Better Fences

Here is another excerpt from “Georgia: ‘On My Mind!’” First published in 2004.

Recently I talked about the importance to me of keeping George and Georgia separate but equal. Then I shared the process of becoming and being Georgia with the promise next, of relating the effort of being and keeping George alive and well. I am keenly aware that many of you read our articles to learn more about being feminine, so the idea of hearing about the masculine part of someone is not probably what you would expect, or want, to read about. Bear with me and you may be surprised at what you read.

The most important thing I learned as I, Georgia, grew into me, was how important George was to my bride. Through a series of exchanges I learned that it was extremely important to her that she not see any of the man she loved in the woman who wanted to be her friend as well as a part of her life. I also learned that it was critical for this other woman to not exert any influence on the behavior or mannerisms of Marilyn’s man. Sometimes it’s a fine balancing act because there are things about Georgia that are definite assets to George. George (pre-Georgia) tended to be opinionated and harsh at times as well as rough around the edges and self-centered.

The effort to fix George had been abandoned with a heartfelt and desperate prayer, informing God that I would never again ask him to take the feminine part of my soul away. I would instead, accept that part of me as a gift and asked only that he would just show me what to do with it. The result of that prayer was an overwhelming sense of peace that I had felt only 2 other times in my life. The first time was when I realized that Marilyn really did love me and the second was when I was baptized. About six months later Marilyn and I were having dinner one evening when she suddenly looked across the table at me and asked,
“Are you having an affair?”
“Are you having an affair with another woman?” she repeated.
I was dumbfounded. It had come right out of the blue. My response was,
“No of course not. Why are you accusing me of having an affair?”
“You’re not lying to me are you? You’re telling me the truth? You’re sure there isn’t another woman in your life?”
“No! Why are you accusing me of that?” I repeated.
Her answer took me totally by surprise.
“In the last six months you have become the neatest man I’ve ever known. The anger and frustration are gone. I’ve fallen in love with you all over again and I couldn’t attribute it to anything but another woman.”

I explained that I had given up fighting the feminine part of my soul and had accepted it as a gift from God, not a curse. It was not the answer she wanted and it didn’t make her happy. It took a long time (No one has ever accused me of being exceptionally quick of perception) for me to realize that in a sense her original feeling was indeed the correct one. He was having an affair … with the woman within. It took a long time for her to accept the woman within her man as a friend. It took almost as long for me to understand the way she felt and why. Her feelings were the same feeling any woman would have, if she thought that her man was having an affair with another woman. Those feelings were anger, jealousy and the fear that there was something missing in, or wrong with, her.

Somewhere in there though, I came to the realization that she really was in love with George and that any threat to his existence was a threat to her happiness. Happily, I realized that my bride and Georgia could co-exist as long as they each got sixty percent of me. That I managed not by expanding myself to one hundred and twenty percent but by allowing a slight overlap for each. Georgia got her ten percent of George in his softer more caring and more attentive character. George got his ten percent of Georgia in her attentiveness to detail. But that’s where the overlap stopped. None of Georgia’s characteristics such as feminine demeanor, voice, personal habits or expressions are allowed to carry over to George. I suppose that you want more detail. Very well then, here are details.

George makes sure that when he walks it’s like a guy. You know, sort of lean forward and hope your legs follow and your knuckles drag the ground. George sits like a guy, or more correctly at times, like a slug. He tends to turn every chair into a makeshift recliner more or less and he certainly doesn’t cross his legs knee over knee. It is always ankle over knee or leaning back with legs straight out so that he resembles a Ken Doll in a standing posture except leaning back on a forty-five degree angle.

George wears the pants, literally (for the most part). Georgia wears skirts almost always. George can at times erupt into a verbal tirade about just about anything that has become a nuisance. George’s wardrobe is almost strictly Cowboy and is very limited in choices. That’s the way most guys are.

George drives a truck (admittedly a smallish truck, but a truck nonetheless). And he drives it way over the speed limit for the most part as the recent photo radar will attest, courtesy of the City of Mesa. Did I mention the $156.00 fine? George is always looking for a short cut and will seek out the closest parking space to the door that allows him to pull through when it is time to leave to avoid having to back up.

The pattern, as you might have figured out, is to make sure that all of the endearing things that Marilyn identified with George are not overcome by the characteristics of Georgia. The amazingly surprising dividend to all of this separation of character traits is that it makes life so much more enjoyable in both capacities. George wouldn’t trade the male banter and joking good-
natured harassment of the twenty-plus men he shares time with at six A.M. every weekday morning for anything. That enjoyment is reassurance that George is real and deserves equal time.

Finally, I refer to The Purpose Driven Life – What on Earth am I Here For?” by Rick Warren. In chapter nine he writes:
“You don’t bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your
abilities or by trying to be someone else. You only bring him
enjoyment by being you. Anytime you reject any part of yourself,
you are rejecting God’s wisdom and sovereignty in creating you.
God says, ‘ You have no right to argue with your Creator. You
are merely a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn’t ask,
Why did you make me this way?’ ”(Psalms 119:33 LB)

Revisited thoughts

What follows is a portion of the preface for a collection of essays and musings that I prepared for publication several years before the publication of “Dear Mom and Dad.” Over the next few months I will be sharing many of those here on my blog.

Like every dual-gendered individual I have met, I struggled for years with this perceived flaw in my character. Even after I arrived at a certain level of self-acceptance there were many, many moments, days and weeks of re-examination and restructured ways of looking at my situation and myself. All of the different angles from which I have viewed my world and myself are reflected in the contributions I have made in The Tri-Ess national and local publications.

The hope I have in publishing this collection of thoughts, impressions and opinions is that others outside of the limited readership that has been exposed to what’s “On My Mind” may benefit from my viewpoints and observations. Experts from several related fields of psychology and sociology have made estimates of the number of men who engage in cross-dressing or exhibit some degree of dual-gendered behavior. Those estimates range from a low of two or three percent to as high as eight percent of the male population of the United States. From that I think it would be safe to assume that probably four to five percent of the male population is guilty. I hope that if you are one who is struggling for answers that what I have written will be of value to you in your effort to come to grips with your God-given-society-denied nature.

The heart of cross-dressing/dual-gendered condemnation is one short verse found in the Old Testament of the Bible. The nearly universal interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5 reads:

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. The Lord detests people who do this.”

The fact that the original Hebrew does not support this interpretation of the verse is totally ignored by virtually all conservative and many more progressive clergy and biblical scholars. In spite of the actual meaning of the original text this verse is used consistently to beat up on our community.

In my writing I refer repeatedly to my Christian commitment and faith. I hope that by making these referrals that anyone reading my thoughts who has been driven from their congregations, if not from their faith, because they have given expression to their God given second nature will take heart and re-commit themselves to that faith.

I have been blessed in the last few years to come to know Dr. Joseph A Pearson, PhD. Dr Pearson is among many things a devout Christian who has written a treatise on “Christianity and Homosexuality Reconciled”, an effort that he devoted fifteen yeas of his life to. As a member of the congregation, which he shepherded for ten years, I had ample opportunity to see first-hand the kind of productive Christian life that people of our community can live if we take the Bible in context and reach out to others. It is his contributions, efforts and commitment to helping the members of his community accept Christ first and themselves second that I have drawn inspiration and encouragement from. I hope that I may in some small way have a similar effect on the community of the dual-gendered cross-dressers of which I am a part.

Jealousy vs. Forgiveness

In 1961 an author, known almost exclusively for his science fiction novels about space travel and futuristic settings published a remarkable novel which became an international best seller. Robert Heinlein had found a way to get to the very core of Judeo-Christian beliefs that was, at the time, unique. “Stranger in a Strange Land” became the book of the month for churches all over the country. I don’t remember how I first became aware of it, but it was several years after the initial publication. The worn and tattered paperback on my bookshelf is from the thirty-second printing in March 1968, so I obviously wasn’t the first discover it. I’ve read it more than once over the years, but the last time that I can be sure of was during our delayed honeymoon in Ixtapa, Mexico over Christmas of 1980. I know that because I still have the picture Marilyn took of me laying on the beach reading the book.

The story centers around a young man found to be living among the inhabitants of Mars, and his assimilation into society upon being brought to earth to live. He is baffled by the concept of conflict and disagreement among the people he observed. His revelation comes at the zoo one day when he observes two male primates fighting over something; a female as I recall. Without trying to find the exact passage in my tattered copy of the book, I can only tell you what struck me about the passage. Michael, suddenly erupts into hysterical laughter. He has discovered the root of earth’s problems … Jealousy and from that the conclusion that if mankind could do away with jealousy the other five, “thou shalt nots” in the Ten Commandments wouldn’t be unnecessary.

The flaw in Heinlein’s hypothesis is this: our Heavenly Father is a jealous God. It says so in the very first commandment. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And then further down list God tells us that we can’t be jealous of our neighbors. So jealousy is apparently one emotion that God reserves for Himself. If one reads the rest of Heinlein’s book it will become clear that by the end of the narrative, Michael has come to view himself as a god if not God … less the jealousy.

Since reading that years ago, I have maintained a relatively consistent attitude of agreement with the concept, at least where it pertains to humanity in general. However, I have learned to separate the rest of humanity from my own personal experiences with other human beings and God in particular. But, He is a forgiving God, is He not? In that regard, a thought occurred to me during church this week that has caused me to dig deep into my own concept and experiences with forgiveness … and it’s relationship to jealousy.

The issue of forgiveness is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, but it’s a recurring theme throughout the bible. In general it’s in regard to Him forgiving us, or us forgiving others. What I haven’t found in scripture is an admonition to forgive ourselves or to forgive God.

Start with forgiving yourself. I’ve heard it said that to forgive is to forget. For me, the process of forgetting required accurate memory of what I perceived as the circumstance which surrounded the act that required forgiveness. The process of writing “Dear Mom and Dad” was often excruciatingly painful because the idea of other people becoming privy to my life meant that the absolute accuracy of a circumstance had to be admitted. The unforeseen dividend of those admissions was that much of the guilt I felt for so many of the wrongs I had committed boiled to the surface of my consciousness. And I was miserable.

I beat up on myself frequently during that time period and found it impossible to to forgive myself. What I eventually realized was, that the more honest I was with myself the easier it was to forgive, not only others, but more importantly myself. Something else I eventually realized was that failure to forgive myself was equivalent to saying to God, “Hey, it’s my problem, let me wallow in it some more. You’re God, you’re suppose to forgive me. After all You said to ‘forgive others as I would have them forgive me. I don’t read ‘me’ as being part of the ‘others’” Have I totally forgiven myself for everything I ever did that needs forgiving? No, I haven’t but I’m a whole lot closer to not being human with myself and finally looking at me the way the bible says that God does. And speaking of God …

How much of what’s holding you back is the result of not forgiving God? That’s a subject which is never, or hardly ever, brought up. I’ve read stories and seen movies that involve the lives of people who have held God responsible for various misfortunes in their lives. But within the context of my Christian experience I have no memory of a discussion about forgiving God for creating me the way he did.

For most of my life I’ve been personally guilty of first blaming God and then failing to forgive Him for nearly every loss I’ve ever suffered. The mere fact that I repeatedly asked “why God, why?” when Marilyn died was a form of blame and failure to forgive.

I don’t remember when or exactly what occurred to cause me to accept all the happenings in my life and cease blaming God for every unpleasant moment and result of my various actions. But somewhere along the road I came to accept responsibility for most of my life. Maybe that was because I eventually asked Him to let me see myself through his eyes; to see what He saw in me.

To wrap all this up and connect jealousy with forgiveness I offer my own explanation. The emotion of jealousy is, to my way of thinking, an emotion which God reserves for himself alone. If I track all of the circumstances involving my own experiences with jealousy, back to their beginnings I find that, for the most part, they could have been avoided if only I had overcome the jealousy with forgiveness.