Writing my godparents

This is a draft of the email I’m planning on sending to my godmother and her husband:

Dear M and K,
When I saw you last week, you might have noticed that I look kind of different and that I’m going by a different name. I began transitioning from female to male in December of 2007 and since that time I’ve felt much happier and at ease with my self. Because I’ve been abroad so much and because it’s kind of a difficult conversation, I have put off telling people who are important to me, like yourselves.
Last December, I went to see Chuck, thinking I should tell him that I was planning on changing my first name to Charles, but it seemed awkward and I didn’t bring it up. I don’t know how he would have reacted at first and I thought I had more time and could bring it up later.
I should not wait to tell the people I love about something this important. I’m changing my first name to Charles and making Celeste my middle name. I’m asking people to call me “Les,” but “Charles” is also ok. I’m also asking people to use “he, him, his” etc when referring to me.
If you have questions, I can try to answer them, but a lot of things are difficult for me to explain. However, a writer named Jennifer Finney Boyland has written her memoirs about transitioning in the other direction, and, while it’s her story and not mine, she explains things better than I think I could. The book is called “She’s Not There.” Also, PFLAG has information for family and friends of transgender people: http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=380.
I don’t think I’ll be back in the south bay before I fly back to England on the 16th, but I will be back in California for a bit around Christmas. It would be good to see you then.

I realized I was kind of avoiding them, despite them having been part of my life since I was born. I was ok to go to a post-funeral dinner with a jerk that I hate, but I was shunning people that I love. Life is too short to be stupid like that.

Uncle Chuck

My uncle died. He was 74. The last time I saw him, in December, he was recovering from a hernia operation and didn’t look well. But I’d heard he had made a full recovery and was up and around and doing fine. His death was totally unexpected.
I’ve been back in California a few days. I thought that I would be helping out with the arrangements, but they were all made by the time I landed. So I’ve been visiting with my friends. I did, however, email the priest to get in contact with the church pianist for the funeral.
The pianist explained that people usually want sort of upbeat music because they’re celebrating the life of the deceased instead of mourning their loss. I wonder if I’m the only person in America who thinks that’s insane. I mean, I know there are TV ads for zoloft and whatever that say that a passing blue mood should be medicated away, but have we so rejected sadness that grief is now banished from funerals?
I asked for something in a minor key. He said he would do reflective music.
Ok, I guess Four Walls by John Cage with it’s stark depression might be a bit too much. And anyway, I doubt he knows it. I’ve been thinking for a while, that I should write some funeral music for organ. It’s very unusual for a Catholic church to have a piano instead. So I would have been unprepared regardless.
. . .
I wanted to ask my uncle about my great aunt Tessie. All I know about her was that she was a musician and a piano teacher and she never married. Where did she live and who did she live with? There’s nobody left alive that knows. My mother’s entire side of the family is dead. On my dad’s side, there is only my dad. Everybody is gone.
I wanted to talk to my uncle about changing my name. My younger brother has my father’s name. I thought maybe my parents would have named a second son from my mother’s side. Charles was the first name of my great grandfather and the middle name of my grandfather and the first name of my uncle. And it’s better than Otis, which is the other name traversing generations on that side.
When I saw my uncle last time, I was going to bring this up. But he wasn’t much of a talker. There was a kind of awkwardness between him and I that started when I was a teenager. I didn’t know how to bring it up, so I asked him about the garage that he just built and his test equipment. He was an engineer for HP and had a bunch of old oscilloscopes and oscillators and other testing gear. Then he showed me all of his race cars and talked about how much work he had put into them and how much they were worth. He showed me my mother’s bike, which he had repaired and was riding around town for short trips.
then his friend came over and he introduced me as his niece. It was an awkward moment. I had met the friend before. He started at me hard. I did not look or sound like a niece. My dad told me that he had told Chuck about me changing gender, but I don’t know how my dad would explain that or what my uncle would have heard. And he was clearly unsteady from having had an operation and so I didn’t say anything that would have made him look confused to his friend, nor did I correct him, I just inwardly squirmed.
So I did not talk to my uncle about his name. Nor have I talked to my family about it. I just started using it. I’ve performed with it twice and I use it with my email account. When I emailed the priest, that’s the name he saw for me and when the church pianist called, that’s what he called me. I need to say something about this to at least my brother and father before the service.
I feel like I’m doing this wrong.
All of it. I feel like I’m doing the name thing wrong. And I feel like I’m doing the mourning thing wrong. Sad music at the funeral will bum everybody out, since they all want a party or something. And despite my strange demands for somberness, I’m off hanging out with my friends. I spent a couple of nights with Mitch and went to a farmer’s market and had coffee with other people and biked from Sunnyvale to Cupertino (twice) and through the Santa Cruz mountains to Saratoga and Los Gatos and back to Sunnyvale and then had a BBQ. And I was thinking I’m using my uncle’s death as an excuse for a BBQ, what the fuck is wrong with me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
And why the hell didn’t I know him better? When I sent to see him in December, I was full of dread because of gender stuff. My dad had to order me to go, because I was so caught up in myself. I didn’t want to tell him and I couldn’t not tell him. I went and it was ok, but it was awkward and I thought that I would just give it time.
My uncle wasn’t married and he never talked about his personal life. He talked about cars and computers. For a while, I thought he might be in the closet about something, because that’s what we do in the closet. But now I think he wasn’t. I think that’s just how he was. He made his life more about his activities and his friends than about his family. Which is also a bit like what being queer is about. Chosen family because blood family wouldn’t understand this stuff. We surround ourselves with friends who do get what we’re about and build stuff around them. And I do that too and that’s a good thing to do. I just wish he had reached out more to me and I wish I knew him more. And I wish I had reached out to him. And the obvious lesson from this is that I need tot talk to my family about my life and make sure they’re part of it.
I worshipped my uncle when I was a kid. He was a race car driver! And so smart and funny. And then, a distance. And then he’s gone.

Coming Out for Christmas

On Christmas Eve, I had my handbell playing debut. It was only my 4th time holding them. They’re heavy percussion instruments, like a disassembled marimba or something. They’re exactly what the name implies: bells you ring by hand. I had some big ones, F4 and D#4. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve for only my 4th attempt. So far ahead, I finished the piece several bars ahead of everybody else. (It’s hard to come up with page turns that work when everybody reads the same score.)
My third time playing them was the day before, the 23rd. Since the bells were in Palo Alto, I stayed over the whole holiday in the South Bay. I came down for rehearsal and then had lunch with my dad. The rehearsal foreshadowed the performance for me. My mind wasn’t on the bells, but on coming out to dad.
I met my dad at a chinese restaurant. Sarah gave me a lift and my dad invited her to lunch also, much to my relief. After we started eating, I said that I had been thinking about things a long time and I was very happy to say that I was taking T.
My dad chewed on his noodles.
Finally he said something about how it might change my attitudes.
I said I didn’t think I would become a conservative, and then immediately regretted the way I’d said it.
No, my dad explained, I might start eating like my brother and want to consume vast amounts of meat!
I have been kind of craving protein lately . . .. (This kind of seals it for me in my research of the cultural equation where meat is masculinity. I need no more evidence.)
So he more or less didn’t really react. Sarah said it’s what she had expected. I hadn’t known what to expect. I felt weird about it and stressed for the next few hours.
After lunch, Sarah and I went up to the San Francisco zoo for Daniella’s birthday party. There’s an ice rink there and it was open into the night, even though the rest fo the zoo was closed. Sarah and I were super late, so Daniella’s friends passed the time looking for the lions, until they finally started skating and we joined them. Sarah wanted to look at sleeping animals in violation of zoo rules, but all we saw were gigantic sleeping reindeer and some chilly looking flamingoes.
(About 48 hours later, some zoo visitors got a very close look at one of the lions. Some poor kid was mauled last night by an escaped lion, right next to where we were hanging out two days previous. Sarah was perturbed to learn this on the news, but I don’t feel like we just had a brush with danger.)
The next day, Christmas eve, I was sitting in Sarah’s living room, trying to get a p5 glove to work with SuperCollider when my dad called with a question. He said I sounded terribly depressed. I said I wasn’t. He said he had a question for me. I said ok. He decided he shouldn’t ask me over the phone. I said ok. He hung up.
I spent the rest of the day worrying about what he might have wanted to ask. So when I played handbells, my mind wasn’t totally on it.
After services, Sarah, Daniella and I went to the house of Sarah’s mother and grandmother. They made Swedish pancakes for dinner. It was fantastically tasty, but extremely sugary. I got into a punchy, post-sugar mood and then we went to another xmas party and then another with a glass of wine or so for me at each.
I woke up on Christmas at the crack of noon. Oh crap, I was supposed to go to Brother Bob’s early to help with cooking. Instead my holiday threesome (Sarah, Daniella and I) rolled into Bob’s house at the same time as my dad. My brother and his wife showed up shortly thereafter. We all chatted and then Bob put me to work cooking. My dad came into the kitchen and asked to talk to me. We went out into Bob’s garage.
My dad looked me seriously in the eyes. I have a question, he said. “Are you suicidal?”
“What?” This was not what I was expecting.
“I spent some time on the internet reading about what you’re doing. I want to make sure you’re not suicidal.”
Oh!! He read statistics about unhappy closetted, non-transitioning people. My dad was worried about me. My heart felt slightly warmed and relieved. No, no, no, don’t worry about that, I said.
Ok, he said, In that case . . . “have you ever contemplated a cue ball?”
“What?” I asked. He repeated himself. I had no idea where he was going with this. “No, I can’t say I have.”
“You should ask your uncle about his grandfather.”
“He was a pool shark?!” One of them was a dentist in San Francisco about a hundred years ago. Maybe he played pool on the side? Here was some new family history.
“No” my dad said and paused in the way he does when he’s about to make a clever point. All this setup is the clearest part of the day in my mind. But the punchline? I can’t remember how he delivered it. My great grandfather was apparently very bald. That could happen to me. I can’t say I haven’t worried about going bald, but um. at least we were in familiar territory. My dad was trying to talk me out of something. He does that a lot. This had become just another mundane scheme to be discouraged. I felt great relief and my heart warmed even further. I might have smiled.
He turned serious again, bringing up health risks. He repeated a few times that he didn’t want to bury me. I assured him that we were in agreement there as I don’t especially want to be buried. He told me that no surgery was without risks, which is true. Then he told me that he thought my mom got her brain tumor from her last surgery, which was for a stomach problem. I expressed doubt on this, but he started talking about how her brain tumor was so agressive it could have dated from a time so recent to it’s discovery. He said that 90 percent of all brain tumors come from the lung getting punctured.
I was losing the thread again. Mom’s stomach thing didn’t go near her lungs . . .. Maybe he’s confused about top surgery? I told him that I didn’t think my lungs were going to get punctured. He just wanted me to be careful, he didn’t want me to die before him.
I told him that I was moving into male risk categories and that I would possibly live shorter, but not that much. I looked at the corner of the garage. “I’d rather live shorter and be happier.” I said. Then I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder. “Dad, you told me something really smart a few years ago. You said that if I put off dealing with my troubles now, they would just be worse later. And I didn’t want to hear it because of this. But now I’m doing it and I feel really good about it.”
He awkwardly turned to leave the garage. I felt profound relief at the termination of the conversation. And then I drank moderate amounts of alcohol for the rest of the evening.
While waiting for the train back to Berkeley this afternoon, I noticed that I was feeling kind of anxious and wondered if maybe I should have not decreased my zoloft. But man, if all I have from that is mild anxiousness the next day, well, I think I can manage.
I am so tired right now. Daniella asked me today how my mom would have reacted to my transitioning. She would have been extremely upset. But the brain tumor changed everything, didn’t it? I want to think that if she could possibly think anything now, that she would think that I did the best I could when she was sick. I think that makes up for a lot of things that happened before. And precludes any afterwards. So what’s there to think about what my mom might think other than that I did my best and if it wasn’t good enough, well, it was my best. She sent me an email months and months before she got really sick, before the surgery my dad blames, about how she was having memory problems. And I didn’t write back for some reason, I don’t know. (It wasn’t good enough, but it was my best.) And my dad struggles with that too. How could a quarter of somebody’s brain go bad without me noticing? It must have been sudden. It must not have been noticeable. It’s not my fault. Of course it’s not. She followed a very typical trajectory for people with brain cancer. Nobody notices until it’s really bad and then she lives for maybe six more months. What causes it? Well, what causes a tiger to escape from the zoo one day but another? Our very existence is so improbable, what’s a few near misses along the way? What’s a fluke when our whole existence is a fluke? I might have been anyone, prior to the moment of conception.
I imagine my parents, my dad in grad school, my mom no longer working, holding their baby. This impossible thing they just made, in their arms. And them, with money tight, dreaming dreams. Of what I would be. Their little girl. Only god could know what lay ahead. No mortal would ever do anything if they knew. And so I didn’t go according to plan, but what did?
Happy Holidays.

I don’t want to be whiny, but

. . . but since I cut my zoloft dose in half a few days ago, I’m starting to experience negative emotions like a normal person. Er, yeah, only minor headaches from withdrawl, so that’s good. And in other health-related news – (I used to think that getting sent to hell would mean spending an eternity at a dinner party where the person next to you described all the minutiae of their health concerns in great detail. I hope my blog isn’t too much like that.) I went to SF yesterday to learn to give myself my own needle sticks. I was thinking maybe I could just look it up on wikipedia and try it that way. I mean, how hard can it be? Yeah. so the nurse showed me how to do it, but I didn’t do it myself at all. Actually, I was kind of freaking out when she jabbed me with the needle. She seems to think it will take me a few months before I’ll be able to do it. Alas and woe. Not only is it a pain to get in to the clinic, but I’m paying out of pocket for getting somebody to prick me.

In case you’re wondering how to give yourself an injection into a muscle . . . first wash your hands. Then swab off the top of the bottle containing the injectables. Draw some air into the needle. Stab the bottle with the needle. Push the air out into the bottle. Draw back (a lot) to suck the sesame oil into the needle. Stare at the needle as the oil slowly trickles in. Push up on the needle until the black plunger is even with the 1 ml line (or with whatever line you need). Flick at the needle to get out big air bubbles (these aren’t such a big deal when you’re trying not to hit a vein). Take the needle out of the bottle. Fine the “belly” of the target muscle. If you’re covered with freckles and moles, you can use these for navigation. Clean the spot with rubbing alcohol. Relax the muscle. No, really. Try exhaling. Relax it. Really. They tell me this is possible. Hold the needle perpendicular to the skin to be stabbed. Relax, damn it. Jab yourself. Stay relaxed (ha ha ha). Slowly push extremely thick oil out and into your muscle. When you push the plunger all the way down, the needle will suddenly (and somewhat painfully) retract. Put on a bandaid.
Yeah, so as soon as the needle stabbed me, I clenched up like a mofo. This is undesirable because it means that I won’t absorb as much and because it really smarts today. The needle starts tearing up my poor muscle when it’s all clenched. Ouch. Once every two weeks isn’t all that often. This isn’t overly traumatic or time consuming. Using the jell would probably be more hassle. But, alas, this is annoying.
Anyway, I went out for lunch today with an old friend. And when he asked “what’s new?” I took a deep breath and said, “not much, how about you?”
October 11th is National Coming out Day. Once, in the 90’s, I played a concert with the LGBT marching band on that day and the conductor gave a rousing speech about how everybody should come out. It was such a big deal in the 90’s! You don’t even know. But at some point, I just sort of, well, stopped. I haven’t come out in ages. I mean, it’s one of the advantages of being visibly queer. I can mention my girlfriend once and folks look at my wardrobe and then we all rely on common sense. So I’m not in the habit of coming out.
I got my haircut last night and I worked up the courage to tell my hair dresser and she squealed her delighted support. (I love San Francisco.) And then, I was at a bar after wussing out on my injection and I told a guy I know and he said, “really? That’s awesome!” (again, I love San Francisco.) And, I mean, it’s a big deal, but it’s cool and stuff. Like, I dunno, coming out always seemed so serious, like some sort of civic duty. I guess I could say to folks, “hey, I got a new girlfriend! She’s awesome!” and that might be coming out. And that’s more what this is like. So I get all worked up and don’t want to come out because it’s intimidating, when it should be more like having an awesome new girlfriend. But, alas, I’m still intimidated.
I called my brother today and asked if him if he was keeping up with this blog. Yep, he is. (Hi Paul.) On the one hand, it’s kind of impersonal, but on the other hand, it’s a really awkward conversation. Traditionally, people send letters, but that seems to dramatic. This is the 21st century. I think most folks might tend more towards being surprised than shocked. Writing a letter makes it seem more shocking and scandalous than merely surprising. Anyway, my brother was really cool, which is what I hoped for.
And I called my dad today and . . . we debated whether or not waterboarding is torture. And then my head exploded. I’m going to tell my dad in person. (My brother said, “doesn’t he read your blog too?” Um, I don’t think so?) Then I can hear his theory on the difference between the left and the right in America. He seems to be very pleased with the theory and wants to disclose it in person. It has something to do with evolutionary theory.
I still have no mail form my letting agent. I’m starting to suspect that I won’t be able to get on my booked flight back to England, since I still don’t have everything I need to apply for a visa and it’s less than a week form xmas.
It’s been raining like crazy and apparently, my building had construction defects related to the water proofing. So we just started getting those fixed, like, the day I got back here. This is not the best timing to be peeling the skin off the building, since it’s actually raining a lot. Predictably, it started leaking a couple of days ago. Today, the leak was fixed. And then it started raining again and now there’s more leaking. The water has punched a hole in the ceiling, which is dripping in earnest. And the plasterboard of the wall is getting all messed up.
Oh, yeah and when I tried to install Mac OS X 10.5, it said I had a bad master boot record and refused to mount my hard drive and then some files disappeared when I rebooted in 10.4 and I fear my hard drive might be dying again.
And xmas shopping? Barely started.
So yeah, my home, which I own, is leaking. I have to come out to my dad. And all of my friends who don’t read this blog. (BTW, if you’re reading this, you should feel empowered to tell people. I mean, I should probably tell my dad myself and also my godmother, but friends and acquaintances can gossip to their heart’s delight – just as if I had an awesome new girlfriend.) The conversation with my brother went really well, but was still stressful just to have it. I have to be able to stab myself in the leg while keeping it relaxed and have pain from failing to be relaxed last night. My immigration status is still in disarray. My computer’s broke (maybe), and I don’t know what to get you for xmas. And I wanted to whine a bit about these things: *whine* ok, thanks.
Um, on a more positive note, I had my second shot. There was a blog several months ago called “The Man Project” where the writer gave herself a dose of T and chronicled what the two weeks were like. My experience was very similar to hers. After two weeks, your body is still treating it like a one time fluke. The first sign of non-flukiness is zits. I started getting them in earnest on Sunday or Monday. (I know I said my voice was lower. One of my friends says the lower pitch is in my normal range for when I’m relaxed. So it’s only a sign of happiness, which is nice of it’s own right.) I’m all, like, happy to have zits. I bet the novelty of that won’t last overly long! Ha ha ha ha!

My Mother’s Last Pie

When I arrived, it was sitting on the counter. I hadn’t fully expected to see it, a part of me thinking that it couldn’t be real. But there it was, looking more or less like I remembered. Maybe the color of the crust had changed, but it just looked so typical. Like any other of my mother’s pies.

I looked at the knife holes in the crust, searching for special meanings, but there were none. They looked hasty, as if the pie had been assembled as part of a larger process and not prepared specifically for this occasion. Indeed, it had been one of many pies that she’d made that day and frozen unbaked.
Like all her best pies, it was apricot. The baked syrup had bubbled out the slits in the top and around the sides, as normal. It was a little bit browner than usual. My sister-in-law apologized for leaving it in the oven too long.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe we were going to eat it. I couldn’t believe the general lightness of mood. I tried, gently, to broach the topic with my brother who seemed puzzled by my point of view. I tried a different track, “This pie should be enrolled in the first grade.”
He laughed, “It’s not that old!”
“Actually it is. We found a label on it that said ‘2001’” said his wife.
“It would have to be.” I concurred. “Mom died in 2002 and didn’t have a chance to make any pies that year.”
My brother shrugged it off and turned his attention to the thanksgiving turkey. I tried to ignore the pie, sitting there. Eventually, it got moved to the top of the refrigerator in order to clear up counter space. It almost slipped from my mind. Except that it didn’t slip from my mind at all.
I had plans to spend the night at a friend’s house. She arrived at my brother’s house in time for dessert and with an entourage. Encouraged by her presence, I again tried to cast doubt on the advisability of eating a six year old pie. “What if the power went out or something while it was frozen?”
My dad explained that he had given the last three pies to my brother over 2 years ago. My brother said, “the first thing I did was bake one of them and eat it. It was delicious.” He saved the second one for last thanksgiving and the third one for this year. It was the last pie made by mother that anyone would ever eat.
As to a power failure, he’d had one for three days. After the first 45 minutes, he’d rushed the pie over to his neighbor’s (still working) freezer for safe-keeping. The pie was still frozen solid at the time and, he argued, unharmed.
My friend was a biologist. Normally when I see her consume something, I feel like it’s risk levels are acceptably low. So when dessert was served and she took a bite of the pie, I felt like maybe I could too. Still, I spent a long time thinking about it, voicing my objections. My brother assured me that he was just as happy to eat my share and I didn’t need to.
This pie would surely kill us all.
How could they not see that eating this pie, made by mother those six years ago, before any of knew she had cancer, when she seemed well, how could it not kill us to eat it? But they ate and didn’t die immediately, so I asked for a slice.
I stared at the tiny sliver on my plate for a long time. It was a different color than I remembered her pies. The fruit had browned slightly with age. I took a tiny bite. I chewed slowly. And then another bite.
Did it’s age change it’s taste? The texture was different. It was more like a pie made with jam than with whole slices of fruit. But the taste, I don’t know. I can’t think of it now. I couldn’t think of it between swallowing one bite and putting the next in my mouth. Now, I don’t know if I could even remember the taste of her pies when they were new: fruit picked and baked on the same day.
Instead with every bite, the undeniable truth – that this pie would certainly kill us in horrible ways – got harder to ignore. This was a mausoleum pie. Not a pie for the living.
I took three or four bites in total and then looked sadly at my plate. It was my last ever chance to eat my mother’s pie. Her apricot pie. Her specialty. Something she excelled at. Made with love. I would never again have the opportunity to eat such a thing and I couldn’t do it. I felt like an important moment had come and I wasn’t up to the task. I felt like crying. I worried I would forever remember the terrible moment of having to choose between total panic and rejecting the pie. My sister in law informed me kindly that it wasn’t a big deal. Nobody thought it was a big deal. Not my dad who provided the pie. Not my brother who saved the pie. Not my sister in law who baked the pie. Not the friend of my mom who arrived in time for dessert. Nobody.
Except for me.
I knew my truth of death-dealing pie was irrational, but there was no visible middle ground between joyous object and horrifying object. No room to grieve for the pie or for myself.
I’d also brought a pie. In case we decided not to eat the other one. It was a sweet potato pie. I took it with me when I left. My brother hoped I would leave it, but his wife told me not to, fondly patting his stomach. One left over pie for him to eat was enough.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This last Tuesday was Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day of mourning and protest in memory of folks killed for being transgender. Alas, trans folks are the most likely group to experience hate-based violence. The FBI reports, alas, that hate crimes were up last year, which implies that it was a bad year for trans folks as well.

Part of the reason that hate crimes are so high for trans people is because they are often a more vulnerable group. Queers in general experience economic discrimination. Trans folks get it much much worse. Imagine if you had to lie about your job history. It would be hard to get a good job. A disproportionate number of trans people end up in sex work. Many trans people end up homeless. (50% of MTF transsexuals lose their jobs when they transition.) An economically vulnerable class is also a physically vulnerable class.

What can I do about this?

Ok, so you don’t go around beating anybody up. And you would call the cops or something if you saw it. Good for you. But you can do more.
Trans folks are vulnerable due to non-violent hostility in work environments and other types of discrimination. So don’t discriminate against trans people! If somebody around you does, say something. Something like, “that’s not funny.” Or “I have trans friends and don’t appreciate your saying that.” Or “I think X prefers the opposite pronouns and therefore we should use them.”
Obviously, you should treat trans people with respect. Outing folks is not cool. Making fun of somebody who had unknowing contact with a passing transperson is not cool. Jargon free: If your friend think a person is hot and then finds out the person is trans, don’t make fun of your friend. It is possible to both be trans and hot and that is awesome. Or if your TSA/immigration coworker patted down somebody, don’t make fun of them for that, and especially not where the somebody can hear. (Just sayin’)

no, alas, I didn’t go to the protest

There was one in SF, but I was occupied with related business. Namely, sitting in the waiting room of SF’s gender clinic. The website said to show up at 2:00 for new patient intake. It did not mention that this particular intake is not in the building’s main intake. I should have asked somebody if I was in the right place, but I was too busy feeling extremely daunted. So I waited for nearly 2 hours and then got to talk to a nurse, who asked me questions.
What is your earliest memory of having a gender?
Please leave your answer to that question in a comment before going on reading here. It’s ok, I’ll wait. hmmm hmm hmm hmmm hmmm
So I said something about having to wear a skirt to catholic school. That’s not what she meant. She meant something more like, what’s the earliest memory of you having a concept of the gender that you would come to embody in adulthood? Like, when did you first realize that you were (really, deeply, actually) a girl or boy and what was that experience?
Leave a new comment answering the second question. Take your time. I’ll still be here.
Having been interviewed about such topics multiple times in the Netherlands, you’d think I’d have an answer for these things but I don’t. Geez, I spend my time trying NOT to think about these sorts of questions. I just, I dunno, write music and stuff. Also, I have philosophical issues with the phrase “true self.” And “in the wrong body.” Like, this body got me all the damn way here, so it’s not wrong. What, am I supposed to long for a brain transplant? I AM my body. Dualism is bullshit. I’m tall. I’m somewhat handsome. I can ride a unicycle. That’s not a “wrong body.” It’s just a body that inexplicably refuses to grow a goatee.
And without dualism, you also lose the idea of “true self.” My true self is sitting here on the sofa, typing. My true self drug it’s ass down to san Francisco to wait for hours to answer gatekeeper questions. Ok, sure, there are parts of me that are absolutely non-negotiable. And there are parts that are becoming increasingly stubborn. And this inexplicable lack of goatee ability has some inhibiting impact on my ideal presentation. Part of my problem with the idea of “true self” is that I think it robs me of agency. I decided to drag my ass down to answer annoying questions. I can pick whether I want to do this, or go nuts, or do something else. I construct my own identity by mixing the negotiable with the not, having conversations with myself, others, the world around me. I am my own man. Mine. Created by me. And since I own me, and since me IS my body and since everything I do all the time is changing me, I should get to be in the drivers seat about what I want to do to me and how I want to change over time. Some stuff is going to happen no matter what I think about it (eventually, I will die. Alas). Some stuff, I can effect.
The whole gatekeeper thing annoys me. If I have to ask somebody permission before painting my bicycle, it’s not really my bike. It’s a bike that they control. So if I want to modify my body, and I have to get permission first, then it means that they are in control. My body doesn’t belong to me, then, it belongs to a medical establishment. And as we’re rejecting dualism here, that means ME. I belong to the medical establishment.
that’s crap.
Rather than try to explain this worldview, I got quiet and defensive. I’m NOT in the wrong body! *sigh*
They didn’t chuck me out on my ear, but instead made an appointment for me to see a social worker, a week from T-day. That person can refer me to a doc who can write prescriptions. This is the normal procedure. The nurse insisted that I see one particular social worker. It’s funny that when I was in Holland, they wanted to send me off to transition and thought it was odd that I wanted to discuss it further first and here they seem to want me to discuss it further.
I really suck at lying. I probably suck at truth telling too. I would do terribly on a lie detector test, overthinking everything. This is why I got rejected from England. These concise, tell-em-that-they-want-to-hear answers are not easy for me. Still, I’m considering trying to lie anyway. Rawr! I’m very binary identified! I am incredibly manly! I have been convinced of my manliness from my earliest memory! I have no doubts or concerns whatsoever! My family is entirely supportive!
Jean says that is a whole lot of fabrication . . . enough to make a suit out of. (Only problem is that I’d still be naked afterwards.) I don’t know. Maybe a social worker will tell me how to bring this up with my family. (Or maybe the fam reads my blog. Yikes. Meh.)

Speaking of my family . . .

My brother is planning on baking a pie for thanksgiving that my mother made. My mother died in 2002. But she was really in to preserving fruit. It broke my heart to throw away the outdated jars of applesauce that she had given me in 2001. she didn’t just put things in jars, but also froze them. My mom was also the pie queen (more so than Lois). When apricots were in season, she sprung into action, making jam, preserves, canned half apricots, frozen apricots and pies. She made so many pies. But instead of baking them, she parked them in the freezer and baked them when needed. My mom left behind a freezer full of frozen pies. And her pies were really fantastic.
I don’t know, but I’m guessing that her last pie probably dates from 2001. That’s a six year old pie. Freezer burn + morbidity all in one package. I’m not sure my mother would want us to honor her memory by eating a six year old pie. I have trepidation regarding the experience, frankly. Aside from all the concerns associated with eating a pie that’s old enough to be in the first grade, I feel that it’s likely that a pall will be cast over the gathering. It will be a pie of mourning.
So at that very opportune moment, I can say, “So I have an appointment with a social worker a week from today . . .”
I’m sure the social worker wouldn’t approve. Also, I wish I was making this whole thing up.


Wedding Photos are finally online. These pictures taken last August by the staff of London, Ontario’s Crystal Wedding Chapel. Note that we weren’t lying about getting Elvis to sing.

Only one person has written to say that she’ll be coming to my New Years Eve shindig. Are the rest of you (are there more of you?) just silent? I won’t be buying much beer, I guess. (No, it’s not in danger of being cancelled. Many of Ellen’s friends are coming.)


Ellen and I went down to San Jose for xmas with my family. She went willingly, god bless her. Ellen is really nifty.
We went to Brother Bob’s house. Also in attendance were: my brother Paul, my Uncle Chuck, friends of my late mother: Bunny and Seymore, my Dad (Ed) and my Dad’s um friend Danielle.
I hardly talked to my uncle. He’s doing some car racing this year, but not much and I don’t know when. Talked to my brother some. He’s not dating anybody, gave up his consulting buisiness due to a shortage of clients. He re-wried the electricity on his house.
Bunny and Seymore report (ok, mostly Bunny reporting) that they’re not well and that they haven’t done anything fun lately and have no hobbies. Seymore has a wound on his foot, which is healing. Bunny says I look so much like my mother and went on at length how angelic my mom looked on her deathbed.
the assertion of an angelic appearance is true. The progression of her ilness was such that worries and pain ceased. not that I enjoy being reminded of such things. Nor are the holidays entirely stress-free to start out with.
My dad smiled a lot. More than I’ve seen him smile for maybe . . . ever. He told several amusing stories about when he was in the army. Ellen said, “I like your dad. He’s really cool. He smiles a lot.” It was pretty cool to see him seem so happy.
Brother Bob says he attended three funerals in the last week. Distressed, but otherwise doing well, I guess. He seemed happy to have everyone over and made outstandingly good food.
the person with whom I spoke most was Danielle, who I had never met before. She is a former “Volunteer of the Year” with the Women’s Philharmonic. She goes to the SF symphony regularly with my Dad. My Dad has season tickets. She is also Yoyo Ma’s Masseuse, something she talked about at length, relating how she sent tapes of farm animal sounds to his children. And in what circumstances the farm animal sounds were listened to. If you need the dirt on farm animal sounds in the Ma household, she’s got it.
she’s a new music fan, which is certainly a good thing. the world needs more fans of new music. Especially ones that buy CDs. I got her a CD of Meredith Monk and was worried that she would already have it, but she wasn’t familiar with Monk, so I was safe.
She also talked for a long long time about how her deceased husband was a Southern Baptist minister and how fundamentalists are spiritually awesome, even if polically bad. She’s a catholic and a fundie. She doesn’t like progressive churches because in those churches god is like Santa Claus: always good. She helped out with Billy Graham’s crusade and helped organize three of his local stops. I asked her, “what does spirituality mean if it’s working for evil?”
My brother stood up suddenly. My dad asked him why he was standing up. My brother said, “it’s 9:00.”
Danielle considered the evidence against Graham and conceeded that he was indeed working for evil. She then started talking about the bad way the Southern Baptists treated women and started talking a lot about how some women in the 70’s were so committed to feminism that they actually came out as lesbians but, even though they tried, they just couldn’t bring themselves to . . .
My Dad stood up. It’s a bit after 9:00.
I said. “Indeed. some people are bisexual and some people are not.” And thought, “I can’t beleive I just said ‘bisexual’ in front of my Dad.'”
Danielle started explaining that queer issues (she didn’t say “queer” she said “homosexual” as some would-be liberals are wont to do) were even more important to her than women’s issues with the Baptists.
I stood up, explaining that while I did tend to run later than the rest of my family, it was time for the 9:00 standing.
She went on further to me about women who just couldn’t bring them selves to. First talking to me (when I suddenly got very interested in the pomegranites that were out around Bro Bob’s house) and then at length to Ellen who very politely nodded.
Ellen is so cool
And so, Danielle seems very nice and certainly has interesting things to say. Plus she’s a maseusse and my Dad seems happy, which is very good. I’m happy to see him smile so much.