CuCu#1 – or – Current Cunundrum Number One

Can a transperson be accurately labeled a TERF?

I know, of all the things in the world to worry about, why has my brain latched upon this one worrisome point? Maybe because of all the things in the world to worry about. I needed a distraction and an anonymous poster but fire to the flame and lit my curiosity.

I wrote a piece in praise of Richard O’Brien and their LGBTQ+ masterpiece The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I noted the writing, casting, and production they’d produced and that transitioning seems a major part of it all. O’Brien commented at one time that it was an exploration of their emergent sexuality.

Many people responded favorably to my words, but one poster angrily denounced O’Brien as a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) because in 2016, when asked for an opinion, O’Brien said that trans women could only “be an idea of a woman”. When asked for clarification in 2020 following J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric, they doubled down by insisting, “You and I have to be very careful here,” he said. “We’ve seen what’s been happening with J.K. Rowling.

I think anybody who decides to take the huge step with a sex change deserves encouragement and a thumbs-up. As long as they’re happy and fulfilled, I applaud them to my very last day. But you can’t ever become a natural woman.”

“I think that’s probably where Rowling is coming from. That’s as far as I’m going to go because people get upset if I have an opinion that doesn’t line up with theirs. They think I’m being mean-spirited and I don’t want that at all.”

O’Brien has identified as transgender since 2009, claiming a third, or gender-fluid identity. “I believe myself probably to be about 70% male, 30% female… I think of myself as a third sex and it makes things easier.”

Okay, so who would be O’Brien’s authority for their gender identity? They claim and live life as ‘transgendered’ by their own definition. Can they really be trans-exclusionary? I mean, I’ll accept that they’re a feminist. I’ll even consider their point as radical. But I balk at the labeling of a transperson as anti-trans.

Now, I know I’m a cis-gendered lesbian of a certain age. I know who I am because I live as authentically as possible. I believe each of us who’ve had to find a label to authenticate our existence have searched far deeper into self-exploration than those considered ‘the norm’.

I also accept and admit that because I am not trans, I cannot speak in the voice of transfolk or claim knowledge outside of sensitive reasoning. BUT in this instance I must insist that anyone who willingly identifies as a member of a certain group cannot, by definition, be anti-that group, or exclusionary of it.

It’s taken me three weeks to mull this over from every aspect of which I’m capable and I’ve reached this conclusion:

Richard O’Brien is free to identify in whichever way is appropriate for them and within that identity to search for answers, seek definitions, question their existence and that of others. Period, end of story.

#TheyYamWhatTheyYamAndThatsAllThatTheyYam

Do You Know Why They Don’t Say Gay?

Unfortunately, I do – and the ramifications are staggering.

#DontSayGay #NoHomoPromo #StopBullying

Anyone who’s lived through real bullying knows that it is anything but ‘kids being kids’. Sure, it starts in childhood but carries on throughout lifetimes. Some childhood bullies become adult bullies. Some victims remain with that mind set their entire lives.

Today’s bullies still use traditional techniques of torment, but they’ve expanded their skill set to include cyberspace and social media as well. They don’t contain their cruelty to their immediate peers anymore, they spread proof of their inhumanity around the internet and sometimes the world, receiving anonymous support and encouragement.

I know this because of the research I did in 2010 following a rash of suicides in the Anoka/Hennepin school district in the counties next to mine. Each news broadcast about another kid dying by their own hand broke my heart.

As I learned about their lives and the bullying they suffered with no help from teachers, staff, and administration, my anger deepened. As I read articles like this MinnPost article: Bullying Gay and Lesbian Kids are How a School District Became a Suicide Contagion Zone my anger turned to rage.

When my emotions get out of control, I create something that uses up that energy. In 2012 I published The Boxer Shorts Rebellion. In vulgarity laden scenes taken directly from real life, I unflinchingly described the vicious reality that surrounds kids living in Don’t Say Gay school zones. It was incredibly difficult to write, and harder to read. That’s the way with unvarnished truth – it glares.

Now out of print

But, as much as slapping people across the face once appealed, when I heard about new Don’t Say Gay policies popping up around the country, I began an immediate rewrite to make the story more palatable so it might reach a wider audience, one that could help stop them. I left in about twenty percent of the original vulgarities, but did not tone down the bullying for the very purpose of letting you know the truth about Don’t Say Gay policies.

I’ve released the 2nd edition, significantly rewritten: Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay, and during the first ten days of publication I’ve listed the book for free every other day and alerted as many LGBTQ+ celebrities as I could so they could download, read, and possibly endorse the book.

Alternate days and thereafter Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay will be listed at author’s cost to encourage easy gifting to libraries and school districts across the country.

URGENT!

Unchecked bullying creates desperation in today’s kids, both online and in schools. I wrote Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! in response to the growing frequency of school shooters and the ‘suicide contagion zone’ created by a Minnesota school district’s decision to enact such a policy. My heart broke each time as eight suicides were reported in two years, knowing others tried without succeeding and still more self-harmed instead. No more. I am putting student risk ahead of financial gain and will make this book free immediately – not to promote sales, but to encourage its spread to those who don’t understand how dangerous such policies can be.

This book NEEDS to reach influencers, school board members, politicians, and anyone who can and might help stop the Don’t Say Gay legislation being enacted in America’s school districts today. It should be available to any student who must live through it.

To take fullest advantage of Kindle’s 5-free-days promotion, Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! will be listed as free every other day, in hopes your word of mouth recommendation (which understandably takes time) can spread the news farther. So please, get your free copy and then encourage anyone who might be interested to download a free version on the day after and urge them to let others know who might help fight the evil of Don’t Say Gay and No Homo Promo legislation. Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! (Kindle version) IS FREE on:

Thursday, May 26 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.

Saturday, May 28 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.

Monday, May 30 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.

Wednesday, June 1 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.

And Friday, June 3 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.

The in-between days, and thereafter until further notice the book will remain available for author’s cost.

If you’ve ever been bullied or stood by helplessly watching it happen, this novel is your next must read. If you were once a bully, or helped someone else to bully, this book offers redemption. If you stood by then but wonder now if you can make a difference, DON’T SAY GAY IN TRANQUILITY BAY! will bring you inspiration.

How Could I Be so Stupid?

There’s a pandemic, you idiot!

I heard the words loud and clear in my head before opening up my arms and giving one of the longest hugs of my life to a complete stranger.

To quote Inigo Montoya, “Let me start at the beginning. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up…” The world is swimming in a dreaded pandemic which has been ridiculously politicized in the US. People are living under unimaginable stress with death and misfortune everywhere. Add to the mix a holiday season with well publicized shortages, inflation, and people desperate to return to some sense of normalcy. Daily, the media highlight people having childish temper tantrums and taking their frustrations out on innocent bystanders. I had the misfortune to witness one first hand yesterday.

Sunday morning shopping at big box stores is anathema to me; I’d rather chew glass than be in a large crowd of people in a hurry. But Christmas be Christmas and one does what one must do. I masked up, armed with sanitizing gel in the car as I’ve done for going on two years now. I knew that any hope of getting in and getting out was useless, so I made the deliberate choice to go in with my best holiday spirit, my best sense of humor, and every bit of patience at my disposal. I entered humming Christmas carols, I was that determined.

And (maybe fortune favors the tone-deaf) I lucked out and quickly found the very last items I needed to complete my Christmas shopping. I will now pause to let you deal with the pangs of envy you must be feeling.

Ahem, to continue… I took my place in line with one couple being rung up, followed by an Old Feller whose few items were already on the conveyor. A young feller stood with a full cart appropriately distanced between OF and my half-filled cart. Every cashier line was full of heavily loaded carts and I counted myself lucky to have so few in front of me. I stood there waiting for the first couple to finish, which they promptly did paying with cash. Unfortunately, many before them also used cash and the cashier, a young woman in a hajib, did not have sufficient change to give them in her till. She put on the blinking light that summoned a manager.

I began fidgeting after two minutes, and three minutes after that the young feller took his full cart to another lane, getting in a much longer line. I moved up to six feet behind OF who began muttering darkly about the wait. We finally saw the floor manager wending her way to our lane, stopped here by one employee and there by another, answering questions thrown by harried customers quickly and efficiently but still slowed by the sheer number of requests being made of her. She apologized to the couple for their wait when she arrived and began promptly adding money to the till and recording it appropriately. OF urged her to hurry in irritated tones, threatening to leave his purchases on the belt and just take off. He looked over his shoulder to see if I appreciated his threat and I made the mistake of making eye contact. That encouraged him to get louder and more pointed in his abuse. Looking distinctly uncomfortable, the young couple took their change and fled.

It occurred to me that the manager looked rough, worn-out, as if hanging on by sheer will power. Although clean, her uniform was shabby and wrinkled. Her still thick hair, streaked with gray, fell to her shoulders with no shape. Her eyes busily darted from here to there, rarely landing on anything for long. Premature wrinkles creased forehead, eyes, chin, and firmly pressed lips. Swift hands moved fast as lightning; she finished filling the cash drawer, pocketing the paperwork while simultaneously closing the till.

The young cashier gamely stepped forward to ring up grumbling OF but her manager gestured her back and began ringing him up herself. It only took a couple of minutes to ring up his few purchases but when asked if he’d like to purchase the extended warranty for a small appliance he used profanity to bark his absolute refusal to wait one more second in line. The words ‘stupid’, ‘lazy’, and ‘incompetent’ were hurled at both workers until his bag was thrust in his arms, his payment complete. Oh, did I mention OF was unmasked? Of course he was. The manager, cashier, and I were all masked. His petulant petty behavior was liberally sprayed over us all. We sighed simultaneously as he left.

The manager began responding to the clamoring for her attention once more as the young cashier looked up at me. As I lay my purchases on the conveyor belt, her eyes begged for understanding as she apologized for my wait. I looked directly at her and told her what he’d just done and said was all about him and not one bit about her. I asked if she was new, her nametag was hand-printed. She admitted it was her first week and I told her she’d handled herself admirably and wished her a much better day and happy holidays. Our eyes smiled at each other as I took my receipt and headed for the door.

Feeling good at having expressed my sympathy to the cashier, I waved the busy manager over to tell her the same thing. And that’s when it happened.

“You didn’t deserve what that man said and did,” I said, making direct eye contact. She seemed startled, her eyes widened and I knew I had her full attention.

“You did nothing wrong, as a matter of fact you handled yourself well, and I really admire how you protected your new employee back there.” Her eyes began to mist. She stared at me without blinking.

I don’t know who she lost but she was hearing someone else speak through me, someone who loved her, cared how she felt, and would have said what I said. (Given my gray hair and wrinkles I’m guessing her grandmother.) She began to crumple.

“You’re a good person who deserves to be treated well.” Her tears spilled over and as they traced down her cheeks a chasm of pain yawed open between us. I knew she needed more.

There’s a pandemic, stupid. You can’t hug strangers. You’ve been so careful up to now! I heard the warning in my head. I knew I was being reckless to the point of stupidity. But sometimes you chance crazy things because you’re driven to it.

I opened up my arms and gave the universal hand gesture for ‘bring it in’. She grabbed me like a life-preserver and sobbed, long heart-rending whimpers on my shoulder, shuddering to regain control. I held her, feeling her vulnerable humanity in my arms, her heart beating against my winter coat, her tears dampening my knit scarf, and knew I wouldn’t release her until she was ready.

A few minutes later, I was on my way back home. Yes, it was incredibly stupid to hold a complete stranger close to me, to risk my health and those of my loved ones to help ease the burden of someone I’ll never see again. And if I get sick, or pass something on to my family, I may never forgive myself.

How could I be so stupid? But I’ll be that stupid again tomorrow, if need be.

Covid may have us down, but we’re not defeated.

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