The Problem with Transitioning

22 10 2012

To start this oddly – I could of course, be wrong… but it has worked for me. You best stop reading right now and go to the end of my wordpress to start at the start. This article addresses what makes it easier for others and by extension easier for yourself. It does not change what happens or the time it takes to happen; just how it is done. Fair warning – this article is a bit more ‘scattered’ than others, it meanders a bit to get to the true course.

The real challenge in life is when we feel things have be wrong for a long time and we now have the ability, power, money, confidence, support to make positive change for ourselves that we think everybody else will just ‘go along with it’.

If you are in transition, how many hours do you spend in therapy talking about being the new you vs the struggles of getting others to see that person? Over the years I have become better and stronger, but it cost me nearly everything I had known (and that too is a familiar story). I wrote this article in 2009 about the Losses – Coming Out Transgender. I said in that article that 25% of your past friends, family and the like remain. Even with the title of my wordpress, Amy is long gone.

The truth is now, that there were no survivors that crossed the barrier with me. My very best friend, best man; he could not walk the last bit with me when he saw how happy I am and how everything had turned out for me. He was there for me every step while I was struggling. He was there for me over a decade ago when I came out to him and told him about my childhood and hormones for the past 15 years. He was the last of my long past to fall away, lost when all has been going great these past years. He knew how to be with me as a struggling transgender friend, we separated when it looked like I had worked it all out and was content with where I was and about myself.

Also, the truth is, if you have been true to yourself and in your actions, then only when others lie to themselves while with you would that leave them unaware. Sometimes, the people you out yourself to cannot imagine what is happening.

I am going to swing out on a limb here and say that transitioning, the way it is set up through modern society and modern medicine is wrong. There, I did it, I used that word; when I think very few things can be labelled ‘wrong’.

I have watched countless people struggle in this are, so here is some advice. Please read through and tell me where the flaw might be. We live in a society where we now think that making some kind of grand social announcement then proceeding on course is the way to go with transitioning. Pretend with me if you will…

Pretend that you are a machinist, working down at the local shipyard, living in the town you were born in. You decide, based on figuring out who you are, that you are moving to Prague to study classic piano.  Now imagine the reaction (and noted lack of encouragement) that you are likely to receive at work, with your family, your close friends if you just come out and say “I am now a composer, and will be living in Prague”. Sure some of them would be supportive, but behind your back they would laugh and say ‘nice dream’. Now try it a different way.

Instead of making this grand announcement after you have figured out who you really are… you start taking piano lessons. In fact, at lunch you practice on a small electric keyboard, every day out in your car. You spend a couple years learning, that way, when you are in Prague you can concentrate on what you know you really want to do, composition. While you are doing these lessons, you play at every opportunity.  You have now practiced enough Czech that you great coworkers with “Dobrý den!”, every day. When asked about the the language, you comment that you are learning a new language. Finally, you start selling off all the things that you will not be taking with you on the move.

It is about then that others will ask you what is going on. When you explain that you do not see yourself as a machinist living in this town forever, they go ok… now it is making sense. When they think about it, they have noticed that you are proficient at the piano and have been speaking that other language. There is little question in their minds that you are serious about this, that what is coming has been well planned and that this is something you really want.

Now try it the other way…the way it sounds to most people when you come out as transgender or transitioning.

Come out to your family, friends and coworkers and announce that you now want to be called Bronco Billy the Cowboy and you are going to be a Rodeo Star. “Can you ride a horse” they ask – “No, not yet, but I am going to learn”. “Have you even practiced roping?”. “Well, I am going to buy a real rope soon”. So, they ask, “You want us to call you by just Bronco or Bronco Billy”. You respond “My name is now Bronco and I am a Rodeo Star – please make sure you get all that correct and never refer to me as my past” And, just like anyone you know that would make this announcement to you, it sounds a bit crazy. There is no doubt that some would think you lost your mind!

I have chosen the ‘change before announcement’ course every time, in every instance; the one of doing it myself first, then others get to see the plan. I was the person who said “No, I can’t do that this weekend, I have to do 30 hours more work on my boat”. I said “I am going out sailing for practice” when asked about going out in winter weather. When I talked about the watermaker installed or the solar panels, people nodded. All this was while living on the boat. When it was finally announced that we were going off cruising, people said “It looked like that” – not “Are you crazy, you are going to die”. Now I tell you I have sailed 16,000 nautical miles and lived in many different life conditions. I tell you I have backpacked, bussed and hitchhiked in several countries. Now, when I tell you that I am going to Columbia this winter and Vietnam next summer to trek around – you say “sure, that sounds about right”. Those things are all true. When I tell you I am building a vehicle for long distance road travel… you might say you would not BUT that looks exactly like what you would expect from me. In fact, if you have read this blog, the outdoors part and vehicles does not surprise you.

The journey of Transition is no different than following your heart, desire and beliefs for anything else. The pathway chosen is often made harder because what you are asking is for other people to accept that you are something that, up until then, never occurred to them about you. No one is surprised about a change when they can see the work towards it. In fact, once they notice the work, they often go along and support it very easily.

So, my advice is two fold. What not to do:

Change your name first and announce that you are now to be a woman to all your friends, family and coworkers (usually in that order as you build confidence). Making such a strong tack seems like a right of passage with transitioning BUT, like Bronco Billy and the rodeo, it is asking a lot of your support and social structure to make the leap with you.

What to do:

Start soft, like learning to play the piano (which I also do).  Start by changing your clothes slightly, grow your hair, fem up. All this takes time and you would have to do it anyways after making the “grand announcement”. Get fem, go on HRT then when you make the name change and ‘come out’, most people will already have figured it out OR at least be able to see that the course you are on is happening already.

Now before you beat me up, I am not saying do not become who you really are, just that you consider others as well as yourself when you transition. It should make it easier to take the same journey as others. Although I have, through sailing, bussed and backpacked through my earth journeys; the road, as always, less travelled.

Make it easy on yourself by thinking what makes it easier for others to understand. Otherwise, coming out as the new “Bronco Billy” the (now decided) rodeo star is an easier stretch than coming out as Sarah the woman. I am out.





The Path – Musings of Transitioning

13 11 2010

I have never been one for just following the road well travelled. I have managed to do very well in life by holding a course until the need arises to change it…

My transitional journey is a lot like long distance sailing;

  • You know where you would like to go – generally.
  • You have the means to get there, but not directly.
  • You tack when the conditions require it.
  • The course is never in a straight line (it is never just a downwind run!).
  • You do not dictate the weather, wind or water – only how you set your sails.

If you have not been off cruising in a sailboat, you may miss some of what I am saying here (and you can skip forward). As I said, life is about the Journey.

I (we, including the wife I was married to) thought that our son was going to be born in New Zealand 15 years ago. I looked like the rugged tanned male mariner (I was told I was a hunk) when I was in those early thirties. We were sailing on a course for New Zealand when we changed the tack. Life goes on and we never did make it to New Zealand, although we tacked onto another cruising boat, then tacked again into a house; gathering flotsam and jetsam along the way until we could not move or breathe.

I cut the anchor after 14 years on the cruising boat, a lifestyle, my wife and my 10 year position as a stay at home dad. In truth, I went adrift as a castaway so that I could focus on something that had been brewing for a long time. I had set all the challenges I had with Gender since I was 9 or so away in the back of my mind. I now set my course to figuring out gender for me.

It is nearing 40 years since I first started trying to figure out why I felt different. And for those that have been on a similar journey, it is never entirely what you think it is going to be, is it?…

Most people, when they hear of sailing long distance on the ocean, they think;

  • Wow, I could be free to go wherever I want – and it would be free!
  • It is white sand beaches, sunsets, drinks on the deck and paradise; forever!
  • Perfect, leaving all the responsibilities behind in the receding view.
  • That you are in command and control.

Nothing is further from the truth. Cruising is 90% boredom with 5% shear terror and 5% of the dream. The bulk of the time you maintain the boat, spend time on passage, explore remote locations and look for supplies to repair and maintain your boat.

Being TG or transitioning is a lot like that as well. Just like cruising, when you start transitioning, you think that you will now finally get all that you want, that all will accept you, that it will be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns… and then there is the reality of transitioning while in society.

By and large, most everybody has problems and issues – in fact, they are so busy dealing with their problems and issues that they do not give a shit about yours. This is, as it should be. When you start taking hormones and transitioning, most people will not notice anything – they will see you always were (except that perhaps you grew long hair). Transitioning is not about you and society OR you fitting in – it is a personal journey on a path few take and less understand. Most of the people transitioning really don’t know why they are here*.

*OK – before I get ‘hate comments’ (and I have never had one), I am just trying to be realistic with others transitioning. The truths are simple…

  • For the vast majority of the population, gender is seen as fixed in concrete and unquestionable.
  • Your very actions of transgender challenge people as much as it would if you said you could defy gravity.
  • Most people have their own crisis going on – and they really don’t want any drama from you.
  • The path you follow is individual, unless you decide that the route of popular psychology and surgery is the correct answer.
  • There is no singular answer to the ‘why’ question. Move forward and stay to the path that you choose.

I even managed to get involved with women (sorry, I am only into women) along this journey in the past 5 years. Like the general population, they had their own take and involvement in my transition. Transitioning takes it toll on close interpersonal relationships. The very act of transitioning means that what would be taken for granted as ‘stable / fixed’ is not!

Oh – time out here. You though this was going to be just about transitioning? You can read about that in the hormones section if you want to know what happens to the body. The real ocean of uncertainty in transitioning is not why you are doing it OR what will happen OR where you end up as in the other gender. No, the real ocean is what will you do for intimate companionship. Transitioning will take you only 10% or less of your lifetime (I know of a woman who did M-F in one year, at age 60; that means the transition was only 1/60th of their life). The other 90% of the time you will still need to figure out relationships, just like you always have BUT from a perspective that is now different. Good luck, reading further will not give you the key or secret.

Intimate Relationships

One was a woman named Amy. You see her name in the title of this blog. Amy was the first who birth the name Sarah (and I still like the name). Amy also had her own agenda and wanted her own lesbian relationship with Sarah… except, I was not Sarah, a woman. I was, as I am now, a transitioning person. Amy wanted me to go all the way and that was never my destination.

There was another named Laura and she was able to be bonded to me in such a way that my soul felt ripped apart by that relationship. She wanted something else. In the time with her – I married her and divorced her.

Both those people had their own strong agenda, and their own baggage. I started to think that transitioning was far less messed up than what ‘normal’ people were in relationships. I dated an angry lesbian army major (who had never cooked or cleaned for herself in her life), a woman (m-f), a crazy Filipino woman who had lesbian issues from her teenage past and a few others. I could not seem to find anyone ‘normal’ and I figured that it was all due to my own transitioning, my own ‘abnormality’ – although by now at near 4 years on hormones, I was feeling pretty normal!

So what was left for me? Guys? Um, no – I was a good guy who fucked around and I knew what guys were capable of. Besides that, they had nothing that interested me – they were hairy, had no shape, no breasts and an outy AND I did not want another relationship with some weird expectations. I have great close friends as guys, but I had no image of myself being in an intimate relationship with them.

I then did my best Tom Hanks in Castaway. I isolated myself long enough that I came up with the answer. As much as I loved being with people, I could no longer be in an intimate relationships. I would become a sheeple (sheep people) and live out the time enjoying relationships that worked. I did have some great long-term friendships, a set of great relationships at work and by and large got along great with everyone including my X (the one I had the son with) and my son. I guess, I just gave up and said that I was done with the freakyness of relationships.

And I was done… then

Along came a woman who I had not expected. One that allows me to be as I am – David+. That allows me to be the transitioning, integrated person without any expectations of any kind. Who revels in my womanliness and enjoys the maleness of my past. It is now nearing 6 months together and I love her more every day. The relationship is not crazy like the fireworks of the past (with many of those fireworks going off on the ground) – it is the steady smooth coal fire of a forge.

See, in transitioning, I refused to throw out what was good about me and still connected with maleness. I always considered the femaleness as added to me – not as in a trade. Perhaps I do not have the journey right for transition – I have always been about balance in my life… and I sought balance within myself of the male and female. I do not always look like a woman, although I have nice breasts! – nor entirely as a male, though I still have the outy.

Me on the right

I sailed off the map. I knew where male was and I thought that I knew where female was – I am somewhere else in both body and mind. Just like the sailing when I never made it to New Zealand, in transition I never made it to being entirely a woman. How do I feel about it?

Plot your own journey. You do not need to follow the path that only leads to one of two destinations. Keep an open mind and find peace within that mind and you will, like in Castaway, come to the crossroads where you can see that you really have a limitless horizon.

And about me, this early morning (I started writing at 0400)?

There is a beautiful woman, Jules, up in my loft still asleep; and we are getting married next spring. I have found a warm, accepting family with this woman. As for a sailboat, my third cruising boat (the smallest) is out in the carport, being rebuilt. Fair winds and safe shores to all who are transitioning. Sarah xox.





PF OX – the servant of Satan?

23 08 2009

OK, those are strong words, but read on, educate yourself with PF OX’s mission. This is best summed up here… with some interesting propaganda in the ‘about us’ of PF OX.

The original article; http://pfox.org/Former_Transgender_Tells_His_Story.html

Here is Grishno’s commentary to that story (brilliant writing and delivery). I love her emotion and action.

http://www.youtube.com/user/grishno

Now you have read the story – and heard the response. PF OX is a self serving “Christian” group who enjoys the rescuing of Gays, Lesbians and TG’s. People who get confused about sexuality, sexual orientation and gender, wandering to the whim of others, can be equally swayed by the pseudo-Christian group who acts notably, UN-Christian.

This goes back to my statement to everyone, TG and others. If you want to be happy, complete, secure – Know who you are, FIRST – then know what you want (second). If you get confused and do what you want before you know who you then it will be a rough road in your life of empty quests.

Lastly, Come on Christians, act like good Christians – act Christ-like in your understanding, compassion, forgiveness and love for people that you really know nothing about. Christ never said anything about tolerance – and the LGBT community does not need just tolerance, but the higher calling be held to the Christians who express their distaste for the community of LGBT. I am a good Catholic and Christian…





Gender Transitioning, Character Changes and Children

22 08 2009

For those of us in the TG community, there is a duty for support of each other as well as education for both inside and outside the community.

Warning, stop reading this right now. This article deals with the harshest subject in an honest manner.

You are not going to like what I am saying part of the time. You are going to think that I am wrong. Stop reading now.

IF you choose to start reading, then read it all, until the end, please. Please. It is a longish article and I will likely add to it upon more reflection and experiences.

Stop in the Name of Love

Stop in the Name of Love

I started this blog with who I am… a journeyer

Here is the fairytale, the story that you want to live. This is the story you tell yourself that will make you feel complete. So you woke up one day and thought – “I am not going to live the lie anymore. I am going to be who I was always meant to be. I am going to become the person who has been inside and hiding for all these years.”

For years, you just blended in, ‘kind of’. No one really knew what was in your head, the monsters that came to you at night, the dreams you masturbated to. Occasionally you reveled something of yourself and you were thought of as gay, or a dyke or a CD; by a partner or stranger that wanted to pigeon-hole you. You went to work and nobody knew what was inside you, dying to get out. You went to church, got married, had kids… and still they did not know. Then one day, you say a couple sentences to try to sum up all that you have felt, dreamt, wished, thought and all that you hope will happen and BOOM the bomb goes off.

The Big Bomb

The Big Bomb

Then you go see a doctor, go see a therapist, go to marriage counselling, go see a lawyer – get a divorce, fight for custody, have some surgery – and what do you have left? Who are you now?

If you have already exploded it all, if you have already blown up all your past life in a planned, rush of a sequence of timed detonations, then I am going to tell you the truths you know – the ones that you already know and live with everyday. If you have not blown it all up then take a look at what I am offering to help you transition.

calm

Calm Down

Take a calming breathe and repeat after me. Know who I am then what I want. FIRST – Know who you are, then SECOND – know what you want. Know who you are first and then what you want will just happen. Get it? Not quite yet, but this will help.

Time and time again when I encounter people who are unhappy and challenged, they are transitioning, or in love with someone transitioning. There is a swamp of feelings surrounding transition but most often I hear from people “I did not know I was (they were) like that. If your true goal in transitioning is to ostracize your past and try to start with very little in tow, then make grand announcements of a character, behavioral change. If you wish to maintain something of your old life (children, family, work, friends, sanity), then read on.

Transitioning need not be so painful. It need not be the rebirth that so many books and speakers seem to endorse. Not every person needs to fall from the sky, burn up to cinder then rise like the Phoenix (and that is the dream of many). If you think that you are prepared here for all the changes, read Astronaut Training first.

Missing the Right Arm

Missing the Right Arm

A Farmer looses an arm. Not an uncommon injury in some form or another across the country – much more common than F2M or M2F transitions, every year. The key here is what happens to the person after they lose the arm; the transition that might take place – and you should be able to imagine some tough scenarios here:

  • They wallow in self pity, retreating into a world with little social contact.
  • They feel like a freak, unable to do what others so easily do, and everyday is work just to keep up.
  • They change their character entirely towards the negative and become mean drunk and lose their family.

More often than not, a person with this sort of injury receives intensive therapy and, if they have the will, they return to their old life as they were. The lesson here is that if you were to lose an arm AND you want the people who always loved you to treat you the same, then keep your character. People can deal with the changes that come from you physically changing much more easily – they cannot adapt as well if you mentally change.

If your penis does not work, we have designed a drug so that you can make it work. The reason for that drug is two fold, less so for the operator but primarily so that things operate the same as they always have for the partner. It retains the ‘character’ of the act.

People have ‘character’ expectations of people they are with. If you change your character too much, people around you have a very hard time coping. Here is a man who retained his character after horrific life altering events. Read his story if you are not familiar with just how physically gifted he was before his accident and the character he maintained after the accident.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Reeve

Mastectomy and the body changing impact

Mastectomy and the body changing impact

Women are subjected to a constant threat of a major body change. The result often changes the person they were. Once again, I will be bold saying that a partner, husband, family and friends will have little trouble with the transition IF your character remains intact. But, move towards Shame or Anger; taken what has happened out on a family, or the partner – or one of the negative courses like the farmer above who lost his arm and that will send a message that you have changed, mentally. Mental – character changes are the toughest for people around you to comprehend and, in turn, continue with you in a relationship. Mental – Character changes leave those who love the altered person adrift in how they can be with them.

Also Liu Yan – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/arts/dance/19barb.html

You can transition, live a great life and continue with family and especially your children… but your character needs to be defined.

Double Mastectomy means freedom and life to some

Double Mastectomy means freedom and life to some

Who you are – Know who you are – FIRST.

What you want to do with transitioning comes after knowing who you are, first. Too often we become lost on the “who we are becoming” journey and forget that there are many things about who we are and have been that are what others (and often ourselves) enjoy most about us. We spent a childhood, adolescence, adulthood forming who we are; not all of it needs to be left behind during transition.

So, if you really want to “get lost” and be forgotten, transition how you are. Most people transition and leave behind all that they ever knew. But this is not the only way…

Now about Children…

So you have decided to transition and you want to freak your kids out. This is easy, tell them just the way you did your partner, wife/husband, friends and work. Now if you want to maintain being with your children and you are switching which gender you are attracted to in a partner, this will complicate things – but only a bit – but that is a different article.

NOW, the part about kids and family. This is the secret recipe to give you the best chance at happiness IF you wish to maintain those around you AND be able to transition with them. You are going to need to keep your character consistent here, in spite of all the other changes that you will be doing. It is the little things that shake up the situation. Here are some M2F examples…

  • Refuse to mow the lawn because it is not ‘womanly’; or you might break a nail
  • Stop working on cars and get to the point where changing your own tire is beyond you
  • Go from confident business adviser to shaken, insecure person
  • Only do ‘girley’ things in a ‘girley’ way

People who care about you just can’t handle the change – and that is not their fault. You have a responsibility to yourself first, and then to them. Ask yourself if you are being real when (and this is because I am such a car gal) you tell your wife, children that “even though you have been a mechanic for 15 years, you are not able to do anything on a car at all now because you are becoming a woman” – and this is a true story, because I heard the woman who was so proud of her new “F” on her driver’s license say this to me!! How are people who know you supposed to keep up if you change who you are as a result of what you want?

My son

My son

You want to make it easier for your children? It is easy (and I am using 17 years teaching and 10 years as a stay at home father as my basis here). Retain your character with your children. Regardless of what your character is, retain it or make your character better for your children.

The real secret here is that you have to be who you are before your transition.

As an afterthought (I stumbled upon this video late October), this is a good message to Transgender individuals who are ‘over doing it’ or who are trying to figure out how to ‘act’.





Transgender – Positive News

29 12 2008

I have written much about Gender; about society, the community and the person transitioning. Additionally, with the some 20,000 words here on this blog, I have increased the number of videos. If a picture is worth a 1000 words….

Here is some positive, social information. There are a number of agencies, companies and service agencies that are making some efforts to inform ‘norms’ to understand and even welcome transgender people.

From the Chicago Police Department, an informational video for the staff and the public.

20/20 – Gender, a 5 part episode. This series by Barbara Walters is societies attempt (with some success) at understanding Gender, what it means to families, their children and the media. This series concentrates on transgendered children.

From the moment we’re born, our gender identity is no secret. We’re either a boy or a girl. Gender organizes our world into pink or blue. As we grow up, most of us naturally fit into our gender roles. Girls wear dresses and play with dolls. For boys, it’s pants and trucks.

But for some children, what’s between their legs doesn’t match what’s between their ears — they insist they were born into the wrong body. They are transgender children, diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and their parents insist this is not a phase.
“A phase is called a phase because it is just that. It ends. And this is not ending. This is just getting stronger,” Renee Jennings told ABC News’ Barbara Walters. The Jennings asked that “20/20” not disclose their real name in order to protect the identity of their 6-year old transgender daughter, Jazz.

Most transgender children still live in the shadows, hiding from a world that sees them as freaks of nature. Rejected by their families, many grow up hating their bodies, and fall victim to high rates of depression, drug abuse, violence and suicide.
Today, hundreds of families with transgender children — who have found each other over the Internet — are taking a dramatically different course. They’re allowing their children to live in the gender they identify with in order to save them from a future of heartache and pain.
“I think we’re a very normal family,” said Renee’s husband, Scott. “I think we have a very healthy marriage. We love to watch our children in all of their activities, whether it’s at school, or on the field playing sports.”

On the surface, the Jennings and their four children are a typical American family. But their youngest child, Jazz, is only in kindergarten, and already she is one of the youngest known cases of an early transition from male to female.
“We’ll say things like, ‘You’re special. God made you special.’ Because there aren’t very many little girls out there that have a penis,” said Renee. “Renee and I are in 100 percent agreement as to how we should raise Jazz,” said Scott. “We don’t encourage, we support. And we just keep listening to what she tells us.”
From the moment he could speak, Jazz made it clear he wanted to wear a dress. At only 15 months, he would unsnap his onesies to make it look like a dress. When his parents praised Jazz as a “good boy,” he would correct them, saying he was a good girl.
The Jennings wanted to believe it would pass. Scott said he “was in a bit of denial” about what Jazz was trying to tell them. After all, even their rowdy twin boys, who are two years older than Jazz, had painted their nails growing up. But Jazz kept gravitating to girl things, insisting that his penis was a mistake.

There is a ground swell, a change from the 80’s ‘sex image’ of a TG Girl presenting her penis in a porn video. There is movement to “allow” transgender people to keep their jobs and to transition. Almost 125+ Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies in place that accommodate transgender peoples through their transition – while maintaining their jobs.





Transgender Bashing

29 12 2008

I think I need to mention something about bashing.

I have been asked a number of times if I had experienced any form of ‘bashing’ or threats. I never really had much ‘bashing’, even when young. I considered this question of bashing seriously – and do not think that my friends asking me “so are you really keep it?” – for now (wink) – is bashing. Well, up until this month, not once did I ever really feel that (and this is my view) “someone was threatened enough to communicate that feeling to me by ‘bashing’ me”.

The first article I wrote about and posted to this weblog after an initial self introduction was an article about Lawrence King been killed (for reputably being either gay, or transgendered).

If you have been bashed and post your story to my comments, I will take a look at it and add it to this new posting called “Transgender Bashing“.

Here is my story.

I came into the breakfast cafe in Sultan, ready for a day of winter offroading. Walking in, I spotted my best friend (a mechanic and former club president); who greeted me warmly with a hug.. Although not ‘dressed up’, there has been enough changes in the past couple of years that my best friends mother and x-wife failed to recognize me! I wore just enough eye makeup that it was to run later in the 6 inches of snow that fell that day. I was then greeted warmly by the ‘old guard’ of the club while all the rest continued on with breakfast. Shortly before I was to head outside to the parked Land Rovers, I was ‘banged’ rather hard on the leg (similar to how you give someone a Charley Horse with your knee) by a fellow ‘walking by’. There was no words, just a hard look. That was it – the extent of my bashing.

A fellow member, who is gay, spoke to me later about a trip they had been on and this very same fellow (we will call; “wanker”) was extremely vocal about his negative opinions about gays and ‘that type of people. My gay friend told me he chose to remain closeted to avoid this fellows harshness.

Now keep in mind, since you don’t really know me, I have a reputation for toughness in the out-of-doors. I am not huge – unless you think 6’0 and 220 is huge. I used to be able to lift and install a 2.0l Volkswagen engine (complete and without help) and one time body built. No one ever hit me again after grade 9 – ever.

So later that day, we are standing around a campfire and this Wanker speaks up about his bit of outdoor experience. My best friend and my other friends listen to Wanker talk – and he looks on disparagingly towards me. I listened then one of my friends spoke – I offered my .02 as an outdoor professional, with a degree and 25 years + experience. Apparently Wanker’s ‘bash’ did not go unmissed by the X (and I would say her name, but to protect her, lets call her “Determined”) of my best friend; when she heard Wanker tell how ‘tough’ he was (at perhaps 165, 5’6″ and small man’s syndrome). The Determined then offered Wanker this story; some 5 years ago, while on a camping trip, 5 grown men were not enough to make me succumb.

Summary… Wanker was an overzealous search and rescue fellow with aspirations of sheriff hood. He later came around and talked to me while around the fire. He never could quite figure it out, even when talking to me (if you know what I mean) – the old friends all called me David and he kept seeing a girl with her lesbian partner. I never did really clear up my position with Wanker – nor did he seem open to any such clearing. I guess I will write an article later about

So what do I have to offer? Well, I have lost some muscle and stamina as well as I look like a tall girl. But to would be bashers out there, you never can tell if someone has Judo, fencing, karate, sword fighting, firearm and military combat training experience; was the sparing partner to my friend who attended the Western Canada Games, heavyweight wrestling… and I never assault anyone, ever – but I can defend myself.

I am not sure if I like what I wrote here – it opens me up for some negative opinions… we will see. I don’t hurt anyone, I never get angry, but I never allow myself to be really hurt. I guess that it was better than grabbing the Wanker by the throat and throwing him to the ground – which would have been decidedly unlady like.





The Little t in GLBT or LGBT

26 08 2008

That T at the end of GLBT (or LGBT) is for transgender. The other three letters stand for sexual orientation, but the last letter – the letter T is little or silent in most groups.

The goal for many M2F as well as F2M transgenders; transexuals is to become passable – then invisible. Ultimately, they disappear after their two to five year journey of transformation. Even if they have not taken the final step of SRS (Sex Reassessment Surgery), they can have their sex on identification papers changed to match with how they are presenting and living.

A well written article from another writer covers it here – By John Avarosis in:

Transgender News – How Did the T Get in LGBT

{In simpler times we were all gay. But then the word “gay” started to mean “gay men” more than women, so we switched to the more inclusive “gay and lesbian.” Bisexuals, who were only part-time gays, insisted that we add them too, so we did (not without some protest), and by the early 1990s we were the lesbian, gay and bisexual, or LGB community. Sometime in the late ’90s, a few gay rights groups and activists started using a new acronym, LGBT — adding T for transgender/transsexual. And that’s when today’s trouble started.}

Depending on the history told, the term GLBT came about; as each sub group was added, another letter was added after the general catch-all term- “Gay”. The current LGBT is a ranking of a dangerous internal group sexism – The gay community begrudges the lesbian community for muscling their way over the ‘boys’; bisexuals are treated as wanna-be, part time, half hearted gays (and lesbians) and the transgender community is welcomed as neither gay nor lesbian by either of those two groups, misunderstood by the sexual bisexual explorers and generally segregated at any and all at LGBT group activities.

The confusion continues when an M2F is with a women Or an F2M is with a man) – they are not ‘normal’ according to society and they are not accepted as lesbians (or gay) in those communities. I do not want to beat this horse into the ground – and the ultimate responsibility for information lies in the hands of the transgendered within the GLBT groups. Like the ‘issues’ the gays and lesbians have to over come, information needs to be offered and then, understanding comes from the majority – the experiences of the gay community with the body of society are paralleled with the transgender community and the GLBT community.

What makes the T portion unique is both for what it is and what it is not. It is a subject that has varying degrees of meaning, from cross dressing to gender bending to post-op transexual. It is also a unique departure from the other three (GLB) because it is not about sexual orientation.

The T portion of the LGBT community has two duties:

One, to continue, in a public sense, to be vocal and united. That means, not dissappearing after your own personal journey is over.

Two, to bring awareness that the assessment of gender is broad reaching, universal and effects everyone else.





Gender: Pink/Blue Boxes & Sexual Orientation

25 08 2008

Gender, Sexual Orientation and what it is to be transgendered.

Shortly after birth we are placed by the people who love us – our parents (or less loving medical staff; when there is some question), into either a BLUE or PINK box. Repeat after me, we are placed into onlyone of two boxes, early on – and that choice is made simply by the visual inspection of genitalia. If you have an inny, you get the pink box; and outy gets you the blue one; if you are in some question, they try to assign one of the boxes, only.

That is social gender assignment, based on whether you have a penis or a vagina only. It is as simple as that and has been done that way for a long, long time and is done throughout the world like that. As a infant child, it is relatively easy to be in one box or another – it really makes little real difference in the early stages. You will be treated different, based on the culture and time you are raised in. There was a time when boys wore pink… but that is another story.

Some gender stuff happens around 6-10 years of age, mostly you form the concept of what adult relationships look like and you will likely follow those patterns as an adult. At this time, you might wander a little away from your box colour – but not too far! Girls playing only with Lego and cars are still not really that far from the pink box – most often they took toys (tools) from the blue box but still play with them in decidedly “pink” ways. Same goes for boys – they may play with toys from the pink box, but they play with them in a “blue” fashion.

Now for the big explosion – and where the waters get muddy for most mainstream people. This individual growth takes place around 10 to 16 years of age as we are figuring out sex, the changing body that you have and where you fit into the world with your forming identity. There, I said the word, sex, because that word (and all that goes with it) causes all the confusion when gender is brought up. The muddiness comes in here because we tie sex to everything. So it is at this time, from when you are 10-16 years old, that the individual often deals with experimentation and self discovery while we look at the new options (or they “present” themselves to us).

So here are your variables, the options of what to think after you start figuring it out – the options that you have placed by society before you as a teenager.

Gender – We will be coming back to this one:
You are in either a Blue or Pink box, based on social assignment at birth based upon genitalia. Boys are in Blue boxes, Girls are in Pink boxes. This one is simple and we use it to figure out the next thing.

Sexual Orientation - and Gender

Sexual Orientation - and Gender

Attracted to which box?

This is Sexual Orientation:

Heterosexual:
If you are in a Blue box, you need to be sexually attracted to people only in the Pink box. If you are in a Pink box, you need to be sexually attracted to the people only in the BlueBox. – this is the social “norm”, it is what the bulk of the population does. You can play with toys from either box BUT not too much or too far, because of this other bit of sexual orientation, called (dun,dun,daaaaa);

Homosexual:
If you are in the Blue box and you are attracted to people only in the Blue Box, you are Gay. If you are in the Pink box and are only attracted to people in the Pink Box, you are Lesbian.

Bisexual:
Okay, if you are in one box and are attracted to people in either box, you are said to be Bi. Mostly it is the person being attracted to both boxes that says they are Bi – the other orientations often label you as indecisive. Others label this as a sexual person because they are attracted to both sexes.

That pretty much covers the normal combinations.

Ok, that is the part they the audience “gets”, nodding all the way. They know all this because it is taught to us young, as we are in our teens. I will not really get into the social prejudices. That covers the easy to understand sexual orientation part – but what about Gender?

The confusion comes in with understanding Gender (the box you are in) and what you are doing with the other box, the box that you were not assigned to after birth. This is not about sex, it is not about having sex, it is not about who you have sex with – refer to back sexual orientation to understand that.

Transgender
Gender transformer (more than meets the eye);

Gender has to do with the box you are assigned to and with the which one you feel you belong in – and the conflict or agreement of those two. The thing that adds more confusion here is that Gender is a sliding scale, with a break point being, with most people, at the first question they ask; “Do you still have your blue box parts or did you remove you pink box parts.” With gender movement, leaving your box and heading towards the other is not always a destination of being in the other box. The open field that is between those boxes is huge and populated with all sorts of people – people you know and meet every day. I am one of those people – but those who get close always ask me about whether or not I have my boy part…

Gender and the Sliding Scale:
If you are in a Pink box person, and are a welder, dress masculine, drive a pickup – you are often thought of as a “dyke” (note, that label is about sexual orientation, not gender). Being in a Pink box, but incorporating too many things from the Blue box is confusing for many – they make it simple by referring back to sexual orientation. If you are in the Blue box, artistic, soft spoken – well you see where this is going. If you dress in the clothes of the other box, you cause the same confusion for the social group at large – and they often then assigned you a sexual orientation label. If you play with too many things from the box of the other color, people refer to sexual orientation, first.

And for the record and some humor – a kilt is never a skirt.

Moving out of your Blue box, leaving the box you were assigned, while playing with the toys in the Pink box is hard for most people to grasp. You are not supposed to “over play” with the toys from the other box AND you are certainly not supposed to leave your box to play with toys from the other box! Once again, I keep it to extremes to help people understand – but the truth is, TG’s are often somewhere in the open are between the two boxes and that is where we find the bulk of Transgender people. True Transexuals; ones who complete the departure from one box and are solidly in the other box – they often disappear into their new box, never wanting to be outed.

So, that brings us to Gender. When you start to leave behind your box later in life, the box you were assigned to so shortly after birth, you are breaking socially established norms, centuries old. Now, keep this in mind Gender is not Sex or Sexual Orientation. If a person chooses to leave their Blue or Pink box, move into the other box and adopt all that is necessary to be in that box – they are in the new gender.

So now what is a persons Gender if you were raised in a Blue box and move to the Pink box? – well, it comes down to the first question I usually get asked. It is what we think makes the person a Blue or Pink, a penis or vagina.

So next time you see someone who you are thinking assigning a sexual orientation label to, you might just be looking at a gender slider, transgender, TG, TV, CD, androgyne, gender transformer (my son coined that one), intergender, genderqueer. This sliding scale is what makes it such a varied social dynamic and what makes it hard to cleanly label and for the people in their own strict boxes to understand.





Gender – lite; making more sense of S.O., gender and the community

24 08 2008

Here is Gender Lite – Making sense of it for the non-gender challenged! I always like seeing the words challenged or issue as they relate to gender; none of which could be further from truth. This will also contain a few of my own personal opinions…

SEX – Sexual Orientation – S.O.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation

First. Lets separate SEX from this. Do you all know what sexxual (or sexyual) attraction is? Well, I am going to give you some new – but very old terms. Terms such as Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual; and then we had to have Lesbian and Gay because they did not want to just be labeled homosexual; all of these are labels that wrap up the gender of both individual with their sexual orientation.The result with these now popular lables has been to define gender while defining sexual orientation. Let’s take a look at some other labels that are a bit older – and more useful.

These define WHO you are attracted to, in a specific way AND they do not define your gender!

Gynephilia (Gynophilia)
Gynephilia (or gynophilia) (From Greek gunē, “women,” + -philia, “love”) is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult females.

Androphilia
Androphilia (from Greek andro-, “male,” + -philia, “love”) is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult males.

Bisexuality is the unique term – it describes neither person’s gender and may be used openly by both men and women.

There are two main reasons why these terms have been used: to describe either the age or the sex/gender of the object of an individuals sexual orientation. Neither of these terms define the gender of the person who is defined by the definition, but rather, the object of their affection.

Simply you are attracted to either adult males and/or females (or none or both). If you fall outside of this, that is not where I can go.

Why go to the trouble of simplifying Sexual Orientation? Because, even in the GLBT community, there is a decided bit of prejudice against anything outside the “dyed in the wool” Lesbian or Gay labels. If you are a bisexual woman, you better say you are lesbian when you are surrounded by lesbians – otherwise, you might be rejected as indecisive or half hearted (and there will certainly be judgement).

And God help you with lesbian group (whom you most identify with) if you are a Bisexual woman (you had children with a man, right?) and you have chosen the partner to be a pre-op TG M2F – don’t they have a special group for you two? I mean, even with HRC, there is no movement to eliminate prejudice and judgement within the community – all work is placed on gaining acceptance of the community. Additionally, as of late, the HRC has left behind the transgender community in their quest to satisfy legislation against sexual orientation discrimination, solely.

More about the HRC here

A bit to ponder on about sexism – could you possibly be in LGBT and be sexist?? The next You Tube brings to light HRC’s departure to the transgender community – thank you Grishno for being so vocal.

Sexism is discrimination against people based on their sex or gender. Sexism can refer to three subtly different beliefs or attitudes:

  • The belief that one sex is superior to the other.
  • The belief that men and women are very different and that this should be strongly reflected in society, language, the right to have sex, and the law.
  • It can also refer to simple hatred of men (misandry) or women (misogyny).

Make sure that if you are a supporter of the GLBT / LGBT communitythat you do not practice sexism or reverse sexism while preaching the desire of acceptance and tolerance!

Gender – Pink or Blue or ?

Pink Blue

Pink Blue

Now the gender part. Why separate out the gender from sexual orientation? Well, if you are a M2F (male to female transgender) and you are attracted to a women – you can see that the labels of sexual orientation move around so much as to be dizzying.

For many people, the labels of Boy / Girl – Male / Female and Man / Women work well. Yet, in Homosexual relationships, it is not uncommon for partners to refer to each other as wife or husband; a gender label outside of the male / male or female / female relationship model.

Andro/Gyne labels – boy, male, man – girl, female, women…. should the labels for (fe)male include clothes and jobs? Should your hair length be a factor? Is it as simple as your gender is defined by just an XX or XY (that most people are never in a position to see)?

Darwin used labels well. He would see what the connections were when few others could see them. Perhaps we need a bit more Darwinian terminology…

Gyne butchias gynophilic — Andro transgio gynophilic — Gyne preandrophilic transgio fafafinian

Hmmm, those seem a bit complex – extra points if you can figure out the last one! Perhaps the simple thing to do here – and the most human;is to ask the person you don’t know about. If gender seems ‘ambiguous’ ask the person about it. Most people who are in any sort of gender position other than the simplest views of male / female, have explored within themselves as to what is gender.

Sorry – I really did not answer the gender questions for you. I will say this – gender is more than just XX / XY and whether or not you have a penis or vagina.

That stern looking women wearing a flannel shirt may be doing so for one of so many different options – examples include; a TG who is wanting to continue life more masculine, or a Butch, or a women who likes wearing her husbands clothes, or ? Ask when you don’t know. The greatest duty we have is to explain ourselves to others, in an open, honest way – when asked – no matter how we present. The greatest duty of those who do not understand – is to learn.

In tribal times, the reason you fought the neighbouring tribe was because you did not understand them – you thought they were hunting too close – that they believed something you did not understand – that they looked or acted different. All reasons that we attacked one another.

I am Sarah, a biological male who looks like a women who lives with a women and our children. I drive a car, walk upright with two legs, think, love, work. I like the label gender transformer – I have been reshaped with hormones; and yet I remain myself in so many ways. I don’t have a gender issue; do you?





Young, Gay and Murdered (Newsweek Title) – About Gender

22 07 2008
 

Please read through this. It is a tale of Murder… and Gender being mislabeled as being Gay (the easier to understand label or “box”). This is a hate crime

Hating people for anything is wrong. This is the story of a young, misunderstood teen with many other social challenges and difficulties going on since early youth. Larry also had strong support of an openly Lesbian Vice Principal who fostered confusion of this being only a Gay subject. Gender differences often fall into the common labels that society offers about sexual orientation, rather than gender identity. Ultimately, forcing anyone into any box or label is wrong, though Larry had little choice but to accept the only label offered him by a caring (and uncaring) teachers and misguided ‘parents’ – despite so many obvious gender crossing behaviors.

Larry and Brandon both suffered. Sexual Orientation is about who you want to have sex with – Gender is who you are. Live – Love – Be.

 

By Ramin Setoodeh | NEWSWEEK

Published Jul 19, 2008

Kids are coming out younger, but are schools ready to handle the complex issues of identity and sexuality? For Larry King, the question had tragic implications.

At 15, Lawrence King was small—5 feet 1 inch—but very hard to miss. In January, he started to show up for class at Oxnard, Calif.’s E. O. Green Junior High School decked out in women’s accessories. On some days, he would slick up his curly hair in a Prince-like bouffant. Sometimes he’d paint his fingernails hot pink and dab glitter or white foundation on his cheeks. “He wore makeup better than I did,” says Marissa Moreno, 13, one of his classmates. He bought a pair of stilettos at Target, and he couldn’t have been prouder if he had on a varsity football jersey. He thought nothing of chasing the boys around the school in them, teetering as he ran.

But on the morning of Feb. 12, Larry left his glitter and his heels at home. He came to school dressed like any other boy: tennis shoes, baggy pants, a loose sweater over a collared shirt. He seemed unhappy about something. He hadn’t slept much the night before, and he told one school employee that he threw up his breakfast that morning, which he sometimes did because he obsessed over his weight. But this was different. One student noticed that as Larry walked across the quad, he kept looking back nervously over his shoulder before he slipped into his first-period English class. The teacher, Dawn Boldrin, told the students to collect their belongings, and then marched them to a nearby computer lab, so they could type out their papers on World War II. Larry found a seat in the middle of the room. Behind him, Brandon McInerney pulled up a chair.

Brandon, 14, wasn’t working on his paper, because he told Mrs. Boldrin he’d finished it. Instead, he opened a history book and started to read. Or at least he pretended to. “He kept looking over at Larry,” says a student who was in the class that morning. “He’d look at the book and look at Larry, and look at the book and look at Larry.” At 8:30 a.m., a half hour into class, Brandon quietly stood up. Then, without anyone’s noticing, he removed a handgun that he had somehow sneaked to school, aimed it at Larry’s head, and fired a single shot. Boldrin, who was across the room looking at another student’s work, spun around. “Brandon, what the hell are you doing!” she screamed. Brandon fired at Larry a second time, tossed the gun on the ground and calmly walked through the classroom door. Police arrested him within seven minutes, a few blocks from school. Larry was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later of brain injuries.

The Larry King shooting became the most prominent gay-bias crime since the murder of Matthew Shepard 10 years ago. But despite all the attention and outrage, the reason Larry died isn’t as clear-cut as many people think. California’s Supreme Court has just legalized gay marriage. There are gay characters on popular TV shows such as “Gossip Girl” and “Ugly Betty,” and no one seems to notice. Kids like Larry are so comfortable with the concept of being openly gay that they are coming out younger and younger. One study found that the average age when kids self-identify as gay has tumbled to 13.4; their parents usually find out a year later.

What you might call “the shrinking closet” is arguably a major factor in Larry’s death. Even as homosexuality has become more accepted, the prospect of being openly gay in middle school raises a troubling set of issues. Kids may want to express who they are, but they are playing grown-up without fully knowing what that means. At the same time, teachers and parents are often uncomfortable dealing with sexual issues in children so young. Schools are caught in between. How do you protect legitimate, personal expression while preventing inappropriate, sometimes harmful, behavior? Larry King was, admittedly, a problematical test case: he was a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon—it was often his first line of defense. But his story sheds light on the difficulty of defining the limits of tolerance. As E. O. Green found, finding that balance presents an enormous challenge.

Larry’s life was hard from the beginning. His biological mother was a drug user; his father wasn’t in the picture. When Greg and Dawn King took him in at age 2, the family was told he wasn’t being fed regularly. Early on, a speech impediment made Larry difficult to understand, and he repeated first grade because he had trouble reading. He was a gentle child who loved nature and crocheting, but he also acted out from an early age. “We couldn’t take him to the grocery store without him shoplifting,” Greg says. “We couldn’t get him to clean up his room. We sent him upstairs—he’d get a screwdriver and poke holes in the walls.” He was prescribed ADHD medication, and Greg says Larry was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, a rare condition in which children never fully bond with their caregivers or parents.

Kids started whispering about Larry when he was in third grade at Hathaway Elementary School. “In a school of 700 students, you’d know Larry,” says Sarah Ranjbar, one of Larry’s principals. “He was slightly effeminate but very sure of his personality.” Finally, his best friend, Averi Laskey, pulled him aside one day at the end of class. “I said, ‘Larry, are you gay?’ He said, ‘Yeah, why?’ ” He was 10. Averi remembers telling Larry she didn’t care either way, but Larry started telling other students, and they did. They called him slurs and avoided him at recess. One Halloween, someone threw a smoke bomb into his house, almost killing the family’s Jack Russell terrier. In the sixth grade, a girl started a “Burn Book”—an allusion to a book in the movie “Mean Girls,” where bullies scribble nasty rumors about the people they hate—about Larry. The Larry book talked about how he was gay and falsely asserted that he dressed in Goth and drag. And it ended with a threat: “I hate Larry King. I wish he was dead,” according to one parent’s memory of the book. “The principal called my wife on the phone and she was crying,” Greg says. “She found the book, and said we needed to do something to help protect Larry.” His parents transferred him to another elementary school, hoping he could get a fresh start before he started junior high.

E. O. Green is a white slab of concrete in a neighborhood of pink and yellow homes. In the afternoons, SUVs roll down the street like gumballs, the sound of hip-hop music thumping. Once the students leave the campus, two blue gates seal it shut, and teachers are told not to return to school after dark, because of gang violence. Outside, there’s a worn blue sign that greets visitors: this was a California distinguished school in 1994. The school is under a different administration now.

E. O. Green was a comfortable place for Larry when he arrived as a seventh grader. He hung out with a group of girls who, unlike in elementary school, didn’t judge him. But that didn’t mean he was entirely accepted. In gym class, some of his friends say that the boys would shove him around in the locker room. After he started dressing up, he was ridiculed even more. He lost a high heel once and the boys tossed it around at lunch like a football. “Random people would come up to him and start laughing,” Moreno says. “I thought that was very rude.” One day, in science class, he was singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to himself. Kids nearby taunted him for being gay. “He said to me, ‘It’s OK’,” says Vanessa Castillo, a classmate. ” ‘One day, they’ll regret it. One day, I’ll be famous’.”

Larry’s home life wasn’t getting any better. At 12, he was put on probation for vandalizing a tractor with a razor blade, and he entered a counseling program, according to his father. One therapist said Larry might be autistic. At 14, Larry told Greg he thought he was bisexual. “It wouldn’t matter either way to me,” Greg says. “I thought maybe some of the problems would go away if we supported him.” But the therapist told Greg he thought that Larry was just trying to get attention and might not understand what it meant to be gay. Larry began telling his teachers that his father was hitting him. Greg says he never harmed Larry; still, the authorities removed Larry from his home in November 2007. He moved to Casa Pacifica, a group home and treatment center in Camarillo, five miles away from Oxnard.

Larry seemed to like Casa Pacifica—”peaceful home” in Spanish. The 23-acre facility—more like a giant campground, with wooden cottages, a basketball court and a swimming pool—has 45 beds for crisis kids who need temporary shelter. Every day a driver would take Larry to school, and some weeks he went to nearby Ventura, where he attended gay youth-group meetings. “I heard this was the happiest time of his life,” says Vicki Murphy, the center’s director of operations. For Christmas, the home gave Larry a $75 gift card for Target. He spent it on a pair of brown stiletto shoes.

In January, after a few months at Casa Pacifica, Larry decided to dress like a girl. He went to school accessorized to the max, and his already colorful personality got louder. He accused a girl to her face of having breast implants. Another girl told him she didn’t like his shoes. “I don’t like your necklace,” Larry snapped back. Larry called his mom from Casa Pacifica to tell her that he wanted to get a sex-change operation. And he told a teacher that he wanted to be called Leticia, since no one at school knew he was half African-American. The teacher said firmly, “Larry, I’m not calling you Leticia.” He dropped the idea without an argument.

The staff at E. O. Green was clearly struggling with the Larry situation—how to balance his right to self-expression while preventing it from disrupting others. Legally, they couldn’t stop him from wearing girls’ clothes, according to the California Attorney General’s Office, because of a state hate-crime law that prevents gender discrimination. Larry, being Larry, pushed his rights as far as he could. During lunch, he’d sidle up to the popular boys’ table and say in a high-pitched voice, “Mind if I sit here?” In the locker room, where he was often ridiculed, he got even by telling the boys, “You look hot,” while they were changing, according to the mother of a student.

Larry was eventually moved out of the P.E. class, though the school didn’t seem to know the extent to which he was clashing with other boys. One teacher describes the gym transfer as more of a “preventative measure,” since Larry complained that one student wouldn’t stop looking at him. In other classes, teachers were baffled that Larry was allowed to draw so much attention to himself. “All the teachers were complaining, because it was disruptive,” says one of them. “Dress code is a huge issue at our school. We fight [over] it every day.” Some teachers thought Larry was clearly in violation of the code, which prevents students from wearing articles of clothing considered distracting. When Larry wore lipstick and eyeliner to school for the first time, a teacher told him to wash it off, and he did. But the next day, he was back wearing even more. Larry told the teacher he could wear makeup if he wanted to. He said that Ms. Epstein told him that was his right.

Joy Epstein was one of the school’s three assistant principals, and as Larry became less inhibited, Epstein became more a source of some teachers’ confusion and anger. Epstein, a calm, brown-haired woman with bifocals, was openly gay to her colleagues, and although she was generally not out to her students, she kept a picture of her partner on her desk that some students saw. While her job was to oversee the seventh graders, she formed a special bond with Larry, who was in the eighth grade. He dropped by her office regularly, either for counseling or just to talk—she won’t say exactly. “There was no reason why I specifically started working with Larry,” Epstein says. “He came to me.” Some teachers believe that she was encouraging Larry’s flamboyance, to help further an “agenda,” as some put it. One teacher complains that by being openly gay and discussing her girlfriend (presumably, no one would have complained if she had talked about a husband), Epstein brought the subject of sex into school. Epstein won’t elaborate on what exactly she said to Larry because she expects to be called to testify at Brandon’s trial, but it’s certain to become one of the key issues. William Quest, Brandon’s public defender, hasn’t disclosed his defense strategy, but he has accused the school of failing to intercede as the tension rose between Larry and Brandon. Quest calls Epstein “a lesbian vice principal with a political agenda.” Larry’s father also blames Epstein. He’s hired an attorney and says he is seriously contemplating a wrongful-death lawsuit. “She started to confuse her role as a junior-high principal,” Greg King says. “I think that she was asserting her beliefs for gay rights.” In a tragedy such as this, the natural impulse is to try to understand why it happened and to look for someone to blame. Epstein won’t discuss the case in detail and, until she testifies in court, it’s impossible to know what role—if any—she played in the events leading to Larry’s death.

Whatever Epstein said to Larry, it’s clear that his coming out proved to be a fraught process, as it can often be. For tweens, talking about being gay isn’t really about sex. They may be aware of their own sexual attraction by the time they’re 10, according to Caitlin Ryan, a researcher at San Francisco State University, but those feelings are too vague and unfamiliar to be their primary motivation. (In fact, Larry told a teacher that he’d never kissed anyone, male or female.) These kids are actually concerned with exploring their identity. “When you’re a baby, you cry when you’re hungry because you don’t know the word for it,” says Allan Acevedo, 19, of San Diego, who came out when he was in eighth grade. “Part of the reason why people are coming out earlier is they have the word ‘gay,’ and they know it explains the feeling.” Like older teenagers, tweens tend to tell their friends first, because they think they’ll be more accepting. But kids that age often aren’t equipped to deal with highly personal information, and middle-school staffs are almost never trained in handling kids who question their sexuality. More than 3,600 high schools sponsor gay-straight alliances designed to foster acceptance of gay students, but only 110 middle schools have them. Often the entire school finds out before either the student or the faculty is prepared for the attention and the backlash. “My name became a punch line very fast,” says Grady Keefe, 19, of Branford, Conn., who came out in the eighth grade. “The guidance counselors told me I should not have come out because I was being hurt.”

The staff at E. O. Green tried to help as Larry experimented with his identity, but he liked to talk in a roar. One teacher asked him why he taunted the boys in the halls, and Larry replied, “It’s fun to watch them squirm.” But Brandon McInerney was different. Larry really liked Brandon. One student remembered that Larry would often walk up close to Brandon and stare at him. Larry had studied Brandon so well, he once knew when he had a scratch on his arm—Larry even claimed that he had given it to Brandon by mistake, when the two were together. Larry told one of his close friends that he and Brandon had dated but had broken up. He also said that he’d threatened to tell the entire school about them, if Brandon wasn’t nicer to him. Quest, Brandon’s defense attorney, says there was no relationship between Larry and Brandon, and one of Larry’s teachers says that Larry was probably lying to get attention.

Like Larry, Brandon had his share of troubles. His parents, Kendra and Bill McInerney, had a difficult, tempestuous relationship. In 1993, Kendra alleged that Bill pointed a .45 handgun at her during a drunken evening and shot her in the arm, according to court records. She and Bill split in 2000, when Brandon was 6. One September morning, a fight broke out after Kendra accused her husband of stealing the ADHD medication prescribed to one of her older sons from her first marriage. Bill “grabbed Kendra by the hair,” and “began choking her until she was almost unconscious,” according to Kendra’s version of the events filed in court documents. He pleaded no contest to corporal injury to a spouse and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. In a December 2001 court filing for a restraining order against Kendra, he claimed that she had turned her home into a “drug house.” “I was very functional,” Kendra later explained to a local newspaper, in a story about meth addiction. By 2004, she had entered a rehab program, and Brandon went to live with his father. But he spent years caught in the middle of a war.

While his life did seem to become more routine living with his dad, Brandon’s troubles resurfaced in the eighth grade. His father was working in a town more than 60 miles away, and he was alone a lot. He began hanging out with a group of misfits on the beach. Although he was smart, he didn’t seem to have much interest in school. Except for Hitler—Brandon knew all about the Nuremberg trials and all the names of Hitler’s deputies. (When other kids asked him how he knew so much, he replied casually, “Don’t you watch the History Channel?” Brandon’s father says his son was interested in World War II, but not inappropriately.) By the end of the first semester, as his overall GPA tumbled from a 3.3 to a 1.9, he was kicked out of his English honors class for not doing his work and causing disruptions. He was transferred to Boldrin’s English class, where he joined Larry.

Larry’s grades were also dropping—he went from having a 1.71 GPA in November to a 1.0 in February, his father says. But he was too busy reveling in the spotlight to care. “He was like Britney Spears,” says one teacher who knew Larry. “Everyone wanted to know what’s the next thing he’s going to do.” Girls would take photos of him on their camera phones and discuss him with their friends. “My class was in a frenzy every day with Larry stories,” says a humanities teacher who didn’t have Larry as one of her students. He wore a Playboy-bunny necklace, which one of his teachers told him to remove because it was offensive to women. But those brown Target stilettos wobbled on.

The commotion over Larry’s appearance finally forced the school office to take formal action. On Jan. 29, every teacher received an e-mail with the subject line STUDENT RIGHTS. It was written by Sue Parsons, the eighth-grade assistant principal. “We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing make-up,” the e-mail said without mentioning Larry by name. “It is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing, others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions he is within his rights. We are asking that you talk to your students about being civil and non-judgmental. They don’t have to like it but they need to give him his space. We are also asking you to watch for possible problems. If you wish to talk further about it please see me or Ms. Epstein.”

Jerry Dannenberg, the superintendent, says the front office received no complaints about Larry, but according to several faculty members, at least two teachers tried to formally protest what was going on. The first was the same teacher who told Larry to scrub the makeup off his face. She was approached by several boys in her class who said that Larry had started taunting them in the halls—”I know you want me,” he’d say—and their friends were calling them gay. The teacher told some of her colleagues that when she went to the office to file a complaint, Epstein said she would take it. “It’s about Larry,” the teacher said. “There’s nothing we can do about that,” Epstein replied. (Epstein denies she was ever approached.) A few days later another teacher claims to have gone to the school principal, Joel Lovstedt. The teacher says she told him that she was concerned about Larry and she thought he was a danger to himself—she worried that he might fall in his three-inch stilettos and injure himself. Lovstedt told the teacher that he had directions, though he wouldn’t say from where, that they couldn’t intervene with Larry’s sexual expression. (Lovstedt denied NEWSWEEK’s request for an interview.) There was an unusual student complaint, too. Larry’s younger brother, Rocky, 12, also attended E. O. Green, and the kids started picking on him the day in January when Larry showed up in hot pink knee-length boots. Rocky says he went to several school officials for help, including Epstein. “I went up to her at lunchtime,” he says. “I said, ‘Ms. Epstein, can you stop Larry from dressing like a girl? The kids are saying since Larry is gay, I must be gay, too, because I’m his brother’.”

As you talk to the teachers, many of them say they tried to support Larry, but they didn’t always know how. In blue-collar, immigrant Oxnard, there is no gay community to speak of and generally very little public discussion of gay issues, at least until Larry’s murder happened. One teacher was very protective of Larry, his English teacher, Mrs. Boldrin. To help Larry feel better about moving to Casa Pacifica, she brought Larry a present: a green evening dress that once belonged to her own daughter. Before school started, Larry ran to the bathroom to try it on. Then he showed it to some of his friends, telling them that he was going to wear it at graduation.

And then there was Valentine’s Day. A day or two before the shooting, the school was buzzing with the story about a game Larry was playing with a group of his girlfriends in the outdoor quad. The idea was, you had to go up to your crush and ask them to be your Valentine. Several girls named boys they liked, then marched off to complete the mission. When it was Larry’s turn, he named Brandon, who happened to be playing basketball nearby. Larry walked right on to the court in the middle of the game and asked Brandon to be his Valentine. Brandon’s friends were there and started joking that he and Larry were going to make “gay babies” together. At the end of lunch, Brandon passed by one of Larry’s friends in the hall. She says he told her to say goodbye to Larry, because she would never see him again.

The friend didn’t tell Larry about the threat—she thought Brandon was just kidding. There are many rumors of another confrontation between Larry and Brandon, on Feb. 11, the day before the shooting. Several students and teachers said they had heard about a fight between the two but they hadn’t actually witnessed it themselves. The next morning a counselor at Casa Pacifica asked Larry what was wrong, and he said, vaguely, “I’ve had enough.” When he got to school, his friends quizzed him about his noticeably unfabulous appearance. He said that he ran out of makeup and hair gel (which wasn’t true) and that he had a blister on his ankle (this was true—he’d just bought a new pair of boots). Larry walked alongside Boldrin to the computer class and sat in front of a computer. A few minutes later, a counselor summoned him to her office. She told him that his grades were so low, he was at risk of not graduating from the eighth grade. He went back to his computer. He had written his name on his paper as Leticia King. Most of the campus heard the gunshots. Some described it like a door slammed shut very hard.

On March 7, the school held a memorial service for Larry. Epstein stood at the podium with students who read from notecards about what they liked best about Larry: he was nice, he was unique, he was brave. The band played “Amazing Grace,” and two dozen doves were released into the sky. Averi read a poem about how her friend was like a garden seed that grew, and died; Larry’s mom wept in the front row. Deep in the audience, an eighth grader turned to one of Brandon’s friends and whispered, “That’s so gay.”

The obvious question now is whether Larry’s death could have been prevented. “Absolutely,” says Dannenberg. “Why do we have youngsters that have access to guns? Why don’t we have adequate funding to pay for social workers at the school to make sure students have resources? We have societal issues.” Many teachers and parents aren’t content with that answer. For them, the issue isn’t whether Larry was gay or straight—his father still isn’t convinced his son was gay—but whether he was allowed to push the boundaries so far that he put himself and others in danger. They’re not blaming Larry for his own death—as if anything could justify his murder—but their attitude toward his assailant is not unsympathetic. “We failed Brandon,” a teacher says. “We didn’t know the bullying was coming from the other side—Larry was pushing as hard as he could, because he liked the attention.”

Greg King doesn’t feel sympathy for Brandon, but he does believe his son sexually harassed him. He’s resentful that the gay community has appropriated his son’s murder as part of a larger cause. “I think the gay-rights people want it to be a gay-rights issue, because it makes a poster child out of my son,” King says. “That bothered me. I’m not anti-gay. I have a lot of co-workers and friends who are gay.” That anger was made worse when he heard this summer that Epstein would be promoted to principal of an elementary school. “This is a slap in the face of my family,” Greg says. Many teachers wonder if the district moved her because she had become a lightning rod for criticism after Larry’s death. Dannenberg, the superintendent, says that she was the most qualified person for the new principal job.

The school has conducted its own investigation, though its lawyer won’t make it public. But it will likely be brought up when Brandon goes to trial. He is charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime, and is scheduled to be arraigned this week. Hundreds of his classmates have signed a petition asking that he be tried in juvenile court. The district attorney wants him tried as an adult, which could result in a prison sentence of 51 years to life. “Brandon was being terrorized,” says Bill, who has set up a public defense fund in his son’s name. “He was being stalked almost, to the degree of the school should have never let this happen.” What happened to Larry and Brandon was certainly extreme, but it has implications for schools across the country. “If we’re going to be absolutely sure this isn’t going to happen again,” says Elaine Garber, 81, who has served on the school’s board for 48 years, “this has got to be discussed some more.”

As if anyone has stopped talking—and arguing—about Larry King. He had an entire page devoted to him in the E. O. Green yearbook. On the Internet, he’s become a gay martyr, and this year’s National Day of Silence, an annual event created to raise awareness of homophobia, was dedicated to Larry. And in Averi Laskey’s bedroom, she still keeps a handmade purple get-well card she made for Larry on the day after he was shot. At the time, there was still hope he would pull through. He had survived the night, which the doctors said was a good sign. Averi rounded up dozens of teachers and friends between classes to sign messages of encouragement. “Larry, I miss you. Get better,” Boldrin wrote in blue ink. “Keep up your spirit. A lot of people are rooting for you to get better,” the principal wrote. Some of Larry’s classmates apologized for how he had been treated. A few even left their phone numbers, so he could call them if he ever needed to talk to someone. But when Averi got home that day, she learned that Larry had suffered a fatal stroke. Larry was pronounced brain-dead that afternoon, and the family decided to donate his organs. The following day, Feb. 14, doctors harvested his pancreas, liver, lungs and the most important organ of all, which now beats inside the chest of a 10-year-old girl. On Valentine’s Day, Larry King gave away his heart, but not in the way he thought he would.

In the five months NEWSWEEK spent examining Larry King’s death, we spoke with several dozen people, including faculty, students and parents. All students named were interviewed with their parents’ permission. Some of our sources would speak only anonymously; the school’s staff was instructed not to speak to the media because of the criminal proceedings and the possibility of civil litigation. While they agreed to be interviewed on the record, Jerry Dannenberg, the district superintendent, and Joy Epstein, E. O. Green’s former assistant principal, were limited in what they could say for the same reasons.

With Andrew Murr and Jennifer Ordoñez