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

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

The Sacred Fire

 

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.

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 misogyny. 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 voiceof 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 relief through 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.

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 whose origins refer to a passive homosexual partner, usually a “pretty” or feminine young boy. A famous lithograph reveals de Vaca’s murderous sentiments toward these “sodomites.” 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 of   the 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 of this assertion. 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.

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 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 people   like 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. 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 in varying degrees is the non-critical internalization of information as directed by the intention of the Dream world we inhabit. 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 live.

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.

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 few–chosen by the Great Spirit to manifest this noble Two Spirits tradition in a society predicated on 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 ourselves.

As spiritual warriors, we must use all of our 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 negative power to dominate us. 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 invite you to join me in a vow of non-violence in our 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 within you.

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

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Greetings, friends and lovers everywhere. Rosie, Love Detour’s resident transexual Goddess of Love and Romance is in the house and ready to expound on the delicacies of transgendered dating.

In the first article on transgenderism I referred to gender as a continuum. On the polar ends of this continuum are trans people who “pass”. Passing is a condition in which the transgendered person blends successfully with one of the two stereotypical genders. Towards the center of the continuum, or bar graph, are people who exhibit androgyny, or characteristics of both genders. This discussion focuses on the first group, for it is trans-passing that can cause confusion in the intimacy of dating.

Those of you who read my first installment on Transgender Dating learned some basic facts about the condition of transgenderism. I ended the first chapter with a promise to help you distinguish the guys from the girls. I mislead you and beg your forgiveness. I was only trying to protect you from the horrible ugly truth, which I must now acknowledge:

There is no way to tell the girls from the guys.

And perhaps even more disturbing to some of you is the very real possibility that you may be rubbing up against a transgender person in your daily activities, figuratively speaking, of course. Yes, dear reader, we walk among you–be not afraid. We mean you earthlings no harm.

To be honest with ourselves, first we must answer some uncomfortable questions about our personal feelings regarding gender. Before you reach the couch, with the drinks and the music and mood lighting, you absolutely must know how you feel about gender.

Gender is about how you as an individual express your sexuality. The power of gender is its inherent diversity. On a huge canvas, we paint our sexuality with our gender. Some of us use only black and white and some of us use all the colors of the rainbow. Bigotry and prejudice aside, gender is cosmic play.

In a technical sense, everyone is a cross dresser. Women liberated by their role as factory workers in the Second World War, began wearing pants and never looked back. Kilts are the rule for Scottish men. There simply are no global standards for gendered behavior, and this truth renders the whole subject a matter of complete relativity.

The truth about this whole discussion is that it is about you and your attitudes towards sex and gender. In this wonderfully diverse world, there is some one, or two depending on your proclivities, for everyone. Some religions that mistakenly judge trans-folk as immoral frown on members dating transgender people. Some men even murder transgender people out of fear of being accused of being homosexual, despite the reality that transgendered people are not necessarily gay. Because gender has nothing to do with sexual preference, trans-folk may be hetero-, homo-, or bisexual.

.It is unlikely in the extreme that your date will tell you at the outset that they are trans. And that information may be the very thing you need to know before embarking on a relationship. Asking a non-transgendered person, if they are a trans is worse, socially speaking, than asking an overweight woman if she is pregnant. Both questions immediately establish an uncomfortable distance between you and your date–a distance that may be irreparable.

Perhaps the only thing worse than that scenario is finding out after physical intimacy that your partner was a member of the same sex as you at some point in their past. We cannot give our potential dates a questionnaire that inquires as to the nature of their former genitalia.

“Do you have or have you ever had genitalia of the opposite sex?” will not score points regardless of the answer. This dilemma can only be resolved by serious soul-searching regarding your deepest darkest fears regarding sexuality. An open minded, open-hearted, educated approach to gender is, of course, the best policy.

Thus, we have slogged bravely thru the quagmire of sex and gender. If you are more confused now than before you read my article on transgender dating, then all is well for out of confusion comes clarity. For more education on this subject, websites abound. Here are three great sites to get you started:

http://www.jamisongreen.com/jgassoc_006.htm http://www.hrc.org/issues/transgender.asp

http://www.ifge.org

And of course, I am available to answer all of your transgender queries, regarding dating or lifestyle issues. Don’t be shy. Remember, Gender is Play. Gender is fun. Gender is human.

Rosie, The Transgender Love Goddess

.

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]

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.

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’.

 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?