Pouring Rain In The Sunshine

It hasn’t been a good week.

Last weekend, my Mom became nauseous and…well, let’s not go into further graphic detail except to say that was hardly the end of it, not by a long shot. By Tuesday night she was in the hospital and they discharged her today. There’s only one problem: She’s still sick. Mom is close to 300 pounds and she can barely walk so getting her up a flight of stairs to her bedroom took my brother Todd and I the better part of two hours. I’m no doctor but there’s no way in hell I can see that she should have been discharged from the hospital in the condition she’s in.

I’m very upset with the level of care Mom got at St. Peter’s Hospital. Not that the doctors, nurses, and everyone else didn’t physically take good care of her while she was there, but the information flow leaves a lot to be desired. No one seemed to have any answers when my brothers and I asked about her condition. No one gave us any instructions on how to care for her at home. We couldn’t even get a conversation with her doctor.

Basically, the hospital discharged her while she’s still a complete invalid, gave us no help in understanding her condition or how to care for her, and now, because it’s the weekend, there’s no one even there to talk to. She was sent home with a prescription for a Visiting Nurse and physical therapy but right now we have no idea when that will start or even when we’ll be able to talk to someone to arrange it. St. Peter’s just turfed her out with seemingly little if any concern for the rest of her recovery, and this is a woman with excellent insurance.

So right now, it’s just me here, completely stressed out and unable to sleep. My back is on fire from having to half-carry her up that flight of stairs but I can’t take a pain pill because if I do I’ll sleep so deeply I may not hear her if she wakes and needs me.

The house stinks of shit. I don’t know how to care for her. If she needs to get up to go to the bathroom, there’s no way I can possibly lift her myself.

I don’t know what the fuck to do and I'm scared.

The End of the Beginning


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Kennedy

Today I met my surgeon in person for the first time and got a date for SRS and breast enhancement. I thought my world had changed when I made the decision to transition. Then I thought the same thing when I decided to seek surgery. The truth is, I didn't have a clue.

It's real now, realer than it's ever been before. I have a date, July 16th. I can count the days. This, more than any other single milestone in this process, has changed my perspective more completely than anything else, and in real and important ways.

It's like I've finally taken blinders off, blinders which I wore willfully and intentionally for decades to prevent myself from dwelling too deeply on the state of my body. Now, I'm allowing myself to see myself as I was meant to be, and it's just everything. Everything.

I've always known myself to be a suicide risk since I was a teenager and so over the years I put up mental barriers to allow me to function and at least be reasonably happy. It hasn't always worked, but it's a coping mechanism that's definitely at least partially responsible for my being able to reach this point in my life alive.

Now it's like I'm seeing myself for the first time. Not that deep down I didn't know all this about myself before, I just didn't let myself think about it too much. I’m not in some sort of euphoric fog thinking that everything’s going to be sunshine and rainbows once I’ve had my surgery, but I am allowing myself, maybe for the first time in my life, to fully see myself as the woman I’ve always wanted to be. In other words, I’m allowing myself to think about what’s going on below my waistline.

I’m so used to protecting myself from going places within myself that could be too upsetting or depressing, that I actually have to remind myself it’s safe now. I can go there. I can even live there, as I probably will for much of the next few months. I’m able to explore parts of my psyche now that are almost in some ways new to me, and yet entirely myself. All at once it makes no sense and it makes perfect sense.

I know this is a really gross analogy, but it’s the one that works best. What I’m feeling right now is akin to how you feel when you’ve had to pee for a really, really long time and finally get to a bathroom and let it all out. The way your body just completely unclenches and relaxes as you release all the bad stuff from within you.

Ninety days. That’s not a very long time, especially compared to how long I’ve already waited. Doesn’t matter. I have a date now, and it’s everything.

Like a Tank Ran Over Me

Well, it seems I’ve managed to successfully throw my back out today, which is just lovely. I took my last Vicoden but it’s not doing much. Shit.

I’m going to be having a bazillion medical tests very soon to clear me for surgery so I wasn’t planning on seeing a doctor until then. If this doesn’t improve soon I may have no choice. In the meantime, it’s a good thing I have a comfortable chair in front of my computer. A very good thing indeed.

Of course, the problem with Vicoden and other drugs like it is that it makes me loopy. Writing on it is like swimming through pudding: You get where you’re going eventually, but not quickly or easily. I write a sentence then zone off for a few minutes. I’d never write anything for publication on this, but it can make blogging…interesting.

Another thing Vicoden does is make you pretty useless mentally. Basically days like today are video gaming days because that’s about all I can handle, and even there I have to be careful because anything too complex isn’t going to be something I’m able to play competently.

I spent a fair amount of time playing Guild Wars 2 today. It’s pretty easy to follow and play so it’s been entertaining while I’m swacked. I just need this to go away by next Friday. I’ve got the LGBT Media Convening in Philly next weekend and I’d really prefer not to be a cripple while I’m there.

In some ways, being over 50 can really suck.


Turning Point

Last night on the show, I announced that I’m putting the wheels in motion for a surgery date in the spring. Today, I went to my shrink’s for my girl juice shot and did exactly that. It’s put me in an interesting and even somewhat unexpected place.

For many years, surgery wasn’t an option for me. The money just wasn’t there. Now the money’s there, and I’ve had it for a while. I just had to work out in my head that the time is right. And now, I believe it is. It’s time to finish what I started 18 years ago.

I thought I’d have at least some mixed feelings about this, but I don’t. I’m as sure this is right for me as I’ve been of just about anything in my life. I’m almost 53, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have any more time to waste.

I want the thing gone, and I’m now in a position to make that happen. I feel like I’ve been trapped in a kind of middlespace for 18 years and I’m finally about to reach my destination. No apologies, no second thoughts, no regrets. I know who I am and how I want to live the rest of my life. I’ve gotten this far on sheer determination and force of will and those will carry me through as well as they always have.

Well, those and one other very important thing I don’t feel is quite ripe for public consumption just yet. Maybe one day, when and if the time is right, I’ll tell that part of the story. That day isn’t today, though. No, that part of the story is still being written.

More soon. I think I feel another series coming on.

Shot Day

In my “Pink Fire” series, I wrote about how estrogen can be a pretty effective antidepressant, at least for me anyway. Earlier today I got another shot and damn if I don’t feel good. I mean sure, it was a pretty good week. Not much to complain about. Even with that, though, I still just feel exceptionally good and I know at least part of that is the estro.

Nothing can go wrong on shot day.

Everything in my life is perfectly synchronized on shot day.

Nothing and no one can piss me off on shot day.

It may be freezing cold, rainy, and windy outside, but for me it’s all pink-hued sunshine, puffy clouds, and rainbows on shot day.

All’s right with the world and I don’t much care if it really isn’t on shot day.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and life will be back to normal, or at least as close to normal as my life gets these days, but not today…today is perfect.

Today is shot day.

Catching The Wind

Ok, I admit it. I’m enjoying the hell out of this. I changed my Facebook cover photo and profile pic to shots of me on Out There. Even better, I posted something a couple of days ago about not being happy with the jeans and sneakers I wore on the show, and that I went to Lane Bryant to get a nice outfit in case there’s a next time. Thomas Roberts commented on my post and said there will many more times and to get some television staples ready. I intend to do just that.

When I started writing and doing radio about trans people and issues, there was almost nothing out there. It was a huge deal for me the first time I got paid for writing, an op-ed on ENDA for the Washington Blade. It was an even bigger deal when I did a year as the trans columnist for the Rehoboth Beach Gayzette.

Now, I’ve worked for the Advocate website, I’ve had a piece published in the Advocate print magazine, I write a biweekly column for the South Florida Gay News and a quarterly column for The Mirror Magazine, and I’ve been on national mainstream news media talking trans issues.

Never in a million years did I think I’d ever be asked to be on television, on or offline. I’ve always joked that I have a face made for radio, but it seems those standards may be changing, at least a little. What’s even more interesting is that I’ve always believed that I probably wasn’t suited for a visual medium like television in either appearance or temperament. Yet, once I sat on that couch it was so easy, so natural. To be honest, I just tuned out the cameras and had a great conversation. Once I did that, I wasn’t nervous or concerned at all.

I think sometimes, and with some things, I need to have a little more faith in myself. On the other hand, a little nervousness keeps me sharp and on my toes and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Balance…it’s all about balance.

Damn it, I wish Dad could see me now.


Leaning Forward

So yesterday I was a guest on a new show, Out There with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC’s new digital platform Shift. Thomas Roberts is a sweetheart, and Abby Huntsman is really nice too. I have to admit I was a little nervous. It’s just not the same thing as doing radio in a little room by myself or even a webcam panel show like HuffPost Live.

A car picked me up at 6:30am and I arrived at Rockefeller Center about an hour later. I checked in at the visitors center and went up to the studio floor where I spent a little over an hour in the makeup room. Those ladies are miracle workers. Then a few minutes in the green room before we were ushered into the studio.

It’s interesting how the set is nice and clean and camera-friendly, but many of the areas of the studio just out of camera range are a kind of organized chaos of cameras, electronics, and wiring. The show’s studio audience was actually the guests plus a few of the MSNBC folks who were watching.

When it was time for my segment I sat down on the couch with Thomas and Abby Huntsman and I have admit I was a little nervous at first that I’d flub or screw up somehow. And then Thomas asked his first question and it was all right there, right when I needed it. It was as easy talking on the radio, maybe even easier. Goddess, I had a great time.

Most importantly, though, I’m happy that I did well and every single opinion I’ve seen expressed was positive. I got a chance to represent the trans community’s voice in mainstream media and I apparently did a good job. Many trans women expressed how happy they were that someone who looked more like them than stunning women like Janet and Laverne was representing them on the show. It feels so great to have been able to fill that role. I hope they ask me again.

And so, it appears I rocked it. It just doesn’t get any better than the way I feel right now.


Swinging Doors

It seems my concern about losing a friend over my piece on Our Lady J was valid. Really, really disappointing. It's become clear to me that this woman's issue with my piece isn't really about whether or not my arguments are valid, but rather it seems she's upset that I didn't just fall in line like a good little girl and join the crowd that thinks any good, or as in this case great, trans-relevant mainstream media and anyone involved with it should be immune to criticism from our own community.

I'm sorry, but I just can't buy into that kind of thinking. I like to think the stuff I do is quality work, and the attention and respect I get as a result seems to justify that belief. Regardless of my personal notoriety, though, I've never been immune to being publicly criticized from within the trans community by those who disagree with me for whatever reason. That's the way it should be for everyone, and that includes Hollywood too. After all those years of being portrayed as cartoons and loonies, I don't think it's unreasonable that trans people want a say in how we're represented in the media now.

When you get right down to it, that's what got me started doing radio for the trans community. I was tired of only having GenderTalk as the one and only trans-specific media offering out there. I wanted coverage on stories Nancy Nangeroni, the host of GenderTalk, didn’t want to cover. I wanted more trans-specific media than was available at the time so I teamed up with another trans woman and we created our own Internet radio show. We couldn’t find what we were looking for elsewhere so we made it ourselves.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before, and I’m very excited about it. I’m not going to get specific just yet, but soon enough everyone will know. I wish I could be less cryptic, and I will be, just not quite yet.

So, it seems the old adage proves true, at least for the moment: One door closes and another door opens.

I’m ready.


I'm not 100% certain yet, but I may have lost a friend over this OLJ thing. That's disappointing, but I'm still not going to apologize for that piece. I believe it was good work and I continue to stand by it. What bothers me most is that it seems some people are simply assuming my motives were impure, but they can offer no actual evidence why.

I've now lost track of how many times I've been compared to Parker Molloy in the last week. It's kind of funny if you think about it. I was around for many years before Parker appeared, so if anything she should be compared to me.

The reality is, as I've acknowledged many times in the past, that Parker and I do share certain similarities as trans women and as journalists, but there's a lot of difference too. It seems that for some the positive response the piece got and the support I got from the community for writing it is seen as having the same sort of cult of personality Parker once had. I don't see it that way. I believe that people are supporting me in this not because they think I'm personally so wonderful, but because they think I'm right.

I suspect what some folks don't understand about me is I'm not only pro-trans, I'm also staunchly working class. It's where I come from, it's who I am, and it's how I see the world. I don't get starstruck very easily these days. Maybe that comes with the territory. I've met and interacted with so many of these folks now that I tend to see them as people rather than icons. I don't know. All I can tell you is I don't live in fear of offending these folks. I tell the truth as I see it regardless.

I couldn't do what I do if I engaged in the kind of self-censorship that some seem to expect of me. I didn't go out of my way to hurt OLJ, but I didn't shy away from speaking my mind on her winning the contest either. I don't see it as hurting the community, as at least one person has suggested, to argue for better representation. I think it's exactly the kind of thing a community opinion journalist should be doing. When push comes to shove, I'm always going to put what I believe are the best interests of the trans community first, even if some don't agree with me on what those best interests are.

It was a very long time ago when I figured out that no matter what I write or say on the air, someone's likely to have a problem with it and I'll end up being a target. If I'd let that stop me, I'd have given up on this work long ago. I've had conflicts about my work with activists, journalists, readers, listeners, and more. It's simply part of the job.

Another truth is that after a while you start to understand why so many trans activists burn out early and retreat from the online community. It's not that they stop caring, they just want to stop dealing with all the drama.

Yeah, I've thought about it. I'll be 53 in a few months, and I think that's when a lot of people start to think about slowing down. Not me. I can't. Not yet, and probably not for a long time. I still have too much to do. I still care too much to even consider stopping.

That said, I do think I'm going to start spending more time working on my book. I haven't been doing much on that recently and I need to get back into it. My goal is to have at least a full first draft done by no later than the end of the year. Once I have that, then I'll have to enlist some help in figuring out if it's gold or garbage. I just hope it doesn't suck.

The truth is that right now, the single greatest joy I have as a writer is my column, Transforming Gender. I love column writing. I get to write about anything trans-related I want and I love that kind of freedom. Sure, I have that same freedom as a blogger, but getting paid matters. Having my columns appear in South Florida Gay News and The Mirror Magazine matters. Getting paid to write my passion matters.

I have that same passion about my book too, but writing my book is a much more intense experience than writing a column. With the book I have to dig deep into places in my psyche I may not have visited in a while and that's not always an easy thing to do. When I began the book, I promised myself that I was going all in, that my memoir is going to be the best thing I've ever written. I believe that's achievable, but I need to put more consistent effort into it. My day is clear tomorrow so I think it's going to be a book writing day.

Hopefully, things will work out. It always hurts to lose a friend, but compromising my values is even less palatable. There are a lot of things I'll do for a friend, but not that. I just can't. I hope she can accept that.

Fingers crossed.

Blood and Ink

I remember when I got my first and thus far only tattoo. It was 1982 and I was living the punk life. A friend and I trekked out to Coney Island to the studio of a tattoo artist called Huggy Bear (and yes he was big and hairy, but no, I have no idea about his sexuality…remember, 1982). The friend I was with got himself a grim reaper on his right bicep, complete with gravestones and spooky purple sky.

I’d wanted a tattoo for a long time by then and I’d thought long and hard about what I wanted. In the previous year I’d become a rabid Joan Jett and the Blackhearts fan for both musical and personal reasons (you’ll have to wait for my book for that story), so I decided on a black heart surrounded by flames on the top of my right shoulder. It’s slightly larger than a (US) quarter. Not quite as impressive as a grim reaper, I suppose, but infinitely more meaningful to me.

When Andrea James called me a “transbian” something clicked in me that this was a word I wanted to take ownership for myself. I want it inked on my body. Ok, I still haven’t decided exactly where I want it placed, but I need this word on me.

Here’s why:

“Transbian” was, in my opinion, used by Andrea James in a derogatory manner to describe me, in much the same way as she had used the term to describe Parker Molloy months previously. I suppose it’s arguable, as one activist complained to me today, that the term is homophobic, given that (I believe) it was used as a way to demean and disparage me.

As a writer, however, I also know that context is everything. Instead of accepting this in the way I believe it was intended, I choose to take possession of this word for myself and write it on my body as an expression of who I am. I will neither seek nor recognize the PC permission of any activist or group to do so. It’s my body and I’ll decorate it as I see fit.

There’s also a weird little odd semi-symmetry for me with this word which I find intriguing. Follow this, if you can:

Months ago, Parker Molloy called Noah Michelson “awful” and in response Noah had the word done as a tattoo (of which he has quite a few). When Andrea James called me a “transbian”, I had a kind of mini-epiphany and decided that doing what Noah had done with the word Parker had thrown at him was the correct response for me as well.

I feel that I have a positive connection to that word. It describes me in a way I’m comfortable with and I think fits my self-image. The “fuck you factor” (Andrea says it’s not seen as a slur and she may be correct in her own social circles but I don’t live in LA, I come from New York. It’s a very different place.) is also very attractive to me because of who I am and what I do. There’s also personal threads trailing from this word for me about my experience as a trans media maker and the way people who push the boundaries like Parker and I find ourselves as targets from others in our community and sometimes even fellow trans people.

I’m not comparing myself to Parker. We are similar to each other in some significant ways, but what she did to earn the anger of the community is very different than what I’ve done. Parker verbally attacked trans women directly and personally and cause real personal harm. I wrote an oped that struck a nerve in the community and caused people to take sides. It’s by no means the first time I’ve done it, and I doubt it will be the last.

Sure, I’ve bruised some egos and I’m going to get pushback for it, but that comes with the territory. I’m a big girl, and I knew what I was getting into when I started doing this work. I’ve been accused of all kinds of things, hidden agendas, profit-driven motivations (I wish), malicious intent, and on and on apparently whatever someone thinks will stick.

What I’ve really appreciated are all the people, so many trans women and our allies, who are supporting me in this. It means a lot to me and I’m truly grateful. It’s good to know my sisters and friends have my back.

I’m ok with all of it, and I’ll get through. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve got the battle scars to prove it.

And as soon as I pick a font, design, and maybe a background, I’ll have a new tattoo as well.