TDOR 2017

Today is November 20th and for those who don’t know it’s also the TDOR (transgender day of remembrance).

I wrote something to help Present a challis lighting to a local church and was able to experience some amazing people in the process but many others have not had that second chance. I was welcomed with open arms as a transgender female and welcomes to speak to those who wanted to hear.

As transgender individuals we are criticized, chastised, ostracized and otherwise degraded in our own lives. We run the risk of being murdered for just being us to becoming part of the 41% who attempted to stop the pain on our own.

As many of you know I survived 4 attempts to take my own life and now I try to stand as a beacon to those who are scared. I tel others it will be ok and I stand to help everyone to see that love can win. It takes love to shed the darkness we all live in.

This goes out to those who didn’t get that second chance. This is to remember those lost to violence and those lost to society. We must say their names. We must not forget.

We are all in this together and I for one have better things to do than hate.

Image found through google search

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All of yesterday’s promises.  

I like to write about life.  Sometimes this life can be boring…. but it still exists and as we near the next holiday season it brings me pause to this year end.   This year has been full of ups and downs, fights and happiness but the one thing we seem to have forgot is the yesterdays. Promises that seem unfulfilled or feelings expressed.  See we all have to battle the chaos of life but sometimes life adds that little extra kick.   One more kick in the pants.  

Everyday I live with the hope and promise of tomorrow.  No regrets and nothing left on the table yet I continually have a tinge that somthing is missing somewhere.  I question what it is and I move on.  I always question and rarely find the answer I don’t really know the actual question. I think I lays in society and the determination of who “belongs”.  What label are we to carry and  how is it to affect us?

One that I see frequently tossed is “mentally ill”.  Fromparents of transgender children to those of us who had to wait until later in life to be freed we are accosted with the label of being ill.   Now I’ve mostly been able to ignore the more vulgar people in our society by having great people in my life.  That shielding doesn’t make the issue any less of a problem.  

The problem as I see ur is those who are more apt to call out such speech when they don’t have an education on the subject nor the interest to learn.   It’s just easier to hate what you don’t know I guess.  More over I find myself concerned about a society that creates a mood where people would rather die then be free.   Makes me wonder all the more how many people like me have died without making a sound.   

With all of this how do any one of us survive?  How can some of us thrive and some of us get buried?   To me, it’s the company we keep and our ability to be free.   So for me… society has been quite kind but I can’t forget my sisters who aren’t so lucky.  From those who can’t find employment to that mom who is being accosted for her child being transgender… we all need to wake up.  

We all need to wake up.  We need to look at our society and find a solution that involves less suicide and more love.  It is time to realize that words can hurt and unlike cuts we can see, the hidden cuts are deeper and harder to patch.   Maybe it’s true for ones to say “the pen is mightier then the sword.” especially when that pen is used in malice.   

Love each other, learn about each other, and help each other.  We can’t continue life with everyone being separate or holding a side.   It’s time we come together and love each other but if no one wants to stand together then surely we will all stand in solitude.  

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” ~ Benjamin Franklin 

Tolerating the intolerant. 

Random discussions can come within the amazingly diverse group of friends I have.   One of these conversations started a few weeks ago and he stated “I just can’t tolerate the intolerant.”  This at first seemed like a statement that would just go by the wayside yet it festered in my mind.   It whirled around and found traction but I couldn’t see the reason to bring it to the masses here in my blog.   Then when I woke up on Sunday and heard about the mass shooting of the Pulse club in Orlando the topic suddenly became very important.  Yet even that, there is so much more inside my own head.  

I am an open and out transgender female, sure in my past I hid it well and I also very much compensated for my masculinity.  I did all I could to ignore the thoughts in my head.  This involved many things from building cars and amassing guns all in an attempt to be some sort of over masculine manly man.   In all of this compensation I hated who I was.   I despised being transgender and the thought of having a gay friend bothered me an insane amount.   Self hatred that was internalized and shaped the company I kept.  
I’ve written before that I am a gun collector.  I collect mostly vintage arms and own a few in the 90’s “pre ban” era.  95% of my collection is bolt action firearms that were used in various country’s between 1891 and 1944 and only 3 of them accept a detachable magazine.    My collection is locked away in a safe at a family members house away from my kids.   I tend to fall into that epiphany of a responsible gun owner and have a passion for them.  I was a part of a you tube shot show and always preached safety.   I am not a member of the NRA, nor am I one to openly carry.   I am always willing to educate and teach others the safe and effective purchase, use, and safety of firearms.   

I know that fear can be raised in many by the knowledge that a firearm is near just as I respect my friends who I know are against them and will not bring it to their house.   With this knowledge you can understand that my friends list in social media is comprised of both sides in this discussion and I have had to do some hard soul searching to see where I should stand.    How is it right for me to be pissed off at the loss of 49 people then to stand up and scream “from my cold dead hands”….  It’s not and I can’t.   I can no longer pretend like this stuff doesn’t happen.  

Then I have some friends who like the “good guy with a gun” argument.   I’ve said this before myself but again… It seems in vain.   See in the Pulse Night club I know that a few were military including one man who was a captain in the military and also a Lowes Associate.  I can be sure that many of the patrons were intoxicated.   This is not a smart thing to hope a drunk person with a gun can stop a psychopath in a crowded bar.   So why do I lay all this out you may ask… Well it’s to lay myself on the line.   I just don’t see it as much anymore and I think that something has to change.  

49 people lost their lives to a man who was investigated twice by the FBI, yet managed to legally buy a gun.  He managed to have a clean record to purchase the firearm yet was rejected the purchase of body armor.  No one though to question this?    So now I have been moving my priorities, sure maybe it is a bit late, but I hope it’s better than never.    Let’s figure out why it’s easier to buy a gun than to buy 2 packs of Sudafed.  

So back to the earlier conversation… Tolerating the intolerant.   I do this well and my friend, not so much.    I can see that differences in us all will cause some turmoil (just as my last few paragraphs will).   I understand that the views and opinions of others need to be viewed and addressed respectively and if someone doesn’t like me for my honesty or my views, I can still hold them as my friend and value their lives and liberties so long as they don’t try to hurt another.   

So in tolerating the intolerant was I right or wrong?   In my previous religion (that I don’t practice or believe anymore) I was taught, yet not shown the same.   I don’t have an issue with other religious people, just the extremists in the religions.   So as the events from the Pulse night club came to pass I realized that intolerance is rooted in the basis of this evil.   Ironically the evil that was shown came from pastors and religious people.   Scary to be sure but seems pretty scary these days when years ago someone I’m no longer friends with said “praise God and pass the ammo”.  

The intolerance is dividing the world and now we have religious leaders preaching hate, intolerance, and bigotry to whoever wants to listen.   Now obviously not every religious person is this way and we must understand that.   Most of the people in this world are amazing  and compassionate.   Sure, there are some demons among us and that’s scary but I would hope that if we continue spreading the love we all have for the betterment of society this world will become a much better place.  A place where hatred is not found as a common ground but found as repulsive to everyone as the mass shootings.   Showing love and unity in our nation should not be limited to mass casualty situations but should be everyday.   

This my friends is how I tolerate the intolerant.   I love them.   All of them.  Without question.   I love those who hate me and I live those who love me.   Maybe it’s time we all do that and stop killing each other because of differences.   Just a thought to ponder as we mourn the loss of all those lives and feel for the family’s who have lost their love ones.  It is time for a change and though I don’t have the answer for what the right change would be, we can’t continue losing the lives of Americans through hate fuel rampages anymore.   

Another Ali Q&A

So with everything floating around the whole restroom debacle and many people learning from the mass media a bunch of lies and half truths…. I like to do these Q&A’s to help open things up to my friends to help educate and give information they need to now.   This one has some more funny questions… And some that are very in depth….  So here we go….

Jess and Lance:   When can we plan another game night?

Soon. Very soon.   Things should start to slow down for me again. 

Danielle:   Can you make it July so I can see you again?

Sadly….  No.  I can not warp the space time continuum….  

Tim:  Are you as sick as I am of hearing about this bathroom shit and people creating a problem where there was none previously? I’m so fucking over it. Lol

Yes…. However I can not back off about it for the sake of others like me.   This fight was brought on by a state governor who didn’t like what a city mayor did and now it’s become a national pandemic.   This fight is one that was going to come eventually because people like me have been the brunt of jokes and the blame for too long.   

Ashley:  Do you still have those pictures of the homecoming dance we went to? I’d kinda like to see them for giggles. But if that’s weird since it’s pre transition then no worries!

Yes I do!  I’ll look for them and see if I can get them to you.  😉

Cindy (my wife): Are you married? Lmao

So the story behind this is that I had a guy hit on me at work…   I don’t wear a ring because I do very intense work and I would hate to have it caught or damaged… And he was wondering if I was available….    I was in shock and could only muster “I’m very attached”. 

Kari:  If you could magically make yourself cis, would you? 

No.  The struggle and fights that I have hon through have made me the person I am today.   I am me because of who I was.  

How often do people who find out that you’re trans ask you about what’s “below the belt,” and are you offended by this question?

No….  I’ve only been asked that once and I didn’t answer.   To be honest, I’m not sleeping with anyone other than Cindy so she is the only one who needs to know what’s there.  When I say I’m trans the usual response is “Really?! I would have never known…”

How have your children dealt with your coming out and your transition? Looking back, would you have done anything differently to help your kids understand/cope, etc?

My children have done quite well through it.  Sure sometimes it’s a bit harder for them, but I think the way we handled them, for the most part, was the best way.  

Jessica:  Weren’t you scared to transition?

Yes I was, but not now.   I feared losing family and friends.  I worried about violence.  I worried about my kids in school.   Only when it became life and death did I transition.  

Kari: How do you address the issue of people calling you by your old name, or using incorrect pronouns? What is your go-to response when someone refers to you as Mike or he/him? And what if someone refuses to use the correct terminology? How do you firmly let them know that this is unacceptable?

Well let’s see…  This is a very loaded question with many answers and it depends on the person.   Most of the time it’s pronouns and not name…  So I usually smile and jokingly repeat their statement or question with the proper pronouns…  I joke for it to break the ice and it seems to help.  

If it’s an old friend I don’t see much… I politely correct them on my name.  I’m usually not mad when it’s a genuine mistake and not intentional.  I mean lets be honest… It’s been a year.  And mistakes can happen. 

Intentional misgendering or dead naming is another issue.   I usually give multiple warnings and reminders that it’s a respect thing that someone should use proper name and pronouns…   If they continue… Well I do have a bitchy side and I release my energy appropriately.  

Dave F: If you had to attempt to change someone’s mind, what would you say? (Regarding transgender rights and the current debate)

Well it isn’t trying to change ones mind. I don’t find that conducive of a good discussion.   I can not change someone’s mind, but I can educate them and hope they are able to change their own mind.  I want to earn acceptance, not force it.

Derek: Always good subject matter. I’ll suggest a step deeper into that topic: society’s morale line versus the individual rights… How does a society of differing extreme view points solve this delima?

Well to answer this I will first reference our friendship.   Derek is a person I became friends with through the SCCoA and we had a joint love of our cars.  He knew me as Michael.  He was there when I dropped out of the SCCoA for a bit, and he was there when I returned as Ali. 

Derek is a devout man who is extremely faithful to his baptist religion and to his home state of North Carolina and I will always respect that.  I can still remember when Gay marriage was “legalized” and he made a post.  Now being the person I am I chimed in and made my points and never discredited his.  Then later he learned about my hidden little surprise. 

Within this last year, Derek had grown as well as I.  We have many messaging sessions that can flow between morality and religion and we always have been able to find the middle.   Never once has he been overzealous in his religious beliefs and I would never be an ass with my atheism.   He is also an avid reader of my blog and has told me he has learned a lot.  Now…

To answer your question Derek I will float to how we have managed.  For someone like me, equal rights was something that I took for granted.   I was a white male and held those privlages of such.  Now I’m a white trans female so much of what I enjoyed was lost.   Then when you add in the question of civil rights and transgender people it can be cloudy.  

Morals are different for every person just as boundrys would be.  Even though I’m an atheist I still hold a moral compass similar to that of a religious base.  I do not however follow the guide book that  comes with it.   So in our society and under the basis of our bill of rights and constitution the individuals rights are premier.   So as we have discussed before and I’ll lay out here… To be equal would in theory be morally right.   Can one morally disregard another’s situation to hold their beliefs.   

So following the above context… How do people of extremes come to an agreeable end?  Well I would say educate.  Derek has watched documentaries, is an avid follower of my blog, and a supporter to me.  He has taken steps by his choice to learn more and has sat back and philosophically pondered it all to find his moral area between belief and society.   I have spent many nights talking with him about religion and learning where the contexts are coming from and how one interprets verses.   

So in this society we need to learn from each other.  We need to find the common ground and build a relationship from there, even if it’s started with a car.  The lines of communication need to be opened up and we need to have real discussions (like Derek and I have).  This is how society will become whole.  

Dave: I would be curious to hear, as it stands now, your thoughts on religion. How it has or has not affected your journey. Good or bad. And on the same token, how/if your journey has impacted you on a spiritual level. 

This is a great question to close with!  When I was rejected from church it sent me on a path to atheism.   This hasn’t changed for the most part.  The only real affect religion has had is opening my heart to the fact that most Christians are true followers in being “like god”.  So even as an atheist it wasn’t religion as a whole that helped… It’s was the genuine love from people who are both religious and loving.  People like you and Derek who are faithful and accepting. 

On a spiritual level….   I was a train wreck. T-minus my life and counting.  I was suicidal and wanting to die… Yet I was a failure in the attempts.  So to my spiritual side I always questioned why I didn’t succeed.  I started to wonder if there was a reason I was here.  Why did I live when I tried so much to die.  So I have my days where I think there is something more out there.  Someone watching over me… I just have a hard time believeing it’s more than just fate.   

Maybe I’m here to educate… Maybe someday I’ll make a difference… Maybe I’ll die alone in an empty room.  Maybe there is a God and he didn’t make a mistake with me.   Maybe I was born this way to help Christians understand that we aren’t all the same and that’s ok?  We won’t ever know until we get to the end and see where we go.   

Image found with Google image search 

Socially speaking

Social interactions happen every day and we process them every day without even thinking about them.  From work, to shopping we are judged daily on who we are perceived to be as a person and some stigmas are always used without even acknowledging that they exist.  From my time of being viewed as male I never truly processed and realized “male privilege” as a whole.  From speaking over a woman, to having the imaginary right of way while walking these all happened subconsciously.  Being a male I was perceived to have all the answers in the field I was in, from parts stores to Lowes home improvement.  I was the guy others would walk past 3 ladies to be questioned about something.  Well now in the last 9 months of being viewed as only female have I realized how much these social interactions have truly changed.  

Social perceptions and pre conceived notions are the name of the game.  As a man, when I said I was married, I never had to specify “to an amazing woman” nor did I have to explain having three wonderful girls.   15 years of marriage was not hard to explain nor was it hard when my wife and I were out in public.  Now however it’s a whole new world.  Now when I talk of marriage and kids, it’s assumed I’m the wife and there is some man at home.  Others are taken aback if I speak about my wife of 15 years (yea, you’re right it wasn’t legal then!) and boy is it strange to be in public with my wife and being asked if the checks are separate and have to specify the check is together.  

I don’t want to skim over the middle either.  I will not exclude the transitioning times where I was stuck in the middle with people questioning and trying to figure out “what” I was just as much as I was.  Being between sexes was the worst!   In one day I use to be referred to as both male and female, even within the same hour.  One trusted every word I said, and another assumed I was a dumb woman.   All those times I had to come out and tell someone that I was transgender and all those times I feared losing the next friend was all in the face of the societal stigma.  Truly defining the fact that society really is that messed up sometimes.  Even just admitting your transgender will change the entire way you are treated when your in the middle. 

Now let’s flow back to social stigmas.   As I’m going to do a speaking day at our local community college with a former professor, it comes back to me how much has changed and how much I never noticed.   I’m now expected to yield to men when we walk past each other.  I’m expected to accept a man talking over me.  I’m expected to accept being called pet names like honey, sweetheart, dear, etc.   I’m expected to return flirt.   I’m expected to be lady like in all aspects of the realm that I didn’t have enough time to properly learn about.  

It is expected that I don’t know as much anymore.   I can’t figure out where some think my brains went, but it sure didn’t go to far.  I don’t know if it’s long hair, soft skin, or a set of breast that was to make me less seemingly intelligent but I’m not buying it.  Painted nails nor heels make a woman any less intelligent.  But here we are, with pre conceived assumptions of what an individual person should be like based off of 50’s stigmas.  

I respected every woman I ever met before I transitioned, but even more so now.  Just the shear amount of stuff I never had to deal with before is just a tip of the iceberg!   Men staring at women like they are some sort of prize, then assuming they don’t now how to do their job no matter what it may be.  I know women in welding, fabrication, flooring, retail, and so much more and all are equally fitting to their job.   So yes, I notice that I’m now a part of “the inferior ” female sex, but that doesn’t for one minute make me have to like it.  The next time some one assumes that being transgender is a choice must not realize how society as a whole actually works.  It may of been a life or death choice to me, but in changing gender, I changed everything socially also.  From how people addressed me to how I was treated.  

I love my life and I love the fact that not only have I been able to follow my path to happiness, I have also had amazing people along that road.   From work, to my social life I have managed to find only the most amazing people and for that I am fortunate.  It still, and always will bother me that what I have learned this transition is how women have been labeled and treated.  How it took a transition to realize that they are so repressed and viewed as weak.   

This is sure not how I was raised, so I guess most of the other men just missed that memo.  My mother is a strong, successful, intelligent and powerful woman with a drive to achieve anything.  She raised children who are strong, independent, loving, driven and fully accepting individuals without a preconceived notion about another. She also raised us with a no excuses attitude.   I learned from my mother that women built this country and this society.  I also learned that behind every great man was an even greater woman.  Maybe someday society will catch up to this concept, but in the meantime I’ll just be happy knowing that I’m living to see when that change occurs. 

Image found on Slideshare.net via Google image search.  

Random thoughts on Caitlyn and society

So originally I was going to avoid the whole story of Caitlyn Jenner and her transition for no other reason than the fact that it has been splashed across every news station and Facebook feed but as I traversed the joy that is the internet I came across a few things that bothered me.  Here I stand in a cross roads that I am fully supportive of what she has done and how far she has come but something just felt off, a disturbance in the force if you will, in some of the comments and news stories. I am going to try and address some of the things to better rationalize the situation for ones who may not understand.  I never like to feed the trolls nor do I get offended by a joke or side comment about me, but when another is not going after me, but a whole group of people with whom I am friends with, I tend to get morose.  I’ll address some of the finer points in hopes of education and not to be offensive to those who do not share my view. 

“I really don’t see it as any big news. A guy got a sex change and is now a woman. Big deal, don’t really see why this is national news. If people joke about it, well people joke about anything. Celebrities get joked at all the time, why is this any different. I have no true opinion on this person’s life quite frankly, but don’t really see it as brave or anything major happening. He had money to make this happen and is now a woman in a sense.  Let’s move on to actual important things.”  

This is an actual comment minus the persons name who posted it for privacy reasons.  I do not publicly shame people for many reasons, but in this case it is due to the fact I want to educate and not degrade.  To open up a conversation instead of deleting another person helps to educate and not shut them out.  I prefer to try and help others in the understanding of people like myself.  Here you can find my response: 

“J…, I would really like to thank you for your well thought out reply about how her struggle is “no big deal” and your lack of ability to use proper pronouns after by stating “he had money…”  I would love to address a few misconceptions that may go unnoticed to one of your apparent highly educated background in the struggles of the transgender community.  I will precursor this with the fact that I hold a Bachelors in Psychology graduating with high honors, extensively researched transgender issues and I happen to be transgender myself.   I am not afraid of sharing this knowledge because I am in hopes that you may learn something and not be one to bash your opinion.   

Being transgender is not a phase or some fetish that some may view it as, it is much deeper than that.   In the realm of Gender Dysphoria, the mind does not match up with the body thus causing a disconnect between how one feels and how one looks.  Some may find this hard to understand but when one is transgender it is not something one wakes up with and decides “this sounds like fun”.  This is life or death and not just a decision. A need that is wrought with death threats, social isolation, or just total denial of ones true self. 

I personally attempted suicide 4 times before I was able to come to terms with my dysphoria, and in that time I tried everything to “just be a man” yet nothing worked.  I have dealt with the issues, and come out on the other side to find that the problem wasn’t me, but society.  

Caitlyn has had to deal with the same struggles and issue and no money can change that.  Depression doesn’t come with a payoff price.   She may have had the money to transition and have many amazing surgeries, but she also had a public life and has been the talk of every tabloid for the last year or more.  So is the fact that she has money a consolation prize? 

In the end it is news worthy because her transition may save the lives of many untold people dealing with dysphoria in the shadows, just as I have.   Is it really that bad to see on TV if it saves lives?  I just don’t understand how her struggle or transition could be in any way found humorous in the grand scheme of it all.  Sure, not every trans woman can be beautiful in societies eyes but living a genuine life, free of the prison that is dysphoria is beautiful.   

It is about being YOU, and not what society thinks.” 

Now as you can see I tried to be well versed and not crass or otherwise demeaning yet no response was received, yet it also sparked a thought in my mind.  Why do others have to view her as different because she has money and looks pretty?  Money could not buy her happiness and it also caused her to have a very public life.  Privacy is something many of us take for granted.  She was an Olympian, a hero to many kids in the 70’s yet she struggled in silence.  She forced her way through until this year when she finally had enough.  In the process she was laughed at and degraded to being inferior.  A joke on every major tabloid cover just for the ratings.   Now she is free as the beautiful woman she has always been and again we find other laughing and making light of her struggles.  

Now I have friends who have transitioned and not once have I had a need or reason to speak how their life was easier or harder than mine. Not once have I looked at another girl and thought of anything more than the struggles it took for them to be free.  I’m not jealous of their looks either. Many in the transgender community miss this and instead look to how they would appear in society to be happy and it really shouldn’t matter.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way.  Beautiful hearts, souls, inspiration, and lives.  

Yes, I have beautiful friends.  All of them are in many ways from being inspirations to being activists so for me to watch news anchors state how one “looks good for her age”, questioning photoshops, or just straight out denying another the basic decency to use proper names and pronouns is just another way for them to try and diminish the fact that we exist.  All I can say to that is we do exist and we will not go back into hiding because of society nor will we quiet down about the journey we have traveled even when it shows the flaws and mistakes along the way.  

As I was working today I was called a “fucking freak” by a customer. He mumbled it under his breath to his son, maybe because I looked different or maybe it was my bubbly demeanor but either way I thanked him for his business and never gave it another glance so he sure didn’t ruin my day. I’m sure he is still talking about that person at the store, but I truly don’t mind only because I have never been happier than I am now.  I have friends who love me, I have love for others, and I don’t need societies help in telling me how to live.  I’m sure not going to go back to hiding myself in the back of the store out of concern for his opinion.  

A girl has to do what a girl has to do and I know what I have done so far is right for me just as I’m sure Caitlyn is doing right by herself.  She doesn’t need your permission and she doesn’t need your opinion.  Maybe the next time someone sees something online and they don’t like what is being said they can find the ability to just keep scrolling past.  A mean comment or nasty remark is not going to do much when millions of others are showing support.  It is time for people to talk about transgender people, see and understand the issues we face and find a common ground where we can all live in harmony. 

America has spoken and for the most part love Is shining through so be careful, your hate may be showing a little bit.  

Special thanks to my friend Sona for the title image and quote.