This Mother’s Day Weekend

Posted by – May 9, 2015

I came across this beautiful letter by Amy Young – “An Open Letter to Pastors (A Non-Mom Speaks About Mother’s Day)” and was really blown away.

She felt shamed in her church when mothers were asked to stand and she wasn’t one. I’ve seen similar posts all over my Facebook newsfeed – from those who survived toxic mothers to those who couldn’t have children or whose children have died or run away or who are lost to addiction.

The thing is, there’s a lot of mothering out there to do, and a lot to be had, and I think this gets at some of the million ways women have to contend with this category, this supposed birthright, this expectation.

I’ve never felt ‘less than’ as a non-mom — for me, it’s a victory that I withstood the pressure, having watched so many female friends who didn’t want children decide to have them — and I’d want to assert, out loud again, that not having children is not even a little terrible. I’m happy to have an identity that is not dependent on having given birth or even to mothering a child. I don’t feel my capacity for love or pain or selflessness is less. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on an essential experience of woman-ness, either; we are all women in different ways, and while being a mother may be what some women want more than any other thing, I think it’s hard to judge what you want in a culture that tells us, from birth, that we should want children or we are somehow deficient.

I’m not deficient. I’m a person who chose not to have children, and I’m very, very glad I did.

So here’s Amy Young’s list, which she wrote to “address the wide continuum of mothering”:


To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Tina Fey is a Miracle

Posted by – May 8, 2015

I know she’s a comedian & all, but this still took guts:

& Honestly, to hell with Spanx.

Cheated.

Posted by – May 4, 2015

My wife and I were lucky enough to score tickets to see The Replacements this past weekend in Milwaukee; neither of us had ever seen them back in the day and both of us were fans. And they were, as expected, amazing; Paul Westerburg’s voice still sounds incredible and the band was tight.

But today, while doing an interview – I’ll post info about it when it turns up – I realized something about even going to concerts that sucks these days: my wife can’t sing to me when we’re in public and use her full range; instead, it makes me nervous when she drops below a certain register instead of it making me happy. We can’t hold each other or kiss, much less make out, for fear of our own safety. I worry that she doesn’t have much of a spideysense for that too-drunk dude next to her who has started to stare at her or me or worse still, us, in that disconcerting too-drunk dude sort of way.

Mostly, though, what upsets me is the thinking about it. Yes, we both want to say to hell with all of it so she can sing anyway and we can make out where we want to and ignore too-drunk dudes because they are idiots. We want to be awesomely brave, progressive, proud queers who don’t give a shit.

But we’re not.

And we know straight people don’t entirely get it; as I’ve said many times, I thought, as an LGBTQ ally, that I understood, but I didn’t. Yet a lot of same sex couples don’t get it either because they haven’t lived on the heteronormative side of the fence or haven’t for a very long time. Our heterosexual past, as it were, is always present; that guy I met, our ability to make out in public, it all happened, and with each other, and not very long ago. So we find ourselves between the demanding ethics of LGBTQ* politics and well-intentioned but clueless straight people.

What I resent, mostly, is that a simple urge to kiss my partner because she is smiling so hugely because oh wow we’re watching the goddamned Replacements, I wind up in my head thinking about what to do or how to do it and then getting angry that I have to think about it at all, feeling guilty, talking myself out of feeling guilty, coming up with another (non verbal) way to tell her I’m happy she’s happy, and by then I’m noticing too-drunk dude who is listing creepily in our direction and the whole thing starts all over again.

Mostly we both feel cheated of our lives, of the life we had together, and even though it’s no one’s fault. there it is.

Happy May Day.

Posted by – May 1, 2015

Justice Alito’s Wrong

Posted by – April 30, 2015

A reporter just called me and asked me to respond to this quote:

JUSTICE ALITO: Well, how do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex? Now, can we infer from that that those nations and those cultures all thought that there was some rational, practical purpose for defining marriage in that way or is it your argument that they were all operating independently based solely on irrational stereotypes and prejudice?

Silly, silly man. Of course there have been, both nations and cultures, who have married people of the same sex. Some of those people weren’t of the same gender, but that’s not what he said now, is it? I expect SCOTUS justices to be exacting in their language, and if doesn’t know the difference between sex and gender, he has no business making such blanket statements.

I’ll let you know if the article comes out.

Anti Cop?

Posted by – April 29, 2015

One of the issues that always comes up when police brutality becomes visible – as it has been consistently for this past year – and especially when that police brutality is expressed racially – is that somehow being for justice and against racism makes a person anti-cop.

I grew up white working class so I grew up with men (and maybe some women) who became cops. They were good guys, brave guys, often guys who weren’t scared of a whole lot. They have my unending respect for being willing to step up and try to do some good in the world. Some of my crossdressing friends are police officers or are in other law enforcement. I went to HS with a federal agent whose job scares the fuck out of me, but I’m glad he’s the kind of smart, brave man who can do it.

I’ve worked with the Appleton PD on quite a few occasions. A few of them I count as friends but certainly as colleagues in community building. We throw everything, as a culture, that we don’t want to deal with at them – racism, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, theft, and – as was pointed out to me recently – all of the mental health issues our system isn’t acknowledging, much less dealing with. They are given precious few resources to “solve” a whole swath of problems, and if we listened to compassionate police more about what is needed, we’d hear a lot about educational opportunity, community participation, access to mental health services, even social justice. They know it. They see it.

But I really really dislike having it assumed that as someone whose heart breaks over the broken spine of a young, poor, disenfranchised man of color in Baltimore that somehow I don’t care about cops. I’ve personally had both good experiences — I am, after all, white, currently middle class & newly middle aged — and not so good ones (because I am also queer, female, and have been, many times in my life, a protestor). That is, I am assumed to be on the side of law & order because of some of my identity, and assumed to be suspect because of other parts of myself.

Freddie Gray had pretty much of nothing about him that told the cops he might be on the side of law & order. We create these binaries of identity, assume kinds of legitimacy or don’t, but the issue is that we tend to put an awful lot of muscle and guns and power on the side of those who have more power.

To me the issue isn’t the cops the same way the issue isn’t the media. Both are reflections of our current systems of order and power – who, in a nutshell, is assumed to be okay, who is assumed to be a good citizen, who might be given a second chance, and who gets the benefit of the doubt.

The thing is, poor people live in public. Their lives are, as a result, seen more easily, examined more closely, judged more often. Mental health issues go untreated – even undiagnosed. Addiction likewise.

And so we send in the cops to clean up the messes we’ve created, created not because we’re bad people, not because we’re Republican or Democrats, but that we’ve created in letting these systems that assume some people are okay and some people aren’t, often based on their gender or orientation or race or immigration status.

But no, the fault is not often with the police except for when they – as their own community – protect and defend practices that prey on the least of us. And the least of us, in the US, are still black and poor with less access to good educations, who are often living in families rife with addiction, mental health, disability, and untreated and undiagnosed medical conditions. And maybe it’s because sometimes it’s obvious to me that the only thing separating me and them, my family’s ancestors from theirs, is the color of my skin.

Stay safe, Baltimore: and by that I mean not just the protestors but the police too.

Today I Want: Thoughts on Baltimore

Posted by – April 28, 2015

Today I want for more of us to see what I see in black men. There is something so humble and simultaneously proud, the kind of humble that living in a system that tells you to keep your head down and your mouth shut, the kind of humble poor people have, and yet, too, I see the pride, the fire of dignity that has to be kept nearly invisible from most, a fire like the pilot light of a gas stove, full of power to destroy but full of power too, to lead and to defend.

Today I wish I could remove the gauze on the eyes of so many white people I know, who see thugs where there are only scamps, who see anger where there is only frustration and sadness. There is something to spending your 20s in Harlem as a young, stupid, white woman; the way older black men just laughed quietly when I was getting hit on and didn’t know it; the young teenagers eager to prove themselves by asking a terrified white girl whose dick she was there to suck; the young boys with those big eyes and big ears and big brains who have a snowball’s chance in hell of using any of those to live in the world and make it more awesome. We’ve all lost, for so many years, so much of this human potential because white people can’t get past being afraid.

Maybe it’s having grown up working class and white, raised by a grandma who was in a janitor’s union, but there is something about black men — who never get to be men and yet who are despite everything.

Stay safe, Baltimore.

Important “Stealth” Voice

Posted by – April 27, 2015

I put “stealth” in quotes because it bothers me as a term; it implies a kind of sneakiness that has nothing to do with the goals of the women and men who live their lives who no one knows are trans. They are men and women, they are happy or unhappy, but they are not lying or deceiving anyone.

They are one group whose voices are not heard precisely because they can’t be, so I’m more than super thrilled to have been directed to this one, by one of my readers, who is smart and funny and warm and angry. It’s really great stuff. Like this piece:

Many years ago, I read a throw-away line from someone on an internet forum: “Early transitioners face discrimination before transition, and assimilate afterwards. It’s the opposite for late transitioners.” This rang really true for me. As a child, and most especially as a teen, I really copped it from all angles because of my complete inability to hide my gender identity. My parents, classmates, teachers… It reached something of a crescendo around transition, where I spent a year or so being visibly trans, then faded away as I assimilated. I think the converse happens for people who are able to cope as teens. They get by, are even stratospherically successful like Cate. But the consequences of this success are that they’ll have much more difficulty assimilating post-transition. They’ll often be visibly trans the rest of their lives, or simply have so much baggage from before transition that they can’t get past.

and this:

So more on me. I had a pretty rough childhood due to gender stuff. As a result I’m estranged from my parents and most of my siblings. I haven’t seen or talked to my parents in more than twenty years. My mum passed away a couple of years ago (I didn’t go to the funeral) and I was relieved more than sad. Relieved that the one sibling who I do maintain vague contact will give up on his periodic attempts to reconcile the family.

Anyway, like a surprisingly large number of queer kids I got in trouble as a teen, had a couple of babies, and did the shotgun wedding thing. Like most queer kids in that situation it didn’t stick. Getting married only postponed the inevitable, and then only by a couple of years. I divorced and transitioned at 23, went back to uni, got my shit in a pile and made a decent life for myself.

I just hope she keeps writing.

Partner’s Blues

Posted by – April 26, 2015

Here’s a smart piece about dating someone who is still uncomfortable with their own gender issues, who embraces and then rejects them, and how one partner tried to come to terms with that – but didn’t.

This:

The wall I’m talking about is plastered together with our society’s definitions of a man, a woman, a person, and a relationship. You’ve probably hit this wall, too, perhaps without recognizing it. Women may have hit it when trying to assert their desires in relationships. Men may have hit it when trying to be emotionally vulnerable with their partners. And while it would be so easy to say I was just physically incapable of a romantic relationship with a self-identified woman, I find it more likely that this wall divided Ryan and I from each other and blocked my view of a future between us.

Even now, it’s blocking my story from you, the reader, because the right words to describe Ryan and me and our relationship simply don’t exist. There’s no word for someone who usually lives as a man but feels more like a woman but really is neither or both or somewhere in between. There’s no word for the sexual orientation of someone who accidentally fell in love with a woman in the process of falling in love with a man. Instead, I’m forced to leave you with a muddled mix of he’s and she’s and no answers.

This approach/avoidance thing is not uncommon, of course, but when you’re trying to date someone who is doing it… well, partners call it “the roller coaster”.

You can get more of a sense of this experience in Linda Thompson’s sympathetic piece about being married to Jenner, in the early stages when the star athlete was beginning to approach the idea of being trans.

Why I Didn’t Even Watch

Posted by – April 25, 2015

I know B. Jenner is exciting and trans people are exciting and – well, not so much for me. As I was saying to my wife recently, I wish the only people who did work on trans people found them incredibly boring and ordinary — otherwise the whole “look at this weird exotic thing” happens and it always depresses me.

Aside from the obvious tropes, Allyson Robinson wrote a good piece about why she didn’t watch, which I’m going to summarize: 1) Jenner coming out doesn’t change the work that needs to be done, 2) If anything, Jenner coming out has just increased the work to be done, and 3) the media is a poor tool for the work because it is always, always based on consumerism and advertising dollars. But do go read the whole thing as she makes key points on each of these issues, and her analysis of the usefulness connects right back to why the Trans Documentary Drinking Game exists in the first place.

Also, there’s this: Jenner’s a Republican, and I can honestly say that is disheartening even if it’s not surprising; there are quite a lot of trans Republicans out there, and I think they’re pretty much deluded that the Republican party will be open to defending trans rights — especially at this moment in time where nearly a dozen Republicans have drafted bills that encourage people to report trans people for using the “wrong” bathroom in public places, with some of them offering as much as a $4k bounty.

Wealthy celebrity athletes and reality shows don’t interest me much either.

But mostly, what Robinson says: there’s work to be done and there will be more as a result. So I’m glad for Jenner and glad for anyone whose families come around a little and glad for new allies who will help in the future, but in the meantime: back to it.

B. Jenner

Posted by – April 24, 2015

We love you, and welcome you with open arms, & know that being #famouswhiletrans is its own level of difficult.

Me & My Ball #michfest

Posted by – April 23, 2015

Lisa Vogel announced yesterday that the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, now in its 40th year, will depart the stage this year; the 40th will be the last.

An event that has empowered so many women, one of the last amazing coming-to-consciouness feminist events, is shutting down because they can’t just take the one tiny leap of admitting trans women openly and willingly.

Trans women will no doubt be blamed for the end of this event, when really, as Autumn Sandeen put it, “…trans womyn have attended MichFest for many years — trans womyn who identify themselves as womyn-born-womyn. She doesn’t have to change the change the womyn-born-womyn intention, she just needs to say ‘Trans womyn who identify as womyn-born-womyn are welcome at MichFest.’”

But they couldn’t, and didn’t: If me and my ball don’t pitch, me and my ball don’t play.

Heartbreaking that after all these years and all this dialogue, their answer was to give up and shut the doors.

NYC

Posted by – April 8, 2015

We’re off to NYC for a few days to participate in kinship ritual (my nephew’s getting married) & will be back in WI Monday night.

In the meantime, check out this interview with none other than Catharane A. MacKinnon on trans inclusion, wherein she states, “Simone de Beauvoir said one is not born, one becomes a woman. Now we’re supposed to care how, as if being a woman suddenly became a turf to be defended.” Great stuff.

Then too there’s this trailer for a new documentary about non-binary gender traditions.

Superhero

Posted by – April 2, 2015

Trans Day of Visibility #tdov

Posted by – March 31, 2015

Today’s the Trans Day of Visibility, which I honestly didn’t know was a thing. I’m glad it is. I’ve long been cranky about #tdor being the only/first way people learn about trans issues, so yay!

What I’ve already seen is a lot of trans people who aren’t super out wondering if they should be, so let me reiterate: if you can’t be out, don’t be. If it means risking your job, life, family — then please, take care of yourself & don’t be out.

2014 helen betty selfieIf you can be out at all, in any way, to any small number of people in your life who you trust, then do that.

Do as much or as little as you can manage.

& If you can’t be out, then consider, instead, donating to any number of awesome trans organizations that are out there.

There’s NCTE in the US, the trans lobbying org.
There’s SRLP in NYC who provide support and legal services for trans people with an especial eye on those who are least likely to have their own resources.
TLDEF is out there fighting the good fight on the legal front, and
FORGE, right here in Wisconsin, provides support and training and visibility in Milwaukee.

Shoot, if you really are worried about your privacy, you can send me a check & I will make a donation for you.

Here’s a selfie of me & my beautiful wife for #tdov. Go team!

Love, Always Epilogue

Posted by – March 30, 2015

I’ve been meaning to wrap up my interviews with partners by putting up a small piece of my Epilogue for Love, Always. I read it Saturday night at a FORGE meeting because Trystan Cotten, Transgress Press’ Managing Editor, was in town.

Also, he’s an awesome guy & you should all buy more of their books.

In the meantime, here’s that snippet:

And we do it all in a wilderness with little support from our own closest friends. Sometimes, when I speak to partners, I remind them that We Are Out There and we may not have a Prof. X to find us all, but we are. We are raising children and packing lunches and going back to school ourselves and sighing at our in-laws or at Oprah getting it wrong again. We are sex blogging and arguing with doctors and following the arguments about Prop 8 and DSM V.

No wonder some of us forget who we are, forget our self-care; no wonder we occasionally rant and sob and grow some giant-size anger.

Where we find ourselves is often between that infamous rock and hard place: if our partner’s transition makes us look like half a lesbian or gay couple, we have to deal with homophobia; but if our partner’s transition makes us look like half of a straight couple, we often lose the support of the lesbian or gay community we’ve belonged to and found safety in for many years of our lives.

Because we transition into trans partners, no one really knows anything about us. We don’t become lesbians when our wives become women, and we don’t become straight when our guys become men. That joke, as Morrissey so famous quipped, isn’t funny anymore. We end up in a place where we have our own histories, our own orientations, hidden from public view, especially if our trans love isn’t out as trans. Some of us opt to identify as bi- (to explain, perhaps, why we’re married to women while nursing a crush on Mark Ruffalo – at least in this partner’s experience, I swear my taste in men got bigger and hairier as my partner transitioned). We find stories to explain why we’re lesbians and why we’re sad about Leslie Feinberg’s death – or why, indeed, we even know who Leslie Feinberg was. In straight and gay communities, an awful lot of people think you’re only ever one or other; we have some common ground with bisexual people in that we’re largely invisible and must, must, be repressed/oversexed/self-hating/whatever crappy things people think about bisexual people these days. Yet some of us don’t like bi- because it’s binary. So a lot of us, you’ll find, wind up under the big bad queer umbrella, so we don’t have to explain a lifetime of dating women but being married to a man; we don’t have to explain becoming non monogamous because we miss certain kinds of sex or desires or even ways of being desired. We don’t want to feel like jerks for missing the bodies or parts or sex acts that we love. But we also don’t want to be judged for loving your trans bodies because they’re trans.

We are always standing on the edge of the forest, machetes in hand, hacking our own paths.

We can’t complain to people we know because we know so many of those around us want us to fail or cry or be pathetic and pitiable or even to condemn the trans. If you give in a little, if you complain about the transition to a good friend, then all of a sudden the whole reason you’re unhappy is that your partner is trans. That happens with therapists, too, way too often.

In trans community, when we’re allowed to partake, the complaining we do or the gentle mocking or the loving critiques or not so loving critiques – please stop dressing like a 19 year old, dear, because you’re 35 – are often viewed as transphobic. If we are not on board and behind every single decision the trans person makes, we’re out. Suspect. If we ask the trans person to slow down so we can catch our breath or save up some money or come out to someone else who needs to know we are, again, judged unwilling or transphobic. We can’t refer to our former boyfriend as a boyfriend even though he was because she is our girlfriend now and has only ever been so and don’t you forget it and that’s even when your own trans person is perfectly okay with hearing you talk about what a cute guy/hot butch you once were. We don’t seek to offend but we do need room to deal with transition our own way. We’re going to screw up pronouns and new names and you know what? So do trans people, sometimes. Our intentions matter.

Despite feeling like outsiders in so many other communities we once belonged in, we often feel liminal even within trans community. We know that. We own our cis privilege, if we are cis. We know more than anyone else what it means to have it. And that’s when we’re even allowed in. So many lesbian women and their trans guys get shut out of queer women’s events; so many straight women and their trans female partners are never let in. Gay men flirt with my wife as if she’s a guy in a dress, and sometimes straight women do, too. Queer women fetishize trans guys as if they’re prizes and yet refer to our trans husbands with female pronouns when they’re not around. We end up defending your gender identities and yet all the while try not to speak for you.

We need more support from the trans community, and we need for the rest of the LGBTQ+ community to realize we’re here and we’re queer and get used to it, already. Sometimes we look straight but we’re not. Sometimes we are straight and don’t know how to do this. Sometimes we need someone to say, “Hey, you look nice” and sometimes we need people to understand that transition is like some crazy combination of marriage (name change), medical crisis (hormones, surgery) and divorce (social ostracism, pity). It’s a lot to deal with at once, and often, when the trans person is busy dealing with all of the emotions and fears and new discoveries, we are picking up an awful lot of slack emotionally and even just logistically. But you get to be brave and living your own truth, or whatever condescending stuff it is that non trans people say about transition these days. You are noble, and suffering, while we’re often assumed to be codependent or desperate.

We get asked all the offensive, obnoxious questions they know not to ask you by now.

IN Just Made Bigotry Legal

Posted by – March 24, 2015

from Lambda Legal, via Jillian Weiss:

Today, the Indiana House of Representatives, with a vote of 63-31, passed a bill designed to allow private businesses, individuals and organizations to discriminate against anyone in Indiana on religious grounds. Lambda Legal condemns SB 101’s passage, which Governor Pence has vowed to sign into Indiana law.

We are extremely disappointed that Indiana’s House, despite knowing the vast implications for all Hoosiers, voted to facilitate religious discrimination in many areas of life for Indiana’s families, workers and others. Once the governor signs this bill into law, women, racial minorities, religious minorities, people living with HIV and many others will be much more vulnerable to the whims of any individual or business owner who refuses services to particular groups of people based on religious objections to who those people are.

We urge members of the LGBT community to alert Lambda Legal if they experience discrimination explained as due to religious beliefs about gay or transgender people. If you have questions or feel that you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status, please contact our Legal Help Desk http://www.lambdalegal.org/help.

Tell Your Story to the US Commission

Posted by – March 24, 2015

If you have been discriminated against & you’re trans, NCTE is now taking testimony. You can submit your story as Anonymous if necessary, as this testimony will appear in public documents.

Five Questions With… Miriam

Posted by – March 21, 2015

The last (for now!) of my interviews with partners of trans people who wrote narratives for Transgress Press’ Love, Always, is not, by far, the least. Miriam Hall is also a friend, fellow writer, & fellow Wisconsinite. She’s a writer and photographer and teaches both as contemplative practice. You can check out more of what she does at her website.

1. What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?

I am always writing about this process, so there’s nothing I wish I had included in this particular essay that I won’t just include elsewhere. One of the hard things about this process is that just when I think I’ve “finished” a particular experience and can write about it, then something else emerges. The writing is a living process – not a reporting, but something that then feeds back into my life and vice-versa.

I know that I will look back later and wish I had a clearer view on co-dependency, say, in this essay, but I also know enough by now to know that its worth it to write as I go along, not just “after I have figured it out completely.”

2. What is the biggest misunderstanding you confront as a partner to a trans person?

The biggest misunderstanding I encounter is the assumption that this is their experience. This one is really subtle, but it’s a constant micro-aggression: How is she doing? That must be really hard for her! I can’t imagine what that is like for her! These are good signs that folks are expressing compassion and concern for her, but – and this is not all folks for sure – often that overlooks the person who is right in front of them.

3. Where do you get your support?

I get my support from a few main folks. I have feet in various support communities – including yours! – but I am really a one-to-one person. As Ilana’s transition quiets down, increasingly I find I can get the support I need from non-trans involved folks (eg soffas and trans folk, who were more my main support in the first few years). Plus my peeps are pretty well trained by now.

4. How has your experience been in bringing up your own difficulties with the trans person you’re partnered to?

We have a lot of co-dependency in our relationship – Hello! Normal for everyone! – and I am starting to understand how to look at it in that more universal way. It’s not that trans relationships are all co-dependent, it’s that transitioning makes everything – e-ver-y-thing – that much harder, while also masking it all at the same time. It is really only now, post-transition, that I am even allowing my own issues to really come to the front. That having been said, we do have an exceptionally loving and supportive partnership, so I have never felt she only wanted to focus on her own issues only.


5. Do you think you would partner with other kinds of trans people? That is, if you are partnered to someone feminine spectrum, would you date someone who is masculine spectrum? If they’re binary, someone genderqueer?

Yes. I am certain now that I am queer. I always identified as bisexual, but now I realize I am more than that – or not just that. Spectrum sexual. Attracted in particular to folks whose genders are in flux, in terms of presentation, as well as whose physical sexes are in flux. Somehow – call it my Buddhist-ness – I am more comfortable with the ambiguous and constantly changing than the fixed.

Erica 3.0 Beta

Posted by – March 18, 2015

A brilliant, geeky post by a friend about her ongoing exploration of what it means to be her.

A note from the design team

It is difficult to believe that Project Erica has been going on for over fifteen years! The idea of creating a workable system that would gain public acceptance has animated the lead developer for nearly 40 years. For most of that time, feasibility and resource allocation issues, together with limitations of imagination, kept Erica on the shelf. Now, the design team has pulled together all the release notes to date: what better way to look forward to the next fifteen years!

Alpha (pre-1998)

The idea for the product that would eventually become Erica started as a series of random experiments. It was clear from the earliest operation of the system that it was probably capable of running both in standard mode and (what would eventually be named) Erica mode. Still, while the core concept was always intriguing, the practical considerations and internal issues never indicated that a real prototype would ever develop. The period until 1998 is best considered the “Alpha” stage of Project Erica.

Tina 1.0 (April 1998)

The first integrated prototype that bears any resemblance to Erica as now in circulation was code-named Tina. The developers were able to demonstrate it in limited internal testing in early 1998. Tina’s general shape, as well as the “look and feel” of the external interface, was surprisingly similar to Erica 1.0, though the final product is a bit larger due to a wider feature set.

Tina’s development was made possible by the improved availability of online tools and additional lab space. The project was mainly a hobby of the lead developer. The project manager (code-name “WIFE”) was not advised of this work, mainly because the lead developer was concerned that the project would be summarily shut down (as being incompatible with Corporate priorities) and partly because all activity was performed off-the-clock.

Tina 1.1 (August 1998)

Minor incremental improvements to the external interface were delivered during 1998, resulting in Tina 1.1. This was the first product release that was photo-documented, though no user manual or external documentation was published or released. Eventually, of course, the product would be subjected to extensive photo-documentation, as well as a real-time user experience manual (discontinued in 2010) for the benefit of developers of similar products.

Tina 1.2 (January 1999)

Bug fix addressing an external error: insufficient skins for the core product. Easily remedied by recourse to readily available online tools (eBay.com, Macys.com and victoriassecret.com). By this point, the code name had been adopted as the de facto product name.

Tina 1.3-1.6 (various release dates from 1999-2000)

Minor improvements to the external interface. Also, with the resources of the internet community deployed, the number of product skins proliferated to the point where the developers had to worry about system storage resources! More ominously, during this period it became apparent that one major external issue and several internal issues precluded any chance of Tina achieving full potential. The internal factors have been amply documented elsewhere – particularly in the real-time user experience manual. (See http://ericacd.livejournal.com/) The external issue was persistent and serious: a “beta external application rendering defect”. This was a recurring concern to the development team that ultimately was called by its acronym: B.E.A.R.D. There was no question that even if the internal issues could be resolved, the B.E.A.R.D would preclude any external release or public consumption. Put simply, the market would have rejected the prototype utterly.

Tina 2.0 / Erica Beta 0.1 (September 2000)

An enormous breakthrough arose in September 2000. It was determined that a minor subroutine, applied during bootup every morning, temporarily eliminated B.E.A.R.D. When the developers finally saw the external interface freed from the B.E.A.R.D., they were astonished at how polished a product they had on their hands. (B.E.A.R.D. had profoundly obscured the incremental developments since version 1.2.) Following some extensive photo-documentation of this quantum leap in the external interface, the developers realized that some of the internal issues were also rendered less serious. The reason for this change is still unknown. The photo documentation of Tina 2.0 was released in white paper format to a limited subset of the internet community; response was highly favorable.

Due to poor interaction with Marketing, this prototype was interchangeably known as “Tina” and “Erica”. While the genesis of the name “Tina” is unknown (speculation abounds), “Erica” was easily derived from the name of a friend of the project manager. Limited focus group testing suggested that the name did not distract from the product, and the main impediment to universal acceptance of “Erica” was squarely with the developer group.
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