Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Attempt at Clarity

I say "attempt" because sometimes I think often I belabor a point until that which was once made clear is muddied again, but I'm going to try to be direct and (for me) concise here. What follows is not precisely a post about me or my journey, but some clarity is needed regarding some of the things I have said and will no doubt say in the future. These clarifications do not fit easily as a parenthetical portion of a larger post, so I'm taking time out to dedicate a post to them in their own right.

One of the dangers is blogging about personal issues is becoming self-absorbed, that is, giving the impression that everything is - in your own mind - about you. One of the ways that tendency to self-absorption plays out is in being less than clear about the people you mention along the way who play a role in the events you write about.

It occurs to me, at times, that the impression I've left of my wife is overly negative in ways which are not entirely accurate. I hope here to clarify what I mean to be negative about, and what I feel like she's being unfairly painted in a negative light on.

First, there are at least two ways in which I will not shy from pointing the finger at her. Even in these, I do not think it's entirely her fault - for reasons which I will explain - but they are the sort of things that a person might be reasonably asked to rise above and overcome. The sort of things, if you will, that a professional therapist would ask a client to work towards correcting.

The first of these is that she is, bluntly, bigoted towards homosexuality (and she defines what's going on with me as a variant of homosexuality). I entirely recognize that this is a product of the indoctrination of the culture she was raised in - the culture that all of us in the rural South were raised in, frankly, and I suspect the rural parts of most of the country. I shared for much of my adult life many of those positions (though I never felt it as passionately as the true bigot - I simply thought it was an academic truth that homosexuality was "wrong" - I didn't "feel" it on an emotional level as many do).
Nevertheless, she is not just of the dispassionate opinion that being gay is wrong, she FEELS it on a visceral, emotional, passionate level. Try being in the same room when a couple of guys or a couple of girls kiss on TV and listen. Even though I recognize she's been indoctrinated to feel this way, I think it's reasonable to ask a person to be able to explain WHY what they believe to be true is true. And absent being able to logically defend the view, be willing to change it.

The second issue I have is what I'll call "fighting style" and the inability to handle any level of criticism. These, two, are a result of her own particular psychology combined, I believe, with the home she grew up in. They have always been present, but never having had a way to remedy them, I simply learned to work around them - but that's harder to do not that conflict is such a close companion. Taking the latter first - I find that any critical word I speak is magnified to maximum proportions, far beyond my intent. For instance, if I express a mild disagreement about some interaction with the kids on a specific point, her emotional reaction is "Oh, so basically I'm just a failure as a mother, right?" That puts me on the defensive as I try to explain "No, that's not what I meant" and it makes me much more likely to bite my tongue next time.

The other - and much more difficult - problem is a classic "bad fighting" style that marriage counselors earn their checks identifying and correcting: Fighting to hurt rather than fighting to make a point. I am quite convinced that this is all the fighting she ever saw growing up. It goes something like this:

Me: "What's wrong?"
Her: "I could use some help"
Me: "I told you just let me know what specifically I need to do"
Her: "I shouldn't have to ask"
Me: "I'm not saying you should ask, I'm saying tell me the specific chore, like 'take out the trash'"
Her: "Well, you're probably too busy trying to find a dick to suck on the internet to bother"

Now to be clear, that's a very broad example, that specific exchange has never happened to my memory, but the point is that you get to a place in an argument when you are so mad you no longer care about winning the point, you just want to cause emotional pain in your opponent - usually with a comment that has nothing whatever to do with what was the original disagreement. And as it applies to the current situation, how that plays out is that EVERYTHING that is wrong around here is somehow directly caused by my transition.

That kind of fighting is juvenile and blatantly unfair, but in the heat of the moment she will go to it every single time. I don't think she knows how to do it any other way. It's her family's tradition, I think. In any case, it's something that ought been overcome long long ago.

Having said that, those are things that are in isolation pretty random things. I'm sure everyone, including me, has a certain set of negative behaviors and thought patterns. Far be it for me of all people to expect perfection in my partner. But I cannot honestly write what comes next without having balanced it with a description of that which I do thing she bears responsibility for - otherwise the reader is left to assume I'm trying to explain away ALL her negativity and justify everything she's said and done - and as much as I'd like to say she has no flaws, I can't do that and be truthful.

All the foregoing, then, serves as a platform to say this: she's as much a victim of the demons in her head as I am.

I explain this at the risk of appearing indiscreet. But you cannot truly understand without this information. My wife has suffered from clinical depression since before I met her. There are, I believe, circumstances which contributed to this but it's also, apparently, a chemical imbalance issue. Her ability to put on a mask of happiness and keep any of her family or acquaintances from seeing this is astonishing to behold. So for the most part it's just been me and her dealing with it. for years she refused any suggestion of getting help because "if I go to a nut doctor that means I'm a nut" was the sum total of her view.

I spent literally years on the wrong side of completely irrational fights, went to work countless days not knowing if she'd be alive when I got home, and developed a VERY patient and deflective skill set in terms of dealing with it because the "events" when she was emotionally out of control were relatively brief and she was very very regretful once she "came to herself." And we might go several days, even a week or more, between "events" in which she was, though often not really "un-depressed," not at all an angry hurtful belligerent attacker. The rages were not typical behavior, but aberrations from the everyday norm.

Eventually we got medication which was just somewhat helpful and kept trying until we got to one that really balanced her emotions and made her "whole." When I came out it had literally been YEARS since we'd had anything that anyone could reasonably have called an argument. Some of that was my having been "trained" by the hard years to be a bit afraid of saying certain things, but a lot of it was that she'd gotten help.

I tel you all that to say that I had no doubt at all, in those early years, that she had absolutely no control over the negative emotions which caused the "events." The remarkable thing is that in the last year or two, as we've had ever increasing conflict over my transition, the pattern of events is EXACTLY like the pre-medication days. We go days at a time, occasionally weeks, in a relatively placid, though somewhat depressed state. Things are not "normal" due to tensions about many things related to the issue but things that sometimes "set her off" like how much makeup I have on or whatever will very often NOT provoke anything more than a sad or disappointed look on her face.

But every so often...on average once a week or so?... something DOES "set her off" and we're in for a Full On Attack of enraged irrationality, complete with every nasty remark in the book designed to cause maximum emotional pain. Now, I DO, on an emotional level, resent what goes on in those fights. Part of the reason we have difficulty rebuilding any bridges is that when she "comes down" I'm still processing a lot of pain from what has been said, even though on an intellectual level I know a lot of it wasn't an expression of how she really feels. It's difficult to be talked to and about like that and then come back later with a hug and a kiss, which is what she needs emotionally after she comes down.

Back n the old days, I knew that the hurtful things didn't matter because they were so wildly inapplicable to me. So it was easy for me to just let them slide off and be there to comfort her when she came down and rebuild the connections. Now, the hurtful things are much more personal and cut to the heart of the places where I've made myself vulnerable and they are not at all easy to "let slide" and so both of us are left with lingering pain - me from the remarks and her from the lack of reconciliation.

The point in all this, though, is that I DON'T think she's any more able to control the "events" or the rage she pours out in the midst of them now than she ever was. the patterns are far too similar. Whatever might be said (and will be below) about what would be happening if there were no rages, I simply cannot assume that the person I see when they are going on is the person she wants to be, or the way she wants to behave. Whatever is going on inside her brain that makes it possible for those events to happen, they hurt her just as much as they hurt me. And what's more, I can no more ask her to "just stop it" than she can rightfully ask me to stop being trans (even though she does ask) - it is a burden she has to bear.

This doesn't make up for her bigotry, or her generally negative manner in dealing with this issue at hand. I am convinced that even if she were unable to live with me as a woman and as a part of her life, there is a "part as friends" way to handle these situations in which one can mourn and be sad, but not feel as if your spouse is your enemy. If there were no rages, I'm not convinced that we would otherwise be taking that high road - but even admitting that, I cannot leave you with the impression that her most angry and hateful actions are those which she is fully in control of because I don't think they are.

But we cannot ever know - the rages build walls and set in motion feelings and actions and words that cannot easily be overcome. No one can say what might have been said or done in the absence of the events.

What is even more troubling is the reality that this cycle doesn't stop even if we part. I've said before in this space, and I believe this to be true, that this situation is literally going to kill one of us. If I attempt to go back to wearing the mask of the man I was pretending to be, it will take my life. At some point you will pick up the paper and read that I am dead, whether it be an obvious suicide or not. This is not intended as a threat, just a recognition of truth. On the other hand, if she forces me out and refuses to reconcile, I think there's a pretty high probability that she will commit suicide, or at least attempt it. and whatever logic might say, emotionally the guilt will be on my hands (both from myself, and from all those who love her).
I see no way out of this dilema, no happy ending. In the former case, losing me will still end up crushing her - so it's only a question of HOW she loses me. In the latter case, how do I embrace my future knowing how high the price was which I paid to obtain it?

I've been told that what I've just described to you is a classic case of emotional abuse. That claim is, in my opinion, true. With the caveat that most emotionally abusive people do not realize what they are doing. As such, my staying and trying to fight through it is a form of enabling - setting myself up for more abuse and legitimizing that which has come before. Again, I do not think it is INTENTIONAL - but it is what it is. The dispassionate academic answer to that situation is to get out. Walk away with your sanity somewhat intact and let the chips fall.

But my reply is that I feel obliged, even knowing what's going on, to go the extra mile anyway. I feel like, especially having gone through those early days when she desperately needed me to stay and see her through and NOT say "this is too hard for me" and bail out, that I should be MORE than just honorable. Part of that is for the kids - I want them to see that I made every last effort to do the right thing. Part of it, I'm sure, is for my own peace of mind if the worst happens, I want to be able to say that I did all I could to keep it together. If that means I take more abuse than I should have, I can live with that.

And of course, beyond all that - and here is where I'm probably being the most irrational of enablers like the woman who keeps going back to the drunken and violent boyfriend - a big part of it is that there's still the hope that somehow, someway, she'll wake up one day and realize that she will be far more miserable if she makes me leave than if she learns to adjust to the new reality. At one time I thought that was a pretty reasonable possibility. Now it seems like one in a hundred. But for the time being, I have to give that one chance a little more time.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Worst Christmas Ever?

That's an ugly headline, and it can lead to untrue conclusions. I do not want to say it was a BAD Christmas, nor do I want people to jump to conclusions about what I found unsatisfying about it. But compared to others in my life, it's got to rank at the bottom.

There's a lot of factors that go into a conclusion like that. On the most basic level, I've had SO little money for SO long that every purchase, every choice, is a stressful issue. I'd hoped to have, and had reason to expect, somewhat more available cash this month then I ended up having, but that's not the heart of it. The way that things got complicated this year was my wife's almost obsessive desire to get the kids every last thing they wanted - even when the kids themselves said "if we can't afford this it's cool" - in some sort of misguided attempt to make this a special Christmas in the face of the drama that might be coming soon. How do you point out that one more video game in December isn't going to make things better in March without coming across as a cheap bastard who's looking to dodge a little spending?
Then, of course, I can't buy her as much as I'd like because we spent it all on the kids - and again I'm an unfeeling and uncaring SOB (not that she would say it and probably doesn't consciously think it but I pick up enough negative emotion to feel guilty about it). That's not to say that I think that happiness at Christmas is about gifts - it's not. BUT attempting to buy happiness with more gifts and measuring how much someone cares by what the think they can afford MAKES it about gifts. They become emotional proxies for feelings which are assumed to be absent.

On top of that, she's rightly down because her mother passed last month and because, on top of that, some members of her family are behaving less than lovingly in the wake of that event. It's been some six weeks and most of her kids still haven't had the chance to go through her meager belongings and find some keepsakes of her. My wife spent much of Friday in tears thinking of such things. She has a right to feel that way, but that's compounded by also feeling I am not interested in providing her emotional support - support which I can't give because of the distance she's put between us. It is a maddening paradox to be accused of being distant and unsupportive while so often running into a cold shoulder when you try. But even if all that is somehow my fault, it surely can't lead to much of a Christmas when you are mourning your mom.

Then on top of that, we confirm what I already knew - that I have no close family except my mom. You shouldn't read this as a complaint on my part. I had a pretty good idea that I was in for a life of rejection, and while I couldn't in most cases predict the sources, I am not surprised or dismayed about the price which is to be paid. I read so many of my sisters write in obvious pain around the holidays about how their parents or siblings or kids or whoever treat them so coldly and unlovingly at Christmas and my heart goes out to them but I don't share that depression. Maybe I am too callous and cynical after all. I often feel like I don't really know how to love anyone enough to feel that kind of pain. (Maybe that comes from too many years letting the false front be the vehicle for all emotions given or received?) But beyond that I also know that I can't build my life around whether or not my dad or my brother or whoever can stand to be in the same room with me. I refuse to grant anyone that power over me. I care enough about my wife and kids - more love there than I could muster for the whole rest of the world combined and doubled - to be making every effort to do the right thing by them (and even that has it's limits) but beyond those three? You don't have a prayer of thinking your disapproval is going to affect my peace of mind.
Besides, the honest truth is that since the grandparents passed, most family functions feel like people who don't especially care for each other going through the motions because that's what families are "supposed" to do. Frankly, I've rebuilt my life around taking off masks and that's one mask I certainly have no real interest in putting back on. I'd rather be alone as be with people who have to pretend to enjoy my company.

BUT I'm married to a woman for whom family is precious (even though many of her own family are almost abusive in how they treat each other) and somehow, someway, the pretense of caring is supposed to be important. My dad has neither appeared, nor called, nor written to make contact with my kids (the ones he's not laid his eyes on since LAST Christmas) this year and not only does it hurt her that he doesn't make a token appearance (I despite token affection myself, and I don't think either son is a great fan of their "grandpa" anyway) but it's yet another brick to throw at me (i.e. he's taking out his feelings about "this mess" on our kids). Never mind what it says about him that he can't be burdened with ignoring our differences long enough to visit, or bring a gift - it's MY fault.

Nor am I arguing that I was the perfect child when it came to maintaining relationships before I came out. But an unbiased mind could analyze the history of interpersonal relationships in our family (on my dad's side, my folks divorced when I was in my teens) and find a strong pattern of "fucked up" long before I went crazy. Still, he doesn't show? MY FAULT.

And for the icing on the cake, we got entirely too close to having yet ANOTHER discussion about how I need to make a choice and how I was obliged to "act right" to prove my feelings if I wanted to save the relationship. On Christmas f'n DAY!

I've spent the last several days reading the posts on Facebook and on a few message boards and on Twitter as people speak, apparently sincerely, about family get-togethers and how blessed they are and how happy they are. . . and it pains me I can't make that sort of happiness a reality for her. The kids are content, I'm content, and she's miserable. I can't control life and death, of course, but beyond that - just more guilt. Of all the emotions I was prepared to deal with during transition, I don't think I could have ever imagined the almost infinite number of ways I could be made to feel guilty.

So yeah, not the best Christmas.

(I should say here, that I feel like I owe a bit of an explanation about WHY things are as they are emotionally. Despite all I've said I don't really blame her for a lot of this - she's as much a victim of her own mental wiring as I am. I think I have a good handle on why things are going as the yare going, even though I'm utterly hopeless to change it. But until I review what I've said before, lest i repeat myself, I'll save that for next time. Besides, this post is long enough)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I don't even know how to write this. I've started in twice now and twice I've cut the text and set it aside. it's too much, too big, too personal.

I cannot talk to you in this place without speaking of her, and when I speak of her it's all too easy to leave you with a wholly negative opinion of her. She reads this too and if I say the wrong thing, or even the right thing in an unclear enough way to be misunderstood, there will be another "event." Just telling you that might cause one. And yet I cannot speak with any insight into the situation, or even enjoy the therapeutic value of simply discussing it, without running that risk.

Moreover, some things which I wold like to say cannot be said in any way that really communicates the feelings behind them. for instance, I am happier than I have ever been in every way that matters save one - but in that one matter I am quite unhappy. There are no words I can use that do not seem self contradictory to express how that feels.

She ask me, some days ago, "do you not ever get lonely?" It's a fair question because I know that she does, and rightly so. what she longs for I cannot give her (she says "will not" but how can you convince one who's mind is made up that they don't understand?) but the answer is far from as simple as the question. I would love to be able to communicate to her, or to anyone, exactly how I feel about that subject, but I'm not sure it is possible to do. There are competing instincts, competing emotions, competing desires, competing obligations, all bound up in a massive tangled ball of contradiction. It is so very easy to leave someone - particularly one with a preconceived idea - with the wrong idea, simply because they will seize upon that which confirms their bias and ignore the rest.

I do NOT want to descend into a matter of competing blame - I am perfectly willing to accept the blame for everything. But if I begin to describe how I feel about things now, it is inevitable that some of it will come off as assigning blame. And no matter that I say "I'm not blaming you" the appearance will be there.

At it's most basic level, it's not possible to describe any of it. For instance: in one sense, I am the same person I ever was, only with the best qualities magnified, yet in another sense a great deal of what I was before was nothing more than a well rehearsed act, a mask that once taken off can never be convincingly worn again. Both these things are very true yet in many ways they would be seen as contradiction. This sort of thing applies to almost every level of my existence.

Take sexuality - several times I've been ask, both hostilely and genuinely, "so you like men now?" (although sometimes in more rude terms). You would think that's a simple answer but it's not. Far beyond the most basic level that too many people don't grasp that it's possible to answer "both" or "neither" to that question, the thing that confuses them most of all is "undecided." I don't understand it myself. I can tell you in deepest sincerity that I would be perfectly happy to remain in the current relationship, if it still had the sort of love trust and respect it had 3 years ago, for the rest of my life - including on a sexual level (full disclosure: she absolutely rejects the idea that there will ever be a female-on-female sexual relationship involving her).

On the other hand, at the tremendous risk of saying things which will be used against me, I am given to understand that sometimes one's orientation shifts (or resolves itself?) during transition and I can honestly say that I have a great deal of curiosity about the theoretical possibility that I might, should this relationship end, come to a place where nothing would sound better to me than having a boyfriend. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that deep down there's something intriguing about that thought.

But I can't honestly talk about such feelings because I'm either supposedly admitting I want out of this relationship, or that I'm gay, or both. No one seems to appreciate that both can be true. So, for the most part, I keep my mouth shut. And when I dare to speak honestly of any such thoughts, I do nothing but provide ammunition that will ultimately be used against me. I have no doubt that should the day ever come when we split, you will be told some of the most outrageous things, and some of them will be drawn from my being honest about that which I could just have easily kept to myself.

And there's another example - if I even acknowledge the possibility that we will split up, it's taken as if I'm counting the hours until I can get out, which is insane. EVERYthing about this transition would be easier if I had the love and support of the person who's been more important to me than all others combined for the last 20 years. It shouldn't be an indication that I am anxious to go simply because I recognize that she insists her position is non-negotiable. It is entirely possible - and is true - that I both very much would like to continue in some sort of respectful and loving relationship with her and, at the same time, recognize and prepare myself for the eventual implications of her stated position.

Do you see where I'm going with this? There is no outlet, no one who understands (don't say "therapist" unless you know how I'm gonna pay for it), no one who won't read their own assumptions into what I say and assume one part of the apparent contradiction is true and the other a lie.

In theology and philosophy, there's a concept called an "antinomy" - two truths which appear to contridict but are nevertheless both true. That's where I live right now. Every conversation is a minefield, every discourse potentialy dangeorus. It's why I've not posted in most of a month - there are plenty of things I'd like to speak of, few of them safe. I haven't said almost anything here that I set out to say. much of it was self-indulgent, much more woldn't have ended well.

Every subject which I mentioned in passing or illustration in this post, I would like to devote an entire entry to - every one of them I feel like I've said just enough to litter the screen with misconceptions and misunderstandings. Which, in itself, illustrates my point.

I hope?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transgender Day of Rememberance

So many other, higher profile, writers will address this topic today that I hesitate to even address it here. But I think there are at least a few of you out there who read this blog who have no other exposure to what's going on in the transgender community and are likely completely unaware of what occurs today. You need to know.

All over the world today, and in many locations in North America, transgender people and those who love them will gather in reverent ceremonies to remember our trans brothers and sisters who have lost their lives or their health to attacks and assaults because of their transgender status. Hundreds of human being who were on the receiving end of violence because they didn't fit into the "norms" that our culture has defined for us. Sadly, far too often these attackers justify their violence with the cover of a professed (but not lived) religious motivation.

It is regrettable that when secific examples are cited, too often it gives the impression that these are rare and isolated incidents which can be explained away by some other reasoning. Perhaps the victim was involved in prostitution and this justifies a "gay panic" defense, perhaps the attacker was mentally disturbed and thus not representative of anything - the person who wants to see an excuse can find one. So I will not list for you example of real people who are no longer among us because they died for being transgender. But the reality is that the ONE thing the victims have in common is that they were people that society defined as "abnormal." This, for some, makes them targets.

"What," you might ask, "does this have to do with me? I'm not violent, I don't attack people I disapprove of - why should I care?"

Because you, and I, and everyone around us contribute to that societal definition of "normal." Our culture, our society, is made up of the collective views and attitudes of every member of the whole. Why is it considered inappropriate to, for instance, go naked in public? Because all of us collectively have a consensus that it is so - even if the nudist disagrees. It is right and proper that this should happen because there are certainly some things that SHOULD be considered unacceptable, if not abhorrent (child molesting, for instance, or animal cruelty).

The problem arises when we ill-consider WHY we file a behavior as unacceptable. Too often we accept an "everybody knows" bit of circular reasoning to confirm our own bias. Too seldom we give rational thought to WHY we have that bias.

Even more disturbing is how often our biases are unthinkingly transferred to others - and that is for these reasons I write this tonight.

It is my prayer that every person of good will stop and really reason out why they feel as they do about transgender people. What do you actually know about the condition? Who told you? What source of information infomred your views or do you just "go along" with what "everybody knows"? No one can reach or speak to the hateful, and I have nothing to say to hateful people. But if your heart is in the right place, examine it - and seek out the knowledge you might lack, whether it's about the condition itself, or about the Scriptures of your religion (don't just assume what you've been taught is what it actually says).

Beyond that, and of greatest importance - watch your words. Whenever you see a transgender person, on the street or on television or wherever, how do you react? Do you recoil and say "that's sick!"? Do you laugh and mock? Do you condemn and judge? Most of all, do you pay attention to who might hear your words? Do you realize that your reaction helps form that cultural consensus that leads to either love or hatred? When you laugh, you make it just a little easier for others to scorn; when you scorn, you make it just a little easier for others to be angered; when you are angry, you make it just a little easier for others to feel justified in their violence.

And when you love, and show kindness - you make it just a little easier for the intolerant to reconsider their bias, just a little easier for the anger and judgment to cool.

If you are one of those who hears that a trans person has been mocked and scorned and thinks "Good enough for them" then I'm not speaking to you - may God forgive you for your lack of love for your fellow human soul. But for the rest of you, know that your reaction - for good or ill - helps create the world in which people like me have to live. Or die. Of far more importance than the candles being lit tonight in various places around the world, is the light of understanding and love that can, if you will let it, shine in your own life.

Because, though it is cliched it is nonetheless true, the next transgender person you meet might be your own child, or sibling, or spouse, or parent. What sort of world do you want them to live in? What will your loved one think of themselves if they know, from your previous words, that those people who profess to love them would reject them if they knew?

The Bible says that your words speak from the abundance of your heart. Whether you are a Christian or not, that much is surely something we'd all agree on. Your words can, in an accumulation of many small contributions, help save lives - or help take them.

Your choice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Transgender 101

Long Time No Blog. Not on this one anyway.

I'd been mulling for a couple of weeks now on what the next entry ought to be about. For the last several days I'd been holding out to say something about the new job I was hoping to get but ultimately, if I do get it, it's best to reflect on that after I've been working a week or so.

I'd also given some thought to doing a bit of a primer on transgenderism for those of you who might find yourself reading this from my Facebook contacts who through no fault of your own really don't know much about the subject, but I confess that it intimidates me to try to do justice to the subject. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to at least cover some broad foundational information here, in the hopes that open-minded people of good will can be better informed both for their own peace of mind (as many of my friends are Christians and quite naturally have a hard time reconciling that which they have always been taught to be sinful with the friend they think well of) and so that they might perhaps inform others they come in contact with.

Perhaps the first thing that the uninitiated come into confusion about is the wide variety of terms that are used by various people within the gender-divergent community. This is partly because there are different things going on, but also partly because even we can't come to a consensus on the language and so end up creating unnecessary confusion. My position is that simplicity is better. I'm going to give you the most prevalent terms and discuss them but in my opinion, there's more confusion here than there needs to be.

Transgender is usually considered the broad umbrella term that is inclusive of all the subdivisions. That is, itself, not altogether an accurate usage in my opinion but that's the situation. In broad terms, it covers anything that is either cross-gender in nature, or crossing outside the usual binary gender roles.

Transsexual is the major subgroup of transgender (and is thus often used interchangeably with that word) but is more specific in focus. A transsexual is one who feels that there is a disconnect between their mental, some might say spiritual, gender and their physical bodies. For someone who has no experience with this, it might be assumed this is simply a "mental condition" like the fellow who thinks he is Napoleon or something, but it's much more complex and yet more simple than that. I'll go into the rational behind that claim later.

A male-to-female transsexual (sometimes called a transwoman) should be interacted with, treated as, and regarded as a woman if they are in or post-transition. You should use female pronouns and their chosen name if you wish to be respectful of that persons feelings (I know of course that not everyone so wishes). Likewise, a female-to-male (transman) should be considered, dealt with, and refereed to as "he" unless he tells you differently. It's simply the same sort of civility you show when you use "Mister" or "sir" or "ma'am." Speaking for myself, you can ruin my day if you call me "Mr" or "sir" (except on the phone or in some other situation where you cannot see me and haven't seen me).

Transvestite, or "cross dresser," is the term most people are more familiar with and the common stereotype of the uninformed. A Transvestite is one who gets a thrill, usually sexual gratification, from dressing as the opposite gender. It is much more akin to a person who, for instance, like to skydive for the adrenaline rush, or like bondage during sex, than it is to transsexualism. It is not, in my humble opinion, properly part of the transgender community at all - though it is there and my protestations won't change that. I do not say that to demean or disrespect the transvestite - they have as much right to live their life in peace as anyone else.
A cross dresser has no desire to change their physical gender and they are perfectly comfortable resuming their "usual" gender role as necessary to go about their daily life. A cross dresser does not need to find an employer that will let them cross dress - though some may indulge themselves to the extent that they would like it if they could. It is not a matter of "rights" that a cross dresser not be able to dress for work any more than it's a matter of rights that your lawyer can't appear in court in cut off denim shorts.
The biggest fallacy people make is confusing a transsexual and a transvestite. I do not change my appearance because I get a sexual rush or a thrill from it, and I do not feel at all comfortable when circumstances require a less than fully female presentation.

Let me give you an example - I write a baseball blog, and because it started before I came out in real life, it carried, and still does, a male "persona." This blog is read by and replied to by people who have never seen my real face, either before or after transition. They likely never would. By all reasonable logic, I need not ever go through the hassle of "outing myself" to the guys I interact with there. But I strongly desire to do so. This is an illustration of the difference in transsexual and cross-dresser. No clothing is involved, no appearance is involved, al that is involved is that these people know me for who I am. By contrast, for a cross-dresser, appearance is all.

There is also the category of androgyny. An Androgyne is a person who feels they do not fit into either gender role well. These people usually do not desire any specific physical alterations (save perhaps hair removal) but simply do not wish to be defined as either male or female. I confess, I don't understand this feeling - even as my friends cannot understand mine. But I respect their right to self-determination.

Finally, there is that which is being refereed to as "genderqueer." I'll be perfectly frank with you - this is, in my opinion, an unnecessary component of the transgender demographic. That about it which is real - the feeling of being at odds with the standard binary gender roles - is already covered by more specific terms. That which doesn't fit any of the above listed terms seems to me to be more social protest that condition of being. It seems to me to be more akin to other forms of "deviant" (in the statistical sense) forms of social behavior. To me being "genderqueer" is little different than being "goth" and so I don't tend to recognize that claim as part of the transgender discussion. I know some of my brothers and sisters would be unhappy with me for that description but still, it over-complicates an already complex situation.

One other word you need to know - "cisgender." This is a word coined to describe the non-transsexual population in an easy manner. "cis-" is the Latin prefix which is opposite to "trans-". It simply means those who are comfortable in the gender their bodies were born with.

Once thought of as highly rare - a flawed study in 1968 put the incidence at 1:30,000 for male-to-female (M2F) transsexuals and three time than for female-to-males (F2M) - the actual incidence of transsexualism is much more common than that. Credible estimates (which are obviously very difficult when so many repress their feelings) range from 1:500 to 1:2,500 for M2F transsexuals. For an anecdotal sample, there are not quite 6,000 males in my zip code, according to the Census Bureau. One might expect that there would then be 2-12 M2F transsexuals in that population (laying aside the local culture and migration patterns and so forth). I am aware of, besides myself, at least 4 others in this zip code. In conversations with others I think that the estimates here are credible. That is roughly the same incidence in the population as cerebral palsy. there is some disagreement over whether F2M is in fact more rare, or simply a function of fewer fully identifying themselves as transsexual because it is easier for a woman to be "manish" in our culture than the reverse.

Let me return to the discussion of how transsexuality is not a "mental condition" in the sense of a person who thinks they are Napoleon or some other delusion. First, there's the surface evidence: the vast majority of transsexuals realize their gender incongruity before puberty. Often in preschool. It is almost impossible to imagine the other sorts of delusions one might compare us to tracing back to early childhood. Further, it is difficult to dismiss this condition as a result of environmental factors such as abuse, or porn, or other such factors when there has been no common pattern discovered which is significantly more prominent in transgender people than in cisgendered people.

So if it's not a mental delusion or a product of environmental factors, where does it come from? Obviously science is never conclusive on any subject, but there is a very solid and logical working hypothesis that has held up well to examination, both experimental and logical.

We know that there are a number of "intersex" conditions (that which was once called hermaphrodite among them) in which the body is at odds with itself physically in terms of gender - that quite apart from the mental gender. At the end of this blog I'll give you a link where you can read more about these conditions if you like, and of course, Google is your friend. These various conditions are caused, we think, by the interplay of hormones in the mother's womb during pregnancy. there is a "normal" schedule of hormone interplay which if happens as it should produces a "normal" male or female. and just as many factors can go awry which produce many different sorts of birth defects, so things can and do go awry which produce intersex conditions where the child is divergent from the "normal" gender binary.

This is not theoretical - these children ARE born - physical living proof that not everyone is born a complete physical male or a complete physical female. if you've ever heard, or made, the argument "God doesn't make mistakes" then you need to reconcile that belief with the fact that children ARE born with birth defects and sometimes those defects relate to their gender.

Now, given that this is undeniable FACT, the obvious question is this - if in fact children can be born with physical inconsistencies in their gender, and if in fact the human brain is a physical organ, and if in fact we know that children can be born with mental "issues" in their brain just as they can be born with physical "defects" (autism, for instance) then by what rational can we NOT arrive at the obvious conclusion that a person can be born with a physical incongruity between their "brain gender" and their "body gender"?

That is not to say that transsexualism is not, in some sense, a mental condition - but it is a mental condition just as autism is, or any other condition of the brain present from birth.

That being the case, it is as irrational to judge, scorn, or hate a transsexual as it is to judge a child with a cleft palate or spina bifida. I just erased several more paragraphs I'd written on that thought (concerning judging) because it was overkill. Those of you with the ability to think rationally already see that it is love, and not judgment, that is called for here. Those who do not already see this will not be convinced by more words from me here tonight.

If you wish to read more about these things - and there is a GREAT deal more than what I could practically include here, follow the following link:

That article in turn links to other resources and if anyone has any questions or curiosities they still haven't found an answer to let me know and I'll get you some more resources. In fact, one day in the future I think I'll just do a link list of recommended reading.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thoughtful Discussion

Some of you know that in the warmer months, I like to walk kin the late evenings in a (futile) effort to budge the scales. There's a lot of time for peaceful reflection on the quiet streets in the night air. As the evenings get cooler, the walks have to get earlier and the walks are not always moments of solitude.

One day last week I was walking at the track here in town when a minister acquaintance of mine (I'll decline to give any more personal details than possible because I don't want to be careless about revealing the identity of those who speak with me on such a post without their knowledge) was there watching the kids play ball. As the game was wrapping up, he caught up with me and asked nicely if I had a few minutes to talk, and I was happy to oblige as well as curious to see how he would approach the subject I knew was coming. As a matter of personal ethic, I'll have a respectful conversation on this subject with anyone, even if I know they strongly disapprove. For the sake of this post, I'll use the name "John" with the full understanding on your part that this is NOT his actual name.

Bro. John was, of course, wondering how it is that a formerly upstanding Baptist Minister and BMC alum could have descended to such a wretched depth of depravity, though he is far too civil to have even thought of the situation in those terms, let alone speak the words. The main reason I want to share some high points of the conversation with you is because the one thing I didn't see coming (and should have) is just how little this otherwise well informed man knew of the world people like me live in, let alone understand. I'm certain he's better informed tonight than he was a week ago, but in some sense so am I.

I don't think I can do justice to a blow-by-blow account of the conversation from memory, so PLEASE do not take this as directly quoting the man's words. Also, he was pressed for time so the exchange was somewhat disjointed and rushed and even though we were there for an hour, we were both struggling to pour as much real content into our remarks as possible so often thoughts were left unfinished (which is another motivation for finishing them here).

Rather than disturb the narrative, let me say up front that over the course of the conversation he would at times ask things just to clarify background: Are you still married? what does your wife think? kids? how old? what do they think? What happened to you to make you do this? Are you still a believer? and many others. Anything I told him that I've already told you I'll leave out of this discussion.

To me, the key parts of the conversation were three in number, and I'll take them separately here.

First, the matter of whether or not what I'm doing is sin or not, am I in or out of the will of God for my life, and how does one with my background arrive at the conclusion that this is permissible. I'll admit the obvious up front, this is not the sort of thing that you are often going to convince a conservative Christian that they are wrong about. We talked about the whole business of "God made you this way" and he was open enough to agree (in fact, he used the phrase before I did) that we "live in a fallen world" so right away we open up, for later, the discussion of what it means if this is a birth defect. We talked about, and agreed, that we are a New Covenant people and not bound by the Levitical law.

For those of you who are a step behind on this one, Deuteronomy 22:5 says "A woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, nor a man wear that which pertains to a woman. it is an abomination before God." The thing is, though, that those who pull this out and throw it at transsexuals as a weapon don't read the whole book. There are a great many things in Deuteronomy that they do not do (I'll wager none of them have tassels on their cloak per v. 12 of the same chapter, and more to the point - if their wife throws on one of his sweatshirts to work in the garden, he doesn't make her take it off lest she be an abomination.

Or, more frankly, I assume none of them have stoned any women for not being virgins when they got married as is explicitly instructed, also in Chapter 22.

But, back on subject, Bro. John and I were in agreement there, but he felt that I was still willfully sinning based on New Testament passages. Now, this post is going to be long enough without me detailing each of those potential passages in dispute (for another day, perhaps?) and we didn't have the time to go into that level of detail the other night. But the point that I tried to make with him is that, given that both of us were educated by the same man, I knew that he was a student of exegesis and was fully aware of the need to read a passage in the context of the author and audience he was addressing. I ask him respectfully if he, or any evangelical minister he knew, counseled his wife and the other women of his congregation to "keep silent in the church" and ask their husband at home if they had a question.

We both knew that they do not (and for good reason!). The reason for asking that is that it is a classic illustration of how Paul's teachings were often specific to the cultural audience which was his primary audience. He countered by pointing out that Paul made several lists of offenses which would keep a person out of heaven (including adultery, drunkenness, and lying along with "the effeminate") and my reply here was two-fold. First, one still has to understand the context in which those items which many believe to refer to homosexuality (and by extension, in their mind, transsexuals) were intended, both in the sense that these were VERY often (quite possibly always) acts which were associated with pagan worship, and in the sense that this was a culture in which women were second class citizens.

In the exact same way that Paul instructed those people to be sensitive to the culture in that they, in essence, kept their women under control so he would instruct them to avoid the appearance of homosexuality. Not because women were in fact not equal but because of the culture they lived in was steeped in that worldview - in the same way that a Christian woman in Afghanistan would still be wise to wear a Burkha if she didn't want to be stoned. And in the same way that culture specific instructions concerning women are understood to not be binding in the 21st century, so ought we to read the whole New Testament. Just because the first century culture was no more open to homosexuality outside the context of temple worship than they were to equal rights for women does not mean that the 21st century should cling to either blind spot.

Secondarily to that, I pointed out to him that Christians do not go out of their way to condemn a lot of other things that the NT is much more clear on. I've told you before how I asked one judgmental Christian woman who pronounced me fit for hell how many times she'd called up any of her divorced friends in the church and delivered a similar condemnation of them. I contend that it does not honor God for vocal Christians to pick and chose which sins are bad enough to warrant their active judgment on folks. It smacks of the conclusion that many modern Christians have acclimated themselves to the "sin" of divorce and take only a passing interest in condemning it (the half who have not themselves participated in one) while people like me are still "freakish" enough to be an easy target.

Here, Bro. John conceded me the latter point but seemed unconvinced on the former. Hopefully he'll look at those passages with a fresh eye at some point in the future. also, on this point, I argued that how we understand such instructions have to be seen in the context of God's overall clear message of grace. if there is any rational possibility that this thing is a birth defect (and I challenge anyone to find any other causational factor in my life that accounts for my condition) then to suggest that God judges one a sinner for this is akin to saying he would judge someone for being fat because they have a natural predilection to gain weight (the sin of gluttony aside). More on this in a bit.

The second major area of discussion was the place where I'm forced to admit he made his best point. John pointed out to me that Paul said "if my eating meat causes my brother to stumble, I'll eat no meat forever." In essence, Paul taught denial of the self in the interest of the spiritual health of another. Now, the easy counter argument to that is that Christ himself said he came to set us free, and free indeed. but that's not the only place that Paul cautioned that, while we are indeed at liberty, we ought not let our liberty lead us into error.

I confess that for a couple of seconds, I thought he had me. But then it occurred to me that very few Christians actually practice this. If any. Let me illustrate.

Consider, let us assume that you have a young girl who was raised in a strict Holiness Pentecostal tradition and was led to believe that wearing pants was flat-out sin for a female. Let us further note that this girl goes out into the world and sees hundreds of women every day practicing the thing she has been taught is sinful. Does this make those women guilty of creating a stumbling block for our young holiness girl? If she falls into sin because of their actions do they bear guilt before God for it? Should all yall Baptist and Methodist (and so forth) women rush out and burn your pants so as to protect the tender sensibilities of those who believe a different doctrine than you do?

Of course not. to all questions. The simple reality here is that our young lady is not a victim of the women who wear pants, she's a victim of the false teaching (at least, insofar as most Christians see it) that she shouldn't be wearing pants. Now, I ask you, if Bro. John's wife and daughter and mother are not obliged to get their skirts on in order to respect a teaching they believe to be false, lest someone who does believe that teaching is offended or stumbles - then how am I bound to put my skirt away on that logic? I don't think I convinced him (because, of course, he's convinced that that which he believes is not a false teaching, as do we all, but that misses the point) but I'm pretty sure I made a point that was hard to answer.

The third major area of discussion is what fascinates me the most. I redirected the conversation back to the "fallen world" concept and my opinion that transsexualism (and likely homosexuality) is a form of birth defect (for those of you who object to the word "defect" you may think of it as having a harmless birthmark or any other inborn trait that is not necessarily a flaw).

In order to lay a foundation for my reasoning, I brought up the reality of intersex conditions. To my considerable shock, he'd never heard of such a thing. I described the condition of having both sorts of genitals (what was once called "hermaphrodite"), of having a disparity between the primary and secondary sexual characteristics, of having XYY chromosomes or other aberrational genetic configurations, of testosterone resistance (wherein a genetic male develops along female lines) - all of it was completely foreign to him.

It made me wonder how many other sincere Christians are just as under-informed.

As the case may be, I had to ask him to take for the sake of argument that these things are real (with advice to go home and look up the term "intersex") then I posed this question:

If it is possible for abnormalities in the womb - likely hormonal issues but for this point WHAT sort of abnormalities isn't important - can produce an infant with physical sexual/gender traits which do not fit into the presumptive gender binary, how is it then impossible that one's brain - which is also a physical organ just as much as one's genitals are - cannot also be likewise affected?

To his credit, he didn't weasel on that point. A lesser man would have ignored his lack of information and pressed on.

But the point is one that needs an answer. For all the efforts made by Social Conservative researchers to identify one or more common characteristics of the experience of LGBT people which might account for their "behavior", they've repeatedly failed to do so. There is no common factor that appears across the spectrum, and very often (as with me) none of the postulated precursors occur.

That brings us back to the question - if it is possible for every other organ of the body to be disordered from birth, why is it not possible for the brain? Heck, we already know that that is possible because there exist conditions like Autism. so more specifically, if it is possible for every other gender-related characteristic and function of the body to be disordered - specifically disordered towards the opposite of the presumed gender - then why not the brain?

And if there is no good scientific answer to that, then the question becomes - if it is POSSIBLE that transsexualism results from a disorder of the brain present at birth, then by what logic can we say that God condemns that condition or the treatment of it? By what logic do we argue that one who suffers tremendous mental anguish, leading very very often to depression and not uncommonly to suicide, should be "lived with" when there is a medical solution to the suffering? What other medical condition with a treatment do we counsel people to "put up with" rather than avail themselves of a cure because to do so is "sin"?

If it is even POSSIBLE that this is a "birth defect" do we honor God by flatly refusing to consider that possibility and pointing the gnarly finger of judgment at the afflicted?

The problem here is that the well-meaning believer is reasoning backwards. They have been told, and they believe - because (a) they are conditioned to believe what their pastor and teacher tells them; and (b) because it's comfortably consistent with their cultural worldview - that transsexualism (and homosexuality) is a sin, therefore they HAVE to look at the conditions around them and somehow justify what they have already chosen to believe.

(I speak from experience because this is EXACTLY what I did myself for 20 years)

If the predetermined worldview is true, then these things CAN'T be a birth defect because they know that the god they believe in would never condemn one for a condition they were born with. so they close their mind to that possibility without ever considering it. I understand that temptation, it's a very easy trap to fall into.

However, it still leads to error. I submit to you that if you turn the question on it's head and look at the facts first, without pouring them through a moral filter, then you can see how the world IS and then go back and look and see how your faith tells you to deal with what IS rather than what you WANT it to be. IF these things are inborn (and they are) and IF God is a God of love and grace and mercy (and he is) then the obvious conclusion is that what you have been taught about these conditions does not, in fact, reflect God's opinion on the subject.

Think for yourselves, people! Even my friend the minister agreed with me that far too often a Christian's answer, when ask a hard question, is "let me ask my pastor." Folks your pastor is not your brain, nor is he your intermediary to the mind of God.

If it is POSSIBLE, let alone factual (and it is) that this is an inborn condition, then when you rail against it you condemn people God has not condemned. Is this not as potentially grave a sin as how and when and with whom you have sex? Is that a chance you are so willing to cavalierly take?

Doesn't that make YOU the stumbling block instead of the "freak" you wish to condemn?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Am I Not Being Clear?

Well, that was a good month. I suppose the tension needs a release ever so often no matter what. I won't go into the details, it was Standard Issue Argument. No new points made, except perhaps it's worth noting that I have less and less patience with the repetition. I only mourn the fact that so often THIS argument is provoked by other, unrelated, and perhaps more understandable frustrations.

(one of my biggest complaints over the years was the way in which a justified and specific complaint always seemed to easily morph into a wide ranging discussion of the several dozen ways I'd gone wrong - probably the sort of argumentation she was trained in as a child, given what I've seen of the in-laws)

ANYWAY, I don't really want to rehash all those points again here. but there is one thing that keeps knocking around in my head. And this is not just a manifestation of the argument, but an observation on the whole journey. Mainly here at home but even, occasionally, in the comments made to me by others (and not maliciously made comments, just comments made out of understandable ignorance). But my concern here naturally is the way that this issue plays out in the continuing drama at home, more than it is in the casual misunderstanding of well-meaning but ill-informed acquaintances.

I think I've expressed this pretty clearly, over the months. I don't mean to phrase it harshly or seem aggrieved that I'm being misunderstood. Rather, I worry a great deal that until this point is accepted and processed, nothing can be settled about what comes next. but I'm going to say it here, in writing, as I've said it face to face:

This is NOT going to stop. I am NOT going to change my mind. I will NEVER live my life as a man again. If I have no other choice, I'll die first.

No, that's not a suicide threat, any pain I might cause by transitioning would only hurt the same people worse if I ended my life, BUT if some unforeseeable circumstance - say a medical condition - prevented me from transitioning, I'd have no desire to continue to live. People have been known to just "give up" and die from that and that would be me.

Again, for the sake of crystal clarity - whatever might happen as a result of my transitioning is a price I will just have to pay because I will NEVER GO BACK. If you, any of you, are predicating your thoughts, words, reactions, or behaviors, on the idea that your anger, love, kindness, rudeness, compassion, callousness, or any other reaction will in some way advance the possibility that I will go back - STOP IT. You are wasting your efforts.

I cannot be bribed, bought, blackmailed, or bullied into changing that If you cannot be my friend, acquaintance, or associate under these circumstances, then I accept your resignation - move on. If you wish to remain, you MUST accept that what I have just said is iron clad and then decide for yourself how you are going to deal with that. I will not try to shame you or pressure you or convince you that you should support and accept me, that is not my place. I acknowledge your right to your view, no matter how strongly I might disagree. But your view is not binding upon me and will never change what is happening.

What many of you will never understand is that now, even now before the first hormone or any other modification, now when I look in the mirror I see ME. It's not just that I like what I see, like any other woman I see the things I wish were different. It's deeper and more personal than LIKE, it's CONNECTION. To destroy the woman I see is, in every way that matters to me, the exact same thing as suicide and I WILL NOT DO IT.

I hope that, whatever comes next, we can at least move past the illusion that I have something left to decide. Whatever might be done to slightly modify timing and pace, the journey will go forward. (And don't think for a minute there is anything easy about slowing the pace, either, but that's for another day)

Before I end, let me add an unrelated but, IMO, upbeat note. It has been implied (by more than one, but not many) that there is something wrong with my attempt to look "sexy" in my recent photos. If this proceeds from the assumption that all women everywhere should not be photographed in such a way as to play up their sex appeal, then I respect that. Certainly some aspects of some religion place a high value on modesty and such. But if this complaint arises from the idea that I am somehow not entitled to the privilege afforded "real" women to create that image, then I respectfully but adamantly disagree and reject your complaint.

YOU may see me as not a real woman and not entitled to the privileges thereof, but if so, then the picture is not for you. First and foremost, it's for me. Those might be the first pics I've ever taken in my life that I was proud of. Secondly, they are for anyone who can appreciate them. if that's my good friends who are proud to see me look so happy, great. If that's so a guy who doesn't know me and thinks I'm "hot" (which strikes me as unlikely) then THAT is fine too. if you are out there as you read this feeling deep remorse and concern about my sexuality, you're never going to get any of this or approve anything I do anyway, just write me off and quit stressing so much.
Am I trying to say I'm looking for a man? No. First of all, as long as I live in this house my first responsibility is to the existing relationship. Nothing recreational trumps that. But even beyond that, I simply don't know what the final outcome will be - right now beyond the emotions of the marriage, I don't feel a strong impulse to climb into bed or backseat with ANYone. But that doesn't mean I can't be flattered if a man or a woman either finds that photo attractive in "that" way. given how much of my life I've felt like I was the ugliest thing imaginable, it's a pretty good feeling to think that is even possible.

But just so we are clear, IF the time comes when I find myself single and alone, I reserve the right to make either choice without shame and you will find none. I've saw through the lie that there's anything wrong or sinful about it and I'm not going back there either.

(Besides, if I ever completed the physical transition, you critics would fry your brain circuits trying to figure out whether being with guys or being with girls makes me gay)

All for now!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One thing I remember as vividly as anything about the days of my youth was the experience of being a girlfriend. To girls, I mean. Now I only had a vague conception of what was really going on at the time, I mean I knew I was a girl inside but I only somewhat grasped that what made it so easy for girls I knew to befriend me and talk to me was the "girlness" about the way I thought and communicated.

In the days before I was so obsessed with beating this thing and being rid of it, I was, looking back, much less skilled at faking "being a guy" on that level. I just assumed that "I thought the way I thought" more so than recognizing a gendercentric "flavoring" to it.

Oh there were guys I was close to, of course. It would have been pretty unthinkable to avoid all male interaction, even for a girl. But they were, as guys tend to be, all very surface and superficial in content. Guys never talk about how they FEEL except under duress. But with my girlfriends it was different, there was a connection. From high school all through my young adult years, there was always at least one girl and often several that - had my plumbing been right - I'd have been doing sleepovers with and painting each others nails.

I've missed that over the time since, though on occasion there revives a taste of it. It's one of the more pleasant aspects of transition - getting back in touch with that part of womanhood. One of the most precious parts of the last year is the several girlfriends I've discovered since I came out. some very old friends from high school, some I only casually knew before and some I only just met in the last year.

If there was anything in life I was ever good at it was being the listening ear, the sympathetic voice, the crying shoulder if need be to girls who were my close friends and now, while sometimes it's me doing the crying, it's wonderful to have those conversations again.

Those of you I count as my girlfriends, please know that you have done more than you can know to help me down this road, just by being that alone - every girl needs her best girlfriends and I'm glad to know I have some.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where to Go

No, not what you're thinking. This isn't more of me whining, it relates to me but in a more general way that it relates to all my brothers and sisters on this road.

On Facebook there's an application called "Honesty Box." I'm usually not impressed with all the crap that wants to bait you on Facebook but I was intrigued by the concept of giving people an chance to anonymously comment and it was an easy choice to ask "What do you really think of me?" in a setting where the reply was totally honest because the speaker had no fear of being identified. As you might expect, people can be a bit more nasty when they are in that setting.

I only got two responses, but, ditzy me, I never paid any attention to them until just a couple of days ago (they were posted in March). One of them touched on a subject that is probably one of the biggest worries a trans person, particularly a M2F, worries about - the dreaded bathroom question.

Then, yesterday I read an ongoing discussion in one of my Yahoo groups on the same subject and there were some compelling points raised. So the combination of all this mixing around in my brain had to go somewhere so, well, that's what this place is for.

My anonymous "friend"(whom I suspect was one of the few people who lectured me on how I was going to hell back in the early part of the year) remarked that she'd heard about my "stunt" of going in the ladies room and if she ever saw me do that she'd call the cops on me. That of course, is the thing that all of us are most afraid will happen. I've had one incident where the owner of a business confronted me and ask me if I was a woman and I didn't have the courage to dare her to prove me wrong. Pretty much specifically because I figured her next move would be to call the cops. Turns out I'd been clocked by a kid (so this lady said) on a previous visit.

Many, many, many other times I've visited the ladies room without incident, at least half those times passing by other women in there without any controversy at all. This is the #1 best indicator that you are passing because if you are going to be challenged anywhere, it's there - but it's also the place where the confidence that is so vital to passing is most likely to slip because of the sheer panic going on inside your head when you enter and find the room occupied. I do make a point of using the ones less likely to be occupied, I make note of any place where there's a one-seater which gives you leave to lock the door, I make a point of waiting if I've seen a child go in. but sometimes you are already committed (maybe you enter when it's empty and then mom brings her little girl in as you are leaving (which is how the kid I mentioned above happened to cross paths with me). And obviously, on those occasions when I'm "dressed down" while with my wife, I grit my teeth and use the men's if I just HAVE to go because in this town enough people know me that the odds are just to high against me.

I don't do these things because I think I don't belong there, I do it to minimize the chance of an ugly confrontation. Because there's a pretty big gap between what's logical on this subject and people's emotional reactions. But the truth is, the sensitivity on the subject (which, by the way, is the single biggest weapon used against trans people when laws are proposed to protect us from discrimination) is not at all rational.

The first way to really stop and analyze the subject is to focus on what the panic is about. Let's state the obvious:

1. NO ONE is worried about F2M transgenders in the men's room. the cis-gendered (i.e. born male and still male, for those who don't know what the "cis-" prefix means) man is not concerned if the person in the next stall doesn't actually have a penis.

2. No sensible person can be worried about the post-op transsexual (either F2M or M2F) in the room appropriate for their post-operative plumbing. You really can't because there's no practical way to prove on the spot whether this woman before you was born female or not. She has all the right parts, if you dare to challenge her you look like a fool. Perhaps the most bitchy among us might know for a fact who this woman was before her transition and complain, but such a complaint wouldn't stand because you can't reasonably expect the post-op woman to go to the men's room.

So what we are really speaking of her is pre-operative M2F transsexuals. The dreaded "penis in the powder room."

There are several false assumptions behind this worry. All of them obviously play to the worry either of sexual assault, or of "peeping." But to be worried about these things involves some assumptions for which there is no evidence. Some of them insulting even.

First, it assumes that transgenders have any more risk of being sexually abusive than the general population - the usual knee-jerk "all pervs are just alike" thinking. This despite the fact that there is no publicized case on record of a transgender person committing any sort of sexual assault (either physical or verbal or visual) in a restroom. In fact, where there has been assault, it has been when a M2F was forced to use a mens room and was assaulted. there are thousands and thousands of us across the country and the charge has never been brought.

Second, it assumes that there is in fact a sexual interest. Many M2F are not oriented towards females (estimates suggest at least 30-40% of those who have transitioned are not), beyond that, the VAST majority of in-transition M2F are on HRT which means that there sex drive is almost nil and after several months the ability to achieve an erection, unless regularly exercised, is no longer present. So the reality is that almost none of these women could even theoretically have any sexual interest in the person in the next stall.

If that's not enough, having a sexual interest doesn't imply a willingness to be abusive or insensitive with that interest. Tell the truth - how many of you women out there ever wonder if that other woman in your restroom is a lesbian? how many of you wonder if some aggressive lesbian will assault you while you are trying to pee? How many men are uncomfortable with a gay male in the same restroom with them? And if you are that paranoid, what do you suggest? Gay men use the ladies and lesbians use the mens? No. Even if they do make you uncomfortable you MUST simply deal with the fact that the technical possibility exist that you might share a restroom with a person who is sexually oriented towards your gender.

So what?

Of course one can't discuss this without mentioning the scare-tactic that if it were allowed, some perverted non-trans guy would put on women's clothes just to get the chance to get into the ladies room. Except of course that this never happens or, if it does, no one has ever committed an assault or been otherwise detained by law enforcement for obviously being a "peeping tom" under such a pretense. No one can, of course, be certain no one has ever tried it and managed to see...uh...well...what? How many of you ladies disrobe in the "public" spaces in the ladies room? If a "man in a dress" came blundering in for a peep show, what would he see? This isn't your home bathroom where you might be in any sort of state of undress.

Still, do we make all our laws based on the technical possibility of some radically unusual event taking place? do we require that everyone keep their kids on a leash because once in a while some perv snatches a kid? One of the requirements of public policy is reasonableness. There's no reasonable likelihood that a M2F being in the ladies room for any other reason than to use the commode. On the other hand, there's a pretty strong likelihood that if the same person went into the men's room there would be a risk of confrontation and possibly assault.

Another aspect of this which must be remarked on is the whole business of "protecting the children" - whatever else people might tolerate they get even less rational when you bring a kid into it (my other anonymous commenter even said she "tried to keep her child from seeing me") but this, again, goes back to the assumption that to be trans is to be, by definition, a pervert who can't be trusted to not molest a child. Besides being heinously hateful to imply, one has to ask - are convicted sex offenders barred by law from using public restrooms? Those are people we KNOW have an issue with that offense and they are not, yet we - without any evidence - are PRESUMED to be dangerous to your children?

The bottom line is that there is not one shred of proof of any sort that a M2F transsexual in a ladies restroom or locker room is ANY sort of threat to anyone's safety. it's nothing but a base emotional reaction based on irrational false assumptions. That's not to say I don't understand the emotions behind it, I do. I get the instinctive urge to worry, but you can't base the law on what worries people. And you can be asked to base your worries on something a bit more rational. Worrying about the potential that you'd be assaulted by someone like me in the restroom is about as rational as worrying about a hurricane destroying your home in Chicago.

Just for reference, here are the two comments that sparked some part of this train of though - just so you can see how some good christian folks talk when they can't be identified:

"I think you are a very sick person. And i heard about your little stunt of going into the women's bathroom...if I ever see you in there...prepare to get the cops called on you. NASTY!"

She's a real sweetheart, eh?

"I think you are a freak. My stomach turns every time I see you, and I try to shield my child from you. God does NOT like what you are doing/living, and you need to get on your knees and beg Him to forgive you and make in you a clean and new heart and go back to being a MAN, a HUSBAND to your wife, and a FATHER to your sons."

One wonders why anyone would think it's a good idea for anyone who's a "freak" to be anyone's husband and father, eh? Things would be a lot easier if you could discuss these things with rational people.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Life and Love and Death

No long bloviating post tonight, but I just wanted to do my small part to put this out there.

If you are not involved in some way with the transgender community, you probably don't know who Christine Daniels is. She was once Mike Penner, a longtime sportswriter for the LA Times. In 2007 she came out to her bosses and the world as transsexual (her wife, who also worked for the Times, had apparently had some idea for some time before).

Christine enjoyed widespread support at the Times and across the industry and became a mild celebrity in the trans community which was and is always looking for positive high-profile examples to counter the "drag queen" stigmas. Everywhere, that is, but at home. Her wife flatly rejected her transition and soon filed for divorce, which, after the initial rush of support susided, left Christine increasingly depressed and lonely. In late November 2009, 19 months after her first column in her new identity - and one year to the day after her wife divorced her (and several months after de-transitioning back to "Mike" in an effort to reconcile the marriage), Christine Daniels sat in her car and breathed exhaust until she was dead.

Last week the LA Weekly ran a lengthy story about the rise and fall of Christine Daniels. obviously her story has more complexity than the average persons. Few of us transition in a fishbowl as she did, not all of us face rejection by our soul-mate for who we are (though most do), many of us do not get the support of our employers.

But the take-away in that story for me, no matter the circumstances, is how those who profess to love us seem to not realize the depth of damage that can be caused by flat out rejecting and withdrawing from their transitioning loved ones. I've heard it said (actually read a transcript of one e-mail that said this) that some have actually said "it would be better that you had died than done this" but I have to assume that's the tiny minority. How many parents who disown their trans kid REALLY consider the possibility their beloved child will eat a bullet within a year because of that rejection? How many brothers, sisters, spouse, children, best may of them are really aware that it might be THEY who drive their loved one to the place Christine ended up?

Is it REALLY worth it to take your moral stand if that is the result?

Please understand, I'm not suggesting one compromises what they believe, I'm talking about the WAY you interact with your transgender loved one. You don't HAVE to build a wall and be hateful and cruel (even while claiming you do what you do out of love). You can be gentle in spirit while still saying "I don't agree."

But the reality is, a higher percentage of trans people kill themselves than any other demographic group. This happens for a wide variety of reasons (though too be clear, it's practically non-existent, statistically, that a post-transition person is depressed because they fell they got the gender identity wrong - where there is depression it's because of other circumstances which are "collateral damage" to the transition) but very very often it's because a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend chose to show contempt instead of love. It may be harsh to say, and surely she didn't know at the time, but Christine is dead today SPECIFICALLY because of how her then-wife chose to react to her transition. I wonder, sometimes, does she realize that?

Do you? or will you simply comfort yourself by rationalizing that "he was obviously nuts anyway" and pretend she didn't die of a broken heart.

(to be clear, YES Lisa (her wife) was surely heartbroken too - but she's alive, isn't she? If you read the article, the cruelty is not in divorcing Mike/Christine - the cruelty is in the WAY she avoided her, shut her out, disrespected what she was going through. there is a good way and a bad way to part, a good way and a bad way to treat your ex. whether it be a spouse or a parent or a sibling or a child - This is not an appeal to you to just "roll over" and accept them - though that would be the ACTUAL loving thing to do - it's just an appeal for gentlness and compassion and understanding, even crazy people deserve that, right?)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Working on it

I know that perhaps some of you are concerned about the state of the recent and ongoing crisis. I really don't have any specific report except to say that if everything spoken this evening was sincere, and my use of "if" should not be construed as an accusation that it was not, then we have something of an understanding about what we're willing to do in order to at least see this through until the kids are older. I'm defining "older" in my mind as when you younger son gets to 17 which is a bit over 3 years away.

I cannot, of course, be certain that what has been said will be done - it's well documented here that I'm five months into the last compromise and feel like it was on balance a colossal failure, except that it bought five more months (which is not inconsiderable but not what I had hoped for). Perhaps I am being gullible in taking the current agreement on good faith, but my kids deserve our last best effort and I cannot lightly turn away from a proposal which will be for their good. Within a few months, at the most, I'll have a reasonable idea whether we can find a livable situation, at least, if not some rekindled affection.

But that's not what this post is about.

I filled out an application for Toyota today, the latest in a long line of applications for employment Ive done in the last six weeks or so. Well, not the latest - there was another tonight. But I have to note in passing that some of the places I've applied to, including Toyota, have explicit language in their employment policies which prohibit discrimination based on gender identity along with the other so-called "protected classes." so do Lowe's and Wal-mart (at least) among other places I've applied.

This is good because I have resolved that when (IF!) I am hired, I shall be clear up front that my employer is hiring a woman, despite what the legal name says. If I cannot be employed under that circumstance, then I cannot be employed. The truth is that my appearance and in some cases my situation precede me. There's every possibility that my appearance would be unacceptable in many jobs if I presented myself as a male. But beyond that, it is dishonest and unfair to "man-up" for an employer only to come around at some point and say "next week I'll be a woman." It's an excellent way to get yourself fired, even if the official reason is not on account of the change in your presentation.

And the alternative - to be trapped in a half-way existence because you are in a job you can't afford to lose and can't transition in, is too daunting to even consider. There HAS to be some place out there where the hiring is done by a compassionate and accepting person who will not bar the door to me because of my status, If not, then I'm doomed. Some will argue that I should make any sacrifice, including de-transitioning, in order to support my family. But the harsh reality is that I was having huge problems finding a job before I began this journey and there is no guarantee that wearing that mask gets me any job anyway, especially given the rather high profile of my transition thus far.

Ultimately I have to be true to myself - if she needs to find a better provider she has my endorsement on that, I've been a poor provider for a lot longer than I've been out of the closet. If I end up living on the street rather than compromise my soul, so be it.

I said there was another application tonight. it was an ad for a part-time position and it asked I submit a resume by e-mail. which I did, with a full explanation of who Tammy was in relation to the male name on the resume. They will hire, or not hire, Tammy. But I am not ashamed of who I am, and will not hide it from anyone. let the chips fall.

Friday, August 13, 2010


So I'm weak. In every way. so shoot me and put me out of my misery then.

I said I wasn't going to do this but I'm weak.

I'm told I should stop trying to have it both ways and move on, but if not doing so makes me weak, then I'm weak.

I'm told by others that I should sacrifice my own happiness and even sanity for the good of others - and because I cannot apparently I'm weak.

I have moments when I'd very much like to erase myself from this world and somewhere some fool would say that holding back shows I'm weak.

So yeah, call me weak - surely there are reasons which suit your point of view.

I'm told that if I go forward, that there will be a terrible, violent, frankly insane price to pay. Even if that turns out to not happen, the price which seems almost certain to be paid is one that paralyzes me with fear.

I'm told that I can make everything right if I just put my soul back in the closet and wear the mask of a man again. And yet even the simplest steps in that direction tear me heart out.

And every time that..."discussion" held, my love for anything - ANYTHING - in this life dies a little more.

I don't see a future worth living anymore - if I go, the crushing guilt will rob me of any joy, if i stay, the blackness of my heart will make everyone around me miserable.

There's no place for me in this world. The very most i can do is be an empty figurehead to my kids until they are grown, just long enough that they don't have to suffer from my pathetic weakness any more than possible.

Then fade away. I always knew there was no place for me in this life, I don't know why I lied to myself this long. Everyone who ever got closed to me is cursed by my existence. The sooner all of you forget you ever knew me the better off you'll be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No Safe Place

Sometimes my better instincts undermine me. One of the things I have tried hard to do, in this journey, is NOT be deceptive, sneaky, or evasive. More than once I've walked into an argument by simply deciding to tell the truth, or not "cover my tracks" even when I knew what price would be paid.

More than once, I've been convinced that the desperation to change my mind, or at least undermine me, by any means necessary, might have provoked less . . . honorable choices on the other side of this debate, but again, I have made some effort to NOT point the finger of accusation because ultimately, the points made are small and the feeling hurt are much more valuable.

I must confess, however, that as the "cold war" (for lack of a better term) lingers on now into its sixth month, it does become more and more difficult to be open knowing that my openness will just get me an ass chewing (or someone else one). One of the things I had valued about some of my favorite places on-line is that they have served, many times, as a "safety valve" - a safe harbor place where I could speak freely without condemnation, even when someone disagreed. On the rare occasion when someone "took me on" to try and change my mind, it was still the sort of forum where views could be frankly and fully exchanged. I don't think I've made any converts and I can state with confidence that no one who's tried to "straighten me out" has made even a tiny dent (that's because all their clever arguments are things I've already thought of and cried over - perhaps I'll tell you about the latest attack someday). But truthfully, I sometimes enjoy even the attacks because it gives me a chance to lay out all the counter-arguments that are so difficult to get in edge-wise in the real world (and never do any good).

It's a myth strongly believed around these parts, that people on the internet have "got in my head" and filled me up with bad ideas that I'd never have had without their help. Does that mean every man sitting at a computer is in danger of turning into a chick someday? Jokes aside, I don't have to tell you again what I've said before about the history of this matter. Before I'd ever logged onto the internet the first time, I remember taking walks at night, down a deserted road and sitting on a wall or a stump and looking up at God and crying bitter tears and asking him why he wouldn't take this curse from me. I try very hard to be understanding but those who say such things ("people online are filling your head with shit") don't realize what a profound insult it is to be told all those previous feelings about yourself don't count.

Even if it were true - and it's not - that I only found the courage to do something about my condition because I became aware of others who had (I've been knowing about successful transitions for a longtime before that) - what is the argument? That I would have been just fine to have never had that courage, and to STAY miserable and self-hating? What kind of love demands that the one loved suffer on your behalf?

But I digress. The point is, that everyone needs some emotional release, and yes, even a sympathetic ear. And I am thankful for those i have found over the years. I'm even thankful for the hours I can waste arguing about baseball and, for a time, distracting myself from the soap-opera drama of my life. but my openness and transparency has, apparently, painted me into a corner.

I make it possible for her to access pretty much everything I do and say on-line. I don't point it all out to her but it's all easy enough to find if one wants to look. But the down-side of that is that I ask for trouble if I'm as honest as I tend to be. there's no point in writing a blog about this sort of thing and wasting a post talking about the new kitten or whatever, as if there's nothing important to say. But when you say the important stuff, there will be a backlash from those who disagree with your point of view.

So you get to the point where you say "Should I be more sneaky? should I slip around and hide what I have to say? Or, should I simply keep my mouth shut and not ask for trouble?"

If you read some of the recent comment threads, you'll see where I'm coming from. I can't, in good conscious, keep providing what amounts to fodder for arguments, both at home and on-line. I don't need any more reasons to fight here, and I don't see any upside in the sort of exchange that happen in the last thread.

So, for now, don't be surprised if you see a lot more posts here - when I post at all - about vanilla, ultimately meaningless, stuff. Oh hopefully it will still be interesting - I'd like to think at some point I could tell you I had a job and how that was going. But there's always going to be the self censor, until things are settled at home for better or worse. Until I let you know different, this is one fewer "safe place" for me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Fuzz at the End of the Rope

I've been asked to not "air the dirty laundry" here so much (and even telling you i was ask is an act of doing so) and I've tried to be sensitive to that request but I am pretty sure I'm about to defy it. I know as I write each word I'll likely catch hell for them but I honestly don't know how to keep this bottled up anymore and repeating the same circular argument at home never gets anywhere (not that I expect this to get anywhere but at least it's some place besides around in a circle).

The short version (as if I ever write the short version of anything) is that the light at the end of the tunnel is now very clearly an oncoming train.

Before I go further, let me just say that on this one post - don't reply with advice. I think it will become clear that I'm not unaware of the situation, the possible choices, and the potential consiquences. I don't think anyone is going to tell me something I haven't thought of to this point. Further to that, this isn't about heroes and villains, there's no upside in laying blame or calling names or otherwise trying to pick a winner here.

The final analysis here is that as I look to my future, I have essentially three choices, and all of them are wrong to a greater or lesser degree. All of them stand to cause immense pain and suffering, all of them are in some way a failure. this is the corner circumstances have painted me into, and I frankly see no way out.

(and yes, if you are thinking some of this you've read before, probably so. forgive me for that)

Let me take a moment up front to be very clear about my view of my own role in this - even though I have no choice about my condition, the situation is ultimately a result of poor choices on my behalf. I chose (those clearly it would have been very unusual to have chosen otherwise) when I was a very young person to hide my condition and not come out and deal with it. I think it is defensable to not admit you are trans in North Mississippi in the late 70's and early 80's - especially for one who was just coming into adulthood. nevertheless, it was my choice.

It was my choice to accept as true the teaching that God didn't want me to be "perverted" and would heal me of my "besetting sin." Again, I think any rational person would agree that that was not a malicious choice or one taken in order to deceive or cause pain - it was a sincere desire to be "normal" which I like to think I can't be faulted for but, again, it was a choice I made.

It was my choice, a little over three years later, to take a wife in the sincere faith and intention that God would deliver me from my affliction and I would rise to the occasion to be the husband she deserved. It was my decision to not tell her about this issue in the expectation she'd never have any reason to know, and the firm conviction that she wouldn't have been able to deal with it any more then than she has now (less even!). This one I don't even try to excuse. It's inarguable that it was fair for her to know, and fair for her to have had the chance to reject me then when there was less at stake. My only plea here is to ask which of you, had you been in that position, would have had the courage to tell the person you love something that you were convinced would cause her to utterly reject you? My crime hear is ultimately simply fear. But I plead guilty.

It was my choice, ultimately, to - after having been convinced by 20 years of waiting and trying that God was not, in fact, worried about my condition and that it would never change - take the massive risk that she would love me enough to love me even in this condition. I could have continued to repress, and never revealed my dark secret, until the day my soul rotted away to the point where I ended my life without her ever even knowing why. Which would of course have left her devestated thinking that somehow she caused me to do so. But still, it's a choice - and I made it.

In all this I do not lay blame upon God, or upon man, or upon my wife. We all come to the crossroadsand we pick a direction to travel. where you end up depends on the roads you choose. Blame isn't really helpful. No one owes me anything. Very little would be lost in this world had I never drawn the first breath, I know my place in the world. So don't read any of this as pointing fingers and don't point your own.

But the fact remains that the crossroads I have arrived at all seem to be trails which disappear into the dark woods.

If I take all the well-intentioned advice (which I believe, by the way) - the platitudes that people quote in their sig lines and their status updates - about never submitting yourseldf to the approval of others, about being true to yourself, about not living with regret, and all the rest --- If I do what I believe, then I MUST follow through on my transition. On a much more tangible note, I CAN'T let it go. Every time I leave the house without makeup and all the rest, it depresses my soul unto death. Every time I consider even superficial things like cutting my nails, or running an errand without a clean shave - I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I've looked into the mirror and, finally after all these decades, I've seen ME. I KNOW who I am now in the most clear, stark, undeniable terms. that which has been seen cannot be unseen! It's not just about what I look like now but it is represented in my mind and spirit by that image. Being Tammy is no longer just some pipe-dream more unlikely than winning the lottery without a ticket - it's a reality, it's my heart and soul and I can't imagine even the most superficial acts to compromise that lasting for any length of time. Right now, living under the compromise agreement, every day is a struggle to not toss that aside and go back to full on presentation.

If I'm going to be whole in spirit and sane in my mind, I MUST go forward. But the darkness attached to this option is that it will destroy her life and by extension, do great harm to the lives of my children. She's made it abundantly clear, in every possible way, that ultimately the only way we stay together is if I "quit this shit." While obviously it would be ideal if she would accept me, short of that I'd like nothing better than for her to find a real man who could be what she deserved - even if that meant she had to hate me to move on to that. However, it appears this isn't the likely outcome.

Rather, the apparent likely outcome is something akin to what they used to call a "nervous breakdown" - negatively impacting her own life and her ability to function as a caregiver to the kids (and possibly impacting their relationship with her). Admittedly such breakdowns are usually temporary but the effects are not necessarily thus. This is compounded by an emotional deceleration that if I leave that she wants nothing from me in terms of assistance or support. This has the potential for grave consequences that are not easily dismissed. I could of course wash my hands and move on and leave her to her fate but I find myself entirely unwilling to be that cold. On the other hand, she cannot know from experience that there is life after me unless she is forced to confront it, and so there's a sound argument that my compassion in hesitating is actually doing her a disservice in the long run. It could also be argued that subconsciously there's an effort to make the potential consequences SEEM so VERY bad that I won't be able to make this choice - even if, should I follow through, they wouldn't in fact turn out that way.

The second option is to surrender. give her the illusion she wants (and which she insists is no illusion but the reality) that I am "the man she married" and all is well again. There are a few problems with this. First, the memory of this episode doesn't just go away. The doubts she has now she will always have because she knows about Tammy, even if Tammy is hiding in the closet. She will never again be able to be confident her relationship will last forever.
Second, if it is, after all, possible for me to simply repress these desires and be a "normal" man - then all this pain and drama was ultimately caused for no good reason and that, in itself, is reason to be forever displeased with me. Logically, if I did all this for any other reason than because I HAD to, no sane woman should want to preserve a relationship with such a man.

Third, and most importantly, I would not and could not ever be the man she remembers. As I said above, now that I have clearly seen and felt and experienced what it is to be myself, EVERY day that I don't live that life will be torture to me. Even now, every time some well meaning lose-lipped clerk calls me "sir" it's enough to make me want to cry. The idea that I could feel that way every time I get dressed, every time I wash my face, every time I brush my hair, every time I sign my name, for the rest of my life? There's no way that person is anyone that any sane person would want to share a life and a home with. Even if I LOOK like her husband, there will be nothing there fit to love. Nor anyone fit to be a father. Ultimately, there can be no joy for anyone in this scenario. Least of all for me.

She ask me, by the way, to "just try" to do this - so that in theory she can see that what I'm telling you (and her) is true. and deep down I wish more than anything that it were possible to pack it all away and go back to looking like the man she wants to see - if I thought there was any way to force myself to do that even if we set a firm date when I could stop that torture - just so she would know in her heart that I really did try because I love her that much. When I look at the situation through her eyes it makes perfect sense. but I JUST CAN'T make myself do it. My harshest critics can't wrap their mind around that, hell I can't understand it myself. By all that's holy I WISH I could stop. Permanently even but at least long enough for her to know that I'd do that for her. But the idea of going out the door tomorrow, or the next day - let alone for months or years - in a completely male identity right down to my underwear terrifies me to the bone. This isn't the choice I don't want to make - it's the choice I am compelled by forces beyond my control to reject.

The third option, listed mainly for completeness but which I cannot deny creeps into my mind more often lately, is to choose not to choose. A handful of pills or a plugged exhaust, you get the idea. I tell you very frankly that as of now, this still seems the most unlikely of choices because it has the same negative impact as Choice #1 with no personal upside. it exists on the list, really, as nothing more than the outlet for insufferable frustration at not being able to finally choose either 1 or 2. it would be insanity, to be sure, but I feel like I'm losing my sanity having to make a choice which has no rational right answer. I'll say nothing else about this one except to say that if I choose #2, ultimately I'm choosing #3, only on a time delay. that's where that road ends eventually.

Why then, did I write all this? Mostly, just as stress release. I have to say it somewhere, even in this dark corner of the net where almost no one ever goes (the most hits I've ever had in one day was 12 and almost certainly one or two of those was me). Also, because whatever happens to me, in terms of going forward or backing up or dropping off the figurative face of the earth, I want it said somewhere that my intentions were not exclusively self-serving. That whatever I did, I did NOT take the easy way out and wash my hands of the mess that my life created. I want to say to those who have ears and open minds to listen, I DO love her enough to not consider her my enemy or someone to be escaped from. I love her enough to drag my feet about finishing a journey which has done my soul more good than I ever thought possible - to at least pause and consider spiritual bondage and suicide to keep from causing her more pain.

I could have, perhaps, said this behind closed doors, if it would have been believed - but then no one who had any willingness to believe it would have heard it said at all. So I broke the rule. I "aired the dirty laundry" once again. Add that to the long long list of all the other ways I screwed up in life. On the whole balance sheet, it's really probably a pretty tiny entry.