29/May/96

My goal is simple.

I am a writer and performer. I don't want to change the world, but I want people to quote me -- to entertain, to illuminate, to educate, to stimulate, to catalyze.

I don't have the answers. But I do have many of the questions. I tend to be able to see, to verbalize, to hear and to shape.

What is my big point? That transcending group identity to individual potential is the only way that we can move on. We need to take responsibility -- to consciously use our ability to shape our responses. It's about rewriting the text.

What is my big fear? That I am too hip for the room, an artist who is of my time when most people are slightly behind it.

And that's true. But it doesn't stop my obligation to speak up.

I have built my own padded cell, the life of a recluse in a rich and packed world of private stimuli and games.

But that cell stops my outward focus. I live in my head, and not in the world. And that means that I don't get the feedback and love that I crave.

All this is part of my experience. My life was not supported, not loved. I had a mother who couldn't love and care for her kids -- she was lusting for someone to take care of her. She was not a safe space to express feelings or fear, because she always saw them as about her. I learned to be self sustaining, joking on top and with a rich inner life.

But that inner life is inherently isolating. And other pieces of me that I have had to keep secret, that would cause humiliation, like transgender accentuated this drive.

I learned how to work in culture, hard as it was. The eccentric, talented, wacky, creative software manager. I am good at it.

But that is limiting and isolating, too.

To not be a member of groups is to be free. It is also to be isolated. It is our connections to others that limit our freedom, that restrict our choices. But these connections also give us comfort and sustenance.

The dance between "I" and "Other." It is the core of our lives, the challenge of wild and tame.

The impact of my queerness on others: Do I have the right to blow up other people's quiet and outwardly focused life? I am a mental drug.

A friend writes to me:

You are having the same conversation with different people. Everybody knows you are 10x. "The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely."

You have the ability to choose, in that moment, to be 2x, but we can't choose to be 10x, no matter how much you might wish it.

To paraphrase our beloved Judith Martin, 'manners' are primarily about making other people feel comfortable. So perhaps your accuser might accuse you of being ill-mannered, but things don't change when people are comfortable, do they? Remember explaining to me how important, how vitally critical, it is for members of the TG community to be comfortable? They can't deal with the any of the darker aspects -- the tale must be: "We went out, we had fun, everything was fine."

But you're bigger than that.

You are good at seeing the connections between things and at explaining why. It's part of your search for understanding.

You are trying to understand yourself. It has been an ordeal of Biblical proportions to get this far. And you've done it largely by yourself because nobody else really has the tools or the stamina to help.

You are your own worst enigma.

You've gotten to the point where it's finally starting to make sense and you want to share your insights with others. Unfortunately, the others, being rather simple creatures, generally don't care. They won't care about your struggles until you're famous and/or dead.

Becoming dead is easy; how do you become famous?

----

"Short of dropping your pants, there's no better way to exposing yourself than by writing a work of fiction. A novel or a play is just an author's way of lifting the lid on the bait box of his or her brain to reveal the writhing, wriggling worms within. . ."

(from a review of "Fat Men in Skirts," by P.B. Miller.)


30/May/96

What is the point of transgender? To bring your personal identity and the way you are seen by others into harmony.

To do this, you first have to become clear about who you are.

You then have to find ways to express that effectively to others.

And you must come to grips with how people see you, to use your understanding of how they see you to shape both your expression and your self image.


Can I be effective in culture as a woman?
(albeit a "woman born male"?)

Why do I ask this question?

Simple: I have met lots of transgendered women, and I haven't been taken with many of them.

In short, if I am going to turn out like that, I'll pass. Levels of denial and deceit, a lack of sensitivity and taste, a dearth of style and fun. Many retain the worst of being a man and add the worst of being a woman.

Is it enough to be relaxed, confident, trusting and authentic? Or should I just give up on the whole concept, stay in my padded cell?

What is a woman, if not simply someone born female? It is someone who makes the choices of a woman, out of training, habit or conscious choice.

And who can accept a woman? Other women do. In a cultural sense, they decide if you are of their group or of "the other."

I have an incredible fear of failing to be effective as a woman.

And I have a fear of succeeding, at the cost of my individuality -- the "pretty prison" of Carol Gilligan.

Of course, this fear isn't much different from most women. They fear not fitting in -- and fear losing themselves if they do.


Zen living: Tennis -- and Gender -- as performance. Both require conscious practice, but are best played "below the mind" -- unconsciously. We must be both observer & participant simultaneously.

All suffering, said the Buddha, is caused by expectation. It is not what we get that dismays us -- it is not getting what we expect. Our expectations come from ego, from projecting the future from the past.

I have wicked performance anxiety. I get caught up in the expectations. Worry is not preparation.

My problem is trusting my womanself: being able to face situations without dropping back on manself behaviors: tough, closed, sullen, curmudgeonly. I don't stay open

I am as nervous as a 13 year old girl. Transgender is a second adolescence, a second socialization -- but unlike a young girl I fall back on man behaviors, not child ones.

How do I face flirting? Connections with children? Sensitive issues of trust and confidence.

I get anxious and close, not open. I limit my responses and surrender opportunities for connection. to defend myself from pain & separation -- or the fear of them.


What do you do when people see you as you don't choose to be seen, when their stereotypes, groupings and limits are applied to you? Do you fail when called he?

The first thing is not to let it affect your confidence in who you are. Just let it pass.

But does this mean that you just let people see you as they will? Or do you work to shape impressions?

How do you "correct" people's impressions of you gender? Is it possible?

Jahna Steele, when someone said, "You fooled me into to thinking you were a woman" replied, "Not fooled -- convinced you I am a woman."

But was she convincing that she was a woman or that she was born female? And how do we make the point that isn't the same thing?
 

Old Model

New Model

Male=Man=Masculine

Physical Sex:
Male/Female

 

Gender Role:
Man/Woman

Female=Woman=Feminine

Aspects: Masculine/Feminine


Stop Compulsory Gendering!
Individual Freedom Of Gender Expression!

All well and good -- but if your effectiveness depends on people being willing to paradigm shift, there will always be serious limits.


One option is the third gender notion: to accept being "third" in the sense that you are not one of the two.

On one hand, this notion is compelling: create a unique space for individuals.

On the other hand this notion is limiting: it gives everyone the option to see you as one of "them," not one of "us." They end up being able to write you off because you are too challenging, and can be thrown into the "it" pile -- and nobody wants to become "it."

Sometimes I become a cutaway model of a human -- knowing how to speak both masculine and feminine and explain meta-messages across boundaries. It is a powerful -- and very isolating -- place.

I walk into the mall. My heels click on the tile, and my heart seems to beat with them, beat so strongly it will break through the walls of my chest.

I think not of what I am looking for, what to make for dinner, or what I see in shop windows. Instead, I can hear the words that my heart pounds out: True? False? True? False? True? False?

I search the faces of the people around me to answer that question. In my heart I know that both answers are correct.

I am working hard to be true and authentic. I have spent years learning the skills of a woman, the thoughts of a woman, the issues of a woman. I am well versed and more than that I have integrated and assimilated the material. My womanself is a true expression of who I am, of something deep inside of me, of something I share with other transgendered people through history.

But my history is as a man, and my body is decidedly male. I fear that people will see my history and my body and write on that the fact that I am permanently and unalterably a man, and that my appearance as a woman is a masquerade, a lie.

My heart pounds. True? False? True? False?

I know all the rules. 10% of people will hate you, 10% will love you, 80% won't care. This is a gloriously free country, and I have the right to express who I am inside. If I never open my inner self, how will people see it and love it -- give me the affirmation I crave?

But those rules don't stop your heart when you think about walking into the women's room. They don't stop the hunter like scanning of the crowd, the hair trigger response in your chest that will force you to flee.

My head kicks in the meditation techniques. I force an "om" though my body, close my eyes, try to turn my breath from shallow to deep. "Relax, relax," is my command.

But the hunter instinct dies hard. Every new move, new word, new pair of eyes is a new threat to my body. I force myself to smile, but the scream echoes though my fibers, and the decision is simple -- go to the car.

I have spent many hours in the car, safe in my metal lair. But the world is outside of it.

I sit, thinking about what to do next. Do I force myself to do it again, or do I retreat home, to the computer, to safety? Do I really want to open myself to this terror -- or is merely surviving another day enough?

My muscles ache from the tension. My head feels the stress. I am not fighting for someone else, only for my own somewhat selfish desires. I can wait another day -- and a day after that, and a day after that. . .

The answer is obvious -- I start the car.

And the question still pounds out in my heart: True? False? True? False?


Am I done thinking yet? Is it time to act?

On one hand, I long for the day that I can rejoin the flow, become a part of human energy, take my place, feel the requirement to respond and juggle the requirements of myself and others.

And on the other hand, I will miss my privacy, my silence, my introspection. I love the quiet pace of my life without too much demand for human response.

I have been going though an incubation period, a time of shaping and sharpening my thoughts. I have thought and written, gotten feed back by e-mail, and even from performance. I have been working to figure out who I am, what I think and how to tell that to others.

I have been successful, worked hard.

But the way humans find happiness is to find "flow," to be immersed in something they find satisfying and productive. And as an introspective writer, flow comes when the words come -- but it is like the life of a runner, not of a bicyclist, where things come to a stop when I do. Without a network, you don't have the natural dynamics that keep you involved.

You also don't have the natural dynamics that suck you in to other's games. It's a tradeoff.

My life is cyclical. In Singing At The Top Of Our Lungs, Bepko & Krestan talk about women and creativity, about the melding of connection and creativity. They classify four groups of women:
 

Lovers: High Relational
Artists: High Creative
Leaders: Relational Integrated with Creativity
Innovators: Creative Integrated with Relational

They talk about the challenges of each of these, and the fact that most women go through cycles that take them from relational periods to creative ones, and it is the length and intensity of each of these periods that creates a full life.

I feel my patterns shifting -- the death of one cycle and the birth of another, a time to say good-bye and hello. It is a kind of bardo, of moving into another life.

But am I done thinking yet? Is it time to move on?

Yes.

Well, probably.

Gosh, do I have to decide now?

___________________

A therapist is one who sees something in us
that we do not yet see in ourselves.


4 June 1996

Pamela: You have done the work - you are a woman, you just have trouble acknowledging and trusting the amount of transformation you have made. You need to trust that you can make feminine choices and they will look right, not ridiculous. Maybe the best thing to do is just to spend most of your time in clothes that are appropriate to your spirit, which, by the way, is really amazing, but part of you doesn't believe that either. Move away from adapting to other people's expectations and make a stand for who you are.

____________________

Where do I go to make women friends who are cool, who can accept me as I wish to be, not as they would like me? How do I build support systems in being a woman, not just a guy-in-a-dress?

More than that, how do I build intimate relationships?

____________________

Pamela:What is hard about giving up being a man?

Since my parents caught me crossdressing, from age 5 or so, all the way though high-school, the message was clear. Inappropriate behavior. To be effective I had to learn how to be a man. And if I wanted to be effective with women, I had to be the man they expected.

That learning was tough. I didn't like sports, never had the kind of cocky drives that boys were supposed to have. I avoided conflict, flew from fights.

But I did it. Adopted a "breeches role," learned how to do it. I know how to do cocky, where the humor is, how to survive.

And now, it all seems for naught. Why did I waste all that time, all those years when I might have actually been young and pretty?

Do I have to declare a failure on being a man? Was that time wasted? On one hand, I know it wasn't, for we always make the best decisions we can, and that means it was something I had to do. On the other hand, it feels like losing a battle that I fought very hard, that caused me a great amount of pain and effort.

Were those tears and blood shed for naught?

____________________

What are you concerned about losing as woman that you have as a man?

Kate Bornstein talks about this. She says that she lost the safety that comes from authority -- the freedom to go anywhere -- and gained the safety that comes from emotion -- the freedom to feel and express that feeling.

I worry about losing my effectiveness in authority with auto mechanics, repairmen and the like, part of the implicit technological authority that comes with being seen as a man.

I do know that women can also hold this authority, but they must prove it and wield it in somewhat different ways. Can I smile with men and not have them cringe?

Biggest Fear: "He is really a man!"

Are my realities so easily judged -- or denied?

____________________

Pamela:You must meet others like you in the gender community.

Well, ah, no. In many ways, the gender community is a place to fight against transformation and achieving authenticity. Crossdressers are men who use the gender community to pretend to be a woman, and transsexuals use the gender community as a place where they can reveal their history as men.

Because most people in the gender community are so invested in whatever their own personal position and view of gender that they tend to impose it on others, and fight people who challenge it, rather than accepting a range of viewpoints and truths.

I could speak fluent woman in front of transgendered males, and they wouldn't see it, either because they haven't taken the time to learn it, or because seeing that I could transform would threaten their own mindset.

____________________

Pamela:Do you really want to simply blend in, or do you want to be visible?

The answer is that I want to be confident that I blend in well-enough to be noticed without ridicule. I want to be sure that by being visible I am witty but not ridiculous -- and I am very afraid that acting as a woman will look ridiculous on big old male-bodied me. Always a balance, eh?

____________________

From an e-mail:
 

There are two moral principles for me here:

1) Live your life as if the world is already the way you want it

2)Recognize that the world is not the way you want it and do whatever you can to change that.

And sometimes those two imperatives require conflicting actions, I think. And the challenge is about integrating them and living with them. I didn't really come up with this on my own -- it's a lot like the opening lines of Pat Parker's poem "For White People Who Want to Know How to be My Friend":

First, you must forget that I am black
Second, you must never forget that I am black

____________________

--Specific details about how to function more effectively as a woman. Causal dress is one, no doubt.

-- The price and power of being continually surprising.

____________________

Bring photos, Drama Of The Gifted Child tapes.  


10/June/1996
 

Tuesday, June 18, 11 AM

____________________

Pamela: How do you learn to trust in your own inner womanhood, strength, grace, power, success? Those things already exist, but you choose not to believe them. Maybe it's because the part that refuses to dies is not your inner man, but your ego self, who had to learn how to create a false self for so many years. Do you see?

____________________

In some ways, I feel like a mom. -- I want to protect you from the nasty ways of the world of women -- and I also want to see you succeed in it. I know that you have to do it for yourself -- and that you can.

____________________

It's time to get your writing out to broader forums. Your issues, I see after some study, are simply very human.

____________________

I hate Jenny because she created another false self. She remains in hiding from her own heart. It's so sad to see that it breaks my heart.

My ego chooses to see what scares me in Jennifer to keep me down. So much about the gender community seems to be ego-affirming rather than love-affirming.

Gosh, been through so much ego stuff, broken though so much fear, so many walls -- but the defenses around my transgendered nature are almost impenetrable.

Must be my heart in there.

____________________

So I'm coming home to write part of the following page, ("haven't I kept you terrified?") and on the radio, from A Chorus Line, comes What I Did For Love.

kiss today good-bye
and point me towards tomorrow.
i did what i had to do.
can't forget,
won't regret,
what i did for love.

OK. So I cried.

____________________

What all TG people share is a secret that they can't tell anyone, that they have to deny, and that they believe makes them unlovable. My parents knew -- and made it clear that I should grow out of it -- just like the shrinks said I might.

Surprise!

____________________

At some point you just have to be who you are and take the good and the bad of that. You just "have to sing the song God taught you."

A friend went to a psychic and showed her a picture of me. Her message was simple: "Tell her to keep singing."

Sing out the old truths in new garb, the classic myths in modern form.

But can't I just stay afraid? At some point you just have to be who you are and take the good and the bad of that.

____________________

If you have spent years developing a system to stop you from expressing your femme side, a system based on fear, then you have to take some time to let it go and get back to those natural, simple femme instincts. Because those feminine instincts are so clear, you really have to build a hell of fear-structure to keep yourself from slipping into that -- and then you realize that slipping into it is the only way to find yourself.

____________________

Diana: The trust in your calling isn't just about your work, it is about your life, because your life is your work. At least your calling is quite clear!

You need to look for support for success and bigness where ever you can find it.

Don't get hung up in what you can't do -- do what you can with power & grace. The pain is in the direction we need to go -- but that doesn't mean we have to dive into it. Walk, step by step into the ocean, and the shock will diminish.

Everybody fights the calling. But the choice really is simple -- follow it or die.

____________________

So if I need to look outside of the gender community for support in success then I need to feel confident exposing my transgendered nature in new places where I can find that new learning.

Child / Id, Parent/ Ego, Adult / Superego

____________________

I know, I know. We are not talking about the death of my masculine side -- I am fully masculine & feminine, this is clear. We are talking about the death of my manhood, and for me, that is the death of the ego. My ego -- the parent, the false self, the do-er, has been protecting me for years. He figured out how to fake being a man -- and he got pretty good at it too. He is pretty good at it, and I love him for protecting me. In fact, many times I think that he is the only one who does love me. When I was a child, and felt vulnerable or unsafe, he would protect me by being who he needed to be. He fended off my parents, my teachers, the other kids and kept me safe -- if a bit isolated and lonely.

Look, I know that it may be time for me to go. Becoming authentic is a good thing and all of that. I just want to be sure that Callan is going to be effective without me -- and that means that she can take care of herself. I really love her, and she is so vulnerable and so sensitive, and I worry about her -- how she can cope without me. I took the hits, toughened up, pushed through the pain, and I was happy to do it, because we needed it..

Oh shit. This is coming out just like a farewell letter to the man-self that a TS woman wrote before surgery and published. I thought it was silly leaving the man-self, but now I see what she was actually leaving,
though she didn't have a name for it.

I have worked very hard to integrate masculine & feminine. I did it presenting as a boy, and I liked it. It was useful. It isn't my masculinity that has to go.

My issues aren't simply about being a woman -- far from it. They are about being big, out-there and authentic, doing the kind of leadership that I need -- and that is no place for the ego. I love him dearly, but his fear and playing small are going to limit us badly. That doesn't mean that I am comfortable letting him go. I'm scared, I'll tell you that.

It is like jumping out of a plane with a parachute. You can prepare, know you have faced other challenges, all that, but eventually you have to leap -- and you have no idea what is waiting for you on the ground. It is terrifying -- even if you believe in a higher-power that connects and energizes all of us.

Look. Can't I go? I won't take up much space. Think about all the problems you can run into. . .

Oh, that's so sweet. Thank you for offering -- I really do appreciate it. But this is one leap I have to make by myself. I'm not a kid anymore -- if I can't trust my power now, I never will be able to do that. Besides, I have all the lessons you taught me -- you will always be a part of me.

But leaving me means leaving so many things.. It means all the adjustments, the resilience, the aloofness, the craziness. What about all the stuff I have collected to keep us company., the pain and the junk that keeps us in balance like a keel?

Yes, but that also keeps us from flying. I've even been think about new ways to be erotic, so you don't have to put us to sleep every night.

I don't know about that. The most dangerous place is in intimate relationships. Danger Will Robinson! I've just go the whole world set up to keep us from danger -- doctors, bills paperwork, all that stuff. I have playing small down to a science, and you want to throw that all away! That's just stupid!

It's time to risk people actually knowing us and liking us. We're not kids anymore, and nobody can hurt us like mom. Time to grow up. If not now when? Don't you think we should learn to thrive, not merely survive? Isn't it time to be happy, to trust the God in everyone -- especially us? I want to be who I really am, not hiding anymore.

Hiding been very very good to me. Surviving is good -- look at the alternatives! Separation from love and even body!

I like the joke. You sound just like Chico Esquala on SNL, yes you do. If I haven't said it before, thanks for all the jokes and laughter. You really kept my spirits up, as well as using them for good defences. But I suspect we are past just keeping people at arm's length with jokes. Past the clutter, past the fear

Fear is good for you! How else do you stay safe? Look, no one is safe living without fear! Haven't I kept us afraid, terrified? Doesn't that help us keep sharp, keep on, keep in control?

I know. But I can't let fear lead me. I have to trust my own possibilities, my own moral authority, my own aesthetic self -- my own godself.

You say this now, all big and empowered. But the fear will slip back and you'll beg me to come out and take over. Either that, or I'll watch for an opening. . .

Thank you for sharing. It's time for you to move on. I'm a big girl, I can handle it.

If I actually believed that I'd feel much better. But I have been trained not to believe in change, in spirit or in the rest of that crap. This is a harsh and nasty world, and best you stay on your toes! And when you are around un-authentic trannies, your fear kicks into high gear, and you call me..

And do you really want to tell your parents you are 'becoming authentic & queer without me? Can you handle the shaming and the failure game? "How can you do this to us!" I know how to fend them off. . .

Look, I love you, but can we continue this discussion on Tuesday? I can't just let you make me afraid -- I may as well die now.

Pamela:

Callan

I like this dialog! Some meaty stuff here inside

In your writing, there are several words that come to the fore, including:

separation
dangerous
heart break
hate
playing small vs. bigness
shame
failure
fear
die

In this regard, I have some questions for you.

1) Chiefly, can you go way in, all the way and discover what separation is all about? Like an onion, separation anxieties have layers - you've got to keep peeling. We can do that you know.

2) Can Callan's masculinity be integrated rather than eradicated? Dying and death in our culture are stigmatized with permanence - that forever thing we do. Death in eastern culture is vastly different. Death is transformation, change or merging in the east. We can do this too.

3) How does fear serve us in Western Culture? fear is limited to shame, failure, death, heartbreak, danger, safety, separation, hate and nearly every word in Callan's writing. How has Callan use her fear to survive thrive, jive and lie?

4)Is Callan more afraid of not being accepted by others or self? What happens when Callan is accepted by others? What then? What would the landscape of Callan's writing be like if everyone, or nearly everyone, accepted her for exactly who she is?

Some other questions:

Has Jennifer hurt you? Why do you "hate" her?

Building support systems, and trusting relationships with me are important.

Is the fear of losing authority a smokescreen for the fear of humilation?

The Ego says if you knew who I really am you wouldn't love me. So I hide behind effectiveness -- and lose the possibility of love.

The fear of making the choices of a woman.

Life is short. Fear is not useful.

____________________

So I wonder why kids are able to go out and be so queer. I suspect the answer is that the answer is because they have responsibility only for themselves.

But somehow, I always took responsibility for others. For my family -- trying to drag my parents in to therapy in 1967 -- for others -- running the MIT Educational Studies program. I stole what I needed for sustenance and survived -- but just barely.

But when we take responsibility for others, we end up doing for them rather than being for us. I read an interview with Lea DeLaria where she recoiled when asked how it felt to speak for the lesbian community. "I speak for myself, and am lucky if I can do that well!"

We put a burden on people when we ask them to speak for a group -- setting them up to be shot at when they are not universal -- and boring.

Learning not to take responsibility for other people's feelings seems somehow important. I don't have responsibility for the world -- though I am now in the generation of the parent. Where is the edge of responsibility?

____________________

You are fat! Lose weight! You are too fat for anybody -- unless you are lesbians!

____________________

The courage to be crazy, funny, wacky. The Jonathan Winters fear -- over the edges. the Ru fuckin' Paul way. I mean I don't want to be Martin Short!

But does this mean I do the RuPaul gig of claiming TG is only a pose, something I do for work? It sounds so icky when she -- I mean he -- does it. The edges of performance: are performance and life different? I'm just doing research, I'm just lecturing, I'm just expressing my nature.

____________________

Isn't creating a tough, crusty shell to hide behind simply part of being a man? No vulnerability, thanks.

____________________

Feminine as performance (additive), masculine as non-performance (subtractive).

____________________

Even though it seemed that she couldn't accept my unconditional love, was I somehow more comforted by someone who couldn't give me unconditional love?

____________________

Transgender Winners: An e-mail list for those who are ready to be successful humans in their world -- and happen to be transgendered.

The Human Institute: An organization dedicated to workshops, publications and other materials on how to transcend fear and limitations and empower humans to be big and effective in their world.

____________________


22/June/1996

This is true: Inside of me is a hurting child, scared and abused, adultified early, shamed into soul suicide, into becoming a human doing, taking responsibility for others. I have never felt simple unconditional love, and have trouble receiving it. I built an suit of armor early -- and leaving that is scary.

This is also true: I am a powerful, wise and reasonably well actualized adult, who has learned to cope and even to thrive in this world. I have a good understanding of who I am and how to be effective.

This is the challenge: How do I become effective in the world? How do I trust my power, bring sunshine into my life, and not get stopped by that terrified child.

Is the point to try to mollify the child, to get rid of him? No. What has got him calmed down to this point is not cutting my losses, but maximizing my wins. If I keep succeeding, he will keep quiet.

I will easily stand the fear for a good cause -- but why stand the fear for a silly one?

Rob Brezsny's Real Astrology, Week of June 20

Virgo: let's talk about power - and about how you can get more power. What works for the other signs of the zodiac may also bring you a measure of success: formulating precise goals, expressing yourself forcefully, generating original ideas, being skilled at manipulating people's emotions. But all of these strategies pale compared to the first law of Virgoan empowerment, which is this: your command and authority and influence will thrive to the degree that you put yourself in service to people and causes that are worthy of your investment. Ask yourself continually "How can I be of best possible use?" And one day you will rule a kingdom.

Exactly. I'm waiting for friends, standing in front of the Spectrum on Friday night, dressed great, to see I Shot Andy Warhol, in which TG superstar Candy Darling plays a big part. Three black girls go by, about age 14 -- and one screams "That's a guy!" and they laugh and run.

At that moment, I re-enforced a stereotype. After the movie, as people filed out of the theatre, they looked at me differently, as a human, like Miss Candy. At that point I helped erode a stereotype.

In the context of my work -- such as my work with you -- I will take the crap, because while waitresses run away never to be seen again, I am eroding some stereotypes for you, teaching.

But why should I take that shit from waitresses -- or anyone else -- when I only re-enforce stereotypes? Where is the win?

When I am winning, I can absorb losses. But when I am losing, I am just losing -- no matter how small or big the losses are.

In many ways, I am like a black person in the 1960s. There are no laws against me -- but there is a great deal of hostility too. I work hard to be effective -- and get cranky with both Stepin Fetchits and crazy radicals, who re-enforce the stereotypes. I also know that the point is even people with icky (to me) expressions have a right to that. As Bella said, "The point of women's liberation is not that a female Einstein be recognized, it's that a female schlemiel gets promoted as fast as a male schlemiel."

Other people also see this analogy. I was at a dyke concert, and my friend came back from the rest room and told me "I was wondering what people would think about me being with a TG woman, and then I realized it's like dating a black person in the '60s -- a sign that you are cool." Oy.

At any rate, I hurt inside. I have pain and fear that I have done wonders with, but that are not gone yet - I am not fully clear. The fear leads me to various types of dissonance, to some less than ideal behavior. But it also connects me to the pain that others feel, lets me understand them in a more complete and visceral way.

Facing the hurt helps some -- but only when I can be embraced. I want to cry -- and so some buzz slips out, a warning tone that I am close.

Finding the wins helps more. It is recognizing and trusting the miracles and joys in my life that make the world a better place. Embracing the gifts of my goddess calms my fear -- and reminds me that I am loved.

It is trusting the sunshine from inside of me that is crucial, that helps me face the clouds of ego and fear from me and from others. It is wrapping that iron crate of fear in sunshine -- for it springs open in darkness.

Maximize the wins. Find a way to let the light shine. The way to erase the darkness is not to fight it -- but to light a candle.

Too many transgendered people -- too many people in general -- live lives of quiet terror and desperation. We learn early to be afraid of life, to cut our losses -- and we feel trapped.

For transgendered people, the pain is sealed inside, for they cannot even scream out. To scream out their pain would be to mark them as perverts, deviants. They have the pain of being afraid to be who they are -- and the pain of not being able to tell anyone about their private hell.

That pain doesn't go away. It affects their lives everyday. It stimulates their denial, drives their shame, powers their desperation. It compels their railing at the way things are, urges their continuing emotional isolation and forces their sniping at people who appear to have joy.

Light is the great disinfectant, said Justice Frankfurter. Light is the only cure for darkness. To release our pain is to find our light.

In a message dated 96-06-23 01:18:54 EDT, Samantha writes:

For I felt driving home that these old wounds and nasty behaviors of mine are something I cling to to keep myself down. That as long as I hold them but don't deal with them that they are the safety that keeps me from growing. It is as if I use them to justify that part of myself that agreed with my father who always told me how worthless I am almost every day I lived in his house.

Oh yeah. Pain as control. If I just keep this dull ache going on, I won't stand up and make a fool out of myself. Let me find the behaviors to sabotage myself -- not paying bills, skipping medical checkups, not moving on, whatever. There are millions of them. And then let me stay small.

Been there, done them.

I have one conclusion, right now, and it is damn hard to work. It is impossible to grasp darkness. I can't grab hold of the core of pain that I felt at four or five when I was shamed into soul suicide, when I learned to take responsibility for others, when I learned I had to be a human doing, because just being what I am is not lovable or even acceptable. As much as I want to flush that pain down the toilet, it is very real, very palpable, very crisp.

The only way that I have gotten this far is to get more light in my life. Light drives out darkness. I can't cut my losses -- they have occured. I can only maximize my wins. Go out there and create light -- and that keeps the pain at bay, makes the part of my life that it controls smaller and smaller.

On Tuesday, I did a guided meditation that was focused on finding the power in me -- and I found an iron chest that a gnome lived in. This imp was ready to throw open that chest and spew ideas and papers and junk all over the place whenever I felt scared. -- the key coping behavior of my life. My coach wanted to know how to get rid of the chest -- but I didn't want to do that, couldn't do that. I just wanted to keep it closed. I finally ended up locking the chest in a teardrop of sunlight, of glorious rays, and that kept the chest closed and made the gnome happy.

We need to touch the pain, the hurt. It reminds us of our humanity, of the pain we share with all. But we need to keep it in perspective, to not let us stay small and damaged. For me, I know that I have let enormous amounts of light into my life and that box opens less and less. I know that I get better and better.

But I also know that I have farther to go.

So does anyone have any ideas about any of this? How do you deal with guilt stuff? How do you deal with environments that don't support what you think you need right now?

Another question is how do you deal with understanding when your path, your mysticism or whatever really is something good and when it is something else. Because a path can be used to escape a world of hurt and confusion and unpleasant things to deal with as well as to walk from that world into the one you are meant to deal with. I believe part of what happened tonight was me being shown things I need to deal with and clean up before I can answer that question well.

Hard magic. When is it God, love, light -- and when is it ego, fear, darkness? This was the issue in that conversation about detachment/non-attachement: Do we leave the world, or is that not addressing the stuff here that you need to work on? How do we learn from the pain but not fall into it -- nor run away from it?

I do touch my pain. I need to open that chest every now and then, and let the pain out, let the tears roll down my face, let my sobbbing be heard by God. If I never touch my pain, it controls me in ways I do not choose to see -- and that continues to limit me. I embrace my pain as a gift -- and look for the sliver lining in it.

And I also try to touch my Joy. To find it, to live.

Maximize the wins. Find a way to let the light shine. The way to erase the darkness is not to fight it -- but to light a candle.

Embrace the joy -- and the pain.

_______________________________

Being The Stupid one.

Should I have done drugs?

_______________________________

The question is: Are some acts essentially gendered? And if so, how can we do them without affecting our identity?

Let's use an example of car repair. Maybe not a perfect example, but just as an example

We can agrue:

-- No acts are gendered. Car repair or putting on makeup, it's all neutral, so it doesn't count.

That seems untrue to me. We do gender things in this cuture, and I like that. I am not out to wipe out gendering, masculine & feminine components, merely the limits on them

-- Acts may be gendered,
but when I do them, they are the gender I am, not the gender they are assigned.

This gets us into the whole notion of having to claim that what we do is somehow our identity. Why does an act have to take on the gender we are? And why are we limited to acts that conform with other people's image of our gender?

-- Acts may be gendered,
but doing them doesn't change who I am essentially.

I like this. It doesn't require mentally changing the gender of the act, nor your gender -- it simply opens up freedom to do whatever you want without becoming less of a femme, less of a butch.

Does everyone fix a car in a unique way? You bet! Some butches keep tools in perfect order, others in a jumble on the floor. Some do it with style, others in a sort of minimalist way. We do bring our own personality to every act, whatever that is.

I think that proves that doing gendered acts doesn't affect our internal gender or other identity constructs.

You could argue that it regenders the act -- but a butch putting on makeup, for example, is still butch -- and I suspect that it's harder to agrue that makeup is femme.

I have enclosed another reply I made to this in e-mail.

Are we really disagreeing? Or is this a semantic debate, about which construct gives us the most freedom to do what we wish?

Callan

_________________________________________

In the long run it doesn't matter if you see yourself being butch for the moment you fix the car, or you call youself femme as you fix the car -- the point is simply that gender shifts in the moment

You may be femme and also butch -- that makes it hard to diagram on a scale, except in the moment.

Our disagreement may be that I do think that there are things that are essentially butch (like fixing cars) and essentially femme (like makeup). (Admittely, there is a butch way to wear makeup -- but camouflage paint doesn't really count.) You have to think in a certain way to do these things, and that thought is masculine or feminine, primarily because the standards are set for these tasks by other humans who think in a specific way. I don't think that gardening is gendered, for example, because you can think in different ways to do that -- but driving a combine (designed by men) is pretty butch and arranging flowers (to standards of beauty) pretty femme.

I just feel that doing one of those things does not change the substance of who we are. Butches can wear eyeliner, femmes can fix cars -- and it does not negate their identity or nature, but rather expresses other parts of it.

In other words, choosing to do something essentially butch or femme does not mean that you are essentially butch or femme. What we are in any particular moment is simply what we are then, not what we are locked into for life. For me, that's the meaning of freedom of gender expression.

So do we rationalize doing something femme when we identify as butch by saying that "If *I* am doing it, it is butch," or do we say "Even if I choose to do something femme, I am still butch." ? I prefer the second way, because it requires less rationalization -- just an acceptance that we all have butch and femme parts, and that nothing we do in any one moment limits who we can be in our life or our identity.

I get uncomfortable when people are shamed and humilated into doing things because the label is wrong -- and rather than relabeling, I'd rather just say that the label only applies to you in the moment.

Gendering is a shared social construct, a meaning that we *agree* to place on an act or object. This shifts through time and space -- gender codes today in San Francisco are different than those in Idaho, for example -- and certainly different than Singapore.

The gender revolution -- whatever you see that as being -- happens by changes in those codes. Did the introduction of bloomers affect women's suffrage? They were probably interrelated. Changing views of gender, changing views of gendered dress.

So assigning a gender to anything other than possibly clothing is a tricky task.

My concern is that I want a world with gender freedom -- but I am not sure I want a gender free world.

I like having shared symbols, acts, dress, attitudes & language that allow us to express our feminine or masculine aspects. I suspect that butch/femme people understand this desire to claim gendered symbols as fun and potent. I don't want an androgynous world, where everything is neutral (or neuter) and gendered expressions are gone.

I am against compulsory gender -- telling anyone, just because of their sex, race, class, or other social construct that certain symbols, acts, dress, attitudes & language are off limits to them.

Personally, I think it's hot when a femme woman chooses to work in what would usually be a butch field. It adds depth and nuance -- the same as a butch woman who chooses to cook or [insert other feminine gendered acts here].

Susan Sontag: "What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine."

I understand the sensitivity we all hold around gender. When someone seems to say "People like you are. . ." we leap to declare ourself the exception -- and possibly to declare the speaker ignorant. This makes it hard to talk about identity issues we hold close.

Gender is a social construct that attempts to express something natural that we have inside that cannot be simply spoken. It changes as we change, swinging like a pendulum, and all of us want to be well served by the construct, and not limited by it.

That means as we all need to change gender has to change with us. It does, but like any social construct, it flexes and whips to find the balance between the shared needs of the culture and the individual needs of our lives.

My point when this conversation started was that our our gender is not one static point, that we change our gender expression as required, (even doing things that may be considered butch or femme) -- but that this does not change who we fundamentally are, rather only expresses other aspects of ourselves.

To claim that someone's identity changes because they do a gendered act is tool of control that society uses to enforce gender assimilation. We need to transcend that control to get to gender freedom.

I just don't want to get to that freedom at the cost of losing the beauty of gender expression.

Callan


The Whys of TG

Callan Williams Copyright 1996

Why? That's what people want to know when I tell them that I am transgendered. The three key questions -- as asked by a partner, are seemingly very simple:

-- If you really love me, then why won't you just stop doing this TG stuff?

-- If you can't stop being TG, then why do you have to wield the symbols of TG? Why can't you just feel feminine/masculine without showing it?

-- If you have to show it, then why do you have to leave the bedroom/house? Why expose yourself (and your family) to the unsafe world?

These are the questions that all of culture asks. Why are you TG, and why can't you just stop being TG? Why do you choose to express it? And why do you do it where people can see it?

Why are you TG, and why can't you stop being TG?

The first question is the hardest to answer, and the easiest. The only answer we have now is "Just because."

Just because I am. Just because it is just a way some people are born. Just because my creator made me this way.

We know that TG people have existed in all recorded cultures at all times. In many, they were spiritual leaders, blessed with the gift of two-spirits. In others they have been entertainers, sages, counselors, and spies.

There are some who propose why, from a socio-biolgical perspective TG people exist, because they give strength to the tribe, a unique perspective and power to the group. There are some who look for biological reasons -- chromosomes, hormone shocks and what have you.

But we don't have a scientific explanation for transgender behavior, merely a clear understanding that it exists. So we fill in the" whys" with our myths -- just like our ancestors did.

The hard part of the question "Why are you TG, and why can't you stop being TG?" is about blame and cure. Did parents do something wrong? Was it DES in-vitro, the lack of a good father figure, childhood abuse? Could we have changed it -- and can we now?

Who can I blame for TG -- and how can I cure it? I have wasted many years looking for the answer to those questions. Nobody has found a cause -- and no one has found a cure.

The question "Why was I born TG?" cannot be answered from an objective viewpoint except in the simple "Just Because." But for many of us, we have found that asking that question from a spiritual question can be enlightening. Anthropologist Anne Bolin has noted that "In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender transgression remind us of our continuous common humanity." Maybe that is a clue to why people are born TG.

Why can't you just feel TG and not express it?

The second question gets more complex, almost to the level of how humans operate. It is the question of meaning and symbol. Is meaning enough? Can we really explore the meanings and feelings we have without putting them into symbols -- words, images or other representations?

Does a human idea exist if it is never represented, never expressed to anyone else? And can that notion grow, stand the test and shaping of reality without putting it out in view where others can see it and where we can get their reactions, comments, reflections?

To have feelings, emotions and thoughts without being able to expose them to the light of day is to have obsessions. Everything grows twisted when deprived of light, and the spirit of a transgendered person is no different.

To have transgendered feelings without exploring them is to leave them stunted at the level of adolescent fantasy, childish ideas of perfection and desire.

Much of our transgender feelings don't exist at a the level of verbalizations. They exist at the level of metaphor and symbol. While it would be possible to express femininity with a shaved head and a shapeless jumpsuit, it cuts off many layers of communication.

To speak gender without using the language of gender -- clothing, adornment, cosmetics -- its almost impossible. Gender is a feeling, and it is expressed as an art -- though other means that logical language.

Some may argue that the symbols we use to express gender are constructed, shallow, and only on the surface. That's true -- but we use them to express something deeper, something we cannot verbalize. That may be a desire to be like other people, or it may be an expression of our unique selves. One problem with transgendered people is that they are not skilled in the language of gender, especially not in their target gender. They have much to learn -- but cannot learn it without experimentation.

Why do you have to expose your TG to other people?

The one thing that all transgendered people share is a deep sense of shame, of doing something that makes them a bad person and unlovable. Because they have a secret to keep, they keep people at arms length.

It can become almost impossible for a transgendered person to achieve real intimacy, even with themselves. they have spent so long hiding away anything that might tip their transgender status to the world that they don't know themselves.

To get over this feeling of shame, they need to be accepted for who and what they are. They need to believe that it is not what they do -- how they follow the rules for being the gender other people expect them to be -- but rather who they are that makes them lovable.

At some point, this means that you have to go out of the closet and be who you are. That doesn't have to mean shouting from the rooftops, or showing up at Thanksgiving dinner in a dress, but it does mean revealing yourself to selected and trusted friends, family and acquaintances and finding out that they don't find you perverted or disgusting -- just human.

The key goal of transgendered people is to get how they see themselves and how other people see them in synchronization. This may mean gendershift, changing gender roles -- but for many transgendered people it simply means showing people close to us a special part of us that we have learned to hide.

To be able to express transgender, but stay in a vacuum -- even with a partner -- can be difficult on everyone. It leaves secrets around, and it limits our development and health.

Healthy people are open and honest about who they are, in an appropriate way.

Making A Choice To Express Transgender

It is not the fact that my nature is queer that offends most people. It is the fact that I choose to act on it, to reveal it.

Why am I different from blacks? Because I can choose to show or not show my nature, when they wear it on their skin. I can choose to wear the clothes of the gender assigned to me at birth and look assimilated.

As a culture we can excuse blacks. They have no choice but to let their nature show -- and we then have to accept that nature as simply a part of humanity. But I can change my appearance -- so why excuse me?

We used not to excuse the choice that, for example, Jews made to follow their religion. You can choose to be Christian! we told them. But now most accept it -- and some still see them as targets.

And it's the same with queers, with gender transgressors. What you do in the bedroom is your choice, but why do you have to take it to the streets? Be gay, fine. Just don't let me see it.

The answer is simple. Because, like any other human, I get to express my nature.

What about limits of propriety? Where are the edges? I would argue that they are the same for other people. That means if a woman can wear the dress, so can a transgendered woman.

But Why?

After all of this is said and done, most people are left with one unanswerable question: "But why? I just don't understand why anyone would want to take the humiliation and stigma just to wear different clothes."

The push to transgress gender is outside of the understanding of most people. It just doesn't jibe with anything in their experience. They just can't grasp what would push anyone to do it.

They want to know "Why?" Too often they try to make up motivations for themselves that they can grasp -- and that may be wrong. It's not about dressing to attract men or women. It's not about sexual stimulation. It's about who we are, how we feel and the song that God taught us.

I have discovered as I meet people who also share a unique perspective, that I don't understand why they feel the way they do. I many not understand their attractions, their choices, their essence.

But I do understand that no matter how different they are, they are the same as me -- just human. They have a different reality, a different gift, a different expression. I don't have to understand it -- just to accept it as their natural expression.

This is the core of most spiritual beliefs, the acceptance of others, no matter what color, nationality, gender, orientation or other differences, we are all human. To expect people to be alike on the surface can mean that we don't get to share the true and vast diversity in humans -- and that we never get to become all we can be, because we don't accept other people's uniqueness -- and don't accept and express ours.

For true freedom, and a true global family, we need to be able to start from a position of respect and acceptance -- even if we don't understand. For me, I have only one cardinal rule about behaviors I won't accept, and those are behaviors that are non-consensual. When people are murdered, raped, or even forced into acting in a way that will satisfy someone else, this is non-consensual behavior.

So when someone asks "Why?" I ask "Why Not?" Why should we be forced, against our wills, to show gender expression just to satisfy social expectations? Every transgendered person has to figure out for themselves their own level of comfort in dressing for others and dressing for themselves, like any person. But to be forced to be something you are not, to hide behind an acceptable persona means that we force people to be less than God made them.

Why do we express transgender? Because we are proud and honest about the way we are. And that's the best answer of all.

Callan

I like this dialog! Some meaty stuff here inside

In your writing, there are several words that come to the fore, including:

separation
dangerous
heart break
hate
playing small vs. bigness
shame
failure
fear
die

In this regard, I have some questions for you.

1) Chiefly, can you go way in, all the way and discover what separation is all about? Like an onion, separation anxieties have layers - you've got to keep peeling. We can do that you know.

Yes. I have gone very far -- but there is farther to go.

2) Can Callan's masculinity be integrated rather than eradicated? Dying and death in our culture are stigmatized with permanence - that forever thing we do. Death in eastern culture is vastly different. Death is transformation, change or merging in the east. We can do this too.

Yes. I understand this conceptually, that the point of the hero quest is to be changed forever while still being aexactly who you are. the permamnce of spirit means that change is not destructive but transformational.

I have problems doing that though. For me the trick is to focus on the joy of the quest, the gifts and nit the losses.

3) How does fear serve us in Western Culture? Fear is limited to shame, failure, death, heartbreak, danger, safety, separation, hate and nearly every word in Callan's writing. How has Callan use her fear to survive thrive, jive and lie?

I realize more and more that I am my fear, that my fear has been driving me for years and years.

Yet, I have transcended that fear in some ways, and continue to. If I had not, I wouldn't be able to hear this -- and if I had, I wouldn't be looking at how I can.

4)Is Callan more afraid of not being accepted by others or self? What happens when Callan is accepted by others? What then? What would the landscape of Callan's writing be like if everyone, or nearly everyone, accepted her for exactly who she is?

Ah, now this is an interesting question. My fear limits me, but it also connects me to those who are also afraid. I would not be the same person without it, and I have no idea who that would be.

But I am aware that I have to transcend those fears to feel free, full and whole. To be all that I can be, I have to face my fears and do it anyway.

Some other questions:

Has Jennifer hurt you? Why do you "hate" her?

The nice answer is that I hate in Jennifer what I hate in myself.

The more honest answer is that Jennifer has spent lots of time projecting onto me, and that projection has been nasty and hurtful. Jennifer has attacked in me what scares her in herself -- she tends to strike out against honesty and feelings. She keeps telling me that I have to write about my feelings, and when I tell that to people, mostly women and therapists, they laugh. They say that if my writing is rich with emotion -- but Jennifer seems to choose not to see that.

The point is to transcend the game of projection -- either me seeing myself in Jennifer, or Jennifer seeing herself in me, but it is hard.

Building support systems with other women and trusting relationships with men are important.

Is the fear of losing authority a smokescreen for the fear of humilation?

Yes. My fear is that people will laugh at me, humilate me for my deviance -- not a belief that women cannot be effective or authoritative in "masculine" realms.  

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