Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

New book!

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Friends of mine have edited and just released a new essay collection, “Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism.” It’s available as a free download, or order-able printed book, at http://cerridwen.st4r.org/wiki/index.php/Gender_and_Transgender_in_Modern_Paganism. Check it out if you’re interested in the intersection of transgender issues and spirituality.

I was honored to be selected as a contributor. I felt like I was being risky in my style; it’s a near stream-of-consciousness travel through time and experience, revealing the intersections of transition and spirituality that I traversed. It was fun to find another author (T. Thorn Coyle, whose work I really admire) used a similar approach. 🙂 Mine is rather a historical piece nowadays; so much (thankfully) has changed in the visibility of transgender people and experience.

I like that the book offers a variety of voices, from assorted sides of the issue (there are more than two, methinks). Some are long-winded, some are exciting, some brisk and some detailed. I think it’s a good read.

There will be another discussion on gender the paganism at the upcoming Pantheacon conference (www.pantheacon.org). There’s plenty to discuss!

On the TDOR, 2011

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, held at the DeFrank San Jose and organized by the inimitable Nori Herras, was a different experience.

Rather than being downstairs in the big ballroom, we were upstairs in a somewhat smaller, closer space. The simple decorations were lovely, and brought the smaller space to life.

This year, there were no big name speakers. This year, it was community members who took the mic, and spoke from their hearts. I did have a somewhat prepared speech, which I only slightly deviated from. What surprised me was how my emotions were overflowing, grief to gratitude. It took conscious effort to get the words out.

I loved hearing people speak… communities members I’d seen around but not gotten to know, my own sweetie sharing something of her experience. A college age trans man was there, and though he didn’t take the mic, I did enjoy chatting with him, and expect to see him at the South Bay Transmen meetings (there’s one tonight!). He had a lot of style.

Moments of community spirit are a treasure.

In the middle of the road

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s birthday extravaganza, a gathering in a lovely outdoor hot tub setting.

After a time, I wandered off by myself to spend some time in the sauna. This turned out to be a wonderful open, wooden room, with little stairs up to platforms, and lower areas for those who didn’t want as much heat. There was one other man in the place.I climbed the little stairs opposite of him, bending over to avoid hitting my head on the ceiling, then sitting down.

I settled into a simple meditation pose, enjoying the fragrant, quiet, hot space. After a couple of minutes, the man asked, “May I speak to you from the heart?” The sauna is a nonspeaking zone, so I was fairly surprised, but he sounded sincere, so I agreed.

Did I mention he was gorgeous? That combination of physical magnificence and verbal sincerity was intriguing.

“I want to thank you for being you,” he said, and went on briefly in that vein, very open hearted. It took me a minute to reply with a “Thank you,” also admitting it was “interesting” to be in that space (as with most California hot tub locales, it was a clothing optional facility, and like everyone else, I had opted not to wear a swimsuit. It was perhaps more of an issue for me than some folks).

We returned to silence after than, and a minute or two later, he left.

In that pause, before I responded with permission to speak, and again in the one after he did talk, a lot of thoughts raced through my head. Why speak? Because I was trans of course; visibly different than the other men in the space. Did I really want to hear what he had to say? And then, how do I respond? Being ‘special’ was a mixed moment.

And after the brief chat… as a man, I do have a powerful, good feeling response when a cisgender man gives me positive, respectful appreciation.

And yet…

My sweetie put it well, when I told her story. “Why can’t my sweetie just meditate? Why does he have to be interrupted?”

This interaction shows how far trans people have come, in being accepted in the U.S. And how very far we have to go.

Entering the pink room

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Last night, I stepped into foreign territory.

Carla’s is a ’boutique,’ a place of refuge, camaraderie, and shopping opportunities for trans women and crossdressing men. I learned of ‘locker girls,’ people who rent a locker, where they store their female paraphernalia. They have full 24 hour access. Imagine when the only gender or erotic relief you can get is to steal away in the night and put your proper clothes on, where no one can see.
Of course, many of the locker girls do gather socially, along with the women; there are brunches and dinners and parties for all of Carla’s patrons. I got a tour of the place, stepping into the boutique I’d only heard of. It really was ‘new’ territory.
Carla’s belongs to Aejaie (along with her husband), a woman  whom I initially meant when she was director at the deFrank Center.  Last night, it was a pleasure to get to know her better. For us both to smile and laugh and share stories.
One story I shared was how when I was initially learning how to do make-up (having been convinced by my well-meaning mom and best friend), I stabbed myself in the eye, using a toothpick to deal with a clump of mascara. Everyone laughed hysterically. But the best moment came when Aejaie said “Only a guy would use a toothpick to deal with a clump of mascara!” and we all dissolved in laughter again.
For some reason, that was awesome; it validated my teenage female self who was trying like a trooper to Fit In, and who, on messing up, showed yet again, his inner maleness.

Why “Dancingbull”?

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

1. I like the mental image; a bull dancing in a field; he’s having fun, expressing himself creatively, and crashing all the ideas of what bulls do.

2. The image evokes contrasts which have blended together, creating a new, playful thing…  I like that.

3. I’m not a big astrology guy, but I was born on the cusp between Aries and Taurus (theoretically the most ‘difficult’ cusp to be on), so I also think that “dancing bull” expresses how I bring the energy of ‘new’ and ‘beginnings’ to ‘stubborn’ and ‘earth’.

P.S. Why is it a Celtic bull? The bull reminds me of Cuchulain, an Irish hero. So, a Celtic bull in dancing colors. 🙂