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Another chapter from my as yet unpublished book.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.
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 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.


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.


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)



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


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,


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


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

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".


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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Play Forever

I woke up crying Sunday morning from a horrible dream.

In the dream, my Wife, nine year old daughter, and I were killed in a horrible car accident.  An explosion.

I remember my daughter asking "what happened?" when we arrived on the other side. I told her that now she could go play.  "Play forever."

She happily skipped off to find new friends to play with.

It seemed so very real.

I have been crying on and off all day.

I'm crying now.


I've tried to analyze it.  First it's that, in the dream, my daughter would never grow up to be the woman she was meant to be.  Yet it's also that in reality, she WILL grow up.  She will stop skipping.  "Play" will fall away to become teen concerns.  Boys.  School.

I barely see her.  She is growing up without me.  Sometimes, when it's warm enough, we throw a Frisbee back and forth outside.  It's so rare that I actually get to watch her play with her toys.  Toys.  The tools of a child's imagination.

Each Christmas/ birthday, she gets gifts, some of which are toys, and I am not there to see the delight in her eyes.  I do not experience the magic of her childhood.  These moments are lost.

"Play forever."

The idea that she would be a child forever.  The idea that my Wife, daughter and I would experience eternity together as a family.   She would play.  What would we do?  Who cares?  The idea that I would be with them through eternity is more than I could ever dream.

My condition- my transition- tore my family apart.  It was coming apart before I "re-discovered" my female side due to my anger, drinking, and inability to find a real job and move out of her mother's house.  Then, those horrible days when I was told to leave and that Wife would not be coming.

Could it also be a reflection of my own lost childhood?  In many ways, I didn't want to grow up.  As a child, I would lose myself in the worlds of my own imagination, helped by my toys, whenever I could.  I usually played alone.  Looking back, I feel that I was robbed of my childhood by many factors.  Maybe that's the reason I didn't want it to end- I felt that there HAD to be more to it.  But, as all things, I grew older.  Into my teens.  The few toys I still have from those days are in a small box in storage, waiting silently for young Lance to come and Play again.

Play forever.

But it won't happen.


This week, I will be 51.  The better part of my life is behind me.  Last year, on my birthday, I wanted so desperately to die.  But I didn't.  I couldn't even do that right.

Life is about dealing with loss.  I lost my family- My Wife and Daughter.  I lost my dearest friend.  I lose constantly.  I'm tired of losing so "god damn always."

A person I care for deeply sent me the following texts today:

I wish I could.

"Play forever."

I can't stop crying.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Night Rock Bottom Died

Friends come and go in life.

Anyone over the age of maybe 10 knows that.  It's not a fun thing- it's painful.  Sometimes a friends just disappear, like after graduating from school.  Sometimes, they drift away, like after transition.  And sometimes, they die.  I have had all of these happen. After a while, you kind of get used to it.  Sort of.

Sometimes the loss is unbearable.

However, times a place can be a friend as well.  There have been many places I have enjoyed going to over the many years that have felt like home to me, and I'm sad to say that most of those are bars- drinking establishments.

And being businesses, they sometimes close.  For example, Kildare's King of Prussia is where I wrote a good part of my book.  You know- the one hasn't been published yet and probably never will be.  In any case, I spent a lot of time on bar stools there: writing, eating hamburgers, and drinking beer.   Drinking a lot of beer.  Also after work, a bunch of us would just go there and hang out, eat wings, drink beer, and do shots. And it was fun.

Kildare's Wings

There's some places that will never close; for example Valley Forge Park.  I visit there when I can, especially on nice days.  However, today was a nice day and I spent 99% of it inside.  My back was killing me, so I called out of work and spend a good part of the day lying in bed while looking out the window at the sun doing its circuit through the sky.  I love VF.  Someday, I will die there.

Sometimes these places close and you have a chance to say goodbye.  Other times, you don't.  The Royal Scot was my favorite bar for many years.  In fact, I worked there for a while- it was my last bartending job.  Then I moved to Baltimore, and when I came back up to Pennsylvania I would visit as often as I could.  However, as time went on it became more popular, and it became harder and harder to actually get through the door as it was always so crowded.  The Scot was the first bar in Phoenixville to feature Celtic bands. (Now there are several places in town that do this.)  After a while, the owner of the bar, Doug, moved to Michigan to be with his fiance.  They would marry, but it was the end of the Royal Scot.  I learned of this coming back to Pennsylvania one weekend, and finding the door closed and locked.  I found out using the internet that it had indeed closed.  I was very disappointed that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to this place.  It has since reopened under two different names- the Moon Saloon, and currently Sips, and while it doesn't look much different, it is.  It's a whole different vibe there.

And so it was that September 9th, 2017 was the last day of the existence of Rock Bottom, King of Prussia Mall.  It was one of my hangouts for over a decade.  I knew most of the wait staff- first as my drab self, and then later, of course, as Sophie.  For a while, it was my drab hang out, as compared to McKenzie's which was my Sophie hang out. I kept them distinct.  It was at Rock Bottom that I told so many people about Truth.  It is where I told Dr. Dave, R, and so many others- always at Rock Bottom over a beer- usually over several- and shots.

When Linda moved into the area, I started taking her there as well.  Eventually, when I transitioned they got to know Sophie.  They were accepting.  And if they weren't, they kept it quiet, which I'll take as well.

Kimberly Huddle, Me, Linda.  Rock Bottom Oct 2014

Kimberly Huddle visited, and we met her there.  Dr. Dave and I used to go there all the time when he was living in the area doing his post doc work at Penn.  Once or twice a month, we went there, drank way too much, and I drove home. (I would be cured of that particular Habit in August 2012.)

I was told several weeks ago that they were closing.  It's a chain, and corporate decided that due to a drop in sales (several bars opened within the past month within a quarter mile) they decided just to close it.  At least they give the staff a chance to find new jobs, for the most part.

Linda and I found out that September 9th would be the last day, and we were told that the word was going out to almost every server whoever worked there to see if they could be there for that last night for the party.  There be a DJ and, of course, there would be a lot of regulars. I was determined that I would be there as well.  Linda came along in drab.

At RB, Sept 9, 2017

We arrived at around 8:30, and we were both surprised to find that we had to pay a $10 cover each just to walk into the bar.  I'd never paid a cover to walk in there before, and almost turned around to leave.  However, it was the last night, so Linda paid for us both, and in we went.  The place was mobbed!  We saw one of our favorite servers, and she said it was "like a frat party."  They weren't serving food. and as glassware they were using red Solo cups.  They were five bartenders- no table service.  They were busy constantly pouring beer.  Just like a fraternity party.

Linda and I each grabbed a beer.  (This was the first drink I've had in almost 3 months.)  We worked our way through the crowd until we got to the back of the bar, and, by some miracle, found an open table- a booth in actually.  It was a few booths away from where Kimberly Moore, Linda, and I drank one night a year ago.  And so many others through the years.

Kim posing for a selfie in Rock Bottom, June 2016

The beer didn't taste as good as usual- probably the bottom of the keg or whatever they used to hold it.  Linda and I drank and reflected upon the place.  We certainly had some good times there.  Many times we went there for lunch- just a nice quiet lunch- and talked.  In many ways it was where we went there to learn about each other.

People swirled around the room.  They were many beautiful women, of course, and there was a bunch of guys- many dudebros and hipsters (it was a brewpub after all!)  After we finished the beers, we determined "to heck with this- we're getting out of here!" and I went to the bar to pay my tab.

I decided to buy a shot for the bartender, because I she could drink on duty (what were they going to do? Fire her?) She graciously agreed to have a fireball shot.  I bought two more beers as well and slowly wormed through the crowd toward the front door, where Linda was waiting.  There, most of the staff was in the serving area- just standing there and drinking.  I located two of the staff who I particularly liked.  The one was the person who told us about the place closing.  The other a bartender who I thought was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever laid eyes on: tall, shapely, a beautiful voice and gorgeous hair.  She seemed just a little shy over the years to me.  Over the years, she started dating another one of the staff - a very strong a muscle-bound man. She bore him a child.

See, that's how it was.  I got to know them well.  I considered them friends.

The scene from the booth

I was fairly sure that I would never see either of these women again. I gave them each a beer, then Linda and I left.

I took a couple pictures outside, as did Linda, and then we went to a Mexican restaurant, where we had dinner, and I drank club soda before heading home.

And so it was that I lost a friend that night.  This was not a friend of flesh-and-blood, although there were Flesh and Blood friends in there.  This was a friend of brick and mortar; of wood and brass.  It's gone now.  The place will become something else.  I'm sure it will probably be another bar.  After all, it was a bar before it was Rock Bottom, though I don't remember the name of it.  Before that, it was Coco's Carousel- a place that I used to drink with my TGI Fridays coworkers some 27 years ago.

Rock Bottom was not the only place Linda and I went- far from it.  We have friends in many places.  In fact, it wasn't even the first place to welcome me as Sophie, but it was a place that welcomed me before and after transition, and, as such, has a special place in my heart.  The servers were almost always friendly (there was one guy with a massive under bite who was surly) and I began to think of them as friends. As I said, I don't think I'll ever see any of them again.

So how does one say goodbye to a friend that has no soul?  That has no spirit?  That's not right- places do have a spirit, just not human.  I guess to say goodbye to a place like that, we just remember it- and that's what I will do.

Fare Thee Well Rock Bottom.  It was a pleasure knowing you.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Misgendering Misery

Dear Cisgender friend,

You asked me why I am so bothered when I am misgendered at work.  For example, I was misgendered three times Tuesday.

I can understand your confusion- I can no more understand what it means to be cisgender then you can understand what it means to be transgender.  But it is from there that we must try to build this bridge in which I try to explain exactly how I feel.  The funny part is that there are some trans people who also don't get why it bothers me.  That's their prerogative; we are not a monolithic group.

It starts with the fact that I have always been a Woman inside, and that for so many years I wanted to be seen as a man.  I wanted to be seen as a man's man- strong, unstoppable, and what I did to prove that to myself was to drink hard, get into fights, and just be a general asshole.  That's what I thought a man had to be.

I was at way, except with women.  I worshipped women.  They were, to me, the Pinnacle of humanity.  They were what I aspired to be- what I wished for, but could never be.  I tried to be the best possible man for them: caring, thoughtful... everything I heard they wanted, but never got. My reward for that was "I don't see you that way" or  "you know I wish I could find someone just like you" or "yeah, you're so nice, but let me tell you about this asshole I'm in love with."

Nice guys do finish last.

I transitioned back in March 2014, and, since then, I have done my best to earn my femininity every day.  Every day that I go out, I face ridicule, because for whatever reason 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.

But there it is again- they can't understand what it means to be trans, just as I cannot understand what it means to be cis.  And so it is that every day I have to work on my makeup to try to get better. I have to work on my hair to try to get better.  I have to try my best to fit within what I see as a feminine look; what others see as a feminine appearance, because if I don't reach that, then that is when the ridicule hits.  Yes, there is stereotyping.  No, this is not news for any woman out there.

I tend to wear skirts every day.  For one, I enjoy them- they are comfortable, but two, I wore pants for 47 years, and I hated them. I hated them as a symbol of how I was born, and how I did not wish to be. Now I wear skirts: a feminine marker. I have large breasts. I've been gifted with them from God and from my genetics.  Yes, I know how lucky I am.  I show them off because it's a very feminine marker. I hope that people look there instead of at my face, because my face still looks (to me) extremely masculine.  It is something that I'm reminded of every time I look in the mirror, and every time someone calls me "sir."

Every time someone calls me "sir," I'm reminded of how much of a failure I am.  Every time I am misgendered, I am reminded that I will never be a complete woman.  Oh, I could get all the surgeries I want, and I know that gender is within the head, but... 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.

So many of these people who misgender me do so maliciously. I can hear it in the tone of their voice. I can see it in their faces, and in their eyes.  They want me to know that I'm not fooling anybody.  They want me to know that they see through my makeup and my clothes.  They see through all the hard work I put into my voice; into my walk; into my comportment- into everything.  They see through it all, and it shows me that I have so much more work to do.  I will always have work to do.   Unlike a cisgender woman, I have to earn my femininity every day.  Every Goddamn day.  It doesn't come naturally- not for me anyway.  I see some of my trans sisters like Kira who have an easy femininity, and who pass unnoticed.

Sophie's first day of work: March 31, 2014

When I first transitioned back in March 2014, my hair was a lot shorter.  My makeup skills weren't as evolved; my comportment not as refined.  I was misgendered often, but I expected that.  I knew that would happen, and I was prepared for it.  For months, I was afraid to wear a skirt to work because I was afraid how my co-workers would react.  How shocked they would be- "Oh my God HE is wearing a skirt!" I had people come up to me and say "what the hell are you supposed to be?" but now, almost four years later, my hair is so much longer.  My breasts are filled out more.  My comportment is much more on point, as is my voice.  I have done so much practice; tried so many things; done everything I can.

September 2017.  "Sir"

My reward is someone saying "Thank you SIR" or "Are you a boy?" or "What kind of faggot are you?"  Things I hear almost every day.

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.  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.

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."

That's What I Hear Sir.

To me, all those "Sirs;" all the misgendering; is like a Chinese water torture-




Driving me more and more insane,

And believe me, I had a good head start.

So, my cisgender friend, I hope that that is a bit of an explanation.  I am glad that you do not understand.  Seriously I am, because if you did, it means that you would have to endure the pain that I do.  Some people seem to endure this pain with so much more ease- with so much more class.  I really admire them.  I wonder how they can do it, and they try to tell me, and I hear them, and I try, but again, it's all undone when I hear just one word.

One word.