Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do You Believe in Magic?

But not the kind in a young girl’s heart.
What kind of magic do you believe in? Are you a LOTR fan? Hobbits, elves, orcs, that sort of thing? Or even darker: vampires, werewolves, the Mummy, ad nauseum?

Or are you a fundamentalist Christian?

Wait! Do I really mean to say that Christians believe in magic? I mean, gee, you won’t find any Christians, fundamentalist or otherwise, publicly admitting that they believe in things like vampires, or hobbits or even witches. As a matter of fact, just about every Protestant religion—and even the Catholic Church—has repudiated the prosecution of witchcraft. The official position is that witchcraft, black magic, doesn’t exist and it is in fact blasphemy to believe that it does. So how can I say that Christians believe in magic?

You’d better believe that they do, bubba. A stupefying percentage of them believe in the blackest magic of all: the existence of Evil as personified by the Thing we call Satan. And the Catholic Church has as the foundation of Its faith the daily miracle (read: acceptable white magic) of transubstantiation, i.e.: the changing of wine into blood and bread into flesh.

And just between us folks, a religion that ritualizes cannibalism is kind of creepy.

But it’s magic we’re concerned with here, people. Western religions refer to acceptable magic as miracles, that is: ultimately descended from God and thereby acceptable. Whether performed by a saintly person, an exorcist—and what is an exorcism but a series of incantations by a priest?—or merely a purportedly innocent human being, it’s magic that God Himself has authorized. Sanctified by prayer and pure intent, of course.

But consider: the more fundamental of the Protestant faiths quite clearly acknowledge the existence of a supernatural being called Satan, once called Lucifer. He is said to be a fallen angel, formerly the most highly regarded of all the angels and a creation of the Deity Himself. Yet this Divine creation was somehow flawed, rebelled against God and was cast into another Divine creation we call Hell. A most unpleasant place, by all reports and by the physical laws of our universe: impossible. This place was apparently created to hold those who rebel against God or do not believe in God or who were unaware of the existence of God. The latter get a slightly better deal, according to Dante, similar to a nice retirement center or vacation resort encircling a particularly odious garbage dump.

Damnation is relative, it would seem.

Yet most of the Western world believes in the existence of these impossible things: a Divine creation that rebels against its Creator and a whole host of demonic creatures accompanying It. Evil acts—mostly temptations to unpleasant behavior—encouraged by these creatures. Miraculous cures, tears of blood, stigmata, visions of the Virgin Mary, portents in the sky and sea and soil and the occasional corn chip. Signs. Omens. That transubstantiation thing. And the biggest, baddest most Magical Thing of all, the headliner act to beat all acts, the Lollapalooza of battles (or Mother of All Battles, if you’re a Muslim), the hot ticket for the season, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Armageddon!

That’s right, the End of the World. You can’t miss it; it’s in the Enquirer every other week.

Now, how do you reason with that? How do you deal with a faith, a whole sheaf of faiths that believe the world is going to end in a huge fight between the armies of Good and Evil? Good is supposed to win, of course—survey says!—and all the baddies are supposed to get their comeuppance. Or so it says here in the Book of Revelations: an interesting, if somewhat hallucinogenic series of letters written by one of the early Christian holy men during the time of the Emperor Nero. Who, by the way, was referred to by early Christians as The Great Beast. Really. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Google: Nero+Christians+Great Beast.

This is a bit weird, friends. Why would anyone want to believe in a God that intends to let the world end in a blaze of fire and destruction? Why would anyone want the world to end? Uh, I think I know why, but the answer disturbs me even more than the concept of magic:

Some Christians are cowards.

Okay, now calm down. Do you think I like the idea? I don’t like concluding that nearly half the world is composed mostly of gutless, chickenshit whiners who want Big Daddy to wipe the slate clean because they can’t deal with all the unpleasant subjects demanding our attention these days. Which ones? Fundamentalist Christians are against: abortion, homosexuality, procreational sex, teenage sex, extramarital sex (in fact, sexual intercourse seems to be a big no-no for any reason except making babies exclusively in wedlock), free speech, evolution (hey, don’t blame man for that!), unlimited medical research, democracy and impure thoughts, whatever those are.

They are, however, foursquare in favor of war against the heathen Muslims. Onward Christian soldiers. If you want a real eye-opener—and stomach-turner—try to lay hands on an unexpurgated history of the Crusades, especially the First and Fourth Crusades. You will discover why the Arabic world holds us in such contempt and it isn’t because we slaughtered so many of their people to capture a few cities that didn’t belong to any European monarch in the first place. No, it’s what the noble knights of the Crusades did afterwards that pisses them off and rightly so.

But, enough history. Turn off your hormones for a moment and let’s be utterly objective. Evolution is change. Change is the only thing that remains constant. The scientific word for it is thermodynamics or sometimes entropy and you can see it happening all around you. You can see evolution at work, too, but only if you put down the Good Book for a moment and really look. A social system is subject to change, too. Just like an organism, which it resembles on a larger scale. This is why I can’t help snickering when I hear the word conservative. Definition: “desiring to preserve existing institutions and thus opposed to radical change”.

Eh?

If you don’t grow and change, you die. Period. Ever read Dr. Robert Malthus? A depressing man. He pointed out that when an organism runs out of resources and room to grow, it dies. Every time, without fail. I don’t know if he ever tested an organism that deliberately and consciously refused to grow, but it follows that an organism that limits itself cannot grow in that direction.

A Christian might tell you that that’s a good thing. Who wants a society to grow in the direction of abortion or homosexuality? Do you want unlimited abortion or rampant gayness pervading this society? Well, abortion, no. I’d rather see a foolproof—make that idiot-proof—method of birth control. But that’s forbidden, too. No makin’ whoopee other than for makin’ babies. Married couples only, please. Preferably those devout enough to pray before they do the horizontal bop.

Homosexuality? (Shrug. Yawn.) Well, if I may be permitted an entirely utilitarian observation, it’s one way to lower the birth rate and increase adoptions. Of course, it will also increase the mortality rate, AIDS being the mutating killer it is, but that’s an area we must grow to understand or we will die. (No kiddin’, said Doctor Malthus.) But am I worried that the gays have a secret agenda to control the world and turn it into vast sodomite orgy, controlled by the Fiendish One?

Uh, no. And frankly, that sounds pretty damned paranoid to me. I rate it right up there with the Red Scare and all its attendant horrors like McCarthyism, anti-Semitism (and its equally suspect counterpart Zionism) and the horror of horrors: racial purity as religiously practiced by the National Socialist Party of Germany. (Gott Mit Uns!) Of course, they didn’t like homosexuals either and I expect that the religious right will soon adopt much if not all of their rhetoric and tactics.

Then again, they may have done so already. You probably realize that in the minds of most fundamentalists, gay equals pedophile. That the evidence does not support this conclusion in any way shape or form, seems to be irrelevant to your average devout—and blindly obedient-- fundamentalist. Their preacher told them that the Bible says so: end of discussion. Their preacher also told them that the world will end in fire fairly soon, so get ready for this by contemplating your next life through prayer and regular donations to the Church. Which may be why some elderly people can’t make ends meet: (“That handsome minister on TV told me to send in a $100! So I did . . .”)

Springsteen once commented that blind faith in your leaders will get you killed. No kiddin’, Bruce?

Amazing. Never have so many believed so little for so contemptible a reason: cowardice. And if the world really is ending, what do you need all that money for? Just curious...

Facing an uncertain future takes a certain amount of courage. In a high school physics class I saw a depiction of the curve of human technological advancement graphed logarithmically. The damn thing went completely vertical very shortly after the Millennium. I’m sure most of you have seen it as well or something quite similar, jammed as the media was at that time with predictions by Nostradamus, the President’s astrologer and every damned crackpot who managed to get on the Art Bell radio show. And friends, that’s scary.

That means that technology is not only changing faster than we understand or can control, it means it’s changing faster than is possible for us to understand or control. Shall I simplify that?

No one human, unaltered or un-enhanced can possibly understand the whole of human technology or science nor absorb more than a fraction of the new technology that is being developed every minute. It can’t be done. Our brains aren’t big enough to contain all of the bits of data nor do we have the processing power to comprehend the sum of it. The operative word here is un-enhanced. There are ways, now being explored, to make it possible for us to get most of it, or at least the parts that really matter. But, as they’re finding out now on Google and other search engines, what constitutes the important stuff and what is garbage?

We might want to keep Sturgeon’s Law in mind when addressing that. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it? Ninety percent of everything is crap. I know some people who live by that paradigm. Sometimes I don’t know whom to pity most: the Christians that believe in a God who wants to blow up the world and torture most of us or those poor saps that can’t tell a rose from a cowpie.

Fear and Faith and Knowledge and Reason: it seems to be not so much a War between Good and Evil, but rather a War of Extremes. And isn’t that the way it’s been growing for several decades now? Partisanship has not merely reared its obscenely ugly head, it stands rampant upon its hind legs and both sides are worshipping that particular Golden Calf. Riotously so, one might say, especially in the neo-con camp.

What can be done to reverse this or even stop it? Sadly: not a whole lot.

We can only hope that posterity will judge those conservatives who want us to remain as we were because they fear what we might become for what they truly are: cowards. Obstructionists. Speed bumps on the road to Progress. We can’t reason with them: the fundamentalists and the neo-cons, the nouveau riche of the right-wing power elite. We can’t smear them or defame them either, because there will always be more to take their place and it cheapens us to use their tactics, assuming anyone would even pay attention. (Another scandal? Yawn.) We can’t ignore them because they won’t go away and they insist upon spying on us in the bedroom, taking our money to wage wars and thereby enrich themselves; lying to us, deceiving us, rigging elections, bullying the helpless and needy and generally behaving in a reprehensible, hypocritical, boorish manner unworthy of allegedly civilized beings.

We could try to vote them out of office and keep them out but that’s been fairly unsuccessful and the process is fraught with accusations and counter-accusations and not a shred of proof, thus far. The jury of public opinion is still out on that one and as long as the opposition continues to influence or outright control a substantial percentage of the media, we’ll never be sure.

And one need only accuse a priest of child abuse to create no end of grief for him, that is, if you don’t mind the foul taste in your mouth afterwards. Trust me; washing your hands repeatedly doesn’t help either. (“What is truth?” said the jesting Pilate, and would not stay for the answer. Anyone remember where that came from? I don’t. E-mail and educate me, please.)

No, all we can do is hope that their dreams come true and that their God ends the world for them and leaves it for the rest of us to go on with our lives and grow and change and hopefully: flourish. Or we could go elsewhere. We’ve been trying to do that for nearly half a century now and sometimes I think: just one more great idea or one more committed billionaire and...

So I guess I believe in Magic, too. But I don’t have to like it.

Michelle Rose
Portland, 2/15/05

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Orycon30

Well, shit happens, doesn't it?

I almost didn't get to go to Orycon this year. And I'm gonna take it in the shorts for the loss of pay because I ran out of sick time because I'd been sick with pneumonia because...

You get the idea. And then the OSFCI got buried in late entries and they didn't process me so I sniveled, I did, and sweet Michael Pinnick, the co-chair of OSFCI, who goes by the name Czarcasm in one of my other tribes: The Darklings (polyamorous followers of Darklady aka Theresa Reed), stepped in and personally fixed the problem with John Lorentz, the other chair at OSFCI.

(Everybody has a pseudonym there. I just go by Michelle, which gives you an idea of how unoriginal I can be. I'm also not polyamorous. Real boring.)

So I got to go. I volunteered. I entered the costume competition. I got stinkin' drunk Saturday night after the disaster at the costume competition. More about that later.

I didn't meet any writers. I didn't read any of my stories as I'd planned. I did, however, spend about $50--food and a couple of rings from the dealers room--put in about six hours total guarding the Hospitality Suite and the Game Room and manage to make an utter fool of myself at the costume competition.

Friday went pretty good. Picked up my badge about 6:10, about an hour after I'd planned and strolled around, poking my nose into things. I had my new hairpiece on, the one that Jamie from the salon had done for me and I looked pretty good. Ten years younger. (gawdamn Male Pattern Baldness!) I stayed as late as I could but began to fade around 11:00 pm. Missed Theresa's panel on Gender that happened around midnight. (I think they put her stuff on late at night for two reasons: 1)They think only the perverts will stay up long enough to attend these and 2)They don't want anyone affected by the perverts. ('They' being the nimrods who did the programming this year.) Had a good time, otherwise.

Saturday was another thing entirely. I'd stayed up too late. I was fried and overslept. I couldn't get that damned hairpiece to look right and wound up wearing my ol' standbye big blonde shag. I wore the black velvet pantsuit and red satin blouse with the big collar and fold-over-jacket cuffs. Those cool black velvet low heels with the rhinestones I bought at Goodwill, long ago before I came out and boy did Elis look at me funny when I purchased them. I was late to breakfast with the Darklings and I could tell Our Lady was annoyed as hell with me but controlling it admirably. I thought.

I thought I looked good. Theresa giggled and told me I looked like a fuckin' flight attendent from the '70's. Actually, she used the word: 'stewardess'. Scornfully.

This was not an auspicious beginning to the day. We finished breakfast around noon.($15 is what that sucker cost me. But it was good food, so there ya go...) I headed off to volunteer, idealism shining in my baby blues.

Four hours later, I was bored, tired and eager to change clothes for the costume comp. Now! I was thinking. Let's do it now!

Let me explain: I had the most killer outfit imaginable picked out. I'd done four hours of handstitching Thursday night, taking it in about four inches each side--both my machines died--and it's one of the prettiest dresses I own: fire engine red with black mini-pokadots with a black tulle' underskirt, off the shoulder and cut low in the back. Add a pair of black velvet fingerless gloves, black patterned p-hose, the Priscilla Presley wig and those cool cuban heel shoes--also from Goodwill-- and I looked efin' fabulous, I did.

Well, I sashayed up to Theresa's room after borrowing her cardkey around four and began my work.

First off, I wore too damn much foundation. I dunno why I did that. Force of habit, I guess, from when I used to do the drag queen bit. But things were going rather well, I thought. I glued jewels to the Priscilla Presley wig with eyelash glue, and was well into it when Theresa popped in around 5:30 and fed me snacks and alcohol. The alcohol was a bit of mistake, in retrospect. If I'd been sober, maybe I might have been able to handle better what happened later at the costume competition.

I hit the call time for the CC right on the button and sat around with the rest of the folks. The emcee, an old duffer whose name I did not catch (and should have so I could mail him cab fare so he could go drown himself) came up and down the line of us contestants, taking names and asking how we wanted to be introduced. He came to me and asked me my name.

"Miss Michelle Rose,"I said proudly.

He blinked at me. "Miss?" he asked, rather pointedly.

Alarm bells should have rung. I was tipsy, so they didn't. "Uh-huh," I said, rather enthusiastically. "And could you add: 'The Fabulous Fifties'?" (The Con's theme was Through the Years or something like that and I thought I looked delightfully retro.)

His eyebrows went up and he looked down at his clipboard. "Hmmm," he grunted and scribbled something. I was too keyed up to notice his reaction. Too keyed up and drunk.

He moved on. I sat there, jittering. After a few more minutes, a couple of stage hands came in and announced that they would be the ones at the front of the stage to help us contestants off so we didn't stumble in case we were blinded by the stage lights. One of them, the female--who had a decidedly dykey air about her--looked at me and grinned. "Especially you, honey," she told me cheerfully. "Are you supposed to be someone special?"

Still no alarm bells. I can be so effin' dense sometimes. "No, not really," I said, rather distracted. Showtime was coming up fast and I was getting a serious case of stage fright. There were a lot of people out there.

"Well, you just walk out, bow to the Empress of Style and then come forward and we'll help you." She snickered and elbowed her partner who favored me with a toothy grin.

I still didn't get it. They left and we were off and running a few short minutes later.

I was number five in line. I hit my mark behind the curtain, they announced me, the stage hand pulled the curtain back and I waltzed onto the stage. I was three steps out there when the announcer's intro sank in:

"MISTER Michelle Rose. The Fantasy Fifty!"

I almost stumbled but I curtseyed, pivoted toward the front of the stage and, beyond the lights, I saw the two stage hands break up laughing and high-five each other.

This time I got it. Sometimes it takes a friggin' building to fall on me but I got it, oh yeah. Connections snapped and fizzled through my sozzled brain and I knew without coming any closer that there was no way I'd make it off that stage without those two morons dropping me into a disjointed pile.

No way! my blitzed brain screamed at me. Get out! NOW!

I did a one-eighty and sashayed back toward the emcee who was glaring at me over his pince-nez. As I passed him, he muttered: "You're supposed to go off the front, asshole."

"Not a chance, asshole," I murmured back at him and stumbled back down the stairs into the backstage area. I found a chair and sank into it, shaking like a leaf.

I let most of the group go off and then snuck out the back of the backstage area and headed for the rear of the room. Nobody noticed me, thank Ghod, else I might have burst into tears then and there. I hung around waiting to see if someone might possibly approach me and apologize for attempting to play a practical joke on the 'ridiculous' tranny but nobody did.

I slipped out and went across the way to watch a really cool Celtic/Gaelic band named Tricky Pixie. They were so damned good, I quite forgot my embarrassment and humiliation for a while and just enjoyed them.

When they were done--I applauded until my hands hurt--I went back to the CC room, intending to find that effin' emcee and thrash an apology out of him. Guess who was at the door? No, not him, that dyke with the warped sense of humor. She recognized me.

"Hey!" she yelled at the top of her voice. "There's the guy who fucked us up! Hey man, can't you tell when we're just messin' with ya?"

I glared at her and brushed past her. She tried to push me back but I was moving too quickly. I couldn't find the emcee so I turned around and headed back out, thinking that maybe I could find Michael and lodge a complaint. The alcohol was burning off from all the anger and high emotion and I seriously wanted someone's head on a platter. As I approached the door, I saw another young lady there who'd been with the dyke when I came in. I went up to her and in calm, measured tones, I said:

"You people need some education in gender issues. I may look like a man in a dress, but in fact, I am transgendered and I am living full time as a woman. It was not right for your associate to call me a 'guy' nor was it right for the emcee to introduce me as 'Mister' and I do not appreciate being the butt of a very juvenile joke. I intend to report this to the OSFCI co-chairman. Do you understand?"

She stared at me glassily. "Hey, listen," she began. "It was just a joke. You need to lighten up..."

At that point, I'd had a bellyfull. "No," I snapped. "You folks need to grow up and quickly. I'm prety laid-back but the next tranny you dis' may not be so easy-going and she's probably gonna hand you your pointed little head. Get a clue, youngster. This ain't no joke."

And I sashayed outa there, fighting down tears.

I hit the bar. I got a drink. I sucked it down in ten seconds flat and went to find Michael. I found him about a half-hour later and poured out my heart to him and sobbed a bit while he held me and soothed me and promised he'd look into it and kick some ass.

I like Michael. I trust him. I know he's a man of his word. But I'm never going to put myself through that again, you bet your ass.

The rest of the night passed with me hunting down free alcohol and doing my level best to get fried.

I succeeded admirably. I had to take a cab home and the driver was female and very understanding. She got me home for under ten bucks and I tipped her another three and staggered upstairs to my place, dropped my bags on the floor and bawled like a baby for a while.

And the moral of our story is?

I expect that from the average man on the street who's clueless and hostile. I expect it from the religious fundies who think I'm Satan's whore and have an ideological axe to grind over me. I can even endure it from a suspicious cop who thinks I'm a hooker.

But not my tribe. Not from S-F people who not only should know better but I know have been trained better. Not from supposed free thinkers and progressive people who should know who and what I am without me having to throw a hissy fit.

I'm gonna go again next year and I'm going to volunteer again and I'm going to be cool and calm and oh so urbane.

But I'm never entering a costume competition, ever again, at least not at the Oregon Science Fiction Convention.

Not this trans woman.

Michelle Diane Rose
November 30, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Soldier's Girl

(this post originally posted to my blog at alt.com)
Aug 27, 2007 10:55 pm

I like to rave about something good once in a while. I raved about "My Husband Betty" and I hope a few of you went down to the local library and checked it out or shelled out a few pesos for a copy. If not, please do. It's worth it.

And now I have another rave! And it's probably one most of you have already seen: "A Soldier's Girl". Yep, THAT one. Barry Winchell and Calpernia Addams.

I cried my eyes out.

Then I went online and started looking for Calpernia's site. Easy. Just google her. Oh, my. What a lady. What a role model! What a sweet, smart, utterly cool human being. If we could all be that gracious and classy and utterly ethical.

You all know the story, of course. Barry and Calpernia fell in love while he was in the Army Airborne and she was a showgirl in Nashville. Real love, folks, not just a she-male fantasy, despite Calpernia's pre-op status. The kind of love almost all of us dream about: the kind, handsome, noble and strong warrior who can treat you with respect and not care about the plumbing issues.

The kind of love who will die for you.

And that's exactly what happened.

He was beaten to death with a baseball bat while asleep in his bunk. One of his squadmates actually committed the murder, his squad leader egged him on. So much for unit loyalty. The Army took its own sweet time investigating and prosecuting the two. General Ramsey Clark was the base CO. He's now Chairman of the JCS, thanks to King George. He claims he had no idea, no idea at all...

Except, in the trial, it came out that Barry had been enduring over a YEAR of verbal, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of his fellow soldiers and even his direct commanding officer, who investigated him following allegations that he was 'homosexual'. Allegations by the same psycho who eventually killed him.
Like most stoic warriors in the Army Airborne, Barry shrugged it off and didn't talk about it, not even with Callie.

THAT is the strong, silent type.

Lee Pace plays Callie. He's utterly gorgeous and absolutely amazing, the best drag/TG performance I've ever seen in a supposedly non-gay actor. Of course, the state-of-the-art makeup and prosthetics helped considerably and if you want an exercise in uncontrollable envy, watch the transformation segment under special features.

Troy Garity plays Barry. Need I tell you how sweetly he plays Barry? Need I tell you that you will like him immediately and recognize that he's different from the goons that surround him? Need I tell you that he handles the concept of falling in love with a transwoman as naturally and beautifully as anyone's love? You'll see his struggle and you'll see that the struggle finally becomes irrelevant to him, that THIS is the girl for him and what she has between her legs is largely secondary to who she really is: a woman. His woman. And he's her man. Simple. Elegant. Truthful.

And the love scenes...Oh. My. Goddess.

If they don't make your ears catch fire, you're dead inside, darling. No, of course there's no real sex. This is Showtime, after all, not Joey Silvera. Yes, there's nudity and you get to see what a dynamite job they did on Lee's tits. Yes, there is some serious kissing and petting and those two boys did a FABULOUS job of showing a transgendered relationship without any of the kink or stink. I saw two very lovely people very much in love and very much aware of it and it was irrelevant that both of them had a cock.

"But!" you cry. "That's what makes it so exotic!"

Maybe. Probably. Yeah, so what?

ALL love is exotic. All love has its own charms and silver spangles and bright, happy rainbows.

(With the obvious exceptions, of course. Pedophilia and beastialism aren't rainbows, they're big, grim, Steven Spielberg-type stormclouds in really hideous shades.)

With Callie and Barry, it was something very special, as I've said. Lee and Troy captured it perfectly, beautifully, sweetly. I sat and sighed and cried. I looked like Alice Cooper halfway through the darn thing and I was blubbering like a baby at the voiceover at the end: "I hope someday to become a real soldier's girl."

You did, Ms.Addams. You are, Callie. Barry would have been so proud of you.

This happened over four years ago and Calpernia doesn't like to talk about it anymore. She's taken some heat for capitalizing on, exploiting Barry's death. Read her blog on her site. That should convince you. She's not rich and she's not poor but she's done it all herself and we owe her the props on that one, folks. She was a political football for a couple years when all she wanted to be was an entertainer, a showgirl, and she received exactly the wrong sort of publicity.

And we owe Barry's memory, too. When you visit her site, drop a few pesos in the paypal slot, huh? It's a good 'un, this one.

If you haven't seen it (and I know there are dozens, hundreds, here who have and thanks for not being patronizing) then do. And weep, weep, weep beyond time for this Earth of Hours.

And then go do something good with your grief.

It's better that way.

Michelle

Further on Down the Road

(this post originally posted to my blog at alt.com)

Nov 3, 2008 12:18 am

Hello, there.

It's been a while since I posted anything to this blog, partly because I've been concentrating my efforts at the My Husband Betty message boards and partly because this transition has taken much much more of my time than I could have possibly predicted ten months ago when I went on the hormones.

Long story short: it's been a rough, wild ride so far, people.

Physically, I'm pretty good. My breasts are developing nicely and some of the other secondary sexual characteristics are coming out, right on sked. My libido has gone on vacation, though and I'm not altogether sure it's going to return anytime soon. As they say, this is where we separate the women from the men. Ce la vie. I'm not sure I miss it. Sex may be overrated but love and relationships are just as important to me as they once were, maybe even more so.

I have a new job. Never mind where, I'm equally sure that they wouldn't want their name mentioned on this site and I respect them too much to do so. Suffice it to say that I'm out there, they accept me and guess what? My transition is now 24-7, even if my official ID does not as yet indicate my female name. My work ID will, though, this Wednesday and that feels incredibly, unbelievably rewarding and fulfilling. That one was kinda tough and I can only advise any of my sisters out there who haven't yet transitioned at work to do the paperwork! Get your letter from your shrink and doctor and make sure your HR department gets copies of it. If you live in a state where your rights are not protected, then consult an attorney first and pick your way through it like it's a minefield.

Because it is.

Other things? As I said, I'm 24-7 now. I present as a female (albeit a rather masculine one) all the time now. It's still a bit scary and a bit annoying when I catch the occasional nasty look or leer but I hold my head high and ignore them. Portland and the State of Oregon have laws to protect me and those like me and that's why I waited so long to do this.

That, and being scared out of my mind. After half a century as a male, old habits die hard and old reflexes are very hard to redirect. But: so far, so good.

Which leads me to this reality check. Let's recap, shall we?

1.) Did I do the right thing?
Absolutely. I just wish I'd done it sooner.

2.) Did I do this the right way?
No. I screwed up, many times. But I was lucky. I got to go back and fix most of my mistakes.

3.) Will I continue doing this?
Hell, yes. No way would I even consider returning to being male, not for a second.

4.) Am I going All The Way? Even to the GRS?
I don't know. None of the surgical options are covered by my insurance, not even an orchidectomy and I still haven't decided if I'm going there. To be brutally honest, I really don't want a surgically constructed vagina. Even the best ones--and I've seen some really lovely neo-vaginas!--are primarily esthetic and/or sexual in purpose. They're an entrance, not an exit and the only way I'd consider having that done would be if they could implant a uterus as well. Yep, that's right: I'd want a child. Even in this utterly messed-up world with its greed and violence and madness, I'd want at least one child, even if I'm 'just' a surrogate mother. And that, my friends, is an indicator of just how much I've changed. As a male, I would never have considered having children! I was married for 17 years and it was never on my radar screen. But now...yes, I'd want to be a mother.

"Life is so strange/destination unknown..."

5.) Have I managed to keep the vows I made when I started this?
No. And I'm sorry about that. Abjectly so. I've hurt a few people here--Hello, Bobbi. Are you still well? I think about you often--and elsewhere. I've acted dishonorably and with cowardice. I've feuded with my sisters. I've committed more than a few dishonorable acts and never mind what, exactly. No, nothing unlawful but there have been a few things I've done that left me with an overwhelming need to wash my hands or rinse out my mouth. So: no. Those vows were broken, more than once, and I am here to testify: I am ashamed of some of the things I've done.

This morality/ethics thing can really wrap you in knots sometimes.

Shall I sum up? Don't be silly, I'm not done yet and who can really 'sum up' a life? I'm not even going to try. 'Work in progress' is the best, least trite thing I can say and even that strains the definition somewhat.

I may not be back here anytime soon. I've met some cool folks and not a few flakes on alt.com. But the main purpose of this site is for folks to hook up for sex and frankly, that's not really where I'm at. I'm not judging any of y'all here and what a bad joke that would be if I were. Sex is still great and wonderful and the best thing ever invented, it's just not that high on my list anymore.

Frankly, I'd rather just hold hands and make out. Kissing is still the most pleasant social convention we humans indulge in and if I happen to meet any of y'all, I'd be very pleased to lay a flyin' lip lock on ya! So it's not a total loss, really.

Take care and be well, people. Live, love and laugh a lot. Don't hurt anyone, especially in affairs of the heart and never ever give up on love.

That's still the most important thing. Truly.

Love from me to You
Michelle

Beginnings

(this post originally posted to my blog at alt.com)

Aug 19, 2007 12:18 am

Well, I finally dood it. I got the note. I got the get-out-of-jail-free card. I got the news and it's pretty good, actually.

I received permission to start hormones.

I'm sure 90% of the other t-girls on this site who might be reading this shrugged and said: "So what? Started mine years ago!" Cool. Uh, but for me it's like someone just opened the windows in a dark room onto a sunny day. Or turned on an exhaust fan and a room-full of dark smoke I hadn't paid much attention to suddenly was whisked outside and I can see, finally.

Finally.

There are a lot of things that led to this and the synergistic effect has been straining the seams of my psyche. Two counselors, Effexor XR and a whole buncha soul-searching notwithstanding, it's been a long, twisty road and a tiny steering wheel, dammit. But the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back?

My Husband Betty.

If you haven't read this gem, this finely polished jewel of autobiographical/sociological genius, then you must spend your makeup money on it next paycheck. No kiddin'. I've never been more serious.

Some of us came from broken marriages or relationships wherein the GG couldn't handle the women we really are. For those ladies I can only say: I wish you could have had this book in your hands when you told her. Then you could have handed it to her and said: "Read this. It'll help." Oh, yeah.

The author, Helen Boyd (a nom-de-plume) is unquestionably one of the most determined, clear-sighted, compassionate genetic females to ever walk this green Earth. (Betty, you lucky girl!) This is a floor-to-ceiling examination of transgendered people and issues with no BS, no salacious content and a firm commitment to the principle that we were all born to be who we are and no government, no religion, no antiquated social construct can change that incontrovertable fact and they may as well not even try. Instead: try to understand us. And she does, she does, she does.

Thank you, Helen, for understanding us and for giving me the final, necessary push in the direction I've been resisting for almost half a century. Better late than never, I guess. And the rest of you that read this? Read that little book. If it changes your life even a fraction of what it's changed mine, it'll be worth it. And wish me luck and love in the Light of the Goddess, y'all.

Michelle

Larry Craig

This post originally posted to my blog at alt.com)

Aug 30, 2007 10:04 pm

Politics and sex. They always seem to go together, don't they? Like ice cream and hot fudge. (Hmm, there's an allegory in there and we won't explore that one tonight.)

Sex scandals come screaming out of Washington on an average of one or two per week. It's a tribute to the persistant nature of our national media that each and every one elicits at least a raised eyebrow and a grunt of disgust and contempt from nearly all of us. You'd think we'd be burnt out by now, wouldn't you?

You'd think that we'd get tired of a steady diet of hot fudge and ice cream, wouldn't you?

Apparently not.

Larry. Larry, Larry, Larry.

What are we gonna do with you, big guy? Well, we're going to drag your name through the mud, excoriate you, embarress and humiliate you, harass your family and close friends, set up camp on your effin' front lawn and take pictures of everything related to you from your third grade teacher to the guy who picks up your trash every week. We're going to shout the most inane questions imaginable at every person who shows up at your door and if YOU happen to appear, there's going to be a feeding frenzy and small, furry creatures who happen to be caught in the melee' are going to be torn to bloody shreds.

Just kidding about the last part, there. I think. Still, it ain't gonna be pretty and YOU, my man, my corpulent, small-minded dinosaur of a Republican, are very likely going to lose your Senate seat, the love and support of your family and friends and those lifetime courtside tickets.

All because you're gay and you had to hide it.

I shouldn't accuse you of being gay, actually. That's so unfair. You could be bi. You could be bi-curious. (How many times can you have sex with someone of your own gender before you can no longer call yourself bi-curious? Quite a few, apparently. Some people are just REALLY curious.) You could be a heterosexual woman in a man's body in which case, you REALLY need our help! (Listen, I know this great pastic surgeon...)

But the most probable conclusion is that you're queer, just like a lot of the rest of us (including me!) and now you have to do the diplomatic shuffle to keep your job, your family and your honor.

(Uh, news update, Lare: your honor's already in the dumpster. And your job's about to join it.)

And it's all because you solicited sex from an undercover vice cop in the men's restroom at the airport. Oy vey. Larry, c'mon! The men's room? At the freakin' airport? See, if you'd used Alt.com, you could have set up a nice discreet meeting at the airport Sheraton and there'd be none of this storm of controversy. (Sigh) You showed VERY bad judgement, my corpulant Republican dinosaur. And like the dinosaurs, you're about to become extinct.

And the terrible thing is: you really don't deserve it. Oh, sure: you're a rat-bastard Republican who votes for guns and Big Oil and votes against gays and unwed mothers and freedom of speech, thought and action but that's really overcompensation, isn't it, Larry old buddy? Just another way to hide your gayness and convince all your scumbag fellow Republicans that you're foursquare in favor of the dominance of the Republican Party above all things and that you're entitled to your sloppy, stinky piece of the pie.

How long have you been hiding it, Larry? How long ago was it that you first sucked a cock and said to yourself: "Hey, this is pretty good but I better not let anyone know."? How long ago, Larry?

It's too long, no matter how long ago it was.

You couldn't be yourself, Larry. You couldn't be gay because you wouldn't have access to the wealth and power and position you enjoy. So you hid it, concealed it and now it's blown up in your face because you got a little desperate and careless.

I should hate you for your hypocrisy and your cruelty and your selfishness and your self-centered attitude and allathat, but I just can't bring myself to do that. I've learned a thing or two here at Alt.com,(and elsewhere!) in the last few weeks and all I can do it pity you. NOT sympathize! NOT empathize! PITY.

You're an object of pity, not respect and admiration. Funny how quickly that happens, isn't it, Larry? Funny how fast you can lose everything over one dopey mistake.

Funny how fast your life can fall apart, all because of your sexual orientation. NOW do you know what we're saying? NOW do you understand why we hate and abhor legislation and rules and guidelines that exclude and discriminate against people like us?

NOW do you understand why we're pissed that we get punished for being honest with ourselves and the world while lying hypocrites like yourself get all the perks and goodies and favors? We pay the price on a daily basis for our appearance and our beliefs and just for being who we are; people who were born this way and can't help it anymore than you, Larry old buddy.

And now you have to pay the piper, too. Relax, it won't be too bad. Your life really isn't over, you know. Your wife will publicly forgive you although you're never going to have sex with her, ever again. (Not, I suspect, that it's a big problem for you. She doesn't smell right, does she?) Your kids will forgive you but they might be keeping their distance for a while. The media will get bored and move on to The Next Big Thing and you'll be dissed again, but I think you'll be grateful for that final snippet of disrespect.

And I'll forgive you, too, though I don't have to and it doesn't really matter. I forgive you, Larry old buddy. I forgive your hypocrisy and your lying and your dirty deals with other scumbag Republicans (I'm trying to figure out a way to make that into one word: scumbagRepublicans. Nah, too busy...) and even your cruelty to those who have never done you any harm; gays, unwed mothers, etc.

I forgive you but will you forgive yourself? Or will you stay in a state of denial, protesting even as they take away your Senate washroom key? I kinda suspect you'll keep denying it, Larry. It's a habit, like denying that unwed mothers need assistance just so they and their babies can survive, like denying that the Earth was created billions of years ago instead of a few thousand. Like denying global warming or corporate malfeasance or all of the things your Party has so well taught you to deny.

But you can't deny that you're gay, Larry. Not to yourself. Nope. Can't do it.

You're one of us, Larry. You can deny it, but it's true. You can run screaming from us and babble all you want, on or off the record, that it's a mistake, that you would NEVER do that, that that cop solicited sex from YOU, not the other way around. (sigh) Okay, if you say so.

But we'll be here, Larry. Waiting. Yeah, you might have to take a little crap before you get to suck some cock, but it's part of the Dance, y'know? But we'll take you back, right here where you belong. You should have come here in the first place, Larry. A cover name, a little judicious research (Hey, you might have even been able to find another gay Republican!) to cover your ass and all your needs could have been met right here on good ol' Alt.com. Holy cow, I'll bet that never occured to you, did it?

(The men's restroom at the airport. Jeez...)

Next time, try Alt.com, Larry. We'll be here.

Waiting.

Michelle

SYMRC

(This post originally posted to my blog at alt.com)

Oct 2, 2007 5:15 pm

Hi, everyone!

It's been a while since I posted here and I have a very good excuse: my computer is going insane. It won't talk to my DSL modem anymore and resists all efforts to update/reinstall the necessary software. Alas, it will soon be time to give the poor thing a decent burial; an ecologically acceptable one, of course.

So I hope y'all will forgive me for my silence. It was not intentional and I'm doing okay, other than still struggling to find gainful employment. A word to the wise, dear readers: don't let too much time go by between jobs or you will get the Vulcan eyebrow from a job recruiter or interviewer. Just a thought.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about SMYRC!

(What? Who?)

SMYRC is an acronym for Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. It's an arm of Cascadia Health Services here in Portland. We counsel and help young (13-23) people whose sexual orientation is not the usual bipolarity found in the straight culture.

I first encountered these wonderful people when I attended and participated in the World's Longest Drag Queen Chorus Line here in Portland on July 22nd of this year. To say that I was impressed with the courtesy, grace, poise and general classiness of these children and advisors would be to make a grevious understatement. In one word: WOW.

First: Google the chorus line thing. I'm the tall blonde in black, about dead center behind our leader; Jinkx Dubois. Although it was horribly hot and muggy, I had a terrific time and I think you will enjoy the clips on YouTube. Or you can just google SMYRC and you'll see a number of these clips and also some of the kids we deal with. They are all, without exception, wonderful individuals and I'm proud to be a volunteer there.

I was so impressed with these children that I said to myself: "Gee, I wish I'd had something like this when I was growing up, then maybe my childhood and adolescence wouldn't have been such a nightmare." And then I said: "Great Goddess, Michelle, why don't you get involved?"

And that, dear readers, was all it took.

I emailed Zan Gibbs, our coordinator, and offered my services. After playing electronic tag for a few weeks and filling out some forms (background check and personal data, etc.), I attended a weekend of training that had to be the best and most eye-opening experience of my life. It felt like coming home to a home I'd never had but had always wanted; a place where I could be myself, really and truly, without judgement or bigotry. A loving home that accepted me for who I am and wanted me to be ME; Michelle.

It's a place where I'm needed. And, sisters and brothers, that feels so grand and wonderful, I can't begin to describe it.

We help and counsel kids that have been marginalized because of their sexual and gender identity: Gay, lesbian, trans, queer; you name it, there's a place for them there at this cool, funky warehouse-like space in Southeast Portland. Over sixty percent of the kids we serve are homeless; street kids that have been thrown out of their homes because of who and what they are. Many of them have mild to severe emotional problems and few, if any, have the requisite social and technical skills to survive in this viciously capitalistic and competitive world. I hesitate to use the word 'handicapped' because it has some unpleasant connotations but it's true, at least in some definitions of that word. It's through no fault of their own. These children did not ask to be born this way and it certainly isn't a 'lifestyle choice', as the Republicans so sneeringly put it. They didn't choose: the choice was made for them, forced on them and they're suffering because of it.

My decision to help them may very well be the best choice I've ever made, with the possible exception of my decision to transition.

Attendez moi, everybody! How many of you donate to good causes like United Way or Salvation Army? How many of you write a check or input your credit card number into a PayPal account for a small donation to a cause you feel is worthy? Half? Maybe two thirds? Good for you!

BUT IS IT ENOUGH?

Ask yourself that. Is it enough? How much is enough?

I can answer that: it's never enough.

Money toward a cause or a foundation or a movement is always a good thing, especially if it helps the future of our species. The list of good causes is endless and I won't bore you or waste space here enumerating them. But there is one thing we tend to overlook when we donate and that's manpower.

Helping hands.

Money is good. It buys supplies like food and necessities for those who need it and pays the salaries of those professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to those who can't help themselves. But we sometimes forget the fact that there are never enough pros doing this kind of work and there are never enough hands to do the grubwork, the dirty, time-consuming stuff that NEEDS to be done. I'm sure most, if not all of you, have great admiration for those professionals and volunteers who make it their business and their obsession to get down in the trenches and do what has to be done to make this world a better place than how we found it.

But have you ever asked yourself if YOU could do that?

It doesn't take much, really. A little time, a little organization and a little honesty. And maybe a teeny, tiny bit of vision. Look up from your own life for a moment. Look around. Do you like what you see? Do you like the way things are right now?

(That was a rhetorical question. Of course not.)

Ask yourself this: is Money all that is needed to make this a better world, for ourselves and our children; for every thing that lives on this good, green Earth?

(Another rhetorical question. No, Money doesn't solve ALL the problems. It never will.)

I'm not a cheerleader nor am I a rabble-rouser. I'm really not. I'm just a T-girl going through her own problems and struggling to deal with my own life. I'd like to think that winning the lottery or having a rich relative leave me a huge inheritance would solve all my problems. But I also like to think I'm smart enough to realize it won't. When I began my transition, I made some promises to myself and, if for no other reason than to be true to myself, I intend to keep them. One of those promises was to help my sister (and brother!) trans-people whenever, however I could.

And now it's time to do just that.

You can do it too, y'know. Wherever you live, unless it's out in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilization; you too can make a difference. And even if you do live out in Bumfuck, Egypt (meaning no disrespect to any Egyptians who may be reading this! ), you can still take one day, just one day, out of your schedule and DO SOMETHING.

It doesn't matter what it is. Help out at a nursing home. Serve a Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless at a shelter. Get a little training like I did and help out somewhere, somehow, some way.

PAY IT FORWARD.

It's a simple philosophy and it's amazing how many of us pay lip service to that and don't do an effin' thing. We drop a fistfull of change in the Salvation Army bucket and then we forget about it, don't we? I've done that myself. We donate to a cause and then we say; "Ah, I've done my part."

Well, yes and no.

The work requires helping hands, dear readers. Muscle power. Participation not limited to $$$.
And a little time. Time is in short supply, these days, isn't it?

You bet. We're running out of time, losing it like the sand in the hourglass and ain't nobody gonna turn that sucker over again for us all.

We have to do it ourselves.

The government isn't going to help us. Yeah-yeah, we pay taxes for social services and sometimes our subsidies actually do some good. Corporations certainly won't help, although some of them DO actually make a difference, like Bill and Melinda Gates's foundation. But the bottom line is that Money may make the world go 'round but that doesn't mean diddly to a homeless kid shivering under a bridge.

I've been told that I really need to curb my tendency to preach. Ya think? Sometimes a little preaching is required. Just ask the Rev. Jackson. And if you don't like him, well, neither do I, especially, but ya gotta admit his heart's in the right place.

Is yours?

I'm willing to bet it is. I'm willing to bet that ALL of you out there who read this are good, kind, thoughtful people who believe that EVERYONE deserves a chance, a fair shake, an honest shot at a better existence. I'm willing to bet that you ALL believe in equality, fair dealing, freedom and the intrinsic good nature of the human species. Yes, we can be a pack of killer apes and thugs (Hey, Blackwater! How many innocent Iraquis did you slaughter today?), but I also believe that we good folk outnumber the bad guys by a considerable margin.

The marchers in the Chicago Riots of 1968 said: "They got the guns, but we got the numbers. And may God give us the blood to keep going."

That works for me. Does it work for you?

Pay it forward, people. And may the Goddess bless all of you.

Michelle Diane Rose
October 2nd, 2007

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Further Along

Nobody told me that there'd be days like this.

I'm incredibly, uncomfortably ill as I write this so bear with me, would you all? Fact is: I'm dying here.

Yup, it's only partly an exaggeration. I have a bad mitral valve: stenosis and it's a big effin' problem. I can't sleep. I can't walk more than a dozen steps without running out of breath. Work is a goddamn Ironman triathalon. I have pneumonia and pleurisy on top of it, making me just short of suicidal.

But I can't die. I have people counting on me to stay alive, Marilyn my Sprite being the first and best example.

So I'm going to go under the knife, probably in January. It may not be a knife, it may be a balloon and catheter. If that's not an option, then it's crack me open and slice and dice, baby.

It's going to hurt. A lot. It's going to leave one hell of an ugly scar between my brand-new tits. It's going to lay me out for at least a month. It's going to cost an insane amount of money.

It's going to be the scariest thing I've ever done. My first time down the street in full drag at high noon was a fuckin' cakewalk by comparison, literally and actually.

Therein, I suspect, lies my lesson and my knowledge: nothing can frighten me after this, nothing can daunt me and nothing, absolutely NOTHING will be able to dissuade me or turn me from my course.

I've already gone full time. Shortly after my birthday, I fought through the fear and the inertia and the resistance at work and the street and I started to be me, Michelle Diane Rose, 24-7. I started wearing some kind of makeup and stopped hiding my breasts and I dress like a woman, not a man, not a man at all.

ME. Finally. Half a century of being a construct, a synthetic personality, someone who simply wasn't a real person and did not know how to behave and now I'm FINALLY at home in this body.

And it's going to die unless I go under the knife and let them cut into my heart.

The irony of this has not escaped me one bit, thank you very much. If the same Cosmic Jokester were responsible for both; my nearly-successful transition and my impending doom, I'd be at a loss as to whether to kiss Him/Her or punch Him/Her in the nose.

Probably both.

I've shed quite a few tears in the last few weeks, I have. I cried in the Cardiac ICU at Sunnyside Kaiser while Dusty, the charge nurse held my hand and comforted me. God bless you, you red-headed little sparkplug. I love you, too. I've shed tears uncontrollably, reading the responses to my situation on the MHB message boards--and if any of you folks are reading this; hi there, especially YOU, Darya--and I think I've fallen in love with three or four intensely beautiful people there whom I've never met.

And I've shed tears in the ER and ICU while male nurses manhandled me and touched my breasts and made me wanna DIE.

I'm not done shedding tears. It's THAT which makes me so tired. I'm tired of being sick, tired of grief, tired of pain. I literally do not know if I can keep going and endure any more. It's just begun, it will get worse before it gets better and I don't know if I'm strong enough.

I wanted to change my name before I did this. I NEEDED to. I don't want to be in a hospital bed, helpless, while some big ape of a male nurse or orderly calls me 'Michael' and refers to me as 'him' or 'he' and treats me with that casual male camaraderie that FUCKIN' MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH. (I am NOT male, you asshole.) I don't want my breasts handled with casual contempt nor to be treated like some side-show freak and I DO NOT want to be called 'Michael' for any reason, at any time by anyone.

I'll put up with it at work because some people there just don't have a construct and some people are having trouble shifting perspective and besides, I promised I wouldn't. I want to get along, I really do, but the hospital is there for ME, not for their arrogant convenience.

If one, just one person calls me by that hated name, whether or not I'm successful in having it changed before the end of the year, I'm gonna climb out of the bed and kneel on him or her, look them in the face and politely inquire as to where they left their fornicatin' manners.

But do it I must and do it I will. Affirmation. I choose life. I just hope It chooses ME.

I think it will. My mother is standing behind my shoulder again.

And too many people want me to live.

Support me in thy prayers.

Michelle Diane Rose
November 12th, 2008
10:10pm PST

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Entitlement

A gracious good evening to y'all.

I've been surfing, I have, and I've been looking for trends. I do this partly because it's interesting simply as a hobby and partly because it's my nature. When I was quite young, my father--before he went mad from grief and accompanying alcoholism--tried to pound it into my head--sometimes quite literally--the need to scan. To get the overall Big Picture and pick out the patterns in things.

It worked quite well. I see patterns and trends and oddball things that jump out at me from the white noise of the Net and the news, both print and electronic. I'm not always cognizant of what it means but it sometimes provides me with clues and hints of events just over the horizon.

There are experts that do this sort of thing for a living, of course. Brainy folk that work in think tanks and focus groups and research organizations that are paid to predict stuff based on current and past events. They are quite a bit better than I at doing this--just imagine my surprise--and they get paid very well for it, too.

Wow. What a way to make a buck. I'm envious.

So what do I notice, surfing the Net and reading the papers? We are an incredibly arrogant bunch of smooth apes, that's what.

This is news? No, of course not. Every one of you that might read this are already aware of this and it's old news.

Yeah, but...

This extends to damn near every part of human civilization and into every nook and cranny of human relationships. Examples: wealthy people believe they're entitled to their wealth, even if they didn't earn it. Powerful people believe they are entitled to rule, even if they have the blood of innocent people on their hands. Elderly people believe they have the right to take up the whole damn aisle when they're in the supermarket. Young people believe they have the right to raise several different kinds of hell because they're young and youth, ah, youth is wholly experimental. Religious leaders believe they have the right to condemn others because they have a mandate from God/Allah/Big Juju/Whatever.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Or do you?

Do you really?

Stop and think about it for a moment. Think about the last time you got angry, experienced a bit of road rage because that asshole in front of you cut you off. (I always wondered what that meant. Took their turn first? Got there ahead of you? Or was just plain rude? Define rude.) Or perhaps you were nasty to that service person at the supermarket because they didn't load your groceries fast enough or just the way you wanted. Or the incompetent hairdresser who didn't get your color just right. Or the teller at the bank who didn't smile enough. Or the barrista who didn't fill your coffee cup high enough. Or too much.

Getting the pattern? No? Try this: how 'bout the price of gas these days? Terrible, isn't it? Awful. Over four bucks a gallon. It's an outrage!

Really? People in Europe have been paying the equivalent of that for well over a decade. They don't seem too outraged to me but maybe I just don't travel enough. (I don't travel at all, but that's another story, another installment of Chez' Rose.) They shrug and just drive less; ride a bike or walk.

Still not getting it? Let's go back to the service sector again because that's where the trend pops out at me in bright neon colors. Think about the last time you called the local PD or any other governmental service and demanded that they do something about that noisy party or that stupid neighbor with the weedy yard or those potholes in your street. Took a while, didn't it? Too long. You wanted satisfaction now.

Aha, you say. She's talking about instant gratification. Well, yes and no. Instant gratification is a symptom but only one of many. The truth is, we humans, Americans especially, have this ingrained sense of entitlement. We feel entitled. Entitled to perfect service, low prices, superior quality and the right to abuse anyone who happens to get in our way.

Why?

I gotta target and it's a beaut.

Hello there, Madison Avenue.

Now, we can lay some of this at the feet of regular human chauvinism that goes way back to the Roman Empire. I won't digress and tell you that a lot of our ingrained sense of superiority can be laid at the feet of a bunch of bad-tempered, arrogant Italians who have somehow managed to control the course of human history for almost three thousand years--although it's true--because the Asians can be pretty damned arrogant, too. So let's not talk about the Middle Kingdom or the Holy Roman Empire, either B.C. or A.D. because the scholarly works about both hemispheres of this tired old world already exist and it's too extensive.

Also: bloody, terrifying and just plain tragic.

No, let's focus on the good ol' US of A. My country 'tis of thee and allathat noise.

"The business of America," as Curious George said, rather fatuously, "is business." Yup, that's a fact. We are definitely the most capitalistic country in the world and everybody wants to ride in that fully-equipped Cadillac. Even the Chinese and Russians. (Mao, Lenin and Marx are spinning so fast in their graves right now, I'm surprised the Earth hasn't gone off its orbit.) Business means sales and sales mean advertising. Let me put that in caps so you get it:

ADVERTISING.

Some years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that advertising was a form of free speech. (They also ruled that a corporation has the same rights as a human being but again: subject matter for another installment.) Somehow, I don't think our Founding Fathers had that in mind when they included that particular provision in the Bill of Rights. First, corporations have a lot more money than the average citizen and thereby one massive advantage over the rest of us. They can shove these ideas into our ears and into our eyes and into our heads and what can you do?

You can make a sign and parade up and down the sidewalk. Print up some flyers and hand them out. (But be careful if you post them. Anti-litter laws, doncha know.) Stand on the street corner with a megaphone although that may get you arrested for disturbing the peace. 

So: it's not a fair nor balanced system. But we'll come back to that in a moment. The Mad Men--no, haven't seen the series. I'm not interested in depressing myself--have a stranglehold on the First Amendment and that's all there is to it. They have the money and the numbers and the message is:

YOU ARE ENTITLED.

Entitled to the best, the finest, the top of the line, the coolest and the most expensive. (And if you happen to be an ignorant black kid from the ghetto, you're entitled to pick up a gun and take it, if you can get away with it. Actually, color has very little to do with it but we'll come back to that, too.)

It's pervasive and invasive and very, very subversive. It permeates every nook and cranny of our society and civilization and Madison Avenue has a vested interest in making sure that you believe it, with all your heart and soul. Because, if you don't, sales go down. If you don't believe you're entitled, you won't buy it. You won't spend the money. You won't do it and that's anathema to the whole heart of the capitalist system.

(Aha! someone in the back exclaimed. She's a socialist! Who, me? Why, how could you even think such a terrible thing?)

(I'd smile but I hate those emoticons and little smiley things you can do with colons and such.)

Nope, it doesn't matter if I'm a socialist, a communist or even an anarchist. It doesn't matter. Because we're a civilization that buys and sells things and we're entitled. Everything is for sale.

Even you and me.

Human beings. For sale. Like a loaf of bread or a pair of shoes or a gallon of gas.

There's a joke--attributed to Disraeli, I think--that goes something like this: He approached a woman at a reception or party and asked if she would be willing to sleep with him for a million pounds Sterling. She laughed, batted her eyelashes, fluttered her fan and, thinking he was flirting--he was stinkin' drunk--allowed as how she just might. So he asked her if she would for ten bob. Outraged, she said: "Of course not! Just what do you think I am?" He replied: "Madam, we have already established that, we are merely haggling over the price."

There are plenty more examples but you get the idea. We're all for sale. All of us. Each of us has a price and each of us, if we can meet the other's price, are entitled to purchase the other.

Still don't believe me? Folks, the Thirteenth Amendment didn't end slavery, it just made it unlawful. And, as we all know, in this country--and elsewhere--justice and the law are always for sale.

If you can afford it. If you can't, tough luck.

Thank you, Madison Avenue.

Yes, yes, I know. That incident with Disraeli happened long before there was a Madison Avenue and slavery has been around a lot longer than that. Madison Avenue just took the ball and ran with it.

And they're still running, with the blessings of the Supreme Court and the Government of the United States.

And you, my friends, are the ball they're running with and how does it feel?

To me, it feels like I'm being used and abused. I dunno, maybe years of poverty have made me feel like I'm not entitled. Maybe my father's pounding on me pounded that notion out of my thick little head.

But I still get pretty pissed-off when that barrista doesn't fill my cup to the lip. And I have to constantly remind myself that the other bloke is a human being, too. 

And he or she may be perfectly aware that there's a price on their head but they're equally aware that some things are just not for sale.

I'd like to think that it applies to me, too. That you're not entitled to abuse me, use me and screw me out of my humanity and my alleged right to existence. Unless you happen to be a black/Hispanic/white/Asian kid from the bad part of town that wants what I have in my purse.

And if you have a gun, well, you're entitled, aren't you?

Le fortmaine. The strong right arm. Droit de signeur. The right of the master. Might makes right and a millennium ago it was a man at arms that could take what he wanted from a peasant, including his life. Of course, he might have to pay a small fee to the owner of that peasant but that was merely a minor legal matter. The man at arms didn't go to jail or suffer execution because he ended another's life, he just paid a pittance and that was that.

Is it any different now? I think not.

Look around you. Listen to the conversations drifting past your ears, especially that jerk with the cellphone who feels entitled to bellow into it while he's making the Deal Of The Century. Listen to the cadence, the substance of that speech and ask yourself:

The Constitution and Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence aside, exactly what am I entitled to?

Nothing, my friends. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Everything that you have, everything that you are or will ever be can be taken from you in the blink of an eye by the mugger's gun, the terrorist's bomb or the enemy fusion missile.

You are entitled to nothing. You exist by pure happenstance, even if you believe in God and His Master Plan for you and yours. Justice and law and entitlement are all human conceits and have nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of this existence.

You might have thought of me as a socialist somewhere in the middle of this article. No. I am a stochastic. Broadly speaking, that means that I, as a rational human being, have a responsibility to impose order upon the chaos and white noise of the Universe and human existence. 

Responsibility. To me, to you and to this good, green Earth of Hours. Responsibility to behave graciously and courteously and with urbanity. I do otherwise at my peril, for to do otherwise means to sink back into the murk and mire of competition and fang against claw and the ubiquitous sense of entitlement that pits us against one another as if this were still the Stone Age and the winner--and still champion!--is the meanest ape with the biggest club. Or the shiniest Mercedes.

I try. Goddess, I try. I fail and I feel horrible guilt when I dis' that poor barrista and I go home and lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder if I'm ever going to evolve. I pray and I wonder if She's listening and then I realize that it doesn't matter if She is because it's my responsibility, not Hers.

Yours, too. Remember that, please. It's your responsibility to evolve beyond that hairy ape, that man at arms, that bad-tempered Italian or arrogant Mad Man.

It's up to you and me and all of us.

Try.

Please.

And good night and good luck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Solidarity

Good evening, all.

A few words, s'il vous plais, about solidarity.

An easy concept, right? Easy to read, easy to encompass and easy to accept. Well, of course we all want to present a united front to the 'straight' world, an image that shows we're all on the same page and if this were a camping trip, we'd all be toasting s'mores and singing 'Kumbaya'.

NOT.

The transgendered world--if I may refer to it as such--covers everything from the hairy mechanic who wears his wife's panties under his greasy coverall to those who work in the sex industry and are--rather deprecatingly--referred to as 'she-males'. That's a mighty big spectrum, isn't it? And it might be argued that neither end of that spectrum has much to do with the other.

In fact, it has been argued. Over and over. Relentlessly. To tiresome effect, I might add. I've lost count of the times I've heard transgendered folk say--with not a little disgust: "I'm not like them!"

Oh, yeah?

The basic tenet of transgenderism is that gender has nothing to do with sex. Gender is what you are, sex is what you do. Simple, basic stuff that most of us learn, almost from the first time any of us slipped on a pair of high heels and a dress and looked at our reflection in the mirror. Some of us sighed with regret and decided it wasn't such a great idea, others among us nodded and said: "Yeah!"

But most of us fell somewhere in the middle: needs work, yup.

And I think that's where the trouble begins.

If you're a male who wants to present as a female, even if it's just in the privacy of your own place, you have a need, a desire, a compulsion. It can be pretty low-key, like that hairy mechanic underneath your car or it can be an all-consuming drive that triggers darn near every gland in your body, shuts off your frontal lobes and causes you to empty out your bank account in the effort to make that feminine image you see in the mirror a real thing; actualized and part of the outside world.

It's the same thing for all of us, just to different degrees. Yes, it's a spectrum but the same thing drives all of us.

The same thing. All of us. Whether we want to believe it or not.

To date, medical researchers have yet to pinpoint any one particular cause for transgenderism. The usual suspects are in the lineup: prenatal hormones; neurological wiring; environment; oh, there's a long list and none of them can be noted as the primary cause of why some of us just don't feel comfortable with being born as one particular gender.

(And that doesn't even begin to explain those born intersexed; undeveloped genitalia or obviously mixed gender markers.)

Ain't diversity wunnerful?

Apparently not, at least for some folks among us.

This is a pretty touchy subject for a great many people, many of whom I note are those who refer to themselves as crossdressers. I have also noted that there is a great preponderance among those crossdressers to disassociate themselves as much as possible from both the hairy mechanics and the she-males. ("I'm not like them! I'm not! I only do this for a hobby/on the weekend/just for relaxation!")

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

I like to quote Robert Heinlein a lot. He was a pretty sharp observer of the human condition and one of his comments was wickedly keen: "Everybody lies about sex. Everybody."

Substitute gender for sex and I think we might be getting close to the central idea.

Our society has almost inextricably associated sex with gender. It's that bipolarity thing; if you're female, you should be with a man, if you're male, you should be with a woman. Homosexuality? Oh, well. It's the same thing, only inverted, right?

Uh, no. Not exactly. In fact; not at all. But the central idea is this man/woman/family thing which the Religious Right proudly points to with claims that it's the thing that makes our Great Society so great. ("My pastor says that's what God says.")

(The unalterable fact that traditional marriages rarely last past the second decade and often result in messy divorces, abuse, alcoholism, insanity and violence in and outside the family is something they conveniently forget. But I digress...)

It's all about shame, folks. Guilt. Or, as I like to put it: gender panic. "What'll I do if someone finds out? Augh!"

Well, what if they do?

Divorce, abuse, alcoholism, insanity, violence. Hmm, that sounds so familiar...

It's not about the gender issue, it's about what other people might think. And for those among us who have high-paying jobs, big families, high social status, it's a death knell for all of the above to even admit that we might be transgendered.

So: some of us lie. To others, but more importantly, to ourselves. We lie to protect our status, our perks and benefits, our jobs and our families. We don't want to lose those goodies and the big thing we don't want to lose is:

MALE PRIVILEGE.

(Notice how I capitalized that? You did? Say, you're quick. Bet you're dangerous at mumbletypeg.)

There's a CD I know of. She's a respected elder in her church, a pillar of her community, she works at a high-paying job, she has kids and she has a wife of many years whom she adores.

She also hates what she calls 'bad trannies'.

Who are these bad trannies? Well, they're the ones who act up and act out. They cheat on their wives. (With other trannies and men, presumably.) They behave abominably in the ladies room. They post lurid accounts of risky and rather horrifying sexual exploits on web groups like Yahoo. They dress like hookers and sluts and they give all of us 'good trannies' a bad name.

I've never met or seen any of those 'bad trannies'. Yet, she swears they're out there, by the hundreds, nay: thousands, and they're spreading disease, destroying marriages and ruining reputations by the score. She's made it her life's work to confront these 'bad trannies' and tell them a thing or two; clean up your act or else!

(or else what?)

Has she met any personally? Uh, no. Just on-line. Through those Yahoo Groups and myspace sites and such.

Seen any while she was out? Uh, no. She doesn't go to those places where they hang out. Wouldn't be caught dead there, doncha know.

Remember Heinlein's comment? Everybody lies. Including the 'bad trannies'.

See here, I don't expect that everyone who posts crap on a Yahoo Group or a myspace site or whatever is just fantasizing. Nor do I expect that every 'bad tranny' is a homewrecker, a cheat nor an HIV carrier.

And neither should you. Or you. Or, yes; even you.

But, at the same time, neither do I expect that any of us should be held to account for the actions of a deranged few. Nevertheless, to reassure her wife and to retain that MALE PRIVILEGE, this CD I know wants to do just that; nail any of us who show even the least little deviation from what she considers moral and ethical behavior.

And, oh my. What a division these deviations produce. She's not like that, not her!

Nope. And neither are 99.999% of the rest of us.

And that's the problem. We're all alike but none of us want to admit it. The CD's are pointing fingers at the 'bad trannies', the pre-ops are pointing fingers at the CD's and the 'bad trannies' and the post-ops are gving us all the middle finger and walking away in disgust.

(Those post-ops who are stealth would much prefer to pretend that none of us even exist.)

And everybody marginalizes the she-males. They're all hookers anyway, so who cares about them?

(I do, actually.)

Shame. Guilt. (sigh)

Isn't it awful that two of the worst emotions that a human being can feel can also produce such divisions in people who are basically the same kind of folk? Isn't it a shame that guilt and shame can make some of us lie through our teeth, deceive ourselves and each other and make us want to throw our own kind to the wolves? Isn't it disgraceful that social status and MALE PRIVILEGE makes us jump through all kinds of tortuous mental hoops to prove to all and sundry that we're not like that, no, not me!

I have to say that Virginia Prince and Tri-Ess notwithstanding, no amount of sophistry and semantic bullshit is going to prove that the fellow who wears his wife's panties is any different from that incredibly foxy Brazilian she-male whose pictures he has stored in his computer in some innocuously labeled file.

It's just a matter of degree. That, and lots of money, of course, but it's a capitalistic world, isn't it?

I'd like to conduct a nationwide survey with completely anonymous responses: if you were given a million dollars, would you transition to a partially or fully female state? This survey has been performed but not anonymously and not on a nationwide basis and the results were pretty predictable: one-third said yes, one third said no way! and the other third was undecided.

I wouldn't accept results without a statistical universe of over one hundred thousand responses. And even then, I'd be pretty suspicious of some of the respondents.

Everybody lies. It's human nature.

I know I sure did when I first started my own journey. Looking back, I realize that it was the only defense mechanism I had, that; and stuffing it down as far as I could.

I almost went mad. In fact, I know I did.

But I got better.

So can all of us if we just learn how to tell the truth; to ourselves, to each other and to the world at large.

And then maybe we can toast some s'mores and sing 'Kumbaya'. Even though I personally loathe that song.

Good night and good luck.

Michelle






Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Introduction: Who is this, anyway?

Hi, everybody. I'm Michelle Rose, a TG woman from Portland, Oregon and this is what I think and here's why.

Just kidding, I think. My SO, Marilyn the Sprite, thinks I should use that title for a public access cable show and maybe I will, one of these days. I will say that I am one terribly opinionated individual but I do my best to respect everybody else's opinions, even if I utterly disagree. That quote from Voltaire comes to mind but I won't repeat it 'cuz I'm sure everybody knows it.

I've been formally 'in transition' since December of '07, meaning that I'm on the HT protocol (estrogen, progesterone and finisteride) and also; I'm presenting as a woman more and more often every day, every way. Briefly: it's grand and scary and wonderful and my only regret is that I didn't do this earlier in my life. Better late than never and that's a philosophy I heartily subscribe to, believe me!

I have a lot on my plate these days and transition is only one of the many things before me. I'm a musician and I'm shopping for a local band that will accept a transgendered keyboard player as something other than a 'novelty' act. I'm heading back to school this fall to finish my English degree, come hell or high water AND I'm volunteering at Multnomah Cable Access (now known as MetroEast) and--hopefully--will soon begin training in camera operation, audio tech (I have an advantage there, I think) and floor direction.

Life is a banquet. I intend to pig out, big time.

I may say a few things that some of you may find politically incorrect or offensive. I sure hope not. No, no racist or bigoted comments or unpleasant sneers at anyone in particular. (With the possible exception of the Republican Party's leadership!) I will be self-editing this blog as much as possible to avoid pissing anyone off, but I fully expect disagreement and a bit of controversy now and then. Again: my intent is not to step on toes, point fingers or call names on anyone. That's been done to me far too often and I think I have learned some valuable lessons about posting on other message boards and commenting on other's blogs. Let me be perfectly clear:

I BELIEVE IN UNITY AND SOLIDARITY AMONG ALL PEOPLE.

Was that clear enough? No? Okay, one of the reasons I decided to do this was the tremendously fragmented state of affairs I've observed among transgendered folk; the exclusionary mind-set I see on a daily basis among people who want to exclude or marginalize their own kind. It saddens me, sickens me and yes, enrages me on occasion.

It's wrong, folks. Especially among people who should know better because they themselves have been excluded. It's dis-empowering for both the marginalized and those who would do that to others. It's a waste of resources. It's emotionally traumatizing to people who need help and direction. It's stupid and stupidity used to have its own reward, i.e.; removal from the survival sweepstakes but, regrettably, that's no longer the case. It's counterproductive, counterrevolutionary and anti-human.

And when it comes to the human race, in toto, I'm an unashamed chauvanist. No apologies: I'm four-square in favor of saving everybody, even those that don't deserve it.

(Even Curious George, aka the Pretender. That poor schmuck...)

So: there's my thesis sentence or statement, more or less in a nutshell. Some of you may roll your eyes and think that I'm a freakin' Pollyanna or that I'm utterly out of touch with reality. Maybe so. But I've been on the receiving end of the crap this society hands out to those that don't fit or conform for so long now, I'll be doubly-damned if I'll play that game and make someone else feel bad just so I can feel good.

Not me. Not this trans woman.

This is not to say that I won't get positively medieval on someone or a group of people I think are acting horribly. There are a lot of targets out there and I'm going to try to avoid the easy ones, like the Religious Right or the sick monsters who harm or kill trans folk. But every now and then, something will pop up on my radar screen and I'm darn sure gonna lock and load, you betcha. I have often been accused of having a 'poison pen' or being a fast gun with an insult or cutting remark. Guilty as charged. But remember:

The pen may be mightier than the sword but God fights on the side of the biggest guns.

And with that cheerfully mixed metaphor, I'll sign off for the evening. Good night and good luck.

Michelle