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"Winding Up, Winding Down"
According to our Story Theory, a concise yet complete story will have 24 scenes. So far, there are 21 issues of The Subversive. The complete story of my transition has three scenes left.
I can feel the end of the effort coming closer. The way I look at the world these days - even WHAT I look at in the world (and in myself) is far different than on August 1, 1991 when I began my transition diary. I might never have noticed this difference if I was not confronted by my diary entries every time I prepare an edition of The Subversive. Things have a way of changing so gradually that you never notice your children growing or yourself aging until they are adults and you are elderly.
For a story to have meaning, it compares the Subjective journey of the individual struggling to choose the best course to the Objective evaluation of the path they take, step by step. The Subjective view of my transition is the diary itself, serialized in 24 scenes. The Objective view is provided by my monthly editorials (like this one) which offer the clarity of hindsight - the knowledge of how things came out.
The Objective story ends in an outcome of success or failure, while the Subjective story ends in a judgment of good or bad. The outcome simply states if the goal that was embarked upon at the beginning of the story is ultimately met. It doesn't matter if the Main Character decides along the way that the goal was not worth the cost or that it was actually the wrong goal. It doesn't matter it the goal itself is deplorable. Do they achieve it or not? That is the question.
In the Subjective story, goal is unimportant. Rather, the question is whether the Main Character finds personal fulfillment at the end of the journey. Sometimes, as in the movie "Rainman" the Main Character fails to achieve the goal (of getting the inheritance) yet grows to love his brother and therefore finds fulfillment. Obviously, the two sides of the story are tied together, not during the course of the story, but as the story resolves in the end. The meaning of the journey only becomes apparent as the story concludes, and this meaning is generated by a special nature to each of the last three scenes.
Now, when I started The Subversive, I made no conscious decision to fashion it as a compete story with both Subjective and Objective views. But due to my work in creating the story theory, my subconscious has taken care of that for me. In the last months I realized that my own journey was coming to an end. The first indication of this was over a year and a half ago in January 1993, when I wrote an editorial about "Homesteading". I described how, like the pioneers, we must eventually cross a final mountain range, see a beautiful valley that is so much like what we were looking for that we can say, "This is as far as I go; this is good enough for me."
Some of us lay down roots earlier in the journey than others, but unless we homestead somewhere we keep wandering forever. The journey is not over by reaching a specific destination; its over when we stop.
Even before that, I had written articles like "Remember to Forget", which described how we cannot become like someone just by being like they are, but only by also NOT being like they AREN"T. The key to this aspect of metamorphosis is that it takes time. So that even if we end our journey (as I did in January 1991) time must still pass while we build upon the ground we have chosen to homestead. This is what is happening to me right now.
In the past six months, I have come to realize that the Subjective Story contained in my diary was the journey. The Objective story in the editorials is my effort to homestead. Both will conclude with the 24th scene in which the outcome of success or failure and the judgment of good or bad will be determined.
As mentioned above, each of the last three scenes has a special nature that sets them apart from all the others. In the second to last scene (number 22) the Main Character makes a leap of faith to either remain steadfast in their resolve (like Job or James Bond) or to change tack (like Scrooge). To the Main Character it is a leap of faith because subjectively, they cannot tell if the obstacles they face are indicators that they are on the wrong path, or just tests to their tenacity that must be overcome.
The next to last scene (number 23) is the climax in which initial success or failure and good or bad are determined. However, just because it LOOKS like success and good does not mean it will stick. That occurs in the last scene ( number 24) in which a second evaluation is made that tells the audience if the Main Character's decision to remain steadfast or change was only a momentary victory (or defeat) or will continue into the foreseeable future. This is called the Author's Proof. In the story of our own lives, the author is God and he never divulges the ending in advance.
So, even as I write these words, I do not know what scenes 23 and 24 will hold. Will my story resolve with success or failure? Will I find be fulfilled or not? Certainly, things look headed toward the positive, but the unexpected has a way of proving to be the spoiler at the last moment. For example, in the first part of next month I will be on a plane from L.A. to Boston to put on a workshop in the theory for M.I.T. Certainly something could happen on that trip that would throw the outcome of this story into a whole different context.
In fact, context is the key to meaning. We can describe the nature of what something is all we want, but we cannot determine its meaning until it is placed in the context we intend to examine it. That is the essence of the Main Character's leap of faith: to try and understand not so much the issue as to grasp the context of the "big picture" and then evaluate what is best. And that is essence of THIS scene - issue number 22 - and the ultimate subject of this editorial.
I made a leap of faith this month - right on schedule. Did this happen because I was aware it would be appropriate to the timing of my transition story or is the story well timed because it parallels the natural course of my journey? Who knows. But I did make a leap of faith.
Now, leaps of faith come in two varieties: the cathartic and the subliminal. The cathartic leap of faith occurs when the Main Character is aware of the choice and must make it consciously, as occured in the Subjective story of my transition when I consciously committed myself to have the surgery. The moment I decided not to reconsider the issue no matter what, that was the Subjective leap of faith.
The subliminal leap of faith occurs when a Main Character is so focused on dealing with external issues that they dance around the problem, never realizing they have changed where they stand until the leap is over. This is the nature of my Objective leap of faith that occured in the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, I was in Montana, pushing the story development software based on the theory at a convention for educators. We were VERY well received. I had many one on one sessions with various teachers and writers. We also attended a banquet in honor of Peter Fonda for the 25th anniversary of "Easy Rider". He spoke for half an hour, then we all strolled accross campus of Minnesota State University where he teaches and screened Easy Rider with him in the Cinema Department Theatre. During the banquet, my partners and I ran into an editing instructor we had all had at various times at USC cinema. Last year we talked to him and my partners reminiced, but I said nothing as I did not want to give away my past. THIS year, as they talked over old times, I joined in the conversation and said, "You know, I ALSO had your class!" One of my partners said to me out of the side of his mouth, "Oh, you're going to start THAT", meaning that I was going to bring up my transition.
Now, my partners are great. We've talked about how word of my background might cut into sales of the software. But they basically told me to just do whatever feels right and they will support any approach to that I want to take.
So, the instructor said, "I'm thinking back, but I don't remember you...." I replied, "I wasn't very memorable." And then I proceeded to join in the fun of recalling things about his class. Completely different from last year when I pretended not to know him. I had never intended to bring up my transition. Do you know what the subliminal leap of faith was yet? Here's another example....
I had a wonderful conversation with the wife of another teacher we had gone sightseeing with at the previous year's convention in Philadelphia. We talked about kids and careers and her husband and Andy, my ex, and a number of things. It only occured to me afterward that I didn't know if the teacher or his wife knew about my past.
I wore a sexy evening gown to the banquet and checked out the competition, feeling up in the top percentile of good looking women. Any idea about what the subliminal leap of faith was?
I came back from Montana and realized I couldn't remember what the old male equipment used to feel like. I tried really hard, but for thelife of me, I can't recall what it used to feel like. And then I realized I could remember what it felt like EMOTIONALLY to be male, either. "Remember to Forget" I forgot!
That was the subliminal leap of faith. While I was concentrating on the software and getting an apartment in October and the organization and effort of building a life, I had shifted my position so that I had stopped thinking about my past unless I was focused on the past.
You see, up to this month, EVERYTHING I did brought my transition back to mind. I couldn't go to the store or meet a guy or do business without wondering if I would have to divulge my history at some point. This is different from consciously worrying if you are being read. I haven't had that feeling for a LONG time. BUT, I'm still doing touch up electrolysis. I only have those clear hairs left, and only around the sideburn area, but there are still enough there that I still do touch-up electrolysis once a week to get rid of most of them and then shave afterward which last me for another week. But, I had been wearing my hair so that it covers the sideburn area as it gets close to electrolysis time. I wasn't worrying about being read - just taking precautions.
It is THAT attitude that had to stop if I were ever to lead a normal life. There is a big difference between admitting that you used to be a guy and did electrolysis to still trying to hide aspects of yourself so others won't figure it out on their own. Electrolysis is an open-ended deal for most. It is for me. I imagine it will never be completely over. (I saw some women at the convention who had FAR more facial hair than I would if I stopped electrolysis right now! And nobody thought THEY were guys!)
You see, there is an image of perfection you start out with - the bikini clad beach bunny, eighteen years old, blond, buxom, flat stomach, etc. And you keep working toward that image telling yourself, "Don't quit now, you're not there yet." But once again we get back to homesteading. I'm 41 years old. Pretty, but not gorgeous. Small boobs, and a bit of a tummy (though I'm thin overall). Now just how long do I want to keep feeling like I haven't made it before I settle down and say, "I'm finally here!"?
THAT was the leap of faith. While I was concentrating on business, I stopped assessing how I compared to that image. I started enjoying who I was, not yearing for who I would become. And, as indicated, it has taken time to reach that point.
Now this doesn't mean I won't stop trying to improve myself, but simply that I like who I am, even though one can always become better. Its the difference between wanting something and desiring it. "Want" means "lack". That indicates you aren't satisfied until you get. But desire means you are satisfied with what you have even though you can imagine something better. Desire motivates you to improve yourself, but not at any cost. Want drive you to achieve no matter what the cost.
I'm through with want and out for desire. I like who I am; I like what I am. Yes, I will keep doing electrolysis, but not because I'm afraid someone will figure me out. No, just because I prefer a more hairless face. I'll still get that apartment of my own, not because I'm trying to get away from Mary and the kids because they make me feel like a man. No, just because I want to create a more feminine environment for myself.
Its all a matter of which side of the coin you are looking at. Half empty or half full? Am I driven to journey farther and unhappy until I find what I am looking for, or is this "good enough" and I find myslef lured to expand into new areas as well, all based on this, my new home?
That is the subliminal leap of faith. You are so intent at finding which side of the coin is best to look at that you don't realize you've walked around to the other side. So, having surgery is cathartic, right up front, in your face. Accepting yourself is subliminal, under your feet, behind your back.
The leap of faith has been made. The counter part of my Subjecitve decision to have surgery has been Objectively mirrored. Scene 22 is over. Scenes 23 and 24 lie ahead.
And now for the next installment in a serialized presentation of the book:
From Journeys & Transitions by
Sunday, November 3, 1991
Sixty-seven days and counting.... Last week we signed the papers to refinance our home so I could raise the money for surgery. We had to accept a much worse interest rate to get the loan. Mary told me that she didn't know if we would be able to keep the house with the higher payments, but at least I would walk out female. The money will come through on Tuesday, so the last major hurdle before surgery has been overcome.
I had my final session with Dr. Jayne, my therapist, on Friday. She tells me everything is in order and she will send a positive evaluation to Dr. Biber. On December 5th, I'll have my final pre-surgery appointment with my hormone doctor and then he will forward his recommendation as well.
I know a lot about myself now: not in terms of "quantifiable" things, but in terms of "qualifiable" things. I know a lot of how I feel; I know a lot of how I think. It doesn't really matter WHAT I'm thinking about or WHAT I'm directing my feelings toward; it's the process of HOW I go about that feeling - how my thoughts form and where they go after I've thought them. This is the substance of my contentment with myself. I always expected that after all this I would feel like a woman, but I just feel like me.
I wonder, as I stand here, what its like to think like a man. To me, it seems like that would be so unfulfilling - to be evaluating the things around you by what you could do with them or because they gave you an ability to accomplish something, rather than just looking at things in terms of how they touched your life and to keep around your things that have special memories because the feelings you had around those objects become attached to them, and every time you see them you rexperience what that was like.
I think of the guy who has the game ball that he won in high school by catching the uncatchable pass. He's got that football on display in his office. He doesn't think about it much. Its there. He may have put it there to show people he was a hero which gives him some power or credibility. But, when he's alone in that office. Things have quieted down and nobody's on the phone, and it happens to catch his eye, he stops for a moment and he picks it up and turns it over in his hands. He feels the texture: he remembers. Suddenly, he's back there running with that ball coming over his shoulder, straining, struggling: wondering if he can accomplish it, unsure of his ability to do it, hoping that he can pull off this miracle and be the hero. He can almost feel it touching his fingers again, grasping it for all he's worth, landing hard into the dirt of the end zone. He reexperiences the thrill of victory, the knowledge that everyone had seen how good he was. And that to him is the most emotional he'll ever be.
To a woman, that's how she thinks all the time. Its the rare moment when she desires to step out of that and deal with practicality per se. That's only driven out of necessity for survival, or for her family. Aside from that, a woman who is making decisions about her house - where things should be placed and how resources should be spent - is not thinking about practicality but is thinking in terms of feelings and memories attached to everything around her.
I guess the closest a man can come to realizing what its like is to take that football image, go back in all your private things, go back in your collection of souveneirs, find one that's tied into a really pleasant memory from your teen years or your childhood. Stop for a moment, turn it over in you hands. Look at it: really look INTO it. Don't say, "Oh, this is a such and such... I remember that!" Search your depth. Let the images and the experience flow back over you so you are there at that same moment when it happened once again, and you'll know what its like to be a woman.
Its not sustainable for you. You're an animal of practicality, an animal of achievement. We women need you to conquer that universe, tame it and structure it. We can't do that and find happiness at the same time. Yet you can find your emotions and go in and discover memories that are like pearls for you that cannot be stolen: a treasure that's safe. You can do that. But you need US to provide for you a repository for those feelings: the collective heart of our culture - a family album of emotions. That's what we women do for you. You need to know that's there. Just as we need to know that practicality is taken care of. We need each other. And in this we are so much alike, even as we are so different.
November 6, 1991
Sixty-four days and counting.... From the moment I woke up this morning, I felt mean. I was in one of those moods where if anybody got in my way I fully intended to walk all over them. Since I usually like to wear something appropriate to my mood, I checked out my closet but was disappointed to find I didn't have black leather and chains. So, I went to the opposite extreme, wearing a lacey top and pleated skirt with my hair done up like Cinderella.
I went off to work, parked, and waited to cross the street at the light. So here I am dressed like Snow White and feeling like Biker Bitch of the Universe, when all of a sudden I hear this male voice say something behind me. I can't quite decipher it, so I turn around and here is this tall, dark, handsome foreign gentleman. I said, "Excuse me, did you say something?" He stared deep into my eyes and repeated, "You are very beautiful". I couldn't suppress a smile and replied, "Why THANK you!" The light changed and I crossed the street and went to work feeling "very beautiful" all day.
November 7th, 1991
Sixty-three days and counting.... I'm in the PMS portion of my Provera cycle. Last night I woke up about one o'clock in the morning. Suddenly I found myself physically feeling like I was going to die. It felt like my heart skipped a couple of beats and then just stopped for a moment. At the same time that happened, everything went black, I mean it faded out. It wasn't my vision fading out, but my consciousness - like when you go under an anesthetic when your eyes go up in your head and suddenly you're not there anymore. That's what happened: eveything went black - almost snuffed itself and then it came back. Faded down and faded back up, all in the space of a couple seconds. I knew I needed something inside. I went out to the kitchen and found a bag of Cheetos. I sat there wolfing down the Cheetos as fast as I could cram them in my mouth, and the salt and the cheese - somehow it seemed that's what my body needed. I came back to bed - couldn't find a comfortable position. So much nervous tension, static energy.
I got the check today from the home loan that gives me the money for surgery. Right now as I stand here, I do not feel a single bit different than David did. I feel like that person moved through time and all of a sudden "poof": here I find myself with boobs, practically impotent, on the verge of having something cut off, and all the time wondering, "Why?" From inside myself looking out I don't see any damn difference - just the same, old me. Why? Why did I do this? What's going to happen to my relationship with Mary? And what's going to happen to my relationship with my kids? What's going to happen when they get married and have their own kids and their own families and there are relatives and in-laws: how will I be accepted? How will it affect my children's ability to get a mate? What detriment might I be? What positive thing? How has this altered THEIR lives? Ripples way the hell beyond mine.... I just don't know.
Then there's this theory Chris and I are writing. We bandy it about and think we have such genius, such incredible insight - a remarkable leap of mentality such as human kind has never made. We explain it to everyone around us at the company. We explain it to our friends at a personal level. "Mental Relativity". We tell them about shifting perspectives, we tell them how to take an outside look at their insides. When we do that, they roll over in ecstacy - the expose their genitals to the universe and say, "Scratch me on the tummy some more!"
No! All of this is just too weird. What does it really buy you when your body can turn against you, just like mine is now. In spite of all the conscious efforts the endorphins in my own brain feed back on themselves canibalistically.
I hope this thing works itself out soon - I really do.... My feelings right now are very, very, very... dead.
I look in the mirror and I see a beautiful, young woman, and I know that is the image I project now. All my responses, the way I stand, the way I talk, the wayI move -all of those things are completely feminine now, and yet they seem so normal to me. So inside things have not changed. All my life I wanted to know what it was like to be female, and now that its here I'm not sure I want to know anymore. I'm living the role; I know what that's like. The surgery itself, what's it going to do: the last step I need to take to be loved by a man? I don't know if I really want that because I've never really had it. Just that lousy affair with Andy that time: fulfilling and magic and special as it was, it was fake, it was phoney: two transsexuals getting it off together - nothing in it between a real man and a real woman.
God, God, God, it doesn't even matter if I make the transition physically complete. It doesn't even matter if I have XX chromasomes, XY or XXY. It doesn't even matter how my brain was cast; its the knowledge that I have from growing up male - I can't change it without losing my own self. I'll be stuck with that difference all of my life. If I want to be close to somebody, if I want to have a relationship, what do I have to give up here? I have to give up Mary; I have to give up the kids: I have to give up my past. And if I want to share my past with the man I would marry, how could I consider them a normal man if they would put up with a woman who used to be a guy?
And yet, when I look at other transsexuals who are feminine, who have made it, who have pulled it all together, I look at them and I say to myself, "That's a woman." I don't care what they were: they were always a woman inside. They've just discarded that shell and now they've got the propper one. So why can't I turn that kindness on myself? Why can't I accept myself as a woman? Because I don't have any other "me" to compare it with.
If I could remember what it used to be like to think as Dave - to walk and talk as David and compare it to the way I am now, I could see the difference. But I can't see the difference from the inside. It feels like it wouldn't take much to tip me over the edge and right back to the way I was. But if all this is over, will there be no more fantasies? Will there be no more dreams? If the greatest change I'll ever go through is behind me, what will I do for an encore?
I lay on my bed in the evening, look out into the room, and realize how tenuous is my grip on reality. I slip from one way of looking at things to another and come up with so many clever things. People think, "My, isn't it marvelous that she thought of that." But do you know what it does to you to have that ability? Do you know what it is to be separated from the heart and solid of what things are?
To be able to shift your perspective all around anything, every which way you want, inside and out. To look at things so many different ways and hold each one to be as real as the one that is immediately presented to you when you open your eyes - you have no platform to stand on. In all the techniques we talk about with Mental Relativity you have at least one thing you hold solid. Even if your platform is moving you ignore that. You either stand on the boat and watch the ocean or stand on the ocean and watch the boat. One of them is going to be bobbing, but not both. For me, they both bob. Its always been that way too, but now its accentuated by the hormone therapy. Add to that the practice I have had at work in jumping perspectives and it leaves me with no stability in my life at all. I can tell by the fact that I am almost in tears that this thought is what's really bothering me: I have nothing to hold onto.
I've got to find a way to anchor my life. I don't want to do it at "Tara". I don't want to tie myself to the ground, I don't want to tie myself to the company, I don't want to tie myself to financial security and say, "Therein lies my champion, incarnate." No, I want someone to rely on, someone to run interference for me, to protect me from the beast at the door, to keep a roof over MY head. That's what I want: I want my anchor. And I have a sneaking suspicion I'm never going to get it.
Sixty-three days and counting,
November 13, 1991
Fifty-seven days and counting....
Yesterday I mailed a registered check for $500 to Dr. Biber to secure my surgery date of January 9th. Somehow that inspired me, so that today I dropped another check in the mail to a catalog company and ordered my first vibrator. It'll probably arrive before I'm able to use it, but at least I'll be prepared when the time comes.
November 16, 1991
Fifty-four days and counting....
I had this terrible dream a couple of nights ago. It was a nightmare that what has actually happened here is that Dave and Melanie have traded places. Melanie is now in the conscious and Dave is stuck in the subconscious. When Dave was in the conscious, he didn't know she was in the subconscious. Melanie knows Dave's in there, but she won't let him out. Now Dave knows that the surgery is approaching, and in my dream came an image from Robocop 2 where the villian's mind is placed in a robot body and his face is visible on a video screen. At the end of the movie, they kill him by pulling the plug and when they do, the face on the screen becomes distorted with a gaping mouth howling at the universe in terrible agony and anguish as he feels his life ebbing from him, evoking a primal scream. That image has stuck with me since my nightmare, because the face belonged to Dave. I saw him as he lay on the table, trapped in the subconscious, paralyzed from physical action, unable to stop anything, screaming and howling at the universe in agony as they cut his balls off.
November 18, 1991
Fifty-two days and counting.... This is my third day of PMS. I could feel from the very first day it was going to be a doozy. The worst of it started this morning when I took Mindi out for a special day shopping together. I kept getting absorbed in things of interest to me and didn't even see that she was getting tired and bored and that the special day she had been looking forward to was eroding under her dreams.
Then, I came home and Keith began do to things I didn't like. I ended up slapping him once on the head and a couple of times on the back and arm. And then I came back and slapped him again. Sure, it was with provocation, but I slapped my son.
The problem is, he's become such a mean little boy. He really has. He does things mean on purpose. I can't stand this. I think its my fault. When he was four years old, he came to daddy's office for the first time, and he was so proud! I gave him a 7-up and he was so happy. A little while later he accidently spilled it and a little bit splashed on a tape I had some things recorded on. I knew it wasn't even important material. But I stared down at this little four-year-old face that was already upset because of his accident and I yelled that he had ruined daddy's favorite thing.
So many other times when he wanted to help me do jobs around the house, I would let him help and then tell him how crummy he did: he wasn't good enough.... I ruined him. For the rest of his life he's going to carry that with him. So many times I've tried to undo that, but its too late. Its part of who he is now: it can't be changed. I've screwed up his whole life, and on top of that, I've taken his daddy away from him.
He doesn't have a pal; he doesn't have a role model, and just when he needs it: someone to bridge the gap and take him into the club of manhood. There's nobody here to do it; there's nobody home....
I don't know how I can live with this. I wish I had found that gun two years ago when I was arguing with Mary and thought I was going to lose my family. I wouldn't have had to live through all this suffering. And they could have started over with someone worthy, because I am certainly not.
See what day three of the cycle does for you? Tomorrow is day four, and that's always the worst of them. Tomorrow I go back to work. So after destroying Keith psychologically and spoiling Mindi's special day, I get to go into work and ruin my friendships and my career. I'm really looking forward to it.
The best I can hope for out of life is that I will find happiness, but for everyone else who knows me, it would be better if I hadn't been born. Aside from having brought life to Keith and Mindi, I guess I haven't given them much else. I've taken away from Mary her husband, her hope for the future. She doesn't have anyone to put an arm around her, hold her close and protect her. And so, I think I'll have surgery. And after I've seen what that's like and experienced a couple relationships, its highly likely I'll just find a way to do myself in. Because after surgery, as far as I can tell, there's really not a lot left to live for.
November 19, 1991
Actually, its not as bad as all that.... Its day four of my PMS cycle, and I still feel like the bottom of a bird cage, but I think I'm going to make it through now. After making Mary miserable and Mindi miserable and Keith miserable, I'm cheering up considerably!
I think its pretty clear I have no control during these hormonal shifts.
I'm going to try and make it up to everybody today. For one thing, Keith's bike tire went flat, and I want to take him to buy a new one before I go to work so he can ride his bike while I'm gone. And I'm going to make breakfast right now. I'll make breakfast and then I'll wake him up. All I want to do is make some progress. I don't have to actually get anywhere or accomplish anything, I just want to see some progress.
November 21, 1991
Forty-nine days and counting.... Seven weeks from today I have sex-change surgery to become a woman. The emotional turmoil I've suffered with over the last few days finally came to a head on my fourth day of PMS. I went into the office and with Chris lending a sympathetic ear, I cried a lot, I worked out a lot, and I feel free. Its not that I'm jumping for joy, but I've gotten back to neutral.
November 27, 1991
Forty-three days and counting.... Either there is free will forged by a predetermined universe, or there is a free universe forged by predetermined will. What is the right thing for your self may not be the right thing for your life.
November 28, 1991
Forty-two days and counting.... Its Thanksgiving, and today I have much to be thankful for: my family, my friends, my future.
(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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