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.
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Out and About

So here’s the thing, kids:

It’s National Coming Out Week, and as I do every year, I pause to reflect on the general status of both the LGBT community and the larger world in which it must function. We’re all another year older, another year further down the road to equality, another year further down the road to an apocalypse starring John Cusack.

Rather than try to create something long-winded and deeply philosophical (for a change, cough, cough), I have created two lists this year: one contains hopeful signs that humanity will indeed embrace its angel and not its ape, learning at long last to love and cherish each other. The other list contains signs that God was a little too hasty in promising never to flood this blue rock ever again.

THINGS CONCERNING “THE GAY” THAT ARE PLEASING IN MY SIGHT IN 2009

1) Obama finally owned up to his promise on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Hurray! Barack remembered that he made a promise when he was campaigning to get elected! Now, if he can just come up with WHEN he will repeal it…

2) And speaking of politicians doing the right thing, Governor Schwarzenegger created Harvey Milk Day this year. It’s very encouraging to see the heroes and martyrs of our community being granted the same respect and honor as other key figures in American history. Also, bonus points to Arnie for not trying to shoehorn any catchphrases into the legislation.

3) A Trans-inclusive version of the ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) was finally introduced this year. At last, there’s a real chance that LGBT Americans will be protected from the discrimination millions of us face every single day of our lives. No one – NO ONE – should be denied a job, a home,  or a chance at a productive life because of their sexuality, and when this passes, it will be a huge stride forward for this country and for equal rights.

4) Even without an inclusive ENDA, we occasionally win the respect we deserve. Now, having been on the end of some not-so-subtle discrimination myself, I felt Diane Schroer’s pain when I first heard about this story. You don’t have to be Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, to see that a job offer that’s rescinded when one reveals that they are transgendered is a little suspect. And yes, I know this is hardly Hollywood-movie triumphant – the administration’s refusal to appeal the decision isn’t the same as saying “Hey, genius, lay off the hatin'” but progress is progress.

5) Iran allowed its first Transgendered Marriage this year. I’m on the fence about this one, actually. Yes, it’s great that transpeople can marry, but Iran, a notoriously oppressive theocracy with zero tolerance for any sort of homosexuality, has embraced transgenderism because (in the case of heterosexual couples, at least), it conforms to the traditional male-female paradigm. And,  as the article notes, there’s very legitimate concern that not all of Iran’s transgendered people are transgendered; in fact, some may be lesbians and gays circumventing the law with what can only be called extreme dedication.

THINGS CONCERNING “THE GAY” OVER WHICH I WEPT TEARS OF BLOOD IN 2009

1) Violence against transgendered people worldwide is on the RISE. Iran may be all set to let us get hitched, but worldwide, it’s still a very dangerous thing for transgendered people to be honest about their identity. It can cost us our jobs, our familes, and, increasingly, our lives.

2) In fact, all LGBT folks are painted with targets these days. Violence is not okay. It’s not okay as a tactic to demean, to defile, to diminish anyone. It’s not okay to incite aggression and hatred for someone because you happen to disagree with their lifestyle.

Violence.

Is.

NOT.

Okay.

OK?

3) We still can’t get married…well, at least not everywhere. Canada, America’s Hat, has it. A sprinkling of US States have it: Iowa; Vermont; Connecticut; Maine; Massachusetts.   Many others allow domestic partnerships, or, as I like to call it, “Marriage Lite.” So what’s the hold up, people? The states where LGBT couples can marry didn’t sink into the ocean or disappear in flashes of light. It’s time to recognize that two people of the same sex can and do share loving, lifelong relationships (many with greater success than their heterosexual counterparts…I’m looking at YOU, Hollywood!).

As usual, I like my “Good” list to be longer than my “Bad” list. I could, of course, go on and and on about the injustices and indignities suffered by LGBT people in today’s world, but I’d rather focus on the triumphs and successes. After all, we’re not solely defined by our LGBT-ness; we’re parents, siblings, children, spouses and friends, and beyond that, we are all (regardless of color, creed, race, gender or sexuality) human beings.

Overall, I’d say things are looking up, and that in a lot of important ways, 2009 will go down in history as an important part of both LGBT history and history in general. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, don’t be afraid this week (or any other week) to be honest with yourself and others about who you are…you owe it to them and you owe it to yourself.

And those of you who aren’t LGBT but have a loved one or friend who is, I encourage you to remain (or become) a supportive and loving part of their lives. Coming out of the closet can be a scary thing, and it’s always nice to be greeted by a friend rather than a fist.

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 One: What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding Transgenderism?

Today is Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary. To celebrate, I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Over the next week, 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 Blog is by my friend Sra, a very dear “friend once removed.” When she’s not sharing her adventures and insights at her own, also awesome blog, Bunsnip, she can be found preparing for the big move from Utah to Portland, Oregon for law school.]

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding Transgenderism?

Hello, everyone, my name is Sra and I write the drivel over at Bunsnip.com. I’m a real life friend of one of Claire’s real life friends, which means Claire and I are real life friends once removed, or just virtual friends, if you like. Claire is one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most bizarre people I’ve ever virtually met. Whenever she writes a comment on my blog, I’m left either laughing my ass off, or scratching my head because I don’t understand the obscure references she is able to pull out of her ass… er… I mean… her exceedingly knowledgeable brain… on any topic imaginable, but I’m sure these references would only make her comments all the more funny if understood. With this, her one year blogiversary of making people laugh and scratch their heads, Claire deserves to sit back, kick up her feet, and let other people do all the work for her for once. I’m only happy to oblige.

I’ve decided to write a little bit about transgenderism, since this seems a nice venue to do so. I am very interested in the topics of sexuality and gender, and if you’ve read Claire’s Transgender Primer for the Curious, Apprehensive, or Confused, you know that sexuality and gender are not the same thing. For instance, I was ok with “the gay”, as Claire likes to say, well before I understood and accepted transgenderism.

I don’t remember exactly when I became ok with homosexuality, but I know it was sometime before high school. Of course, as a young child it didn’t occur to me that there could be some moral difference between having romantic feelings for a person of one gender versus another. This attitude that one type of sexual attraction is ok while another is verboten is socialized into us. Sometime around maybe 4th or 5th grade, when kids are becoming more cognizant of their sexuality, I became aware of the fact that people recognize straight versus gay, and that straight is perceived as normal, while anything else is considered aberrant.

When I was a tween and young teenager, it was a regular part of slang to call things “gay” to mean “stupid”, and I partook of this slang like everyone else. Then sometime in high school, well after I had decided that homosexuality was a perfectly viable and completely amoral way of life, a friend of mine pointed out that using the word “gay” to mean “stupid” sent a message that I was actually much less accepting of homosexuality than I claimed. For some reason, I needed a little convincing (looking back now, I can’t remember how I might have rationalized my use of that slang), but I finally came to understand her reasoning and made the effort to change my slang usage.

And doing so made me realize that I may not have been as accepting as I had thought. It was then that it also occurred to me that, while I understood homosexuality, I didn’t understand transgenderism at all. And again, looking back now, it’s hard for me to revert to that state of mind in which I just don’t get it. I mean, if it’s perfectly natural to think that one could be attracted to someone regardless of sex, notwithstanding the accepted norm, it also seems perfectly natural that one could personally identify as either gender, notwithstanding the body into which one was born. But back then, I didn’t understand. I felt like if I was going to become the accepting person that I wanted to be, I really needed to figure transgenderism out.

~~ Let me make a little aside here. Some people errantly believe that when you’re talking about accepting homosexuality and transgenderism, then naturally you must also be willing to accept pedophilia, bestiality, polyamory, and, hell, maybe even necrophilia; like maybe homosexuality and transgenderism are gateway drugs to throwing all limits out the window, sexually speaking. This is a non sequitur, of course. (As an aside to the aside, with the exception of pedophilia, which I do find appallingly immoral, I am not making any judgment as to the morality of those other -alities, -amories, and -philias. Some of them might be a little stomach churning, however.) ~~

At about this same time, Hillary Swank played the role of a female-to-male transgendered person in the movie Boys Don’t Cry, which is based on the true story of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, who is murdered when his friends discover that he was born female. I happened to come across the movie on TV one night, and found it very humanizing of transgenderism. It’s a story of love; it’s a story of hate. In short, it’s a story of the human condition. The film helped me see transgendered people as, well, just that, people. Really, that’s all it took for me to find acceptance of transgenderism, and understanding came with time.

In college, I learned that one of my family members identifies as transgendered, and I felt very fortunate that by this time I had already taken the steps to achieve understanding and acceptance of transgenderism, and wouldn’t have to deal with the search for acceptance when what was really important was showing love and support of this person, who is, after all, still my family.

A few years later, a friend of mine who I had known as Jason back in high school met with me for lunch because he had something to tell me. He was reluctant to divulge the secret, but I think subconsciously I had figured it out, because one of my first guesses was, “You’re not getting a sex change, are you?” That’s when Jason’s voiced morphed into the much higher voice of Lauren, “Well, actually…”

I was shocked, not only because I didn’t expect Jason’s voice ever to reach that high, but because a year or so prior, I had welcomed Lauren home from her LDS mission, which she had taken as Jason. That just shows to go you that you can’t suppose someone isn’t gay or transgendered just because of their religion. As a matter of fact, Lauren still remains devout to her faith, as do, surprisingly, many gay, bisexual, and transgendered people of all kinds of faith.

The most difficult part of learning that someone you know and love is transgendered is having to play the pronoun game. Hard as you may try, you will slip up, probably many times, before the hes and shes fall out naturally in their correct place. Incidentally, I’ve heard people use “it” when referring to transgendered people, and I can’t tell you how offensive I find that. People are never “its”.

The greatest thing about learning that someone you know and love is transgendered is the way that the person finally starts to make sense. Lauren in particular was always a little bit strange to me, growing up. In high school, as Jason, she would do this thing where she’d get uncomfortable and suddenly lower her voice dramatically. I always just thought she was being a goof, but now it suddenly makes sense. She had struggled with her gender identity her entire life, and tried hard to convince herself that she was a boy when inside she always felt like a girl. When she felt she was failing at being a convincing boy, she’d lower her voice nervously, or do something stereotypically male, trying to cover up. Learning that my friend was always the right person in the wrong body made everything about her click to me.

Claire makes the third transgendered person I know in my life. I’m counting her on account of our real life friends once removed status. The point here isn’t that I’m keeping score on my diversity of friendship score card, but that I am a 26 year old woman from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I know three transgendered people, which means there is probably someone in your life who is transgendered as well. This is why it’s important to come to understand transgenderism, and homosexuality, and bisexuality, as perfectly valid ways of identifying, because someone you know and care about will probably identify as one or more of these things. I think in life we all just want to be accepted and understood for who we are. I think if we try to accept and understand other people, without caveats and conditions, we will in turn find it easier to be understood and accepted ourselves. Easier said than done, especially for a grouchy non-people-person such as myself, but I work on it, and so should we all.

[It’s me again. Isn’t she great? Please be sure to pay her a visit at her blog, and tune in tomorrow for another great post dealing with Adam Lambert’s failure to become The Fairest of Them All, and what it means in today’s society.]

Guestastic!

Faithful Readers:

Later this week, Claire De Lunacy will be celebrating its first blogiversary.  It’s been an interesting year, full of adventures with the courts and virtual attempts to bike to Mormon-filled deserts.  I’ve changed, the world has changed, and so have all of you (except for this guy).

To celebrate my first blogiversary, I’ll be featuring a week of guest posts starting Wednesday next (June 3rd) and concluding on the following Wednesday (June 10th). I’ve got a couple pieces of short fiction, some commentary, and more!

Plus, to commemmorate this (ahem) momentous occasion, I’ll be publishing a FULL-LENGTH short story from the Circe universe on the last day, June 10th.

Each day, I’ll briefly introduce each guest author and then let their words flow. As always, commentary from the readers is both welcome and encouraged.

I hope you’ll join us for the week’s festivities!

Packing for the Trip

So here’s the thing:

Oftentimes, in a society where we are becoming increasingly isolated from traditional societal bonds (family, neighbors, prison pen pals)and yet paradoxically, ever-more connected by more ethereal, perhaps less satisfying ones (Facebook, MySpace, um…prison pen pals), we may feel as though the world has looked us over and found us wanting, like the sandwich case at a busy deli that’s been picked clean, leaving only the Prawn-and-Avocado on White. When you’re transgendered, this sense of isolation and insufficiency can be even more acute, stabbing you in the tender bits of your soul and then sprinkling lemon juice on you while giggling. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to have a support system in place…and I don’t mean the $300 you buried in a coffee can behind the old shed.

Well, I don’t mean JUST that.

Rather, I mean that transgendered folks should pack their bags for the journey of life with the stuff they need to make it through.

Exempli gratia:

A) A network of friends and loved ones in place to help you through the rough patches: hearing “Sir” at a restaurant, spending the weekend in hiding because your electrolysis session left you with a face that resembles something recently dragged along the barnacle-encrusted underside of the Queen Mary, being “accidentally” shoved by a group of guys on the street, et hoc genus omne.

Because the Transition Turnpike is both long and perilous, one can be plagued by fear and her handmaiden, doubt, while traveling along its pitted surface. I don’t mean “doubt” in the “should I be doing this?” sense – there’s never been any doubt in my mind that transitioning was necessary for me to have any kind of life worth living – but rather doubt about my odds of making it to the end of the turnpike without spinning out in Untimely Deathville or being trapped in Loneliness Hollow due to the lack of available partners for a transgendered lesbian in my beloved but somewhat backward home.

Friends help with this…especially when one’s family may not support one’s decision to take some advice from Polonius. As my friend Laura is known to opine, “There’s family you’re born with, and family you gain along the way.” I know that whenever I’m feeling like a Stella in a world full of Stanleys, my friends are there for me, not just with platitudes and “there-there” murmurings, but with sage advice, hilarious and heroic efforts to turn my frown upside down, and, of course, hugs and tissues for when my frown remains stubbornly in place.

I draw the line at sharing pants, however.

This category also includes ones partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other, of course…however, my previous experiences have left me charred and twitchy, as well as slightly suspicious that I may be dead inside, like a lightning-struck tree or a Republican.

B) Medical staff that knows its shit. Well, not literally. That’s gross, and I’m sort of disappointed that you went there. I’d like you to take some time to think about the way you’ve cheapened this experience.

Finished?

All right then.

Medical professionals are sometimes at a loss when dealing with the transgendered. It took me three tries to find an endocrinologist willing to treat me, and even then I had to drive 50 miles to visit him in his Fortress of Estrogen…but it was worth it to find a doctor who would do more than look me over and throw a prescription at me before begging me to leave so I didn’t contaminate his waiting room with “The Gay.” My doctor actually cares, and it shows in his insistence that I take my spiro, hormones and anti-hypertension meds in the correct fashion.

Dr. K: “OK, Claire, the important thing is to use good sense and consistent dosing. We’re going to –

(cut to me, already covered in so many estrogen patches I look like a chubby Girl Scout sash, downing my spironolactone in a manner reminiscent of Cookie Monster)

ME: “What?”

Dr. K: “I don’t want to hit you with this clipboard, but I will.”

Seriously, though, when you’re making major renovations to your body, you need professionals. This isn’t the crappy IKEA bookshelf you slapped together after three Cosmos – this is the thing you need to carry your brain around without resorting to some sort of creepy Krang device. My doctors (both my GP and my Endo) are awesome, and while I sense they are not 100% cool with the IDEA of transgenderism, their professionalism and dedication to the Hippocratic oath means they give me the same level of care they do their genetically female patients.

I was lucky with my therapist – I found him on my first go. Dr. O is incredibly supportive and insightful, and has definitely helped me maintain my sanity on this trip!

C) A sense of humor and an appreciation for the ridiculous. Now, I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not what most would call “serious.” Or “mature.” Or even “competent,” depending on the day. However, I am 100% convinced that taking anything (life, being trans, Hispanic and a lesbian in the middle of Squaresville, USA, the woeful lack of Hello Kitty Pop-Tarts at my local Kroger) too seriously is bad for you. As Sebastian-Roch Chamfort was fond of saying when he wasn’t busy scalding his contemporaries with some bon mot, “The most wasted day is that in which we have not laughed.” Except, you know, in French. It would be weird if he said it in English, just at random.

D) Faith. Now, lest you assume I’m about to get all Moses on you, let me say that faith means different things to different people (I’ll take my Stating The Obvious award now, please). For me, the offspring of a Catholic-turned-Nazarene and a lapsed Methodist, God is an important part of my life and my journey. I know that a lot of my peers in the transgendered community feel that the Christian God and his son Jesus are out to get us (or at least some of the crazies claiming to follow them are)…however, I’ve had and enjoyed a relationship with God and Jesus since I was a kid, and despite all the rhetoric and selective, ill-informed Bible quoting by the haters, I’ve never felt anything but love and support from and for God. When people say “God made you a boy, and you’re a sinner. Also, I don’t care for your shade of lipstick,” I point out that God made me transgender because He thought I was up to the challenge, and acknowledge that perhaps this shade might be a trifle orange for my complexion, but it was on sale.

While I have little use for organized religion, faith is an important part of my life, because it eliminates the middleman from the equation and lets me commune with the Eternal directly. Religion is Wal-Mart, Faith is Sam’s Club (without the ID card and visitor limit).

Ultimately, of course, we are all responsible for reaching the end of the road (whether it’s Transition Turnpike, Mommy Lane, Presidential Parkway or Avenue of the America’s Next Top Model), but with a little careful planning, a few faithful traveling companions, and some luck, the journey and the destination are worth all the trouble…

Dear Future Partner

“Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.”

(door opening, hurried footsteps)

“What the hell are you doing here? You’re in the wrong place, kid.”

“What? This isn’t Judy Blume’s brain, circa 1969?”

“NO! It’s Claire’s brain, circa 2008, you nutty little freak. Now get out of here! And take Ramona with you! The grownups are talking! Crazy ass kids, always running around in here. Some of us are trying to WORK!”

Ahem.

Dear Future Partner,

Hi, it’s Claire. If the the exchange you just witnessed above made you question my sanity or pull a number of pamphlets from your satchel, then you are excused. If it made you laugh or, at a minimum, shrug and say “Well, at least she’s not trying to make me eat Peeps,” you may stay. If Margaret immediately opened the door to your own brain and asked if this was the room where she learned about the flower of womanhood, then you may come sit by me.

It’s often been said that one shouldn’t have a “type,” and that creating a list of criteria for one’s perfect mate can actually prevent you from finding true love because what one wants is so rarely what one needs.

This is, of course, crap.

OK, not really. There is some sense to this – after all, if you’ve reached the point where you look at another person and say “Oh, jeez, I’m sorry, we can’t date – I’m not really into women with your shade of hair. You’re russet, and I’m really looking for more of an auburn. Also, you don’t have the Pirate Memory Game I’m looking for,” then it’s time to hang up your dating hat and reconcile yourself to being the Paranthropus Robustus of your family tree.

However, future mate, just like anything I attempt to reheat in the oven, I’ve been burned before – and there are some important facts I would like to share with you, here and now, so that in the future, when one of my myriad eccentricities manifests itself like the ghost of Jacob Marley, you’re prepared, and not phoning the authorities/raising a crucifix/alerting the citizens of Tokyo to my presence.

To wit:

1) You should be interested in learning. You needn’t be a super-nerd like me, nor must your internal fires burn with an insatiable lust for knowledge second only to Pryrates. If, however, upon hearing me and/or my friends discuss some bit of linguistic minutiae, some fascinating tidbit of literature or history, or last night’s episode of Jeopardy!, your immediate reaction is to roll your eyes and say “Um, we’re not in school, professor!” before turning back to your People Magazine crossword ( “24 across: TV horse “Mister __””), you will be driven way out in the country and left on a farm where you will have lots of room to frolic and watch reruns of A Current Affair .

2) I am sure that, given time, I really CAN come to love your children as if they are my very own. However, ten seconds after I meet you is a bit soon for this sort of special bond to form. Because I’m an unknown adult, I feel as though it’s not my place to yell at them for drinking bleach/smashing my belongings with a sledgehammer that they must’ve brought from home because I certainly don’t have one/tearing pages from my books (which are, it must be said, MY children) like feral goats. Furthermore, I’m not their Mom – I’m just some lady who keeps making suggestive comments to their mom while she laughs, says things like “little pitchers!” and turns red while slapping her hands over their ears. I don’t hate kids, I don’t have any illusions about my role in their life unless things get sufficiently serious, and I don’t worry about “competing” with them – but, shockingly, I would prefer to get to know YOU before being introduced to your kids and hearing the Brady Bunch theme music as we’re all tossed around in blue squares with your maid and Robert Reed.

3) If I accidentally call you Robin, it is an honest mistake. However, referring to me as Rosie, accidentally or not, will result in a Mortal Kombat-style fatality:

You: “Rosie, honey, can you…”

Announcer guy: “FINISH HER!”

Me: “GET OVER HERE!” (followed by launch of weird spear thingy)

You: “BLERG!” (thump)

Alternatively, you may receive the silent treatment and/or wake to find I have hired a plastic surgeon to bring you into line with Robin while you slumbered. So, you know, look out for that, then.

4) Birthdays are not optional. Even if you’re “not from a birthday family,” be prepared to experience a celebration of your birthday normally reserved for royalty and the ungrateful offspring of the privileged elite.

Seriously, lady, you’re gonna think Ed McMahon stopped by. Well, I mean, the old Ed McMahon, with the Publisher’s Clearinghouse checks, not really old Ed McMahon, with the neckbrace and crippling debt. You will expect to see yourself on the Society Page! Assuming wherever we live has a paper large and pretentious enough to support such a thing!

Naturally, my own birthday week should be written in your calendar in PERMANENT marker and, if desired, sparkly pen. The kind with a feathery tuft where the cap would rest on a non-super-gay pen.

5) When I hear “PDA,” I think of my Blackberry™. Yes, I love you, Future Partner! Truly, I wish to declare it from the tops of the highest trees…I want to shout it to the deepest caverns of earth’s stony heart! However, I do NOT wish to have an amateur appendectomy performed by your experimental tongue-probe method in front of A) my family, B) strangers at the mall, C) that weird neighbor guy who suddenly became all friendly when he found out I was a lesbian and forced me to get blinds for the bedroom. Seriously, I’m not Prudence McPrude, mayoress of Prudeytown – I just know how grossed out I am by other “get a room” couples, and my hypocrisy only extends so far.

6) I am a tGirl, and the “t” is not silent. OK, it should be noted that, while I don’t exactly wear a t-shirt (get it? T-shirt? HA! Oh, God, I should be killed.) proclaiming my transsexuality, it is a part of who I am, and I have no intention of hiding that part (insert rim shot here). Falling squarely into the “Activist-Lite” category, I am active in the trans community, and anyone I’m with should be cool with that, if only because I’d hate to be at Pride, stuck outside one of those unbelievably snobbish “Natal Women Only” events, holding our ciders while you listen to “Robyn WomynRayn” do a poetry slam.

7) Come to think of it, the “girl” isn’t silent, either. Despite my little case of Harry Benjamin Syndrome, I am in fact a girl through and through. Well, a woman, really, since I heard “Miss” for about a week after I began transition and then settled into “Ma’am” with blithe acceptance. No, my house isn’t pink and covered in doilies, nor do I dress like Miss Yvonne from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but I am a femme, for better or worse. It can be difficult to separate stereotype from reality, and even more difficult to separate the concepts of “feminine” and “female,” but let it be said that I am most certainly the former and will (barring acts of the Almighty or Congress) also be the latter as soon as possible. The reason I bring this up is that, as mentioned in my Transgender Primer, I am not a f*ing drag queen, and I am most certainly not a guy in a dress (or any other kind of guy, really).

8 ) I’m not what you call a “serious” person, a fact that has been underscored abundantly within the past two sentences if not the past 33 years. Like a lot of kids whose differences forced them to choose between being the entertainment or the main course, I donned humor and my own cavalier disregard for authority as my sword and shield. Don’t worry, there’s a nougaty center of considered and rational sincerity under the brightly-colored candy shell, but you’re gonna need something sharp to get at it, sister.

I think that’s it for the moment. It’s strange to think you’re reading this now, even though we don’t get together until later, around chapter seveteen (after the incident involving the Van Allen belt, but before we kill the giant badger with silly string and a Sharpie®). Write back soon, okay? But don’t tell me what happens in Transformers 2, because I’d hate to have its tightly-written and no-doubt Joycian plot unraveled for me prematurely.

Also, if Michael Bay ever, ever, EVER wins an Oscar, just go ahead and send a nuke back with the letter. I’ll see that it gets where it needs to go.

Your future wife/partner/ball-and-chain-but-don’t-call-me-that-where-I-can-hear-you-I’m-not-kidding,

Claire