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.

Becoming who and what we are supposed to be

In the world of the trans-sexual, first becoming who and what you feel you were meant to be, then living as who you feel you were meant to be, is often more than just a mixed bag of emotions and decisions. It’s often a veritable mine field. It’s not uncommon for “normal” people to have difficulty with the hand life has dealt them, but for “trannies” it’s often impossible.

I have been fortunate, extremely fortunate, but it’s not easy to say why, at least in language that many people understand. The reason for that is my firmly held belief God has been guiding me to my current situation since spring of my sophomore year in college. There are a couple of ways for me to explain what I mean and how life has played out for me … so far.

The first is to compare the course of much of my life to a pinball machine; a description I used briefly in “Dear Mom and Dad”. Immediately after turning my life over to Christ that spring I made a genuine effort to make changes in my life. When my grades came through at the end of the quarter they were accompanied by a letter from the university instructing me to kindly not darken the doorway of their school again. Okay … so Jesus didn’t rescue me from that lion’s den. That pinball of my life went straight in the crapper.

The next ball involved a new romantic relationship. The direction that took was an unhappy marriage to an unhappy young girl with the proverbial shotgun in my back. All the time I just kept thinking that God surely wouldn’t let this happen to me. But, He did. The pinballs just kept coming … and going straight into the crapper.

Occasionally I would utter desperate pleas to God to once again bail me out of trouble, and sometimes He would, but usually not. I genuinely believe that God did what any good parent would do for a headstrong child going the wrong direction. He let me go the wrong direction until alcohol got the best of me and one of His tools, namely my wife, forced me surrendered to God’s will completely. And therein lay the key … my will. I had turned my life over but not my will.

It took a while for the fog to clear and for me to finally surrender the last shred of my stubborn will, but when that happened the understanding of my own emotional make up, what that meant and where it was leading, became clearer with each passing year.

I did not make demands about the path of my future. I literally lived day by day, week by week, month by month as my life slowly evolved from occasional expression of who I was becoming, to more frequent expressions and eventually full and complete expression of who I am.

Each of those phases came about almost entirely without effort on my part. Opportunities to move to that next phase seemed to appear almost out of nowhere. Each of those steps was taken without expectation what the next step might be; just realization of the changes in my emotions, changes in the reality of what my life had become at each point.

For me to arrive at the point where I now find myself; to move from the life of George to my life, has taken the better part of 35 years. The first half of that time was a series of inconsistent starts and stops. The second half developed into a slow but steady progression of attitude changes, periods of acceptance of life as it was, followed by unexpected advances toward a complete metamorphosis.

The changes in my life have been gradual and I believe guided by the unseen but gratefully felt hand of my maker. It saddens me when I observe much of the gender identity community of which I am a part, struggling in unhappy circumstances. Many are simply unhappy because life On the South Bank of the Rubicon (See posts for June 15, 2013; March 28, 2015; September 24, 2015 and September 1, 2016) is not what they imagined. Often, it’s because they forced transition on themselves and their families.

People are creatures who tend to like things the way they were. Forcing change on them inevitably results in backlash. It certainly doesn’t help when the man or woman they knew tends to show through the wig or long or short hair and makeup or the lack of it. But the primary cause for the unhappiness is the rush to change.

Poets have long written comparisons of the aging of fine wine to allowing change from grape juice to wine to develop in its own time. And comparisons of improper care taken in the development of a wine are frequently seen. Trying to force that change is also like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Would I be as happy as I am now if I had rushed into a transition neither I and those close to me were ill prepared for. Absolutely not! Many scoffers who consider me ignorant or lucky because they believe, or they think, I have had an easy transition. Or they think I just don’t understand them and their plight. In that they are partially right. I understand their plight, but I don’t understand them.

Every unhappy phase and moment in my life occurred when I was trying to run my life according to the gospel of “George”. When I finally decided to let God mold me and fix me, I found peace and comfort I can only compare to a warm blanket on a cold night. I still have moments of sadness. That is inevitable, but it is always followed by that sense of comfort.

When I see people in our gender community struggling with their lives and yet refusing to let God help them, it makes me sad. I want to share what I have found, but it seems that every attempt to do so is rebuffed.

But, I will keep trying to find the right words in the right combination and the right sequence. That’s what God expects of me, so I must.

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.

The Waste of Anger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

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

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

A Year On the South Bank of the Rubicon

Has it really been one year? Apparently so, and I have to admit that there was an unexpected rush of negative emotion the moment I set foot on the south bank of the Rubicon. I was aware of the possibility of that happening but I really didn’t think it would. Even though I was aware that regret could occur I didn’t expect it to rear its ugly head the instant I stepped out of the water. However, metaphorically speaking I polished my armor, picked up my sword and shield and set off for the imperial city.

It has been an absolutely amazing journey and much of what’s happened has been due to “Bruce” Jenner’s very public and visible transition to Caitlyn Jenner. For the first time since Dear Mom and Dad was published in 2012 the investments that my publisher was suggesting made sense, especially the opportunity to “pitch” my book to a group of movie producers in New York City on October 17th. The response to that presentation was overwhelming. Nothing has come of it yet but … hope springs eternal.

Of course there have been a few glitches and detours on the road to the imperial city, but nothing that can’t be overcome. Of course there is an occasional curiosity about what might have been had I not made the choice to cross that temperamental river, but only a curiosity, not a regret. I awake every morning with a sense of purpose that I seldom experienced there on the north shore. New challenges are daunting at times but serve to remind me that I am alive and well.

The one thing that remains unchanged is my Christian conviction and the confidence that is in inherent in that faith. Everything that has happened on my journey has been purposed by a bigger vision than I can even begin to comprehend. So my message today is short and sweet.

Regrets? Not a one! Happy? Absolutely! As they used to say on the cattle drives of years past … “Head ’em up and heel ‘em out!

“Born Again?” Really? …

I generally don’t have a problem explaining an idea, opinion or an event. However, there is one glaring exception. I simply cannot, or at least up to now, haven’t been able to explain in terms that are acceptable to the listener, exactly why I am a Christian … a devout, born-again, completely devoted Christian and how that has affected my life and my attitudes about virtually everything about me. I think it’s important for me to attempt here, to explain it in carefully crafted words and thoughts.

Maybe the fact that Mom was what I lovingly refer to as “front pew” who believed that the only reason, good or otherwise, for missing church and Sunday School on Sunday morning was a hearse … in the driveway for your body. Everyone else was going to church; just maybe some of it soaked in.

I don’t remember exactly when I actually began listening to the teachers in my Sunday School classes but it was most likely my junior or senior year in high school. That’s when I was blessed to have the good fortune of being taught by a woman I considered the first truly Christian person I had ever met.

What? You mean Mom wasn’t a truly Christian person? Mom was a devout Christian in her daily life, but she never talked about it. She just lived it. Hanari Triboli on the other hand went that one step further and taught others about a Christian life. I didn’t realize it at the time but I do now. I know now that what I learned from her wasn’t words or phrases or examples. I learned what it was like to be around a person who had a truly Christian aura about her that so vivid you could almost see it and touch it. She planted a seed in those 2 years that Reverend Mark Miller cultivated the summer after high school graduation. The young couple who were with Campus Crusade for Christ attempted to harvest the crop, but … it was not to be for many years.

Thirty-six years passed before I even looked at a bible let alone opened one. Oh sure there were times when I prayed … “God please get me out of this mess.” But it was only when Marilyn became ill and begged me to begin attending church with her at last that I began the return trip to my Christian foundation. At that point I believed that God existed and that the person of Jesus of Nazareth had walked the earth, but did I believe that the things I wanted in life were important to them? No, I didn’t.

The sad truth is that I had never really learned anything about the faith I was supposed to be expressing. Not that I remember exactly, but I suspect that a lot of what I thought I knew, probably came from Cecil B DeMille. I was so ignorant of what was actually between the covers of the bible that when my AA sponsor Larry B used Deuteronomy 22:5 to convince me of how evil my existence within George’s psyche was, no argument was ever voiced.

In Dear Mom and Dad, I chronicle much of what followed Marilyn’s death in the way of learning the facts of the faith I was professing. In the years immediately following her death I read the bible through word for word four times looking for clues, for a sense of what I was supposed to be doing with the remainder of my life. I can tell you that there was no specific moment of revelation for me. I was getting messages of one kind or the other from everything I read or heard and some of those messages were discouraging.

I have an entire stack of “notes” taken during church services in that time. I tried sorting through them at one point looking for a thread that would lead me to my purpose for living and therefore to my peace. But, instead it seemed as if I was doing was pulling on a string in a never ending knitting project. When I looked back on what I had put together, all I saw was the equivalent of the Gordian Knot. But, unlike Alexander the Great, I wasn’t interested in ruling the world. I just wanted a faith that would let me walk on water. That’s all. Just the ultimate level of faith.

Then one day I was listening to Rush Limbaugh and in his usual intro he said what he frequently said about his mission. “There is no graduation from the Limbaugh Institute of Higher Learning only more education.” Now you would think that I would have figured that out about life as a Christian, but I hadn’t. I was a bit unnerved at first. It seemed as though God had put me on the path of Sisyphus, meaning that I would never succeed in my quest for the ability to walk on water.

It was a slow motion process that eventually led me back to the beginning of my beliefs. At some point which I don’t remember, the nature of faith resurfaced and I realized that for all my talk about faith over the years I had never really understood it … not really. All the words I had read in the bible, while helpful in the learning process, they would never give me a sense of faith.

I eventually found that faith when I learned to approach it from a sense of trust and learned to trust Abba to guide my life. Many people, and I was one of them for much of my life, fear that “turning your life over to the care of God” will mean losing control of it and that personal dreams for one’s life will have to be forfeited. I’ve told the story more times than I care to remember, about how I treated my life like a toy which had directions I never read aboit how to enjoy it. I’m not going to repeat it here but I will briefly repeat the lesson of the mustard seed which Jesus used to illustrate the nature of faith. “It begins as the smallest of seeds and if allowed to grow becomes a sheltering tree.”

At this point in my life I am happy, content, and although not fulfilled, I am fulfilling my life purpose. There is a white board on the wall next to my desk on which long ago I wrote five words. They are FAITH … Belief … TRUST … confidence … assured. In Wm. Paul Young’s “Eve”, Adonai asks Adam a number of times, “Do you trust me?” And therein lies the answer because when Adam came to believe he was alone he didn’t trust Adonai to fix  it. As long as he was turned toward God, Adam did not cast a dark shadow. It was only when he turned away that his shadow appeared before him.

Do I trust Abba? Absolutely! Does that quell my impatient nature? Not always. Frequently that part of my being gets the best of me. But when I look back, which as an amateur historian I do often, I realize that all my “God Given” aspirations either have, or are, coming to fruition.

The only thing I have trouble accepting is that not everyone is interested in this gift I would so willingly share, because I have yet to figure out how to get them to hear what I have experienced. I just have to love them and wait for the right moment. In the meantime, I will have to remember that faith has nothing to do with walking on water unless you are walking with Abba. I’ll never do it alone.