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Sweet and Clueless, Hence, Not Delicious

idiotI was at a bisexual meetup group a few weeks ago.  Each year they have a brunch get together which offers members and new attendees a forum to get to know each other.  These meetups, needless to say, are filled with sexual tension, as everyone there is bisexual and several of the members are also polyamorous.

As the butt sniffing and seducing intentions were being cleverly disguised as get to know you chit chat continued on, a 29 year old Hispanic guy came up to me and said hi.

He interrupted a deeply enjoyable conversation I managed to find with another woman despite being immersed in a tensely sexually filled environment by inserting himself whenever he caught a segment of our conversation that remotely related to him or his past experiences.

I finally gave him a moment of my attention, more so out of morbid curiosity rather than due to attraction of any kind.

Within minutes of talking with him I realized he didn’t have his shit together, but that didn’t bother me as much as the fact that he kept referring to transgender women as “shemales.”  He was utterly CLUELESS.

He solidified his clueless membership placard by saying: “You know, I got into shemales years ago when I couldn’t find a real girl to have sex with……so that night I hooked up with a tranny and realized it’s all the same…..you know?   Sex is sex…..it’s all the same.”

He then proceeded to stick next to me like white on rice the rest of the night, following me everywhere I went and it got to be really annoying.

So I moved away from “CLUELESS” and continued mingling with others.

Then a gentleman in his late 40s struck up a conversation with me.  He seemed quite sweet and everything went along quite pleasantly until the topic of sex was brought up.

“So are you a bottom or a top?” he asked me.

“I’m versatile,” I replied wearily.

“I top with women, but with men, I’m a bottom.  I mean, why else would I be with a man if I didn’t bottom for him?”

I rolled my eyes.

“So if you’re with a transgender woman, you’d prefer to bottom for her?”  I asked even though I already anticipated his final answer.

He gave the same answer as if he were bottoming for a guy, except he decorated his response to ensure he was considerate towards my feelings and me being transgender.

I appreciated that.  That was a sweet gesture on his part, being aware that he indeed as talking with a trans woman and it was a response he didn’t have to partake but did so anyway.

But he was clueless as well.

His MO was “Why else be with a cock unless I’m going to get fucked by one?”  And me having a penis was put me in that category of fucker and not fuckee.

And that was sad.

Because he missed the whole point and merely focused on what was between the legs of people.  He missed all the facets that make me a woman, and a special one at that.

The genitals dictated his response…..

So although he was sweet, he was also clueless as well……

Sweet but clueless is nice, but not delicious.

Challenging Binaries: There’s More Variety Out There Than What The Traditional Belief System Offers

Often times people seek out a story that placates their version of "reason and evidence" that matches and defends the ideology they believe is theirs, but is really coming from a source of early childhood trauma or indoctrination.

Often times people seek out a story that placates their version of “reason and evidence” that matches and defends the ideology they believe is theirs, but is really coming from a source of early childhood trauma or indoctrination.

2006:

In 2006, I was still presenting as a man, and I was juggling 5 sexual partners.  I was Nick’s sidekick.  I idolized him because every girl he dated was model material, and he did it all without money or celebrity status, and all with just mediocre looks.  The Mother in the Sky blessed him with one gift: the ability to talk, and that’s all he needed.

You and I, or anyone else for that matter, would appear to have a handicap when placed next to him and forced to talk or tell a story.  The man, despite being a womanizing asshole, was a great schmoozer and talker.

Being a desperate “disciple” of his and utilizing many of his strategies got me merely a small percentage of the success he pulled in…which landed me at 5 women I was intimate with simultaneously.

I was concerned for my safety so I got tested for STDs often.  When I went to see Dr. Li, his nurse drew my blood and asked me to check all the STDs and symptoms on the clipboard so the lab would know which tests to run.

Needless to say I checked them all, including, of course, HIV.

I sat in the waiting room, shaking my leg with a cadence that matched the inner twitch caused by my anxiety.

Dr. Li came in and my rhythmic twitch came to a halt.

He looked at the clipboard , and after a few seconds, said something that shocked the shit out of me:

“Are you gay?  Do you have sex with men?”

I was caught off guard and totally spinning.  I knew where this was going, and I couldn’t believe he was so misinformed on a topic that he should have been an expert on, a topic that I was paying him for to understand thoroughly, more so than me.  I ended up incredibly frustrated and disappointed.

“What?  No, of course not,” I said with vehement denial and nervousness.

“You put a check mark next to ‘HIV.’  Unless you have sex with men, you don’t need HIV checked.”

I had an internal nuclear bomb go off when he said that.  The conglomerate cluster-fuck of emotions that were set off inside me, to this day, is still indescribable.

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to shake the shit out of him so he would talk some sense.

Had he no clue what he just said?  Had he no idea how ignorant and misinformed he was?  Had he no idea the risks he just put out there to me and possibly countless other patients that came before and would come after me?  If I hadn’t been informed about the real nature of how HIV and other STDs functioned, I could have seriously been put at ease when I was actually a candidate that could potentially be at risk.

I knew from 7th grade health class with Ms. Finn from my Dodson Junior High days that HIV was not an isolated virus attainable only through gay sex.  It was spread through blood and other means.  Anal sex, being more prone to stretching sensitive tissue, was merely more susceptible means for transmission but not the only means in which HIV spread.  Furthermore, last I checked, straight people and women had HIV and also had anal sex too.

Moreover, even though I did have sexual intimacy with men in my life, I had anal sex more frequently with my cisgender women partners than men.

Both his question of asking me what type of sex (straight vs gay) I had and his assertion that I didn’t need to test for HIV (under the assumption that I was straight) totally cast him in a new light for me.

I realized he was misinformed, and that his misinformed disposition could result in endangering a straight man (or woman) patient that was cheating on their partner and had HIV but went home with the erroneous assumption that they were STD free when they could possibly be infected due to Dr. Li’s association that HIV was a gay related virus, and hence misinforming his patient.

I yelled at him.

“Keep that box checked,” I said loudly, while pointing at the HIV box on the clipboard.

“But you don’t need it and each test costs extra in your co-payment.  You can save money by dropping the tests you don’t need,” he said.

“I’m not here to save money, I want a thorough test, and just because I’m not gay doesn’t mean I don’t need that test” I said in frustration.

He left it the way it was and instructed me to take the clipboard up to the front desk.

*****************************

2012:

I came out to Dr. Li as transgender in 2012, when I got sick and needed antibiotics.  Just so you know, he’s a good guy.  Despite his 2006 fuck-up, he does return calls, he will make exceptions to open the office on Saturdays, and he is professional with his demeanor and time spent with patients.

And despite his obvious Christian background (bibles in the waiting room and verses on the wall) and ignorance about HIV, he has been my doctor since I was a kid and he is good for regular checkups.

But his reaction in 2012 to my transition news told me just how uncomfortable he was with the GLBT topic.

He acknowledged my situation, but couldn’t look at me in the eyes as he quickly took my blood pressure and looked at my ears and eyes and throat.  He did see enough out of the corner of his eye to see that I truly was presenting as a woman, and he had no choice but to treat me as such because my legal documents, including insurance policy, all reflected that of a woman, and I was on hormones and my blood levels reflected estrogen levels that matched that of a cisgender woman.

I could tell he was uncomfortable because his very next question was: “So did you get the surgery yet?”

“Let’s just say I live fulltime as a woman and am on hormones.  Whether I had surgery or not isn’t important right now, and if it medically is at some later junction, I’ll inform you of my status then.”

He nodded.

I then tried to explain to him how I respected his work ethic, and how I wanted to stay with him as my primary care physician because he’s been caring for our family since I was a little kid, and how much I appreciated his professionalism throughout the years.

He moved right along and wanted to get things over with as he said “yeah yeah” real quick and went right back to business by pulling out the stethoscope and asking me to breathe deeply.

*************************

2013:

I went to see Dr. Li yesterday for a pre-surgery appointment.  He took my info and started filling out my chart.  He took my blood pressure, a blood sample, and checked my eyes and made me say “ahhhhh” with a tongue depressor that tasted like old cardboard lacquered in varnish.

“So have you had any prior surgeries in the last five years?” he asked me.

“Just my right knee in 2009, meniscus tear,” I said.

“How about for down there?” he said pointing to my genital area.

“Just my knee is all I will answer right now.  That’s all that is relevant for this discussion.” I said curtly.

He got flustered.  Clearly, he was uncomfortable whenever the topic of transgenderism was brought up, as he began clicking his pen, fidgeting with papers, and physically blushing.  I saw the whole thing, and it was a like an emotional litmus paper being lit up by a bright wave of chemicals.  It was hilarious.

Then he took out the light and checked my eyes, and made me say “ahhhh” again with the tongue depressor.

I laughed and he quickly looked down at the clipboard.

He literally performed what he had already done just a mere 30 seconds earlier.  He was flustered.  It was cute in a not so cute type of way.

It was a funny combination of anxiety, awkwardness, discomfort, forgetfulness and him being droll all in one.  He was an older man lost in his emotionally cloudy moment, not knowing where to place me in the gender binary, which was the only internal vocabulary he had to categorize me.  It was unsettling for him that I didn’t fit in somewhere.

People are typically flustered when put outside their comfort zone.  Questioning people’s preconceived notions makes them think outside the box, outside of their comfort zone.  That’s why activism eventually gets through to people, because once people step outside their comfort zone enough times, or better yet, have loved ones they really care for be the ones that trigger their discomfort, inevitable cognitive dissonance takes place and plants the seeds for opportunities for self reflection.

I’ve quickly learned that just being me, everyday, is a great way to do activism without even trying.  Just existing is activism for transgender people.

I could tell being outside of the gender binary, existing in a nonexistent, non-defined category to take hold of my gender placard, for Dr. Li, left a weird and unfamiliar taste in his mouth.

Well, at least we are even, and it was a fair trade.  That tongue depressor sure had some funky chemicals on there….I can still taste the wood…..blechh!!!

I’ve had men who left tastes in my mouth that lasted shorter…

Youth and Beauty Wasted on the Indoctrinated

I went to physical therapy back in February this year for a hip injury.  One of the assistants was named Chris.indoctrination

I immediately noticed him, as he was around 6’2″, with an athletic chiseled body and a devilishly delicious baby face with blue eyes.  But what drew even more attention than his physical looks was the tattoo on his bicep, which was partially covered by his polo shirt.

I tried to glance at it and every time his shirt would get in the way, preventing me from reading what it said.  I finally mustered up the courage to ask him, and he showed me.

It had a Maslow quote on there, pointing to the fact that we are all one and should peacefully coexist on this planet and share it amongst each other wisely.  I immediately took a liking to him, and we talked about him majoring in psychology, his views on spirituality, and his methodology towards self actualization.

I so desperately wanted to ask him for his Facebook or phone number.

But I was scared to do so.

What if he wouldn’t be okay with interacting with a penis?  What if telling him would somehow out me to the physical therapy clinic I was going to, and alter the dynamic of how my physical trainer treated me?  What if he, like many others in society, labels and categorizes people’s genders based on their assigned birth and genitalia rather than their core gender identity?  Just because he is spiritual and has a tattoo that reflects self awareness doesn’t mean he is aware about gender and sexuality, does it?

I didn’t want to do this old song and dance again with all these precautionary thoughts, but being a trans woman is difficult in the world of dating.

I worry about dating people who have been indoctrinated by the social system we have, believing that there are only 2 genders out there with strict binary rules.  And although there are individuals who are exceptions to this preconception, it just wasn’t something I wanted to deal with that day…..and sadly, on many other days as well.

I wanted to get Chris’ contact info, but hesitated and didn’t proceed.

It was possibly a perfect case of youth and beauty wasted on the indoctrinated.

In the Beginning there was Naomi

I met Naomi through Kazumi.

I met Kazumi online, through a transgender chat room.

My first time out in Los Angeles, in 2002, was at the Mayfair hotel on a transgender club night.

I’ll never forget how nervous I was when walking from the underground parking lot to the lobby of the hotel.  I stuck very close to Kazumi, and felt very self conscious.  I couldn’t believe I was finally out and about as myself, presenting as a woman.

Upon entering the club, Kazumi started talking to some of the other girls.

I found myself alone all of a sudden.

Then Kazumi brought someone over to meet me.

“This is Natalie, it’s her first time out,” Kazumi said.

I shook her hand nervously, and she said hi back.

**********************

It wasn’t until a year later that I was dressed up and out again.  I was at club Lodge in Van Nuys when I saw Naomi again for the second time.

Throughout the years, she has become the familiar face, the old faithful.  I could always count on her being out on a Saturday night, and for transgender people, especially newbies, it’s always nice to see a familiar face.  It can really soothe the anxiety when first stepping into the club.

Naomi has seen me disappear for years at a time, only to resurface.  I have had some very interesting conversations with her in the past about transgender issues, and she’s always been supportive.

She also is an amazing dancer, and I learned so much by watching her in the past.  I slowly gained confidence on the dance floor by dancing with her, emulating some of her moves, and just knowing that she was always visible when I revisited the clubs.  The faces would change, but the old timers, the ones who go way back, are always nice to see.

I recently saw her at Hamburger Mary’s, and we danced together.  Never had I felt so on top of the world.

We sat down after and I commented on how she has seen my entire transition, from the first times I went out as myself in Los Angeles to now working a company job and living fulltime as myself.

Thanks Naomi.

You don’t even know how much of a difference you made in my life, but thanks for being there for me.

San Diego with Alexis

I went to San Diego to meet my friend Alexis in November of last year.  I had been living as myself for a little over a year at that point, and my confidence was growing.  san_diegoBut little did I know just how far I had come.

*****************

Earlier in the year, around the January time frame, I was so scared to use the ladies room at a rest stop that I had my parents drive to a different gas station where there were less people.  And here I was, a mere 9 months later, and I was at a transgender club in San Diego dancing freely with not a care in the world.  It was as if those 9 months were an incubation period in the womb of consciousness, where I developed a kinship with courage.

A lot of that growth was directly associated with enrolling in school for 3 units.  Merely taking one class, where lectures were every Monday and Wednesday, was enough exposure for me in the real world to toughen my skin, strengthen my courage, and inject more security in my self esteem.

I wasn’t just living as a woman in my mind or in fantasy at home.  I was really out there in the real world, exposed to other students and being seen for who I was.

It’s hard to see our progress unless we chart milestones in our life.  It wasn’t until entering the club and feeling completely at ease that I noticed something different about myself for the first time in over a decade.  Of all the times I had gone to transgender clubs to be myself, to dress as a woman, Natalie, me, and to dance and socialize, I had never felt this confident and at ease.

There were many times where I performed on stage for Lipstick Conspiracy as a drummer, and countless other times where I was dressed insanely pretty at the clubs, and those paled in comparison to how I felt that night with Alexis in San Diego .

Furthermore, I was wearing jeans, a casual top, and Ugg boots.  I was dressed really casual, and I was wearing daytime makeup, with very little touch up.

I walked in there with a sense of confidence, owning my aura and aware of how much I had just tapped into my potency.  I was in a venue where people knew my background, and I felt like a big fish who stepped into a little pond, with nothing to fear.

I knew the instant I looked around that I had done the work necessary for me to be confident, to strut while being humble, and to turn heads and come off as the experienced gal in the venue.

And the strange thing was, it had nothing to do with the traditional notions that many transgender people typically associate with transition at all.  Things such genital reconstructive surgery, breast implants, facial feminization surgery, or fancy clothes had nothing to do with how I felt confident and why I felt so free, unbridled, and potent.  Up until that point, I had none of those things done to alter my body, and my clothes were casual that night.

What did matter was I had gone to countless hours of therapy, and done immense amounts of soul searching, learning, questioning, integrating, and regendering to get to where I was.  And I wasn’t even close to being done.

To me, we are never done.  We are constantly emergent, works in progress trying to better ourselves, learn, and choose wisely the next time around when new situations present themselves.

I had chosen to put away my manhood, embrace the feminine self within, the woman who had been battered by stigma for over 3 decades.  And nurture her back to health, and teach her how to thrive in a world that seemed so scary at times, with vulnerability lurking everywhere.

I aligned with my potency by reminding myself that I had done the work of going out as myself 24/7 for over a year, and that there was nothing to fear.  I recalled the countless times I flowed through society, running errands and going to class, and how I had a backbone of experiences to draw wisdom from.

This was no longer a part time thing for me, and having been away from the transgender community for so long really put things in perspective that night when I entered the club, and realized I had gotten so much stronger.

My milestone was clearly presented to me and I had nothing to fear and utter confidence in myself.  I knew I belonged and would shine that night.

And hence I was able to be with Alexis as we danced with the local girls, all of whom were very friendly.  The energy and vibe were exquisite, and we had a memorable night that was both fun and empowering.

Jimmy Kimmel and ABC Airing “Kill Everyone in China”

Jimmy Kimmel and ABC are receiving heat for a recent airing of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” a part of his show where he interviews kids on a segment called “Kids’ Table.”

Johnny Depp Kisses Jimmy Kimmel.

Johnny Depp Kisses Jimmy Kimmel.

After asking a young boy how the United States should repay its $1.3 trillion debt to China, the boy replied with ” kill everyone in China.”

I won’t harp on how the comments were inappropriate, or how thousands of Chinese Americans showed up to protest in major cities such as Burbank, Houston, and Phoenix, or how ABC had time to edit the show before it aired, or even worse, that a kid who says something like that probably has an environment of caretakers who taught him that type of behavior and belief.

I want to step away from the focus the GLBT community gets in terms of stigma and discrimination, and just talk about the ramifications of what happens when ANY group is being discriminated.

Because in the end, we all have our own closets, struggles, and challenges, as Ash Beckham so aptly pointed out in her Tedx TalkComing out of your closet.”  We can be discriminated against and face challenges in all areas of life, simply for being different than what is considered the bell curve or more frequent mode.  Being overweight, bald, short, tall, or simply Asian can all have severe impacts at critical junctions in our life, if we happen to be around a group or individual who judges us based on those criteria.

Who are the losers?  We all stand to lose something in this case.  It’s time we step away from this outdated Darwinistic-Malthusian notion that all I need to care about is myself, and no one else.  Because in the end, I will only be as safe and secure as the least secure and safe person in our community.  And if that person happens to be starving, sick, or faces scarcity in basic needs on a daily basis, he or she will have to take resources in unconventional ways from those who do have their needs met.  Be it through stealing, creating an enemy image, or through allying with others who have what he or she doesn’t have.

If we were to compare our world to the human body, our current society is set up in a such a way where it is equivalent to the heart taking all the oxygen or blood and hording it for itself, neglecting the kidneys, brain, and other vital organs in the body.  Why give a shit about the other organs?  All the heart cares about is itself.  Not a viable or smart method in which to operate things.

I had a coworker recently tell me he doesn’t care how much water he wastes when he’s in New York on business because it’s an east coast problem.  He only cares if we have enough water here, in California.  As long as he’s okay here, it seems other worldly problems don’t bother him.  The thought process he described to me was mind boggling.  It was incredibly depressing to hear him spew his self centered view of how the world worked, according to his ideology.

All I know is, I try to stay diligent on a daily basis with how I view and treat the world, and all its cohabitants.  I try to remind myself that other people’s fears are from their own wounds.  We all have a semblance of a wounded puppy in the middle of the street, in one form or another.

But for a family to project that fear onto their children and then for ABC and Jimmy Kimmel to air it on America’s major network, well, that’s beyond disheartening and warrants an apology.

The Lonely Journey of a Transsexual Woman

It truly is a lonely path as a transsexual.solitary_tree_under_rainbow

Each person’s transition is truly unique from the next.  But it’s lonely because we are truly one of the last minority groups in society that have few role models, no blueprints to abide by or follow when we feel lost.

Guidance is hard to come by, and one has to be vigilant and determined to seek out those who truly can help us.

Many transgender people are incredibly desperate, and feel an incredible urge to be seen by others and anyone else who is willing to lend a complimentary stare or comment.  And often times we are exploited by those who deceitfully portray themselves as helpers, when they are truly here to take and exploit.

Moreover, in those rare instances when we do find someone who has done the work and is functional in society, they are usually stealth, or invisible.  Or they live all the way on the other side of the country.

Transition is a long and arduous process.  It’s as if our old shell is shattered due to self realization, and we are vulnerable to all the elements out there until our new shell arrives.  It’s not like we can just order a new identity on Amazon.com and expect it to arrive within said 5-8 business days.

There is no expedited shipping.  Money can’t hire us the workers to provide shortcuts of doing our own spiritual, psychological and emotional work.  The work that is so vital for our ability to truly transition must be done by ourselves.

Contained in our old shell are some of the ways we used to look at the world, our own lives, and how we fit into that world with the life we had.  The habits, friends, family, jobs, and security.  Despite projecting a false façade for so many years, many transgender people feel extremely lost and inadequate in the beginning of their transition, despite finally being authentic for the first time in their entire life.

There is so much to learn, so much invested in the old shell that is now irrelevant.  We have to find new leads, new people to interact with, and do it all while presenting as someone we are sometimes quite unfamiliar with and awkward as, particularly in the beginning stages.

And the role models that would come in handy at this stage of transition?

They are nowhere to be found.

The closest thing we can find are individuals who share remnants of our story, and share in support groups or transgender clubs or through networking at transgender or GLBT events.

And despite the similarities in our stories, our paths truly are individual and unique on their own.

“Maybe I’ll just live out a simple, solitary life…it’s not so bad, many people do it,” I’ve been finding myself muttering as of late.

“No, don’t give up!  There’s someone out there for you,” a coworker recently said.  She’s been my biggest cheerleader as of late.  I’m grateful she’s in my corner.

Still, it’s lonely sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still go out and do things, and have fun.  The night before Halloween, I was at the Danny Elfman concert for Tim Burton Movie Themes at the Nokia Plaza.  It was so much fun, an amazing show.  I still go out dancing at Hamburger Mary’s, and I do still have a social life.

But I wonder: is it easier to just live a sedentary, low key invisible life, without having to explain my transgender history to others?  Or does staying invisible, and not telling my transgender story, inhibit and limit me?

Are my reasons for being alone really rational?  Is being tired of explaining myself and coming out over and over again to people a powerful enough reason to seclude myself?  Is it worth giving up on dating and meeting new people?

A good friend of mine, who I refer to as Shapeshifter, said so eloquently:

” it’s amazing how effective in the world we can be when we forget about the fact that we are trans…

…Sadly, it’s empty when we forget about being trans also…..”

I’m trying real hard not to get caught up in the matrix, where things are so neatly packaged.  I am reminding myself not everything needs to be all or nothing, black or white.  That passion is a great thing, but when overdone, can destroy someone.  I’m trying to strike a balance.

I try to remind myself that it’s going to take time to smooth out the kinks in my new life.  I’ve waited my entire life to live this way, as myself.  The three key ingredients of patience, compassion, and simplicity are critical for where I’m at right now.

Although those three ingredients are good spiritual companions, it would be nice to have someone in the flesh to cuddle with when I turn off the light at night.