Posts Tagged ‘gender

17
Nov
12

Santa Monica Boulevard Through Hollwood

As I sit  here in my room in Springfield, MA, typing these words, I have tears running down my face.  It’s the week when we observe the Transgender Day Of Remembrance and I’ve just read another news story about a transgender woman who was murdered.  Honestly, I read a lot of these types of stories.  Not just this week, but all year.  I’m an activist, a speaker on transgender issues and I write a regular column (and this blog) about transgender lives and people.  These stories are always sad to me, but some very specific stories always hit me particularly hard because they bring the horror so very close to home for me.

I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, I’m not.  But you read so many stories of horror and violence and even for someone constantly reminding others that we are human, other people with lives and loves; there is a distance to the stories that necessarily desensitizes them.  An intentional distance that makes it possible sometimes to simply get through the day and do the work that needs doing.

But every so often, like just now, I read a story of violence committed against a transgender woman in Hollywood.  Specifically the strip of Santa Monica from Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood to Vermont Avenue in East Hollywood.  And it tears my heart out.

Because this was my neighborhood.  90% of my life in Hollywood was lived out against the backdrop of this very strip.

I worked, played, performed and drank at The Improv and The Second City in West Hollywood and lived for several years, first by the intersection of Highland and Santa Monica, a block or so from, what some locals refer to as, “The Tranny Taco Stand” (and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center) where Transgender Sex Workers would often congregate at night.  Then by the intersection of Santa Monica and Normandie, which roughly bracketed the other end of the stroll informally/formally designated by the LAPD as the Trans Sex Worker Strip.

I was not an average Angeleno by a lot of respects.  For one thing, besides my ethnically Irish disdain for the sun, I lived in LA for 8 years without a car.  I walked, biked and took the bus everywhere I needed to go.  I was also very good at “scamming rides”, sometimes with virtual strangers.

I did not, as many Angelenos do, see the city as a blur through the car window.  I knew it from close up, the pavement under my feet.  The people I passed by, aware of me, as I was aware of them.  I closely interacted with the city, I knew it’s smells and patterns and the other denizens.  It is how I prefer to know the world.  I’m a writer and a storyteller, I live for and actively soak up the details.

And it was also during this period that the man I was still trying to be was actively ripping apart at the seams and I finally began my own transition.  It was where I went, in a very short span, from actively repressing my gender issues to occasional cross-dresser to part-time, transitioning transwoman to “Full-Time” Me.

And so very much of that journey was so intimately tied to this strip of geography.

For one thing, I have always been fascinated by the underbelly of The City.  The red-light, sex worker districts, the ghettoes and the decaying downtowns.  The City that lives when all the “good, decent folks” have gone home to their houses in the suburbs.  The City of Night, to borrow a phrase from John Rechy.

I’ve wandered the “Combat Zone” in Boston at the very end of it’s days.  Known the darkened streets of some of Chicago’s more ill-advised neighborhoods.  Lived in a dilapidated Movie Studio at the very boundaries of New Orleans Lower 9th Ward, after Katrina.

So it should be little surprise that I was drawn to Santa Monica Boulevard running through Hollywood, like a moth to a flame.  Even before I found myself living in that area, I would walk the strip from West Hollywood to Highland late at night.  Fascinated, wanting desperately to figure a way to talk to the transwomen I saw there.  To connect with them somehow.  Or as I later discovered, really to connect with myself.

I had the oblivious attitude of a very tall, white skinned person, used to being perceived as male.  And also, a definite disregard/active neglect for my safety.  I carried so much guilt for so very long, I think sometimes I wanted to be punished, to be hurt.  To commit a sort of a “soft-suicide”.

Let me be very clear, I do not/did not actively believe there was/is anything wrong or in need of “punishment” about being trans.  And I am extremely fortunate to have been able to come out the other side of these feelings to a bright new world, physically unhurt, if a little bruised and battered psychologically.  But intellectual belief and subconscious fucked-up-edness can be two totally different things.

As I passed through my own journey, finally accepting myself, deciding to do something about it and then breaking through my own self-imposed barriers of identity, Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood was my backdrop.

I went from being a furtive tourist to a part of the landscape.  Though I had little direct interaction with these transwomen who were also living out their lives in this same geography, when I began transitioning myself, I came to greatly value the little nods of recognition.  The eye contact we would make in passing that said, “I know”. 

As I began to recognize specific people, transwomen who lived in my neighborhood, who waited for the same bus with me, those little acknowledgements where the first time I began to feel myself part of a community.  Part of a family.  These were my sisters.

I don’t want to appear to place myself all that far apart from them either.  I was not merely a tourist.  I did my own small share of sex work.  Not much, as I was always skittish of sex work and extremely fortunate to have a network of support and people who took care of me.  I never had to work the street.  I did a little as a dominatrix and mostly as a dominatrix’s assistant.  But don’t let anyone’s semantics fool you, it was sex work nonetheless.

And though I had to work through a lot of repressively puritan issues myself (I am a Yankee Girl from Cape Cod…), I have neither regret, nor shame.  It was part of my own journey and I have many friends who are proud to be sex workers and own it as their profession of choice.

I also know that, while some actively choose it, sex work is often the last option left between starvation and survival for many women, especially transgender women.  It baffles me when I hear folks in my community expressing disdain for our sex worker sisters.  When I know they know as well as I do, the massively institutional discrimination we face.  How much harder it is for us to find employment, housing and support, just to live our lives.

And I well understand the fetishization of trans bodies .  The cold looks that turn us all into sex objects, that imagines there must be an access price for our sexuality, whether we have done/are doing sex work or not.  I will readily admit, I have been guilty of the same.

But these are our sisters.  These trans women I came to noddingly know, the community of the streets.  The trans women who lived and worked in and around my old neighborhood through Hollywood, on Santa Monica Boulevard were the first to acknowledge me as ME.  They accepted me far more readily and unquestioningly, on the basis of little more than a nod and a glance, than did many more “respectable” members of our community, by whom I often felt judged.

So, this is why, when I read these stories of violence, it is the ones from my old neighborhood, East to West Hollwood; Santa Monica Boulevard; South of Sunset and North of Melrose, that are the stories that tear me apart.

Every murdered trans woman I see on the news from that area, every time I hear about another attack, I look at the picture and I think, “Did I know her?”  “Was she the woman who would smile at me when I would ride the #4 bus home from work late at night?”

These are not just stories.  Not merely news items or statistics.  These are our sisters.

There, but for nothing more than blind good luck, go I.
Here is the post I was reading when I began this piece, from the excellent blog, Planetransgender:  “LAPD Task Force Looking For The Western Transgender Murderer

03
Nov
12

My Mom, Joe Biden and I all agree, Transgender Discrimination is the ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

The Vice President of the United States of America giving my Mom a great big bear hug!

So, as many of you might know, my incredibly adorable and emotionally opinionated, old hippie Mom made quite a splash this week.  She had the chance opportunity to meet Vice President Joe Biden, who was coming out of the Democratic Party Headquarters in Sarasota Florida when he spotted my Mom’s big blue eyes and made a bee-line to her to give her a big old bear hug!  It was just serendipity that my Mom was next door at her hairdressers when VP Biden was in town.  She didn’t even know the Dem Headquarters were in that building!

But when my Mom saw the Secret Service guys and found out who they were there to protect, she put on a fresh coat of lipstick and talked her way through the checkpoints.  We’re a lot alike that way.  It’s little coincidence that I became a genuine Pageant Queen (Miss Trans New England 2009), or that I’ve got a lot of opinions myself, that I am never afraid to say and say it LOUD!  It’s just how I was raised.

The further details of this encounter are easy to find.  The last time I googled, “Biden + Transgender” the results were hovering around one and a half million, with over 600 ‘news’ hits.  Suffice it to say though that my Mom, when she had the opportunity to say a few words to the Vice President of The United States of America, spoke of her transgender daughter and the imperative need to help transgender people achieve full civil rights!

My Mom posing proudly with her blonde curly locked transgender daughter.

I know that the resulting statement from Biden that “Transgender Discrimination Is ‘The Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time’” was somewhat surprising for most of the world to hear. In fact he is not far from correct in his statement.  Though even as a trans woman whose main focus is on the struggle for FULL Transgender Equality, I would remind folks that the fight for trans rights is ultimately about a fight for Human Rights for all who are oppressed.  Even so, it was surprising for most of the world to hear the VP make such a strong statement in support of transgender people.

But it wasn’t surprising to me folks!  This is the woman who raised me!  The woman who, when I was a baby and she was asked to be the featured speaker at a Feminist Rally, angrily declined when they expressed discomfort at her male-bodied child being present (In hindsight, seriously ironic…).  This is the woman who built the house I grew up in with her own freaking hands!!  And who convinced our local Rep, Speaker Of The House, “Tip” O’Neill to help her get in the program that allowed her to do so.

My Mom standing excitedly by my side moments after I won the title of Miss Trans New England.

My Mother is a woman who has never been afraid to speak her mind.  Something she also raised me to do.  A woman who, when she has something that she cares passionately about, and there’s nothing she cares more passionately about than her transgender daughter, is very good at getting people to do what she wants.  So no, I was not surprised to hear that Joe Biden, after being drawn in by my Mom’s Irish Eyes a-Smiling, said exactly what she wanted him to say!

I have been very proud of my Mom not only for being so supportive of me and working so very hard to raise me to be the person I am today.  But also for the tireless efforts she puts in to try and be a friend and ally to the whole trans community.  And when she encounters those who are alone and rejected by their own families, she never hesitates to be as much of a surrogate family member to them as health and distance allow her to be.

Though I am an only child myself, through my Mom’s Love I have found a growing network of Brothers and Sisters (and Zisters!).  Her example reminds me constantly that we are not simply a community, we are a Family!

And yes, I’m pretty much bursting with pride that my Mom, Linda Carragher Bourne, changed the world just a little bit this week.  Proud that she made the public discourse over the issue of anti-transgender discrimination just a little bit louder by getting the man who holds the second highest office in the country to amplify the heck out of it!

And with that dear readers, I duly turn my blog over to my Mom.  Who has something she would like to say directly to all of you.  I’d strongly recommend that you listen.  Not that you have any more choice in the matter than even the Vice President of The United States!

Good Evening, Friends! Hope you’re enjoying your Friday “reprieves!”

Now. We have PRECISELY FOUR DAYS until Election Day. That’s not much at ALL.

I shall be putting together a Blog very soon, but, time is of the essence, and I shall not wait one single more minute to say what needs to be said!


Yeah. Luck was with me, this week, at the Democratic Headquarters here in Sarasota. I got to “catch the eye” of Vice President Joe Biden. I got to SAY to him, basically, “Our Transgender Population, which includes SO VERY MANY Loved Ones & Friends, is NOT reaping ANY Benefits of Constitutionally Affirmed Civil Rights, HUMAN RIGHTS!”

Biden, in turn, responded that Transgender Rights is “a (or “the,” depending on which news source you are reading; personally, I can’t exactly recall. Just being honest here, Friends.) ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.” It was a wonderful moment, for me, personally, for my trans daughter, my countless number of Transgender Friends! It was also, let’s be frank, kind of adorable. The Hug. The sweetness of “it all.”

K. That’s DONE now, Friends. That’s YESTERDAY’S NEWS! I cannot stress that point ENOUGH! I was blessed with the HUGE opportunity to Speak OUT for Trans Rights. I was, apparently, “heard,” evidently agreed with.

Now. This Old Granny Rabble Rouser was lucky enough to “light the match.” However, the Community Organizer, from past days, rises up in me and SHOUTS: TIME’S AWASTIN’!!! We need ACTIONS! We need them more than EVER! We need them RIGHT NOW!

I am here PLEADING with each and every one of you to whom ANY Human Rights are held dear, most especially to those who are working day & night to achieve RIGHTS for Our Precious Transgender Population (which is MUCH larger than “folks” want t’ know!), to GET OUT THERE! TO MAKE SOME NOISE! To share YOUR STORIES! Wherever, However, with the Largest “audience” that you can REACH!!! This is CRUCIAL, Peeps!

I want EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU (yes YOU!!!) to be at YOUR Local Polling Place on this coming Tuesday, with your voices, with your willingness to share YOUR TRUTHS…and, yes, with your SIGNS! The ones that will inform EVERY SINGLE “about to vote” voter that YOUR LIVES and LIVELIHOODS ARE AT STAKE in this Election.

The SOLE possibility for Transgender Rights being ANYWHERE near supported, endorsed, at the Federal Level, lies with an Obama/Biden “Win.” There is ZERO possibility for anything but fewer rights, more violence, more untethered bullying and Hatred (Hate CRIMES! Loss of LIVES!!!) if their Republican Opponents are inducted into the Office of Presidency/Vice Presidency of OUR United States. ZERO. ZIP. NADA.

So. GET OUT THERE, Lovies! Make a NOISE! Be your SweetSWEET selves, but, BE HEARD!!! It’s, honestly, and quite tragically, Our Only Hope…

Yes. That ‘s precisely what I feel, what I (at 60) KNOW! Pretty eyes be damned. That’s simply an Old Hippie “Theater In The Streets” bit, Friends. Ya use what ya GOT. THEN! YOU ORGANIZE YOUR ASSES OFF!!!

Just. DO IT!!!

Love OUT! Fist Raised HIGH! Your Always Lin
Power To OUR People!!!! That includes ANY disenfranchised “group,” but my Heart is Specific here. I know a zillion of yours are too!!!

-Linda Carragher Bourne

Trans Rights Now!

If you’re looking for more on my Mom meeting the Vice President, check out these links to The Huffington Post, Advocate.com, my own paper, The Rainbow Times and The SF Weekly.

If you find yourself inspired to get involved in the fight for Trans Civil Rights, I strongly recommend checking out and contacting the following organizations to find out how!  The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

For much more in depth information about the discrimination that transgender people face daily, I urge you to read over the results of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey performed by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

And of course, don’t forget to get out and vote for Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate for President, Barack Obama next Tuesday!!!

25
Sep
12

Hiding in “Mac”

Sometimes, I want to hide in “Mac”.  I want to curl up in the old boy character I created and lived as for the outside world for so many years.  Put on a suit, a tie and a pair of two-toned Stacy Adams.  Slip out of the house and head to somewhere no one knows my name.  Some bar maybe in the parts of town I avoid, where nobody has heard of the fabulous Lorelei Erisis.  I would bind my breasts like a drag king or a transman and neglect to shave.

Of course, I have no idea what I would talk about.  I was never much into sports even when I was still pretending masculinity.  In point of fact, I’m a good deal butcher as a woman than I ever was as a man.  But it might be nice to play the part again, just for a few minutes.  To escape from the burden of being myself all the time

This may seem an odd thing to express, especially coming from such an outspoken advocate of visibility.  And make no mistake, it’s not a desire to de-transition either.  The choice to be me, to stop hiding was a decision I spend very little time or energy regretting.

But I did spend some thirty-odd years playing this character called “Mac”.  And despite hiding who I was, it was not a character I disliked.  I was even proud of the man I tried to be.  And I was not so very different.  I tried to be kind, gentle, loving, forthright and intelligent.  I tried to be the best version of what I thought a man could be.  And I often enjoyed the role.

Blasphemy, I know.

I was lucky enough to know the pleasures of falling in love on more than one occasion.  And fortunate enough to survive the torments of falling out of love, at least for the most part.  At least visibly.

And I certainly never tried, even as a man, to be like anyone else.  Blending in to the crowd mattered as little to me then as it does now.  I was afraid to let the world know I was truly a woman.  But other than that, I could give fuck-all if I stood out as being different from the herd.  In fact I went to rather great lengths at times to do just that!

My parents were hippies, as I’ve mentioned before, and I was therefore minus a lot of the stereotypical “male role” conditioning.  Sports were not forced on me.  I was encouraged to cry as well as to turn the other cheek when violence threatened.  The men in my life were unashamedly sensitive and the women were proudly strong.

And there was almost never an occasion I can remember where I was required to wear a tie.  Possibly as a result of this, when I found men’s formal wear.  Fitted shirts, tailored suits, nice shoes and silk ties.  It struck me as a sort of “Guy Drag” I could be most comfortable hiding in.  It allowed me some avenue of elegance that I was yearning to express.

I discovered very quickly that people treated me rather differently when I was wearing a tie than when I was not.  Also, given that my closest friends were punks, freaks and weirdos of the most wonderful sort, it allowed me to stand out even from them.  Ironically, my conformity to a dying standard of masculinity made me a non-conformist among non-conformists.  I also still have not a single tattoo or piercing, for much the same reasons.

After a while and several different lives lived, this became my uniform of sorts.  It was comforting to me to slip on my two-tone shoes, soles worn thin by miles and miles of city pavements.  Easy to put on a suit.  It took less thought than it did for me to dress “casually”, which was always a nightmare I could not understand.

In my late teens/early twenties when I was experimenting with all sorts of things and most especially, doing a good bit of acid, I would almost always wear a tie when I was tripping.  I found that the physical act of straightening my tie had the effect of mentally pulling myself together when I started to feel sketched out.  Also, it made authority figures much less likely to question what I was doing.

I remember for a bit when I was living in Evanston, Illinois, I took to smoking a pipe.  A real, old school, “Fifties Man”, “Bob” Dobbs style pipe.  I would fill it with mostly marijuana and a little bit of strongly scented pipe tobacco.  The smell of the pipe tobacco covered up the smell of the pot and dressed like a good, upstanding, straight white guy, I would walk through downtown in broad daylight, getting pleasantly high.  Nodding to policemen and greeting passers-by.

I remember that sense of privilege.  And I remember even then thinking it was kinda fucked-up that I was treated so differently, so reverently, just because I looked a certain way.

Of course, this is not precisely about that either.  I am not bemoaning the loss of that privilege.  What was it but the social equivalent of a sleight of hand anyway?  A fantasy perpetuated by mutual agreement.  I knowingly and gladly traded all that away when I began my transition.  And I would do it again.

But.

I do miss that character.  When times are hard, as they are now.  I want to so badly to be able to hide in it for just a few minutes.  Forget who I am.  Pretend my troubles belong to someone else.

Pull on my Stacys, straighten my tie, light a cigarette from a silver case and see where the sidewalk takes me.

How ironic that now that I’m finally not hiding alone in my room, or some anonymous crowd, all dressed up like a girl, that I find myself wanting to do the same thing again.  Except now it’s to be the character I was trying to escape.

 

06
Sep
12

Why the Michelle Kosilek ruling is not a terrible, horrible, awful thing (even though she might be).

It’s been quite a week for me.  Without getting into details not relevant to the subject of this post, suffice to say it was one filled with all kinds of trans community related drama.  So when I got home tonight and noticed there was some sort of controversy raging around a transgender inmate here in Massachusetts, I’ll be honest, I did everything I could to ignore it.  I’m just about on trans-issue overload as it is.

I made dinner, chatted with my roommates, watched part of a documentary about Johnny Carson until it stopped working.  Then watched some stuff about the great Improv director and teacher Del Close.

Then I made the mistake of going over to Facebook.

Why, oh why do I do these things?  Of course all the drama was right there, flooding my feed.  There were even a couple of messages from my Mother in my inbox, practically begging for my opinion.  So, finally, mainly for my Mom and because, okay, I’m a transgender advice columnist, so it’s sort of what I do…  I broke down and started surfing stories about Michelle Kosilek a convicted killer incarcerated right here in Massachusetts for the 1990 murder of her wife.

Kosilek, I should note for clarity, is also a transgender woman.

This is not the first time I’ve encountered her story.  Kosilek started her male to female gender transition while in the custody of the State 12 years ago.  She has also mutilated herself genitally and twice attempted suicide.  Without going into too many details, what is important to know is that her Doctor diagnosed SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) to be a medical necessity in her case.  A Federal Judge agreed with this earlier today and ordered the surgery to be provided by the State.

It will be completely unsurprising to anyone who has ever turned on the TV, Radio or Internet, or spoken to other human beings about anything out of the ordinary, and most especially about issues related to transgender folks, that this decision has caused a storm of controversy.

Those are the facts you need to know up front.  And yes, you can bet I have an opinion all my own.

I will say that the controversy seems to break down along much less partisan lines than I usually see in trans related debates.  I have seen both trans- and cisgender people who are shocked and appalled by this taxpayer funded freeloading surgery.  And I have seen both cis- and transgender folks agreeing that this is a reasonable and progressive decision by the court.

Everybody though seems to agree that it’s a very uncomfortable controversy.  “Wicked” uncomfortable even, this being Massachusetts.  I mean, look, this a person who killed their wife and is serving life in prison for the crime.  Not a nice individual.  A criminal.  A murderer!!  And if I’m going to go ahead and be really bitchy and judgmental about it (hell, I am a Pageant Queen, I’m allowed bitchiness occasionally…), kinda friggin’ creepy looking.  I mean, those eyes….

Anyway.  The one thing that’s for certain is that no one who cares about trans issues wants Michelle Kosilek to be our postergirl.  You can just almost picture the folks who have worked to oppose trans civil rights gleefully cackling like a Bond Villain, steepling their fingers while watching tonight’s news.

For our opponents, Michelle Kosilek must seem like the human embodiment of all the “Bathroom Panic” commercials used to scare people away from thinking critically and positively about Transgender Rights.  Either that or as sure proof of the Immanentizing of the Eschaton (go ahead, look it up, it’s a fun surf).

But what does it all really boil down to?  My dear readers who think so carefully about all things and never jump to hasty conclusions.  I can hear you asking!  What do you think Lorelei?  Is this taxpayer funded freeloading?  Enlightened legal progress?  Guide us!

Ooooooooookay, since you put it that way.

First, let me be clear, like many of you, I’m ragingly jealous!  Why should this murderer have surgery that I’m not sure I’ll EVER be able to afford myself, provided by our tax dollars?!?!?!  Why, when most insurance plans routinely deny this necessary surgery to perfectly law abiding transgender folks, should an incarcerated felon get it for free???

Well, I’ll tell you why.  Did you notice that phrase, “necessary surgery”?

Yeah, that’s really the only important thing here.  Forget the heinous crime.  Forget the super-creepiness of Kosilek herself.  And remember only that a Medical Doctor has given a diagnosis that without this life-saving surgery, an incarcerated human being under the enforced care of the State is at risk.

You see, inmates aren’t allowed to provide for their own medical treatment.  Or much of anything else for that matter.  While they are incarcerated, and Kosilek is for life, we as “The State” are required to take care of their basic needs.  We must feed them, house them, clothe them and if they are sick or broken, we have to try and fix them, make them healthy again.

For all of you who could give a Rat’s Ass about Trans Rights, this is the argument for you.  If we are a just and fair society, we must support the decision of the trained medical personnel who care for our prisoners.  If a Doctor deems a treatment necessary to the health of a person whose freedoms we have forcibly curtailed, we must not oppose that.  For that way lies a slippery slope.

If we, as laypeople, can say our taxes will not save this life.  Then where does it stop?  Wouldn’t it ease the taxpayer burden to allow those awful rapists to be consumed by cancer?  Should we really mend the broken hand of a sticky-fingered thief?  What about the junky drug dealer who contracted Hepatitis from a dirty needle before he was even arrested?  Do we save a few bucks off the ever-increasing deficit and say, “Sorry, no help for your suffering.”

No, I for one do not wish to live in a society that does not care for the least among us.  Though it could be argued that is the case already…

Michelle Kosilek’s prison appointed Doctor has deemed this a necessary procedure.  Therefor the Judge made the only ruling that was just and proper.

Not enough for you?  Okay, this next argument is for my trans-peeps who are upset that a prisoner is getting treatment they themselves have been denied.  Who hate that this heinous murderer is being handed the surgery we want so badly and so often struggle to attain.

I want you to breathe.  Listen to me.  Ready?  Receptive?

Okay.  This is legal precedent.  Which is good.

Very good.

A Federal Judge just said that a transgender/transsexual woman MUST be provided with SRS because it is a Medically Necessary Procedure.  That’s HUGE.  It opens up all kinds of avenues for good lawyers to argue that Insurance companies should cover SRS for all transgender people because a federal court has already ruled it medically necessary.  And if it’s a procedure that’s considered life saving for an inmate, then how can the insurance companies properly justify denying it to regular law-abiding folks like you and me?

And I’m quite sure if I can see this argument, there must be some of our opponents of Transgender Civil Rights out there who see the same thing and are very, very nervous about the outcome of all this.  Who will scream and fuss and cuss and do their damndest to strike this ruling down.

We may not much like our new postergirl.  If you’re like me, she may actively give you the willies!!  But we cannot have it both ways.  If we are trying to tell people that SRS is something we need.  Something we must have to be healthy, happy and whole.  Then we cannot deny the necessity of this procedure for anyone.  Even Michelle Kosilek.

So, I beg you to stop shouting at each other.  It will only make the work of our opponents in the overall struggle that much easier.  If we are already tearing at each other over this decision, they need hardly lift a finger to set us back.

I’m not asking you to like it.  I’m not even asking you to go to work tomorrow and tell all your coworkers how awesome it is that this Convicted Wife Murderer is getting SRS…

I’m just asking you to think about it carefully and rationally.  Think it all through.  And if you agree with me, then at the very least, please don’t throw any more wood on the media fire.

Thank you.

24
May
12

To the boy I met tonight at Jacques.

Thank you.  I mean that absolutely sincerely.  As I meant also the compliments I paid to you.

You managed to do something for me tonight that almost no one male-indentified so far has managed to pull off.  Despite the fact that you claimed to be shy.  Despite your nervousness and your apparent lack of experience in places like we were at tonight or with girls like me.  Or perhaps because of those things….

You were brave.  You were polite.  You were cute and you made me smile.

I lead an unusual life, which you might easily have surmised.  I was perhaps stretching my star to refer to myself as “famous”.  But not by much.  I am at least internet famous.  Locally so as well.  I’m possibly even infamous in certain circles.  I am at least recognizable enough to know the experience of strangers approaching me in the street who already know my name and who I am….

And I am bold enough to be able to stand alone in front of a crowd of 10,000 people and presume that they might find me entertaining.  I am even bold enough to live my life quite in the open and very publicly as an Out Transgender Woman.  To be the woman I am, wherever I go.

It does not change the fact that I am also a shy, nervous girl.  Able to address a crowd in an urgent and powerful voice.  But afraid to speak to a cute boy at the bar.

Sometimes I just want that cute boy to take some part of the initiative.  Offer to buy me a drink.  Flirt.

And it’s not that there aren’t boys who don’t.  As I mentioned, there is a type.  The kind that is flattering enough, but that can’t ever get past my transsexual status.  Can’t just see me as an attractive woman.  Who is also trans.  They’ve got such a standard script, it’s hard not to finish their lines before they speak them themselves.

But you pulled it off.  You were able to find that line, despite your own nervousness and (I think…) inexperience with transwomen.  You were able to speak about my transness, ask your questions even.  All the while making me feel like just any average pretty girl with a handsome boy flirting with her at the bar.

It’s a fine line I ride you see.  For all my famous “queer transwoman-ness”, when it comes to boys, I’m just kind of a nervous straight girl.  Going through puberty for a second time.

I live in a weird in-between.  In a lot of ways, I have no place trying to meet men in a gay bar.  I’m a woman looking for a man.  Pretty surprisingly heterosexual for such a militantly queer woman.

And yet, “straight” bars have little more than frustration for me.  I’m too gay.  Too openly trans.  Not that I think there aren’t boys there who might find me attractive (I always hope…).  But almost all of them seem to be too afraid to even approach me.  Too afraid of their own sexuality perhaps.  Or maybe mine.  Or maybe I’m not “enough” of a woman for their friends…  Or.  Or….

I’m too straight for gay boys.  And too gay for straight boys.

It’s frustrating to put it mildly.  These are the thoughts that tear me to shreds before I fall fitfully asleep some nights.

But you pulled it off.  You found that balance.  You managed to make me feel like a beautiful woman while acknowledging me as a transwoman.

Even in the middle of a bar full of stunningly coiffed and elaborately made-up drag queens.  You made me feel fabulous.  Even though I had no makeup on, no painted armour to hide under.  You made me feel pretty.

You were brave.  You were polite.  You were cute and you made me smile.

You bought me drinks without my having to prompt you and without an overt agenda.  At least no more so than any guy buying drinks for an attractive woman!

Thank you for walking with me and thank you for your nervous banter.  I was nervous too.  And it helped.

And thank you for the sweetest goodnight kiss outside the T station so I could get back to my car.  You made me feel like the woman most boys seem to forget that I am.  Like the woman, I myself sometimes forget I am.

We might not meet again.  I can’t be sure the name you gave me was real or just yours for tonight.  But you have my card, and as you can see, if you’ve gone surfing, I really am this person I said I was.  If you’ve come this far, then these words have made their way through the 1s And 0s Post.

And so, boy I met tonight, thank you for being not a boy, but an actual man.  It’s nice to meet one.  It gives me hope.

I was really pretty desperately needing that.

Slainte!

26
Apr
12

An encounter on the street in Any-City USA

The following exchange just happened.

A voice from behind startles me as I’m walking home from CVS around dusk.  It’s undecipherable, recognizable by tone as being a greeting or compliment of some kind.  I jump slightly, but try to hide my surprise.

“Hey.”  I say, as a youngish man neatly dressed in “urban” styled sportswear and cap, passes me on my right.

Walking in the same direction he falls into step just ahead of me.

I stand up straight.  Head high, proud.  I carefully keep my gait confident and relaxed looking.  Carefully cover up any visible nervousness.  A long-practiced routine.

Looking back at me he says, “You have pretty, long, blonde hair.”

“Thanks.”  I acknowledge cheerfully.

“Are you gay?”

“I’m… Queer.”  Why do I make that distinction?  I speak the language and I know there is no fine distinction in this version of English.

Beat.  Still walking.

“You like to dress up like a woman?”

“Actually, I am a woman.  I’m a transgender woman, I’m just a little butched up today.”

Actually, I’m not really, I’m just not all that ‘femmed’ up.  Jeans, beat-up Chucks and my long, military styled, Activist Coat.

“You like big Puerto Rican dick?”

“I have no idea actually.”

“You have a place of your own?”

“No, I live with roommates.”

Beat.  Still walking.  Still trying to seem as relaxed as possible without breaking stride.  Smiling damnit.

“You want to find a place?  Go out in the woods somewhere and suck my dick?”

I chuckle intentionally, determinedly not sounding nervous or thrown, like it’s somehow terribly amusing and charming.

“No thank you.  I appreciate the offer.  But I’ve got work to get on to.”

We go several awkward steps in silence.  While he pulls ahead slightly; I’m still not breaking my stride or changing my manner, trying to seem completely affable.

Thankfully, as we approach the actual woods, the man stops and enters an apartment building door.  I keep going.  Smiling damnit, smiling.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

This sort of thing is something that happens to me, unfortunately, fairly regularly when I go out and about in the world.  Especially in the city, though I don’t really believe it’s exclusively a city phenomenon, I just walk more in a city.  There is more opportunity to encounter strangers on the street.

It is worth noting here that I do not feel as if there is anyone to protect me, but me.  Especially when I’m out by myself.  Which is often.

I have never had strangers come to my aid.  And almost every time I’ve contacted the police for help I have either been harassed or much, much worse.

So, it’s the magic number Me and whatever tools I have at my disposal.  Which is mainly my wits and experience with all sorts of different people in all sorts of settings.

It’s a tricky situation on a number of levels.  On one level, it’s very dangerous feeling when it happens.  I’m a transgender woman, alone.  And though my size tends to give me a level of protection, it’s a double-edged sword.  My size can easily make someone feel threatened.

My experience is that the sort of person who would make comments like this on the street, tends to have some dangerous insecurities that can suddenly turn hostile.  I have to be very careful to keep everything on the level of light banter.  As a tall person, I can’t afford to show any hostility.  If I can hold it together, my height alone will make them think twice about starting something.  But hostility on my part can far too easily cause the encounter to spiral out of control into real physical violence.

Which I definitely want to avoid.

So I put on the act.  Easy-going attitude and confident, but unconcerned poise.  I never break my stride though.  And never show a real reaction.  Not a bit of nervousness or unease.  Amused but not laughing at.

Also, on another level, and this is rather a sad one.  More often than not, the only ‘positive’ attention I get from men is of this sort.  The only ones who tell me I’m pretty or who actively flirt with me, follow it up by asking if I’d like to suck their dick.

Online, they send me a picture of it.

It’s not that I think all men are like this.  I’ve met a few who are sweet and charming, and I have to believe there are some who even find me attractive.  Sadly, they have not thus far been especially forthcoming.

So there’s this weirdly mixed feeling.  I’m scared.  I’m deeply offended.  And at the same time, I’m oddly pleased that a man actually finds me pretty.

And that’s usually where I summon the smile from.  The one that keeps things light and keeps me from getting killed or ‘just’ beaten up.

The asshole gets to go home and think it’s perfectly okay to speak to a transwoman (or probably ANY woman) like that.  And I just get to go home.  Alive.

The brain blender flips on to ‘High’.   My guts churn.

02
Feb
11

Just Lorelei

Looking back at the latest posts on this here blog, I was noticing that things were getting kind of heavily political.  Which is all well and good, but is not the primary focus of this here Transproviser.  This was always meant to be a blog about a little bit of everything.

Some politics sure, and some music and if I ever get around to it, some of my thoughts on improvisation, especially as it applies to being transgender.

At it’s heart though, this is a personal blog.  A way for me to share a little bit of who I am and what I think with the world.

Today is a snow day for me.  The second in a row in fact.  So I am presented with the rare opportunity to take some of the thoughts that roll around in my head in the wee morning hours and get them down in black and white.  Turn those nagging electrical/chemical impulses into words on the page.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll just jump right into it.

You probably have figured out by now that I’m a transgender woman.  I know you’re surprised, but it’s true.  And when it comes right down to it, I’m really more specifically a transsexual woman.  It’s a little embarrassing to my radical sensibilities, but I really don’t consider myself to be genderqueer or any of those other nifty and boundary pushing identities.  I think of myself as a woman.  Simply and entirely.

I am also trans and proud of it.  It’s a valuable part of who I am and my journey in the world.  I ID as transgender to show solidarity with my brothers, sisters and others who fall all along the gender variant spectrum.  Also because I am not overly fond of the phrase “Pre-op” transsexual.

I consider myself transsexual because I am in the process of medically transitioning to my “true” gender.  I have been on HRT for several years and my body and mind have changed dramatically and wonderfully!  However, I have not yet had any surgeries and frankly don’t know if I ever will.

Certainly there are surgeries I would like to have.  I am aiming at a number of them.  I may eventually even choose to get the full “gender confirmation surgery”.

The main reason I have not gotten any of these surgeries is less radical and more pedestrian than I would like to admit.  I am an artist.  An actor and a writer and explorer of places and ideas.  Consequently I am not terribly wealthy.  These are only profitable professions for a small minority.  The rest of us do it because we have to, we are compelled.  And maybe, hopefully, someday, I will make money doing what I do.  Just not now.

So I work day jobs.  I do what I have to do to pay the rent and keep food on my table and live life as fully as I am able.

I made a choice when I decided to transition that I was going to simply let myself be the woman I had always been.  I would live as myself and take what steps I could to conform my body to that reality.

More though, I refused to wait any longer.  I would not wait for some long off day where I could afford to have all the surgeries and such that we are told are the requirement to be a “real transsexual”, “a true woman”.

I AM a woman.  I AM a transsexual.  Surgical status be damned.

So here I am.  This is why I identify as both transgender and transsexual.  I am NOT pre-op thank you very much.  I am not pre-anything.  I try as best I can to live my life in the moment.  To do and be what I can in the now.

Life for me is a journey in which the present is just as important as the destination.

So I take baby steps and make attainable goals.

And I try to pay attention to the details along the way so I can better share them with you.  Because I feel if I can share my own experience, the broad strokes as well as the little details, I can enrich the body of what is known about us.  De-mystify our trans identity a little so that other folks may realize we are not so very different.  We are people, same as anyone else, with similar loves, hates and everyday troubles and triumphs.

The same dichotomy of identities even.

I am both Lorelei Erisis, the larger than life celebrity who loves to stand on the stage and work the energy of the crowd and Lorelei who has to keep kicking her elderly orange cat off the table and trudge out in the snow to go pay the rent.

Often what you see here is Lorelei the celebrity or Lorelei the politician.

It’s Lorelei the woman that I want to talk about today.

And of course the idea of identities.

HRT has brought for me a tremendous number of changes.  It’s essentially a second puberty so that ought to be unsurprising.  But it still manages to be so.

One of the really radical changes for me has been in my sexuality.

When I was a teenager I assumed I was going to be the “gay one” in my circle of friends.  It was a lot of years before I would accept my repressed gender identity, so I took the dressing up and other side-effects of that repression as well as the fact that I was a pretty snappy dresser and a little overly fond of showtunes to mean I must be gay!

Imagine my surprise when it turned out I was really attracted to women and not so much to men!  As it turned out in fact, the only one in my little geeky-nerdy group of friends who always had a girlfriend and went through almost the entire, fairly small circle of available girls in our clique, was the “gay one”.  If only he could have come out earlier, some of the rest of us might have been able to get a date!

Eventually though I settled into an identity as bi-sexual.  But really it was more that I was particularly open-minded than that I was actually attracted to men.

I never had a lot of trouble meeting women and had a bad habit of falling passionately in love pretty easily and regularly.  Even when I began experimenting with gender pretty openly, I never had a lot of trouble.  Despite my childhood fears that my gender variance would mean I was going to end up alone and unwanted, I found quite the opposite to be true.  Quite a number of the women I dated very much liked the fact that I would do “drag” occasionally.  I even met several of them while out “en-femme” as they say.

Flash forward and I have accepted my gender variance and allowed myself to finally be myself.  Realized that the “drag” I was wearing was not the dresses and makeup, but the suits and ties!

And flooded with hormones a funny thing has happened to me.  I have fairly suddenly and a bit unexpectedly gone from theoretically attracted to men in a “yes I find that to be an attractive man” way, to “holy crap that guy is hot!” teenage-girl boy-crazy!!

Additionally, I have had the wonderful occasion in the work I do to meet a great many beautiful people with all sorts of gender identities.  Some extremely hot ones in fact!!  So I adjusted my sexual identity accordingly to consider myself to be pan-sexual.  I am attracted to people simply because I find them attractive, regardless of gender or any other factors.  And I try not to worry about it.

This has meant that socially and personally I identify as Queer.  It is an identity I am comfortable with and proud to proclaim.

But, this is a journey and so I have come to something of a crisis of identity lately.  Though I continue to identify as Queer and find myself attracted somewhat to women and others.  I find that what I want, what truly gets my heart racing, what gets me all hot and bothered, is men!  And yet, despite  my revolutionary pose, or perhaps because of it, this makes me oddly uncomfortable.  I find myself having to adjust to the idea that despite my Queer & Kinky identities, I am much more of a straight-girl than I am completely comfortable with admitting.

And I haven’t the faintest idea what to do about it.

As an Out, kink friendly transwoman, I have I can assure you, any number of men who would like to do all kinds of unmentionable things with me.  But gods forbid I should be able to find a guy who will take me out to dinner or a movie and maybe if we hit it off, go back to his place and fool around a little on the couch over a nightcap.

I haven’t even the faintest idea where to find a nice, cute guy who might be into me too.  Gay bars aren’t really any good.  Mostly they’re filled with gay boys who just want other really hot gay boys!  There simply aren’t any “tranny bars” close enough to justify a night out.  And straight bars are a tease.  I find most guys I might meet there are simply too afraid to approach a 6’4” Out transwoman in public.  Even a damned pageant queen!!  And the ones who are into me are too afraid to admit to it publically.  They’ll fuck me, but they won’t be seen with me.  Fun as that is, I just can’t get into that.

Just Lorelei

Don’t get me wrong, I love hot, dirty sex as much as the next girl.  Heck, given that I spent 5 years in a long-term relationship with a famous and notoriously dirty dominatrix, I’ve had experiences and done things that most people will only ever read or fantasize about.

But I’d really like a little vanilla-ish romance now!  I want it so badly it hurts.  I’d like to let go of being Lorelei Erisis, trans-activist for a few minutes and just fall into the arms of a beautiful, strong man.  Ideally one who is tall enough to not be dwarfed by me.  Who can see me as simply the beautiful woman I am.  Whose self-identity is strong enough to be seen with me.

I have no idea where to find him.  He’s not popped up on any of the dating sites I’ve put profiles on and if I’ve met him in real life, he hasn’t had the cojones to speak up yet.

I hope I meet him soon though because I’m ready and anxious to explore what it means to be a straight girl.  Even if it is an Out, Queer, Trans one.




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