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TDoV Event: Streaming panel discussion

Michelle_P

My gender is a work of nonfiction.
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Rainbow Community Center and the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County celebrate the beauty and power of transgender folk in our communities. Panelists will speak virtually about their trans journeys with some reflections on faith and gender identity.

The event is on Wednesday, March 31 from 7:30-9PM PDT, streaming on BoxCast.
 

Michelle_P

My gender is a work of nonfiction.
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TDoV Panel presentation (7 minutes)

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in the San Francisco Bay Area, an amazing time to be here. Religious faith was a strong influence both early and late in my life.

In looking back, my transgender journey started at an early age, but I just didn’t have the language or the concepts then. I did know that as little kids got bigger we would change. I hoped that I would change, and be a girl. All I knew was that I had a little bump of tissue that girls didn't have, and maybe it would shrink away or fall off as I grew, sort of like those tadpoles I caught.

It was odd, but I knew that I was a boy, a child in a male body. Once I figured out that this body would be this way for life, the thought of being this way bothered me a bit. I didn’t think that my wanting to have been a girl was unusual. I actually believed for a long time that everyone was this way, that all boys wanted be girls. Other boys were stronger than me somehow, and able to live with being stuck in a male role, while I was unusually weak.

I had a great deal of trouble with socialization in school, fearing male students and their reactions to me and my effeminate body. At 14 I started disappearing into San Francisco for periods of time. In 1967, that was quite the experience. I’d change in the SF bus terminal, and became another 14 year old hippie chick running around the city. Then I’d head off to visit new friends in the Tenderloin, or out near the Panhandle at Haight & Ashbury.

I was caught dressing in a police sweep through the Haight, as part of a campaign to remove all of the street kids. I was taken away, processed, cited for wearing the ‘wrong’ clothing, what they called “false personation,” and my parents were notified. Oh, I was grounded, of course. I was also taken to see a few doctors who just wanted to talk with me. They offered treatments, including electroconvulsive and aversion therapy, which my mom, a nurse, rejected. They finally settled on a course of injections and lots of counseling.

Dad said the injections “vitamins, so you’ll grow up right.” They were actually testosterone, to induce male puberty and get me to ‘man up’, and the counselors was a Catholic priest. I was frightened into cooperating, and I tried hard to make them happy. It didn’t change what I was inside, though, and to please everyone I had to learn to construct a solid male-passing front, which allowed them to declare that I was cured.

I tried college, and eventually the military. I was successful there, and did well, becoming like many trans folks an overachiever. I knew I had to keep up that masculine front if I were to remain cured. I met my first wife and was married, left the service and moved into the tech industry. I was a fairly successful techie, despite a self-destructive streak and irritability, a lack of self expression and anger issues that seemed to become worse every year.

I didn't consciously realize what was up until I met a trans woman when I was in my 30s, who was interviewing for a job on my team. She was having a rough time passing after our all-day interview process, but I tried to respect her as a person looking for a position with us. I found my self thinking that she was doing something pretty darn hard, and I thought “I wish I could do that.” Wait, what? Where did that come from?

I think my subconscious had just outed me to myself. That's pretty much when I knew, and finally had a label for myself, “Transgender.” The transition process was out of reach, and I was married with small children, so I essentially gave up hope, tried to bury the need, and went about my life of passing as male. I felt the old impulses to let myself out resurface, but I still thought of this as being a weakness, a personal failing that I needed to overcome somehow.

The drive and my suppression slowly corroded away my mental state over decades. My emotional repression and constant submerged anger and self-hatred caused harm to those around me, which I very much regret. I finally broke down early in 2016 with severe depression and anxiety.

This wasn’t something my first wife had signed up for, and I know it hurt her badly, shattering her dreams for the future. We agreed to divorce and went our separate ways.

I moved into a condo, went full time and socially transitioned at once, and started a medical transition. I found my church, Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, welcoming, accepting, and supportive of my search for my personal truths, my personal voyage of discovery. In my faith we strive to see the worth and dignity of every person, accept one another, and engage in a in free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I love this about our faith, and I love the experience that this provides me. I love being able to enter into a space where I know I can express my deep truths, be my authentic self, and know that I am in the company of others who honor my worth and dignity, and who accept me as I accept them. I thank them for this gift to me.
 

Monica

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the thought of being this way bothered me a bit. I didn’t think that my wanting to have been a girl was unusual. I actually believed for a long time that everyone was this way, that all boys wanted be girls.
Isn't it odd that we can think 'surely everyone must think this way' and 'I think I'm the only one in the world who feels this way' all in the same childhood. I felt these same thoughts.

Michelle, you and I have been around a while, on this site and the other. I don't think we have ever had a great deal of extended interactions, but I have watched you come into your own. We both have really. It is so good to see, and I applaud you for all you have accomplished in becoming 'you.' You had the added difficulty of trying to keep a lid on that Lorie woman! For that, I'm simply in awe!
 

Michelle_P

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Isn't it odd that we can think 'surely everyone must think this way' and 'I think I'm the only one in the world who feels this way' all in the same childhood. I felt these same thoughts.
Yes, and I’ve been surprised to hear how many others share in this. I think we each intuitively feel and set our standard as being ‘average’ and assume everyone else is similar.

I honestly thought I was weak, for not being able to handle the distress of having to ‘be’ a boy when all the boys I knew handled it os much better than I. I was really puzzled and worried when I found out that nobody else I knew had this issue! (Almost nobody... I was re-introduced online ot a high school friend who had changed quite a bit...)

Michelle, you and I have been around a while, on this site and the other. I don't think we have ever had a great deal of extended interactions, but I have watched you come into your own. We both have really. It is so good to see, and I applaud you for all you have accomplished in becoming 'you.' You had the added difficulty of trying to keep a lid on that Lorie woman! For that, I'm simply in awe!

We will have to get together at some point... Next road trip through your area! Road trips... Remember those?
 

Donica

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I remember those road trips. We never got to enjoy the West Coast Road Trip we planned for the summer of 2019.
 

TonyaJanelle

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Yes, and I’ve been surprised to hear how many others share in this. I think we each intuitively feel and set our standard as being ‘average’ and assume everyone else is similar.

I honestly thought I was weak, for not being able to handle the distress of having to ‘be’ a boy when all the boys I knew handled it os much better than I. I was really puzzled and worried when I found out that nobody else I knew had this issue! (Almost nobody... I was re-introduced online ot a high school friend who had changed quite a bit...)



We will have to get together at some point... Next road trip through your area! Road trips... Remember those?
Well we were all going to crash the wedding....
 

Michelle_P

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Well we were all going to crash the wedding....

When Laurie and I were married last October, the area where we were was just coming off the summer/fall peak, death rates had just peaked, and the best estimate was that about 3% of the population had active infections (down to 1% now). It would not have been safe. That’s why we had a live stream of the wedding. In a church sanctuary designed for 275 people, we had 7, all masked, spaced very far apart, and ventilation maximized. The reception was drive-thru!

It was a different sort of event.

I’m hoping we can get vaccinated people up to about 70% of the active population. Somewhere around that point even the most contageous British variant will have Rø below 1, and the pandemic will end. If we don’t reach that point, transmission will be sustained among the unvaccinated and they will serve as incubators for new variants, which will eventually find their way past the vaccine’s protection.
 

Linde

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I am past my waiting time of the second Moderna vaccination. I feel pretty safe, but still will be very careful, and wear masks when required.
I read today the the new South Africa mutation seems to be able to break through some of the vaccination protection with the Pfizer vaccine in Israel


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Linde
 
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