Tag Archive | Friendship

Destroying Bigotry Through Relationships

One of the most interesting things that came about because of Porcfest 2017 is that I realized just how ignorant I am of “average” Muslim behavior. Given that I’m an atheist and have no more interest in Islam than I do Wicca or Zoroastrianism, I’m okay with that. I’m also an individualist, so I also make it a point to treat each person as an individual, not a homogenized blob because they happen to have this or that characteristic. I knew intellectually that all Muslims couldn’t fulfill “the stereotype,” but what stereotype is that? Certainly, there’s the “OMG TERRORIST” stereotype, but everyone except the most idiotic conservative knows that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, some idiotic conservatives do think that. I quote a local writer who recently gave me a copy of his book (yes, the book is trash) (and yes, the motherfucker signed it):

“There are no Peace-Loving Muslims, no Moderate Muslims, no Indifferent Muslims. No Radical Muslims. Just Muslims. A Muslim is a Muslim. Period.”

Yes, someone not only wrote that, but got it published in a book.

While most people wouldn’t go that far, it remains true that familiarity is the destroyer of stereotypes–which is the primary reason that I’m currently considering staying in Mississippi*. But before we get into that, let’s talk about paleo-libertarianism. The question of free markets and discrimination is one that a lot of people would like the answer to, because “let the free market deal with it” is not a satisfying answer when discussing people like me who could end up in situations where they can’t shop at critical stores because everyone in the area is transphobic/racist/homophobic/etc.

They have a point.

It doesn’t really make a difference that 50s era segregation was enforced by the state, because many of the business owners of that day would have carried on that policy regardless–and did so well into the 70s in some places. It’s a nice cop-out to be able to say, “There was nothing ‘free market’ about American segregation; it was legislated and enforced by the state, not the market.” Such a statement is true in a limited sense, but we can’t pretend like segregation and discrimination magically disappear if there’s a free market in place, because they don’t.

Last night I spent a while thinking about a friend of mine who immediately identified someone else as Jewish by their last name. Until this “someone else” told me so, I had no idea that he was Jewish, and even afterward it was worthy of nothing but a mental note. When I asked him how he identified the guy as Jewish, he said it was the last name, and that he knew most/all of common Jewish last names. Then I thought of the many borderline anti-semitic things this friend has said in the past. While he doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened, he does take a position closer to mine, that the truth is lost to history and that wartime propaganda twisted the story until it bears unknown  resemblance to the truth. It also occurred to me that, if asked, I would insist to people that this friend isn’t racist. Finally, I wondered whether that was true. Perhaps my own whiteness keeps me from being able to see his racism.

However, I was also repeatedly interrupted during every conversation at Porcfest a few weeks ago, and, when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that “Women traditionally didn’t have a voice at the politics table,” and that was why I was being interrupted. However, this was demonstrably false. It would have been all too easy to play the victim card and cry about sexism (it would also have been nonsense, given my voice), but instead I observed, and what I saw was everyone interrupting everyone else all the time, without regard to age, gender, or race. Seeing sexism in the interruptions would have been confirmation bias; if I went into it expecting to find that, that’s what I would have found, even though the issue is something larger and much more serious.

In fact, the idea that it was sexist struck me as odd from the start. Although hormones have certainly begun to affect my face and body, my hair still isn’t that long, and from some angles I don’t look very feminine at all. On top of that, my voice is certainly on the deeper end–an issue I haven’t yet worked out. Even wearing a dress, some people instinctively called me “he,” something else that I didn’t and don’t get worked up about (although, as I said to someone Friday night, there will come a time when calling me “he” must be intentional, but that’s after more physiological changes and, ideally, vocal surgery), and people tuning into Call to Freedom would have no idea that the person they were listening to identified as a chick. The idea behind the “They’re sexist” argument is that they’re sexist instinctively and without their conscious awareness, but that falls apart when instinctively they consider me a dude.

All that said, the entire reason my rant at Porcfest was so successful is that I’m transgender. How much power would my rant have lost if that wasn’t the case? Many people told me afterward that I broke through their stereotype of transgender people. One of the judges even said that he’d pre-judged me, and was surprised to have that prejudice shattered. I’m no stranger to stereotypes, and they aren’t really a problem; the only problem is when we cling to them and refuse to allow individuals to break them.

I’ve experienced this more than simply at Porcfest. A friend of mine has a grandmother who strongly disliked transgender people, and this friend handled it by showing her grandmother my posts on Facebook from a year ago about just wanting to live in peace. Stereotypes are built of straw people, and they very rarely apply fully, and sometimes they don’t apply at all. The reason they persist is due more to unfamiliarity than anything else. They imagine in their heads some amalgam of all the terrible things they’ve heard about this or that group, and various factors lead them to believe that their imagined person is representative of everyone in that group. It’s just human nature, and it’s not something to condemn people over.

I wouldn’t be able to fully explain my Straw Muslim. The Straw Muslim wasn’t a terrorist, but they were extremely devout–uncomfortably devout. Your Straw Southern Baptist is pretty much what my Straw Muslim looks like, and I’d go even further and suggest that your Straw Muslim also looks a lot like mine. And while the faith of the people involved with Muslims 4 Liberty cannot be doubted, they don’t fit the stereotype at all. Prior to meeting and spending a week with Will Coley et al., I had no idea how pervasive that perception of Islam was, but why else would I have been surprised by the generosity they showed during Ramadan? I’ve been equally surprised by some of the Christians I’ve met within libertarian circles, such as Thomas Knapp, and I’ve been surrounded by Christians most of my life. Prior to meeting some of these people, I probably would have said there’s no such thing as a moderate Christian. In fact, I’m sure I’ve said that in the past. And there’s no doubt: people like Thomas Knapp are entirely the reason I’ve eliminated anti-Christian rhetoric from my repertoire.

However, even as vehemently anti-Christian as I used to be (and I’m still anti-fundamentalist), I was more than willing to allow people their right to free association, and have been arguing in favor of that for years. I look back on an article I published about a year ago and badly want to remove it, because it’s so close to being anti-Muslim in its tone. And that came from myself; it came from within. There was no talk of individualism in that article. It was a lot of bullshit about social customs, integration, and assimilation. I’m positively embarrassed that I wrote that spiel, although that sentiment was present before I met people of Muslims 4 Liberty and goes back at least 7 months, to the first time I re-read the article.

Under no circumstances have I or would I ever deny service to someone because of their characteristics, it must be stated unequivocally, but most people aren’t like that. The same people who condemn Trump for his ban of Muslims also praise Canada for refusing to allow entry to members of the Westboro Baptist Church; the Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, would adamantly refuse to allow me into their building, and people like Steven Anderson (not with the WBC, but every bit as hateful and vile) whine and bitch when companies don’t want to do business with them, even as they explicitly refuse to do business with others.

We saw the same thing when Obama became president, and everyone who wanted to see his birth certificate was dismissed as a racist. The reality for most people, however, was something different: through their entire lives, an old white man had been in charge. Suddenly, a black, relatively young man was in charge. They were uncomfortable and afraid, not hateful. And while it’s true that fear often motivates horrific behavior, it didn’t on this occasion, and manifested primarily in cries that Obama was a Muslim or wasn’t from Kenya. It was a knee-jerk reaction to an unfamiliar situation, and one by one these people adapted and realized their world wasn’t coming to an end. Anyone still going on about Obama being a Muslim or a Kenyan is probably just racist and attempting to mask their racism with those allegations, but the birther movement died out because people adjusted and moved on, leaving behind only the racists.

It’s ultimately a matter of cognitive dissonance.

When Bob is told his entire life by his fundamentalist church that gay people are evil abominations, he’s going to experience cognitive dissonance when his best friend of 17 years, Jim, confesses to Bob that he is gay. At this point, Bob is presented with several choices for resolving the dissonance:

  1. My church is wrong. All gay people cannot be evil abominations, because Jim is gay and isn’t an evil abomination.
  2. Jim is wrong and isn’t really gay. He isn’t an evil abomination, and my church is right; ergo, Jim isn’t really gay.
  3. My church is right. All gay people are evil abominations. Therefore, Jim has managed to hide his evil from me for the last 17 years.
  4. On rarer occasions, Bob might craft a special exemption for Jim. “Jim is different… He isn’t like all the other gay people.”

Which of these Bob lands on is ultimately going to come down to trust and relationship importance. If his friendship with Jim is more important to him, then he will decide on #1. If both are equally important to him, he will decide on #2. If his relationship with his church and his religious beliefs are more important, he will go with #3. We can immediately see, then, that Jim has his work cut out for him; there aren’t many things that will be more important to Bob than his religious beliefs, because religious beliefs are “core beliefs” that form the foundation of other beliefs. Asking Bob to accept that his church/religious beliefs are wrong is a much greater thing than simply accepting that Jim is wrong, because Bob’s entire worldview stems from his religious beliefs. If we pull the foundation out from under his worldview, the entire thing collapses.

“Muslim call to prayer while hula-hoppers [sic] groove nearby.”

…And?

That’s a pretty awesome event to be at, if you ask me. People hula-hooping, people stoned, people drunk, people tripping, people dancing, people praying… Everyone getting along, everyone celebrating, and no one hating anyone else over squabbling differences… That sounds to me like a fucking utopia, not something that should be mocked or looked upon with disdain. Indeed, that’s how our entire society should be. I fail to see how anyone has a problem with “Everyone is doing their own thing, and everyone is friendly with everyone else. If they can’t get along, then they just leave each other be.”

In fact, Porcfest is proof that you can put Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians, transgender people, straight people, gay people, black people, white people, Asian people, and all other people with various characteristics into a society together and end up with something that is really awesome. Yet this douchenozzle from CNN said this with disdain and contempt, and people who replied to the tweet made even more contemptuous remarks: “They don’t pay you enough to attend that crap.”

There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.

Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.

Diversity is flawed for other reasons. A homogeneous society of 99% white people (in addition to still being divided, as the previous paragraph contends) discriminating against the 1% black population can’t be fixed by “the free market” alone. However, what if the society is 75% white and 25% black, and the white population is uniformly racist? With these numbers, it’s true that the black population could simply shop at black-owned stores and work for black-owned businesses, but at this point we aren’t dealing with one society; we’re talking about two societies that just happen to reside in geographic proximity. This is still true if we add in an 80% straight population that doesn’t want to associate with the 20% LGBT population; we aren’t “uniting” society. We’re segregating it into many different societies.

It’s similarly true that diversity fails to take hold in homogeneous societies because of social pressures and economic concerns that often conspire to make it impossible for a person to “come out.” This is a problem that never magically vanishes, and there will always be one group or another who cannot openly admit to being in that group because of the adversity they will face upon doing so. Suppose our society was 99% Christian and 1% atheist, but no atheists were even allowed to speak out without being put to death (as was the case until about 300 years ago). Atheists would not be able to band together to create their atheist stores because coming out as an atheist resulted in death. Diversity requires openness, but there will always be disenfranchised people who simply aren’t allowed to be open about who they are.

Instead we could take the approach of individualism, that a person’s characteristics shouldn’t matter, and that a person should be judged by their actions and behavior rather than being judged over what characteristics they happen to have. This is precisely how Jim breaks through Bob’s anti-gay bigotry. Instead of being lumped into that foreign group that has been painted as a bogeyman by Bob’s church, Jim has an in-road directly to Bob’s heart by being his friend–someone he personally knows. When Bob accepts that Jim isn’t an evil abomination, it is because he isn’t lumping his friend into that group and therefore isn’t applying that group’s alleged qualities to his friend.

Often, we aren’t aware of what stereotypes we harbor, and we’re capable of harboring them regardless of how individualist we are. The destroyer of those stereotypes is the individualism that allows us to have a relationship with someone regardless of their characteristics. Only then can we see how wrong we were.

* As stated elsewhere, the state arresting me and extorting me for nearly $2,500 six months ago ravaged my bank account and basically put me back at square one, albeit with $250~ or so. If I pursue this avenue, all funds contributed to that campaign will be returned, either directly or via matching donations to donors’ campaigns.

What Happened To LGBT Pride?

As I’ve discussed through the last few days, a lot of people are telling me that I should be afraid because I’m transgender, and Trump and his supporters want to do horrible things to transgender people. Rather than talk about how insane this is, I want to talk about something else, because, apparently, there are a lot of LGBT people who are currently huddling in fear, horrified and terrified, frozen like a deer in the headlights of the Trump Train.

What in the hell happened to LGBT Pride?!

Someone who is proud is not scared. Someone who is proud refuses to be scared, because when they are faced with a threat, they prepare to fight. I continue to insist that there is absolutely no threat toward LGBT people and that, realistically, the only people who need to be worried about a Trump presidency are Muslims, with whom I will stand, armed, ready to fight with them if any of the liberal fears come to pass. However, there is not and has never been any reason for LGBT people to be afraid of a Trump presidency.

And even if there was, is that what a proud person does? Cower in fear? Riot because they didn’t get their way? Pitch a fit?

Does a proud person sit in the corner and weep?

Stand up.

You are a human being.

Does a proud person surrender their voice to the delusional masses who are jumping at shadows, huddling in fear because they have been told there is a boogeyman that wants to hurt them, sheepishly going along because their very own “allies” will turn against them if they don’t?

Do you have any idea how utterly vicious your Allies have been to me in the past few days, simply because I refuse to be afraid, because I am proud, because I will not surrender my voice and let them speak for me, because I will not sheepishly bow and cry in the corner as they want me to?

Here is just one such example.

_20161113_121457

No one who tells you that you must surrender your voice to them, because, if you don’t, they will turn against you and wish terrible things upon you is your ally. Such a person is not your friend, your ally, your comrade, or your compatriot. They are an enemy. They are a manipulator seeking to beat you into submission and then hold you up as a resource on their tally page. No one who treats you like you are “all women” or “all LGBT people” is your friend. No one who would deny you your individualism is your ally. No one who would tell you to shut the fuck up and go along with what they say because they’ll viciously turn against you if you don’t is your friend. They are using you.

The Democratic Party has been using you for years.

Have some damned pride.

Stand up and shout, “No! I will not be used! I will not be afraid! I will not let you abuse me!”

Have some pride and self-respect. You do not have to be afraid. You do not have to surrender your voice. You do not have to sheepishly go along with what “everyone else” says out of fear that they will turn and crucify you if you don’t. And if you find yourself a member of a group that would turn its hatred on you so quickly just because you dared speak as an individual, then you know that those people are not your friend. They are not your ally.

It’s time we put the pride back in LGBT Pride. It must mean more than this.

Stand up and say it. Right now, sitting there reading this. Don’t just read this and shrug. Stand up and say it. Post it to Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, wherever you feel like shouting loudest, and tell the world:

No. I have had ENOUGH. I will NOT be afraid. I will NOT be abused. I will NOT cower. I will NOT cry. I will stand tall, and FUCK YOU if you tell me I shouldn’t. FUCK YOU if you would turn against me because I will not blindly accede to everything you say. FUCK YOU if you would turn and hang the jury with the guilty because I demand the right to speak with my own voice. FUCK YOU if you tell me I must sacrifice my individuality and autonomy to you.

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize an abusive relationship, and it’s always difficult to break out of one. But I swear to you on my life, fellow LGBT people, the Democratic Party is abusing you. They are using you, they are abusing you, they are lying to you, they are manipulating you, and they are telling you to be afraid so that they can justify their power grab. They are not your friends, and they are not your allies. Break free of conformity, break free of the abusive relationship and stand tall as an individual, and be proud.

If they cannot accept you for that, then they are not your ally.

 

It’s a Holiday

And what am I going to do?

I didn’t do anything over the weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, which is odd because it’s one of the few holidays that I actually like. Of course. This was the day, 240 years ago, that we declared independence from the British Empire. As an anarchist, I stand in favor of that. But I didn’t do anything.

My family had no cookout, and even if they had, I wouldn’t have been able to go, not really, because it’s the weekend–and, during the weekends, I spend as little time as a male as possible. The last time I went out to my grandmother’s my dad pulled me aside and told me not to come back out there with black fingernail polish on anyway, which just adds to the list of things I’d have to do if I wanted to go out there. But we didn’t have one anyway.

My sister occasionally does such things, because she’s trying to step up to fill my grandmother’s role in the event of my grandmother’s inevitable death. It’s always my grandmother’s that we go to, for family shit, and my sister badly wants her house to be the nexus when my grandmother dies. But it’s not going to happen, for a few reasons–the most important is that family unity dies with my grandmother. There’s no chance of my my dad’s brother and wife coming out to my sister’s for a Thanksgiving or Christmas thing, and if they do, they’d only stop by for a minute on their way somewhere else. And then the next year, they’d stop by for a few minutes less, and then they’ll stop coming altogether.

Of course, I’ll be long gone by then. Not just because I’ll have moved, but because I’m transgender and simply won’t be welcome there–end of story. I’ve addressed it several times, but here, one more time, is my sister’s long reply when I finally broke down and was honest with her about me being transgender and how I wasn’t going to continue to hide it:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

But the real reason that no one in our family did anything is that everyone is broke. My sister still hasn’t found a replacement job from when she unwisely quit her job as a bartender from the Diamond Lounge at the Horseshoe, where she made about $600 a week in tips alone, and received a full wage. And she’s not going to, because for 9 years she worked as a bartender; it’s the only thing she knows.

The county we live in is an honest-to-god dry county. I invite you to ponder how many bartending opportunities are available here. The only real opportunities were at the casino, and they demonstrably prefer hiring 21 year old women, not 31 year old women. While they’ve enough lawyers to ensure they are never called out on this, it’s certainly true. And, even so, they’d rather hire someone who went to bartending school, and my sister did not–she was a cocktail waitress who was “promoted” to a bartender.

She cooked her own goose, as it were, and everyone warned her not to do it. However, her husband and father of their newly born 3 month old child, threatened to leave her if she went back to work at the casino, so she quit the day that she was supposed to return from FMLA. I don’t blame her for that, because she had a really shitty choice to make: let her husband leave when she knew she couldn’t pay the bills, or quit her job when she knew that he couldn’t pay the bills. And he hasn’t. Much as I have been, they’ve been treading water through the last year, except they’ve had to borrow money almost constantly to make it, and they are months behind on their house note with foreclosure inevitable. There is a reason why, last July when my sister quit and I was still living there, that I immediately contacted my uncle and asked him to rent me the one bedroom apartment that my dad and I had lived in–because everyone who knew the situation knew that the Sword of Damocles hung over her head. I’m surprised they’ve made it this long, but I don’t think they’ll make it much further.

What few friends actually would have done something for the holiday would not have invited me, because they don’t want to ask the question, and they don’t want to say it.

“Would you be coming as Aria, or as a guy…?” is the question they don’t want to ask, but it’s also a question that they must ask, because…

“You can’t come here as Aria,” is the thing they don’t want to say.

Which is something I allow from them simply because I don’t have other friends. How could I? These are the tolerant Mississippians; these are the open “I don’t give a shit what people do” Mississippians.

And though the reality is that they don’t care, they also wouldn’t be the only people at these parties, and it’s simply true that… “My wife’s brother would spend the whole night mocking you, and he might even threaten you and attack you.” “Someone would bring a friend of a friend, or a date with them, and they’d find out, and chaos would ensue.” “My parents would leave as soon as they found out. You can’t ask me to choose between having you at my party and having my parents there.”

That’s the reality of Mississippi–the same reason that it would be mostly ineffective for any of them to share my GoFundMe campaign. Not only would inviting me to their party probably put me directly in danger, but it would force them to stand up and take a side–and not everyone is willing to do that. Not everyone is willing to face that situation where your brother-in-law is threatening your transgender friend.

So I did nothing for the holiday except think about all the things that I will do next year when I am in Vegas, living free, living securely, and without danger constantly hanging over my head about someone’s brother-in-law, a friend of a friend, and other shit like that. I thought about how next year I will be hosting the party with all the friends I make quickly and easily by hitting up local LGBT clubs and hotspots, of being a fascinating and interesting person to hang out with. I thought about how I will be telling people, “Hey–if you’ve got a fucking problem, you can leave” if they mouth off to a straight friend, a transgender friend, a gay friend, or any other friend.

I thought about how I’ll surely have Dancing in Hellfire published by then, and how I’ll be making bigger and better videos on Youtube, possibly writing for mises.org. Maybe I’ll even have finished Steam Greenlight & Anarchy by then.

I thought about how I’ll be looking back on this day and being shocked by how desensitized I was to how much Mississippi truly sucks–in the same way that we become desensitized to everything. It’s amazing what a person can accept as normal simply because they see it everyday. I thought about how that would probably be my last post to the GoFundMe campaign–a picture of me in my new home, surrounded by friends and not worried that someone’s brother-in-law is going to start shit with me because he “don’t like them queers and transsexyals.”

That would be fitting, I think.

Well.

IMG_1469I did make the music video again–I’ve actually done several today, and I got one that was finally acceptable enough that I was willing to upload it. Then, as soon as I uploaded it and went to transcribe it for the lyrics, I deleted it. I’ve asked a friend to do something similar, but I simply can’t–my singing voice just sucks too bad. And I knew that when I uploaded the video, but I thought maybe it was alright. But no.

That’s frustrating, because I think something like that would be an effective way to get the word out.

Apparently, if I block someone for hate speech, it doesn’t delete their comments on my video. It just hides them from me. Well done, Youtube. That’s completely fucking broken. I only became aware of it because my first video about the GoFundMe campaign has like 15 comments. So I switched to a different profile, and there they were–the initial asshole’s comments, as well as someone who kindly took on the dipshit for me by pointing out that the rules of most places don’t really apply to Mississippi.

I’m really frustrated with my friends, but there’s no point in continuing to harp on that. But it’s really anger-inducing, because I can look over there, to the list of friends on the right and say:

  • I just sold you a $55 part for $15, taking a $40 loss to my company. I also gave you 45 minutes of labor and a $55 part for free, on top of the one I sold you.
  • I gave you a half-ounce of weed (years ago).
  • I borrowed a suboxone from my sister and gave it to you because you were withdrawing from heroin.
  • I gave you a ton of rides all over the place, and ecstasy (years ago, granted).
  • I’ve removed viruses for you and helped set up your controller for your PC.
  • I gave you money for you to start a company.
  • I shared your music for years, even though I don’t even like hip-hop.
  • You came in me.
  • I’ve been supporting your bid for state representative of Pennsylvania.
  • I share your podcast.

And yet none of them have liked, commented, or shared any of my statues. I posted this one early today, a warning to them all masked behind subtlety:

getting snippyIt’s certainly fair to say that I’m getting a bit snippy, but obviously it’s subtle enough that no one would feel like I’m taking shots at them. Unless they actually scrolled down my wall, in which case they’d see:

The answer to my question is "No."

The answer to my question is “No.”

Here I am, literally doing everything I can to try to improve my life forever, to get out of this hellhole, and put all this bullshit behind me, and I’ve resorted to running ads on Facebook and Twitter because I’m more likely to get likes, comments, shares, and donations from random strangers on the Internet than I am people that I’ve known for two decades. There are a few reasons for this:

1 – They’re Broke

I don’t expect any of them to donate money to me. Most of them are at least as broke as I am, and some of them are doing even worse. A few of them aren’t doing very badly, and I certainly am surprised that one in particular has not donated a fucking thing, but I’m not going to begrudge anyone for not donating money to me. Even though they’re the people who know best that I’ve spent my entire life trying and overcoming obstacles. What sort of message does that send people on the Internet, if my friends and family are unwilling to even pitch in a dollar? If the people who know me best and who, allegedly, care the most about me aren’t willing to throw in at least a few bucks, what does that tell people on the Internet? That’s why it pisses me off so much.

None of these people even bought my story on Amazon, despite the fact that nearly every friend I’ve ever had has told me, “Let me know when you have something published! I’ll definitely buy it!” Then none of them did. Well, one friend did, and then promised to leave a review. He never did, because he never actually read it. I don’t know how to feel about that. Thanks, I guess, for paying that whopping 99 cents to buy my story. Would’ve been nice if you’d taken the time to read all eleven pages of it and leave the review that you promised to leave, but I guess one can’t have everything. Other friends frequently post shit about how important it is to help friends get started. Seriously.

2 – They’re Self-Absorbed

bullshit

Yes, I had to call him on that, and there remain only two copies sold of my story. Out of all 7 billion people on the planet, two of them bought my story. Worse still, a few friends even have told me that they did purchase it. They assumed, presumably, that I had sold at least a few dozen copies, and that they could therefore hide in the numbers and say that they’d bought it when they didn’t. But only two people have bought it, and I can identify both of those people. But yes, I had to call this guy on his thing about how important it is to support local businesses and family and stuff, when he had never even shared any of the dozens of posts on my wall about my story. It’s ridiculous Feel Good bullshit. “I want to act like I believe this, but I don’t really want to do it. Help a friend? Fuck that.”

Take this, for example:

disgusting

This was so horrific I had to call the guy on it. “Are you attempting to sell something that you’re otherwise going to burn?” I added the “lol” because he was a friend, and for no other reason. To my horror, his response was “Yes. It’s garbage to me, but if anyone wants it, they have to pay for it.”

He literally tried to sell his garbage to people.

Literally. He literally tried selling his garbage to people.

Then the very same friend will post this, making fun of other people doing exactly the same thing:

garbage

Like “Dude. You literally tried selling your garbage to people. Something that was of no use to you whatsoever and that you were going to destroy, you attempted to sell to someone. And if someone had come to you to get it, and asked for it for free, you would have said, ‘No.’ You might have gone down to $3 or something, but that doesn’t change the fact that you literally tried to sell your garbage to people–and you knew it, and you admitted it. You value things not by how much value they have to you, but buy whether or not other people want them.”

The ultimate irony is that, yes, the same friend posted both things. The same friend that literally and knowingly tried selling his garbage to people made fun of people in Buy, Sell, Trade groups who do the same thing. I’ve rarely seen such a lack of self-awareness.

He has picked up on my agitation, though, because earlier today he shared one of my posts about my GoFundMe campaign, and he did it in exactly the way that I said he would: without text, without saying anything. Just an empty click of the share button, a gesture, a token–an obligation. I don’t want my friends to feel obligated to share my stuff, and I don’t want them to feel obligated to help. I want friends who want to help, and mine simply don’t.

obligationNothing like

This person has been my friend for 15 years and has overcome a lot of bullshit, and now needs a little help to get out of Mississippi and go somewhere that she’ll be safe and secure.

No

I’ve known this person for 15 years, and if there’s anyone who has tried hard to move forward, it’s her. Now she needs a little help.

Just an empty share.

I said two days ago that this is exactly what I didn’t want:

called it

I want friends who act like fucking friends. Is that so much to ask?

I’ve always been there any time these people needed. With this particular friend, let me tell you a little story.

His wife had a skirt that she couldn’t wear because she’d bought a Youth 24 instead of some other 24, so the skirt was more like my size than hers. He asked if I wanted it. After looking it over, I told him that: While I did like the skirt, it was simply too short, and I wouldn’t be able to wear it in public. Therefore, I couldn’t purchase it. I have enough clothes that are too short/tight for me to wear anywhere but home, and I’m not going to pay to add to that. He told me to hang on to it anyway, because he had no use for it.

A few weeks later, I decided that I liked it after all, and he asked if I was going to pay for it.

Process that for a minute.

If I didn’t want the skirt, then I could have it for free. But if I did want the skirt, then I had to pay for it.

I don’t typically keep cash on me, and he dropped by my house like three times unexpectedly and out of the blue, asking for money for that goddamned skirt. It got to the point where I was considering just telling him to take the damned thing back, because it was horrifically offensive (Yes, offensive) that he had given me this skirt until I decided that I liked it, at which point he wanted $15 for it. Rather than telling me at any of these points that he stopped by unexpectedly and I had no cash on me, despite my telling him that he had to give me advance notice before he came by because I don’t keep cash, “You know what? Don’t worry about it. I told you to just keep it, so just keep it. I gave it to you as a gift because I had no need or use for it, so it wouldn’t be right for me to take your money for it now…” he just kept asking for money for it. I was in a video session with John McAfee the last time that he stopped by, and I was just so goddamned tired of dealing with it and happened to have cash on me that I put a $20 bill under my windshield wiper and ignored him the rest of the night. How dare he take that money?

Only when I was writing this post did I realize that he sold me his garbage.

I would unfriend all of these people right now if I knew how long it would take to garner the money I need to go to Vegas and escape this living nightmare, but it’s not like he’s a bad guy. He’s not. He’s just… very greedy when it comes to money, clearly–and I don’t like saying that about my friends, especially since there is the possibility that he might read this, but the dude sold me his garbage. I don’t know how else to characterize that. He’s a great guy in other respects. Hey, I’ve got lots of flaws, too. I’m extremely argumentative, and I’m sure that’s pissed my friends off on several occasions. I’m very thankful that they’ve dealt with that and generally just ignore it.

But one thing that I can’t simply forget is that I’ve always been willing to help my friends, and I don’t think I’ve ever refused to help a friend. When this same friend called me while I was at work, and his wife’s car was messed up in a nearby city with a dead battery, I was willing to contact someone I knew in the area and ask them to go jump off her battery. Because I’m willing to help friends. Maybe my mistake is expecting that people value me as much as I value them.

3 – Fear

Almost none of the selfies I post ever get Likes, and the few likes that I do get always come from female friends. None of my male friends will go anywhere near that Like button on one of my selfies, and we all know why. In the back of their mind, they don’t know what it will mean if they Like the picture. “Does that mean I think she is hot? Will everyone else think that I think she’s hot? Will she think that I think she’s hot? Does that just mean that I like the picture? What if I just like the picture because it’s a good pic, but everyone else thinks I liked it because I think she’s pretty in that picture? She’s got a penis, so I can’t think she’s pretty without being gay, and I’m not gay…”

Some of my pics are pretty damned good, if I do say so myself:

I gotta tell ya... I'd lick the hell out of that belly.

I gotta tell ya… I’d lick the hell out of that belly.

IMG_1466As I’ve said before, I’m not in the least attracted to guys, and I never have been. To be totally honest, I find the idea of two guys kissing to be repulsive, but it’s not because I think it’s wrong for two guys to kiss–it’s because I don’t think guys are attractive, so how could two guys making out be anything less than unattractive? I find the idea of kissing a guy to be gross. I like girls–it’s a major part of me being transgender, after all.

The point of all that is to say that the pic on the left is one of the few pics I’ve taken where I can honestly say that I’d totally make out with that person. And I’d really enjoy it. I happen to think I look pretty hot in that pic. Not incredible, gorgeous, or anything like that, but… fairly hot. And when I went outside to tan yesterday afternoon and removed my shorts, I realized… “Holy shit. I look like a bronze goddess.”

I’m not saying that I expect you or anyone else to agree with those statements; in fact, it’s irrelevant to me whether or not you do. I want to look at myself and think that I’m hot. It means absolutely nothing to me whether anyone else thinks I’m hot. Obviously, for the sake of having a relationship, it would be good for another girl to find me attractive, and I think I’ll be able to find such girls without much issue in Vegas, which I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to go out on the city, and be safe, hit some LGBT clubs, and meet some fellow lesbians.

For similar reasons they won’t like my pictures, my friends won’t share my statues about the GoFundMe campaign. Though they may not have a problem with transgender people, what about their family? How would this friend’s mom react if she found out that he was supporting a transgender friend? How would that friend’s church group react if they saw the post? How would that friend’s coworkers react? The answer to these questions, since we are talking about people in Mississippi, is “Badly, Badly, and Badly.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing!” would be the mildest of the messages such a friend would get from other friends and family–joking jabs meant half in jest and half in sincerity, to get the person to explain. For the most part, though, they’d get comments and messages saying things like “Instead of donating, we need to be praying for this poor soul, for the devil to release his hold on him.” For the most part, it would be largely ineffective for them to share my campaign.

But it wouldn’t be totally ineffective.

Most of my friends have other friends who live in Washington, Canada, New York, Florida, New Jersey, and other places where people are far more tolerant and open.

I need $3,865 more. If I could reach 3,865 and all of them give just $1, then I could forever be free of this nightmare, could move to an economically stable city, and live in peace and security. If I could just reach 1933 people, and all of them give just $2, then I could put the despair of Mississippi and the American south in the past and relocate to a city where I will not have to sleep with a loaded gun on my headboard out of fear for my life, where I can’t even go to the nearest LGBT bar because people are routinely attacked as they leave them–the news stories for which have been buried by the Orlando attack. When I first looked into going, however, that’s what caused me not to: the LGBT bars in Memphis are often in the news because patrons are attacked, beaten, and hospitalized after leaving the club.

But as I said: I shall endeavor on. And I will continue donating everything I can to the campaign in the hopes that it sends the right message to people, in the hopes that the word spreads, and in the hopes that people outside of Mississippi are as good, kind, and compassionate as I know them to be.

To me, friendship is reciprocity of care. I don’t think I’m yet jaded enough to say that people only have friends based on what those “friends” can do for them, but there’s certainly a case to be made for that. Even myself, I would argue–I have friends because I don’t like loneliness. But this cold statement hides the real emotions that underscore a friendship: the care and the concern. If these things are not reciprocated (which is clearly shown in a person’s actions), then there is hardly a friendship there. There is only a parasite and a host.

C’est la vie.

I don’t like self-promotion. Even when it’s relevant, I don’t like self-promotion.

When I answer questions on Quora, I tend to answer questions that I’m interested in–obviously. This means that I’ve probably done a podcast or video on the subject, or at the very least have written an article about it, but I always find it so hard to link the content in question. Because I don’t like the idea of self-promotion.

Yet as I stand here trying to promote a GoFundMe campaign, I’m terribly aware that the only way… is self-promotion.

That’s what I meant to discuss in the last article, before I digressed, so now I’m writing about it.

As I said there, it’s no surprise that my friends don’t throw up donations. I don’t expect them to. Most of them are doing as badly as I am, and some of them worse–I at least have my own place and am not living on my parents’ land, after all. But there’s another place that I can’t turn: family. Not only do I have to be careful to ensure that my family doesn’t see me on Facebook and Twitter (I’m the only person in my family who even uses Twitter), but even if they did, there is no chance whatsoever that they would share the post, or that any of them would donate.

That’s what frustrates me about the #1 suggest on GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and everywhere else: “Share with your friends and family!”

Yeah, because I enjoy being ignored.

Of the many posts I’ve made about my campaign on my artist page and my personal Facebook page, no friend has shared anything. And they never will. These are the same people who wouldn’t spend ninety-nine cents buying my short story on Amazon. Hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to share those posts, either. I’ve often said that I’d have more luck getting them do share a kidney than I would getting them to share a post, but I’m not sure that’s true, either. I think they’d probably just sit back and do nothing.

That’s particularly frustrating because I’ve always made it a point to share things and help in whatever way that I could. When a friend of mine was raising money to start a business making vapor liquids, I donated $10 to him. I’m the only person who donated to him and shared his campaign, so it’s not just I who have the problem. It’s seriously not me; it’s them. And while I love these people to death for the (albeit limited) emotional support they’ve provided by being my friend, and for putting up with my rather… argumentative… comments without telling me to fuck off, that doesn’t change that it hurts to be trying for six months to do something, and to be able to count on one hand the number of times that friends have shown any interest whatsoever in it.

I’ve now paid $7.00 to Facebook for promoting one of my posts about the campaign, and that has yielded no result. Today I added Twitter to the list and am paying $10 to have one of my tweets about it posted. I have to do for myself the things that friends and family ordinarily do, because my family is non-existent (for all intents and purposes) and my friends are… a tad self-absorbed. They see the posts. And they just keep scrolling.

They say that you pick your friends, but not your family, and I’m not sure how true that really is. I didn’t have much choice when I picked my friends; we generally came together out of circumstance in high school, because we were the rejects, the ones who fell through society’s cracks. But realistically, I didn’t have a particularly large group of friends to choose from, and there was never really any “choosing.” The environment and circumstances handed me friends in much the same way that it handed me family.

Out of all my friends, I would have to say that the only one I think truly qualifies as an actual friend, and not merely “an agreeable person met through circumstances” would be Michelle Kelly, who I’ve never even met. And that’s not because she’s done this, that, and the other thing to help me; it’s simply because she shows the characteristic that a friend actually should: support.

When I came out as transgender, I made it clear to a lot of my friends that I was going to be leaning pretty heavily on them. They understood, because being transgender meant that I was about to be dead to my family. One girl in particular was supposed to be there–and then wasn’t. C’est la vie.

I’m not bitter or angry about it, not really, but it does frustrate me and sadden me. It’s a large part of the reason that I was so willing to drop everything and move to Vegas–thinking I had found that, as I said, “kindred spirit.” That person who would ensure that I wasn’t totally alone. That’s really what matters to me, as I have spent the better part of my life alone–something that a lot of people simply won’t get. Most people do have at least a parent they can go to, after all.

C’est la vie.

When a friend of mine called me a week ago and needed help with his computers, I told him to come on out, and I looked for power supplies to sell him that he needed. I couldn’t give them away, because they were business inventory, but I sold them for $15 each–one third the actual price. Not only was there no markup, I actually took a loss by selling them, and converted one computer from a “Just needs a hard drive” to “pretty much junk now” by removing its PSU. Then he arrived and I spent about 45 minutes troubleshooting things with him. I only put a stop to things when he basically wanted me to open up a brand new case, brand new motherboard, brand new CPU, brand new RAM, and put one of the computers together for him. That… crossed a line of friendship to me, especially since this was something he’d already done twice himself. I’m all for helping someone with something, but I’m not just going to do it for them. My colleague was coming down anyway, so I didn’t have another hour to dedicate to building a computer. And while I wouldn’t have let him pay me for my time, he also didn’t offer.

Two weeks later, and my GoFundMe campaign sits on my wall ignored, not even a Like. And if it did get a share, it would be an empty one, an obvious gesture, with no text or anything added, no, “Hey, this is a really good friend of mine who has worked really hard to overcome obstacles, but who needs a little help right now…” or anything like that.

No sign of friendship. Just a sign of obligation.

An obligation that would only be acknowledged if I brought attention to it.

When he first asked if I had a PSU, I said “No,” because I didn’t have one just sitting around. When he made it clear that he really needed them, I took time out of my day and pulled three. Then helped troubleshoot the problem.

Another friend contacts me somewhat regularly to have me do things remotely for his computer. I’ve installed and setup MotionInJoy for him, so that we could trick his computer into reading his 360 controller as a PS3 controller and remap the axes on it. I’ve helped him remove malware. All things that I charge people for on a daily basis, but the thought of charging him never crossed my mind–because he was a friend and needed help, and I was able to give it.

It’s a nuanced issue, obviously. I never helped them because I expected reciprocation. I never envisioned a scenario where this friend 3,000 miles away would be able to help me with something; I simply did it because he was a friend and I cared, not because I was obligated to or because I wanted him to be obligated to return the favor. But I think someone’s willingness or unwillingness to take three seconds out of their day to click two buttons and type a short message is probably a pretty good indicator of how much they value you as a friend.

My campaign can’t go viral if the people to whom I’m sharing it don’t forward it on. That’s how this sharing thing works–it’s a spider web. I share it with the thirty friends I have, and they share it with the 30-300 friends they have. In one act, I went from sharing with 30 people to sharing with 900 people.

In theory, anyway.

How it actually works is that I share it, and that’s as far as it goes.

When you’re literally trying to do something that will improve your life by leaps and bounds forever and that will allow you to actually move from a place of economic despair to stability and progress, it goes a bit beyond “disappointing” and flirts with “insulting” to hear only the crickets and see only the tumbleweeds after I effectively ask, “Hey, could you share this?”

But I will keep going. I will endeavor on. And when I have moved to Vegas and make new friends, they will find themselves systematically removed from my life. They weren’t there when I needed them, so why on Earth would they be there after the dust had settled?

3

I will succeed. I will leave this wretched place, and I will put all this shit and this horrid environment of selfish people in the past.

And I won’t look back.

Into Darkness

For a friend who seems to need it.

labyrinth

Could you reach out and grab my hand as you fell past me on your slide,
As you sink more and more along the hopeless spiral that you ride?
Is there a way I could reach you, before you fall into the sea?–
Beyond my reach, you’d kick and scream, giving the lifeguard injury.

I’m sure you see the walls bleeding, the ground shaking, the sky falling,
If I assure you it’s not real, would you hear my desp’rate calling?
Or have you slipped beyond the pale, beyond the rim of reasoning,
Being chased by all the beasts of your fevered imagining?

There is no need to impress me; I’m no one, friend, don’t lie to me
I don’t interpret what I see; I take you as you seem to be.
It’s all okay, we make mistakes; we’ve all been through our hells and fates
What matters is: don’t be afraid, and don’t you bite their silly bait.

Why are you so concerned for me? Though I am thankful for the thought,
I think your time would better be spent analyzing what you’re taught;
I have not doubted I am loved, nor have I knelt and looked above,
And cried out loudly to the sky, “Would person or god tell me why?”

Look to yourself, my falling friend, take care–do not, to others, lend
Your thoughts until you’ve reached the end, have come around the final bend–
And overcome, do not pretend–you’ve clawed your way back out again
Until you rise above the din and your torment is at an end.

Beneath the Chestnut Tree

The final chapter of George Orwell’s 1984 has always resonated strongly with me. Though I’ve obviously never been in the depths of Minilove, the arc of entering the labyrinthine darkness to square off against the greatest foe is something I can relate to, as well as the after effects: nothing is the same, and there is no going back. The only thing that can be done is to shed a tear beneath the chestnut tree, where “I sold you and you sold me.”

Similarly, the mythos of Ariadne and Thesseus resonates strongly with me, and I have a musical duology called by each character. The Hero’s Journey is always an inward journey; everything external is merely a symbol of the hero’s own inner conflict. Descent into the labyrinth to face the minotaur is not about a mythological beast nearly as much as it is staring unblinking into the mirror and facing mistakes of the past.

The Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell observed, has clear trends across all manner of fiction. The Hero begins at home, but it is not long before the Hero’s Journey begins; indeed, it has already begun. The Hero leaves, endures trials, and returns home. The Hero’s Journey is far from over, though, and there is never anything to which the Hero can actually return. Often this is achieved through the destruction of the home, as in Star Wars and Dragons of Autumn Twilight, but not always.

The key aspect is simply that the Hero can’t return to the pre-journey life. Something has changed; something is different. In The Anvil, Leraneon returns to his home and finds that it’s no longer his home. He can’t explain it, and he doesn’t understand it; it’s simply a feeling: I am not home.

Years ago, I thought I was losing my mind, because I was handwriting something. I was really high, sitting down, and just writing. Then suddenly “I am not home” appeared on the page, and I had written it. A friend started talking about freewriting, and I guess that’s what happened, but the strange thing about it is that I’ve never really had what most people would call a home. Since kindergarten, irresponsible parents have carted me all over the place, so what “home” was I talking about?

 

“What is this motherfucker prattling on about?” you may be asking.

I’m not entirely sure. A longtime friend came and stayed the night with me last night, and some bits of the conversation have really stuck with me. This is someone who knew me before I left the ex-wife, before I went to Vegas–she, in effect, saw me before the journey (because we are all the Hero in our own story), and she’s seen me after the journey.

 

Clearly, the damage that has been done to me is readily apparent to anyone who knew me previously. Whereas before I was quiet, now I am withdrawn. Whereas before I was a bit distant, now I am surrounded and protected by impenetrable walls. The most glaring, however, was that before I participated, but now I observe.

It was really disheartening to hear her constantly refer to a transgender friend who had undergone full SRS as “he,” and three times I had to ask for her to not call this person a male. I understand that part of this is that old habits are hard to break, and I completely appreciate that, but the old habit won’t break if she doesn’t try to break it. Another good friend of mine had issues when he and his wife came over, and he constantly paused to correct himself when referring to me. It’s not something I’m going to get hung up about, not now, but there will come a time when it will be flat out insulting to me. I can’t imagine undergoing SRS and still have people refer to me as a “he.”

A lot of people don’t get the significance, but how many women do you know who get offended when someone on the phone says “Yes, sir” to them? How many men do you know who would lose their minds if someone says “Yes, ma’am” to them? No one likes being referred to by the wrong pronoun–no one. So why are transgender people, for whom the gender identity question is even more important, expected to be less bothered? Logic dictates that the transgender person would be, and even should be, more bothered.

But, as I said, I don’t tend to get torn up about it. Call Caitlyn Jenner a man, and, yes, that will press my buttons. That goes beyond force of habit and leaps boisterously into the territory of offense. Call anyone who has had SRS by their own pronoun, and, again, you’ve gone too far.

It’s actually rather simple. Bruce Jenner is a male. Caitlyn Jenner is a female. Bruce no longer exists, so when referring to this person “she” is the way to do it. By the same token, I have to be a male for work. So when friends see B., it’s normal and expected that they’d say “he.” This is part of the reason I don’t fixate on the pronouns presently–I do still present myself as a male to much of the world. And no doubt, this person that is me who encapsulates both B. and Aria is, on the whole, female, and it’s certainly true that Aria is “pure me” whole B. is “sorta me, but with a lot of masks on.” But that doesn’t change that it’s unreasonable of me to expect my friends to look at B. and say “she.”

Anyway, before I somehow digressed onto that, I told Calliope years ago, when our relationship was on the rocks, that I’d been into the labyrinth, I’d faced the darkness, and I came out the other side. That’s certainly true, but what I entered was a small section of the labyrinth. With each return, I realised that it was larger and filled with enemies deadlier than I’d ever imagined. Most of these returns were not by choice. Unlike Thesseus, I did not choose to go down, and the motif of my songs deals with Ariadne failing to give Thesseus the sword and string; in my versions, Thesseus enters unarmed and without a method of finding his way back.

There was a time, years ago, that I stumbled by accident into the labyrinth, and there was a time that Ariadne failed to give me the sword and string, and I trusted her to do so. That’s not an unreasonable trust: I had married the girl, after all, and if you can’t count on your spouse to help pull you from the darkness then who can you count on?

“No one,” I learned, and that’s the best way to characterize me. I trust no one. Everyone I’ve ever trusted has either let me down or betrayed me outright.

I fell into despair and darkness. “I’m lost,” I said, because it was all that I could say. I have no idea what I went through, or what caused it, but in less than a month I’d left my ex-wife, and she immediately turned her back on me, even though all I freaking did was go to my sister’s. Of course, it would never have reached that point if she’d done as I asked and just left me be, but she kept pushing and pushing, caring only for herself and how it hurt her that I was distant, and caring nothing for the fact that I was in far worse shape.

For months afterward, I felt that I’d lost my center, that I’d drifted away from myself, and that I’d never find myself again. And I tried repeatedly to get her back, but she wasn’t having it. Her dad, who vehemently disliked me and spurned her through our entire marriage, welcomed her back as the prodigal daughter–suddenly, she had daddy’s happy love again. On top of that, a longtime friend with whom she’d fallen out of touch (because the friend didn’t try to keep the flame of friendship alive and got caught up in her own world that my ex wasn’t part of) had just left her own husband, because he’d been using Craigslist to… do things a husband shouldn’t be doing. So she also got her old friend back at exactly the same time, and though neither of these were my fault, it felt to her that she’d been rewarded when I left her. I left her, then she got her daddy and friend back–though these people had each turned their backs on her for different reasons, that’s simply not how the ordinary person views things; the average person doesn’t bother to analyze to such depths.

Meanwhile, I re-enrolled into college and graduated, opened an I.T. firm, got to speak on Fox News as an I.T. Expert regarding cryptoware, got published, became a writer for Cubed3, wrote two books, moved to Vegas…

…and was promptly thrown back into the labyrinth, and this time I was beaten to near death before I woke to find myself shrouded in the darkness of the underground maze. This time… was different. The stakes were high–so very high–and it was far more like:

 

 

This time, it was that. That right there, that video… That’s it in a nutshell. Except, instead of donning a totalitarian mask as does Pink, I removed the mask and there was Aria.

 

If you liked this post, feel free to click Like, Share, and Subscribe. 🙂 I’m also interested in swapping guest-writing posts. You might also like “Dead or Alive”, on Amazon for 99 cents: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

You may already be interested in helping with my transition. Www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

Or you can just pop in occasionally and see what I’ve written. That works perfectly, too. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Friends

I have to take a moment to gush about how great my friends are–and how great I am at choosing friends. They say you can choose your friends and not your family, and that’s obviously true, and the past six months have shown me that and why it’s so important to have good friends.

Considering that my family is awful and exactly what you’d expect southern fundamentalist Christians to be, I knew I was going to be leaning heavily on friends to keep me going. For all intents and purposes, I no longer really have family. Though most of my family still doesn’t know, they will soon, and they’ll turn their backs on me much faster and easier than my sister did. Strangers say, “You don’t know that. Your family may surprise you.”

None of my friends say that, though, because my friends know how my family is; they know how their families are, and this isn’t a movie where the side of tolerance and openness triumphs over bigotry and closed minds; this is Earth, the United States, the South, Mississippi. The only state in the union to keep the confederate flag as part of its state flag. And I’ve often spoken against the way the media and television portray the South, because my friends and I are such enormous exceptions to how the area is portrayed, but that doesn’t change that the average person IS pretty close to how Family Guy portrays them.

 

When I began coming out as transgender, I added my friends on Facebook slowly. It was because I didn’t want to overload myself, and I knew everyone would have questions. And they did have questions, but I also knew that none of them would take issue with it.

Among the most amusing replies was when I was talking to DB, and we were talking about an old friend of ours, DC.

“Oh shit heads up DC and CP are married and get this they are Bible thumpers now and they live close to there. I’ve tried to stay in contact with DC but he’s just weird now and he always blows me off he’s not rude just not pursuing the friendship so fuck it.”

To which I replied:

 

“‘Daniel is just weird now,’ said Dustin to the shemale lesbian.”

Other friends were more direct in the conversation.

“So that’s where the hell you went off to.  Well, don’t let anyone get in the way of what your heart is obviously telling you to do.” And that was it in regard to that. All I did was add him as a friend, and that’s what he said.

And another:

 

“I think everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of persecution, no matter how they do it, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Staying true to my own personal views, I must even include religion. Of course you know I’m not religious myself, but if a person is for whatever reason, I think they are entitled to that. As long as it doesn’t become an organization that tries to push those beliefs on others or does anything else that “inconveniences” others, for lack of a better way of putting it, I think that’s ok. Same goes for anything else an individual feels they have to do to express themselves or feel whole. There isn’t a single, solitary thing wrong with what you’re doing and if ever necessary for whatever reason, I’d be prepared to publicly support you.”

My friends have all been really great. I even preemptively attempted to explain to one of my oldest friends, and he cut me off with:

“It’s all good. You don’t owe me any kind of explanation. Just as long as you’re doing what YOU want to do.”

My friends stand as a stark contrast to my family, but I couldn’t choose my family. I did choose my friends, and I fucking chose well. Longtime friend and colleague JM was going to be the last to know about it, and asked pointedly in response to something I’d sent him if I have an interest in cross dressers or in cross dressing. To clarify, he is a friend, and our relationship is far beyond “just business.” And he said:

“For what it’s worth, I’m glad you told me that, and I don’t care. Really. I’d rather you express it than suppress it and get sick. Who knows why we like and don’t like what we do and don’t. Billions have been made speculating, but in the end, fuck knows. That’s who.”

So I just wanted to give a shout out to the important people in my life and say “thank you.” It could definitely be a lot lonelier, but it isn’t–because of wonderful friends.

Though they are great friends, none of them can employ a transgender person. Though it will be possible for me to secure clients who are unaware that I’m transgender, losing my current clients is going to be devastating financially. Any help that can be provided would be appreciated, especially sharing the url:

 

http://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition