Tuesday, March 30, 2010
about 'forgiveness' ; being asked for and being given.
For me taking things on rather than giving them up seems more meaningful to me. I had decided to read a couple of books and our adult education class was studying a booklet on forgiveness. As life frequently does, there was a sharp curve. I read the books and we attended the adult education (the booklet was horrible) but the lesson in forgiveness was lived not studied this Lent.
When Sarah and I first got together, she talked a lot about regrets she had over the relationship she had had with her daughter, Julie. Julie's last year in high school coincided with Sarah's growing need to transition and in a family who did not communicate well it was very difficult. Disastrous, in fact, with family relationships.
Julie talk with Sarah occasionally but the sons (2) have no contact with her. Sarah had written Julie of the regrets she had because of how she had treated her during her last year in high school and had gotten a wonderful father's day card last year. Julie would visit when she was in town.
We had gotten to know one of the sociology professors at the local university and he wanted to do a documentary of our life and Sarah's transition. We gave him a list of names of other people to contact. Little did we know it caused real distress in Sarah's family. Julie decided the story needed to be told from the family's perspective too. She was the only family member who agreed. The professor interviewed her for at least 2 hours. He brought the cd over a couple of weeks later. The interview was in two parts. We watched the video separately. Sarah's daughter was very honest and articulate. The first half of the video was the daughter's story of what happened in the family and after Sarah and I were living together. I think we both felt like we had been punched in the stomach after we saw the first half. We were really in mourning. The things Julie said were not said in an effort to hurt. They were things that we really needed to hear, hard as they were.
The professor brought the second half of the video over about 3 days later. In this part, Julie begins to talk about how much she loves her father. The sense of loss they felt at losing him to the transition but how she was looking forward to making new memories with Sarah. This allowed us all to talk, give apologies and begin to live into new relationships.
Julie even asked if she refer to me as her step mother. I was delighted!! Sarah and I are so proud of Julie. We are so grateful to her for the gift of forgiveness. We look forward to making new memories with her. This was a difficult and wonderful Lent!
Sarah's thoughts--as the person who caused such grief and pain, I am so glad that my daughter has accepted my profound apologies for how I treated her and her brothers. My sons have not accepted my apologies or offers to be forgiven, or extended a welcome. I know that it was hard to watch the person they knew as their father suddenly vanish and morph into the stranger who calls herself Sarah. They had no say or influence over the path I accepted as my authentic self. And now they might not know how to open the door of forgiveness.
Maybe there is too much bitterness still in the air, but I pray that one day we will look each in the eye and come to a healthier understanding and relationship.
For my Lenten obligation and days, I have redoubled my efforts to bring joy and happiness to others, and to continue my readings and study.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Five years have passed and guess what. Meet the two crazy old ladies. I know, I know. There are still a few people who have issues with us but I can assure you and our former priest they are not the majority. When we are out and about, we hear a lot of "hey ladies" from different people we know. A few months back, we were in a restaurant and a young man at the table across from us asked Sarah if her name was Sarah. When she said, "yes," the young man said that he remembered us from speaking to his class (neither of us remembered the young man). He said he appreciated us taking the time to speak to his class.
A sociology professor asked us if we would allow one of his students to interview us. I think it must have unhinged the student because we ended up with another student. Later, the professor asked if we would work with the original student again. We set up a second appointment and met the student at a local sandwich shop. It was obvious the student was really uncomfortable with us at first. As we began to talk, we could tell he began to relax. When we spoke to his class later in the semester he was very supportive .We have run into him around town from time to time and he always stops and speaks to us.
The thing that touches my heart the most is the young parents and their children. We have gotten a reputation as great baby sitters. We love having the children visit. We had tow little boys one day this week. They were about 3 hours. When the parents came to pick them up, the four year old asked if they could stay longer. The mother told us later that her son asked if she had another appointment the next day so he could come back. About 3 weeks before this, we had 2 little girls over one evening. They had a great time and when they left they were talking about coming back to Say and Karah's house. Kids are so great.
Folks, meet the two crazy old ladies who were never supposed to be!!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Is this really how far some people will go to prevent change? Have we really overcome bigotry and racial prejudice in this country. I saw this anger rise from crowds who would do anything to stop this bill.
Last fall I attend a local Health Care Forum that was hosted by our Republican Representative Jack Kingston, even before we got to the audience questions, people were shouting out comments to derail the forum. I was incensed that not one of the Senator's aides tried to quiet the angry crowd. It seem like their silence was encouraging the shouters to do more. I was appalled at their hateful display to those who came for answers not to disrupt the meeting.
This was the first time I saw people spew their words of dislike to others who tried to get questions answered. When an older African American stood to give his remarks, people shouted and hurled 'Boo's' at him and shut him down with their loud protest directed at the President. I was very embarrassed for him to hear such vile anger and for myself as I was another white person in the audience. Since he was sitting a few rows behind us, when the 'meeting' was over we turned and tried to impress upon him that not every person in the room believed in what some yelled at him, and to thank him for standing on the side of truth and right.
Monday, March 15, 2010
How well does one take criticism? For me, not very well, indeed, however, that is what I choose to listen too.
A little background, one of the professors decided that he should do a documentary about my transition, and how I came to make that decision. What speed bumps I had to overcome and how I dealt with my breast cancer and how it changed my transition. How my families acknowledge my decision and how I treated them?
The only person who agreed to talk to him on tape was my daughter, she felt that her side of the story was too important too not tell. It was her hope that if one person changed the way they included their children, and then it would be worth telling. So, he was able to bet about 90 min of conversation and thoughts on tape. After he sat down with my daughter he felt that the direction of the documentary should shift directions for it being about my story to how my children and family reacted to the way I failed to discuss my dressing with them and what directions the family went.
I have come to realize that my daughter in very intuitive, and reflective. I was amazed at how she was able to get to the heart of my problems and how we all contributed to shutting our emotions and communication down. It was very difficult for me to watch the tape, listening to her name all my shortcomings, faults and hearing how we all failed each other. That if I had just sat them down and said, “This is what is happening, I don’t know the reasons why or how to change.” If I could be been truthful by including and asking them if it’s ok that I need to dress in women’s clothes; that it could be a starting point and would have taken other steps. If I would have included them, then it might have gone in another direction or I might have needed to let them go.
I have been agonizing over what I heard and saw on that tape, and there is still 30 min I haven’t seen. On top of my emotional meltdown about the tape, we have been discussing ‘forgiving’ and ‘forgiveness’ in our church lessons. Today’s Gospel was about the Prodigal Son returning and his father’s unconditional love in welcoming his son home. Parents are not suppose to cause hurt their children; we must give our love unconditional. But, if we believe that what we do outside of the house is done to keep our family members from knowing, then we are mistaken. The more visible one lives the secret, the greater chance people will know and will tell others. I believe that I lived in a room surrounded by a dense cover of fog, which obstructed the view of whatever I did. That this fog of ambivalence and emotionally constructed walls was my invisibility cloak. I refused to acknowledge that what I did to uncover Sarah without including my family might hurt them. That I needed to validate my searching for Sarah without being honest with them; and that was wrong on so many levels of expectations and trust.
I have asked my children for forgiveness for what I did to them, but how many time must I ask; seventy times seven, until my sons tell me to stop writing, or until we begin talking. My daughter is reconnecting and wants to make new memories with me as Sarah, but I am praying and hoping that one day my son’s with see that I am really the same person that they have know all their lives on the inside. They must accept the loss of the outward person they knew as their father and move on, if only for them to move forward with their lives and leave all the negative emotions behind.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We make the effort to join this group because the discussions have been so intense and thought provoking. Last night, the conversation was really jacked up, discussing the pro's and con's of keeping GID in the DSM. Susan made some good points for keeping GID in; because of the need for treatment, if it standards are determined and enforced by the AMA and the APA. She view was that if GID was taken out, some doctors can opt out of treatment for GID because it is not in the book. That might claim that without a diagnosis similar, or spelled out in the DSM, then they are not required to provide managed care for trans people. The discussion became quite heated.
Then the discussion turned to consequences that both heterosexuals and gay people are having to deal with for Florida's "Real ID". In order to change one's name you must bring with you to the Motor Vehicles Division, a notarized copy of your birth certificate, 2 pictures documents with current address, and notarized copies of previous marriage and divorce documents. This applies across the board for everyone who seeks to change one's name. One of the girls was asking for names of doctors who treat the trans community and we were able to give her some good information.
We tried to let everyone introduce themselves and tell something about their life or transition. We couldn't get around the table for all the extra discussions. It doesn't bother me because I want to know what issues other trans people are facing. Having to live at home, losing one's family connection, the bathroom problem is always, always an issue with some trans, because they are not confident and have problems passing.
Usually the group will all go out to eat after the meetings, but the last two have run over time and it is a long, quiet, thoughtful drive back to Valdosta. We usually have to let the events of the evening simmer for a day or two before we discuss the evening. We try and stay connected to as many lgbt groups as we can, because with each gathering we can bring new points of views to our PFLAG and Integrity groups.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I agree with them both really, but would say that for me, and if I thought I was a female trapped in the body the young boy, I didn't. I think that what really matter how you thought yourself to be was shaped by what period of time you grew up in. My quality of life was shaped by the discipline of my father. There were subjects that were never broached, or even considered. My ideas of sex and what emotional forces sex exhorted was shaped by the churches definitions and telling anyone that you wished you were a girl was a death sentence in ones social world. As a young boy living with 4 sisters, I knew what girls were like, I was having too much fun teasing them. Was the teasing out of jealousy, can't say. I know I wished on many a birthday cake and evening star to wake up like one of them.
When I was little, I have heard several of my aunties tell me that they just knew I was suppose to be a girl. That I should have been born a girl, that I was to pretty to be a boy. A boy's body I had and I grew accustomed waking up and seeing it still there. Anything feminine was mystical magical and forbidden; therefore I wanted to touch and smell and wear them.
Every step I took in my mother's heels and latter my heels that brought me ever so much closer to transition was on my own stumbling steps. Never having anyone help me or support me or meeting anyone of the lgbt community much less another person who wished they could be a girl. It wasn't until after my divorce when I was about 56 years old that I met another trans person and by that time I was well on my way to living authentically as female.
So no! I never thought myself as a girl in the body of a boy, I was a person who had a boy's body and thought that I was different. As my level of female gender acceptance grew, my female brain took over the body and adapted it to her needs and liking thus finally uniting and creating a harmonic union between the person I really was and the body she inherited.