Me @ The Tool Shed, MKE

I’ll be doing an event on Thursday, April 7th in Milwaukee at the awesome Tool Shed as part of Milwaukee’s SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Education) week.

Here’s where you register for it.
Here’s the Facebook event.
Here’s the FetLife listing.

And here’s SHARE’s FB page, if you want to keep informed of what they’re doing – they have a whole week of educational events set up, with so many awesome people, including Reid Mihalko (Rough Sex for Nice Folks), Sophia Chase (Sex for Survivors), and Jiz Lee (Coming Out Like a Porn Star). Looks like it’s going to be an amazing week & I’m happy to be part of it.

Malcolm X: 51 Years Ago Today

Half a century, and I don’t think we’ve ever recovered from losing what he brought to the table.

I used to walk the path his stretcher took from the Audubon Ballroom to the emergency room on a regular basis; it was up at 168th Street, brought to my attention because Columbia wanted to demolish it (after ongoing rallies to save it, they instead they built into it, integrating the ballroom into their design, which wasn’t good enough, but it was better than nothing.

From his last speech, “The Black Revolution and its Effect Upon the Negro of the Western Hemisphere”, at Columbia U, on February 18th, 1965:

“We are living in an era of revolution,” Malcolm told the crowd, “and the revolt of the American’ Negro is part of the rebellion against the oppression and colonialism which has characterized this era.” “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white or as a purely American problem,” he said. “Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” “We are interested in practicing brotherhood with anyone really interested in living according to it,” the black nationalist explained. “But the white man has long preached an empty doctrine of brotherhood which means little more than a passive acceptance of his fate by the Negro.” The black leader told the audience that the African blacks had won the battle for “political freedom and human dignity” and stated that the American black “must now take any means necessary to secure his full rights as an individual human being.”

I’ve always loved photos of him smiling because of what Ossie Davis said at his funeral: “They will say that he is of hate — a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle,” Davis said. “And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you?”

(Malcolm X Speaks is the book I’d recommend, if anyone’s interested.)

South Dakota Veto?

It’s up to you. The governor of South Dakota still has the chance to veto the anti-trans law – and he is, at least, willing to (finally) meet some trans students before he makes his decision, which means he should also hear from people about why he needs to veto this hateful law.

Be respectful but clear.
Sign the petition.

New Headshot

… because I cut my hair.

Gail Helen Kramer - 2016-148-Edit-X2

Happy Valentine’s Day

Alive.

A regular on the MHB boards recently posted that she was turning 50 and remembered, and re-posted, this piece from when she was turning 44:

February 12, 2010: I’m 44 today and I want to die.
Today is my 44th birthday, Yippyfuckinyahoo.

I am sad, big time.
I am disappointed, hugely,
I have no one to blame but myself.

Here’s the deal:
Two days ago I found myself driving stupid again, how stupid, lets just say that the speedometer was pegged. I didn’t care, I didn’t care if I got a ticket or arrested, I didn’t care if I wrecked, I didn’t care, I found myself trying to stop thinking about being a woman, about the pain in my head, the depression that is setting in heavy and hard.

Shit! I couldn’t even scare that voice in my head into shutting the fuck up.

I didn’t talk to my wife about it when I got home. I did my Anatomy & Physiology Lab Report and baked my birthday cake, went to bed. Yesterday morning I promised myself I would be good, I won’t be stupid, I will go to work and get through my day. I was also looking forward to my A & P class as I always do. But as I drove, alone with my thoughts the worse it got and the stupider I became. I thought about calling my wife just to talk with her, just to hear her voice but I didn’t call, she was at work and she doesn’t need this shit – especially there. I got to work OK.
Yesterday, they cut my salary by 15%, then it became a real shitty day.

I was already having a real bad day, upset and sad from Trans-stuff that’s been building up and bothering me, Then my day got so much worse since I now really cant afford any more treatments to my face and that’s been helping to ease the hurt in my head, not feeling prickly. My sessions with my therapist are now on hold because I don’t know if we can pay our bills let alone therapist fees that are not covered by insurance because I have “life style choice issues” So after a bit of recuperation I took a late lunch as I had to run a few errands, I needed to pick up a few items for my birthday cake.

A short time later I found myself in Michael’s searching the cake decorating racks for rice paper for my cake. If you don’t know what a Michael’s is, they are a chain of arts and craft supply stores. I searched the first cake decorating aisle, and then the next, no luck. I went back to the first aisle in case I overlooked something to search again. There standing the middle of that short, narrow aisle was a middle aged woman with medium length black wavy hair in jeans and a black leather jacket looking at the wedding cake accessories. Being me, and the fact that the aisle was so small we couldn’t help but trip over each other in our quests I asked, “So are you’re planning on making a wedding cake?”
“Oh No, If I only could, I have a birthday cake to make for my Dad he is going to be ninety.” she replied with a kind and inquisitive smile.

With that I began a ten-minute conversation with some stranger regarding cakes, parents, kids and some such stuff. And for 10 minutes I was Paula, I didn’t look like a Paula and I could see her confusion in her eyes at first, I think she was taken aback a bit at first by this man who she was having a perfectly normal woman to woman conversation with. I have seen that look before when I slip, whether at the office, at school, or any place else for that matter, I have seen the stunned look of confusion before. It occurs when my gender appearance and my personality clash. It’s a questioning look of surprise and curiosity at the same time. We exchanged introductions, pleasantries, good lucks and good byes as we went our separate ways. Her name was Connie and her dad still plays tennis twice a week at seven o-clock in the morning.

So there I was in Michael’s having this perfectly normal conversation between two women and for ten minutes everything was right in the world. There was no noise in my head; there I was standing in this arts and crafts store with a feeling of peaceful contentment like I haven’t felt before even if for a few fleeting moments. After I left the store and made my way out to my ride, I barely made it behind the wheel when the tears started flowing down my cheeks, the sobbing started, Paul was back and so was the noise.

After class and getting home late, I dropped my books and coat at the door and gave my wife a deep and long hug, I was still feeling down, I was glad to be home and I so needed the hug. Then it came; she pushed me back to look into my eyes with her hands firmly at my elbows.

“You know you have to stop this! You have to put all this out of your mind and carry on, for us, the boys and for me, sometimes you have to just put it out of your mind and forget about it. All this blogging, support groups and friends you talk to keep reminding you, they keep telling you things and you are effected by it all.” Its time to forget about it and carry on with your life.”

I was shocked! Here I was in pain and quite obviously down and blue and she tells me that I am choosing to drive myself crazy. She went on to say maybe its time for you to “Man up”

No. I thought, its time to woman up, I can’t carry on like this and pretending to be a man is killing me. Here I am on my birthday at 44 and I want to die, I want to end this noise in my head, I am tired of battling, I am tired of the fight between my heart and my head. I know that with transition I will loose m wife, I will loose my youngest son. So choosing between stopping the hurt in my head and the family I love is a decision I cannot make. I am hurting. I need to take the steps, I need to transition but I cant.

I have email sitting in my drafts folder for my therapist asking for an appointment and outlining specifics that I’d like to discuss and yes it includes what I have to do next, beginning HRT, beginning the process. I have to hit send and it’s the hardest choice I’ll ever have to make. Transition or my family or not choose either and die. Option number three is quite inviting however an easy way out it seems to be I cannot follow through with it. I will not harm myself, I will not do that to my family. I will NOT and I cant carry on any longer like this.

Its my 44th birthday today and I want to die.

Six years later:

I’m 50 today and I’m Alive!!

Today this body of mine has spent 50 years on the top side of the grass but I have only been alive for the last 5 or so. I often think of that conversation with Connie and often wonder if she still has her Dad. That moment was a hint that this body was possessed by a female soul and spirit I just had to do the hard work to make life as a woman possible.

I AM SO GRATEFUL I DID NOT DRIVE MY DURANGO HEADLONG INTO A DUMPTRUCK.

For anyone suffering in a body they wouldn’t choose and considering that final option listen to me, DON’T DO IT! Life has a way of turning itself around with enough effort and determination it can happen.

Yeah that moment 6 years ago was super painful leaving me with this empty hollow feeling. Today I am beyond living, I am alive, so much so that some days I just bounce and laugh for no reason other than shear happiness. No way could I even imaging it when I was at my lowest point in life.

Yes I am a lucky one, I have a family that loves me a paying job in career I love, but life is far from perfect. I want to be loved as in fall head-over-heels-in-love. My wife and I are now just housemates, that is the price I paid to live my life alive. It sucks watching her suffer for the loss of her husband and her childhood dream smashed to pieces. Our marriage is over everywhere but on paper. Yet we still punish ourselves by remaining under the same roof solely out of financial reasons and old habit. When People ask me out on a date I say thank you but I am in a monogamous uncoupled relationship. Sadly true.

Life is still good, I have a long way to go for life to be great but I am making headway. I know know now that, after many hours between my ears, I need to be fully female. At 50 time is suddenly running short, I have more years behind me that I do in front of me. I was reminded of this when My AARP card came in the mail on Monday, “Gee thanks for the reminder”. I feel like I need to hurry to get to where I want to be transition-wise to experience as much life as I have left fully female but I feel stuck. Yes, even with the heavy maintenance that is required I want to have a female body to match the spirit within. But life is getting in the way and there seems to be a daily drudgery keeping from realizing my much desired female form.

Today I am happy and alive yet still not female. I am going to share my 50th birthday with my boys, their SOs, my folks and wife. Nothing special is planned just pizza, wings etc and a cake that I baked. Of all the gifts I am sure to receive there is only one thing I want and wont come wrapped in a box.

Stay alive.

Two Good Things

Here are two good things that are now/newly available:

The documentary about Kate Bornstein, Kate Bornstein is a Queer & Pleasant Danger, is now available for purchase by high schools and universities. (I did an interview with her for this blog back in 2006.)

The second is that Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl garnered a second edition, for which she wrote a new preface, and garnered a new cover (gone with the pink one!). I did an interview with her back in 2007 when it first came out, if you want to check that out.

 

Bryn Kelly Memorial: Feb 6

Bryn Kelly, Feb 7 1980 – Jan 13 2016

Her memorial is tonight at St John the Divine in NYC – the day before what should have been her 36th birthday.

Rest in awesomeness, Bryn.