Walking Between Worlds: Interfaith Presentation: Part One

July 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm (Walking Between Worlds)

So, I have been away for a while. As some of you know, I have had a few struggles of late; these have taken a toll on my energy. Your patience has been a gift. In all of this, there has also been a lot of good. For one thing, the wedding plans are going well despite financial worries and continued health concerns. Di and I are on track for the big day in October. In addition, I have had the opportunity to begin work on opening a non-profit that has been my dream for some time. The non-profit is called “grasp”: Gender Revisioning and Sexuality Pathways. We are progressing. Recently, I was invited to speak at a local United Church of Christ in regard to the expansion of their open and affirming welcoming statement. There were two sessions, the second of which took place this morning. Below is the content of the first session. The content of the second session will follow soon. I hope you will visit for both. These sessions were developed in response to four questions that the church council and the worship committees felt were most important. Here are my answers to the first two questions.

1. Celebration:

The willingness to have this dialogue is an obvious example of the things that are to be celebrated in Parkway’s welcoming and affirming path. This topic is a difficult one and certainly a topic from which most individuals and groups shrink—regularly. It takes enormous courage to openly deal with this topic and even more courage and spiritual insight to seek understanding that leads to real acceptance. The desire to gain greater understanding of gender issues demonstrates a significant spiritual maturity. It is relatively easy for most intelligent  people to accept Gay men and Lesbians—it is not easy to extend openness to a group of people who are not well understood even in our “own” community. There is a high degree of transphobia among our own. [other “isms” exist as well because the LGBT community is still a community of humans…]

In my observation thus far, the other thing that stands out as an ongoing aspect of things done right is the overall openness at Parkway. There is a warmth and a sense of genuine caring here that speaks volumes about the personality and culture of the collective heart. It is one reason why we kept coming back. Similarly, the attitude of social consciousness and responsibility at Parkway is no small thing. The welcoming and affirming presence here is, I believe, an arm of a spiritually-based social awareness in theory and in practice. That a reach is being made to include all those actively—or silently—viewed as “other” is a gift to the community at large. And, in my opinion, is both word and action carrying the spirit of the Christ message:  radical love and justice.

2.  Areas for Growth:

I am not sure that it could be said that there are things being missed in the welcoming effort. What I have to offer in this area is more of a gentle cautioning—one which comes from years of experience as a person often adversely affected by even the best of intentions. It is a fact of human nature that a profoundly felt desire to right a wrong or to address the healing of damages done out of injustice, fears, and hatred can manifest in emotionally charged zeal. This is a good thing—passion is necessary for any lasting transformation of ourselves and our society. There are times, however, when passion becomes overzealous and, thus, becomes behavior without forethought and wisdom. It is easy when something is heart-felt to create—with good intentions—the very thing we are trying to correct:  a king of backward discrimination, if you will. We can go so far to include that we create yet another category of difference. If we are not gentle and thoughtful in our delivery, we can send the message that we are reaching out to a group because they are different rather than because we want to embrace them as an extension of our own humanness, as being ourselves in another. Or, as Paul says, being “all members one of another.”

So, to this end, to the desire to greet the Christ in each other, to affirm in each of us both the greeter and the greeted, simply be yourselves. Breathe first. Relax. Focus on the fact that we truly are members one of another and leave room for the spirit to move through the spaces between. It is easy to try too hard when the heart-felt desire to make things right overpowers the simple truth that, when we greet one another in love, everything already is right. When we are simply open, love moves among us and the wrongs are righted—gently, quietly, often without words or explanation.

I would also say that the more we learn about the human condition the more a profound truth becomes clear:  that we are bound by more common ground than we are ever separated by difference. So, the more we can educate ourselves about the aspects of human experience we perceive as outside of the realm of our own experience, the more we find similarities of experience, a range of universal feelings, and thus commonalities. Read. Hold discussions. Engage others. The more we reach across the illusion of difference and unfamiliarity, the more we find familiar—and the more we are all lifted up.

Your Pastor stated this was an opportunity, as well, to share with you—if you would like—some of my experience with the adverse perceptions of others. Because of the nature of our discussion, I am choosing to focus only on experiences related to religion, the church as I was raised in it, and I am avoiding general references to my overall adverse experiences moving in the world in this body. Those stories are both ancient and as new as yesterday; and they are for another time. It is interesting to me that I had never considered certain aspects of my experiences as violence until Craig and I were talking and emailing about this discussion. This is, for me, another example of the ways in which even self-aware adaptive people like myself develop levels of denial as we attempt to cope with our status in the world. I have been experiencing layers of growing awareness concerning the many things I had suppressed about my identity for some time now. It might be more appropriate to say that I acknowledged the anxieties, insecurities and fears, but made mistakes about their origins or causes. For example, I now see that many things I assumed were attributable to lesbian angst were really as much about gender angst. Within the church and my experience with religion, however, one was a bad as the other.

Two things stand out immediately to me.

I was raised in the Baptist church. Throughout, my parents insisted that I wear dresses to church. I was taught that I was to present my best self to God in respect and reverence and, since I was a girl, this meant wearing a dress. There was never a time that I felt comfortable. I felt awkward and out of place—as if, in fact, I were cross-dressing. At varying levels of conscious awareness, I felt like a boy in a dress. Clearly, this was noticeable because I was constantly reprimanded to “stop walking like a boy”—or, at least to “walk like a girl” which I had not even the vaguest idea how to do. I would protest that I was just walking. I was admonished to sit with my legs crossed, to sit “like a lady.” It was actually painful to try to do that. My parents had no intention of doing emotional violence to me; they had nothing but the best of intentions in regard to preparing me for adult life as a woman. The message I got, however, was that God wanted me only if I could be acceptable as a female. While in practice this was a message initiated by my parents, it was reinforced within the church after.

Around the age of 15, I announced to my parents that their protocol made no sense—that if God was God, then He saw me every day of the year and saw me all day long dressed in jeans and t-shirts. I further pronounced that a God who was all-knowing and all-powerful already knew who I was and who I was going to be…and, if what we were taught was true, then God played a huge role in my creation. All that said, God either loved me as I was or did not. And, if He only loved me on Sunday and only because I looked like a proper girl, then He wasn’t much of a God worth worshiping.

I stood my ground firmly, stating that one of two things were going to happen: either I wasn’t going to church ever again; or, I was going to wear dress pants and shirts when I went. My parents eventually caved as I refused to go Sunday after Sunday, hands raised in the air proclaiming my independence: “I am old enough that you can’t make me go…and what is the point if I am only going because you make me. Doesn’t God know that too?”

When I was allowed to attend dressed as I wished, the reaction by my peers and many of the adults was not easily hidden. It was as if they were seeing me for the first time. As if, somehow, the girl costume had partially hidden the something-amiss, the something-different about me that had been lurking under the surface. I was boyish. Physically as well as psychologically. The other girls looked at me with distain and something akin to shock. The guys seemed to realize why they were never drawn to me like they were the other girls and why treated me as a pal. Because I was one. I was one of the guys. But, because I was in a female body, they were uncomfortable and, thus, rejected me. What followed my first steps toward outing myself was not pretty. It was, I now see, religious violence of the worst kind.

As I attended church dressed as myself, a change occurred. Those who had initially begun to cast me out even further [I was always kind of different], now began to seek me out, to talk to me and invite me to things, and to make efforts to befriend me. Having few actual friends, I naturally was sucked in. But not for long. Because their gestures were false to begin with, they were also irregular, infrequent, and undependable making the pretense obvious. It became clear to me—and my parents—that something was amiss. Of course, in my mind, the something amiss was me. I wasn’t good enough. There were many episodes where my so-called friends stood me up, or I fell out of fashion for the week or the month and was let down, disappointed and hurt. Things came to a head. My mother intervened. It was discovered that a particular woman and some members of her clique had decided that I was troubled and did not have enough love in my life, that I needed the church to love me and heal me of my troubled state. They had taken it upon themselves to advise the youth to take me in and show me some love and friendship. I had become their project. Through false love and acceptance, they were going to fix me. Untrouble me. Bring me into the fold. Get me right with God.

With their intermittent, forced attention and pretense of love and acceptance, they nearly destroyed me. This was my first experience with false prophets. And their minions. My first real run in with zealots. By the time I was 17, I had refused to go back.

It is important to point out that there are two forms of violence here. One was the violence directed at me, the “other”—a violence of pretense, of assumption of insight about me and my needs, of self-serving gestures and attempts to change me through a perverted greater good enacted in Christian self-sacrifice. The other misdeed may be just as destructive; this being the violence toward my peers, the violence of misleading those who are being used to serve an end that they did not conceive of or understand. We all have seen this form of manipulation and its results at every level from small groups to governments.

The other thing that stands out was more painful. I had begun to attend the School of the Arts and was only home on weekends. One of my friends at home was dating one of the church youth workers. By this time, I was very clear that I was a lesbian. I was not really out anywhere but at school. I made the decision to come out to my friend. This was actually fairly well received. It was not a surprise to her, nor was it a problem. Even if they did not say so, most people assumed I was a lesbian based solely upon my appearance. Because I was boyish I must be lesbian. My friend was initially supportive. However, when the two of us told my youth worker, he came unraveled. My personhood and personal struggles somehow became about him and what he could or could not accept. He felt betrayed. He was angry. He was concerned about the state of my soul. He rejected me and our relationship outright. I can only imagine the reaction had I been able to articulate and take ownership of my gender issues. Over time, my friendship with the woman ended too.

Around this time, my parents decided I was unhappy and my issues with isolating and refusing to go to church concerned them—no small wonder, really. So, much to my chagrin, they sent me to a Christian counselor. The primary reason was that my parents feared I was lesbian. I spent time with one or two females or spent time alone. I was not growing out of being a tom-boy. This scared them. In my first session with the counselor, I said very little. What I did say was that I had issues, but they were not about my sexuality and that he could not help me because I was fine with who I was. I wasn’t necessarily fine with how others felt about me, or about God, or an array of other things, but I did not need help with who I was. He advised me that I was “gay” [even he masculinized me] not because I truly loved and was attracted to women, but because of the sin in my life. I was lesbian because I was a sinner and, if I accepted my sinful nature and turned my life over to Jesus, I would be able to love men as God intended me to do. The following sessions were spent with my sitting in silence until he finally accepted I would not participate and decided it was unethical to take may parents money. Later, my mother talked to our physician, began reading books, and came to understand and accept me. So did my father.

The messages I took away from these incidents were significantly adverse and affected my views of “the church,” of religion…and, unfortunately, of myself. I came to understand that surely I was an abomination according to the church and, clearly, at least to God’s people—if not to God itself. I came to realize that love from others was dependent upon my adherence to the ideas they held of me. That if I stepped out of that, I was no longer loved. My lack of trust in people deepened. I began to rely more and more upon myself, to require very little from others, and to develop keen instincts about who I could and could not trust. My already well-developed survival skills strengthened. Very few people were allowed access to much of who I was, what I felt, or thought.

I stopped attending any church.

I continued, however, to believe strongly in the spiritual nature of humans. I continued to seek some kind of believable, healing spiritual path. I was a believer with no real sense of belief…or even a sense of safety in believing. I practiced Buddhism intermixed with the Native traditions I had identified with as a child during visits with my grandparents inArizona. A desire for a spiritual path was part of who I was and never left me. A sense of God was always with me despite the mistreatment by His followers. So, for many years, my path was solitary and spiritual in nature rather than religious.

One thing struck me throughout my experience with professed and highly visible followers of God. There seemed to be no boundaries for their ability to switch positions and change their views in accordance with what they perceived as the position of approval and, of course, greater security for and advancement of themselves. They could make these changes with no apology and do so as if were perfectly acceptable. There was no awareness of the consequences of their altering belief systems. At one point, a preacher I knew embraced me as a fellow believer. A few years later, when I called him to ask if he would talk with a friend of mine, he advised me he had changed his position and could not, in good conscience, speak to my friend. His lack of understanding that this blowing in the wind, this lack of conviction in proclaimed values, was destructive to those he claimed to love and serve made a significant impression on me. It also made a huge statement to me about the nature of a real faith system verses a professed faith that was clearly about other things.

I was in my late thirties before I ever sincerely stepped foot in a church.

There are other such experiences. These are the most significant. These are the lashes of the whip that tore the skin of my spirit—the wounds that it took years to heal. The truth is, the wounds are still healing. The scars are still sometimes tender to the touch.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Turns In the Path: Walking Between Worlds

November 24, 2010 at 12:20 am (Walking Between Worlds)

Recently, through my job, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with a man I would otherwise likely never have met. We had a couple of interesting conversations in which it became clear that, despite some significant differences, we share some commonalities of world view. This was made even more apparent on a day when I had experienced a pretty nasty little encounter with a man who had a strong negative response to my physical appearance.
The unpleasant encounter was not unlike most of the experiences I have with people who do not particularly appreciate my androgyny. He had come in with a customer and, immediately, I registered the confused look in his eyes—as I interacted with the customer, I watched the his demeanor move from confused to frustrated to angry. He frequently interrupted both me and the customer in attempts to speak for him and, basically, to find for himself a valid reason to be angry with me—a reason he could justify that was less ambiguous than my apparent non-specific gender. This happens a lot. People get frustrated by my presentation then find ways to process their discomfort that produces something they can blame on me. It happens fairly subconsciously and quickly. I am used to it. However, I was still a bit annoyed when he referred to me as a “whatever.” As in, whatever you are.
As the customer and his champion were leaving, the guy I work with called to check on things at work. Since he is the manager, I related the situation so he could be aware in the event there was a complaint. Complaints usually follow these situations. Particularly if I respond in a smart-ass way like I did this day. [I said: I am not a whatever; I am a whosoever. Then, I added: we can discuss it further outside if you wish. The point was clear.] As I was explaining all of this to my co-worker, my new-found acquaintance [hereafter known as S] walked in to pay for the rent on his offices. He lowered his head and shook it slightly as he listened. When I hung up the phone, he spoke…and, you could have knocked me over with a very small feather when he said what he said.

“You know, it fascinates and irritates me how very threatened people are by transgenderism…if that is a word…and the assumptions they make about a person’s sexuality and character based on appearance.” My initial response: it is a word. And, then, I agreed with him. Needless to say, we had another of our interesting discussions.

In this one, however, a few things were of significance to me. Firstly, he made me aware that it is likely that many people see me as he does—fully, as I am—that they accept what they see and simply do not say anything about it. I have always operated on the assumption that people who do not say something negative or ask the obvious questions, see me as obviously female, usually recognize [or assume] that I am a lesbian, and accept that as who I am. Having said that, this basic assumption has also caused me to wonder why this group of people do not seem to see the ambiguity, the gender-fuck, the male walking in my female skin. This day, in my conversation with S, I began to experience a slow recognition of similar situations over the years. I began to recall things people say all the time such as “we just see you” or “we don’t think about it because we know you.” Like the sun coming up slowly on a foggy day, I began to see a clear probable truth: that these people do see the gender-fuck, that they do see me just as I am and see the truth of who I am. What separates them from the nasty folks who get pissed off by my presence in the world is twofold. Primary of the two is that they are accepting, non-judgmental people who are kind by nature. The secondary factor is that, because of the first aspect, they come to know me and like me, if not love me. So, it began to dawn upon me that Scin may be right, that I pass more than I realize and that everyone sees me as I appear. It just doesn’t bother the people who give themselves—and me—a second or two to see the self I reveal to them.
The other thing that was of great significance to me was S’s instincts about my receptiveness to his supportive reaction. He somehow knew—or assumed—that I was comfortable enough with myself and my walk in the world that he could, so to speak, call a pot a pot and a spade a spade. He knew he could speak to me his vision of my truth even though we had never spoken of it, that it would be a kind of comfort to me to be fully seen, and that I would receive it in the manner he intended. He saw that I would not only be comfortable with his acknowledgement of my personhood, but that I would participate openly in the discussion. I could not help but see his comfort with speaking such things to me as a reflection not just of his open and accessible nature, but of my own as well. That is a good thing, I think.
Finally, the other thing I was left with was a recognition I desperately needed. That, often, we find enlightened people in the most unlikely of places. And, that—often—their paths and ours converge for reasons that unfold as the path takes twists and turns. Further, we always seem to find them when we need them and that the need is usually mutual. They may stay a short or a long time. Length of stay is not the issue. Quality is. What we, each, bring to the meeting is the thing that matters. And, sometimes, we do not know for some time what the essential aspect is or the nature of the impact. Sometimes, our part is never known to us. And, often, difficult times are made better by seemingly random interactions. I suspect, however, that these encounters are far from random.
As I struggle daily with my personal path—one that is spiritual as well—and with conditions that are weighty, I cannot help but have a sense there is some purpose to the frustrated and, for the moment, unclear turns in my little walk on this large earth. I am–and have been for a while–experiencing a growing sense of self even as I struggle daily with difficult conditions beyond my control and with a lack of solutions to many of them. The circle of my life is widening. Paths are converging with mine that reveal commonalities, differences, and conditions that appear to be essential to my growth and to those whose paths are meeting mine. I am finding greater understanding of some old issues. I am also finding more questions. But, that is the natre of the path. And, perhaps, that is the point of the path. Dark times blur the vision. Edges merge and the way is not clear. The sun breaks through the canopy, and more is revealed. Storms come and then pass. The way is rocky. The way is smooth at times, then muddy and slippery at others. Sometimes, the only thing that is sure is that there is a path. The point is to keep walking. It is the only way to see what is on the other side of the trees. My experience thus far has been that there is always a clearing, somewhere down the way, just beyond the trees. Usually, it is worth the rough terrain.

NOTE: This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Sticks and Stones: Walking Between Worlds

October 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm (Walking Between Worlds) (, , , , )

Many of us grew up with the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” In most cases, it was our parents who taught us to recite this little ditty any time we were faced with the verbal evidence of the cruelty of others. This simple rhyme was designed to provide us with a kind of mental shield against the hateful language that might come our way. For most of us, it did not take long to realize that we had been duped. With the best of intentions, our elders had tried to provide us with a tool which we soon discovered was woefully inadequate for protecting our tender psyches. Far too often, we stood red-faced and silent, teeth and fists clinched, as we mentally recited our rhyming shield over and over trying to convince ourselves that the name-calling and hateful remarks did not hurt us. All the while, we were feeling every internal bashing of our identity and bearing our bruises on the inside. Those of us who suffered frequent and painful verbal assaults learned that the mental shield let a lot of linguistic rocks get through. If we were lucky, we learned to bear the spoken barbs and arrows with some childhood form of dignity—perhaps we learned how to throw back our own clever retorts; on occasion, we learned to ignore what we could not change and walk away. Some of us learned to respond in ways that only made things worse. Whatever the case, there is one definite thing we did learn.
Words hurt. Certain words hurt worse than others. Sometimes, they hurt for a long time. Stupid. Ugly. Good-for-nothing. Cross-eyed. Queer. Faggot. Homo. Dyke. By the time we are grown, we have already learned what the therapeutic professionals are paid to tell us: certain external words, phrases and images become insidious aspects of our internal language. They play a huge roll in the formation of our sense of self. The words that hurt us are virus-like in their silent internal destruction—they work stealthy just below the surface of our conscious thoughts and perspectives poisoning and perverting our sense of identity. Some of us are able to recognize and overcome the symptoms of our particular linguistic viruses. Some of us are just naturally more able to manifest immunity and develop a fairly actualized self. Others of us are deeply affected and heal more slowly. Some, unfortunately, never really heal at all.

The recent rash of teen and young-adult suicides has affected me. I have found myself traveling the winding roads of my own dark and forested memories—the daily wisecracks about my gender for most of my life, the slurs about my bad eye, the frequent slams about every little aspect of my personality that made me different. Made me “other.” And, I have found myself wondering, as I often have over the years, what it was that made it possible for me to survive. What is that, every time I was at the edge and ready to jump off, pulled me back to a decision to live, to see things through to the other side?

I think there are many answers to this question. A primary factor, I am sure, is that very little of the negative messages I got came from my family. I was lucky—and blessed—to have a lot of people who loved me, even if they did not always understand me. I think the other basic factor is that I am, by nature, tenacious and persistent; as I was growing up that translated into a stubborn refusal to be bested if I could prevent it. I was almost spiteful about hanging on to the bitter end of a thing. I just happen to be adaptive and unwilling to tap out—which, on occasion, has been costly. I want to be clear, however, that surviving does not mean that I was not wounded. It does not mean that there was not much to overcome and heal. It does not mean that I do not, still, sometimes suffer the sting of verbal attacks. Sometimes, these are more painful now that they were when I was younger.

I have come to believe that, for all our apparent progress, intolerance is growing—again—in our culture, as is the damage done by words, phrases and imagery. The phenomenon of bullying is one place where technology has not helped our society. The immediacy of the transfer of information has made it possible for language-based and imagery-based bullying and abuse to reach a greater audience. Gone are the days when the witnesses to such attacks are confined to those within earshot. A young, fragile life can be devastatingly altered in a matter of seconds. This is unacceptable. And, yet, the culture at large has not only tolerated the behavior, it has encouraged it.
An example was provided by Anderson Cooper in a discussion on the Ellen show. He was appalled when he took his family to the premier of a new movie and was subjected to a trailer for an upcoming film in which the chosen scene involved one character saying “that’s so gay” about something done by another character in the film. As I listened to him, I was struck by a particular personal recognition of our human defense systems. As common as this verbiage is, I had sort of tuned it out. I have heard it countless times. I know it is one of the now cool ways to bash a person whether their sexual orientation is at issue or not. However, I had somehow pushed it into a place in my head where I don’t attend to it—I do not really hear it. Nor do I really hear other phrases that are worse. As does a member of any feared and oppressed group, I have become numbed in a way that affects my hearing of things that are intolerable but on the periphery.
This, too, is unacceptable. Yet, it is part of an innate system of defenses that allows us to survive all manner of insults and difficulties—the ability to tune out. I was ashamed of my lack of attention.

So, I have been sitting with all of this. Allowing myself to remember. Letting myself feel sadness and indignation for the newly fallen. And, allowing myself some room for the still tender child within me who I have raised and who hurts for the adult who still has to hear the cruelty of others on a fairly regular basis. Like the woman at the doctor’s office the other day who, in her loudest inside voice, “whispered” to the woman next to her—and, thus, to the rest of the people in the waiting room—“is that a man or a woman?” She was sitting directly in front of me and was looking right at me as she quizzed her equally ignorant friend. The friend’s loud response was: “Who? Where?” To which loud-whisper-lady responded: “right in front of you, you dummy!”
Dummy, indeed.
Mostly, I have been practicing some acceptance of my social outrage. My anger that we have learned nothing from the many examples of intolerance that we have suffered in this country alone. The near genocide and abuse of the native Indians here. The vilification of Blacks. The McCarthy era. The fear and abuse of Asian Americans during and after the war. The current treatment of Muslims. The countless intolerant behaviors toward any group viewed by the dominant culture as “other” and therefore less than and hated. The seemingly unending fear, vilification and abuse of anyone who even appears to be homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. The list is long.

I hurt for the young lives lost. For those to follow. I hurt for those of us who have survived, but not without a cost—and for whom the loss of another child, brother, or sister opens old wounds as we grieve for living in a world that tolerates the abuse of and loss of its children. But, I also hope. I hope that the presence of each survivor makes the world a safer and better home for those who suffer. I hope that all of us who have survived—young and older—will stand up and be counted. And that the message we send by our standing, still, is heard:
You are not alone. We are here. You are loved. You have value. We survived, and so shall you.

NOTE: This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Who I Am: Walking Between Worlds

September 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm (Walking Between Worlds) (, , )

Of late, I have been processing some of the things I have written about here in the context of some recent experiences. As I grow, some aspects of my personality have become more clear to me, more understandable. Writing helps me come to terms with them. And, as my recognition leads to greater understanding, the language evolves. Sometimes I play with that, push at edges, blur lines, explore my own boundaries of self. For a few weeks now, I have had experiences that have raised some issues related to the main thing I talk about here: being a dyke, being biologically androgynous, and having a strong energy that, in the gender binary, is viewed as male energy. This is who I am. And, it brings with it some issues. Some are troublesome. Some are enjoyable. Some are…well…just interesting to me.

Like the friend of my dear Scin who thought I was in transition. Or the way children see me. That, perhaps, is the most interesting. Children, frequently, see me as I actually am. Example:  A friend of mine, with whom I am close, has a boy and a girl. The girl is now five and the boy is three. I have known them for two years and have spent a lot of time with them. Now and then, the girl will stop whatever we are doing and ask me: “Miss Li Li, are you a girl or a boy?” [They call me “Li Li” because the youngest could not pronounce my full name.] The most recent time, the boy answered his sister before I could: “You know who that is; that’s our Li Li.”

For him, it is simple. I am who I am and that is enough for him. There is no male or female. There is no boy or girl. There is simply Li. Unlike his sister, he is, as yet, untainted by the world view of gender. 

So, with that ideal in mind, this is what I will say about who I am in regard to gender identity and sexuality–at least, in my present state of being and understanding.

I am a lesbian. A dyke. I love women. And I am a Butch. As a gift of my particular gene pool, I am physically androgynous. From the time I was five or six years old, I have been assumed to be male at least as often—usually more—as I was correctly assumed to be female. Often, in fact, I have even been asked if I was a hermaphrodite. [Yes. People have actually been gauche enough to ask that to my face.] I have frequently had gay men try to pick me up which always results in hearty laughter and interesting discussion. 

I like to do things that the inadequate language of the gender binary tells us are male in essence: I like to build things; I love tools; I like to play hard and work hard; I like to box; I like to work out; I like to work on cars and motorcycles; I like to refinish furniture; I like to practice archery…and I like to fuck women. I like to watch them walk. I like the way they laugh. I like the feel of soft, smooth girl skin against my calloused hands. I like to lead when I dance with a woman. I like to romance them. I am, by nature a top—although, with Scin, I seem to be able to switch and to like it. I like to play football in the snow with other guys. I like to wrestle with guys. I love martial arts. I like the camaraderie of men.  I am a butch.

In addition, I still often feel out of place in a female body. It has always felt like…well…not what it was supposed to be. But, it was not grossly dysphoric. More and more, I think that is due to the fact that so much of my sense of self was troublesome and difficult in a global way that there was not a sense of one particular thing being the issue. 

Because of a range of factors from the influences of the women’s movement on my generation, to the negative influences of religion, to the inadequacies of the transgender technology during my formative years, I learned to find a way of being in this body which suited me. A way of being I could live with. And, as I grow, my ability to be at home in this form grows and becomes a much better place to be. The fact of a partner who truly sees, “gets” and accepts me is a large part of this growing comfort. While it would appear that people often wonder if I am in transition—or considering it—I can say that I am not. And I do not intend to do so. That may change, but I do not sense that it will. I do share a lot of experiences, feelings and issues with a lot of FTMs.  And, I do relate very strongly to many of my peers who identify as trans-masculine. I have used statements here such as: I am a non-transitioning trans-gendered male in a lesbian body. Some people have not appreciated the hyperbole. I will, no doubt, find other ways to push the language in efforts to increase the dialogue, my own understanding and sense of self, and to generally fuck with the binary ideology. That, too, is part of who I am. I will fuck with a thing until I break it or rebuild it. Either way, understanding increases.

Having said that, I also like my butch cock. I like that it feels like a part of me. I also, however, really enjoy my biological genitalia. Having a partner who understands my body has made it a much more comfortable and sexually satisfying place to be. I am biologically androgynous; it is not something I have created or cultivated. My clitoris, for example, has never reacted in ways that are typical for most females—my clit functions more like a penis. I am good with that. [So is Scin, by the way.] I also build muscle in more of a male way. And there were issues with the functioning of my internal female organs. Yet, I do not plan to transition. I am happy with my life as it is. I am a butch with things in common with many people—just like any other person.

In my somewhat simple thinking, it seems to me that being butch is like any other aspect of being human. It still involves being an individual. The human condition being what it is—universal—I have much in common with many people. There is also much that sets me apart, individualizes me, makes me who I am versus being someone other than who I am. Most importantly, being butch is only part of who I am. I am, like all of us, much more—many things that work to make a whole. So, I am who I am. Like my friend’s little boy says: “you know who that is; that’s our Li.”

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Keeping Up Appearances: Walking Between Worlds

September 9, 2010 at 1:41 pm (Walking Between Worlds) (, , , )

Recently, my partner [Scin] reconnected with an old friend she knew here before we all took off for college. Her friend has become a friend of mine as well and I really connect with and like him. The point of interest here is this: prior to actually meeting me in person, and based solely on photos, he asked Scin if I was in transition. I was not at all offended by this. I was, however, and oddly, surprised. Then, I began to wonder…

I found myself wondering if other people just assume that I am transitioning or that I intend to, or if they wonder why I have not, and simply do not ask. I think it is clear that a primary point of this blog is to have a safe place to discuss my experiences—both positive and not so positive—as a highly androgynous lesbian with a lot of male energy. I talk frequently about how it feels, that it is like walking between worlds, having foot in each realm at times, but never really belonging fully in either. I also talk about this way of being in the world as a large part of my spiritual disposition, that I see it as a kind of gift, the purpose of which I am not always clear about, but which I am willing and happy to explore. It has been my lot in life, since I was very young, to confound the gender binary—often without ever intending to or trying very hard. Pretty much all I have to do is be myself and leave the house. It is a condition which has given me much and which has caused me a fair amount of pain, frustration and discomfort. It has also put me in danger at times.

As a result, I have developed a set of instinctive, self-protective skills and traits to cope with my daily condition. My way of being in the world is such a part of me that I have to push a bit to become conscious of the things I do, how I do them, and what they do for me. This whole thing with the question about transitioning set me to examining, again, my perception of myself as well as the behaviors and traits I have adopted. And, I started trying to look more objectively at photos taken by Scin and others. The past few days have been like peeling a personal onion: I know it is an onion and understand it for what it is, but peeling away layers seems to give way to a renewed understanding of the thing—its characteristics, its form and function, its identity. These are the things I have discovered.

How I see myself the past few days:
One thing that hit me squarely is that I am finally looking more my age. A few more character lines and wrinkles have appeared. So, the boyish look is blurred a bit by the signs of age that suggest I am not an 18 year old boy. Yet, I am not so masculine or haggard by my age that I appear to be a 40-something male. I think this confuses people more now than it did when I was so much more baby-faced. Before, people automatically assigned a male gender to me and assumed I was much younger than I was. I have never been deluded into thinking that I look like the average female. But, for years, I thought of myself simply as really butch but obviously female if a person really looked at me. In recent photos viewed with a little more objectivity, I can see that I do look traditionally male more than anything else. I see, lately, how male I really look through the eyes of those who do not know me, looking through the shades of the gender binary.

You know how it is. You see yourself every day. You live with yourself. You do not see what others see. No one does. At least not without a conscious effort. This personal blind spot is enhanced, I fully realize, by the things I do instinctively and as a matter of course to soften my life and get by with minimal discomfort or violence.

Things I do to get along in the world and compensate:
Over the course of my life, I have become very open and accessible. I speak first in new situations. I engage people and am really quite outgoing. [Still clear about boundaries, but open and friendly.] I have also developed a versatile sense of humor and will often poke fun at myself [in healthy ways, not in mean ways] in order to keep things light. I wear small earrings rather than the larger, thicker manly silver things that I tend to like. I make friends, if only for a moment, everywhere I go—even in the grocery store. The main thing I have learned to do, however, is create safe, familiar, and comfortable environments. I eat at the same restaurants. I get gas at the same places in my town and others. I shop at the same stores for groceries, clothes, and whatnots. In a light-hearted way, I make people familiar with me. And, I come to know people enough to endear them—to ask how the day is going, remember names, ask about the family, joke around and be open. I make myself accessible. I am likeable. This, by the way, takes energy. But, I realize, it has given me much to be this way. I have made lasting friends. I have a sense of home pretty much anywhere. And, I am alive. Had I not developed these traits that are, really, who I am, I would not have faired so well in some situations. And, like all of us who need to, I have a well-developed sense of when to fight or flee. I know how to close off and keep vigilant as well. These traits are not false; it is who I am. But, it did require the removal of some walls, some chips off my shoulders, and a fair amount of trust in the universal flow of things that it is OK to be this way. The result of my way of being is that people are put at ease; once I speak, my gender is clear. No one has to guess. And, I come across as warm and non-threatening. [Even though I can be a huge threat when I have to be.] We all survive in ways that work for us.

So, I have discovered on new levels how insulated I have made myself, if only within the blanket of my own personality and by treading lightly on the earth. The upshot is that I have come to see myself as one tends to see oneself—familiar and focused on other things like being too thin, or wishing I were taller. Aware of my less than feminine appearance, but used to it, accepting, and not focused on it until something happens. More significantly, however, is that this relative sense of home everywhere has dulled my awareness of how I am perceived by others who do not know me. And, possibly, some who do. I really do wonder if people want to ask about transitioning and do not in order to be appropriate and not offend me. I don’t know and likely never will. I do know this: I think I see myself a bit more clearly. And, while I like what I see, I am paying a bit more attention to the reactions of those around me. I am trying to strip away some insulation. As the old saying goes: know thyself. Sometimes, that means being willing to try to see what others see. Sometimes, we learn the most about ourselves through the views and input of others. Of late, what is clear to me is that others see me as I am—a butch woman who appears more masculine than feminine on the binary continuum, and who happens to have a fair dose of masculine energy. I can live with that. And, I am hoping that a greater awareness will help me find a clearer understanding of any greater purpose that might be served by my experiences in the worlds I inhabit.

NOTE: This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Thoughts On Coming to Own My Butch Cock: Part II…Walking Between Worlds

August 24, 2010 at 2:09 am (Walking Between Worlds) (, , , )

In my first installment on this topic, back in March, I wrote about two aspects of the use of a synthetic cock, and my ownership of it as a part of myself, that I believe are essential. Primary of these two concepts is the fact that the activity of penetrating my partner in such a way is not male emulation as it is often viewed by those who frown upon the idea and/or do not understand it. It is, however, an inherent part of and expression of the aspects of my nature [and personhood] that the gender-binary language would label as masculine or male-identified. It is an extension, in a very real way, of my shaft-driven, sexually aggressive, and—for lack of a better description—masculinized clitoris. I have discussed, in other offerings here, the fact that my genitalia have never been responsive in the ways typical to most females, and that, prior to finding a partner who understood me and my body, I thought there was simply something wrong with me because things that so clearly aroused and satisfied other females either annoyed me or served only as arousal stimulus. My clitoris responds more like a dick. And, my cock has become, as I said, a very real extension of the smaller cock-like organ that is my clitoris. This leads to the other aspect of coming to own my cock that I discussed in the first blog on this issue—the fact that, from the beginning, there was a sensation of it being, somehow, part of me physically, mentally, and emotionally. In that piece, I wrote:

… there was only the feel of her legs at my sides, her heels pressing my buttocks, the sight of this life-like cock moving inside her.  There was only this embrace. The feel of the silicone balls against my clitoris. The sound of her responsiveness: her breath at my neck; her breast beneath my tongue.  The explosion of freedom between us.  The wonder of her wrapped in both my arms, tightly. It was as if I began to grow some kind of synthetic nerve endings and became attached to the thing—this appendage both me and not me, part of me and not part of me.  This thing we share is not male emulation…It is simply one of many ways to penetrate her, to join with her, to be in communion together.  It is the loving—and exuberant—expression of a deep desire to please her, to enjoy her, to be as close to her as possible.  And, it is one of many ways to express my very real need to be both inside her and outside of her, to be free to touch her everywhere in every way I can.  It is my butch, baby boi cock.  And, I like it. I like what it does for me and for her. It is mine.  Part of myself.  Part of my identity with her, with us.  It is mine and I own it…and so does she.  It is part of who I am and always have been—finally finding freedom.  It is a deep embrace, indeed.  Not only of her, but of myself as well.  And, it is good.

There has been an evolution of this experience that, several years ago—and even several months ago—I would have scoffed at as even being a physical possibility. In the past in fact, when I heard or read others say it was possible, I had sworn they were full of shit, that it was not neuro-physically possible. For some time now, I have known that is not only possible, but it happens on a regular basis. This evolution is the growing ability to come through my cock, so to speak, without there having to be a particularly direct stimulation against my clitoris. From the start, I was able to come due to the stimulation of my clitoris by the cock itself. And, I was able to do so quite vigorously and satisfactorily.

In fairly short order, however, I found myself coming when the position of my body as I penetrated Scin did not provide a direct stimulation of my smaller, masculinized organ. The first time this happened, I was pleasantly stunned and exceedingly happy about it. Scin was thrilled. We immediately set about seeing if we could make it happen again. It was a long night. And, it did, indeed, happen again. I was, though, surprised…and, I must admit, more than a bit confused. In many ways, it did not make rational sense. In the literal sense, the synthetic cock is not sensual or sentient—it does not feel, does not experience the neurological underpinnings of mentality or emotion, nor is it cellular in its connection to me. Yet, it was.  

Being a friend of the scientific method, I felt we should explore this phenomenon in order that I might get a better sense of exactly what was happening and how it was happening. Scin was happy to help. We tried all sorts of pleasantly stimulating and satisfying positions and activities. We were able to achieve truly enjoyable orgasms, together, in all manner of positions during which there was little stimulation of my actual genitals. Blow jobs were no longer simply arousal foreplay. We found that hand jobs worked as well. My ability to come with my cock has become a regular event and occurs in all manner of sexual activity—as if it is, physically and mentally, a part of me.

What is even more significant is that this ability immediately and effortlessly translated to my soft pack as well. Early in our relationship, the soft pack was a wonderful tool for foreplay. I would pack for fun and Scin would rub my crotch, stoke me,  and play with me in an array of teasing and taunting situations. It was marvelously naughty and exciting. After I began to come when we were fucking with my cock, we discovered—much to our mutual joy—that I could come with the soft pack when she sucked me off or engaged in a vigorous hand job. Because Scin likes, very much, to watch me engage in all kinds of auto-stimulation, we have recently discovered that I can come jerking off with either of them. There are those who would say that it is all in my head, that it is a mental experience only. And, they are wrong. Just as I was wrong before I experienced it. I have a simple way of describing the experience.

It is very much an extension of my own genitalia as well as my overall sensual experience. Sensuality is physical, emotional, mental and—for some of us—in a way, spiritual. It is vibratory. It is excitatory. It is of the physical body, and thus, tactile, visual, auditory and feeling-based. It is organic. The relationship between me and this synthetic organ is a connection that is all things sensual in nature. It is vibratory as the action of my cock inside of Scin moves down the shaft and into me. It is visual as I watch it move in and out of her, and see the effects it produces within her. It is auditory as I hear the sounds we make together—the sounds of our fucking, our sliding and moving into one another, the expressions of arousal and the inspirations and expirations of satisfaction. It is fully tactile as we pull and push into each other, grasp at each other, increase pressure, penetration and contact in an effort to be closer and closer still. It is as physical as physical can be—the sensations, the arousal, the engorgement of blood, make my own woman-dick larger and harder.  It is exciting in the same ways that her hand or her mouth on my boi-clit is exciting. It is all the same. Yet, it is different. It is different in the way that the orgasm I have when she sucks me off on my own clit is different from a hand job. Yet neither is more or less physical or real than the other. Coming with my cock is as real as any other body-oriented way of coming. It is feeling-based. It is emotional. It is mental and physical. It is as I described it from the beginning:

…this appendage both me and not me, part of me and not part of me… her legs at my sides, her heels pressing my buttocks, the sight of this life-like cock moving inside her.  There was only this embrace… It is the loving—and exuberant—expression of a deep desire to please her, to enjoy her, to be as close to her as possible.  It is part of who I am and always have been—finally finding freedom.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.


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Non-transitioning Trans…What? Walking Between Worlds

June 1, 2010 at 11:19 pm (Walking Between Worlds)

Clearly, this post is a follow-up to last week’s post. Not one of my better discussions–or better weeks for that matter. At any rate, there were some things I felt I needed to say if only for myself. I wanted to let you know–the few of you who pop by regularly–that I will be away for a bit.  There is a lot going on and there are a lot of things I need to take care of around here, with Scin, with the doctor, with job-hunting, with…well, you get the picture. Also, however, I have been thinking a lot lately about why I come here, the things I say and or do not say, and what is being served by my being here…I can you know, prattle on in my own head. I’ve been thinking about this so much it has taken me three days of writing and rewriting to get this post done. That never happens. So, I need to take some time to re-evaluate some things for a day or two–or three or more. I’ll poke my head in now and then to see if you all had things to say. And, I’ll let you know what I come up with in all my thinking and rethinking. Have a good week!

Non-transitioning Trans What…?? 

It would seem that some of the finer point in my last post kind of got lost in all the other heavier issues. [Thanks to all of you who have sent love and support. I feel it. And, it is good.] The playfulness and explorative features in the telling of my trip to the doctor and my choosing of language that more clearly describes the male aspects of my nature did not, it appears, come across as well as I had hoped. This happens. A thing works in your head and you put it out there and it doesn’t quite get to the place you want it to go…well…the map is not exactly the territory now, is it? So, I felt it was maybe a good idea to expand the discussion a bit. If only for my own continued clarification.

I have been thinking lately of some things Kate Bornstein says in one of her books, My Gender Workbook. [If you have not read this or Gender Outlaw, I suggest that you do.] Anyway, in My Gender Workbook, Kate discusses her belief that gender is really not the big question, that there may be other things in the human experience that are bigger. She presents us with the idea that gender is more like a play thing. I am inclined to agree with her. And, in many ways, I have definitely played with my gender all of my life. As I have grown, and—I hope—evolved, the levels of playfulness with and understanding of my gender have grown as well.  As has my willingness to play with the language about it all. Until recently, I thought for many years that I had pretty much figured out all I needed to regarding the issues and questions I had once had about my gender, that I had successfully reached a point of comfort, awareness and, yes, playfulness. I now know that this was partially true—I had reached that place. But place changes as we do. And, if we’re on this side of the dirt and still moving, we are changing. 

The changes in myself, of late, are related to awareness—to a more mindful being in my skin and a more mindful interaction with my partner. It is true that when the person we love also loves us in a way that is both understanding and accepting, we begin to feel more free to just be. To simply be as we are, be present, and be seen and experienced by that person. That level of intimacy is a gift. It is in that intimacy—in that being-ness—that Scin and I became very aware of the things in my physical nature that are not the norm for most women. I had spent most of my adult life thinking that my body was not able to respond to or really enjoy certain aspects of sexual behavior. I had, wrongly it appears, assumed that it must be an issue with my body rather than an issue with all of my previous sex partners—of which there had been many. [Interestingly, even in our college days, Scin was the only partner I had who was able to please me in certain ways; it seems only fitting that the new discoveries should occur with her as well.] Almost immediately in my reunion with Scin, it was apparent that there was, indeed, no dysfunction in my genitals. Clearly, there had been some degree of operator error, so to speak, which had in turn resulted in my repeatedly not feeling it was worth exploring ways to create a more satisfying experience. My current experience is satisfying indeed. But, it is also very affirming.

Through our sexual exchange, I [and we] have simply become aware that my body—as well as my psychology—is much more masculine than I had thought. I had always been aware that there were some differences in my body compared to other females; for example, I build muscle and body shape differently from most women. But, by definition, I was still clearly female. I now know that there are real male-like qualities to the body I inhabit—one which I, previously, regarded as truly female. I inhabit a body that is female by definition and form. I had always perceived my maleness as more of a sense of self—an aspect of my personal psychology and spirituality—than a part of my physical being. I now know this is not entirely true. There are many things—things I discussed with my doctor—about my body that are truly more masculine than feminine. It was nice to have my [and Scin’s] perceptions and experiences of my physicality confirmed. It is not all in my head; the butch in me is also present in my body structure and its responses. I am the coming together of many things into one personality that is more male than female. My understanding of my sense of self is deepening. 

I am, as are we all, many things. All of the things that make up the person I am are a mixture of biological predispositions, environmental influences, and experiences. We are all tapestries of nature and nurture. These aspects of self are relatively constant in that they do not vary much from a relative norm that is who I am; but they are also in flux—subject to change within the continuum that is my personhood. What I have been experiencing of late is simply a deepening of that self—a growing understanding of the form and functions of my physical self, my psychology, my intellectual qualities, and my emotional range, in relation to my inner self, to others, and to the world around me. 

I have been playing with language that best captures this deepening of self—this growing and evolving self understanding. I still find the language frustrating. This is because we still discuss gender in a system of binary opposition. The language we use to discuss gender and its variations is limited. Even the task itself is frustrating because I am not separate aspects, qualities, preferences, likes, dislikes, and characteristics any more than anyone else is. We are all so much more than the sum of our parts or the individual qualities and quirks that constitute our selves. However, we live in a world of dualistic thinking and binary codifications.

When I use language such as non-transitioning, transgendered male, or daddy for that matter, I am speaking about a deeper understanding of myself as a person who is, really, more male on the continuum, but who is still a female and living as such. And, doing so happily…more happily all the time. That is the overview. The non-transitioning phrase refers to the fact that I have chosen and still choose to not transition to a physically male gender. When I first, long ago, made the decision to remain female, it was because I did not trust the science. As I moved through my adulthood, it became more about the fact that I had found ways to be accepting of my gender, to find ways to enjoy it, and to play with it and to push and blur the lines. The phrase “transgendered male” refers to the realization that there are many very male attributes to my physicality, that these have always been there [without taking T or any other substances] and that I now understand them better.  It also refers to the very real maleness in my head–that is, in my personality and my personhood.

These terms, used in a playful but serious way, are the results of my search for a common, adequate language—a language for identifying and discussing my growing understanding of and acceptance of my more male attributes. And, I have been pushing at that language—hoping to bend it, test its boundaries, shape and reshape it as I do my own gender being.

The truth is, I realize, that it is not really necessary. I know very well who I am and what I am. And, I like who I am and what I am—now more than ever. I have a lover [soon to be my wife] who understands, accepts, and really enjoys who and what I am. I am enjoying the journey. I am enjoying my sexuality more than ever. And, I am feeling good about this increased understanding of the male existing in my body, not just in my psychology. At the end of the day, whether I find a language for discussing this deepened sense of self knowing that makes sense and is accessible to others really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know myself a bit better, that I inhabit my skin a bit more firmly, and some of my previous struggles now make more sense to me. I am a little lighter as I walk this world. That is a good thing.

  NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Hey Daddy: Walking Between Worlds

May 25, 2010 at 12:07 am (Walking Between Worlds) (, , , , )

As relationships grow and evolve, it is fairly normal [and often healthy] for there to be moments of discussion about the relationship—the need arises to reflect, to process, to seek greater understanding and closeness. Recently, Scin and I had one such conversation. It is a discussion we have revisited because it is an important one. The topic reflects significant foundational aspects of the connection between us, the love we share, our respect for and understanding of each other, and some fundamental underpinnings in our sexual interactions. There had been an interaction developing in our sex life in small waves and ripples which became one giant wave in one particular evening. What occurred between us was an exchange that many people would refer to as Daddy–Little Girl role playing.

Except, it isn’t really. This, in fact, was the point of the discussion.  We had observed that what was occurring between us was not the classic Little Girl–Daddy exchange we read about all over the blogsphere. We knew what it was not. We needed a better understanding of what it was. Especially since, for both of us, it was—and is—highly erotic and…well…hot.

And, especially, since we had discussed and were clear about my discomfort with many of the exchanges we read about so often. I have always been uncomfortable with anything that smacks of age play or that even comes near a mimicry of pedophilic power-over and sublimation.  Much of my discomfort comes out of my experiences in the fifteen years I spent as a therapist treating the people no one else wanted to treat—the indigent, broken beyond broken, forgotten of our society. Another factor is the nebulous, not fully formed memories from my own childhood. I do not judge others or judge what works for them; but, I respect my own comfort zones as much as I respect the space and predilections of others. So does Scin. Thus, when things like “you are such a good girl” or, “daddy is so pleased with you…” began to fall out of my mouth and produced the responses both of us experienced, it was something we felt we should talk about and explore.  There are a few dynamics we discovered as we talked.

Firstly, it is important to put the exchange in its proper context: that being, there is no context really. What happens in both our verbal exchange and our sexual posturing is not role playing. There is no creation of a scene. There is no adoption of a particular persona for the sake of sex play. It is an organic expression of our personalities and the intimacies of our relationship that seem to simply occur between us—naturally, without any real forethought or confabulation. The sexual dynamic seems also to be a kind of extension of our natural playfulness—as in: to be full of play; pleasantly humorous or jesting. We play. We jest. She calls me “baby boi.”  I call her “baby girl.” These are terms of endearment that fit our personalities and identities. So, that said, there is a particular factor that has significant impact on our sexual expression. 

The primary factor is that I am finally in a place where my two-spiritedness is not only understood but fully accepted. I have never felt quite like a girl. Never. I was never comfortable around other girls. I understood them not at all. They made me nervous and I never felt like one of them. I understood boys. I felt at home with them. And, once out of sight of my mother, I would take off my shirt, hang it out of my back pocket and run around playing with the guys. I preferred them to girls—except I liked to look at girls. A lot. In some strange way, I always felt as if I was a boy, but that I wasn’t grown up yet. I knew there were differences between myself and boys. I knew I had parts like other girls. But in some place in my mind, it felt like I just had not finished growing yet. I was dismayed and nearly destroyed when I started having periods. I felt as if something were dreadfully wrong—and it was my fault somehow; I had in some way failed to make a proper decision to develop as a boy; I had failed to get it right. As if there were a choice. I am, by traditional social standards, a woman with intense male energy. I greet the world and people in it with a sort of masculine spiritual demeanor. People unconsciously respond to me as if I am male. I confuse straight women. They respond to me as they would a male and it throws them off. Men respond to me as one of the guys. And, yet… 

I am also possessive of traits that are seen as traditionally feminine. I am highly nurturing, gentle in general, fairly compassionate—and passionate, about a lot of things—and capable of a great loving kindness. But, I am prone to be aggressively protective. I am also very practical, linear, rational and mechanically inclined. When I was tested, I was almost equilaterally right-to-left brain oriented. So, what do you get when you put all of this into a very androgynous body packed full of male energy? You get a daddy. 

And, Scin is very much a woman who responds to this kind of male presence. She is, in many ways, a daddy’s girl—a fully grown woman who, beneath all her self-assuredness and independence, wants to be cared for, fawned over a little, and wants to please and be accepted. The girl in her loves to laugh, play, engage in silliness, dance and sing. She is also very much a grown woman. She is filled with a sexuality that is confident, powerful, sensual and unselfconscious. She is mature, competent, professional, and a wonderful mother to her son. She has a strong sense of self and is kind and nurturing. She is also strong-minded, willful at times, and is used to taking care of things—used to having to compensate for not getting the kind of caring, nurturing acceptance and support she needed. And, it is not easy for her to be submissive. It never has been. She is a marvelous blending of aspects. These qualities create the main factor that responds so strongly to the daddy traits she sees in me.

In all of this, she and I both are lesbian to highest degree. We express a butch–femme dynamic not because of some philosophy, but because it is simply who we are. It is the blending of energies in me that she has always responded to—that and the fact that I accept them in myself, embrace them, and have learned to live in and enjoy my female body.  For me, the eroticism does not come from a place of desiring a little girl and wanting to sexualize her. Rather, it is something much more powerful and significant. I do not see her as a girl. I see, all at once, all the aspects of her girl-like self manifested in the personhood of this sexually powerful woman. In many women, the little girl is hard to find; she is long gone, murdered by her experiences. Scin wears both her girlhood and her womanhood as she does all things: out loud and proud. It is hot indeed. And, I say to her: show daddy what a big girl you have become.

And she shows me. It is everything good and pure and naughty and nasty. It is edgy and profoundly intimate. And, it is so largely because there is no assumption of false roles. We are simply being who we actually are. Relating to each other as equals who understand and accept each other.  There is something highly erotic about being fully seen and understood. There is something intensely sensual about being loved. That bareness is stimulating indeed. But, there is more.

There is trust. The trust it requires for her to feel a desire to give herself over to me, to release all control and allow me complete access to her, is indeed a powerful force. That she can be so vulnerable—something she does not do easily—and know she is completely safe is highly erotic for her. And, for me. For me, it is the blending of all these attributes that is so sexually charged—the innocence of trust, the child-like openness to be cared for, to be loved, in perfect balance with a mature, confident sexuality. See, this is a big part of it. The safety in the vulnerability. The act of choosing to be fully open and present with your lover, your mate. She knows I will never harm her, that I will nurture her and lift her up even as I penetrate and explore her. Likewise, I know I am fully safe with her. The old no-fly zones are gone. This mutuality of trust and openness is at the core of the submissiveness and dominance that moves within our sexuality. It is not role playing. It is not contrived. It is fluid. 

We move easily and effortlessly between the relinquishing of control and the expression of it. In either case, it is just that—it is an expression of control rather than a use of it. It is both instinctive and conscious. We do this from a place of deep and abiding love for each other. Yet, the energy, the dynamic itself, does not change. Mine is still a highly masculine energy that submits to her when she calls me “boi” and tells me what she wants. She is still the same woman, girlish in all the best ways, who opens her legs and herself to me when I ask her to do so. What occurs between us is not a role playing of any kind. No matter who is doing what to whom, it is an expression of energies, a fluid and organic movement of trust, desire and love, into sexual acts of endearment. When I call her baby girl, she answers because she knows it is one way I express my love and acceptance of her. And, when she says “hey daddy,” I answer not because it is play time, but because it is part of who I am. 

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.


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So, What Is It All About?…Walking Between Worlds

May 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm (Walking Between Worlds)

“If you hear nothing else I say, you need to hear this;” she said as she turned her desk chair toward me in order to look me in the eyes: “ this is not about you.”

I smiled. “I know that in my head,” I responded. “But, after almost three years, it feels like it is about me—like it is a reflection of me…” I paused. Her gaze was constant, reassuring and empathetic. “It feels like I must be some monumental fuck-up.” She nodded. Somehow, I knew she understood.

I was in her office because I called her out of desperation and asked if she thought she could help me find a job. An actual new career would be nice. But, at this point, an adequate job would do. She gladly made room in her schedule. Sandy is actually a friend of mine and recently changed job paths herself. She works for Goodwill in a position that is grant-funded by stimulus package money. And, the purpose of her job is to help people exactly like me: folks who, for one reason or another, are displaced and in need of employment; a large number of her clients are higher-end professionals like me.  I felt sure that all of them feel like I do and never thought they would be sitting in an office at the Goodwill seeking help to find a job.

Sandy confirmed all of this as she explained to me the many ways that the world has changed—and, not all of those changes are due to a bad economy. Many of us have watched the change occurring over time. A fair amount of it is due to a shift in business thinking that began, noticeably, during the Regan-Bush era. This shift moved us toward larger businesses with more branches, off-shoots and partners, greater  power and control, even more top-heavy management, and a greater degree of corporate greed, self protection and self preservation. There are several resulting trends. A growing lack of customer service: customer service now means sales. Poorer working conditions, less pay, and fewer—if any—benefits for workers. Increased pay and bonuses at the top end. Pay cuts at the worker end. And, the awful truth is that the smaller companies have had to adopt many of the same practices just to stay in business. [This is an area where my previous business partner and I parted ways. He wanted to be like the big guys; I did not.] Even though Sandy and I had an interesting discussion of these things, her point was one I had experienced but had not found words to articulate.  And, although her voice was calm and kind, beneath it was the slight tone of anger and frustration she clearly felt—emotions not unlike my own. Very matter-of-factly, she said:

“The sad truth is this. The more skills you have, the more experience you have…the more educated and talented you are, the less likely you are to find a job. I have a stack this thick—[she gestured what would be about 8 inches]—of people with resumes like yours. It sucks and it doesn’t help, but you are far from alone…”

Of course, Sandy knew that I have enough sense to know these things; she even stated that she was sure I had figured this out. I did not need for her to give me a crash course in Capitalism run amok or the current economy. What I did need, she gave me. I needed validation.  After nearly three years of applying for an average of five jobs per week, hearing nothing from most of them, and enduring [thankfully infrequent] humiliating and debasing interviews maybe once every three months, I needed a little help in the perspective department. I have been beaten by these circumstances to the point of feeling like a boxer who keeps getting up, but can barely stand and is too swollen and bloody to see the other guy. I needed to get back a sense of reality.

Often when we are dealing with large things by ourselves, there is a point where we become unsure if we are clear about the thing; we begin to doubt our own senses and our thinking. It is a great help—and is often necessary—for someone else to look at the thing with us and say, “yep; you’re right…that big thing out there is a pile of shit.”

So, if it is not about me, or about us—us being the older, more professionalized, highly skilled group of people who are seeking work—what is it all about?

It is about some really serious and sad truths. Unemployment numbers are still at the highest they have been since the Great Depression. Jobs are being created in some areas, but more are being lost every day in others. Working conditions for those with jobs are worsening each day. And, the majority of the wealth in this country is controlled by about the top 2% of the population. There are more excesses and abuses in business operations now than we could have imagined due to the gross deregulation measures put in place over the past 20 years…Well, that is not true; we did imagine them and the resulting picture was the reasoning behind the creation of regulatory measures that have since been deconstructed. We were in a recession for nearly a year before anyone would use the word. Now, the mess we are in could be called a depression. There are two primary reasons that we have not crumbled completely as we did in the Depression. One is the presence of the social reforms and support programs put into place as a result of the Depression; there is a burden and growing cost for this too. And, the other is that there is a greater degree of relative wealth in the first place due to many factors—not the least of which is the greater integration of our society on many levels including the closeness of communities, communication and information exchange, as well as financial practices and systems. It is also about the basic self-preserving fact that employers are afraid that people they view as overly qualified will leave for better jobs. The fact is that this is a condition of their own making. Moving from a relative respect for and investment in workers to an attitude of minimal investment for dime-a-dozen employees has created a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I said, even smaller companies have adopted the same kinds of operations practices as the large corporations. An example is the trend toward hiring only part-time employees. It is not a pretty picture. 

Despite all of this, I left Sandy’s office with some hope. At the least, I know it really is not about me. And, she assured me that I am one of the more employable people seeking her help—if only because I planned really well and can work for less that I was used to making. I believe that she and her team can help me find a job. And, I continue to believe that there is some reason that I am going through all of this, that it all serves some as yet unseen purpose and that more will be revealed. Maybe that is just a denial system to make me feel better, but I believe there is some payoff in all of this.  And, as much as it is not about me, it is also about me. It is about how I handle and process all that I am going through to find a job and get back on track. It is about how I choose to perceive things and how I react to them. It is about what I learn about myself and the world I inhabit—and what I do with what I learn. So, I continue to try to learn. I try to become a better self in the process. I do the next right thing in front of me. And, I hope for the prospective employer who sees value in his/her workers, sees my potential, and takes a chance on an fairly educated, overly experienced, likely over-qualified, old professional in transition. Stranger things have happened.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Walking Between Worlds

May 9, 2010 at 10:43 am (Walking Between Worlds) (, , )

Moments in the Story of Us

“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self.”                    John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom 

There is a rhythm to everything in the universe. Atoms. Molecules. Days. Seasons. People. Relationships. All things spinning and vibrating in the rhythmic connections that become ourselves, the world around us, the world within us—and the worlds we create together. Now and then, if we are lucky, we find a person whose rhythms and ways of being complement our own. If we are really lucky, our ways of being and moving in the world meet and awaken something deep within us: a place of knowing both our self and the other so intimately that it is like some ancient recognition only half remembered. It is as if we look into the mirror of the other and see our inner self more clearly while, at the same time, fully seeing and accepting that person as well. There is recognition and understanding. There is grace. There is belonging and fullness. The love that grows in this place is almost unspeakable.

It is in this kind of connection that we create the relationship of the three: the individual self; the individual other; and the third whole made in this union—the relationship itself. Because the two are whole persons coming together to make a living union, there is no needy desperation; no possessiveness; no competition; no manipulation; no fear of the other’s personhood. Each person is not only free to become, but is encouraged to do so by the grace of the relationship. In the path to the other, the self is fully present, not diminished; in the path to the self, the other walks closely beside, hand in hand. It is a hand-fasting of interdependence and loving empowerment in which each person is made a better, stronger, more fully actualized self. There is rhythmic giving and receiving, lifting up and being lifted, connecting and reconnecting as each member grows and the union deepens. It is not forced or contrived; it simply is. It is the nature of the two in an almost innate communion.

These relationships are rare. When we find them, we have found something akin to the miraculous. Often, we stumble on them and, in our fumbling to not fall, we fail to see them. They are such rare things, we do not register what we see. Or, we are simply ill prepared to fully grasp them. For Scin and me, it was there even in the beginning. There is no doubt that, in some ways, we saw and registered what was there between us. But we were young and ill prepared. Because we had the good sense to preserve, at least, the friendship, we are able to be here now. Beginning again. Recognizing and preserving the anam cara.

These are the things I thought about as I sat, again, in the large aloneness that is Logan airport waiting for my return flight home. I drank coffee in the main concourse and resisted the urge to call her and tell her to turn around. I reminded myself that I had to go home to work. I thought of all the things that served to bring us to this place, this decision to explore what a second chance might bring us. Each day of this journey convinces me that everything each of us has been through has, in some way or another, given us what we need to be here now—to be both ready and able to walk this path as whole people who choose each other.

As if we were on some shared vision quest, some common right of passage, we were given experiences and lessons that prepared us for this coming together. What we have found in this reunion has been, at once, surprising and yet not so surprising. From the beginning over 26 years ago, we had an immediate bond, a kind of recognition as if we had met before. We had instant sexual chemistry; but there was more between us. We shared a quirky, often dry humor. We liked the same movies, writers and music. Intellectually, we were clearly well matched. We were even kind of geeky in the same ways. We were different enough to be interesting and individual, but alike enough to bond us deeply. And, that butch-femme energy between us was like a static charge in crisp air. We were like orange and blue on the color wheel. And, in our time with others, we have learned things that make us careful and attentive to what we have. So, it is not a shock that those bonds have remained; nor is it surprising that new connections have grown out of the underlying networks of attraction.

There is an easiness to being in the same place daily—like stepping into the warmish ocean, gently pushing off and floating without effort. There is a hardness to leaving, a dull edge that seems to push painfully against me like being pressed against a wall in a crowded room. Each coming together brings us closer. We fall more easily, each visit, into the rhythm that we are becoming together. It is simple to enter that ebbing and flowing of daily activities that make up a life shared.

We never run out of things to talk about or laugh about. We naturally move through our days as if we have always been here—making breakfast for ourselves and her son, assuring that homework is done, each taking on tasks that suit us, waiting for the school bus, going about work and play like two people who belong together…as we do. We are so right for each other that even difficult things are handled with a knowing presence and caring attention. There is no real discord. We do not bicker. When issues arise, we seem to just talk and move through them as if they are simply part of the room, things we acknowledge and arrange as we need to in order that they fit. There is no desperation. All that comes our way seems to exist inside the rare respect and admiration for each other that covers us. We live together in an almost instinctive, quiet awareness of what we have been given and its value is preserved without strain. We simply are. What we are together takes its place around us like air. There is almost a scent, a fragrance, to the we that walks among us. We wear it with comfort. Each visit is an increasing of the we. Yet, unlike most of the relationships we have known before, there is no loss of the I. In fact, we are each made more—the understanding, acceptance, respect and regard that binds us makes us, each, better and more free to become. It is simple and affirming to be in this uncommon abiding.

It is not simple to leave it. We cope in our own different ways. There is, to this too, a rhythm. In that 48 to 24 hours before I leave, changes come. Scin turns slightly inward. The tendency toward insomnia that leaves me in her presence returns and I walk the house, write her notes, inch myself close to her and watch her sleep. The passion that drives our intense love-making becomes softer, less fevered. There are more elongated embraces, more frequent reaching for a hand to hold, fingers to entwine. Long looks are almost avoided. The protection from the wrenching of separation begins. In the car, driving to the airport, we talk. We say things we need to say—all the while, touching constantly, holding firmly to a finger, a hand, a thigh.

This time, she could not walk me in; she needed to be home when her son got off the bus. I watched her pull away. The leaving was like the unmedicated removal of an organ. Something in me breaks each time I leave her. It is fully mended only by the sight of her again, the touch of her skin on mine, the restoration of what has been severed. It is like a bruise that will not heal.  I am still whole, but not whole. Still myself, but a self in some kind of exile. We are in limbo and connected only by the sound of our voices on the phone. So, I am here now. She is there. We are voices in the ether. Somehow, this is a fitting living metaphor for what we are together.

This thing between us is greater than anything either of us have known before, except with each other then and now; it is simply deeper now and more mature. It is not just bodies touching, it is souls reuniting. It is bodies, minds, and spirits walking in the air of a union finally made real. The ancient thing half remembered is recognized and fully realized. It grows and becomes more with each returning, each separation, each day of creative connection. I reminded myself of these things as I waited for my plane. It was this knowledge that made me able to board the plane and come home. It is this knowing that sits with me here, makes it possible to move through this time apart. Soon, there will be no more leaving. Soon, there will be only the evolution of a life more fully shared.  That day cannot come soon enough. 

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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