.  I remember your funeral, and I really don't know how I survived it.  Seeing you laid out in drab in a casket; how you were wearing a purple shirt: your favorite color. I could see the pink of your skin at the edges of the heavy Mortuary makeup: the deep pink of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I remember the crowded Funeral Home in which so many of your family- both your natural family and your Trans family, stood and comforted each other, and did our best to be strong for each other- especially for Sandy.  I remember how your beautiful daughter spoke to your defense against all those who denied who you are, especially that priest.  That damnable priest.

Do you realize how Loved you were?

Do you realize how many people your death affected?

No, of course not, and even if you did, that wouldn't have stopped you.  I understand that.  I understand that very well.  Nothing could've stopped you at that point.  Your world had constricted into a narrow Focus.  I understood that then- I understand it now.

And we who remain behind- those that loved you and still love you- still suffer.  Maybe not as much for some people.  Maybe for some the dull ache is in the background, and I'm happy for them.  Maybe some don't even think about it anymore, and I am happy for them, too.  But there are those of us, I don't know how many, for whom this day of all days is a day that hurts.  It still hurts beyond belief.   Beyond the ability of human beings to cope.


4 years later and I'm still writing about You.  I'm still thinking about You.  I still cry for You. I still love You.  I really hope that the course you took solved your problems.  I really hope so, because God damn you if it didn't.  For all this pain that you put upon us

I'll always miss you Lisa, and I'll always love you.


Until we meet again,

Sophie


Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Reply to "Misgendering Misery"

A friend sent the following reply to my blog entry Misgendering Misery to me via Facebook messenger.

I reprint it here without editing by her very kind permission.


Mikal Burke

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Sophie, this is Mikal Burke. Even though I have read many blogs, I do not think I ever responded to one before. I had a hard time posting this to your blog site,

Sophie you packed so much into your post Misgendering Misery

I had very visceral reactions to some of the things you said. I hope you know I accept the truth of your pain and respect how you endure. I share it sufficiently that I wish to alleviate the worst if I could, I hope that in responding with my reaction to your honesty and vulnerability exhibited throughout the post that something, anything at all might help you through such pain.
If you already hear, or even fear rejection or condemnation in my words, please do not read further, because although none is intended, you could easily find it if that is where your head is right now. And since none is intended I do not want you to find it.

You expressed “I have done my best to earn my femininity every day.", and I found myself angry that people have made you think that you must earn what you are.

You do not have to earn it. It is yours. It is you. The only way it can be lost is if you allow someone to take it from you.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t ever do that.

You deserve so much better than that.

You assert, ”…our society does not value women, and the idea that a man would want to be a woman- would want to take that step back on the grand scale of things- to lose all those rights and privileges- to be one of them- is completely unfathomable! I get that.

Absolutely true, but most the people that believe poorly of us and behave poorly toward us, well
they rarely if at all think that deeply on the subject. A few because they just don’t know to, but most, because they are not able to do so. The few who don’t know, can learn and change, the remainder have a disability. Sometimes, not often, the disability is intellectual, but rarely do cognitively challenged people intentionally hurt someone, they have been hurt far too often. The majority cannot do it because of a lack empathy. An emotional disability. (an aside to make what that disability does clear, we have a president with that disability.) They are perfectly capable of hurting people. It is a hallmark of their disability. They simply cannot “Relate” on any emotional level with people. Until society figures out how to control them, or even better medical science finds a way to treat them or prevent that dysfunction from occurring, you and I and everyone they come in contact with are subject to their vitriolic toxic treatment of their fellow humans. I would not presume to tell you how to deal with them. We decent folk must each find our own  way that works for us.

“Every time someone calls me "sir," I'm reminded of how much of a failure I am.”

You are most certainly not a failure. And on this very specific issue, failure is not a possibility. You are what you are.

On the other hand, people can fail to recognize the impossibility of your capacity to fail here.
in doing so they also fail to recognize that it is they who are failing to recognize truth. A truth you recognize and live despite their constant desire to make you live a lie, because they do not recognize truth. Any failure here is not yours!

"So many people in this country not only will never see me as a female, but actively wish me dead.  Wish me to disappear.  Don't want me or anyone like me to exist, and they are in Power.."

In every place where there are people, it has always been so and until we achieve some unidentifiable state of perfection, always will be.
It is also true that these kinds of people act this way toward being black, or Jewish, or old or disabled, or in any way being someone they in their limited capacity chose to label as “different”, "unacceptable" dangerous" etc.

But if you are what you are because IT IS what you are, then they are merely another part of the vast majority of the universe that is by nature hostile toward life. You can politely dismiss them as impertinent (while being wary enough to avoid the ones prone toward violence) or you can try to “fix” them, the choice is yours. Decide if you have the unlimited resources required to fix them, or… well you see my point.

Again you deserve better than what they offer, so why take their offering, it useless waste and detritus.

"I know I should let these people and their ignorance just roll off me 'like water off of a duck,' but that's so much easier said than done."

Sophie, it is impossible. People cannot ignore their feelings, repeated attempts to do so will result in serious mental health issues. Anyone advising you to ignore your feelings is not really thinking through their words.

On the other hand what you decide to do with and about your feelings is your choice, and a conscious directed act can improve how you deal with the apparently nearly infinite line of assholes.

"I guess it's the way I'm built- that I hear criticism far easier than I hear Praise.  Maybe because I'm not used to praise.  Maybe because I don't believe it- I never have."

“The way I’m built”, an interesting phrase. It has so many possible interpretations.
If the way we are built means the things that were done to us that directed our development of defensive mechanisms, then perhaps you are right.

Perhaps the genetic material that created your body, your neural network, your unique capacities was a foundation. And the life that was built upon that foundation includes the methods you needed to incorporate for survival. Well in that I think you are absolutely right. But that means you have the capacity to remodel. All the arduous work you have done to have the body comply with your image of yourself. That is one example of the remodeling.

But consider this, if it is the way we are built, then we can change the survival mechanisms as well. We can take the ones that when developed by a child met the barest minimum of “Surviving” and delete them entirely, or replace them with more effective adult methods because we are now adults and have that capacity, or even just modify those that are relatively effective, but need tweaking.

"So every time I hear 'Sir' or 'Dude' or whatever, it says to me 'Sophie, you have failed yet again.  Yet again, you are incompetent.  You are not worthy of the title 'woman.'  You will never be a woman.  You really don't matter.  In fact, in so many ways you are not even human."

You cannot change their “sir or dude”, but every time your inner voice responds to them with "Sophie, you have failed yet again.”
Your higher better self can correct that to the truth. “Sophie, they have failed you again”.
Every time your inner voice says, “yet again you are incompetent” your higher self can respond, “Nonsense, you are the most perfect Sophie you have ever been so far.”
Every time your inner voice tries to convince you “you are not worthy of the title woman”, your higher self can interject, There is no measure of worthy, no part nor portion of self-worth you have not met and exceeded, you are a wonderful woman.”

Sophie, from my heart and my soul and my mind I tell you
YOU ARE HUMAN!
You ARE WOMAN!
YOU MATTER!


PS Sophie, I hope you coming to either the renaissance support meeting, or Angela's at Baxters tonight? I am really want to see you. And, if you will let me, just give you the hug you so richly deserve. You know the kind that says "You are loved".

Mikal

After a Year...

The other day I turned 51.   September 13th was my birthday.  A year ago on September 13th, I turned 50.  Yes, that's simple math.

However, I planned for months to kill myself that day.


Sept 13, 2016

I was going to drive to Valley Forge Park in the pre-dawn hours, and end this miserable life.  I drove there, and watched the sun come up, but, as I pointed out in a blog entry I wrote while there, I didn't have the courage: I didn't bring the method with me.  That method was five sharp knives.  I could have, if I wished, gone back to get them.  I knew where they were, (since they weren't in my car which I could have sworn I put them there,) but in any case I knew where they were- I could have gone back and gotten them and still made it back to VF before the sun came up and executed my plan... but I didn't.  (I threw the knives into the dumpster that day.)

I concluded in the entry that it's because I'm a Coward- despite of everything I know, and despite all that planning, I did not have the courage to execute the plan.

Now, it's a year later.

I have another year of experience living.  For example, living with Lisa's death, living barely affording the apartment, living with the Pain.  That said, I also have had a year of seeing my daughter grow up... oh wait, I really haven't have I?  And I've had a year of great times... yeah I've had some of those- being a bridesmaid in the wedding of dear friends, speaking to groups, seeing dear friends, meeting new people; and I've had a year of... wait a minute.  I kind of really didn't do much this year did I?

When it comes down to it, I still work at the bookstore- I couldn't find another job; I'm still barely seeing my daughter and my Wife.  What do I do at night?  I come home from work, and either I read, I write, or I watch TV.  Whoop-dee-doo for my Subaru (to quote an old ad.)

I must say, watching TV with my bestie Linda can be a lot of fun, though.


Out with Linda, Sept 2017

So the question I've been asking myself for the past couple days, starting the day before my birthday, is "Was it worth it? this extra year?"  This extra time; this bonus year, if you will- a full year after I would have been dead.

At this point my body would have been disposed of; at this point most people would have forgotten about me, except for maybe a few; at this point maybe two or three people would still be upset. But the rest, when you say the name Sophie Lynne, they'd say "who?" and that's that.

Thursday, I went to my therapist and we talked about Courage.  It is her point that it takes the Supreme amount of courage to transition- to walk out the door as your True self- as a woman; to be subjected to the ridicule; subjected to the abuse that I take Every Day at work.  Wherever I am, there is that risk that I am going to take abuse.  Now, in some cases, I would just say "put on your big girl panties and take it" but there is always a chance of physical violence, and there's always that chance that I will be killed just for being who I am.  (This is Trump's America after all isn't it?)  It is her point that I have courage, and yet I won't admit to it, and that I degrade my courage...

And she is correct.  I don't see what I did as courage- I really don't.  I see it as something I HAD to do- I had to transition.  The other option was to blow my head off.

If I had courage, I would have done the latter.  If I had the courage to pull that trigger; if I had the courage to bring those knives; if I had the courage to do what in my mind was Necessary.

I have done what was necessary so many times in my life.  I have run into those burning buildings. I've crawled into those wrecked cars to save lives- because it had to be done.  I accepted the punishment that was due me for drunk driving.  I did so many things that I Had to.  I HAD to transition.  I don't see any of those things as courage, because I truly believe that anyone else in my situation, given the same set of circumstances, would have done the same exact thing. I did what any decent human being would.


Dawn, Sept 13, 2016

Maybe there is a lack of decent human beings.

So.  I thought about ALL that has happened this past year.  My country fell into the Great Darkness of Trump's fascism.  Friends dead.  I looked dispassionately at the positives and negatives; the debits and credits of my life.

And, after it all, what did I conclude?


I should've gone back for the Knives.