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Its been a growing time for me since the last edition of The Subversive. Parts of myself that I thought were intrinsic melted and reformed into whole new patterns. The process of transition is the process of life. When we cease to evolve, we die.
As background for this editorial I want to set up a few things. First of all, there are only six more issues of The Subversive, including this one. Why six? Well that will just complete the serialization of my Transition Diary that started in issue number 2. That diary is my subjective story - the first person experiences I felt on the way from there to here. But subjectivism isn't the only perspective. There is also the objective view, which supports and counterpoints the subjective one, creating resonance and dissonance in which we find meaning. In a sense, it is the friction between reason and emotion.
In my case, this objective view has been provided, issue by issue, through my editorials, which have both the benefit if hindsight and also the scope of a larger world view, compared to the more narrow perspective at the beginning of my journey. This is the same dynamic relationship that occurs in fictional stories as well. In fact, it forms the heart of the Theory of story developed by my writing partner, Chris, and myself over the last 14 years. It has proven itself invaluable, almost magical, in its ability to predict feelings and reasons that will crop up over the course of a story. In fact, it is to be released as software on June 11th, after four years of program development at a cost of over one million dollars in R & D. Already it is being tested and embraced by Academy Award winning writers, directors, and nationally know educators with Phd's in Narrative Theory.
All this is said to pave the way to the use of the Theory in the stories of our own lives. In fact, we can each cast ourselves as the Main Character in our own story. And, using the software, can actually see the real reasons why we justify, and why we conflict with others. But even without the software, the theory itself holds many valuable lessons in interpersonal relationships, and that is what I learned to appreciate most fully in the past two months since losing my boyfriend Andy (as emotionally described in the last edition of The Subversive).
In our personal journeys, there are four Domains through which we must travel. The Main Character Domain, where we learn about ourselves. The Obstacle Character Domain, where we learn about others. The Subjective Story Domain, where we learn about the relationships between people. And the Objective Story Domain, where we learn about the relationships between things.
There are many approaches to this journey. We might linger a bit in each Domain, then move on to another, each time increasing our understanding, each time taking a different path through the four, sometimes even doubling back and resonating between only two Domains a few times before moving on.
As for my approach (and the approach of many gender folk) I started in the Main Character Domain and still haven't left it yet. That's why I have trouble with relationships. I still don't understand others, much less the relationships between people. But that is where my growth has recently been, and I think I'm just about finished diddling with myself and am ready to look toward others.
This is a good thing - for when the story software comes out, it will be national press. For example, locally, KCOP, channel 13, will be videotaping an interview with the company president and myself next Tuesday on the product. And toward the end of May, Wired magazine is doing a feature spread on us - focussing not on the product, but on the people who created it (Chris, Steve, and me).
It is this sudden celebrity that I have craved for so long, that scares me the most. After all, today I am just another woman in the word. Next year I could be "that transsexual from Burbank who came up with that cockamamie theory"! What a paradox - to spend all this time trying to fit in, only to face the potential of a life of not fitting in for a whole different reason!
So, I wonder, how will this affect my relationships? How will it alter the closeness of my friends or the freedom of just walking down a street or eating at a fast food joint?
To get a grip on this (and to further resolve my feelings about Andy) I went to the story theory model to see what I could learn about relationships. After all, there are relationships between characters in a story, and if the theory really has all the answers then I should be able to look to it for some clue as to my situation as well.
There were answers. Here they are:
Picture a square divided in fourths - four little squares that make up one bigger one. In the theory we call that a "quad". Now imagine where you might put two people in that square if you drew it on the driveway and told them each to stand in one of the little squares, but not the same one. They might line up any of three ways: diagonally, "vertically" or "horizontally". In fact, that kind of "pairing" forms the basis of the story theory's inter-character relationship model.
Each kind of pairing has a different meaning. Diagonal pairs are called "Dynamic" pairs because they have the greatest energy to them. Horizontal pairs are called "Companion" pairs because they are most alike. Vertical pairs are called "Dependent" pairs because they require each other.
Four squares, three pairs. Each a different kind of relationship. We've all seen Dynamic relationships where two people are constantly sparring with each other. "Personality conflicts" we call them. In fact, this is the relationship we all enter into whenever we fight with each other. But Dynamic pairs can also have a good side. When two opposing forces come together, they can form a synthesis and create something greater than the sum of the parts - new - serendipitous. When someone plays "devil's advocate" or the "loyal opposition" this is their relationship.
Looking back at the quad of four mini squares, we can see that there are two diagonals, top right to lower left and top left to lower right. One represent the positive Dynamic relationship, the other the negative.
Similarly, there can be positive or negative Dependent relationships. When each person complements the other - providing strengths to fill in the others' weaknesses, it is a positive dependent relationship. Each can watch the other's back. But when each party REQUIRES the other to feel complete, then it is a negative Dependent (or co-dependent) relationship, where each fears the loss of the other. Again, there is a left vertical pair in the quad and right vertical pair.
Finally, there are the positive and negative Companion relationships (horizontal pairs). Positive companions, just as the name sounds, work together, side by side, toward a common direction. But negative companions have no cross talk, and although they don't conflict, they also don't interact. They work independently of each other as if the other did not exist. I'm sure we all know of relationships of this nature as well.
Now, maybe we haven't sat around and figured all this out before. I know I didn't. However, in designing the story software, that was my job. So, as long as I was getting paid to do it for story, I just applied it to myself as well.
BUT... as clarifying as that model might be, if it was really all THAT simple, it would be common knowledge already. In fact, it gets more complicated because both parties to a relationship seldom see it as being the same kind. For example, a young man is going to the movies with his girlfriend. His little brother tries to tag along. To the little brother, he and his big brother are companions. To the big brother, the little brother is a dependent. LB sees it as a horizontal pair, BB sees it as vertical. The distance between the loose ends is a diagonal, which we just figured out was Dynamic and that means the discrepancy between the two views leads to conflict.
Just realizing that both parties don't see relationships the same, multiplies the number of possible relationships times itself, (from six to 36!). That difference in perspective is what caught me with Andy at the end. I look back now and see how much of the feelings I was enjoying I actually manufactured myself. There was never any pro-action on his part to be with me or take me anywhere. I thought he was just laid back. In fact, he wasn't motivated. Still I saw the relationship as co-dependent (which is that kind of love when your heart sings and nothing else matters, when its on a positive lean) when in reality, he saw it as companion. So, he though we were VERY close friends in a sense, and I thought we were soul mates. Who was right? Who was wrong? Neither one of us. He is my soulmate, I am his friend. But soulmate (dependent) is a higher energy state that companion and as such requires more of an emotional commitment. For a true soulmate, that commitment comes easily - emotional trust - but for the friend, it has too many costs attached (legitimately so) and they would actually hurt themselves to make that kind of a commitment that to them is truly not warranted by the degree of feeling for the other party.
So, Andy and I are friends now. We have downgraded the relationship to what he always saw it as. I still love him, I imagine I always will, because from my Main Character Domain, Andy as Obstacle Character appears to be my soulmate, and denying would be lying to myself. Still, from HIS Main Character perspective, I (as Obstacle Character) am his friend, and that could last forever. Or could it?
You see, if THAT was all there was to the model in the software, EVERYONE would have figured it out by now. But there's more. (Didn't you know!)
So far we have been looking at relationships between people as fixed states - different perspectives that are constant for all time. But none of us are unchangeable. The "me" that is now is not the "me" that was five years ago. Definitely not! And yet, both personalities are still a part of "me" overall.
As people grow (grow better or grow worse!) they shift in the paradigm. A relationship that begins as companion can grow into love and then into hatred moving from horizontal to vertical to diagonal. Many couples that start out deeply in love in a dependent relationship wake up one day to find the "magic" or "spark" has gone out of their lives. They find themselves merely companions and assume that they can never get the love back.
In truth, we don't go just once around the track. Just as we visit the four Domains in different orders that are constantly changing, so too the relationships between people are constantly shifting through the three kinds of pairs, both positive and negative. And, when we recall that each party can see the relationship differently, the possibilities not only for defining the relationship at the moment, but describing the dynamic forces or wave forms of progression become almost limitless.
One partner may have a slow wave (low frequency) modulation through their path in the quad. The other partner may have a faster (higher frequency) shift in pattern. They drift in and out of phase, sometimes being harmonious, other times in disharmony. And the two waves synthesize and blend into a complex wave pattern of relationship growth that appears absolutely chaotic. But its not. And, in fact, the story theory model can predict the pattern.
But even that would be something that could have been figured out, yet it is still more complex that that. We've been talking only about one single quad. But in the theory model, each of us focuses on the attitudes and methods described by sixteen different quads! Some pertain to our motivations. Some to our methods. Some to our means of evaluating our situation. Others describe our purposes or goals. We might conflict with someone in terms of divergent motivations, yet be companion in terms of some of our purposes. When it comes to methods, we may be dependent upon one another. And each of these has its own frequency and sequence, seen differently by each party in the relationship! Now, add a few more people into a relationship like parents and children and bosses and friends, and suddenly the whole issue takes on enormous proportions.
Still, the model handles all that. That's what it was designed to do for stories. And that's also what it has done for me.
However, just because I built the durn thing doesn't mean I have all the answers. In fact, I'm constantly surprised by what the program's Story Engine has to say. Nonetheless, even when I am most surprised, it always rings true.
So, there I was, focussing on little ol' me. Taking the Main Character Domain to the max at the exclusion of all else. And now, I've seen as deeply into myself as I can or care to. Its time to move on. Five more issues of The Subversive and we reach the end of the Main Character's side of the story. That will make 24 issues total. Just like the story theory where there are 24 scenes in each of four acts. My diary has been presented in in three acts (a trilogy) and the fourth act is the objective overview of the editorials.
I have to admit, I didn't plan it that way. But just as we get a sense of the coming climax of a story as the third act ends and the four begins, I now stand and the crest of issue 18 and look toward the last six. Will the story end in success or failure? Will it resolve my personal problems as well? For now, I just don't want to lose sight of the fact that the climax is upon me as the software will be released on June 11. That will be the success or failure. And my ongoing relationship living at home with my "wife" and two children while trying to develop a lasting dependent relationship with a man in my life will resolve into a personal sense that it all turned out for good or for bad. All of these things are coming together in a most magical way. If I didn't know better, I could almost swear I feel the hand of an author at work in the story of my life. But what of the next story as I explore the next Domain? Well, you as I will just have to wait for the sequel . For that, as they say, is another story.
Subj: Subversive #17
To: Melanie XX
I am new on AOL and I wanted to stop by and thank you for the Subversive. I also wanted to comment on Marla's editorial. Much of what I have experienced since coming to terms with myself tells me that I am and have always been a woman, despite the physical "evidence" to the contrary.
Ever since I revealed myself to a psychologist friend, she has continued to hammer in the idea that won't be a "real" woman until I have surgery and get all the legal BS dealt with. Add to this the opinion of many people that even surgery wouldn't make me a woman, and you begin to see how that even the "one true path" doesn't necessarily go anywhere..
My fondest desire would be to wake up tomorrow morning with my husband next to me, my daughter sleeping in her room, and to realize that I just woke from one hell of a nightmare. Hopefully at least part of my dream will become a reality. Yet none of it would matter if it were not for what I already am.
Subj: Re: Relationships
To: Melanie XX
This is a strange passion isn't it? You have achieved something that many of us only dream of. And not only in the final step you took. You did the ultimate, to all of the closet and out TV's: You achieved not only passability, but beauty.
Those in the "drag community" are constantly cutting on each other, mostly out of envy. While they many times can be sexy, pretty is much harder. So somebody like you, is the ultimate target of envy to a TV. They love you cause you show that it can be done, and they hate you cause you remind them that THEY haven't or worse can't do it.
Beauty is a curse.
Subj: Re: Relationships
From: Melanie XX
Thank you for your letter. What kind things to say! No one can keep a good heart if they worry about being an inspiration to others. Just is bad is trying to trash one's own image to get out of the inspiration business. The best way I've found to chart the course between egotism and vindictiveness is just to be myself for myself. Then, people who like what I am will gravitate toward me and those who don't will gravitate away. In fact, that's the best way to go through life for everyone. Rather than changing one's actions to hide one's true desires in order to bring people closer, it is much better to let one's true self be known and let nature take its course. There is not an honest human soul born into this world that will not attract its own kind.
Back to Table of Contents
And now for the next installment in a serialized presentation of the book:
From Journeys & Transitions by
May 11, 1991
Just a thought. Looking through the paper today, I saw an ad for a Hummingbird Feeder. I thought, wouldn't it be more interesting if someone would invent a Hummingbird Eater, that would chow down on the little fellas every time they were lured in by the bait.
May 12, 1991
I went to one of my favorite fast food stands today, after having been out in the sun which resulted in sunburned shoulders. The nice-looking man at the counter asked me what I wanted, and I just ordered French fries. He called out to the cook, "One order of fries for the pretty, red lobster..." Pretty, red lobster?
May 14, 1991
Sometimes I worry about losing the elusive edge of my creativity to the encroachment of hormones on my mind. What rare swirls of thought might be diluted in the psyche when the whole world tilts to accommodate a new inner perspective?
June 1, 1991
I got a call from a friend today who wanted to come over and do some work at my video facility. This is someone who knows about my past as Dave, but has only met me as Melanie. I told him I didn't know if he'd want to come over because today I was "going fuzzy". I explained to him that meant I was letting whiskers grow back in so I could do electrolysis. He said that it would bother him. "After all", he clarified, "you're only fuzzy on the outside."
June 5, 1991
Yesterday one of the people working for me at my video business gave me a message they had taken on the phone. It was from Andy. I haven't seen him at all in perhaps six months. Apparently, he had called just to touch base. So, I called him back and we arranged to have dinner in a few days. And last Sunday at my support group meeting, I let it be known to the friend of someone I liked that I was interested in their friend. I hope word gets back to him and perhaps he give me a call. I don't know where this is all headed. I'm not sure if I'm looking for relationships or just looking for friends. Actually, to me, the difference is negligible.
My friend Juniko is coming over tomorrow. Even as my long time friendship with her husband Mark has faded, my new friendship with her has grown. What I like about her most is her heart that cares so much for the feelings of others. In fact, that's what I care about most in people: whether or not they sympathize and empathize with their fellow human beings. Not that I expect anyone to be an Albert Schwitzer or Mother Theresa, mind you. I don't look for someone to give all their time to taking care of others. Lord knows, my mother did that, and although I admire her courage, I don't admire the way she sacrificed. Because when you diminish yourself too far, you have nothing left to give to others. You've blown it all too quickly. You need the opportunity to keep growing as an individual in order to have a surplus to share. It is those people who are good to themselves, who take care of themselves first but only until they have established a surplus - then they share: it is those people that mean the most to me.
June 6, 1991
A letter to a friend sent via Prodigy:
Hi Tawny! It seems that at the moment (as has been mostly the case) I am L.A. specific. The farthest I will get is the Grand Canyon with the family later in the summer. Of course, this trip will be a kick as it will be our first vacation with me as Melanie.
I was cleaning out the garage today. A big 2 1/2 garage in the house I recently inherited from my mother. My step dad recently moved out of the country, leaving all his and my mom's possessions. In addition, this was my grandmother and grandfather's house just previous to my mother dying. (they died just after her, but she had been living here with my stepfather, taking care of them for the past 12 years.)
Anyway, each family left a whole truckload of things packed from floor to ceiling. Add to this all the stuff from our family when we moved in here and you get the idea. I have been moving it out for a massive garage sale. Along the way, I have found old family heirlooms from my great-grandparents, personal notes from my mother (some to me) an more than a few old photos.
Faces of times past smile up from the frozen tableaus as if they had not gone away. I stumbled on pictures of my wife, my baby son (now twelve) and myself (as Dave). Strange how the memories of feelings and emotions well up as if just felt yesterday. I think back to those times and search my memory for an accurate picture of how it was to be Dave in those days. Was I full of hope? Was I frustrated by the male role? Did I know there was something wrong, or did I just develop an awareness borne of despair. Somehow that mindset eludes me and leaves me feeling as if those days never really happened at all.
At home, there seems to be little difference between the way I felt as Dave and the way I feel as Melanie. I am treated almost exactly as I was before with only practical limitations. So at home, I often wonder what I have gained. I still do not experience the protective arms of a man. I still do not get the opportunity to immerse myself in an environment where I am treated continually as the feminine person I am.
And yet, away from home, on the job or visiting with friends, I quickly slip into the comfortable shape of the female role. And it is then that I know again the joy that is possible in this role that was not possible in this role that was not possible in the other. Ah, but I wax poetic. Still, I don't know if I will be glad when the photos are finally done, or sulk because the past is finally gone away. And on that cheery note, I'll leave you to your own muses!
June 7, 1991
While I was cleaning out the garage today, I stumbled on some pictures of Mary, Keith as a baby, and myself as Dave. Strange how the memories of feelings and emotions well up as if it was just yesterday. I think back to those times and search my memory for an accurate picture of how it was to be Dave in those days. Was I full of hope? Was I frustrated by the male role? Did I know there was something wrong? Somehow the mindset eludes me and leaves me feeling as if those days never really happened at all.
June 14, 1991
I'm alone in the house tonight. I just finished watching an episode of Start Trek: the Next Generation. This was a story about a telepath who had always felt driven away from others because of the flood of thoughts that crowded into his mind. He is assigned to communicate with a living starship that has gone into orbit around a sun that is about to super nova. The starship wants to end its life because the telepathic crew that manned her had died eons ago from radiation that passed through the hull. Simply, it was grief stricken and lonely. Ultimately, the telepath determines to stay on board, for here was a single voice so strong, so clear that it blocked out all the rest. Both their problems had been solved. The starship had companionship and purpose, and the telepath had focus and clarity.
I watched most of the program without much impact, but at the end, as the two of them sailed off together, I cried. I realized I had been hiding a similar inequity within myself. As much as I love Mary and as much as we have been through together, there is a hole in my life that only a relationship with a man can fill. I find it unsettling that the situation around me is so stable that any change that could lead to a resolution of this inequity has ground to a halt. The very aspects of this relationship that are most positive are also what plague me with this depression.
It is so sad to realize that Mary and I just don't click in this emotional area. And yet I love her. But I love her because I know her. Still, I don't feel that blending of two souls into one.
I guess it's time to start looking.
June 19, 1991
I started work at Screenplay Systems two days ago to continue working with Chris on Mental Relativity and our story software. This is the first time since full-time (over a year and a half ago) that I have worked with such a large group of people on a regular basis. There are twenty employees here, some of whom knew me as Dave, some who met me as Melanie but know about Dave, and some who only just met me as Melanie.
Things have gone wonderfully! I'm making new friends with several of the women in the company. Strange, as I think of it, I have not said more than a few words to any of the men. You don't suppose that means anything, do you?
July 13, 1991
I just saw my doctor for my quarterly hormone checkup and told him to start the countdown. I am forwarding my letter of introduction to Biber on Monday. Now its just raising the money.
July 16, 1991
Mary is helping me raise the rest of the money for surgery. She is listing come collectable ceramics that came from my parents' defunct gift shop on Prodigy to add to the surgery fund. Looking at the finances as they currently stand, I think I can pull it all together in about six months - just in time for my 39th birthday!
July 23, 1991
Gone is the pain and frustration. Gone is the uncertainty and self-consciousness. And added are joy and freedom and fulfillment in even the simplest things of life. Every breath is an experience to be savored, and every day holds more completeness of being than a lifetime in my previous role. I am a woman now in every sense of the word, save one. And that final aspect will be dealt with before my 39th birthday.
1991 has been a growing time: a chance to spread my wings and soar on winds so new, and yet, familiar. My mannerisms, voice - even my manner of thinking have congealed into a different cast at the subconscious level. I no longer worry about any of them; they are simply a part of me. It is not so much that I have become a different person, but rather that I have finally uncovered the real me that was always there. And when I did, I discovered a woman truly lived there. I see now that I always thought like a woman. Or perhaps I should say I always thought AS a woman. For my brain is configured in a female pattern and cannot imagine what it is like to think as a male. Life is better now than I ever could have imagined. My family remains with me, my career is skyrocketing, my financial security is at an all time high. In short, I could not feel better about my life than I do right now.
It is on this note of optimism that I begin the countdown to the end of the journey.
July 24, 1991
What amazes me most is how the joy of interpersonal relationships has become the focus of my life. I had always shied away from any action that could put me in danger of facing rejection. I suppose the rejection I felt as a child left so powerful a scar that it overshadowed any other desire or motivation.
From my earliest memory, my mother had worked to instill in me a sense of self-worth. Problem was, as soon as I entered kindergarten, no one else shared that opinion. My natural reactions and instincts were diametrically opposed to the role I was expected to fill. And worse, I was ridiculed for not behaving in a "proper" manner.
Whenever I responded from the heart, I was cut from the herd and left to the wolves by my supposed peers. I quickly learned that if I was to get by at all, I must never act upon my feelings, but "translate" those feelings into a form that was acceptable. So I watched and I learned and I consciously followed a course of action to build a second set of manifestations.
I would watch how the other boys would answer a question or the moves they would make in a sport game. And I would practice these approaches consciously, trying to approximate the externally visible shell without the inner motivation to drive it.
And it worked very well. By the time I left elementary school, I had eradicated almost all visible traits of the way I actually felt. Problem was, the feelings still remained.
As early as age seven I was immersed in fantasies of "being a girl", and dressed in women's clothing whenever I could do it on the sly. And yet, I never connected the desire to be female with the rejection I felt from my supposed peers.
In essence then, this transition has not so much been a journey of "becoming" anything, but rather a journey of "uncovering" who I really was all along. And as this process continues, I am constantly surprised at aspects of my mind that I had no idea existed. Still, in looking back, I can trace the thread of each aspect as a very real motivation that influenced my decisions throughout my life. Once this journey of self discovery had settled into an ongoing effort, my fear of rejection gradually gave way to a need for acceptance. To be more precise, I began to wonder if my peers would accept me in this new role when they had rejected me in the other. Lo and behold, they did! Mental blocks crumbled, and I found myself looking for ways to begin relationships with a whole new stable of friends; to put myself into previously terrifying situations that had the potential of good times with others.
My social activities broadened. My reintegration into society had begun. Along this line, I found myself in the company of my old friend Chris last night, as I joined him at his favorite night club in the attempt to learn how to dance.
I have never danced. Ever. The closest I had ever come, was shuffling around a ballroom floor with my date to the senior prom. We had been fixed up by a mutual friend so we wouldn't be left out of this high school memory, so there was no friendship between us. I think we "danced" two numbers - slow dances that neither of us knew the steps to.
Slowly we turned, step by step. And then we sat. And that is the extent of my dancing experience. Yet here I was, in a crowded club with a hundred witnesses to my ineptitude, and it didn't matter! There was no fear of humiliation, no worry of rejection. Instead just and excitement and anticipation that ran through my being like a live wire: I was to become a dancer!
I tried to imagine Dave doing this and could not. If I had been Dave at that moment, I wouldn't have even been there. And if through some trickery I had been shanghaied, I would have stayed in the shadows, watching, yearning, and hurting.
But I was not Dave, I was Melanie, and Melanie was out to have a good time. So, there I was: hopping, stomping, kicking, turning, all to the thumping beat of country music. It was heaven. There was a class that night by an instructor of steps, and learning how was half the fun. I wasn't alone: bunches of people were twisting the wrong way and losing the beat. Of course, there were those with more experience: the exhibition types who have regular dance partners, practice twice a week, and look like their shoes are made of helium.
Chief among these was Chris himself, who glided through several different numbers with his dance partner, infecting all who watched with the joy of appreciation.
The patrons of this club were so friendly, so mannered, it put aside the fear of sleaziness that had limited my ventures into nightclubs to three previous, ever.
But what was more amazing, this was an open club. Men dancing with men. Women dancing with women. And even women dancing with men! Joining us that night for a first trip there as well, was Arlene, an old friend of Chris' and old acquaintance of mine. Since we were the novices, we spent most of the evening dancing together.
So here I was, a transsexual who is straight as a woman, in a gay bar, with my gay friend, dancing all night with another woman! Then, I went home to my wife!!!! I LOVE this life!!!!
I have for some time been wondering what lean my sexuality will take when I finally complete my surgery. In a previous life, I had not really been attracted to anyone, but rather riveted to women as the model of what I wanted to be. My brief relationship with Andy almost two years ago showed me a whole new side of intimate relations. There was such a sense of completion to be held in the arms of someone both protective and gentle; strong and kind.
But a relationship with a woman is something I new nothing about. "What?!", say you. "You were married for 16 years! Still are!" True, but that relationship was always perfunctory in an intimate sense. More a satiation of hormones than a celebration of uniting. So the question remained, "Would I be interested in a relationship with a woman?"
I had almost wanted to believe I would be, since I have learned to see bi-sexuality as a more open lifestyle than remaining shackled to taboos. And with this question in mind, I danced with Arlene. I am not interested in women. As friends, yes. God, yes! But as lovers? No. Definitely not. Not because I couldn't, if I wanted to. But because there is no spark. Dancing with her was just like spending time with Mary. I loved the conversation, reveled in the sharing, but had no driving attraction to be intimate.
Now, Mary and I have a most unique relationship. We sleep in the same bed, we snuggle together at night. We take turns curling up on the other's chest. But it is not sexual, it is sharing. And I suppose that kind of close physical contact is possible between myself and many women, and may even happen during the remaining course of my life. But there is no spark to it, merely the blending of two human souls, huddled together against the imposed isolation of our separate bodies.
But then, I danced with Chris.... Do you know all those fairy tales about the young princess being swept of her feet in a fantasy realm, enraptured and transfixed by the eyes of her prince? Well, forget it! I stumbled along clumsily, staggering backwards and pulling as he led. And yet, the feeling was the same. I mean, I lost track of time, the other dancers blended into the background. Even the music seemed to disappear, or rather transform into direct stimulation of the heart. I truly felt like a princess, awkward as I was, gazing into Chris' eyes and becoming lost in them.
Yes, Chris is gay. Dispel, however, any popular misconceptions about his mannerism and demeanor. He is as masculine as a man can be, but without bravado. He is that strong and gentle type who protects you from your own ineptitude with a patience and confidence that flood your soul. But being gay, I, as a woman, hold no interest in the intimate arena to him.
Nevertheless, as I gazed into his eyes, and he into mine, I felt like I was melting: something fluid being molded and formed by his benevolent guidance as we danced. I literally phased out of reality. Time and space ceased to have meaning. There was only the feeling that seemed to go on forever.
And then, it was over. The music stopped, we left the floor, and I knew. I am a heterosexual female. That is neither good nor bad. It simply is, and the importance is: now I know.
July 26, 1991
I can see it now: a new rage sweeping the nation: Gender Jokes! "Why did the transsexual cross the gender line? To get to the other side!" Saints pervert (oops!) PRESERVE us!
July 27, 1991
A sad and lonely day. Not so much in an active, but a passive sense. Mary and the kids are off to San Diego to visit my natural father, John. They are going without me as he has forbidden me in his house.
My father has always been an unemotional man. I have never seen him shout for joy or express anger. He is an educated man, having worked on top secret engineering projects for the Navy as a civilian for thirty years.
When he and my mother divorced around my first birthday, he made a commitment to be part of my life. Even though he lived as much as 150 miles away, he would drive to see me EVERY Saturday until my mother remarried when I was seven.
I was always impressed by this loyalty to me, and felt so proud that he loved me enough to make that journey. On the rare occasion business took him out of town, he always wrote. His letters, like his emotional side, were practically non-existent, sometimes consisting of less than half a dozen words. But they were special words to me: my DAD's words! Even after my mother remarried, my Dad still came every other week until I was about twelve, then once a month until I was 18. In my eighteenth years he told me that I was a man now and I should visit HIM every other time: a fair deal!
Eventually, we saw each other twice, sometimes only once a year. But each trip was a thrill: to visit MY Dad! In fact, I met Mary on a plane flight to San Diego to see him. When I was married, we continued the tradition, and introduced the kids to the" San Diego Trip", which was greatly anticipated.
I told my Dad over the phone about my transition almost a year ago. I had expected that his logic oriented life (much like Spock in Star Trek) would revel in my self-discovery, or at worst understand the necessity of it. But the opposite was true: his reaction was cold and unyielding. He said nothing directly opposed to my plans, but his demeanor was deathly calm, even for him. Some months later, I had a break in my hectic feature film editing schedule, and finally had the opportunity to visit him with the family.
At this time, Mary had not adjusted to the new me, and I was still appearing as Dave in her presence (although this was becoming increasingly difficult). The San Diego Trip was extremely uncomfortable for all of us (save the kids, who remained blissfully unaware). I explained my reasons to the infinite resistance of a logical mind that has already pre-decided its position. Nevertheless, I felt that things had gone well for an initial confrontation, that was not supposed to be a confrontation at all.
In the Spring, I called my Dad to make another semi-annual visit. Much to my surprise, he informed me that he did not wish to see me as Melanie with Mary and the kids. I could come, but I had to do it as Dave. I was thunderstruck! Why was he doing this to me?
Perhaps I should have gone like that, just to show how impossible it would have been to pull it off anymore. But at that time, I was still struggling to feel comfortable in my new identity, and could not handle the strain of trying to undo for a day what I had just spent a year trying to achieve! So we reached an agreement, that he would meet me at a halfway point between Burbank and San Diego to talk. In addition, Mary and the kids could go down by themselves.
I arrived at the designated point: Capistrano, where the sparrows have returned home for centuries. And here was I, trying to accomplish the same thing!
We met at a restaurant, just outside the Mission. I had made special efforts to wear my most feminine, yet un-brassy outfit: a pink lace-trimmed tank top with white, knee-high pleated skirt. I felt that if he saw the sincerity and correctness of my choice, he would reconsider.
The lunch went well, we spoke of many things, emotional and situational. Afterwards, we toured the Mission, something I had not done in well over twenty years. I felt so confident as we walked back to the car, then drove to the restaurant where I had parked.
We stopped and a moment of dead silence descended upon us. Momentarily, he spoke, and in the same calm manner I had always admired, forbid me to enter his house. He understood, he said, the points that I had made (yet, I wonder if he FELT them...). He went so far as to compliment me on how eloquently I had expressed myself, yet he was not swayed. Again, he had made up his mind before we even met. Though somehow, by going through the motions, he had assuaged his feelings of obligation, as if just tracing the duty fulfilled it. I began to wonder if ALL of his weekly trips were just more of the same: the appearance of duty to salve his own soul.
I tried to keep calm: after all, that was the cornerstone of his example. I could not. Tears overwhelmed me. I said that I'd best leave, exited the car, and didn't look back until I was well on the freeway. I cried half the way home.
So it was against this backdrop that I waved goodbye to my family at the train station in Los Angeles, as they went to visit the man who had disowned me.
I tried so hard to busy myself with housework. I even went to and cleaned up my office, Xeroxed portions of this diary, and washed the car by hand. But my mind kept returning to the sad paradox of it all.
Finally, I could take no more, and broke down in tears. I cried several times during the day, and as the afternoon wore on, felt increasingly alone. No one to call, no one to share with. No one to love me.
Mary had called twice, once to say they had arrived safely, another time to report they were leaving for home. I miss them so much, yet they have only been gone a few hours... but without me....
It is 8:50 pm, and in ten minutes, I am to leave to pick them up at the station - the end of the kid's first train trip (and I could not be there to enjoy it with them). In my heart, I cannot help but hope that in seeing how well-adjusted the children are and how accepting Mary has become, that he will reconsider his position. After all, he is nothing if not a reasonable man, yet his expressed perspective holds no logic in it.
NOTE: Even while my birth father could not accept me at all, my step-father who had raised me since age seven kept in touch from Israel. As mentioned earlier, he had emigrated there to be close to the land of Christ. As a born again Christian, he had told me that changing my sex was "an abomination", yet told me he would still support me as his son, even if I had the surgery and even if I regretted it. Still, in our conversations by phone and letter he continues to refer to me as Dave, and does not wish to be confronted with reasons why he might want to rethink his position. In fact, he sent me a rather blunt letter addressing that fact, which I responded to as follows:
August 24, 1991
Hi Dad! Just got your letter today. I'm glad to hear things are going well with you. In your letter you mentioned that my attempts to change your mind would only hurt me. On the contrary, giving up hope that you might change your mind would hurt me. As long as I remain steadfast in my faith that people can change, that their knowledge can grow, that their decisions can be re-evaluated, I will not be hurt, because there is always that chance.
The moment we make up our minds that we will no longer consider any information, observation or further thought on a matter, that is the moment we are open to prejudice, misconception and perception that drifts farther and farther from God's reality. In essence, when we say we will not change our minds, we are saying we know as much as God does about a given subject.
This is not my belief. I am absolutely sure that God knows more about everything than I do. And I am convinced that my knowledge of his world and his word will continue to grow. So I never say that "this is the way it always will be". I only say, "this is the way it is now."
The transition from a male role to a female role has not been undertaken with a closed mind. Rather, I question myself every day as to whether all that I know still indicates this as the best course for my life. So far, that has been the case.
When a child is born blind, it is not a mistake of God. There is a reason why it happened. We may not see the reason. We may NEVER see the reason, but we MUST believe that God does.
And yet, even though we admit to his divine wisdom in the matter, if an operation is available to give that child sight, we do not withhold it because his blindness was the will of God. Rather, we believe that the knowledge of how to correct that blindness was inspired by the will of God. And we use that knowledge to give the child sight.
The body is a wondrous thing. We learn more of its mysteries every day. When we learn how the blood is circulated, we have moved our minds closer to an appreciation of God's design for the physical world.
Research today, VALID research, has determined that male and female brains are indeed different. The intricacies of this are not yet fully understood, but there is a difference in the physical make-up of the brain.
This is independent of biochemistry, meaning it is not dependent upon hormones. Young girls think like girls, not boys, from the moment they are born, not just after puberty. Research shows that all fetuses start out in a female pattern and continue as such if they are to be girls, but alter if they are to be boys.
In the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, the developing male child is supposed to get a flush of testosterone over the brain in order to trigger a male development. If this does not happen, the brain will continue to develop in a female pattern.
When this hormone flush does not happen, the child is born with a birth defect, no less different than a child born blind. It is not a mistake of God, but a mysterious part of his plan. And today, our knowledge allows a correction of this birth defect.
There are only two choices:: to change the body or to change the mind. There have been many attempts to change the mind: Injection of male hormones - but the hormone levels of the transsexual are completely normal to begin with, and the injections just make the body more masculine, the mind remains female. Electric shock therapy - but the transsexual is not crazy, and all that has been accomplished is to create disturbed transsexuals who still have female minds. Psychotherapy - but there is not a single transsexual on record who has been "cured" by this means.
If you judge a person by his body, then the transsexual is a man and always will be. but if you judge them by their mind, in essence, by their soul, then the transsexual is not a man but a woman. To me, God will accept of deny me not because of the body I was born with, but because of who I am inside.
The flesh is unimportant, save for the ability to get by in this world better or worse. So the blind child gets the operation and so does the transsexual.
From the moment I first went to kindergarten, I knew I was different. In my first week I acted without thinking, just as myself, just as I felt. But I was rejected, ridiculed and exiled. Being a smart child, I quickly learned that I could act more like I was expected to by watching the other boys and mimicking their actions.
Over the years, I built up a whole range of knowledge about how to act in most situations. but I was always afraid of new things I had not done. I compensated for this by being a leader, a director, a boss, just so no one would dare disagree because I was in charge. But this brought me no fulfillment, just a sense that there must be something else.
By the age of six I was having fantasies of being a girl. I kept them to myself. I never had any desire for men, but I never had any desire for women either. I just looked at pretty girls and said, "Wow, I wish I was her." I got married only because I was lonely. I had kids because it was expected, but sex for me was almost repugnant. Not because of Mary, but because I just didn't want to be the aggressor and I didn't want to make love to a woman. I STILL did not think about men.
After living for almost two years now as Melanie, I have made many female friends. And I think as they do, I truly do. We share, we chat, we laugh, we giggle. And we speak of feelings and hopes and relationships. The same friendly kind of activities I did not understand among men, I understand completely among women.
My instincts work now, for the first time in my life. And every day is filled with joy. Not just joy to be doing something, but simply the joy of being alive. I had no idea when I started this that there existed feelings as fulfilling as these.
No dad, I will not give up trying to convince you. For you are telling me that I should accept hurt, frustration, hidden pain, and unfulfillment just because I was born with a birth defect.
God does not make mistakes, Dad. And the knowledge he has given us to correct this birth defect should not be shunned and spit back in his face. I am correcting the physical problem and I am using the rare perspective He has given me as a blessing, not a curse.
I share with men and women the things I have learned by living as a man for 36 years, all the while not thinking as one. I teach those around me understanding and tolerance. And those I have touched have a deeper more complete and gentle feeling for themselves and their relationship with the other sex. This is my calling as a tool from God: to share the special vision He has given me.
So, Dad, I am not hurt by your lack of acceptance of what I do. I AM hurt by your lack of acceptance for what God has done. I say this not in anger or pettiness, but in a sincere and honest belief that you are denying a miracle. You are blinding yourself to a glorious work of God in the testimony of your own son.
Whether you call me son or daughter is unimportant except to indicate whether you judge my worth by my body or my soul. But I have the soul of a woman, Dad. I always did and I always will. You can change a male into an approximation of a female, but you can never change a woman into a man.
So, I close for now, my heart close to you, my hopes ever with you. Both for happiness and satisfaction in your life, and for God to help open your eyes to the glory of His work in my life. I love you, I respect you, and I will never give up hope.
(The Transition Diary series will continue in the next edition of The Subversive)
I urge you all to keep a diary of YOUR personal journey, whether it be through transition or not. The attitudes and even the order of events becomes cloudy through time, and I am continually amazed to re-read things that memory would have me believe had happened differently. If nothing else, it is a good way to see long-term patterns in yourself that you cannot see except in retrospect. That objective view alone is worth the inconvenience of keeping a journal.
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