Monday, March 31, 2008

We have finally come the end of the month of March, and what a month it has been. At the end of the second week, Kay and I took some pieces of jewelry that I had made and displayed them during the Azalea Festival for two days. Then for the last half of the month, Kay and I helped plan an anniversary party for a Couple who's devotion to St Barnabas is without equal. Over 100 friends and family member came to share this joyous event. While during the same two weeks, I was in rehearsal every night for the Vagina Monologues, and what an experience that was; to be a part of something so important as to make people aware of the violence that is happening to women and girls all over the world.
We are still recuperating from such a hectic two weeks, so we were at Cracker Barrel for lunch and was talking about how the young women in the Monologues have matured, and about our mother's and how strong on an influence they were on us. I have never realized what a strong influence my mother had on me. My fathers family is strong Catholics and my mother's was from a strong Baptist background, growing up in Arkansas. When it came to protecting her children, it didn't phase her to march into my Catholic school classroom and give the Nuns a piece of her mind, about their forcing me to write with my right hand instead of my left. She took control of her body, by having female surgery to prevent pregnancies (not sure what she had done) after her sixth child. She expressed her view about how could a single man (the priest) counsel her about her marriage. Her children got a good dose of good work ethics and moral character. Thank you Mother.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vagina Monologues

Last night was the first performance of this years production of the Vagina Monologue's for this group of young, strong, passionate women. What an amazing, incredible, surreal night for me, just to be on stage with this year's cast. They are all so kind, yet during these two weeks of rehearsals have made great strides gaining confidence and poise before an audience that was anxious to learn about Vagina.
For me, being on stage was the best seat in the house. The house lights were just bright enough for me to see the faces and reactions of some of the women in the audience. During a few particularly visually suggestive monologues, some women were right along with the performers; we even got an "Oh Yea" from someone.
The last monologue was for all transwomen and is very emotional for me. The other young women on stage with me have declared themselves to be lesbian, but their passion for this monologue was equal to mine. Starting with Thursday night the intensity with the final thoughts of our monologue have been strangely surreal, over the top emotions coming from somewhere in my consciousness. It has been like an "out of body experience". My emotions have carried me beyond the page and words and the stage where I am saying those terrible things and I begin to weep with a charge of loud angst and very strong emotion as I loudly cry the final text of the monologue. I am lost in the emotion of those words and the audience have become veiled and blurred as I am drawn quickly into the thick emotionally charged words of the monologue. And when I am finished Jesse grabs my hand, bringing me back to reality and the dead silence from the audience for what seems like a minute of solemn, hushed, collected breath of respect.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Is Over

When I was a child my family and I attended a Baptist church. For me Easter was a time get a new Easter outfit (dress, hat, gloves and maybe even a duster). Easter service was not a lot different from any other service except you sang Easter songs and the sermon would be on Christ's resurrection.

As an adult I became an Episcopalian and Easter became very different. First there is Lent which is a time of study and introspection. Lent is followed by Holy Week with a church service each day of the week beginning on Sunday. My favorite service is the Maundy Thursday service with a foot washing. To me this service represents how we are called to serve others but even more importantly how we must humble ourselves to be served. Being the person that is served is probably the most difficult aspect for most people in our culture. This is definitely true for someone as independent as I am. Maundy Thursday always feels very holy and humbling to me.

This year things were very different. I went into Lent with plans to take on a discipline of reading and prayer and a hope to find another aspect to my faith. In looking back, things had actually taken a different turn even before Lent began. The kerfuffle over the bathroom had started. At first, I was just trying to get through all the drama but at some point I became angry. Just a few days into Lent it seemed everything I was planning to read just made me angry. I finally abandoned my Lenten discipline thinking if anyone had ever led an examined life it was Sarah and I.

It seemed that my anger really heightened during Holy Week. I struggled during every service and Maundy Thursday was the favorite service of the year. Seems one of the antagonists in the bathroom kerfuffle was front and center during that service. I did not participate as I usually do and at one point walked out in tears. (I hope no one noticed.) I went to the bathroom until I felt like the service was at a point I could deal with. I should have just stayed home but somehow I felt drawn back to church.

Finally, Easter dawned. My intuition led me to believe that something would change but logically I could not see what. As Father Ben began his sermon, I was able to listen more than I had all week. Finally, he began to describe how the life and actions of Jesus' actions had turned things upside down, especially, for the status quo. Somehow those words began sooth me and lessen my anger.

The book, Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman, we had recently read for our book club began to inform me what part of the problem was in all the kerfuffle. One point that Mr. Thurman made is that when people try to live in community without fellowship the people on the fringes suffer. They lack the full inclusion and benefits that the majority of the group have. Part of the problem with the the bathroom kerfuffle was that the people who were for excluding Sarah from the bathroom lacked fellowship with us. Several would not speak to us, they would not exchange the peace with us and they would not attend events in which Sarah and I participated. The did not interact with us.

One woman (I'll call her Xema) told me one day that it bothered her that we did not exchange the peace with her. I hugged Xema on the spot and told her that we would be exchanging the peace from this point forward and that the only reason we had not exchanged the peace with her was to give the couple strongly opposed to us a little room . Xema usually sat with them. After a couple of weeks, Xema called Sarah off to the side and told her that us coming over and exchanging the peace was causing too much trouble and they could hug before or after service so strongly opposed couple would not be so upset.

Easter is over and my anger is dissipating. My hope is that things can settle down and all can be not only in community but in true fellowship.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vagina Monologues

Well, the first week of rehearsals are in the books, so to speak. We finished up with a Saturday's run thru and everything went very well. One mother in the group, who's baby is due the 17 of April, became noticeably emotional as she was reading her monologue, quite moving. Everyone was almost crying with her. The night before the members of the cast got together to do some body casting to display out in the foyer of the building. A lot of the women had molding of their breast done; it will be encouraging to see differences between women. Especially since they did a cast of my one breast and the scar from the mastecomy.
Over the week I have been drawn into the arms of a special group of young women, and I have been awed by their candor, wit and charm. This Vagina happening will always have a special place in my heart; of which I will long remember with great respect.
Only four more rehearsal then opening night. Can't wait.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Week

My season of Lent is drawing to a close with Holy Week's activities. In the past I have been involved with each Friday's Station's of the Cross and the services of Thursday through Easter Vigil Services and returning to do the 11 am service.
But this years Lenten season began with my church becoming a victim of misplaced indignation of my being trans and which bathroom I was to use. Knowing who was asking these questions and upon who head they were pushed to be brought before the Mission Council, I began to search my heart as to how I should respond. So, in the spirit of many saints and the example of Jesus, I went to them for two Sundays in a row to extend the Peace of our Lord; and not return hate for hate. I only heard more vicious words being spouted from their mouths in my Church. For anyone to stand in a Church of faithful members and choose to befriend some and reject others, simply because they might be different is the example of the people of Jerusalem as they rejected Christ.
If the Lenten seasons is to prepare and remind us of the Resurrection of Jesus and of his love to all Mankind; how much harder is it for someone to maintain hatred directed to someone and reject the principles of love, service and compassion which was the basis of the life of Jesus.
My only prayer as this Lenten season comes to a close, is that the Universal Love of Jesus Christ shines on every person, family member, friend or enemy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The sad pain is hidden from others eyes.

There is something wrong deep within.

Your inner voice acknowledges it’s not your fault

But, you are afraid to give recognition to the flaw.

Afraid to step from the well worn path.

The calm surface disguises

Turbulent waters running beneath.

Family and friend’s words of flattery confuse,

You are unclear of their true meaning.

But if the flaw is true and

Your World is all one big lie.

Then you must decide once and for all

Which path is you!

My path in life was easy to find but difficult to take. After much anguish and soul searching prayers, I realized that for me, happiness was a journey toward living with integrity, traveling down the road I was becoming familiar with. As in Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken; and the last few lines " Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

The differences for me was the contrast of the not only the quality of living, but also the possibility of losing the love of family. But I have always preached to my children that anyone's life, however lived, if there is an absence of truth and integrity ,then you can not look other's in their eyes and be honest to yourself.

My favorite quote is psalm 84, verse 11, "Nothing will G-d withhold from those who lives with integrity."
Our paths in life are what we make them, and how we live them. I will always believe that the path that I am on, is the path that G-d created for me. It was up to me to find and walk his created path.
And if I am wrong in my beliefs then that is between myself and my Creator when I stand before the judgment throne of my G-d. It is not anyone else's earthly judgment that I am bound to accept.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hold Your Tongue and Your Email

There has been a disagreement about certain attempted limitations on Sarah. In this whole sorry mess, a person has written something in a public place about Sarah. I found the post and am really hurt by the comments. Not only am I hurt, I am also angry.

The comments also hurt Sarah "to the bone." She rarely gets upset about things but her hurt was very evident and my heart was broken for her. I always want to "fix things" for the people I love but these kind of things are unfixable.

My initial reaction was to confront this person directly, immediately and unkindly. I'm not really sure what has stopped me. I haven't gotten away from that feeling to retaliate yet but keep praying for the right action or inaction as the case may be.

I've always said that the old saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," is the biggest lie that was ever told. Please think before you post things in a public place. You may be able to remove the post but you really can't remove the pain from the person you hurt.

I think I'll go get the dog's bone and chew on it for a while and say a few more prayers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

As I have told you I am involved with the University's production of the 'Vagina Monologue's'. Tonight we set up a table down town in conjunction with the City's First Friday Celebration, to hand our fliers, with a few t-shirts and buttons for sale.
I watched with humor and amazement at some of the responses we heard like "we won't be going to that one.", ' I don't think so", "is this a show and tell night" and probable a lot more that we couldn't hear; and men jumping back after touching the t-shirt with the word 'vagina' on it. It was a wide mixture of responses, people are really up tight when they hear the 'vagina' word it's really sad. Some women and men have never said 'vagina' before. It's frightening at how up tight people are.
Stay tuned for more from "V Day".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

As the two auntees, we have tried to help educate those who are interested in learning about what it is to be trans. We have spoken to college classes for the past four year about us, our lives, and being out in the community. After speaking to a class this year, I was invited to audition for a part in the Universities upcoming 'Vagina Monologue'.
On the night of the auditions, Kay was attending a church vestry meeting that would be discussing my bathroom privileges; of which the discussion eventually fizzles and died on the floor. Meanwhile, I was reading for the transwomen part and another monologue. I am glad to say that I will be reading both monologues in the upcoming presentation.
After the first meeting of the cast it was decided to have a 'pajama party' and for everyone to have the opportunity to do some body casting which will be on display outside the auditorium. I am looking forward to the 'pajama party' with members of the cast as an opportunity to educate others and as an opportunity to bond with the cast members.
This will be a first for me, and I will keep you posted.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Long Awaited Goal

Over two years ago Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer and was facing a mastectomy. She had been on estrogen for a little over a year and had begun to get breast development. Having breasts since the age of 10, I knew I could not imagine the sense of loss Sarah felt after waiting for her breasts for more than 50 years only to lose one now.

Sarah had her mastectomy in December 2005 with plans of having breast reconstruction as soon as possible after the mastectomy. We visited a plastic surgeon prior to her mastectomy and discussed what treatment options she had. After returning to the plastic surgeon post mastectomy, the doctor told Sarah that she did not feel comfortable doing her surgery but did know someone who had experience with transwomen and experience in dealing the the follow up for breast cancer. She said she would help with the follow up..................implant expansion, wound care, etc. since the referral was in Atlanta. Unfortunately, there was difficulty in working with the insurance and she could not obtain the necessary clearance to the doctor she was referred to. She was sent to another doctor. To be blunt, this was the most arrogant, uninformed, doctor I had ever encountered (being a nurse for more than 30 years that is saying a lot). We both left his office angy. After trying again to get the clearance for the first doctor she was referred to, she gave up and chose to use breast prosthesis.

After 2 years, Sarah has decided she wanted to try to get breast reconstruction surgery again. After finding out that the doctor she originally tried to get an appointment with was not longer accepting her insurance, she got a list of plastic surgeons who did accept her insurance. She saw the plastic surgeon this week. The experience with this doctor was great!! He talked with her about her family history for breast cancer (which is extensive) and advised testing for family members for the breast cancer gene. He did an exam. Gave Sarah a chance to redress and came back in to discuss her options. He seemed to be in no hurry and answered each question until we were satisfied.

Sarah now is scheduled for a breast expander insertion pending authorization by her insurance. She is so excited and I am excited for her.