Monday, November 13, 2017

Miss gender, misgendered Miss Gender?




Have you been “misgendered” or “dead named” lately? If you aren’t trans or aren’t involved in the trans community, you probably have never heard these terms before.

“Misgendering” is when someone addresses you with a pronoun or a word particular to a gender that you don’t identify with. So, for me, it would be someone referring to me with a “he,” “him” or “his” instead of a “she,” “her” or “hers.” Of course, words like “sir,” “gentleman” would also be “misgendering" for me.

To be “dead named” is to be called the name that you used to go by. So, for me, if someone called me “John” instead of “Maeve,” in the parlance of the trans community, I would be a “victim” of “dead naming.”

At work, I often, accidentally get called “Johnny” or referred to with a him. Usually, guys are so quick to catch it and are so apologetic that it makes me feel guilty to have caused them any stress around this to begin with. Some guys just plain forget. Sometimes, I forget. We’ve worked together for so many years, in some pretty intense situations, I would feel like a jerk if I pointed out their innocent mistake. And in a way, “Johnny” is kind of sweet thing to hear, every once in a while.

On calls, I almost always get called “sir” by patients and citizens if I get called anything. I am wearing a uniform that is male in nature, as are all female firefighters, in the fire department. Some of these women firefighters, often get called “sir” too, even though they are very undeniably female. I don’t want to correct a citizen about my gender. I am there to do a job for them. I doubt they care if I am male, female or a robot, so long as I get the job done.

In the last couple of months, I have noticed that when I am off work and in public, I never get called “sir” anymore. My appearance might occasionally cause some confusion, but people are friendly and usually opt out of calling me anything gender specific. If I get called anything, it’s “ma’am,” or if I am with my wife, “ladies.” Not to say I don’t get some angry looks sometimes. For some reason, these glares usually come from older women.

Only once did I feel like someone was being mean to me by purposefully misgendering me. I was changing my name and my gender marker on my automobile insurance over the phone. I told the woman on the other end that my name was now Maeve and that, legally, my gender marker had been changed from male to female. Yet, she kept calling me “sir,” so I started calling her “sir.” Repeatedly. This really exasperated her and then she finally quit calling me anything. I have to admit, that was kind of fun.

In the trans community being misgendered or dead named really can upset some people, no matter how innocent the intentions. To be honest, many trans people have had a harder time than me (so far) in life. Like many of us, some of these folks are barely keeping it together and the wrong pronoun or name can really be devastating.

I think I have always been, for better or for worse, someone who does not want to unnecessarily cause anybody any woes. Not to say I haven’t been a shit-stirrer, because I have - big time. But, when I have had to seriously confront someone, it is usually done privately - one-on-one. I do this because I don’t want someone to feel embarrassed or ashamed because of something I am saying. I know how it sucks to be embarrassed in front of others and I avoid making someone else feel that way. Not to say, I don’t falter. I can be an ogre on Facebook and I am not proud of that. And when someone is being a bully, all bets are off.

So when people get my gender wrong or my name wrong, and they are not doing it to be mean, I let it go. That’s just me. I know in the transgender community that often people correct others because they feel like they are spreading awareness or that they are paving the way for other trans people to come. I totally get that. And I also understand the stress we all feel when we are regarded as something that we know we aren’t. It can wear you down.

It has recently occurred to me that I may be the only trans person that many people know. And, in a way, I, as the kids say, “represent.” Almost all the people I know have one relatable example of a transgender person. Me. And for the most part, people who were my friends before I came out are still my friends today. I know that some of them might scratch their heads, or they might be uncomfortable at times, but I am still competent at my job and in my relationships.

I have stated before that I would rather have laws that protect me and my family rather than have people be “nice” to me. Laws that say I can’t be fired because my gender might make people uncomfortable, laws that say I can be in public and use public restrooms, laws that protect me on equal footing with everyone else are laws I want to protect. These laws didn’t get on the books because there were so darn many trans people that the sheer numbers made it happen. Nope, we are a very small part of society. These laws stand because good people value kindness, justice and freedom. Most of our allies have never met an “out” transgender person before. I hope that when they do, the trans person they meet is kind and respectful to them.

And for my friends, when they hear something about transgender people from the pulpit, from talk radio, or some other source with an agenda, they can compare that source’s information with their experience of knowing me and working alongside me.

To intelligent and kind people, experience and truth will always speak louder than ideological propaganda. And I am merely speaking the truth when I now disclose that I am transgender. It’s a truth, that for most of my life, I had avoided disclosing because I thought I would outgrow it or could outrun it. Also, I felt shame and embarrassment for what I was. But, I now own it and am honest about it. What others want to do with this honesty is their decision.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

This posting is a bummer. Don't read it.


I know it’s been two months since my last blog post. This hasn’t been because I have nothing to say. Just the opposite, in fact.

But, what I have had to say sickens me to say it. It’s something I wish wasn’t true, but every day,  the evidence mounts. The need to write this down grows greater, as does the sadness that I have to say it. OK, here goes…

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard back in September.

Climate scientists are in agreement that global warming has made hurricanes more severe in nature. Also, rising sea levels, and hence flooding, are attributed to global warming.

If you live in Europe, Africa or in Asia, in a coastal village, or in a large port city, you have already been affected by global warming. The land mass that makes up your country is getting a little smaller every year, as the ocean creeps up and erodes away your coastline.

But, this isn’t just happening in other countries, it’s happening in the USA, as well.

When Houston flooded, the rest of the world might have looked to the United States to see if we were now concerned about man-made global climate change. But, if they did, they would have certainly been disappointed. Texas has been losing significant coast line and experiencing flooding for years. They have lost roads and other infrastructure due to climate change. The same goes for Florida and other states in our union. Flooding and hurricanes will not bring legislators who are ideologically-steeped in a “thoughts and prayers” mentality to take action on climate change. Nor will cataclysmic events sway their base. They have been brainwashed throughout the years by Right Wing media to vote against their own self-interest.

So, our neighbors around the world watch as President Trump pulls out of the Paris Accord, as he appoints anti-science heads to science-related departments, as he placates the fossil fuel industry and pushes pro-global warming agendas. Our neighbors watch their nations disappear, as Trump’s base bolsters his “screw you” message to the rest of the world. Trumpsters cheer even as his actions cost them and their communities jobs and infrastructure at home and refugees and civil unrest around the world.

If I lived in another country, I could only come to one conclusion. America is controlled by people who are cut from the same cloth as someone who is a perpetrator of a murder-suicide.

We look to the jihadists who blow themselves up in an attempt to kill others in an act of terrorism, and we shake our heads in disbelief. But, we have our own in this country who strap on their ideological suicide vests. They get jacked up on Rush Limbaugh and FoxNews as much as any terrorist Muslim or terrorist Christian gets jacked up on their ideology. And they do not care if they kill themselves in the end, as long as they get to kill those of us around the world whom they think are “problems.”

A person who commits murder-suicide is usually someone, it seems, who faces to lose something, and seeks to make sure nobody else will ever have it either. A man whose wife is leaving him is probably the most common perpetrator. He is angry, jealous and possessive. It is the ultimate abuse of another person to kill her. It’s also a unique crime where the perpetrator escapes any justice that society may dole out. Instead, the perpetrator takes his own life. This is the ultimate last stand of control over others, over society and over his situation.

After the Hurricane, we had more hurricanes and more bizarre responses from the Perpetrator-in-Chief to the plight of displaced Americans. Then we had the shooting in Las Vegas - a  mass-murder-suicide. Civilized nations look to our gun laws and shake their heads again. But they shouldn’t. It is consistent with a murder-suicide ethos.

We pay five times as much for our healthcare in our nation as the country with the second-most-expensive healthcare system in the world, all the while achieving worse outcomes. We commit suicide, financially and literally because a faction in our country wants to protect a system which kills them. Their ideology and their programming demands it.

Up until recently, the pattern of creating better working conditions and better pay for working Americans followed a very sane format. A group of workers who unionize exert pressure on an organization for better pay and benefits. Another group of people see how well union workers are getting paid and they unionize. One union gets a benefit, the other unions see it and they want the same. Eventually, pay and benefits go up for all because of this “wanting what the other guy got.” This progression was good for nonunion workers too. In order to compete for workers, management had to offer something close to what union workers received.

But that was back in the good-old sane days. Today, a group of workers might note that unionized workers are being compensated better than they are, and with the murder-suicide mindset, they seek to de-unionize those workers. In other words, they don’t seek to do better. They are OK with  not doing well so long as they can make other people do poorly too. This is a testament to the power of media demonizing unions and other socialistic avenues for the betterment of all.

I also think the murder-suicide ethos points to an overall cowardice of a small segment of our population. They seek to bolster this cowardice by imbibing in media options which make them angry, make them subservient to the voices and will of a “master,” and which, in the end, makes them always deadly to themselves and others.

I have other examples of what I have been observing - from the path Donald Trump wants to put us on with North Korea to local governments selling off municipal water rights. Some operations are truly a murder-suicide in the works, while others are just a beginning.

And the world watches.

Our nation is not a majority of murder-suicide practitioners. But, I believe that the small minority who now call the shots for our country are. They are angry. They are hurtful. They feel cheated. They are arrogant and ignorant. And they drink from a well which deepens these qualities.

It took me along time to make myself write this because I wish it weren’t true. I wish there was a way out but only solutions I came up were these:

1. Enlightenment and Redirection. The small segment of murder-suiciders, many of whom reside in today’s Republican base, will see the light once they actually see they are killing themselves too. This is the most far-fetched solution. For one thing, if they were able to change their mind, or at least change the channel or the radio station, they would have done so by now. Also, they never make the connection between how they vote and how it affects their lives. You can blame a lot of this on compassionate Democratic politicians who seem to always step in to save these folks from themselves. Repealing Obamacare would have been terrible, but there would have been a few who might have regretted that their ideology cost them their insurance. A very few would have made the connection.

2. Intervention. If I were a leader of another country and had to watch my country’s economy and welfare literally sink due to the actions of another country, I might consider doing something about it. Also, other countries seem to have compassion for the misfortunates in other lands. Watching us continually punch ourselves in the face has to make some wish to step in and stop us. The richest nation on the planet is a place where when you get sick and die because you can’t afford to do otherwise. It’s a place where millions go into inescapable debt because, unlike other countries, we pay big bucks for a post-secondary education. It’s a place where we spend more on our military than almost the rest of the world combined.

I don’t believe Germany is thinking that “the third time’s the charm.” Maybe they believe that if we do our thing long enough we will eliminate ourselves from the world stage soon enough. However, it’s a race against a literal rising tide.

Not much of a chance for this option either.

3. Disarm the little monster. If we had democracy, or true representational democracy, right now, we would not be in this boat. George W. Bush would not have been elected. Donald Trump would not have been elected. A democracy of any stripe would not allow electoral college appointments of a president.

Likewise, gerrymandering and voter suppression hamstring the power of the majority. They contribute greatly to giving the minority, the murder-suiciders, the reins of our nation.

Even something seemingly so benign as our senate erodes the safeguard of democracy. When I vote for a senator, my vote does not hold the same power as someone’s vote in a sparsely populated rural state. Our forefathers saw the electoral college as a protection for rural slave-owning states. Maybe, it’s time to reconsider these protections for slave owners.

Democracy would also be protective for the small slice of our nation who now have their savior - the failed businessman, conman and game show host - Donald Trump as POTUS. They will have to own this thing now and everything about it.

If people start looking for who to blame when the nukes fly, when their kid gets killed in Iran, when they lose their home to medical bills, when their sister gets shot in a shopping mall, when they lose their home to a hurricane, when they lose their jobs due to a con-job economy, when their mom dies of a rare cancer because of deregulation, etc., they will know who to blame. It will be the rube in the “Make America Great Again” hat. And it won’t be pretty. If his vote counted the same as the rest of ours, we wouldn’t be in this mess and he wouldn’t be left holding the bag.

Again, not a very likely scenario. How do you make changes when there is no electoral avenue to do this?

OK. Now do you see why I didn’t want to write this? I hope I am wrong. Hopefully, now that it has been said, I can quit thinking about it. If you read this, I hope I didn’t bum you out. If I did, I am sorry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

HRT - Better living through chemicals! One amazing year!



I recently marked the one-year anniversary of starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Twenty-one years prior I told my wife that I thought I might be transgender. In that conversation, I couldn't quit shaking as I told her my story. I had so much shame and fear in my voice. It was a secret we kept for 21 years before she asked me to tell our three sons.

Soon after, I started seeing a therapist who definitively and clinically verified my suspicions.

So what to do? Sarah and I decided to take a break on making any big decisions on how, or if, to proceed after I told our kids. The months leading up to actually starting HRT were sad, exciting and really heavy for me. I knew I was leaning toward doing it. I broke the news to my family doctor about the potential of starting in September.

As I recall, my beginning testosterone level was 550 ng/dl and my estradiol levels were 13 pg/dl. Pretty normal for a guy. Now, a year later, I am less than 10 for testosterone and edging toward 200 for estradiol. The numbers are good, but there is a lot more to the story.

Within a couple of weeks of starting, I noticed that I seemed to be a lot more focused at work and generally a little more at peace. A lot of this could have been a placebo effect or just feeling the relief of having made a decision.

I felt a lot less emotional about things and I wondered if this is what people on antidepressants feel. I felt good.

At two months, I could start feeling some physical changes - soreness in the chest area and changes down south, if you know what I mean. I became even more focused. And emotions seemed to be real - right in my face, but not in a bad way. I felt them but it was just observable data. The only time I found them overwhelming was when I became really, really happy.  I was now always operating at such a high level of happiness,that when something extraordinarily beautiful or happy happened, I really had no place to put it, so it would squirt out of my eyes.

I came out at work after seven months of being on hormones. My therapist figured I would have to come out after three months due to the physical changes. But it wasn’t until about five months that I started thinking my body might inadvertently out me.

As I've written about in so many posts, my coming out at work was an amazing, beautiful experience. And it still amazes me.

And after that, it's hard to know what I can attribute to hormones and what I can attribute to being out - out to my friends and family, out at work, out to strangers when I walk down the street, out to all of Spokane, as there have been a few news stories.

I don't have much fear left in me. In fact, it is hard to even conjure it up. In the past, I could easily scare myself with the what-ifs. I would have contingency plan after contingency plan for all things in my life. Now I wake up and just live my life. That's pretty much it. And now I know that is how most people live their lives too. I had no idea.

This lack of fear and the ability to focus better has had some downsides. I am not as willing to make things "work out" for others. I am not as easy-going about some things. Some things don't matter as much to me.

I have found it increasingly difficult to write about the weird-ass shitshow that is now our national political scene. In fact, that's what this article was going to be about. But, my really "interesting" points made me yawn to even think about writing them. Why bother? You either get it or you don't. And it's not my job to fix that!

In the past, I had an endless stream of creative projects to keep myself busy, outside of work. Now, I have to really make myself do them. I can just sit and do nothing! At least for a few minutes.

In a lot of ways, I find my career a lot more interesting too. I tend to be more engaged in it, even on my days off.

I do the things I do and say what I say mostly because I just want to. No thoughts of survival, or getting ahead, or guilt, or shame, or worrying about hurting someone's feelings. I don't think I am becoming a jerk. If I am, someone please tell me.

Whatever the combo of HRT and coming out did, it made me operate from a more “authentic” (I hate that word) and honest place.  I am a kinder person, a saner person, a happier person and a braver person.

Things between me and Sarah are different, but in so many ways even better than before. We always had a great marriage, but I am now able to be more honest. I can now see where my love for her springs from and it is a pretty deep, very beautiful place. I love her more now than ever. She has been an amazing spouse and friend.

The other day, I was at the hospital, having ridden in with the ambulance crew with an elderly patient. I noticed there were some nurses and doctors staring at me, as I washed my hands. I realized that it was all good. These folks are compassionate scientists. They were just observing. Cool. As I stood at the sink, I thought about the strength between me and Sarah. We are both logical people. We have always been compassionate scientists, as well. Not only in our professions, but in our personal lives and how we see the world. I am so fortunate to have her with me.

All of my family, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my grandkids, my mom, sisters, brother, everyone has been so solid! It hasn’t been easy and I apologize for the work that you’ve had to do.

The physical changes is what I thought HRT would be mostly about. And I did get those, more so than I thought. And I still have at least a year of having some more substantial physical changes occur.

At work, I feel like I haven't really lost much, if any, strength. However, my stamina is not as good. That may also be a product of just getting older.

My running is terrible right now. And it's not just because I am so much slower. Running is so boring now! I would have never allowed this thought before, let alone said it. But, running is good for me and I will soldier on and make friends with it again on some new terms. Maybe I will wait until the smoky air clears though.

I am taking estradiol and spiranolactone. The spiro blocks the testosterone and is a diuretic so it makes me have to pee more. The trade off is that my prostate doesn't make me have to get up and pee during the night, anymore. I am getting really good sleep at night, on my days off. The estrogen from the estradiol has moved a lot of body mass around on my frame. It has made my face look a little different and thickened and lengthened my hair. I have kept a monthly log of body measurements. The change is real, although I pretty much weigh the same.

My friendships have deepened and I have made so many wonderful new friends over the last year. I think that my being honest with others about something for which I was so ashamed and afraid might make me a person others want to be with. Maybe it’s also because I like being with myself now. When I walk down the street, if anyone looks at me, it is usually with a smile of happiness and a nod of encouragement. People who I don't know will sometimes shout out "Hi Maeve!" Unbelievable.

Twenty-two years ago, when I told Sarah about me, I said that I would never consider transitioning. I told her that that ship had  sailed so long ago. A year ago, in discussing wearing gender-appropriate clothing with my therapist, I said I would never do it until I could 100% pass because I didn't want to look like a man wearing a dress. And all that has faded away. Now, I am doing what I want to do, and that is simply one thing - I am telling the truth.

We have had some incredibly sad calls this summer at work. On one, my crew and I discovered a little boy who had tragically drowned in the river. I rode in with him in the ambulance and was part of the team that attempted resuscitation. Just about everyone on the call was devastated. In the past, I wouldn’t have been. I would have just stuffed it with all the other bad calls and all the destroyed lives that I have had to be a part of. This time, I could feel it, and deal with it. It was upfront and in my face. A year ago, it wouldn’t have been. I would have to confront it later when it morphed into anxiety or something else. Who knows, HRT and coming out may have saved my own life. Depression, anxiety and suicide are a pretty constant threat for those in fire and EMS professions.

The best change, after a year of HRT and coming out, is that when I look in the mirror, I really see myself. My real self, my truthful self, looking back at me. It makes me smile and when I see myself smile in the mirror, the happiness increases. It’s a weird and wonderful positive feedback loop. The happiness is still overwhelming even after I look away. Sometimes, I don't know where to put this joy. It squirts out of my eyes.

One amazing year.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Planes, Plans, Trans, Trump and Truth



When I served in the air force, way back in the 1980s and 90s, we watched each others' backs. We protected each other and our unit at all costs. Our mission was important and our loyalty to each other was intense. The truth might take a backseat to the mission when necessary. In fact, anybody who has ever watched a World War II movie (I was raised on them) knows how people with a war mission cover for each other and expect the same from their comrades-in-arms. And to tell you the truth, I liked that a lot.

In little ways, I massaged the truth (especially for trivial matters) for people with whom I served. I know that others did the same for me. I remember our entire squadron taking a written test that was a determination of whether we were good at our jobs by HQ. This test was administered individually. The officer proctoring the test admonishing us that "If anyone looks at another person's test that will be considered 'cheating.' However, if you look at two or more tests, that will be considered 'research.'" It was a great line and we all gleefully started our research. And really, in no way did this test reflect our capability. It was silly and with this “admonishment” all parties were in jovial fraternal agreement.

An institution that relies on people who put the mission and each other as Number One, needs to be have people who have common sense and esprit de corp. Back then, part of that common sense and commitment to each other manifested itself in occasionally massaging truth, when necessary. Usually this was pretty benign.

But what happens if someone with whom you serve puts honesty above personal comfort and safety? Might that person be a threat to this tacit agreement between the institution and the individual? I recall a pilot in another squadron having a born-again moment and he wanted to use his squadron commander’s office as a confessional. This officer confided in their commander that he had lied about marijuana use in his entrance application. He admitted to his squadron commander that he did try it once in college. The commander thanked him for his honesty and then promptly began drawing up paperwork to end this pilot’s ten-year career in the air force. I always wondered if this might be because the commander believed that this person demonstrated a lack of common sense and that his scruples might someday threaten the mission of the squadron. I don’t know.

The interplay between truth, individuals and institutional health is not limited to people engaged in dangerous professions. Sometimes,institutions are willing to keep your secret hidden, in exchange for complete loyalty. One only has to look at the many closeted Gay Conservative Republican politicians who served and continue to serve in the US Senate and House. Surely, they often attack LGBT causes in order to deflect from their own orientation, many times the worst-kept secret in DC, but also to prove their fealty to their secret keepers.

I think this phenomena may be part of the reason Trump wants to "ban" transgender people from the military. I think someone like Trump worries about what honest people speaking honestly might eventually cost him personally. He probably worries that people who tell the truth about being transgender may not stop at this truth telling. And if being trans is outlawed in the military, then transgender people will have to count on that institution's blessings to protect them. In doing so, they will be deeply indebted to that institution, and will submit accordingly. One only has to look at the Trump Administration and how people have flushed their credibility down the toilet to say ridiculous things for him because they want to show their loyalty. And this kind of sacrifice always snowballs. They are now part of this farcical  machine and will perish outside of the machine if forced out. Quite simply, they have zero credibility outside of the machine because of what they had to do and say inside of the machine.

When I served, gay people were not allowed in the military. I had a Top Secret clearance with a special background investigation. Part of this background investigation check was to ferret out folks who might have been gay. In a meeting, we were told why gay people were not allowed in the military. It was because they could be easily targeted by Soviet spies. A gay American soldier with a top-secret clearance could meet a male Russian spy who seduces him. The spy then threatens the soldier to out him to his superiors unless he gives him classified info. This outing would then cause the military to court-martial the individual soldier - an incredible lever for a spy to use to extract info from a soldier.

When we were told this explanation, I found this an immediate head scratcher.

"But if someone were gay, and if being gay in the military was OK, wouldn't that Russian spy have zero control over the military member with classified material? I mean if the spy tried to out this guy, and it was OK for the soldier to be homosexual, the military would just say 'we don't care.' End of story. Making it illegal to be gay in the military actually increases chances of losing classified information to spies, I would think."

No one running the meeting had a rebuttal to my hypothesis. The only thing that comes to mind now is that being able to control someone with a secret about who and what they are outweighs any security risk.

And I suppose that is how it would be for transgender people who would serve if Trump gets his way and makes them say they are not transgender, or however he “thinks” this ban would go down.

Institutions have changed a lot since the 1980s and 1990s, and are changing even more. We should have always valued the truth, especially when that truth was about people telling you who they are. But, we are also being forced into it. Often, we are coming to value the truth because it is so obvious that, with social messaging, continual surveillance and the leaking of that surveillance, the truth ALWAYS comes out. Trump is set in a 1980s mindset thinking that he can subvert truth or create his own version of the “truth.” You can attribute this erroneous thinking to whatever you want.

For the last 18 years, I have worked for a large municipal fire department. In a lot of ways we have relationships that are like the military. We often find ourselves in very harrowing situations and every day we are integral players in heartbreaking circumstances. We often have to make snap decisions that involve life and death. Certainly this is an environment that begs for institutional and familial protection. But, we all now know that the truth always comes out and we act accordingly. I think there is a deeper respect for truth, especially individuals, as well, because our society is evolving in that direction. This social evolution has changed our institution, and I think it is better for it.

When I came out to my brothers and sisters in the fire department that I was trans, I did it because I just wanted to tell the truth. I knew I would feel ashamed if someone was attacked in our community and I stayed hidden, silent and safe. I also wanted to have that part of my brain which observed and acted to secret-keeping devoted to other things - things like my job, my family, my life. I think I could have hid out a lot longer, but it would have eventually came out anyway. Like the truth always does. The institutional support for my disclosure  has been amazing. The only thing that surpassed it was the personal responses from my fellow firefighters. I don't think that would have been the case 15 years ago. Certainly it would not have been the case in the 1980s, the place where our president's brain seems to have stopped, a place where truth often died to cover shame, failure or change.

In recent politics, you can see where some politicians have come to harvest what they have untruthfully sown. For example, the hatred they stoked against Obama was strategically centered around his Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare” was originally a Republican idea, but in order to “win” they had to abandon their own plan, label it with Obama’s name and then stoke hatred via their corporate minions. Their base (by no means a majority in the USA), couldn’t have been more compliant. So now here they are at the precipice of doing what they said they would do - repeal Obamacare. But, they can’t. They know that the same people who they lied to about the Affordable Care Act, the same people who then wrote them angry letters demanding repeal, are also many of the same people who will lose their insurance. And as wonderful as it may be to hold up two letters from the same constituent - one demanding repeal and the other condemning you for your vote to repeal, the truth is that the letter writer probably would not even begin to understand what they did to themselves. When you are steeped in untruths every day by a “news” source that doesn’t tell you the truth, in order to keep you comfortable in your misbeliefs, there will probably never be a personal reckoning, at least one that is self-observable.

And as a nation, we are going down a terrible path by allowing Conservative politicians and their media minions to avoid the truth at all costs. Imagine if there was a FoxNews channel that was targeted toward infants, and infants could understand it. Story after story would run on why crawling is God’s plan and that walking is an evil Liberal plot. “WALKING SUCKS!” Gotta keep your viewers comfortable and unchallenged if you don’t want them changing the channel. We've got Pablum to sell!

In America, today, you can ignore what scientists have to say, what historians say, what economists say, what philosophers say. You can be your own expert and if you are afraid enough, stubborn enough or lazy enough you can find a “truth” that fits the way you feel. When other nations are actually engaged in growth and a pursuit of truth over comfort, those other nations will surge ahead in the world while we remain rooted, withering in a dismal, misguided past.

My little bit of truth was good for me, good for those I serve with and good for the institution. Military leaders have said the very same thing about their own trans troops. They have said it right up until and right after Trump's pandering-to-the-bigot-base ban. And if Donald Trump possessed any powers of observation, he would be able to see the reckoning he is preparing for himself and those affiliated with him - adding one more dishonesty to a very dishonest presidency. That’s his story. And he's sticking to it.

As a nation, will we dead end by “sticking to the story,” or will we tell the uncomfortable truth, learn and grow from our discoveries and get America back on track? We all get to participate in answering that question, for better or worse.

Monday, June 26, 2017

I can't believe I am writing about restrooms...



"So what bathroom are you using now?" It's a good question. One that I haven’t received much.

I haven’t been asked too many tough questions, since I came out at work in April. Which is a shame because I really enjoy answering questions which make me think. I sometimes have to think out loud to actually figure stuff out.

The bathroom question has never really come up. So, in some ways I have had to ask myself that question and talk it out (poor Sarah).

Oh, what bathroom am I using? Thanks for asking! That's a great question. Before I get to the answer, I want to give you a little background.

When I was little, probably around age 4 or 5, I had this terrible, scary desire to be a girl. I did everything to try and put these "sinful" thoughts out of my head. Because, as a kid, I really believed that adults could "look into your eyes" and see the truth. And, I knew this was a “bad” thought I didn’t want my parents to see.

As a child, I took every opportunity I could to express myself as a girl, always when no one was around, and often, in a hidden fashion, when they were around. I grew up in a fairly violent home, a very religious home. So the penalty would be extreme if I were to get caught. More than fear, I was very ashamed of what I did. I knew I was going to go to hell for the way I felt about myself and for my actions.

I became hypertuned into observing my surroundings and the people around me. I really learned how to be a sneak and how to cover my tracks. I kept thinking, that as I got older, I would "grow out of it." I prayed for this to happen every day. The only change was when I hit puberty. My attraction to women intensified.

The only twist was that, coupled with my thoughts of coupling with a beautiful woman, were my thoughts that I wanted to have the same kind of body and energy as that beautiful woman. Not good.

More shame. More prayers. More hiding. More continual scanning of the horizon to look for potential icebergs. Many times, I tried to stop this desire, but I was always unsuccessful. You know the rest of the story.

I think diverting much of my energy to be always observing has made me good in jobs that I have held - from being a B-52 crewmember to my work as a firefighter. It definitely has made me more of an empathetic person. Somewhere in this gender dissonance was a weird creativity that I really enjoyed too.

This struggle eventually made me more of a kind person because you never know what things other people struggle with. And if you are always observing, sometimes you see it.

The downside is that always expecting disaster on the horizon has put me in some very dark places. It has made me a less trusting person. And the smallest hint of disapproval can send me into a tailspin. I am working on that. In some ways, it has not been fair to the people I love because seemingly innocuous things can get overblown in my mind - simply because my radar's power is turned up way too high.

When I came out, I was expecting a fight. In fact, I was kind of looking forward to it. Instead, I was given the most amazing outpouring of love and acceptance. I expected to be swinging my fists. That was really hard to do when I found myself in one long uninterrupted hug. I have been humbled and amazed. I am eternally grateful.

What does this have to do with restrooms? Well, maybe you need to use one now after this long introduction.

I still have my radar up and running, and the bathroom issue is no exception.I have recently installed a few filters lately to the scan.  I am still tuned into others around me. Coming out has only intensified that, but in a more empathetic way.

So, for me, the bathroom I will use, at least for right now is based on situational stuff and not wanting to shock people or make them uncomfortable.

At work, in my fire station, there are single occupancy bathrooms. I use those. At our training center, there are men's and women's rooms. I will use the women's because everyone at work knows I am a trans woman. I think this is the expectation of what I will do. And if I used the men's room at this point, my brothers would give me a ton of shit, and rightfully so.

In public places this is pretty situational too. I get it. I still look like a guy mostly. I am still fairly muscular and I am tall. In public, I sometimes dress kind of ambiguously. If I can use a public men's room without fear of getting my ass kicked, because of how I look or how I am dressed, I will do it. I don't want to have ciswomen feel uncomfortable with me in their space.

There is a tipping point for me and the radar I developed as a kid will be useful for me determining when it is more appropriate for me to use a public women's restroom, as opposed to the men's. I think the venue matters too. I will use the women's room at Nyne because I know they are used to trans folks as customers. When I was in Peru a couple of weeks ago, I never even considered using the women's room. I might have started an international incident. Besides, the women's rooms' lines were usually too long... That's a joke. But, they were really long.

In a nutshell, I live in a community. I work in a community. I want to fit in with that community whenever I can. I am not about taking a stand (provide your own urinal comment) to make people feel uncomfortable. I really value that people accept and love me. Today, I will take that over asserting my rights.

Most trans people I know are on the same sheet of music as me. We all just want to be accepted, to put our heads down and do our jobs, to love and be loved, to work to make the world better for future generations of all people - no matter who they are or what they are. All the trans people I know, so far, are kind people who don't seek to cause problems.

There is an initiative coming up - I-1552 - that will seek to limit restroom use for trans people. If it passes, it will become illegal for me to use the restroom which causes the least discomfort for other people. It will also put me and others at risk of violence. It will cause discord among all of us. I don't want to march for "the right to use a bathroom." I don't want to make people who love me choose sides. Everything is fine right now. The current law that we have works just fine. Let's not set the clock back in order to combat urban legends and some imaginative what-ifs and actually hurt real people.

The truth is about a month ago, I noticed I started getting some strange looks in the men's room while I was washing my hands. I looked in the mirror. Nine months of hormone replacement therapy and my face had changed. So had my body. There was physical ambiguity. And my radar picked up on the slightest discomfort from men in their room, a place where they should feel comfortable. I felt like an interloper. After that encounter, I started "holding it" until I made it back home. it wasn't even a conscious decision. I was just making an automatic course correction from my observations in order to make others feel comfortable.

To avoid using public restrooms out of a human concern for others' sensibilities is one thing. Making it a law is a civil rights issue. I would suspect you would see massive civil disobedience from trans people and their allies which would cause more discord and more problems between people who, when you get right down to it, love each other.

Right now, I use the restroom that causes the least dischord. A single occupancy at home and in the station. The women's room at other SFD facilities. And I just don't urinate in public restrooms, unless I reallllly have to go. If I do, I cautiously use the men's room, unless I am at an overtly trans friendly place. I suspect that once the scales have tipped and I look more female, I will use the women's room - cautiously and quickly - in public places.

Why would anyone want to prevent me from being kind and respectful of others? If you vote yes on the anti-trans bathroom bill, that's what you will be asking me to do when you make me use the men's room.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Haiku Friday on Saturday!



Haiku Friday June 23, 2017
on Saturday June 24, 2017


GLOOMY
you make me see things darker.
i've recently heard of "normal people's" happiness 
you stripped my normal happiness
like you stripped my sleeping body  -  Gracie

Peruse through Peru, It's funny to see the words, Lake Titicaca.   Don

Notch eared stray tabby.
Nineteen years. Painful joints. Farts.
Flies with party hats.
Caleb

Quiet, like a cat
  sprawled on the living room floor
    licking at his junk. Stine

Time to let it go:
  vestigial womanhood;
    that pink gingham dress. Stine

You'd better rest up
Lest you create some upchuck
No Tourista Bug! Stine

What is going on?
Not a thing as I had planned
Maybe tomorrow. Phyllis 

   The right and left wing
          Can't fly without the other
              Parts of the same bird
                                                     Rikosan

Only one chance at life. 
Seek out all, enrich oneself. 
No fear. Follow love. Jack

Three traits to work on
Bravery, truth and kindness

Connected opposed  - me 

Another Brew Run Run!


OK. I accidentally made this a private function on FaceBook. It's not. You (whoever you are) are invited!



Run, bike, start, whatever, from wherever but let's plan on being at No-Li at 1:30 pm. Then we will run back into downtown to Black Label. After that, the order is Steel Barrel, River City and we'll finish at Iron Goat. Iron Goat has good food too. 
Orlison and Whistle Punk are closed on Sundays, or I would have put them on the route.

The FB site is here. You can message me on this page via comments or you can email me here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

How a bout a little Haiku Friday?




Haiku Friday, June 16, 2017

A New Moon haiku!
All possibility is
Right before our eyes. Eve

So subliminal. Almost too subtle I think. Covert poetry. Bob

Nixon did it too! You guys are crazy that way. How do you do that? Doug

Sometimes I'm surprised,
The eloquence of the rhymes,
Think I'll do it twice. Tyson

Haiku withdrawal
For seven days we wait sad
Syllables on hold  Grace

Work to do today
While my friend Maeve gets to play
Still happy for her!   Christen

 Out in the alley
  Methy misunderstandings
    long before sun-up. Stine

So many poppies --
  red petal-paper unfurled,
    fleeting dominions. Stine

For a brief moment
                 Aloft in the still darkness 
                     Higher than the moon
                                                            Rikosan

Happy Birthday Don, 73 isn't old, Russia is coming. Don

Train car commandos
Loco laughter pulls tears
And I'm back on track   Me

Why grieve potential?
Future deserves its repast

Seedling lifts much soil  Me