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Dear Dr. Dorf,

Because I was  paralyzed by anger the last time I saw you-November 4th 2014-and rendered temporarily speechless by your callous disregard for my feelings,  I’m writing this letter to you today in response to your hurtful and un-professional comments during my second and last  visit.

While I’m sure you’re a decent doctor in terms of diagnosing and prescribing medication, you are a miserable failure at respecting minority rights, and treating minority people with respect and compassion.       I am of course referring t0 myself,  a Transsexual woman,  as the  extreme minority-a minority whose members  are abused and tortured physically and psychologically,  murdered with impunity, and still exist as a group of third class citizens without  full protection or rights as bestowed by state and Federal government.

I had barely warmed the plastic seat of the chair upon which I sat in your office when you asked about my menstrual cycle-and I calmly told you that I was a post op Trans woman. And when you recovered from the shock-you said,

“Ha! I told my son that if it has an Adam’s Apple he shouldn’t date it.”

I could see by the twinkle in your eye that you thought yourself glib…perhaps even entertaining.  Desperate to find help for my diminished respiratory capacity, I overlooked your insult.   But it was during my second visit to you that you revealed your true nature as an ignorant, bigoted, thoughtless, not to mention shallow human being.   Let me refresh your memory:

We were going over my respiratory chart results when you noticed that the values contained therein were listed for a female anatomy. So you said:

“I’ll be back.  I have to see the respiratory tech, and have this changed to male for the right numbers”.

I said, “Oh darn”.

And you said something that I will never forget .  You said:

“Well, at least you managed to FOOL the tech”.

I was so hurt and angry that I could barely speak.   You think I chose this path to ‘fool’ people?   You think I’ve lost my friends, family including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and fifty years of personal history to fool people?   You think that I am a visible target for misogynists and hate criminals, and that I would risk my life to fool people? As far as I can tell, the only fool around with such callous disregard for my feelings as your patient is you.

Briefly then, I did not volunteer for this life.  Transsexuality, as well as the condition of transgender is a biological imperative.   We have no choice over this torturous convoluted path.   For if we did have a choice, we would scrupulously avoid this condition which brings us into proximity with ignorant, insulting, judgmental oafs like you. As a person with a medical background, you could find out the truth about gender identity rather effortlessly. But you prefer your self glorifying delusions.

Finally, I promise to dfo my best to publicize and broadcast your name throughout my community in order to prevent them from experiencing the same sort of   ‘surprise insult’    I received from you.  As you may have deduced from this letter, I won’t be back.  And frankly hope to never see you again  But if there is the slightest chance that you might be interest in the truth more than your own bigotry, I leave you a few links.

May the truth assist you in removing your head from the deep confines of your anus.

April Rosie Schneider

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7689007.stm

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/TS.html

http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

http://www.religioustolerance.org/transsexu3.htm

In nineteen-seventy, I was nineteen, and if the truth be told, totally confused about almost everything.     The fear of nuclear annihilation that had been created in me when I was in elementary school had lingered on and melded into just another prickly paradigm of  my daily middle class existence.    My heroes had been systematically murdered by ‘establishment enforcers’ and it seemed that the nightmarish cloud of violence that descended on the nightly news from southeast Asia would go on forever.

I graduated from Col. White High Schoo, in Dayton, Ohio,   in 1969, and spent most of the time following my release from state custody dazed and confused. Not on drugs mind you, but as a result of thirteen years of informal culturally sanctioned brainwashing. by the state-controlled school system.

The unapologetic truth of my youth was that while so many of my peers were being shipped off to fight and too often die in the horror and inhumanity of Vietnam, I, by virtue of my 4-F status, had elected to attend the well known University of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.     Back in those days-way, way back -in those bygone days of Hippiedom, and in response to the evil forces of war-for-the-sake of-it, a certain kind of perceptual  clarity was a freethinker’s  tool of paramount importance-a radical shift in perception that would provide  the anti-dote to the poison of party rhetoric.   Mind altering drugs and rock and roll music were a daily cathartic that allowed for a radical shift in personal values. And sex, well…who needed a reason?

I was a typical Midwestern child of the baby boomer generation born, raised in a typically Midwestern house in a typically Midwestern class neighborhood in a very Midwestern city.    And for most of my nineteen years, I had cheerfully swallowed the pabulum that was the American ideal. I didn’t smoke, drink or experience sex for the first time [a dismal failure at that] until I was eighteen years old.  Admitting that I led a sheltered life is an understatement.   I handed in my homework on time and rarely spoke with disrespect to my elders. For all who witnessed my slow maturation, I looked like the All American kid.  And I hated it.

For the uninitiated among you,  let it be known that to be perceived as chaste and wholesome, especially in that time, was tantamount to admission into Geekdom .   And as I teetered there on the brink of the lowest of lows-to be avoided at all cost, in the eye of my late adolescent storm,   I intuited that some kind of drastic personal metamorphosis would be required if I ever hoped to wipe the scales from my philosophical eyes.   Even so, I could not have imagined that my imminent date with destiny would forever alter my view of reality as I knew it.

My girlfriend, and future spouse were living in the converted attic of my family home.    The refurbished  decor  matched the style of the day-think of it as the Thrift store/Hippie look: colored, flashing light bulbs: strings of colored plastic beads: black lights and those beautiful fluorescent posters: a turntable [for those antiquated media known as records] with a stereo amplifier of dubious quality: and of course the requisite incense burner with accompany varieties of exotic perfumed sticks of incense. Edwin Starr was on the radio asking the most important question, and sadly still relevant today: “War!  What is it Good For?” ,  then answered his own question with a thunderous reply, “Absolutely Nothin’! “

On one poignant night that stands out so clearly in my memory despite the passing of more than forty years,   these elements of Hippiedom stood in a state of piquant readiness: records stacked in precise order of relevant themes: ashtrays strategically spaced:  multicolored, overstuffed pillows scattered about: and soft drinks ingeniously suspended from a windowsill in the chill of an early spring evening. The scene was set and the only thing needed to complement this auspicious moment was Rick.

Rick was my best high school buddy, fellow drummer, party pal cum college connection par excellent, and had proven very successful at procuring batches of some of the best mescaline available. Rick finally arrived with ‘THE STUFF’ and described it as something kind of new.    Rick said it was called ‘windowpane mescaline’ and seeing as how he had turned me on to ‘The Scene’, I generally trusted his word on matters of varieties of esoterica, otherwise  known as the purple, brown, orange, clear, chocolate in the form of microdots, barrels, pyramids, paper and cube ad-infinitude-of psychedelia, which  by any other name would stone you just the same.

Naive as I was and inclined to kick caution out the door in the valiant search for mind altering experiences,   I quoted a familiar suggestion from a Bob Dylan song, “Well, everybody must get stoned. Let’s trip,”      Rick carefully placed a tiny square of opaque plastic-like matter on the tip of my index finger, which I painstaking placed on the center-most  part of my tongue  . Then, there was nothing to do but wait for that characteristically slow, gentle  onset of the mellow sensory experience that typified a mescaline high.

In just minutes though, I felt my nervous system begin to throb and hum with the deep pulse of the universe.    I imagined myself aboard a cosmic supertrain departing Planet Earth, sucked off the tracks of reality as I had known it and plunged into hyperspace. Warp factor was soon achieved. Overcome by tidal waves of pure energy, I lay down on the floor for fear of being ripped  from my body and absorbed into a cosmos of pure light. As matter dissolved into magnificent, multi-colored  patterns of swirling light, I closed my eyes and felt the core of my being more alive than I thought possible. At that moment I experienced a freedom-frightening as it was-that I hitherto could not have conceived. Waves of cosmic bliss flowed through and around me until no separation existed between my ‘self’  and the energy that gave me form. In other words, the ‘me’  which I known for all of my life  as a separate living, breathing entity had  ceased to exist.

At that moment, as my rational thought process evaporated into Nothingness, I realized with profound conviction that this was definitely not a mescaline trip. In an effort to confirm my suspicion, I opened my eyes to use an archaic, yet time tested method to measure the potency of the trip. Still lying on my back, on the floor of my little room I moved my hand in a wide semi-circle to observe the quality and quantity of the trails of refracted light created by my fingers as they moved slowly across the ceiling,   I witnessed with complete amazement a dazzling torrent of neon rainbow streamers issuing from five glowing points of light at my fingertips.   I tried with great effort to speak, but my mind was occupied by revelations from the great Cosmos as at a depth of perception that defied description.

The two little six-by-nine inch speakers, which had seemed so insufficient only a few  hours before when preset to a very low volume, now sounded so loud and pure and brilliant that, had I been able to speak, I would have sworn that my ears was pressed hard against Jimi Hendrix Marshall amp. Time slowed to a crawl, then became irrelevant…inconsequential.   As I reached the peak of my experience, my eyes were engorged with  a radically expanded light spectrum of awe inspiring magnificence. Deep, rich hues of light energy flowed and pulsed, infusing the ambiance in perfect cadence with the throbbing, jungle rhythm of rock and roll.

Synchronicity had been achieved in a way that continues to inform me regarding the true nature of the universe.  Looking back, I am convinced by the profound nature of that experience that  I was privileged to witness a very brief, yet life altering glimpse into the nature of material reality at its most elemental level. At the innocent age of nineteen, I had seen and felt the underlying, unifying principle of our common reality. The universe had been revealed to me as vibratory in an essential way that words, by their limited  nature, can not possibly convey. And within the context of these revelations, some mysterious transformation had begun within me.

Looking back, I see this first of many psychedelic experiences as my first tentative step on the path to knowledge, with no possibility for a return to innocence. This powerful new agent of radical conscious change was of course not mescaline. Rick had made a little mistaken in identification no doubt based on the word of a fellow cosmic traveler.This particular little chemical entity was known as LSD-25  [ Lysergic Acid Diethelamide.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD%5D

Across the dimensions of time and space, there are many among people-the saviors and the saved, the redeemers and the redeemed, and the self proclaimed, self righteous anti-drug warriors-fearful, evil, mindless twits-with no experiential knowledge upon which they might legitimately reference, who will gladly contradict the positive values of the LSD experience.     D.A.R.E and The Partnership for a Drug Free America are two classic examples which typify this sort of neo-fascist attempt at mind control on a grand scale.

These days in the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,   very little opposition is heard to balance the full weight of the massive anti-drug campaign injected into our consciousness by means of the GovCorp mass media propaganda machine. No doubt the truth is out there somewhere, but without the aid of this powerful psychedelic we may never find our way home.   I do not advocate the widespread use of LSD, aka Acid nor a return to glory days of the Sixties, though its radicalism is sorely missed in the present state of geo-political repression.

And yet I do intend, with the full weight of my personal knowledge and experience, to contradict the propaganda of those powerful, well monied anti-drug cartels,  with the provable assertion that in a historical, cultural context responsible drug use by capable  individuals has been the rule rather than the exception in its potential to benefit humankind. To heal the body, to inform the spirit, and to promote enlightenment, hallucinogens remain our benevolent allies throughout human history.

This consciousness raising entity known as LSD is technically a neutral  chemical compound without an intention of it own. The danger it poses is that of its potential  revelatory nature in that it shines a bright light on the contents of human consciousness. When Leary told us all to “Turn on, tune in and drop out”,  he became an advocate of change at the deepest level where-through a chemically assisted exploration of our psyche-we might begin the process of achieving psychological autonomy. Further, I will state unequivocally that any government , church or other authoritarian agency who assumes the right to dictate the direction or modality of individual or collective  human consciousness presents a far greater danger to the notion of conscious autonomy than any hallucinogenic substance available.      I  am neither proud, nor ashamed to say that I have employed many mind altering substances, both legal and illegal, for more than forty years with the only apparent negative effects manifested as a reasonable fear of authoritarian governments who enact legislation based on their assumption that I am not capable of making decisions regarding my own drug related safety while continuing to sell me dangerous pharmaceuticals with the potential to kill me.

History does prove that many therapeutic and beneficial drugs owe their illegal status to the tendency of the state to habitually forbid its subjects access to the self knowledge that might liberate them through a greater understanding of the mechanisms of power and control which seek to dominate culture. In this sense prohibition reserves and allocates the most effective of these mind expanding drugs for use by the dark forces that continue to guide us down a gloomy road of self-contained fear and ignorance.

The desire to nurture, and maintain the the internal flame of enlightenment remains the responsibility of the seeker. To accept this reality…this illusion of LSD as a dangerous drug  at face value is to continue to submit to the grand illusion of the conditioned mind. When one realizes that  the question becomes the answer, then you become the teacher, and achieve psychological autonomy-which I consider a prerequisite for all human beings on the path to self-realization. The road to ourselves is a lifelong journey, and to be successful, the individual must be free to choose the tools of their personal enlightenment based on their need and effectiveness. To accept any external authority who would limit our ability to journey inward is to submit to tyranny of the most insidious kind.

If you feel the calling to employ psychedelics on your path toward enlightenment, please be judicious by first practicing right thought and action. Use your mind to its fullest capacity to make this decision. These tools are not for everyone. Many other avenues exist in our search for inner truth. Whatever you choose to use on your path,I wish you the best, with the hope that your search inevitably leads you the light that shines within.

I send you vibrations of peace and love with one final caveat:

REALITY IS FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T HANDLE DRUGS?

The SupermegaWalBeast

The subject of this rant is Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-MART  [http://www.walmart.com/].  To me it is representative of decline of the American economy.  . The reason behind those low prices is outsourcing, a euphemism for removing the means of production from this country and relocating them to totalitarian states where people have very few choices regarding their acquisition of capital. This is apparently irrelevant to the American consumerist society Based on the U.S. economic policies of the last three decades, the opportunity to buy really cheap stuff is way more important to us than the lives of a couple of Chinese folks run over by tanks for demanding democracy in Tienneman Square.

 Based on my own interviews with a random sampling of Wal-Mart employees, most respondents claimed to enjoy their jobs as much if not more than having their nose hairs plucked out one by one. Incidentally Big Wally carries a tool a tool just for that . Buy one get one free. The tool that is, not the nose hair.A quick check of certain related online sites indicates that there are at least thousands of disgruntled employees ready and willing to share their job related misery with their lawyers and anyone who cares. Last year thousands of women brought a class action lawsuit against the WalMart.

 Last week with the onset of a serious Twizzler jones -I desperately needed the two-pound professional Twizzler pack  [http://www.walmart.com/ip/Twizzlers-Strawberry-Licorice-2-lb/15686619]  so I gave in to my hedonistic desire. Assuming the glazed visage of a frequent WalMaRT shopper, I shuffled across the endless, melting tarmac, dodging shopping carts of sweaty, sticky sullen shoppers, past the somnambulist greeters and the other blue smocked employees, mooing and braying up and down blandly innocuous isles of generic consumables, gizmos and watchamacallits searching in vain for something…anything made in the good ole U.S.A. At my wit’s end, a location with which I am much too familiar, I decided on a most dubious solution. Against probability and all my instincts, I decided to ask a clerk for directions to the junk food aisle. When I got tired of chasing  blue-smocked employees around the store, I grabbed a jump rope from the toy department and used it like a bolo. An assistant manager went down with the grace of water buffalo. As he lay there gasping for air, I asked politely if the SupermegaWalBeast sold one thing …anything made in this country , he simply gurgled and nodded toward the gum.

 Walmart and its attendant economic philosophies epitomize the last stages of capitalism. Goodbye free market economy, competitive wages -many Wal-Mart employees, especially single working mothers are on public assistance and cannot even afford the company insurance plan- local industries, rural character, clean air [see traffic projections for the next decade], beautiful, bejeweled starry nights and all hope for resurgence of American determinism.  Sadly while we console ourselves with well founded discussions of the merits and demerits of this behemoth run amuck, our options are illusory. Wal-Mart will come. There is little we can do about it and you may thank the Supreme Court., While we pondered the aspects of the latest celebrity on trial, the Supreme Court  ruled by a margin 5-4, that local governments have the right to seize private property and give it to other private owners, so long as it is in the “public interest”, another euphemism meaning corporate dictum.

 As for me I will adhere to the famous quote by the famous statesmen Patrick Henry, who said “I know not what course others will take, but as for me, give me liberty or….hey wait a minute. Is that a Wal-Mart? I need an albatross so bad I can taste it.”.

Rosie Schneider

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From the Mind of a Radical Humanist–[aka. April Rose Schneider]

Greetings from the Far Reaches, where the men are macho, and the sheep are nervous. I am April Rose-Trans author, activist, iconoclast and agent provocateur. And I’m proud to be here as a contributor to the premier issue of Proud Times but with a caveat: I’m a fly in the ointment…a dissonant note in an otherwise beautiful chorus…and a pimple on the ass of the conformist society. In otherwords, I am a troublemaker. If I had a rabble I’d be quick to rouse them. So be forewarned: I detest political correctness in all of its pervasively shallow, dogmatic, debilitating urges to qualify, quantify and otherwise restrict the full expression of our human-ness. If diversity is the color of the rainbow, political correctness is color of mud.

Rather than promote a personal identity, I eshew the concept of the fixed persona, much of which is purely the result of unconscious, involuntary cultural conditioning. This sort of calculated obtuseness invariably places me at odds with so many others who walk the Trans path where the movement from one extreme of the male-female paradigm to the ‘opposite’ end is de- rigueur for so many Trans folk. But for reasons unknown, and in consideration of the possiblity that my mom dropped me on my head as a baby, I got the whole thing backwards.

Over the course of my plus sixty years on the planet as aTrans person, my perspective has moved from polar extreme to the center. Picture that ubiquitous symbol for Yin Yang which, to most people, represents the male/female duality. See that tiny little black line that separates the black and the white? That’s where I live-The Abyss, the Void…the place of pure undifferentiated spirit.

Thus in search of an all inclusive description of my perspective, I call myself a Radical Humanist, a label that serves two very important functions. First, it assigns me to the only group identity that describes the entirety of my existence. Secondly it draws a distinct line between me and organized religion which I consider the enemy of human potential. One can only imagine the immense contribution of human potential lost to the historically documented, violent repression of diversity by organized religion everywhere.

Every human being born, past and present, represents a brilliant spark of divine life. Our personalities or identity combine predetermined gentic influences with a powerful, relentless program of sociological imperatives that shape our identity and the course of our lives in myriad mysterious ways. This refers to a paradigm traditionally known as Nature versus Nurture, though more precisely we are Nature bullied, subdued and re-formed by Nurture. And the main tool of oppression is so basic, so effectively built in to our social conditioning that we rarely consider its creative power. I call this tool is ‘agreement’.

Through our agreements to the conditions of our survival, we become, perform, behave, and are rewarded for ‘appropriate behavior’. Here is the genesis of the virus that corrupts the human spirit. Profoundly influenced by the superficial nature of perception, consciousness is easily seduced into dualistic thinking by language which creates a false duality. Words set up a dichotomy which implies the existence of the absolute: black and white, good and bad, hot and cold and of course the first and foremost of these….man and woman.

Concepts outside of this duality-like homosexuality or Transsexualism-receive far less agreement. Thus this imposed dream of dualism presented me, as a young trans person with a linguistic, performative conundrum which could not be resolved in a social context. Without the words to describe myself, I wandered alone in a fearful, neurotic limbo, the pain of which would only be lessened with drugs and alcohol.

As a human with basic education, I know what defines male and female -the presence of specific genitalia. But as a Trans Woman, I have no idea how to define man or woman. No absolute exists which clearly defines the the two groups despite the linguistic persistence of the concepts. Now comes my personal medicine, and my power as a self identified Two Spirits person : Having traveled from one polar extreme to the other, I now stand with one foot on yin and one on yang and peer into the void and see a vision Ifeel compelled to share with you.

We are one spirit…one being manifesting as beautiful, diverse wildflowers in the field of life. The same beautiful sun shines down upon us all. Our bodies, our language and the distance between us may lend credence to the illusion of separation so often exploited by politics and religion,but this is the BIG LIE that perpetuates our loneliness and isolation. The truth, and the path to our salvation lies in the realization that we are one race of human beings sharing one planet.

What empowers you empowers me. That which imprisons you imprisons me. That which diminishes you, and what lifts you up does the same to me. The universal binding force that has the power to save us, all of us, is love. Without love, we die. How we love, whom we love, the clothes we wear to invite love stand incidental to what the heart requires.

Love is the medicine that will heal a fractured world, so here is your prescription: Love yourself completely, without judgment, without reservation…without condemnation. And if you persist this love will flow outward from your heart-erasing superficial boundaries and healing the fractures between us. And you will begin to see what I already know. I am you. You are me.

WE ARE ONE

Image

My Angel Love

My Angel

April Rose Schneider

Nineteen-eighty was, for me, the culmination of three decades of chaos and misery. The wages of life as a closet transexual had left a typical wake of ruination. Friends, families. jobs, and self esteem turned flotsam in the stormy sea of my gender dysphoria. Even according to my devalued standards my life was a sham The decade of the seventies had be an exercise in failure and humility in which I had burned tenuous bridges using drugs and alcohol as implements of destruction. I had arrived at a place in my life where there was little else to live for, or so I thought. Regarding my love affair with alcohol, it was a small miracle that I wasn’t in prison. Drinking and driving, that was my specialty

By the spring of 1980 I spent most of my time in a pool hall in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida trying with every beer I guzzled to figure out what to do with the disaster I called my life. In a concerted effort to survive, I had become a master of the disguise. Anyone who saw me sitting in the sordid place would have typecast me as just another beer drinking, pool playing, rock and roll biker type. I had long hair, a beard. and bad teeth. I wore dirty jeans, a cutoff t-shirt and carried a knife purely for the sake of image. I donated plasma and used the money to buy beer. A 29 year old drifter, I had no friends no money, no job and no prospects. My life was rapidly gaining tragic overtones but with my flair for drama I was adjusting nicely. I would be the tragic muse whom no one cared to understand, quietly drinking my way to a sad demise. . In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous this is referred to as the jumping off place. I didn’t know it then but I was standing on the precipice of my very own doom…staring into the abyss

In the dark, smoky confines of my favorite bar, I sat often and stayed late. My goal was solitary pursuit of a level of intoxication that would enable me to forget the folly of my tortured existence. On a typically balmy night in April of 1980, I had hitched a ride to my favorite bar with a couple of friends. I had one thing and only one thing in mind for the duration: to get blotto. It wouldn’t be easy with the amount of money I had to my name but I love a challenge. I took my seat facing the door and ordered my first beer.

 

 As a caveat, I should say that by this point in my decline that I had become a confirmed atheist. I held closely to the infamous quote by W.C. Fields; “ Everyone believes in something, I believe I’ll have another drink”. What I didn’t believe in was the existence of miracles. Or angels. I vehemently rejected the whole concept as the province of addle brained zealots scrounging for good press. And even if good things did happen to certain religious types, they would never happen to me. I was beyond redemption.

I was on my third beer when an angel walked into the bar. Admittedly a most unusual place for angel, I would have missed her completely had I not been vigilant. To be very honest she didn’t look like an angel. That realization was to come much later. On that particular night she blazed through the front door with a vengeance and headed straight for some guy sitting at the end of the bar. Uh-oh I thought, here comes trouble. Turned out it was just her cousin. When the dust settled, I realized that I was hypnotized by her essence. I couldn’t keep from watching her.. I was intrigued by her fiery spirit….. and the palest Florida skin I had ever seen barely covered by a hot pink, mid-thigh length spaghetti strap sun dress.. I watched with amusement as the act played itself out and eventually she left the bar but stuck in my mind..

Three days later she came back and I was still there, leaning against the juke box rippin’ a funky solo on my beloved air guitar. Our eyes met and later in the bliss of an alcoholic haze we struck up a casual conversation. We discovered mutual acquaintances among the local riff- raff .Otherwise I cannot recall one tiny sliver of the conversation we had that night. But I do know that nothing I could have said should have caused her to trust me as much as she eventually did. Had I been in her place I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have trusted me. Desperate for a ride as I was I imposed on her with no other motive than to get home. Adventurous young thing that she was, she gave in without a fight. She fell asleep behind the steering wheel two blocks from the bar and I drove the rest of the way from the passenger seat. A few more drinks at my place and we gratefully passed out. The following day brought a welcome surprise. We liked each other sober… enough to spend the day together. And the day turned to weeks, the weeks to months and months to years.

Thus began one of the most wondrous love stories never told. For one must delve beneath the  shallow facade of political correctness that permeates modern culture to appreciate a love so unique, sotranscendent. Ours is a love that surpasses the ties that bind “ordinary’ couples. Beyond the familial, defiant   of the authority of church and state, and despite the finite limitations of the gendered bodies we inhabit, our love is the embodiment of spiritual love. And this is my tribute to that mystical, ineffable force that binds us beyond the limitations of time and space To the special one who shares my heart, my joy, my sorrow and my life. For I am only a transexual with all the rotten smelly baggage that is de rigueur for the gender dysphoric But the light and the love of my life is so much more. Indeed she is friend, lover, and confessor. An angel who loves beyond my flesh

Within the edgy borders of the ever changing geography of our relationship, sex has never been paramount.. We were friends from the very start. She was nineteen, weighed ninety-two ringing wet pounds and had recently extricated herself from an abusive relationship. I still remember the way she would flinch every time my hand came near her face. I was a twenty nine year old drifter generally too drunk to get it up even if I wanted to and I rarely wanted to. I was a miserable failure at playing a man and the many losses had taken their toll on my desire My urge was only to protect her from predators of the human variety.. It was maternal instinct that guided me and nothing else .

I was astonished to find out that she had never really been out of the state of Florida. Her parents had been advocating a change of environment for the sake of her mental health.. We hitch hiked to Ohio only weeks after we met. It was my idea. I took it upon myself to test her mettle and she came through with flying colors. Just as I had surmised, she was a tough little package with plenty of moxie.

When we returned to Florida, I bought a nineteen seventy- six Plymouth station wagon for seventy-five dollars. . I had lived in California in the early seventies and fallen in love with the place. I suggested we take a trip and use the road the get acquainted.. There’s nothing like adventure to put things in perspective and light a fire to the soul. She agreed but I’m quite sure in retrospect that she got a lot more than she bargained for..

 

 

We had only made as far as the panhandle of Florida when the alcohol kicked in and guilt forced me to confess that I “ liked to wear women’s undies‘. This was akin to saying that there is some water in the ocean.. She seemed to be okay with it but we were pretty drunk that night. Actually we were drunk for about three years. After three years with adequate motivation, a person can adapt to just about anything. After we had been in California for a couple of months, she started to notice that the nail polish I wore surreptitiously, never came completely off. She remained unperturbed .and our love continued to flourish.

We quit drinking together in nineteen eighty-three and by the late eighties we were living in Jacksonville, Florida. I was cross dressing with a vengeance but it was never an issue between us. At least as long as it was our little secret. In nineteen ninety-two I acquired Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, and began a slow descent into madness. For a couple of years I underwent severe temporary personality disorder and it put a serious strain on our relationship It was at this pivotal point during the height of my affliction that I realized that keeping a secret had caused me to become dis-eased. I finally faced the truth that I had ran from all my life. I was a male to female transexual. I knew intuitively that staying in the closet was no longer an option.

We began an ongoing discussion of our relationship from every conceivable angle. As these nightly deliberations continued, fourteen years of true love lay bare on the kitchen table. I realized in a nanosecond that I had few options from which to choose. I was back at that metaphorical jumping off place courtesy of fate’s little peccadillo. I would be virtually back in the same straits as the day we had met. This realization was somewhat comforting. Angst ridden transexual that I was I had always secretly envisioned an early suicide with a dramatic flair. As the nightly discussions dragged on ad infinitum, I began to lose hope. I felt the love that had become the fabric of my life begin to shred. Things looked bleak. I prayed to the patron saint of transexuals, Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering.

During the next night’s discussion I played the last card I had. In a move no doubt designed to salvage what little dignity I had left. I told her that I understood her predicament as well if no better than she did. The life of a transexual is a psychological minefield. The life of a spouse of a transexual is equally problematic. I told her that I loved her deeply for the time she had spent supporting me. I told her that I loved her so much that I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. I said I was giving her freedom and would love her no matter what. We cried rivers of tears together.

Now so many years later, I drift back in time to that day back in nineteen-ninety four when my happiness hung in the balance for one terrifying moment. I casually ponder the implications of a darker outcome of those intense nightly discussions. Clearly I see how love, in human form, saved my life. For without love, my life would be as barren and cold as arctic tundra.

We have been married now for thirty-two years. She says that an epiphany caused her to realize that if I was willing to let her go then I truly did .love her deeply. And that she always knew I was “different’ She tells me I’m beautiful and I pretend that I believe her. In 2001, she supported me as I worked, saved and flew to Bangkok for SRS She graciously accepts the monumental lifestyle switch from heterosexual to lesbian These days we kiss only in private. . She says that’s the hardest part.

And so it is that today I am a woman transformed– a convert. saved by the grace of a love beyond my understanding… a non-believer with a value system make over. A reluctant wayfarer stumbling blindly down life‘s rocky road, where I found an angel to help share my load..

.

From a former web page project…Called ‘Awaken From  the Dream’ [of conditioned personality]

Hi!   I’m April Rose….A human being.

First I will dispense with the requisite self-promotion, and try to make this presentation  as painless as possible. A  partial description of my life, a kind of biography-lite if you will, entitled ‘A Rose in Bloom’ was published in a soft cover anthology entitled
“Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex and Gender Diversity”  published in 2003 by Jossey-Bass and edited by  Tracie O’Keefe and Katrina Fox.

But there’s much more to this story than that 5000 word synopsis of a ‘boy trapped in a little girl’s body.’  On these pages, drenched with the blood, sweat and tears of perhaps the first self-proclaimed, full time Trans philosopher, writing  without the benefit of respectability conferred by a long list of meaningful initials-although my therapist/friend/muse Ms. Lotta Hope says I would have a PHD in Transsexualism if such a thing existed-you  will find the  lessons lived, and the wisdom gained from a life spent in the shadow of a culture terminally infected with the virus of dualistic thinking.

Sometimes I’m surprised I’m still alive. I was born into the repressive sexist culture of the 1950′s. The now infamous Stonewall Rebellion-which marked the emergence of the gay liberation movement-was more than a decade away. Effeminate men and butch women lived in closets of carefully constructed lies designed to protect them from the savage, often violent reaction of extreme homophobia. Transexuals were unknown to the general population. People who strayed too far into the forbidden zone of cross gendered dress or behavior were condemned as mentally ill.  Even today as we enter the second decade of the 21 rst century, the condition of being transgendered is defined by the diagnostic bible of the psychiatric establisment, the DSM [Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual],  as a mental illness. And the assertion is not without merit. In the broadest social context condition, transgenderism is so viral that it frequently causes  mental instability in the conventionally gendered, resulting in a wide range of violent behaviors directed at the slightest hint of transgendered behavior.

In the language of the medical model, I am a post operative male to female transexual, although  my use of the term transexual  refers specifically to the fact that my physical being has changed from mostly male to mostly female.  I did not hear the words TWO SPIRIT  until I was in my mid-forties, yet on a deeper level of awareness, as my being emerged from the subconscious soup of infancy, I sensed a profound, yet undefinable contradiction about myself. I could see two halves of my self like a deep fissure in heavy crystal, but I could not touch them. In the confusion, I was compelled to keep a safe distance from this  misplaced body and I began to drift, hovering outside of myself, as an observer,,, as the other.  By the age of ten, I was convinced that some horrible cosmic mistake had occurred.

Eventually, I found the visual evidence of this incomprehensible contradiction the first time I looked in the mirror, around age seven, and did not recognize the person looking back. A persistent sense of me/not me confronted my awareness every time I went to the looking glass.  As this sense of psychic rupture emerged and persisted, I experienced an acute sense of panic that remained with me for many years.  During this most crucial period of personality formation and integration, in the grip of profound trauma,  my young self floundered on the edge of spiritual disintegration.

Like  pebbles dropped into clear calm waters of my being,  the resultant  waves of confusion and pain would eventually touch all the shores of my being for many decades to come.  I became lost in a chaotic realm where  personality development wasn’t an option-but mere psychic survival was a challenge. The implications of this developmental glitch on my mental stability were, and continue to be  far-reaching.  This sense of depersonalization that engulfed me eventually pushed me to the brink of an abyss of psychic dissolution.

As disturbing as this realization was to me on a personal level,  the societal implications were equally daunting.  By the age of fourteen,  I had internalized so much shame that I wanted to die.  There was no one like me in the world.  I wasn’t a round peg in a square hole, I wasn’t a peg at all. But how could this be? What was this sense of self that was I was so defective that I would rather die than reveal my horrible truth to anyone-especially the people who held my young fate in their hands, my parents. This dark matter of complete abandonment remains with me to this day,  though disempowered by my intention to make friends with it as a useful component of my consciousness. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In a supreme effort to escape my miserable fate, I failed at every manner of risk taking behavior, including drinking and driving, taking almost any drug that passed before me, putting the barrel of my .357 Magnum in my mouth, hitching thousands of miles, taking rides from anyone, stumbling through the night, on the dark streets of human misery. Along the way, I lost four decades of friends, family,  human experience and a male disguise that I had grown to love.

As I reached my late twenties, I felt myself dying spiritually. My sense of victimization was so great that I fell into deep depression and despair. My life force had dwindled to a thin thread of hope. In my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. I had become an embarrassment to my family. So they donated a car, a 1967 Chevy Impala station wagon, and waved happily as I departed for San Francisco. Ten miles out, I stopped to shave, apply make up put on a dress and buy beer.  Lookout San Fran. Here come da Tranny.

I was going to the Bay City, with just enough money for gas, to find an infamous transexual therapist, Laura Cummings, whom I’d met there in 1971. But Laura was charging $125.00 an hour, and had no time for us lowly non-chromosomal transsexuals. And from that point, it was all down hill. I drove around San Francisco looking for a $35.00 room. Rube that I was, I found myself lost in the Mission District looking for a safe place to hide-much like a bleeding mackeral seeking respite in a shark tank.

The first night there, upon the manager’s request, I parked my car in the back lot of the building. In the morning, everything of value that I’d brought with me for a “new start” had been stolen. Twenty five years of pictures, clothes, make up…every material thing I owned. Gone. The second night the manager, who apparently thought I was gay, tried to seduce me.

Here was my bottom, my life was a personal pit of suffering that I thought I should end for everyone’s sake. No more would I be persecuted by a cruel world. My moment had arrived. Wait till THEY found out what I had done. They would be sorry. Finally all of my suffering had provided me with a temporary identity of sorts- not my first choice for an identity-but better than none .  At last, the role I was destined to play. I’ll PLAY THE VICTIM..

Fortunately life, or spirit, does yield to the expectations of drunk transexual girls. I remember the day that I stopped being a victim with startling clarity. I was at the end of a 29 year old rope that was fraying badly at both ends and the in middle. Standing on the Golden Gate Bridge without hope, full of despair and vodka, I yearned only for the courage to jump to my death.

Then as I stood transfixed by the mental image of my body floating down from the bridge to the bay, a most curious shift of perception infused my consciousness. A voice in my head, a loving voice spoke to me and said, “You have still have choices.  Make a different one. The end is the beginning.” In a moment a subtle shift had occurred. The end is the beginning? I was so confused by this metaphysical moment that I wandered off the bridge in a daze. I have since come to view this life saving incident as an encounter with shamanic power- a mysterious power beyond my grasp, that  demonstrated a principle so profound that I have studied it since and made it the foundation of my being.  I call it “The Dream Principle.”

From that moment on the bridge to this one,  I have dedicated my life to the liberation of all sentient beings, especially my fellow transgendered humans. The blessings of the transgendered life is that we come to know suffering from the two polar perspectives: Yin and Yang. This awareness of the transcendent nature of suffering expands our potential for compassion beginning with ourselves–for we must first offer to ourselves that which we intend for others before we begin to appreciate our lives for the courage, strength and integrity that we embody as unique human beings.

And so, I offer you, brave reader, this, my Two Spirits Medicine.

Namaste

My “official” trans-gendered transition began in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida.  The year of 1995 found me relocating,  perhaps fleeing is a more honest appraisal, from Florida to Albuquerque, N.M. in an effort to escape the oppressive effects of the bible belt mentality.   There  is also some intangible weirdness that develops when one begins gender transition right in front of the people who knew us in our  disguises . Somewhere in that strange murky, grey space I lost much of my past.    Suddenly the people I had hoped might at least join me in my struggle to be myself had all disappeared.    Their absence  left a large hole in my heart .
I  lived in Santa Fe for a couple of years in the mid-eighties and had fallen in love with the land and it’s quirky denizens.   The more I thought about it, the more it called to me.   It whispered of star filled nights and safe haven.   I inexplicably knew that I was being drawn to this enchanted land the way a moth is drawn to the light.    As I contemplated this latest dogleg on my spiritual path,  I began to look forward to returning to such a unique and culturally diverse place.   My destiny awaited me in that beautiful desert and knew that I must go.
As careers go, prior to 1994 I had been employed more times than I could recall.   I lost count at one hundred fifty.   I had done quite a few things that I’m sure I repressed due to trauma of doing men’s work and pretending to like it.  There’s just so much a  transexual can take before a  meltdown.   I mean, my god I had dirt under my nails for years! Can you imagine?    Oh it was HORRID!
The year 1995 was a chaotic time of sorting packing, saying goodbye and watching my breasts intently for the first sign of expansion.   By 1996 I had settled in Albuquerque and faced the daunting prospect of finding work as a transperson.   The first thing I noticed was the lengths people went  to hide their emotional reaction while trying to figure out how to  dismiss me.   The second thing I noticed was how many people dismissed me.

Between nineteen-ninety six and nineteen-ninety nine, I was most often employed as a caregiver in the field of developmental disabilities..I enjoyed the many challenges it had to offer and  resigned  myself to making seven dollars an hour in service to those less fortunate.   Eventually I became aware of an opportunity to work with troubled, at risk youth.   I grew excited at the prospect of  interacting at this emotional level. Who is better equipped to deal with this adolescent angst than a wordly transexual with a firm grasp and control of her own anger, I reasoned.
As I began my preparation for what I hoped would be  a fruitful interview, I allowed myself to feel really positive for the first time in a long time.   I had good reason to feel confident,.   I had prepared a portfolio of all job interiew prerequisites; a verifiable work history in a related field, excellent references, related training courses etc.   I even passed a drug screen, something I had passionately eschewed for my entire life adult life.  Such was the sacrifice I was prepared to make.  Things were looking up.   Maybe this new life wasn’t going to be as tough as I thought.   So  on the appointed day of my interview, I put on my best face.    With more courage and optimism than I thought one transexual could possibly muster, I marched forth to face the two supervisors who held my immediate future in their hands..
We sat in a typical conference room on typically hard plastic chairs across a typically plastic conference table.   I was confident, enthusiastic…ready!    I can do this, I thought.   I eagerly anticipated their challenging array questions that I would handle so deftly.    Perfunctory introductions out of the way, the female half of the interviewing team, Ms. Smith,  seemed to hesitate for a moment. She  gave the impression of  a wary explorer, cautiously creeping up to the edge of an abyss to risk a glance into the eternal darkness of the  a bottomless pit.. She cleared her throat nervously and asked me the one question that I could not have prepared to answer
“ Ummm….this is uh….well please   understand  that we don’t mean to be indelicate about this but we were wondering …uh just exactly what is between your legs..?”
“ I beg your pardon?”  What she actually had said was ‘Where are you in your transition‘. But the difference is negligible. With one casual, blatantly  sexist question, I had been stripped naked and reduced to a sex object.
“ The thing is uh, Mary Jo, who you may recall having supervised in another company,….well anyway, she said that one day while you were monitoring her she saw your testicles when you crossed your legs.”
Huh?   The Titanic had just made the acquaintance of the iceberg and the iceberg held the upper hand.   I was stunned.   First by the implication that I would spread my legs far enough for anyone to see the last wretched remnants of my disappearing  masculinity.   The next realization was that the interview had begun with an accusation made by a client who had a documented history  of pathological lying.   This was almost too much to bear and we were still on the first question.   Hours ticked by with each second.: the silence was deafening.
Somehow I managed to pick my lower jaw up  from the table and with sufficient incredulity said ” I can’t believe you are asking me this!  Could you please tell me what this has to do with anything?  I mean, I don’t recall in reading the formal job description that genital verification was mandatory.   I would at least worn fresh panties.”
Mrs. Smith squirmed ever so slightly  and tentatively proceeded to explain the finer points of the company policy.”   Well….uh you see it’s mainly to protect us from lawsuits. we have a policy that guarantees our clients and their guardians an appropriate match  regarding gender….you know boy to boy and girl to girl.” A look of smug self satisfaction settled slowly  over her face.  She looked like a housecat who had just cornered a mouse for supper.  Except in this case the mouse was not prepared to capitulate.
“This is really quite amazing.  How do decide who’s male and who’s female?,”  I asked in a huff. “Is it company policy to check the genitals of everyone who applies?    Or do you just wait untill a client needs a reason  to persecute someone ?   If there are only two categories of humans then I must fit into  one or the other. And if I don’t fit into those two categories maybe we need to create a third one for the rest of us“.
I was on a roll.   Anger from my transexual heart felt fine as it gained momentum.    I forged ahead with evangelical zeal.  I had their attention and I was determined to exploited it to the fullest. I shifted my focus to Mr. Jones, the male half of the interviewing team. I had met Mr. Jones, an Afro-American, previously during orientation where he was responsible for  teaching us the code  of ethics  associated with client rights.   As it turned out the disabled have more constitutionally protected rights than transexuals.
I poured out my rage.“I must say  that I am very disturbed  by the realization that I represent the only minority whose character can be questioned on the basis of our genitalia.   Surely you must know that transgendered  people are the only minority in this country who are not protected  from discrimination by federal law.   Beyond that,  your company’s mission statement, so noble in language that seems to promote the rights of all people obviously falls short of protecting the transgendered.”
I felt the pride of eloquence rising in my bosom.   I was saying things that I had previously only thought to myself.. For a brief exhilarating moment I felt empowered as a transperson.    A ponderous silence fell over the room. The tension was palpable. In my heart and soul I held closely to the hope that I had touched these two people with my need for validation. and gainful employment.   The looks on their faces, corporate masks temporarily forgotten, told me that they had indeed understood my plight..
Mrs. Smith cleared  her throat and glanced at me furtively, “Well … I do sympathize with your predicament Rose,   When I worked for the company back in Oklahoma, the company agreed to  provide  gay foster parents for a gay client. But this…..I, I just don’t know .”
So gay people good, trans people bad?    I didn’t really know what to make of her declaration. I had started out with a wealth of optimism. Suddenly my confidence  had turned to confusion.. Success, once so eminent, had taken wing only to be replaced by the  notion that I would somehow be better off gay.   Still I clung tenaciously  to the my last morsel of hope while the evil wind of despair rustled in the distance.
“So where do we go from here,”  I asked tentatively.
“Don’t worry, Rose, we’ll find a place for you,” Mrs. Smith assured me
And so, testicles not withstanding, I was hired as a ‘probationer”    But only after I made  repeated calls in an effort to torture them into giving me a chance to prove myself.    Then I panicked Failure was familiar territory for me.    Success was trickier.    Success require the application of character.   I knew that I had passed the preliminaries but the gauntlet  of  fire lay directly ahead.
All this pressure to gain employment was mere folly compared to the reality of trying to interact positively with these future masters of mayhem. Many of them had one foot in the group home and the other in youth detention. Ah yes, it was indeed a challenge befitting my unique collection of talents. After all, who is better acquainted with anger than a transexual?
Fate is a cruel dictator.  My effort to find suitable employment was the epitome of  the psychic masturbation–a one act play with a disappointing conclusion.    One day before the end of my probationary period I was summoned to my superior’s office and terminated.   Apparently, the main reason was the fact that I was a transexual.
The company’s official reason for terminating me was never stated though it quickly became apparent.  As  they were not legally required to employ me as a  transexual, I was imminently expendable. I was a liability from the outset.   A few complaints from the paying customers, the parents, clients or both, was more than enough justification for my dismissal.   Blatant discrimination  and sexism aside, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the immense irony of it all .
Eventually,  it occurred to me that I had always been pretty good with a mop, a dust rag and a stick of dynamite.   Based on these revelations, I started my own cleaning business. The whole idea was a nudge from the cosmos, as it allowed me to create the ideal work environment for my personality.   Short hours, good money, as many breaks as I desire and best of all I have the final say so in EVERYTHING!  As a bonus,  I love my boss.   In conclusion, I will speak a truth  painfully learned .   There isn’t a silver lining to every cloud.   But sometimes if you keep your head up and eyes open wide, you just find your own personal rainbow..

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