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I write this as an act of catharsis, or perhaps in vain hope-a concept that I generally skewer in others-that someday someone will read this and truly grasp the pathos of my life as a Trans person. But since I don’t believe in hope….there is just some shit-and I mean that in a visceral sense-that needs to come out.

For example…I think too much about the fragility of life. I think about the temporal ephemeral nature of consciousness and how I might die. Or who will die first-me, my soulmate, or the dog.   I’m gamblin’ on the dog.   I do this as a reflex, and a weird sort of balm that prioritizes my existence  And I keep repeating in a low breathy whisper, “Everything dies. It’s okay. Its one of the three things that every sentient being on Planet Earth shares without qualification:  We are born.  We live a while.  And we die.”  Then I take a breath and come back.   Back to center.

And when I do reside in my center I realize that I am perfect.   Perfect in the sense that to be human is to be flawed. Perfect in the way that as a Trans Two Spirited woman I am connected, and therefore one with everything.   Sadly, I seem to be the only one who groks this concept.    Now I ain’t saying that I’m physically attractive. I might even appear unusual to some people. But despite the fact that I am a woman by most current standards   [42 B+ bra size] ,  people still call me ‘he’ on the average of once a week.   I attribute these incidences to bigotry and/or religion and in my mind the terms are rather synonymous.

The other day I walked into a small office supply store. The clerk was helping a woman with her back to me about thirty feet away. He said he would help me in a minute.  Then she said “Oh that’s okay.  Go ahead and help him.” Last week the bass player for a band  I was playing in called me ‘he’ on the second night we met.     I told him that he probably didn’t know that I was not only a drummer….but that I was also a homicidal maniac [ I’m not really homicidal ].  And that if he didn’t want to find out the hard way that he should refrain from the aforementioned gendered slur.

But it didn’t help.   He did it again. So instead of a more satisfying form of revenge I just left.

It was a good day to die….or be centered.

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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

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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

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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..

.

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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

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The fine china has been cleared from the table. Wine glasses empty slowly as you and your date idle expectantly on a long, wide sofa, whose deep, rich fabric invites bare skin.

Soft, romantic music plays in the background as the evening sun fades into dusk. In the glow of dim light, casual conversation carves sexual nuance into a pregnant moment, as your desire rises forcefully from within your bosom.

A gloriously romantic scene sets the stage for the final act. A hand lightly brushes a knee, you tell a naughty joke and your date laughs. The moment is right. Your eyes meet. And with grave implication, your date holds your expectant gaze and whispers.

“I’m a transsexual”.

HUH? What the…?Wait!

You have just received the briefest tidbit of some horrible information, instantly altering the romantic paradigm of moments before.

“You’re a what?” you shriek as you not-so-subtly cover your crotch with a couch pillow. You’re not sure what a transsexual is, but you’re pretty sure they are regulars on the Jerry Springer show. And that makes it BAD NEWS.

“I’m a transsexual”

‘OH MY GOD! What’s a transsexual?” you shriek. “Will I get some horrible disease? Am I gay?”

Relax. Calm down. Transsexuals and transgendered people live and walk among us as they have done for centuries.

My name is Rosie and I am a proud post-operative transsexual woman. My purpose, as an Expert for LoveDetours is to generally demystify the condition of Gender Identity that includes a wide range of beautifully diverse gendered expression. It is my intention to provide you with an educated perspective that will preclude the sort of disastrous scenario that I described in the first two paragraphs of this article. By the time you have completed your gender education in the following pages, you will be prepared to confront your next encounter with gender diversity with tact and sensitivity.

To demystify the concept of transsexualism and transgenderism, we must first achieve a clear understand of the real nature of gender. Simply put, gender exists between the ears whereas sex is between the legs. Gender is the unique expression of where one finds oneself on the gendered continuum between the idealized, absolutes of masculine and feminine.

You’ll notice that in the previous sentence, I referred to “idealized absolutes’. Since the beginning of time, largely due to the limits of language, we humans have conceptualized our world in terms of a dichotomy: black and white, good and bad, hot and cold, and of course male and female. While this over-simplification makes for effective conversation, it fails miserably when used to describe human sexuality.

Along the broad continuum of human psych-social development, the truth is that we all contain biological components of both sexes .In fact; all human beings begin life as genetic females. Then over the course of our fetal development, male and female differentiation occurs generally along predictable lines. Males, with the help of the testosterone, develop deeper voices, bulky muscles, a propensity for body hair. Woman, due to estrogen biology, have higher voice pitch and resonance, smoother muscles and much less body hair. In this way, with the use of hormones, the body guides the sexual development throughout infancy, puberty and adolescence.

It is important to note that, while this process produces a mold for the differentiation of humans into two visually distinguishable sexes, infinite variations in the process, called brain sex, produce a wide variety of personal expression in the final product. This complex combination of sex determinants sets the stage for the development of gender identity.

Simply put, gender identity is personality’s relationship with the body. Within the myriad expression of our sexuality is the essence of gender. The antiquated concept that behavior must conform to expectations based solely on the existence of one’s genitalia is no longer workable.

Gender expression is a tale of mystery written by the hand of psycho-social development. Masculine and feminine are the parts we play on the stage of life. Generally speaking, gendered behavior corresponds to one’s sexual determinants. People with male genitalia express male gendered behavior. Conversely, people with female genitalia engage in female gendered behavior. However, if we feel it is important or necessary to maintain these strict categories to define people, we must have a firm definition of precisely what is appropriately gendered dress and behavior. No such definitions exist.

If you doubt the veracity of the previous statement, I beg of you to challenge it by asking as many people as you can to define male and female. If they make it past that question, then ask them to explain the difference between masculine and feminine and watch as their brains fry in the attempt. Here are the standard definitions of male and female from the FreeDictionary [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/]   :

male  (ml)

adj.

1.

a. Of, relating to, or designating the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova.

b. Characteristic of or appropriate to this sex; masculine.

c. Consisting of members of this sex.

2. Virile; manly.

fe·male  (fml)

adj.

1.

a. Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young.

b. Characteristic of or appropriate to this sex; feminine.

c. Consisting of members of this sex.

Any alien visitor to earth who read this description of the distinction between male and female would exit the planet shaking their heads in confusion

Fortunately, in the global sense we have no fixed definition of appropriate gender. The rules for gender vary widely from culture to culture–decade to decade. In the new millennium, men wear pink colors in clothing, earrings, long hair and nail polish. Women have always been more liberated in their ability to express themselves. Since World War II, women have been wearing pants, which would have been heresy only a few years prior to the war.

Transgendered is the umbrella category for all people who do not conform to gendered expectations of society. Transgender people express a gendered identity that does not conform to the stereotypical expectations of their natal sex. They express their identification through a variety of characteristics, such as hair, clothes mannerism, and speech. Transgendered behavior or more specifically transcendent gendered expression transforms the muddy waters of gender from a wading pool into an ocean of gendered possibilities.

While this broad category of gender–diverse expression includes a wide variety of personal expression, we will confine ourselves in this discussion to those most pertinent descriptions of gender identity and their impact on dating. What you want to know is exactly how to tell the girls from the boys to avoid the situation described in the beginning of this article.

Learning how to tell the guys from the gals these days IS a challenge. But I can help. Stand by for the next in a series of articles on Avoiding a Transsexual Moment.

From Sista Rosie,

The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering [  Transsexual Patron Saint of Atheists Everywhere]

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April twelfth, nineteen -fifty-one dawned over the town of Dayton, Ohio like any other spring day. A few wisps of clouds, a light breeze and plenty of sun. Generally speaking it was a day without distinction. Unless you happened to be Roland or Doris Schneider. For them this day was portentous. This was the day of the birth of their first child. Doris wanted a boy, Roland a girl. Everything seemed normal as they took their first tentative steps toward building their all American post-war baby-boomer family .In nineteen fifty-one life was good and the future looked even better. The fifties were pregnant with possibilities Roland and Doris could afford to have high hopes for their firstborn. Boy or girl, the Schneider’s didn’t care that much. As long as it was a healthy, happy child. What they did produce would inevitably far exceed their parental expectations.

The first five years of my life were the happiest I’ve ever known. . I was too young to understand the contradiction that would eventually haunt me. Unaware of the shame that would eventually be heaped upon me, I lived a relatively normal childhood Societal judgment had not yet been internalized. Happily ignorant of the struggles for life and sanity that lay ahead, I lived in prophetic dreams.. It was in these dreams that I felt most comfortable because in my special dreamtime I was a little girl.

In early Native American culture, the kind of dreams I began experiencing in early childhood would have been a sign from the Great Spirit that I was destined to be a berdache. Most all-indigenous Native American tribes believed that the Great Spirit chose certain special members of the tribe to be “two spirited”. These two spirited people, also known as berdache, exhibited preferences for behavior outside the boundaries of the normally gendered early in life. The most convincing indicator of their special status was revealed to the young berdache in the form of dreams. These dreams set in motion a specialized regimen of training designed to guide the young berdache toward their future roles that ranged from healer to mediator to substitute wife. Their legacy, now largely forgotten, was one of value and honor in their respective tribes. By comparison, my experience would be the very antithesis of theirs..

My dreams have always been a part of my consciousness. From an age before I could understand their significance or future import, they were the mainstays of my nightly bedtime routine. For the years prior to entering elementary school, it was the means by which I achieved sleep. Each night I would put on my jammies, clutch my stuffed dog to my chest, close my eyes and become a little girl in a perfect world. In the bliss of my youthful innocence, there was no contradiction, no shame, no guilt. I dreamt I was a little girl and I was happy. At first it never occurred to me to tell anyone because it was such a natural part of my consciousness. Just a few years later I realized that to reveal this component of my personality would lead to most tragic consequences. What if they tried to make me stop? What if they sent me away? The possibility was too much to bear. I kept the dream to myself.

My adolescence was filled with swirling, powerful, wordless emotion, much like a tornado whose fury I first sought to suppress then fled from in fear of disintegration. As my child hood progressed so did my awareness of some apparent contradiction between the way that I felt and the way I was perceived.. Identifying as a little girl seemed quite natural until I gazed at my reflection in the mirror. As my self awareness progressed I would spend much time crossdressing and posing in front of a mirror. And eventually all mirrors became my unforgiving captor. No matter how hard I tried, no matter what frilly foo-foo thing I wore, the mirror was a constant reminder that regardless of what I felt in my heart, the reflection was that of a little boy. Here was the dark genesis of my dance with madness. Here was the first sign of stress fractures in my fragile eggshell personality. As I matured the stress fractures eventually combined to create one huge schism that threatened psychic destruction.

On the first day of my first year in kindergarten, September 1956, I experienced the first assault on my innocence. I learned my first lesson in social intercourse when it became necessary for the class to be divided into boys and girls It immediately became obvious to me that really big mistake had been made when I was put into the little boy’s group. I was mortified and vowed to take action at the first opportunity. I saw my chance at naptime. Laying my head down on my desk, I dramatically beseeched God to change me into the proper feminine form by the time I woke up. Profoundly disappointed upon awakening, I saw that my wish had not been granted. At that moment a young atheist was born I would gradually give up all hope that this god cared a pittance for the misery of a young transsexual.

By the age of ten, I had developed a growing fascination with girls and all things female. This fascination would create in me a keen observer of human behavior. I found myself studying the girls in my peer group with a passion. I felt inexplicably drawn to them. Way deep down in my young psyche I secretly shared their adolescent need to express themselves in the way that only girls were permitted. To skip rope, wear dresses, grow my hair, and attend pajama parties. This was my secret passion. This was the real desire that dare not speak its name.

Then on one particularly poignant spring afternoon circa 1962, I experienced a profound epiphany that seemed to certify my status as a pariah. I remember it as clearly as it was yesterday. I had been experimenting with my mom’s clothes and make up for a couple of years. I used any and every opportunity to stay home alone and indulge myself in the contents of her closet. I never questioned my behavior and my parents never suspected. I had begun crossdressing as a natural progression of the dreams. On this particular day my mom was at her therapist and my father was at work. I was sitting on the floor of our living room in my favorite full-length crinoline petticoat. The kind often worn under a poodle skirt. The sun was shining and a warm breeze blew the sound of boys playing through the window. As I sat there and listened to those happy sounds, sadness overwhelmed me. I remember thinking ‘That’s what it must be like for normal kids‘. Slowly my gaze dropped to the petticoat then returned to the scene outside. Sudden realization raised the veil of youthful innocence from my vision and tears fell from my eyes. How melancholy I felt to be so different.

At that moment I felt the first inkling of the isolation that would eventually both protect me and drive me to the brink of suicide. I was struck by the gravity of my predicament. The sun was still bright overhead. Breezes still blew and birds still sang. But for me a subtle shift had occurred in my self-perception. I was a little boy whose idea of fulfillment was staying home alone and wearing my mother’s clothes And from that day forward, a part of me knew for certain that I was headed for stormy seas in a leaky dingy.

Thus the strangeness of my neophyte transsexual life had begun in earnest. Without fanfare or tickertape parade, with shaky faltering steps, I had embarked on my transsexual path toward an inevitability that I could not have imagined. And this benign ignorance was perhaps the kindest gift that cruel fate would ever bestow upon me. Painted on the canvas of my future was a portrait of despair; confusion, fear and loneliness. Somewhere it is written that the easiest way to rob a person of their humanity is to place them in permanent isolation. Transexualism is the epitome of isolation. It is the transexual’s body that betrays the spirit It is the body that imprisons and isolates our true selves. It was our bodies that offer the pretense of masculinity, forcing us down a path we would gladly forsake .

Looking back to my earliest realizations two things stood out. I knew there was something very different about the way I felt and that I was the only person in my little world who felt the way I did. I did not question for a minute the rightness or wrongness of my “unusual” impulses. I did what I did for the same reasons that fish swim; it felt right and natural to do so. But as I was also a product of my environment. Wherever I encountered moral judgment and bigotry I internalized those feelings.. Tragically then at such a tender time in my life I was doomed by a paradox of staggering proportion. What I felt to be completely right and natural was perceived by my society to be immoral and perverted. Eventually an expression would be coined that put all of this misery into a neat little box . The name for my particular brand of madness is gender dysphoria

I still believe it to be a measure of my parent’s infinite capacity for denial that they never once suspected or perceived anything untoward in my unusual behavior. I also believe that it was one of my innermost desires to be found out. As dangerous as it seemed at the time, discovery still seemed preferable to living in fear and isolation. As I entered my teens, I began nursing an invisible little emotional bruise. But as with all wounds that do not get proper attention, what had begun as a tiny little innocuous hurt had begun to fester. The gnawing pain in my heart would eventually find expression in a litany of neurotic behaviors that ranged from alcoholism to near fatal risk taking behavior.

At the apex of adolescent need for attention I went into a department store, grabbed four or five baby doll nighties and brazenly threw them over the door of a locked dressing room. I then asked an attendant to let me into the room where I stuffed the nighties under my coat. If this was not a cry for attention, then I don’t know what would qualify. Naturally I was apprehended as I exited the store. The security guard was a little confused but he sent me home with a promise to notify me of a court date. Terrified as I drove home I quickly came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to tell my parents so they would know why I would be summoned to court. Admittedly they did appear momentarily perplexed. They did ask some superficial questions such as “ Why woman’s lingerie?” But I mumbled a few ‘I don’t knows’ and the issue was quickly forgotten. Ironically for whatever reason, I was never called upon by the justice system to explain my heinous behavior. The whole incident did teach me another valuable lesson. Apparently my parents capacity for denial far exceeded my need for parental attention.

High school. Or Dante’s Inferno as I have come to think of it. While so many of my peers were apparently adapting to this final stage of their public education, I was becoming obsessed with my pubic frustration..The full onset of testosterone signaled the real beginning of my darkness. From a male to female transsexual point of view nothing epitomizes hopelessness like the burgeoning presence of virilizing hormones as they invade our bodies, creating all the wrong changes in all the wrong places. I had always been at odds with my male body. I appreciated it as a pretty decent male body,. It was simply the wrong one for me. If I was condemned to live in this male body so be it but the chest hair would have to go. Thus began a thirty year struggle to rid myself of body hair

High school was for me felt like being tortured on that famous device known as The Rack. Drawn and quartered by forces I barely understood at the time, I often feared my own dissolution in the midst of a psychic tug of war. With no real self to operate from, I did the best I could to fake it. My grades were above average, my teachers liked me and all together I’m quite sure they had no clue as to my inner turmoil. The only exception to the rule was a psychology teacher to whom I shall be forever grateful. It was the tenth grade. The stress I was feeling was so great that I can only assume that my subconscious was operating on it’s own when I wrote an “anonymous” note to this teacher. In my pain and confusion it never occurred to me that he could match my handwriting with other papers I had written When he approached me about it the next day after class and asked me if I wanted to talk about I froze in terror. I was paralyzed by the desperation to speak my truth and fear of the consequences of telling the wrong person. I quickly denied authorship. The subject, to my relief, was never brought up again.

As I eased, or uneased, into the eleventh grade I felt hormone driven changes happening all around me but not to me. For me sexual development was an abstract concept. The big lesson I learned about sexuality was that it could not exist when the body and soul are at odds. My hormones only forced me deeper into despair. Hopelessness grew daily. I knew, based on observation, that certain behaviors would be expected of me. I knew that most of these behaviors were masculine in essence and that I had better start studying and fast. The two male behaviors hat I passionately abhorred were concerned with various aspects of male aggression; fisticuffs and sex.

The matter of physical confrontation was not as much of a concern as matters of the heart. I was not physically imposing in any sense of the word nor was I inclined towards aggression. So keeping my head down and staying out of the line of fire would be fairly easy. The other problem though was going to be a bitch plain and simple. Behaving like a male was the toughest role I would ever attempt. The consequences of being found out in the enemy camp were unpleasant to say the least. But like the dedicated actress that I was, I studied hard and succeeded. Some might even say that I over did it but I survived. Looking back now I often joke that I was a double agent, an undercover transsexual agent stranded behind enemy lines. Deep cover for I alone knew my real identity. There were no reinforcements no manuals, no maps, and no survival kit that described the intricacies of being a male imposter. I studied hard and faked it

For the next two years until my graduation in June of 1969, I was the consummate actress. I played my part as if my life depended on it. I ingratiated myself into the company of men and listened to their braggadocio. I tolerated their young sexism with tacit disdain, nodding and occasionally grunting for effect. But my sympathy inevitably lay with the recipients of their crude unpolished advances. The young women who were the subject of so much salacious gossip could never have guessed that I listened for them and defended them when possible. To them I was just another high school boy trying to find his way through the morass of sexual vagaries that boggled the mind. I even went as far as to date a couple of girls who seemed to like me. I tried really hard to do the “ right thing” but the truth is that I was lost at the moment when most men seemed unstoppable. I simply did not have what it took to do the manly thing and I knew it. I just didn’t have the words or the heart to tell them.

So to all the girls I’ve known before, I would take this opportunity to apologize. I knew from the look in your eyes, the smile on your lips and the sensual toss off your hair that you were ready for me to do what came natural to a boy. How could you have known back then that I was dying to be one of you? How could you have seen that the only lust in my heart was to be one of you and that every that happened between us only reminded me of the hopelessness of my situation?

As my senior year came and went, I glided through the halls of good old Colonel White H.S. like a cipher, bereft of hope, friends or plans for the future. There was a period of months during the latter half of the year that I thought I had a friend, knowing full well that friendship with a ghost like me was impossible. Still for a short time friendship seemed possible and then like everything else in my young life it too faded away into the mist of disillusionment. As my peer group focused on their plans for the immediate future, graduation found me surrounded by family turmoil, seething neurosis, enough self hate to float an armada, and a really bad case of hives. I wanted to die.

Fortunately I remained alive long enough to learn another really important life lesson. In the absence of positive planning, fate can throw a monkey wrench or two into the proceedings. One of those wrenches turned out to be my personal sword of Damocles. At first it appeared more like a panacea for every single thing that I thought was standing between success and me. Then it would become the noose with which I almost succeeded in almost committing suicide. Alcohol and I began our twenty five-year affair in the summer of “69, not coincidentally immediately following graduation from high school. We got close really fast. So fast in fact that I would become a burden to the few people who could tolerate me until they embarked on their own life. I took to drinking like a drag queen takes to high heels and it did for me something that no one or no thing had been able to do up to that time. It erased my pain. Unfortunately, it also exacted a toll on my self-respect, integrity, honesty, physical coordination, and memory,

Alcohol was also the culprit responsible for a most egregious case of bad judgment on December thirty-first, 1970. That’s the day I married Nurse Ratchet the Dominatrix. In a state of screaming denial I married the first person to come along with a car and a job. All I wanted was to leave home but it cost six years of my life to escape the clutches of Attila the Hun. I’ll not waste precious words on the debacle save to describe it as odious from beginning to end. Remarkable in one and only one respect; that a reasonably intelligent, responsible woman would voluntarily marry a neurotic, confused, unmotivated, unemployed, alcoholic, drug abusive, self-loathing transsexual. Then incomprehensibly produce two children using my drunken sperm, divorce me and sabotage any possible future relationship with these children by filling their heads with hate for me. Nuf said!

It isn’t always darkest just before the dawn but it certainly seemed that way to me. As bad as my marriage had been, it had also functioned as a flotation device. But by 1976 huge gaping leaks had sent it plummeting to its briny demise. Nineteen seventy-seven found me adrift on the streets of my hometown. Everything seemed so unreal. I felt as if I was outside a bubble looking in, the warmth and spirit of life denied me. Again I was the specter on the outside where cold wintry blasts rattled my bones, ever reminding me of my wintry isolation and my frozen heart.

Perhaps it was a death wish or the desperate need to flee from the forces of imminent psychological and spiritual collapse that propelled me on a three-year hitchhiking odyssey that would eventually cover approximately twenty five thousand miles. Between 1977 and 1980, I ranged from Ohio to San Francisco, from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale then back to Ohio. With my personal demons ever hot on my trail, I sought nothing more than surcease on the open road. For a few years the plan worked. I found necessary distraction in long distance travail. My existence was simplified to primal elements. I slept outside in ditches, in fields and on mountains. I ate out of cans, was chased by wild dogs, and passed out pleasantly drunk under a million stars . I got into a car with anyone who would take anywhere. Looking back now on my abandon, I realize that I was lucky just to survive.

In 1979 at my wits end I found myself standing on the Golden Gate Bridge. I truly had nothing but the clothes I wore. I gazed longingly at the water over four hundred feet down and tried to will myself to jump. But something stopped me and I experienced a sudden epiphany. I had found something that I thought was lost forever. Hope. Nothing else had changed. There was no real reason to be hopeful but I had found its essence within and I would not question its arrival. Considering the state of my consciousness, just finding this little glimmer of hope was miraculous enough to keep me going.

So I went back to the only home I had. My family had all eventually moved to Florida and the climate was perfect for the life of a beach bum. I hitched to Ft. Lauderdale and lived for a year by selling my plasma, eating happy hour cheese crackers and sleeping on the beach or wherever I could. Ah, the good life! For a while it seemed as if the past would repeat itself. There were more itinerant jobs, more nights sleeping anywhere, and more drunkenness. In fact I had unconsciously changed my self-image from tragically transsexual to sadly besotted. I was a reprobate who wanted nothing more than to drink my life away in my favorite bar. That’s exactly what I was doing on a balmy night in April of 1980 when, ever so subtly, my whole life changed forever in the time it takes to open a door.

My new adopted home was an earthy sort of drinking establishment called the Draft House, Anyone who saw me sitting in that bar would have typecast me as just another beer drinking, pool playing, rock and roll biker type. My consummate disguise had become my reality. 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, A 29 year old drifter, I had no friends no money, no job and no prospects. I was interested only in replacing a lifetime of pain with alcohol. In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous this is referred to as the jumping off place.

As I sat there with one eye on my beer and one eye one the entrance, I noticed a young wild child as she open the door and glided in. I quietly watched her as she lit the place up with an inner fire I had not seen in quite a while. She left after a short while but I was still in the same seat when she came back in two nights later. We struck up a conversation and I finally got around to asking her for a ride to my apartment. She stayed for a drink, then she stayed the night. And the night turned into weeks and the weeks turned to months. Miraculously, we recently celebrated twenty-two. years of marriage.

In a fairy tale, she would have kissed me early on and I would have turned into a princess but the truth is far less dramatic. It took all of those twenty-two years to explain to her that I was really a girl in disguise. For her to have come so far philosophically, from a Pentecostal upbringing to an agnostic lesbian married to a transsexual, is a miraculous feat and a tribute to the enduring power of love. She now says that she always knew that I was “special”. She just didn’t know how special! In 2001, she supported me while I worked and saved and flew to Bangkok, Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery. She is my one and only love, my soul mate.

Yet some dreams refuse to die. Previously in this text I alluded to the only person in high school with whom I felt any kinship at all. His name was Paul. He was 5’8”, fair skinned, slight built and blonde. Paul and I spent hours talking about everything. I felt a closeness with him, a trust that transcended words. With Paul I experienced a degree of emotional intimacy that I shared with no one else. I was fairly certain that I knew why. Paul was gay or at least he was destined to be gay. It was a moot point in 1967. Don‘t ask, don‘t tell was the ethos. No one had to tell me. Paul was gay and I was a closet transsexual happy to have found an unwitting ally. Then one day, inexplicably, Paul pulled away from me and I lost the only friend I had in those troubled times. Later I would see him pal around with a female schoolmate whom I assumed was a lesbian.. I thought Paul was in youthful denial.

In May of 2002, five months after SRS I was visiting a website that provides a cyber place for alumni of high schools all over the country to find each other. When I saw the name that I had kept in my memory for thirty-five years my heart leapt with happiness. Finally a small chance for an even tiny bit of redemption. Expectantly I sent him my email address, using my high school name of course. Within days I received an enthusiastic return from Paul. My inhibitions were overwhelmed by my passionate need for resolution. My correspondence began “ Dear Paul; there’s no easy way to say this so I’m a transsexual”.

Oh to be a fly on the wall! When the poor man recovered from his seizure, we began a series of torrid correspondence that rekindled the flame of our youth and fanned it considerably. The story that emerged is a clear case of mistaken identity and unrequited love. In a convoluted plot befitting Agatha Christie, desire drew us in as intersecting tangents. As it turned out, Paul had a monumental crush on me back in high school. At first he thought I was hetero then he thought I was leading him on. I personally didn’t have a clue. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of having sex while stuck in the wrong body. Paul took it hard. He felt rejected. That’s when he faded out of my life

As we reconnected from adult perspectives, our realization of what had happened, and not happened propelled us to a greater understanding of the sacrifices we made in the name of self-preservation. Somehow amidst the social facades of our youth revisited, we emerged with a finer perception of the paths we had traveled together and apart. And while thirty five years hadn’t diminished our affection for each other there was one little matter that still required closure. And this was the most delicate issue of all. Apparently neither time nor space, nor GENDER had assuaged his ardor for the person he knew thirty-five years ago. I must admit that I was flattered yet puzzled. I thought he was gay but then he explained that he was bisexual. Oh! Even still it seemed to me that he was taking a big chance. Though I had sent him a picture, I knew there was a recently emerged version of me that he was not at all acquainted with.

Hi next communication to me was the apex of resurgent passion. We finally spoke on the phone and it must have been disconcerting for him to hear me as a girl. He said that he had a question to ask me via email and that he hoped I wasn’t shocked. Shocked indeed! Paul suggested that perhaps if our partners “loved us enough” they might understand our desire to consummate our long lost lust. Mostly his lust. So I decided that the least I could do would be to ask my partner. When wisps of steam began to exit her ears I adroitly retracted my question. Paul took it hard but made a speedy recovery and has promised to visit soon.

.The year 2002 was the year of my rebirth and a celebration of the first year of my new life. The ominously dark cloud of fear that once hounded me has broken apart and now sun shines on .my life every day. My self-image is radically improved. I am a spiritual warrior on my own path to a greater understanding of my self… By virtue of my life as a transsexual, I have learned many lessons about the world and myself I live in. I am fiercely proud of what I am and what I have accomplished. I held fast to my dream, nurturing and protecting it from forces that threatened destruction. I never gave in to fear even as I clung desperately to a tiny ray of hope. I survived drug and alcohol abuse. murderous sexism, religious intolerance, inept psychiatry, legalized bigotry and socially reinforced oppression. And despite all these threats to my sanity, I have emerged victorious. With the reconciliation of mind, body and spirit, my focus now rests heavily on the development of spiritual principles: integrity, humility, compassion. and gratitude. Especially gratitude. For today I am so very grateful to have something that I thought was lost forever. Today I have myself.

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