Charissa is a sloppy happy teary mess o’ praise after watching Hezekiah Walker New Video “Every Praise” – YouTube

Constance…when I hear my blessed Mama living in the music of Her children as they sing, I burst into tears…literally every time.  When Precious Jesus is inhabiting the praise of His peoples, I cannot help the tears of joy that simply jump out of my heart and stream tangible baptisms of gratitude, and flowing fountains of inexpressible and unutterable thankfulness that The Lord has had mercy on me, this broken and alienated stranger in a strange land.

Even as a small child, this happened to me…and then I was ashamed, because boys don’t cry.  I always cried!!

Oh, it just feels sooo good to let my heart overflow and offer Him my own soul’s inner waters out from my eyes.

It doesn’t happen to me everytime I hear a worship song, or every time I hear a hymn, or sing even…but there are those times…if you were lucky enough to be in a church that wasn’t so freaking oppressive that Mama simply looked on from a distance, silently, Her incredible generous and compassionate essence quenched by the soul-stealing stench of pride and haughtiness…then you know that moment I am talking about.  Something just…changes!  The ceilings are gone…the floors are gone…horizons expand, and suddenly you know…you. know. That God is alive, and love.  That you are alive and loved.

As a small child, as a teen, and as a young adult, these times would happen, and I would hide myself away in Them, snuggled down my tearful face buried deep in Their side, and I would breathe my thankful utterances that in this awful and desolate land that I was sentenced to dwell in until I died, through no request or doing of my own was I born and then born a prisoner…I would tell them…Oh Lovely Lovely Shepherd (for that is who I talked to then, to Jesus the Good Shepherd who left the 99 and came to get me…Jesus the compassionate who had mercy on the prostitute caught in the act of adultery…Jesus the Healer who felt the touch of faith’s heart at the hem of His garment in the throng of thousands of grabby greedy desperate hands)…Oh Wondrous Shepherd of my soul…if I can have my sentence of life in prison punctuated and pierced by these moments of furlough and reprieve, however brief…then I will follow You always.  I promise and do so choose forever, come what may.


And then I would often weep all night long…literally…draining out the sorrow, the self-loathing and the shame and despite for my awful awful self…I would pour out my thankfulness that even to a wretch like me They would draw nigh and commune with me…even humble Themselves to TOUCH me!

And They were faithful to be there…

And They were faithful to continually work over me, labor over me, in the womb of my imprisonment and dysphoria to ready me for birth…and when labor began They went silent, for the pangs and contractions had to be strong, had to be ultimate, had to take me past my limits.  Well, they did that, and I came home finally, came out finally to live and be born…

and the moments resumed, commenced once again.

Now?  Oh. My. God.  Mama took me under Her wing, and has been teaching me, Her tongue a good Theme.

So I would ask you to give the vid a shot, for at minimum you can hear the soundtrack that played while I bawled in utter thankfulness and total gratitude for life, for Life.

And at the maximum?  Have some tissues on the by!

Love and Grace be unto you in the richest most lavish extreme…

Charissa Grace the Grateful Girl forevertumblr_n4mf72qUM41rk1cbbo1_1280

Hezekiah Walker New Video “Every Praise” – YouTube.

Privilege and perceptions: masculinity vs femininity Insufferable Intolerance

Hi Constance…this is a somewhat different angle on gender roles, expressions, and identity…as such it cast fabulous light on the topic in a fresh way, to me, at least.

It will serve to help inform any who want to learn more.

I truly think that as gender is understood, it is waaay easy to separate gender identity/role/expression from morality, which is that flow in life that basically leads/guides/exhorts the manner in which we are and do what we do!

When one understands that they are not evil simply because they are of unusual gender identity/expression/role, they are actually freer to more clearly hear the voice of their moral guide.

Mine is Lady Grace, Jesus, the Father…NOT the vain portrayals that have tragically gained prominence in our cultural collective unconscious.  I know them to be loving and enthusiastically involved in the essence of my being.

Bless you on your journey, and may your light be clear and your heart be bold, and may hear always the clarion call of Truth.

Love one another, forgive, be kind, do justly, love mercy, walk humbly…if you be in this creed, you be on my team!

Love, Charissa Grace



Privilege and perceptions: masculinity vs femininity Insufferable Intolerance.

Comments on Creation’s Communion

I rarely take the trouble to interpret my poems for you, Constance…I think it is part of your own pleasure as a reader to dig in and chew, or to imbibe deep and feel the intoxicating buzz later when it enters your blood and sings its song there…dare I even insinuate it is also your responsibility as a poetry lover to allow it to disturb you, or trouble you, or even flummox you until you suss it out?

My poems are hidden inside themselves very frequently.  They are one thing on one level, multitudinous other things on other levels, they are always the same unless one word is read with different meaning and all is transformed…

…hey I am a transgirl, so is it any wonder that my poems are like me, someone hidden inside something?  Giggles!

Anyway, I want to provide a bit of background to a few things:  First of all, I want to tell you what happened after I birthed the poem, and began to go back to clean up my baby, dry off the afterbirth, feed and nurture it to vitality.  I immediately began to adjust the women-seasons metaphor.  Everyone knows that Spring is the gay and skipping girl, flouncing boldly into Old Lady Winter’s mouldery austere house, throwing up the windows and letting the stale and leaden air out!

Right?  WRONG!!!!

The poem did not give that contented groan (like my doggie when I scratched her secret spot) as I attempted to edit!  No…it went Dustin Hoffman under Laurence Olivier’s drill in Marathon Man!  Screamed in horror, fear, and outrage, it did!!  So…I went with it, and actually I love the way it turns the expected and familiar on its head, and it challenges our ideas that each season is representative of a different stage of a woman’s growth (for to me, the seasons have always been feminine)…it poses the notion that each season has a complete cycle within itself, and in its usurpation of the fading queen, it dooms itself to the same overthrow!  That clash thus takes on a fascinating depth and the iterations of metaphor grow in multiplicity.

Secondly, the word haint is an old slang word for haunt found generally in southern and rural locations.  Consider the variety of meanings layered in haunt, and understand that application of haint.  It is also a funny contraction of “have not” and/or “has not” together with “ain’t”…haint.  So ponder the reference to places as that contraction, and the elevator begins to move rapidly in its own directions thru the poem.  Lastly, haint eventually took on the connotations of a scary-mean woman, or an evil bitch…and thus the poem circles around on itself (even as the seasons chase each other endlessly in a game of Tag) and references the women mentioned in the first stanza, and the whole understanding of who is the biddy and who is the bouncy flouncy Queen B gets tripped topsy turvy.  It plays back in to that cycle of usurpation.

When people see me, they “see” me…and then if they spend any time with me with open heart, they SEE me…that is how my poems are.

I invite you to reconsider this poem with these clues…perhaps it will help with this one.  I quite like it, but only time will tell us if it an unruly towhead that gains dignity, gravity and gusto as it grows…or if it is a juvenile delinquent that is hellbent to be the lovechild of Meatloaf and AC DC!!


Blessings, Charissa


and High Mountains. 

Always High Mountains beckon me…
years of riding their stringent intractable slopes,
dizzying switchbacks,
and punishingly friendly gradients….oh High Mountains!
Sweat and tears my offerings,
and fitness and expiation
the blessings They bestowed upon me. 

How I long to share with you these feasts,
deep and austere
On this Golden Gravid Spring Day

Casting Love’s Light on the paths of dark unknowns

People like Marisa are impossible to find adequate words to describe, to attribute, and to thank.

My dear, valued and esteemed cis-gender readers…I think it must be very difficult for you to truly viscerally grasp how “final” and alienated a trans-gender person feels when we are rejected, policed, othered, or even politely tolerated/ignored in our daily lives…let alone when love and desire enter the situation!

In my own case, I am one of the few people (thank you, Dearest-Darling) in our gender who actually has retained relationship with my original spouse…she is one whose heart is as Marissa’s, whose spirit is like Lady Grace, and whose smile is like the sun…

But truthfully, the revelation overwhelms most individuals, and they are awash in feelings of betrayal, confusion, sometimes abhorrence, and the typical witches brew of fundamentalist tinged theology that is shame-based and guilt oriented and understands belonging to God as some requirement to avoid something instead of the blessed privilege of embracing someone and being embraced.  So there are judgements of the trans person that include labels like pervert, sinner, demon-possessed freak, deviant, etc. etc. etc.

So along comes someone like Marissa…who lets her heart cast the light of love on the paths of the dark unknown, and the darkness itself is transformed from threatening and blinding horror to exciting and embracing adventure yet unveiled!    I was inspired by her, I was moved by her.  I was overjoyed, tears streaming down my cheeks as I read of this incredible and blazing heart!

Would you all join me in honoring her by reading her account of falling in love…and how transgender issues became her wonderful shared adventure and land to discover, settle, and prosper in.

Love, Charissa

PS: Super HUGE kudos to Marie Claire Magazine for featuring Marissa’s story!!!


April 22, 2014

My Self-Made Man

When Marisa Carroll met an intriguing new guy at her local coffee shop, she had no idea that his life-changing journey would become hers, too

HAVING LEARNED ALMOST EVERYTHING I know about dating from watching teen dramas like The O.C. and Gossip Girl, I expected to do some crazy things for love: get wrapped up in a lover’s drug-smuggling ring, perhaps, or steal a rival’s yacht. But helping my boyfriend in his transition from female to male was not an act of devotion I could ever have anticipated.

I first met Liam in a coffee shop in my Bronx neighborhood three years ago. When he started a casual conversation in line, I was struck by his country-boy charm and cute gap-toothed grin. “What’s your name?” I asked. His slow, swaying voice sped up: “Liam, but that’s a recent thing because I’m transitioning—I’m transgender. I was born a girl, but I’ve always known I was a guy. Is that OK?” From looking at him, I never would have known about his recent past. “Of course,” I said, posturing behind my liberalism and years of gender studies classes. But I wasn’t actually so confident. While I’d met other transgender people, Liam was the first to come out to me directly. I felt like I was handed a live grenade—weren’t confessions like that supposed to be explosive?

“How’s that going?” I asked. His warm eyes lit up. Apparently, I was trustworthy. He told me the basics: He had never felt like a woman and had never tried to look feminine. In high school, he bulked up his 6’1″ frame with weight lifting and diet supplements. He played rough sports, worked construction, and trained his voice to sound deeper. Now that he was an adult, he could finally live as a man. For him, that meant using a new name and wearing a binder—a tight, meshy undershirt—to tamp down his chest. “That’s impressive. I can barely commit to a new haircut,” I joked. In truth, I was in awe of the idea of totally reinventing yourself. I felt myself drawn to Liam’s frankness, so when he asked me to lunch, I said yes. Maybe we’d become friends.

THAT NEXT MONDAY, we met at a café near my apartment. For two hours, we talked about politics and bad TV, how I missed my hometown of Chicago, and his dream to work as a legal advocate for other transgender people, who face rampant discrimination. I didn’t realize that Liam thought of our conversation as a date until he walked me home. Outside my apartment, he caught my eyes dead-on, hoping for a kiss. I tried to give him a formal handshake, but he wrapped me up in a hug that stopped my train of thought. His touch felt electric. “Catch ya next time,” he said, grinning as he walked away.

Caught off guard, I sped up the stairs. I hadn’t expected him to come on to me, or that I would like it. I was straight—that wasn’t up for debate. I had never dated a woman before, let alone a transgender man. And I didn’t know how to brush Liam off without making it about his genitals: “Sorry, if you were born a guy, I’d be totally interested, but …?” His identity was more than a personal quirk I could use to differentiate him from other men I’d dated (“Rock Critic Guy,” “Might Have a Girlfriend Guy”); being transgender wasn’t a funny thing to talk about with my girlfriends over brunch. Still, I kept thinking about us in bed, and saying, “Whatever you want to do, I’ll try it.” What would I call that: a whateversexual?

By the end of the week, temptation got the better of me, and I invited him over. On an unseasonably warm January night, we sat next to each other on my fire escape, where I felt comfortable telling him things I hadn’t even told close friends, like about my struggle to get sober the year prior. He told me about growing up in his strict family, how tough it was to come out to them, and how they’d rejected him afterward. He said he wanted to start hormone therapy—weekly shots of testosterone—as soon as possible and get reconstructive surgery on his chest.

As we talked, his identity stopped seeming like an obstacle. Instead, it felt like just another aspect of him, like the gold speckle in his left eye or the anchor tattooed on his left shoulder. Somewhere during a lull in conversation, he leaned in and kissed me. My stomach dropped as he pulled away. I didn’t want him to stop. And at that moment, any fears about his gender vanished.

Before I could think it through, I was dating a trans guy. It might seem like I’d be lost in confusion, wondering what my new relationship meant for my sexual identity—but I wasn’t. I was too love-struck to intellectualize it. I couldn’t fathom us not spending our lives together; I didn’t worry who I’d be attracted to if it didn’t work out.

At first, I didn’t want to tell anyone. The fact that I had fallen head over heels for Liam out of nowhere was big enough to handle; would his trans identity be met with invasive questions? After my then-roommate confronted me about spending time with “some dude,” she was more surprised to see me dipping outside of my normal dating pool (indie rappers and guys who brewed IPA in their bathtubs) than to find out about his transgender status, but she was totally supportive. My family was, too—after initially being confused about what exactly “transgender” means.

When the early relationship fog cleared and I finally did start to think about what it all meant, I realized that I wasn’t attracted to the “human male” as defined by an anatomy textbook. I was attracted to masculinity, to manliness, which Liam had in spades. I liked being wrapped up under his broad shoulders and having him pull out my seat for me at a restaurant. I wound up with the world’s best deal, I joked: a boyfriend who could lift heavy objects and empathize about my period.

Dating a guy in transition means committing to a moving target, though. Once he started testosterone therapy, his body and personality changed at sometimes alarming rates: His familiar face thinned down and began to sprout hairs; his sex drive exploded; his voice got deeper; new muscles surfaced every day. At first I worried that he’d evolve right past me. But after plenty of long, 3 a.m. talks about my fears, I realized that no matter what happens during this transition, our love is unwavering. So when he proposed to me last fall, I said yes, prepared to embrace the unknown. Isn’t that what marriage means for anyone: committing to an uncertain future, together? Ours may be a little murkier than that of other couples, but I’m ready to be surprised by what’s to come.