Misery Peddlers Suck.

Dawn Stacey Ennis:

Driving today so instead of a fresh blog turning my spot over to a friend and fellow blogger whose views are, shall we say, unique. I can’t say I agree with everything Amanda Kerri writes, but above all else: I love her style, her outspokenness and her comic stylings. Oh, sorry — I mean, she’s damn funny. And she makes a good point here. Ladies and gentlemen and others: Amanda Kerri!

Originally posted on Nihilism is Pointless.:

I’m sure that Leelah Alcorn would be happy knowing she accomplished one thing with her final act. She got all trans people to agree that her end was tragic. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only thing that trans people; hell, any sort of marginalized group, can agree on. That tragedy is bad. I think that is the biggest reason I waited so long to write anything about it. I really hate the tragedy bandwagon. Hashtags, retweets, petitions, indignant op-eds, all come flooding out when these tragic things happen. I think my personal favorites are the teamsters that drive the indignation wagon. You know the one I’m talking about; the loud shouty ones who write article after article that are nothing but wailing and lamentations, even when nothing is happening. When it’s a slow week at the angst mill, they go out looking for that faux pas that someone makes…

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So Long, And Thanks For All The Nietzsche

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Just a short post to say “thank you” to everyone who took time to read my commentary at The Advocate and/or my expanded post here, about all the hype surrounding Bruce Jenner. Of course, the very clever friend whom I call my Jiminy Cricket saw right through me, as I seized this opportunity to not only comment on that media maelstrom but the one that befell me, as well.

Putting those words out there, telling my whole story, is something I have wanted to do for the longest time. Something I was told I couldn’t do and then didn’t dare do, before now. And I’ll admit I can now at least say I did get to tell my story. Book, schmook; I am following the wise advice of a certain Barnard professor I know, who told me to live my life and write about it later.

Anyway, I am grateful for the love and support I’ve received thus far, and yes, even the feedback that wasn’t all positive, because I appreciate honesty. Most of all I cherish the new friendships I’ve made as a result of sharing with y’all.

Now begins my last 24 hours here in Georgia. Soon enough it’ll be time for me to pack up and head out. I’ll be trying to beat the latest snowpocalypse that’s bearing down on the Northeast. Last time I checked, yup: February. It snows in February in the Northeast. So… in other words, that kind of wintry weather is “normal?” Okay! Just an observation.

bert-unibrowAnd on my way, I’ll need to pick up a new pair of sunglasses that won’t leave a unibrow mark on the bridge of my nose, like this not-cheap pair I purchased at Sea World Orlando at Christmas time. While everyone’s making a big hullaballoo about protecting killer whales and dolphins from exploitation by evil amusement parks, where’s the outrage over nasty sunglasses leaving black marks that make me look like Bert from Sesame Street? Sigh.

Barring any unforeseen developments, like a job offer — hell, I’d detour just to have a job interview —  I’m headed home, to my children, and will deal with the other consequences that will most certainly arise.  Ahem.

But be assured, dear ones, I will be back, to share more thoughts and stories and emotions and some pictures now and again.  Until then, as my dear friend Rick always said: “Be Good.” 

Why We Need to Listen to Bruce Jenner

Note to my readers: This is an expanded version of what first appeared on Thursday, February 5th, 2015, as an Op Ed for The Advocate Magazine:

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These days you can’t turn on the TV or go online in any LGBT social media space without seeing three words together:

Bruce. Jenner. Woman!

10835412_10205108433382284_5812753451013993168_oIt’s not only in outlets that traffic in “celebrity” gossip like TMZ and InTouch Weekly — which had the balls to Photoshop a cover image of Jenner to look more feminine; even legendary, respected sources of industry news can’t help but jump on the bandwagon that transgender stand-up comedian Tammy Twotone dubbed “Bruce Jennifer.”

People magazine’s latest headline loudly proclaims to its 3.5 million weekly readers what all those “anonymous sources” are all to happy too report, despite the fact that Jenner himself has never addressed long-standing rumors about his gender identity.

Even Variety, the storied bible of Hollywood insiders, boasts its reporters have learned “E! is developing a docuseries following Bruce Jenner’s ‘journey,’” and that “the head of publicity at E! [is] planning a meeting with GLAAD about how to handle such a sensitive subject.”

E!, of course, already pays Jenner to star as the often reclusive patriarch on the family reality series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Lest the gossip remain solely the purview of entertainment media, bruceinterviewmainstream outlets are jumping on the speculation brigade, too. A representative with ABC News reportedly confirmed to BuzzFeed that Diane Sawyer is finalizing an agreement to host Jenner for a sit-down interview to be aired during the crucial May sweeps rating period.

Then the Associated Press circumvented Bruce Jenner altogether on Wednesday and called up his 88-year-old mother for an hourlong conversation. The reporter asked how Jenner had come out to her. “It was brief,” she said, “and I said I was proud of him and that I’ll always love him. I never thought I could be more proud of Bruce when he reached his goal in 1976, but I’m more proud of him now. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s doing.”

Well, that’s it, then, right? Done deal? All that’s left is for Bruce Jenner himself (or herself) to make it official.

But this is my point. And it’s not mine alone — it’s shared by my colleagues at The Advocate and other leading LGBT publications: We don’t know how Jenner identifies until Jenner tells us.

We at The Advocate have made the choice to wait for confirmation, denial, or whatever it will be from Jenner and the representatives who are actually authorized to speak on behalf of the former Olympic athlete. The Advocate has not been able to get E!, Jenner, or the star’s agent to confirm anything — or even comment on the record.

Is Jenner transitioning? We really don’t know. When we do, we’ll let you know.

But, damn it, People magazine, even if you’re right about Jenner’s plans, here’s a tip: No one “transitions into a woman!”

The ignorance and misinformation about this subject galls me, given the fact that GLAAD has a very easy-to-understand lexicon available online, and experts on gender identity can be found in nearly every metropolis on earth — many of them transgender. Reporters cannot plead “we didn’t know” in their own defense anymore. I mean, come on: Have you heard of Google?

Apparently, it’s time for a crash-course for those unfamiliar: transition is not a “journey.” It’s a very long, Tilt-a-Whirl, summit plummet looping roller-coaster free-fall drop, Tower of Terror ride that, at best, ends with a person feeling better about themselves, employed, in their residence, and accepted by most friends and family. Too often, trans men and women get only one of those — or none.

When it is said a person who transitions “passes” in public as the gender they are presenting, that is seen by some as an achievement, and by others as reinforcing damaging gender stereotypes.

To me, the significance of passing is a personal preference, but let’s be frank: Even the most progressive, LGBTQ-allied cisgender (nontrans) people cannot help but comment to those of us who transition “how much prettier,” or “how handsome,” or, my favorite, “how much happier” we are, once we are living true to ourselves.

It’s a compliment, to be sure, and usually well-intentioned. And in my case, I agree: I am prettier; I am happier. But being trans is not just wearing clothes that match our mind-set. It’s about living and being accepted as the gender we know we are.

I did not “transition into a woman.” 397449_originalAnd I think a new, better explanation for this thing we do is needed, given all the attention Jenner, Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and little ol’ me have received. chaz bono new look

My favorite view is from scientist and global businesswoman Carol Holly, who posted last month on Facebook:

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I don’t believe that it’s possible for people to change gender. You can’t deny or change what you are.

Gender transition as we know it is really gender *presentation* transition. You stay what you always were, your body is allowed to conform to your soul, giving one the liberty to relax and be ones-self.

Not even all the surgery, hormones and therapy in the world can turn a man into a woman. And even attempting it can be deadly.

For this reason I say, “I was always a woman.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 3.13.51 AMBeing cast as a girl in commercials and catalog ads didn’t make me one, and the birth control pills I took as a teenager didn’t make me trans. The hormones I take now don’t “make” me a woman. I am one. I’m a transgender woman.

Before I could say that, I would get physically ill, and I twice contemplated suicide. Then I realized what I needed to do to live was to stop pretending I was a man.

And so I did, with the support of the love of my life and my children.

But unlike most other transgender folks, I was made aware of what thousands of people thought about my transition, my looks, my “lifestyle,” and how I “abandoned” my family.

imageNo, I’m not a reality star, but the unanticipated and unsolicited news coverage of my transition in 2013 transported me from anonymity to the front page of a New York City tabloid. Shock jocks, YouTubers, and cable TV personalities made me the butt of their jokes; reporters hid in bushes outside my home, ambushed my children on their way home from school, and asked my neighbors what they thought of “the tranny next door.”

Having to keep the children indoors on a summer day to hide from paparazzi parked outside one’s home is not something most transgender people ever endure. And about the only thing worse than having your picture on the newsstands and all over Google is seeing a segment on HuffPost Live featuring your “friends” titled “The Don Ennis Controversy.”

Of course, to celebrities like Jenner and the Kardashians, that kind of attention is not only commonplace, it may even be desirable. Pictures boost publicity, which increases ratings, and ratings translate into riches.

My 15 minutes of fame, however, translated into the loss of my good name and my reputation, and the end of my 30-year career in broadcast journalism.

I can only plead to the media to consider that there is a real person at the center of this frenzy. As someone who used to assign journalists stories for a living, and whose gender transition ironically became your assignment, I beg you to choose your words more carefully.

Focusing on clothing and makeup — as if trans women are drag queens or clowns — dehumanizes us all and trivializes what it means to be a woman. Speculating about surgeries is no more fair to us than strangers asking you about your hysterectomy, colonoscopy, or prostate exam. When someone decided it was my turn, your cameras and blogs and puns magnified my every mistake, for all to see and mock.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 1.38.30 AMNobody, not even me, knew how deeply someone suffering a seizure and amnesia can be affected by that. In July 2013, three months into living full-time in my true gender, I suddenly had no memory of being trans, and so in my delusion I renounced it in an email to colleagues and detransitioned, and that triggered an even bigger tsunami of negative publicity.

The fact is, detransition happens, even if it’s brushed under the rug. And because it goes against the positive narrative, it is considered taboo. Detransition aids our enemies and perpetuates the myth that we who say we were born this way are just pretenders, that we can be “cured,” or live as we once did through crackpot ideas like reparative therapy. I myself was used as “proof” by anti-LGBT zealots like Matt Barber and Michael Brown that being transgender is something you choose, that can be un-chosen, or that having amnesia is a cure for gender dysphoria. No, it’s not.

I know of more than a few transgender people who have consciously opted to detransition, even after gender confirmation surgery.

Because of family pressure, or unemployment, or just unhappiness, they abandoned their adopted presentation, quietly, out of the spotlight, and were able to do so because friends and family supported their detransition as “normal;” to them, being trans was “abnormal.”

At least one post-op transwoman now lives as a transman. Go figure.

But here’s the thing: he’s still trans. Detransitioners are still transgender, but for many that means back to living in the closet. And in my experience, that is a far worse fate. It is to live a lie. They deserve our sympathy and support.

Given the headlines, I can better understand now why so many transgender people turned on me and treated me as a pariah when I detransitioned, because I, too, cringe at all the speculation about Jenner’s alleged transition, and how it may in turn hurt all of us who are trans. As Dana Beyer, the Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland, wrote in 2013 about me, “public behavior can be easily misused to pathologize the rest of us.” She was right.

I say now as I have told anyone who will listen: I was under a delusion that took time to heal. I didn’t invent an illness to escape a successful transition; I was diagnosed, treated, and recovered — and was horrified to discover all I had worked for had been undone during my delusion. I was further in the closet than I had ever been. I’ll admit, I am a very creative writer, but even I could not have dreamed-up that much melodrama. It was a living nightmare.

1932605_10205376924282724_59548182704784261_o (1)Luckily for me, once the delusion ended and my memories fully returned, I resumed my transition in secret in hopes of avoiding a third round of headlines. Eventually I lived part-time, and then fully reclaimed my authentic identity. Over and over, I’ve turned down the chance to tell my story to the TV tabloids, so they can show me fixing my makeup or choosing which dress to wear, just to prove I am who I say I am. My gender is defined by my brain, not my bra size.

At the very least, media attention to details like boob jobs, nail polish, hairstyles, and tracheal shaves undercut our genuine attempts to present ourselves as authentic. Even trans men are not immune from harsh judgment. The public’s fascination with transgender identities — a curiosity about people like Jenner — drives gossip, sells papers, and draws page views.

Gender dysphoria is real. Hormone replacement therapy helps. Living authentically is the only true solution to gender dysphoria. I know.

Even considering my own negative experiences, it’s not my place to speculate what Jenner may or may not be going through. I do, however, recognize the fear that comes with being talked about, trying to avoid stumbling in front of the whole world, as you undergo the biggest change in your life since puberty.

I’m confident that sooner or later the whole world will hear from Jenner about this. To those looking in from the outside, you cannot imagine what it’s like being in the position where transition is the only way to live.

To Jenner and all those who live authentically, here is something even the media frenzy cannot take away:

The feeling you have when you are all alone, and you look in the mirror and see your true self looking back at you, and you feel for the first time that sense of self-esteem, self-worth, and love for your true self that until that moment had only been a dream.

My hope for Bruce Jenner is to experience that, without a camera recording it.

DAWN ENNIS is a blogger at LifeAfterDawn.com and media correspondent for The Advocate. She was the first transgender journalist in a position of editorial authority at any of the major TV networks in the U.S. to transition on the job. 

Plan B from Inner Space

balda_alps_clouds_sunriseI’m scared.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not “terrified, freaking out, what the hell?!?” kind of scared. 91125

Not “uh oh, the fuel gauge is on E, I wasn’t paying attention and there are no gas stations for miles, only the sounds of banjos playing” kind of scared.

Not “where did I leave my baby/dog/keys/purse/eyeglasses” kind of scared (but don’t you just HATE when that happens?).

Not “the test is today and I didn’t study” kind of scared.

Not “I can’t for the life of me remember what I was supposed to do and I’m in trouble for forgetting” kind of scared.

ed3b324e35788ff7f7b246d5285ee8b8Not “Freddy Krueger is in the house and I’m hiding in a room with only one way out and no closet nor windows” kind of scared.

Not even “I’m watching the original Poseidon Adventure movie and I’m 8 years old and I’ve only seen Disney movies with princesses and talking animals” kind of scared.

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(That’s a real thing by the way. I’m talking nightmares. for weeks).

So, back to my point: I’m scared but not for the seven reasons named above or anything relatively ordinary.

I am scared because for the second time in one year, I find myself without a plan. No Plan A, nor a Plan B.

So don’t even ask me about Plan C. Ain’t happening.

As Commander Adama used to say on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica (man, I miss that show), when he wanted a very brief explanation of everything in short order and just the highlights: “SITREP!” That’s short for Situation Report.
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The fact he doesn’t even bother saying all the syllables and just barks “SITREP” always impressed me. I thought, “That is so cool. Like a BOSS! Just says two syllables and everybody stops to give the old man the low down. Cool.”
So here’s my “SITREP:”
  • I need a full-time job and a place to live (in that order, preferably).
  • My unemployment money is running out, probably right around February 14th. Valentine’s Day.
  • I have already moved five times in 20 months: first to Danbury, then back to West Hartford to convalesce after a seizure, and then back to Danbury, then to East Haven…connecticut_map
  • Then, last summer I moved to The Bronx(it’s at the top of the map; you know, “The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down!” No? Fuggedaboudit)…
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  • And now I am in Marietta, Georgia.
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  • My roommate here in Georgia, who took me in after I realized I could no longer afford a New York City apartment without a New York City salary, is moving out. Our lease is up February 14th. Once again, Valentine’s Day. And that’s fitting, because she’s in love, which is wonderful. She and her boyfriend are moving in together, and I’m very happy for them.
  • So, her moving out of this spacious two bedroom furnished apartment means I am, too. I don’t earn enough to afford the rent by myself, I didn’t find anyone to be a roommate and, frankly, it’s a little too dark here for my tastes. But it was home.
  • And now I’m not sure where to go. My dream is to go to my real home. Where my kids live, with their mom.
She’s the reason I don’t live there now, and she’s the reason I had to leave our home on May 1, 2013. I didn’t want to. But I certainly wasn’t about to kick the mother of my children to the curb, and she couldn’t live with me as I am.
And I am living as I am. There is no going back, no more than you’d ask a butterfly to wear a cocoon because you liked her the way she used to be. butterfly_PNG1056
I’m blessed to have had offers of help, a room, a couch, some money, and prayers which mean more to me than anything.
But I need to find a job. As much as I know I have to find a place to live, I must find some kind of job before the benefits run out and a bad situation gets worse.
A few hours ago, I got a text about my youngest son, age 8. He opened the fridge door and asked his mother, “where’s all the food? You need to go get some. I’m hungry!”
His mother didn’t share this to make me cry, but how could I not? My little boy is hungry and sees clearly that we don’t have what we used to. We’ve made it this far on the generosity of friends, through trips to the food bank and the occasional paychecks I collect for doing my two part-time jobs, and from her jobs as a teacher in a public school and at our Sunday school.
This cannot continue. I cannot draw money from our severely limited funds to rent another apartment, and  yet I know returning to our humble home will make life difficult for at least one of us in this strained, almost 19 year marriage. That, too, must end (once we can afford a divorce), because the butterfly must go on flapping its wings. rclrs
Last night, I dreamed I was that free, to fly where I wished. I was nothing special, and yet that made me feel so wonderful: I was welcome in the clouds among the flying things that didn’t care whether I could always fly, or had just learned how to.
I dreamed of soaring over the heads of my children, seeing them looking up at me, laughing, filled with joy, my own face grinning at their smiling faces, and knowing the love they felt for me could rise up into the sky to touch my faraway heart.
I dreamed that this was not a dream, but a wish fulfilled. One that allowed me to descend into a careful, deliberate and smooth flightpath, sticking the landing in a wonderful hangar where I could do what I do best.
With my wings, I painted on a blank, electronic canvas all sorts of fanciful ideas and songs and spiritual, soul-enriching concepts, which in turn filled a cauldron of edible emotions and fermented barrels of liquid ecstasy, as a calliope of words filled the air.
And when I awoke, it was not with a bright smile, but to face a dark truth: I do not have a safe place to land. I cannot fly where I wish, and I am not accepted in the way I wish I could be.
Most importantly, and to the point of why I am so very, very scared: I do not know what to do next. I can’t stay. I can’t go home. I don’t know where else to go if not home. I can’t get my bearings, and damnit, I need to find my bearings.
“A good producer always has a Plan B,” I often said. “And a really good producer has a Plan C, too.” I can easily hear my old voice saying those words, over and over in my 30 year career in the broadcast television news business. I was a good producer. But right now, fuggedaboudit: I don’t even have a Plan A.
What shall I do?
On Sunday, I received a priest’s blessing (I’m a recovering Irish Catholic). The week before I did penance, after making my confession. I’m all ears, God. Anytime now, Let me have it! I’m here… okay, ready! Are you there, God?
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[CRICKETS]
Sigh. Must be talking to Margaret again.
Well, for right now, my plan is to go to bed.
To sleep, perchance to dream (oooh! I so wish I could take credit for that!)  and to wake up tomorrow giving thanks for another day.
Like Bonnie Hunt, I guess I just have to take this One Day At A Time.gty_bonnie_franklin_ll_130301_wmain
And maybe, in a few days, maybe I’ll find out whether dreams really can come true.
High_Above_The_Clouds_by_AllyBear24

Birthday Connections and Separations

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Today he is sixteen.

My young man debuted on planet Earth the morning of January 12, 1999.

Considering that our firstborn has a mother and father who met studying journalism, it’s no surprise that bringing him into this world was as rough and tumble as an all-night edit session. When at long last, he did show up, it was time for traffic and weather together, on the 8’s. New snow fell outside the hospital window, across the New York City suburbs of Westchester County, covering his world in a pure blanket of white.

We planned to name our son Michael Sean, in keeping with my in laws’ Jewish tradition of naming newborns after the deceased. He would honor my Uncle Mickey, my late godfather, whose birthday also would have been today.

Mick was a hearty and robust Irish Catholic, a strong, happy man with a broad smile and even broader shoulders. He left this world too soon, buckled by lung cancer after a long battle, just days before we were engaged to be married. Giving this first boy to be born in the Ennis family since his death the name Michael seemed the right thing to do. As for “Sean,” well, it was my middle name, and we both liked it.

But the shock of that red hair of his changed our minds, simultaneously, within seconds of his arrival. The name no longer fit. He must be named Sean Michael, we thought outloud. It just sounded so much more… fitting.

And the swap was in keeping with another of my in laws’ traditions: we gave our son a first name that was my middle name. I say “was” because my name is no longer Donald Sean, but Dawn Stacey. I am still Sean’s father, but I am trans.

And Sean Michael was the first boy, but not the first of his generation. That honor was bequeathed five years earlier, when Mick was still with us. The first grandchild of the next generation of the Ennis clan arrived on a snowy night 21 years ago tonight: my godchild and first niece, Erynn was born.

Now a junior in college, Erynn is a beauty to behold in her photographs… which is all I have seen of her since June 2012. Following the publication of this blogpost, she reached out to me via text for the first time in 2 and a half years… to ask that I remove her picture. Of course, I complied. I only wish she would want more from me than that.

I watched this young woman grow up from almost the moment of her birth. I drove four hours from New Jersey to Connecticut through a raging snowstorm to be at her mother’s side, only to walk into my sister’s delivery room mere minutes after she gave birth. Timing is everything, they say.

And that was a phrase that I should have kept in mind at Erynn’s graduation. It was a 98-degree day in June 2012 when I lost my cool and could no longer hold my tongue, as my mother harangued me for the perceived insults inflicted upon her my ghastly children, including: how dare my five year old declare he didn’t know her! After all, she’d seen him twice in the past year, each time for at least a few hours! “The nerve!” she exclaimed.

That was the worst of the many grievances she aired in a litany that boiled me over on one of the hottest days of the summer as I sweltered in a compression shirt that held my boobs at bay. I’m sure wearing that constricting clothing didn’t help my mood one bit on that hot and humid graduation day, as I bit my tongue bloody, and let her narcissistic negativity roll off my back along with all the sweat.  I wore this binding garment under a tee shirt, giving my chest a more masculine appearance and hiding my generous feminine assets. This was at a time in my life when I presented as a male, despite growing evidence and feelings that my gender was, in fact, female.

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Not wearing it had resulted in taunts by Sean’s schoolmates, to the point he was bullied and we needed to involve the police. So I didn’t go out without it, no matter what the weather or what I had to endure.

And somehow I was able to withstand both the heat and her oral onslaught, up until she slammed my youngest. Hearing that made me think back to all the times I had bit back on my anger and did what she asked, no matter how preposterous, how quirky, how very strange it seemed. I didn’t talk back, I didn’t question, I did what I was told. I kept my mouth shut.

Not that day.

I let her have it, everything I had buried deep inside. I unloaded, ignoring the families looking on, wondering why this middle aged man was shouting at his mother, each time ever louder: Fuck you! Fuck you! FUCK YOU!

Just then, my sister and her children reappeared and we all posed for photographs, smiling as if nothing had happened. My sister and I were, after all, child models, trained to smile on command.

But following the smiles came the tears; the connection between mother and child was broken that day. As was the one between my niece and my sister and me, as well as the connection between them and my wife and our children. That was June 2012.

My transition less than a year later didn’t help heal that rift, nor did publicity about my child modeling career. Despite many attempts by me to account for my mistake and to sincerely apologize, the division between us only deepened, and the negative press also separated me from my uncle’s family. His widow and his children let me know they couldn’t maintain a connection through social media, because of the harassment my cousin had received on the job on account of me being trans.

On the bright side, he did send me a Christmas text, telling me “I love you, cuz.” That meant more to me than all the “likes” on facebook.

So here it is, January 12th, 2015. My oldest son is 16, his cousin Erynn is 21 and my uncle is spending his 19th birthday in heaven. What I wouldn’t give for all of us who are still here on earth to gather together to celebrate this special day, in his honor.

I’ll settle for showing my son Sean how special he is to me.

 

Different Faces, Different Places

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When you miss a connection on MARTA (Atlanta’s subway and bus system) you can find yourself waiting up to 30 minutes for the next bus or train.

Today a young man and I found ourselves in just such a predicament.

After we exchanged the look commuters give each other when you just miss a connection, he spoke to me, in a soft and friendly voice.

“I don’t mind waiting, so long as I can use that time to make a new friend or just enjoy another person’s company,” he said to me.

Despite being pickpocketed just last week in New York City, despite being a woman all alone in a subway station with a young man I didn’t know, and not being at my strongest. I didn’t even hesitate.

I introduced myself and confided I had recently moved here from NY and that I found Atlanta’s mass transit system frustrating.

He told me his name was Chris, he was 23, and just moved here from Chicago.

I didn’t mention my age, of course, and when he guessed 35 I was tempted to nod my head, but decided honesty was the best policy.

“No, I’m 50.”

Chris was quite the gentleman. He offered me a flirtatious compliment — “Uh, you’re young enough to be one of my children” was my reply — and I learned he was headed to his college class for video production.

He was dressed casually, but stylin’, in comfy slacks and a tan suede jacket and brown cap — clothes befitting a college kid, even if he was older than your average freshman.

And I was wearing my WJLA-TV winter coat, betraying my profession, so we talked a bit about being a visual storyteller.

He told me his ultimate ambition was to be a spoken artist. Not sure what that entailed, I inquired: “like a standup comic?”

“That’s one possibility,” said Chris. “I do write comedy.”

We agreed writing comedy was among the hardest challenges, and I encouraged him to keep at it, to write every day, and to watch and listen and read the works of great writers and comics to find the artist he would be.

He revealed that a former lover, a woman he said was 43 years old who was not African-American like him but “of another ethnicity,” as he described her, had asked him to share with her an example of his writing.

“But I have,” he said he had told her. “Every day.”

“What are you talking about?” he says she asked.

Chris paused, stepped closer to me to tell me his answer, his eyes wide and alive. “I write to you, and on you, and in you, and all over you, every day. If you want to see what it is that I write, it is here, between us, right this moment. I write onto your heart.”

Wow, I thought to myself. This kid is smooth!

But to him I said, “That’s very poetic, Chris. You should blog. Write something every day, not just on the heart of a woman but somewhere where others can see it.”

“Thanks,” he said, as if that hadn’t occured to him. And then suddenly we were no longer alone. Chris and I boarded the train that had just pulled into the Sandy Springs station. We took seats next to each other, my new friend and I, and discussed poetry.

He admired a ring upon my finger that I told him was given to me by my lost love.

Chris mentioned race once more and I told him I know that for many people the difference is an issue, in making friends or enemies or creating alliances or division.

“Not for me,” Chris told me. And what followed was something I could tell were not just words fresh from his lips, but prose drawn from his memory. He shared this with me as one would reveal a treasured jewel.

“I don’t see races.
I see faces.
I see people, from different places.
And those people all have different faces.
That is the basis, that all of us being from different places means, even if I have a different face, together we are still part of the same human race.”

Amen, Chris.

I thanked him for sharing this and for keeping me company. We said farewell, then I left the train to continue my odyssey.

I committed to memory his spoken art, and committed to my heart his beautiful sentiment, so I could share it with you.

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Me, the Pope, Two Guys Named Benedict and the late Alan Turing

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Sometimes I hate the fact that I have a Google setting to alert me whenever someone has written about me. It is both a blessing and a curse.

I received yet another alert today, the first in months. I’m writing this to help me deal with the effects of that alert. While lessened, these kinds of things still cause me great distress, even at this late date. Fortunately, I’m a lot stronger now than I once was.

I will not provide you a link and ask you to not bother googling it yourself, because I don’t want this blogpost to become a conduit to give my critics page views. Suffice to say: a priest overseas wrote something about one of the bravest men of the last century, Alan Turing, whose life is the subject of a new film starring actor Benedict Cumberbatch (I loved him in “Star Trek Into Darkness”), This priest drew comparisons to Turing’s cruel prosecution for being gay, and the ordeal of my seizure, amnesia and subsequent involuntary detransition, to express his opposition to a gender identity bill in his native land. That country is pictured below, if you care to guess.

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Far be it from me to ever consider myself worthy of comparison to the hero who ended WWII, with his Enigma code-breaking machine and his brilliant mind. This priest did rightly condemn the mistreatment of Turing and others like him… then, a few words later, to make all trans folks look like lunatics and to make his point, he invoked both Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis… and the New York Post. In fact, he quoted liberally from that seedy tabloid’s fabricated account of my experiences.

Last time I checked, being trans in America now and being gay in post-war Europe are not at all similar. And even if you’re not an American you ought to know better than to quote The New York Post.

It seems “The Don Ennis Controversy” as the Huffington Post once labeled it, is an albatross that will stalk me long after I am dead. And the truth is, it really isn’t anyone’s business. I am not a public figure, and never was.

All that matters now is that I am me, and I am just one of many trans folk whose transitions were not smooth (even though mine admittedly started out better than I could have ever dreamed).

The really awful part of my transition was that it occurred under a spotlight, which I did not seek nor do not want to ever repeat. I didn’t ask to be famous, infamous or notorious. I hesitated even writing about it for fear some bozo will say “look! She’s seeking attention again!”

No, I’m complaining that my rights to my privacy are being violated, again.

Why can’t they just leave me alone? Seriously, I think I may need to vanish to make that happen.

Siri, Google: “abracadabra.”

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