THIS is my…….um…….er…….well…………MAN-ifesto

The action has been hot & heavy lately between well-meaning but sometimes misguided trans ‘activists’ and ardently feminist (mostly) lesbians known dis-affectionately as TERFs; which means something to the effect of Terribly Exuberant (but) Rotten Females.  Or whatever.  But the point is that both sides need a serious talking to because this whole situation is far beyond ridiculous; it is inconceivable! (A little Princess Bride humor)

Now……I want to say right off that, in my opinion, trans people with less than 5 years of transition under their belts should not be engaging in any trans advocacy, let alone trans activism.  Transition is hard enough, and we go thru so many emotional and physical evolutionary steps that adding trying to explain oneself in a coherent manner is often like trying for conquer Kilimanjaro with a toothpick, dental floss, and a cardigan.  The ‘splainer is ill-equipped on every level to do so.  And the perfect example is transitioners who are well beyond the self-discovery phase who look back and wonder:  what was I thinking?  But that’s not even the worst of it, mostly because of the why involved.  This isn’t about coming out to your family, friends, or pet turtle; this is about trying to explain to the general public what it even means to be trans.  And right here, I want to make the huge distinction that I am talking about transsexuals, not transgender people.  And for those who orbit the planet, live in a vacuum or a pineapple under the sea (look it up and sing it a few times; you’ll get it), this is what it’s about:

This is like the old biology lesson about genus’ and species’; all gender variants of any kind, including casual weekend cross-dressers, fetishists, drag queens, and transsexuals are all transgender.  But……..not all transgenders are so deeply and emotionally invested that they are driven to change gender physically to match their emotional and intellectual composition.  And to complicate it further (like it needs that!) is that the social notion of womanhood is so complex that a lot of trans people (in general) generate some kind of stereotypical (and farcical) caricature and try to live inside of that shell.  Tres difficile, n’est-ce pas?  (French for ‘pain in the ass, ain’t it?)

Added to that is those overly enthusiastic and born women with reproductive systems and vaginas “as factory installed equipment” who are (highly) offended all of by this.  Sometimes to the point of advocating violence.  But this is all part of a much larger picture and that could take days to paint; which would be fine with my sense of wordiness but would bore you all to tears.  So let’s focus in on the single event that brings all of these conflicting emotions and people together.

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival brings together women from (I’m guessing) all over North America, to celebrate their uniqueness as women (no dispute there).  These folks don’t all like to be called women because some are mightily pissed at the patriarchy and the historical predation of womyn.  So Michigan becomes a very safe place where your biological identity is honored, on the honor system, and it is expected that no cross-dressing, predatory, salivating, salacious, lascivious men will go in pretending to be womyn so that they can, well…….that’s the crux of this.

At the very same time…………some trans women; many just barely coming to their own self-determination; and facing the significant task of unlearning all of the socialized conduct, habits and mannerisms that they were entitled to exhibit as men now  refute those very traits as personally poisonous.  And they see admission to Michigan as the ultimate validation of their womanhood because let’s face it; if you can get into Michigan, then you must be a female. Say whaaaaaaaat?  So here’s where everything comes full circle and I hand up some (as usual unsolicited) advice:

Trans women…….get over yourselves.  You don’t need Michigan; you need introspection, an intimate sense of self, as well as a clear vision of who you are as a human being as opposed to trying to emulate Betty Boop or Veronica Lane.  Ask yourselves this: what do you think you are going to find in Michigan if you haven’t even found yourself yet?  I’m suspecting that participation at Michigan is not like getting your fortune from the machine at the Boardwalk (or your fortune cookie?).  The answers to who you are aren’t there.  Michigan is a safe space for people (aka women/womyn) who have suffered a lifetime of sexism, chauvinism, discrimination, and a bunch of other socially reprehensible isms.  Arrogantly demanding your way in there smacks of not even considering the very privilege that  (even nominally) gave us protection and opened doors, however barely, that were not available to female born carbon based life forms.  There is absolutely no justification for lack of respect; especially for the people you most seek to identify with.  And stop with the name calling already!  Do you really think that coming up with inflammatory names will (again!) endear you to the very people with whom you seek to identify?  Smarten up and shut up for a while.  Learn something and stop trying to explain everything.  If you knew everything you’d be in charge of this (polluted, corrupt, dysfunctional) planet.  Besides…….I already know everything so save yourselves the trouble and just ask me.

And then, there are the highly irate original possessors of vaginas…………I have some advice for you as well:  take the cabers out of your asses and accept that this is a complicated social construct and it isn’t going to get any better any time soon.  But more simply than that, if you want to be isolationists on the order of the Ellen Jamesians (a la The World According to Garp (R.I.P. Robin Williams)) then there are some new rules and by-laws that you should adopt:

1 – You should never again use any word with “Man” anywhere in it!   I don’t know how you are going to MANeuver around the English language, but you’ll have to MANage!  You may end up MANgling the language a bit but don’t be developing any MANuscripts about it.  And if you are in business, you’ll have to give up MANufacturing or using MANuals to help figure things out.  On the other hand, be as rude as you like because it will be very bad form to your friends to exhibit MANners.  And of course, if you’re butch in any way, skip right over the masculine MANnerisms.  And don’t worry about MANkind, we won’t be MANipulating events to forestall anything.  And you femmes………no MANicures for you!!   There is no MANifest destiny.

2 – I think that you really should isolate yourselves so that the mere image of a male human being will never cross your line of sight again.  Don’t even bother trying to come to terms with some of the horrific traumas you have faces in your own lives; instead, blame others, stay angry, forget about any enjoyment in life because fueling those emotional fires alone is a full time job.  And of course…….no one has suffered or will ever suffer as much as you have.  Speaking only for myself………..I am really tired of being beaten over the head with the club of guilt for being born as I was and having to take responsibility for the crimes against every woman in history.  I didn’t fucking do it; my friend Daria didn’t do it either.  And the whole “my pain is greater than your pain” thing; you are a pain!  You don’t want to hang out with me, an otherwise fairly swell human being?  Then don’t!  I don’t like zealots anyway so the feeling is more than mutual!  But I, and my kind, are neither responsible for every crime ever committed against women nor are we responsible for Cancer, Decline of Western Civilization as we know it, or the Euro.  Well, maybe the Euro but it wasn’t me.

But back to reality; at least for a minute……….the other side of this whole thing is that I know why most of you go to Michigan.  I know that it was created as a safe space and it should absolutely remain that way.  No one should be allowed to force their way into a safe space, and boundaries are really one of the only things we have when everything else is taken out of the equation.  Trans women….some of you really need to stop trying to force your way into places you are not wanted just because you feel that you are entitled to be there.  If you were, you would be there.  And again…….when you do get in there, legitimately or otherwise, are you going to “get it” or will the lessons go over your head like an average sixth grader trying to master the concept of infinity?

We all need to step back, take a deep breath, go to neutral corners, and re-assess what our primal motivations are for almost all of our actions towards and against each other.  This will never be a better world as long as we actively seek out differences to keep ourselves apart.  There will always be extremists, sadly.  Have a nice day; I don’t need your rhetoric or nuclear acrimony and toxicity; any of you.  But all you (neo-) moderates out there……..I look forward to someday having a meeting of the minds with some of you (I almost said MANy but didn’t want to be offensive at the last minute).

I have friends who are fairly ardent feminists; they aren’t all willing to repudiate people like me who are not just like them but have enough other socially redeeming qualities to at least look into associating with.  That can’t be such a bad thing, can it?

Maybe one day people like me will be asked into places like Michigan.  I am neither holding my breath nor anticipating imminent inclusion.  And as sure as I am of who I am, my own journey continues and when the time is right, I will be where I am supposed to be.  Until then……..I’m okay where I am.  I wish everyone else could just chill and be that as well.

Advertisements
Posted in Gender, MWMF, Radical Feminists, Transgender, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is but a game, you fly a paper plane, there is no end

My life seems to get more enjoyable at the same time it becomes more complicated and annoying. More and more, I seem to be in disagreement with my transgender ‘kin’ in exactly what it is that makes us who we are, and how to present that to the rest of the world. On top of that, there are so many different notions about who we are that it really can become crazy making.

I get chastised because I don’t look femme enough, I don’t do enough femme-y things, and I am screwing it up for everyone else; referring to trans women. Well…………..you all are screwing it up for me. Between the blood lust for fashion, the need to be semi-submissive at the same time you are still marking your territory, and the insistence that your echo-y Julia Childs voice is authentic female, just makes me want to find a cave to seal myself into. And the claims that you are all woman while obsessing over whether or not anyone takes you seriously……….seriously?

And of course, at the polar opposite end of this same equation are radical feminists who decry my very existence as fraudulent, deceptive, delusional, and an affront to their own (definition of) womanhood. All this because a)I was born with a penis and therefore designated male (something I had absolutely no control over), and b)I don’t bleed and can’t reproduce on my own (another pretty sucky circumstance I have no control over). And also because I couldn’t possibly understand the oppression that women have suffered through for millenia.

But what I really want to say here is this………I don’t care!

To the trans women on the planet – If you feel that you need to wear a dress, CFM heels, a miniskirt, sari, sarong, or hula skirt in order to acquire that all-too important female designation then have at it. If you need to spend all of your time wondering whether or not people accept you as ‘the woman you feel yourself to be’, then waste that time. If you think that your Halloween voice is gonna sell your overdressed flamboyant selves and it will allow you to breathe easier, then do so. But don’t put your own anxiety on me because instead of obsessing about how I am perceived, I simply go about my own business. Maybe that’s why I always have something else to do when you want to hang out. No wait! I do have other things to do!

To the radfems on the planet – I’m sorry that I am offending you by calling myself a woman and a lesbian. This seeming misunderstanding stems from two simple facts; I haven’t seen myself as male since I was old enough to master simple concepts of self, and I have no desire whatsoever for intimacy with a man. But wait; there’s more! You don’t have to like it, because I am not trying to foist my personal values onto you all. I would have been just as happy if we could have made peace, bridged a gap, forged a friendship, or even a political alliance. But I know that’s not in your nature do do so because, much like many trans women, your own hyper awareness of your surroundoings, waiting for a slur and spoiling for a fight, leave you unable to see sincerity and a desire just for peaceful interaction.

I don’t want to violate your space; I don’t even need to know where it is. Michigan I could care less about; I’m not here to assert my own rights at the expense of others, and I doubt that the music would correspond to my tastes anyway. I also don’t want trans women violating my space with their unrealistic expectations of acceptance. I don’t want to have dinner out in an environment where the topic of conversation was whether the waiter/waitress will be rude, or if you are being stared at.

And the whole thing about how I mis-represent the transgender ‘experience’ by broadcasting bad news every week? I hate to point this out but unicorns have not yet been proven to exist, evolution has, and when I put the proposal for my format to management at our community radio station here in Maine I specifically included the phrase ‘warts and all news broadcast of trans-specific and trans-related news from around the world’. And they were okay with that. My guests are not residents of la-la land, they are people who deal with troubled transgender youth, confused but hopeful transgender adults, stories about discrimination and legal battles for rights, and people who may have (or not) lost everything ear to them. And my opinions, of which I have many, are not always trans-friendly because I don’t always agree with them; that is part of my rights as a human being.

So please……….if you want to rag on me, do it it your own space, not mine. If you have a legitimate beef with me, or a correction about something I broadcast I’m all ears. But if your main concern is that I’m making your life difficult………let me assure you that I have much bigger fish to fry and more important matters to concern myself with. Oh, that is for the trans women. For the radfems………sorry we can’t see eye-to-eye. You don’t like me? Take all the time you need because by the time you realize that it doesn’t matter that much, I’m long past that piece of social landscape. I spent years trying to understand, make peace, and build the foundation of a bridge. Your not having any of that is your prerogatived. I think that it’s sad that you have built your own prison to not just keep out what you consider contaminating influences (us men in dresses) but to keep yourself from experiencing a portion of the population that, while not just like you, are very much like minded in so many other ways. What a loss to your own intellectual and emotional growth.

Dalmax is still trying to sell sea shells by the sea shore but the tourists have mostly gone home and the locals have their own! She can be heard every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. eastern at http://www.wmpg.org. Or if you’re really annoyed by this, you can e-mail her at lobsterbait@rocketmail.com

Posted in Gender, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s almost as bad as listening to the Fundamentalcases

So……..I’ve been following a serious conflict between trans women who see themselves as warriors (aka pushing their entitlement issues onto others) and Rad fems (aka Radical Feminist Lesbians aka Keepers of the Holy Vagina).  There are many points for me to agree, and disagree, with on both sides but the problem I have is that everyone is so surly in presenting their arguments that I get lost in the (faux?) testosterone laden bitchiness of it all.

Much of this stems in part from the years-old policy by the operators of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (aka MWMF).  For those of you who are hetero-normative and have your heads in the sand, or you live in a hermetically sealed vault or something, MWMF is a serious womyn born womyn event that has been held every year for over 30 years now.  It is also a truly private function, on private land, funded privately, and the restrictions on participation are perfectly legal and, in my mind, righteously so.  But there are disagreements to that and THAT is where the conflict begins.  Now…..if you want to read the history of the MWMF you can go here:

http://musingsonlifelawandgender.typepad.com/life_law_gender/2005/07/michigan_womyns.html;

and perhaps you will even understand the rationale behind the rules of attendance.  The reality, not for me but for these womyn, is that they don’t want a bunch of lascivious guys hanging around while they do what it is that brought them there in the first place.  I so get that!  Anyway….back to live action.

Attendees of the Festival are believers in resisting the patriarchy.  So am I,  but my reasoning is different and/but because of my upbringing I not only have a tremendous respect for women/womyn, I also understand almost all too well the seedy and seamy side of why these womyn want a safe space.  I say almost because I will never own the experiences of victimization that many, and I do mean MANY,  natal females have experienced.  But again, there are those who not only would disagree but are making a tremendous amount of noise about it.  

One the one side you have these womyn, and their attendance can be in the thousands, who want to be left alone to listen to nice music, angry music, tribal dancing music; it doesn’t matter, it’s their right to do so.  On the other side you have some dedicated trans women, mostly transsexual women who are in some stage of transition, who feel that it is their G*d-given right to attend because they identify as women.  The first problem that I have with this is that no one has the right to force their desires on anyone else.  Wait a minute………….isn’t this how the whole MWMF started in the first place?

Now, I don’t always agree with the rhetoric of those rad fems, mostly because some of it sounds like excuses more than reason and logic for why trans women are not allowed to attend.  At the same time, keeping in mind that many of these womyn carry terrible physical and emotional scars at the hands of some men in their lives, I can see why they wouldn’t want any reminders of the existence of men anywhere near them while they celebrate the uniqueness of their own womynhood (I am using their self designation out of respect in case anyone is wondering). 

Anyway…………what’s really at the heart of this is why exactly these trans warriors feel entitled to crash/attend an event in which they are vilified before arrival.  The Michigan-type womyn don’t really like or respect them; at various times, depending on who you talk to, we (trans women, and yes I do include myself in the general category) are either men in dresses, pretenders (and if we identify as lesbians for whatever reason, we are further designated as ‘Pretendbians’, and I just love that term; it shows that some of these womyn haven’t completely lost their sense of humor!), frauds, fakes, still predators, and a host of other things.  Nothing, of course, that would endear trans women to these less moderate thinking womyn, most of whom are lesbians.  What comes to my mind, at this juncture, is why anyone in their right mind would even want to go there. 

What I think one of the big problems is, in this case, is that it’s really not a requirement of these womyn to cater to the desires of some more radical thinking trans women who feel it is their obligation to blaze a new trail right through the grounds of MWMF.  But whomever they think they are representing, it ain’t me!  I don’t consciously go out of my way to make people dislike me; my nature alone does that all too often. But much like my desire to not go to Michigan, I really don’t want those womyn to think that I secretly desire to usurp their right to gather so that I can exercise my entitlement (I keep misplacing it too).  Hey trans women – please don’t think you represent me when you do this crazy @!$%# like picketing the entrance to Michigan, or trying to sneak in, or just being stupidly confrontational!

The reason I am writing this and if you are still with me I do have a point which is that the people portraying themselves as victims in this denial are the same people who all think they are my sisters.  I already have a sister who shoots off her mouth and puts me into bad situations; I need you all like a moose needs a hat rack.  But after watching the acrimony escalate I actually e-mailed Cathy (Bug) Brennan, one of the chief public voices of opposition to just about anything trans women related, hoping for a cogent reason for the hostility.  I know what she thinks; I read her blogs.  I know how she feels about trans women; she makes that perfectly clear.  But what I wanted to hear was that maybe she would at least see the reason why we (trans women) are not all the arch-typical men in dresses.  What I got back from her was, quite frankly, pretty lame.  She sent back links to her recent essays/posts/rants/whatever.  And she thanked me for writing; I thought that was nice.  But she didn’t elaborate on any of her thinking.  So I politely (and I can prove that) e-mailed her again, this time to ask her to share her feelings with me (one of those men in dressed, although I only own two and save those for Jewish holidays, funerals and commitment ceremonies and not even then all of the time).   I said that I had already fully digested those links and hoped that perhaps we could delve into it more deeply.  I also mentioned that I would gladly think about having her be a phone-in guest on my weekly trans-centric radio broadcast.  She agreed to do it before I had a chance to tell her that we needed to talk first and lay down ground rules for live radio.  She had already sent me a phone number but at that point I had gotten the rhetoric.  She mentioned that she had some friends who were trans; all I could think of was opponents to the Civil Rights Movement and tepidly anti-Semitic people, who all of whom had friends who were black, Jewish, Spanish, Chinese or Martian.  So at that point I let it go.

More recently, a discussion came about on the WMPG Lesbian Radio Facebook page that (d)evolved into trans women at Michigan.  Keep in mind that within factors of the LGBT community this is the hot button topic. A woman who has just joined the Lesbian Radio broadcast ensemble (and in the interest of fair disclosure, I was a member of the ensemble until I had the opportunity to pilot Trans.Missions on Tuesdays on WMPG) made some points about Michigan.  I don’t know her well at all but I do know of her and my women friends think highly of her as an artist and writer.  I do as well but as a person I don’t know her.  In trying to clarify (for me?) the reasoning behind the exclusions at Michigan, it started with the men-in-dresses rationale, went on to male presences, and finally it came down to penises.  The womyn didn’t want any penises around.  But they have already said that they don’t want any non womyn-born-womyn around.  So I got confused, which isn’t always that difficult anyway, and asked for a clarification.  It was explained to me, although I’m not sure it is a best representation of why not it satisfies my intelligent approach to why I’m never going there, that there are a lot of womyn there who are traumatized at the thought of penises (penii?) invading their space and I admit that it seems to be something men do as often as not.  I’ve already been in places around the world where hostility towards my very existence may not be spoken but looks alone could seriously damage you so I do get it. At the same time, this particular argument smacks of ‘My pain is greater than your pain so @!$%# off!’

Still…….what I don’t get is why knuckle-headed trans women can’t get it through their own heads that they may think they have become women but others don’t always see it that way and their actions in this instance would seem to substantiate the concerns of Michigan’s womyn.  Maybe it’s sad that otherwise nice people will never get to understand one another.  Maybe someday half of the human population won’t feel marginalized by the other half, some of which, in any permutation, seem to think that their own sense of entitlement (yep, I’m using that word a lot here!) is their pass to the entire planet without restriction.  So I really didn’t resolve anything but I do want it known that not every trans woman wants to crash Michigan, for whatever reason.  Mine is that I want to go where there really is a spirit of sisterhood.  Michigan is not that place for me, nor is Camp Trans, full of pushy, bullish, angry trans women looking to pick a fight because they feel marginalized by natal womyn who don’t want them/us around.

And so, if you are still with me and haven’t slid into a coma (or at least a comma), what would I be doing in lieu of Michigan if I could find a suitable venue?  Well, I heard about a terrific event for all women in Toronto but I can’t afford to go there.  You will likely find me at the Bangor Music Festival in August, bopping along listening to music, eating festival food, not getting enough sleep and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere and NOT engaging in hostile, confrontational conduct.  Unless it rains in which case I’ll stay home and watch movies.

In the meantime, could you all possibly think about going to neutral corners, minding your own business and SHUTTING UP!  I mean………that would make sense, right? So I think that I’m going to wander off to watch The Deadliest Catch.  Must less traumatic.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As I Was Saying – Skool Daze

So! It’s been some time since I got to write for the benefit of anyone other than myself. Kinda cool actually. For the record, I had a column for years in the (now defunct) Community Pride Reporter. It was called ‘As Worlds Collide’ and chronicled my transition from male to female, in the various aspects of my life.

I can’t say that there have been any major collisions lately; life has gotten pretty sedate since I last put my signature on a page. But what has happened, besides a heightened sense of self-awareness, is that I seem to be running into fewer life obstacles. Bummer. Well okay, that was a bald-faced lie. I’m just facing different obstacles these days. Not that I’m complaining or anything. But here is what is going on:

 

For the longest time, I held a ridiculous grudge against my high school years. To me, they were incredibly painful on an emotional level. I mean…. I was wrestling with my gender issue, I had just barely recognized what exactly it was, it was suffocating at that time, and I had no idea of what I was going to do about it. So I ‘ran away’.

 Shortly after graduation, having put the whole experience out of the forefront of my mind, I left home to experience some other adventures that didn’t include the isolating pain of those formative years. But you can’t run away from that crap and eventually I realized I was dragging a bucket load of stuff with me. Rather than deal with it, I let it accumulate emotional debris; like barnacles on a whale.

Anyway, the point of this is that now; many moons later; curiosity got the best of me. However, rather than just jump in the water head first I elected to stick my toes in ever so slowly. There were a few people with whom I wasn’t totally alienated and I always did wonder about them. So……. having received a solicitation (for the umpteenth time) from Classmates.com I decided to test those fetid (in my head) waters.

I built my profile carefully, listing the cumulative interests I had developed over the decades (I am, after all, pretty damn old), edited and re-edited endlessly until that all made some sense. Then I got to the heart of the matter; that being my story. It was strange trying to put into words what had haunted me for so long. That was tough because I had to surmount the pain that I had schlepped around with me for so long. I had an emotional back ache from all of the schlepping!

In the end of it, I just relied on the truth; the one I should have faced so many years ago. I had felt isolated, alone, and disenfranchised. I had had no social skills to work with and couldn’t master the male bonding rituals. It just didn’t make sense. So that’s what I said. I pointed out that over the course of my subsequent life I had learned coping skills I never thought were even available. I learned more about myself than I ever thought one person should be entitled to know. I developed life vision, a miraculous personal tool to guide you safely through the oft treacherous waters of your journey.

Now, having done this, I wait. Not at the edge of my seat, or with intense expectations; merely with the curiosity as to whether anyone remembers me fondly enough to respond or reach out. If they do, it will further debunk how isolated I felt that I was. If not, no harm no foul. Anyone who reads the story will hopefully understand why I was the way I was, realize that it was just personal pain acting on my behalf, and admire the person I evolved into despite it all.

With the inaugural column edited and filed, Dalmax is reduced to staring out the window as she munches on some homemade mac & cheese, planning her next move.       

 

 
 
 
 

 

Posted in Gender | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment