Trapped in a Corner?

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I see more and more examples of girls (t-girls and cisgirls) who are doing really well by general standards but not her own, soul-deep values.

If you read between the lines of what each such girl writes, or you listen carefully to what she says, you learn that she took reasonable-seeming steps, one at a time — yet where she is now is SO not where she wants to be, nor ever really wanted to be. It just sort of happened, somehow. In her youth, life held so much excitement and promise but she was mired in everyday-life things, and her expectation was that as soon as she could rise above that, she’d thrive. However, everyday-life kept putting new hurdles down — big ones, small ones … always more.

That certainly described my life until not that long ago. I finally realized that I wasn’t getting any younger. I wasn’t happy with my life. I realized that I only had myself to hold accountable for that, and even though I was living a fairy-tale life it wasn’t a fairy-tale by MY standards, but instead by those of the culture around me.  Granted, it’s a culture that I like, value, chose and appreciate — but I can’t allow it to write my life story. That, I had to decide to do for myself.

I took drastic steps, rewrote the script for my life and (much as it might look totally random to uninformed outsiders) my life journey is now stable, wild, logical, joyous, adventurous and happy. I still learn more about the fundamentals of life every day, and I’m still making course corrections. I probably always will. However, this post isn’t about me but how I feel about other girls whom I care about, who ostensibly seem fine and yet … are feeling trapped by their social context.

For each such girl, the situation is complex enough that she can’t really ease out of it. She has to break some chains and violate the standards of the more-conservative people whom she loves. I’ve been the catalyst in the lives of several girls who have broken free, and although for each girl, her more-exciting life had (and has) its ups and downs (with my presence in her life contributing to both aspects) each girl is, as far as I can tell, stronger and happier for having pursued what she wants. It’s a wonderful thing to observe at close range.

However, before she breaks free, the girl might feel more trapped than she is. It reminds me of some grim stories told by a friend of mine who was a professional fire-fighter. His job included rescuing people out of burning buildings. He told me that many people in crisis can be found cowering in a corner, so when he scanned a burning building for people to rescue, he’d look in such places — even behind the stove.

This post was inspired by wise words from Brené Brown:

“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

 

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Being the Minesweeper

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I love the scenes in movies where some or other cultural premise seems to be claiming the moral high ground on flawed premises, and then someone stands up to say “I dissent.” Bolstered by that, someone else stands up too, and then a third, then more … and soon the issue is very much no longer one-sided.

I tend to be the one standing up first. I didn’t expect my new Wells Fargo Pride ATM card to enable that but in a way, today, it sort of did.

I have many guy friends, but romantically I’m wired to like girls. That was true before I came out as a trans girl and it’s still true today. So, logically, that makes me a lesbian girl too.

Today, I used the card during a transaction in the small town where I live. Seeing me be so open about being somewhere in the “LGBT” part of the populace, the girl on the other side of the counter said (sort of extra loudly as if feeling empowered to speak up): “I want to get a card like that too.”

I smiled and asked if I may ask a follow-up question. She nodded, and I said “I’m the ‘L’ and ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’ and so I’m curious as to which letter(s) you are.”

“The first one,” she replied, and we gave each other a friendly knuckle bump and had a nice conversation.

I suspect that, starting today, she might feel more empowered. Yay!

Mope or Move on (Hint: Choose the Latter)

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Inspired by a tiny bit of discretionary cash and the realization that a better voice would help my career, I started looking into voice coaching. I get called “Sir” way too often over the phone, and I hate it, but the remedy is: sound like the girl I am.

I’ve made much progress from the days when I sounded excruciatingly, embarrassingly horrible, and some wonderful people have helped me kindly and effectively, but much work remains.

gggg6-05-21 13.32.06Someone wonderful and helpful pointed me to a very savvy singing coach. I swapped several friendly emails with the coach. I was impressed. But, before signing up for classes, I explained nicely that I’m a trans girl, and what that means, and how part of my intent is to simply speak as the girl I am. Singing would be a bonus. It was a long and carefully-crafted email.  I sent it … and waited. There was no reply. Maybe the SPAM monster ate it — though that seems highly unlikely after all the other emails had gone back and forth safely. Maybe she got eaten by a bear. Maybe she joined the Witness Protection Program. More likely, maybe she just doesn’t want to deal with a trans girl, not even enough to say “no, thank you.”

I could mope or move on. I chose to move on. I found another voice coach, and the first session involved a VERY intense yet positive getting-to-know-each other conversation, during which she learned what my trans girl experience was like. The gentle-yet-mutual candor in the question-and-answer session still jars me when I think back at that conversation. It was soul-baring. I’m fine with who I am but I’m very intense. The few people who get to see the deeper layers of who I am … they tend to get overwhelmed. This girl didn’t. I greatly appreciated that.

Anyway, very soon we ended up being friends. Recently some difficult events came at her in rapid succession, so she was feeling a little glum. I knew in advance that I was going to be in her neighborhood anyway, so I offered to come visit and maybe the two of us could spend a couple of hours watching a chick-flick together or just chatting.  She liked the idea, and I planned accordingly. She told me the front door would be open and to just come on in, and into her studio.

On entering the house, I heard a lovely song being sung, to piano accompaniment. It was a clear, high female voice singing, and the piano had the sort of energy that some of Elton John’s work radiates. I love that style.  I’d never heard that song.  I listened to it. With all due respect to my friend, I knew she could sing well but I never suspected she could sing that well. The song sounded like something that was coming out of a professional-grade CD being played on a very good sound system. When I approached the studio door, I realized it was my friend’s voice singing the song. Wow. When did she record that … no, wait. The studio door was open. It was her singing that song, right there … live, in the moment, sitting behind the piano and singing. Wow.

I cautiously approached, not wanting to ruin the mood for her, but she stopped when she saw me, and she smiled a bright sort of “I have a surprise” smile that I’ve never seen before. She announced that she’d written this song … for me and about me.  Wow.

It’s called “Butterfly” which (unbeknownst to her) is the analogy I like to use for myself …  first feeling and being very unattractive while trying to live as a male (caterpillar phase) and then feeling and looking much better living as the female I am (butterfly phase). I actually have butterfly-themed art in my bedroom.

She played me the song, and pretty soon I was reaching for the box of Kleenex on her shelf. The song is beautiful, moving, powerful and delightful — to me, anyway. The lyrics contain some of the wording of our conversation.  One of the candid parts of our intense conversation included her asking me a question to which I’d replied “because [as to that subject, by now] I have a chip on my shoulder.”  That part is in the lyrics too.

Next, she showed me a YouTube video about a trans girl (not me) telling her story, in a beautiful, moving, powerful and delightful way.

As a trans girl, I’d settle for just being able to live non-violently. Fortunately, that’s so far been the case (albeit with a few close calls). Absence of malice is the next step up.  For the most part, I have that too, from the people around me (and I avoid the rest quite effectively). A big step up from that is when people are downright nice to me. That’s also almost always the case nowadays, yay! However, I tend to sense pity in some of the benevolence, sort of “wow, you’re struggling bravely, I see, good luck with that, I feel sorry for you, and may I take your order today, please?” I’m not complaining but … the ideal is where someone views me as a strong person albeit a trans girl, and is nice to me in that context.  It’s happening more and more often, and that’s the ideal for me. That’s the premise of the songwriter, and I love that.

Moral of the story: if you’re a trans girl and you don’t like how someone treats you, replace them with someone nicer.  But wait, that’s actually a recipe that hold true for anyone, anywhere. If you have to mourn your loss, I understand … but how much of a loss was it when the person was mean to you? The energy you put into dwelling on negative people, you can spend on finding positive people.  There are MANY of those around, only too happy to be found by someone appreciative.

 

 

 

 

Intruder Alert, a Few Minutes Ago

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I like to work late … it’s quiet and I can focus on the complex custom software I make, or whatever else is going on in my life. At 4 a.m. my day is typically winding down and it’s almost time to go to bed.

I also live alone, in the downtown area of a small community that’s generally very safe — but for a tall blonde trans girl who lives openly as such 24×7, who knows.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m openly gay, and outspoken. Meanwhile, LGBT folks are the focus of … well, think of the events a few days ago, in Orlando.

The only shooting I want to be in is where I am defending myself or those I care about from being attacked. I’ve prepared and trained accordingly.

Unfortunately, a few minutes ago, today things came close to that, as far as I could tell.

My apartment (more of a house, really — since it’s large, has three bedrooms and has multiple entry doors) has a large non-fenced yard where nobody has any business being at 4 a.m. So, imagine my surprise when I heard a noise outside a few minutes ago. I chose the tactically best door, and opened it. Perhaps fifteen feet away, I saw a tall, dark shadow stepping back to hide next to the wall, trying to blend out of sight on this moonlit night. Sometimes, I already have my gun in my hand even before I open the door. Tonight, I didn’t.  So, I closed the door again and locked it.

What would YOU have felt? Fear? Panic? Terror?

Me, I felt calm. I felt resolve (if that’s a feeling). I also felt irked that someone dared to violate my personal space. Really, I just want to live in peace. People don’t have to like me. I just don’t want my rights being violated. As in, an intruder in my yard. And no, my car isn’t parked in my yard. The only interesting thing about my yard is, me.  Or access to me, anyway.

I picked up my always-loaded .357 Magnum, quickly put on a dress (so I don’t end up confronting someone in my pink top and nothing else but a black thong) and chose the best tactical door relative to where the intruder was by now likely to be. I stepped out, and methodically swept the premises, eliminating potential places where an intruder might lurk.

The intruder had vanished. I looked up and down the street. There, just the right distance down the otherwise deserted street, I saw a man walking away. He seemed self-conscious. My guess is that he’d been the intruder. I didn’t care about him as long as he was leaving me alone.

So, tonight I wasn’t a victim. Would I have gone out to meet the threat proactively even after the government had confiscated my gun? Yes. I would still have defended myself. But outlawing the gun wouldn’t mean my adversary would be unarmed, just me. Perhaps then, I WOULD have felt fear.

Fundamentally United

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I like going for walks in the evenings. I took this picture tonight, after I went for a long walk in the small, rural, very conservative, Sagebrush-rebellion community where I live. Obviously, I’m a trans girl and yet nobody bothered me or was negative to me. Whomever I spoke with was very nice to me.

It was a reminder of how the vast majority of people here are decent folks. By contrast, the subsection of humanity that is dangerous to me is certainly real, but a very small minority.

I ordered a meal at a restaurant; the picture here is of the flagpole in their parking lot. At the county court-house, city hall … same thing. The flags are at half-mast, even here.

This tells me that people here “get it.” Gay or straight, transgendered or cisgendered — initiating violence against anyone is not OK.

The Rational vs. Irrational

A friend of mine lives in Orlando … not a good day there, he says. I agree. Not a good day anywhere, really.

I love Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark with its reminders that a reason-based approach is never to be taken for granted, and those who cherish reason, science and the resultant benefits (including peaceful co-existence) would be prudent to understand that these values are always actually or potentially under attack.

As a lesbian trans girl, I’m aware that a great many irrational folks are hostile to girls like me, and to gay people in general. Their motivations are probably deeply rooted, but … I’m no psychologist. I can’t explain it. I would love for all of us to live together in harmony, but I’ll settle for non-violence — because then, even if we disagree, we can talk things through and find common ground, or at least understand each other.

A kind friend of mine called me this morning to ask how I’m processing this event. I had a lot to say. There’s much sadness … and more. One innocent person being hurt is already bad; infinitely worse is their supreme value, their life, cut short. Times fifty … I  really cannot process it.

This event isn’t about me, and yet I was asked. My friend knows I represent two, three or four of the letters in “LGBT” depending on your definitions. Part of my reply, as to how this affects how safe I feel: it doesn’t. I’m always on guard anyway. I have to be, even in the relatively nice culture where I live.

I recall a bad day, a few years ago, when (looking like the trans girl I am, and wearing a pretty but non-conservative dress) I was walking down a sunlit street in the early afternoon, in a relatively safe part of LGBT-friendly downtown Reno, half a block away from the LGBT-friendly 5-Star Saloon, when a lady in a parked car saw me, lost self-control and started screaming obscenities at me. I walked on. A minute or two later, some guys who were having lunch at a pretty sidewalk-style cafe mentioned how there’s never a shotgun around when you need one … referring to what they wanted to do to me. I walked on. I didn’t generally carry protection then; nowadays I often do. I’d really rather not, but I’m not OK with being a victim to someone’s homophobia.

As news of the Orlando events unfold, it’s interesting how, specifically, homophobia is at the root of the issue. Of course it is; just the details are news.

I sleep a lot better knowing that persuasion, science and reason are my fundamentals in the ongoing battle for survival. They form a powerful shield.

They also imply respect for the premise of tolerance for everyone’s right to live as he or she chooses, as long as he or she doesn’t initiate violence.

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T-Girl Pawn

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By David Lapetina (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Many guys associate trans girls with pornography, but that wasn’t a typo … I really did mean “pawn” as in chess, not “porn.” In more detail:

Earlier this year, North Carolina’s legislature, governor etc. passed their House Bill 2, the gist of which seemed to be that trans girls are presumed dangerous in ladies’ bathrooms on assumptions that many conservatives take for granted, but that I’ve heard nobody explain coherently, though my liberal friends have been VERY articulate about pointing out the flawed rationale in the bill, the general hostility underlying the mindset, and so on.

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In response to this, Target Corporation pointed out that girls like me are welcome to use the girls’ restroom in Target stores, and as a consequence (as the above picture suggests) I now do much of my shopping there. More importantly, half the country now seems to hate Target and the other half seems to love Target even more now — and both sides are arguing about it very loudly.

How loudly? Well, a week or so ago, some local teenage boys approached me, wanting to buy an old Mitsubishi Starion that I’ve been half-heartedly wanting to restore. As so often happens in small Nevada towns, the conversation became friendly and slightly personal, albeit politely. At some point, I was trying to explain that I’m a trans girl. They seemed a little puzzled, so eventually I said “as in the Target restroom situation” and that seemed to make the penny drop. Even in the small Nevada town where I live, people have heard of the Target restroom issue, even though there isn’t a Target in the entire county, nor the next one over, nor the next one over beyond that.

Meanwhile, what nobody seems to focused on is the ACTUAL wording of that ENTIRE bill. My girlfriend is a voracious reader, and a staunch supporter of all things logical, so she picked up on someone’s comment to the effect that they personally live in North Carolina and they considered the t-girl bathroom issue to be intentional misdirection. While folks were up in arms about Target, restrooms and girls like me … the rest of the bill managed to avoid the spotlight.

She found a copy of the bill online, and read it. It makes for VERY interesting reading, and analysis.  So, now I am suspicious that perhaps the first section was put in there to be a distraction. It certainly succeeded as such.

Was this intentional? I don’t know, but my opinions are colored by the dark cynicism of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand, whose writings introduced to me the idea that mistakes on so large a scale are not made innocently.