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"This journal exists to promote the concept that each human is a unique individual, intrinsically entitled with an equal right to pursue her own destiny as far as it does not inhibit others in that same right. The Subversive shall serve as a ready forum for the free expression and exchange of ideas that do not violate this mandate, in the belief that tolerance grows from a familiarity with variety."
--signed, , Editor
"Where dreams are the stuff reality is made of"
Today marks the beginning of a dream I have had since I was twelve: the first issue of a newspaper devoted to the free and open exchange of ideas. At that early and innocent age I had read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and was deeply influenced by the wide-ranging iconoclastic topics he had addressed in his publications as a young adult. In my own life, the boredom of an intellectually oppressive school system and the mundane pabulum doled out by the mass media left me feeling as if the Age of Enlightenment had withered up and died.
I yearned for a forum, a platform where the energetic, inspired thinkers of MY time might gather to debate whatever artistic, political, scientific, or social subjects that peaked their skewed perceptions. I sought a meeting place where works of insight and merit might be published and shared with others. But, alas, there seemed to be no such body available to a small child with an odd way of looking at the world.
So I adapted myself to what opportunities I DID find, went to film school and became a writer, director, and theorist in the film industry. I married, had children, and established a successful business. Then, about five years ago, I sat back, surveyed what I had accomplished, and realized that my life had become as boring and mundane as those institutions I hated as a child. I had become one of "them".
I took stock of my life, soon realizing that these external achievements had done nothing to satisfy that curious twelve year old child. What was more, there was some hidden inequity, deep within that found no solace in these material things. Old fantasies re-surfaced and played across my mind's stage. I could not make them yield, nor could I shut them out. I became obsessed, compelled against my will to search them out and know myself in honesty and depth.
On January 9th, 1992, I had Sex Reassignment Surgery, fulfilling the destiny I found there, and bringing equity to my sense of self for the first time ever. I assumed the future would be one of internal peace and contentment, free at last from the secret torment of a lifetime. But the woman I had found inside was still not satisfied.
Through my transition, I had managed somehow to hold everything together. I kept my friends, maintained my family, enhanced my career. I made new friends both in personal dealings and in the extended world of the computer modem. I became involved in a project at a major software company that seeks to describe the very essence of how and why self-aware conscious thought even exists. And, just over a year ago, I began and organized a gender group on America Online that has grown in twelve months to 117 members.
More accomplishments you say? Yes, objectively it would seem so. But what of that twelve year old child? What of the dreams of a traffic in inspired thoughts?
A week ago Friday, that child threw a tantrum. I called up my "wife" of nearly seventeen years and told her I might not be coming home that night, nor any night after. I walked into the office of the company vice-president - my friend and writing partner of 15 years, and told him that was most likely my last day, and the project could crumble for all I cared. I called up my lover and told her not to expect to see me again. And I came home to pack my bags and move to Arizona to be a waitress.
You see, just as I had become obligated in a male role for so many decades, AFTER transition, I had become obligated in relationships and duties that did nothing to satisfy that childhood need. I went from caring about EVERYONE so MUCH that I could not say "No" to them, to someone who did not care what happened to ANYONE, least of all me. I needed some space, some time, a chance to recapture the wonder I had felt at simply being alive. If I had been left alone, you would not be reading this now. But those who love me would not let me go. Not without a fight.
My writing partner sat me down in his office for half an hour and urged me to take some time off - yes, but not to burn my bridges by proclaiming I would never come back. My "wife" took the afternoon off from work and insisted I sit next to her while she held me. I felt suddenly tired. Encircled by her arms, my eyelids slowly closed. I slept.
When I awoke some minutes later, the truth of what these two special people had told me became apparent. I realized that I had over obligated MYSELF and left no room to simply "be". I needed Melanie Time, time to sit and watch the clouds, time to listen to the breeze, time to put my thoughts into words and song - time to make that twelve year old's dream come true.
I got up and called my writing partner on the phone and told him I need to switch to a four day week at the same rate of pay, so that I might have a day to devote to that child. He agreed without hesitation. I told Mary I needed more help around the house, and wanted the whole family to assist me in housework an hour a night until we were back on track. She agreed immediately. I called my lover and explained that I cared very deeply, but could only spend one day each weekend with her. She accepted the need. And I made a commitment to spend less time with the gender group on America Online.
For the last year, I have put in an average of 20 hours a week, hosting the Sunday meetings, answering mail from both the strong-willed and the fragile souls in need, as well as producing a new edition of The Gender News every couple of weeks. This I have done out of love for those, who like myself, are seeking an understanding of who and what they are.
But there comes a point when the draw is greater than the capacity, when the needs are greater than the resources. Like an electric circuit, the demands can grow beyond the potential. That Friday was a brown-out, a near-failure of the system to accommodate the pull. The next step would have been a black-out.
It is hard for me to admit that there may be more needs than I can meet, more suffering than I can salve, more questions that I can take the time to answer, even when I know the answer. I HATE inequity in all its forms, and have sought always to bring things into balance wherever I could. But the inequity I had not expected, not perceived, was the inequity of overtaxing my own compassion. I STILL care for all in need, very deeply, but now realize I cannot help them if I fail as a system myself. So, I have reorganized my commitments: four day working week, more help around the house, less time with my lover, less time with the Gender Room, and, I am changing the Gender News into the Subversive.
The Gender News will still be a section in the Subversive, with just as much, if not more, material in every issue. There being two primary differences: Rather than a bi-weekly, the Subversive will appear every month or so, whenever time permits. And rather than addressing ONLY gender issues at the expense of all others, the Subversive will be open to all manners of conjecture and experimentation providing a framework and outlet for all my other interests as well. The Gender News, will still be its own section in the Subversive, and since it will be published only once a month, it will have even more articles per issue than before.
I do not see this as retrograde motion, but as another step forward in the evolution and growth of the Equity Movement: the philosophy I founded that does not seek the same things for everyone, but equal opportunity to seek what is most meaningful to each individual. Men and women ARE different, the old and the young ARE different, blacks, whites and all races ARE different in many, many ways. But we are all the same in the depth of our feeling, the strength and validity of our needs, and the right to try and fill them. By providing a forum for self-expression and creative exploration, the Subversive exists to aid that Equity Movement toward the freedom to be oneself.
In a famous movie, Charles Foster Kane issues a "Declaration" in the first edition of his new newspaper that pledges to print the truth and champion the common man. Let this serve as the Declaration of the first edition of the Subversive:
This journal exist to promote the concept that each human is a unique individual, intrinsically entitled with an equal right to pursue his own destiny as far as it does not inhibit others in that same right. The Subversive shall serve as a ready forum for the free expression and exchange of ideas that do not violate this mandate, in the belief that tolerance grows from a familiarity with variety.
--signed, , Editor
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