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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Unleashed, The Boys of War

FightI was watching my son playing with another boy and it took all of 10 seconds before they were engaged in a battle of some sort. I was immediately concerned, but took a moment to reflect on what I knew about boys having lived among them for so long like Jane Goodall, but hairier. Yeah, I concluded within a few moments, this is pretty damn typical. So what’s with that anyway?

As  a child, even though I gravitated to the bookish types, the nerd herd if you will, there was still a standing social rule that some sort of fighting was expected in nearly every encounter. Even if you were wearing your nice church pants, some light shoving was bound to occur, risk of grass stains a given. I’ll be perfectly honest here. I did participate, but just like President Clinton, I didn’t really enjoy it. Wrestling, boxing, playing war with guns that didn’t shoot anything and the inevitable “I got you!…No you didn’t!” squabbles. Sometimes it was simulated through action figures, sometimes it was snow ball or water balloon fights, and sometimes it was just trying to hit your tennis doubles partner in the back of the head with your serve. Violence always had a role in all play.

When something is that ubiquitous, it gets pretty hard to avoid. This is especially true in the somewhat gender segregated 70’s and 80’s when scheduling play with someone of the opposite gender was just considered weird and looked down upon. In the rare times I did get to play with the girls, usually via my sister or cousin, it was a much nicer time and the games seemed more complex, interesting, and entirely bereft of the salty dogs of war. Most of the time I was stuck with the boys and said dogs were in abundance. I did everything I could to avoid anger based physical confrontation, but simply standing at the bus stop or playing a game of Monopoly somehow erupted into a battle royale. Once in high school I had the opportunity to introduce my two best friends to each other at an art show I was in. After they wrestled it out on the hot asphalt in the parking lot they became closer to each other than either was to me. I hate to think about what life would have been like if I hung with the popular crowd.

Although I lacked understanding of this particular gender specific more, I managed to fake it just well enough to avoid being targeted for yet more. I made it through my year on the basketball team without incurring one foul, but only one basket as well. I joined the Scouts, and strategically spent my time with my dad looking at tress and shit while the rest of them played something called ‘Commando’, crashing through the woods and whooping war cries. When it came time to man up and join the military, I picked the Air Force, electronics backshop, arguably the least likely segment of the military to see combat. Rumor had it if they ever passed out M-16s to our shop, they would come loaded with only one bullet because the outlook was that grim. I attributed this to the DoD wanting to save the State Department huge headaches in negotiating the repatriation of decidedly replaceable personnel.

I never knew if this was ingrained in the male psyche, which I apparently never had, or was culturally learned. When I play with my son with his toys, no matter how hard I try to invent a clever little story with “the guys” (his collective name for action figures), his reaction is to take whichever one he is holding and smash it into mine, or more accurately, my fingers. The go-to move is to have them fight; my cutesy antics of no interest in comparison. So is combat endemic to the male spirit?

I’m very curious to see some commentary on this one, especially from trans women and men. Do trans women as children in a male environment fall happily into line with this, or were you simply trying to get by? Do trans men also have this irresistible urge to flavor any play with a nice dose of war? Speak freely with the knowledge that whatever you say, I’m sure not going to hit you.

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Still Casting “Michael’s” Shadow

ShadowI never really had the words for it before, but at times I am aware that everywhere I go that is familiar, I still cast Michael’s shadow. I hadn’t conceptualized it really before coming across the idea in Jenny Boylan’s new book, Stuck In the Middle With You. She is apparently very earth conscious and chooses to repurpose old song titles rather than stick them in some landfill to take up premium space needed for all those fricking little ‘K’ cups of coffee. Anyway, I liked the notion and decided to do some repurposing myself rather than endanger miners who would otherwise trudge deep into the bowels of the earth to retrieve shiny new ideas.

I think the overall notion, for those of us who aren’t so quick on our toes, is that no matter what changes you make, the shadow you cast is going to be the same for everyone who knew the old version. The reason it came up was in a discussion of why trans people may be best served by skipping town to a new city to start over once transition is initiated. I’m not going to lie, the concept is very attractive. Let’s talk about this for a bit, shall we?

The shadow casting is pretty much inevitable. People who knew me well as Michael probably still think of me that way for the most part, and view me now as some strange alteration of the goofy, eccentric, good time Charlie they spent so many years getting to know. Suddenly there is a goofy, eccentric, good time Charlene in his place. What the hell man? It’s like installing Window’s 8 on your PC. Yeah, sure, it’s probably better than Vista and the same damn thing under the hood, but what’s with all the extra little app accessories? And where the fuck did the ‘Start’ button go? This new you is great and all, but we were really used to the old one, so if you could be more like that please, it would be really super.

The group I manage and I went for lunch a bit back and we took a little extra time to play some darts as time permitted. While I encourage people to speak freely, sometimes it takes a little extra effort and a different environment to really have everyone loosen up. On this occasion, one of them admitted that they missed ‘Mike’ sometimes. I should have been offended, but wasn’t because I’ve always assumed this kind of sentiment can’t be avoided. Besides, not anything I haven’t heard on the home front more than once. I pushed back a little and said I was still the exact same person, just in a slightly different package. “Yeah… kind of.”

Is it better then to run, run away? A few decades ago, 9 out 10 psychiatrists would agree that yes, it is much better and routinely recommended it. They went so far as to urge parents to essentially fake the death of the transitioning parent because this would be easier on the children. Holy shit, can you believe this? Can you imagine believing you lost a parent at a young age only to find out years and years later that your beloved mommy is now a guy named Chuck out on the west coast? We think some of the challenges we face now are difficult but it seems we don’t know the half of it.

Today things are different, and it is very possible for families to move and start fresh without having to traumatize little Willard by telling him daddy is going to die, or nipped out for a pack of smokes and never returned. Under the auspices of that paradigm, doesn’t it seem attractive to move on out to Sheboygan and interact daily with people who never knew you any other way? It is attractive. Very attractive. No more accidental “Mike’s” in awkward, crowded places. No more old stories, or far worse, pictures popping up all the time from the old days. I’m certainly familiar with all of this. I get called “Mike” or have male pronouns accidentally used often enough, and the company has at least 3 different banners up around the building extolling the employee base where I’ve been immortalized with a bald head and whiskers. I could complain, but I find it kind of amusing to be honest.

This one doesn’t have a clear answer that I’m going to try to convince you with. It really depends on you and where you are in your life. If it makes sense and is way more comfortable to move on out, then by all means do that. If what you have built locally is important enough or you feel a tie to your area and opportunity exists to thrive, then that is just fine as well. Remember, you transitioned because you were so inexpressibly uncomfortable with your gender expression. It only makes sense to be where you are most comfortable as well. There will be challenges either way, and it’s up to you to see which ones are those most worth taking on.

For the time being, I’m fine casting my old shadow, even when it means an uncomfortable moment here and there, or even being outed to a confused group of visiting Germans. My friendships, family, and the value I hold in regards to where I am remains the same, even if my shadow casts a bumpier profile. If the time comes to move, I’ll enjoy the benefits of starting fresh and be OK with that. As the old saying goes, wherever I go, there I am, shadow and all.

When I Think About Me, I Touch Myself?… Uh, No

AutogynepheliaThe theme of this post reminds me of that old Divinyls song, “I Touch Myself”, except a bit yuckier. For those of you who for some reason don’t have the whole panoply of sexual paraphilia memorized, autogynephilia is the alleged condition of being sexually attracted to oneself as a woman with underlying assumption that one did not begin life that way. A recent commenter, NYK (not ‘Nick’, it’s Nobody You Know, you know), brought this up in one of her recent responses, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to go ahead and address the topic head on. Seriously, what else did you think I would do?

The term was coined by a sexologist named Ray Blanchard who in my opinion, decided to address the “the transsexual question” with the one tool he has in his belt, namely making it about sex. Blanchard and pals came up with a rough hewn theory that postulates that there are two kinds of transsexual: ‘homosexual transsexuals’ who want to transition because they are attracted to men, and autogynephilic transsexuals who want to transition because they get their oysters rubbed by the idea of being a woman. Dear lord, where to even begin with this!

Now, for the record, I have no doubt that true blue autogynephilic individuals exist out there. Let’s be honest, there is such a long list of fetishes (the sweeter, kinkier term for paraphilia) that anything you can think of is probably on there. Even as we speak, someone is opening their pre-moistened copy of ‘Wet Cardboard Quarterly’ while fumbling about for the Vaseline and chili powder and looking forward to a nice afternoon. Even if they do exist mathematically, I think they are few and far between.

Let’s knock his other one out of the park first as a warm up, or just for giggles. “Homosexual transsexual”… ugh. In simple terms, someone who is so super-duper gay that they pursue a course of action that leaves them completely unattractive to gay men, who as I understand it, like men. I know one of you is arching your eyebrow right now, thinking, “But aren’t the straight men the real catch to homosexuals?” So basically they are saying someone who wishes to attain attractiveness as a woman, with the accompanying parts and such, to the point where they are living as and mentally identify as female, with the purpose of meeting a guy. That’s a convoluted tangle of questionable motivation right there. Or we can just the common vernacular and refer to them as straight women. Gay guys like people with penises, and (key point) like to use their own as well in sexual activities. I could go on, but this is the most salient point.

Moving on to the whole autogynephilia notion. First point. Yes, people will go through great lengths to satisfy sexual urges. Generally speaking, however, they don’t go the route that will lead to a complete lack of sexual desire for a period of time mid progress and still continue forward. This simply doesn’t make much sense. “Well, I’m pretty much dead from the waist down, and the little feller is no longer standing proud, but I think I’ll go ahead with a year and a half of super painful beard removal, come out to everyone I know, risk my job, marriage, family, friendships and everything, because maybe, just maybe, the old urges will come back.” I’m going to channel a friend of my spouse and simply state, in her language, “You ain’t buying no porn if you ain’t even horney.” Same thing.

Second, there are far easier ways to support this kind of paraphilia than undergoing full gender transition. It’s pretty well understood that for many cross-dressers there is a sexual element attached. Sometimes it’s the clothes, sometimes it’s someone else in the clothes, sometimes it’s themselves in the clothes taking a little spin on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride while gazing lasciviously at themselves in the mirror. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but it’s a big long leap to think they would take it to the steps outlined in the last paragraph. It doesn’t pass the smell test. Release is easily obtained leaving the person free to go about their life, as opposed to setting on a course where release is bloody difficult to achieve, plus they are stuck with the equivalent of walking around every minute with suspiciously sticky Penthouse centerfolds all over them. Ew! Sorry for that, but it makes the point.

I find the whole concept to be yet another example of people desiring an easy answer to a very complex issue. We all want a smoking gun. They are transsexual because their parents really wanted a girl. They are transsexual because they are super gay. They are transsexual because the idea of it gets them so sexually excited that they do it, even though they don’t really get sexually excited as a feature of the process. Easy buttons so we don’t have to think about it too hard, the world makes perfect sense, the ‘Just World Hypothesis’ holds true, and they can make damn sure this doesn’t happen to their kids. The true ‘why’ is yet to be found, but I’m reasonably sure it’s not going to be a convenient ‘tranny gene’ or one’s particular flavor of erotica.

Our detractors like to point to the fact that a clear and overwhelming theory hasn’t been advanced, proven, and peer reviewed, and so fall back on lurid concepts like this one. Where we are right now is analogous to looking for the Higgs boson using a car battery, some speaker wire, magnets and a Playskool microscope. Until a comparable level of effort has been expended, which is likely to be no time soon (because honestly, who is going to allocate a lot of funding to this?), all we really have is that we exist and act accordingly. In any case, the Higgs boson was there all along well before it was proven, and so are we.

So, Where’s Your Dad? … She’s Right There

Trans Dad“So where’s your dad, anyway?” The question was asked by a young child who was playing with my son on the trampoline. I was sitting about 10 feet away to keep an eye on things. The other boy was a couple of years older, and my personal childhood experience taught me that older boys were not always hesitant to exercise power by virtue of age and strength. I may not be able to always protect him from this, but I’m sure as hell not letting anything happen on my watch.

My son pointed to me and told the other boy, “right over there!” The little thug was unable to make the connection between the homely woman sitting on the deck and my son’s dad and soon the matter was dropped. Yes, I do realize this was probably a teachable moment, but I was caught off guard and found that words had left me. If the situation persisted, I would have outed myself, but it died within moments and I had the opportunity to ponder this sufficiently to create a new blog post.

As many of you may know, transitioning genders and being a parent to a young child at the same time can be just a little bit challenging. The hardest part is attempting to create an environment of stability and safety for the little ones to give them the best chance to learn, grow and reach their real potential. This can be difficult considering the crushing need for social conformity in child, tween, and teen culture. “But everyone has the new iPod Dingleberry, so I HAVE to have one! They are only $999.95!” The problem is that you can’t just go and get a new dad by maxing out your credit card.

The fortunate side of this is that old ‘Mama, Papa, and Baby’ expected dynamic has been significantly altered over the past few years. Thank goodness for that anyway. Even mainstream TV is now reflecting “The New Normal” (why, just why could that show not have been better?), and there is no longer an assumption that someone has differently gendered parents. Ten years ago, those little family stickers people now put on their cars to let strangers know how many people they can expect to take out at one time with a good ‘Dukes of Hazard’ maneuver, would have been preset parents with optional kids and pets. Now you can get them individually and mix and match males and females to create the set you want. The best version I saw depicted a child without a head. “What a peaceful household that must be.” I thought.

At the same time, “The New Normal” in no way means even slightly common. While gay couple families often know many others of their kind, to their straight friends, they are labeled distinctively. “Knuckles and Barney will be there, you know, our gay friends, so I’m sure they will bring a fabulous appetizer.” When you go across the tracks to Trans Town, chances are you are the only one straight and cis people know, including friends of friends, and one or two degrees of separation beyond that. As of right now, and arguably into the foreseeable future, our status as “normal” is really more like “acknowledged outlier” that is sporadically considered acceptable. The vast majority of American families can still buy the old timey rear window stickers with thoughtless abandon, head or no head.

To bring this around full circle, in the near future I’m faced with attending a ‘Donuts for Dads’ thingie at my son’s school next month. At ‘Muffins for Moms’, it was explained (I think with the idea that the information would be trickled back to me) that in spite of the very clear naming convention, these events were for any beloved caregiver of the child. Even so, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be the only one there in a skirt. This doesn’t bother me because experience tells me that the dads are more afraid of me than I am of them. Really, it’s about my son and his comfort.

Sufficed to say, we are working this because the issue isn’t going to go away on its own. Believe me, if I thought this was possible, I would employ my usual tactic of doing nothing and hoping the universe manages to tidy up the mess once it is realized that I’m not getting off my fat ass anytime soon. At present, my son’s feeling is that he is excited to have me come, but is nervous that the other kids are going to think he has two moms, which I’m fairly certain is already the case. Is it too much to ask that some lesbian couples move into the school district? This isn’t Mississippi you know.

We will navigate our way though this and the next 150 instances. At the end of the day though, I’m sure he wants to be like the rest of the kids around him. In this, he simply won’t be, but then again, no one else fits the norm in every category either. The best I can do is to help him find comfort in his existence by demonstrating pride and resilience in the truth of our existence, no matter how off center from the never trodden path of absolute normalcy. As we sit there with all the kids and their dads, at least there will be donuts, and we will focus on those and not the hole.

Review: She’s Not There – A Life In Two Genders 10th Anniversary Edition

She's Not ThereThe first time I picked up Jennifer Finney Boylan’s autobiographical work, She’s Not There; A Life in Two Genders, I was in a pretty terrible place. I hadn’t yet dared to use ‘the T word’ to describe myself, but I was starting to get very close. I paged through it in the Barnes and Noble parking lot while an early November snow began to come down. “This is either going to be so strange that I know I’m on the wrong track, or it’s going to be way too familiar and then I’m in big trouble.” I think you can guess where it landed.

For anyone unfamiliar, She’s Not There traces the author’s life from her time as a young child up to just after her full gender transition. Within she describes the strange disconnect between her body and spirit with regard to gender and the impact this had on her life. The first half encompasses her attempts to escape her innate feminine identity, while the second outlines her personal transition from a male life to a female one. While she spends time on the mechanics of transition, she frames the stages in the context of her personal life, her family and friends, and the overall impact to an existence that continues to progress independent of the changes she is making. The new edition includes an update to inform the reader what she has been doing for the past 10 years and the long term effect of her transition. Also included are afterwards by her closest friend, the novelist Richard Russo, and her spouse Deidre who appears as ‘Grace’ in the novel.

The first read, two and a half years ago, was fantastic for me. Someone was finally speaking my language, and in a way that was very easy to understand, even though the lingo was all very new to my experience. Funny, engaging, poignant, and a little heartbreaking; I identified strongly with every word right up to the point where she decided to go back to the therapy that culminated with, “That evening just before sundown, Grace was in tears, her heart broken in two.” It hit me hard; my own worst fear about this whole identity question business by far. Beyond my personal experience, the remainder for me became a “What to Expect When You Are Expecting to Transition” manual; a little peek into the future about what might be in store.

The 10th Anniversary edition came out and found me moved on considerably from that shaky, frightened male sitting in his car. Now a great deal of the book was very identifiable to my personal experience as I rocket toward my surgery date, and I was able to read it much differently. My original intention was to just read the updates, but after browsing the first chapter, I found myself pulled in again, now certain that I had probably missed much in spite of my highlighting and note taking from 30 months prior. I’m very glad that happened.

No longer hungry for basic knowledge about transgender life, I was able to appreciate how much of the work was devoted to impact her transition had on everyone around her. Most transition stories have a sense of very selfish self indulgence about them that is inherent to the process. She manages to transcend this and is cognizant how the people in her circle and periphery are affected on a very personal and emotional level while holding true to the very real necessity of taking action before the situation becomes unmanageable. This perspective gives readers unfamiliar with transition as well as those who may be embroiled within it a global view of the process.

This is clearly not a work that is intended to be a ‘how to’ for transgender people and the people in their lives. While it gives sufficient detail to impart clear understanding, it remains a biographical account. From my point of view, this makes it a much richer read as the story is character driven narrative within the broader context of fairly unusual circumstances. Much like the TV series Lost, the questions of why are far less important than what happens to the people we come to identify with.

The last chapter update, and the sole reason I originally intended to pick this up to begin with, would have made this worthwhile on a standalone basis. It can’t be easy to pick up where one left off in a work a decade prior, but she makes it seem effortless. I won’t share the details and spoil the ending (for the most part), but I feel it well conveyed the personal evolution she experienced after a full decade plus of female life. There were a few powerful moments that brought tears to my eyes as she revisited her childhood home, the Coffin House, but overall the message was one of hope for those with the tenacity to proceed in a generous and conscientious manner. I loved the last line, cleverly tied to a moment in her childhood, that simply reads, “He’s not there”.

I will stick with my original recommendation that this is an excellent read for anyone at all interested in gender transition, and for those who may not, but enjoy a well woven autobiography. Although not always true of most autobiographical accounts, the story alone is so well told that it would stand as a work of fiction and remain equally as compelling. I’m very looking forward to reading and reviewing her follow on work on the subject titled Stuck In the Middle With You that tackles the very difficult subject of parenting while undergoing transition and after.

My original review is here.

Gender Dysphoria is a Real Bummer

sad girlWhat the hell is ‘dysphoria’ anyway? It’s really a question along the same lines as asking what Lupus, Shingles, or Planters Fasciitis are. None of these, by the way involves wolves, roofers, or gardeners, contrary to the naming conventions followed by less elusive ailments like Tennis Elbow. In any case, being transgender, or specifically transsexual, used to be known as ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ and was classified as such in the DSM before they decided to knock it the hell out of there into the pile that contains homosexuality, the planet Pluto, and St Christopher. It doesn’t mean these things don’t exist (including Christopher, who allegedly dropped the kid in river upon further review and got stripped of his title), it just means they were misclassified. Let’s talk about the whole ‘dysphoria thing, shall we?

By the way, special thanks to Michelle the Younger, a long time reader who suggested I talk to this when up shits creek with ideas. Dysphoria in its most basic form is the polar opposite of euphoria. The latter is having an over abundance of phoria and the former is being totally bereft of it all together. Gender dysphoria then is having a total absence of exuberance about one’s gender. It’s a little misleading because most people aren’t exactly euphoric about it and simply take it for granted. Those with euphoria for their birth gender should probably be avoided like the assholes over at Alpha House, or anyone who reminds you of Quinn Fabray.

Gender Dysphoria is best summed up as the feeling one gets when understanding themselves as mentally and emotionally female and looking down to see a pair of hairy balls dangling to and fro between one’s legs. To be fair, it is the same feeling of being a dude and inheriting gramma’s double D’s that are now poking out of a hairless chest. In any case, it’s a few orders of magnitude more severe than ‘My-Cat-Wrinkly-Bill-Died’ Dysphoria, primarily because beloved irreplaceable pets are often and quickly replaced. As we age, the feeling of dysmorphia gets worse as gender specific traits tend to manifest and stay.

Not to sound too glib, but dysphoria can be a real bummer and affects many trans people at various times in their lives. On the very serious side of things, it can be fatal. Many feel caught between the overwhelming depression about an untenable situation that causes an equal level of overwhelming anxiety when any thought is given to addressing it head on. We have talked about the fear here before, so going to leave that where we left it. Untreated, however, the dysphoria tends to grow and worsen well beyond any unreasonable sense of optimism or ability to dissociate. Being spectacularly good at the latter, I can attest personally that no matter where I went in my head, there it was, and it wasn’t going away.

Cisgender people have a very hard time understanding this. We come up with imperfect little analogies, but none of them succeed in producing that ‘holy shit, that really sucks!’ reaction we all kind of unreasonably expect. My latest attempt is the dislocated shoulder. It’s weird and horrible from the get go, but time just intensifies it until it has to be addressed and you would do anything to make not just the pain, but the freakishness of it go away. Pop it back in, take off my arm, or shoot me in the head, but do something because I can’t go another minute like this. Unfortunately this only has the possibility of hitting home with about the 3% of the population who have dislocated a shoulder, and of those, maybe 3% make the logical leap and don’t start describing rotator cuffs or other off track things.

Unfortunately, dysphoria can persist even after transition; a little something something not everyone likes to talk about. This isn’t true of everyone of course, but many have very optimistic expectations about transition and slip back into a depressive state once reality pokes its big bald head through the clouds. Realization that one will never be as smokin’ hot as Mayim Bialik or Dot Marie Jones can be a bit of a downer. Same with everyone still making you as a dude no matter what you do. Others are dismayed to learn that they really are still a grade A asshole even after 2 years of estrogen. Plus there are all the bills. Oh, the bills!

The best way to treat dysphoria is to address it head on. Prescription medication and even a well cultivated sever alcoholism or drug addiction generally won’t touch it. It’s not easy at all, and I think we all can’t help but feel deeply for those who are just becoming dreadfully aware of their situation and walk around with that crushed hopeless look on their faces. That is getting better though, especially now that there are more and more of us proving, just through living our lives, that it’s not so bad, life can continue and even get better, and that the bogeyman of exposure terror has less teeth than we imagined. After that, it’s all a matter of managing one’s expectations and understanding that all this effort really does is put us at the same starting line as everyone else, albeit decades late.

So, those are my thoughts on dysphoria and I hope we can discuss further now that I have pledged to be much better at responding to comments, of which I do read and digest every single one.

Ever Feel Like the Elephant In the Room?

Elephant GirlYou ever just kind of feel like there is an elephant in the room and that it’s probably you? Living in full time transition, it’s a feeling you tend to get a lot. A whole lot. You can often fool yourself and pretend it’s not there, but then all of a sudden someone refers to you as ‘he’ in a meeting, by accident, and the room grows deathly silent with all eyes focused intently on anything outside your immediate area. Nice, right? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

We’ve kind of skirted around this area before, but now I think it’s time to get the elephant right in the cross-hairs of our double barreled bazooka-joe sized shotgun. I’m now almost 10 months into full time female life, and for the most part, it’s pretty comfortable. Aside from an occasional slip up here and there from a momentarily distracted friend, family member, or colleague, I feel that I’m pretty much blending most of the time. Yes, I do still get called ‘sir’ on the phone frequently, even after identifying myself as Michelle, but I politely correct their mistake, and to date I haven’t gotten any push back on this. Actually it’s kind of fun to listen to their awkward fumbling apologies, especially when they called to sell me on something. Just once I’d love it if they kept it real, “Oh?… Fuck. Yeah, I’m just going to hang up now because we both know there is not a chance in holy hell that you are going to return that pledge envelope to the Whiskey Dick Foundation for the Turgidly Challenged. Buh-bye, um, “ma’am”.”

Again, the vast majority of the time I sit there completely unaware of anything being weird. Suddenly, often for no reason at all, I’m hyper-aware that I’m presenting as female. This shouldn’t even be a thing because I do that full time and all, but out of nowhere I realize that I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of my most frequent nightmare for 30 some years. Rank fear sweat blisters onto my skin, the stinky stuff that no amount of Secret is going to handle. “Shit… they don’t think of me as Michelle at all, do they? I’m just ‘Mike in a dress’ to these people who are too fucking polite to start cracking wise in my direction.” Of course no one says anything, or even seems like they notice that I’ve come down with a full blown case of the heebie-jeebies. At those times, and only those times, I wish the world was just a little less PC and we were back in the 70’s when they would have called me ‘Tinkerbell’ or something and guffawed until I slunk away.

The good news is that this is becoming increasingly rarer and I care less and less what anyone might be secretly thinking. I do still get the sneaking suspicion that they have unkind thoughts, and worse, that they have managed to link them up in some kind of mental chat session I’m not privy to and having a good old time at my expense. By the way, I’m not the only one that has that, right? That when speaking to a group you are not addressing a gathering of individuals, but some kind of conjoined group mind that makes any illusion of one-on-one connection hopelessly impossible? No? That’s just great. Thanks. Be that as it may, I’m now content and hardly worry of this anymore. There are much worse things than elephants.

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