Saturday, June 30, 2007

About 20/20

I'm still thinking about the 20/20 show that was on a few weeks ago about young kids coming out as trans.

& The thing I can't quite get past is how many people who are gender variant grow up to be gender variant but okay with the sex they were born. A gay friend of mine called after the show was over & asked, "So what's the difference between them & me?" because he went through most, if not all, of what one of the young MTF expressed. He did drag for most of his childhood, expressed the desire to be a girl as a child, and had a hard time dating guys who didn't want to date a queen. I didn't have an answer for him. I don't know what makes some of us gender variant & some of us trans.

But I do know that talking about my own gender variance causes some trans people to decide that I'm trans, which is exactly what worries me. Were I younger and expressing my gender variance, & someone told me that meant I was trans, I'm not sure I would have had the ability or perspective to say, "No, I'm not." I'm not sure my friend would have been able to do that, either. But both of us are quite happy being who we are, passing in & out of stages in our lives where our gender variance was expressed, hidden, or naturally waned.

There is a part of me that, like the director of The Gendercator, that is concerned that all gender variance is disappearing into transness, and that diagnosing gender variance so young will only affirm the binary, that our choices will become Mr. or Mrs. Cleaver, or even some 21st Century version of them.

Yet there is another part of me that says it's great kids can at least say something, or that some of them can, to some of their parents, & that they don't get kicked out of their homes or forced into therapy for doing so. That's a good thing.

The other reality - that so many gender variant children grow up to be gay or lesbian - is also a concern. Homophobia is so huge, so unspoken, and it concerns me that most parents would rather have a daughter than a nelly, a son rather than a tomboy. While of course they might just step from homophobia into transphobia, I suspect that plenty of these parents will opt for raising their child stealth - with no one knowing their child is trans, and so will sidestep transphobia and homophobia - and the awful fear of gender variance - altogether. For some it will be too tempting to disappear into gender normalcy. & Of course, some would say, that's a GOOD thing; everyone has the right to feel normal about their gender. I just don't agree. I think instead people should be more conscious of gender, & the ways that gender delimits who we allow ourselves to be.

But mostly I'm still uneasy about early hormone use.

The cause for my concern surprises me the most, because what worries me is the child's decision not to procreate. I'm surprised because I'm happily child-free and a Zero Population Growth type; the fewer reasons people have to have children the better, as far as I'm concerned.

But being who I am, I also know the astonishment people express when I say I'm happy not having children. We all know how much late-breaking couples will spend on fertility drugs in order to get pregnant at age 41. That is, having children seems to be a basic, undeniable component to most people's happiness, and raising children gives many lives meaning it might not have otherwise.

Going on hormones at a young age means the child or teenager gives up the ability to procreate, & that is a huge thing to give up. More than one trans person has told me they're quite pleased they didn't transition younger precisely because it gave them the chance to have children. The thing is, I'm not sure that a 15-year-old can know, necessarily, whether or not they might want children in the future. I knew that I didn't, and that never changed. But for others, it does; teenagers are notorious for growing up & changing their attitudes significantly, after all.

These are not easy issues, any of them. I don't envy any parent with a gender variant child. At some level I distrust parents, for the most part, as I suspect most would want to keep their child safe, above all else: safe means fitting in, dealing with the world as it is, and not changing the world to make it safe for those of us who don't fit in. Plenty of us, I'm afraid, would not be good at being gender normative men OR women, whether we transition or don't.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Justice for JT?

Laura Albert has to pay back $110,000 - + $6500 in damages - that she was paid for the film rights to her book Sarah, because it was supposed to have been written by her alter-ego JT LeRoy, trans prostitute, who of course, does not, & never did, exist.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Having it both ways

I went to the 3rd annual TransForming Community event tonight – it is an event that is dedicated to exploring the friction at the intersection of contemporary trans and queer communities. I think my two favorite pieces of the evening were those by Prado Gomez and Storm Florez, both of whom (in different ways) addressed the issue of trans men needing to own the fact that they are men (rather than retreating into the excuse that they are not “really” men when it suits their interests). Prado’s piece discussed how some trans guys will wield masculine/male power and privilege at one moment, then the next argue they don’t actually have such power because they’re trans, or they weren’t socialized male, or that they aren’t capable of sexually violating someone else because they don’t have a penis. Perhaps I appreciated these pieces so much because they addressed a certain double standard that I see going on all the time in queer/trans/feminist communities, but which has not yet been clearly articulated.

In my work on the issue of trans woman-exclusion, I have found that one of the biggest hurdles trans women face in making our case that we should be able to participate in lesbian/women-only spaces is the growing number of trans guys who now feel entitled to be in these spaces too. I have (on numerous occasions) heard trans guys who are on T and who go by “he” say they have no qualms about attending Michigan because they don’t feel 100% like a “man”. Or they’ll say they are genderqueer or boi-identified, even though their appearance definitely reads male. Of course, this having your cake and eating it too attitude comes at the expense of trans women. Because if trans guys are inherently “safe” because of their transness or female socialization or lack of penis, it implies that trans women remain inherently dangerous.

I remember once, when I was doing outreach for Camp Trans, getting into a heated discussion with a lesbian who insisted that trans women were a potential threat to women’s spaces because male socialization and privilege are insidious – she insisted that we still carry that around with us even if we feel as though we’ve moved beyond it. Afterwards, as I walked toward my BART stop, a guy harassed me. When I ignored him, he got hostile and made a point of telling me that he could take me if he wanted to. Afterwards, when I reflected on it all, I was really pissed – not only at the harasser, but at the lesbian who I spoke with just beforehand. It suddenly struck me that, in effect, she was lumping me into the same category as the guy who had just threatened to rape me.

For the same reason, I now get pissed at trans guys who want to have it both ways: being men in the male-centered mainstream and then being “not-men” in queer/women’s/feminist spaces. They seem not to give a shit about how this invisibilizes and marginalizes trans women. We, after all, are placed in no-win situation by this same ideology: We are treated as second-class citizens in the male-centered mainstream because of our femaleness, but then we are derided as being scary, untrustworthy “men” in queer/feminist/women’s spaces...


Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Additions

Welcome to S. Bear Bergman (author of Butch is a Noun) & Matt Kailey (author of Just Add Hormones), both of whom have recently signed on to post here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Are We Transitioning Simply To Marry?

This week there’s an article ( scroll down and follow link to read ) about Diane and I (and our Blind Eye Mystery series) in the Sydney Express News by Katrina Fox, who is, coincidently, the editor of Trans People in Love, a new anthology from Haworth that I have a piece in.

Katrina’ article is nice, nothing like the Catholic Daily News piece last month that seems think I transitioned to get around the rules against same sex marriage. The funny thing is that I’ve had lesbians ask me this too: will lesbians transition so they can gain access to legal marriages.

I can’t really see lesbians rush to become men, even if it would give them the legal privileges of marriage. Most lesbians I know aren’t interested in undergoing the counseling, legally changing their names and years of injecting hormones—and all the side effects like hair and clitoris growth, let alone undergoing surgery to have their breast removed and genitalia altered.

Considering the many couples that break up during transition, it hardly seems like the thing to do in order to commit your lives to each other!

I'd like to know what you think

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Creative Fundraising

An interesting article from The Village Voice about fundraiser party for top surgery for masculine spectrum types. Interestingly, this is about someone who's removing hir breasts in order to have a more androgynous body, not a male one, per se.

I read at one of these years ago when My Husband Betty was just published, and it was very cleverly called Take My Breasts Away.

We did.

Intersections of Trans and Lesbian Lit Panel

My wife (Diane Anderson-Minshall) and I just returned from Atlanta where we attended the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. While there, Diane moderated and I sat on a panel about the intersections of trans and lesbian literature. It was interesting to see how lesbian authors deal with trans characters. JD Glass, author of Punk and Zen, introduced a trans character in that book and will be delving into trans issues more in her next book. In Burning Dreams drag king Susan "Smitty” Smith, has a trans character who teaches a bio guy how to be a man.

Although Radcylffe successfully introduced a crossdressing character into her work over a decade ago, lesbian penned trans and genderqueer characters tend to be trans masculine. As our panelist Monica Helms (founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association) pointed out, there are few MTF or trans women characters in lesbian works, though, clearly, trans lesbians--like her—are among the readers.

Still there seems new openness in lesbian literature—by readers and publishers—to address trans issues (at least on the FTM side of the spectrum). When we were first signed to do a series with Bold Strokes, I was originally surprised that I was not asked to assume a pen name. Would lesbian readers pick up a book that was written by man—even if he was trans? I wondered.

At the GCLS panel, Radcylffe (aka Bold Strokes Books Publisher Len Barot) admitted that even 5 years ago I might have been asked by publishers to hide my gender behind a pseudonym, but fortunately, times are changing. Diane jokes that now I’ve become like some kind of exotic fruit or I’m the zebra in the room. I wasn’t the only guy at the GCLS conference—there was one non trans guy who pens lesbian fiction—but I definitely stood out in the crowd.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Go Snopes, go!

Snopes debunks scare-tactic claims that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act before Congress, which also contains protections for gender identity, would infringe on freedom of speech of bigots to verbally bash homosexuals and trans people.

(Thanks to Veronica, for passing it along.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007


It seems the DSM-V is going under review, with the completed new version appearing in 2011 or thereabouts.

I’m going to assume there will be changes to the GID diagnostics.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Just Call Me Joe

My old friends occasionally get flummoxed over what name to call me when I'm doing readings & the like, & this past Thursday for my reading at Sugar was no different. My dear friend & former roomie Maurice asked me more than once if he could call me "Gail" at the reading, & I told him he could call me whatever. "But I should call you Helen," he continued. "Sure, call me Helen." He wasn't sure if he'd remember, so I told him to call me "G" which is actually what he's called me for years. It seemed settled.

Of course when we got to the bookstore he called me Gail about half a dozen times, & I don't mind it at all; I really don't care what my old friends call me - I just thought it was funny.

But I also thought that maybe when trans people get upset about someone getting their name wrong, it has nothing to do with gender & everything to do with the funny way your brain works (or doesn't work) with your mouth. Because I knew Maurice meant to call me G, & it was as if, because he was thinking, "don't call her gail don't call her gail don't call her gail" of course Gail was what came out.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

H&B Converse with Ethan St. Pierre

You can listen to the conversation we had with Ethan St. Pierre the other night by downloading it from his Radicalguy website. It's a long interview, and we talked about things like safety, trans panic defenses, shoes, genitals, bathrooms, and a bunch of other topics.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Selling a positive self-image

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles About-Face, a local non-profit "determined to equip women and girls with the knowledge they can use to dismantle these messages that tell them they must be tall, thin, blond, tan and sexually available to have any value."

This year, About-Face plans to sponsor four San Francisco-based action groups -- two groups of teenage girls, ages 13 to 17, and two groups of women 18 and older. Each group would be responsible for brainstorming and creating a campaign against a negative message in advertising or the media.

Finally, About-Face will step in and help them execute their plans.

"We have to stop thinking about it as men doing it to us," Berger says. "Actually we as consumers, we as shoppers, just by letting this stuff get to us, we're complicit."
I wish them well. Because I can relate. Crossdressers' fondness for mirrors and photos is well-known. But I think it's more than simple narcissism -- although I'll be the first to admit that one reason for my crossdressing is a desire to feel beautiful in a way I don't feel like I can as a guy. But the flip-side of that is that many of us crossdressers have also bought in to the "beauty myth" and yet we're even farther from the supposed ideal than most females. And so the mirrors and the photos (usually carefully posed to show our most flattering profiles) are attempts to reassure ourselves that, yes, we are pretty.

Monday, June 11, 2007

a cigar is always just a cigar...

I wanna be a little more active on the board, but I'm in the middle of perhaps the most hectic month of my life. What with book readings and a bajillion Pride events - some that I'm performing in, some I want to see, and even more that I'd like to see but can't because I'm performing in something else that night...

but I did want to bring up one particular show I'm in, in part because I curated it, and part because it is an issue that gender variant women often have to deal with. That's right, you guessed it, the "Penis" Issue...

Below is a blurb for the show. I am scared and excited and anxious and looking forward to it...

The “Penis” Issue: Trans and Intersex Women Speak Their Minds

Performers: Charlie Anders, Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, Sherilyn Connelly, solidad decosta, Julia Serano and Shawna Virago.
Curator: Julia Serano.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Rainbow Room, the LGBT Center (2nd floor)
1800 Market St, San Francisco,
7:30 pm
Tickets: sliding scale $8-15
This show is a part of the National Queer Arts Festival 2007
and is made possible thanks to support from the Queer Cultural Center and The San Francisco Foundation.

tickets can be purchased online via Brown Paper Tickets.

It is commonly presumed that all men have penises and all women do not. In this ground-breaking spoken word event, trans and intersex women share their perspectives and experiences living as women who do not conform to this assumption.

The existence of “women with penises” has been widely sensationalized and demonized in both straight and queer communities: they are the punch-lines of jokes in the mainstream media, hyper-exaggerated in so-called “chicks with dicks” pornography, used as an excuse to justify the exclusion of gender-variant women from lesbian and women-only spaces, and often the focus of male homophobic/transphobic rage and violence. These highly phallocentric and objectifying representations tend to differ greatly from the perspectives of actual intersex and trans women themselves, who by necessity often develop far more complex, nuanced and varied views about their own genitals, recognizing them as a part of their physical bodies and a source of sexual pleasure, albeit one that is at odds with societal assumptions regarding femaleness and (in some cases) their own mental self-image.

The purpose of this event is to move beyond the highly polarizing rhetoric that typically plagues discussions about “the penis,” inevitably either glorifying or demonizing it. Instead, this show will attempt to “dephallocize” the penis, by offering intersex and trans women’s first-hand accounts of their own experiences navigating their way through the world as women whose genitals do not conform to other people’s assumptions, and who often have to deal with other people’s “penis issues” as a result. It will be an entertaining, intelligent, honest, moving and non-sensationalistic dialogue that is both empowering for gender-variant women and enlightening for those who have not had an intersex or trans female experience themselves.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The sound of one CD not transitioning...

A few days ago, a crossdresser posted to the Betty boards about how she was two years into her goal of a career in stand-up comedy -- as a comedian who crossdresses on stage. Part of her post was a reflection on how being out to audiences and fellow comedians had freed a part of her soul that had been trapped for years, as well as how she felt that we don't give the straight community enough credit sometimes. It ought to been a joyous occasion -- seeing someone achieving peace and self-acceptance with herself.

And yet it left, at best, a bittersweet taste in my mouth.

Why? There was a distinct dearth of kudos from the board's many transition-tracked people (whether pre-, post- or pondering). A reminder again about how so often crossdressers and their experiences don't seem to rate in the trans communities.

From the public shunning. For example Susan Stanton's statement* that she was trying to make herself available to the press because "For most people, a transgender person is not something you see every day. It's important for them to see that I'm not a freak, I'm not a pervert, I'm not a crossdresser. I'm just me." Et tu Susan? Now in fairness I realize what Stanton was probably trying to say: this is who I am, it's not an act. But dammit, the sort of thing hurts -- like a salt-encrusted cutlass to the guts -- when said by someone who's having CNN follow her around for a year to help educate the public about trans issues. (In my own public outreach appearances I've started saying crossdressers are both the dark matter and the Rodney Dangerfields of the trans communities. But no, I'm not bitter...)

To the little stuff, like the lack to response to the comedian's post. Write about how you've started hormones, or you're telling your boss you're transitioning or you're headed off to the Thailand for surgery and (at least in the MTF world) and you'll be met by a multitude of responses, from outright cheerleading -- "You go girl!" -- to congratulations that things are going well, to at least a cautious: "I hope this bring the peace of mind you're seeking." Many of those comments come from those of us not on the transition track. Because supportive comments like those aren't hard to do and often mean a lot to the recipient. And at least in my world being part of community means one ought to give as well as receive. Granted the post wasn't as obvious a "support situation" compared to the many sturm-und-angst posts I've seen from folks in transition, some of whom post on almost a daily basis. But it's one of the things that makes it hard for us non-transitioning folks: there's no public validation when one decides to accept being "just a crossdresser."

I suppose that's in part because there can be comparatively few milestones. Sure for those of us who go out in public, there's the terror and exhilaration of stepping out the house for the first time -- like I did a little over two years ago. Likewise, for those who do so, the act of coming out for the first time -- like I did a year ago. (And in fairness, posts about these sorts of things do get supportive responses.) But truly meanful milestones are often passed without notice. It wasn't until I recently also started performing as a drag queen and told co-workers about an upcoming performance that I realized I'd embraced being a crossdresser as part of who I am, and that I'm comfortable with others knowing about that part of me. (OK, maybe not everyone -- for me it's still a "don't advertise, don't deny" situation -- but the key thing for me is that if everyone did know, I could live with it.)

But you realize this only in retrospect and there's no clear before-and-after that way there often is with transition-track milestones. There's nothing to say you've "arrived." As Helen once said, it's the sound of the other shoe not dropping. (Which is one of the sources of anxiety for partners. All they've got is one's word that you're happy where you are on the trans spectrum.)

Which is why I was thrilled when Helen talked about how Reid's new book tried to reframe "transition" to express the moment when someone trans stops taking gender for granted and starts to deal with their gender variance, in one way or another. Because Reid rightly points out that changing one's gender presentation and/or surgery aren't the sole kinds of "transitions" that one can have in life. It was because I had such high hopes that I was quite disappointed when I read Reid’s book and found it was still very much about the context of those considering physical transformations (even if some of those folks decided they don’t need that). Don’t get me wrong, I think "Transition and Beyond" is an excellent and much-needed book, and there’s much that crossdressers like myself can extrapolate to help them in their efforts to come to terms with and even embrace their crossdressing. In fairness to Reid, the vast majority of his clients are trans people considering social and/or surgical transitions - folks like me just aren't that likely to seek out a gender therapist -- so it's hard for him to talk to our situations. Which is a shame, because there's so many crossdressers who could use help getting to self-acceptance and so little literature for therapists that's focused on our situations.

Such as how to mark - and celebrate - our own "transitions." As Margaret Cho said, where's my parade? Maybe we need to throw ourselves a "coming out" party, much like the (at least mythical) "singlehood celebrations" thrown by happy singletons. After all, most crossdressers would love a chance to wear an elegant party dress.

* Update: I'm now told that reportedly Stanton was misquoted (although there's no word on what she actually said). But regardless of what Stanton did/didn't say, I've heard too many other trans folks publicly throw crossdressers under the proverbial train.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


After a while (like, a few years or so -- sometimes a few weeks!), it's easy to lose patience with the damage and self-defeating behaviors that are often present in the trans world. I always try to remember that being a strong survivor often comes from having the privilege to step back, to regroup. I've certainly been in the pain-ridden place; I've tortured my friends with talking about my problems incessantly because I was in such a world of hurt that I couldn't see, feel, or think about anything else. Sometimes the privilege to step back comes from our own life path, but other times it is handed to us by someone else, someone who takes the time to tell us the truth in a way that we can hear. And that is the key point for me here: making sure you do not tell people what to do, but tell them what you see, tell them what you have experienced, and let them take from it what is useful to them. Be charitable in your listening and responding: no one would want to talk with you in the first place if you hadn't already given them something of value to them. You started it. Just because they are not as skilled at communication as you are doesn't mean that by sharing their pain or silliness they aren't trying to give something back to you. I think once you start the process of becoming a public sounding board, a reflection of reality for others, as many writers are whether they like it or not, you have to hold up your end of the bargain, especially in such an oppressed and misunderstood community as the trans community. If you're tired of it, there's no shame in that. It's part of being human, and writers are only human, too. Take a break, step back; that's what I do: recharge my compassion by letting myself be quiet, listening to the pain until I cannot keep silent any longer, and I put myself out there once again because I am compelled to speak, all the while remembering that it is because I want to END the confusion, the pain, the suffering, that I began this work in the first place.

Friday, June 08, 2007


When Betty & I are on tour, we get pulled aside by an awful lot of trans people, & often their partners, just to provide a shoulder or an ear or even just a kind word or show of solidarity, as it were. & As lucky and privileged as we feel to be able to be that kind of support for so many people, the personal toll can be pretty high because - as anyone who has ever worked with trans people a lot would know - there is a LOT of pain out there. There's also a lot of crap behavior of one kind of another, and it can get very frustrating for both of us to have a partner come ask us for advice on what she might do better and then, when we hear her story, what we want to do is sit her trans person down for a good talking to. Of course we wouldn't and don't do that - but often we'd like to. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone who is trans to hear that a lot of people who are just discovering or exploring or figuring out their transness can tend to be um, a little narcissistic. Likewise for the newly out or currently transitioning.

We're not big enough idiots to think that anyone would actually take any of our advice, so often we just tell stories about things that have worked for us, or stories of others we've met that seem relevant in one way or another. But it can be exhausting, when you just want to say "slow down!" to the trans person, or "you probably need to go" to a partner.

The problem is, not saying those things can sometimes leave you feeling bitter & frustrated & angry & - powerless. So what do you do? For those of you who've been around the block much longer than us, what have you done? Stepped down? Taken a break? Shut up shop fo a while & stopped to smell the daisies?

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hello, an apology & compulsory genderqueerness

hi everyone,

Just wanted to chime in and say "hello" for the first time. While I have not met most of you personally, I am familiar with the work that many of you done in the past, and I feel honored to have the chance to discuss trans issues with all of you! BTW, if you're not sure of who I am, you can find out more about me at my website

Also since Jenny Boylan is on this group, I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize to her for something that I wrote in an article for Bitch Magazine back in 2004. The article was called Skirt Chasers: Why the Media Depicts the Trans Revolution in Skirts and Heels. In it, I brought up your appearance on Oprah as an example of how even serious media discussions about trans-ness often include superfluous shots trans women putting on make-up, heels, etc. (I'm referring here to the clips they used in the show's intro). During the editing process, I was asked if I wanted to make a comment about the book; apparently there had been discussion amongst Bitch readers and staff over whether your book adequately challenged people's ideas of gender enough. At the time, I was buying into the pernicious and prevalent ideology that trans people should challenge the gender binary at all times. And while I enjoyed reading your book and could relate with a lot of your experiences, at their request I added my thoughts about it not sufficiently challenging audience's assumptions about gender. A lot of this was based solely on the fact that you transitioned to woman rather than to genderqueer (as folks like Bornstein, Feinberg & Wilchins (who I idolized at the time) had).

In the year that followed, I came to very much regret that comment for several reasons. First, it's dumb. Any person who changes their physical and/or lived gender certainly challenges mainstream ideas about gender. Second, in doing research for my book, I went back and actually read all of those yucky lesbian-feminist critiques of transsexuality, and came to realize that this notion that trans people should strive to constantly shatter conventional gender categories rather than identifying as women or men (what I've started somewhat jokingly referring to as "compulsory genderqueerness") has its roots back then. It's a blatant double standard: Non-trans feminists and queers are not questioned when they identify simply as women and men, but trans folks are.

Anyway, I apologize for what I wrote back then. Since then, that article has appeared in several places (including as a chapter in my book) without that ridiculous comment. Also, since few of you know me, I should add the following disclaimers so that my views aren't misinterpreted:

1) I very much respect genderqueerness (even though I no longer identify that way) - my only issue is with people who view that as inherently more evolved than identifying within the binary.

2) My post may lead some to think that I believe that Bitch Magazine has messed up trans politics. That is not the case, they are great allies. I've talked to them about the comment after the fact, and they agree with me that in retrospect we should have left that out.

That's it for now - will post more soon...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Confessions of A Ex-Ex-Transgender

You've probably heard of the ex-gay movement. You may have even heard of the ex-ex-gay movement. Odds are slim that you know anyone that is ex-transgender. But have you ever known anyone that is ex-ex-transgender?

You have if you've read my blog.

In 1997 I confessed to my wife that I'd cross-dressed most of my life. After her initial shock wore off, she began to accept and integrate this part of me into our marriage. This was an activity that I'd never told anyone about, much less participate in with another person in. In late 1997 I began to realize that I might not be a crossdresser, but that something deeper was hidden underneath all the shame. My wife, the love of my life, had told me in no uncertain terms that if I was a bisexual or transsexual, our marriage would be over. Those two facts were playing a tug of war in my mind for months that caused me to go into a cycle of depression. In January of 1999 things finally came to a head, this looming thing was something I knew that I couldn't hide from myself any longer. Crying curled up in a ball in the middle of my bed, I realized I couldn't rid myself of this. I didn't want to die, but I couldn't keep living this way. In the desperation of the moment, I cried out to God.

For the next two years, I dove head first into the bible. I joined Horizon Christian Fellowship South, led by Pastor Tony Smith. The church was very bible centered, and the services were more educational than they were emotional. My days and nights away from the church, my head was either stuck in a bible, or on the net researching and or debating theology.

I felt part of my call was to evangelize online with other men that had suffered through gender dysphoria and were struggling with this sin. It was the early days of the Internet then, blogs were still years away. The only place you could freely post your thoughts were either on AOL discussion boards, or on Usenet. I started a group over at called Nikao (which in Greek means overcome, conquer, or victory). I spent hours writing and debating on Usenet, the power of Christ's redeeming love. My growing obsession blossomed and I decided it was time to start making preparations for Bible College.

The very thing I thought would save my marriage, doomed it. The deeper I immersed myself into Christ, the angrier my wife became. She said "you're just replacing one part of your life with another. As long as you are in that group (Nikao) you're still in it, just from a different angle." She saw how radically it effected my behavior, turning me into someone she couldn't stand to be around. On August 25th, of 2000, the wheels fell off our marriage. My wife of six years hated me so much she physically assaulted me. Her assault and time in jail solidified the end of our marriage.

In the traumatic days that followed, members of my church were supportive, albeit, distant. With the impending divorce and custody battle, I leaned on my pastor for guidance and support. In my fight for custody, I asked him to go to court with me. Knowing that my wife would play the transvestite defense, I asked him to stand before the court and testify to my church activities and my attendance. He told me he would "pray about it" and get back with me. He never did. Needless to say, I lost custody of my daughter.

In November of 2000, I started seeing a therapist about my gender issues. One of the most profound concepts she ever taught me was the difference between desire and action. She said something to the effect that "you can modify your actions, but you can't modify your desires." Desire is a physical response to an external stimuli. You can say you don't like chocolate, but you can't make your mouth stop watering when you smell it. You can be ex- transgender, gay, bisexual, in action, but not in desire.

Coming across a post entitled "Transsexual Fraud" at Trading My blog, reminded me of my ex-trans past. With the media exposure and growing cultural acceptance of a more fluid gender identity, I'm sure that these types of online ministries will pop up more and more (to join Reality Resources and New Hope Outreach).

Christ said:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." - Matthew 15-20

The ex-trangender life I experienced was anything but peaceful, truthful, or accepting. My hope is that my fellow human beings who are dealing with the challenges that come along with gender identity variance look at the "fruit" of their life and decide to follow the path which is the most fertile for fruit to grow.

In the end I'm not really ex-ex- anything. I'm me. I hope that anyone that in my situation finds a path to this much peace and truth. I hope they find an orchard full of the fruit like the one that continues to fill my life with blessing after blessing.

cross posted from

Age is a state of mind

At times, I feel my age (baby-boomer). The computer activity that makes me feel oldest these days is blogging. When I was in school, there were no computers smaller than Fort Knox, and they were just as valuable. I was on the cusp, born between that generation that generally avoids computers like the plague, and those who have never lived without them. I could have gone either way - when I realized how much more efficiently I could write with a computer than without one, my Virgo mentality took over and I embraced the computer age.

I have witnessed the advent of the GUI (graphical user interface, for those who are unaware there was ever anything else), the internet, the world wide web, and e-mail, embracing each as it came along. But there is something about blogging that has not caputured my enthusiasm and attention. I have been encouraged on a number of fronts to embrace blogging. One of my publishing team tried very hard to set me up with a blog, but I could never quite figure out how to use it. To my dismay, I managed to delete my own blog, I still don't know how. Helen quite clearly demonstrates our age difference by utilizing this technology in ways I didn't even know existed.

What I haven't determined is precisely WHY this particular form of computer technology leaves me so unenthusiastic. I love e-mail. I learned to program my own website (20th century though it is, as my friend Aaron told me recently), and enjoyed that process very much. Blogging reminds me quite a bit of journaling, which was a passion of mine during my tenure in the lesbian community. I suppose my biggest fear is that I will write some wonderful thought in a blog, and then let go of it, having expressed it to my satisfaction. Will I then ever put that same thought in a book, or article? Blogging seems scattered to me. Perhaps I'm showing my age again, preferring the cohesion of a book rather than blog entries randomly expressing thoughts that disperse throughout the web.

I am grateful to those of my clients who are young enough to be my children. (And in a few cases, my grandchildren, but we won't even go there!) Through them, I have come to appreciate the fluidity and freedom afforded by the concept of queer identity. But we don't talk computers; we talk identity. Perhaps if I had conversations with some younger folks about blogging, I might pick up some of that same enthusiasm, and change my thinking about how information is best disseminated. Sure, many people my age will always prefer books. Mine's available, so they'll have access to my thoughts. But there are those younger folks who may prefer to find their information through web-surfing, who may only ever access my thoughts through blogs and my website. So perhaps it's up to me to embrace the new and retain the old at the same time, copy and pasting a blog entry (or some pithy subset thereof) into a word processing file, to be refined later as an article or book chapter.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Literature: What's the Future of Our Past and Present?

One of Helen Boyd's recent posts and conversations with Supervillainz author Alicia Goranson have started making me think about the future of transgender publishing. While there are a lot more books out there now, and certainly more planned for the future, the total number of books out there doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the creativity and thought by our community out there. In fact, most of our work shows up online... blogs, livejournal and websites.

And here's the tricky thing; although we like to think that these things are durable, in fact, online publishing and writing is very ephemeral. If Livejournal ever goes out of business, for example, a vast historical archive of trans peoples' lives and thoughts will disappear. And when individual trans people pass on... who will have the password for their journals? Will LJ just delete their posts? That would be tragic.

Books are durable because the medium is durable... and because the institutional structures for long-term archiving and long-term access are well-established.

But the number of publishers gets smaller... and the marketplace for books seems to get smaller (in what way is not always clear... the NEA's Reading at Risk report, while dismal, indicates that reading literature is on the rise for women and ethnic minorities). And funding for libraries is chronically poor.

I'd like to see a greater push in our community to get more books out there. Little books, big books, fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction, good books, even badly written books. And if this means finding ways of subsidizing transgender publishing... maybe that's what should be done.

So the question becomes... how?


... this set of thoughts come on top of wondering if our community needs a transgender version of the Lambda awards. Lambda currently lumps all trans books (and all bisexuality books) into a single category. I find this lumping to be... not useful. It would be good if Lambda promoted a range of trans books, in the same they they promote a range of gay and lesbian genres. While an award doesn't do anything directly to help publishing, maybe there's something valuable in creating the kind of infrastructure for transgender publishing that has emerged for LGB and (non-trans) women's literature publishing. the interests of disclosure... Transgender Rights didn't win a Lambda this past week. Sigh.