Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I am a unique child of God

I was an abused child. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually, and physically. I'll leave the details to your imagination.

I developed a very strong, aggressive, 'butch' personality which solidified when I was twelve. I'm talking; carrying a switchblade knife and selling drugs at thirteen kind of butch. I was only 5'3" tall but was mean enough to back down people a foot taller just because I exuded 'mean'. No one wants to jump on some little guy that is going to keep going like the energizer bunny. There was no room for any compassion. You either met my criteria for 'tough' or you were useless. I wasn't evil, simply devoid of compassion.

In my late thirties that personality started showing cracks; the oak breaks where the willow bends. At one point I woke up and he was gone. I remembered most of my life as if I'd watched a video (and no, I didn't come to this realization after seeing 'fifty first dates'!). I didn't know how to drive or act. I had the emotional maturity of a nine or ten year old girl. I thought of him (my other personality) then and now as a twin brother who took the beatings while I was hidden under the table crying. After about two or three months he started coming back and eventually completely took back over. I went back to sleep. There were a few cracks through which I peeked over the next decade, but he was still firmly in control, which was fine with me.

About six years ago I woke up again. Literally. I woke up one morning and he was gone. I thought for the longest time that maybe he'd come back again, but he never did. Of the three or four times I've attempted suicide or have seriously considered it, the majority have been because I have been unable to accept myself; that I simply could not, and sometimes cannot, accept who I am. I could not sleep for three days that time six years ago when I woke up. I could not keep my thoughts off the gun cabinet. I did not wake up nor did I stay awake of free choice.

I had my own private ceremony for him a few years back, grieving over the loss of my brother. People ask how I know that I won't go back to sleep one day and not wake up again. You 'heal' DID by merging the personalities. I've done this. I learned to drive again on my own. I started cursing like a marine after about a year or so as one of his traits bubbled up to the surface but I curtailed that. I have merged from him what I am willing to accept into me, but on my terms. His characteristics do not define me, but I have allowed myself to grow with them.

During my life I never experienced what most ts women do; that sense of being in the wrong body. I just woke up in the wrong body, but when he was in charge, he was very very happy with his body. I've accepted most of my life now, although to be quite honest there are parts where I accept that I may have lost detail or have simply fabricated something out of childhood fear. I try to walk the path before me.

My sense of a 'fluctuating gender' is much different than the average persons because my personalities were so clearly defined, probably by both the trauma of my childhood and a certain level of mental illness. I've had psychiatrists and therapists tell me that what I have experienced is a lie. They don't believe me. DID means the two personalities are completely separate I'm told, so I must be something else. Well, yes, of course I'm something else! But I can only describe myself given the English language. If we meet we can try ASL or hug therapy or something. Until then English is the best I can do and what I've written above is as close to my reality as i can accomplish given the barriers of language. I always find the arrogance of professionals in the therapeutic industry to be laughable. As Bobbi said earlier, we aren't a binary species.

Because we are, as a culture, too ignorant to understand chaos theory we refuse to believe it. Mental health professionals refuse to believe that I can be completely unique, insisting on categorizing me into neat boxes. This is analogous to insisting that all trees must be look exactly like one of twelve prototypical trees. That all zebra stripes must be identical to one of eighteen 'model' zebras. 

I am a completely unique tool, forged of a unique blend of material and experience and formed and polished by God in His workshop. There can be only one!

I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. ― Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

The path does not define the traveler

I have realized that, as a transsexual woman, I have an incredibly unique perspective on the human condition. Those of us who have experienced life through both the scarlet fog of testosterone and the pink glow of estrogen know the human condition like no one else possibly could. I spent four years in a military academy and was a US Marine. I'm now a femmie girl hippy chic. I reloaded my own ammunition and competed in amateur pistol competitions. Now I'm a vegetarian who can't watch even PG-13 movies because there is too much violence!

At the risk of seeming vain... oh who am I fooling! I passed that line of demarcation some time back... I'm going to quote myself from a former post. Sometimes I say stuff that even I like!

The path does not define the traveler, rather the traveler experiences the path and allows herself to become whom God wishes her to be.

Robert M. Pirsig said; I've noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this... that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes... pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts... all of them fixed and inviolable, and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forge work or welding sees "steel" as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not.

I believe that we are the 'steel' in God's machine shop and foundry. My job is simply to be His hands and His eyes and to shape myself to His will. The paths we take, the experiences we accumulate; these are the tools and processes that He uses to cast, hammer, machine, and polish us into the shape He wishes us to be. 

A pair of tongs is not defined as the anvil on which they were forged; they are simply tongs. Neither am I defined by the paths on which I was forged. I am simply a child of God.

People who have never worked with steel have difficulty with this concept. I often hear people defining themselves as the many paths on which they have traveled who are seemingly unaware of who they are in the absence of those paths. Both a hammer and a pair of tongs takes the same path from forge to foundry, but they have very different purposes.

My job is to get out of God's way and let Him shape me to His purpose. The tools He has used to shape me have been transsexuality, addiction, prostitution, education, homosexuality, jail, the USMC, engineering school, mental institutions, treatment facilities, cults, and reading, to name a few. For me, being able to divorce who I am as a tool for His glory from how I have been formed into that tool is a significant step in allowing Him to put the finishing touches and polish on me as a child of God. If I hold on to the paths by which I was forged I am not allowing Him to buff me out to the sheen necessary to reflect His will. 

If I hold on to the baggage of the past how can I pack for the journey of the future? If I am so obsessed with the furnace and forge of my birth that I cannot face the task he sets before me, of what worth am I? 

It is of the deadliest temptation to slide into self reflection, to become a practitioner  of narcissism and navel gazing who refuses to face ahead while wallowing in self pity for my past. Of what good am I while doing so? I may pad the pockets of a therapist and the drug company who manufactures lithium and sertraline. I may line the coffers of the book publisher whose tomes assure me that I am right to feel harmed. But who am I helping, really?

Did Saul of Tarsus refuse Jesus' call (Acts 9) to carry His word to the gentiles? A man who I have (I believe justifiably) referred to as the Hermann Wilhelm Göring of biblical times, Paul could have refused God's call, wallowing instead in self pity for the horrors he then realized that he had committed. Instead, he answered Jesus' call and threw himself in front of proverbial bus after bus as a tool cast, forged, shaped, and polished in the horror of his own past.

A man apparently of small stature, poor eyesight, meek when in person, and unpopular, he could have bemoaned his lack of a perfect stature, sight, and personality, and could have felt pity on himself for his lack of friends and his use by God as a whip of cords to drive home His will. Instead, he wielded God's hammer forcefully on his fellows and other Christians, doing his best to help them find God's way. He referred to himself as the worst of sinners and said that good itself does not dwell in me. Still, He accepted that God had chosen him as a tool, let go of the baggage of his past, and carried the message to the best of his ability.

I am simply a child of God.

Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness. - Immanuel Kant

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Scarlet 'T'

I'm a transsexual lesbian. Transsexuals are perhaps the last group of people that American society feels comfortable making rude jokes about. You'll hear 'tranny' jokes and remarks across the media where you used to hear 'black' jokes, 'blonde' jokes, 'Jew' jokes, etc. Add my 'T' to the 'L' and I've got two of the letters in LGBT pegged. My point is that I often find myself in a situation where either homosexuality or transsexuality is being denigrated and none of the offenders know that I am an 'offendee'.

I have three options here really, and note that I said 'I have', not 'you have'; I can only share what works for me.

1) I can vote with my feet. I have done that. I get up and walk out of the meeting, restaurant, helicopter (just checking to see if you're paying attention!), etc. I rarely take the option of martyring myself to strangers as it can often become just a way to embarrass them. Voting with my feet, removing myself from the source of offense is always an option.

This is the choice I will take most frequently with strangers whom I never expect to meet again. If I confront them it is likely they will simply get angry, and I have no desire to suffer for the ignorance of strangers.

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering - Yoda.

2) I can gently inform the offenders that I am an offendee; that I am one of said group. As a Christian who has been searching for both a home church and who has been looking around for a Celebrate Recovery group I've been around a lot of Christians, and they/we are notoriously un-Christlike. I have on occasion simply and quietly interjected into the conversation; "I'm gay", or "I'm a transsexual woman". 

I usually don't bother to follow up with what some might think is the obligatory scolding. I prefer to let them stew in their own guilt. Paul did speak out against malice, slander, and gossip. The normal reaction to this is quiet embarrassment on the part of the offenders. Later someone will approach me and apologize and ask questions and tell me how supportive they are. I always want to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. at this point; In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends, but I never do. 

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the approach I will most often take with a group that I wish to be a part of. In every 12 step group and church I have attended I have made it clear that I am gay. I do not simultaneously make it clear that I am a transsexual as I quite honestly fear for my safety. Throwing yourself in front of buses for fun and profit is exciting, but you get to do it so infrequently (between hospital visits and all), that I try to be selective.

When I use this option I am also taking the stance that 'I may be the only bible these people ever read'. In other words I'm not trying to come off with judgment. I am trying to present the picture of someone that the group would not want to make fun of or cause emotional issues for. I am attempting to put a face to their bigotry. 

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi.

I did this when I was in rehab. I'd been there about ten days in a women's unit and no one knew that I am a transsexual woman. It was dormitory style living. I decided to out myself as a transsexual woman, first to the staff and then to the other residents. It ended up costing me the opportunity to go to a half way house because they all said they would judge me solely by the 'M' or 'F' on my drivers license. As I haven't had the (very expensive, painful, and dangerous) surgery required to change that gender marker, my admission cost me. But the staff was kind as were my friends. I think that I presented the picture of a transsexual who wishes only to be accepted for who she is, hopefully tearing down some of the stereotyping that society is so happy to perpetrate on us.

3) I have the option of simply ignoring the offense. This is not 'turning the other cheek' in my opinion. Turning the other cheek seems to me only to apply when the offender knows that you are an offendee. It is not an act of cowardice either, typically. 

I usually take this stance when I simply don't have enough respect for the offenders to care what they think or say. As Ron White so eloquently says; You can't fix stupid!

This is not to say that I will ignore the offense if it is directed at another. I have found that, where I may be reticent to out myself in isolation, my 'mommie' instincts flare up dramatically if someone else is the object of castigation and I find that I am much more willing to throw myself in front of the bus. You could say that I should walk around with a scarlet T on my blouse, constantly witnessing to the bigots and uneducated, but I have to have pockets of sanity.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jesus told the disciples to, shake the dust from your robes, in response to towns and people that would not accept their teaching. I think that it is sometimes obvious that there are people who will not; redneck uncle Joe who thinks Glenn Beck should run for president and that Fox news is actually news is an example. 

For people like him, I usually don't even try. However... if he is poisoning the minds of those who might be helped, I might just out myself so that he can shame himself upon the shore of my convictions.

"...our aim is not to defeat the white community, not to humiliate the white community, but to win the friendship of all of the persons who had perpetrated this system in the past, [and to] to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

4) I do not give myself the option to be angry. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. If I find myself getting angry I go back to steps 1 or 2. If I simply do not want to either leave and no longer associate with this group or out myself to them, I take deep breaths, remember that He asked our Father to Forgive them for they know not what they do! while he was being killed in an excruciating fashion, and yet He still showed mercy. 

Yes, I am well aware of His temper! Still, I don't recall Him dwelling on it. The simple fact is that I cannot hold Him in my heart while holding anger or resentment for another person, place, event, or thing. I just can't. If I want to hold the anger or resentment I just can't let Him in. I can't even pray. If I decide to let Him trickle in and pray just a tiny bit, it comes in a flood!

There is no option 4) for me. I actually learned this as an atheist who was a (very, very) suicidal manic depressive. Two people angry at one another and not even involving me depresses me! I would think about something pretty or find something of beauty to focus on. I have literally jumped up and ran from a room. Channeling Jesus works better. 

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the end, anger, resentment, fear, they are all violence, and you will note from my choice of quotes that I come up with a 'nay' vote in that respect. 

Only a philosophy of eternity, in the world today, could justify non-violence. - Albert Camus

Most importantly perhaps, I don't wear a scarlet T on my blouse because being a transsexual is not what defines me. If I introduce myself with labels or am asked by someone at a party what I do or on a first date to 'tell me about yourself' I'll talk about reading, writing, church, volunteer activities, human rights, the environment, my children and friends, etc. 

The topic of what I do for a living will never come up unless I'm asked; it does not define me. That I have an engineering degree and was in the USMC won't come up as neither do they define me. Similarly, transsexuality is only a path I had to walk to get to where I am.

The path does not define the traveler, rather the traveler experiences the path and allows herself to become whom God wishes her to be.

I was a stone bitch before I ever even wanted to transition. I am still capable of being just as 'stone'. I was an intellectual before; I still am. Sad movies made me cry; still do. 

I don't 'come out' as a transsexual woman unless there is good cause as it is so far down the list of 'things that define me' that I find lots and lots of other more interesting things to discuss first. 

I don't 'come out' as a transsexual woman unless there is good cause as discussing the movie "To Wong Fu..." is tiresome for me, because I do not know that 'tranny' you met in Des Moines, because I have no desire to discuss my genitalia with you, because I've never been to a 'drag show' nor do I desire to do so, I know not a single 'Show Tune', and I don't need wardrobe and makeup tips (I pull off a very nice 'Little Orphan Annie' meets Minnie Pearl by myself, thank you!).

I don't 'come out' as a transsexual woman unless there is good cause as don't want to be viewed through the prism of 'tranny porn' and gay rights parades where men and women are dressed in 'pole dancer' costumes and writhe their near nude bodies in exhibitionist ecstasy. Neither do I readily offer that I was abused as a child, physically beaten, emotionally and psychologically strangled, and raped. I don't introduce into the first moments of meeting someone at church, a party, or work, that I was a drug addict and prostitute; that I was a 'crack whore'.

Like most humans I have a facade that I put up in front of my emotions that allows me to maintain my composure and keep from running screaming into the darkest recess of the chaos that is in my mind. Anyone who doesn't do this is, at best, a sociopath. I get to choose what my facade looks like; which words and actions tilt the prism through which you view me.

Delusions are often functional. A mother’s opinions about her children’s beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth. - Robert Heinlein.

Once someone has gotten to know me, and if I feel that either our relationship will be strengthened by knowing more about me or their experience may be heightened by finding out that they know a former drug addict and whore, survivor of rape and child abuse, and transsexual woman, and that she's an ok person... then I'll consider coming out.

It's my story after all; my reality, and my sanity. 

...Much later I would remember these moments as I struggled to find a footing in the storm of madness ever present in my waking dreams, seeing all around me only a gossamer veil of sanity that seemed ever out of my reach, the timeless chaos of madness always beyond, the ephemeral solace of sanity fading slowly but inexorably into the distance, leaving only nightmares filled with darkness and my own screams with which to feed my mind.