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.

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 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.

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.

Dear Mom and Dad : You Don’t Know Me, But …

Marilyn was shaving her legs, and that’s when it happened. She took a couple of playful swipes with the razor on George’s left thigh.

“Wanta shave cowboy?”

In that one instant … with that one simple act … she unwittingly opened the door to that closet where I’d been hiding all the time. It was the beginning of comprehension of the emotions he’d experienced all his life, but not understood. He thought he wanted to be like her. He didn’t know it was me, but then he didn’t know I existed yet. The emotions he was experiencing for the first time, in reality were the result of the emergence of my spirit; a spirit he didn’t know existed. But then, I didn’t really know I existed. What he felt in that instant, was a desire to shave his legs, put on her clothes; he thought he wanted to know what it was like to be her, and before the night was over, like a newborn emerging for the first time, there I was. Understanding why I was there, and in what capacity, was just beginning.