Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Running True, Episode 1, 11-29-17

Running has been an important part of my life for over 40 years. I have never been a "great" runner but I have been a faithful and persistent one. Running has helped me sort through a lot of things in my head. One thing that always kept coming up was my transgender stuff from my childhood and how to manage it as an adult.

In fact, it was because of an ultra marathon and a request made of me during that time that I came out to the rest of my family, my friends and everyone else.

One of the downsides (maybe the only downside) of hormone replacement therapy was that after about six months of it, running sucked. It seemed pointless. I know many of you not on HRT feel the same way about running anyway!

I want to rediscover running again this time in a body that has about 1/50th of the testosterone it did have and about twenty times the estrogen, a body that looks and feels a lot different, better, but different.

Also, my mind has changed some too. And I think that's where the real challenge in long distance running comes from.

I have a 31 mile race planned for four months from now. I need to get from zero miles per week up to about 80.

It's going to be a new kind of running for me. I will be running with a new body and mind and with the truth out of who I am.

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.