dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I looked down as I pedaled, watching as my simple crimson frock slowly darkened from the rain falling on me. The cart I pulled behind me slowed me a bit, but I would be back to our conference shortly. We'd had a catered dinner the night before, and the task that carried me away for a moment had been to deliver the leftovers to a charity that could make use of them. It was important to me, and thus a source of stress, that we ensure nothing go to waste while people are hungry.

It helped to have something to worry about. The morning had been full of emotion. I began by welcoming attendees for the day, sharing a little bit about my love of my neighborhood and my neighbors. After introducing the first talk, I got to listen before eventually carrying around a microphone when we got to the question phase. Then it was my turn to again take the podium.

After some fumbling with slides, I stood in front of the crowd and did my thing. It wasn't hard. I didn't even really need the slides. I'm intimately familiar with the things I work on. I've been working on them, in some capacity, since 1993 or so.

When I finished the programmed content, I took a step back, and shared some other things. Unlike the neighborhood promotion or the work I do, this was rather more personal. For nearly 15 years, I have been a proponent of the community that works to build and distribute this software. Some of the good things about that community can be laid at my doorstep. Alas, some of the dysfunction can, too. But as I shared my intentions, my voice faltered. I needed to do what I was doing, but change is not always easy when something has become ingrained in your life to the point of melding with your identity.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I had no idea how long I'd slept, but upon returning to bed after relieving a full blatter -- part and parcel of my treatment, alas -- my recuperating spouse's respiratory difficulties were manifesting themselves quite loudly. And so I escaped to the next room. Even still, it wasn't a shock that I couldn't fall back to sleep.

The comedown from the excitement of visiting my friend days prior, followed by a convergence of several crushing circumstances at just the moment when my usual cycle hit its monthly low for mood had resulted in a weekend rife with emotion. I was thankful to have had friends there at the right moments, and one in particular who calmed me as I blubbered incoherently in her living room for a while. But while I felt like I could calmly move ahead with life again, the jagged emotional profile of the intervening several days had still left its toll. I gave up for the moment on sleep, and grabbed my iPad to see what the rest of the world was up to.

What greeted me was a hopelessness of a different sort. It wasn't hard to remember what had happened a year earlier. Actually, it was hard to forget. But here we were, and it was obvious how little forward movement we'd made. I pride myself on pragmatism. Figure out the answer, fix it, and move forward. Here, I had none.

Too many voices fall back on "they deserved it, they did it to themselves." It seems unfathomable that only citizens of this country have the issues that would justify such a horrible fate, yet no other ostensibly free country perpetrates such a menace to its own citizens. And it neglects the cases it could be where clearly and obviously proven that no such thing was warranted.

The thing is, I know the answer. So, while I can certainly not discount the value of the state rebuking violence done in its name, I doubt the veracity of such a fix. No, with fair certainty I offer that racism itself being allowed to dehumanize will continue to offer a fertile ground to allow such behavior to both gestate and be protected. I know that I can't fix the problem. But it means that I have a part in its solution, and I promise to you a wholehearted effort to fulfill it.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I concluded just where I started: confessing again my shortcomings to my audience while offering my desire that someone better qualified than me had appeared before them to illustrate our humanity. The woman next to me, the one who'd demonstrated the lack of understanding that had brought me here in the first place, countered that she felt I was the ideal person to be sitting where I was.

I didn't get a good read as to the sincerity of the statement.

I'd been nervous the night before, to the extent of picking out an outfit before I slept, sleeping badly, and then fussing excessively over minutia while getting ready. But by the time I arrived, I was calm. I'd had a leisurely ride over the river in fantastic weather. I wasn't worried. Why should I be? I knew the topic at hand: I had, and was still, living it.

I gave the capsule summary of my life, carefully explaining exactly what perspective I could offer, and what I was certain existed but had not experienced. They asked questions, and I answered. I was utterly transparent. The meeting was "off the record", but I can't imagine I'd have been more reserved even if it wasn't. I could imagine a couple of the questions making someone uncomfortable. I am not that someone.

My friend, who had arranged the meeting, sat on the other side of me, a couple times offering questions which may have helped lead them to things we'd all not considered. At the end, I regretted only one thing. The question was not an unfamiliar one. I'd considered it repeatedly for years, and still had no answer to satisfy my scientific desires. If you are lucky, you do. If you are luckier, it's one you've never felt the need to ask.

What does gender mean to you?
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I took a break from the work I'd been doing for a bike ride. I needed the exercise. But just before leaving, I looked at my inbox. Tucked in the corner was a list of upcoming events on the calendar. I took note of one in particular, ticking ever closer to the top, before walking out the door and climbing aboard the bike.

Straight to the top, I told myself. I'm going straight to the top. But partway up, the humidity started to take its toll, and I diverted to a longer path. The long slow climb afforded plenty of time to think, and I started contemplating the discussion that would likely happen on Wednesday. I had no idea what questions they'd have. But I imagined I'd need to explain who I was, and where I came from. And as it went, I was no one special. I could speak only for me, and the life I could speak of included but a modicum of the disruption and pain that was possible. I feared for screwing up the opportunity, for letting other people down. But I had not even a slight urge to chicken out.

The dialog snippets gelled, before slipping from my head as I crested and began the more demanding bike ride back to the valley below. It didn't matter. I wasn't trying to prepare remarks. A friend asked why a letter to the editor would not suffice, why I was going to instead visit the editorial board. It was evident to me that the board, regardless of what the paper had otherwise printed, had little to no idea of what it meant in practice to exist as, to live, to be treated, transgender. And if someone sitting down and just answering questions would help fill in that picture, humanize people being spoken of and treated in the third person, it is the very least I can offer to be that someone.

The opportunity has fallen to me because I was fool enough to open my mouth. I know others will be judged by what I do. It is fair to neither them nor me. It's a big thing, this chance, and the only thing I can do is be careful and try not to blow it.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I'd arrived late, thanks to the need to make a delivery and a disabled vehicle blocking a lane of my extended route there, but thankfully they were also running behind. I was there to learn about learning. She mentioned her work with 6th graders, ultimately asking us to describe the point of education, to us, in the language those students might use. Mindlessly I started writing on my post-it, but stopped, and scratched out the progress. After reflection, or at least what seemed like longer than any of the people around me had taken, I again put pen to paper.

As I headed back home, I passed my high school. I'd remembered the third year class from the religion track. 'Peace and Justice'. I hadn't appreciated it at the time. I thought about what I had written earlier, and wondered if that class still existed.

After some time had passed, she'd asked people to read their notes aloud, and took volunteers. As I'd looked down in my lap at the paper, I realized I was not ready to read aloud an expression of the sentiment I had written. I did leave it on the wall at the end, hoping it helped me follow through.

Waiting to turn and pass through the valley by the school, I wondered if they had any other students like me. I considered if the idea of an alumna talking to the students would help anyone who felt trapped, like they had no way out. It would surely come with scorn, but that was part and parcel of life. I wondered how I'd even figure out who the right person to talk to was. Thing is, I knew believing what I had written meant I'd have to figure out the answer to those questions, and I knew that at that moment, mere feet away from being able to walk in and do so, I was close, but not there yet.

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