Archive for November, 2011

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.

Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Jose, 11/20

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

This Sunday join the south bay trans community in our vigil for trans people who’ve lost their lives to violence in the last year. Together we are stronger.

We meet at 6pm at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center, 938 The Alameda, San Jose.

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.