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Archive for June, 2010

I was born into a male body in Dayton, Ohio in 1951 to seemingly normal parents whose main claim to fame was an astounding propensity to ignore the blatantly obvious for a combined total of seventy years [thirty five years per parent].  On my first day in hospital nursery, lying under my blue little boy blanket amidst the bright lights and caterwauling of the other less evolved babies, I discovered to my great embarrassment that a gross injustice had been perpetrated upon my person. Dismissed by medical professionals as just another noisy, needy life unit, I was thus condemned to continue my transgendered vigorous ranting and raving for the next forty-five years. Yes, it’s true….

 I was born the world’s youngest humanist.

            For the first fifteen years, I spent much time alone in the passionate pursuit of cross-dressing, including wearing my mother’s frosted orange lipstick–definitely not my color and dangerously difficult to remove. Toothpaste barely touched it.  My mom still claims that she never noticed anything amiss. Ever her of that river in Egypt, Mom?

In 1965, as I entered high school, Genderless Hades as I fondly thought of it,  my consciousness was pummeled into chaos by a tidal wave of the dreaded testosterone. and I went quietly insane

            Nineteen sixty-nine was momentous for two reasons. I graduated from high school and I discovered that alcohol and barbiturates, at least in the short term, erased thoughts of suicide.      Having discovered this apparent panacea, I continued to use and abuse them in combination with anything else that numbed my brain for many years.      Looking back, it was high school society, despite it’s stultifying  cultural imperatives, that provided the only source of cohesion in my otherwise tenuous grasp on reality. Consequently, throughout the following year, I languished in a vacuum where my only goal was to remain numb.  

Then in 1970,  I made the singular BIGGEST MISTAKE of my life.  I married the wrong person for the wrong reasons. This debacle lasted six years and produced more bad energy than I thought existed in the on the entire planet. It also produced two lovely, brainwashed children who, despite my best efforts at reconciliation, refuse to have anything to do with me.  By the time I extricated myself from the relationship, whatever self esteem I may have possessed had been obliterated. Stomped into dust by forces of abuse and ignorance, I was a mere shell of a human whose only goal was the annihilation of this unbearable pain through the ingestion of various random combinations of all manner of licit and illicit drugs.

            In 1977, I stuck out my thumb and hit the open road in a futile effort to distance myself from my pain. Eventually I hit the 10,000-mile mark for the decade but to my dismay,  pain had run a tight race and was waiting for me as I crossed the finish line.     By 1980 I had run out of the few options available to me and was resigned to spending my last few coins drinking in pool hall…waiting for the cruel hand of fate to bring the curtain down.

Then on a night in the bar that seemed like any other biker bar/pool hall, as I sat nursing a draft beer, my future soul mate and love of my life walked into my life.  We talked a little and I asked her for a ride to my apartment. She fell asleep at the wheel and I drove us the rest of the way from the passenger seat.  This fortuitous meeting occurred in April of 1980. And I’m very happy to say that we have been together as soulmates since that night.

The poor girl thought she was getting a man and it took me twenty some years to gently explains the realities of transsexualism to her. When she finally understood, we cried together and she said she would remain at my side. An angel of compassion and support, she is full of transcendent love for me and has been my best friend, lover and confidant through more highs and lows than I thought possible for two human beings.   Without the uplifting, rehumanizing, spiritual quality of the love she’s given me, I would not be here on this earthly plane.

 Since our fateful meeting that night we have resided in Florida, Tennessee, California and finally my spiritual home of New Mexico where I now operate my own housekeeping service.

            In 2001, with my soul mate’s understanding and compassion, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand where I received  my re-formation from an outie to an innee–the surgery was performed by the inimitable artist and Doctor,  Preecha Tiewtranon in a flawless, rebirthing process known to most people as Sexual Reassignment Surgery, or SRS.

 As a post-op, 21rst century Two-Spirits medicine woman, writer, agitator, revolutionary, progressive, Agent Provocateur, I dedicate myself, through the process of writing and speaking my transcendent, humanist vision, to be a voice for those who still suffer and languish their ‘closet of dreams’.

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 As a  ‘mature”  transexual,  I can honestly claim the dubious honor of having seen the best and worst of both sexes.  I’m fifty-nine now, a late bloomer to be sure.  But despite what I proudly regard as a qualified sort of worldliness about myself, there was nothing… and I do mean NOTHING that could have prepared me for the myriad social, psychological and practical adjustments that awaited me as I began my transition at the age of forty-four.

            The early days of my transition provided me with some of the most intense emotional experiences I’ve ever had.  Anyone foolish or brave enough to want a more personal understanding of the meaning of “ an intense emotional experience” should go to the nearest Wal-Mart at the busiest time of day and take their clothes off preferably in the vicinity of the customer service booth. Then as you stand there in your naked glory and enjoy your fifteen seconds of infamy, you will know precisely how I felt the first time that I went there in a dress. But as revealing a personal revelation as that experience was, it paled in comparison to a lesson in sexism that was bestowed upon me in summer of 1999.

            It was the last day of June and the searing New Mexico sun promised to push the mercury up past one hundred degrees. Unemployed as I frequently was, I sought the anonymity of the local theatre for a mid-day matinee. It was a remake of the classic the “ Out of Towners”.  Having consumed every last morsel of contraband candy I had smuggled into the theatre, I sat in dread of the approaching end of the movie. The murderous heat of a dry sauna waited patiently for my exit from the cool confines of the theatre. Amidst the dying chuckles of the audience as they filtered out toward the exits, I reluctantly gathered my purse, tugged at the hem of my sundress and donning the prerequisite sunglasses, fell in line.

            As I made my way into the main hall of the theatre, I felt the rush of the crowd as they turned right and made for the main exit.  Slightly claustrophobic, I turned left and opted for a longer, more relaxed pace through the side lot to my car in front. I heaved on the theatre door and immediately regretted my decision to leave the bliss of conditioned air.  As I walked down three stairs and turned left, the suffocating midday heat sucked the breath out of me and pummeled my consciousness into submission.  For a few steps I could manage no more than a  zombie shuffle.

            My reverie was suddenly cut very short as my attention was abruptly snapped back to reality by a sensation so bizarre that found nothing in my memory banks to use for comparison. Evil fell upon me suddenly and without warning as a thief in the night.  As I shuffled along the sidewalk on my way to my car, unseen and unbidden, a hand deftly lifted the very bottom rear hem of the aforementioned sundress and rather gently and gracefully stroked the most posterior aspect of my gluteus maximus, with one errant yet talented finger venturing ever so slightly toward the panty covered crevasse of it’s inner sanctum.

            Time slowed down to a crawl as it often does during moments of great import. Call it brain lock. My rationality now in a state of disarray, thoughts raced through my head in a jumble. In the microseconds following this encounter,  as I searched my psyche for some way to comprehend.  There came then a sort of crazy, mad convergence as I shuffled to a stop, groping desperately for understanding. “ Oh, it’s probably someone I know” then just as quickly the realization that that would not make the thing more palatable.

 In the next second, a mysterious presence glided by like a specter, lingering only long enough to whisper in my ear “ you are so gorgeous”.   There, in that weird dream state, I remained motionless…suspended as I watched this audacious, swarthy, thirtyish man…with excellent taste in posteriors, walk briskly down the sidewalk.  Sexism had come calling.

            Senses returning with the assistance of adrenaline, now beginning to surge, I tried to formulate some sort of response. As I stood there in shock, one of my many alter egos, the one who’s needy as a motherless kitten and wanton as a depraved transexual, spoke up and in true southern belle fashion said “ Why thank you kind sir, you say the nicest things ”.      But in the very next second, my fantasy was shattered as the brazen stranger paused, now some fifty feet ahead, and turned to leer at his victim one more time.   That did it!    I was finally snapped back into some sort of functional state of being and overcome by a brief but powerful sense of self-righteous anger.  For one shining moment I was imbued with the special sort of uplifting, justifiable, empowering rage that only a transexual really knows.

            As this impudent stranger quickened his pace down the sidewalk, he turned left and headed for the anonymity of the main parking lot.   Just before disappearing behind the front wall of the theatre, he turned towards me once more and leered, a perverted grin plastered on his face.  His  demeanor screamed “Gotcha!”.

            I felt violated…used and abused, defiled and deflowered…like some cheap sex object.   Sadly, I also had gained insight into how it felt to be a woman in a male dominated society.   I realized with grave conviction the immenseness of my vulnerability.    This worm in a man’s disguise could have done practically anything he wanted to me and I was impotent.    It came as a startling realization to realize how very far this transition had brought me.

            Finally, my sense of justified anger returned with renewed vigor.  An evil plan of retribution began to formulate in my now vindictive psyche. He was still close enough to me that I could exploit his haughty overconfidence, and I could use the element of surprise to teach this ogre a lesson.    I would simply remove my high heels and chase him down on foot. His smugness would cause him to run at half speed.   I would tackle him in the parking lot. Then as he lay there in shock, the rictus of fear frozen on his lips, I would create an indelible impression­–an impression guaranteed to remain lodged in his sex-offender brain for the rest of his short, pitiful life.  In the video tape player of my imagination, to the grunting  animal sounds of the crowd that had gathered around us in the parking lot to cheer me on, I took my revenge. And lawdamighty was it sweet!

            I paused a moment to savor my victory the way I always do during my fantasies where I get to kick ass.  Then standing over this sad stunned lecher, I placed my foot on his throat, pulled up my dress, pulled down my panties and smiling just as sweetly as possible, revealed the one thing about me that he could never anticipated–the THING that would ruin his day.  As he stared openmouthed at my hated member and the object of his undoing,   I would kneel down beside him and end his days of perversion by delivering a deathblow to his septum, sadly sighing as its splintered shaft entered his brain.  Now that’s what I call pure transexual rage.

            Then, without warning, I snapped out of my sun-baked reverie and realized that I was standing in a daze on a sidewalk outside the theatre. Not knowing if the incident had attracted any attention, I kept my eyes to the ground and tried to appear as nonchalant as possible for a transexual who had just been groped for the first time.  I confess to being more than a little wary, each step quickening as I angled toward the safety of my Blazer

            I had no sooner reached it and entered my key into the lock when I was distracted by the sound of an approaching bicycle. I chanced a furtive glance in the direction of the sound and was aghast to see my friendly local pervert smile and wave as he rode casually by me. Still rooted to the spot, slack jawed, I continued to watch as he rode to the far end of the parking lot. He then dismounted and stood they’re grinning at me for what seemed like an eternity

            Once more my anger rose and I threw myself into my car with every intention of serving justice upon his person, “ Ha! This idiot is on a bike and I am driving a SUV.  What is he, suicidal?”

Then came an epiphany andI realized in a moment of maternal satori that I had misjudged the entire episode.  He was obviously a lonely, dysfunctional wretch of a man who needed love or at least reassurance. Of course that was it!  How could I have been so blind?   As we stared at each other from opposite ends of the blacktop, I began to feel a strange mixture nurturance and curiosity.

            My mood turned conciliatory. After all, his grope was a gentle one and I never really felt threatened. In reality he could have done much worse…like steal my purse or some jewelry. And he definitely wasn’t ugly. I’ll bet he just needs someone to talk to. In fact I’ll bet if I just go over there and tell him that I’m not upset with him, he will be so relieved just to know someone cares

             My motivation to heal gaining strength, I smiled at him as I started the car.   In a split second his self-confident grin began to fade and was replaced by a look of genuine perplexity. Holding his gaze, I backed the car out the parking space and slowly aimed the car in his direction. Halfway across the parking lot I was close enough to see his look of perplexity slowly fade, replaced with a grimace of fearful anticipation. I forced myself to smile to put him at ease, but I must have appeared crazed and demonic as he mounted his bike in a frenzy. Anxious to meet and console my mysterious admire, I accelerated toward him.

            He must have been trying to dislodge his testicles from their recent ascent back to their former place of safety as he threw one more pained grimace in my direction and began peddling furiously away from his psycho gropee. We bounced in unison over a couple of parking bumpers and plowed through a small gravel lot, barely missing a couple of mailboxes.

We hit the pavement of the main thoroughfare as he pedaled furiously, casting frantic fearful looks over his shoulder. I briefly considered grabbing pencil and paper to scratch out a calming phrase I could flash at him, opting instead to pull alongside him and reassure him in person. In an instant we were side by side, hurtling down the four lane highway. The poor man looked as if he would have rather been swimming with piranha.

 I leaned out of my window at forty miles an hour and screamed at the top of my lungs “ Stop, let’s talk” I screamed. “I just wanna help!”

 Unfortunately in the act of leaning out of the window I subtly edged out of my lane and into his. A mere four feet remained between us. A look of horror was frozen on his face as he realized that he had bitten of more than he would ever want to chew.      I edged even closer in an effort to be heard and screamed “Hey c’mon, let’s go somewhere and talk. I can help”.

Staring crazy and pedaling wildly, he’d misunderstood the benevolence of my message. “ YOU go to hell too, you Tranny freak, I’m already there!”

And then whether by cruel fate or simple misadventure, having screamed these final parting words,  he drifted too far to the left, crossed the centerline of the four lanes, and was himself groped by an eighty ton Mack truck. I didn’t stop to investigate. There was simply no way to explain what had just transpired to the authorities. No one would believe that cosmic justice works for the weary  Some things are better left to the imagination.

            I still go to that same theatre on occasion. Inevitably, I find myself sauntering slowly through the same familiar exit, pausing just for a moment on the sidewalk outside the theater, waiting…watching. After all, he did say I was gorgeous, didn’t he?

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My “official” transition began in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida. 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 only knew us in our disguises.    Somewhere in that strange murky, grey space I lost much of my past.   Sadly, 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 had 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 having to do men’s work and pretending to like it.    There’s just so much a transexual can take before a hissyfit 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 they were 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 working with angry .teens.    I understood anger intimately.    Who is better to deal with this than the ‘angry transexual‘ 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.. Yup, 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 and with more courage and optimism than I thought one transexual could possibly muster, I sallied forth to face the two supervisory types 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 really said was ‘Where are you in your transition?‘ The difference is negligible.   With one casual, blatantly sexist question, I had been stripped naked and reduced to a sex object.

Mrs Smith drove the knife a little deeper,   “ 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, and second by the realization  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 st 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 thatr 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,” I screeched.   ” How do you decide who’s male and who’s female?    Is it company policy to check the genitals of everyone who applies? Or do you just wait till a client needs a reason to persecute someone like me?    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 and my anger felt fine as it rose from my transexual heart.    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 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 as a transperson.     A ponderous silence fell over the room. and the tension was palpable.    In my heart and soul I held closely to the hope that I had touched these two people and impressed them 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 to provide gay foster parents for a gay client. But this…..I, I just don’t know .”

Whoa!  Hoooold on thar a minute.   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 imminent, had taken wing, only to be replaced by the practical 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.”

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.

Alas, fate is a cruel dictator if it is anything and as it turns out this was the epitome of the psychic masturbation .   A one act play with a disappointing denouement.    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 reason for terminating me was never stated.   It quickly became apparent to me that I was expected to understand that since they were not legally required to employ me as a tranitioning transexual I was imminently expendable.    I was a liability from the outset and 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, but then irony my middle name.

And in the words of a master of irony, Groucho Marks

 ”I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member.”

I think…no wait, is that right?

 

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I live the life of  two-spirited medicine in my sanctuarya little room on top of a little desert hill covered by fragrant pine, where cacti stand like guardians under the relentless New Mexican sun.   The silent pulse of the desert swirls around me in mute waves of tawny beige.   I peer at the sky through the  window of my lonely  sanctuary, and see hope, like an airy cumulus cloud, drift overhead, just out of reach.  A dark, sad princess, I gaze across this familiar sea of isolation , and dream of  another life a utopian dream world, that, unlike this place, celebrates diversity and human potential.    Lost in the stark contradiction, I  turn my attention to the gaping, gray-black  maw of my computer monitor, where a dim silhouette mocks me.

I move in a little closer, as if looking for clues to mystery of my self.   Instead, I find a stranger who knows only confusion and dissonance that arise from a life unfulfilled, a life deniedmy humanity like the contents of an empty, odd shaped bowl .   With every encounter my perception is confirmed: I do not  belong here. I am  not a part of this life  Excommunicated by silent decree, I am disallowed, denied, refused, rejected, vilified, condemned, used, abused, then flung upon the garbage heap of life and scattered by the winds of a world gone mad

Though I am passionate and full of fire for the oppressed of the world, I walk this tortured path alone. I dangle at the end of a hangman’s noose,  and sear in the afternoon sun, while the persecuted masses of the world turn away . The fire in my heart consumes me and my blood drips into the ashes of their collective apathy. My spirit blazes while my bones turn to water at the possibility that I will die before I am heard.

In a dream, I float outside of the bubble of society, where ‘normal’ life seems to go on as it will.   Sadly floating as a dark specter just outside the glass wall of life, I see people of many colors, old and young people, married and single, children laughing and playing. People with jobs, families and friends. With hopes and dreams, jobs and goals, self respect and a sense of community. Outside the bubble there is only me and my sense of exile. Furiously I pound and wail, scream and pound some more. But I alone am invisible and no one hears me. No one witnesses my dissolution, as  I am borne away on a veil of tears

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There’s a special place that I go,
Far from the maddening race,
Where bitter tears turn to rivers of love,
And the dark masque falls from my face.
.
In my warrior’s heart, a sacred space
Where I go to abandon my self
Where anger and fear turn to butterflies
And the ice of old wounds just melts.

Happy here in my spiritual garden,
Through my warrior’s heart I wring.
Truth from the trees and the rivers,
Then I transform into Eagle and take wing.

As I soar through skies full of rainbows,
Over forgotten fields of old pain
Freed from my self importance,
My soul is cleansed by the rain.

Then comes the dark, and the magic of night,
My old friend Moon leads the way.
To my bruja’s work, by the light of the stars,
In dark mystery, cold spirits play.

As I flutter to earth, the sky fills with light.
Arrows of lightning blaze wonder.
I sing and I dance by the campfire’s light,
To the sound of Beautiful Thunder.

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Two Spirits

By

April Rose Schneider

Greetings to all human beings and their ancestors and to all sentient beings who honor their connection to Mother Earth.     My name is Rosie and I am a Two-Spirits healer.   I come to you now with an open heart and a passionate desire to share the vision and wisdom of two spirit medicine.   The medicine of my tribe is powerful because it symbolizes balance and harmony.    But more than that, the power of my medicine provides the context for the re-unification of the duality of opposites. In simpler terms, mine is the medicine of non-duality.    These words fulfill my responsibility to share my spiritual journey with the receptive hearts and minds of those who need to hear them.   For readers unfamiliar with the subject, I offer a brief description of two-spirited consciousness, followed by a short history of that tradition.  In the end, I will weave them together in a cosmic mandala for your meditation.

The expression “Two Spirits” refers to the manifestation of masculine and feminine energy in one individual.    It is a relatively new way of describing a tradition that has existed in indigenous cultures around the world prior to the development of western civilization.  In order to understand this tradition, this different way of viewing gender, we must first be clear on the distinction between sex and gender.     A popular saying describes the difference as follows: Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears.   In other words, gender is not about sexual preference, rather it is the expression of our unique sexuality.

The expression of two-spirits in one individual is, more accurately, one’s spiritual expression of two polar aspects known as yin and yang.    The ancient symbolism of yin and yang, together referred to as the Tao, symbolizes the fundamental principle by which the Great Spirit animates and informs every thing that exists on this material plane.      At its most elementary level, yin and yang describe a balanced energetic relationship where yin is the passive principal and yang is the active principal.   Because yin defines yang, and yang defines yin, these opposing principles hold equal value in an idealized state of balance.    Relativity, interdependence and harmony provide form. From this original concept of the duality of opposites springs all other artificial concepts of division.

BRIDGING YIN YANG

I was born into the body of a male baby in 1951.      By the age of five, I became aware of a subtle disturbance in my energy field.     Within five years of this realization my young personality floundered in the turbulent waters of a gender identity process gone horribly awry.     A feeling of non-ordinary reality, accompanied by a growing sense of detachment, infused my daily existence.    I became depressed and withdrawn.

Over a period of years revelation came to me in dreams, where my spirit showed me the reason for my discomfort.   Each night as I lay in bed, I closed my eyes to find my spirit inhabiting the physical form of a happy little girl.  I didn’t know, or care at all how this transformation occurred. I was happy for a brief moment of peace.   As natural as a falcon taking wing, I accepted this dreaming aspect of my personality as an integral part of my being

Eventually, I found creative ways to stay home alone and express my other-gendered nature with the help of my mother’s wardrobe.   But these occasional interludes created another dichotomy: my joyful affinity for feminine expression would cause me great pain upon discovery.   Though I knew little of the ways of the world that lay beyond the safe confines of the post World War II, working class, cookie cutter neighborhood of my youth, I did intuit one of society’s essential, unspoken principals with profound clarity: good little boys did not live for stolen moments of cross-dressed glory.

In the American middle class of the1950’s, the world was divided into two kinds of gendered people: men and women. Any hint of cross-gendered behavior invited violence and humiliation. L found proof in the daily newspapers of America and felt the violent undercurrents of misogynism.    The realization that I could be the target of such hatred frightened me at the deepest level of my awareness.   From the very beginning of my conscious awareness I was caught in a moral dilemma of immense proportion.     In the place of healthy childhood development, my ravaged young personality resembled a rudderless ship being sucked into a maelstrom of sexual energies that I could feel but not articulate.     I intuited that some cosmic mix-up had occurred between my mind and body, yet I had no words to describe the sense of disassociation that I experienced on a daily basis.

Beginning in early adolescence and throughout the most crucial period of personality development, neurosis and self-loathing poisoned my spirit at every step on the path to adulthood. Contradictions that would not yield to logic confronted me at every turn, on every level of my being.  I had “awakened” in this present incarnation with extreme dissonance of mind and body that I dare not reveal on penalty of death.   While my spirit whispered an awareness of my two spirited nature in one ear, the societal voice of sexist bigotry screamed shame and fear into the other ear.  Imprisoned by fate in this physical form that I could not accept or change, I suffered in isolation for many years.

My sense of abandonment became a prison/fort where I became angry, suspicious, and withdrawn.  Despite a natural tendency as a child was to seek reliefthrough the wisdom of my parents, I knew intuitively that they weren’t emotionally stable enough to deal with these feelings that I could not describe.     Even more injurious to my tender young ego was my conviction that to speak my truth would expose my young spirit to the violence of a world locked in delusion.

By the age 15, a huge gaping chasm developed between the carefully constructed, socially acceptable male image that I exhibited and the overpowering impulse of my secret feminine self.   I was paralyzed by an irreconcilable contradiction.  Caught between the maxim that “Jesus loved me, because the Bible told me so” and the knowledge that if anyone discovered my deep, dark secret I would be burned at the stake, I teetered on the brink of madness with little hope for resolution.

I trusted absolutely no one including parents and friends, aunts and uncles, teachers or preachers.    Artifice contaminated all of my relationships save the one I had with myself.    A deep sense of dread prevented me from even thinking about communicating this delicate issue to anyone.     As a result of my universal mistrust-cum- paranoia, I found myself utterly alone, holding onto suicidal ideation as an antidote to the pain.

A few months after I graduated from high school, my life fell apart.    The flimsy masculine image I had employed as a disguise began to deteriorate. Without a high school audience to appreciate my impersonation of a young man, I was an actress without a part.  Severely depressed, I retreated into my own world–a sheltered, sacred world of intense intellectual exploration into the mechanism of human consciousness…

In 1969, scant information was available on the subject of transgenderism, the psychological model of people with a non-conforming gender identity.   Psychiatry, from the male dominant perspective, continued to treat gender identity as a sort of minor psychosis.  For hundreds of years, institutionalization was the treatment of choice for people who were not comfortable in their assigned gender.  I struggled to maintain my male disguise while searching for a right path to understanding.

Despite my baptism as a good Lutheran boy, and a lifetime of half-hearted supplication, my prayers went unanswered. This dubious god of the pious masses had abandoned me. Two spirited people were not mentioned in the Bible, or any other religious text.  Logically then, I abandoned the notion of this cruel God, whose biblical omission continues to cause untold suffering and needless death.     By the time I had reached my early twenties, as an antidote to the spiritual toxicity of right-wing fundamentalist religion, I embarked on a life long study of the ancient belief systems of indigenous peoples.

 

THE OLD BECOMES THE NEW

I began my education with Native American tribes who perceived the energetic relationship of humans to their environment in a profound way that, as a result of genocide, may be lost to us forever. From the documentation of explorers and anthropologists, I found that indigenous cultures around the world valued the manifestations of the spirit so infinite in its diversity.  The Great Spirit’s creative authority was not questioned in matters of divine expression.  The Native Americans accepted all expressions of the Great Spirit as containing a wisdom nature that provided essential balance in every aspect of their environment.

One-hundred fifty years before I was born, the dreams of my youth would have been a sign from the Great Spirit that I was meant to be a two-spirited medicine person in Native American culture.   An apocryphal story of one North American tribe points to this sort of implicit acceptance of the will of the Great Spirit regarding gender:  According to oral history, a young boy or girl who showed the slightest indication of cross gendered behavior was placed in a grass hut with one male toy and one female toy. The hut was then set on fire. If the child’s gendered choice was ‘opposite’ their natal sex, the Great Spirit had spoken in affirmation of the child’s dual gender/nature thereby placing them in high esteem in the tribal society.

Each tribe had a name for these special people: The Lakota referred to them as Winkte [would-be woman].   The Navaho called them “nadleeh“[one who changes time and again].    In the Crow tribe, they were named “bade”, and the Zuni called them “ilhamana”.     Though the names of the Two-Spirit people varied greatly from tribe to tribe,   the trans-national similarities of their two-spirit traditions were remarkable considering the territorial nature of tribal life.\

Native Americans in general recognized the two-spirit folk as divinely imbued with a special insight regarding human nature.    Based on this gift of the spirit, tribes conferred much honor on them in terms of their position and responsibility to the tribe.    The spiritual gifts of their dual nature promoted them to positions of reverence in the role of hunters, story tellers, shamans, warriors, medicine persons, informal marriage counselors, and leaders of naming ceremonies.

Male born two-spirits were considered especially valuable in the sense that they performed the duties of a woman with the strength of a man.    Many woman born two-spirits were fierce warriors, respected by their fellow male warriors for their high level of skill in horse riding and counting coup.   Indigenous society did not judge, chastise, ridicule or kill the two spirited person as did white society.   They celebrated the gifts of diversity.

This indigenous appreciation for the necessity of balance through the interplay of yin and yang came to a sad end with the genocide of the North American Indian. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and zealous Jesuit missionaries, the two spirited tradition of the North American Indians was destroyed by the violence of enforced acculturation.

History now provides us with a tragic account of the many sordid ways that Spanish Conquistadors, driven by a belief  system that married  white supremacy with pseudo-pious religious imperialism, began a murderous, systematic war of cultural attrition against the “brown skinned” cultures of the North American continent.When the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca landed in Florida in the year 1530 and discovered the Timicuan Indians who lived there, notations in his diary indicated that he had witnessed “soft Native American males dressing and working as women’.

The Timicuan were a small elegant, artistic tribe located in northern Florida.  Far from the violence of the northern and western tribes, they had little reason for weapons and no shame about these soft males whom de Vaca referred to as berdache– from the Persian “bardaj,” a derogatory term   The proud conquistador celebrates while two-spirited people are thrown into a pit, mauled by wild dogs and suffer a slow painful death.   Beginning in the 1880’s, as proper American society moved across the Great Plains and into the mountains and deserts of the west, people encountered more of these “odd savages” and became determined to recreate Indian society in the image of Euro-American culture. Native Americans were taken away from their homes, their villages, their tribes, and families and acculturated into white society en masse.  Dressed and shorn in fashion of white culture, they were often imprisoned where they were beaten like animals for the slightest indication that they might not wholeheartedly embrace the ways of their captors.

The intentional destruction of Native American culture and the subsequent violent imposition of European Neo-Victorian values signaled the beginning of the end ofthe two-spirit tradition on the North American continent.    By the early 1900’s, their proud tradition was little more than a footnote in a rare historical text.Ironically, while religion succeeded in destroying the two-spirited tradition in indigenous North America, the essence of two spirited wisdom persists despite its detractors.   I am living proof.   From my earliest memories, I have known myself as a human being with a male spirit alongside an equally prominent feminine spirit. Long before I had heard of the term two spirits, I experienced it as a psychological context of my existence.

AWAKENING FROM THE DREAM OF THE WORLD

As I delved further into the anthropology of pagan/indigenous spiritual belief, I began to draw strength from the images of proud two-spirited people–celebrated for their diversity, wisdom, bravery, courage, and spiritual power in indigenous tribes across the globe.   I found numerous examples, both mythological and historical, of people with androgynous character. In these colorful pan-cultural narratives, I read of both men and women who were transformed into members of the opposite sex, either permanently or temporarily, for the sake of punishment or education.  From their legacy, I found liberation from the applied stigma of an intolerant, judgmental society

This new perspective empowered me with the knowledge of my inherent spiritual strength, but with validation came responsibility.   No longer was it possible to play the victim. I made the conscious decision to recreate my self image based on a model of the the two spirited elders who had gone before me.   My warrior’s spirit, suppressed for so many years by internalized shame and bigotry, found inspiration in the knowledge that peoplelike me were validated in ancient history.    I embraced this new manifestation of the spirit and resolved to let it guide me in my search for enlightenment  Buddhists call it maya; the Toltec call it the Dream of the Planet. The Dream of the planet is the collective conditioning that creates duality where none actually exists. Maya is the conditioning that justifies war and poverty, abuse and oppression, judgment and punishment, right and wrong, and murder for the sake of ideology.   Regardless of the name, the process that no humans can avoid is the non-critical internalization of information as directed by the intention of the Dream world we enter.   As I assimilated this unified theory of consciousness, my life began to make sense.

 

In his book of profound wisdom, “The Four Agreements”, Don Miguel Ruiz makes the point succinctly,“Humans are dreaming all the time.   Before we were born the humans before us created a big outside dream we will call society’s dream or the dream of the planet dreams which together create a dream of family, a dream of community a dream of city, a dream of country and finally a dream of the whole humanity The dream of the planet includes all of society’s rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its government, schools, social events and holidays.” At the crux of the process is our agreement to the terms of our survival. With the capacity to dream from the moment of birth, our attention is contingent upon our need to survive.

Thus, when you are lying in your crib at the age of two, cold and hungry, without the benefit of personal boundaries, you will agree to any ordered condition of your specific environment in order to continue living.  At the moment a parent or guardian, who orders or allows the conditions of our little world, enters our sacred space and infects it with negative energy, we internalize those conditions. The absorbent yin nature of infantile consciousness provides the ideal context for the establishment of layered patterns of dysfunction.    This patterning describes the process of random input that determines personality. As this initial layer becomes fixed in time, self awareness is built on an endless loop of a conditioned patterning and reactive emotion.

With no discrimination possible upon our entrance into the Dream, our attention is hooked by the intention of a world committed to sustaining this conditioning.   This process of indoctrination begins to shape our young personality.   All of our values, institutions, familial obligations, and sense of self are creations of the collective dream state.  By our agreement to this persistent imposition of conditions, we project a reality in which we become our own judge, jury and executioner. Our words become the weapons of the indiscriminate process by which we spread the toxin of judgment and endless suffering.

Our investment in this illusion of consciousness perpetuates our sense of isolation and separation from the whole.  This process, from a psycho/societal view, referred to as identity politics, is the antithesis of a cohesive peaceful society.   Identity politics divides and subdivides human beings into an infinite number of categories based on superficial characteristics.   This elevation of ego by insidious, subliminal propaganda causes great suffering by creating a false hierarchy of values that celebrates neurosis, negates our humanity and establishes a context for oppression.

Invigorated by this new, liberating model of conscious development, I began to review my personal involvement in the Dream to gain a more rational perspective on my two-spirited condition. In a life changing epiphany, ancient wisdom pierced my heart like a lightning bolt –illuminating the darkness of a life lived in the shadows.   The raging river of caustic rhetorical hate and judgment, that had infected my consciousness for so long, was transformed into a harmless trickle that merged with the Tao of knowing.

FINDING THE REAL ME

Like so many indigenous two spirited folks before me, I had entered the world with a Dream of my own.   I am one of the fortunate ones–chosen by the Great Spirit to manifest this noble Two Spirits tradition in a society that manifested lethal sexism.    The simple act of being born with equal parts masculine and feminine renders me a social pariah. In a world so heavily invested in the duality, I represent a threat to the power structure– doomed to a life lived in the shadow of mainstream society, or any society at all.

Throughout many years of suffering, I wandered blindly in the darkness of my own illusion.   I have survived the perilous conflict between the world Dream and my own  personal dream by deconstructing my sexist conditioning through the lens of my essential humanity.    Through the warrior’s act of intention, I have recreated my “self” based on the gift of Two-Spirited medicine that guides me on this personal journey of transcendence.    Personality, based on illusory thought–produced by a shared corrupt ego state–burdens me no more. The Dream of the world has lost its steely grip. My spirit shall not yield to the deception.

My life as a two spirited person today is full and rich because I honor myself in my Two Spirits tradition.    No longer am I afflicted by the illusion of the duality.    Within me, yin and yang are one, undivided–undifferentiated. I am neither this nor that. I represent the unification of the first binary–the primary subdivision that occurs at the moment of birth at the whim of a stranger in white. I reject this arbitrary distinction based on a cursory inspection of my genitalia. I am a human being and that is enough.  Endless subdivisions of identification only enhance my separation from other humans.

All sentient beings enter this material plane with the essence of their luminous character momentarily intact. Our consciousness is tabula rasa–a blank slate upon which is written the disparate elements of our future personality. Within minutes of our birth, we are assigned a gender based on our genitalia.   At the precise moment of this declaration, the infant is set on one of two very different paths whose parameters determine flux and flow of its life.    By the time we reach first year’s end, we are baptized by delusion.    The Dream clouds our vision, separating us from the source of our essential brilliance. And we forget.

We forget that before we internalized the identity that causes us to feel the immense pain of separation and isolation we were united as light beings in an energetic dimension of non-duality. We forget because human consciousness produces a false ego-based concept of gendered duality that is perpetually reinforced through violence and other forms of coercion.  Before we know what or who we are, sexism becomes the engine of social control. By the dominance/submission agreement into which men and women enter, this dream of sexism creates and perpetuates the suicidal imbalance of power and ensures our future disharmony.

While the dream of sexism continues to inflict pain much of man’s violence toward women cannot be understood in a rational sense.  Perhaps this murder by misogyny is man’s way of killing the feminine within himself in an effort to reinforce his self image of manhood.   Regardless of the motive, the prevalence of misogyny is the best evidence of our nihilistic tendencies.   While the Dream of sexism is too powerful to confront directly, its negative consequences are too destructive to ignore.  Until we as a global society are willing to confront this shadow side of our collective unconsciousness, we wobble on the brink of self destruction

We live in a very potent, extremely perilous time.  With the passing of each decade the world, precariously out of balance on the fulcrum of time, slides inexorably into the darkness. With the aid of industrialization and technology, we are losing our humanness under the immense burden of our artificially inflated egos.   What we refer to as culture is a euphemism intended to disguise the totality of our conditioned violence  that includes man’s violence against man, against women and against Gaia.  We are ‘civilized’ animals who have forgotten what is sacred.

The mysterious, awesome spirit of life, that animates and gives meaning to everything, ironically empowers the mechanism of its own demise.    Unbalanced, unbridled ego imbues the individual with the necessary rationale to commit the senseless destruction of life for the sake of ideology.    These are discomforting truths, yet we have no choice but to confront them while we still have our collective human will.    As conscious beings, we must take responsibility for our behavior, or perish in our apathy.    No longer is it practical to externalize authority.  No god will save us-none but the one we find within us.

A WARRIOR’S STANCE

A spiritual warrior must use all of their intention to pierce the veil of illusion that defines our lives, reinforces our sense of separateness, and perpetuates our suffering.  For as long as we are dominated by egocentric politics, a fatal imbalance of yin and yang threatens us with extinction.    A return to balance requires a commitment to a fearless, non-judgmental exploration of the self from earliest memory.    Most of the agreements that we have made since our first moments of life must be broken.    Our numerous defense mechanisms, all of our deepest darkest fears, all grasping, and all of our attachments must be reviewed in the context of the Dream.     Only when these subconscious negative obstructions melt away will we find the light within ourselves.

If we are serious about becoming a spiritual warrior for the benefit of ourselves and the collective, we must first focus on the healing nature of unconditional self-love.     This can only happen when we break with the subconscious, self limiting agreements of our past.  Believe that you deserve love, and with time the many layers of accumulated toxic patterns lose their evil power. Your commitment to begin your own healing with the power of love is the most important agreement one can make, for logic dictates that one can not give away something one does not possess. Begin now. Make a vow to love everything about yourself everyday.    Demonstrate self-love in every moment with every act.

Personal freedom requires a firm commitment to renounce the oppressive conditioning that leads us into the darkness of despair . I ask that you join me now and everyday as I renew the vows that produce beneficial karma.      For the benefit of all sentient beings; I take a vow of non-violence in my words and deeds. I vow to practice compassion toward myself that I may then extend it to others, I pledge to be ever mindful of the rotten fruits of desire, and I will do whatever I must to transcend the illusion of personal identity. Towards that end, I vow to polish the mirrored lens of my spirit that I might reflect the sun’s perfect light that shines in you.

The Divine Light in Me Honors the Divine Light within You.

NAMASTE

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I just finished watching a BBC documentary about Transsexuals in Iran entitled “Be like Others”.      Several issues presented in the film affected me deeply.    First, Iranian transsexuals have no idea what life is like here for their brother and sister trans.    The censorship is second only to Iran’s male dominated, authoritarian society that has decreed that homosexuality is a perversion and Transsexualism is a birth anomaly.

How they arrive at this decision derives from the Koran that vilifies homosexuality and does not mention trans.    Perhaps because when the Koran was written, like the Bible, there were no trans people. or if there were, they were so heinous as to be ignored by the men who wrote those books.   My guess is that we transsexuals are a more modern development.

Back to the documentary, Iran is one of the most sexist and therefore sexually repressive regimes in the modern world.    And if there is a more repressive place, I don’t even want to know about it.    The reality of this distinction, this weird reversal of fortune, is that If you are truly trans, you get more help and support in Iran than here in the land of the free.      Financial support for the operation, short-term facilities for recovery, an instant birth certificate and most likely a life of quasi respectability including legal marriage.

But Allah help you if you were born homo. You’ll be lucky to escape alive. Talk about a weird cultural shift…

I blame The Dream. Read about it HERE          http://02f0972.netsolhost.com/

The dream creates and reinforces Gender as a condition of our humanity.     And the rules, the conditions are written by men.    Now and then, global culture represents the hopes and fears of human beings in the context of a Male dominated society.      Thus morality and ethics are relativistic concepts as determined by testosterone driven consciousness.       Therefore if something is abhorrent to men, those things eventually become abhorrent to the rest, whether there exists justification or not.    Indeed social mores are either designed by male thinking or rejected by the same.

No more or less justification exists for transsexuals as for homosexual behavior. But religion is not, nor has ever been a bastion of scientific or  critical thinking. And the only proof that Iran needs to condemn an entire subgroup to a life of shame and misery is the Koran.    They are not alone in their moral duplicity. All major, patriarchal religions, all religion, uses a “holy book’, which only they as men are allowed to interpret.

The fact that religion post dates gender expression does not matter to religion at all.      Religion specializes in rewriting history to satisfy the institutions of Male hegemony across a global setting. And because men are bigger and stronger, they re also bullies.    Not all men are bullies,  but the same fear that permeates the global trans community silences more sensitive men who might support other’s human rights.

The concept that a state of any kind holds the power to determine gender expression with the ever constant threat of violence is a symptom of social engineering destined to fail.  Nature does not and never will conform to our expectations.  Diversity is the foundation of creation.     Only through the myopic human projection of culture, programmed into every living cell, do we sanctify these predominance of binary gender.  Gender follows the same linguistic pitfalls of the concept of god:  Everyone knows what it is but no one can describe or define it.    Yet because of gender’s importance as a tool of social control, we are light years away from a true humanist solution.

Turning gay and lesbians into post op transsexuals and transsexuals into prostitutes is not only a human rights abuse issue in the guise of religion, it is the best example of violent sexist male dominant culture in the not so civilized world.

The somber end of the documentary included a scene where a post op Iranian woman describe her life so similar to mine.    Rejected by her family, she turned to a life of ‘temporary marriage’ -little more than state sanctioned prostitution and described her inability to love.  She broke down and cried as she felt the loneliness and abandonment that I know so well.    And I cried with her…for all of us.

SISTER POWER

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