30 November 2011

To Continue or Renew--Or Leave?

The Classical Transgender Narrative (Is that pretentious, or what?) says, among other things, that a transsexual is supposed to, not only forget his or her past, but to create, in essence, a fiction about him or her self.  You are supposed to move away from the gender in which you had been living, and all of its trappings and everything you associated with your life in it, and become something new.

The whole idea seems pretty creepy to me, especially now. I mean, why would someone want to induce amnesia in him or her self.  Ever since I undertook it, the journey from the gender that was imposed on me  to the one I truly am has seemed to be, or at least should be, one toward greater balance rather than the creation of a new imbalance. 

While I am not looking to deny the fact that I lived as male for more than four decades, and did many things that are completely congruent with life as a male,  I am moving away from many aspects of that life.  I have come to realize this because of two people who have seen this blog, and other places online where I'm present, and have contacted me.  Both say they want to be in touch.  One was a classmate (more or less) at Rutgers; the other is a woman with whom I had a relationship.

While there is much about both of those times in my life that I'd just as soon forget--and, in fact, have forgotten--I realize now that those two people are not necessarily embodiments of what I'd like to forget (or, for that matter, remember) about those times.  The classmate was, in fact, a good friend to me at that time in my life.  Perhaps she could be one again.  As for the former paramour, I have no desire to have the kind of relationship we once had.  So, I am asking myself what, if anything, I want to renew, or can be renewed, about our relationship--or whether it's possible to build some sort of new relationship.

And somehow I suspect that my old classmate doesn't have the sort of lurid curiosity others from my past have shown when they found out about my transition.  

27 November 2011

Another Voyage of Discovery

I realize now that I've been cycling for so many years because it's always been a window of sorts.  Sometimes I see interesting things across my handlebars; other times, I have interesting experiences when I get to wherever my bike--on today's ride, Arielle--takes me.

Sometimes I think she has an even better eye than mine for form. It seems that rides with her lead me to pictures like this:

I don't feel that I've "captured" the bird or the fisherman as much as Arielle brought me to them.  Even when I take a ride to some place I've been many times before (in this case, the Canarsie Pier), a scene like this is a discovery. That makes the ride an exploration.  Now you know why I keep on cycling.

26 November 2011

I Never Tried To Become A "Cougar". Honest!

Even though I've been on both sides, if you will, I don't think I'll ever understand sexual attraction.  And, after an experience I had tonight, I'm not sure that I want to.

No, I didn't get date-raped, or raped in any other way.  Fucked, maybe.  Well, I didn't have sex; then again, I wasn't looking for it.  But I  feel that, in some way, I was ambushed by someone's sexual desire or curiosity.

I'd just gotten back from taking a bike ride after the class I taught.  I hadn't showered or changed, so I was kind of sweaty and grimy. (It was unusually warm for this time of year.)  Also, as you can see in the photos I've posted, I'm not a particularly attractive woman and I don't look particularly young for my age.

But I was feeling really good after the ride:  The day was perfect for it, at least by my standards, and I felt even more energized near the end of it than I did when I started.  Maybe that had something to do with the experience I had tonight:  When I stopped during my ride, men were coming up to me to ask for the time of day or to compliment me on my bike.  The latter is plausible, as it is a really nice bike; still, I have to wonder whether all of those men knew enough about bikes or cycling to know how good a bike it is.  And the others came to me because they wanted to know the time of day like all of those fathers who disappeared were "just going out for a pack of cigarettes."

Yes, I was having fun. I've noticed that people respond to that.  As Cyndi Lauper sang, girls wanna have fun.  And guys seem to like girls (even ones my age!) who are having fun.

Still, I have to think that the young supermarket employee who "accidentally" bumped into me must have met other women--at least some of whom had to be younger and much more attractive than I am--who were enjoying themselves.  After all, this is a holiday weekend, so people are under less pressure than they'd normally be.  (At least they are if they don't have kids or other people to take care of!)  And, given the kind of neighborhood this is, I'm sure that some women who fit that description found their way into that supermarket during his shift.

That young man is one year younger than half my age.  In fact, he's younger than the last guy I was involved with and found to be too immature for me.  He's not bad-looking; in fact, I'd say he's kinda cute.  Still, I don't understand why he wants to see me again.  And he was not at all shy about making his feelings known to me.  I guess that's really what's bothering me:  I scarcely know him (I've seen him a few times in the store; he started working there a couple of months ago.)  and, out of the blue, he started hitting on me.  I suppose I should be flattered by that.  All right, I'll admit that I am.  But I still don't want it or, at least, I don't feel the need to be flattered in that way.  Plus, I haven't really gotten over the emotional abuse I experienced in my last two relationships (one fairly long, the other a "fling").  Perhaps I'm still on "high alert," which could be the reason why I see the attention as a kind of mind-fuck, or something that has the potential to become that.

Hmm...I wonder how he'd react if he saw me some time during the coming week after a day of work, especially now that I'm coming into one of the more stressful parts of the year at work.  Then again, I'd be cleaned up and dressed better, and would probably be wearing some makeup.  Is he the type who'd like women who are well-dressed and stressed-out.  Maybe he doesn't have any experience with a woman like that.  I'm not so sure I'd want to be the one to give it to him.

Then again, he might not be there the next time I go to that store.  After all, he is young and, hopefully, on the move. Or he might get fired for hitting on one of his co-workers.   On the other hand, his boss is the kind who might not fire him for something like that.  

Sooner or later, I'll need something or other and go back to that store. (It's right on the corner of my block, so I have little reason not to go there.)  If not next time, soon after I'll go in after a bike ride or something else that has me in a really good mood.  What then?

24 November 2011

For Thanksgiving

On this day, I am thankful that I've had the opportunity to live a life I'd envisioned for myself.  Some of the particulars aren't ones I'd planned.  But at least I got the opportunity to become the person I wanted to be.  Too many people, including ones I've known, have never had the opportunity.

I am grateful for myself, and hopeful for them.

23 November 2011

The Day Before Thanksgiving

In the last moment of my life, I saw the day before Thanksgiving...

I'd just pedaled a few strokes around the virage; a bed of wildflowers turned, in an instant, into a glacial field.  The sun was so bright it turned into the kind of liquid haze through which dreams skip and float along with the words that make sense only in those dreams.

It was noon.  We were all lined up--the boys on one side, the girls on the other--to leave school for the day, the next day, and the three days that would follow.  For some reason, when I was a kid, that was always my favorite moment of the year.  Even the seemingly-capricious discipline of the Carmelite nuns who taught in our school could make that moment less happy.   They could cast a pall over the day before Christmas Eve, over Holy Thursday.   Whether or not they loaded us down with homework, they left us in such a mood that Christmas, even if we got the gifts we hoped for, seemed more like a truce, and Easter was just too holy of a day to really consider as a vacation, even if we were home for the week that followed.  

But noon on the day before Thanksgiving always seemed like the most carefree moment of the year.  In most years, it began the last interlude of Fall; the lights of Christmas only accented the darkness that consumed ever-larger parts of the days that would follow.  In that moment, on the day before Thanksgiving, one could still see the last flickerings of the autumnal blaze that burned green leaves into the colors of the sunset.  Somewhere along the way, they turned as yellow and, for a few days, as bright as the sunlight that filled the air around the mountain I was climbing on my bike.

It was just about noon; I would soon be at the peak of le Col du Galibier, one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France.  From there, I would have a long effortless ride to the valley.  In the meantime, each pedal stroke would become more arduous.  I'd been pedaling all morning, but even more important was the altitude:  I was more than a mile and a half above sea level.  The air is thinner, and even though my breath steamed as I puffed up that mountain on that July morning, the sun burned through the layers of sun screen I'd lathered on my arms and face.  

Bells rang.  Dismissal?  Or the cows in the herd down the mountain?  I stopped for a drink and one of the crepes I'd packed into my bag.  I took a bite and a gulp.  

You're free.  I wasn't sure of whether I was hearing that.  Perhaps I was giddy from the thin mountain air.  Yes, you're free.  But I wasn't hearing it:  It was being told--or, more precisely, communicated--to that child who was being dismissed from school on the day before Thanksgiving.  You can go now.  What are they talking about?  Who's "they"?

You don't have to do this again.  I'd never heard that before, certainly not in those days.  What did that mean?  What won't I have to do again?  Climb this mountain?  Go to school?

Down the Col du Galibier, through the Val de Maurienne, as the eternal winter of that mountaintop turned into the hottest day of summer in the valley, my mind echoed.  What, exactly, wouldn't I have to do again?

Near the end of that day, I reached St. Jean de Maurienne, just a few kilometers from Italy.  There, I would see the stranger who, inadvertently, caused me to see that I could follow no other course but the one that my life has taken since then.  A year later, I would move out of the apartment I'd been sharing with Tammy; about a year after that, I would change my name and begin my treatments.

22 November 2011

For Shelley Hilliard And Her Mother On The Transgender Day Of Remembrance

The other day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Actually, ceremonies and vigils are being held this week in a variety of venues.  But some of the bigger, and longer-running, ones were held on Sunday.  As it happens, I attended one after bike riding with Lakythia and Mildred.

For those of you who are new to this blog, or things having to do with transgenders, the Day of Remembrance began in 1998 after the murder of Rita Hester in the Boston suburb of Allston.  On the Day of Remembrance, we do not only mourn our dead; as the name indicates, we keep the memory alive of those who've been killed for their gender identity or expression.  

Now, some would argue that we're elevating our victims over others who aren't transgendered.  It's true that all murders are horrific tragedies; I would even go as far as to say (actually, to echo someone I deeply respect) that there is no way to justify killing another human being.  Killings are often rationalized, but that is not the same:  Coming up with a logical reason for something does not equal justice.  And, I would argue, if you believe in a supreme being or even a force beyond yourself, you have to come to the conclusion that human beings can't achieve justice.  But I digress.

The reason why we need to remember transgender victims in particular--and treat our murders and beatings as hate crimes--is that when we are killed or beaten to within an inch of our lives, more often than not, our perpetrators have targeted us because we are transgendered.  Because we are so targeted, our murders tend to be particularly gruesome:  It's not unusual for investigators--including those who are Armed Forces combat veterans-- to say that our murders are the most grisly they've ever seen.

Such was the case of a victim whose name I read at the vigil I attended.  Shelley Hilliard was only nineteen years old when she was decapitated and dismembered, and her body burned, in her hometown of Detroit.   Her body was found on 23 October.  The police could not make a positive ID; that task fell to her mother.  

Nearly any mother will tell you that the worst thing she can imagine is losing her child.  It's hard to imagine a much worse way of dying than the one Shelley suffered, so I can only imagine what was going through her mother's mind and spirit when she had to identify her daughter's body.

I would hope that other parents would support us as allies if for no other reason that they wouldn't want their children to meet such a fate.   And I want to remember Shelley Hilliard for the same reasons I've made it a point to remember Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, Gwen Araujo and other transgenders who were murdered:  Nobody should die the way they died, for the reasons they died, as young as they died.  If they've gone anywhere after this life, I hope that they'll have the opportunity they didn't have in this life:  I hope they will have the chance to grow into, and with, their beauty.

19 November 2011

Post-Post Op; After An Ex

I suppose it was inevitable that I would stop the practice of posting daily (or nearly daily) I developed during the weeks and months leading up to, and immediately following, my transition. 

But I don't think I ever envisioned going weeks without posting.  Now that I think about it, I never could have predicted the state of mind in which I now find myself.  That is not to say I'm unhappy about it, for it is, I believe, a sign that my life has gone in a direction I'd hoped it would take.

Although once in a while I mention to someone or another that I'm transsexual, and I often encounter people who witnessed parts of my transition or read about it on this blog, I don't think of myself as post-operational anymore.  In fact, I hardly think about the surgery.  I haven't made any effort to forget about it, or my transition--or, for that matter, my life that preceded it.  Rather, I just see them fading into the background, and myself moving onward.  I am a woman living mainly among women, although I am different in many ways--especially in some of my past experiences--from those women.  Although my face and body have feminized to some degree, I look different from them, if for no other reasons than I'm taller and bigger.  

And, although I have become more friendly with the prof I mentioned in a previous post, I don't feel it's entirely a result of my experience as a transwoman.  Yes, I can empathise with her as her body is changing along with some of the ways she deals with her past.  I have great admiration for her partner, who is not only standing by her, but helping her in various ways, through her transition.  Nevertheless, I find myself becoming friendlier with this prof mainly because I am drawn to her intelligence, integrity and generosity of spirit.  And, of course, we can talk about the college and various experiences we've had in it.  Oddly enough, that makes me even less conscious of my trans background.

I also have another reason why I haven't been posting much:  Someone with whom I'd had a relationship is now stalking me electronically.  This person has managed to find out work-related and other information that was supposed to be confidential, and has tracked down the identity of the prof I mentioned.  This ex has threatened to make false accusations against that prof, as he made against me.  I'm talking about the sort of stuff that gets people run out of jobs and homes, and subjects them to violence, whether or not the accusations are in any way factual. 

To that ex, I say, I know you're reading this, and you know that I'm talking about you, and if you don't leave me and that prof alone, I'll reveal your identity on this blog.