This transition is precisely the transition of rebirth from non-existing to existing. Johnannes Climacus~
The main character feels her way out of the darkness of the non-existent and into the light of the existing.
My ex-husband, Charles, is born a biological female named Charlee, a boy’s name. The name is carried down for generations in this small town of Shawnee, Oklahoma. There are Charlie seniors and juniors throughout the large extended family. Eighteen young boys and old men carry this name with pride.
“Why do they call me this, it’s for a boy?” she thought.
Fate begins to lay the foundation of her life before her first breath. Her destiny begins as a girl.
She remembers differences between herself and the other little girls growing up. Little girls, who want to play with dolls, dress up, hate to get dirty and love to play house in their own sweet way.
“No, I don’t want to play house, let’s play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers or go climb that big ole tree by that fence,” she whines as the little girls give her a look of apprehension. She picks up a stick, holds it like a riffle and says, “Bang, bang.”
“Isn’t there a poem that goes something like that?” she asks.
This young girl is a tomboy, always dirty and always plays with boy toys, trucks and GI Joes. Charlee fights with her mom because she wants to dress like a boy and will not comply with her wishes.
“I won’t wear that yucky dress, you can’t make me!” she screams while lying on the floor kicking her legs frantically. Tears stream down to her pouty petite lips as she tastes her own bitter salt.
What she wanted most she could not have.
“I want my mother to treat me like a boy” she sadly whispers.
At the age of three years old, she tries to urinate as a boy’s normal function, but is instantly perplexed because she does not perform as other male children.
She recalls at age four being in a brightly lit mirrored bathroom with her father on an early, lazy Sunday. He is tall and brawny with a soft blonde strokeable beard. He is only wearing a towel. The sun is beaming through a small window and glides across the porcelain sink creating abstract shapes that reminded her of clouds that hover effortlessly in the blue sky.
She asks, “Daddy, what can’t I pee like my friends?”
He laughs and pats her on the head.
“Because you’re a girl, girls sit down when they go potty,” he says.
“I don’t understand why I’m different,” she whimpered.
She didn’t like it, but accepted it. At that age, what choice did she have? Is Charlee a girl in turmoil over an inner boy?
A child is created in the womb by a single cell and through time becomes altered miraculously into an independent organism by contributions of hormones and chromosomes. The development is identical for both male and female up until three months of pregnancy. But, what happened in the embryo stage for Charlee? Once in the developmental stage, the “Y” chromosome increased in her genetic makeup. All of those occurrences take place before her first cry, first smile, first word, the fundamental core of who she is imbedded in her mind and body.
She is eleven and her world changes forever as she remembers the female gender side taking a back seat while the male takes control. Charlee hates who she is because her brain tells her she is a boy and the world sees her as a girl.
“My mind is filled with a bunch of battles that are mirrored in my blue eyes turning them gray” she says as one tear gently rolls down her cheek.
Mother Nature hits hard as the red river of life rushes furiously out of her small frame. She awakened one morning in a pool of blood, the sheets are saturated and the fumes of a gross smell linger above her.
“Mom, make it go away,” she sobs quietly because Charlee didn’t want to grow up to be female. “Once puberty hit, I thought this is it, no more” she says.
Her breasts begin to grow, too. One day she is as flat chested as her vintage children’s desktop that sits in the living room next to a bay window. And then the next day she finds raised bumps that mock her.
“But mom, I don’t want these” she shrieks uncontrollably.
“Honey, you’re a woman now and all women have breasts,” her mom consoles her as she brushes her long flaming red hair.
“Let’s talk about the new blouse and skirt I bought you today.” Her mother tries to change the subject.
“All I want is to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I hate my long hair,” she thought as she imagined a giant pair of scissors creeping into her room while she slept and in one foul swoop chops off every single hair. Her mind wonders off in her own little world as she pondered, “That would be so cool.”
Charlee is twelve and her voice begins to sound like a sick moose that squeaks. It goes from extremely high pitched cracks to a deep baritone just like a male child. At seventeen Charlee begins to start shaving her face as a daily man’s routine.
“I am doing what comes naturally following my innate characteristics,” she explains.
While Charlee dreams about her sexuality one thing is clear, she is not fond of boys for dating purposes. She is attracted to girls. One day she tries to find a word in the dictionary that describes her emotions.
“I went through the encyclopedia searching for a word that fit how I felt because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. At that point and time all I could find in the dictionaries and encyclopedia’s was homosexual. I knew I liked girls and so I stuck with that” she says.
Then declares, “I self-identified myself and accepted my feelings and mannerisms as being a lesbian and wanted to tell people.”
The strong desire to communicate this newly found realization with her parents is more than she can handle. She struggles to find the right answer, to find the right words.
“I told mom my new label and I guess it turned into a mistake. I am asked to leave and never come back,” her voice cracks as she stares blankly at the brown and white stripped carpet below her feet.
These words will ring forever in Charlee’s mind, “If you ever step one foot in my house I’ll pull out the shot gun and shoot you for trespassing. Get the hell out of here!” The vibrations of her voice seemed to rock the ceiling.
The house is no longer a home as her mother shoots looks that can kill. It is a war zone. Bombs are going off in every direction, then a direct hit. Charlee did not realize she was in the line of fire. Tension permeates the air as she walks into her bedroom and packs all of her belongings.
“I guess I wanted guidance and support and instead, got the boot.” she says with a distressful tone.
She immediately moves into her grandmother’s house, Miss Maggie, a woman who stood five foot, graying short hair with a heart of Mother Theresa. She is the only one who gives Charlee unconditional love at the time when she needed it most.
Once becoming comfortable in her new environment Charlee explains, “I chopped all of my hair off and from that point forward let it grow maybe to my shoulder. My mom had always hated it. It’s been hard but, it’s me.”
She is now dressing more masculine in jeans and polo shirts just like other juvenile boys. She feels comfortable with herself, but there is still something missing. Charlee questions life.
“There must be more to life, isn’t there?”
It is a slow process for her to realize that wearing boy’s clothing is not enough. She is still not comfortable in her own skin. Her mind did not match her gender, her biological sex. She is born with the wrong body parts. Her gender identity is questioned. Somehow there had been a mix up in the genetically determined gender of this child.
Charlee hates her life, her body and feels nonexistent. As an adult she recognizes what needs to be done.
“I am a man trapped in a woman’s body” she confesses.
Her dreams are of the perfect masculine physique because she knows deep down she was born in the wrong body. Her dreams are of being with a woman, as a legal man. The downside is her family and their reactions. It is her mom in particular that she feared most. She rewrote the history of her life as these visions led to two surgeries, top and bottom plus the need for testosterone shots. Charlee begins to transition at the age of thirty into a proud man named, Charles.
She enters the hospital for two separate surgeries. The first is for a hysterectomy on March 12, 2007 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Two weeks later, a hate crime occurs. It’s Easter, a family get together. The holiday tables are full of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and pastel baskets. She entered the festivities about an hour before it happened. Her mother and sister beat her physical body in front of the entire family.
“You’re killing my daughter” her mother shouts as she pounds Charlee’s limp body that lays on the ground mixed with gravel and miniscule pieces of glass, while her daughter’s blood covers her hands.
Twenty minutes later, it is all over, Charlee’s body resembles a mangled animal just hit by a car lying alone on the side of the rode at midnight. They try to crush her spirit consequently, blood is split and bones are broken. The family is ripped to shreds as she files police charges against her mother and sister. Charlee’s aunt, Paula, who is a short, skinny woman with jet black hair happens to be very powerful in the community. Not only is she an attorney, a General in the United States Army, but she is the Commissioner of the city, Shawnee. She carries an air of a rattlesnake, ready to pounce and kill her prey at any time, at any cost. Paula uses her influence to destroy all the hospital and police reports regarding the incident. We believe she squashes them as soon as they hit the DA’s office. Why would she do such a horrible thing? To protect her family.
In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Charlee gets her second surgery called, top surgery to remove her breasts. The big day came on April 7, 2007. After driver license changes from F to M, birth certificate changes with a new gender and name, she is now a he and is considered a transman.
He remembers the first time he spoke to his mother on the phone once he completed the transition and she describes “her” first room.
“The nursery we made you has walls of a pale yellow, fluffy pastel animals, a giant sun and a rainbow that went around the room, filled with pink blankets, miniature stuffed animals and filled with little girl clothing. “Perfect for our tiny miracle,” my mother cooed.
“Now, my baby girl is dead,” she snarls.
For the rest of his life Charles will administer weekly testosterone shots into his body. He passes 100% within our society. He looks like the average guy who walks down the street. He finally feels comfortable in his own skin as a man and has found his inner peace. It is only now that the inner child, the young boy is free.
Life means living to the fullest of one’s ability, no matter what the costs, isn’t that right?
As I take an eagle’s eye view of my life I can see many individuals and events that have contributed to the person I am today. One person who was and always will be very dear to me, my mother, who passed away when I was 42 years old. She taught me the value of love, strength, goals and a good education. I found growing up that she did not push me for the “good grades” as I took it upon myself to strive for A’s.
When I was seven year old my mother took me to the doctor due to stomach pain. He told her I worried too much about school (I believe I was in second grade but, don’t quote me), and getting the gold stars from the teacher. I was one step away from an ulcer. I ate baby food for two weeks and will never forget that experience. I enjoyed the banana flavor but, the vegetable ones, not so much. The sense of striving to get A’s (but, would accept a B) from my educational studies appeared innate. My mother tried to reinforce that no matter what grade I received, as long as I tried, that was all that mattered.
I watched her, a single mother, holding down a job while going to school in the evenings in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in social work from Empire State College. Her struggles and courage inspired me to follow my dreams. One of the happiest days I spent with her was on her graduation day. When they called her name, I had a great sense of pride. Her perseverance had paid off, she did not give up.
My mother introduced me to a life of open mindedness. Sexual orientation, skin color and all the other categories of racism were considered taboo. “We are all the same”, she would say. Being a social worker, she worked with prisoners from Ryker’s Island to the street gangs in Harlem. They all loved her and she them. She brought a child/man of 18 years old into our home, a two bedroom apartment in rural upstateNew York. He lived with us because he was let out of the child care system as adult with no money or place to live. We became like a brother and sister…a brother I never had since I was an only child. He was big, black and scary looking, but his heart was filled with gold. After living with us for a few months he decided he needed to go home, to Harlem. His alcoholic mother lived there and he felt he needed to find “his roots”. He opened my eyes to his culture as I would go with him to visit his mother from time to time. He taught me that there are people out there better off than me and worse off, so I’m not doing so badly.
Another individual that influenced me was my ex-husband. I know he deserves credit, and in this instance I am giving him his due. When I met him he was a she, a man trapped in a woman’s body. I was with him when he went through top and bottom surgeries to deem himself a man on the outside. We were married and divorced, legally. During my time with him, I was introduced to the Transgender community. When all was said and done, I realized these individual’s were a minority group that needed support regarding who and what they were. I saw the significance in society needing a wake up call. Knowledge is power and I wrote a book based on these issues and how they affected my life.
I believe that my values have guided me through life personally, academically and professionally. They include: compassion, ethics, integration, respect, honor, honesty, change, accountability, justice, integrity, curiosity, innovation and creativity, just to name a few. But, there are some that I would like to address now.
As a queer woman, I always held the motto, Live and let live. As fate would have it, I found a new group of individuals that held the same feelings as I did and willing to fight for what we all believed in, equality for the LGBT community, equality for all. I let my voice be heard on a documentary on MSNBC in 2009 (A television program that aired about transgenders getting married), and I had a meeting with the Senator of Florida regarding the LGBTQQ community.
While I found my values were innate and inherent within me, the cross cultural and individual expressions that I have learned, developed and practiced throughout my lifetime strengthened my values and beliefs. I realized that my sense of identity stemmed from a world of spiritual reality. I am a queer woman and proud of it. I follow my heart not gender. Though my own personal trauma I took many inward journeys and came to the realization that by working with others we could break down barriers of prejudice.
I carry this quote close to my heart:
Your beliefs become your thoughts / Your thoughts become your words / Your words become your actions / Your actions become your habits / Your habits become your character / Your character becomes your destiny ~ Gandhi
I have a talent for writing. Prior professors, friends and fellow students have given positive feed back on my abilities. I feel that my art of writing produces a combination of creativity, intelligence, approach and word power. I will be able to utilize my aptitude for the future as an author and screen play writer. The list is endless of the possibilities that await me.
On a personal note, I am an artist and my medium is acrylic. I have sold my art work mostly in New York and New Jersey but, my art also has traveled to Californiaand Delaware. I started painting for fun after my college homework was completed. I am a natural people have said. No real training just me, the brush and my canvas. I painted scenic scenes, oceanic scenes, clipper ships, and my highest seller was my lighthouses. I found this innate talent to be a great gift.
It was through these highs and lows, pains and moments of happiness that were intertwined with the feelings of anguish of watching lives being destroyed before my eyes by a hate crime (read my story) that brought me here…now, writing this quick autobiography. My life has been filled and weaved with a pattern of many people who influenced my life and in turn, opened a door for me to write my book, a screenplay, leading me at this time, to be a student, an eternal student.
It’s hard to look for the light when your lost in darkness ~ Anonymous
Back in the day, I was a lesbian and very proud. I can remember the feelings of being a lesbian and having a woman touch me in a very sensual manner. The curves of a woman’s body, her sweet scent, lips and eyes would always beckon me. Sparkling Green, translucent blue and seductive deep brown eyes were the colors I once beheld.
Being with a woman had been one of the most spiritual experiences that I had ever known. As I close my eyes, at this very moment, I can envision the women who were a part of my life, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Each woman had their own inner essence which touched my heart. True love always existed in the beginning in my relationships but, with time comes change and well, people change.
I believe in the back of my mind there appeared to be a reflection of the perfect life filled with the perfect lover who would stand by me, always. I don’t believe that I ever asked for too much or maybe I did. All my wants and needs were based on trust, unconditional love, respect and cherishing that special person, me. Fairy tale images danced before my eyes yet, reality crushed each of them, one by one.
One incident in particular is etched in my mind forever. My lover and I lived in Brooklyn between my apartment and her parent’s house. It was a quiet neighborhood except for the sirens that woke us at three in the morning. Houses were lined up like little soldiers guarding their turf. Six months out of the year we house sat for her parent’s two story house and lived in the basement as they were snow birds in Florida. The other six months were spent at my apartment eleven blocks away. I worked as an accountant for a company located in the Empire State Building, in the heart of Manhattan and I had been a college student taking a full load. My commute consisted of two trains and a bus to get home.
It was around 11:30 in the evening when I stepped off the bus. I pulled my gloves out of my pockets from my red fleeced lined coat as the night chill went right through me. The streets were quiet as the moonlight reflected off the parked cars. I slowly made my way home passing houses that were dark and peaceful.
I had just gotten into the house and heard the television in the living room blaring. A Cinnamon broom hung on the brown paneled wall. It intoxicated me, surrounded me, whispering in my ear, Christmas is next week. My lover continued eating popcorn and watching the end of the news broadcast. I had not eaten dinner and my stomach growled, moving like a freight train. So, I quietly entered the kitchen and made a toasted raisin bagel. The warm bread filled the air with its sweet aroma. I quickly cleaned up my mess, whipping down the beige counter top and I threw the empty container of cream cheese into the large green garbage pail.
“Did you clean up your mess?” she asked. I responded quickly, “Of course I did.” I proceeded to enter our bedroom where the walls reflected baby blue and the five drawer dresser against the back wall resembled a relic with filigreed angels carved into the wood. On the top there were proudly erected black and white family photos of her mom and dad dating back forty some years ago. The curtains were black making sure sunlight never existed in this tomb we called home, and on my pillow laid a small Hershey’s kiss.
I immediately opened the silver wrapper and tossed the candy into my mouth while savoring its melting consistency. I flipped on the small television to catch the end of a comedy before going to bed. We never liked the same shows, but then again I rarely watched television since I had an extremely tight schedule.
While sitting on the bed enjoying my down time, I could hear her voice coming in waves from the kitchen. It was escalating yet, still mumbled. A few moments later, she stood in the doorway. Last week she went to a barber shop and left with an extremely short haircut. I saw an image of a small boy standing before me. She was short just like me. Her eyes were hard and dark like the black hole in our universe. Her feet were bare, her hips were slim, and her jeans were perfectly creased. Biceps were bulging and donned a white Metallica t-shirt with a small red stain near the hem. Red sauce slid off her fork and nosedived splattering on her shirt when I made an Italian meal three weeks ago.
She was screaming and pointing her finger at me while in the other hand, an empty container of cream cheese. “Didn’t I tell you before to stop wasting money? Every time I turn around it’s my hard earned money I see going down the toilet. I’ve f*cken had it” she said. There had been a thin layer of that dairy product on one side, pretty much empty in my opinion. But to her, I had wasted money “When are you going to listen to me, bitch” she blurted out.
As I stood up slowly, she proceeded to raise her fist above her head. I cried out, “I’m sorry, I swear I won’t do it again. I promise.” My knees became weak and my heart raced. I could feel my blood surging through my veins a million miles an hour. “You f*cken don’t listen to me” her voice became deeper as words began to burn holes into my being. I could feel the fire of the dragon’s breath upon me. My voice screeched, “I do, I do.” From that moment on I knew I was in trouble and alone. Even though she was only two inches taller than me, her upperbody strength surpassed mine. She made a direct hit to my chin and I lost my balance falling to the floor. My bagel went flying through the air as if it were a speeding bullet. It landed face down on the carpet, “What a mess, I’m not going to clean that up,” I thought.
The blow was hard enough that I could feel the swelling immediately. She hit me with all her strength. My heart palpitated. I felt a lump in my throat as tears streamed down my cheeks while tasting my own bitter salt. My body began to tremble uncontrollably. As I gathered my thoughts I tried to get up but, I was struck repeatedly. My glasses went flying into the baby blue wall cracking the left lens. I crawled on my hands and knees out of the bedroom listening to the shrieking of a mad woman two feet behind me. “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.
When I first entered the lion’s den that night I placed my purse on the large two toned hand crafted wooden chest next to the front door. It was a wedding gift for her parents, forty something years ago. The filigree work consisted of inlaid angels and cherubs. But, the angels were not there to protect me or were they?
Gradually I found the courage to stand up again. She stepped towards me with wrath in her eyes as they seemed to glow a blazing red. “I’m going to teach you a lesson and this time you won’t forget it” she said. “Please stop, no more,” I whimpered. She forcefully pushed me against the wall and we struggled. I pleaded, “Please, stop your hurting me.” She shouted, “You stupid bitch, my money, my house you piece of sh*t.” My words fell onto deaf ears. I had knocked hanging family photographs onto the floor as I tried to fight back. Broken wooden frames and shattered pieces of glass lay everywhere.
Then the phone rang. Were the angels looking down upon me? It distracted her for a brief instant. I breathed a small sigh, grateful for the diversion. I grabbed the opportunity to push her away, turn and take hold of my purse. I ran out the door into the midnight hour. “I’m not done with you” she hollered. She didn’t follow me. I was grateful.
Everything was blurry and all I could see was the street lights glistening. Giant stars everywhere. When you are as nearsighted as I am plus crying, it just made matters worse. I stuck my hand into my black purse in search of a tissue. Damn it, there was nothing. The air was bitterly cold as the wind seemed to seep into my bones on that wintery December night. I walked, cried and proceeded to ruffle through my purse again in search of my dark shades. I needed to wear my sun glasses to see as much as I could.
Not a soul was on the streets that morning. I past houses in which families resided. Lights out, everyone comfortable in their beds sound asleep, dreaming. The funny thing was that a song kept racing through my mind about this guy wearing his sunglasses at night. I started to sing the song as loud as I could in hopes to calm my nerves.
“I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can
Forget my name while you collect your claim
And I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes…”
It was a devastating night that terrified me. The memory will linger in my mind forever.
Every time the physical brutality ended, it was the typical classic case of sudden remorse that would come over her, or was it? I would receive roses and other fragrant smelling flowers, chocolate candy as that was my favorite and love notes saying sorry and I love you. Weeks would go by in which she would not have any eruptions. It was like living with a volcano, you never knew when it would blow. We went back to our daily lives as if those events never happened. But, they always reoccurred.
The finale finally arrived and that day came on July 4th, Independence Day for me and the world. I walked away and never looked back. She felt I was leaving her because of her physical illness of MS and could not see the fear in my eyes or the pain in my heart. She was blind to see the truth. Our love was long gone. I felt like I was running for my life, to safety wherever that might have been. That commitment lasted for five and a half years.
I know now that I was a statistic in 1985 and not alone as other women traveled down the same traumatic path. I had taken an inward journey as many other women before me, and found the courage to be free from the oppression. I have tasted freedom and it is sweet. I found me and I like me for who I have become. I can close my dark hazel eyes and hear the peaceful silence of a new found woman.
It has always been a lifelong dream to be a parent. I was told at an early age it would be impossible for me and to consider adoption. We (my lover and I) were parents for 5 glorious days, two boys, brothers: three and six.
The adoption would have taken place three weeks from the day of hate the crime. You see, my lover was a transgender, FTM who had decided to transition from a female to male. This is an excerpt from my book that I wanted to share. The event took place at a family gathering on Easter Day:
I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. The air was clean and crisp, the birds were singing and the sky was as blue as an ocean on a clear day. Mother Nature had given the gift of a beautiful March morning to celebrate Easter yet, hidden, waiting behind the trees and rocks were hints of disaster that lingered in the background.
As we walked outside towards our black truck after the Easter Egg Hunt, my son “to be” and I couldn’t help but notice every single member of Peter Marie’s family standing around in a large half circle. Fifty or more people all came out of the lakeside building that was full of food and festivity. The group consisted of all adults as well as children ranging from all ages, starring and anticipating. What was happening? Why did they all congregate at that very moment? For a second I felt as if I had entered the tapping of a horror movie – the scene: a stoning of an innocent individual who was considered the “evil one.”
Her mother and sister were behind us as I hurried and tugged at the child, trying desperately to make it to safety. I had seen them earlier out of the corner of my eye as they began their approach. To the only sanctuary in sight, was Peter Marie’s black, slightly shiny truck that had the colors of the rainbow in metal rings hanging from the rearview mirror. I held his hand with all my might. I just wanted to protect him. My heart was racing. My palms were sweaty.
The air turned into a bath of red mist, her mother began furiously screaming obscenities at me, “You F**cken* B**ch!!!” for one and then it seemed to go on and on like a volcano exploding. This was then followed by her pointing a finger at Peter Marie shouting, “You’re killing my daughter…you’re killing my daughter!” All I wanted was to make it to the truck and get home unharmed with our sons, a young three year old and his brother of six.
The last thing on my mind was any type of altercations. Why would such a thought enter my head on a family get together holiday such as Easter? That particular day was to be a time to enjoy family, holiday food and candy, to laugh and love. It was our first Easter with the boys, their first Easter hunt with us as a family. The countdown had begun, three weeks from that day until the adoption would have become official and finalized.
Prior to that day, Peter Marie had instinctually known her mother would not handle her transition from female to male reasonably or rationally. She described her thoughts, “I knew my mom was going to flip out on me so…maybe she won’t notice if I took my breasts off” stating as matter of fact and then smiled awkwardly.
The next thing I knew, my so called mother-in-law was standing before me about a foot away. She clenched both fists while raising them high above her head. She was in a rage attack mode. The air had changed, thick and dense. The sky became dark and stormy. It was her thunder that was out of control and I tried to brace myself for the explosive outburst that was clearly deep within her eyes.
Within seconds I felt her power, her wrath. Was that a bell I heard, did a boxing match start? I’m in emotional turmoil and suddenly hopped up on adrenaline. I immediately released the child’s hand. Fight or flight? She proceeded to punch the daylights out of me in the face several times while someone was pounding the back of my head with their fists. But whom? I was amazed and even proud for a brief moment of how many times I was struck, and yet still stood my ground. I remained stationary for as long as I could, taking these hard blows until eventually my knees buckled and I fell to the ground. My head was throbbing, maybe from the swelling of my assaulter’s actions or maybe because my face was plastered to the ground. Small rocks and shards of glass pierced my skin. I was kicked at that moment in the head, neck, head, neck, neck and then in the small of my back over and over. I couldn’t tell which individuals were battering me…her mother or sister or who knows…I think it was both, but if felt like more. Were other family members involved? I’ll never know.
Why didn’t I fight back you ask? After the third blow my instinct was to fight back, to show them I was not afraid and to stand up for what I believed to be right. To release my Brooklyn girl attitude in self defense. I looked down and for a brief second and I saw into the three year old’s eyes, heart and soul. These boys had seen enough violence in their short lives and I did not want to be associated with such horror.
I couldn’t see, my glasses went flying after the first punch to my forehead.
Where was my son? I did not know. Everything was a blur. A flash of a time of warmth and love between her family and I. Emotions were flaring. I believe all the rage was triggered by the idea of Peter Marie’s transitioning and the realization that I supported her. Would it be a considered a death in the family when she transitioned?
Peter Marie struggled then yanked her mother causing any more injury. Then her mother and sister turned on my hero, my lover, my friend. It was no holds barred punches and kicks in every direction. She yelled at the top of her lungs, loudly with the sound of her heart breaking, “Get the boys out of here.”
This must have been so traumatizing for them. These children were placed in the adaption system because of the physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse concerning of both their parents and grandparents…and now this. Not understanding what was happening. Come to think about it…I didn’t even know what was happening.
I found my glasses and raced to get help. I ran as fast as I could…stumbling, losing my balance along the way until I reached help or so I thought. Sweating, out of breathe and desperate I pleaded for assistance. “They are beating Peter Marie up…please help me!” Her father did not seem surprised at my request. Could he have known about the potential of violence before it occurred? Leisurely he walked to the front of the building where Peter Marie was being brutally beaten. It seemed like an eternity had passed.
What I will never understand was that everyone knew Peter Marie had a hysterectomy just two and a half weeks prior to this day. Why would they attack her physically? It could have caused serious damage and possibly internal bleeding. But, I guess they didn’t care about her well being…her physical health.
Come to think about it, even though we were physically assaulted by her family members, neither of us fought back. Peter Marie deep within her heart truly cared about their well being. With every blow that stunned her, the love was still there looming overhead. She had been a black belt in Tai Kwon Do and not once did she use any of her defensive moves for life and death situations.
Finally the beatings were over. The blood had been spilt, a family torn apart. We had to make sure that the boys were returned to us. Peter Marie told our assailants that we were not leaving without our children. After a few minutes that seemed like hours, they brought them out to us.
We got into the truck and headed home. At first there was silence. Slowly we drove down the country road which led to the lake we just came from. Both of us were glancing back to see if we were followed and scared to death. The six year old broke the quiet. He asked Peter Marie why things happened the way they did. She tried her best to explain that there were bad people in this world. Blood trickled down her face as I tried to hold back my tears. This incident was a life altering experience, a shifting point in both our lives.
Our boys ended up back in the shelter for their own protection and we left to another state a week later for our safety with a broken heart.
Timing is everything in one’s life. This experience reinforced what I had already known, that there are bad people in this world and that hatred is everywhere. But, then I remember all the love and good people out there and in my opinion, the good will always outweigh the bad.
The boys were adopted out two weeks later to a loving couple.
The producer fell through regarding my screenplay. Emergency family matters led to this and that and he never got back to me. That’s ok, my first rejection, haha. Had to break the ice, right? My book is in the revision stage as I am creating a Non-Fiction Creative Autobiographical Anthology (that’s a mouthful). I am going to use my book as a foundation for a Master’s Degree next year. During the summer I plan on sending query letters out for my screenplay, “Cheaters, Sinners, and Saints.
Always put yourself in others shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too. ~ anonymous~
This quote is a reflection of diversity and the negative views associated with it just as the protagonist felt the pain as she dealt with closed minded people.
It was like being a jet black social creature, a tiny ant following the trail of hundreds of other ants, or should I say gays, straights, transgenders, bisexuals and lesbians. We crawled through an overcrowded parking lot where they led the way to the Van Wezel, a giant purple building that holds events like plays, musicals and on this day, the Gay Pride celebration. The festivities included drag shows and a performer that was transgender, a she who was now a he. People were different here in Sarasota, Florida because when they pushed in front of me at least they smiled when they did it, not like in New York City where they just pushed. I remember those days well in the crowded trains, buses and jam packed city streets. I waited patiently in a long line that ran outside the door to purchase two tickets to enter this wonderland of sights and sounds. I waited with the young and old, male and female, couples and singles, all who gathered for this event.
Three years have passed since the almost hate crime, at least it could have been in my eyes. Since my divorce with my transgender ex-husband my friendship list has grown thanks to the World Wide Web. I have ventured into chat rooms, blogs and websites to try and fully understand the inner and social fights of the transpeople.
Hate crimes are a main topic. I’m in school for cultural studies in writing to become a better writer and critical thinker because I want to write about what the world needs to know about. One can only write from experience, right?
It was on May 10th 2008, a beautiful ninety degree spring day with the wind puffing gently as the sky filled slowly with light billowing clouds. My transgender boyfriend, Peter, a handsome red head and I had attended a once a year Gay Pride celebration and drag show. There must have been five hundred people, drinking, laughing and enjoying the entertainment. Drag queens/men dressed up in glamorous evening gowns, brightly colored Crayola crayon poofy hair that walked graciously around in their high heels and packed on makeup which consumed their faces, a definite sight to see. It was all in the name to promote their shows. Some of the queens were wearing stilettos; I envied them because I would fall flat on my face if I attempted that feat, no pun intended. Music was blaring out of the eight foot high black boxes as I made my way through the masses. Gays and lesbians and transgenders, oh my! People were talking, smiling and singing along to a popular song, What a shame.
Concession stands for safe sex, beer, auto insurance and t-shirts were overcrowded as people flashed their dollars in the air. Then I saw food. The smell of burnt coals and meat slapped me in the face. As I passed the food display of hot dogs and hamburgers my stomach screamed out, “Feed me,” but we couldn’t stop as Peter was on a mission.
We found our way to a small patch of grass and sat down. In front of us was a huge stage surrounded by posters promoting diversity with rainbow flags moving leisurely in the breeze like small sail boats on a lake. I watched a man perform a song that brought a tear to my eye. Fifteen minutes later we met up with Peter’s newly found Trans buddy, Ronny. He was blonde, “six-pack”, hence his stage name and a little on the short side. He just finished performing on stage, What a shame by Shinedown. He was wearing angel wings as he flashed names of transgenders, gay men and lesbian women that have died from hate crimes on small pieces of colored construction paper, blue, green and yellow:
“What a shame, what a shame
To judge a life that you can’t change
The choir sings, the church bells ring
So won’t you give this man his wings?
What a shame to have to beg you to
See we’re not all the same, what a shame…”
After the performance Ronny introduced us to a couple. They were a cute happy couple, a transman, Hank Canster with short brown hair who had a dry sense of humor. His girlfriend, Vainita Smith was the typical blonde bombshell with the attitude to match in her bling bling shiny pink metallic tank top and tight blue jean shorts, “Nice to meetcha,” she screamed over the music. We spent the entire day and most of the night together. The sun had gone done hours ago and the lights from the building exterior were blindingly bright. It was late, we swapped phone numbers and parted, “Don’t forget to call tomorrow,” Hank said as he shook Peter’s hand.
Our Gay Pride celebration evening should have been a continuation of our day, fun and care free with a sense of being unified. It was about 11:30 pm as we drove home on that warm clear moonlit night. In the distance, there was an all-night restaurant with a neon sign, it flashed, blinked and lit up the sky. Both of us were hungry so Peter pulled in and we walked hand in hand to the entrance. After being seated, he excused himself to go to the bathroom.
There are many stories out there that depict the biggest dilemma when a transgender is considered in “limbo.” At that very moment, he was passing as a man, one hundred percent of the time with the goatee and no female breasts due to surgery and testosterone. He had an “M” on his driver license but, with the name Peter Marie, a feminine name that lingered along with his birth certificate that stated he was still a she. He did not have his name legally changed yet and it concerned him deeply in the recesses of his mind. It was the thought of a potential altercation with another man could take place in the men’s room so he felt he had no alternative, but to enter the ladies lavatory. Timing can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
Five minutes later a group of young Spanish men wearing t-shirts, leather jackets and blue jeans came into the restaurant with their voices raised as they spoke in a vulgar manner, “Fuck this and fuck that.” They sat catty corner to our table. Men like that I have passed in the street and usually they would whistle or make crude comments to me, “Come here girl, you are so pretty.” I would hear them say, “Vienen chica que son tan bonitas!” It was a large group, eight to be exact and in my opinion, they held an air of a street gang. They were loud and obnoxious. I paid no attention and proceeded to read some of the pamphlets that I picked up earlier in the day. I tried to look interested in something other than their major outbursts.
I had never before been so aware of restaurant noises, the extremely bright lights, the waitresses talking and giggling in the kitchen, the clanking of dishes being piled up as the tables were cleaned and the commotion of twenty five people all in conversation, I counted. In the distance I heard two young Spanish women as they walked down the aisle and approached their table speaking in their native tongue while snickering as they walked passed me. “El hombre en el baño de mujeres!” a young woman shouted. I understood the words that were spoken, a man in the ladies bathroom. As they sat down the story of a man in the woman’s bathroom had begun to flow around their table and it seemed like it ignited an uncontrollable fire that blazed from their eyes as the men glanced around feverishly.
I became anxious and wondered where he was. Another five minutes passed and I stood up in order to locate him when he turned the corner. We both sat down in a pit of silence for a moment. He didn’t have to say a word since we both knew the events that transpired just moments before.
Neither of us wanted to move at that moment. Peter was facing them. They were staring at us. My hands trembled, but I tried to hide it by keeping them under the table in my lap. What else was said between those Spanish individual’s I will never know. On the one hand, I did understand the confusion and anger at first glance of the situation. Peter did look like a pervert, a man in the ladies bathroom. It could have been cause to call in the police, but they had no clue what led up to that incident and why a man was using the ladies restroom.
We were both frightened. Could this be a hate crime waiting to happen?
It would seem the definition from the dictionary.com web site reported that the verb “hate” is another word for “loathing,” or “disgust, possibly what the ethnic group felt. “It means to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.” The Merriam-Webster web site defined it from the Old English “hete,” it was first used before the 12th century. The thesaurus web site explained that the noun means “intense dislike.” It means “to hate the enemy.” Were we the enemy? The verb also can mean “to provoke; to be diabolic.” The fear I felt was instilled deep within me to the point of never being able to release it. US Legal stated that, “A hate crime is usually defined by state law as one that involves threats, harassment, or physical harm and is motivated by prejudice against someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability.”
We ate breakfast quickly, not even once did we acknowledge one another. I know I had scrambled eggs with ketchup on them, toast and bacon, yet I don’t remember the taste of anything, not even my buttered browned bread as I woofed it all down within record time. Prior to our departure I will be honest, for a brief moment I glanced at the unused stainless steel knife that sat quietly on the table. “Maybe I should take it for protection. I could slide it into my purse and no one will notice,” I thought.
I remember watching several transgender movies, some good and some were pitiful. One that always stuck with me was The Soldier’s Girl and how a male soldier died in a hate crime by his own people, his so called army buddies, because he loved a woman who was different, a transgender. I cry every time. That was me, I loved a woman who transitioned into a man.
Definitely not the norm in our society, he was a man that few recognized as having an inner struggle between two souls, male/female. The Native American’s referred to transgenders as Berdache because they are considered to have two souls, male and female. They were touched by the spirits of the ancestors and had powers on the order of the shaman. (The Two-Spirit Tradition).
My mind wondered for an instant to flashes of a horrific nightmare that unfolded in my confused brain, blood was everywhere. Peter and I lay on the ground. And then I got a grip on myself. As we stood up to leave a small voice told me to take it. I looked to the left and then slowly the right. When no one was looking I grabbed the gleaming knife from the table and slidit into my black leather purse. We proceeded to walk to the front to pay our bill. I was extremely paranoid and will be the first to admit it. Being the Scorpio that I am, I thought the worst. Could we make it to the truck safely? Would the group of men follow us outside? Were they carrying weapons?
We walked out of the establishment, looking back every so often until we were half way to the dark truck. And then, there they were. Eight mean looking guys with kick butt in their eyes stared right at us. I don’t believe that I have ever been so petrified in my life. I know that Peter was affected by this incident because his hands quivered. My right hand slid into my purse and my fingertips touched the cold metal. At that moment, he grabbed my left hand and pulled me to double time it back to the black SUV. I could hear the sound of what seemed like wild horses as their hooves galloped behind us. “Faster, come on,” he yelled. The doors unlocked and I jumped in like I was in search of a long lost sanctuary because if I didn’t fate would have taken a different turn. We took off speeding and the truck was like a “Bat out of hell” as Meatloaf would have said leaving screech marks on the gray pavement. Words were not spoken while, What a shame by Shinedown played on the radio.
On November 20, 2011, the LGBTQ Nation held a ceremony called the, “13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance around the world, a day when the LGBTQ and allied community honor those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, and seek to raise awareness of the ongoing threat of brutality faced by the transgender community.”
Today is a day to remind ourselves to love because in reality, that’s all we have. Many have lost their lives at the hands of another due to hate. What makes people kill?
What makes people physically and emotionally injure innocent victims and why? The reason is because they are different? I live my life each day and can remember the fear that they felt before leaving this earthly plain. To feel trapped in a place of no return. LGBTQ Nation reported, “In 2011, there were at least 23 more lives lost to anti-transgender hate, including seven in the United States.” I am grateful that Peter and I did not become a national statistic because in 2008 as the FBI National Press Office reported, “There were 5,542 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons…” And according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report for 2010, “The 6,628 hate crime incidents reported to us by our law enforcement partners stayed consistent with the 6,604 incidents reported in 2009.” I see a pattern that the numbers are increasing each year, do you? I have always been a fighter for the underdog and will continue to do so. I have learned that there is plenty of work to be done in getting word out about diversity. People’s fears need to be addressed head on to realize we really are all the same.
Take a good look because this means that in 2008 at least 5,542 were the assaulters, in 2009 at least 6,604 were the assaulters and in 2010 at least 6,628 were the assaulters. What does this say about our sense of humanity? Are we as tiny in thought, love and respect as those little jet black creatures that roam our earth?