The Third Time Is Charmed Indeed

There are numerous clichés about the number “3”. “Third time’s the charm!” “Third time at the rodeo!” “You’re 0nce, twice three times a lady …” “Strike three! You’re out!” Etc, etc, etc … And I’ve had my share of “third times” to be sure. And, many have been charmed to say the least. But in order for there to be a “third” there has to be a “first” and a “second”.

For me, the first in this case was the result of total ignorance combined with overwhelming youthful passion. It was a relationship doomed from the beginning. However, it wasn’t … isn’t a relationship that I regret. That marriage was a hurry up affair that was arranged and performed in less than a week. Two children resulted from that relationship, and although neither have spoken to me or connected in any fashion since the publication of “Dear Mom and Dad”, I have no regrets in having been half the reason they are in this world. Their mother, a.k.a. the first, swore at one point in our bitter divorce that she would see to it that my children would hate not only me but the rest of the family. She has been relatively successful in that effort.

Moving on …

The second time, my readers should be very familiar with. That relationship was far from being a mistake. “George” was for the first time in his life, genuinely deeply in love and it was reciprocated. As I related in “Dear Mom and Dad” the second time was a hurried-up affair as well because Marilyn was dead set against a couple just living together if they weren’t married and George had created a situation wherein he and daughter Kiffani had moved in without the benefit of an executed marriage license. Without consulting Marilyn, at eight o’clock on the morning of June 5, 1980 he called Judge Gordon Bugg and made arrangements for a marriage ceremony in the judge’s chambers at 9:00 o’clock the same morning. With a small glitch in the license corrected they were married and both back to work by 11:00 that morning.

The love that existed in that relationship was tested repeatedly by George’s alcoholic behavior, use of cocaine. It was primarily due to Marilyn’s steady hand that the relationship did survive and eventually led to George’s sobriety. But, the one thorn in their relationship that she was never able to remove was me. George just couldn’t understand why Marilyn didn’t welcome that part of him that was me. My presence was the only thing that ever elicited vicious reactions from Marilyn. I remained a thorn for the duration of Marilyn’s life and thus a thorn in the relationship that could not be removed.

After Marilyn’s death the thorn that I was, began to produce roses but I was ever conscious of the fact that I would be a hard pill for any woman, of the character that I wanted in my life, to swallow. I was alone, sometimes lonely, but accepting of the lot that I had drawn in life. Over the next 16 years I dedicated the hours of my life to reaching an understanding of how my life was intended by God to benefit the world around me. And, at the same time wondering if the same God had any plans for me to share my journey with another woman. When I observed the other trans people around me I would become skeptical, primarily because I saw a lot of very lonely people who had been abandoned by their spouses, families or lovers because of their trans identity.

It wasn’t easy to accept God’s judgement nor the slow pace with which He seemed to be acknowledging my desire to share my life with someone who would love me the way I wanted to be loved … both parts of me without condemnation of the path I had trod to.   become who I was.

Then there she was … The Blue Magnet.

I suddenly found myself in love as I had never imagined, never dreamed was possible; not even with Marilyn. George was not a thorn in this relationship as I had been in the relationship between Marilyn and George. In fact, pictures of little Georgie appear frequently on Blue’s night stand.

Fast forward to this past summer. We had been living together in the townhouse I’d been leasing since August of 2017 and had eventually reached the joint decision to find and purchase a house we could call home for as long as we wanted to remain there.

So the search began. Zillow for a few weeks before I called an agent, a friend I trusted to help us find a suitable home. The search had its ups and downs but we found one that we loved. Blue loved the location and I loved the kitchen. However, there was one hitch. In order to qualify for a VA loan we both needed to be on the loan and since I wasn’t a veteran the only way that could happen was if we were married.

Now since the early stages of our relationship Blue had made it clear that she did not want to get married. At least once or twice a week I would suddenly say something like, “Hey, how about we get married tomorrow?”  The reply. “I don’t think so.” But all that had begun to change and by the time we reached this stage in our relationship where we were preparing to buy a home her negative reaction to the idea of marriage was gone.

On the advice of our agent we needed to be qualified for the VA loan by Sunday afternoon August 12th which meant we needed to be married on the evening of August 11th.  This conclusion was reached on the evening of August the 8th. The following morning, August the 9th we acquired a marriage license. That evening we were discussing where to have the ceremony. I said,

“You know where I think would be a cool place to do it would be in the Kitchen
Design Center at the store.”

The store of course was The Home Depot #469. Blue cheerfully agreed so first thing the next morning, Friday, August 10th, I approached the store manager ask if that was a possibility. He said he had no problem with it but that approval had to come from the district manager. It was after 2:30 when that approval was given. So, the mayhem began.

I was scheduled to work until 6:00 pm and Blue had a previous commitment for the following morning. She picked up a chocolate cake for a wedding cake, the store provided flowers and balloons and let us set up a reception in the store break room.

Pastor Jabowa Whitehead showed up at 6:00 pm along with some friends from church and quite a few friends from work. By 7:00pm on the evening of August 11th we were married.

All this was done in order to be able to make an offer on the house by Sunday afternoon. After a lengthy and detailed conversation with the agent, input from the mortgage company and a look at one another we decided, at 3:00pm on the afternoon of August 12th, that the house was going to cost us more that we were willing to make in mortgage payments. So, we made no offer on the house.

But … we were married and very happily so. And, last week we made an offer on a house that is much more suited to us. Whether or not that sale is completed depends on the VA appraisal.

But … we are married.

The Quest for Individuality

If there is one human characteristic that is common to all humanity, it’s the desire to be different from the rest of humanity. Although it seems that there is confusion at times as to what “different” actually means. We in the gender variant community are generally thought to be using gender expression to achieve that end. While that’s frequently the case it’s not, by any means, the predominant factor affecting the decisions we make about our lives. If an individual who is considered to be “normal” in most respects, in other words is sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, choses to wear purple nearly every day of their lives they may be considered slightly odd, but not perverted. That personality tic is considered just that … a personality tic. By the same token, a man or woman who elects to live their life on a ranch and wears cowboy boots, hat and Wranglers every day of their life is not thought to be odd. They are considered to be, “who they are.”

When I encounter someone, who has systematically turned their body into a series of artistic expressions by means of tattoos, the reaction may be “tisk tisk” but I doubt that any of them suffer the indignity of someone in a pickup truck shouting out the window, “pervert!” But let someone who was born male choose to live their life as a woman and the discrimination becomes blatant. Why in a society that prides itself on inclusion does this attitude persist?

I think the answer to that question should be obvious. It’s human nature to reject any idea, action or thought that isn’t understood. And for the average human being the inclination to reject the gender, the physical sex that one was born with is simply beyond comprehension. It’s that sense of rejection that everyone in the gender “variant” community lives with on a daily basis, whether the rejection is real or not. So, the issue is how can that be overcome?

In a larger sense we’re not much different in that respect than people “of color” because our way of dealing with it is often to try to separate ourselves from the society we think is rejecting us. But what has that accomplished? In my view, it has in reality had just the opposite effect of the one we want to achieve. In other words, demanding special protections under the law has actually set us apart from the society we want to be accepted by.

For example, murder is murder. The reason for one person taking another’s life is wrong period, and the law doesn’t need to know why the murder occurred. The mere fact that one person took it upon themselves to terminate the life of another should be enough to exact just punishment for the perpetrator regardless of the reason. When I see people gathering to protest the murder of a person who is gender variant I want to ask what has the persons gender identity got to do with the fact that one person took it upon themselves to end the life of another. To me, the fact that the victim was gender variant is beside the point. They were a human being with all the right to life of any other.

Yes, life is different for us. But, that is not the same as saying our right to life should be treated any differently than the right to life of any other persons.

Early in my transition I remember reading about a post-surgical trans-woman who just wanted to get away from the environment where she had been living prior to and during her transition so she could just “live her life” like any other person. At the time I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be involved in the “movement”. Now I do. And now I applaud her for the road she took. The “movement” as it is, does more to keep us from being a part of society than it does to advance our part in society simply by continuing the notion that we require special treatment. Normal society doesn’t require special treatment. It simply requires the freedom to go about their lives in peace. Going about one’s life, doing what one does for a living, doing what one does for recreation, doing what one does for our families without demanding special accommodation is what makes one “normal” and acceptable to society.

Not all members of our gender are in the face of society. I believe they are, for the most part, people who just want to be able to live their lives in peace like the aforementioned individual … and I. My personal experience is not common, and I know that. I have been blessed in so many ways that others in our community have not. I have been cursed in ways that are common in the gender community, but not often.

I was rejected by the very church that “George” had been baptized in. That did not by any means alter my faith. The only thing that was altered by that rejection was where I chose to express my faith on Sunday mornings. “George” had been rejected in far worse fashion because of his faith and his politics than I have ever been because of who I am. I do use a bit of common sense about some places I might go. For instance, I don’t deem it prudent to enter your average country and western bar although that has been my choice in past years. But doesn’t that make me fairly normal.

The average white man wouldn’t think of setting foot in a bar located in a black neighborhood, now would he? Of course not. We all choose to frequent places where we feel the most comfortable, but that severely limits our opportunities for experience and personal growth. I don’t think that I am that much different from most of our community. I just choose to step out of my comfort zone. There have been times when I’ve had no choice but to step out of that comfort zone.

A year after publishing “Dear Mom and Dad” I was broke and on the verge of being evicted from my townhouse. I didn’t have the option of reverting to “George” mode because my name change had already taken place and all my accounts and IDs had been changed. It was a scary predicament to find myself in. I had never applied for a job myself. The scary part came when in the process of filling out applications there was always that section that asked if I had ever been known by any other name. In the application at one potential employer, “George” had been an employee recently. I had 4 different interviews with them but ultimately was told that they found someone better suited for the position. Sure they did.

The places I had expected to respond positively didn’t and the ones I held little hope for hearing from did … Home Depot in particular. I held little hope for that interview but because I stepped out of my comfort zone, fearful as I was, I found myself working in a “normie” environment which has been more than rewarding. Do I think I have fooled anyone about my gender variance? Not hardly! Why not? I don’t make and issue of it.

If I could impress one idea on any group, be it social, racial or gender it would be that one point. Don’t wear your identity on your shoulder daring someone to knock it off. Make who you are not what you are the focus of your life.

I’m Fed Up …

That’s right! I’m fed up! And I’m sick and tired of cry babies who enjoy thinking they are victims of society. I don’t care what your issue is … quit blaming society, the world around you, for your situation. With the exception of skin color, or birth defect (and I think some people of “color” consider the color of their skin a “birth defect”) it is my firm conviction that whatever your situation, if your actions are traced back to the very source of that situation you will find inevitably that where you are now is the result a decision that you made on your own in the past. That is a hard fact in my own life.

I ‘ll start with gender identity issues.

As you undoubtedly know, I have a gender identity issue. The body I was born with didn’t match the set of emotions I was born with. And, as most of you know already, it took me years to come to grips with why I didn’t feel like I fit in … anywhere.

I eventually began to unravel the various emotional conflicts that had been lurking beneath the surface of my conscious thought processes. I had to deal with the fact that the people in my life who had known nothing but the person of “George” rejected my emergence. They didn’t like who I was. They didn’t like how I looked. In many respects I didn’t like how I looked. I could see “George” through the makeup and the mannerisms.

Through all the processes of learning who and why I was who I was, it never once occurred to me to blame society for my situation … not once. If it came to blame I realized that there was only one entity to blame for my situation. That was God.

Why did He fashion me in a way that confused me and made me a subject for derision and jokes on late night television?

That is an answer I will probably never get in this lifetime. It will be the first question I ask when I at last stand before Him to have my life judged once and for all.

It was up to me to deal with the fact that society had trouble accepting me. The first thing I had to come to grips with, was my own attitude about the way God created me. As I shared in “Dear Mom and Dad”, that solution was to verbally and aloud, say that I would accept His creation as a gift and not a curse. It was undoubtedly the most freeing moment of my life, in more ways than one.

When I eventually became involved in the gender community, the very first thing I realized was that a substantial portion of the gender variant people are an unhappy lot. They seldom smile. They walk around with a chip on their shoulder just begging someone to try to knock it off. Why would anyone want to live their life that way?

I know it’s a simple answer but it is answer that I have found no way to refute. They appear to enjoy being victims of their circumstance. And as such they are required to don a certain persona. That persona is crowned by a furtive frown. It’s as if they walk around looking for rejection and take solace in finding exactly what they are looking for. The problem is that it’s not because of their gender appearance; they exude a fear of what people think about them.

When I finally accepted the way I was, the way God made me, I was free to be happy and when I was happy I smiled. Have you ever noticed that people who smile are practically never ridiculed or scorned? People who are smile and laugh draw people to them … regardless of their gender identity and they seldom suffer discrimination.

And that brings me to the issue of racial discrimination.

I personally have never, ever in my life discriminated against any human being because of the color of their skin … and I know very few people who do

Victimhood is a pernicious disease that I simply have little patience for.  If a person feels that the color of their skin is a reason for being “victimized” then blame God. After all He is the one that made you that way.  I have never in my life been the least bit racially intolerant. When I see a bunch of overpaid ungrateful athletes disrespect our country, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, by refusing to stand and place their hand over their hearts at a football game it makes me angry.

I think they should all be required to visit central Africa to see first-hand how the majority of “people of color” live in this world.

Get over it. If your skin is black, or some mixture of same, quit feeling sorry for yourself. Knock the black chip off your shoulder and face the fact that everyone faces some sort of discrimination in their lives.  Accept the fact that it was God who made you that way. Society did not make you that way for the sole purpose of discriminating against you.

I don’t discriminate against you because of the color of your skin. I discriminate against you because you choose to be a victim, just as I discriminate against any person fortunate enough to live in this country and chooses the role of victim.

Victimhood is a handy excuse for failing do whatever is required to live up to one’s potential.

Short of being the victim of a real crime, like robbery, assault or murder, no one in this county has a right to the claim of “victim”. (Well, maybe the good people who paid good money to see a sporting event and have to observe the crybaby athletes’ refusal to honor the country, have a right to the claim of “victim.”) In their number I doubt you will find any who have ever served their county, with the exception of the one real hero, Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburg Steelers.

In closing I will say it one more time … I don’t care if your issue is gender identity, sexual orientation or race … get over it and smile and thank whoever you thank, because you live the greatest country, with the greatest level of acceptance and opportunity to ever exist on this earth.

One is Silver, the Other is Gold (re-visited)

I have been posting about friends recently. No particular reason that I can point to really. It’s just that friends have been on my mind a lot recently. Is it a natural progression because I am now ankle deep in my seventies? I assume that has something to do with it, but there’s more.

People who live relatively normal lives because they are born with bodies that match their gender identity are fortunate. They generally don’t know the feeling of rejection by the people in their lives due to something beyond their control. Before you go off on a rant about having control over the issue, bear this in mind; we all have control over our actions but control over emotions is a different matter. Emotions have a life of their own, and those are what cause the most grief in the life of anyone who is born with a body that doesn’t match their emotional set.

When I finally came face to face with that unorthodox set of emotions, I also came face to face with friends, and family too, who couldn’t see beyond the appearance to the spirit behind the screen. I soon found myself faced with a sorting process. Sorting out the relationships, both new and old became a painful exercise.

I have old friends that I’ve known, literally all my life. Jeanie and I were born in the same hospital room in the Texas Panhandle in 1944. Roger I’ve known since I was 4 years old. Vince and Connie since I was 9. Denny and Candy since high school. These friends are people who have stuck with me through all the chaos of redefining my person.

Family on the other hand is an entirely different story. A sad story but true. The closer the relationship, it seems, the more difficult the process of coming to grips with who I have revealed myself to be. The 2 oldest children haven’t spoken to me since the publication of Dear Mom and Dad; each for their own reasons; misguided as I deem those reasons to be. One first cousin is understanding and accepting the other 2 have pretty much disapproved. My only brother and only sister have more or less, followed the lead of the 2 disapproving cousins. Again, each for their own reasons. So, what am I left with?

Friends! At the close of my last blog I quoted a little ditty that we used to sing at camp. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.” If I could convert all the silver and gold I have in friendships to hard currency I could retire and live comfortably for the rest of my life. The older I get the more precious that currency becomes, and it is never more evident than when I lose one of those gold coins like I did earlier this week.

I spoke of Daryll in a Facebook entry earlier this week. Tuesday morning, last week I awoke and reached for my phone, still pretty much in a stupor, to check the time. I inadvertently dialed his number. When I realized what I’d done I immediately canceled the call. Within a minute he called me back.

We hadn’t spoken in months. I hadn’t bugged him because I assumed he was getting on with life and building his fabricating business. Over the course of our 10-year friendship, Daryll had bailed me out of trouble, mostly vehicle trouble any number of times, always coming to my rescue with a tow or a battery or tires. He even set up an online parts business for me to run at one point.

We talked for the better part of a half hour and through the conversation I learned that his health wasn’t the best; that the Arizona heat was beginning to wear him down. He talked about closing up shop here and moving to Boise Idaho next year. But, I didn’t realize how bad his condition was until first thing in the morning, the day before yesterday, when once again my phone rang and it was his name on the caller id. But it wasn’t him. It was his wife.

“Georgia, it’s Vonda. Daryll passed away on Sunday. I need your help.”

It was like a bugler blowing reveille 6 inches from my ear. Death or the reality of impending death never comes gently to any door. That is a hard reality for anyone, especially for me to face. Up to the time Marilyn died, I had never, not one single time, lost anyone close to me. Daryll was not what I would classify as close, though we shared things that few understand. But he was a solid 24 carat gold friend and his death has shaken me to the core.

His death has brought home to me the very fragile nature of life and how easily it can be shattered. It’s only been a few weeks since a member of our church family suddenly and unexplainably lost her 12-year-old son. He just became ill and died one day.

These circumstances always remind us of that fact, but how often do we awake each morning and treat everyone in our sphere with the tenderness that we would if we knew that would be the last time we would ever be together? From my own experience, I would surmise that the answer to that question would be … never. But it should be “every time” shouldn’t it?

Who is sitting next to you right this minute, on the phone with you, right this minute, that you have given the slightest thought to the possibility that it might be the very last time? Would you be saying, thinking, feeling what you are at this moment if you knew it was the last moment?

At this point in history, the radio and television ads for precious metals and the importance possessing them are as numerous as the ads for beer, maybe more numerous. So how about the next time you see or hear one of those ads, why don’t you give some thought to the silver and gold people in your life and what you need to do to make sure they know that they are safe in your heart? And, never take their presence for granted.

The Waste of Anger

I never cease to be amazed at the attitude of so many people in the trans-gendered community when it comes the issue of acceptance. Sure, there are people out there who are narrow minded bigots, but in my experience most people are at least mildly curious enough to want to find out more about why we are the way we are and how we view our place in the world.

For more than fifteen years now I have been speaking to college classes from undergraduate level to master’s level and in all that time I have never been greeted by anything resembling hostility. On a few occasions, I have been warned in advance that certain individuals may prove to be hostile, but even those occurrences have been more of a challenge to meet than anything to dread.

I will never forget the lesson I learned inadvertently the first time I dared step out in the normal world … alone. It was six months after the passing of my wife Marilyn and I was already itching to get out and away from the trans venues that I’d become used to attending. They were okay, but they were not the normal life I so desperately wanted to be a part of.  I wrote in DM&D about the conclusion I reached concerning my first solo adventure into the real world and the sense of joy I felt when I realized that I was greeted with smiles or just plain apathy.

And that is the key to a happy life … a normal life as a transgendered individual; especially a transgendered woman. Smile!

In the intervening years, I have never had anything approaching hostility from even the most narrow-minded persons … as long as I have a smile on my face.

So why can’t that simple fact be appreciated and adopted as a normal way of life for so many of our community?

I have my own thoughts and opinions on the subject. The first thought that comes to mind involves “anger.”  If there is a predominately common expression among the trans community it is “anger.” On the rare occasions that I attend gatherings of mostly transgendered individuals the atmosphere is overwhelmingly affected by an undercurrent of anger. So, what are they angry about?

The answer to that question lies in the word acceptance; self-acceptance and other-acceptance. Why is self-acceptance one of those answers? It’s probably the primary answer because without self-acceptance other-acceptance is virtually impossible. As long as the opinions of other people color our opinions of ourselves we can never be happy regardless of our gender identity. We just have a higher hurdle to clear than other people.

Among the transgendered community, Christian faith is not what one would call a normal state of belief. In my opinion, much of our community is mad at God for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is that they were born with a set of emotions that don’t match their bodies. Why would He do that? I can’t begin to tally the number of times that I asked that same question over the years. The answer was slow in coming. When it did, it was so simple I couldn’t help but wonder why it took me so long to arrive at it. It was a matter of choice.

We all feel as though we must make a choice; neither of those choices appears to be acceptable to us … at least it did not appear acceptable to me.

On the one hand, it seemed as though I had to live unhappily in the physical gender of my birth or unhappily in the gender of my emotional mind set. Living in the gender identity of my physical birth meant a visible denial of what was a very real set of emotions lying just under the surface of what the world saw.

Making a decision to live my life in concurrence with my emotions meant saying to my children that I, Georgia, was to all intents and purposes, killing their father and that he would cease to exist. That, I simply could not bring myself to accept as a viable solution. The answer came in response to one of those heart felt, emotional prayers uttered in desperation. Again, it was a simple solution. The only choice I had to make was one of who I appeared to the world as, and not one of who I was emotionally.

In other words, if Georgia had existed behind the physical façade of George why couldn’t he exist behind the physical façade of Georgia. The emotions were consistent and would not change regardless of what I appeared to the world as. If I chose to appear to the world as a female named Georgia the only emotional change would be a lack of internal turmoil. But that would only work if I whole heartedly accepted the fact that if God had made me a happier person when my visible expression was female then that was the way I should live.

I am happy today because I accepted and embraced the way God made me. Sure, it would be nice if society accepted the decision I made but I don’t wake up in the morning and see society in the mirror … I see Georgia. I am not a figment. I am real. I accept self.

To summarize … being angry at society because life for me is not in line with society norms is a total and complete waste of energy and time. God did not intend for me to be miserable. He intended for me to be happy but to be happy means to totally surrender to His will for me. When I did that, His will filled my soul to a point where there was no room for anger.

Living in anger because I’ve accepted some things that I’ve felt I had to accept is an unhappy existence and I refuse to spend a single moment in that condition. I want the unhappiness I’ve experienced to be in the past. Living in anger because I feel cheated by God or nature or society is a sure source of misery. If you are reading this and think that I am just plain oblivious to the realities around me then I will offer the real source of my happiness.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

This has been my truth. If a person is unhappy with their life, for whatever reason, think about it. What do you have to lose? I am the way I am because that’s the way God made me so happiness has come to me because I embraced His wisdom and grace not the opinions of others.

Regina

In the last four-plus years I’ve discussed a number of different subjects, most of which involve gender identity. I’ve also wandered into the realm of politics on occasion, especially in the last year or so. Most of the time I have talked about myself and my own ideas, emotions and interests. On the rare times when I’ve discussed other people it’s been about family, with the rare occasion that Caitlyn Jenner has been the subject. I have to admit that there is one person whom I have not discussed but who deserves attention so that’s who I’m going to tell you about this time.

My first awareness of Regina Gazelle-Wells was when she appeared on the cover of ECHO Magazine in Phoenix. She had been named Woman of the year by ECHO for 2008. The reason for that distinction was an extremely appropriate one. She had founded the first home for trans-gendered men and women in transition with a 501-3c tax exempt designation.

My first thought at the time was “That’s a really cool idea.” And it was a “really cool” idea. I just didn’t realize how cool. I have never been one to insert myself into any situation that I’m not invited into, so I simply watched from a distance for several months.

But then at a church potluck, on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the founding New Foundation Christian Fellowship, in late May of 2009 I saw Regina sitting outside in the backyard and decided this was my chance. The main intention at first was just to be able to tell her that I admired what she was doing so I sat down next to her and after introducing myself we struck up a conversation. That conversation opened my eyes to a world that I’d never known existed. By the end of the afternoon I was totally impressed, but not nearly as impressed as I would eventually be.

Before we parted I got Regina’s phone number and address and had volunteered to help in any way I could. Within a week I was helping her organize her office and records which had been badly ignored for some time. In the process, Regina and I got to know more about each other and the more I knew about her the more impressed I was. The world is rife with people who have overcome adversity to become mentors and examples of rising to high levels of accomplishment in the world of alternate gender and sexual identity. Regina is, as I learned, exceptional.

When Regina eventually became aware of my literary contributions to various gender focused publications and the fact that I had completed my memoir she asked me if I would consider writing her biography. I felt that it was important for me to agree to do it. And so, we began.

Once a week I would show up at her home and sitting at the kitchen table I would take notes as fast as I could while she talked about her life. The more she talked the more I was awed by her … and the source of the dream she was struggling to keep alive. There were days when she would struggle to maintain her composure. The day came when she simply said, “I can’t do this anymore … for now.” Memories that she had kept buried for years had dredged up emotions that were just too painful at the time.

Soon after that she announced that she had turned management of T.I.H. over to someone she felt she could trust with the mission and she headed for Los Angeles.

In her absence I began putting the bits and pieces of her life together in some semblance of order as accurately as I could. What I eventually had was the story of a young boy who felt that the body he had, was not the body he felt comfortable in. He began sneaking out of the house late at night in his sister’s clothes and walking the streets of Watts, California. Eventually, Regina was caught by her mother once too often and in a self-righteous Pentecostal fit of anger her mother threw her out on the streets of Watts with not much more than the clothes on her back.

Regina was a survivor and survive she did in spite of the obstacles she faced. She did whatever she had to, to survive and that was generally not within the scope of things legal. She went from jail to jail from situation to situation, from coast to coast, relationship to relationship for years. Each time she was sent to jail she was thrown in with the male populations where she was physically and sexually abused continuously. Generally, after being released from jail she was sent to halfway houses where, again she was housed with men who continued the abuse. That roller coaster existence continued for years until she finally ended up in prison in Phoenix.

While there, she learned that her best friend had died. It was like the final straw on the camel’s back. She felt that she just couldn’t go on. A fellow inmate contacted Pastor Patrick Stout at Community Church of Hope in Phoenix and told him there was someone who really needed help. With the help of appropriate scriptures and time Pastor Patrick helped Regina realize that her gender identity was not a sin, but a gift.

By the time her sentence was up Regina had given up the life she’d been leading and a dream had replaced the desperation that landed her in prison. The dream was a halfway house, a home for transgendered men and women who were down on their luck and in transition; a place where they could live in safety until they were ready to take on the world as the people God intended them to be.

Accomplishment of that dream was the reason she was ECHO’s Woman of the Year. T.I.H. suffered without her personal guidance and eventually closed down but true to her character she is reviving the dream. In the time I have known her she has become a close friend; a friend that has helped me through some tough decisions with a wisdom that is always surprising … and perfectly stated. Her life experiences, her faith and indomitable spirit make her the perfect person to lead that mission of helping others who are where she has been.

If you want to know more about Unity House T.I.H. visit the web site www.unityhousetih.org  As with any undertaking of this type, money and personal involvement are always in short supply. Need I say more? You know what to do, so please do it and share this story with everyone in your address book.

P.S. We are back to work on her biography.

The Price We Pay …

There’s a subject which is discussed at meetings of trans support groups frequently, but isn’t often broadcast to those outside the community. That subject is the reaction of families and friends to our decision to live our lives according to our inner gender identity.

The reaction of family and close friends is more often than not, totally unpredictable but it’s my belief that much of the reaction is the result of the way we go about breaking the news.

People who just blurt out that they are no longer Marty but now Mary; no longer Mary but now Marty, and do so without regard to the emotional turmoil that the announcement is going to cause, drastically reduce the chance of any level of acceptance.

In my own case, which I describe in detail in DM&D, the way that my existence came to light in my marriage created a somewhat unusual circumstance compared to many of the situations I’ve come across. Be that as it may, the unusual situation didn’t make it any easier for our bride deal with the fact that I was part and parcel of the package she fell in love with and married. For my part, I thought she should have been delighted with this new best girlfriend who wanted to share her clothes and makeup. Short sighted? Oh, hell yes. And obliviously ignorant? Oh, hell yes again.

I’m not saying that I didn’t care about her feelings. I’m saying that I didn’t understand her feelings. It took me years to finally come to that level of comprehension about what she must have been feeling. Sadly, it wasn’t until after she passed away that I was finally able to reach that point in my level of understanding; was finally able to put the pump on the other foot, as it were.

Soon after Marilyn’s death I was at a meeting of one of the groups that I had become a apart of, when I came face to face with the other side of the coin. The group up to that point had been exclusively male-to-female. On this particular evening a relatively young and not unattractive woman was in attendance and made it known that she was transitioning from “Mary to Marty”. On an academic level I could totally accept and understand her decision. But, on a strictly emotional level my gut reaction was, “Why in the hell would you want to be what I was trying to not be?” What must her husband be going through?

And that was the moment … the moment when I finally realized what I had unknowingly put the one person who had loved me more than any other person had in my life, through. It there was ever a moment when I would have given my life to be able to turn back the clock and redo everything from a new perspective that was the moment.

The  2002 HBO movie “Normal” with Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson is an amazingly true to life depiction of the manner in which many spouses and family’s learn of the existence of “her/him”. It is also an accurate depiction of the way a normal spouse reacts  upon learning the truth. In the case of the couple depicted in “Normal” the wife eventually, lovingly, though reluctantly, accepts the person her husband has always been emotionally. It happens that way in real life, but not usually. I highly recommend the movie to anyone who is trying to understand the issues inherent in late in life disclosures of this nature.

I have no idea how life would have been different had I seen it through that lens; had she survived the cancer which took her way too early in life. I only know that it would have most likely turned out much different and it makes me so sad.

Since then I have met a lot of people who are dealing with how to cope with the late in life awareness of gender identity conflict in the context of marriage and family. More often than not the same selfishness that I was guilty of rears its ugly head. What makes it even more ugly is the fact that unlike the presence of love that kept my marriage intact, self-centeredness of the person takes precedence over family and marriage. The result is a broken family; children irreparably hurt by the thoughtless actions of a parent who puts their own “happiness” ahead of those who loved them the most.

In my own situation, my two oldest children have refused to speak to me since the publication of DM&D, each for their own and totally different reasons. It saddens me no end for them to feel that way. I do appreciate the fact that they would both prefer to have “Dad” back on a permanent basis, but to totally cut me off and refuse any attempt to understand me or my decisions is nonetheless painful.

My message to any who would listen, and the message I begin every presentation I make to the groups I am asked to speak to, is this: If you or anyone you know, has even an inkling that gender identity is doubtful, figure it out before you have a family to be destroyed by the issue. Life will be so much happier and productive if the question is resolved early in life rather than later. If necessary, I beg of you to seek counseling to help avoid decisions and actions that are irretrievable and all too often end in the taking of one’s own life.

Many of the decisions in this area of our lives are irreversible so proceed with caution. Stop, take a deep breath before taking each step. Taking a little bit longer to act will not hurt anyone and will ultimately lead to a decision that one can live happily with for the rest of ones life.

Make the decision an investment in happiness … not a price to pay.

What if … “I was 3 again knowing what I know now?”

It’s confession time … AGAIN!!! I confess that I am not the most astute participant when it comes to keeping up with reading about current issues concerning the trans community as a whole. And, lately I’ve been extra remiss because of my consuming interest in politics. However, I’m going to attempt here to correct that oversight.

Last Saturday night I was able to attend a meeting I don’t often get to because of my work schedule. As I was leaving I noticed a stack of the latest issue of ECHO magazine which, by the way, I wrote a series of articles for several years ago. The primary focus of this issue is “(Net)working”, but that’s not what grabbed my attention as I perused the contents page. The article which captured my interest was titled, “TransParent” by Megan Wadding a freelance writer.

The focus of the article was on an organization for the parents of trans children of all ages. TransParent was started several years ago by Tammy Janssen for the purpose of supporting her son Max and although she has since relocated out of state the group is now in the hands of a parent’s advisory board. I don’t intend to go into the details of the article because that’s not my intent in bring it up.

The reason I’m writing about it is because of the questions that the existence of this group brings up in my own mind … the “what ifs” regarding my own journey through life.

In Dear Mom and Dad, I describe the life I was born into and the society in which we lived and how that life and society affected my development as a human being, as a young man and as a husband and father … and ultimately to the recognition of my own existence within the backdrop of “George’s” life.

If I was to tell you that my life would have been different had I been aware of the variety of gender identities at that time I would, most likely be only partially right. Of course I have wondered what life might have been like if my existence had been discovered much earlier as a result of current knowledge, exposure and relative acceptance. But, in reality I don’t really know how much different it would have been. In fact, the thought is actually somewhat frightening for me. It’s frightening because I have few, if any, regrets for how my life has been.

I/we have had a very rich and fortunate life … not perfect, but certainly rich and fortunate. When I think about how it might have been different if my existence within George’s existence had been discovered or, perhaps more accurately, identified when I was an adolescent, the one abiding question is; “Wouldn’t I have missed all the events, people and circumstances and situations that have contributed so richly to who I am today?

It must go without saying that the children George fathered would most likely not exist. We would never have met, fallen in love with and married that beautiful brown-eyed brunette who so completely filled our life with love.

The events that made up what became Dear Mom and Dad would never have occurred and I might not be able to look back on the life that George led with a sense that it was all in God’s plan from the beginning. To not be able to look back on the scenes that have made up our life would, to me, be sad indeed. What has made my life so incredibly rich and fulfilling has been the fact that it has turned out exactly the way it has.

Honestly, I do wonder at times what it would have been like to have been a cowgirl and not a cowboy on a ranch in Colorado; to have been a liquor saleswoman and not a salesman traveling the mountains of southwest Colorado; to have been and done a lot of things as a woman instead of a man. I would be lying if I said any different, but wondering what it might have “been like” is not the same thing as wishing it had “been.”

When I read about the changes and levels of awareness regarding gender identity today and how society is not only more accepting but, in many cases encouraging gender identity variations I’m glad that I’m 71 years old and not 7 or 17.  Sure, life was more cut and dried then and there was little room in society for the Johnny who was out of step, but it’s part of what has made me … me.

I gradually and cautiously moved from the role of mature adult George to mature and adult Georgia and that made it possible for me to accept and embrace the role God intended me to play in this life. I can only hope that the parents coping with the seeming reality of a trans gendered child are wise enough to guide their children to a resolution that will prove to be the right one and the one God had in mind for them later in life.

Do You Trust Me?

During my lifetime I have read quite a few books; not as many as some people, but more than most. The book shelves in my home contain a considerable number of books and I’m proud to say that with scant few exceptions I have read every single one of them at least once. Several of them I’ve read more than once and a few, many more times than once. The genre for most of those relate to history of people and/or events. And, there are novels on my book shelves as well.

I have a fairly complete collection of Steinbeck; the same for Michener and Agatha Christie. Michener is among my favorites because his writing is a wonderful blend of history and fiction which I find both entertaining and educational. But, the fact remains that my favorites all involve history.

I share in Dear Mom and Dad, my early childhood experience with the children’s library at the Methodist church in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and the wonderful collection of biographies of the founders of our country and others who were influential in our country’s history.

As I grew older I began to read more sophisticated biographies. Some of those were of the same people and some were of different people that I had no prior knowledge of. Obviously they all had different backgrounds and were influenced by a variety of events in their personal and public lives, but the thing that I was fascinated by was what made them rise above the crowds they were born into.

None of their births were heralded by heavenly hosts and the arrival of magi bearing gifts. They all began life in very ordinary circumstances in most cases. So what made them so different that people want to remember them and their contributions to our world and our country?

In the late ‘90s actor Jim Carrey narrated and briefly appeared in a movie titled “Simon Burch.” The title character, played by Ian Michael Smith, was a small physically handicapped, boy that refused to let his handicap deter him from diving into life with gusto. He stated frequently that he was born to “do something important.” He eventually did do something important and what he did ultimately led to his death. His selfless act was one that would go unnoticed by the world outside of his small town. But, for the lives he saved and their families his act was “something important.” The point here is that, even though the story is fictional, it shares a thread of purpose with all the real heroes of our world … an overriding sense of purpose.

In all of my reading, I don’t remember any discussions of a “sense of purpose.” Maybe that’s because a “sense of purpose” was just assumed. After all, isn’t purpose or a sense of purpose, generally behind all great accomplishments?

I don’t remember when I began to feel as though God had a specific purpose for my life; that I was supposed to become one of those people that others write about; that I was to “do something important. And, I don’t recall when I lost that sense of purpose, although I believe that it was lost along the alcoholic path of my misspent young adult years.

When I sobered up, my focus became one of attempting to make up for all my failures and prove to Marilyn that I could be the person she expected when she married me. When she died I felt that the only thing left for me in this life was to learn to live with the grief of losing her … and to learn why God took her away and left me all alone.

Reflecting back on my life at that time I concluded that it was doubtful that I would ever be one of those people whose life was worth writing about. So is was up to me to write about me.

It was cathartic to say the least, and I highly recommend writing about oneself with an eye toward others, who have been involved one’s life, reading what is written. It tends to force one to be brutally honest about circumstances, events and the causes and effects of events and acts.

The effect of Steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Alcoholic Anonymous was to force me to take that first hard look at my own biography. It was a bitter pill to swallow and one I resolved to take once and only once. I never want to go through that again. But to my original point … what was the difference in those people whose biographies I read as a child and me? I believe that most of them rose to the occasions in their lives in such a way as to inspire others to record their lives. As to whether or not they responded to guidance from God or not, I’m not certain. I do believe that the early founders did respond to what they felt was a mission from God. And, that required faith or to put it another way, “trust.”

For much of my life I have relied on the issue of faith to guide me; faith as defined by “trust.” However, I have never use the word “trust” to define faith … until recently. Last November, a friend from church handed me the latest novel by Wm. Paul Young titled, “Eve.” I confess that I wasn’t expecting much because my experience is that anything resembling a “sequel” has always been a disappointment. “Eve” was anything but a disappointment. By the time I finally placed it on the shelf next to “The Shack” I had read it at least six times. I read it repeatedly because, in addition to Young’s ability to fascinate me with his un-orthodox views of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and their relationship to us humans, I found myself totally consumed with one concept.

That concept was presented when Adonai asked Adam, and then Eve, not once but a number of times, “Do you trust Me?” That one question actually shook me to the core of my faith. I had never associated having faith in God with actually trusting God. The question was always in the context of trusting God to eventually grant Adam and then Eve, their heart’s desires within the context of their love of their Creator.

And that is the crux of what I have been struggling with in terms of my own desire to see my creation, Dear Mom and Dad, You Don’t Know Me, But … bear fruit. I’ve always believed that I’ve applied the talent God gave me to advance the mission I believe He gave me, but always with the mindset that my belief would be confirmed by the success of the book. To date that has not happened. So when I read the question posed to Adam and Eve, “Do you trust Me?” it took a few readings to realize that it was a question and not an order, “Trust Me.”

That’s a hard question to answer truthfully, but I am working on it and in the meantime I am writing and creating more of my own biography that I hope, for those affected will include “something important.”

The Orlando Alarm Clock

The one word that has consistently appeared on Facebook since the early hours of Sunday morning has been “LOVE”. It seems to have always been in the context of “Love your enemies” or most generally “Love, not hate, is the answer!” My question is: “The answer to what?” It certainly isn’t the answer for those families mourning the senseless loss their loved ones, now is it? Love was what they felt for those they lost in that horrible tragedy. I can assure you that Love is not what they feel for the hateful man who murdered their love ones. And I doubt seriously that Love is what they feel for Muslim terrorists either.

I can’t help but wonder if this will be a wake-up call for the collective community of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and the Transgendered. It should be!! Our community has been so invested in liberal/progressive ideology that any person wishing to take on the mantle of leadership in our country, and does so under that banner is automatically assumed to have our best interest at heart. Personally, I don’t think they do.

At this point in time, our country is under the leadership of people who refuse, absolutely refuse, to call a spade a spade, a Muslim terrorist a Muslim terrorist. When our leaders are more concerned with offending a religious group than they are with defending and protecting the very citizens they are sworn to defend and protect, we have a serious problem.

As a dual-gendered human being who is a part of the trans-gendered community I should be fearful for my own well-being, but I’m not. I’m angry. I’m angry at leadership that has created an atmosphere of official complacency and resignation to the inevitability of death and destruction at the hands of Muslim terrorists. It would be so much easier for me to be just as angry at people who continue to support out leadership, but I can’t. I can’t be as angry at them because, well because they are my friends and I love them.

I did say “I can’t be as angry …” But I can be somewhat angry because most of them are posting things on Facebook and Twitter that mention “Love” but the context of that “Love” is that l “Love” will solve the problem; that love will overcome the hatred that spawned the tragedy. It won’t, not ever. At least not in that context. Here’s how “Love” will solve the problem.

Pacifism which is kin to acquiescent love, has a limited place in this world. That place is not in the face of such hatred and violence producing ideology as that of Muslim extremism. Ask a parent if they think pacifism is the answer to defending their children against an ideology driven violence that would cast them off the roof of a tall building because of who they sleep with or because of the clothing they wear. I can assure you that the answer to that question will be an unequivocal, NO!

My grandmother, the oft mentioned “Granny,” was fond of saying that, “Charity begins at home.” Indeed, it does. In this case it begins with loving America, American values and Americans first. That means that our charity at home precludes placing the feelings of people who ascribe to a religious system which fosters such vicious hatred, as that seen in Orlando, ahead of the safety our own families and fellow citizens. So, how about replacing the word “Charity” in Granny’s phrase with Love. Let love begin at home and let that love express itself in taking the action necessary to eradicate the hateful ideology of radical Islam.

How do we eradicate that hateful ideology? I’ll take another of Granny’s methods for an example. When I was, probably less than 4 years old, my younger brother and I were with Granny at the camp in New Mexico and she had opened up the athletic supply shed for us to find things to keep us occupied. I selected a bow and arrow. I wasn’t strong enough to draw it back very far and the arrow was a blunt pointed target arrow. I chose my little brother as a target. The arrow struck him squarely in the middle of the chest and simply bounced off, leaving a little red mark.

Granny saw it all and I will never forget the sight of her charging across the yard with “discipline” on her mind. It’s a whipping I will never forget any more than I will forget being locked away in the supply shed for an extended period of time. My point? I never ever even considered pointing a weapon of any kind at my brother. I didn’t ever consider it because the reaction to my action was so severe as to eliminate the possibility of a repeat of the action.

We cannot simply Love our way to safety. We must discipline and act our way to safety. If we, as a nation, are to ever live in the peace that allows us to grow, prosper and achieve a harmony here at home, the threat that is Radical Islam, including the theological root from which it rose, must be totally and completely destroyed. Period!

Love is the answer, only if it is the kind of love that engenders the courage to act and stand up to the destructive nature of the hatred that cost the lives of all those people in Orlando, in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016. Ask the families of those people how that “Love thing” is working for them today.

Do you get my point? The safety of our LGB … T community lies not in the embrace of liberal progressivism which refuses to call a spade a spade. The safety of our LGB … T community lies in the embrace of those who recognize genuine active hatred for what it is and are willing to take the actions required to secure our freedoms … including the freedoms to show our love for those we love and visibly express who we are by the way we dress.

Wake up … The reality alarm clock is going off and the snooze button is broken.