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Table of Contents
"Where dreams are the stuff reality is made of"
- Skeletons In The Closet You Came Out Of, an editorial
- Updates on a Gender Forum, Women's Forum, and Story Theory
- Doping the Brain: what really makes men and women different?
- Letters To the Editor
- Melanie's Transition Diary continues
- Physical Disability and the Transsexual: by Denise
- Holiday En Femme: by Gwendolyn
- Based on a True Story: by Katherine
- "Pried Pride": an original poem
by , Editor
"Skeletons In The Closet You Came Out Of"
I've never danced before. Oh, sure, a little disco but nothing organized. Well, I take that back... I did TRY dancing once: country line dancing with my writing partner Chris. He is an excellent dancer and invited me along one evening to join him. I was awful. No two ways about it, I couldn't put one foot in front of the other to music.
This isn't a new thing with me - I've ALWAYS been an awful dancer. I'm not uncoordinated, mind you, and manage all kinds of complex physical maneuvers that don't occur to music (no nookie jokes, please!) However, slap the label "dance" on it and suddenly I go into disjointed spasms. Obviously its not a lack of ability, but some kind of anxiety at work here.
The first time I can recall feeling this way was in elementary school when we had to learn those stupid little, cute little Spring Dance routines. We would practice every day for several minutes. I WAS TERRIFIED!!! Why? Because I already felt rejected for who I was inside (a little girl) and was struggling so hard to fit in as a little boy. I studied all their moves in kickball, conversation, even just walking around. I mean here's this little kid maybe seven years old trying to copy the other little boys so that "he" won't be rejected anymore.
Trying to dance was the worst of it. It wasn't just the steps, but the cocky lean that the other boys put into it. Inside, I actually liked dancing, but if I let myself go I acted like a girl and got ridiculed. So not only were there all these steps to learn, but I had to try to hide my natural reaction to the music and copy and fake what the other boys were doing all at the same time. It wasn't long before I was petrified to be a part of this devastating web of self-created responsibilities.
The most hated of all dances was The Square Dance (note the capital letters!) To me, this was the epitome of challenge from which failure was a higher fall. This was due to the distinct separation between male and female roles of participation. Boys did THIS and girls did THAT. So, I was really on the spot. I would be compared DIRECTLY to the other boys even while being exiled from the role I truly wanted.
All this left its mark. I avoided dancing all of my male years, being forced into it only at my senior prom and my wedding reception. In contrast, my Life Partner, Mary, LOVED square dancing and needled me for years to go with her to try it out. I adamantly refused, and in fact, never went with her at all.
Here is where it might have remained had not Mary decided a couple months ago to join a square dance class on her own. (Although anchored together, being a family of two women has nudged us into exploring some activities as solo acts, rather than as a couple.) After two weeks, she utterly surprised me by asking if I would like to join her in the next class.
Now this was strange enough, as one of her original reasons for going was to meet guys, and my presence would be an odd addition to that effort. But even more strange, I was amazed to discover that I actually wanted to go. Somehow, having lived on this side of the fence for a while, my desire to dance was beginning to return.
So, I joined Mary and was pleased to find that not only did I enjoy the class, but was not half bad at it either! In fact, square dancing is quite fun. (Boy, when they swing you around with a courtesy turn and your skirt takes to the wind with their hand firmly guiding you on the small of your back... Ooo La LA! - oops, wrong dance... but the feeling's the same!)
Anyway, all this that I have told you is my meandering way of setting the stage for the real heart of this little essay. (I originally was going to call it, "Back to Square One", but then I would have had to end the story around here somewhere, and that not what I really wanted to talk about!)
Okay, so you sit there in class and the guys come over to you and ask if they can have the next "tip" (or dance). Often, you get booked up early with guys asking at the beginning of the evening for the 3rd tip or the 5th. After a while the same guys kinda gravitate toward you so you spend more time with the same partners.
Mary and I pass ourselves off as room mates. She takes the kids (in explaining our history) and I am a bachelorette. We use different last names. This works fine most of the time, but we do have to watch what we say.
Of course, Mary and I are both cruising for guys as well, so sometimes it gets interesting when the same guy is interested in both of us and we have to fight over him. Nothing nasty mind you, just trying to out flirt the other one - a friendly rivalry.
Well, even that was okay because it was just during the dancing. But in the last two weeks some of the guys have figured they have known us long enough and are starting to move in. Now, let me explain something about the guys who come to square dances. Most of them are either 80 years old, or fat or ugly or slouched over or obnoxious. One or two are okay. There's nobody there to die for. Still, an okay guy is better than no guy, so that direction of thinking does have fodder for the heart.
One of the guys who came on to me reminds me of Segourney Weaver's tax consultant neighbor in ghost busters. He just comes on strong, monopolizes the conversation and sort of buzzes around you like a lecherous humming bird. Last week it took me five minutes to break away from his conversation so I could go home.
But the good news is, a really nice guy showed up two weeks ago for the first time. He is an experienced dancer, just coming to brush up a bit. I won't say too much about him that might identify him, so as not to violate his privacy to others. What I CAN say is that he can turn you in a spin like NOBODY can! I had trouble with the spins until him.... not anymore!
Anyway, we talked a lot that night and struck it off well. We had a lot in common, including his being a writer. So, I gave him my business card and invited him to call me about the writer's software program I am co-developing. A few days later, he DID call. This was a real kick! I've spent time with a number of guys, but none who were unaware of my past. This nice guy just knew me as Melanie the story theorist and liked me for that alone.
(Now you see how we are working up to Skeletons In The Closet You Came Out Of, eh what?) So, we talked and had a good conversation. I helped keep it going because I wanted to have this thing progress a bit. Well, it did. A couple days later, I got a two page handwritten letter from him, telling me a bit about himself, his work, and his interests.
One might think that I would be overjoyed at this. I tried to be, I really did... but I began to get depressed instead. This is a NICE guy - a guy who is a gentleman, who lives alone, who has got to be lonely and is attracted to me. When I tell him about my past, he's going to be hurt. No doubt about it. So, what do I do? Never date guys who don't know? Hope that my notoriety from the Story Development Software Program precedes me to the point that I become a celebrity transsexual so EVERYONE knows and I don't have to worry about it?
You see, I just don't want to hurt him or anybody else. But I don't want to only date people from the gender community either. The way I figure it, if I had divorced Mary and moved out, I could claim that whole previous life was behind me. I could even deny it if I wanted (though that is not my way). Still, when I told him, there would be no visible evidence of my past, no lingering remnants - just the new Melanie that he is attracted to. Then, I could deal with telling him and know that it wouldn't hurt him as much, since it is all in the past.
But by staying with my family, my past is carried over into the present. I sleep in the same bed with Mary, we co-own the home, we have a family here! Sounds like I should just settle down and not date, right? But how in blazes can I have gone through all the pains of transition and not seek its ultimate rewards. When I am in the arms of a man, well, that's heaven. But I love Mary too!
So, as you can see, I got depressed, chasing my mental tail. And then, I had an inspiration... Why not ask a GUY!!! Chris was in Paris on vacation, so I tracked down his VERY male brother (Otter) who also works at the company. He and I share problems from time to time, so I hit him with this one. He said that there definitely WAS something I could do to limit how much hurt my fellow would feel and would still allow me to date.
Otter said that a guy just needs to know there is danger lurking so he can be ready when it comes. He said that one my first date, if it looks like things will continue, I should tell any guy that I have a few skeletons in my closet that I don't want to talk about now, but just wanted him to know so that he won't be hurt later. He said that guys will hold back a bit of their heart when they hear this. They will either demand to be told right then and there or no more momentum, or they will keep a little wall around their heart until they find out later. If they need to know right now, I can tell them and take my chances or I can decline and not continue the relationship, depending on if I want them blabbing it all around or not. Well, with Mary and myself in the class for the next five months, I don't want anything blabbed that would ruin it for the two of us, so I will decline. However, I think it is only moral (to me) to tell the guy the whole truth BEFORE you become intimate. Anything less than honesty at that time would (for me) be crossing the line.
But, I wasn't completely convinced (never having thought like a man and therefore unable to judge the accuracy of Otter's statement as a truism for all or most men. So, I went home and asked my 14 year old son, Keith (who is all full of hormones these days) if what Otter said was true. He told me that ABSOLUTELY it was true! He said, "Let me give you an analogy" and explained that if a guy is walking down the street and gets jumped, he is really injured because he didn't see it coming. But if a guy goes down the street KNOWING someone is going to jump him, he can be prepared. Even though he'll get beat up some, at least he was ready for it, and that's all a guy really wants.
Well, I've never felt like that. I don't know if its me, or if its just a difference between men and women. But I do believe that it works for guys. So, I sat down and wrote out a friendly one page letter to my new friend on pretty stationery and dropped in the mail two days ago. Tomorrow is the next class. He said in his letter he would be there. I fully expect him to ask me out sometime during the evening, and I will say yes. And when we are on our first date, if it is going well, I will find the moment to tell him I have a skeleton in my closet. And if he can wait to find out what it is, and we approach intimacy, I will tell him that it is the closet I came out of and hope for the best.
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Although we share much common ground, there are also different areas of emphasis between crossdressers and transsexuals. A primary divergence is in the relationship to the gay/lesbian community. For the transsexual, slipping from one sex to the other almost requires re-evaluating one's sexual preference, sometimes realigning it, and therefore nests nicely in compatibility with the gay/lesbian folk. But for the crossdresser it is a different story. Better than 95% of all crossdressers are believed to be heterosexual. Most are married family men. Discovery in the so-called "straight" community can be devastating to their families and careers. So, association with the gay/lesbian community (although useful in political clout) works against their self image and the image they wish to portray.
Being transsexual myself, I eagerly accepted the invitation by the America Online Gay/Lesbian Community Forum to center out America Online Gender Group in the GLCF area. We went under their wing and gained resources and clout and even "official" status on America Online. What we lost was a separation from the straight world that many crossdressers prefer to keep. Still, we had a home while we grew from 30 members to over 300 at the present time.
Now, however, we account for 10% of the GLCF population, and are growing at a faster rate. As a result, we are big enough to have a little area of our own. Moving out of the GLCF is really not an option. We cannot at this time get direct recognition and computer space from AOL. However, we CAN perhaps carve out an area in the GLCF that is connected but separate. This month I am proposing a plan to the GLCF sysops to create a separate Gender Forum. Initially, we would require no more computer space than we currently have. Rather, all our various resources which are currently scattered throughout the GLCF would be grouped together in one place. This will make it much easier to find and use the Gender Group services.
One way to arrive at this new area would be through a button in the GLCF menu. But I am also proposing a new America Online keyword, "gender" that would zip anyone directly to the Gender Forum from anywhere on AOL without having to go through the GLCF to get there. This plan allows for maintaining our political protection and adding to the clout of our hosts at the GLCF by still being part of their area, but being able to enter the Gender Forum with no reference to the GLCF for those who prefer that route. Once in the Gender Forum it would be all gender issues and this again should help those who are troubled by too close an association.
As we continue to grow, we can add new features such as a bulletin board and conversation area. And someday, if we grow large enough, we perhaps shall have an area truly all our own. In the meantime, I will work for these immediate enhancements and continue to thank the GLCF for all their support over the years.
For the last three months, I have been in contact with the person in charge of the various forums on America online. As they have asked me not to reveal their name, for they do not have time to answer any additional Email, I will refer to them only as N. I have been trying to push forward on the Women's Forum idea for three months now. Recently, I sent another letter to N stressing again my desire to do whatever preliminary work I can to facilitate the eventual addition of a Women's Forum to America Online. This is the response.
Subj: Re: Women's Forum
From: Name Withheld
To: Melanie XX
Right now we must first complete our existing projects before embarking on new ones. There is another person who is the primary candidate for hosting a Women's Forum (the same person that I previously mentioned) but would be very interested in having you also participate in this forum. At this time however, no additional work has been done on this proposed area but will keep you posted. As you know we get hundreds of suggestions for new forums and it takes a long time to complete our existing projects, build a new area and launch a new service.
Thanks for everything that you have done to stir up interest in a Women's Forum---really appreciate it. Keep in touch ---new services take a long time so it won't be any time soon due to our heavy work load but I do feel this is a very important forum and would like to see one started.
All the best,
I may be biased, but it seems to me that there is little support being offered by America Online for a Women's Forum. I'm sure it will come to be eventually, but it is my intent to make that sooner than later. I have a number activities I hope to employ in speeding the process. I'll detail these in future issues as they become implemented.
The software program based on a whole new theory of story developed by Chris and myself is expected to hit the market in February of '94. However, word of its revolutionary perspective and the things it can do for writers that have never been done before is spreading. We have been recently written up in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
As luck would have it, one of these articles was seen by a BBC producer for a television series in England called Moving Pictures. They are doing an episode on new writing software and contacted our company president. As a result, they came out to Screenplay Systems about a month ago with a crew of six to tape a segment on us and our new theory.
Again, as luck would have it, they liked talking to me and asked if I would do the whole interview. So, they set up the camera, lit me to look pretty and put the interviewer to work. At first they only wanted to do a little bit, but as I explained something of our theory and what it can do they became increasingly interested. In the end, they shot over 30 minutes of tape and we expecting to feature us in a much larger segment of the show.
That's great for the software, and when I eventually share my past with the public, will be good for our community. But the best part of the interview was when the cameraman was setting up the lights. He looked at my image in the monitor and said, "She's a babe!" I said, "I think I'm about twenty years too old to be a babe!" He then looked up directly into my eyes and said with a half smile, "Not for me...." Too bad they couldn't stay a couple of days!
Also, about a week ago, a reporter from U.S. News and World Report came out and interviewed me four a couple of hours. This was a preliminary interview, they will be coming back to do more in depth as they build their story.
The new psychology of Mental Relativity that Chris and I developed is what is really behind the software. It is what drives "the Story Engine" in the program. But as a psychology, it also has many practical everyday applications and understandings. Part of my job at Screenplay is to write essays explaining aspects of the theory. I will reprint some of the more interesting or useful ones here.
"Doping the Brain"
From the moment of conception the cells that are to become the human brain function chaotically. There is no order nor sequence to their firings and no self-awareness can form. This is much like the gaseous clouds from which our solar system was spawned. In order for consciousness to take hold, there must be a force that focuses the mind, pulling it into a single perspective.
This force comes into being at the twelfth to fourteen week of pregnancy when a flush of testosterone or estrogen washes over the largely developed brain, doping it with one of two essential biases. Either bias serves as a sun at the center of the mental solar system, calibrating the mind with a different weight with which all subsequent experience will be measured.
A testosterone wash biases the mind toward a Spatial Brain Operating System, an Estrogen wash biases the mind toward a Temporal Brain Operating System. All minds sense both time and space, but the bias determines which is favored and which gets second-hand information.
As a result, men and women perceive the same sensory input in different ways, creating both a commonality in what they are looking at and a divergence into what it means to them.
After several days, the brain has established patterns of data organization under the influence of the hormonal bias that act as planets in orbit around the sun. Once these patterns are established, the hormonal flush recedes as if the sun disappeared from the center of the solar system. Why do not the planets fly off into space? Because they have formed a dynamic stability where each mental item is counterbalanced by another item on the opposite side of thought - two equally massive planets in the same orbit 180 degrees out of phase.
Of course, the mental solar system has many more than two items of mind (points of view) and therefore the entire framework is constructed from a multitude of balanced items creating a structure built of dynamics rather than objects: stable only because of its inertia. In a sense, the hormonal bias provides a coriolis effect, putting the solar system either into a clockwise or counter clockwise spin. One it recedes, like a wave from the shore, it leaves patterns behind in the mental sand as a record of its currents and eddies.
When one looks for the physical seat of consciousness, it cannot be found for it does not exist in the fabric of the brain itself but in tendencies established in mental processes that are no longer sustained by the bias which is no longer present. The chaotic nature of sensory perception might creates fractal patterns in electrical functioning in the structure of the brain, but the temporal record of the interaction of the senses and the mind can only be seen in frictal patterns in the self-awareness in the dynamics of the mind.
Heart Corps is a company I have formed to distribute the profits from the story software where they can help those in need. This month, Heart Corps contributed to Frontline (an organization that serves meals to the homeless on skid row, The Burbank Temporary Aid Society which provides food for those down on their luck, Food For All, and American Way. We are also helping to support people working on expanding the usefulness and accessibility of Mental Relativity.
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Melanie's Wise Words of the Month
"Thought - the Killer of Knowledge."
----Wilma Snakestare (aka map)
I don't know why, but this is the second issue in which I am including some of the "downer" pieces I have written. Maybe I've just used up all the happy stuff first? Well, anyway, here is another depressing little poem I wrote about a year ago during some hard times.
My name is Anne,
and I have many friends,
but I wish somebody was proud of me.
So I do what I can,
but the work never ends,
just so someone will be proud of me.
I try to be pure,
I try to be good.
Macho or demure,
I do what I should,
all because I was sure,
that somebody would,
be proud of me.
My mother suffered.
an unfulfilled pride,
not her own, but from others,
and often she cried,
that she hoped she would hear,
in the moment she died,
from the One,
who was proud of her.
Now, I know that I suffer,
a similar fate,
and though I am tired,
and though it is late,
these words will not keep,
these thoughts will not wait,
in the hope that somebody is proud of me.
So I fill all their needs,
but no pat on the head,
and I solve all their problems,
in life or in bed,
like my mother,
who soon will be dead,
with no one to say they are proud of her.
It's too late for me,
but I leave you this charge:
that I'm not alone,
in the world at large.
Their needs are like mine,
and it just takes a word,
but their hearts remain empty,
until it is heard.
We each have the power,
to bring them some peace,
to quiet their fears,
to make their tears cease.
So whenever you see them,
in bar or in pew,
let them know that you're proud,
and I'll be proud of you..
Ah, now don't cry! Its just a poem and I'm all better now! See... :)
The Subversive #15
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