Sunday, February 22, 2015

Before the Phoenix Rises

February 22, 2015

I missed a week of publishing. It was my youngest daughter's 11th birthday last Saturday (when I usually write my blog) and I was busy playing balloon-popping games with a gaggle of pre-teen girls. My daughter was so happy being surrounded by a group of girls; something that never appealed to me as a child. I frequently felt out of place.

When I was ten, I was invited to a birthday party sleep over. I was an only child and so I really did not know if my life and my experiences were that much different than other children. The party was for Michelle and about fifteen girls were there to spend the night, eat popcorn and play games including an immature version of Truth or Dare. I packed my Snoopy, my favorite pajamas, my slippers, and put on my favorite outfit for the party.

When I arrived I was the only girl wearing pants. I had on a light blue Hang Ten t-shirt and some bluejeans. I never went anywhere without my Adidas Superstars. The other girls were wearing party dresses with lace and frills. But I was used to that and didn't really care about what anyone was wearing. The shocker came when we got into our night clothes. Every other girl had on some kind of Baby doll nightgown with pom-poms, or ribbons of some sort. I brought my tan flannel pjs with green and brown trucks on them. I walked into the playroom and a hush fell over the group. "Nice slippers," Leslie smirked, "I think my brother has the same ones." I looked down at my dark brown corduroy slippers and quickly scanned the room for what the other girls were sporting on their feet. Pink and fluffy sums it up.

"Oooh! And MY brother has those same pajamas," Olivia quipped. A buzz went around the room. The girls surrounded me, looking at me, inching closer and closer. My heart raced. I didn't know what was going to happen. I started to feel very uneasy. Kelly came right up into my face and asked me, "What kind of girl are you?"

A tear began to well up in my eyes. "Umm, I don't know," I stated softly.

Michelle came sprinting into the room with a dangerous and triumphant look in her eyes. "I know what kind of girl she is, she's one of these... she's a lesbian!"Michelle had a magazine rolled up in her hands and with that tossed it across the room to Leslie who opened it while the room fell to a hush. It was a tabloid magazine. On the cover was a picture of a very masculine woman who was quoted as saying, "You can't call it rape, we were both women." Leslie proceeded to read the cover story which included details about a round bed, a meeting at a bar, and sex against the feminine woman's will.

The girls shrieked with laughter and made lewd comments. I felt dirty and ashamed. It was the first time I heard either of the words "lesbian" or "rape". I was upset by both.  I developed a stomach ache and left the party. I was never invited to another all-girl birthday sleep over again.

Years later when I came out as a lesbian I had to deal with that awful misrepresentation of lesbians that I had lodged in my child mind. That story haunted me for years.


My mother told me this week that she read my blog. "You did?" I asked. My mother does not go on the internet. It turns out my son-in-law suggested it to her. My first thought was, "I hope I didn't say anything bad about her!" Then I felt kind of weird knowing my family is reading this, but also glad.

My 28 year old daughter gave birth to her second child two weeks ago. I am thrilled for her because she and I both were only children and in my mind she broke our curse. I was also hit by a terrible depression. For the record, I am glad to have transitioned. My journey is not easy. I am plagued by residual pain and am really, really exhausted, but nevertheless, my transition into manhood was necessary for me to stay alive and thrive as a human being.

However, the birth of my grandson marked a moment for me where I had to grieve giving up being a mommy and a grandmother. I gave birth to one of the most wonderful women on the planet and in my pursuit of being true-to-myself, I had to alter the most primary and instinctual relationship I have ever had: the relationship of mother and child.

I love being a father, but I am not her father. HR, my darling, I feel such great sorrow for the loss of that part of our relationship. I hope you can forgive me for what I needed to do.

In Greek Mythology, the Phoenix is a bird that is regenerated or reborn. It obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Even though I have been in transition for six years, I do not yet feel like I have risen as the Phoenix does. I feel that I am still in the mix of the ashes and the breaking down of who I was, the metamorphic processes of alchemy; the regeneration of soul and purpose; the enduring of post operative pain and narcotics; the realities of facial hair and the limitations of a man-made phallus. I am more like a caterpillar still entering the cocoon; on the outside a functioning man and father; on the inside searching for my new psychological strongholds and ways of expressing myself that both honor my past and breathe life into the man I am meant to be.

In Love and Service,

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