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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