Dear Mom and Dad, P.S.

P.S.

A lot has changed since I last wrote to you … a lot! I hardly know where to start. But, I’m going to give it a try.

I’ll start with what’s happened in the nation in general. The panic over the nation of Islam and the terrorists it spawned has pretty much subsided. We endured eight years of a Democrat in the white house who was elected primarily because he’s African American on his father’s side. And then re-elected because the Republicans nominated a gutless wonder by the name of Romney.

The damage of that eight years was nearly irreparable, but one of the most unlikely people to be nominated by the Republicans and then elected president, Donald Trump began cleaning up the swamp. The only reason he doesn’t have a lock on election this time around is a Chinese originated virus that has killed over 150,000 people. The democrats and their willing accomplices in the press have done a pretty thorough job of blaming him even though he was the first president to stand up to the Chinese and begin the process of renegotiating all of the previous administrations’ bad trade deals. I can’t help but wonder if the Chinese didn’t deliberately spread the virus world-wide in order to derail those talks.

Now the democrats have swung so far to the left toward a near totally socialist agenda that even Granny would have to vote Republican, and you remember what die hard democrat she was. You should ask her about it. I’m sure she’s around up there somewhere.

So much for that. In my world, things have changed a lot too. After my letter to you was published with visions of royalties just pouring in and offers of a movie deal coming in by the day, I started working weekends at bar in Phoenix called The Cash Inn. And no, I didn’t start drinking again. I just liked being there and made a lot of friends there over the ensuing 5 or 6 years. The owners at the time Lisa and Adele, especially Lisa were some of my biggest supporters.

I got a considerable amount of support from others in the LGBT community. Keith, who I identified as “Keifer” hired me to help him re-model two houses. Unfortunately, he died suddenly one day owing me a substantial amount of money and his partner refused to pay me the balance.

Then I went to work doing remodel and repair work on another bar, Plazma in Phoenix. I got to know the owner Jim through my pastor, Jabowa Whitehead. We used to go over there after church on Sunday afternoon and spend time getting to know other people in the church. At one time Jim gave me an advance on work I hadn’t done yet so I could buy books to sell at a college in California. Which brings me to another person; someone who has become just about the best friend I’ve ever had, with one exception, that of course being The Blue Magnet.

I have to admit that I don’t remember exactly what year it was when Christine Curtain, The Little Green-Eyed Blonde introduced me to Jimmy Urbanovich, but it had to have been at least eleven or twelve years ago. Since that time, he and his wife Renee’ have become not only important supporters but have also become good friends. Jimmy has invited me back to speak at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa every year but this year and that being the result of Covid-19. Renee was instrumental in getting a promotional video produced by her son for me to use, in an effort to book speaking engagements, but before any could be arranged Covid-19 hit.

However, the really big, I mean REALLY big events of my life have been one event leading to another, leading to another.

Seven years ago, this last June my financial situation had become desperate. I had been applying everywhere for jobs; Circle K, Quick Stop, Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot just to mention a few. I was really desperate. The leasing agent I leased my townhouse from had given me notice that they would no longer accept post dated checks for half of my rent. It was either pay all by the third of each month or face eviction. I would have taken any job offered at that point.

The last Monday in June I received an e-mail from The Home Depot central hiring in Atlanta. It said they had attempted to call me for an interview the previous Friday, but I had not answered. Was I still interested in applying for a job there? I couldn’t dial the number fast enough. After an initial phone interview at that time an interview was scheduled for 8:00 AM the following Tuesday at Depot 469 in Mesa.

My interview with ASM Vicki went so well that she asked if I could possibly return for an interview with the Specialty ASM Jeremy the next day. I said “Of course.” Then she asked if I was willing to come back that afternoon. “Heck, I’ll wait if it’s this afternoon.”

She responded that Jeremy wouldn’t be in until 1:00 PM. So, the appointment was set for 2:30 that afternoon. Jeremy and I talked twenty minutes or so and then he took me out to the kitchen showroom and asked me to sell him every product they had. I honestly don’t think he believed that I had as much experience as I did. At any rate he said he would call me the next day. I thought, “Sure you will.” Several years before I had been told that by another Home Depot and never heard a word. But, he called me the next day and said I was hired.

My first official day was July 17, 2013. I anticipated a year or so at The Home Depot. But seven years later and I’m still there.

In the meantime, Mom passed away the last week of September 2014. After all was settled and her home sold, I was the recipient of a third of her remaining estate. On my way home from Utah after having emptied her home of seventy-five years of memorabilia, treasures and personal things of no value to anyone but family, I realized that something I had thought would never be possible, would be.

I had been living and working as Georgia for more than seven years even though the name change hadn’t been legally official until January 5, 2009. At the court hearing for the name change, when it was my turn to stand before the judge, he looked over the papers, and then looking at me said, “I think this is very appropriate. Petition granted.”

I had been on hormone therapy for almost as long and had become used to the idea that whatever was under my skirt wasn’t nearly as important as what was in my heart and head. So, with the realization that a complete transition was now possible, but also having witnessed the tragic result of hasty decisions in regard to Gender Reassignment Surgery I decided to take my time and be sure it was the right thing for me to do. So I waited and I considered all the implications of what I was contemplating.

The first person to learn of what I was considering was Christine. The first Thanksgiving after we met, I had spent with her and family and friends. After all the hoopla was over and everyone had departed and we were alone I had asked her if it would make any difference to her, regarding our relationship if I ever did take that step. Her reply was, “Of course not and she would go with me wherever I needed to go and hold my hand as long as necessary.”

I called her sometime in the middle of December and asked her if the promise was still good. She said, “Of course.” I told her I hadn’t made a firm decision but was thinking about it.

I waited until sometime in February to contact Dr. Marcy Bowers. Over time I had always known that if I ever took that step, she was the only surgeon I would consider. That was because she, herself was a transsexual and had taken over the practice of Dr. Stanley Bieber in Trinidad Colorado.

My first appointment with her was on March 30th, 2015. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to go ahead and planned on waiting another couple of months before I made a final decision.

Naturally I gave her a copy of “Dear Mom and Dad” when she entered the examination room and after introductions she asked me if I had any questions for her and I said,

“Am I too old?”

“Why do you think you are too old?”

“I’m seventy years old.”

“You’re what?”

“I’m seventy years old.”

“When I first saw you, I assumed I was dealing with someone in their mid-fifties.”

I could have kissed her right then and there.

But to answer my question, she said that I wasn’t too old. She had performed the surgery on people in their eighties.

As the interview was winding down, she said that her good fortune was my misfortune because she was booked out for two and a half years. My heart sank. Then she added, “But for you, I will get you in within nine months if I have to work an extra day of the week.”

Before I left the office, I filled out the necessary paperwork and left a deposit.

About two weeks later I got a call from her practice manager, Robin. She was calling to verify my insurance information that Aetna was my primary through my employer and that Medicare was secondary. I told her yes but that I didn’t want Home Depot hassled about coverage; I had the money.

Robin said she didn’t know what I had heard but that they didn’t hassle the insurance company. All they did was send a letter asking if it was a covered procedure. I said that if that was all they did then fine, but the answer would be “no”. Then I went on with my life.

The last week in June, I was preparing to go on vacation in Monument Valley and Durango when I received a letter from Aetna. There’s my denial of coverage letter I thought. I opened it up and started reading. In the middle of the page was the following:

“Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered procedure.

What? No! That can’t be right. I folded it up and put it back in the envelope. I waited a few minutes and took the letter out again and re-read it. Yup! That’s what it said. “Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered Procedure”

I called Robin the next morning and told her about the letter and asked if she had been notified. She said no, but they usually didn’t hear until a week or so after the patient did. So, I went on vacation and returned to work on a Thursday in mid-July. The next day, Friday, Robins office was closed at noon, so I e-mailed her and asked if she had received confirmation of coverage.

Monday morning, about 10:00 my phone rang. It was Robin. She said yes, they had received a confirmation from Aetna and that all I owed was $4,000. Then she said,

“So, how about September 2nd?

“For what?”

“Your surgery.”

I was speechless. I couldn’t breathe. Finally, Robin said,

“Are you there?”

“Uh Yeah.”

“Do you want that date?”

It took a few seconds for it to sink in; that the final decision moment had arrived. I finally said, “Yes, I do.”

“Do you want Dr. Beck to do the breast implants at the same time?”

“If it’s going to happen that soon, yes I do.”

“Then the date is September 1st.”

It had been just five months since Dr. Bowers had said she would get me in in nine months if she had to work an extra day of the week. I called Christine and told her I was making plane reservations for August 31st.

The only other thing I’m going to add is this; I had not been anesthetized since I had my tonsils out when I was 5 years old. I had no idea what to expect. The anesthetist came in to pre-op and said he was going to give me something to relax me, then something to put me to sleep and then would use general anesthesia for the surgery which all together would last six to seven hours.

The next thing, I’m awake and wondering when are they going to get started? Then,

“Oh crap, it’s all done!”

Then, what I knew was possible but didn’t think would happen to me, happened.

“Oh my God, what have I done. I’ve made a horrible mistake.”

But there was no turning back now. I had crossed the Rubicon. I immediately went to work on my own emotions and within two hours I was okay and have never looked back since. It was the right thing for me … Georgia.

George? He’s still there … in my subconscious now just as I was in his for sixty plus years. And he gets in his two bits worth from time to time just like I did to him.

It was not quite a year later that the love of my life, Georgia’s life, entered my life and has made me happy beyond belief. The Blue Magnet makes every day memorable and generally fills it with laughter.

If you are new to my blog, you can read about her and our relationship in posts of February 21st, 2017 and again September 3, 2018.

And the last thing of importance, though tragic, has been the untimely death of my pastor, brother and friend, T.C. “Jabowa” Whitehead. A blog entry on June 2 of this year is a tribute to him. His importance in my life is one of the very last things I wrote about in “Dear Mom and Dad.”

Well, Mom and Dad, that’s pretty much all that’s happened in the last 8 years and not that I don’t look forward to seeing you, I’m just not ready to call it quits down here. I still have books to write and I haven’t had near enough time with The Blue Magnet yet.

Love,

Georgia

P.P.S. And oh yeah … I’ve been ordained an Elder in my church and have actually delivered 3 sermons in the last 2 months, not to mention a lot of introductory messages over the last 4 or 5 years. You can catch them on my Facebook page when you have time.

Frustration is turning to Anger

My frustration is turning to anger. Maybe the final straw was seeing a mob; that’s the only word for it; pulling down a statue of Francis Scott Key in San Francisco. So what if he was a slave owner. If what I recall of my education is correct; and I’m pretty damn sure it’s because the NEA hadn’t corrupted the system yet; most of the signers of the declaration of independence were slave owners. My guess is that there wasn’t a single one of those fools involved in the destruction of that statue that’s had any seriously accurate education in our history.

It’s highly unlikely that any of the people who did own slaves were the ones to go to Africa and kidnap the people they “owned”. The slave traffickers in many cases weren’t even the ones to kidnap the people they trafficked in. In most cases the unfortunate people to be sold into slavery were captured and sold by other black tribesmen or Arab Muslim slavers.

But all that knowledge is secondary to the root cause of all the turmoil in our country. That root cause is total and complete lack of basic education and sense of responsibility for one’s own actions. Parents are turning the education and upbringing of their children over to the state. And the cities and states that are the most affected with the problem are those run by liberal politicians like Bill DeBlasio of New York City.

I know that conservative news and commentary outlets see this, but why don’t people on the left at least give lip service to the issue? Can it be possible that they really don’t want to see it because it’s such a glaring example of what liberal progressivism does to the soul of the communities it has taken root in? I tend to think that is the case.

Everything Marxism and Maoism teach is on full display with each and every march and riot that’s occurring on a daily basis. Has our education system become so badly directed that the average person is totally convinced that they owe nothing to the society they live in and that the government is there to provide them with not only the necessities of life but all the goodies that come from a free enterprise form of economy?

So yes, I am angry that people I know, people I care about and people I love are so totally ingrained with an attitude of hatred toward everything that has made this country the one place on the face of the earth where everyone wants to live.

I’m angry that everything about this country that I love and hold dear has become a target of hatred and a form of reverse prejudice.

I’m angry that the press in general, the liberal politicians, the entrenched bureaucracy in Washington, the public education system have all been co-opted by the notion that only a relatively few elites have the vision and correct idea of what is right and what is wrong.

I’m angry that those same people who have made common sense a thing to be laughed at and belittled, are the ones making decisions that affect my life and the pursuit of happiness embodied in our declaration of independence.

And I’m angry that those people who are supposed to be the defenders of free speech; the educators, the liberal politicians and most of all the press, think that I am ignorant because I am a Christian, a politically conservative Christian, a politically conservative Christian trans-sexual; that since I’m all these things, I can’t have an opinion worth voicing.

I could go on indefinitely about what started out as frustration and has now become anger and how that anger makes me want to lash out, but I don’t believe that’s productive, so I won’t.

If you’ve read this far, I think you get my point. I’m angry.

Jabowa

I don’t know quite where to start. So I will start with a passage from the next to last page of Dear Mom and Dad …

“Within minutes of walking in the door, I felt that I knew why God had closed the Healing Waters door. He’d been holding open the door of New Foundation Christian Fellowship for me all along. I was home at last. I sensed blessings of our maker in the face and presence of everyone, but most of all Pastor Jabowa Whitehead, in a way I’d never felt before in any church. The peace and sense of purpose we’d searched for all our combined life was finally ours.”

Yesterday evening June 1st 2020 at 5:33 and 59 seconds Thomas Cohen “Jabowa” Whitehead took his leave of this world and in so doing left in his wake a multitude of lives much better off for having known him and having been loved by him. And I say “loved” by him because he did love everyone who entered the sphere of his life.

I have met many people who claimed to love everyone, but there has always been a somewhat hollow tone to their claim. Not so with Jabowa. He did genuinely “love” everyone in his life. It was that quality that allowed him to change in some way every life he touched. When one loves as genuinely and completely as did Jabowa Whitehead one cannot help but leave a lasting mark on the lives one touches.

I will never forget the first moment I saw Jabowa. I had been talked into attending a church service for which I held no expectations or even hopes of some healing sense of what I would experience there. As I entered the “Upper Room” as I came to refer to the place on 16th Street and Osborne in Phoenix, he was busy at the front of the room but he glanced up and flashed that Jabowa smile at me. It was a brief but knowing smile that said, “I’ve been expecting you.”

Was our relationship flawless and without chuck holes? No, of course it wasn’t. In fact, at one point I walked away from New Foundation convinced that my time there was at an end and it was time to move on, so I did. But, true to his character, 4 months later I got a text from him. It said he would understand if I chose not to, but he wanted me to know that he would like it if I would worship with him the following Sunday. I responded that I would talk to Abba about it and if He said I should, I would. On Saturday I received another text from him asking what the answer was. I responded that Abba had been totally silent so I took that to mean that He was leaving it up to me so I would probably be there. And I was.

I have not looked back since then. A testament to what he had created was the reception I received when I entered the room, not from him, but from the “family” I found there overwhelmed me. It took awhile for the two of us to heal our relationship, but he had such a forgiving and loving heart that I had no choice but to forgive and heal.

It is important for people who read this to understand what Jabowa’s vision for New Foundation was, as he shared it with me.

It was first and foremost a place for everyone to worship. No formal membership required. And by “everyone” he sincerely meant “everyone”; the broken, the cast offs of society and organized, mainstream churches. As he frequently put it, “gay, straight, trans, bi, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostal, or as he would phrase it, Methobapticostals; All had a home at New Foundation Christian Fellowship.

The second part of his vision was a fellowship in the form of what the early church was like before Emperor Constantine of Constantinople had his vision of the cross before his victorious final battle with Rome and attributed that victory to the God of the Christians. That vision led ultimately to the Holy Roman Catholic church and the endless requirements of organized Christianity today.

The Christ of Jabowa’s faith was a friend and a brother to be talked to and listened to on a nearly continuous basis. I wrote in Dear Mom and Dad that none of us is ever going to be completely privy to another’s relationship with our maker, and as open as Jabowa was with his faith and his prayer life his most intimate relationship with God is something none of us will ever know.

When I try, through the tears, to understand why he was called home so soon I can only think of it this way. In a forest there can grow a giant pine tree and over time it sheds many cones which lie dormant for years never giving rise to new trees. Only when a forest fire destroys that tree does the heat from that fire cause the many seeds the tree has shed over its lifetime, to break open and germinate. Only then does the promise of a future for other life to grow, uninhibited by the shadow of the giant tree.

The giant tree, in the person of Jabowa Whitehead, is no longer here among us, but we as the seeds of his love and acceptance must now germinate and give life to his vision. His vision must now be our vision. His mission must now be the mission of every life he ever touched.

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.

Scaredy Cat

I have a confession to make … I’m a scaredy cat. Yep! That’s what I am. To revert to another term I haven’t used in years … What am I ascared of? I’m not sure. I just know that I’m not terribly brave or courageous; not like soldiers or policemen or firemen; not like atheists or agnostics. It’s all about facing death.

It’s always seemed to me that a person such as a policeman or fireman and more particularly a soldier has faced, if not death, at least the prospect of their own death at least once in the course of performing their duties. They have more than likely come to terms with the prospect of life coming to an end. There is a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes and I imagine that’s because when one finds one’s self in a foxhole one is face to face with the prospect of their end being there in that foxhole.

I don’t remember ever not believing that God exists. I always felt that He did. However, for most of my life I just never paid a bit of attention to what his existence really meant to me.

Atheists and agnostics simply baffle me. When I look at the complexity of life; the way every single solitary thing, in not just this world but in all of creation, is assembled and ordered, it is just not possible for me to consider for even a moment that it’s all random accident the way atheists do. I find it equally impossible to ascribe to the notion that “the universe”, an impartial and emotionally devoid entity created itself without the benefit of intelligent thought.

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it just a wee bit incongruous to think that morality is a natural happenstance which mankind has, over centuries come to accept as the correct way to live. Are “right” and “wrong” simply the unintended and accidental result of the passing of time. If that is the case, then it seems to me that it’s basically because the “weak” in society drummed up the notion, and began a campaign of acceptance among the compassionate strong, as a sort of shield against the not so compassionate among the “strong”.

But to be more practical about the issue, I find it further mind boggling to imagine that anyone with even a modicum of scientific knowledge can think that it’s all accidental. It’s been years since I studied biology and chemistry and even though there have been advancements in our human understanding of the “way things work” the basics remain intact. Everything, every single solitary minute particle of our world, our solar system, our universe, is ordered and positioned to serve a purpose of some sort. Again, I ask, accident?

And that brings me back to my confession. I realize that we all have to face the fact that there is an expiration date to our earthly existence. Firemen face that reality in doing their job. Policemen, in this current time of deadly attacks on them, certainly do and soldiers, in particular those who stare the enemy in the face at any given moment; those people have to deal with death as a matter of course. How they do it and continue with their jobs is a source of constant amazement for me. There is an old phrase that says, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Seems logical to me though I have never been in one of those “foxholes”

I’ve never had the opportunity to discuss the issue with an atheist, so I can’t say what, if ever they find themselves in a “foxhole”, they would do. I think I would like to know how they mentally and emotionally address the final curtain.

For myself, I find enormous comfort in my belief that God does indeed exist; that He designed me and everything else in existence with care and precision meant to work together if we follow the instruction manual. I find further comfort in the fact that there are numerable instances in my personal life which I can point to that can only be explained in light of His existence and personal involvement in my life. I don’t care if it’s something as simple as searching for a misplaced item and saying aloud, “Where in the Sam Hill is my shoe?” and suddenly have it appear in my line of sight. It happens way too often to be coincidence. I am one person who has experienced God’s personal involvement in the mundane as well as the special occurrences of my life.

So how do I resolve the issue of being a scaredy cat? That’s really quite simple. I’m only scared when I don’t remember that I don’t need to be scared. Besides, as I have said to my best friend, Christine who is an avowed atheist, “If you’re right and I’m wrong I have not lost anything because there was nothing to lose in the first place. But, if I’m right and you’re wrong you will have lost everything.?

6/20/2010

Eight years ago today, June 20, 2010 at 1:37 AM in the morning I posted the following on my Facebook page.

“I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I … AM … DONE!!!!! HALLELUJAH! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY!! I … AM … DONE!!”

After 3 years of remembering, researching my own past and writing down the results, I had written the final sentence in “Dear Mom and Dad.” Had it been published in that original form it would have been in excess of 700 pages long. Thankfully, the person I’d been dealing with at iUniverse advised me that unless I was James Michener it was entirely too long. Following that advice, I began a slash and burn editing process. Well, I didn’t actually burn anything. I still have the original hard copy script in a 2” black binder on a shelf in my bedroom along with all the notes I used creating my original outline. In addition to that, I have several flash drives with the various edits in my desk drawer.

When I think about writing another book I find the prospect daunting. After all I had an accumulated 60 plus years of events and people to make writing easy. All I had to do was write about those people and events as they were, though not accurately  remembered in the first draft. Accurate memories came only when I realized that the people written about would actually be reading what I wrote. Now with a mere 8 years accumulation of people and events I wonder if it would be of any value.

I also wonder if I could add anything to the dialogue engaged in by the majority of the transgendered activists and their accomplices in the LGBT (I refuse to use the “Q” since that is a term earlier used to describe gay men) community. I have, since the publication of “Dear Mom and Dad”, written about issues that are near and dear to my heart with respect to the trans community and I have written about issues unrelated to gender identity; faith and politics in particular. My opinions on the latter have met with approval and with disdain. Writing another book is somewhat immaterial it seems. What is material to me is that whatever I do in the future be of consequence. It that includes the inspiration to write another book so-be-it.

My involvement in the lgbT community has left me with a few impressions which have had a lasting effect on my attitudes regarding “activism”. The most significant of those is the impression that the demands of the community to be treated equally are accompanied by demands for laws that in essence require not equal treatment but special treatment. It seems to me that the demand for special treatment trumps the request for equal treatment. It’s an attitude adapted from the racial equality movement which approaches their situation in the same manner. In both cases, it seems to me that the demands are equally exclusionary. Granny would have said something like, “Make up your mind. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” To me, demanding equality is the equivalent of admitting that one does not feel equal or at least doesn’t see one’s self as equal.

I am firmly convinced that what our community needs are more people like Dr. Marci Bowers who has gone about her life without wearing her gender transition status on her sleeve, helping make the lives of innumerable people more enjoyable and complete.

Another person that I see as an example of getting on with life and using her abilities and education without wearing her gender status on her sleeve is Amanda Renae Simpson. While I acknowledge that her liberal political activity was largely influenced by her gender affiliation, I am not by any means going to discount her contribution to our community by using her training, education and experience to move about the halls of government in both Arizona and Washington DC exposing those realms to the notion that gender identity does not exclude one from making a significant contribution to society by productive use of their training and abilities.

These two people are not the only ones in our community who have made the transition and gone on with their lives using the training and abilities they possess for the good of society, but they are 2 that I have a personal connection with and knowledge of. They have made life more livable and enjoyable for the rest of us by virtue of their willingness to take personal risks without making demands on society for special concessions for them; at least none that I’m aware of. That’s what “people” do. They don’t make an issue of their gender; they simply apply their extensive training for the betterment of society.

For myself, I realized long ago that getting on with life without making a stink about my gender identity made life so much easier. I freely admit that I have been extremely fortunate in my physical make-up but I have also made it part of my attitudinal make-up to not expect special treatment. The expectation of special treatment generally leads to disappointments and there are enough of those already. For me, being treated as if there were nothing special about me is the highest compliment I can receive as a transgender person. The only thing I want special recognition for is the application of my skills and training in my field and the application of my talent in my writing.

“Dear Mom and Dad” finally hit the market July of 2012 and my first blog entry was posted by the publisher the same month. Since then I have posted nearly 120 more. Altogether they could equal another book I suppose. But it would be rather disjointed since my subject matter has varied so much. All in all, I will continue writing one way or another. It might be another book …it might be a more blog. It might even be some of what “ended up on the cutting room floor” as the saying goes, in that original draft..

Stay tuned …

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.

Transgendered and Military Service … Apples and Oranges?

When it comes to the issue of transgendered individuals serving in the military there appears to be a serious abundance of ignorance to go around … on both sides. And it all stems from the simple truth that both sides of the argument are clouded by a lot of emotion.

Let’s look at it from the military point of view.

I can do that with a certain amount of experience. I am surrounded by former military; The Blue Magnet is former Air Force; Her oldest son is former Marine corps; Her youngest son and his wife are former Army. One of her brothers is former Army and one is former Airforce.

My youngest son is military through and through. A West Point graduate, he was a Ranger Lieutenant in the Balkans and Captain in Special Operations in Iraq. He is honest with me when he says that he frankly doesn’t understand the set of emotions that have driven me most of my life. And, why should he? His emotional make up matches his physical body. It took me years to understand why normal people didn’t accept that my gender identity didn’t match my body. Understanding why another person isn’t like you is fairly easy when it involves just about anything but gender identity. And therein lies the problem.

The military for all the grand notions we have of bravery and honor has just one function … kill or be killed in defense of that which you hold dear. It’s the “be killed” part that drives the decisions of most military members. The driving mindset in our military is defend by conquest. In the minds of most military personel that leaves no room for experimentation with the way emotions affect the outcome of armed conflict.

I ask you, the reader, if you were facing a real live enemy bent on killing you without a trace of mercy in their eyes, wouldn’t you want the person next to you, backing you up, to have a set of emotions that matched the male gender identity 100%? I would. Pay close attention to the word gender and its meaning. I didn’t say sex. Sex is a physical issue that determines whether you can carry a child and give birth and physically nurture that child or plant the seed that creates the child. Gender identity is who a person senses themselves to be emotionally. Sadly, it has become synonymous with the term sex.

So, in an effort to get the proper perspective I posed the question of transgendered military service to my “family”. The Blue Magnet and my youngest son feel that as long as a person, any person, can meet the standards set for men to meet then they should be allowed to serve. I tend to agree.

The Blue Magnet’s youngest son, a friend who was also former army and was there at the time, as well as her daughter in law, feel that there is no place in the military at all for transgendered individuals and even extended that to the gay and lesbian community as well.

The greatest hurdle the trans community has to clear on a daily basis is “other acceptance”. In other words, acceptance by the other people, the normal people that they come in contact with every day, and that includes family members as often as not. That is a hurdle that exists everywhere but without personally experiencing it, I can assume that the highest hurdle is the one posed by the requirements of military service. However, even if that hurdle did not exist there is one that I don’t think the trans community realistically addresses. It’s this; just as in the “normal” world there is a difference between male and female only in this case it’s a difference in MtF (male to female) and FtM (female to male). Those differences are markedly different.

For instance, I know FtMs who are as physically fit as any ideal male military specimen. The male hormones they take make that physical transition very possible. On the other hand, and in this I speak from personal experience, MtFs tend to lose muscle mass and their features become very feminine in time. I’m not suited for military service and never would have been if I had transitioned at an age suited for military service.

The argument for trans inclusion in the military is based in notion that we shouldn’t be excluded just because our gender identity doesn’t match our bodies; we should have the same opportunities to serve as normal people. My question, and the question many others ask is, where does that stop? Where is the dividing line? Do we then let paraplegics join the military and serve in combat units? That is not a stupid question? It’s a question meant to highlight the fact that a line has to be drawn somewhere.

When I began this piece, I was of the opinion shared by my son and The Blue Magnet; “If they can meet the same standards that are required of normal everyday men then they should be allowed to serve.” However, that was before I ran into the vehement opposition of other family members as well as some other former military acquaintances. The opinion that I hold now is somewhat modified by some thought projection.

Let’s face it, it takes a certain unique mindset to place yourself in a position of possibly having to lay your life on the line for your country. Part of that mindset is a love of the regimented lifestyle. But a big part, possibly the biggest part, of what drives the military mind is the rush of encountering and overcoming impending danger and we should all be thankful that there are those people to whom that way of life appeals.  They are the ones that give us the freedom to voice our opinions, express what we think in spite of what others may think.

To sum it all up, I don’t particularly like the fact that I was born with a gender identity that doesn’t match my body because it has made some big parts of my life far more difficult that they would have been otherwise. But, facts are facts. I am who and what I am. Society doesn’t owe me a damn thing. Society doesn’t owe the transgendered world, of which I am a part a damn thing. Quite the opposite. As members of society it is we who owe a debt. We owe a debt of gratitude for being able to live our lives as we see fit in almost every part of society. The chip, that many of us carry around on our shoulders, just daring someone to knock it off, makes us targets for society not part of it.

That society is protected by our military and if our military feels that it can better protect us when it doesn’t have to serve as a petri dish for social experimentation then it should definitely not serve as a petri dish for social experimentation. I believe that those who have been serving should be allowed to serve out their current commitments, and to re-commit as long as their gender identity issues do not interfere with the mission. But, to open up the military to further experimentation will only lead to degradation of the military. It’s a tough line to draw but it’s a necessary line in my view.

Our community needs to learn that if we are to ever become acceptable to our society as a whole, and treated as normal people, then we have to act like normal people and not make every single issue one that demands special treatment. Normal people don’t get special treatment. Normal soldiers, sailors and airmen don’t get special treatment.

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.