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.

1 comment:

  1. You've been through stuff I can't even imagine - yet have emerged a kind and generous person.
    Those who have been tempered in such fires either end up prickly, often bitter and twisted - or unreasonably kind, forgiving.

    If there's anything I can ever do to help, please let me know. Although you're far more used to being the helper, rather than the helped, you deserve a bit of consideration now and then.

    As do I. As do we all.

    I've been through just a little of your experience - transition, anyway. But my path has been easier. I feel I have the responsibility to help where I can, because from those to whom much has been given, much is expected.

    (HUG) Zoe


Please remember that I am posting my story solely for the purpose of helping others clarify their own. I will appreciate your supportive, kind, or constructive comments.