With Memory and Honor

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

OK, kids, it’s time to get serious, because the violence against the TG community is very serious indeed.


This Friday, November 20th, marks the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This event is held to pay respect to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence and reckless hate; it is also held to increase awareness within the community at large to this violence and the danger it holds, not only for gender-variant individuals but those who share their lives. In 2009 alone, 99 individuals worldwide have been murdered either because they were transgendered, were involved with someone transgendered, or – perhaps most unsettling of all - were perceived to be transgendered by their attacker(s). With the violence against the community escalating at an alarming rate (2009′s murders to date are more than twice that of 2008′s), informing the public and working to educate others is a key step in reducing these senseless acts and preserving the dignity, safety and lives of all citizens.I encourage you to participate in your local events; the light of awareness helps to dispel the shadows of ignorance and hate.
For more information, or to find an event near you, please visit http://www.transgenderdor.org or http://www.transohio.org.

Saying Goodbye

There once was a girl, and she was loved.

Loved by her parents, by her friends, even by her bratty little brother, who delighted in torturing her by, well, being a little brother.

She was a shy girl, but by all accounts as sweet and kind as you were likely to find in the human species. Behind her thick glasses were eyes that saw the world as inherently good, and a mind ready not to judge, but to seek out that goodness, and cherish it.

The girl grew into a woman, and found herself a man. The man was very gruff and hard, with a lot of rough edges, but over the long years of their marriage, her sweetness washed over him in patient waves, smoothing those edges and softening the jagged hardness of him, until people who’d known him as a young man would remark that he was as transformed as Saul on the road to Damascus.

The woman had two children, who she raised to be hard-working and brave and as kind as she. Later, when her bratty little brother, having grown up as well, had children of his own, she was as loving and generous an aunt as anyone might ask for, ready to dole out hugs or treats or gentle encouragement as the situation required. She was especially kind to her nephew, a child of odd and precocious nature, a bookworm and a smartass. Unlike so many others, she remained kind and loving to that same child when she became her niece.

There was once a woman, and she was as loving as she was loved.

Years passed. Toward the end of her life, she developed diabetes, and the complications that often arise with it. She was a woman long accustomed to taking care of others before herself, and so found herself spending a lot of time at the doctors, at dialysis, at the hospital. During what would turn out to be her final stay in one of these hospitals, she contracted MRSA after having some reparative surgery, and all too soon after that, she was gone.

We tend to take the warmth of the sun for granted until it passes behind a cloud, and this is how it was with my aunt Pat. We’d kept loose tabs on each other over the years, not seeing each other as often as we’d like, but maintaining a fundamental love that never faded, touching base at holidays and birthdays. And now that she’s gone, I find myself wishing for one more conversation about the day, one more story about my dad’s childhood brattiness, one more hug and a smile. The sun has gone behind a cloud, and I find myself ill-prepared for the chill in the air.

There once was a girl, and she was loved.

She still is.

Stuff from the Attic (June 2009 Edition)

In the wake of the recent (and, let it be said, extremely fun) Claire De Lunacy blogoversary, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with something blog-worthy to fill this site. I’ve had several false starts, but they seemed too facile or insubstantial to sustain an entire post (and if something on THIS site is too ephemeral to support a post, you know we’re in trouble). So, just to keep the blood pumping, I present to you the following list of topics currently banging around in my noggin’.

1) Henchmen of shared nationality and language who, despite being utterly alone unless fighting the hero of the pic or book, speak English with each other. We’ve all seen this a thousand times. James Bond is scampering about, chopping necks and turning his shoe into a shaped charge against the wall of the evil mastermind’s lair, and miles away, Sergei and Boris are walking the perimeter, conversing in a language they no doubt had to learn for solely professional reasons.  “But,” I hear you asking, “what if they’re under orders to speak English, so that the dastardly associates of their employer can speak with them directly? What if, in the underworld of crime and perfidity, English functions much as it does in the world of legitimate business, a sort of koine that assures everyone is at a mutual disadvantage during negotiations?”

To which I reply, “Oh, piffle.”

Seriously, if you’re in another country (even for work) and you’re back at the hostel, waiting for dinner or to be abducted and sold into white slavery until rescued by Liam Neeson, are you chatting with your mates in Castillian about the latest episode of 30 Rock? Of course you aren’t.

[NOTE: Obviously, this rule doesn't apply if you've brought a potential love interest back to the apartment, in which case you behave as though you were steeped in the same cultural and linguistic influences they were, so that they see you are a person of substance, and also so that they will let you touch their naughty bits.]

But Sergei and Boris aren’t interested in gettin’ it on, they’re (presumably) trying to pop a cap in the gent from MI-6. Plus, in accordance with the Convenient Plot Furtherance Act of 1982, they are inevitably childhood friends who dreamt of one day working as the muscle for one of many human embodiments of evil, and are therefore no longer trying to impress one another.

Bottom line, henchpeople who are nowhere near people who do not speak their mother tongue should converse in it without feeling obligated to help the audience along.

[This goes double for Klingons.]

2) And speaking of James Bond, why can’t we have a movie about Q-Branch? James Bond is 007. That means there are at least six other 00′s out there (unless they start with 000, in which case there are seven), and I’m betting that they give Q-Branch as much trouble as James does. Are we meant to believe that wacky hijinks ensue only when The Man Who Really Should Only Be Played By Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan comes around? I think not.

I’m picturing a series of films starring John Cleese. Music by Danny Elfman, with special guest Eric Idle as “Zed,” the lowest-ranking member of Q-Branch whose zany antics create problems for R at first, but ultimately provide the solution to the crisis facing the team.

Gold, I’m telling you. GOLD.

3) Cable Internet should not just fail for no discernible reason. I pay top dollar each month for Road Runner Turbo. When it works, it is a heavenly connection to the global information stream. When it fails (which it does with alarming regularity ever since Time Warner sent me an “improved” replacement modem to exchange for the old one that worked PERFECTLY WELL WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE, EVER), my wrath becomes a molten volcano of  earth-scorching magma, eager to strip the flesh and sinew from those who have denied me the chance to show Dramatic Prairie Dog to the one friend who hasn’t yet seen it.

Even now, THIS VERY SECOND, my Internet is out for the fourth time today. The FOURTH TIME! It often lasts for an hour or more. Requests for assistance are met with blank stares or infuriating questions (especially to an IT person) like “Have you restarted your computer?” and “Is your house properly wired for both electricity and cable?”

No, jackass, I’m living in a sod house on the banks of Plum F-ing Creek with Mary and Laura.

Bah!

[This topic may grow into a full-blown entry, depending on how my next volley of requests is handled by the TWC crew.]

4) Hormones make you fat. OK, I’ll admit that the pepper-and-olive pizza I eat a little too often is aiding and abetting the ‘mones in their evil quest to turn my ass into an earthwork, but my regular workouts don’t cut the difference anymore. When, last week, I realized I had not only stopped losing weight (even with the help of Fullbar), but was GAINING, I knew it was time to take drastic measures. So, now I work out twice a day…strength and flexibility in the morning, aerobic exercise at night (if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m riding a freaking bike).

So far, I’ve stopped gaining. However, my overall wimpiness and disturbingly taut pants suggest even more drastic measures may be necessary, e.g. not eating a bowl of cereal every night even though cereal is a gift from Ceres to show that we are worthy of deliciousness.

And if I have to eliminate cheese, there may very well be no point to living.

Also, I could probably stand to workout harder. And longer.And, God help us all, join a gym.

Me! Be a joiner! The mind boggles. Ah, well, no one said being a glamor girl was easy.

But if that fails, I am just biting the bullet and shopping around for an eating disorder like my friends. Well, I mean, an eating disorder that makes me thin rather than saurian.

5) Chaz Bono has a rough ride ahead. I feel Chaz’s pain. Here’s a person who has spent their life trapped in the wrong body, and has weight issues to boot. Chaz, buddy, I am pulling for you! I hope that, as they did for me, your weight issues start to resolve as you resolve your gender issues. Plus, the testosterone will help you build muscle, which, as the Lotte Berk method teaches us, eats fat. Sure, you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll bet that with your limitless financial resources and access to Hollywood’s beautification professionals, you’ll be running through the surf, Hasselhoff-style, in no time flat.

Just remember the words of C.S. Lewis: “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”

Also, please remember that I was so supportive and send me any extra trainers and/or plastic surgeons you have laying around.

6) Going back to school is nerve-wracking but also exciting as hell. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going back to college in the Winter quarter of 2009-2010. I made a promise to myself when I was but a sprout, and that promise was that I would become a doctor of philosophy in the science of linguistics. As of this year, that dream begins to come true. I’m writing essays, I’m gathering letters of recommendation, I’m purchasing raccoon coats and little football pennants that say things like “Rah!” (just in case I’m thrown back in time and have to wrap things up in the 1920s). I suspect that my mania regarding this process is the real reason I’ve been blog-avoidant of late; I’ve been trying to conserve my creative and intellectual juices so that I may make a favorable impression on the doyens et doyennes of academia who will determine my worthiness for further growth.

Not that they want to hear about my juices, creative or otherwise. In fact, I’m fairly certain no one does. Let’s just pretend I never said it and focus on my casual usage of French in a context designed to make me appear worldly without being a pompous ass.

There – that’s better, non?

7) My being transgendered does not give you the right to disrespect me. I didn’t want to take a whole blog post with this topic, as this particular saw has several busted teeth, but a recent incident freaked me the hell out and I had to say something.

I keep an announcement board on the window of my office, a little dry-erase deal with the names of myself and my assistant written along the left-hand side, with a magnetic dot indicating whether we are “in” or “out,” and a space to clarify as necessary (e.g., “in a pointless meeting,” “saving children from burning orphanage,” “having lunch with the Married Crush in the hope that my telepathy will finally kick in and she will find herself immersed in the golden sunbeams of my undying adoration, whereby she will realize she has been a fool to toy with me and loves me as well,” et hoc genus omne). Usually, I don’t even look at the board; I just slide the dot from “out” to “in,” unlock my office, and begin counting the minutes ’til five o’clock.

That day, however, I noticed something different.

Someone had erased “Claire” and written my OLD name. Not the name by which I was known, mind you, but my old LEGAL name.

Now, I hear some of you asking “So? What’s the big deal?” and I get that, I really do. After all, it was just a simple scribble on a white board.

That said, imagine if you will my confusion and, yes, fear. Here was a bit of information that, while hardly a state secret, was not common knowledge, even among my friends. Here was an act that said, in essence, “I am denying you exist, and I am quite literally attempting to erase you.” Was this a harmless prank, or was some whack-a-do hiding in the creepy warehouse shelves behind me, waiting for me to be distracted so they could brain me with a pipe wrench and add bits of my body to the silver skeleton in their basement?

In erasing my name and writing the old one, they were (whether they were cognizant of the fact or not) challenging my right to exist as myself. They were attacking me, in a “safe” place, with my own possessions.

I felt violated. I felt sick.

And then I got angry.

I wiped the board clean, re-wrote my name clearly and firmly, and then e-mailed HR.

Now, it must be said that the HR department was exceptionally helpful and kind. They immediately contacted security to see if any tape was available for the time when the “prank” most likely occurred. They were sympathetic to my concerns, and assured me that action would be taken against the person who had done this. After talking with them, I felt reassured – clearly, someone cared and would support me.

Presently, the perpetrator remains unknown (at least to me). I’m not going to pretend this is as serious as the attacks that happen to transpeople every day, both in this country and worldwide. After all, I didn’t have to earn my lesson with blood or, worse yet, my life.  But to me, a girl who is already hyper-vigilant when in public, the loss of one of the few places I felt safe to relax my guard is a very real attack on me and my right to live my life.

I’m not going to let it change my desire to see the good in people, or to try my best to be an ambassador for transpeople to the mainstream world.

But just the same, Ice Station Zebra is a little colder these days.

CDL Blogoversary, Day Six: Reduction Redux

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today's Guest Blogger is Heather Holmes. I met her through a mutual friend and then got to know her better on The InterWebz via Twitter and Facebook. Heather's undergoing breast reduction surgery TODAY, and has opted to share her story with us here. Drop by her web site, Bohemian Bumblings, and say hi!]

We always want what we can’t have.  We all are always saying, “I wish I had this,” or “I want that” (insert your own wishes and wants).  I think women in particular are guiltier of this, perhaps because of the standards to which we often feel we’re held by society.

Let’s take a common example – breasts.  Breast augmentation accounts for nearly 20% of all procedures done today in plastic surgery.  That is a whole lot of fake boobs, especially when you consider just how many procedures fall into the plastic surgery category.  A week ago, I was sitting in a scientific session where researchers were discussing a promising new material for breast implants that is potentially safer and more durable than what’s being used today.  Huh.  “That’s funny,” I thought, “considering that in a week I’m going in for breast reduction.  My SECOND breast reduction. SO many women are paying thousands of dollars [or using myfreeimplants.com – yes, it is a real site] for something I’m willfully getting rid of.”  It would seem that I have the unique ability to regenerate boobs.  Don’t you wish you were me?

No, you don’t, actually.  You can sit there and wish all you want, but take it from someone who is on the not-so-much greener side of the grass, large breasts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  Maybe I’m a bit more negative because I have had them for so long.  I’m not gonna lie -  I’ve used them to my advantage on more than one occasion.  But, when you’re 11 years old with a D-cup and most of your friends have barely hit the training bra stage, you can be sure it’s going to be a rough ride.

I remember sitting at lunch in 7th grade and all the boys giggling and being stupid.  Come to find out they were acting that way because one of them happened to notice I was sitting sort of hunched over (a common way to sit when you have ginormous boobs) with my boobs resting on the table top.  Not something I was doing intentionally I assure you! At that point in my life. I was really doing all I could to try to hide how huge they were.  Plus, in schools (or any big building) the air conditioning makes you freeze, and freezing boobs = erect nipples.  Try to hide D cups with high beams as a 12 year old – Ha!  Another time, in 8th grade, one of the boys told me that I had an uncanny knack for wearing tight shirts.  He was complimenting me; I was trying to figure out WTF “uncanny knack” meant.  Funny, I use that term all the time now.  Once I learned what it meant back then, though,  it just added to my trying to minimize them.

Bad posture is another problem.  Clothes that don’t fit properly, either because they’re too tight, or too loose and sloppy.  High beams.  Nicknames (my favorite being “Mount EverBreast”).  Custom-made bras because they don’t make ones to fit you at the store.  Yeah, all fun that you want to have, right?  I have yet to mention that up until I was about 25 I was moderately thin.  And short.  Little woman, ginormous boobs.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Skipping ahead to 2007.  I decided to undergo breast reduction surgery.  I was very open about this with my friends and family and received an amazing amount of support, mostly because they all knew what I’d suffered with for so long.  Sure there were a few naysayers.  “You’ve got a gift most women would kill for.”  Well, as it turns out I’m not most women, and I’m nearly willing to kill to be done with them.  I’m not an organ donor but I did tell a few people that if I could donate my breast tissue to them I would (I guess that’s something that hasn’t been scientifically studied yet).

About a month after the surgery, I was sporting great new perky boobs and feeling pretty good.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that another downside to these monsters is that they sag.  I look fine when I have a GOOD bra on but if I don’t my nipples are having a party with my navel.  Imagine how fun that is!  The weight is ridiculous.  I have no idea what this translates to, but with the procedure in 2007 about 450cc’s was removed from each breast [Editor's Note: That translates to 15.2 ounces, or nearly two cups].  I think that’s quite a bit.  So yeah, back to the perky boobs…they were awesome.

“Were” being the operative term, naturally.  Shortly after the surgery, I went for my annual gynecological exam and decided to start on a different birth control.  I use the term “birth control” loosely, because for me it has always been hormone adjustment.  That is, keeping me sane, keeping my family from killing me, and keeping me from having 20 day periods.  Any ideas yet on where this is going?

People are all prone to different things.  Acne, weight gain, allergies, breast regeneration.  Oh wait, that last one is just me.  Or just me and about ONE in every 200,000 women that undergo reduction.  It isn’t a natural thing really, it is something that we do to ourselves, but it happens to so few of us that it is hardly acknowledged.  It seems that one of the things I am prone to is receptive hormones.  That probably explains the 20 day periods and the psycho moods (okay, more psycho than normal).  Oh, and it also explains why within 2 years my C’s went back to DDD/F’s.  What can I say?  Hormones love me.  It isn’t a mutual love though, that’s for sure.

Interesting though, isn’t it?  All of it – the way the human body works, the way the mind works.  We want and wish and hope and dream.  Often times, we can’t appreciate what we have, other times we are seriously hindered by what we have.  Someone once said to me that I was going to sit around and wish my life away.  Rather prophetic if you think about what that means.

I am fortunate that I am able to deal with my problem – and I know what caused it so I shouldn’t have to deal with it again.  IF, and that’s a BIG IF, it happens again while I’m not putting any hormones into my body (other than what is pumped into my food) I’m finding some budding scientist to do testing on my genes and find out what is causing my spontaneous re-growth and I’m bottling that shit and selling it.  I could give so many women what they think always wanted and I could make serious bank.  Seriously though, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Back to where I started though –thinking about women, and some men, who actually get implants so they have breasts.  I can certainly understand the desire.  Breasts can be great confidence builders, they can give an appearance of absolute feminism, they are simply identifiers of that which is woman.  You’ve seen a very small part of my story to know that they can also be a really horrible thing to live with.  I haven’t even touched on the back pain that I have or how hard it is for me to find nice clothes or how hard it is to sleep at night or how I’m constantly fighting a rash that develops underneath them.  The pain is the real reason I am having it done again, it isn’t because I love surgery or anything.  It is because I’m miserable.  Yuck.

So to all the girls and boys out there that love boobs – keep on loving them.  If you want them I hope you get them.  Just remember that sometimes you really do get what you hope for, and sometimes it turns out to be a nightmare.  By the time you read this, I’ll have undergone the procedure and should be near recovery.  Know that you’re reading the words of a woman written with DDD’s but at the end of the last sentence she’ll be a C again.

Cheers.

[It's me again. What can I say? I'm speechless. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly re-evaluating my personal wish list. Be sure to stop by Heather's site and wish her a speedy recovery, or hit her up on The Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LaVieBoheme73 (she's got her updates protected, so a little paitence may be in order).

Coming up tomorrow: Television, and why it is is both inescapable and necessary. See you then!]

Twitter is Ruining My Blog-ability.

You know how it is, kids.

You’re at home, snacking on the miscellaneous Christmas goodies laying around like nutritional minefields, and when dinnertime rolls around, you’re barely able to eat some turkey and dressing before you push away from the table, sick of eating, sick of food, sick of everything.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I Twitter.

I Twitter a LOT.

And as a result of all these microblog snacks, when it comes time to sit down for a meal at the blogging table, I find myself without appetite.

There has to be a happy medium, right? Some way to find balance between these two extremes? But that’s a tightrope I’m just not sure I can walk, being one of those gals who runs hot-hot-hot or cold-cold-cold.

Suggestions? Help me, blogosphere – you’re my only hope!

Jackson Comes Alive!

Yeah, sorry about that, Pete. Trying to make a point here.

Yeah, sorry about that, Pete. Trying to make a point.

Things Peter Frampton and I have in common:

1) We both reside in Ohio.

2) We both enjoy the dulcet and masterful tones of Django Reinhardt.

3) We’re both pretty f-ing pissed off that people keep stealing our Obama yard signs.

I mean, come ON. All I wanna be is free to support the candidate of my choice. Is it so hard to believe that I deserve the respect of my right-wing neighbors, rather than their scorn and midnight sign-lifting skullduggery?

What kind of world are we living in here? I mean, they have TEN THOUSAND (actual number: 17) McCain/Failin’ signs scattered in the yards near my home. Is it REALLY necessary to boost my lonely Obama sign? And, if you’re going to steal that one, why on earth would you leave all the signs for the Ohio Democratic nominees? Does your percolating, first-amendment-ignoring hatred for my political affiliation extend only to the Federal level, or are you (as I suspect) so woefully ignorant of local and state politics that you left the signs intact for fear that one might be for a Republican candidate?

There are four days left ’til the election. At no time during the election year have I felt the urge to go a-prowling through the neighbor’s yards, plucking their ubiquitous McCain/Unable cardboard bits from their aluminum stems like so many red-hued flowers in a garden of hate. Yet here I stand (figuratively speaking), my own small plot ravaged by the petty larceny of someone bent on breaking all the rules.

Seriously, believe what you want, people. Support whomever you choose. Just try to remember that, as Heinlein taught us, your right to swing your fist ends at another person’s face (well, an inch or two away, actually) and your right to rock(ing chair) the vote ends at the edge of my property.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a video camera, a length of rope, and a sign to buy.

Minus One Minerva

When I first met Minerva, she was a mess.

I mean, she was in pieces – literally.

That’s because I ordered her that way, of course…no sense in mucking about with prefab nonsense when a little elbow grease and tricksy hardware know-how could carry the day.

Yes, on that day over five years ago now, I cracked open the unwieldy box of computer parts I’d purchased and, squinting in the dusty beams of late-afternoon sunlight, began to assemble my precious, precious computer.

It should be noted here that I have always been a “do-it-yourself” kinda girl, at least when it comes to computerized electronics. Anything mechanical does not respond to my freaky-deaky powers of insight, but throw a few chips into it and I can make it sing, brother. Which is why I was pleased but ultimately unsurprised that Minerva came together so painlessly…sure, her processor arrived from the manufacturer with a few broken pins (and that’s why we buy the shipping insurance, ladies and gentlemen), but beyond that, building Minerva and installing her OS and all the other crap I use every day went like clockwork. Within a few hours after replacing her processor with the new one, she was humming along, busily becoming the primary hub of my little home network.

And now, she is gone.

Sure, her hard drive survives as an external USB attachment, but that’s cold comfort when I look at her dim and unilluminated shell sitting in the corner of my library like the husk of some unloved sea creature with skin problems and social retardation.Her motherboard is fried, and the financial complications accompanying my Transition do not allow for the purchase of another for some months.

So, for the past week, I have been in mourning, rebuliding, restoring and reinstalling as much as I can by incorporating her into the little server I use for data backups, but it’s just weird to be using another machine (even my laptop seems somehow less fit for the job) to work on illustrations, answer e-mails, and, yes, write my blog.

However, I have steeled myself and am determined to move past this temporary setback…onward and upward, and all that.

In her honor, I present to you, gentle readers, the following poem, written about Minerva’s Grecian analogue, Athena, and her temple at Athens – also known as the Parthenon. It’s not so much a tribute as it is a tangentially-connected bit of verse that will help me get the hell over things, but there you are. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, the poem is written as a modified choka (my own preference is to make every verse conform to the 5-7-5 rule, rather than the more traditional 5-7-5, 7-5, 7-5 pattern with which you may be familiar).

Parthenon


Four by nine; that is

The ratio of X to

2 times X plus one

Dream of Pericles

No other temple like it

Athena rules here

Behold! A statue

Thirteen meters, head to toe

Gold and ivory

In her hand rests Nike

On her shield, centaurs wage war

Wise queen of Athens

Behold the huge frieze

That adorns the naos trim

Her honor, or theirs?

Only in Athens

Could mere mortals appear where

Gods and legends dwell

Gaze with wide wonder

At four outer friezes of

Pan-Hellenic might

Centaur, Amazon

Barbarian and Titan

Taste the blades of Greece

Mighty is Athens!

All Greece pays homage to her

And her Parthenon

Yet even Athens

Must pay the piper of time

War, conquest, neglect

Where are the voices?

Dust chokes the alter and fills

The reflecting pool

Gone is Athena

Her face is turned away, now

From those she favored

The stone is pitted

Faces soften, colors fade

Memory erodes

Like a shed snakeskin,

The shape of what was remains

The ghost of Hubris.

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