In memory of . . .

29 07 2009

I don’t know if she’s* still alive but, considering she was probably in her late 70s when I knew her in the early 1990s, I can’t be sure. From the ages of 17 to 19, I was working at a convenience store/gas station (a Shell, I believe) in Sherbrooke, QC. I knew nothing about trans issues at the time but when this male-bodied person who dressed and presented as female came to put gas in her big, white van on a regular basis, shortly before the end of my evening shift, I made it a point to be nice to her and to treat her like a lady because I knew that she probably didn’t get much of that. I looked at her wonderingly through the window as she gassed up, with her flowery dress and hat and her big rough hands.  Sherbrooke is not a tiny place but it is not a big city either and, at the time, it wasn’t the greatest place to be queer. Not that I was anywhere near admitting queerness or transness to myself . . .probably at least in part because it wasn’t the greatest place to be queer.

During my last few weeks, as I did with all my regular customers (the ones who were nice to me, anyway), I told her that I was leaving so that I could attend university in Montreal. This was out first actual conversation and she told me she would miss me. She came all the way to our gas station because she was respected here, she said. The one closer to her home out in Lennoxville, about a 20-30 minute drive away, was scary. There were always nasty teens hanging around who would pick on her and even threaten her. I don’t remember anything about how the service there was but, having gone to that store regularly as I was a student in Lennoxville, I knew that they didn’t get the same kind of customer service training that we did.

I’ve wondered what ever happened to her from time to time. And now that I know more about some of the difficulties involved in being trans, and even more specifically, the difficulties involved in being a trans woman who does not “pass”, I can imagine how brutal it must have been for her in Lennoxville and wherever else she went during her life, roughly from the 1920s onward.

I wish I knew. And I wish I could tell her how much I admire her.

*I’m using female pronouns here based merely on the assumption that she did, or would have if she could have, identified as female. I base this assumption on the fact that she was dressed as female every time I saw her and during mundane activities such as putting gas in one’s vehicle. I realise that I could be grossly mistaken and that maybe this person cross-dressed, did not identify as female, and happened to need gas every time they came out of a weekly discussion group for cross-dressers. Nevertheless, the aspect of the person that I knew radiated femaleness so the “she” is hopefully not insulting to them in any case.

Highlights: Buffy Sainte-Marie

28 07 2009

First up in my new Highlights Series is the Buffy Sainte-Marie concert I saw in the summer of 2008 at Place-des-Arts in Montreal.  If you have never heard any of her music, you need to go to YouTube now and look her up. A songwriter, singer and activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie has one of the most vibrant voices I’ve ever heard. She is a true inspiration, having stood up against war and injustice, especially against Native peoples, through her music. She was even blacklisted in the U.S. at some point in the 60s or 70s. (All that info is on the webpage I linked to above).

I already had goosebumps when I listened to her recordings, especially Los Pescadores and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,  so I was stoked when I found out from a friend that she was finally going to be performing in Montreal. I went with 3 friends and I was amazed at the positive energy this lady has.  I spent the whole show marvelling at how, even from a distance, I could feel her. Her voice gave me even more goosebumps live. When she sang classics such as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Universal Soldier, the air was palpable. She also rocked the house with a tune from her newer album. She even played her mouth bow! That night, I found out that one of her songs, Until It’s Time for You to Go, was recorded by a bunch of people ranging from Elvis Presley to Barbara Streisand to Neil Diamond.

In short, it was a glorious event, made even more special, in a way, by the fact that I may never get to see her live again since it was her first performance in Montreal and there seems to be little chance of her coming back with her reducing the number of speaking engagements and shows that she does.

To give you a taste:

Highlights Series

28 07 2009

It occurs to me pretty often that, at the speed my life goes, I don’t always get to savour the moment for very long. My weekends are sometimes so action packed that a wonderful thing that happens on a Friday gets ecclipsed by what happens on Saturday. It’s great that I’m surrounded by awesome people but sometimes, I almost miss the days when one super fantastic thing would happen every few weeks and then I could ride the wave for a few weeks.

So I am starting a series of posts where I will be remembering highlights from my life that I didn’t necessarily get a chance to mentally and emotionally celebrate or even digest after it happened.

Why non-monogamy works for me

24 07 2009

This post has little to do with transition but I was thinking of merging this blog with my other more general blog anyway since it is good for people to see trans people blogging about other things too! And also, the further I go, the more I refuse to segment my life. I’m a whole person and this blog, once I have time to integrate my posts from my other blog, will reflect that.

Before proceeding, let me clarify why I put non-monogamy in the title instead of polyamory. I try not to use the two terms interchangeably, although sometimes I do when I’m in a rush. People use the terms differently so here is how I use them. For me, non-monogamy includes a wider range than polyamory.

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A year + on testo

5 07 2009

I’ve been a very bad blogger. I know I could post more frequently and write shorter posts but I always wind up with a lot to say and I hesitate to start posts when I don’t have a lot of time to spare because I know I will wind up taking more time than I had intended.

So my one year testosterone anniversary on May 26th came and went with no commentary from me. The Saturday before, I had a multi-purpose party to celebrate my anniversary, the end of term, two friends’ birthdays etc. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.

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The Stress of Stealth?

5 07 2009

It’s never been a part of my plan to go stealth although I’ve wondered what it must be like. I’m pretty open and, since I want to keep my job (tenure and security for life if I want it!), there is no way that I could have transitioned and be stealth anyway.

However, there are certain quarters in which I’ve tried to be discrete. I haven’t really been that open with my students, for example. Because of the perfect timing of me getting PhD funding and being able to take first, a part-time leave, and now a full-time leave, most of the physical changes necessary for me to be consistently read as male were done before going back to teach. And now I won’t be teaching for 2 years while I work on my doctorate. So there hasn’t been any need for me to deal with students so much.

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