Monday, August 15, 2011


The two people who beat Chrissy Polis in a Baltimore McDonalds have now both pleaded guilty. The older one pleaded guilty to a hate crime as well.

So- Justice will be done. She has yet to be sentenced, but, as the man said “all good things in all good time.”

That man- Jerry Garcia, has been dead now these sixteen years. In San Francisco, they celebrate the dates between his birth in death (August 1 and August 9, respectively) as the “Days Between.” The city celebrates a musician- so great was his impact to them, and to people all over the world. (Jerry played guitar and sang for the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band, if you didn’t know. The song I reference is from the JGB song “Run for the Roses.”)

So what does this have to do with the Baltimore beating?

When the beating happened, so many TG people were outraged, and most not a little scared. After all, we have been beaten and even murdered with alarming frequency. In fact, it seemed to be a fact of life for us. We almost expect it. Trans- Russian roulette. Who will lose this week?

But with that beating, something happened- something that Vernon Hackett surely didn’t intend. (He’s the guy who, instead of helping, videotaped the beating and was the one heard encouraging the women to “beat its ass”) People were outraged- and not just trans-people. They were outraged by the savagery of the beating. This guy brought trans-hate out of page 17 of the newspaper and put it into their living rooms, their dens, or wherever their computers sat.

The video made it real.

Now of course, some people just saw it as another episode of Extreme Fighting, and others saw it as “some pervert getting his just desserts” but many- enough- saw it for what it was.


And they rallied. And they listened. They brought us hope.


Which is what Jerry brought many people as well. He sang songs of the downtrodden and of redemption (also sang songs of drugs and other things too, but stay on point.) He sang of hope, and for many people he was all we had. For many years, he was like a comforting friend to me. Yes, I know he sang words that others wrote, but he co-wrote most of the songs. The idea that he was out there, somewhere, singing, brought me comfort. Then he was gone. “Nothing’s gonna bring him back.”

But I still have his music, and that helped.

The night I first went out dressed, I played Grateful Dead cds in my car. The music helped steady my nerves as I prepared to leave my car while in a skirt, knowing deep down that I was crossing a line that couldn’t be undone. And on my way for my first makeover, it was the Grateful Dead that played to give me courage- the courage to continue this path. And many times since, even now that I have more confidence as a woman, I still listen to the music to give me Hope. Hope that I will be who I am destined to be, whoever that is.

The people who assaulted Chrissy Polis are paying for their crimes. Perhaps something good will come of this. Perhaps something already has. Maybe enough eyes have been opened that someday we can be who we were born to be without worrying about our safety. You know: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and all that.

There’s always hope.

And for many of us, when hope seems lost, we have the music.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just a Good Night

Some nights are just good nights. A friend came out as a woman at work Monday. Her HR department was fully behind her and announced the change at a meeting. She will report to work as woman for good on November 1. Until then, she will “morph.” She wrote about it beautifully on facebook. (Excerpted with her kind permission, unedited except to delete her name)

Tomorrow at 10 a.m., my boss will enter a room filled with my closest co-workers. They will be there for our bi-weekly meeting to discuss the business, administrative issues and technical problems that have arisen in the last two weeks. People will be gently sipping their coffee, eating a fresh-baked pastry, and expecting another boring hour wasted of their work day. My boss will start up his computer, dial-in to our conference code and make sure everyone is ready to begin. He will then stand, face all the people who do not know that the next words out of his mouth will send them along for a ride on a journey I started those many months ago with a step out of my home:

“I have a administrative/personnel announcement I would like to make..."

Then my boss will continue that over the past 20 months, I have been undergoing a gender transition and that at the completion of a 90 day period, I will start work full-time as *****. He will tell everyone that I wanted to do this discreetly as to not interrupt the business, and I wanted t make this transition as smooth as possibly. He will end his part by saying that I have his support as well as the support of the company, and will announce a Q&A session in two weeks attended by senior leadership, which everyone will be expected to attend. He will then hand the floor over to the HR representative who will finish up with a policy review and end that part of the meeting. Then my boss will quietly move on to the next order of business and that will be that...

...and from that point on, I will not be able to EVER take it back.

The Dream: reaching milestones. Becoming Yourself. And, of course, that night: Celebration. Her good friends, mentors, and allies gathered to celebrate this day and this person (whom I will call A). The location was an upscale bar called Redstone in Plymouth Meeting, near where she works.

I was invited, and I was not going to miss it no matter what.

So that day was a big one for me as well. I started a new part time job (that’s two pt jobs if you’re counting along at home) at a nearby University. This job may someday be full time if we ever get rid of the GOP governor who cut the university’s money in half (literally.) So, my day looked like this: up at 5:30, work 7-2:30 at one job, and 3-7 at the new job. Then do Warp 8 for twenty minutes to the bar for the party.

So I arrived, in drab, and find them on the patio on a beautiful summer night. I know many of the people there, including *crash of thunder* HER. The bitch who publically threatened me on Halloween.

People who’ve been reading a while will remember this story. Summary: Person (we’ll call her B) was very angry toward me all night at a party. I had no idea why. Near the end of the night, she threatened me loudly and publically. I didn’t back down, but awaited her move. Full story is here:

She really angered me that night and set off a lot of soul searching. I hadn’t seen her since that night. And there she was. Sitting at a table drinking white zin. I didn’t expect her to be there as she and A were very much on the outs, and hadn’t spoken in months.

Many thoughts flew through my head. Should I just leave? No, can’t do that- not to my friend A on her day. I decided to ignore B. I was introduced around using my drab name. Many knew me this way. Some didn’t. I bought A a drink, toasted her success, and settled in to conversation.

I just ignored B because that night she couldn’t hurt me. I was in drab, so if she even recognized me and started something, I would at worst end up in a holding tank in pants not a skirt. But I had many friends at this gathering, so I was confident that nothing would get that far even if I wished it.

I noticed B’s drink was all but empty. I decided to have a little fun and perhaps even build a bridge. I went to the bar and ordered a glass of white zin along with a cabernet for me.

I walked past A, who saw the drink and said “Are you sure you want to do that?”

I replied “Life’s too short to hate.”

I delivered the drink. B thanked me and asked if she knew me. I smiled. “Yes. Yes, you do” I said, and walked away.

And so I mingled, chatted and drank for a while longer. Note that by this point I hadn’t eaten since noon and it was past 8. I was hungry and drinking. Usually this is a recipe for total disaster. Sophie+drinks-food= run for cover.

Eventually, B asked again how she knew me. I smiled and said she knew me well enough. A was standing close by when I extended my hand and said “You know me as Sophie. Sophie Lynne.” I smiled slightly.

B looked confused for a moment, then surprised. “Oh my Gosh I would never have known!” (That’s a good thing, I think!) “It’s so good to see you!” she continued. I smiled, thanked her, and went back to the bar to close my one tab.

As the night wore on, people left. Eventually, it was just the three of us: A, B, and Me. We talked about many things, and there were no problems.

Being me, I tried to sort this out. Well, her issue was that I was friends with her girlfriend of the time. They had since(and long ago) broken up. I am STILL friends with that ex-gf. I told the ex-gf about the meeting, and she said “Perhaps she’s grown up a little.”


That said, the ex’s new partner was there at the gathering as well, and I noticed she didn’t interact with B. Never went near her. So maybe not.

Then there’s my anger with B. It was a potent, real thing. But what I said to A may have been true. Maybe life is too short to hate. Maybe I’VE grown up a little. Maybe being Sophie is making a difference.

After one last drink, toasted to Jerry Garcia’s birthday (which was also that day), I went to the bathroom and those two left. On my way to my car, I saw them talking in the parking lot, under a light.

Then they hugged.

For, A it was a great day. And for me as well.