Friday, October 31, 2008

Goblins and Monsters and Trans, Oh My!

Halloween Night, what a night to be yourself and no one give you a second glance, I remember so many Halloween night with some lame costume that didn’t hint at my other side, not even as a grown up. I do have a memory of a Halloween night long, long ago when my sister’s thought it would be great to put me in a dress a scarf and little slip-ons things; my one and only adventure cross-dressed. Aah, what memories, little did my sisters know that they turned on my gender switch that wonderful Halloween night so long ago?

I didn’t have much luck convincing my ex to let me dress up after we were married; I guess it was too close to reality. Oh, I did wear a costume when we took the children trick-or-treating but it couldn’t be anything that would embarrass the family. No nothing like that! And those last few year before the divorce, I was dressing whenever I could get a chance, so there was never a desire to go out to a party cross-dress; not when I was going out as Sarah, on a regular basis.

The first Halloween after my wife filed for divorce, I was living in an apartment complex and was practically living two lives at the time. Oh I had told the apartment manager what I was doing and it didn’t’ matter to them and asked to let them know if anyone gave me any problems, which was great for me to say the least. I was still my male self at work and for Church but any other time, I was Sarah. In the apartment across the hall were two young men and I suspected them to be gender variant but never saw them out and about. I could see my neighbor’s reaction whenever he saw me leave to go somewhere on the weekend as Sarah. People had to know something was different about me since I dressed gender neutral going to work and how different I dress going out. Sure I told a few of the residents and would hang out at the pool in the summer months as Sarah. Anyway on Halloween night that year, as I was leaving for the evening, which was rather late; I almost bumped into my neighbor who was really dressed; someone had taken a lot of time to doll her up for the evening. I barely had time to mention how nice ‘she’ looked before she ran down the stairs.

There are not any kids who go trick-or-treat down our street, mainly our house is on a very busy road and most of the houses belong to older folks; but if there ever were a number of children who come regular, I would most certainly dress up in costume again just to have a little fun myself on Halloween night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Straight VS Gay Marriages

How can my marriage which happened in our back yard and officiated by a Priest from the MCC Church affect someone else’s marriage? How can any marriage vow said by a Justice of the Peace, or Judicial Official, invalidate your marriage vows said before a member of the clergy? Maybe it’s time that we separated the marriage vows part from the marriage blessing part. How can someone deny a long term relationship built on faith, and trust and love and companionship; be it heterosexual or gay? How can we deny the rights of either kind of marriage if the federal government recognizes couples rights?
Even with our marriage certificate being issued with a male and a female name, we were married as Kay and Sarah. We walked together to down the isle as wife and wife, two spirits joined as one in front of our family and friends. It was only after I officially changed my name to Sarah that we had any trouble from our state government when we filled our tax returns. Oh we received our federal tax return within 2 weeks after filing electronically; the problem was with the State of Georgia Tax Office where we had problems. It seems that they couldn’t resolve the fact that our tax return was filed with our female names. Never mind that my name on drivers license was Sarah Jane and was issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles; never mind that my social security card was changed to reflect my new name; and never mind that my Military Identification Card was changed to reflect Sarah Jane in my military personnel files. The tax clerk wanted documentation reflecting my name change in order to expedite our tax refund check. Expedite our tax refund; this was September, and we had received our federal tax check by the end of April.
The opponents of Pro 8 insist that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. And how are they going to check whether someone is male or female; by visual inspection of the genitals? How are they going to classify someone who has ambiguous genitalia; what about someone who has 2 Xs and a Y chromosome, or someone who might have 2Ys and an X chromosome; or any other combination of chromosomes that can be found within mans existence. So what happens to a marriage when, say the wife discovers that she should be male as defined by the chromosomes; does the marriage become invalid?
Would a stable, long term relationship between two women or two men not be better than a heterosexual relation where one party cheats on the other, or abuses their partner, or inflicts violence on the children and partner? How can a relationship exist when one party of the marriage brings multiple partners to the marriage bed?
Shouldn’t a good marriage be defined as two people who love each other and honors their commitment to love, cherish and honor, even if it was not spoken first by someone invested with the authority and power to join two people for life? Is there only a technical difference between a marriage performed by a civil authority and a marriage performed with religious authority? Aren’t members of the clergy also given the civil authority to perform marriages? Just how would civil marriages between two men or two women adversely affect the definition of marriage? The Federal government agencies recognizes my ‘gay’ marriage now, although it wasn’t officially defined as one in the beginning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Go PFLAG Valdosta

I am really blown away and amazed at the kind of response that we have been able to generate within the community. We had our third meeting and gathering of like minded individuals; and with the addition of 1 person from Macon and 5 from the Albany PFLAG groups, our attendance soared to 28 individuals. We welcomed the visitors from Albany who were mostly parents with gay and lesbian children who were able to give our group a different perspective as they deal with being gay.

We had a room of family members, linked by a common goal; freely sharing stories, thoughts, advice and support for those who are facing difficult relationships with parents and friends.

Thank you again to the members of the University’s Gay/Straight Alliance who took the time away from studying to come share your thoughts and stories.

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who didn't do anything about it." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


For awhile, I have been noticing a lot of things around us in our little part of the state are changing. The weather around us is slowly changing, the mornings are colder and the dew clings to the grass where there is shade until late mornings. Fall colors, since we are in the Deep South, we don’t get the classic full bodied color changing of the leaves that the good people of the northern states see every fall. For one thing, the varieties of tree in this are mostly evergreen, but there are some hard woods with their brilliant colors of fall, and it is slowly coming to our part of the world.

My body has most certainly changed with my breast surgery the reconstruction and augmentation. It has been almost 5 week since my surgery and there is definitely a feeling that the sensitivity of the nipple area is not as bad as it was a few days after my augmentation surgery. But I have been lingering at the mirror more there days examining my body shape. What was my waist has now drifted higher and my hips are most certainly a lot wider these days; in addition to my new top features. I have noticed my fingers seem to be slimmer and longer; maybe it just that my nail have grown. I use to chew the nails to a stub when I was a kid; but when I started to let things grow, I went to a manicurist and wore acrylic nail for a year or so until my nail were long enough to grow out.

We are more involved in working for LGBT reforms since Rebecca, Kay and I started the PFLAG chapter. We went to our first pride parade, it was small but it is an important movement to fight bigotry and hate in the workplace and for the rights of all people to be able to choose which bathroom to use without harassment. Our PFLAG group is a quiet, and comforting space and time for everyone to be who they are, free of the prejudice and hate they feel the rest of their days. Kay made an interesting observation concerning the differences one can ‘feel’ when we were with the ladies at Southern Comfort and with the support group we were meeting with in Tallahassee. We could feel warmth in acceptance and encouragement as we were welcomed to Southern Comfort; it was like one big family. We were just like the other 846 conventioneers; being free to be who they wanted to be and not be judged otherwise. Well there was some judgments about the choice of clothes some wore, but that’s just what women do, critique each other clothing choices. There was no power struggle for authority, no lashing out with prejudice and jealousy. No one exerted control over the group, the volunteers worked side-by-side to make sure all events happened as planned.

Yet, as we stood on the floor during the last meeting of our regional church convention, the power struggles between officiating group of the white patriarchal dominating clergy was never more in evidence, blatant distain for some . Even in a small group setting, it was hard for them to recognize a white woman much less give up the floor to let her have her say in any matter they were discussing. Even in other group meeting where there is a dominance of male oriented thinking, you can feel the tension and distain swirling around the room like some dark cloak ready to drop and cover the room.

But changes are on the horizon and gathering in the winds ready to sweep the storm clouds of hate, and anger, and discrimination into the void of nothingness.

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gainesville Pride Parade

Today Kay, and I with two friends zipped on down to Gainesville to march in their Gay Pride Parade. I wasn’t very big, but what it lacked in size the people made up in spirit. We met up with a group from the UU Church who had managed to corral a large group of young people to make signs and either marched or rode on the hay wagon.

There weren’t many people watching our small parade of marchers until we were about a block away from the finish area, which is the park/plaza with a number of vendors. The crowd was made up of children to the elder folks and a very large number of lesbian and gay couples and a few transgender as well. When it began to threaten to rain we left to get us a bit to eat and then returned to the festivities. In addition to the UU Church, the Episcopal Church had a table and there was a group from Trinity Church marching, just in front of us. The main reason that I knew I wanted to march in this parade was because of the religious group who has challenged the gender inclusive policy that the city passed a few months ago. Some residents of the community want to deny another group of resident the ability to choose which bathroom to use by spreading fear and untruths about transgender people.

Not only could this have a far reaching affect of the people of Gainesville, but it could also be applied to visitors and others who travel from out of town to conduct business in the City of Gainesville. And to make our point we signed the petition counter this heinous and ugly referendum.

The best part of the trip down and return was the conversation and discussions we had with our friends. She was thanking me for being who I am that because of my example of living as Sarah and having some responsibility in organizing the PFLAG chapter, it gave her partner the courage to transition. That tidbit brought tears to my eyes and a warmth to my heart.

Thank you for making this day as special as it was.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Treating GID in Children, Who's right?

How do we talk to parents who have children that have identified as transgender and the parents are confused as to how to explain or deal with them. With the global awareness of the rise in numbers of children being treated for Gender Identity Disorder or how ever Child Psychologists label transgender children, how do we respect the child’s basic rights and needs as we decide how to treat them? As we see and hear about more children raising this basic questions concerning their gender identity, who has the more appropriate treatment.

In the news recently are more two stories describe two opposing methods of treatments. Letting the sons or daughters be the person they feel most comfortable being. Or letting parents override the discomforts of a child’s body image and encourage or force them to ‘accept’ the gender they were born with.

There is a story in the National Catholic Register (issue 07-06-08), a Catholic newspaper that tell of a young boy of the Carson family who shows a gender preference for girlish things and how he is ‘cured’ through pressure from Catholic Psychologist to readjust his gender image to his sex at birth.

In my opinion, what is really sad is the position of the Catholic Church takes on the issue of addressing and treating children who insist they were born into the wrong bodies.

“Effective therapy brings to an end the suffering of these children; hormones and surgery do not,” said Richard Fitzgibbons, a Catholic psychiatrist in Conshohocken, Pa., who has counseled many individuals with Gender Identity Disorder to appreciate the bodies they were born in”.

The article from the Catholic Register further cites:

Catholic mental-health professionals opt for another approach, one they say has a proven record of helping kids overcome confusion about their gender identity.
Does anyone have statistics on these children later in life? If they have been using this approach for years then there should be some way to monitor how these children have adjusted to not transitioning and dealing with the inner conflicts. For whose happiness are these adults pursuing this approach to dealing with Gender Identity Disorder?

“It has been really hard going sometimes,” says Ben’s father, and he foresees more effort ahead, especially when Ben hits his teens. But he also sees enormous progress in his son.
“He’s so much happier,” Ben’s father said. “If you saw my son today, you would think he is a well-adjusted happy boy.”

What are the criteria that the father uses to measure just how ‘well-adjusted happy boy’ he should be? And if his health professional’s approach determines that he has overcome these feelings of being transgender, why is he so apprehensive about the future years when he is a teenager? Do they assume there should be a concerted effort in his mental health therapy?

Then the opposite argument for treatment comes from the November issue of The Atlantic with this article.

A Boy’s Life; by Hanna Rosin
“Since he could speak, Brandon, now 8, has insisted that he was meant to be a girl. This summer, his parents decided to let him grow up as one. His case, and a rising number of others like it, illuminates a heated scientific debate about the nature of gender—and raises troubling questions about whether the limits of child indulgence have stretched too far.”
Yeah, it is fixable,” piped up another mom, who’d been on the 20/20 special. “We call it the disorder we cured with a skirt.”

GID, the disorder we can cure with a skirt! Isn’t that amazing! There is a line in the movie TransAmerica where the main character is trying to make her psychologist understand that her “mental illness” can be cured with surgery. Cured with a skirt!

“Around the world, clinics that specialize in gender-identity disorder in children report an explosion in referrals over the past few years. Dr. Kenneth Zucker*, who runs the most comprehensive gender-identity clinic for youth in Toronto, has seen his waiting list quadruple in the past four years, to about 80 kids—an increase he attributes to media coverage and the proliferation of new sites on the Internet. Dr. Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, who runs the main clinic in the Netherlands, has seen the average age of her patients plummet since 2002.”

*Dr Zucher, uses Reparative Therapy, to help the child become comfortable in their birth sex.

My transition happened late in my life, and it was my indecision about what would happen to my family, how my brother and sisters would react, how my mother would come to see me. My hesitation to make the transition from my birth sex to Sarah and becoming happy and comfortable with my new female self was for many imagined reasons that failed to come to fruition.

My life is my life and not like other sisters who transition much earlier than I, for their own reasons. But if I could go back in my life, I would have searched for a way to delay the effects and onset of male hormones in order that my body features would be more feminine and less masculine;’ as I’m sure the children who are being treated by the Catholic Mental Health Psychologist, who must still feel the tug of their true lives.

But it’s the confused parents, the Dr. Zucher’s of the world and the Mental Health Professional under the guise of the Catholic Church who must be persuaded to support the decisions of the gender confused child; to let them be comfortable with themselves in what ever gender they choose; without the fear and pressure to be like every other boy or girl.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brave, Courageous, Hero, Valor

All of these words began to run through my mind, when I began to hear the story of Fr. Geoff Farrow last week. Fr. Geoff is a Roman Catholic priest in California who had been instructed in a pastoral letter from his bishop to direct his congregation to vote "yes" on Proposition 8. A "yes" vote would take away the right of same sex couples in California to marry.

The pastoral letter from the bishop and the question from a parishioner, “at what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice,” caused a moral dilemna for Fr. Geoff. I can only imagine the kind of thoughts and questions that must have run through his mind.

Father Geoff's decision was to support same sex marriage. On October 4, this is part of his address to his parish:
I do not presume to tell you how to vote but I do ask that you pray to the Creator of us all. Think and consider the effects of your vote on others, especially minorities in our society who are sitting next to you in church, and at work. The act of casting a vote takes you a few minutes but it can cause other human beings untold happiness or sorrow for a lifetime. It can grant them hope and acceptance, or it can cause them to lose civil rights. It can be a rebuff to bigotry and hatred, or it can encourage bigotry and hatred. Personally, I am morally compelled to vote “NO” on Proposition 8. It is my hope that the people of California will join with those others around the world such as Canada, Europe and South Africa who welcome their gay and lesbian family members fully into society by granting them the civil right to marry.

I know these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them, would be far more costly and I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” He didn't promise that it would be easy or without personal cost to speak that truth.

Father Geoff has been removed as the pastor of his church by his bishop. I'm pretty sure that it won't end there for him. The cost will be great.

There has been an outpouring of support from the LGBT community and their friends and families for Fr. Geoff through comments on his blog. He has also received heartbreaking stories from the damage caused to LGBT's by so many churches. I cannot help but think that his stand may have begun healing for some hurt by the church.

I have decided that if I had to choose one word to describe Fr. Geoff it would be the word "valor" The definition for valor is "strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery." Seems like that describes Father Geoff to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Busy Week

For a couple who are both retired, our weeks are not spent rocking on the back porch or doing a little gardening. Last Monday Kay had a doctor’s appointment in Gainesville, Fl. Tuesday started quiet with plans to getting together with some of the other women of the church to work on the quilt. Before we even started, we got a call that one of the women had a flat tire on I 75, we met her on the expressway, change the tire, decide we will work from her house; drive back to church get quilt items and lunch and spend rest of the day working on quilt, playing with dogs and children. That evening we had a meeting of the church women to finalize plans for our church fall festival; we notice the host Ms Lynn looks a little greenish yellow.

Wednesday, I go early in the morning to have car serviced, Kay and friend had taken Ms. Lynn to her doctor’s appointments, I meet with them and Kay at doctors building; we take Ms. Lynn to other appointments. We pick up older from school for her piano lesson, and take her home before Wednesday Church services; we meet others friends while they have supper, then go to Church. Thursday, Kay and I go back to Gainesville Fl., for my follow up appointment, learn that Ms Lynn has been admitted to hospital for surgery; get back in town to go to a presentation by the Grassroots Media Tour at a local eatery. Friday, we meet at the Church at 9:45 am and spend all day working on the quilt and watching an 11 month old and a three year old; quit around 4 pm because we are exhausted and the other woman had to leave earlier and get her son as he gets off the school bus.

But Saturday, we clean the house because we have invited three couples over for supper. What is so wonderful for our friends who are married, two have adopted younger boys and one has accepted an older child as a foster child, with the intent to adopt him, the younger couple and just getting to know each. What makes our friends so special is that in the four couples sitting at the table, one of the partners in each of the relationships is transgendered.

What a wonderful evening we had, four couples, three children, three dogs; all comfortable where they are or where they are going. It was wild, loud, lots of good laughter, great food and a good blueberry cobbler to end the evening. And I wouldn’t have spend the day it any other way; I might back off a little on the week before, but it’s just as important to care for others as it is to treat ourselves to life’s wonderful pleasures. Having good friends over for an evening of food and laughter; sharing time with loud and happy boys and dogs, trying desperately to avoid children.

This is not the typical week, but we don’t really mind the noise and dirty dishes when the evening’s over, not when we have shared great memories of screaming children and barking dogs running and chasing each other through out the house. That’s reason enough to be thankful there are so many in our lives.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Families; who's included

My last post reminded me of a discussion Kay and I had on the way down to my last appointment with Dr. Mast. This appointment went very well, my next appointment is in two months and then we will determine when I will do the nipple reconstruct and the tattooing of the areola in another two months or so. It seems that the strap did its job and the Dr’s only instruction was for me to massage the implants to prevent scar tissue from forming around the implants and to continue apply the cocco butter to the scars. I’m sure, Kay will be more than happy to follow my doctor’s instructions for me. He was VERY happy with the results of the surgery and said they looked much better than he had anticipated.
Anyway Kay and I were talking about Southern Comfort and how much it seemed to be a religious experience for us. How amazing it can be when 850 people can get together and be an accepting family, not caring if or how you worshipped but letting us worship as we feel the need. How such a varied mix of members of a family can find ways to discuss issues without fear of rejection and anger that many of us receive in our own Church family. How our gathering is like a great big coffee hour after services when we all get to meet and greet and chat about what is important to us.
Why can’t our church leaders see and learn from the GLBT community in building accepting church communities? Why is it so difficult for some church leaders to listen to our spiritual needs and our important voices? If God judges what we do is not what he intended, then that is a judgment only God can make. God told man not to be make judgments of people but to accept them. To treat our neighbors as we wanted to be treated. And by the way some of us have been treated by our Christian brothers makes me wonder just how bad some people treat them selves; much less how they treat our GLBT family members.

Trans Lessons Learned

It’s been a week since Kay and I went to Atlanta and Southern Comfort to Celebrate Life. I really wasn’t sure what I would see or hear at the conference, but my reasons for going were to learn how to be a better advocate for myself and for others. Just having some time to mull things over helps me put them into some sort of perspective. As it has been 4 years since my ‘coming out’ my reasons for attending So Co might be different than other sisters who are not living full time or are dedicated cross-dressers. For me it was to deepen my religious connections and find more ways to be a stronger example to the glbt community at home. So I attended seminars such as: “Transgender Spiritual Traditions”, “Two Nice Girls say the F Word: Trans and Feminism”, “Transition and Spirituality” and “Transgender Events as Community Builders” on Thursday. On Friday, Kay went to Jenny Boylan’s “Writing Transgender Memoir” while I heard Donna Rose discuss “Finding Balance in your T-ness” and then I heard Dr. Marci Bowers discuss her procedure for One-Stage GRS. WOW! Then again we went to hear Jenny give a reading and talk about her new book. She is such a down to earth person and funny; I hear that she is writing children's books. Saturday was spent learning ways to build community allies and working for justice. There was so much more to do but you only have time for so little.
The most awesome adventure for us was meet some wonderfully happy and courageous people, and being able to listen to each others stories. Now that was inspiring!! The whole extended weekend was a boost for Kay, Rebecca and I as we begin to promote the newly formed PFLAG group that we started in our area. We have been overwhelmed by the great response and support we have received. Creating a place of safety and support is paramount in letting people be them selves, without anyone trashing them for being who they are. We are excited about the possibilities and the future growth and support for all glbt people and our allies in our community.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Liberal Breed

This would be me. I am not really Daily Show fanatic but I do believe that comedians can have a powerful influence in pointing to the truth in most any situation.

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Atlanta's Bright Lights

Oh My God!!!! I feel like a teenage fan, screaming at just the sight of her biggest idols. OK, meeting Jennifer Boylan and Donna Rose was like the most fab thing I have ever gotten to do. The only level of excitement in my life that could match this is the half hour I got to chat with Bob Hope back in 1979. He was doing a benefit and the Army Band I was stationed with was asked to be his back up band; I’m sure that Mr. Schultz, the Warrant Officer, probably met him in Vietnam and was able to pull a few strings. I know, I Know---that was a long time ago, but to hear him talk about his many years doing USO shows for the soldiers who were serving our nation overseas during the holidays was awesome and humbling. And he was a lot shorter that I thought he was.
Anyway, getting to meet and talk with Jennifer and Donna was the highlight of the week for me. Kay and I thought that Jenny was a hoot during her ‘reading session’ and we thought how awesome it would be to attend one of her college lectures, (I’ve got a great picture of them together). As this was our first time going to Southern Comfort, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I got an eye full. We had opportunities to hear great presentations and forceful and exciting speakers during lunch times, (go to Kay’s links in her post). If you need a spiritual and emotional lift to step out of the closet, then come and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the next conference.
What blew Kay and I away was the number of young people who were there with their partners. How courageous and yet normal they were. It was awesome to hear how they are stepping up and out and as advocates, pushing Universities to treat everyone with dignity and respect for who they are. Pushing for appropriate dorm rooms, pushing for policy change by just standing up for themselves and being recognized as trans students. We met some wonderful people just having a chance to be true to themselves; lots of happy sisters their partners and a few angry significant others.
As people who didn’t party too much, Kay and I were in our rooms each night at a reasonable hour. Overall I would encourage sisters to go to one of the trans gatherings near you; and have a good time. You’ll be overwhelmed by the love of new friends that are ready to help you have a great week.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Post Southern Comfort

I kept telling people Southern Comfort was not what I expected but I wasn't sure what I expected. A conversation with a friend this afternoon cleared up for me what I might have been expecting when she said, "thank goodness you were able to avoid all the drag queens and kings." In retrospect, I guess that is what I was expecting......people way over dressed with extreme dress prevailing. That was not what Southern Comfort was about. I kept telling Sarah the range of people I saw was what I saw when I had attended women's health conferences in the past. People with lots of different styles of dress. A few may have been a little exaggerated but that was definitely in the minority.

Sarah and I had the best time!! Some of the workshops we attended were Transgender Spiritual Traditions, Transgender and Spirituality, Writing Your Transgender Memoir, Telling Our Stories, Raising Our Southern Voices: Transgender Activism in a (Sometimes) Hostile Region. If you are really interested in what all the workshops are you can find them here and quite a few more.

We met well known transgender people: Donna Rose, a transgender activist and author; Jennifer Boylan, a transgender English professor who has written several books; Mara Keisling, the Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality and Cole Thaler, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. We met a lot of transgender people who were not so well known but were just as wonderful! We exchanged lots of email addresses and hope to keep contact with a fabulous group of people.

The only thing that I attended that did not live up to my expectations was the Comfort Zone, a group for SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies) of MTF trangender women. I qualified for the group as a wife of a MTF. The group was predominately made up of wives of cross dressers with about 4 of us being partners or wives of transgender people. One of the wives had found out within the past year that her husband was transgender and had gone directly into transition. She was unhappy but it sounded like they didn't have the best relationship before transition. There were two other women and me who were really happy in our relationships. It appears we all left before the meeting was over. The next morning Sarah and met two young women who had not been eligible for the group since their partners were FTM. They were in happy relationships. We exchanged email address and may try to put something on the internet for happy partners and wives of trans people.

Another highlight was the workshop on community building presented by Lance Helms, regional director of PFLAG and Rev. Paul Turner, pastor of Gentle Spirit Church. I just know we will be seeing more of them. We are going to try to have Rev. Turner and his group meet our PFLAG group on his way to Spring Conference in Orlando and provide a meal for them. These two men are incredible and spend their lives fighting for social justice and building community.

We met a college professor from north Georgia who had brought four students to Southern Comfort. We sat with them at lunch on Saturday. One of the young men asked Sarah and I to tell our story. So we obliged them. At the end of our story, the young man said, "that is a beautiful story!" We exchanged emails with the student and the professor. Many thanks to the professor and the students. A few more people now have faces to go with their ideas of what transgender is.

We are soooooooo grateful for all the wonderful people we met, all the things we learned and for the whole weekend. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh life!!