The Questions You Are Allowed to Ask Me

So you read my blog and have maybe read my books (you should totally read my books because they are quite possibly the best works yet written and may be the best of all time except I am writing more which may in fact prove better…just saying) or you have been a student of mine or are a student of mine or you work with me in some capacity…or you just see me in Starbucks.

And you have questions.

Questions about what I want to drink or what I think of the weather. Those are totally allowed.

Questions about where I got my stuff, whatever stuff it may be. I’ll answer those.

Questions about my kids will always be rewarded with answers about the sheer awesomeness of those kids, perhaps the only higher praise given than those answers about my books, which are pretty stellar, but not quite so much as my children.

Questions about my relationships or sexuality are fair and I’ll answer those appropriately based on the situation. After all, there is a time and a place for everything.

Oh, you’re curious about my transiosity. The body stuff? The bathroom stuff? You’ve got questions because you saw some story somewhere or you think you know something or you don’t know anything…or you’re trans yourself.

And you just want to know and maybe I can tell you.

So ask. I’ll answer. I may even smile while I do. I may be snarky a little. But I will answer because I want you to know what you need to know and I don’t care much if you know I have a vagina. As a matter of fact, I paid a lot of money for it and given that I don’t have a chance to show it off much, I sometimes like to talk about it. It’s pretty cool, you know?

So yeah, ask me any old thing.

(you can even use the comments below to ask!)

The Placebo Effect

Last night I caught a bit of NPR’s Radiolab program regarding Placebos, focusing on lies that can have a healing effect. One example they spoke of was a treatment for Parkinson’s where a small device was inserted into the patient’s brain. When a button was pressed by the doctor, a small current was released, resulting in a cessation of the patient’s tremors. One doctor told a patient that he was pressing the button when he was doing no such thing. The tremors still stopped.

In the intro to the story, they brought up the notion that lies can heal. There are other stories in the series dealing with faith healers and how doctors can use the brain’s ability to translate belief into a curative. Interesting programs all and well worth a listen. Just home from listening to this, we watched the most recent episode of “The Flash” wherein there was a discussion of the useful and healthy nature of lies in relationships…that sometimes it is better not to tell someone something for their safety, health or general well-being.

All this talk of lies got me to thinking about the lies we tell each other and tell ourselves to get by. Let’s face it, being purely honest in this world is not always the happiest state of existence. Sometimes we need our placebos to get by, to stay sane, to keep getting up and going in a world that often, honestly, seems to be full of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent danger. We use these placebos and distractions to separate the cruelty of others from ourselves, to take pleasure in the simple joys and find reason to smile when, in all honesty, smiles should be hard to come by if we let the totality of the world be part of our everyday truth.

But these lies are often placeholders that keep us in stasis. Not getting sicker, but not healing. Feeling better when we are actually getting worse. We think we’re cured even as the disease continues to kill us. Do placebos really heal or do they give us a respite, a moment in the eye of the storm that continues to rage around us?

I think back on the lies that I have told myself over the course of my odd 45 years. The biggest being when I convinced myself I wasn’t trans. I gave myself a placebo built on guilt and fear – mostly fear – and I allowed that curative lie to become entrenched as a personal truth. Even as the storm of it raged around me, I was able to hide in the lie. But eventually the storm overtook my well-built levees and it all came crashing down.

And then there was the truth. And in that truth, I finally stopped taking the placebo that wasn’t healing me at all and found real healing in letting go of my fear and guilt and learning to love myself for who I was. The truth hurt. It still hurts. The world will never be exactly as I wish it to be. I cannot accept easy curative lies anymore. My level of tolerance for the placebos that used to get me through the day is so high that it is very difficult to overcome.

And so I have the truth, which has left me to face the brutality of existence. It has also allowed me to recognize the real beauty of the world and find reason to smile when there is so little left to smile about. Because for all the darkness, there is truth, beauty and love all around us.

Being Openly Open

As I am coming to the end of my second year back in L.A. as a teacher and my first year back in high school, I have noticed a change in my attitude about my public identity (how out I am, as it were). At my job in Arizona, I didn’t have much of a choice about who knew I was trans. I transitioned on the job. The only people who didn’t know were the freshmen who came in the following year and it didn’t take them too long to find out. When I taught middle school last spring, I didn’t see the advantage in sharing my story in that environment. The students were hard enough to deal with as it was and while I would have liked to expand their minds as to what it meant to know a trans person, I wasn’t in a good head space for it.

This year has been different. When I came into the school I am working at now, I did not have a plan for being out or openly trans. I just figured I would play it by ear, or that people just know. I always assume people just know, but I’m often wrong. Case and point, my spouse was getting some work done by a tattoo artist we have both had work done by. Marni was talking to her about my self-perception, to which the artist said:

“She doesn’t know, does she?”

Apparently, people generally don’t just know that I am trans. I’ve spoken with a number of folks who have shared the same with me. More and more I am thinking that most people simply do not have enough experience with trans people to come to the conclusion that they are in our company. All for good, I know. I am happy to be accepted for me as I am and seen for me as I am, but I am also always slightly en garde (like a Canadian anthem singer I am) against those who know and think I am trying to fool them and don’t like it. Mostly when I am with my daughter in the locker room at the pool where she swims. I have that niggling worry that the pod people will point at me…

So if people don’t know I’m trans, do I want them to? I am open about it with my friends, the folks at the theatre I work at, and with any of my students who ask. I’m the GSA advisor and I’m not even sure if all the kids get that I am trans. I know they think I am a lesbian because I am married to a woman. But I haven’t ever come out and talked about it in a meaningful way. There are times when I want to and it’s silly, I know. But it just isn’t something that comes up in casual conversation or as part of a lesson. Even in a GSA meeting, I haven’t really felt it germaine or organic.

It’s a strange time to be trans to even be entertaining these thoughts…I’m glad I can be openly open and I think as time goes on, I’ll find the more organic and comfortable way to be so.

Not Transitioning Is Easier

If I were still passing as a man in the world, life would be so much easier. Not better, mind you. Life now is better. But certainly not simpler. Certainly not easier.

Shopping? Easier.

Relationships? Easier.

Work? Easier.

Priviledge? Much easier.

Parenting? Easier (not better, but easier).

But life is better. I am happy being me. I accept the complications because at the end of the day, when I go to sleep, I am mostly comfortable in my skin. My spouse pointed out to me the other day just how unhappy I was in my simpler life. Before she knew the truth of me, she knew that I was suffering. But it was easier to suffer in silence.

Easier, not better.

But there are times I reflect on this life of mine and weigh the ease of living against the complexity of living well. Easy is sometimes appealing in retrospect. It’s hard to remember pain when it’s so far gone. I see pictures of an apparently happy me, videos of a guy good at not showing the darkness inside and he doesn’t seem all that unhappy. I know he was, I was. But I don’t remember the pain. I know I had it, but I don’t remember it.

It’s easy to remember the good things. Those are the events and people who are worth holding on to. It’s natural to forget the pain, what the pain felt like. Like a bruise, it hurt in the moment, but now the moment’s gone and there’s nothing left but the memory of being hit and even that slowly fades over time.

Some complications are more painful than others. Some leave more lasting injury. Life is not always good.

But in the balance, I’d rather take my lumps as they come now. Life is better.

Words, words, words.

So contentious trans people are all up in arms about contentious trans words again.


Some time ago when I was dialed into trans, what I discovered first was that, as a “community” we are as divided as the many sects of Christianity and all certain we are right, even the very crazy fringes that may be made up of just three people who believe they are chosen to speak some manner of truth from on high. We are united by our divisiveness. It’s like high school.

And just like high school, people’s feelings get hurt and people hurt other people’s feelings and the popular kids tease the freaks and geeks, who hate the popular kids and casually deride them and-

You see where I’m going with this.

So you don’t like the contentious trans word. I couldn’t care less about it. I don’t use it because whatever. I don’t use a lot of pejoratives for the same reason. It’s much more fun to insult people for being idiots than for some element of their identity. You can’t help who you are. You are responsible for what you do.

And yes, some people use words as they commit deadly violence.

And some just commit deadly violence.

And, yes, some people will use contentious trans word and may even call me said thing to hurt me. They may also call me contentions female words and contentious Jewish words (or, shhh, contentious gay words) and if they commit violent acts on me I really won’t care either way what they were calling me because I’ll be getting hurt by the violence.

If you feel strongly about this, it’s your right and privilege to preach it. I’ll consider what you have to say either way. I generally think everyone is wrong, but I generally always think that about everything.

If you don’t care and are on the sidelines because this will blow over the way every contentious trans/lgb (but mostly trans because no one can insult trans people the way trans people can) infight blows over then you are probably with me eating popcorn and watching the show.

Bored Now

My life is looping now and no matter how many times I settle something, the conversation just loops back to the beginning.

I used to think the universe was just a Mobius strip, infinitely repeating. Now I feel like it’s just my life and I keep watching the same things happening over and again and it’s boring beyond measure and I’m losing the will to engage and speak about it. I just want to crawl under the covers and not talk to anyone anymore because they’ll just say the same thing they said last time.

Nothing is interesting. No one is interesting.

Dilation Procrastination Hurts

So for whatever reason I’ve been slacking on dilating. A lot of issues, but really, just being dumb and not taking care of me. So this morning I got back to it and paid the price…a lot of pain and no little bleeding. Kind of wasted me for the day. It’s no fun being sore down there and it could have been avoided…and will be avoided in the future.

Lesson learned.

On another note, this week has been a pretty down one. The coming week is full of work stress, but at least I’ve got vacation next week and summer’s not far off. I am ready for a real break from things.