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Stifled Life

stifledI had the privilege of receiving a call from Garrett last night, and working through a few things on the phone. Specifically, issues regarding my ability to “find my passion” and purpose in life.

I told him about an ESPN story with Penny Hardaway going to a middle school in Memphis to help out his childhood friend who got cancer and could no longer coach the boys basketball team. After Penny took over the coaching duties, his friend still pushed himself physically to the limit to be present courtside, when possible, despite doctors warning him to rest.

The interviewer asked him: “Why do you insist on being courtside, when doctors have ordered you to rest, when it takes so much out of you?” Penny’s friend answered: “Because it also gives so much to me too,” implying that being there was keeping him alive.

I then proceeded to tell Garrett that I needed to “find” my calling, something to devote myself to, something to serve. He told me I had it all backwards. That I didn’t “need” anything. That living my life was all I “needed” to do. To live my life with passion, to make everything in my life important, and the purpose or service would naturally reveal itself.

“You’ve lived stifled and subdued for so long,” he said. “Everything you approached was done with a lack of passion. You never fully committed to anything because you were always waiting for the next best thing, always having one foot already out the door, in case something “better” came along. That’s why you never “found your passion.” That’s why you struggled so much with deciphering if your activities were passions or addictions.”

He then explained how one does not “find their passion.” Rather, people live life with passion and the hobby or thing they enjoy doing naturally reveals itself.

“Start brushing your teeth with passion. Inject passion into everything you do. Live like a terminal cancer patient, with passion for going to the toilet or waiting for a daily afternoon visitor. Fill your life with passion and live it with passion and something naturally will reveal itself in due time.”

Just like Penny’s friend choosing to make the middle school basketball team a priority of importance, I need to value, cherish, and take care of what is already in my life and what comes into it. And to do it with passion.

I need to stop looking for activities and events that illicit blips in the radar for me, because those temporary emotional states where I feel passion are external. It’s time to start bringing passion into a once stifled life, and see what my passion from within brings forth to my future.

I need to light the pilot in my heater in order to heat the house. I need to light up my soul and spread this new enthusiasm and spark towards everything I do in my life, especially what I consider the mundane.

I must say though, it was depressing realizing I chose, by conscious or subconscious reasoning, to live a subdued and stifled life. Many of those causes were because I am transgender, and my transgender history was filled with denied opportunities and dismissal.

But the encouraging news is that now I can choose again.

And this time it’ll be different.

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Feminine Heart to Heart

heart_to_heartA few weeks ago, I remembered I had a hair appointment and was running late. I was a bit flustered in traffic, and I still had unprocessed emotional tidbits leftover from a social encounter earlier in the day as I rushed over to see my German hairstylist, Marlies.

Needless to say I didn’t want to be late.

I was totally not present, and just walking through the motions of being in a new location, but mind somewhere else. But then I remembered to remind myself I had a perfect opportunity to regroup and recover by bonding with the other women in the salon, and that serenity was right around the corner if I were just to stay open to it.

Marlies was running slightly behind schedule that day, and that irked the shit out of her. So she had her assistant, Jessica do the shampooing.

I had seen Jessica a few times before in the salon, but never officially met her. She had dyed her hair an amazingly bright red color, which fit her look really nicely. I complimented her on her hair, and she asked me how I was doing.

Instead of just trying to power through my day with fake smiles and shield myself from intimate conversation, I decided to listen to my heart and take a chance. I told her about not feeling heard and seen when my uncle visited, but also shared that I empathized with how busy and overwhelmed he was during his short stay.

The catalyst was set and we embarked on a nice conversation, where we both shared about our work, our horoscope signs, her kids and dogs at home, and my travel situation for work. We even had some time to talk about eyeshadows and makeup before Marlies took me back to her chair. I was calmer, enjoying myself, and having a much better time being present and in the moment.

Then today, I had to renew my driver’s license at the DMV. Despite being ill prepared, running behind schedule on my errands and hence not wearing any makeup, and frustrated with the long wait, I seized another similar moment as I did at the hair salon to bond with a DMV worker who had gorgeous hair. I genuinely complimented her on her hair, and we struck up a nice conversation for a short while. She even gave me a reference to a hair salon she enjoys frequenting, and she said I could re-take my photo if I visit her again on Monday when I return for my written test.

Then on my way out, still sparkling from my conversation with the DMV gal, I bumped into a mother who was carrying her 15 month old son, and I shared with her that her son was adorable, and showed her pictures of my 18 month old nephew on my iPhone. At the same time she was waiting for her adolescent son who just got his license, I realized he was the same boy who helped me pick up my forms earlier after I dropped them when I first arrived at the DMV. I thanked him for his earlier gesture, and the mother smiled and said she’s glad her son helped. “Look at her cute nephew,” she said to her son as he looked at my phone before they left. It was a nice and warm exchange.

Both times I left the salon and DMV feeling like a million dollars, and it was due to the fact that I entered these situations by connecting and sharing with other women, through feminine heart to heart.

Second Set of Balls

I was talking with TBB a few weeks ago, and we were discussing tome transgender topics that took courage and thick skin to endure.balls_of_steel

“I had to grow a second set of balls,” she said.

I couldn’t stop laughing when she said that.

Although I don’t plan on having GRS in the foreseeable future, I couldn’t help but marvel at the strength and courage us transgender people go through (surgery or no surgery), in order to live our daily lives.

Some of us are clocked visually every day, and need to have enormous resilience and strength to endure the baggage of other people thrown upon us, due to our very presence triggering their own shit that they refuse to deal with and blame us for causing them to feel.

Some of us have families and spouses prior to our transition that come along inevitably for the educational and difficult ride.

Most of us have to face the hassle of legal document changes and coming out to work and old bosses for professional references.

And further yet, some of us are assaulted or killed when we are out shopping for food or on a date.

So yes, despite TBB “losing” her balls due to GRS, she absolutely hit home with the statement: “When I grew my second set of balls…”

Kudos to all the transgender people out there who have the courage and stamina to face the world as their true selves every day.

Yes, it does take balls of steel, sometimes even a second pair are needed.

Not Enough

sad-womenThis society thrives on taking advantage of our feelings of inadequacy. Billion dollar industries are based off of our insecurities, drawing consumerism predicated on our fragments of low self esteem.

Women are constantly subjected to scrutiny from peers and members of the opposite sex. A woman with low self esteem or features that society considers not classically beautiful have a much harder time talking themselves out of a speeding ticket and taking advantage of biased perks.

The feelings of being shunned compound this fictitious belief of feeling we are not good enough, that we are somehow deficient or broken.

I think the closest feeling cisgender women can experience with regards to understanding what almost all MtF transwoman experience when they don’t pass, is when cisgender women don’t feel pretty.

Each time a transgender person is clocked or harassed for not “passing,” the feelings generated are similar to what a cisgender woman feels when rejected by a date or some other social situation for not being “pretty” enough. Often times, a transgender individual who struggles fitting in to the current socially accepted construct of what a woman ought to look like suffers on a monumental scale and far more often than a cisgender woman who is cast out as unattractive.

Somehow, we have distorted our values throughout generations of cultural misgivings and wound up classifying what is considered attractive and what is socially considered as beautiful in very limiting ways.

Despite there being some biological underpinnings being hardwired in our genetic makeup to predispose us to find certain curves and body parts an attractive trait, nevertheless, predispositions are not predeterminations…meaning, our phenotype results from the way we classify our personal preferences as to what is considered pretty, and is very much influenced by our genes and the way they interact with our social environment.

It is clear overweight women were highly sought after in both ancient Greece and China due to body types being an indicator of family wealth and abundance of food. Foot binding in China was considered an attractive custom for women for centuries. Now airbrushed coat-hanger thin type girls on the cover of Victoria Secret catalogs are the standard of western beauty.

So when did women start not being good enough the way they are? When did big breasts, flawless fuchsia manicures, dangly jewelry and airbrushed looking skin become the standard for femininity and defining feminine beauty?

I was (shamefully) browsing Craigslist late at night in the M4T section. This 35 year old from Chino Hills put up a disturbing listing. In it, he made it very clear as to what made him stand out as a great catch in comparison to his counterparts:

 

“I am not ashamed to be seen with you in public. When people eventually see us together and recognize you are transgender, I will stand by your side. I’m not afraid to being seen with you in public. In fact (yes, there was more to his diatribe), I love taking my trans girlfriend out to restaurants and movies.

 

But my girl must have the following (bullet points ensued):

  • She must have manicured nails (both hands and feet)
  • She mus be pre-op TS and not want surgery at all…if there is any doubt at all about SRS it’s best we don’t start a relationship.
  • She must smell like a girl and act like one
  • She must have long hair”

 

I was just thinking how this would have gone over on a cisgender dating website. Would the men on there go as far to expect the women on the site to bend who they were to fit some fantasy in an outright straightforward manner right from the get-go? Specifically, with how they dress and primp themselves? All with a custom bullet point display, nonetheless?

Would a girl who liked to be casual in sweats and flip flops without perfectly pedicured nails be ruled out? If he were chasing after a cisgender woman, would he hold her to these requirements and standards?

And most importantly, would a guy, who bragged about “not being ashamed to be seen” with his girlfriend in very common venues such as movies and restaurants, come off as a strong, sexy, and considerate man in the relationship department? Would he even have thought about putting that on his profile for a cisgender dating site? Or would he have thought twice?

Far too often, transgender women aren’t seen as equal to cisgender women, often treated as not “good enough.” Often times we even lose our appeal the moment we have GRS. “Why would I date you now when I can date a real woman with a real pussy and not a man made one?” said a guy to a transgender friend of mine after she had her surgery. She had apparently lost all her appeal once she “lost” her penis.

We are marginalized, along with the men who chase after us. Many chasers are ashamed of the mere fact they are attracted to transgender women. And transgender women are often ridiculed as freaks, often wrongfully labeled as men who didn’t try hard enough to simply just be a gay man, as seducers with an evil and ulterior motive, transitioning to make “luring” men into our corner easier, supposedly.

In fact, I’ve often seen comments referring to us as delusional. “I want to be a dolphin, put a blowhole on my neck and give me a bottlenose and fins…..ridiculous right?!? Just because you feel like or want to be a woman doesn’t make you so,” are all very common responses towards transgender articles on news feeds.

An average gentleman on a cisgender dating website wouldn’t make his claim to fame by saying he wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with his date in public. That wouldn’t get him very far. Although many women receive pictures of dicks and mirror shots of men in the bathroom, seldom do the women bend over backwards to accommodate those men who don’t put any effort or thought into being a gentleman. However, few men hold so much sway over women the way “tranny chasers” do. They seem to get away with very little respect and very little understanding of what they are chasing after. We are offered substandard behavior and often have very slim pickings with quality men out there.

So what should we do? I think we need to find a practice that works for us transgender women. A practice, a mantra, a way of dealing with moments when we are feeling lonely, up late at night feeling depressed; for when we are feeling insecure, less than our typical sense of attractiveness; for when we enter a judgmental headspace that erodes our self-esteem, where we try to categorize ourselves as worthy versus unworthy, as if that binary were all there was to choose from.

Upon working through our practice, we can own our own center, stay more balanced, trust in ourselves, and take power as our true selves were meant to do. In doing so, we won’t be seen as a group in society that is not worthy of equal treatment and respect, a group that will no longer be seen as not enough.