To The Ones Twisting In Agony

Dearest Hearts:

As time passes it becomes increasingly clear to me that you are incredibly shocked and perhaps even traumatized by recent events.  What started as a journey rooted in solidarity and a narrative of history held in common, stitched together by memories of holidays, traditions, and countless days in the sun has been blown apart by a story describing a life experience so different and distinct as to seem like the most crazed and addled of fictions.

Except it is far more complicated than that…both your experiences of it and ours.tumblr_npmvryFJ0N1unf033o1_1280

And trying to put the spotlight of truth on “what really happened” is as fruitful as running on the beach to try and catch a seagull…memory and our past flies up and away when we run hard at it.

Certainly there is a plethora of artifacts that buttress my own experience…but here is the rub for me:

So much of those days is fuzzy to me, blurred by time and by the assumption that we were pretty fortunate to have one another…but most of all so much of it was swallowed whole and robbed from me by a Leviathan called Dysphoria.  In the bone-frying terror of trying to survive the assaults of despair, a lot of my memory is reduced to memories of just hanging on.528483-Depression-1364630455-842-640x480

As you all have been processing things, you have gone silent, gone angry, but mostly, just…gone.  Nothing.  And what reports do trickle back have been shocking in their vehement accusations and recollections, have been utterly astonishing in the gaping holes where context tells a radically differing tale…and completely and totally devastating to read and encounter.

It has been like a pogrom on my history…and what is worst of all is that whatever or however it happened, you have come to this time and this place where you have these driving needs to tell your story and write your history thus.

And thus the heart of this post:  I want you to know that it is okay.large (4)

I want you to be and do and say whatever it is that will bring you expiation and freedom.
I want for you liberty and fruitfulness.
I want for you life and wholeness.

I want for you what I have always wanted for you and sought to provide you.

And I love you…regardless of what you might think or not think, say or not say, remember or forget.
I will never not love you.


Perhaps someday there will be enough said or done that you might begin to feel those relentless scales within entering into a sort of equilibrium…the doors of my heart are flung wide open.tumblr_ngu7ex2a631t5zt91o1_1280

Perhaps someday you might be handling the artifacts that my fingertips and heart tendrils trace daily, and you might find the tracks of my tears and the perfume of my love…in letters, in cards and emails…in memories other than the ones who swell and swarm our landscape like Red Tides…

…and if that ever happens, please do not waste one moment of your lives in regret or remorse…while it is evident to me that it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen, there is a chance that you might feel as if you have in some fashion or way done wrong in the process of this becoming of ours, and if this is ever the case I say to you

I love you
I forgive you
I have no record of wrong
I believe everyday in who I know you are
I want the best for you as you are able to discover it and access it
It is my honor to have had a part in your coming to be and it is my doom to be accountable for the innumerable ways that I failed you and caused you pain and horror.
I hope everyday that you are finding the sort of strength in becoming that I am experiencing.

Should you ever glance my direction, I am here at the end of the lane of home, everyday standing on tippietoes and my eyes combing the horizon and my heart listening to the wind and my nose sniffing the air for your presence…

…hoping to see you, praying for your safety and shalom…and never ever failing to hold you in my heart precious.

I also want you to know this:  whatsoever you need to write, need to shout, need to throw, need to yell, need to think or tell or believe…whatever you need to do or be in order to be whole, it is okay with me.tumblr_msjrksOnZh1rkjw3bo1_1280

I refuse to ever be “a betrayed one”
I refuse to ever be “a wronged one”
I refuse to ever be “offended”

I choose you and your wholeness.
I choose you and your horror that you lay at my feet and at my accountability.  Let it be on me, to make things lighter and easier and more fruitful for you it is my glad and sacred honor.

If the narrative is now that I was the worst abuser, a victimizer, a (fill in the blank)…whatever it is…as long as it is an assignation of responsibility that enables you to be delivered and put in a place where you can choose life and choose wholeness and becoming, then it is a sentence that I want to have over me that I shall do my absolute best to carry in the way that creates the freedom and deliverance and cleansing within that brings you the very best that can be brought.

May it be my meals for the rest of my days if in eating it there is even a modicum of relief and wholeness for you.

Everyday without you is like Kafka’s world with no exit…unless in the absence I have the assurances it is resulting in your liberty and gladness and joy…

…and in that case it is the greatest of honors to be in this place.

I think I know who I was…and who I wasn’t too, finally.  I think I acted in good faith, but who really knows?  When one is dysphoria’s ball of yarn it gets a bit discombobulating to be batted around for 5o years.

But now?  I know I know who I am, and who I am not…and while I can do nothing about what has happened, the future is mine to write, each and everyday that is left in God’s coffers for me to walk out.tumblr_npxzck3PTr1rav43uo1_1280

I love you with all my heart, and I am honored by each of you in your strength of voice, your commitment to one another, your loyalty to truth and your heart for justice.

There are many who could have loved you more perfectly.

There are none who could have loved you more.

I loved you utterly, totally…I still do.

And I always will.  Love you.

Say on…it’s okay, let it rip…do what you must and need and want…be…become.

Cus I am here now:  Charissa Grace, and I am finally free and not a helpless bystander any longer, and nothing can ever lock me up ever again.11094852_690388207737694_2806437274797532527_n

Written in my blood and tears and sweat…and the tattoo ink of forever love,

Me…the one who was there and now is here…the one who engendered you…

Your loving parenttumblr_noiz30RJh51tpdjt7o1_1280

Heartbreaking Every Time

When I read that article…the gas-lighting kind, that retells my past in the worst of ways in order to paint the writer as the most burdened most fragile but simultaneously most strong survivor ever…we readers are all supposed to get all hushed and quiet and be in awe that somehow the writer survived such horrors…such horrors…

and me, my Baby, with thousands upon thousands of memories utterly different, totally opposite…

The only thing that gets me thru is what my therapist has taught me, that these things are not actually designed to try to tell the truth about history

…rather, they are spoken in the desperate attempt to explain the writer’s own experience of the present, and much of that experience produced by brain trauma from the past…not the fabricated events.tumblr_nxkbeuPHhR1tpcnfko1_500
I get it…as a person who experienced epic brain trauma from conception…

But it hurts, and is its own form of erasure, of the theft of my agency.

It cracks me up in a way, because 10 years ago the stories painted us as lovey dovey neo hippy refugees from the 70s.  That fit the need of that moment.

It is especially heartbreaking that the hour of my becoming is the hour of unbecoming for the writer…and I am powerless to change that, and held by grudges and judgments in those chains in that place, but only inside the writer’s soul.  For I have slipped my leash at last, and now run free.  And yes…there is a holographic overview of how dysphoria affected those around me, no doubt about it.  They just cannot (or won’t) see the battle I fought to keep greater horrors away.

Yes, there are greater horrors.

I pray that someday the Truth can be partaken of together, and the Truth will set us free.

A Look Back That Inspires

Something happened today which prompted me to want to repost something that I wrote in January of 2014…so long ago, and yet only 4 years…

In order to understand where I am at emotionally and spiritually in light of the event which transpired today, you need a bit of a refresher…an understanding that the repost at the bottom of the page was written BEFORE so much took place:

I wrote the words I am reposting before I wrote about the beginning of the shunning from the spiritual culture as defined by the vast majority of Christian Evangelicalism…these words, which talk about the nearly total experience I have had with Christians from my past (there is one…ONE person who has verbally, physically, emotionally and spiritually received me who is from my past.  She did so with tears of joy and literal kisses all over my cheeks and forehead, and was stricken as she thought back to the prison I was in and she was amazed that God had loosed this captive so wonderfully).
I wrote them before I wrote about a baby step of coming out that was looming…and ended up being a devastating attack and shunning by the time it played out.

I wrote them before I wrote about the shunning that happened on a monolithic totality in regards to every single friendship from the past which happened when I came out…I received a letter from a person that I had known for 30 years…a person that I had worshiped beside, shared many meals with…a person who had lived in our home…a person who I had walked alongside as they sojourned thru the valley of the shadow of an addiction which nearly destroyed family and self…a letter that shunned me in the Name of Jesus, The One Being who welcomes me constantly and says that His Blood is enough and more than enough for me…

I wrote them before I wrote of the public shunning that happened, when it was the searing abandonment in public circles.

I wrote it before the 21 Gun Salute took place, that professional execution I endured…that death, and the subsequent resurrection from those Phoenix Ashes…

I wrote about it before the horrid attacks coming from supposed Christians which were filled with literal perversions, profanities, and exhortations to kill myself…all given in the name of Jesus of course.

Yes.  That literally happened.

So what happened today that precipitated this reminiscence?

This:  there is a man from my past, a person that I met in the late 80s and who I was in close proximity with until the year 2005…this man operated (and perhaps still does?  I really do not know.  Lord knows that I have grown up, been pruned back, become more and become less, been adjusted, and healed of terrible blindnesses…so I do leave room for the possibility that this has happened with him as well.  But I do not hold out a shred of hope, or a scintilla of expectation that this has happened, for the need of those who are deeply in thrall to a certain assumption and paradigm to punish me and punish me utterly is far greater than the ability to actually live out the sacrificial Love of Christ that went straight for every single person who was “yet dead in sin”…and not just to the so-called righteous)…

This man operated under a deep orientation that assumed all the doctrines related to “submission”, and truly felt it was the loving thing to enforce that notion…I have many many hurtful memories of those years, from the comments regarding my supposed “cheesy grin” that I supposedly wore (likely, it was whatever mask was on me during the deep dissociation of living trans in a male role and carrying the burden of remembering every detail so I could forget that I was a woman, and thus related to the fracturing events of early childhood) to the interactions which accused me of seeking to utilize my role as a worship leader on Sunday morning in service of self, to the utterly devastating final blow given in such “sad sorrowful tones” which said that my father was suffering and dying in the way he was because I was not properly submitted to “the leader” of this group…

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that every single one of these actions was done from true conviction that it was the right and loving thing to do, based on the paradigm in which he (we) swam…indeed, I myself interacted with people who approached me for help and counsel as they struggled with their sexual orientations in light of the teaching assumptions we were under…and I gave the “answers” I had learned…and I grieve over that…so deeply…

I myself bought into attitudes and distortions of good teachings that I sincerely and 100% believed, and I thought those with other understandings to simply be sinners who were seeking to justify remaining in sin yet still retaining connection to God, and I simply…well, I simply did not have an ounce of compassion…

I shared the privileged view of the privileged…and had NO CONCEPT of the Other…

And it wasn’t until I was no longer “one of them”, not because I resigned membership in privilege, but because when I transitioned I was executed swiftly…

In the personal-relational realm
In the spiritual-religious realm
In the professional-economic realm…

So I know that the intention of those times was, within his own heart and self, “good”…

We also shared many other times too…good times where somehow who was submitted to who wasn’t that important and was never even thought of…such as working on each other’s houses…putting out a fire that started on a hill and nearly burned the entire area down…eating meals together…

Those years…I believe it was about 17 years…during those years I did a lot of dying, and had a lot to die to…and that place was the crucible of purification, in which I gained much wisdom thru death to self.  I was so fractured…so young…and so deeply in the grip of dysphoria and dissociation which was the hidden reef under everything in my life.

He did not know anything about this…neither did I.  And looking back, sooo many things just SHOUT it out so loudly, and while it is occasion of grief and mourning looking back, it also is comforting to know that at least there was a reason for it!

Well…Charissa’s Grace Notes is a public blog.  And this man is a reader…regularly…how frequently, I really could not say, but based on my own internal tools I have as the creator, I suspect it is fairly regularly.

How did he even know I had a blog?  I have not exchanged a word with this man for years…a good 7 years before I even transitioned, and certainly not a word since transition….God forbid!  I am pretty sure he would not, and I KNOW I would not because I decided in 2014 that I would never again submit myself to spiritual abuse and attack from anyone to whom I was a priori a demon-possessed hell-bound apostate.

It is obvi that he found out about my blog via word of mouth…because it is funny:  the biggest evils that scripture has volumes of teaching about (the tongue, the heart) are so easily ignored in Christendom in order to condemn the phantom evils which scripture never even speaks about (gender variance and orientation)…and wowsa did the word spread like fire!!

In fact, the person mentioned here even swore to me that he considered it his spiritual service and duty to God to out me to every single person he met, lest he be tainted by my “sin” of intentional self-deception and thus have my blood on his head.  Yes…these sorts believe this:  “If you see your brother approaching destruction and you do not restrain them, their blood is on your head”.  They interpret this old Proverb as the license to attack anyone doing anything that is to them “a sin.”  He told me that he needed to warn every single person he could that I was anathema and not to be received among “the brethren”…

try and imagine how this felt, and feels…

So anyway, I know that the man I am writing about this morning found my blog fairly easily, but after hearing the words of the tale-bearers, those morsels of gossip that go down so sweet and titillating…

But he has stuck around…and has been reading…for a long time, if I am guessing right…and because I am made who I am, and because of my heart towards God and understanding that I have been made thusly to break down walls and uproot lies and then to plant and build true kingdom attitudes, I have held out hope…a very very teeny tiny shred of hope…

…that maybe he has done the work, read the research…maybe he has examined the scriptures and his own assumptions…maybe he has the courage to know that in spite of anything he might believe about gender variance, the person he knew was truly a child of God and is still one now…that maybe he has met other transhumans…

I am not optimistic about this, or myopic…the odds are VERY slim.

But this man has done something, not once, but twice.

He has contributed money to my transition fund, each time choosing an amount which is significant to me as the number of my name.

But I am leery.  It is not inconsistent with the old assumptions of that paradigm to do acts of charity or service for those considered lost and perishing.  It is thought of as heaping coals of fire upon the head…it is thought of as setting an example…and sometimes it is flat out a genuine expression of God’s heart of love.

How do I know this?  Because I have been there, done that…myself.  Previously.

I am also skeptical and very wary because one of those donations referenced my children…and there is a huge assumption in play in those circles that a righteous relationship with God is able to be detected in the condition of relationship with one’s children and other family.

(Remember the remark about my dad suffering because I was “not submitted” and “rebellious”?)

It is not by any means whatsoever a stretch to see that particular donation coupled with that particular remark about my children as the “coin of unsanctified pity” and ultimately as a dig, a cut, an arrow shot in hopes of providing a wound that cleanses and restores…and if it was that, it was an arrow that shot and wounded and brought death because there literally is not a cleansing and restoring relatable to gender variance and orientation.

God knows there are plenty of areas in my heart that need adjusting and cleansing…it just so happens that being a woman who was assigned male at birth is not one of those areas, anymore than anyone need repent of their gender orientation, or their hair color, or leg length.

So I am very wary.  (Oh yes:  the donation this morning simply said “thinking of you”…and that was both a very simple comment and a very pregnant comment.)

The first time it happened, I accepted the donation, spent it on my legal costs in fact…yeah, dude…you helped me change my birth certificate, a great day in my life!!  LOL!!!!  But I did not reply or interact with the person, because I do not expect that interaction to be life giving and healing, but rather to be a battle and ordeal.

And then it happened again, this morning, and this one is significant to me…

…you see, just before the end of the year, on New Year’s Eve morning in the early morning, I dreamed about this person!  In the dream, Jane and I had a place we were building up in the hills.  We went up there one day to do some work in our structure, which was framed and roofed and wired and plumbed, but lacked sheetrock or siding and finish work trimming…and when we got there, we were shocked to discover that the entire area around us had been developed and had structures on it of various states of completion…all told, the area had around 30 houses, where there had just been ours and a lot of wild land.

We looked around a bit, confused and concerned, when who should approach us but this man who donated to me this morning!  He walked up to us and called out to us…and looked me full in the eyes and greeted me with “Hello, Charissa, may I walk close to you?”  I was very taken aback that he used my true name rather than my dead name and that he knew he needed to ask permission before moving close to me!!!

I said yes, and watched as he approached, and saw tears in his eyes.  He extended his hand to shake hands, and I impulsively brushed his hand aside, greeted him by name, and gave him a hug.  He did not shy away from the hug OR from the double reminders of who I truly am…and then he broke the embrace and held my by my shoulders at arms length and said that it was really good to seem me, Charissa…and his tears were streaming down his face.

I motioned around me and said “So what is happening here, and why are you up here?”  Meaning the development and his presence where there had been nothing but our house and no one but us.

He looked down in what appeared to be sorrow or shame or conviction or regret, I really couldn’t get a good read on it…and then he looked up and said to us “I am so sorry, and I have been wrong.  God has been working in my heart…in our hearts…and we wanted to learn.”  I said “Who is the we you refer to and what are you sorry for?”

He said he was sorry for all the same things that I sorrowed over about what I used to think regarding LGTBQIA issues and Christian teaching, he was sorry about the same things I sorrowed about in terms of the expression of God’s heart in such a cancerous and poisonous way that evangelicalism has become…and that most of all he was sorry that he had automatically condemned transgender people to the label of (fill in your favorite slur, I am not using it today)…

and he said that the “we” he referred to were all people from this little group that grew up, insular and inbred, from a “school” that he helped to start and keep going…that around 30 people all had this deep repentance and wanted to walk away from that old set of beliefs, and that he had bought all the property around us, in order to live close to us and learn from us…

…and would we please teach him, teach them?

Well, Jane and I looked at each other, shocked, suspicious, wary, and on the verge of running.

(Credit: Tyrus Wong
Tyrus Wong, Bambi (visual development), 1942. Watercolor on paper)

But one this is so clear to me…more clear to me than nearly anything I have ever heard from God:  It is completely and utterly inviolate to me that God Themself planned and intended to create me as I am from the start:  A Transsexual Woman, who would grow up wounded and fractured and driven to God as my only hope of salvation from despair and ruination…and that it was a very sobering thing to Them to do this, for They knew full well the horror and pain this would be to me…and each of Them stepped forward and said “I am enough for her”…and the reason for this is that They had assigned my life destiny to be a prophetess to the people of God who forgot the Heart of God…to speak to them of God’s Heart for the ones who are slaughtered in every realm and sacrificed on the altar of gender…

and that it should be easy for those people to receive me and God’s message, for in those old days I doubt any of them would have thought I was hell-bound, and in those days virtually all of them thought that I heard from God regularly…even though “there is so much wrong” with me LOL!

And so because of that mission, that quest…and yes, the desire to set them free of their blindness and prejudice and hatred, we did not run…but stayed…and said that we would consider it, but had many things to be worked out, many boundaries to be defined…

The man was joyous in our response and agreed to this…

and then I woke up.

Of course, since this was a dream, I interpret the details and events symbolically. I got up from bed and sat and thought and prayed for awhile, wondering what in the world I was dreaming about that dude for!!!???  I had not even thought about him for a couple of years.  Jane held similar puzzlement about it…and we both thought that it was talking about “a neighborhood of understanding/teaching/thinking/transformation” rather than an actual sub-division, and we saw both the man and the people he referenced as symbolic of that whole group of “white, cis-gendered, straight, evangelical Christian conservative” human beings who literally have NO IDEA how much they are bequeathed things on the basis of their race, their sexual orientation, their gender purity, and their religious understandings.

So we said a quick prayer…and I promptly forgot about it.

Until this morning.

Here is this comment “Thinking of you” and this monetary amount…and the dream rushed back…along with all the wariness, suspicion and other emotions which come from the experienced trauma and trial of those years.

The crucial thing to know is this:  a bell, once rung, cannot be unrung.  A woman who gives birth is always a mother, even if the child dies.  There is no “going back” because there is no back to go to.

It is this way with me:  I will never go back.  He is dead, Caterpillar Dude…he is no more.  He is the “back” and is gone.  So there is no “going back”.

Any “kind indulgence” will not “induce to repentance” because there is nothing to be repented of in terms of my transition!  As to repentance of any kind?  Oh yes…the continual joy of beholding Jesus and being transformed by degrees from the glory of the letter which kills to the glory of the Spirit which is life…yunno…the same repentance we share in common.

I am not sure what I will spend this amount on…probably on my HRT, and this is a valued and well received gift.

I am always open to the generosity of heart and spirit that flows in God’s economy from they that have abundance to they that have need…and would always in that spirit welcome such donations/gifts…other gifts I have actually passed on to others in far greater need than I.

But if the spirit and intention of the gift is anything related to “getting me to go back”?  To “repent” of “gender heresy” and “assume my old name and role?”

There is not a chance.

Those things are further from me than East is from West.

And if that spirit and intention is thus impure, then I consider the donation to be “the spoils of Egypt” and still put it to good use.

Wow…what a ramble, eh?  If any are still with me, thanks for reading patiently.

Blessings to you today from our wonderful counselor and our comforter and the lover of our souls,

Charissa Grace White
God’s Graceful Gleam


via Updates about my life

On Seas So Grey | Charissa’s Grace Notes

A couple of years ago…and utterly slipped from my mind, but oh how I remember it now…what a beautiful word, Re-member…
What’s it like, on the grey seas
in the silver wind, with sails
so green and full and billowing?

Skimming swift and dangerous, light
on the waters while the crew scrambles
‘neath that Captain loud and bellowing?

Stinging spray by facefuls founting
up from waves slosh-frothing, faithful
and fateful leading cross the edge

to horizons promising much more
of the same and something different,
something different, too.

Source: On Seas So Grey | Charissa’s Grace Notes

Jacob’s Half-Sister | Charissa’s Grace Notes

This poem is written in recognition of all that culminated in the legal name change I obtained three years ago today.  I am very happy with this poem, rich in allusions and metaphorical double-backs…

It will reward the diligent who read it and then meditate on it.  Resonances emerge like poetic harmonics and sing of many strange and holy waters.

“…the stone under my head grows soft
and i think about my long ago
half-brother, and his ladder.
i search the brooding night sky
for mine, my eyes
pleading like puppies
hungry for milk

but my ladder is my heart.
i know that, finally,
and the skies will open
only as my heart pries open
to spit the pearls formed
within this shell-shocked soul

the stone under my head becomes flesh
and i think about how jacob named
that stone, that ebenezer memory
of open skies and accessible heavens…
bethel…and it echoes in the dark,
rings midst the stars and
chimes in cloudy choruses.

that stone,
that living stone had legs
to wander, God’s house sojourning
from place to place and time to time
ever wandering…
the stone of Scone
stone of destiny
stone of coronation
old, red, sandstone

the stone under my head becomes red
and throbs and thrums and thrills
my soul open and searching the skies,
and i sense it will speak
as it spoke so long ago
and whisper my name,
my new name from heaven.
but it pushes me to listen elsewhere,
my answers not from
rock and sand and ruin
but from the Cornerstone Rock
and its bloody open hand
red and throbbing and thrumming…”

Source: Jacob’s Half-Sister | Charissa’s Grace Notes

Mama You Told Me | Charissa’s Grace Notes

This poem is the sister poem to another one I wrote on the exact same day, several minutes earlier.

It was three years ago, and it was the day of my court hearing which would change my name legally…it was a huge day of excitement and anxiety…and it led to my professional execution less than 2 weeks later.

Ohh, but even in the loss of so much, it is worth it…for in it were the seeds of becoming.

I hope you enjoy one of my own personal faves

…and me…spit up and emptied
and waiting for You
to fill the silent spaces
that ate grace and jeered
while feasting on my food.
me emptied, waiting …
and my heart,
ego-stained and washed clean,
by Your face,
Your gift,
Your grace…

waiting…for that one grain of sand
to start an avalanche within me
of hope, nay!
of Hope…

Source: Mama You Told Me | Charissa’s Grace Notes

Advent Reflections: The Activity of Incarnation (Part Three)

In a foreign land, early.

Not early in the day…or even early in the year…

…but early in the Kairos of Significant Appointed Time!

And with Open Eyes…there waited Wise Men…who watched the skies, looking always upward for the arrival of…SOMETHING…they knew it not, what they sought, but they knew it had to be…because of the ache inside and the absence of something that caused the ache.

And then…there it was!  A star appeared in the sky, and in that quadrant that allus presaged SIGNIFICANCE!

And as they watched intently, behold!  It began to shift!  And as it shifted, so too within them something shifted, something began to be drawn…something…SomeONE…was tugging at them, pulling them.

And they left their homes, their places of comfort and familiarity…and began the road trip of all road trips, one that some scholars theorize lasted a couple years!
Do you see this?

The incredible events of Advent that happened within the scope of 9 months for the principal actors and happened in one night for the shepherds…

…began as much as two years earlier for the Wise Men!

Talk about Active Waiting!  Their waiting involved a journey as well!

They passed thru many lands, and as they were men of means and wealth and influence, their entry into the various kingdoms and lands thru which they passed created a stir, even consternation!  But only because it was…odd…strange…unusual.

Until they got close…to the land for which such things held great import…that land governed by an evil and malevolent pile of egocentricity.  In “The Fox”, it was as if all of the original assertion of ego which extinguished The Beginning Light was concentrated and distilled…and this small, infected and diseased pus-ridden pimple of a human being who was so full of hate and fear that he even killed children in his attempt to maintain his power was jolted by the arrival of these men and the implications of the Star, and the shockwaves that were about to break.
He was cunning, unctuous, viscous and smooth of speech like a cobra hypnotizing its prey…but the Wise Men were, well, wise to him…and they held him at bay with deference and deflection…and journeyed on after giving him the impression that they would indeed abide by his word when in his land…

and then they at last came to the place over which the Star pulsed and danced…

a baby…in a humble hovel stinking of beasts and despair…and their open eyes beheld Him.

They gave Him Gold…because they saw He was High and Royal, above all beings.
They gave Him Frankincense…because they also saw He was a Priest above all Priests.
They gave Him Myrrh…because they saw something hidden, from all others…until it was manifest…

…they saw that this Baby was simultaneously there, in that manger, and also at the crux of all, and hanging in agony, in Passion, and that His blood was the Spring that watered the very roots of the Universe…

and the Myrrh was burial spice…for by His death our life is.

They knelt…and worshipped…and were changed…by Emmanuel…the Incarnate One.

After awhile, they chose to depart…but did they obey “The Fox”?  Did they come under the rule of government?

No…they had been changed forever, and they now were serving the Agenda of heaven and they resisted the intention of the earthly…and they departed in “civil disobedience” in order to preserve the life of God With Us.

And that is the activity of Advent declared to you in the story of the Wise Men.
Part Conclusion:

Our Little Hut

To you newish readers, here is another of my favorite poems, from a couple of years ago…Our Little Hut…dedicated to my Love

Darling, are you awake? Yes? Good…do you remember our beginning? A little hut by the sea wearing grey cedar shingles like feathers ruffled in rainy winds and shot thru with browns and blacks&…

Source: Our Little Hut

That Eye Unblinking (A Holden Lament)

Last year a wolverine broke loose, came slashing and gashing, ran up and down
canyons and cliffs and crittering quick up tree-trunks with such fierce red claws…
Snarling and yowling the haunting roar raged, moaned and cursed with such
hunger, such fury, that flurry of wood-thirsty teeth insatiable, free from hiatus and

running heart birthed straight from Their Great Altar There which purifies
all things with Holy Fire so freeing, so cleansing…wafting austere like pure Incense
arising, in billows and plumes and ash, ASH, everywhere and in perpetual
Wednesday, marking the Cross on all things there…within.

the fire had time to make up…
One Hundred and Fifty years to turn…and it was said to be
A Great Mosaic Burn.

At last to feed its need to cleanse a forest fat with care, beneath the watchful eye of
Moses there, beneath his rod extended, as if the sun stood still again, and trees grew
up and great in grit and girth like Children of the sun, see how fat they had
become…See them, their indifferent eyes unblinking, safe, satisfied and

self-centered and all together, such a stand of forest land, secure, untouched…
so sleepy, nodding off with rusty Time’s tock-ticking Heartbeat softly crooning
to ossified great forest stands so very grand that didn’t know they needed
Severe Mercies to come with fire and hot kisses from the Phoenix.

It had not chosen cleansing
It did not know it’s need
for resurrection, for refining

For fire comes to cleanse and make new everything it can consume and challenge all
it cannot touch to understand that TRANSFORMATION’s the destiny
of every-thing with the courage to crawl out from underneath the letter and run
from the rod and leave behind the tyranny of the typical to the flames…

and walk away from Moses, into freedom in liquid-gold fireworks,
free from the cares of the world that cling so fierce and so easily entangle us,
choke our lives in hoary growth and lullabies lulling us fast to sleep,
a Sleeping Beauty Bride on her bower of soft and easy privilege.

She like an eye unblinking
safe in her cloister so fair
deaf to Her loud Divine Dare.tumblr_nfiksuYzYz1twolrlo1_500
And (just like that forest or Sleeping Bride), there amidst that red hot bloody conflagration set another eye, a forest eye, unblinking sightless eye and
woke up wide awake in terror tribulation, hushed in dread anticipation and fear and with helpless petitions arising, not like incense but like signals…smoke signals…

to Moses?  To God?  To the Universe Fire come down to feed?  Protected by roads
cut with care and foresight, that Eye Unblinking sat there in fright…
and Holden its breath and leaning against a wolverine dread come at last to
consume the dead, to rip that forest wide open and slash the woods to crimson rags

dripping bloody with flame and red flurries…
wrapped in silver sheets reflective, shiny
(or were they merely space age burial shrouds?)

It never blinked, that Eye, and all was shrouded safe, cocooned within
and underneath the rod and the Letter, striding secure thru the Red Sea Fire
escaping the sharp teeth of wolverine the Eye remained preserved amidst
a work that renovates the face and gives a skin-deep makeover, but leaves

the sleepy years untouched and undisturbed on laurels long gone brown
with age and loss of life though all appearances would say that Holden is
alive and well and safe from that destructive hell of fire and fear…yet
none could name that something still so desperately needed a root canal of flame!

for all the Who’s in Holden sigh
for yesteryear, forgetting that it’s
the thief that steals tomorrow.

And this year, one year later in the same Unblinking Eye I rolled in on the waves
and wind (Charissa, meaning “Grace” but named “Char”-issa, “Ashy-one”) seeking
to drink of the life that flows through a village untouched by anything that fell
outside the Mosaic burn and no longer shrouded outside but just maybe mummy

rags still wrapped so tightly around a heart perhaps long grown so slack, so sleek
and oh so fat just like that forest was last year before God gave a wolverine to rage and feed, and cleanse, renew…I saw History on display and windfall fruit rife
on the ground and satisfaction ruled the day, and familiarity won the race

and wore her shiny tangy plumy purple tinsel crown…
Golden Apples, everywhere and casual and everyone was on the in,
societal, and fire roads cut secure and ohh soo straight.

So I said Hi and reached with blinking eyes that squint into the light,
oft times in fright of storms and lightning flashing forth…and found
my blinking words rebuffed by cool and hooded eyes that had seen it all,
eyes satisfied and cynical cus been there done that, ho-hum…done much worse

I ran aground on fire roads and that Moses curse of long ago still Holden Court
over long hearts that found consuming fire fearful, dreadful and to be avoided
at all costs by any means…and thus She stands this very day…Holden Village
on cusp of…petrification?…or on that hot edge of the Phoenix Way!

Holden, Eye Unblinking, ensconsed
in the forest, last year just as this one,
in a forest cleansed to living bone, and Holden?

I heard the Spirit resounding The Word that Fire must fall upon a village that mirrors the forest that kneels all around…She said that She has a fiery crown and Holden is that forest fat and ready for the Refiner’s Fire, the Cleansing Burn that
resurrects those vital dry bones waiting…but She must choose that fate and blink…

Yes, we must welcome Fire Fate from God and let the dead wood burn,
and blaze, and feed Mosaic Ways to the flame and trust the Good God of the Fire
to keep her safe underneath Their Name and resurrected, cleansed, renewed
and ever delivered from stain and shame!

Let the rod be cast into the fire hot and be consumed!
For Moses died on Southside, short of Zion is his tomb!
And find us Lovely on the Northside, once again the Spirit’s womb!

Letter cannot take us there, nor blaze of past great glory fair
We must eradicate those roads of preservation that we wear!
They trap and capture us and cut us off from Grace unhindered
so we, like the forest, turn dull and dry, reduced to deadwood’s kindred!

I see Holden cleansed by Fire, and crying Holy tears when Holy
Spirit has free reign again to fall in fires that restore
and interrupt Sleeping Beauty’s snore and dead trees gone,
that speck removed and blinking eyes await the Dawn!

And animals can come again now welcomed
and bathe released in Grace and Precious Holden,
His Eye now blinking free and shining fair in Jesus’ Face.

Oh Holy Lightning Strike like Griffin Swift
upon this yearning heart in desperate need
of Your Mercy Severe, Your Holy Gift
Give us Grace to Find the Phoenix-Way!

To rise in faith from Ashes and from death
to self and self reliance, come what may!
On resurrection wings and Spirit’s breath
alive again and all is well this night

that breaks and shatters with the rising dawn…
and not a single fire road in sight,
and what will be well it shall simply be
and what will not be well it will be gone!

Come Holy Fire, we answer Your Call!
and All Reborn, and Love is All in All,

“Someday…someday the snow will fall!”

Like A Runaway Train

Sometimes I think about the future.
I think about the time coming, roaring
down on us like a runaway train
in the silent frozen landscape
of history not yet born.
In that time, perhaps these halls
these empty rooms occupied by
the outpourings of my wakeful soul
and bright quick mind and visions of eyes
that see beyond around the bend
Image 009
will be wandered by real people with hands
hungry to touch, and know, and join with
my desperate lonely shouts and dances,
my perhaps pas de deux with Vincent and
his swirly starry nights hidden for years
Image 001
Because right now?  The halls are empty, the rooms
cold and dusty, and the cover-sheets of familiarity
and current contempt so casual drape
masterpieces and treasures and living
Image 011
I refuse to give in to the abandonment
thrown at me in glances that brush, stare
and walk by an embarrassment of riches
and I console myself with the comfort
of delusion and daydream that time
will finally thunder thru this station
brakes blazing sparks flying
iron rails red hot with inertia interrupted
and smoking with steamy melty insistence
that here there be dragons and dreams
and worthy immortal thoughts
of forever and forever
higher up
deeper in

Directive by Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry –
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there’s a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods’ excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone’s road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you’re lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left’s no bigger than a harness gall.
First there’s the children’s house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny’s
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it,
So can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t.
(I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.


Running Canyons

She runs in the canyons
there beneath the smiles,
hidden in the miles.
Around her she throws gleams,
glints, she strews her favors in winter
like flowers cast by gathered throngs
lining her way, ostensibly cheering her on

but really just hungry for blossoms and blessings

and she looks with stark eye, assessing cost
beneath gleams, glints, under
dazzle-cast clouds hiding
and she’s striding, loping
like the lean wolf taught her
in those early years of lashing
words and cutting looks
and her fire unbreakable

burning in that flood that drowned…tumblr_njpnvaveEQ1qmew7go7_r1_250

it’s canyons for her
when it’s time to tap out.
They are really just the same
as the mountains that she runs
and talks about and paints pictures of
with words and heart brushes
except that no one else knows this,
or sees any difference.

But she
knows, loves
those dry,
clean walls
close and
carved of
living stone
and loving
survival long
wrenched from
the desert’s

She’s a true hermit, like those of old,
untouchable in this land and yet such
a product of its austere and strict demands
and she knows she’s a canyon herself,
majestic not in what remains but what is gone.

Sweat runs freely here, and carries toxins back
to their source in the sidewinders and scorpions
and stinging nettles so she doesn’t even bother
for pretty or cute and she has long ago arrived
in beautiful and assessed even that place for what it isn’t,

content with knowing what it is…tumblr_ngvvqwxx801suvylso1_1280

she runs in canyons, while I sit,
staring thru rain-streaked windows,
hunkered down in this Oregon deluge
so grey and green and clammy,
so ham-handed and drizzly
imitating the stony walls she runs between
and I absorb this water and channel it,
stream it, spray it against that unrelenting blue sky
that tears the rainbows right outta the water
and waves them like banners in the wind
so she can see where the pit stop is, pause, drink,
squint, wipe the sweat away

(gawd, that impossibly feminine gesture so implacably tough)

She is grit, she has sand…she runs canyons.wg441_ghost_1

Much love to you this day,
from your true friend
and heart sister


Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
Love, Charissa

Since I was writing about Rape Culture…

Here is something I ran across at

“enjoy…”  *Charissa speaks tongue firmly in cheek*

The Real Reason Why People Resist Affirmative Consent Laws

[Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault]

Originally published on Lefty Cartoons and cross-posted here with their permission.

Only have sex with people who’ve given enthusiastic, willful, and uninfluenced consent. Seems straightforward, right?

But there are still plenty of people who object to this definition of consensual sex.

Why? Because they value being able to have sex more than their partner’s consent.

Check out this comic for a perfect example of what these conversations look like.


To learn more about rape culture and consent, check out the following:

Barry Deutsch is the Portland-based author and cartoonist of Ampersand, a political comic with a generally progressive sensibility. A new Ampersand comic appears in every issue of Dollars and Sense Magazine. Barry attended Oberlin College in Ohio in the late 1980s, the School of Visual Arts in New York City in the 1990s (where he took classes from comics legend Will Eisner), and graduated from Portland State University several years ago. While at PSU, his political cartoons won the Charles M. Schulz Award. His current comics project is my comic book Hereville, a fantasy adventure comic about an 11-year-old Jewish girl. Check out his blogand follow him on Twitter @barrydeutsch.

My Mama, and Spiritual Awakening

Good Morning Constance!  🙂

Lately I have been waking and finding myself more rested…spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  There are a lot of ways that dysphoria burdened me…a lot of ways.  For years I didn’t know what dysphoria was and thus attributed so much of the trauma I lived as just being a function of being me.

It was the primary thing that drove me…straight past religion and into the arms of the God behind the curtain of religion that humans have erected.  If it were not for Them, Their love, acceptance, and encouragement, I would have long ago despaired and taken my own life.tumblr_nidtxe8jN01rpowflo1_1280

Then I began to face my gender issues, get educated on what they were (and weren’t), and the relationship between me and Them blossomed and flourished even more…depths and heights I had no idea of…and the sense of destiny and mission and purpose began to take shape and form!  No longer was I here merely to serve out a life sentence in the penitentiary of this flesh, just slogging thru until release.  No.  I had been formed and fashioned in just such a precise and intricate way so as to be in this place at this time to help set other captives free, to break down walls of oppression and to be part of that rolling river of justice, that mighty stream of righteousness to all peoples.{"key":"b1"}

So that was cool.

But these mornings…finding this new place of peace, liberty…I think it is a deeper connection to God that is derived from congruence and alignment of brain and body due to the HRT that I have been doing…there are fewer filters and a wider open field to run in.  And for the last few years, the Person of God I have been encountering most is the Blessed Holy Spirit, the One I affectionately call Mama.

*Oh, and to you, prisoner of patriarchy, who rebuked me for “feminizing God and reducing His Divinity”?  To you I say don’t go away mad, just go away…you who “masculinize God, and reduce Their Divinity”  The Bible teaches that God created man in Their Image, male and female, and it is very broad in how this is worded, indicating that not only are there some humans assigned to biologically female bodies, and some humans assigned to biologically male bodies, but also that each human being made is both male and female in their creation…because each one is in the Image of God.  This would by inference prove that God Themselves transcend gender, as the origin and agency of the creation of human beings!  So again…just go away.  I don’t receive your judgment and your fear.  Perhaps if you just stop, exhale yourself out of yourself so you are at last empty, you may find a humble path to repentance for doing the very things you judge me guilty of.  Then inhale the God…who made you…and me…and owns us both.*tumblr_nhp3bxAGEi1r3lb7ro1_1280

Mama…I have written poems about Her, and I urge you to search the blog for the word Mama, and check them out.  I rather like them.  Mama is so incredible and, well, I am not gonna try to describe Her.

The reason for this post is because a lot of you have been in contact with me and have indicated you would actually show interest in and desire to be in relationship with a God like Mama…but that She is different than the god they were taught of as children when they attended church.  That god they want nothing to do with!  And who could blame them?

Well, I want to invite you to try out something:  I would like to invite you to talk to Her.  She was telling me in my heart that She will talk to anyone who approaches Her with an open heart and humble spirit (that means a spirit that knows that it doesn’t know but would love to be taught).  And She said to suggest this to you:

If you would like to know Mama…then talk to Her and simply say “Mama, the One that Charissa talks about…I would like to start a dialogue with You.  I will show up everyday at the time and place that is established, and I will literally talk with You just as I would my bestie when we go out to coffee.”tumblr_nfengyAzCt1turrjgo1_500

If you do this…She will not disappoint, though She will indeed surprise and confound, often times will bring things to you that may make you uncomfortable or downright angry!  I know this for a fact from experience.  But hang in there, stay present, and above all, be honest.  If you get mad, tell Her.  Speak from your innermost core…hey, She is God and already knows what is there anyway, so you might as well.  I have said literally the worst things I have ever said to anyone to my Mama in those moments…but I didn’t stop there, for She talks back, yeah?  She will bring thoughts, new understandings, revelations…

…and awakenings.  Spiritual awakenings.tumblr_ni7qkuEWrm1trxee1o1_500

Spiritual awakenings are such a crucial component of being in this life, and they are common to nearly every religious experience and cultural expression.  They share a lot of common factors in spite of the various trails that people walk to arrive in them.  Here are some components of them:

☾Increased tendency to let things happen rather than making them happen
☾Feelings of being connected to others and nature
☾Overwhelming episodes of appreciation
☾A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears of past experience
☾A loss of the ability to worry
☾A loss of interest in conflict
☾A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
☾A loss of interest in judging others
☾A loss of interest in judging self
☾Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return
☾To be so strong that nothing disturbs your peace of mind.

I saw that list this morning, and I wanted to share it with you, but with the Charissa-twist that comes with my connection to Mama:

☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have an increased tendency to let things happen rather than making them happen. 
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have feelings of being connected to others and creation
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I experience overwhelming episodes of appreciation
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears of past experience
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a loss of the ability to worry
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a loss of interest in conflict
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a loss of interest in judging others
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I have a loss of interest in judging self
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I am gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return
☾When I am in relationship with Mama, I am so strong that nothing disturbs your peace of mind

(I was trying to make a rainbow, by the way lol!!)

My point is this:  Spiritual Awakening is not an experience…it is a state of being that can be entered into through relationship with a Person…through Mama.tumblr_nhx33h9nOw1r7w1nxo1_r1_1280

Oh no…you don’t have to enter into connection with Her…there are many beings out there to connect to and not all of them good…but I am in relationship with Her, and I can testify of Her goodness, Her faithfulness, Her steadfast unending love and acceptance, Her humor and fierce sense of Justice, Her unending Tender Mercies…


I Love You, Mama
Your girl, Charissa Grace


Charissa Comments On Leelah

So…at last I think I can comment about the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn.  There has been a maelstrom of emotions inside me over this.

I won’t list them here, because some of them may shock, outrage, or worry some of you.  Suffice to say that I absolutely and completely understand in my marrow the very heart-fire of what she wrote in her note.

But what is more interesting to me is this:  her parents had a choice to make…a choice about gender, gender orientation, and even a choice about Who God Is in light of Gender.  They had to either choose to reach out to their child in spite of their own feelings about gender and what it is and how it is derived, or to slap her down in the name of the binary.  They had to either love their child in spite of anything, everything that she had done or failed to do, and love her just because she was here and gifted to them…or to repudiate her in the name of who they conceive God to be in their own small and stony hearts…

Well, actually let’s boil it down further:  they either had to choose to love Leelah, or love themselves.tumblr_nhhqy6QtCa1tuw8wbo1_1280

That is the bottom line.  Let me unpack this a bit for you.

First, let’s start with gender, and the crucial thing here is to really feel the distate and horror they had for a transgender person, the visceral reaction they had to what they felt was wrong wrong WRONG!  Oh Constance, how is it not more clear, the strong and unchangeable thing that gender orientation is!!?  Because their rejection of who Leelah was and the feelings that they had?  They are the same feelings and depth and strength and absolute that transgender people feel inside about who we are gendered as!

They would rather see her die than to see her live as a gender they thought she was not…and I will confess that I would rather die than live any longer as who and what I am not.  That is not a life anyway, and never was, not at its core.

They imagined that it would be torture for them, to see Leelah dressed properly female but to their eyes looking like a clown (one of my former best friends told me that I look like a clown, by the way, thanks for that, former 33 year friend)!  They pictured a life of seeing her over years and that making them uncomfortable.Image 002

Constance…this is how we feel…transgender people…when we live in a world where our very breathing is transgressive!  And to walk around being in such a way to reduce the absolute hatred we face from others when we are ourselves is to choose to be something that is indescribable agony inside ourselves to be!  We get treated “fine” (and that means with indifference and left alone)…but it is an abattoir inside our hearts as our own life blood is spattered on the walls of our souls as we claw at our chests trying to tear the pain out of our hearts!tumblr_nfb8vsABbE1qznvrxo1_r1_400

But wait!!  We can take hormones!  We can dress properly…and even better, we can actually have medical attention that literally transforms that pain into joy, and fills that horrible void with presence!  The statistical evidence is overwhelming on this point, by the way.  But it comes with a price:  we exchange our inner torment for torment and rejection from our social groups and culture.  The torment just changes location…sadly, most people in our society are just like Leelah’s parents and they  begin to exercise the dominance of the binary.  They want to avoid their own discomfort and are willing for us to die, whether it be by our own hand or theirs.

That is the choice we have:  suffer in how we are made…or suffer at our own hand…or suffer from the hands of other people.tumblr_nh62vnYyO81u6arw9o1_500

Because God forbid that my choice of clothing and presentation make anyone uncomfortable or antsy, right?  Better that I just go away, or even better, change back…I am blood guilty, after all, of “wasting a perfectly good man” as another 3 decade long friend said to me in utter seriousness after 3 and a half hours of me trying to explain to him what it is like.

But that brings us to the next point in regards to the Leelah Alcorn tragedy:  Who is this God that Leelah’s parents supposedly worship and live for?  What is this God like?

Well, if we look honestly at this situation, Leelah’s parents believed that they themselves would be guilty of sin if they reached out to Leelah and did whatever it took to be sure she was mentally stable, healthy and able to actually live everyday without being bullied, othered or policed.  They literally believe that God would call them unfaithful sinners and accuse them of enabling their child to be in sin, and then remove all blessing or protection or support from their lives.

They see God being who they themselves are!  To their way of looking at it, Leelah’s suicide was the lesser of two evils, and really they actually are implying that God would say to them “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servants!  You held the line against immorality and sin, even at the cost of your own child!  You sacrificed your own flesh and blood for your own standing as righteous and defending My Honor!”tumblr_necznlA2Ma1r1arpmo1_1280

That’s essentially what happens inside their heart…they were willing to endure the death of their child in a horrific way, and live with that their entire lives, her blood crying out in every sunrise and sunset…because they think that brings God pleasure.

Where did they get this picture of God?  I really want to know this!  Because they certainly did not get this from the Bible, a book that I have read countless times and studied for years at various stages of life and maturity.

Here is who the Bible says God is…the Father who had children who chose selfishness, self-worship, hatred, strife, murder, envy, greed, malice, war, slaughter, wantonness, foolishness and darkness instead of simple fellowship with Him.  So THIS Father did something completely other than what Leelah’s parents did.  This Father instead searched out His children, went where they were, and gave a manifestation of His Heart on their behalf.  He didn’t require them to die for their deeds and lives…instead He had His own Heart die for us instead, as a transaction of love which covers everything.tumblr_ng20au91Nc1s2z59jo1_500

When you love your children regardless of their actions, reactions, deeds, words, silences…well you are imitating God that that finds great favor…when you put your children to death with your own words, deeds, actions and reactions…well flat out you are imitating the devil and worshiping yourself…because the only spiritual beings who take pleasure in evil are satanic and people who put themselves above everything else.

So this post is a very emotional and very crappy piece of writing.  I am too close to it to not be all over the map…but just try to grasp these things:

The horror that cis-gender people feel when they are around us is nothing compared to the primary horror we are inside ourselves waking up and finding our heart/soul/mind/spirit at complete odds with the body we walk around in and are consigned to for everyday of our lives, and the secondary horror we will cause ourselves if we dare to give away who and what we are or even worse if we avail ourselves of the medical miracles there are which will almost entirely cure us.

It is the same absolute for us that we are not congruent inside and outside as it is for cis-gendered people that we are just mentally ill and can be fixed so we are just like them.

These two points illustrate the lie that has so long deceived us all…that gender is derived from plumbing…because if that all it is why do they freak out so bad if they even think about dressing or acting different?  Wouldn’t it be as inconsequential as being in costume for a play?  That it is NOT that inconsequential proves absolutely that gender is something inside and it is what it is!!

I mean, I truly think they would rather us kill ourselves than let us live and move and have our beings just like them!  But if we are too stubborn to kill ourselves, there are plenty of brutes every year who are happy to execute us for the sin of breaking the binary.tumblr_ndrlprYaIl1txj8zfo7_250

It is so strong that they will even remake who God is to justify it…well, sadly, God gets remade all the time to justify the evil that people do.

I hurt and suffer as a human being, in common with everyone else…but I hurt and suffer as a transgender person in addition to that…and I hurt and suffer additional burdens because of what others do and say, fail to do and say…and I hurt and suffer at the lies that people live out as testimony of who they think God is.

Because that is not who They are.tumblr_nc9u51asVe1qa5hedo1_500

Now the confession that I have been avoiding:  in all truth, I am envious of Leelah, because in the midst of all the sorrow and horror and grief, her own torment has ended…and that prospect, of that low grade fever buzz of wrong being gone finally and there being blessed silence, sweetness, and rest…well that is something that I wish I could have.

And I feel a huge amount of guilt over that envy…because it is very clear to me that were I to seek relief it would be at the lifelong expense of many people I am connected to, and I would buy my own release with their pain…and that is unacceptable to me…so I sit…and mourn Leelah even while I am longing for what she now has…and feeling this awful mix of guilt and cowardice and bleakness…and thank God for Them, and They do bring comfort and joy and security even in the midst…no, especially in the midst.

I have many blessings…I have inner peace in terms of the Ultimate End of things…but I struggle, oh I struggle so hard, and I truly fear at times that I am not up to the task of being.  I try to be honest with myself, and that means feelings…but then again I am not like other people and able to just rise above them.  And that adds to the guilt and shame of not being good enough.

I wish I knew if Leelah would want me to live…I think she would, actually, because I think she wanted to live…it just got too hard, too heavy.tumblr_mx5becxnZE1shqs68o1_500

Hey Constance…regardless of your feelings about gender…if you have any feelings what so ever about being a good person?  Try making the burden lighter for people…with compassion, kindness, tender heartedness and smiles, instead of heavier with judgment and rejection.  You would be amazed to know what one kind word can do.

Confused rambly Charissa is now done gushing and vomiting.

Sorry for the succumbing to the passion and letting it produce a big messy dump of a post…I just could not live with all this inside me any longer.




If Privilege Was Visual, It Would Look Like This

Constance, I am reposting this here…not written by me but definitely endorsed.

November 22, 2014 by

Originally published on Lefty Cartoons and cross-posted here.

Privilege can be near-invisible to those who have it. Without a conscious, deliberate effort to be aware of it, it’s almost never on our radars.

And because of this, being told that you benefit from systematic social favoritism can be hard to accept at first. It’s not uncommon to feel that people are telling you that your life is simple and that you don’t work for what you have.

But privilege is more complicated than that. This cartoon provides a useful visualization.

The Straight, Ablebodied, Rich, White Man’s Burden

For more information on this topic, check out the following:

Barry Deutsch is the Portland-based author and cartoonist of Ampersand, a political comic with a generally progressive sensibility. A new Ampersand comic appears in every issue of Dollars and Sense Magazine. Barry attended Oberlin College in Ohio in the late 1980s, the School of Visual Arts in New York City in the 1990s (where he took classes from comics legend Will Eisner), and graduated from Portland State University several years ago. While at PSU, his political cartoons won the Charles M. Schulz Award. His current comics project is my comic book Hereville, a fantasy adventure comic about an 11-year-old Jewish girl. Check out his blogand follow him on Twitter @barrydeutsch.

Though none go with me, still I will follow

Dear Constance…I have a heavy heart today, and my eyes are red and throbbing from weeping.

The second wave of “loving wounds from friends” is occurring. I got a letter in the mail from a man I spoke with several weeks ago, one whom I have known for years and had thought was open and interested in my fate.

Well, the letter showed that while he thinks of himself as a friend (and make no mistake, he truly thinks he is “doing the right thing”), he does not believe that I am of my right mind and walking properly with the Lord. He makes this clear.

And I am so conflicted! Because on the one hand I know that it is not man who grants righteousness or will be able to ultimately label me, but God who has given me righteousness as a free gift and my beloved Advocate the Holy Spirit (whom I adore and love to call Mama…a poetic, intimate and informal expression of heart connection that is underlaid by foundational theological teaching and underpinnings)…and yet on the other hand to be told by someone that I have known for over 35 years, lived with for a few of those, and then worked with for our entire working career, someone who has not been intimately involved in my life for the last 25, has rarely come to the house, did not check in when Dad died, failed to notice my rampant and extreme despair, to be told that I am under a spirit of deception and not rightly choosing for life…

…well it is shattering in a lot of ways.

I am going to post the letter here with my reply…and my comments to you all here, not anywhere else  (My comments are indented and in blue).   I am deeply convicted that Mama does not want me to argue about this with people. If they are open to learning what being transgender is and is not, then I will spend whatever time it takes…but if they want to “a priori” judge me as wrong and in sin simply for choosing transition, then it is pointless to argue, for the evidences that I have biblically and scientifically and philosophically are moot to them! They have already made up their minds based on feelings, cultural traditions, and a few verses wrenched from context to bolster their weak arguments.

I think what breaks me most…shakes me most…is the awareness that this same process is going to keep happening. And it is painful.


I could take the easy road…simply post “No Trespassing” and let them talk…but then again, how does that potentially educate? How does that maintain openness to relationship on my part? How does that lend any legitimacy to gender transition as a Christian?

I think that I am called to a higher purpose than just transition, and “fixing myself”…I think that I am called to speak for those who cannot speak, to run for those who cannot walk, and to stand for those who would shatter in the wind. So many individuals who are trans are so very broken, outcast, alienated…and I…true child of blessing and privilege even though I suffered as trans…I am relatively whole, and gifted with writing skills and speaking abilities.

No…I do think Mama has a different road for me, a road that will end up on the mountain top, but only via the lowly and lonesome valleys of the shadow of death. I hear Her singing to me “You gotta walk that lonesome valley…”

As you read below, I am going to add in comments of things I would have said, could have said but chose not to. Perhaps this intimate look into the life of a transgender Christian woman who is in the trench warfare that only Christians seem to be able to wage with such exquisitely kind cruelty will illuminate to you ways in which you may have failed to truly love your neighbor…or barring that will inspire you to simply “not go there”…to the correcting stool…at least not until you have walked side by side with someone for at least a hundred hours for every minute you plan to correct.

Interesting how Jesus spent very little time correcting anyone…oh wait! Except for the religious leaders and power mongers who corrected everyone else and were the final arbiters of who was holy and who was not!

I am still Charissa Grace. I am still seeking to do justice, and now in particular I am with all my being hungry to love mercy…but I am so sorrowful, how do I know if I am walking humbly? Well…Mama knows, She knows…so Ima stay close to Her always.


*****Handwritten letter to me dated October 4th, 2014*****

I want to write this to you in order to respond to our conversation that we had on your front porch on Sunday afternoon three weeks ago. My thoughts have taken awhile to distill within me but I believe that they have settled into an understandable form.

My heart is heavy as I write this and just as it has been since I was made aware of your public display of being transgender on a Monday morning as I was (Charissa comments:  insert work activity here). From that shock I have been praying and have arrived at these few points that I hope you will be able to receive not as arrows of judgement or religious diatribe but as my response and call to Truth.

Interesting to see here that the very first things he communicates to me put the onus on me to “receive”…rather than the onus on him to speak edifying and encouragingly. He has done no study since we talked, asked no questions, or really even interacted with me at all.

An arrow of judgment is when we infer a heart condition based on an outward manifestation of behavior. You have judged someone when you think you know who they are based on what you have seen them do, or fail to do, with no other evidence. Jesus called it taking a speck out of someone’s eye when the speck remover’s eyes were full of logs.

A religious diatribe is when a deeply held belief is held over or against someone who is seen as violating that belief or invalidating that belief, and the said diatribe will not have any authoritative teaching accompanying it…it will simply be an emotionally laden coercion moment. Sometimes religious diatribes will be accompanied by some form of authority, but nearly every time they will be things taken out of context or twisted to serve the purpose of the one making it.

The goal of both of these forms of interaction is to control another person.

For me personally, you have crossed over a river which I will not be crossing.

This comment was confusing to me…is he telling me that he will not be transitioning beside me? Um, duh? Who would want to transition if they were fully themself? Or, is he telling me that we will no longer be friends, associates? And also, why will he not cross? Because he is happy as the gender he is? (again, duh)…or because I am in sin and he does not want to be sullied? Which is antithetical to the example that we have in Jesus by the way, who came in the flesh when we were yet dead in our sins and active enemies of God.

And now I am aware that you made that decision some time ago and I was not aware of it. And I have not ever been aware of your struggle with gender. My shock and surprise indicates a weakness of relationship and lack of transparency and openness that I assumed had existed in the past and present between us. Neither of us am I blaming for the weakness but I am sharing a feeling of loss because of the way I ended up finding out about your life change.

I simply must explain here…this man has not been a true part of my life on any consistent basis that would earn him any authority to speak like this to me. He was not there when my dad suffered…he was not there when my children went thru various trials…he was not there when I wanted to kill myself…he didn’t hear me when at work I tried to talk to him about the despair that overwhelmed me…

…and of course, he was not there when I at last admitted what I am. Because how could I dare talking to anyone about it? Seriously…look at the response he is having. Tell me how that makes him a safe place to pour out my heart and make my very core vulnerable at the most defenseless time of my life?

Weakness of relationship…lack of transparency and openness…assumed existed in the past and currently present.

Hmmm…first off, notice the assumption there, that everyone be all up in everyone else’s business. Somehow either he or I owed the other one this “transparency” simply because we had history and were both Christians. There is a devious and poison doctrine that got loose in the church in the 70s, and it assumes a heavy authoritarian leader to whom all others are “submitted to” and demands an accountability to that leader, or group of leaders. This was most clearly seen in the Shepherding Movement and in the teachings of a man named Bob Mumford among other men. As time passed, it was repudiated but managed to metastasize and mutate and the authority figure became something seemingly more benign called various things like “accountability partner” or other similar names.

While there is definite wisdom and benefit in having someone close that you trust who is there for you and who knows all about you, this practice usually devolves into various forms of bondage and control in its best forms and flat out spiritual abuse in its worst. Deep study of New Testament behavioral codes place about 99.9999% of the emphasis on removing specks from ones’ own eyes, and looking for ways to defer to others with them being more important than one’s self.


If you had shared your struggle and the reality of what you were dealing with in your heart with me or someone, perhaps things would be different. I am hoping that I would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord.

As I made clear when we talked, during the time he knew me most, I had no conscious idea that the source of my despair was gender dysphoria…and yes, as a victim of that Christian culture during those years, I had “accountability partners” who knew that I wrestled fiercely with depression and despair, and they had affirmed the nobility of this struggle.

I also had one friend in particular that I was open about gender feelings with, though we did not know at the time what the dealio was.

He ignores the presence of my amazing spouse and her complete sharing of my horror, her encouragement…and then he says he is currently hoping he would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord…WHAAAAAaaaa???????????

Did I read that right? Let me see if I am tracking: so far I have been warned that there are arrows coming and words that may be resembling religious diatribe…I have been told that I am across a river that he will not be crossing…he has implied that I have been secretive and dissembling over the years and has flat out stated that I had not shared my struggle…

…and then turns around to say that he is currently hoping that he would have cared enough…

Here is an idea: how about caring enough now, enough to be around me and see for himself that I am still the very same person I always was but more whole and healthy? How about getting over the fear that I am perishing, and getting over himself that he is somehow the knight riding in on the charger to save the day, and simply coming along side me as a friend with no agenda but to love me?

I have a few things to ask you to consider and to see my understanding of things.

OOoohh…his understanding…okay, I thought, here is where I will see some information, indication that he studied a bit on this…alas I was sadly disappointed. His understanding is just that: what he thinks in himself, and for reasons either explained poorly, weakly, or not at all.

First I am concerned that you have made these life changing decisions without any submitted relationship and dialogue with the people in the Body of Christ closest to you and who have known you. Any one of us becomes vulnerable without being in submitted relationships that are mutually held in open and honest accountable communication. Is there anyone you trust that could say “(Charissa comments:  he used my deathname here) don’t go this way your (sic) making a mistake” and you would wait and not keep going? Left to ourselves we are alone.

Where do I start on that? See, the term “submitted relationship”…that is code, and means that anytime you want to do something you have to run it by other people, especially if it is something unusual. It is not enough to be submitted to God, and daily seeking Them, daily being in the word looking for guidance…it is not enough to be submitted to one’s spouse, and together daily seeking God in prayer together. No…there is a different dynamic, one in which someone else…a human being(s)…serves as an intermediary between you and God.

Hear me…there is nothing inherently wrong with doing just that…but neither is there anything inherently wrong in not doing that. A Christian who considers God’s word authoritative would search scripture for any broad stroke parameters that would include or preclude the considered direction, and if it was not prohibited would then pray and ask for guidance and insight regarding a looming decision. They would also consult with the people any such decision would directly affect, so as to defer to them humbly and understand the impact a chosen course may have on them. Then they would consider any science, technology, teachings etc that would further illuminate the possible outcomes of a choice…special attention would be given to any testimony of people who had experienced similar things.

Ideally, if one wanted to, they would share this with the people who are rooted and woven into their hearts and souls, just out of friendship. There is wisdom in counsel, and counsel from those who truly know you is priceless.

If the considered action was clearly prohibited by scripture, the counselours would be sure to point that out…but if it wasn’t…if it was a matter of choice…free will…then the preferred course of action might or might not be received, and it might or might not end up profitable…but it would not a priori be a matter of sin or rebellion or deception!!

It would simply be a choice, one if made foolishly would result in a bad end, but a bad end not due to inherent sinful action simply because it was different than the “submitted relationship” people want.

In my own case, by the time I actually confronted my being transgender, I had also pretty much divested myself of all controlling relationships and was seeking to draw close to God everyday. In fact, as depression tore at me, and dysphoria grew worse, there was not really anyone I trusted who would not immediately say I was under demonic attack or try to “buck me up”. It was insulting and hurtful that they would think that I had not already recited every encouraging verse in the bible…I know them all, literally…it was painful that they would think me vulnerable to demonic influence given that I was daily interacting with God and crying out desperately for help.

Besides, I do think there are quite a few theological issues involved with another modern doctrine that I find specious (the notion that a believer can be demonized after they have been united with the Spirit of God) a doctrine built on a few instances from the days of Jesus in the flesh.  New Testament teaching regarding who controls one’s body, and who lives in that body when relationship with God is sought is full and pretty directive so as to infer that wrongs and sins would be the responsibility of an individual free will choice to deviate from clearly stated scriptural exhortations which are properly understood contextually and culturally.

I was deeply saddened when I read his rhetoric, that were I to confide my journey in someone trusted their immediate response would be to warn me of error and then I would be bound to cease and desist. It revealed that he considers transition to be wrong and a mistake and sinful in and  of itself…but without any biblical edict whatsoever, no scriptural authority at all, and absolutely zero examination of the science side of things to see if my decision is sound medically and practically.

Tragically, such an attitude does indeed preclude him as a potential consultant for life matters, for in taking the next steps after examining God’s word, I discovered that there are a plethora of wise reasons to embrace transition…and in light of no forbidding authoritative bible teaching, and nothing checking me in daily prayer, and nothing checking my spouse, and the presence of positive affirmation of this course via wholeness and health and a more robust and joyful life experience, transition seems to me to very much be an answer to prayer.


There are three things that are alarm bells to me that I have been considering since our conversation that day.

One is the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. As we talked you referenced the Holy Spirit as “She” and “Her”. And you mentioned that you were now most often talking with Her (the Holy Spirit) and not the Father or the Lord Jesus. I do not see this sexual gender in the persons of the Godhead. Feminine attributes yes but not the exclusivity of specific sexual gender. I believe even our personal dialogue with God should be in accord with God’s word about Himself in scripture.

Okay…stop right there. First off, I did make it clear to him that I use those words for the Holy Spirit as part of my own personal relationship with the Holy Spirit…but I want to make a stronger point:

There is an assumed perverting of who God is by “feminizing” the Holy Spirit! Do you see that? As if calling the Holy Spirit the feminine expression of the Godhead to us somehow dirties God, and that only masculine descriptions are legitimate descriptions of God! What if over the years we have lost touch with the overall richness of the expression of God, and that restoring feminine pronouns to talking about God is needed and in order? I won’t bore you with the specifics, but just for example, one of God’s best names in the Old Testament is “El Shaddai” which means among other things “many breasted God”.

Really?? So we are to imagine a masculine god with many breasts? Or are we directed to instead consider a nursing mother dog, who has multiple food sources for multiple puppies, and the message is that God will nurture you and care for you like a mama dog her puppies! What is so bad about God having feminine attributes? And talking to God using feminine names? Is God that small and small hearted that God would shut His ears to avoid being besmirched?

I see arguments regularly which assure us that God is beyond and/or above gender…and thus saying “She” is inappropriate…

but the fact remains that “He” is still considered “appropriate” and correct!!!  What a freaking contradiction!!  If God is “beyond gender”, then logic tells us that either ANY pronoun is inappropriate, OR that God is big enough to not be offended by ANY pronoun one uses.

Frankly, I find anyone getting offended at the use of She for God is simply manifesting the internalized misogyny bequeathed them by the evils of the patriarchal paradigm that has imprisoned us all.

Also, notice how he characterizes gender as “sexual gender”…and that is one of the huge issues is that people reflexively associate sexuality and gender.  It was telling to me that he did not have the wherewithal to simply say “gender”.

Here is the kicker: God made humans in Their Image: male and female, which means that God is possessing qualities that we see revealed in male and female humans (and countless other ones I am certain)…but we are only permitted to use the male ones to talk about or to God, or God will get offended and smite us? Or somehow if I talk with the Holy Spirit and use “Mama” and “Her” as I do, then I will be ignored and even worse turned over to evil spirits and deceived? That simply doesn’t make any sense at all, either logically or theologically…and it certainly assumes a very mean view of the Nature of God.

“God’s word about Himself in Scripture…”

I dare you to make a study of divine gender terms in the old testament…


Secondly I cannot agree with what you are doing with the body God gave you. I know you know 1 Corinthians 6 well but it does make clear that our bodies are not our own to do with as we please. They are made for God and belong to Him. Making such severe changes as you feel compelled to do and are doing certainly muddies the waters if not plain challenging the Lordship of Christ and His ownership of you.

*Charissa face-palms here*  Constance, you can explore that chapter for your ownself. Volumes are written that explain proper exegesis of it…in a nutshell, it is addressing visiting harlots for sexual contact, and even more specifically as a carry over from the kind of religious practice of that day which involved sympathetic magic, and sex in temples with priests and priestesses as acts of worship of the gods of the various cultures who required such activity.

The apostle is teaching that you belong to a collective spiritual entity called the Body of Christ if you are a Christian, and as such you are not to unite yourself with anyone or anything that would lay claim to that allegiance.

It also easily generalizes over to sexual conduct and the use of the body…but to say that these verses prohibit anything specifically other than sexual acts deemed to be illicit and out of bounds is ludicrous!

Can you see how one could use this verse by itself as an arrow to seek to enforce control of anyone for doing or being anything? It could apply to those who seek to keep others from piercing, or getting tattoos, it could apply to those who seek to enforce eating rules, or activities deemed harmful to the body such as professional football, it could be used to prohibit someone from getting surgery on a cleft palate, or on a leaky heart valve, or the removal of cancer-ridden breasts, and it goes on and on and on…(as an aside, I do indeed view my unwanted and wrong genitalia as a sort of “cancer to my soul, to my heart”).

No, Constance…we can be guided by what is specifically addressed, whether to do or to not do…and then we are in the wonderful arena of maturing in relationship, sharpening our ears, and growing in wisdom as we walk, doing our best to be kind, listen to Mama (Holy Spirit…just listen!), and apply the wisdom we have gleaned. At the end of the day, the one and only measure of the success of that is how much our heart looks like Jesus at the end of the quest.tumblr_ncjrcmD9gI1qczwklo1_1280

The third alarm for me is your decision to change your own name. This is very troubling to me and I am feeling strongly that this will be a point of departure from which any return will be most difficult. The authority to name belongs to God and our parents not to ourselves. To rename yourself seems to me to be a very serious thing to consider doing.

*Double face palm* First of all, I do believe that I was directed by the Holy Spirit to take this step, both in the name I settled on and the process of doing it.

Having said that, I would again encourage you to read every instance of a name change, and you will see that my friend has revealed his own belief and preference, but has not given any evidence to back that up. I would give my evidence, but I am sure I would bore you more than I have already!

The last thing I have to share is one I know personally very well. It is that it is definitely possible to be displaying the “fruits of the Spirit” and yet at the same time be deceived and strongly influenced by a spirit of the enemy. This was me and my life for quite a few years.

Classic double bind here. My only defense is that the fruits of the Spirit are in my life and growingly so…and Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits…I deny that I am deceived. The fruits of deception are not there. There is no teaching that I would be distorting or seeking a way around regarding transition! This is just an agenda driven double bind, and leaves me no way to “prove” I am not deceived.

I lead (sic) worship, was kind gentle, loving, patient, and joyful in varying degrees. Yet I was being deceived and influenced by a spirit that held me addicted and subject to pornography and the selfishness of sexual sin. It was not until the day I repented and confessed with as complete a transparency as I knew that Jesus delivered me through His Spirit. That spirit left and never returned. But in retrospect, I was deceived even while displaying some good spiritual fruit.

Ok, Constance…I was privy to this time. I can tell you that there is a very different take on these events, but in the interest of confidentiality, I am remaining silent on that.

I do want to point out an obvious issue, though: Sexual sin, sexual immorality, and pornography by extension are all things that are directly addressed with biblical teaching. As such, it would not be up to any one individual to decide for themselves what was right and what was not if they wanted to remain true to the core of what being a Christian is…

This is a huge difference between what and how the bible speaks in these areas, and what and how the bible is silent in transgender areas in general and transition issues in specific.

I can also assure you, that if one is capable of reading the bible, practicing the things being practiced, and having a “clear conscience”, that this is far more a signal of a so called spirit of deception.

I tend to view it far more practically…anything we feel bad about that we keep doing will eventually de-sensitize us to its harmful impact. It is not so much a spirit, as it is a habit of our heart and thus a tremendous bondage that we soon are in thrall to.  In this case, there was never a pretense that such activity was okay or sanctioned. There was no open display of this unashamedly, such as when I dress as myself freely and without sin, but rather it was hidden behavior, with great planning and scheming and sneaking around at work to keep it hidden and thus available for indulgence.   There was no knowledge by other people who had a stake in the relational implications…

In short, there was nothing whatsoever in common with his situation and my situation.  I find no scriptural prohibition or direction, on either gender change or transition. I have been open completely with my spouse, from the first day of our marriage til now, and she has been fully in the know and walking united with me in love. We have studied out every bit of information we can find for over 18 months. I have a fabulous therapist, to pursue all avenues. I have not “consulted” people from my past…frankly what happened this time was exactly what I thought would happen if I tried to.

At every turn, doors opened…this was after we started asking for doors to either open or shut as a partial way to receive guidance…

Classic double bind again, right?  tumblr_n0uodj4yHY1sids82o1_500

Now I am praying for you.

(Now? NOW??? How does one take this?)

I would love to see you take time to get a second opinion.

What he is referring to is the counseling approach called reparative therapy. Basically this is a belief that all issues we have are due to experiential wounds we have endured. The assumption here is that I am transgender due to things that happened to me after I was born, and if I got healed of those wounds, my issues would resolve and disappear.

As a former counselour, uncertified but very active and informed and pretty good one, I can assure you that all the techniques there are to be healed of past wounds I have embraced…inner healing, deliverance, inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit to heal…what ever you have, I have tried it…and while there has been wonderful healing from wounds, and true growth and health, my dysphoria was never addressed, and since I had no idea there was such a thing as dysphoria, I was left feeling abandoned and condemned, not good enough.

The general literature regarding the reparative therapy approach is mixed at best and fruitless at worse. It has no great success rate, any more so than any therapeutic approach.

What does have a solid track record is transition. The results of transition are measurable improvements in mental health, quality of life, and general well being. If you wish, do a google search and discover on your won.

I am sure your counselor is caring and inciteful (sic) but without the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer even she is unable to bring the depth of healing that is needed. Relief possibly but probably not wholeness.

Again…notice the assumption? That healing is what is needed (does a cleft palate need “healing”, or surgery?), that I am broken and not whole, and if I was whole I would not be transgender.

I don’t accept this. I say that as I get the hormones my brain and mind need I am growing into wholeness like any other woman. Any one of you, Constance, if you began to have your body flooded with hormones that contradicted your own internal sense of gender and self, why you would find yourself dysphoric. It is that simple!

And the clear inference that I am seeking relief…oh Constance, while I am so blessedly becoming right, there is no sense of relief when people that have known me for over 35 years begin to speak this way to me. And the prospect of more looms…

Lastly, the assumption that my counselor isn’t a christian and that the Holy Spirit is not big enough to use any means and/or tool to accomplish the will of God…tumblr_nau64oDG9d1t3jjjyo1_500

Your childhood stories are hurtful and I know the wounds are real. I just can’t see the path you are choosing as leading to real true restoration for these woundings. There is a dissonance that is unavoidable and hard to make peace with in this gender switch.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to restate that “real true restoration” is good, necessary to every human being, and unless accompanied by the proper sex hormones needed for that person is powerless to address gender dysphoria.

Evidence? Buehler? Buehler? Dissonance with what? Unavoidable where?


I am embracing the miracle of modern technology that allows my body to grow into my already innate sense of who I am, what I am…Charissa, a woman, and lover of God and people.

You have in so many ways been a faithful and generous friend. There is a scripture stating “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.

I could enumerate them, the ways that I have been a faithful and generous friend…I won’t. Rather, I want to take a look at how in the midst of all the verses about friendship he chose to talk about that one which discusses wounding. I agree with the verse…the wounds of a friend are faithful…but now we must establish what a friend is, does, looks like, acts like, etc.  Sadly, it is my far more common experience to be a good friend to others than have them be a good friend to me…that is changing, thanks DDH!!!

If my writing has caused any more “wounding” please forgive me and know I am speaking from a heart that loves you and truth too much to remain silent.

You will take note of his assertion that he loves me and loves truth too much to remain silent…so let’s look at a few things there…first of all truth. What truth has he shown that he loves that I am not also loving? What truth has he laid out there as true truth that is authoritative and I am bound as a professing Christian to embrace? I contend he has not done this.

Thus, the truth he loves is his own truth. And wowsa do we all love our own truth, yes?

Next, I want to mention that he says that he cannot remain silent because of loving truth too much to do so. Quite simply this is an inversion of New Testament behavior in situations where there is no authoritative guide from scripture to give specific help…in those causes we are exhorted to put our sister, our brother and their own needs and wants over our own. Philippians 2 speaks well about this, and many other places do too…it is the habit of “Preferring others over ourselves”

Lastly, he claims he loves me too much to be silent. I am not rhetorical here. Where is the love again? Where has it been? What does it look like? Since we spoke last, where is the evidence of such deep love? And what will be the path going forward?

In faith.

Always your friend,


Wow…just wow. So now comes my response. I kept it short and sweet. You will notice that I did not include a word of what I have written to you, as I truly think it would be fighting a tar baby. His mind is made up, and his heart is closed up…

…but I have written to you, Constance, because you just might read this, and get it in a new way, and be kind to someone and save their life…you just might be that cup of cold water to that one person who needs it or dies. And you just might find that I am speaking truth regarding the absolute certainty that God loves transgender people and is far more interested in their heart and character than They are their gender!


Dear XXXX…

Thank you for taking the time to write your letter. I appreciated how you characterized my “public display of being transgender”…that statement is accurate in each respect: display, and being.

Please know I receive your intention and desire for my best. Your arguments are very familiar to me, things I have asked myself and worked through until I was at peace in a biblical sense. I spent sleepless nights in thought and prayer. I counted the cost of gender transition, such as I understood it to be. I am capable of engaging on these matters with eloquence in depth, detail and evidence.

However, I disagree with your conclusions, and I think the most fruitful option is to refrain from defending myself in a debate that is not likely to touch the heart. I do not think there is anything I can say that would cause you to feel better or rest easy in knowing that I am still okay with God and God okay with me.

I choose to be silent because I believe this best sets the stage for the possibility of continued whole relationship. I have found the courage and the grace to simply stand in the face of charges and accusations. Those things say more about the ones who make them than they do about me…as time passes, God will be shown true.

I know my hope lies in a life exonerated in choosing eternal transition from works to Grace and death to Life…my gender transition is very much a subset of that. I walk unashamed and covered in the precious blood of Jesus which is my birthright as God’s offspring…for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until That Day.

I want to state for the record that I am submitted to God, to Jane, and to trusted friends. To the very best of my knowledge I am not in rebellion and I utterly reject the assertion from both you and George that I am under a spirit of deception. I stand with a clean heart and conscience before God and man, and daily welcome the Holy Spirit in all of the Holy Spirit’s Divine Wisdom, counsel, conviction, and comfort.

I do want to say I am sorry to you for being so informal, poetic and intimate regarding what you called the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. This verbiage is to me in my heart and soul a prayer and relational “shortcut”. I was open with you that way in the spirit of our history together. I assumed you would recall my being a student of the word, committed to fidelity, one who has sought to be a workman approved…in these areas of my life, along with the bedrock areas of Christian Faith and Dogma, nothing has changed!

Our conversation was about the issues of being, gender and me, not about the nature of God, the use of gender referencing God and what we should or should not call Them. It was sloppy of me to add the burden to your heart of unnecessarily using feminine pronouns for the Holy Spirit and unwittingly placing a stumbling block before you. Please forgive me that unwise conflating of 2 things, either of which would be “an issue” by itself.

I will close by saying thank you for your letter, and that I will always do my best to be myself with you, open hearted and grateful to know you. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will manifest the will of the Father for us and bear the fruit in us and through us commensurate with that Life.

Remaining silent in Hope, refraining from speech on most of these things in Faith, and deferring to the Holy Spirit in all of them in Love…especially Love…

Charissa Grace White


If you are still here after all this, you are diehard indeed!! Thank you for reading.

Charissa Grace, who is heavy hearted, mourning, and still not ashamed of myself, of the Gospel, or of God in whom I put my Hope.


UPDATE:  2 years later…this individual has not had any contact with me whatsoever…has not spoken one word to me.

This man who claimed to be a friend, and a follower of Jesus, whose professed life mission is to seek and save “the lost” has not even seen me since then or in any way, shape, or form even sought me out.

This says less about him as a person and MORE about the horrible lies and bondages he lives under inside his evangelical ghetto.

It has been painful escaping…I rejoice for the pain…and the gain.

UPDATE:  3 years later…still not one word from the dude.  What a Christlike witness…HAH!!


Charissa’s Grace Notes: One Year In

Welp…it seems that the obligatory post has thrust itself forward, or rather time has thrust it forward as it rolls on.  Today is the date of my first blog post here, one year ago.

Grace Notes is One Year Old.

It’s funny…way back then, I hardly knew what to write about, I hardly knew anything, really (now, I don’t know much more, but I much more know what I don’t yet know).

I knew that my life had been shattering inside…tumblr_mq79zdd0zQ1rad4udo1_500
I knew that I had admitted, out-loud with words, the deepest secret of my life, one that I had kept even from myself…
I knew that I wanted to die, but could not bear the thought of my darling finding me, or worse yet, not finding me…
I knew that I did not know who I was, and yet I knew very well who I wasn’t…
I knew that I had to get some help, and had searched the internet for counselours in my area, and been led to Heather…


…and that was it.  Heather suggested that I start a blog, and so I sat down, a year ago, and asked Mama (Who at that time was still Lady Grace to me…I had not yet given up deep enough to discover the surface of the depths of Her Great Love Personally for me…for me.)…

It was early, at the usual times I have been haunted since I can remember, and I was up…coping…just coping, using all the ways I had developed over years to push the pain down, to put up some sort of layer between my insides which thrum to even the slightest breeze and jangle with the unfathomable ways of others who say and do things that literally flummox me.

I said out loud, “Lady Grace, here I sit in the night, awake again (naturally), and Heather says to start a blog…what in the world shall I call it?”

You know that feeling when you undress for bed, and the room is cold and you know that under the blankets will be cold too but will warm quickly, and so the moment you are undressed you just snik straight into bed quick as can be lickity-brindle?  And then the first rush of cold covers, followed by that delicious bloom of warmth and you have never felt so snuggly-cozy?

Well, that was what it was like when the title, in whole cloth, snikked into my mind and was bracingly clear and then started to glow warm…as I saw it, and then began to love it…Charissa’s Grace Notes:  Transitioning from works to Grace and death to Life.

And in that year…

I survived a family member not speaking to me for 4 months (4 months!!!  I freaking thought I would die!!  How do you go 4 months and not talk to someone you love?  Heck, I would talk to my bff every 4 minutes if we lived in paradise lol!!)…

I survived major betrayal and blame shifting at ____ …from multiple sources (and I was not even close to being out then)…

I survived suicidal feelings that got so strong and scary that I made an attempt, until She snatched me up (thank you Mama)…and Constance, I think about that day, that horrible day of weeping until I was dry and still couldn’t stop crying, and how words lost their power and I was reduced to literal babbling in the woods as I thought to myself I am insane, I am truly having a mental breakdown, and how close, how awfully close I was…tumblr_ncjrcmD9gI1qczwklo1_1280and if I had, none of the poetry that I wrote would be now…I would not know my bff, or my Sissa Kat…my darling would still be unsparkly and shriveled inside and utterly shattered…


I walked into a wonder-ful moment when Mama showed up…and that I will keep to myself…tumblr_naayt7L3AA1qc91i1o1_500

I continued seeing Heather, and somehow someway together I began to grasp that I am worth something, not a monster or pervert of freak (yeah, those words will likely echo in klaxon intrusion til I am resurrected and set free)…

I discovered that I am a real person, always have been, and have been fighting for the life of the “man” that I portrayed for all those years and I developed a “resilience” (thanks for that word bff) that simply would not give in…I found me…tumblr_nc8zw1O12y1rr74i9o1_1280

I found out that I am sort of a cool person at times, and have something to offer thru my poems…

I found the courage to start transition!!  The courage to tell Dr. Jessie (who laughed and rejoiced and said “Oh thank God you finally figured this out, we here knew 6 months ago!)…tumblr_ncriliyBsU1t96d7to1_500

I started going to a spoken word poetry group in Portland, one that I didn’t know a soul there, and no one knew me either…and I went there as me…me…Charissa Grace, and in faith I spoke my self to them, my name to them…and they received me, and once in a while they think my poems are good…

I wrote 2 very significant (to me…it didn’t create much of a furor to anyone else) poems…they marked some sort of a turning for me somehow…I think it was after my HRT had had a chance to extinguish the testosterone poisoning I had suffered from for 54 years…

My Heart DaresImage 002


Those were written at the end of the first quarter of the year, and in hindsight I see that quarter was a detox time…detoxing from the awful assaults death made on me the year before, and the year before, and the year before…the declarations there in those 2 poems are still ringing…

I began to dress as me, out of town and openly, and how can I ever ever ever find the words to tell what that is like, because as you read if you are cis-gender you literally lack the ground of (non)-being to feel this.  If you dressed up as the gender you are not, and went about, seriously, for a day or two…then you would know just a poor facsimile of what dysphoria is…well I began to experience time lived in a non-dysphoric experience…tumblr_me80pisMV81qgk2yao1_500

I further integrated, and regained a ton of childhood memories…and Mama showed me the true reality of “that event”…the one that tore me in two for the next 5 decades…and though I cannot unhear that woman shrieking in fearful angry horror and I will never not hear the epithets she hurled into my fabric, I at last can hear Mama, and Her whispered words tenderly telling me who I am…and She knows cus She is the One who made me…


I began to spontaneously sing worship and praise songs again…and I was shocked when one day I heard myself, and knew I had been singing over an hour and not even knowing that I had…tumblr_nbooffw6JI1sl0gcwo1_500

I began to pray again…oh I had always “prayed” cus that is what a good christian does, right?  Pays the Lord their bribes? (Yes, I went there…and if you are honest you will admit that you have done this, bribed God with your deeds and prayers…)…but I began to pray for real again, pouring out my momentary heart (and ddh you think I talk a lot to you…giggle!  Mama knows…)…

I rode bike with my darling…together…and those times are better than all of my years of riding alone…

…and thru all of that…I wrote here, most everyday, but not always…and I began to discover I have a voice, and a name…

…and 4 days ago, that name became legal…all things are made new, the old has passed away behind me.

Along the way people connected to this blog, and it tickles me that there are actually people who follow these mewlings and musings…and tickles me even more when I see blogs that have thousands of followers!!  LOLOL!!!  How the freak does that even happen, since I really don’t get it how I have any followers at all???  But really?  The only followers that matter are the ones who read each post, and invest it with life, dress them up and let them live far beyond the page…to you is my blood grateful thank you!

And I am still Charissa Grace…God’s Grateful Gleam of Grace displayed…if She and They love me, I know They love you as well and more so.


Intentional Unknowing

Constance, one more quick post, and then we are off on the bikes!  Yippeeee!!!

So…I am learning to not call my body/soul/mind/emotion clash a prison, or sentence, or monster, or any of those other things…Mama has been quite active and specific in calling me into account and showing me that far from being the result of the conditions of the fall, and something that went haywire as I was formed, my being was very intentionally and soberly purposed by Them!  Ever single last aspect!

oh, I was well acquainted with the Psalms which tell us of Their involvement and intricate knowledge of us…but I had pushed these things to a comfortable place theologically…as in there are many things that the Fall mars and wrecks…things that They have not intentioned, but have indeed accounted for with Their Grace.  And I had classified my transgender being as one of those things:  a result of the Fall and something to be redeemed and eventually cured when all things are made right. In the meantime, I despised myself.  My body and its awful clumsy and large power covered in blechy hair and muscle…and that.  And my heart…”weak and overly emotional and on my sleeve at all times side by side with streaks of snot”…and my soul…unwilling to hammer down on someone who needs correction but instead draw close and win them over, much to the ire of all the males in my life…I despised my swings from knowing I could do all things thru Jesus to thinking that They literally despised me for longing to have the body I felt I was denied…

…and worst of all?  I thought, in my most secret thoughts, that They had done this to me, to punish me for being so bad…They had made this as scourging.

I am so thankful that They are overcoming all my evil with Their good!  Truly…

…but this latest round of talks…She has been very specific, and letting me see some of the backstory of what things I have said, or done, or written which have been helpful and life-giving and of service to others…and She has shown irrefutably to my heart of shame and self-loathing that not one of those things would have been possible were it not for the unique balancing of all the various aspects of my being which are seemingly in conflict but are in truth the warp and weft of the very tapestry of life and grace They are making me into!

My experiences in male roles, and the accompanying policing and disciplines (used in a putative sense), the intense efforts made by men when I was young in efforts to “make me tough” or “teach me to be a man”…and later being in male spaces in our culture hearing the naked expression of men to one another, witnessing the truly unconscious taking of privilege and the aggrieved hearts when denied…and hearing men talk, when one on one with me and thinking me male…just different or weird and yet strangely comforting to talk to…

…and my experiences on the outside, excluded by minds and bodies and actions…female roles and spaces and bodies…which heightened my observational skills, and sharpened my inductive and deductive abilities…and gave me an ear to hear…

…and the null…the razor place of horror and emptiness where everyone else had a place and a person, and I had nothing, like literally nothing…and my lil mind heard about the God shaped vacuum?  and assumed that was this (it isn’t, by the way, that space is where our spirits are still born and in need of resurrection)…and so pursued God and was pursued by Them,…hey, it was either that or kill myself.  Those were my options…

and now…to see…to feel the wisdom and the divine risk They took in intentionally availing themselves of the developmental processes in human biology to make me…and then make me…Charissa Grace…so see that They gambled on Their love and grace and mercy being enough, and They gambled on me to be so slayed by one glance that I would be hopelessly in thrall forever??

No…never again will I call it a prison…and thanks to my bff who asked me once if I could choose one or the other, would I choose that?  Giggle…most of the time the Q is which would I choose…but wise wise DDH asked more would I choose, if I could.

I choose Them.  I choose Their glory and Their Plan.  I choose Their Indescribable Comfort and Joy.

And now to my topic:  I believe that God intentionally has chosen Unknowing in regards to relationship with us!

Yes!  I KNOW, right????  That sounds heretical, and sounds insane!  I mean, God knows all, sees, all, etc etc…They are freaking GOD!  And when the One God in 3 Persons and the 3 in One God decide to manifest in Their Oneness, Their THEM-NESS…why then we see that fantastical and indescribable Entity referred to by those who have been in Its Presence as “Lord God Almighty”…and it is too too TOO to the extent that the people who see this fall down as if dead, and their eyes perceive “monsters” with multiple wings and legs and eyes and mouths that fly around the Entity Lord God Almighty and scream at It louder than all loud “HOLY! HOLY!” (and other things…shiver).

So where do I get off saying that God chooses to not know vast portions of relationship with us?

Well, Ima tell ya a story…years ago, I was out and about on a rainy dark clammy morning, soaked to my bones and chilled, and miserable beyond words.  It was Oregon rain, and my baby who grew up in Wyoming swears to this day that 38 degrees and rainy in Oregon is a million times worse than 20 below in Wyoming…and I was out in a loud, smelly, noisy truck!  Driving it, using it to work with my body so I could provide for my darlings 5.  I hate trucks.  I hate machines, and they hate me too.  They bite me almost everyday and leave me bloody and wounded…and they hurt my heart too with their bellowing and caterwauling.

And my mouth and mind were with God…hey, I had nowhere else to go, it certainly wasn’t because I was any paragon of virtue or spiritual giant!  Lol!  No…I was more like the bum at the off ramp of God’s freeway with my sign and tale of woe to elicit a few coins…

but I was trying to talk to the Father that morning…and getting no where, because I was so despairing and so frustrated…and Ima be blunt honest with you, kay?  This is how I talk to Them, cus I figure They know my heart already, so if I fake it and talk all pretty then not only will I have the regular failures and sins to deal with but the additional sin of lying to Them!!  (Cantcha just hear it?  “Don Pardo, tell Charissa what she just won!!” <Pardo’s unctuous voice>”Charissa…you just won LYING TO GOD!!!!!!!!  No new car for you, girl!  Nope…you get the nannygoat prize!”  lol)

So, being bluntly honest with Father that day (and you here)… I finally had the following conversation:

Papa, why the fuck do I even bother praying!!  It is just a litany of the same fucking complaints, the same awful feelings, the usual puking Pity Party! And the most frustrating things about it is You already fucking KNOW EVERYTHING!”

(yes, I f bombed to Papa…not proud of it…but you all know yo have done this, whether you have said it outloud or not…cus our hearts ARE F bombs, in their deceit and wickedness apart from Their Redeeming love)

Now, this is the distillation?  Perhaps this rant went on just a bit longer?  Long enough that I was hoarse and in a wrack of sobbing tears pulled over in a wide area beside the road because I couldn’t see?

And then as my sobs subsided (as they always did), as the tides receded and there was still the beach walk with Them to continue, I heard Papa sort of clear His throat and make a very gentle sound…so I listened.

“What makes you think I already know everything?”

“PAPA!  Please!! Don’t fuck around with me today…I am not up to Your jokes and tricks and double-back hidey-behind pranks which result in your Wisdom being spoken to this fool!  Everyone knows You know everything!  It’s in Your bible, even people who don’t like You or believe in You know that You know everything (and by the way, I get super pissed at those idjuts who say they don’t believe in You, and yet ignore that You must be in order to not believe in…but that is a different rant!)!

“Does it?  Does My Word say that?”

Constance, I have learned that when They ask you a Q like that it is best to shut up…and re-listen!!  For the Bible is living, and so are we…and as we live and grow, so too the Word unfolds to us heights and depths and breadths that are there always, but visible only when we are in just this place…at just that time!

Papa said “What if I made a deal with Myself, with Jesus and Mama (Whom back then I referred to very impersonally as “the” holy spirit, and objectified Her)…and in that deal I decided that I would agree to “not know” vast territories of you and your life and existence…so we can have the Pleasure of joint discovery?  After all…We have “unknown” all of your sins and iniquities in Our gifts of Mercy and Grace and Redeeming Metamorphosis…

“Think about your own self, with your own children…which is better…when you drag something out of them, or when you spy from a distance and figure things out…or when they come to you, unexpectedly and all on their own…in just that moment when you are feeling lonely and unnecessary to them or their life…and they begin to tell you their insides!

“The way that feels…the joy and gladness…the sense of miracle and wonder…and the way those things are your treasures and in your forever treasure box?”

and as soon as He said this I was PIERCED!!  Whole volumes of reality clicked in for me…experiences lined up, and a whole new way of looking at Them was before me…so I laid down my f bomb boxing gloves, and instead asked in my open-faced and heart showing way…

“..Papa, is this true?  How can You not know…but it FEELS true to me!!”  And essentially He spoke to me about something I have called since then “Intentional Unknowing”.  They chose to limit Themselves in many ways in regards to us….They have given us Free Will, and given us many other things that They have the ability to take back, but because of who They are, They never will, and thus “cannot” take back!

When it comes to our lives…our fears, our hurts, our joys and hopes?  They can only know the depth of our specificity if we tell Them!!

Well, the rest is very funny, cus as soon as I grasped all this, I told Papa that I was gonna chirp and chirp forever and He was gonna regret ever telling me He wanted to know me! LOLOL (Hey DDH, can you relate??? giggles…or my baby out there??  or my own Daddy long dead…he is nodding in heaven and knuckle-bumping with the Father in solidarity, having endured the never ending Charissa chatter-flow!  lol)

And I leave you with this:  God has filled His word with countless exhortations to pray…and we in our foolishness and religious dumbassery have turned these pleas to talk to Them into duties to be performed in order to merit Their activity on our behalf giving us what we think we want!

Well, see it a bit differently…see Them, as you would your own children, pleading with us to talk to Them!!  Let Them into our lives, into our thoughts and heart!  They are hungry to know us!!  They long to be given something that They cannot have in any other way, than that we give it to Them!!  And then when you go to pray, do not think of Them as big know-it-alls who are checking things off Their list and tallying our score and computing our “answer to prayer effectiveness quotient!”

No…They are moms, hearts bleeding joy that Their babies are speaking to Them! They are dads, who so deeply yearn for the sharing of Their children and that dialogue which makes every sacrifice an honor and every blow a privilege!

And you wanna know something more?  You yourself will come to know yourself better…and Them better too, cus They actually like to conversate!! They will talk back, you know…you did know that right?  Right??

“Pray without ceasing” can be read as “Whaddya do t’day ‘Rissa???  Huh?  Huh? TellMeTellmeTellMe!!)

Okay…I’m outta here for now…so how bout this?  Shut off the computer…go for a walk…and chatter like Charissa!!

All my love and heart to you, and I can’t wait to hear your stories!!



Any “Outlander” fans out there?

Sooo…I admit it, my love of story, my insatiable curiosity about people…ever always “under Solomon’s sun” and also ever always surprising…and thus I watch a lot of TV.  Now, I DVR things so I can fast forward thru the commercials (hated since I was just over 3 years old), and I delete quickly as well…but most things I will at least check out (except for the “dead body shows”…the ones that seem to delight in shoving dead and dissected corpses in my face as they figure out over and over again the same culprit to the same crime (only the names have been changed to charm the innocent and dull the naive).

I checked out Outlander.

See, an acquaintance is wild about all things Gabaldon, and passion by people that I respect draws my interest to the object (or subject) of their passion.

So…as tv series go, it is well done.  Far more salacious than I expected, not that I am offended.  Rather, I think the same things could have been said stronger and more powerfully sans the curtains pulled back and the mystery demystified in the light of Solomon’s sun.  That aside, the story is wonderful…far better and treated more seriously than the movie Outlander a long time ago.

My friend would have a far more informed perspective regarding the fidelity of series and book…I just found myself drawn into the drama…

…and particularly taken with the plight of the heroine…waking up conscious in a time not her own with no way back home.

If you enjoy this so far, please chime in on the comments, I would love to hear more.


How should we then speak?

Hi Constance…I am recovering nicely after yesterday’s very difficult day, thanks for asking!       🙂       Writing those poems helped some, getting those feelings out there so I could see them, and somehow wrestle my own self into a somewhat numb place, to endure.

For anyone reading this who isn’t susceptible to the assault that feelings can be on your heart, think heavy rainstorm:  you can walk around in it with regular clothes, or you can dress in rain-gear and an umbrella…but you cannot make it stop raining.  It will stop when it stops.

Anyway…I am re-posting an article that I thought was very educational about gender dynamics and socialization in our culture…please read it and follow the numerous links for a pretty good layout of the issues.

But here is why I am re-blogging this:  I am wondering, as a daughter of Lady Grace and child of The Father and sister to my older Brother Jesus, what should my speech dynamics and content look like?  This question popped into my lil hamster brain and has been running on the wheel ever since.

I do believe that even a cursory search of the New Testament will give plenty of raw material directed at speech and conduct that is gender-neutral, and is directed at looking after yourself first instead of correcting and policing others in their behaviour according to your own pet view of what these verses say and mean.

It always does a ton of good to bite your tongue, literally if need be, before you utter one negative or harsh word to someone else.  First, walk an entire week practicing the very thing you wish to lay on someone else.  Second, read about beams and sawdust specks in the Sermon on the Mount.  Third, walk another week practicing the thing that caught your attention.  And then, lastly, finally let it dawn on you that Lady Grace was prompting you on the very thing you projected onto someone else.

You will then be so sweet that people will be drawn to you like bees to a sweet flower, and they will ask you for input.

Just some thoughts from Charissa Grace…now read on for far more erudite and informed ones!

Love, Charissa



Soraya Chemaly Headshot

10 Words Every Girl Should Learn

Posted: 06/30/2014 1:57 pm EDT 

This article updated from original, which appeared in Role Reboot.


“Stop interrupting me.” 

“I just said that.”

“No explanation needed.”

In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My brother, on the other hand, was considered the class comedian. We were very typically socialized as a “young lady” and a “boy being a boy.” Globally, childhood politeness lessons are gender asymmetrical. We socialize girls to take turns, listen more carefully, not curse and resist interrupting in ways we do not expect boys to. Put another way, we generally teach girls subservient habits and boys to exercise dominance.

I routinely find myself in mixed-gender environments (life) where men interrupt me. Now that I’ve decided to try and keep track, just out of curiosity, it’s quite amazing how often it happens. It’s particularly pronounced when other men are around.

This irksome reality goes along with another — men who make no eye contact. For example, a waiter who only directs information and questions to men at a table, or the man last week who simply pretended I wasn’t part of a circle of five people (I was the only woman). We’d never met before and barely exchanged 10 words, so it couldn’t have been my not-so-shrinking-violet opinions.

These two ways of establishing dominance in conversation, frequently based on gender, go hand-in-hand with this last one: A woman, speaking clearly and out loud, can say something that no one appears to hear, only to have a man repeat it minutes, maybe seconds later, to accolades and group discussion.

After I wrote about the gender confidence gap recently, of the 10 items on a list, the one that resonated the most was the issue of whose speech is considered important. In sympathetic response to what I wrote, a person on Twitter sent me a cartoon in which one woman and five men sit around a conference table. The caption reads, “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.” I don’t think there is a woman alive who has not had this happen.

The cartoon may seem funny, until you realize exactly how often it seriously happens. And — as in the cases of Elizabeth Warren or say, Brooksley Born — how broadly consequential the impact can be. When you add race and class to the equation the incidence of this marginalization is even higher.

This suppressing of women’s voices, in case you are trying to figure out what Miss Triggs was wearing or drinking or might have said to provoke this response, is what sexism sounds like.

These behaviors, the interrupting and the over-talking, also happen as the result of difference in status, but gender rules. For example, male doctors invariably interrupt patients when they speak, especially female patients, but patients rarely interrupt doctors in return. Unless the doctor is a woman. When that is the case, she interrupts far less and is herself interrupted more. This is also true of senior managers in the workplace. Male bosses are not frequently talked over or stopped by those working for them, especially if they are women; however, female bosses are routinely interrupted by their male subordinates.

This preference for what men have to say, supported by men and women both, is a variant on “mansplaining.” The word came out of an article by writer Rebecca Solnit, who explained that the tendency some men have to grant their own speech greater import than a perfectly competent woman’s is not a universal male trait, but the “intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness where some portion of that gender gets stuck.”

Solnit’s tipping point experience really did take the cake. She was talking to a man at a cocktail party when he asked her what she did. She replied that she wrote books and she described her most recent one, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild WestThe man interrupted her soon after she said the word Muybridge and asked, “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?” He then waxed on, based on his reading of a review of the book, not even the book itself, until finally, a friend said, “That’s her book.” He ignored that friend (also a woman) and she had to say it more than three times before “he went ashen” and walked away. If you are not a woman, ask any woman you know what this is like, because it is not fun and happens to all of us.

In the wake of Larry Summers’ “women can’t do math” controversy several years ago, scientist Ben Barres wrote publicly about his experiences, first as a woman and later in life, as a male. As a female student at MIT, Barbara Barres was told by a professor after solving a particularly difficult math problem, “Your boyfriend must have solved it for you.” Several years after, as Ben Barres, he gave a well-received scientific speech and he overhead a member of the audience say, “His work is much better than his sister’s.”

Most notably, he concluded that one of the major benefits of being male was that he could now “even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”

I’ve had teenage boys, irritatingly but hysterically, excuse what they think is “lack of understanding” to [my] “youthful indiscretion.” Last week as I sat in a cafe, a man in his 60′s stopped to ask me what I was writing. I told him I was writing a book about gender and media and he said, “I went to a conference where someone talked about that a few years ago. I read a paper about it a few years ago. Did you know that car manufacturers use slightly denigrating images of women to sell cars? I’d be happy to help you.” After I suggested, smiling cheerily, that the images were beyond denigrating and definitively injurious to women’s dignity, free speech and parity in culture, he drifted off.

It’s not hard to fathom why so many men tend to assume they are great and that what they have to say is more legitimate. It starts in childhood and never ends. Parents interrupt girls twice as often and hold them to stricter politeness norms. Teachers engage boys, who correctly see disruptive speech as a marker of dominant masculinity, more often and more dynamically than girls.

As adults, women’s speech is granted less authority and credibility. We aren’t thought of as able critics or as funny. Men speak moremore often, and longer than women in mixed groups (classroomsboardroomslegislative bodiesexpert media commentary and, for obvious reasons religious institutions.) Indeed, in male-dominated problem solving groups including boards, committees and legislatures, men speak 75% more than women, with negative effects on decisions reached. That’s why, as researchers summed up, “Having a seat at the table is not the same as having a voice.”

Even in movies and television, male actors engage in more disruptive speech and garner twice as much speaking and screen time as their female peers. This is by no means limited by history or to old media but is replicated online. Listserve topics introduced by men have a much higher rate of response and on Twitter, people retweet men two times as often as women.

These linguistic patterns are consequential in many ways, not the least of which is the way that they result in unjust courtroom dynamics, where adversarial speech governs proceedings and gendered expression results in women’s testimonies being interrupted, discounted and portrayed as not credible according to masculinized speech norms. Courtrooms also show exactly how credibility and status, women’s being lower, are also doubly affected by race. If Black women testifying in court adopt what is often categorized as “[white] women’s language,” they are considered less credible. However, if they are more assertive, white jurors find them “rude, hostile, out of control, and, hence [again], less credible.” Silence might be an approach taken by women to adapt to the double bind, but silence doesn’t help when you’re testifying.

The best part though is that we are socialized to think women talk more. Listener bias results in most people thinking that women are hogging the floor when men are actually dominating. Linguists have concluded that much of what is popularly understood about women and men being from different planets, verbally, confuses “women’s language” with “powerless language.”

There are, of course, exceptions that illustrate the role that gender (and not biological sex) plays. For example, I have a very funny child who regularly engages in simultaneous speech, disruptively interrupts and randomly changes topics. If you read a script of a one of our typical conversations, you would probably guess the child is a boy based on the fact that these speech habits are what we think of as “masculine.” The child is a girl, however. She’s more comfortable with overt displays of assertiveness and confidence than the average girl speaker. It’s hard to balance making sure she keeps her confidence with teaching her to be polite. However, excessive politeness norms for girls, expected to set an example for boys, have real impact on women who are, as we constantly hear, supposed to override their childhood socialization and learn to talk like men to succeed (learn to negotiate, demand higher pay, etc.).

The first time I ran this post, I kid you not, the first response I got was from a Twitter user, a man, who, without a shred of self-awareness, asked, “What would you say if a man said those things to you mid-conversation?”

Socialized male speech dominance is a significant issue, not just in school, but everywhere. If you doubt me, sit quietly and keep track of speech dynamics at your own dinner table, workplace, classroom. In the school bus, the sidelines of fields, in places of worship. It’s significant and consequential.

People often ask me what to teach girls or what they themselves can do to challenge sexism when they see it. “What can I do if I encounter sexism? It’s hard to say anything, especially at school.” In general, I’m loathe to take the approach that girls should be responsible for the world’s responses to them, but I say to them, practice these words, every day:

“Stop interrupting me,”

“I just said that,” and

“No explanation needed.”

It will do both boys and girls a world of good. And no small number of adults, as well.

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My Trans Story is Not Your Growth Experience

My Trans Story is Not Your Growth Experience.

This is one of the sharpest and to the true point essays I have read in recent times.  I am going to copy the whole thing here, but encourage you to follow the link as well…she deserves sober consideration for the topic she raises, and her pointing out of how we have unconsciously taken the other and turned their struggle into the affirmation of ourselves and thus have inadvertently reinforced the sexist and privileged paradigm that dictates thought is quite insightful and perhaps on the border of revolutionary.

When I say “we” and “our”, I am speaking of our society today collectively, and not myself specifically…but I will admit here that the lightbulb went on for me…and now, when I encounter people who do this around me, and some who have even done it with my own story, I will be armed to speak truth to power, albeit in my own way with Grace and Mercy and Kindness as my riverbanks, that the water from me will edify and build even as it challenges and changes.


The Toast’s previous coverage of trans* issues can be found here. This post brought to you by figwiggin.

Last year, my girlfriend and I spent our first Christmas vacation together in my hometown of Dallas, TX. We’d been together for only a few months at the time, but she was excited to see the town I grew up in, so we boarded a flight after finals and landed a miserable 10 hours later. At the border an agent accosted me over discrepancies between my passport and my appearance.

This began happening more regularly after I started taking hormones in 2010, and for obvious reasons. Why a terrorist would be dumb enough to get a fake passport with an opposite gender marker, an opposite gender picture, and an opposite gender name is beyond me, but apparently the USA is absolutely terrified of such an eventuality. As the Hank Shrader-looking fellow glazed dumbly over the 5 pieces of ID I placed before him, I wore the same expression I always wear in these situations. I cock my head slightly, narrow my eyes, and swallow my lips as if someone is presenting a desiccated cat to me and I’m pretending to be nonchalant about it.

Several days later, my partner and I went to Barnes & Noble and I spied a book out of the corner of my eye bearing a name like My Husband Wears My Clothes or From John to Jane or something like that. Ever since I became aware of my trans-sexual identity I’ve become very attuned to this sort of thing. I suppose it’s like gay-dar, but much less sexy. I have a knack for immediately noticing any piece of media that even suggests trans-sexuality, as if I had heat-vision goggles on.

I cracked open the book, and immediately shut it. Of course. This was a memoir of another cis-woman who finds she isn’t as enlightened as she thinks she is when she finds her “husband” raiding her panty drawer and is subsequently transformed into a better person through the grace and patience of her partner.

As a member of a minority whose voice is very rarely heard, much less listened to, seeing such a piece of media unfailingly irritates me. It makes me feel like Richard Pryor in The Toy. My presence in another person’s life leads them to grow as a character, to undergo an arc. Character arcs are what define protagonists in stories. If a character goes through some trials and challenges and ultimately comes out of the story a different person, for better or worse, then they are a more fully realized character. As a trans person in this narrative I am relegated to a plot device. An obstacle. Something that must be overcome in order for the real protagonist, the cis-woman, to complete her arc.

Obviously the stories of partners, parents, and friends of trans people are valuable. The existence of this book and the multitude of books like it (see: Sex ChangesAlmost PerfectTrans-sister Radio) as well as films like Normal, provide comforting narratives for these people who are struggling with deep emotional questions about their own identities, attitudes, and beliefs when confronted with a profound change in someone close to them.  Transition is hard for all parties involved, and all emotional struggles are important. As a feminist it would be unbecoming of me to suggest that some perspectives are not valuable.

That said; I am completely sick of it.

Trans-sexuals are one of the most marginalized groups in North American society today: 1/5 of us are homeless for a portion of our lives; 57% of us are rejected outright by our families; 30% of us have a physical disability or mental condition; we have double the rate of unemployment of the general population, and half report being harassed on the job; we have four times the national average of HIV infections; 41% of us have attempted suicide; and these numbers get even worse when whites are separated out from the rest of the sample, leaving only racial and ethnic minorities.

One very effective method of countering all of these effects is the introduction of an accepting network of family, friends, and partners. In this way cis-centric narratives about trans people are very valuable to the trans community. My partner, who is a cis-woman, owes a small portion of her awareness of trans identities to a book she read at 14 called Luna, a young adult novel about a cis-girl and her transgender sister. I probably owe my sanity to my girlfriend. I love her, and if this book played a small part in expanding her mind, then surely it deserves to exist.

Please understand: it is not the cis-centric narratives themselves that I take issue with, but rather the prioritization of these narratives over stories of the actual marginalized population here, which in the case of trans-sexuals, in particular trans-women, means a population that generally lacks positive role models and protagonists of our own. We need role models in order to understand ourselves, and to have positive self-conceptions, especially considering we live in a society that largely despises us. It is not difficult to extrapolate that such a hateful cultural landscape would instill in us a profound self-loathing, a feeling of being freakish and different.

Yet, the most privileged narrative about trans people is not our story, but rather the story of how the cissies learn from us to not be complete asswipes, and are subsequently showered with praise and hole punches on their liberalism card.

Stories from the perspective of the “normals” which look in, almost voyeuristically, on the lives of the non-normals, are baby’s first empathy. It is far easier for the privileged to view the oppressed through the eyes of someone they can identify with, and that identification comes from a shared privilege. It’s a stepping-stone to truly feeling empathy for those who are different, even radically different, from you. However, it feels like many simply stop there.

On this level it makes perfect sense to me that stories like mine aren’t the ones getting the spotlight. Trans-gender people by their very nature fly in the face of thousands of years of shared cultural expectations of the immutability of gender, gender expression, and sex itself. Some see us as traitors, as traps, or as generally incomprehensible altogether. Even some feminists and gay activists shy away from us, or even go so far as to outright detest us. We complicate matters of gender and sex, changing them from static constructions to mutable shades of grey, just as the gays do, only more so. In order to understand us it makes sense to me that people would use a metaphorical telescope to view us instead of getting up close and personal. Cis-centric narratives are that telescope. They keep us at arms length and view us through a lens that is at once reductionist and familiar.

This is a necessary stepping-stone toward building empathy, but it is just that. A step. It is very worrying to me that this step is given so much more prominence than the actual lived experiences of minorities simply because it is easier and more palatable to the privileged.

At the time of this writing I haven’t traveled back home yet for Christmas 2013. My partner will be coming with me again, and for the first time since I embarked on this journey I will finally have a passport that reflects my true self. I received sex reassignment surgery in May, which made me woman enough for the Canadian government to stamp a tiny F next to my new name (yes, our stories continue on after the big surgery in the 3rd act.)

My girlfriend has never once said anything remotely transphobic to me, has never asked any prodding questions without my consent, and was fully supportive of me getting my surgery without ever suggesting that I don’t know what I need or how to run my own life. She doesn’t just owe this to some book, but to her own intelligence and introspective abilities, as well as her willingness to listen and learn. It is really not that hard to treat us like human beings. She is proof of that.


A very thoughtful editorial on how Transhumans are not allowed to belong to themselves

Long ago, when I first began this blog, I posted about how I discovered that my gender belonged to everyone else that I knew and not to myself.  I quickly realized once I knew the inner truth that I had so long tried to tell myself, and for so long had run from, that people would literally freak out if they found out that I was actually a woman and always had been.  Oddly, it would make so much sense to so many who never really understood me…male friends who were totally perplexed by me, and who often called me gay, fag, a girl, etc. would then actually have a logical explanation.  Women friends who like me very much and actually treat me like one of them would finally understand why I was easy to talk to and not like other men…

…but in actuality, the unusualness of this would freak people out, and my gender would be severely policed.  I would be run out at w**k, almost immediately, as due to the nature of our c**w interaction, those guys would feel betrayed.  It feels so weird to see everyone else allowed to own their gender with virtually no cost, but to realize that mine would have to be purchased from everyone else with the currency of fear, shame, rejection, alienation, and possibly even violence.

What I didn’t  realize though, is what Brynn writes about in this article, on how so very little of our lives as transhumans is allowed to be ours.  I encourage you to read this and ponder it.

One last comment…my dearest darling had an experience where she felt labeled as being “masculine” and it irked her deeply.  She resented being gendered that way, and fumed.  Later, as she reflected she realized that her reaction was so much due to her upbringing and being deeply immeshed in the binary concerning gender.  After she finished relating the story to me, I asked her to consider a life where everyday, in virtually every encounter, she was mis-gendered that way…where she incurred significant social pressure to dress according to the mis-genderedness, to act according to it, talk according to it, work according to it, love and marry according to it…

…she was very quiet and thoughtful, and told me she had just gained a deeper glimpse into the life that I had walked everyday since I was just under 4 years old.

On to the essay……………………………….


Brynn Tannehill

Director of Advocacy, SPART*A



The Fatal Transgender Double Standard

Posted: 01/10/2014 12:07 pm


Laverne Cox

A few days ago, Katie Couric interviewed transgender model Carmen Carrera, andOrange is the New Black star Laverne Cox. For whatever reason, Couric chose to veer suddenly into questioning Carrera about how her “private parts” are “different now” and if she’s had that surgery yet. Carmen shushed her immediately, and reminded Couric that’s a very private issue. In the next segment with Laverne, Couric went right back to asking Ms. Cox about the genitalia question.

Laverne’s answer was flawless.

“The preoccupation with transition with surgery objectifies trans people and then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we’re targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the [LGBT] community. … [B]y focusing on bodies, we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”

Other commentators have noted that the bodies of transgender people are somehow public domain. Though Laverne alluded to it, not only are our bodies expected to be public domain, but so are our histories. The results of this unrealistic expectation are horrific.

In Australia, police took a man into custody. While there, the police (illegally) informed him that his girlfriend was a post-operative transsexual. After being released from police custody, he went home, found his girlfriend sleeping, and woke her up by repeatedly bludgeoning her with a glass ash tray until it tore her lips off. After she lost consciousness, he took her to the attic balcony and threw her over the rail onto the concrete two floors below.

The police who leaked this information got community service as punishment.

In Scotland, a transgender man has been convicted of rape and placed on the sex offender list for not disclosing to his girlfriend that he was transgender before engaging in consensual sexual activity.

I have seen it expressed that any transgender person who does not tell their partner that they have transitioned is guilty of rape, and that violence against the transgender person is merely an act of justifiable self-defense. The way this man stuck his hands down the pants of a transgender woman without her consent and then beat her when he found out her birth gender. One commenter on this assault summed up how transgender people are expected to know their place:

“Since heterosexual males generally are not looking for a person of the same physical sex as them, shouldn’t this transgender person have informed the man that she is in reality a male? “Anita” Green is the problem here, not the poor guy who got duped.”

When 18-year-old Angie Zapata’s boyfriend found out she was transgender by forcibly groping her, he bludgeoned her to death with a fire extinguisher. A commenter on theDenver Post summed up society’s feelings in one sentence: “This transgender brought it on himself…”

Not only are our bodies not our own, neither are the history of your genitals or your genetics. For whatever reason, this seems to only apply to transgender people.

Is there societal acceptance of someone who beats a woman when he finds out she’s a quarter Jewish? Are men required to tell if they’re circumcised? Women have to announce if they’re had a clitoral hood piercing? Is it self-defense if you murder your boyfriend because you found out he’s not a gold star gay like you? How about throwing your girlfriend off a balcony when you find out she identified as bisexual before she identified as a lesbian?

From Gwen Araujo, to Brandon Teena, to Angie Zapata, to Cemia Dove, our lack of ownership of our bodies has meant being forcibly stripped, groped, raped, strangled, stabbed burned, and bludgeoned. It means that transgender panic defenses live on in court, and sometimes even win. After Brandon McInerney shot Larry King twice in the back of the head in the middle of a crowded classroom, the jury deadlocked on the case. Some even sympathized with the murderer. “[Brandon] was just solving a problem,” one juror said.

Since Couric’s interview, much has been written about how transgender people seem to have no expectation of privacy. Laverne alluded to the violence that the transgender community faces. Couric’s expectation that transgender people have little right to physical privacy is an expression of the cause.

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The Healing of The Light King: A Story of Christmas

Healing Charissa

“ Grandpa! Please, please tell us a story,” the young children exclaimed.

They were seated in the lap of a man who had seen many, many years. His gnarled, rough hands were like the branches of an oak tree, and his hair was thick and full, and white as snow. His face was a harvest apple in January—wrinkled and browned, but sweet to the taste. He was old as the hills and yet his eyes…full of light and joy, tears and grief, brokenness made whole… they made this old trooper seem like an eager child on Christmas Eve! He gazed down at his grandchildren, Young Frederick on his right knee, sweet Caroline on his left.

“So!” he boomed. “‘Tis a story you be wanting, is it my sprites? Well then! ‘Tis a story you’ll be getting, only then you’ll have to run off to your beds! For tomorrow we celebrate HIS birthday, and GLORY what a celebration we’ll have, eh? Frederick, throw some more wood on that fire whilst Sweet Caroline and I scoot closer to it.”


Frederick jumped down to obey. The old man rose with his granddaughter under one arm like a kitten, and with a casual flick of his wrist he tossed his huge oaken chair about three feet closer to the fire, like it was made of twigs. He sat down, and Sweet Caroline squirmed up his chest and wormed her arms around his corded neck. “Grandpa,” she said with a solemn face, “Tell us about your journey. Tell us about Him.”

“Yeah!” Frederick chimed in excitedly as he launched himself upon his grandpa. “Tell us about when you were The Light King, and when you went to see Him when He came, and about Gillae and Brownie and—“

“Whoa, slow down my bumpkins,” interrupted the old man. “You’ve heard that story so many times it must be nearly worn out from the telling! Surely you’d rather hear about how your papa, the King, killed the ugly dragon, Ba’alzamon,LK074

or about how he rescued the beautiful Princess Katherine and made her his Queen and your mother?”


“NO GRANDPA!” they shouted in concert. “Tomorrow ‘s the Day–—His day and it’s your day too, said Frederick.

“Yes, Grandpa,” said Sweet Caroline. “It’s my favorite story, to hear how you met Him and everything. Please, Grandpa, oh please?”

The old man sat looking back and forth between them as if caught deep in indecision. He glared at them in mock irritation while delight danced in his eyes. The children sat in suspense, hardly daring to breathe, hearts straining with desire to hear the magical story. Sweet Caroling looked at Frederick, and had a giggling fit. Frederick shushed her with an agonized frown and the darkness of the night pressed in through the windows as they huddled close to the fire. The room was full of lamps, all of them unlit and dormant. The fire popped and crackled fiercely. The old man drew in a deep breath, held it, just to build the suspense and then exhaled in mock resignation and secret gladness.

“Oh very well you smooth talkers. The tale is yours for the telling.” Frederick let out a whoop and Sweet Caroline accompanied him with gleeful clapping. “I swear! You two could talk an elephant out of his trunk while making him feel he was the talk of the town for the bargain! Okay then—gather close and settle in, and you shall hear the telling of


He took a deep breath, and began…

“‘Twas on this very day, 77 years ago that I left this very castle, LIGHTSHINE HEARTHHOME and began the journey. I was sick, and full of torment. The fever upon me was getting worse. The times I felt whole and pain free were fewer and shorter, as aches and hurts grew like hungry dragons feasting on my days and devouring my nights.


“The Light King” they called me then, though the name was given first in mocking jest. But King I was…then. Before the pain there was not a man under my eye that didn’t pledge his all for mine. What needed doing we did! No hesitation or moment of indecision! Strength it took, and strength I had! But it left me, strength, deserted me just when I needed it the most to fight off afflictions that no sword and shield could slash or beat down.

I loved the light in those days—and now—more than all else! I remember how sunlight through clouds and moonlight through trees fascinated me. I wanted to touch that light! To hold it, to drink it, to breathe it! To live IN it…ah!


In those days men said there was a shine upon me not seen around others, a shine that matched my strength. But my strength began to fade, and the shine began to cease.

I was terrified. Oh, I put on a brave face, but secretly I cried in desperate agony and fear. I began to collect lamps and fill LIGHTSHINE HEARTHHOME with as much light as possible—lamps in the kitchen and lights in the hall, lamps in the library, wherever I could fit them. But the more lamps I brought inside the castle, the less light I had inside of me! It was like they were stealing their light from mine and burning my strength for fuel. The castle and all in it was brighter, but me—I was growing dimmer, fading you might say.

I heard whispers behind my back, and “LIGHT KING” became a mocking title because I had so many lamps and so little light.

Oh, to my face it was all peaches and cream, but behind the curtain I was mocked as a laughingstock—king in name and calling only. Always remember: position and riches do not royalty make. It takes qualities of spirit that cannot be bought, but only earned.

LK014Then it got worse. The dreams began—awful dreams of agony and torment over what I saw in the dreams. I feared going to sleep, and with the coming night came dread as well, to lie like a great monstrous dog across the foot of my bed.

“Oh, Grandpa,” gasped Caroline. “What were the dreams about?”

Ahh. They were about a new baby who became a noble man. This man was…well, it’s hard to say after all these years…he was light! I know that seems like an odd way to tell whom someone is, but there it is.

He’d be laying there, a new baby shining like a diamond, and right before my dreaming eyes he’d grow up into a man, who was LIGHT!

He was incredible to behold! Not exactly handsome, or attractive, even…but he was beautiful! And if I was “The Light King’, then he was King of Lights! I thought if he’d just reach out and touch me, then I’d be so full of such light as’d never fade nor flicker and the pain would be eaten up and I’d be strong again!

But then the awful part of the dream started. The darkness took on shape, like dragons and daemons, and it gathered against my King of Lights and tore him with claws of hatred. It beat him and broke him into a bloody horror.

LK046Then he was nailed to the stake and blood was everywhere. Finally the darkness set its teeth into his torn body to drag him down into its maw…deeper and deeper down…I screamed in rage and terror and ran to him and grabbed him to keep him from being pulled down into the blackness.

But I wasn’t strong enough and I was dragged down with him into the pit and I wasn’t brave enough to hold on and face the terror at his side so I let go in despair and shame…and woke up screaming and weak, dim and dying. This nightmare happened all night every night, and it was killing me.  LK064

I was near death when the Star King and the Mountain King arrived. The Star King had seen great portents in the sky of a Mighty One who was to be born, and together with the Mountain King was making pilgrimage to do him homage. To survive this journey they needed the support that my treasury could offer them, and they desired me to accompany them! The fading Light King—nearing death, and I was supposed to help them? But I was intrigued by these tidings. A mighty one born in my lifetime. “Perhaps the Mighty One of All,” the Star King kept saying. It stirred…truly and deeply.


The kings stayed with us three days, and I was determined to accompany them despite being in no condition to make such an arduous journey. We had no idea where we were going, or how far it was. All we had was a new star that the Star King said sang to him to follow until it stopped where the Mighty One was. I would most likely die before I returned and yet…I knew in my heart of hearts that I was destined for such a quest.

And so we set out that fateful morning so long ago. The Star King had a big barrel of frankincense to give to the Mighty One. The Mountain King had a big chest of gold to give to Him. ‘What will you give Him?’ they asked me. I laughed in mirthless despair. What could such as I give to such as Him?LK032

I would most likely be dead before we found Him, but I said, if I was not dead, then I would give Him myself. HA, HA—a joke on the Mighty One—a dead King as a gift. So, I loaded my pack animals with food, water, and a large trunk full of burial spice—myrrh. It would most likely be used on me before we arrived, but if not, then I would complete the joke and give it to the Mighty One in the face of death, as a down payment for his dead King. My subjects lined the roadway and cheered us—some in jest and some in sorrow. Deep inside it was like everyone knew I was not coming back alive.
We traveled for months, following that star, and I grew weaker and weaker, and my dreams more and more terrible. I saw each blow of the whip and heard each gasp from His mouth. I saw each drop of living blood fall, liquid ruby light. I saw each time He was hit. I saw every crystal tear drop, and I saw the hammer fall time and again as it drove the nails through Him and stuck Him to the stake. I saw Him dropped into the earth like a broken sword in the midst of an empty grave. I needed constant care but death like the tide just kept creeping closer and closer.LK054

Finally one night, in the dreams, LK067I held onto the King of Lights as He was drawn down. Deeper and deeper into the teeth of the darkness I was pulled, but still I held on, down into such hell itself. The pressure and sorrow and grief and the undead dark were overwhelming and again, in shame and despair I had to let go and seek the light of the world I knew. But I couldn’t find my way back. I was lost, and in the darkness, I wandered alone. The Star King and the Mountain King thought me dead and left me with all that I brought.

And I lay, I know not how long. LK011

Sensations swirled behind the darkness that I wandered in, and in the tenuous patterns slowly formed. I listened eyes closed, and was comforted by noises that gave me hope all was not lost. Bells…voices …and then I noticed aromas of fields and wet wool…SHEEP! That was it! I was walking in a dark cloud surrounded by sheep!

A rough, wet, slobbery thing touched my cheek and my forehead. I was being LICKED! I pushed out with my hands and found the rich wooly coats of sheep gathered round me. I was not walking upright in the darkness at all, but was actually laying on my back in a dewy, cold field, and these sheep were gathered around me, licking me like I was Hiram the Shepherd’s salt lick!

“Gillae, come quick! An angel lays in our midst, fallen and ill!” I heard a high-pitched young voice scream. I turned my head and the world tilted violently as I did and I felt sick and began to groan and heave in dry wracking spasms.

“HIE! Back off there, Brownie! Not too close! After what we just went through I be not wanting ye to take any chances! Let us have a lookee!” The voice that spoke was like a waterfall’s roar, deep and loud, and not a little alarmed. With all my might I tried to turn to look, but before I could I felt a hard rap to my ribs and a persistent jabbing. The fool was poking me with a stick!

“WHAT BE YE!?” shouted the voice! “Speak up, now, and be quick about it! We are in no mood for further shocks and surprises, for the events of the night have greatly unsettled us!” Somehow I managed to get my head turned and my eyes open, and there I beheld a giant of a man.


He rose from the ground like the Yule Tree in the Castle Courtyard. At the top of his head was the bushiest, tangledest mop of hair that ever crowned a head! His beard was long and it moved in the wind with a life of its own. His hands were like shovels, and they held a staff the size of a small sapling! His eyes flashed brightly in the moonlight, and his teeth glistened like pearls as he spoke to me. He was one of the most commanding men I have ever met.

“Hie! I’m talking to you, there! Be ye man or be ye angel or be ye demon!?”

“I’m just a king” I managed to choke out.

“A king? You are a….KING?” The giant threw back his head and laughed like his sides were split. “You are no king, that is for certain! Brownie, bring us a light.”

A small, slight boy stepped from behind the man, bearing aloft a lamp. He was quick and well built, and had a pleasant, intelligent air about him. He gave the lamp to the giant shepherd, who scrutinized me closer.

“Hmm. Now that I can see things more clearly I am certain that you are no angel either. You do not seem to be much of anything!”

“He’s no king…is he Gillae?” said Brownie, seeking reassurance from the big man.

“Back away there Brownie,” Gillae said, and he took the lamp and drew it close to my face, and began to study me intently. His gaze was piercing, but strangely inspiring, and I felt life begin to flow again. I stirred myself to his challenge, and sat up to return his look. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed there were several other shepherds on the fringe of the lamp’s circle of light.

“By the Maker,” said I, “King I am…in a land far away. ‘Tis true that I do not look like a king, nor feel much better, but far I have journeyed to find the end of my travels. I seek the treasure of the ages. And why, by the heavens do you talk of such things as angels and demons?”

“Hmmm…perhaps I see royalty in yer veins, it may be as ye say”, Gillae said. “‘Tis evident that you have many miles of a journey upon ye, and ye are not well. But after this night’s drama it is no wonder that we knew not if you were human or inhuman. But ye speak of treasure…what is this treasure that a king would leave home and kingdom for?”

So I told him of the Mighty One that we sought, of the star that traveled and moved, and drew us on to the One. I told him of my illness and of my companions who had gone on without me, and Gillae grew evermore full of wonder and comprehension. Finally I was too weak to go on.

I raised my arm towards the sky, and gestured weakly at the night, at the star that still shone brightly and steadily overhead, silently shouting of great wonders.

“I must find Him!” I gasped. “I must….”

Gillae rubbed his chin, regal as any king I ever saw and sat silent and brooding as he considered all the things I had said. He was weighing my story, weighing me by some measure that I knew not but I cared very much to be found adequate and worthy of his good judgment.

A short and chubby shepherd stepped up to Gillae and began to speak to him in whispered tones that I couldn’t make out. Gillae nodded and answered something back, and then the little butterball stepped back to the small group of shepherds and began to urge them out to the flocks, and there they went to work gathering the sheep together as if to make a journey.

“Well, King. You are fortunate that we happened upon you. Our good man Dannaeo says that we should bring you with us on our journey, and I concur. It seems that your quest overlaps considerably with an errand that we have recently been…charged with. The boys are gathering the sheep, and when they are finished, we will fashion a means to take you with us.”

“Sir Shepherd,” I said, “you have mentioned dramatic and unsettling events. Pray tell, what happened to you and how did you stumble upon me?”

Gillae fixed his eyes upon me and stared sharply. He shifted his great bulk and rubbed his jaw reluctantly.

“Please, Sir, speak up,” I commanded in as regal a manner as I could summon. He cast his eyes down, and said “Very well Sir King. I will tell you enough to get us all to the fold in the same herd, but most pressing is our errand.

“Nigh on three hours past sunset the boys and me were on the move from yon ridgeline headed toward this very field to set the flock in for the night. It is well protected and the sheep love the sweet grass of this swale. Brownie had the flock well bunched and moving a good clip. Up at the head of the copse yonder we began to allow the flock to spread out, and we looked for firewood in amongst the trees. Dannaeo rustled up some grub and soon we were cozy in the shelter and settling in for a cold but not unpleasant evening.

“Several of the boys were nodding off and there was peace in the still night. But things began to change. I noticed that the sheep were restless and stirred myself to look for some slinker that wanted an easy meal. The air grew heavy, and shivery like, and then began to glow with golden glimmers that grew brighter each passing moment. Suddenly there was a brilliant burst, like when a big knot bursts in the midst of a roaring fire, and standing before us was a gigantic shining man! I must confess that I was undone, and I fell to my face before him like a dead man.”

“YOU DID NOT, GILLAE!” shouted an outraged high-pitched voice. I looked over and saw that young Brownie had been lingering on the edge of our conversation listening in. He rushed into our midst and began to shout, “Gillae is always changing things around to cover up his bravery! He is the biggest and bravest shepherd of all, and he stood up to that guy and made him tell us wh—“


“Hush yourself Brownie!” Gillae said sternly. “Since when did I ever teach you that it was polite to eavesdrop on the conversation of others, let alone listen in to a royal report to a King?”

Brownie dropped his eyes and hung his head. “Umm, never sir” he mumbled.

“What was that, young whelp? I can’t hear you,” Gillae chastised, all the while managing to conceal the indulgent look in his eye. It was evident to me that Gillae loved Brownie very much, and was secretly pleased with the spunk and spirit of the young shepherd.

“Brownie, it is important that ye learn to listen twice as much as you talk. This will please the Maker to see you use EACH of your ears so when you return to Him you will be full of wisdom and not emptied of sense.”

“Aww, yes Sir” Brownie mumbled, but then his fire rose up and he just couldn’t help himself, bursting out with ”but Gillae, if this is a king he should KNOW of what you are!”

“That will be QUITE enough, Jubal Dripsten…do you HEAR me!” This time the note of command and chastening was unmistakable and evident. “Back to the flock with ye, and make things ready. Have Mikkens and Towser fashion a litter upon which we can bear our companion. Sir King, I apologize for this whelp. He is young and impetuous.” Gillae followed Brownie’s departure with his gaze.

“No apologies needed, Sir Shepherd” I retorted. “I too have been his age. But pray tell me more, and do feel free to give me the FULL story.” I sensed that there was more to the tale than Gillae was telling…indeed there was more to this man than he was revealing.

“Oh, well. Let’s see…where was I?” he muttered.

“I believe you were laying on the ground like a dead man?” I remarked dryly.


Gillae shot a hot look at me that bordered on anger, but then he got a hold of himself.

“Yes…laying on the ground. Well it turns out this was the angel of the Lord, and he gave us word that the Redeemer of All Things had just been born. We were supposed to find Him in Bethlehem and declare His birth to all that we meet. Then the angel disappeared, and all was still. So we roused ourselves, and set off towards Bethlehem. Just minutes later we stumbled across you, and now you know the rest of the story.”

I looked Gillae squarely in the eye but he quickly cast his eyes down, and I was certain that he was not telling me everything. I just nodded, and said “Well, Sir Gillae, what now? Off to this Bethlehem, to see the King?”

“Aye, that is the path for us all.” Gillae answered.

He stood quickly and began to call to the others. Mikkens and Towser came over to me carrying a rickety looking litter and my baggage. They gently picked me up and placed me on the litter and then lifted me up onto their shoulders.

“I am sorry, good men to be a burden unto you. Thank you for your sacrifice and good hearts.”

“Sir King, I tell you that you are light, not heavier than a yearling lamb” said Mikkens.

“Aye”, echoed Towser. It is our privilege to carry you. It is not every shepherd that gets to carry a King to meet a King.”

And off we went, Gillae leading the way, the flock following close at heel, the group of shepherds scattered round them, and then Mikkens, Towser and I bringing up the rear. We travelled an hour or so in this manner, following the star, men speaking to one another in hushed expectant tones.

As we travelled, I marveled at the endurance of my 2 bearers, and I could not help but reflect on the difference between these 2 and my previous 2 companions. One thing was becoming evident the more time I spent with these shepherds: Royalty is not a title or station in life, but rather a way of being that is oriented towards joyful sacrifice. Perhaps my bearers were kings more than the ones who had left me to die.


After a while, I started to doze off, rocked by the soft motion of our travel.

I was startled by a voice and woke to find myself staring into Brownie’s intense gaze.

“Gillae wasn’t telling you the whole story, and I think you should know it, being a king and all. I don’t know much about kings, you being the only one I ever met” (and with this he eyed me dubiously), “but I can tell you that Gillae is braver than any man I ever met, and he is stronger and more giving than any person alive. Many times we have all been too tired to take our watches and we fall asleep, only to wake and see him on guard, over us and the sheep both. And in truth, tonight’s events have only added to his exploits!”

“Brownie” said I, “You have all seemed on edge and wary, and of course all of your hints and outbursts tell me there is more going on here than meets the eye. What exactly befell you on this evening of wonders?”

Brownie looked forward at Gillae to make sure he wasn’t listening…and no fear of that for Gillae was leading, and walking at ready as if expecting an attack of robbers, or worse. Then in a low voice, Brownie began to speak.

“Well, it all happened like Gillae said, but when the gigantic man appeared to us, we fell to the ground like dead men, but not Gillae! He stepped forward and raised his staff, and challenged the newcomer to identify himself as friend or foe, and if foe to prepare to meet his doom. The giant shining guy began to speak to us as we all clung to the ground like babes to their nursemaids.


I will never forget his words:

‘FEAR NOT, oh sons of Adam’

he declared.

‘I bear to you good tidings from the throne of the Most High God Himself, tidings of great joy, to all men in all places here and for all time until the Breaking is made Unbroken on that Day. Unto you is born this day, in David’s city, a Savior! Christ the Lord!’

“His voice hung in the air like a living thing, and was frightening but beautiful. He said he was the angel of the Lord come from the throne of the Maker.

‘You are to go to the Savior with all haste. Look for Him wrapped in swaddling clothes’

said the angel.

‘But what are we supposed to do, break into people’s houses?’ Gillae said. The angel gave a thunderous blast with his voice, that must have been angelic laughter, and it both chilled and invigorated my soul.

‘Look in the stables, Shepherd, for this King will be with the sheep, lying in a manger.’

“’A manger'” Gillae replied. ‘What kind of king is it that is born a Savior yet is lying in a feeding trough?’

When he said this, the guy just threw back his head and again thundered a laugh. But bold Gillae demanded proof that he was the angel of the Lord, and not some seducing deceiver from the Breaker’s dungeons. He actually stepped forward and thrust his staff into the face of the angel!

When he did this, the angel rose straight up about 50 feet, and clapped his hands three times…and the night split openLK041 and rolled back like a scroll and in its place was light like you cannot imagine!

It was like a hole had opened in the night, and the shadows were torn away, and Heaven’s own glory was invading the dark earth, and if you think we were scared before, we were simply undone now!

For as the light rushed through the tear in the night it filled up the air around us. This light was SOUND! Crazy I know, but the light was music, and the music I heard was the light! But the worst was yet to come, for suddenly, out of the very midst of this heavenly light angels began to pour forth.

Hundreds upon hundreds, and thousands upon thousands! Like grains through the glass they came, each one singing loudly at the top of its lungs!


Over and over they sang this, and the song took wings and flew forth from around us out into the world. LK020It is flying still, of this I am sure, to the darkest and loneliest places in the world. It is a song that will never be stopped. It will live with heaven’s life and all that hear its triumphant ring will thrill in their hearts with hope and comfort and joy.

“As this all happened even Gillae was knocked down, but while we all buried our heads in our arms and sought to hide in the dirt, I snuck a peak at Gillae. He lay on his back, face unveiled and eyes alight. As the gigantic angel of the Lord sang, he flew round and round over Gillae’s head and Bold Gillae just laughed in great bellows almost as loud as the angels.

And then, things started to go backwards-like, and trickled in reverse, and began to flow upwards, back to heaven, until only the angel of the Lord was left.LK023

‘Rise, oh chosen of the Most High’

he said.

Gillae stood immediately, and the angel’s booming laugh echoed in my head, and he said

‘I am talking about all of you! The King of Glory has a special fondness for shepherds. He has chosen you as His heralds. Go quickly to Bethlehem, proclaiming to all you meet that He is born the Divine Christchild, Light of the world. Tell the world the Maker is not mad, and He says Peace, Peace, for there IS Peace! But beware, for the forces of the deceiver gather even now to steal away the light of the world. You must be on your guard! They will stop at nothing.’

“’Bring them on!’ shouted Gillae. ‘The evil doers will regret the day they opposed the Maker, and shall be sent back to the chaos that spawned them,’ and Gillae brandished his staff towards the angel of the Lord in skillful and dangerous flourishes!

The angel rose up on high with a loud shout, and then with a clap like thunder disappeared in a lightning bolt! All was still, except for the gentle wind and the sound of our hearts hammering in our heads and the echo of Heaven’s Choirs ringing in our ears.

We lay there like dead men, but Gillae roused us up and said ‘Come lads! Heard ye not the angel of the Lord? We have a KING to find.’

“We slowly lifted our heads, still quaking from Heaven breaking into the night, but as the seconds passed, we got excited, for Gillae was jabbering and encouraging us constantly, prodding us with his voice like we were sheep on the business end of his staff.”

Brownie was silent after this, and I waited for him to resume. He glanced around uneasily, and then looked at me as if I might still just be a phantom.

“Speak on, Brownie” said I.
“Well, Sir King, off we went as the angel had said, but suddenly we heard something that chills the bones of shepherds everywhere…the lonesome sinister howl of a hungry wolf!

LK002“’Hie! To the flock men!’ shouted Gillae. ‘Remember the angel’s warning! We have a king to find! Let nothing quench your heart! Defend the flock!’

And then they were on us in a flash, 6 big, black wolves with red eyes and yellow teeth. They were taller than my head, and the likes I have never seen and hope never to see again. We tried to stand, but the howling, slashing mouths were terrifying! I was frozen in fear, and one of them actually had me by my cloak, and was dragging me off to eat me, but Gillae came flying out of nowhere in a leaping shouting whirling wind of vengeance.

He whacked those skulkers with his staff, and their bones cracked like kindling! LK042They crumpled with yelps of pain and death, but still Gillae pressed on for though 3 were slain, the rest had him surrounded. He circled as they darted in and slashed, and parried each attack. The rest of us were milling about chasing the sheep so we were no help to him as he fought for his life and ours.

“But then the air grew cold, like the grave, and a dank foul smell arose from some evil place. Life was draining out of me and I wanted to run away. I glanced at Gillae and saw that something blacker than night was floating toward him. It wasLK009

like a tear in the night that let in death and despair and it was painful to look at.

Gillae slashed at the wolves and cracked the head of one like a ripe melon as he backed off from the dark thing. He drew himself up to his full stature and shouted ‘HALT FOUL HELL SPAWN!’ Leave us for we are on a mission for the Maker!’

“Everything was still, and then from the midst of the black, 2 red eyes opened and an awful black hole gaped like a mouth. From the midst of the dark came a scream so evil it must have been from hell.

At this, my knees DID buckle, but still I looked on at Gillae. I thought that if I could just keep my eyes on him I would be safe.

When Gillae heard that death cry, he actually threw his head back and laughed!

‘Be OFF with your foul self!’ he commanded.

And the thing actually stopped. But then IT spoke, and the sound was terrible, like the squeaking of a cemetery gate. It dug savagely into my mind. LK079

‘You have no authority to make such command’ it hissed. ‘For your insolence I shall stop your heart and feed it to my wolves!’ the thing continued. ‘You have no part of this. But, in my great mercy I may let you live and even give you wealth and fame and comfort! But you must walk away and leave the night to us.’

“Gillae jumped forward with a war whoop and swung his staff with all his might right at the center of this thing, and screamed ‘In the name of the Baby King and Heaven’s Song I come against you to the death and I rebuke you!

And with that his staff found its mark. The demon gave a scream of pain, fear, and rage mingled with defeat, and then with a bang the monster was gone!

Gillae looked at me as I sat speechless and frozen in fear. The great man winked and nodded, and gently said ‘Eh, Brownie, pick up your jaw and rise up! We have a flock to lead and a king to find!’

And then he was off to slay the remaining wolves.

“I hurried off across the field in search of the sheep, and that is when I stumbled over you! All this time you had been out of it, lying in the field while angels and demons made war round about you. I looked over for Gillae just as he slew the last 2 beasts, and hollered for him, and, well, you pretty much know the rest. Can you see why we were uncertain regarding yourself? After what we had been through you could have been nearly anything! It is funny when you think about it…we found our king all right, but one who was old and dying, rather than a newborn babe who is called Wonderful Counselor!”

Brownie walked in silence and I pondered what he’d said.

Finally I said “Thank you for the tale Brownie. I understand why you are such a fierce defender of Gillae. He is brave AND modest, a rare and pleasing combination. Your testimony is true and loyal.”

“Aye, and it is also too much talking and not enough working!” that booming familiar voice thundered. There stood Gillae, big as a horse! He had slipped back to us unnoticed as we talked, and overheard everything Brownie said. Brownie hung his head and hurried off to help the other men with the flock.

“Forgive the boy, Sir King” Gillae requested. “He is forward and given to bragging. It is to my detriment that I have not succeeded in instilling within him some restraint.”

“On the contrary, Sir Shepherd,” I answered. “He is a bright boy, and I sense his story is true, yes? A more complete picture worthy of reporting to a king?”

Gillae reddened and inhaled sharply. “I am reluctant to speak about such things” Gillae answered quietly. And then Gillae would speak no more on the subject.

After a while, Dannaeo fell back to walk with Gillae and Mikkens and Towser and I. “We draw near, Sir King,” he said.

Gillae looked intently at me and said “Know that all is not as it seems. High is come down and low is lifted up. Light is cloaked and darkness becomes light. Even as He comes, so too must you come.” I was at a loss when he spoke, but my heart stirred at the promise of light. Gillae gazed at me unblinking, eyes glowing. LK075

I looked back in exhausted confusion. “What do you mean, Gillae?”

“I will say no more, lest I put you in danger of pride. Only realize that to rise you must descend, to be found you must be lost. Take heart and be bold. Believe your heart, and remember your dreams!”

“Remember them!” I repeated in pain. “I spend all my waking hours trying to forget them!”

“Nevertheless, again I bid you—REMEMBER THEM! For the Master wastes nothing.”

We finally came to the outskirts of a small town and the Star stopped, and fell lower and lower until it was drawn impossibly near to earth and hovered there, motionless in stellar proclamation of heavenly portents.


The town was bursting at the seams with impossible crowds of people all trying at once to find food and lodging. We came to the inn, and I was sure that Gillae and the boys would get a room for me to rest and prepare to meet the Mighty One. But they walked straight on by with nary a glance! Down a narrow lane into an even narrower alley, flock and all, only to enter into the gloomy darkness of a smelly, dirty old stable!

“Gillae, why do we come to THIS place,” I asked him in confusion.

“Listen in your heart, and you will know, Sir King,” he answered, “but if you are deaf, then lift up your head and you will see the star over your head like a bonfire of comfort and joy.”

And I looked up and there it was in its beauty to take away your breath. I looked around us and saw animals, some people (shepherds mostly), and even Kings! Yes—the Star King and the Mountain King had found this decrepit place, too.

But no one was looking at us. They were all looking at a manger, or rather, the small baby who lay in the manger. He was newly born and at peace.

The Star King wore a look of disbelief. The Mountain King seemed disappointed, like someone at the end of a long, unfruitful quest. LK076

I cleared my throat, and said weakly, “Hail and well met fellow kings. Why be you in this god-forsaken place?”

The Star King glanced, then did a double take. “Hail and well met fellow King,” he replied in astonishment. “We thought you dead this night. Even now you look more dead than living. But alas for us all. We came looking for the Mighty One of whom the Star sings, but found only yon babe and vanity!”

Gillae spoke up, eyes blazing: “Good King, yon babe IS the Mighty One! Do not err! Take heed my counsel: to rise up you must bend down. The eye of pride cannot see the light of humility.”

I glanced at the Star King to gauge his response, but he merely stared at Gillae like he were some dirty peasant beneath his notice and station. I looked back at the baby, and noticed a man and a woman seated near the manger looking overwhelmed by all the attention and commotion.

All at once, the babe opened his eyes, and gazed straight into mine. I felt lost in their depths.

Then I heard a Voice… “Come to Me, Light-King,” it said.

I looked all around but I couldn’t see who was speaking. Suddenly Gillae was thrusting his staff against my back, pushing me towards the babe.

“Go on, quickly!” he hissed. “The Master calls you.” I laughed out loud.

“The Master? Him? That helpless babe? Surely you jest. He is no more master than you are, Sir Shepherd!”

Brownie ran up to stand at Gillae’s side. “Go on,” he urged. “Remember what Gillae told you! ‘…As He comes, so to must you come…’ He sent for you: now you must answer Him!” I looked back and forth between the baby and my friends.

“Remember your dreams!” called Gillae.

“Yes,” said the Voice. “Remember your dreams.”

Suddenly I realized that the baby before my eyes was the same one I had dreamt of for all those years! He was the King of Lights who was savaged by darkness. I gasped in awe and terror. If the dream baby was real, were the dreams real as well?

“Yes, they are,” he said. It was the baby who had spoken, though His lips had not moved. The Voice I was hearing was His!

“Draw near to me, my Light King and learn the meaning of these things.” He called me “Light King”, but in his mouth it was not a curse but instead was a caress.


I knelt at the side of the manger. Memories swept over me and in pain I wept. Tears ran down my face and crowned the baby’s brow. His tiny hand reached out and grabbed me with a grip stronger than life, stronger than death. I tried to pull away. But he held me stronger than chains and looked into me.

“My precious Light King. I called you. You answered. I prepared you. I send you. But first I will heal you.”


The stable fell away and we were in my dreams, only this time he held onto me. Darkness came rushing at us with hungry teeth and sharp screams. I was terrified. Claws of dark tore at Him and His light bled out and the darkness took us down, down deeper into Hell.

I screamed and tried with all my might to get free but He held me there with him. The awful stake came and pinned Him there with nails of death, but still He held onto me, and still we went down. His light was pouring out, but we went down deeper than I’d ever been in any of my dreams.

He took me down all the way. It was there, at the bottom that I saw what I’d never been able to see before…the ending of all His light at the bottom of the end of down. LK018

I screamed in despair, certain that all was lost.

But then came His blood in a rush!

His light had made a way into Dark’s evil heart and the flood of His blood raced on the heels of the Light! Dark thought it devoured His light, but Dark was deceived! Like an arrow straight and true Darkness was pinned and blood consumed it.

And by His blood the Breaking was broken,
and by His blood death undone.
By His blood all light resumed flowing,
by His blood all healing begun.


From the lowest, most impossible place of all, we began to rise, He and I and still His marvelous hand gripped me. We were rising on a tide of living light; lifted by the flow of His blood and He sang with victory and triumph!

“Behold, the King of Lights is come,
Bruised and poured out from on high,
The Blood King’s battle now is done
And Death’s devoured by victory!
King of Lights, Eternal Fount
The Blood King conquers every foe
Rising with triumphant shout
Peace, Goodwill to those laid low!

As He sang the light grew brighter and blood redly ran deep and wide and we were high and lifted up, and still He held me. He held me! And I understood.

The stable came back. I was still kneeling beside the manger; my tears were still His crown. The others had all gathered close and were waiting in a hush.

The baby let go of my hand. He turned His tiny head and looked at the side of the manger. The point of a careless nail protruded starkly through the wood. Slowly, deliberately, He reached His tiny hand toward it. The woman perceived His intent, and started forward to stop Him, but the man stopped her.

The baby covered that nail point with His hand, and then, deliberate and slow, He pushed His palm against the nail. He never hesitated; he never even winced. He drew back his hand, and there in His palm lay a red pearl of great price—a drop of His innocent blood.

He reached His wounded palm out to me and then He pressed it against my forehead like a kiss… and my pain was gone. My grief and sorrow vanished, and I was healed, and filled with light—HIS very light!

I rose and ran to my packs and drew out the chest of myrrh. I took it to the baby and laid it at his feet.

“Oh my Blood King, my death is your death, and your life is my life,” I said. I was still weeping, but now with tears of joy and gratitude.

He answered

“I am King of Lights who has become Blood King. Your death has become Mine, and My Life and My Light are become yours. You are My Light King! Here is My charge to you: go in My Light. Spread it wherever you go. Care for the children.LK044  Give them gifts. Wherever you speak, there Light shall be. Wherever you give, Life shall grow. Remain faithful until you see Me return on high! For I will go, and I will return!”

The Star King and the Mountain King were transformed by these events came and they bowed low, laying their gifts at His feet. They had found the Song of the Star! LK015

Gillae, Brownie, Dannaeo, Mikkens and Towser also stepped forward. The Baby giggled and petted each one. They received His touch like knights receiving the dubbing of their King’s sword.

Gillae turned to me and said, “I see now, Light King, the hidden ways of the Master. I honor Him and acknowledge you, His messenger and Giftbearer.”

The old man’s voice faltered and grew and silent. He seemed lost in memory. Sweet Caroline and Frederick waited, and waited for him to continue, but finally Frederick could wait no longer.

“Finish the story Grandpa! PUH—LEEZE!”

“Yes, oh yes”, chimed in Sweet Caroline. “What happened next?”

“Huh?” asked the old man. “Oh. Sorry my bumpkins, I was just remembering. Well I told the Star King and the Mountain King all that had happened to me and introduced them to my shepherd friends. Then an angel told us to go home a different way. LK035Seems the Breaker had gotten hold of an evil king’s heart. But that’s the stuff of other tales.

“I finally arrived back at LIGHTSHINE HEARTHHOME exactly two years to the day I had departed. Everyone was shocked to see me. They thought I had died. And –in a way—I had. They had let all the lights go out.

“Except for your dad! Maker’s hands, he had kept his burning for me, and he stepped out of the crowd that day, marched straight up to me, and proclaimed, ‘BEHOLD THE LIGHT KING!’ And nobody laughed, for it was finally, impossibly true.”

“And all the dead lamps, Grandpa”, asked Sweet Caroline. “Did you light them?”

“Yes Grandpa,” echoed Frederick. “Did you bring light back home?”


The old man was quiet, and then said simply, “Yes. I did.”

“Oh, show us, Grandpa. Please show us,” the children begged in unison.


“Now, now,” protested the old man. “It’s time for bed, you fuzzyheads! Come into my arms and I’ll carry you to your room.

“Oh, Grand-pa!” they wailed, but they obeyed.

He hoisted them like they were babes and turned to leave the fire’s light. He hesitated, and then he strode over to a dark, lifeless lamp, and stood still a moment. The Children, one under each arm, looked at each other excitedly and held their breath.

And then…the old man breathed on the lamp…WHOOSH…and laughed as light

…pure light…

leapt up in the lamp in answer to the call of his breath.

LK004The old man laughed and danced around the room, swinging the children high and breathing upon lampLK010 after lamp LK043LK026until the whole room had blossomed, ablaze in light, and then he whisked the children out of the roomLK031 and whirled down the hall to their room.LK030

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASome time later, he emerged.

“Hello Father”, came a deep, strong voice.

The speaker was a tall, noble man with grey streaks of wisdom in his beard and a golden crown upon his head.

The old man looked up and grinned. “Hello son, err, Your Highness,” he bowed with only a hint of teasing.

“Kids settled in, Father?” asked the King. “I was just coming to tuck them in.”

“Oh yes. I expect you’ll find them ready and waiting. Ready and waiting”.

The king looked at his father…all dressed beautiful red—like blood—and hair white as snow and shinning bright.

“You’re putting’ on a little weight, there Father. Your belly looks like jelly!’

“Aye, that it does, son, that it does. Too much ale and good cooking’ I guess.”

“But you look healthy, dad. By the Star—you look like you will live forever!”

The old man threw back his snowy head, pulled his crimson cloak around him, and roared in delight.

“That I may, son, that I may”.

Then he walked down the dark hall to his chambers and as he passed, every dark dormant lampLK048 blazed on in glorious heavenly echo of the light of his passing.LK049

The King stood and watched him until he disappeared round the corner, and the echoes of his laughter faded in the distance.LK047

“Behold, the Light King”, he said softly. “Behold.

He turned and went in to his children.

The End


Reposting an article on Intersex people…

Hi everyone…this is a very good article on a phenomena that is far more common than anyone realizes.  If I recall, I think it is more common than cleft palate!  If you would, please treat all humans you run into with kindness, gentleness and compassion.  You will be better off for it, and so will they!  🙂

Special report: Intersex women speak out to protect the next generation

One in 2,000 babies does not fit neatly into male or female categories. Sarah Morrison meets four members of a new group that’s campaigning  to change attitudes and to help others feel less alone

Saturday 30 November 2013

It has taken Holly Greenberry, Sarah Graham, Dawn Vago and Elizabeth Jo Roberts years to go public with their stories. Born into a world that insists on dividing people into two sexes, they did not always know how they fitted in. They were born to typical families in typical areas of Britain, but none of them developed into typical male or females. They are intersex.

An estimated one in 2,000 babies is born with an intersex condition or a (controversially named) disorder of sex development (DSD), which means that they are born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of female or male. This can include atypical genitalia, chromosomes or internal sex organs.

The women argue that their very existence has been “eradicated” by British society. Generations of children have been operated upon to “normalise” their genitals or sexual anatomy, while official documentation, from birth certificates to passports, requires a male or female box to be ticked.  They argue it’s one of the last “human rights taboos” in the western world.

The women have a type of androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), which means they have XY chromosomes, but are partially or completely insensitive to testosterone – they are all infertile.

The group has come together to launch a campaign, calling for the Government to urgently review the way intersex people are treated. Following on from Germany’s decision to allow newborn babies to be registered as neither male nor female, their recommendations include the option to leave the sex on British birth certificates blank, measures to protect babies or young people from irreversible and non-consensual treatment and surgery, better emotional support and increased education.

“We are at a tipping point,” said Greenberry, co-founder of Intersex UK. “Most intelligent human beings would be completely surprised and utterly dismayed at the civil inequality and human rights abuses that healthy intersex children and young adults are facing.”

She added: “We need to sit around the table with the Government because we have lived through it. We are positive role models, and professional and intelligent women, who want to represent the needs of children so that the problems we experienced aren’t replicated.”

In the 1960s, it became the norm to operate on children with atypical sexual anatomy at a young age. Doctors assigned the child’s gender and operated to reinforce it. Although attitudes started to change around the turn of the millennium, and clinicians say they have moved to a more “multi-disciplinary” approach, there is still no record of the number of operations carried out, according to Professor Sarah Creighton, consultant gynaecologist at University College London Hospitals.

This year, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned non- consensual surgery on children to “fix their sex”, saying it could cause “permanent, irreversible infertility and severe mental suffering”.

XXXora, a 33-year-old intersex artist from London, who supports the women’s campaign, refused an operation. She was born with ambiguous sex organs and raised as a boy, but describes herself as “super-feminised from the beginning”. She said: “I never had surgery or hormones. We talked about it, but then I wouldn’t be me. I don’t want to morph into a blue or pink box; I want to stay in my silver box.”

But the campaign is not all about surgery. Certain intersex people, such as Greenberry, are struggling to correct the sex marked on their birth certificates, which makes it impossible to marry and more difficult to adopt children.

Lord Wilf Stevenson, opposition whip and former special adviser to Gordon Brown – who has a more common DSD called hypospadias – supports the campaign and has raised concerns with ministers. “The issue is that the current law has been overtaken by medical technology,” he said.

There is also a need to provide long-term emotional support for intersex people. Ellie Magritte (not her real name), the mother of a girl with AIS and a member of the support group DSD Families, said adults “need and deserve much greater investment in adult DSD care, focusing not on gender, genitals and genetics, but on health, wellbeing and happiness”. She said not all people with a DSD define themselves as intersex, but added: “The main challenges for families and kids is the social context in which we live with these conditions.”

Pia Clinton-Tarestad, head of specialised commissioning at NHS England, said that the NHS is “working to assess the services we commission for intersex people”, and that it understood that “issues surrounding the timing of, and consent to surgery, are controversial”. She added that best practice involves “co-operation and agreement” between child, parents and a multidisciplinary clinical team.

Holly Greenbury

When Holly Greenberry was born, almost four decades ago, doctors spotted a degree of sexual ambiguity. She has XY chromosomes, but also partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, leaving her partly insensitive to testosterone. She was assigned a male sex on her birth certificate, but she did not develop secondary male characteristics during puberty. She knew her gender was female and underwent treatment and surgery throughout her teens. Now, the businesswoman, from south-west England, is in the process of adopting a child. Because she is unable to change her name or sex on her birth certificate, adoption is harder and marriage impossible.

“I’ve never been completely male nor completely female in my genetics. I didn’t masculinise the way a male was expected to, and my body feminised in certain areas. I didn’t have the words to express myself; I didn’t know how I fitted in. It left me feeling really isolated and, while I tried to identify as male, I couldn’t do it. It was like having a series of repetitive panic attacks. Surgery was horrifically damaging and led to huge number of follow-up surgeries. It all could have been prevented if there had been more medical understanding and if there had been less haste in trying to guess which label best fitted. I should have been allowed to be an ambiguous teenager with the freedom to express my natural gender.”

Dawn Vago

Thirty-three years ago, when Dawn Vago was born, she looked like a typical baby girl. But when she was a young child, doctors told her parents that she had testes which would have to be removed. The married singer and programme director from Warrington, Cheshire, is genetically XY and has complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, which means she is totally insensitive to testosterone. She has been on oestrogen replacement therapy since she was 11.

“The doctors told my parents there was no one else in the UK with this condition. I felt alienated from all of my classmates. I always identified very much as female, but had issues accepting myself. When I first read my file and saw my diagnosis, my world completely exploded. I found a support group and all of a sudden, felt like I wasn’t alone. The moment of joy turned into anger. I was in my early twenties and had spent my whole life and childhood feeling alienated. I realised that it doesn’t have to be this way.

“The doctors told my parents that they should push me into a career and make me become a busy woman, so maybe I wouldn’t have time to settle down and have a family. They said I would find it very difficult to find a partner. Two and half years ago, when I walked down the aisle to my incredibly handsome husband, deep inside I was sticking a middle finger up to the entire medical establishment. I am very proud of who I am and I love my body, but I hate the journey that I’ve been on.”

Elizabeth Jo Roberts

Elizabeth Jo, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from Edinburgh, was brought up as a girl. At three years old, when doctors discovered undescended testes, they removed them without her parents’ consent. She was told at the age of 10 that she was infertile and, in her mid-teens, that she had androgen insensitivity syndrome, having been born with XY chromosomes. She met other people with intersex conditions for the first time only a few weeks ago.

“My parents told me I couldn’t have children at 10 years old. I took it pretty badly. It’s like when you’re winded and all the air is sucked out of you. It destroyed my adolescence. I got bullied quite a lot. When I was 10 or 11, I was first given oestrogen pills, but I used to forget to take them, so I never really developed significantly.

“I struggled with identity issues throughout my adolescence and even in my twenties. I’ve left it late on in life to meet others like myself. It has been one of the best things I’ve done; emotionally cathartic. I suffered quite heavily from depression. I want to help others to not feel the same way. They don’t have to feel bad about themselves. Social change takes years to happen, but we should be living in a society where people don’t feel bad about their identity because they have chromosomes that are variations on the norm. They should have freedom to express themselves.”

Sarah Graham

Sarah, 44, did not find out the truth about her diagnosis until her early twenties.  The counsellor from Surrey has complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. She presented at birth as a baby girl and was raised as one, but she has XY chromosomes and was born with internal testes, instead of ovaries. When doctors removed them, at the age of eight, they told her they were removing her ovaries to protect her from cancer and  imminent death.

“They should have told my parents the truth about my diagnosis. The lies were enormously damaging to me and affected my life. They put me on oestrogen replacement therapy when I was 12 years old but, if they had left my body intact, I would have produced hormones naturally. Every six months, I was prodded and poked by an army of medical students.

“Once I saw my diagnosis, I felt like a total freak, like I didn’t belong, and was offered no support. I felt like the only person in the world with the condition and that no one would love me. I went into a massive period of self-hatred and self-destruction, which fuelled a drug and alcohol addiction. Children need to be able grow up intersex if they want and parents shouldn’t be so pressured to make a decision. We must be given the space to exist.”

To find out more visit:

Intersex UK

The Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group

DSD Families

Hypospadias UK

Reblogging a poignant outcry of pain

image-0022This is a reblog of a post I ran across today…

please, please read this thoughtfully, slowly, and really let the dilemma sink in.

It is so well put, and has so much pain and agony in it.

My dear cis friends, you really don’t know how it feels…how could you, as you have never had to even be in such a state.  None of us expect you to know, but we would humbly ask that you would at least let yourself feel it, via our cries for help.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I shouldn’t let the things I face destroy me.

Previously I described how my life has reshaped forever by my transition, how my privilege has been altered and how being transgender has very much changed how the world responds to me. Nothing in my life has remained the same, and while there have been many positive things, there was a lot that has left me scared, fearing for my life and often unable to leave my flat.

These fears have taken over my life and given me debilitating social anxiety. They have convinced me that I can’t be safe, to hide away and deny myself. They have convinced me I can never be the person I know I am, that I will only ever be a fraud or at best a poor imitation.

I am sick of this. I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore.

I don’t want to feel anxious that every time I leave my flat, consumed by the fear I won’t be coming back.
I don’t want depression and dysphoria triggered by the words and attacks of people to twist who I am.

My life should not be constantly pulled downwards by bigots and idiots.
My life shouldn’t be in their hands.
My life, my gender identity, my sexuality, who I am, is mine, and mine alone.
No-one has the right to tell me anything about any part of it.

I live my life with a constant barrage of how I am doing it wrong.
I am told by people on the street I am a ‘tranny’ or a ‘bloke in a dress’.
I am told by doctors I need to be more feminine and obey the rules.
I am told by other trans women I am too feminine and portray a stereotype of women.
I am told I shouldn’t ignore being trans…
…because it’s selfish to not be a 24/7 educator and activist.
I am told by people of my faith I will spend eternity in damnation…
…because I am homosexual.
I am told by straight cis people I am ‘too sensitive’…
…because I find the expression ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘tranny’ jokes offensive.
I am told by some other lesbians I can never be a lesbian…
…because I was assigned male at birth.

Worst of all the world treats me as less because I am a woman.

This is my life, a life of constantly being told I am wrong, having to treasure the very few people who tell me I am right. I am attack (sic) and abused, dehumanised and denied my own agency. I refuse to accept it anymore. The negativity I face with alarming consistency has driven me to the point of wanting to end my life and I still frequently feel like this is the only way out.

Why should I have to face all this merely because I am trying to be a genuine person and not hide behind the facade I created for years? I endured for years living in a gender role I knew wasn’t mine, facing a puberty that twisted my body into a form I couldn’t cope with and led to a depression that has limited my life. Now that I have finally accepted who I am and am trying to be a real person, people want me back in that cage.

I am a person and I refuse to be treated as less than that because some people disagree with the life I lead. Am I meant to just accept this, be timid and scared because I am in a minority? No, I won’t accept that I should be seen as a non-human and worthy of ridicule. I need to take back the power I have had taken from me and regain myself as a complete person.

I can do this because I have been made stronger by the challenges I have faced. As any LGBT person knows coming out is one of the most traumatic things you can do in your life, telling the world in most emphatic terms “I am not straight” or “I am not cis”. Essentially in the hetero and cis-normative society we live in you may as well be screaming “I am not normal”.

You don’t know if the person you tell will accept you, shun you, or worst of all, hurt you for trying to be who you are. No cis straight person will ever know this terror and understand that once that genie is out of the bottle there is no turning back, your life is altered forever. All you can hope is that it’s for the best.

I came out this year to a few at first, then to a lot, then to everyone in one massive go, then finally and the most scary, to my family. This was traumatic, but for me I was lucky it all went well.

What I didn’t know then was the trauma that would follow.

I’ve had the fear of coming out to doctors and having to deal with an often belligerent medical profession. Self administering hormones with no idea if they were damaging my liver and kidneys, or possibly going to kill me. Going full time in my gender identity while still looking like my old one. Abuse from random strangers. Constant misgendering. Actual attacks in the street. Difficulties with getting my hormones prescribed and being told I have to unnecessarily wait 2 years for a surgery that would drastically improve my life.

These are just a tiny example of how much my life has been ruled by fear for most of this year. These things have debilitated me, exacerbated my depression to insane lows and driven me to become so social anxious it can take me hours to be able to leave my flat. When I do leave I constantly worry whether I’ll ever come back or become one of the nameless statistics, another murdered or raped trans woman no-one cares about.

Now this is enough to make anyone break, and I have come so close so many times, but my transition has brought so much beauty and wonder into my life I refuse to let the fear take it away. I have met people I honestly love with all of my heart and soul for being wonderful and helping me through some of darkest times of my life. The simple ability to be who I really am is liberating beyond words.

This is a feeling few people will ever get to experience, to not only open the closet door but to burst out of it and just keep running. I have been liberated from a life that was nothing but vague images and dark shadows blurring past me. I have an identity that is mine and is only for me, not the shell I created for the people around me. This is why I won’t let the bigotry, the transphobia, homophobia and misogyny destroy me and crush the life I have only just got to start living.

People tell me I am strong, I am brave, but I don’t feel these things. I am really scared, timid and shy. I struggle to cope with what the world throws at me on a daily basis. Despite this I need to carry on, the other alternative is not good, and I’ve already been there before and it is not an option again, not now that I am finally able to live as who I am and be a complete person. I know there is still plenty of struggles ahead, the road won’t be smooth for me, but they are all a bit easier for knowing that I don’t have to hide any more.

I finally get to go over the rainbow, see the blue skies, and really have my dreams come true.

Posted by  at 21:12

Coy Mathis: One Child’s Fight To Change Gender

Coy Mathis: One Child’s Fight To Change Gender

rollingstonelogo  |  Posted: 10/28/2013 9:58 am EDT

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Coy Mathis

The following article is provided by Rolling Stone.

By Sabrina Rubin Erdely

When Coy Mathis was a year and a half old, he loved nothing more than playing dress-up. He didn’t show much interest in the fireman costume or the knight outfit, but would rummage through the toy box to grab the princess dress with the flowery headpiece. His mother, Kathryn, would text photos to her husband of their plump-cheeked blond boy twirling in a pair of pink-and-purple butterfly wings or wearing a frilly tutu.

LINK: How 16 Rockers Came out of the Closet

Cute, Jeremy Mathis would text back. A former Marine who was attending college in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jeremy agreed with his wife that Coy’s fascination with all things sparkly, ruffly and pink was the harmless play of a toddler whose mind was yet untouched by social constructs of “masculine” and “feminine.” Coy was one of four siblings – a triplet with a same-age sister and brother, plus an older sister – and so was surrounded by both “girl” and “boy” toys, inside their cramped split-level house, where the living room was covered by a patina of puzzle pieces and stray Legos. Kathryn and Jeremy figured it was just a matter of time before Coy sorted it out for himself.

LINK: The Secret Life of Transgender Rocker Tom Gabel

As Coy hit the terrible twos, though, his preference for all things girly became more insistent. He refused to eat unless his food was served on a pink plate, with pink utensils. He rejected the Matchbox cars and Iron Man figurines his parents gave him for Christmas, telling his brother, Max, “This is for you.” And at every opportunity Coy would wriggle out of his jeans and T-shirts and reappear in his sister’s dress or, when he could get his hands on it, her Dora the Explorer bathing suit. His parents made concessions to pacify Coy, including letting him remain dressed in girl clothes, but only in the privacy of their home. Living, as the Mathises did, close to five military installations, as well as near the headquarters of the far-right evangelical advocacy group Focus on the Family – and not far from New Life, the 10,000-member megachurch founded by Ted Haggard – Kathryn and Jeremy figured their conservative neighbors might not see Coy’s playful cross-dressing as benignly as they did.

LINK: One Town’s War on Gay Teens

“It’s a phase,” the Mathises reassured each other. Kathryn, however, wondered if it could be something more. She’d noticed the way Coy brightened whenever he put on a dress or a fairy costume. She wondered whether their toddler might be gay. The notion sat fine with her: The Mathises were recent transplants from Austin and considered themselves progressive and open-minded; Kathryn herself had a gay sister. But she told no one of her suspicion about Coy – it felt creepily premature to speculate about the sexuality of a kid still in diapers.

LINK: Sexting, Shame, and Suicide

Then one night in January 2010, Kathryn was tucking him in for bed under his pink quilt, and Coy, then three, seemed upset. “What’s wrong?” she asked. Coy, his head resting against his kitty-cat-print pillow, hugged his pink stuffed pony with the glittery mane that he’d gotten for Christmas and said nothing, his mouth bent in a tight frown. “Tell me,” Kathryn urged. Coy’s chin began to quiver.

LINK: Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone’s Interview with Barack Obama

“When am I going to get my girl parts?” he asked softly.

“What do you mean?”

“When are we going to go to the doctor to have me fixed?” Coy asked, tears now spilling down his cheeks. “To get my girl parts?” That’s when it dawned on Kathryn Mathis, with a sinking feeling, that she and Jeremy were dealing with a different issue altogether.

Thus began the journey that would lead the Mathis family to perform a radical social experiment, put them on a collision course with their local school district in Focus on the Family’s backyard and transform Coy Mathis into the transgender movement’s youngest icon – setting the stage for a showdown in the very capital of the American religious right.

Building upon the gains of LGB activists, the trans-rights movement is having its moment, advancing more swiftly than even its advocates ever imagined. This past May, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was updated to replace its old classification for trans people, “gender identity disorder,” with “gender dysphoria,” reflecting the new understanding that having a gender identity that doesn’t match your birth anatomy doesn’t make you mentally ill; only any associated distress is considered a problem. The diagnostic change was greeted within the tiny trans community – gender dysphoria is thought to affect as many as one in 10,000 people – as momentous a turning point as the DSM’s 1973 declassification of homosexuality had been for gays. The increasing acceptance also sparked a new awareness of how early in life some people begin to realize they may have been born in the wrong bodies.

“One kid in my practice tried to cut off their penis with a pair of scissors at five,” says pediatrician Johanna Olson, who is the director of the country’s largest clinic for gender-nonconforming kids, the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It happens more often than you might think.”

If the trans movement is the LGBT’s final frontier, then transgender youth represents its farthest outpost. Kids are coming out as trans earlier than ever: A survey of the San Francisco school district found that 1.6 percent of high school students and, incredibly, one percent of middle-school students identified as transgender. Children are packing the few U.S. clinics like Olson’s, which are at the forefront of a new therapeutic approach, in which children may live as their preferred gender, complete with appropriate clothing, pronouns and often a new name. This so-called affirmative model has found an increasingly warm reception among the worried parents of trans children. And so while most doctors still consider this “social transition” for kids under the age of 10 to be controversial, already these intrepid young pioneers have begun venturing out into the world – including, in rare cases, female-to-male trans kids who undergo “top surgery” as early as age 13.

As such, the trans-rights movement has speedily moved to a brand-new battleground: public schools. Although 623 American colleges and universities have already adopted nondiscrimination policies to cover gender expression, high schools and middle schools are being forced to grapple with the question of how to deal with trans students in their locker rooms, athletic fields and bathrooms. It’s a haphazard fight raging at district, county and state levels; thus far, 2013 has been what appears to be a watershed year. This past winter, educators in Massachusetts, Maine and Portland, Oregon, issued guidelines to accommodate trans students, allowing them to use bathrooms and play on sports teams corresponding to the gender with which they identify. But in August, California trumped them all by becoming the first state to pass legislation spelling out that transgender students can choose which bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams they wish, based on their gender identity.

The national headlines have inspired debate over whether this is a laudable move to recognize the needs of trans kids – or a wrongheaded manifestation of overindulgent parenting. After all, what does a child really know about authentic identity, or about what’s best for them? However, any reasonable discussion on the subject has been drowned out by conservative Republicans, who have staked out a position that is reflexively anti-trans. “Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” Mike Huckabee asked at October’s right-wing Values Voter Summit, speaking of California’s anti-discrimination-schools law; California Republicans have already targeted its repeal as a top priority. Earlier this year, House Republicans tried to strip the Violence Against Women Act of its protections for transgender women, and Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh introduced a bill that would have made it a crime for trans people to use their preferred bathrooms. Fox News commentators vehemently oppose any accommodation of trans kids in schools, something Bill O’Reilly calls “anarchy and madness.”

Perhaps no one is more outraged, however, than the religious right, of which Focus on the Family reigns as a dominant force. On Focus’ 81-acre Colorado Springs campus, some 600 employees put a chunk of their $90 million annual budget to work creating LGBT intolerance on every front, including fighting “safe-school” anti-bullying initiatives and pushing reparative therapy. Leading Focus’ charge to push people back into the closet is its “gender-issues analyst” Jeff Johnston, himself a proud “ex-gay” – now a married father of three boys – who blames what he calls the “sexual brokenness” of LGBT people on a combination of poor parenting, molestation and original sin. In his newsletters for Focus, Johnston treats trans people in particular with amused pity. “Male and female are categories of existence,” he wrote this year. “It is dehumanizing to categorize individuals by the ever-proliferating alphabet of identities based on sexual attractions or behavior or ‘gender identity’ – LGBBTTQQIAAFPPBDSM – however many letters are added. No. We stand with the truth.”

And yet despite all the opposition, the movement toward early transition continues forward, driven largely by a school of thought within the medical community based around the idea of harm prevention. Indeed, studies show that the threat to transgender people is very real: One study showed more than half report being bullied in school; 61 percent are physically assaulted; 64 percent are sexually assaulted. Trans people have sky-high rates of unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide: Forty-one percent of transgender people attempt suicide, with trans teenagers the highest at-risk group. Given those staggering odds, many clinicians are anxious to try something – anything – that might mitigate that harm.

“Kids that are supported from early childhood look very different from kids that come in here at 18,” Olson says of her practice of 250 children and young adults. “The kids who come in at 18, 19, 20 are highly traumatized.” How differently would they have turned out, she wonders, if instead of enduring years of conflict and rejection, they’d been met with support?

At three and a half, Coy turned sullen. He’d spend days on the couch, wrapped in the fuzzy pink security blanket he’d commandeered from his sister. He didn’t want to play, or talk. He especially didn’t want to go outside; any enthusiasm Coy might show for a trip to the playground would disappear as soon as he’d catch sight of the boys’ clothes he was expected to swap for the dresses he wore at home. The only thing Coy hated more was the prospect of getting a haircut; the last time his parents had suggested it, Coy had taken to his bed for days, listless and tearful.

“It was like what you see on commercials for severely depressed people,” remembers Kathryn, a slender woman of 27. Her career as a photographer took a back seat to motherhood after the couple’s assisted efforts to have a second child had yielded unexpected triplets. Little by little, Kathryn began letting Coy leave home dressed in a pink shirt – anything to pry him from the house with minimal fuss – and soon enough, with pink sneakers to match. Jeremy drew the line at letting Coy wear colorful hair clips outdoors. “I was trying to avoid a negative experience,” recalls Jeremy, who is even-tempered and stocky with rimless glasses. “Someone going, ‘Why are you dressing your son up as a girl?'”

On her online parenting message boards, Kathryn asked for advice. A transgender parent volunteered that Coy’s behavior sounded awfully familiar. “I knew when I was two or three,” he wrote, a line that resonated with Kathryn. She thought about the fact that Coy hadn’t wanted to be seen naked since age two, oddly modest while his siblings pranced around oblivious to their own nudity. She thought about the disappointment on Coy’s face when he asked her, “I’m a girl – why are you calling me ‘he’?”

Kathryn broached the subject with her husband. “Coy is saying, ‘I don’t want to have a beard.’ Maybe he’s – transgender or something?” she asked, testing the word.

“Yeah,” Jeremy considered. “Probably.” It made so much sense that they barely discussed it further – and yet the implications felt so huge that for a moment Jeremy was overwhelmed. Their household was already bursting with complications. Jeremy had bounced around jobs after his military stint had been cut short: He’d been discharged from the Marines not long after basic training for a hip injury severe enough that when he’d tried to re-enlist after 9/11, they wouldn’t take him. Two of their children were special-needs: Their oldest, six-year-old Dakota, was autistic, and one of the triplets, Lily, had been left severely brain-damaged by a bout of viral meningitis as an infant. The Mathises had also just had another baby, a girl named Auri – their fifth child. Taken in perspective, Coy’s gender confusion was hardly their most urgent family matter. The Mathises resolved to deal with it the way they dealt with everything: by staying calm, tackling one crisis at a time, and keeping an open mind.

At Coy’s wellness visit with his pediatrician, the Mathises lightly brought up his gender issues. Not long ago, the dogma on how to treat such children was to urge them toward conformity – a treatment model paralleling the now-discredited “reparative therapy” aimed at “curing” homosexuals. The American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have rejected the forced-conformity approach for gender-dysphoric patients, saying that not only are such efforts doomed to fail but that, says the American Psychoanalytic Association, they “often result in substantial psychological pain.”

But despite having jettisoned the old model, few health professionals are comfortable urging parents to let their preschooler pose as a different gender. There is not yet a standard screening model to separate the small percentage of truly trans kids from the merely gender-variant (though studies suggest that extreme dysphoria in early childhood can be a predictor of transgenderism). But gender nonconformity doesn’t necessarily mean that the kid will turn out transgender: A 2012 Harvard School of Public Health study found that 85 percent of children who expressed some form of gender nonconformity actually grew up to not be LGB or T, but straight.

Lacking hard data and facing so much uncertainty, practitioners are eagerly awaiting an American Psychological Association committee’s expected release of guidelines in 2014. In the meantime, clinicians refer to the standards of care set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which advocates the cautious but loving approach that Coy’s pediatrician suggested, known as “wait and see.” The Mathises were told to hold off on decision-making and to simply express support for Coy and his choices, follow his lead and see where it might take them.

The next time Coy begged to wear barrettes in his shaggy hair while they ran errands together, Jeremy cringed but relented. At the store, an older woman looked at father and son for a long moment, then approached. Jeremy braced himself.

“You have a pretty baby girl,” the woman cooed.

Jeremy blinked. “Thanks!” he practically shouted with relief. He looked down at Coy, who beamed with pride.

For the next year and a half, while his parents indulged his desires, Coy returned to the happy, playful child he’d once been, smiling as he romped around the backyard with a giant Minnie Mouse-style hair bow atop his head. They let him wear whatever frilly thing he wanted, gave him a Barbie, honored his wish to paint his bedroom pink and, although they continued calling him “he,” Coy seemed satisfied. His parents were thrilled. In 2011 they signed Coy up for half-day kindergarten right on schedule at the local public school, Eagleside Elementary, a sprawling building of tan-and-maroon brick, with the bland, spare look of an office park. On Coy’s registration form, under “gender,” they checked “boy.”

“I don’t wanna wear this!” Coy would protest of the boys’ pink polo shirts his parents had thought a fair compromise; sending their boy to kindergarten dressed in girls’ clothing was out of the question. “You can wear whatever you want when you’re not in school,” they told him, in voices patient but firm. “But these are appropriate clothes for school.” Coy was miserable. In class he was anxious, tearful, unable to focus and made few friends. At the end of each three-hour day he’d trudge out of school crying because some classmate had referred to him as a boy. The moment Coy got home, he’d strip off his clothes as though they were suffocating him, right down to the pink underwear his parents let him wear as a consolation, and put on a dress to relax.

One day in mid-November, Coy’s kindergarten teacher pulled Jeremy aside at pickup time to say there’d been an incident: That morning, they’d divided the kindergartners into two lines, boys and girls – and Coy had lined up with the girls. “You’re a boy,” the teacher had corrected. Coy had sobbed for the rest of the day.

At home afterward, Coy remained inconsolable. “Even my teacher doesn’t know I’m a girl!” he wailed, retreating to his bedroom to curl up with his pink blankie.

Something needed to be done; Kathryn and Jeremy recognized they couldn’t continue onward like this. The “wait and see” approach had made sense in theory. But as Coy got older, they began to realize there was no middle ground. When it came to gender, they would have to choose one or the other, pink or blue. It also struck them that, by allowing Coy to be a girl at home and forcing him to be a boy at school, they had effectively helped their child to carve out a closeted double life. “We were thinking, ‘If we give you a safe space to be who you are, that’s our way of being supportive,'” recalls Kathryn. “But we were really sending the opposite message: It’s not safe, but we’ll give you a place to hide.” They were ready for a new approach. Coy had long since made his choice; it was time to fall into line behind him. “This whole wishy-washy ‘What are we doing?’ That was done,” says Jeremy.

With the help of the support group TransYouth Family Allies, the Mathises met with a psychologist in Boulder, Colorado, who noted that Coy met the criteria for gender dysphoria: He insisted he was the opposite gender; he was persistent about it over a protracted time period; and the incongruity was causing him distress. Now that Coy had an official diagnosis, their next step was clear. And so it was that, in December 2011, Coy showed up for kindergarten in a rainbow dress and pink leggings, chin-length blond hair held back with barrettes, and a baby-toothed smile – no longer a “he” but a “she.”

With the wattage on her personality dialed back up, Coy Mathis proved a popular little girl. At recess she and the other kindergarten girls played Mommies with their baby dolls, and at pickup time her friends would call out her name and wave elaborate goodbyes. There had been some questions at first. “I thought you were a boy,” some children asked her. “No, I’m a girl,” Coy answered, which satisfied most kids; they appeared to accept the gender switch as normal. Only one kid, a girl, seemed perturbed. “You’re not a girl – you’re a boy!” she’d insist day after day, upsetting Coy so much that Kathryn finally asked the teacher to move the other child’s seat to a different part of the classroom.

Reactions among the kindergarten parents were harder to gauge. No one said anything rude, but Jeremy and Kathryn noticed that fewer parents engaged them in small talk and some gave them a wide berth. Kathryn was heartened by the handful of people who approached asking how they might explain Coy’s situation to their own five-year-olds. The bluntness of her answer may have taken them aback: “The best way to explain it is, no bodies are the same. Some girls have penises and some boys have vulvas.” She was politely thanked for her advice.

Surely, the community’s mostly gracious reaction had much to do with the tone set by Eagleside Elementary’s administration, whose support had surprised the Mathises. When, after their visit to the psychologist, Kathryn had e-mailed Eagleside asking for a meeting “regarding Coy and the whole boy-girl thing,” she and Jeremy had been unsure of what sort of reception they’d get. After all, one of the town’s chief exports was the vociferous opposition to any laws favoring gay or transgender rights. When, in 2008, a proposal had passed in the Colorado legislature to expand the state’s anti-discrimination law to protect people based on sexual orientation, including trans people, Focus on the Family had lobbied for its veto, warning that the law would expose women and children to dangerous perverts who would now freely lurk in public restrooms. Throughout the state, Focus ran a radio scare ad titled “Predator,” which specifically cited the threat of trans people in schools. “If the Colorado legislature has its way, we could all be dealing with a new type of predator,” warned the announcer. “And instead of our kids worrying about class work, they’ll be worrying about who might be in the restroom with them.”

The proposal had passed anyway, making Colorado one of 17 states that now prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender expression. Kathryn and Jeremy discovered the law’s existence while doing research in preparation for their sit-down with Eagleside administrators and, on the day of the meeting, had arrived armed with a printout of the particulars. They’d been pleased to discover that the four staffers, including the school principal, had shown up with a copy of the state law too.

“They asked what they could do to help,” remembers Kathryn. “The school psychologist was just giddy.” As a result, Coy’s transition had gone so smoothly that by the end of kindergarten and into first grade, she was thriving: happy, succeeding in school and coming home with her backpack full of birthday-party invitations.

So the Mathises were unprepared when, one night in December 2012, they got a call at home from Principal Jason Crow. “Hey,” he said casually, “we have to have a meeting soon about Coy.” He informed them that Coy would no longer be permitted to use the girls’ bathroom. Kathryn and Jeremy were stunned. “I started ranting and raving,” Kathryn says, “and then I went into action. I looked up the law to make sure nothing had changed, and it hadn’t.” The school had never reported any problems with Coy’s gender status before; the Mathises couldn’t imagine what had triggered the sudden policy switch.

But unbeknownst to the Mathises, a debate had been brewing for months. Unlike kindergartners, who had a gender-neutral bathroom in their classroom, first-graders used the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms down the hall. Some parents were already touchy about Coy; one mom had complained to Crow about her “moral issues” with Coy’s upbringing – how would they react to Coy using the girls’ room? As later explained in legal documents, the superintendent of the Fountain-Fort Carson school district was concerned about the precedent Coy’s access to the girls’ bathroom would set.

“The district also had to take into consideration that this would not be an isolated request, and that it was probable that it would be faced with one or more requests in the future,” the superintendent wrote. “And perhaps by a student much older and more physically mature than Coy.” The terrifying prospect of this hypothetical older, maturer student was key to their analysis. As attorney William Kelly Dude would write in the accompanying position paper, while perhaps it seemed acceptable for a harmless six-year-old like Coy to enter the girls’ room, he vividly described what a future infiltrator could look like: “a male high school student with a lower voice, chest hair and with more physically mature sex organs who claims to be transgender and demands to use the girls’ restroom” – a menacing portrait of an impostor that echoed the threat of Focus on the Family’s “Predator” ad. That hairy deviant would soon be Coy herself, as Dude would write the Mathises: “As Coy grows older and his male genitals develop . . . at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom.” The decision had come down swiftly: For the protection of the district as a whole, Coy was to be banned from the girls’ restroom.

“You know this is against the law, right?” Kathryn demanded of Principal Crow in his office a couple of days after his phone call. This wasn’t just about finding Coy a toilet. It was about the larger message Coy would be forced to internalize every time she had to relieve herself: that she was abnormal, that there was something so grotesque or unsafe about her that her very presence in a place as delicate as a bathroom was intolerable. And Coy wouldn’t be the only one digesting that attitude; so, too, would her peers.

“There’s nothing I can do,” Crow, a tall, soft-spoken man with dark, slicked-back hair, told Kathryn. “My hands are tied.”

“Then the kids aren’t coming back to school,” Kathryn snapped, storming out of his office. The Mathises were bewildered to realize that the protections they’d thought Coy had by law didn’t seem to protect her at all in reality – and they worried about what that gap might mean for the rest of Coy’s life. “If we just back down, then it’s going to be a fight again in middle school, and in high school, and again in college,” Kathryn says. “But if we can get the big fight over with to make sure these places know they have to follow the law, then maybe we won’t have to do it forever.”

The Mathises filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights. They withdrew Coy and her siblings from school, explaining to the kids that the school wasn’t being very nice right now and that Mommy was going to be their teacher for a while. Coy understood. “The school is being mean to me,” she said. “They’re telling me I’m a boy when I’m really a girl.” With that, the Mathises were ready to take the next affirmative step.

On a banquette in the lobby of the Hampton Inn in Philadelphia, on the eve of the Trans-Health Conference, the moms are drinking wine. “My mother says, ‘What does she want for Christmas?'” says Kristine Janovitz, speaking of her 12-year-old trans daughter. “I said, ‘A vagina!'”

Everyone around the table roars with appreciative laughter, including Kathryn Mathis, who looks shyly down at the table. Kathryn could never be so open with her own conservative, religious Texan family, with whom she’d had an arms-length relationship anyway. Though she’s sure some of her family objects to Coy’s living as a girl, they know better than to articulate their disapproval because, says Kathryn, “if they were to be outspoken about their problems with Coy, they would be cut off.” Perhaps with that in mind, both Kathryn’s and Jeremy’s families responded quite well upon being told that Coy would be raised as a girl. “Well, I figured,” Jeremy’s father had remarked dryly, “’cause he’s wearing a dress in all the pictures on Facebook.”

Absent much family support, the Mathises have built a new community for themselves by connecting online with other parents of trans kids. Their efforts have been made easier by the fact that their discrimination complaint made Coy an overnight LGBT luminary, her story splashed in the pages of The New York Times and on Katie Couric’s show. Over the past few months, Coy has stayed up well past her bedtime to appear at the red-carpet GLAAD awards and at a trans-rights fundraiser, events where strangers flocked to the Mathises to thank them, and share their own stories of discrimination. Jeremy has been so horrified to learn about the difficulties trans people routinely face – in the workforce, getting health insurance, in the housing market, and don’t even get him started on incarcerated trans people – that he is about to begin law school, determined to become a civil rights lawyer. For Kathryn and Jeremy, their swift rebirth into champions of an underdog cause has imbued their lives with a new sense of forward motion. Thus, in a short time period, necessity and now passion have turned the Mathises into a couple invested enough in trans issues to have packed all five kids into their enormous wheelchair-accessible van for the two-and-a-half-day drive here to the annual Trans-Health Conference, on what amounts to their first family vacation.

As the hotel fills with families checking in, the lobby takes on the gushy feel of a reunion, with parents whooping as they greet one another and proudly introduce their kids, who are running everywhere. “I have three girls: two biological, one trans,” one mom says to another by way of introduction. The most striking thing about the crowd is their ordinariness: just a bunch of earnest suburban moms and dads, accompanied by young children still so androgynous-looking that the trans kids are indistinguishable from their non-trans siblings.

Coy races by, shrieking with glee while getting a piggyback ride from an older kid. This evening Coy is wearing a mint-green dress with a butterfly print, pink leggings and pink patent-leather shoes, her baby-fine golden wavy hair pinned back with two sparkly flower barrettes. As she shows off by carefully balancing a dime on the tip of her dainty ballet flat – “Look what I can do!” she squeals, then wrinkles her brow to better concentrate on lifting her pointed toe an inch higher – it seems impossible to imagine that she is anything but a girl.

But with older trans kids tearing about the conference, the Mathises get a glimpse of how puberty will change everything for Coy, and that’s a major reason why they are here in Philadelphia: for the camaraderie, yes, and for present-day guidance, but mostly to start amassing information on what Coy’s future might hold.

The prevailing train of thought from the affirmative camp goes like so: If these kids are truly trans, why should they endure the horrific transformation of developing the “wrong” adolescent body in puberty – a trans girl with an Adam’s apple and a low voice; a trans boy coping with breasts and a monthly period – with all the wrenching emotional consequences, only to have to medically undo those changes later in life, with less-than-ideal results? Rather, a few clinics have adopted a series of medical interventions to delay puberty and then, later, give kids a smoother gender reassignment. The first step, sometimes as early as age nine, are medications called puberty blockers, which stave off secondary sex characteristics, buying families precious decision-making time until they feel sure of the child’s wishes. Though concerns remain about whether kids on puberty blockers develop adequate bone density, pediatrician Olson says blockers are an effective low-risk tool when used for the short term: “The blockers allow us to push the pause button and let kids explore gender during what are really the most difficult years,” adding that if kids ultimately decide not to continue the regimen, they could simply stop taking the meds, and anatomical puberty begins.

Assuming the kid is still insistent, though, step two begins in adolescence: With the child’s prepubescent body a relative hormonal blank slate, cross-sex hormones are introduced, so that the child’s body blossoms into his or her preferred gender – resulting in a gender reassignment with far more convincing-looking results than for those who transition as adults. Step two is also the point at which there’s no turning back, since once a child’s voice drops, or there’s significant breast development, those changes will remain even if they come off the drugs. And then, eventually, there’s step three: “bottom” surgery, if they choose, at age 18 or older.

This path through adolescence can be a frightening prospect even for the most trans-positive parents. If early social transition is about following a gender-fluid child’s lead into a possibly temporary experiment, then medical intervention is the point at which parents take charge and decide their child’s permanent outcome. Before turning 18, a kid may wish for gender reassignment, but he or she cannot legally go down that path without parental consent; that burden falls on the adults. “Even for the most accepting of parents, it’s very much a grief process,” says Olson. “You’re losing your son and gaining a daughter.” And then there’s a parent’s worst fear: Maybe they’re making a colossal, life-altering mistake for their child.

But at the conference over the next few days, the Mathises will witness firsthand the ramifications of not taking action, when they survey their fellow attendees swamping the Pennsylvania Convention Center: beefy matrons who call to mind Mrs. Doubtfire; delicate men sporting overcompensatory beards; towering divas with fantasy curves; and so many shades of in-between as to make a conventioneer thankful for the name badges listing everyone’s “preferred pronoun.” The fact that their appearances are confusing even here at the Trans-Health Conference, the most safe and affirming venue on Earth, is a painful reminder that out in the world, these people are not “passing” – few have the privilege of anonymity – and each has to live with the scrutiny that brings.

A child like Coy, however, could have the power to change public perception of trans people. High-profile trans actors like Laverne Cox on Orange Is the New Black, or trans teenage characters like Wade “Unique” Adams on Glee – and, more controversially, Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning – have brought transgender people a level of visibility they’ve never before enjoyed. But such spokespeople could never normalize transgenderism in the culture as compellingly as a kid like Coy – whose total inhabitancy of her gender identity is right on the surface, undeniable, as is her guileless wish to be accepted for who she really is.

Days after the Mathis family returned home from the convention, in June, they discovered that the Colorado Civil Rights Division had rendered a verdict on their discrimination complaint against Coy’s school. Director Steven Chavez had weighed the case and decided resoundingly in Coy’s favor, granting her the right to use the girls’ restroom, and coming down hard on the Fountain-Fort Carson school district for depriving Coy of her rights. “Telling [Coy] that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions . . . creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile,” Chavez wrote in his scathing 14-page ruling, adding that the school’s rationale behind forcing Coy to use a different bathroom is “reminiscent of the ‘separate but equal’ philosophy.”

The determination is the nation’s very first to effectively uphold the rights of trans students to use the bathrooms reflective of their identities, and is being viewed as a landmark case. “This decision happened in the middle of a cresting wave,” says Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network. “This case was hugely important to calling attention to the fact that when it comes down to it, schools have an obligation not to discriminate.”

Not surprisingly, Focus on the Family’s Jeff Johnston expresses disappointment with the ruling. “We don’t think it’s healthy for girls to be exposed to a boy who thinks he’s a girl in a bathroom,” Johnston says. And he gently invites the Mathises to seek counseling and stop screwing up their kid. “It’s got to be painful to reject your own masculinity. That’s painful internal conflict for a child,” he reflects. “You want to affirm his essence and the goodness of being a boy – that your masculinity is a good thing, and it comes from God.”

The Mathises don’t pay such people much mind. “All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls,” says Kathryn. “We are extremely happy with the result.” Nevertheless, Coy won’t be returning to Eagleside Elementary. The Mathises have moved an hour and a half away to Aurora, where they hope to get a fresh start in the more progressive Denver metropolitan area. The Mathises have been impressed with how receptive Coy’s new school district has been in dealing with its first openly trans student, even going so far as to enroll Coy as a girl – in accordance with Coy’s new passport, obtained with the help of doctors’ letters, which labels her as female – and reassuring the Mathises that no one, other than a few key staffers, would need to know that Coy is transgender. As far as Coy’s classmates know, she is just another second-grade girl.

Coy loves her new school. “She already has tons of friends, all girly-girl friends,” says Kathryn. Her parents have been cheered by the way Coy has flourished into such a happy little girl – it feels like a signal that they’re heading in the right direction. And at her birthday party in September, under the pink and purple Chinese lanterns that hung from the Mathis’ living room ceiling, wearing the Wonder Woman outfit Grandma had sent as a gift, Coy stood with wide eyes as her pink kitty-cat cake appeared, topped with a glowing candle shaped like the number seven. She closed her eyes and made a wish.

The Woman Caught in Adultery

I am thinking this morning of a woman who lived long ago…a woman caught in adultery.

In the very act.

She was dragged by her hair thru the streets, naked, weeping, screaming.

By men of so called righteous character and religious standing (not a lot has changed there over the years, the white-washed tombs!).

She was thrown at the feet of the One person on the planet who had the power over sin, but not as an offering, not to be healed…but as bait.

Objectified and made the personification of their own lust and self-loathing, they sought to use her to trap Him into an act of evil, an act that would join him into their religious system of oppression and abuse and control.

They threw the law into His face, like a handful of glass shards and demanded that He rule regarding the consequences for her.

She lay in the dust, face down, and tried to die inside on the spot…willing herself to non-being but only achieving that wretched state of being filled with her failure to the brim and overflowing…her brokenness, her loneliness, her rejection, her bruises all raised their voices in a cacophony of rage against the fact that she dared desire something better and more than what she had…and what she didn’t have.

Then, she tasted the dirt with her tongue, and realized that dirt tasted better than life and she gave herself to oblivion…

But He just sat there and stared at the monsters who, bloated and puffed up with rage and hatred and religious pride strutted around like erect raping cocks seeking any orifice that they could ravage and leave their caustic acid behind rendering each place barren.

His eyes saw…SAW…and then He turned to the dust and started writing in the dust with a finger.

Oh finger of God you write in our dust daily, you redeem our days with your touch, you humble yourself and draw near to us in our pique, our pride, our hurt and lonely lies!

The monsters were silent, and then again clamoured for a ruling…

His famous words…Let He who is without sin cast the first stone.

We have thrown that phrase at each other in self-justification for our own selfishness, thinking we can hide behind it to do what we want since everyone else has fallen short…

But what He was really doing was claiming the right that is His by LAW!  He was telling these mind f***ers, these heart rapers to get the f*** away, because He was there…the one without sin…and it was HIS RIGHT, HIS PLACE…to cast the first stone.

And then He was silent again…and wrote…

He writes today in the dirt of my heart, in the dust of the floor of my lonely and bereft spirit as I lay and eat dirt and seek oblivion, seek escape from my prison of days…

The monsters got bored…no pain to eat, no life to suck, no hearts to rend…until it was just her in the dirt, naked…bruised and torn…a hot mess of despair.

And then He touched her shoulder, with a hand that would later be rent, His heart already rent for her and flowing to her, and He got her attention and asked her where were her accusers?  Where?

She didn’t even know He was there, they were not there…she didn’t even know SHE was there, or where there WAS…

But she looked up and saw him, and nothing else…

If you want to know the end of her story, keep reading here…

But for now, understand this:  Redemption is real.  It comes from Love, and love comes from the one who writes in the dust, and has since time began.


Publishing some articles regarding Transgender issues

What follows is an article that I ran across some weeks back which grapples with some of the issues of being transgender.  I hope anyone who comes here will read it with care and a tender heart.

Remember:  the suicide rate in the trans community is over 40%, and that is just with people who are admitted trans…we really do not know how many other trans people who are not out have despaired and killed themselves.


‘Every Single Family in the World Is a Nontraditional Family’

Hope ReeseMay 3 2013, 8:35 AM ET

Emily Walker/flickr

At 42, James Boylan was married to a woman he loved. They lived in Waterville, Maine with their two sons. Boylan taught English at Colby College.

Then he became Jenny. Never at home in a male body, Boylan underwent gender reassignment surgery and wrote about it in her 2003 memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Her new book, Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, reflects on what her transition to a woman means as both a parent and a partner in her family, which has remained united. We spoke about what she’s learned about women, how she and her wife Deedie navigate intimacy, and what her experience tells us about the ever-changing concept of the American family.

Can you talk about the transgender spectrum?

Transgender is a way of talking about all sorts of gender-variants as if we had something in common with each other. Gender-queer people, cross-dressers, transsexuals, and drag queens don’t really have all that much in common. Ru Paul who, when the wig is off, is a gay man, doesn’t have anything in common with Amanda Simpson, who was appointed in the U.S. Commerce Department by Obama as the first transgender presidential appointee. They might not have anything in common with someone like, say, Leslie Feinberg or Kate Bornstein, who are more interested in the political aspect. They are very different.

Is being transsexual genetic? Is there a biological component?

The science is getting better, but it’s not especially conclusive. Trans-sexuality seems to have its genesis in the sixth week of pregnancy when fetuses form brain structures usually associated with that of the opposite sex. It might have to do with the hormone bath that the fetus is in or it might be something else entirely. I don’t know if it’s genetic, but it does seem to be neurological. It’s not related to anything you grow up with. It doesn’t have to do with how your parents treated you. And it doesn’t have anything to do with whom you’re attracted to. Although sexuality and gender overlap in such interesting ways that it’s easy to get confused.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about transsexuals?

The hardest thing is for people who aren’t transsexual to be compassionate and have the imagination to recognize that this is the defining crisis of someone’s life. If you’re trying to live in a body that you’re not wired for, it’s like paddling upstream against the current in a tiny boat. Because people who are not transsexual have never had this problem, they assume that it must not really be a problem. If you’re not trans, you wake up in the morning and don’t worry what sex you are. For people who do have to worry, people for whom it is a constant, agonizing heartbreak, others think it’s funny or strange. It’s a measure of our compassion as human beings. Can you understand the problems of someone who is not you? I didn’t change genders because I was really gay and couldn’t accept it. I didn’t change genders to be more feminine, quite frankly. It’s not about femininity, it’s about femaleness. It’s not about playing with dolls or making brownies or whatever cliché of femininity we have. It’s about finding peace in your own skin.

How has the media played a role in shaping the way the public responds to transsexuals?

I was on the Larry King Show in 2005 and remember having a conversation about the caption below my name saying “professor” or “author.” They ended up using “had sex change operation.” I thought, really?

Why aren’t there many role models for transsexuals?

Gay people who are out increasingly spend much of the rest of their lives going about their business. Transsexual people, if they come out in a public way, more often than not fade into the woodwork in two or three years. A lot of trans people “go stealth” which means that you transition and move somewhere and don’t tell people about your past. But if sexual transition is marked by seamlessly integrating into the culture, there aren’t visible transsexual people of an older generation. If you think of trans people you know, it’s mostly people on the street who don’t pass well. But if a transsexual does pass, you don’t know.

Related Story

The End of Violent, Simplistic, Macho Masculinity

How central is gender to identity? Are you the same person underneath?

When transsexuals go through transition, the great question is: Who am I going to be on the other side? Will I be some completely new person? The great surprise is no, of course you’re not. I went through the adolescent period that transsexuals go through, feeling out what parts of the new personality were going to be the keepers. There are probably some things that are a little different, but I’m not conscious of them. You still have the same history, sense of humor, parents, and children as you had before. What I don’t have is secrets. It’s not so much going from male to female as going from a person who had secrets to a person who doesn’t have secrets anymore. The big thing is, I wake up in the morning and don’t have to think about gender.

When Deedie gave birth to your boys, did you re-question your sexual identity? Or did you think, “Ok, I’m a father now”?

Yeah, I felt, I’m a father. Any ambivalence about being a man I have to let go of because it’s now about something bigger than me. When they were born I thought, “Okay cowboy, you better get in character here!” And I’ll tell you what: If I could’ve pulled off that stunt, I would have. But I wonder if I could’ve given them a better life. I think maybe all of our lives are better, full of more surprise and gratitude as a result of having to find our way through this domain.

When you first came out, did men and women react differently?

Absolutely. Women, generally, were very welcoming. Almost from the get-go, women were like, “Welcome to the sisterhood!” One friend from Ireland wrote, “Welcome! It’s bloody brilliant being a girl.” But even the hippie, groovy boys I knew from college were very uncomfortable. Some of those relationships have never really been repaired. There was much more negotiation that had to be done. And some of them may never have quite accepted me as a woman but kind of play along with me, which I find insulting. The women were interested in the transition and wanted to talk about womanhood and gender. And maybe women are more accustomed to knowing that gender is a difficult world that has to be navigated whereas the guys didn’t want to hear about. It might also be that a lot of my close male friends were upset that I’d kept something hidden. You can see how they’d respond with disbelief and a sense of sadness that they didn’t know me in the way they thought they did. So it could’ve been a sense of loss.

What did you learn from your father about how to be a man? And how have you passed that on to your boys?

The things my father taught me are very different from what I’m teaching my boys. A lot of them have to do with silence and being strong for other people and not being particularly emotional. I think my sons are more emotional and more loving as a result of having both Deedie and me as parents.

He died before you came out—how do you think he would’ve reacted?

He wouldn’t have liked it one bit. He belonged to a certain class of men who, if you have a problem, you keep it to yourself. If someone in the family has a divorce, it’s a shame we don’t speak of.

What have you learned about women since you’ve become one?

No one goes from male to female in this culture in order to get a better deal. I immediately noticed downsides—both in terms of little things like not being listened to in the same way, being less of an authority figure in the classroom than I used to me, to feeling vulnerable. I used to be fearless, I would go anywhere. And I’ve felt threatened by men, especially when I was out with the band, playing at sketchy bars late at night. So I feel more vulnerable in the world. But guess what? All of these problems belong to me. They come with the territory. I won’t make light of any of them, but they’re a fair price to pay for being yourself.

What about the positives?

I cry freely and I laugh freely. I don’t hesitate to express love for people, and I live in a much more emotionally volatile place now. Ninety percent of the time, it’s a really good thing.

When you were a father, you were “goofy, feckless”—and now, as their mother, you nag more. Can you talk about the shift?

I wonder whether, to some degree, it’s cultural. Whether men have more room to play in. I’m still the goofier of the two parents. But changing genders is a harrowing experience. It left me sobered up in the world. And the older my sons have gotten, the more dangerous the world seems. When they were little, I could protect them by feeding them and holding them. But when they get in an automobile and drive away, there’s nothing I can do to save them. In some ways, it’s not only gender—it’s also the passage of time.

How have you and Deedie negotiated co-parenting?

We had a pretty egalitarian marriage even back in the day. Early in the transition, we were on new ground. We’d both be in the ladies room at the same time—that was weird. Or there’d be two women’s blouses in the hamper. But we both cook, both nurture the boys. Deedie was a soccer coach for years. So we were never socked in traditional gender roles. I think that’s true of a lot of couples. What it means to be a husband or wife has changed.

The gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids

You say that part of being a man is “to be silent.” Has becoming a woman allowed you to be more open?

Yes. My job as a dad, I felt, was protector. Sometimes you keep your family out of trouble by keeping your mouth shut. A lot of women would disagree, but a lot of men would probably say, “Well yeah.” I thought I was protecting my family by not being public about being trans. I carried a lot of sadness around, but thought I was taking the bullet for my family. I’ll bear the sadness if it keeps us from having a really weird life. I think our family is more vulnerable now. But we’ve been mostly really blessed. We’ve seen how good people can be. Many people I expected to lose when I came out stood by me. I married Deedie because I thought love would “cure” me. And I was cured by love—just not the way I thought. Finally someone loved me enough to stand by me when I went through this.

Your title states that this book is about life in “three genders”—what’s the third?

That’s the in-between period I visited in the heart of transition, when people perceived me as male or female based on random cues, like whether I had earrings in, or whether my hair was tied back. But you don’t have to be transgender to know that there’s plenty of room in the definitions of “maleness” and “femaleness” and if you think of gender as a wide spectrum, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at one end and Christina Hendricks at the other, well, most people don’t live in those extremes. Most people fall somewhere along the spectrum. That’s the great thing. It should be about living anywhere along that spectrum that feels like it’s you.

You write, “Every single family in the world is a nontraditional family.” How has the idea of a “traditional” American household evolved?

Increasingly, Americans seem to be able to incorporate all kinds of difference into their lives. There’s more acceptance of gay marriage, kids have friends whose parents are gay. Our culture has become more diverse and more accepting. I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna because I know how kids are bullied. And I just read about a transgendered woman in Ohio who was murdered. It’s a very tough world for transgendered people. But I do believe that things are slowly getting better.

What can your experience teach us about how children grow up in non-traditional households?

I’m not saying it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a man and a woman, or two women, or a single parent. The differences in families affect how children develop. But the gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids.

You claim, “Motherhood and fatherhood are no longer unalterable binaries.” Do you think we are now at a turning point in history where roles are being rewritten?

As long as people keep loving each other, there will be families with two parents and some kids. As long as those people have different characters, they’re going to do different things as parents. It will be more a result of their character than the feeling that they have to be a certain way because they’re male or female. We’re seeing lots of dads staying home and being nurturers and a lot of women in the workforce. As long as there’s love in the family, the specifics of each person’s job doesn’t really matter, does it?

Growing up as a boy, did you desire men sexually?

No, never.

Did that happen as a result of your transition to a woman?

I would still define myself as a lesbian. A lot of the trans women I know, if they’re single, will check out men to see what that’s all about, but will often return to women, if they were attracted to women in the first place. There’s no generalization you can make about what people will do after transition. Post-transition I began to see men differently. I was able to see what was cute about men, what was great about them, to appreciate them with a sense of love and gratitude. I don’t know if that’s quite been the same as lust. My polestar has always been Deedie and my sense of desire has never been very far from her.

Did your desire for her change when you changed genders?

It did. Orgasm as a woman is very different, and sex drive is different. All those things are true. But the object of all that desire for me, very specifically meaning Deedie, hasn’t changed.

There’s a heartbreaking moment in your book when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and Deedie won’t kiss you. How have you negotiated the loss of sexual intimacy in your relationship?

I don’t want to be glib about this serious issue because there are times when not having a more vigorous intimate relationship drives me crazy. It’s an issue we wrestle with. But all the love and the time we spend together and the family more than makes up for that. I don’t spend a lot of time staring out the window wiping the tears away. I think that, in some ways, the relationship Deedie and I have might be more familiar to people who have been married for 25 or more years than you might think. When we first went through transition we weren’t sure if we could get through it, but now it doesn’t seem particularly hard.

Is there any part of being a woman that you think you’ve missed out on?

There are some things I’m never going to learn. Like a French braid. I’m never going to know how to do that. Screw that. You know what’s funny—hormones had such a dramatic effect on me early on. My first four or five years in the female sex I had a period of looking like an attractive young woman. That was really cool. But my body has caught up with its chronological age. To some degree, I’m sorry I missed out on some of the party of being in this body when I was young. But it’s beyond silly to look behind your shoulder and wish things could’ve been otherwise. My life as a boy was not a bad life. I was really a very lucky person. I’d published novels, I fell in love, I had children, I got a teaching job in Maine that I love. And then I went through the transition and I’ve had this life. It’s pretty hard not to be grateful. I’ve seen things that most men and most women have never gotten to see. The thing that I thought used to be the great curse turned out to be a gift.

Your community has been, for the most part, incredibly supportive of your transition. If you lived in a different part of the country would this have been a harder experience?

I think it would’ve. I think some people don’t think I’m aware of exactly how lucky I’ve been, and I can tell you—I am aware. It does have something to do with living in Maine, where people respect your privacy a little bit. It has a lot to do with race and social class and education. But it’s also sheer luck. Nothing bad has ever happened to my children, and very few bad things have ever happened to me.

It’s interesting when you point out that a lot of your friends have divorced while you and Deedie have stayed together.

What has brought Deedie and me together is not my being a woman but us going through something that was very hard and having to rely on each other. The loss of her sister and then the loss of my own mom were harrowing and sad. Those moments teach you the depth of your relationship, the depth of your love with someone. When we first started going through transition, people said—”Oh, you need to divorce, you need to marry men.” The idea that the two of us would choose each other didn’t occur to them. And as the people who told us to get a divorce have themselves gotten divorced, we think people should be careful about the advice they give. One thing people said was “oh those poor children”—and now I’ve got a freshman at Vassar and an 11th grader who was just inducted into the National Honor Society, who was singing and dancing on a stage last week, who builds beautiful origami, who’s a nationally ranked fencer. Both of my boys are delightfully funny, smart kids. When people say “What about your boys” I want to say, “What about your boys?”

You interviewed authors about their experiences as parents and children. What did you learn?

The experience of being a child exists on such a wide, wide spectrum. You look at Edward Albee whose resentment of his adoptive parents still simmers. He’s still angry at these people for not understanding him. Rick Russo whose father wasn’t around at all, always going to the track or two the bar, loves his father and forgives him. There are so many different experiences of childhood and parenting that it’s remarkable we’re talking about the same thing. We should be grateful for all of it and spend less time worrying where we fit in.

This interview is edited for length and clarity.