I’m Baaaaack!

Darlings!

It’s been thirty long days without you, but I return a successful man.  I completed my Nanowrimo task, and now have a 45,000 word first draft.

First draft of what, you ask?

A graphic novel memoir, title to be revealed at a later date.

I’m spending these next 2 months reading some supplemental texts, and on my weekends reviewing my draft and planning rewrites to dive into my revision process in February.

For appetite whetting purposes, this memoir is about my family, our multi-generational addictions and habits, war and fishing, Stevie Nicks and french orphans.  More details to come–

I am back to my weekly blogs starting this week, and November was a huge success in that I have a very solid writing practice down, clocking in at two hours each morning before work.  This last month has been enriching and full of surprises.  I worked hard, and lo and behold, it paid off.

I’m glad to be back to the ol’ blog!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

My Life With/out Sugar

This post proved to be a long one, so I’ve titled the sections for those of you not interested in slogging through the whole thing: you can read just the below section about my sugar history, or skip to the part after about my recent sugar fast.  Enjoy.

My Life with Sugar

I have no memory of strong feelings one way or another when it comes to sweets as a kid.  When I was young (which means grade school age for this conversation), my mom would bring home a box here and there of Little Debbie or Hostess cakes.  They only appeared if mom happened to have a coupon, or if they were on sale.  Their presence in the grocery bag was always a special treat to which I would give little thought.  I guess I didn’t really have a sweet tooth as a kid.

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My gramma’s dinner table had fewer desserts.

I was an athletic kid, and most of my childhood memories are of playing outside–two-hand tap football in the street, basketball at the court at the end of my block, tag in multi-yard games.  I ate three meals a day, and sometimes I would grab something sweet out of the cupboard in between meals, if say I was at home playing video games or watching t.v.  Desssert was never part of the meal when I was a kid: I don’t really remember breakfast, but lunch and dinner always consisted of some kind of meat, some kind of vegetable, and a glass of 2% milk.  Pretty traditional stuff.

What’s funny is that when I reflect on it now, it occurs to me that the sweet stuff was always stored in a cabinet in the laundry room, around the corner from the kitchen, in the same cabinet as my grandmother’s liquor.  By the time my sister and I showed up, my grandmother had long ago given up the kind of heavy drinking that plagued my mother and her siblings.  The liquor in there was only ever accessed by my grandmother once or twice yearly, and only on very special occasions: perhaps Christmas day after the meal, and once in the spring for a drink during the Cubs’ opener.

Something like this, but replace the ball with a tumbler of Seagram's Gin. (Courtesy of azcentral.com)

Something like this, but replace the ball with a tumbler of Seagram’s Gin. (Courtesy of azcentral.com)

 

By putting those cakes in that cabinet, they were removed from the “food” area of the house–they weren’t with the soup or pasta or oil in the kitchen cabinet.  They were in another room, in the cabinet with off-limit liquor and lightbulbs.  I think, whether that placement was on purpose or not, that decision taught me that dessert was a once in a while thing, something occasional and not meant for habitual indulgence.  It was definitely in a class apart from food.  I think besides all the physical activity, that access and classification helped keep me healthy though my childhood.

After puberty, into my teenage years, I started spending more time with female friends, more time writing, and less time out of the house.  It still never really occurred to me to snack on dessert at home more than occasionally, but my female friends would go on about chocolate and its relation to their menstrual cycle.  I was a late bloomer–not getting my first period until 16, so I would listen in what might be politely referred to as indignant silence.  I was befuddled and irritated by their seeming helplessness before chocolate, which, to me, was irrationally dependent on the time of the month.  And so that was when I first started to equate sweets with femininity.  And although I did enjoy sweets, I denied it, and cut them out entirely.

I would refuse to share Ho-Hos at the lunch table, claiming I didn’t like chocolate.   When out with my friends, I wouldn’t order blizzards at Dairy Queen, turing up my nose to the very idea of something sweet.  So while the practice was good for my body, the denial was bad for my spirit.  I’m not talking about how treats are “good for the soul,” but rather that lying to shape my identity was detrimental to my character.

Every girl I went to high school with.  (image courtesy of bestworstme.com)

Every girl I went to high school with.
(image courtesy of bestworstme.com)

I held onto that old line, of not liking sweets, until my girlfriends in college, who were incorrigible sugar addicts, all wanted me to share desserts with them.  I’d have a bite here and there, just to “help them out,” so they didn’t feel so “bad.”  But by that point, to have just a little was like chiseling cracks in the Hoover Dam to relieve the pressure.  I wasn’t a kid anymore, wasn’t lying about my sexual preference for women, and so felt free to express a preference for sugary treats without feeling like I would be lumped in the same slot as the straight women going on decadently about their cravings.  But still, because my gender identity was kept secret, I felt girly for even admitting a little that I liked sweets, so I held fast to my declarations of only sharing to relieve my girlfriend’s sugary burden.

After all, where were any men talking about bon bons or cupcakes?  Where were the men going on about dessert?  What I didn’t realize is that it wasn’t that men didn’t go on about sweets because they didn’t like them, but rather because men didn’t go on about anything.  Women, in general, are more vocal about their likes and dislikes–of the two sexes I had any experience with they were more vocal about everything.  But at the time I didn’t see that: I just saw that women seemed to talk so much about dessert, and men never talked about it, so to take part in anything sweet felt like a betrayal to my fragile masculinity.  Of course it’s ridiculous, now.  Now that I am an out and proud trans man, it’s easy to indulge and not feel my very identity threatened.  But it took a surgery and hormones and a name change and lots of growth to be able to feel my outsides match my insides, as far as something as basic as gender is concerned.  So yeah, it was important, and foundational, to deny sweets to stake my claim in masculinity.   Once that need was gone, to distance myself from dessert, this happened on my honeymoon:

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I loved all my frosty children.  You can see I have a problem: those weren’t even all the pictures of me eating ice cream–they’re just the only ones suitable for internet publication.

 

Sugar Fast Update

It’s been six days since I started my sugar detox.*  I am doing great: I have stuck to my initial allowance of <6g/day of refined sugar.  Yesterday and today (so far) I’ve had none.  I don’t want to utter my long term goals just yet, for fear of jinxing myself.  But I will say this: six days is the longest I have ever gone without sugar.  I would like to take out the trail mix starting on day 8, and replace it with a trial mix with just nuts and dried fruit for a week.  If I can make it to week three, I would like to replace that trail mix with just nuts.  Beyond that, I would not like to speculate.

What have I noticed while limiting my sugar intake?

Well, the first day was just as I thought it would be–a struggle. I got to work and there was half a chocolate cake in the break room and milk and dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the back room, so that was just fucking great.  But surprisingly, I was totally fine: it was such a blatant display I had no problem passing it by.  If there were say, just peanut butter cups in the break room, I likely would have been very tempted to eat one, or put one in my locker for later.  But it was such an obvious cosmic joke the situation was much more laughable than tempting.

Day two I made it through pretty easy, and noticed I was a bit thirstier that day than normal.  I did get the beginning of a headache near dinner time which lasted all night.  It was a minor version of the kind of headache I’ve had in the past from too much sugar: a dull ache right at the temple and behind my eyes.

Day three was similar to day two: thirstier than normal, with a dull headache arriving right around dinner time and lasting all night.  Also that night I had a sugar dream: I drank the tastiest Pepsi I had ever had, awake or asleep.  I’ve had maybe two sodas in the last year, and haven’t had Pepsi in many years: soda isn’t my weak spot.  I also dreamed about eating a cinnamon bun, Ann Sather’s style, and then remembered after I finished it that I was on a sugar fast.  Was very mad at my dream self in the dream, but then the dream shifted its focus onto some other sweet thing I can’t re-conjure.

Day four found my interest in my 10 minute break fix waining.  I was intrigued: I ate the almonds and peanuts and dried cherries, but when it came time for the chocolate and panute butter chips, I could have taken or left them.  I ate them, and found the taste to be the same, but I felt differently about it.  I felt a little ambivalent about the experience of eating them.  That seemed like a positive change.  My headache was much duller.  But that night, an hour or so from finishing my shift at work, I got a serious craving, seemingly out of nowhere.  I didn’t seem to be thinking about sugar at all, and it felt different than just wanting a sweet.  I found myself, in my head, searching a bit frantically, like I was missing my keys and was late to work, that kind of frantic feeling.

You know the feeling.

Like this. (Image courtesy of  hyperboleandahalf.com)

I felt restless and unsatisfied so I went to the break room and drank some water.  Lo and fucking behold if that didn’t work!  It wasn’t chocolate, but I just stood there and drank my water and took some breaths and felt relieved, if not satisfied. I was able to redirect my attention, and that was the most important thing.

Yesterday was harder than normal because I was off work, and so had free time to think about sugar and had access to sugar.  K and I had a full day out of the house doing fun stuff, and it is the focusing of my attention that saves me from myself.  If I’m in the house idly, it’s bad news.

What I’ve learned is that if I eat proper meals, and eat until I’m full (not stuffed, but satiated), and drink plenty of water, and keep myself busy (not frantic, but occupied) then staying away from sugar is an achievement within reach.  If I skimp on the water, or don’t finish my meal, if I am home alone with nothing planned, then there is going to be strife.  My mind wanders to a snack.  Oh, and I have found, perhaps to no one’s surprise but my own, that the times when I’m looking for something sweet are times when I’m not even hungry.  Or when I’m very hungry and too lazy to make something for myself.

Also, as I’m sure many of you know, just as cookies are turned to sugar in your bloodstream, so does alcohol.  But this bit was new to me: there is more than one study out there showing a link between alcoholism and sugar addiction, because to your body, it’s all the same.  Because of this link, my therapist was telling me to be easy with myself, given my familial history of substance abuse: my fondness for sugar might not just be out of habit, it might also be genetic.  That pull the other night at work, out of nowhere, that frantic feeling, like something important was missing?  Yeah, that felt like an addiction.  Or what I suppose an addiction might feel like, as I don’t think I’ve ever had one.  Or have I?  So I am going to be easy on myself in that I will not resort to the usually name calling in my head if I feel a little weak, a little crazy, as I try to keep away from sweets.  But knowing that there is potentially an addiction at work here is all the more reason to cut it out of my diet for good.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

 

 

 

*Because 6g/day, given the obscene amount I was eating before, is pretty much going without.

 

Remembrance: Matt Kailey

I first came across Matt Kailey‘s Tranifesto two years ago when I started this blog.  At the time I was certain about top surgery, and actively trying to talk myself out of testosterone.  But that argument felt a lot like the one I had with myself before I decided on surgery: I was going through the motions of a half-hearted, losing fight.  So I wanted to start looking for examples of dudes my age on testosterone: I wanted to see how it would look for a female body in its thirties to take testosterone, as I knew all the examples of kids in their 20s, with their high metabolisms and evolving bodies, would not be reflective of my transition.

Tranifesto was a revelation: TRANIFESTO in bold block lettering atop a brick wall, Matt standing confidently in front of it, eyes looking into the camera, looking at me.  Tranifesto a blog not just with his personal story, but also one with tabs for resources and links and trans FAQs.  He has a section for his bio and the bio of Tranifesto, he has a section for his public speaking and his books.  I spent a long time poking around, looking up his posts with testosterone tags, and his voice was reassuring.  Here was a guy who was a little older than me, had been on T for a while, and he was healthy.  Hell, he was thriving.  Matt’s life assuaged my fear of dying young from testosterone’s complications.

As I moved further along into my own journey I spent less and less time on Matt’s blog; what started as a weekly occurrence (I would read his Ask Matt posts religiously every Thursday) dwindled down to checking in sometimes as his new posts would pop up in my feed, and as my time allowed and interest was piqued.  I was becoming my own trans man, writing my own posts on T shots and answering questions from readers of my blog.  As my voice was taking shape, Matt’s was moving into the background.  But it was still always there, reassuring me.  One particular post of his deals directly with the fear of taking testosterone injections without any long-term studies to bolster the patient against the fear of fatal side effects.  In that post he writes,

“The one thing I do know is that you will never get out of this life alive…You will die of something, and my philosophy has always been that I would rather die after having lived a full and authentic life than after having lived as someone I am not.”

And that line, “you will never get out of this life alive,” has been a huge comfort to me. I wrote about this post of his previously here.  We all die of something, and even if testosterone is the indirect cause of it for me, at least I got to hear my real voice, look at and touch and have touched a chest that I am proud of.  I have been addressed as sir and moving in the world and being recognized by the world as a man have been perhaps the greatest joys of my life.  Clearly Matt has been a huge help in my personal transition, a soothing voice, a self-assured internet buddy, and I might not be the man I am (or might not have gotten to be him this soon) without Matt Kailey and Tranifesto.

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Matt Kailey (Image courtesy of Tranifesto)

As I was preparing my wedding and honeymoon, I’ve spent little time on WordPress recently, and so I missed that Matt died of heart failure in May.  I’m sad and his passing is a huge loss for our community.  His death, at 58, also stokes the embers of that old fear, the one of dying early.  So I let that fear sit with me for a half day, then I let it go.  In that same blog post Matt goes on to write,

“There are honestly a ton of trans guys over 50 out there. Some of us might not be as visible because we have assimilated into the mainstream and are not visible as trans men, or because we are not as Internet savvy (or as interested) as the younger guys who grew up with technology.

So don’t freak out about dying young. I can’t guarantee that you won’t, but I can guarantee that you will hear more about people who die than you will about people who are living, because death is almost always a shock, and when someone dies, people will talk about it.”

And here I am talking about it.  And even in death Matt manages to act as confidant and teacher; it is his early death that forces me to look at my own life and determine its length is in my hands.

Matt’s blog is still up and available, in fact his most recent post is about Tranifesto turning 5.  I suggest you go check it out if you’re not familiar, and if you are, take a moment there to say your goodbye.  I did, and it felt right and good.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

The Advocate has a lovely Op-ed on Matt here.

And fellow blogger American Trans Man has a short goodbye here, with links to Matt’s blog and books.

 

 

 

(Re)Naming

I was supposed to be an orphan.

That is, when I was conceived, it was by two foolish kids: one, my mother, a 17 year old high school student and part time fast food restaurant worker.  And two, my father, a 25 year old supervisor at said fast food restaurant, and as it turns out, a coward.  He left her and joined the army to avoid his fatherly responsibilities.  And as my grandparents (and their 9 kids) were Catholic, it was decided the best thing to do was to give me up.

As the story goes, it was my cute little face that saved my cute little ass: my mother, after completing labor in just over an hour, asked to see me.  To hold me, just once.  My grandmother said it was a bad idea.  And she was right: one look and my mom was hooked.

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With that face and $ 2.25 you can take a bus ride.

“Just hold her,” my mother said to my grandmother.  Gramma was reluctant, but not made of stone, and over the course of our life together she was my strongest ally.  She took me from my mother’s outstretched arms.

“Oh, alright, let’s get your father in here,” my grandmother begrudgingly sighed.

My grandfather comes into the recovery room. “We’re not keeping it so I don’t even wanna see it,” but he must have seen something–the look on my mother’s face, my grandmother’s arms holding me, because he took me and I stayed.

“What are you going to name her?” Asked my grandfather.

“April Rose,” said my mom.

“The hell you are…”

I’m sure you know who said that.

It was the late 70’s, and April Rose had that Stevie Nicks, feathered hair feel to it.  But my grandfather was not having it.  “April Rose is not in the Bible,” was his main complaint.  And so, Emily it was.

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As a teenager, mom could play airplane *and* balance a beer can on a mattress–now that’s varsity level parenting!

Babies are named by their parents, usually, but the parents’ decision is influenced by relatives and friends and lots of other people, all the way down to noisy strangers on the street once that bump starts to show.  And who knows if that kid is going to like being April, or Emily?  Names are important–they stick with us for a lifetime, they precede us–they tell the world things about us without our permission.  And usually, those things are wrong.

The second time I got a name, my new boy name, my trans name, I was named by K.  I had just told her I wanted a nickname, something more masculine, when I was still too piss-in-my-pants afraid to tell her I wanted a lot more than my name to change.  Hell, I could barely admit to myself I wanted a different identity.

I wanted something soft, something not overly butch*, and I wanted it to retain some of the letters of my birth name.  I wasn’t trying to run from my past, or erase it.  I just wanted to lay a path to a different future.

“What about Eli?” K said to me one afternoon.

And I liked it, and it let me keep my initials, and so it stuck.

At work, friend B, a kind woman, a genuine woman with a sweet soul with whom K shared a special bond, one day called me Elias.  And I liked it, and it stuck too.

So now, Elias goes by Eli and is taking the middle name Michael, a family name, one some of the good men in my family share.  Cousin Mike and Uncle Mike are both kind and strong and do right by their family.  I would like to be like them.  Also, Michael as a tribute: my grandmother lost a son, Michael, to rheumatic fever when he was 14 or so.  She was pregnant with my mother when Michael died.

Elias Michael has a nice ring to it, which is important to my picky poet’s ear.  And, just like the first time, I was named by a woman who has been seminal in the formation of my identity.

But this time I had some say too, and that’s a lot to be proud of–this name reflects who I think I am now, not who other people think I might be someday.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

* I like the name Eli, for sure, but when I claimed I wanted something “soft,” something “not too butch,” it was to dip my foot in the trans pool.  I was afraid and not on hormones and still had tits and knew I wouldn’t pass for a Hank or a Jack.  I like those names, but I wasn’t ready to be that kind of man.  Eli suits me, and I have no regrets, but I was playing it safe because I was afraid of what other people would think.

After Seeing Dan Savage Last Night

K and I went to Lincoln Hall last night to see Dan Savage talk about his new book, American Savage.

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I know lots of queers, and especially trans folks, who have a problem with Dan Savage.  Myself, I’m a fan.  I’ve read his column since the “Hey Faggot” days, and although I might not always agree with him, I’m sure glad he’s on my side.  And yes, even as a trans person, I do believe he’s on my side.

I don’t like turning my back on allies for discrepancies with my ideologies.  And he is an ally, a powerful one, to the queer community.  And he reminded me of something last night: I have a right to my own opinions, my own voice.  In fact, using my own true voice is the only way to be brave and honest in this world.

As I was searching through my old posts last night, looking for drafts to expand upon, I realized, especially in my (very) old posts, I sound like a scared little bitch.

What I mean is, I was so afraid of offending the invisible online trans community I sound like I’m holding a goddamn tea party when I’m talking about being trans.  My tone is so unoffensive, well, I find it offensive.  I find it offensive because it is unauthentic.  And so my tone, along with the content, is something I will be looking forward to altering as I revise older posts and send them off to be considered by different audiences.  I understand why I sounded so scared: I was scared, scared of identifying as trans, scared of what that meant for my life.  But I’m not scared anymore, so it’s time to take the interesting ideas I had back then and give them a little support, a little confidence, a good brushing off and squinting at.

After his speaking engagement, Dan stuck around and signed books for us.  When I met him, I introduced myself, identified myself as a trans guy, and gave him the url to this here blog.  I invited him to drop by and see what this guy is up to.  Who knows if he will; he does have like a bazillion fans, but I was proud of myself for looking Dan Savage in the eye, shaking his hand, and telling him I’m trans, I’m a writer, and I have a blog of worth.  And, it was my first act of writerly self-promotion.  Rad.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

 

Uncles

I was sitting in the bathroom today, clipping my toenails.  I was wearing just my house shorts–a pair of light grey sweat pants cut off into shorts.  As I finished up the trimming I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the bathroom doorknob.  The curvature of the knob distorted my image.  In the tiny tarnished gold reflection my shoulders were broader than they are in real life, my hips more narrow.  I cocked my head and looked at the face in that reflection–a longer, thinner version of the real thing.  I looked like a man.  I looked not like any man but rather the man I am becoming.

I peered into the doorknob and I thought about my uncle Tony.

Tony was a chronic drinker, an abusive and cruel man who terrorized the people who took any role in his life.  He repaid his mother’s kindness by living with her for decades as a sadist.  Occasionally he made some sad attempt at contributing to the house by bringing home canned goods he bought with food stamps or bottom feeder catfish he dragged out of the Fox River.  In exchange for this contribution he was given free reign to abuse, emotionally and verbally, anyone he decided deserved such treatment.  He called my mother names, threatened his brothers, and was deeply manipulative of his other sisters.  He took advantage of anyone who would be so stupid as to offer him a hand, and, although he might make occasional apologies, there were too many of them for any one to be taken in earnest.

I watched Tony shove my mother as they fought over whether or not I could have friends in the house.  Tony told my grandmother I was having sex with my friend in my bedroom, an abject and disgusting lie, something used to debase and humiliate me.  I was 17.  Tony held a gun to my hand and asked me, as I squirmed and whimpered, if I thought he would pull the trigger.  I was 9.  Tony was best at intimidation, rarely ever acting on his threats, but it was that constant state of potential danger that was the most damaging of all.  Through all the years I lived under the same roof as him, I learned to police my own habits and impulses–just because Tony didn’t hit me today, it doesn’t mean he won’t hit me tomorrow, so I better step a little lighter, talk a little softer, take up a little less space and hold my breath.  The light gait I walk with now, as a 35 year old man, is the same one I developed as a traumatized child.  And if, in a moment of ease, I catch myself walking solidly, it is a pounding sound I find loud, oafish, and reminiscent of Tony’s hard thumping walk.

Sometimes he was ok.  Sometimes he took me down to the river and we would fish together.  Or, rather, I would watch him set up his pole, watch him drink a six pack of Miller High Life.  I would skip rocks and try to catch frogs.  He would let me sit in the back of his Ford pickup on the way home, the sun in my eyes as I picked at the flaking paint around rust spots on the flatbed.  Sometimes he would do yard work, would help Gramma in the garden or mow the lawn or do some landscaping project that was just stunning and you would wonder how Tony did it.  But then sometimes he would rototil up the whole front yard and Gramma couldn’t believe he destroyed all her grass and it was “Oh Tony fer Godssake!” all over again.  As I type this, the tension I can still hear in my grandmother’s voice tightens my chest as she admonishes Tony, again, and is so tired of him and his inability to control his actions, and I am so tired of myself and my inability to help her or change him and sometimes I…sometimes what?  How do I finish that sentence?  What do I do with all this anger?

Sometimes he would sit in the chair on the porch at night, Gramma and I on the swing my grandfather built.  Gramma and I would watch for lights in the sky, counting the airplanes as they slowly glided though the thick summer air.  Tony’s cigarette would glow red and I remember monitoring its flare peripherally.  I liked him best on those nights: he was quiet and invisible, but the red beacon would warn me if he was moving.

When he wasn’t drunk, his long dark hair would be combed back, his face shaven.  He had kind eyes and a charming smile and a mole on his face.  As a young man, in pictures from before I was born, he looked like Robert DeNiro.  He looked like he could have been any American boy.  That boy, in those pictures?  I am rooting for him.  I wanted him to be better.  I wanted him to change the script of my family’s abusive patterns.  I wanted him to show up to a holiday with his kids and wife and smell like aftershave and tell me stories about their family vacations.  I wanted him to be better so my life could have been better.  Is that selfish?  Don’t we all want a do-over?  Do I get that self-indulgence from him?

I want to pin his shortcomings on alcoholism, a disease that runs in my family.  I want to pin it on the trauma he suffered in Vietnam.  But I have heard stories from my aunts about his cruel hand when they were kids.  It would take decades of consistent performances to cultivate such uniform dislike from so many friends and family members.  Tony worked hard to be so hated, spent so much time and effort saying just the wrong thing at just the right time.  I know better than to deny a soldier his spoils.  When I was a kid I hated my uncle because he hurt so deeply and consistently me and the people I Iove.  Now, as an adult, I don’t hate him, but I have no love for him either.  And so he has earned my indifference roundly.

The bitterness in this story doesn’t stem from the disrespect he showed for his parents and siblings, but the disrespect he showed for himself.  He had emphysema, a hernia, and a blood clot in his lung.  He didn’t think much of himself and told himself, I’m sure, on many occasions.  I imagine self-criticism was the background noise of his life.  And since he didn’t care about his body, this morning it finally failed him.

In the backyard, Tony is in cut off jean shorts and a dirty white t-shirt.  His long hair is pulled back into a pony tail and he is loosening carrots from the dirt.  Tony knew that if you want something to grow, first you have to bury it.  So he repressed his pain and cultivated a lifetime of misery out of it.  His suffering unchecked, grew and grew until his family found him restrained on a hospital bed, sedated after having altercations with security multiple times.  Tony died in that bed this morning, missing the eight year anniversary of my grandmother’s death by one day.  I find this coincidence to be insulting–even in death can’t he leave her alone?

I don’t want to believe the distortions of the doorknob so I turn to the mirror and search for the man I am becoming.  I think about my nieces, and what kind of uncle I will be for them.  I have no button for this story, no pithy aphorism to end on.  There is no tidy truth here.  This is a collection of memories I had to clear the brush from, wounds so old they are covered with scars, not scabs.  I study my jawline in the mirror and decide the little girls in my life will not be afraid of me.  I will not be the one to teach them to tread lightly.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

So Incredible:

Linked from Your Pal Eli:

Transforming Love

Fraternity Raises Funds for Brother’s Transgender Surgery

When I think of groups organized around gender (Boy Scouts, Fraternities, etc.), I sometimes first assume those groups are intolerant. I recently read that the Boy Scouts of America had “tabled” their decision on allowing homosexual participants. Helllooo!!! When I picture the frat brothers of my days as a “Little Sister” of a fraternity, well, these guys made homeosexual slurs a daily routine. That’s why I was delighted to read about a fraternity that not only WELCOMED their transbrother-but STEPPED up for him as well! AN IMPRESSIVE STORY!! Please click on the title above to read as well as watch the young man’s video of thanks!

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