One of the things that is true; and that I have been pondering, is that when you come out, your family comes out. I mean; once I am full time, then all of my son’s friends will know. My baby will be fine, I think. I just worry about what will change for him. I know he has a good job. He is ready to start school. He makes good money. He can stand on his own. He has had it hard. We all have.
His mother was the anchor, the glue. I am more like the scotch tape. I could never fill that gap. I am not as strong as her. She just knew stuff. I just want to know that I am doing the right thing. He says everything will be ok, but I can’t help but feel apprehensive. He didn’t sign up for this. He said once I start living as my authentic self; he may not be as willing to be with me in public at first, and that’s ok. I asked why, do you think I won’t pass? He said no; it’s just the idea, the act. So I asked him, “do you not want me to transition?”. His words, “that would be wrong; you should get to be you, it’s just going to take me some time to get used to”.
My middle son (the transphobic bisexual) has not been told. I think he knows; because he brings up something concerning transgender, on a daily basis, but I am not telling him until I am ready.
The baby’s girlfriend? She knows. He said she has always known. When he told her, her reply was duh! She went on to tell him; I wore tight clothes, my walk and mannerisms were feminine, my cologne smelled feminine ( men’s Dolce & Gabbana blue, really?), and I just look feminine. Am I that obvious?
The only other person I care about, is my aunt. Her and my mom were very close. She is like a second mom. In actuality; I think that I would have had an easier time coming out to my mom, if she were still alive. My aunt, it’s hard to get a read on. We talk, or text, at least once a week. She may have already figured me out.
Words cannot express how much I miss my bride. She was supposed to accompany me. Kind of an activities director. It was her; that researched the city we moved to. She researched its acceptance level. When she found out about their “non-discrimination” law, she decided this was the place. She lead us here. She pushed us to be better people. I once said something about just being a man in a dress. She was having none of that. She built me up. Where I am; everything I become, it’s because of her. When I would try to go further into the closet; it was her that would coax me out. Did I already say I miss her. Even in death, she still inspires me. I mourn her daily.
So there it is. Part of my journey is ending, but most of it just beginning. I am full of excitement, fear, and anxiety. This is like a panic attack on steroids. I have become an “expert” on confronting my fears. A “fear of being feminine”, pushed me into the army. A fear of heights pushed me to being a paratrooper. This has helped me. I have learned that every good journey begins with a strong exit out of the door. The aircraft is in the in the air; the door is open, my static line is hooked up. I am staring down the jump master; waiting for the red light, to turn green.
My night will collide with morning, probably without the benefit of sleep. Too many demons this time. They just smiled, and kept on coming. This just feels like one of those nights that would have me screaming in my sleep. I just can’t do that. I will sleep later, after my middle and baby are at work.
God I miss Lilith. She was my strength, when I was week. My Éowyn. My shield maiden. My dragon slayer. My soulmate.
I had lost myself. I was in the Army, at Ft. Benning. I had a counselor that outed me to my first sergeant; he in turn, threatened to put me to the battalion and wife. Emotionally, I was at the bottom. I took a razor blade to my wrist. I told my wife that I was depressed and couldn’t take it anymore, and the army was discharging me. I had planned to get her home and finish killing myself.
My bride drove us, our dog, and our cat, two days. All by herself. I just sat there; in a daze, sleeping. I can’t hear Melissa Etheridge’s Sleep While I Drive, without crying. I won’t go into detail but everything turned out ok. I had to go back to Georgia. My bride pestered the battalion commander daily, until my discharge came through.
She was my soulmate. We knew each other’s thoughts. We were part of each other’s future.
She made me do things I didn’t want to do. She made me do the right thing.
Every time I tried to break down, she stopped me. While she was going through dialysis, I tried to have a nervous breakdown. She would stop me.
She had to see our baby graduate high school. Less than a week later, she had a major stroke. She couldn’t sit up. The part of her brain that controlled her equilibrium was damaged. The neurologist wanted to send her to a rehab hospital. We talked. I told her that I couldn’t live in a world without her. I had to promise I would stay to take care of our pugs, cats, and our youngest. She worked hard. She left the hospital using a walker, but under her own power.
She ditched the walker; but she couldn’t walk the dogs on her own. She loved to drive, but she never drove again. We never made it back to North Padré Island. The grocery store; once a week, was all she could take. The last mall trip, she made it inside to Bath and Body Works. She was worn out.
Every time I find something humorous on my phone; I look to her side of the bed to show her, I forget. I dream a thousand dreams nightly, that she lives in. I can’t sleep because she will not be there to wake me when I scream; to comfort my tears. To hold me.
In the morning of October 15, 2016; at Methodist Hospital, in San Antonio Texas, My Lilith passed away. She was my soulmate. For over 25 years we followed each other on an amazing adventure. She was the voice of reason; but always gave in to my spontaneous ideas. She was the strongest woman I ever knew. She was my soulmate. She was my night sky watching, dance in the thunderstorm, listen to the ocean, goddess. I feel broken. I am lost. She had been ill for sometime. She had a major stroke in June; right after our baby graduated high school. Sometimes it’s as if she wanted to leave us all sooner, but wanted to make sure everything was going to be ok. I told her in June; while she was in ICU; that I could not live on this earth with out her. She assured me I could; that I would have to. She made me “pinky swear” that I would go on. I had to promise that our pugs, cats, and children would be taken care of. In that order. She had her priorities.
I am not the easiest person to love; but she did it, unconditionally. She is the one that knew Brenda the most. She knew that my male self was just a shell. She knew that the only reason I kept in my male self was because I had a responsibility to be her husband. now, that is gone. We had a gameplan. Move to San Antonio. Get the baby through high school. Let Brenda live. We were waiting until we moved from this horrible pay by the week hotel, into something more permanent. Now that is becoming a reality; but I have a lot of guilt and trepidation. I know she would want me to be happy; but I just don’t know. I don’t know what my next move is. I just need this pain to leave; or lessen.
Our ideas of death and ceremony had changed throughout the years. I wanted to be cremated; but she wanted us to have a traditional burial. As time wore on, her views changed. The way that her health had deteriorated over the past several years meant that she had to under go varying types of diagnostic procedures. Her most dreaded procedure was the MRI. She had become increasingly claustrophobic. After he last MRI she told me; “when I die please don’t put me in a coffin”. She referred the MRI’s as “fucking” MRI’s. She said that she wanted to be cremated; and her ashes scattered at a place special to us, on the Texas coast. I am going to do that, but I am just not ready to part with her ashes. A couple of months back; she fell in love with a beautiful Coach handbag. Her ashes are in a plastic square container. I am going to buy her that purse; put the ashes container inside, and set it on her bed side table.
People are well meaning: they mention God’s will, God’s time, God Never gives us more than we can bear. Well, that will not work with me. She’s is here. She is in my heart. She hides in my peripheral vision. I can hear her whisper. I feel her warmth in the morning when I wake up; and at night when I sleep. She never left.
With advent of Black Lives Matter, some pockets of our society have become more empathetic towards different minority groups. I can honestly say that a dose of empathy can go along way with understanding the plight of disadvantaged groups, but you will never truly know what it is like to live and breath as that person.
You will not know what it’s like to see a stranger in the mirror; every morning. You see you. A you no one else can see. The eye color is the same; but your hair is longer, your nose has more of a point, your cheek bones higher. A complexion, and face structure that has remained unravaged by testosterone coursing through out your body.
You won’t know how they know. Closet, or not. Straight as an arrow. They will know. They will call you: sissy, gay, sodomite, faggot. You just sit there shocked, hurt, confused. How did they know.
You won’t know what it is like to out alpha everyone. Killing, parachuting, shooting, look at me I have to be a man. That little girl hidden.
You won’t know what its like to go past racks of clothing; crying inside, because you can’t try it on. Your heart breaking each time you put on the male costume.
You won’t know what its like to have to balance your true cost of living authentically. What can your spouse accept. What will she accept. Even if you never transition, will your shear existence drive her away.
You won’t know what its like to check your friends; make sure that they are there. To make sure you didn’t lose anyone during the night. Like a squad leader; making sure your squad made it back from the last patrol in Fallujah.
See; all if that is the normal, in my community. Its not for the faint of heart. Its just what we do. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. Sometimes the demons win.
The act of being transgender is the utmost act of societal rebellion; in a world that respects normality. We forsake so much.
I call it the fucking pink grenade.
Once you pull the pin, that’s it. Sure; you can put the pin back, but it’s not going to fit right, and it will be a matter of time before it falls out again. Once the fucking pink grenade blows; it will affect everyone it touches. Those closest are the ones it affects the most. The shrapnel cuts deep.
Friends and acquaintances are scarred; and cut, but functional.
Aunts, and cousins will take or leave you. Parents that will morn of what’s become; but wives, that’s a whole other garden of emotions.
My bride is my soul mate. When I hurt; we hurt. When she is sad, we are sad. There are two times in our marriage when I have shut her out. The first time I sliced my wrists; the second time I had to fight to make her stay. Now she knows why. Her knowing doesn’t make it any easier.
The truth shall set you free. Well, the truth leads to showing each other posts of clothing, shoes, and purses on Facebook. Hushed tones in public, “OMG! did you see what she was wearing”. Her shopping at Ross, and me holding up blouses and asking “how does this look?”. Am I serious? Depends on the top. We have always had this playful banter. I ruined her crystal encrusted heels on a football field, (sorry) I ruined her favorite bra, (sorry I have bigger boobs than you). some of that before I came out to her on July 17, 2012.
The truth is a lot has changed in the past four years. Except for her support. She says she has no limits. I am afraid to test it. If I could I would shield her from the pink fucking grenade. I don’t really care about anyone else. Let the shrapnel land were it may. Lilith, you are amazing.
Christine Daniels, Mike Penner
On November 27, 2009, a post from a transgender girl named Brianne came across my Twitter news feed. “Today we lost one of our own; Mike Penner (Christine Daniels) is dead.” I knew Penner had reverted back to his birth name. I had no idea that he was going to hook a garden hose up the exhaust on his Toyota Camry. This one hit me hard.
There is no right way to do this one. He was born Mike Penner; he changed his name to Christine Daniels, then she switched it back to Mike Penner when she de-transitioned. I am going to use female pronouns and name.
She was before Jenner. I was familiar with her writing. She was a sports writer for the Los Angeles times. She was their soccer expert. When she came out; it was news. She was at the center of a Newsweek story about MtF transgender.
So much of her story was relatable to me; soccer fan, writer, married, and now transgender.
I wasn’t ready to accept myself yet. I didn’t know about any normal transgender girls. I still thought there was a magic cure. I had started seeing a therapist that was coaxing me little by little from the deepest closet. Christine Daniels, she made it seem ordinary.
Each day I would look for an update on her blog. Sometimes it was about David Beckham’s foray into the MLS; other times it was things like receiving a friendly gift of delicate handkerchiefs, because a friend said she would shed many years before it got better.
Her normal made me seem normal. She seemed to have it all together. Days stretched to weeks without a blog update. Weeks turned into months. Then one day, Christine was gone. Everything associated with Christine Daniels was gone. Mike was back.
Well, in name, Mike was back. Her writing was forthright and no nonsense. Gone were the little quips of humanity. She wrote like a robot putting together sentences. Her column became a chore to read. My trips to the LA Times website were fewer and far between. Then she was gone completely.
While she was still Christine; I sent her an email. I told her of my trials and tribulations. I told her how much her story meant to us. I told her a few things about me. She gave a quick reply and said she would like to talk more in depth when she had the time. She never had the time.
When I found out she had passed; I didn’t ask why. When one of us dies at our own hands, I never ask why. We live in a calloused cruel world. One of her transgender friends spoke in an interview and said that if she just would have finished transitioning; she would have been OK. Maybe, but who really knows. She probably couldn’t straddle two genders. She had divorced her wife, but moved back in with her wife. All traces of Christine were absent from anything involving her funeral.
Her death affected me deeply. I am embarrassed to say that. Someone that lived 1400 miles away; that I only knew on the Internet, had an impact on me. I don’t know why. I was really sad for a while. Eventually, it faded. I still say a prayer to the Goddess on the transgender day of remembrance for her.
I still think of her. I think how important her story would be. I think about how she would have been strong in the bathroom fight. How strong in our fight for civil rights. May she RIP
I know that girls and guys like us don’t always have the best family story. Mother’s Day sometimes is hurtful. One of the saddest prices of advice I ever heard was to make an exit plan: have a friend you can stay with, gather everything important you want to take with you, that way you can make a quick exit when things go bad. That would have been my strategy, but my mom passed away. I am no teenager. I loved my mom, but she wasn’t perfect. I would have been out. She believed the bible, literally.
When it comes to motherhood; my bride is everything my mom wasn’t; which has made her perfect for our children.
She managed to track our oldest down. In a large metropolitan city. Millions of people. She found him. He was surprised. She is the mother they have always needed. A person that says life can suck; but so what, you can’t have that excuse.
Everything that makes her a good mother; makes her an excellent wife.
She refuses to give up, even on me. She is amazing.