(28 Feb 17)
‘Gains And Losses’
Greetings, Dear Reader.
Sahwdee Khaf to another bright day.
It’s time for another post.
I did not know what it is about, but there was a show on ABC TV that was promoted as a pro-LGBT docu-drama – ‘When We Rise’.
Monday’s ‘… Rise’ will continue Wednesday (tomorrow). The preview indicates that the next episode will begin with Harvey Milk’s election.
‘When We Rise’ brings back personal memories.
I did not know of Harvey Milk until the news of his assassination. That event became one of my ‘Where were you when …?’ experiences. I was studying college schoolwork at home that day; I saw the news break on TV as it happened (KTLA, KHJ, KTTV). It deeply affected me as I had been in my deep ‘stealth’ transition since 1974. Remember that my family murdered my mother’s younger brother when he was in transition (1970). Both murders put the fear of death in me. I later encountered threats of violence from my former best friend Clinton and his college football buddies. I have received death threats intermittently because of my change; I received credible, descriptive death threats as recently as 2015. I do not perceive a positive future in today’s Orange climate.
My internist from Costa Mesa (1983 – 1993) was part of the inaugural wave of doctors researching AIDS and treating AIDS patients. He ‘was there’ in his way to help our community. I am proud that he was my physician.
This is if someone from NOW is reading this. Here, you have it. Get your act together!
I had been an active member of NOW campaigning for the ERA and other feminist causes; they took my annual dues and my sweat equity for several years. I, too, gradually noticed and encountered sexism from NOW when I was still presenting to them as Nick – the male of this species, their ‘enemy’. NOW also objected to Lesbianism’; Sharon is Lesbian, Sharon is un-welcomed at NOW. Thus, I, both as Nick (male) and as Sharon (Lesbian), am doubly un-welcome at NOW.
One day, NOW announced a party – women only. I (Nick, a male) raised my objection to deaf ears. I made one last attempt for them to change their tune – I went to the party and asserted to them that I am a dues-paying member of NOW and I have a right to participate. NOW rejected me at their event again; they told me ‘NO!’ because I am male – or, at least to say, they denied admittance to Nick because he (I) presented male to them.
This persona non grata ‘stinkah’ had two ideas:
- Maybe I as Nick shall show my drivers licence to them – it was issued to me, Sharon, female. Wouldn’t that turn heads!
- Or maybe I’ll go home, dress more female, return and present as Sharon, and demand entry as female (I was post-op and ready for my pantie check). Wouldn’t that turn heads!
Naw, I went home and resigned from NOW – I quit in protest. Their ‘women only’ party actually began a decline in NOW membership and participation where it happened. I have not looked back on NOW. Non-inclusive organisations that otherwise claim to demand universal inclusion serve no purpose to our community.
Equal Rights Coalition brought in the disaffected former NOW members; ERC participation rose. Thank you to LeeAnne and Debbie. Dear Reader, please check the ERC file at the Utah State Historical Society.
We were all ‘there’ – those of us who quit NOW and joined ERC and other community civics groups.
There is conversation in ‘… Rise’ from the father to his gay son similar to what my dad said to me about my transsexualism:
- ‘It’s an illness. It can be treated. It doesn’t matter what age you are. I will cure you of this.’
My dad repeatedly told me since childhood to ‘talk to a priest’ to ‘cure’ me – one reason I went to a Catholic boys high school. ‘Be a man’, ‘talk to the priest’ – my dad repeated his words during that year we resided at New Mexico (1977 – 1978). He said that constantly from July 1985 till the day he died (July 1989). But both Father Thom and Sister Barbara agreed with me / Sharon / female that Nick / male is my past.
My dad wanted a straight son, instead he got a Lesbian daughter. Worse, I campaigned for ERA and Liberal causes with NOW, ERC, and other civil rights groups. Neither my dad, mom, nor sister comprehend – they bellittle my activism. Perhaps ‘… Rise’ is strengthening to my re-awakened activism.
My dad could not comprehend either transsexual or inter-sex. Nor could he comprehend ‘cured’; but surely he would ‘cure’ me no matter what age I was. He tried to beat it out of me as a dependant child and teen. Now he would try to intimidate me as an independant adult woman – he demanded that I de-transition (November 1985), though he did not know that word. In his ignorance, going back meant going back to female. I transitioned to female; I did what he demanded, but that was not good enough.
The father in this depiction eventually comes around to his son and his son’s partner. If only my father lived long enough. Would he have come to accept me? Accept my Lesbian girlfriend? Likewise, what about my mother? Kathy could be an indicator; she does not want me anywhere near her and her family. I doubt a happy family ending for this kiddo
There was a confrontation among the Black community in ‘… Rise’. Said one of the community’s elders:
- ‘There is no Gay in a real Black man. No real Black man is a Homosexual.’
I alluded to this issue at a prior post to this site. That pervasive misconceived sense – that any Gay Black or Hispanic man is not a ‘real’ man – among Black and Hispanic is exactly what put that comment into this drama. Janus worked hard to bring acceptance of transsexual (and homosexual) to the Black and Hispanic communities.
I can’t attest with any authority, I am not of the Black / African-American community. I do identify with the Hispanic community. Hispanic men are ‘macho’ – male chauvinist to the max – homosexuality is beneath the dignity of ‘real’ man, therefore, there is no such ‘real’ man who is a homosexual Hispanic male. That is their communal myth, anyway. The truth is that homosexuality, transsexuality, the entire LGBT and straight rainbow are as much a ‘real’ man, or woman, as any other. It is with their blindness that they do not see.
You ‘were there’ if your ethnic community debased you as did that community elder who blathered his haughty words.
‘… Rise’ shows clips of anti-homosexual films produced during the 1940s and 1950s.
I expect the likelihood that my Catholic school showed those videos to us as part of our ‘sex education’ classes, though I have no specific memory.
Spirit friend Cara referred to these videos in her own posts last year:
Those old videos present homosexuals as predatory and perverted.
We all know better now how that impression is backwards. Heterosexual males are the predators and perverts. I have seen valid statistics reporting that more than 90% of all sex crimes, including paederastery and child molestation, are committed by heterosexual males. How soon you forget that during several recent decades Catholic priests have reigned down a system of child molestation and rape upon their altar boys. Few priests, bishops, cardinals were ever prosecuted; their authorities play whack-a-mole stashing them at one parish or another just beyond the reach of prosecution until those pesky statutes of limitation expire. The popes along the way got canonised – Saint Pervertus I and Saint Pervertus II.
You ‘were there’ if police razed you, beat you, imprisoned you on their false accusations of child molestation.
All you Catholic children ‘were there’ when you suffered at the hands and authority of your church.
Ya wanna know why I did not go gung ho for President Clinton?
Ever hear of such antiquated notions as ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and ‘DOMA’? Clinton surrendered to the Republi-cons who pushed those two ill-conceived bills through the Congress as a way to placate the right-wing, Christian Conservative, Republi-con assembly that they can make an appearance as if they are pro-LGBT to the un-informed LGBT while actually letting their constituents know that they are pulling a fast one on the LGBT who are too stoopid to fully comprehend their hypocrisy. Huh. Not much different then as we have of Trumpsters nowadays.
All the GIs who served honorably yet were discharged ‘were there’ for enduring what should never have been foisted upon them.
‘When We Rise’ dramatises how we lived in fear for our jobs and our personal security in our daily lives with whom we associated and the political causes we supported:
- Employers could fire us if we were homosexual or trans.
- The US military could drum you out of your many years of service with a ‘Dishonorable Discharge’ on their suspicion of homosexuality, their accusation of transsexuality, no proof required.
- Employers could fire anyone who had a family member or friend who is homosexual or trans.
- Employers could fire us if we joined any political organisation that supported Constitutional rights for homosexuals and trans.
- Employers could fire us if we read about homosexuality or transsexuality, whether at the Public Library or inside the privacy of our own home.
- Employers could fire us if we studied homosexuality or transsexuality at college.
We lived, worked, played, went to school, associated with others under the repression of those right-wing thought police and secret police more readily understood to have existed at those other countries but not here at good ol’ red-white-and-blue USA.
The effects of that past were invasive, pernicious, and oppressive. They are back with a vengeance – we ‘are here’ to fight back.
Cecilia, in this production, is a court interpreter going through her transition.
Cecilia tells of her experiences at work in 1992. She continued presenting as male as her features feminised. Her boss took her aside and made rude statements to her – ‘Are you a man or a woman?’. No matter, he fired her because she is trans.
Steve Dain was a role model. Steve was once selected as ‘Teacher of the Year’. His school fired him when he began transition.
Yep, been there done that – twice was my experience. First the Forest Service fired me for being trans – ‘We can’t have that here.’ – in 1983. Then the State of Arizona fired me when my Social Security Administration file suddenly reverted and caught the attention of my agency management who then initiated harassment before they sought to terminate my employment.
‘… Rise’ is all very real to me – to my experiences. Did your employer fire you, demote you, demean you because you are trans? Then you ‘were there’ too.
In this country alone, there have been perhaps tens of millions of people harmed by AIDS; millions died of that wrath, their families mourn.
I concede that I have no direct experience whether or not someone I knew has AIDS or died of AIDS.
Tim and I met at an ERA rally that we of ERC promoted. Tim and I quickly became friends; he brought me into his group of gay men when I resided at Utah. We all socialised together at the ‘Gay’ Dee’s restaurant located at downtown Salt Lake City (1983 – 1985). Tim, his two Lesbian friends, and I formed our own foursome – me presenting as a straight male to them however that went. We four shared a celebratory meal when I prepared moving home from Utah. I lost touch with Tim,Carol, and his other companions; I ponder the thought that maybe one of them contracted AIDS, worse that one of them died of AIDS.
I did come upon at least a few of my AHCCCS MedicAid clients who had AIDS during my three years employed with the State of Arizona as a public assistance case manager. I always wondered what happened to them when I did not see them at renewal time. Did they simply refuse to renew, did they move to another location, did they die?
I mourn those millions whom I do not know, nonetheless. All their potential cut short by lack of political will rather than lack of medical science. Those same political destroyers have seized control for the next four years or more. We shall all mourn tens of millions more ill and dying because of their intolerance.
We were all ‘there’ in our own way and time.
‘When We Rise’ used many familiar songs of those years.
- ‘I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, so I leave it up to you …’
My music cue for this era is Tom Robinson. He had these among his songs that topped the music charts:
- ‘Glad To Be Gay’,
- ‘2,4,6, 8, Motorway’
- ‘Right On, Sister!’
- ‘Power in the Darkness’
- ‘Up Against the Wall’
- ‘Long Hot Summer’
In the lyrics to these and other Tom Robinson songs are events that happened to each and every one of us in some way. We ‘were there’ one and all.
‘When We Rise’ brings back personal memories. Presented in ‘… Rise’ is truth of what I lived. I experienced what ‘… Rise’ portrayed. I was there. Thank you for telling what happened, telling it as it happened!
I shared my memories with other members of our community. We understood our collective recollective.
One friend countered that she ‘wasn’t there’. That she served in the military during the 1960s and then she worked as a teacher until her recent retirement. I replied that, indeed, you were there, my friend:
- You had to deal with the military and all its homophobia and transphobia.
- You were there as a teacher – your rights were trampled by right-wing McCarthyistic intrusion into your private, personal life.
- My 11th Grade ‘Psychology’ teacher taught that transsexuals are ‘perverts’. You were there when your teacher taught that to you at your school. Or maybe your school administrator commanded you to teach such nonsense.
- If your school showed those ugly sex education films accusing homosexual men of crimes against children, then you were there.
Your life was altered because of that bigotry, therefore, you were there same as I, same as everyone else in our community.
- There was my friend Steve from the Forest Service – the co-worker who thought I was a gay male – feared for his employment security if anyone discovered his homosexuality. The Forest Service would have fired him for being homosexual same as it did firing me for being transsexual. He surely ‘was there’ in the front lines same as anyone else. My salute to Steve.
- There was my friend Tim. He usually wore earrings, but if he had to go to certain stores or businesses, then he removed his piercings. He ‘was there’ in that regard. He feared for his personal safety – that wearing his piercings would invite homophobic violence committed against him.
- Then there was Kathy. I tried. I wrote a brief note to my sister Kathy. I wanted to share this with her – my history, my emotions, my personal remembrances. She does not comprehend how these issues press upon her life nor my life history. How can they not? They are ingrained as my life history no different than her children are as her life history. Would she silence herself from talking about her children?
So while I present my perspective, where I was, and how those events hit me, we all ‘were there’ – whether in the front lines or just now joining the battle against Trump and his Republi-cons who seek to reverse that long course of history that our community is trying to bend toward justice.
Be ‘here’. Be ‘there’. Rise up! Fight back!
In my life there is loss, yet there is gain.
‘Difficult’. ‘Painfull’. Yet years and age make my life experiences fond memories though I lack the availability to share them with family who are either deceased or absent.
You, Dear Reader, know only Sharon / female in the present here at this site. The essence of me is the same trying to be better – whether Nickie (‘male’ or female) then or Sharon (female) now.
‘Feminine protesting’ was the early diagnosis.
As a child, I screamed out in frustration and cried to myself ‘I’m a girl!’ before I comprehended all its implications and its veracity. My attitude once was adamant; I hated all that was my ‘male’ predecessor. Then I came to realise that I must accept what happened to me – that I was born a girl but my birth-room doctor’s error forced me to live as a boy for much of my first two decades. Not much different than a girl who learned she was born a boy whose circumcision went wrong.
I identified first as transsex as a child, though I certainly had no knowledge of that term at age 3. I transitioned to female identified with that term.
Doctors eventually conceded to examine me years later along my path as transsex; they determined that I am inter-sex – female erroneously assigned at birth as male.
I persisted to female along the transsex model while my inter-sex psychologist tried convincing me to cease my transition to female. I could not understand why at that time. I re-learned within this past year one distinct difference between the transsexed and the inter-sexed:
- the transsexed typically change their sex.
- the inter-sexed typically remain their erroneously-assigned sex (‘The intersexed child is not transexual. In rare instances, the intersexed child may request sex reassignment.’ (sic) Janus Information Facility: ‘Information for the Family of the Transexual’, 1977, page 13).
Sure, I wish that I could have had my rightfull childhood and adolescence as a girl, yet I did things as a boy that I could never have done as a girl. I put Boy Scouts and Little League on that list.
I made two accomplishments to my time in my Boy Scout troop:
- I made ‘1st Class’ faster than any predecessor.
- I earned both the ‘Hiking’ and the ‘Horsemanship’ merit badges; no predecessor had either one, I had both.
I hiked the Grand Canyon and Grand Tetons as a Boy Scout, opportunities to me as a boy that I would have lacked as a girl – a gain amidst a loss.
I played Little League (1966 – 1970). I concluded my Little League ‘career’ playing an advanced Little League for the baseball season between my 8th and 9th grades (1970). My final season was the best! We played our games at a real Major League ballpark. Okay, we played to probably 40 people rather than 40 thousand, but I could look to the stands and imagine that 40 thousand. I played the field (catcher and outfield), got hits, and ran the same bases as major leaguers. No one can ever take that from me, not even me, anymore. Sadly, neither my father, mother, nor sister ever bothered to come to one game during the five seasons when I played.
Likewise, family were all no-shows when I played tennis and track-and-field during 9th Grade.
As an adult, I played city league softball as both Nick (men’s league, 1975 – 1978) and Sharon (women’s league, 1986 – 1988). I played ‘Team Tennis’ and finished ranked #5 (1986). Not once did my dad attend any game – softball or tennis. Those were gains and losses.
It goes beyond Kathy. It is now permeating among our next generation.
My sister Kathy has never allowed any of my correspondences with her son and daughter. Her son, Mike, had a professional Major League baseball career (brief as it was) and her daughter, Racheal, played softball (high school and college), yet none of us shared our experiences. Maybe they are reading this?
Kathy sent a Messenger text to me on a Tuesday the other week. She wrote that she would be travelling to Phoenix to visit me that coming weekend; or rather, that was how I sought to enthusiastically interpreted her brief initial note. The next day she clarified. She would be coming to Phoenix for the three-day weekend to be with her son who was in a wedding party for his best friend. Kathy wrote that she would only see me brief enough to dump a few family heirlooms on my front yard. These items that she no longer wants and now considers discards were her ill-gotten gains of the past three decades, the same items that she fought for years to hide from me, the product of her theft from the estates of both our father (1989) and our mother (2002).
I replied to her (Wednesday) that I already had plans made days earlier – spending time with my friends who actually appreciate company among our selves. I offered to make an effort to meet her – I reminded Kathy that my counsellors advised me that we should meet only at public places for now. I also reminded Kathy what she and Cousin Bev wrote to me numerous times – that they travel back and forth to visit with each other several times throughout each year – that her ‘visit’ to me that weekend would be of no real imperative that can’t wait til another time of our mutual agreement. That being the truth, I posed to Kathy that she and I can develop advanced plans on her future visits to Bev or Bev’s future visits to her – that they can list and describe the items she decides to jettison, send pictures to me via e-mail attachment, bring a few items at a time – as in that ‘Box’ that both Kathy and Bev so well delivered 14 years late.
I asked Kathy about Cousin Steve. Again.
Kathy has so far not responded.
I came to further conclude my sadness for Mike. He had been here in town at least those past few weeks, albeit preparing for his friend’s wedding and reception. Nevertheless, not once did Mike ever so much as write a simple ‘f you’ e-mail or text or call. Mike’s scheme of his life considers me so low that he does not even rate me five measley minutes of his weeks here. Mike’s complete apathy reflect on Kathy who is using her personal hate toward me to negatively influence his own perception – ‘brainwashed’ as one of my friends described it. I have always expressed my desire to have a family relationship with both Mike and Racheal, but not one word from either throughout their entire lives (Mike was born in 1990, Rachael in 1992) – not even that ‘f you, drop dead’ e-mail. That’s sad!
I want Mike and Racheal to meet me on their own. The adult way is for them to judge for themselves who I am without Kathy’s undue interference. I can cry, but I must get on with my life left with only a shadow of Mike and Rachael in my heart – themselves each the victims of Kathy’s cold indifference toward her sibling.
You, Dear Reader, are you based upon your experiences same as I would not be me without my experiences – gains, losses, life.
At least for me, the best one can do is accept our self – our past, present, and future. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it is pure joy. I can’t change my past, but I can apply its lessons to try making a better future.
My life has been a splendid experience; I would not want anyone else’s.
I appreciate all the encouragement that my friend Alana recently wrote to me. I read through it multiple times. In part:
- ‘We are not failures but have learned much from life’s experiences. We should both of us feel proud to have made it this far and to have survived all that we have. We are survivors. We need to focus. Make a list of things you would like. Add to the list and read it daily. Make another list of things you are grateful or thankful for no matter how small.’
My conscious ‘knows’ that my personhood holds value. There is some residue of me that doesn’t ‘know’ whether I truly ‘love’ my self. I like me and I approve of my life accomplishments. I endure the echoes of my past that nag my present and seek to hinder my future potential.
My sister Kathy is a prime example. She has always – always – denigrated whatever I have done – from earliest childhood to the present. Yes, she derides my attending trans support groups and wanting to help trans children and adults through their transition.
That leads to a wall blocking my advancement. I consider my predicaments more manageable than if I faced another’s experiences – the concept that we endure what we can endure. I give others great credit for whatever you must overcome: drugs, alcohol, unemployment, homelessness, loss of family and friends, late-life transition. I suspect that any one would break me, yet others overcome them and more.
Nor do I consider my life a failure. I may not have changed the world; I do know that my small existence has been for the better. Yes, we (you, me, Kathy) are survivors, a fact that Kathy fails to recognise no matter how frequently I tell that to her.
‘Pride’ will be 1 – 2 April here at Phoenix.
This will be my first year.
I shall be at either the Spectrum / PFLAG booth, the parade, or both.
Make plans. See you there.
Welcome new member ‘thehomemakerslife’.
Kapung khaf. Thank you for visiting. Please come again.