Thursday, April 23, 2009

Urging Tolerance

Greetings friends,
Every once in a while in one of my TG support groups someone makes a comment or reacts to current events and when I respond I am struck with a sense that maybe I ought to post here to a wider spectrum of folks also. So here is what I said today in such a situation:

I agree in principle with what you say and certainly don't approve of the dishonest tactics of the zealots you mention, but I take a bit of exception to the statement "Religion cannot allow even the slightest of concern or any possibility that GLBT community would have some protection or gain equality". Though I understand and share your outrage, and have been the target of many religious people's hatred I feel the need to comment and ask can that statement be modified to something a little less harsh on those that are religious and GLBT and do have great concern for these issues, please? Maybe one could say "Some peoples religion..." or "Fanatical religion..." or "Religious zealots cannot seem to allow..."

There are many for whom their religion drives them into the battle on the side of equality and rights for every human. I am one of several like that in this group, and I have out of courtesy tried to keep religion out of my posting but I have to say our religion can and does allow for GLBTQ, and for straight or allied persons and for otherly challenged persons rights and equality - I.E. every human's rights and equality. Many of us are an active and well established part of the GLBT community as well as persons of strong faith - be we Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Pagan or any other. Those that are in both camps get bashed by many in both groups and wind up struggling to bring both groups to a place of tolerance or else we allow ourselves to be crushed by both groups and have nowhere to call home.

I gave up hiding and having no "place" when I embraced who I am fully. For me, with my transition and my faith combined, my openness and belonging to certain groups is about claiming my place in the world and making my home openly in the world while not denying others their place (even if they don't like me or what I am about). I constantly apologize if my sensitivity and this personal ethos of mine are a problem to some, but I must ask and work for tolerance.

We transgender folk must practice tolerance too - even of those that at times are intolerant and ignorant (as many of the religious groups TRULY are) and even of those that are blindly militant in their intolerance - because we are human and quite capable of harboring the same damaging kinds of judgment even though it is the mirror image of those we react to. It is a tough pill to swallow reacting with patience and understanding and kindness rather than reacting in kind to intolerance and hatred and blind, dogmatic ignorance. We have been doubly blessed to see life from both sides and I think that means we have to try twice as hard to forbear those that don't have that blessing. I don't mean we must let them walk all over us, but we can stand up to them without hurting them back.

I personally abhor the intolerance of religious fundamentalists, but I have no right to clobber them in the same way or with equal or greater force because that would, if put into practice, make me just as wrong as them. So I ask, what can each of us do to heal these wounds and bring enlightenment and understanding to those that don't have any and to those that hate us? What can each of us do to not perpetuate our own individual brand of intolerance?

Hugs and Blessings,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sisters, Easter and a Poem

Early on in my transition, through various on-line support groups I “met” many people and there were a few very special ones I felt an affinity with and some, in many places around the world, have become like sisters to me. One such sister is a lady in Sydney Australia named Tara. Over the last couple years she and I have burned up the international phone lines and the Internet and talked for many hours about our unusual lives and families, our passions, hopes, calamities and fears (and our blonde children too). We have had moments of manic talking into the wee-hours and long periods of silence and applying salve to our wounds and though she steadfastly has refused to tell me who would win current sports games and elections here in California, being 19 hours ahead of us (and obviously holding back that “real-time” information), that sister-connection is still there.

Sometimes I am told my writing is good but then every once I am blown away and humbled when Tara sends a poem about being transgender and what it feels like to deal with the pain and the internal anguish of soul and spirit this causes in our lives. Her words are pregnant with emotion and feelings that my words and analytical ways of looking at things could never contain or convey. Below is the latest one she sent me and, as usual, it is very poignant and tells in a moment what many of us carry about in the depth of our souls and can’t find the words to express.

Thank you Tara for being my little sister and pouring out your poetic heart again and for letting me share this here. I still dream of the day we get together, either here or there in the “down-under” and burn down a night or two face to face. You know I love you sis!

OK here we go…

Happy Easter!! (He is Risen and so you can be too). Hugs and Blessings,

Friday, April 10, 2009

What’s that Saint doing on a Trannie’s page?

Good Friday Morning Reflections

Last night at a special meal that was held at my Pastor’s home in remembrance of the last Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with his disciples I was compared with Thaddeus Jude and given a blessing accordingly. Now, though I have never been one to lean heavily upon the saints in the practice of my faith, I feel a kinship of sorts with Thaddeus Jude (or the disciple specifically designated as “Judas not Iscariot”) because he is the Patron Saint of hopeless and difficult cases. My faith in Christ has been a strong, though rough edged one and I often careen through life not seeking the wisdom that comes from looking at the examples of those gone before – even those purported to have attributes or experiences similar to my own. But on this festive night (culminating after a day and a week filled with some very difficult – almost hopeless in scope – personal circumstances) this comparison got me to thinking and today doing a bit of digging into this Patron of hard cases.

I found some interesting information on my newly claimed Patron on the web and with this quote and link to a very informative Dominican site I would share some of what I have found with you.

St. Jude, patron saint of the impossible
St. Jude Thaddeus was one of the twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. Because he has the same name as the traitor, people were slow to ask his help. He didn't mind being left in the shadows - and now is the special patron of all who feel left in the shadows. At our Shrine we ask him to help all in special need.”

Since you are here reading my blog I can almost assume that you are familiar with being left in shadows also, and so I hope you find some strength here like I did this morning.

Apparently (as I was told last night), I have more similarities with Thaddeus Jude than I was aware of, including what amounts to the same kind of bold, brash – sometimes careening-through-life – and I-dare-you-to-believe-like-I-do faith in Christ that I often exhibit (though I would simply call it passion). Some of these similarities are especially poignant because I am transgender and certainly, to some, this amounts to being a hopeless case! Sometimes it seems that way to me too. I am in the midst of the gender crossing process with almost no financial means now – certainly none to cover even the minutest of medical/surgical/cosmetic or legal procedures to further myself other than continuing a regimen of Estrogen and “spiro” that I purchase at Wal-Mart. I am in that middle ground where legal identity is messy because in California I am Eva Genevieve and female but to the rest of the nation still listed as male under the old name. This identity confusion is a problem for Medi-Cal and Medicare especially with all the changes in laws, regulations and database comparisons that all the agencies I deal with are now mandated to do, so my medical care is all messed up again. I know I am not the only gal that feels like she’s caught in Vaseline with the best stuff and the necessary stuff in life just out of reach. (Yes, I got that image from the Stone Temple Pilots song, and yes I do love head banging hard rock played way too loud). Nonetheless, I am living by faith with the expectations that somehow my God will bring me to wholeness while I am young enough to enjoy it.

My point in sharing this is that I can relate my life and my faith in ways to you that, like a true saint of old, can be followed and built upon even here amongst the transgender and others that also feel they are or have been part of the traditionally outcast from the faith community or trapped in the shadows of life. Like me, you no longer have to remain in the shadows. I, like Jude, carry the faith that endures and sustains one in those shadows that he was familiar with. This stuff of faith is available to you all too – right here and right now.

Sometimes too I feel like Harvey Milk calling out “I am here to recruit you”. Jesus said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”, and he did not discriminate when he said it. So true to what they stand for and to the knowledge (and hopefully a tiny, mustard seedy bit of wisdom) gained from a look back Saint Jude this morning, I have faith and hope enough to share. I also have the chutzpah to say it’s time to come out and be you – boldly! You have some successful “hard cases” on your side. Go ahead; lean on us! Lean on our experiences and our faith and get out here. We know you can find faith and peace and joy within yourself too, and you don’t have to be bound in the shadows anymore. Being transgender (or any other brand of human) and a person of faith (any sincere, from-the-heart faith) at the same time is not impossible; but rather it’s beautiful!
I dare you to try it... We dare you to try it!
Hugs and Blessings,
Eva-Genevieve! Scarborough

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Faith without Prejudice

Sunday April 5th was a momentous occasion for us at Safe Haven Community Christan Church in Riverside CA. Our host Church (The First Congregational Church) provided this lovely sign for us and put it up in a very prominent location. We are so pleased to have a rainbow flag image and our motto "Fatih without Prejudice", right out in the heart of Downtown Riverside.

Like I said in an earleir post GLBTQ and Faith communities go hand in hand here in downtown!

Thank you First Congregational Church for the sign and for taking us under your wing too.

This picture is of myself and the Pastor, Rev. Renee Painter, of Safe Haven. If you are ever in town of a Sunday, we would love to have you drop in - 3504 Mission Inn Av, Riverside CA 92501. Our Services start at 12 noon and are wheelchair accessable too!

With warmest Regards in the Lord,
Eva-Genevieve! Scarborough

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aliens and Best Kept Secrets

OK, so how do I tell about the wonderful week spent with a friend traveling around the Southwest with it sounding like home movie night. Remember 8mm movies, or better yet the family slide show? Well, I do have some pictures, but since I have not mastered my 7.1 mega pixel digital camera (and probably never will) most of the pictures are blurry and off color, worse than the “brownie” shots I took when I was little, I won't bore you to the point you knaw your own leg off just to get away. I miss having a real camera - there was a time I resembled a Borg with a Canon EOS RT implanted in her face but this time out these few shots are all that are fit to share. This was my first real sight-seeing trip around the Southwest – being a city girl I imagined it was all just like the area around and leading into Phoenix – and I am blown away at some of the awesome things we found there. I saw so much I am still trying to fit it all into my brain. Sometimes I wonder how I can actually live in such a small place but I guess that just means I have to clear out some more of the old baggage. Life is so much better and more worth remembering now that I am happy being me and have some very wonderful people in my life.

Monday midday we left West Covina and made wonderful time to Las Vegas. We found “cheap” lodging a block off the Strip and so we walked to Caesar’s Palace and The Bellagio. Caesar’s was awesome for a girl that loves to window shop – given a wad of cash I might have converted to hedonism rather quickly there – instead I floated through there on the power of the smoothest and strongest margarita ever crafted – just one had me floating on air. My companion thought for a while I might just float away so she fed me a huge meal (mostly as ballast) and held my hand as we made our way through and out of the Palace and through the amazing gardens of the Bellagio. We had the most awesome baked cappuccino/chocolate desert there before wandering back to our humble lodgings. Wow, did we ever get some stares holding hands walking around – one foreign fellow asked us to pose in a picture for him in the garden and he walked away grinning from ear to ear after he got the shot. Though we drew a lot of attention we enjoyed being part of the evening’s entertainment.

We left and headed for Zion Nat’l Park and drove briefly into Utah and went the long way around to the Grand Canyon. We stayed in a Navajo motel in Tuba City and had a great dinner at Kate’s CafĂ© and a good nights sleep before getting to the south rim of the G.C. Sadly all my
pictures from there are very blurred. While in my purse the “macro” setting on the camera was engaged and my eyesight up close is too bad to see the LCD screen and I did not figure out the setting until the next day. I took in so much visually I can’t remember all that we saw,. I know we traveled through Flagstaff and some other rock and tree filled National park and on that way we stopped at a place named the Pioneer Inn for coffee and had the most amazing cherry/chocolate scone – talk about decadent – and then we hit Sedona late that afternoon.

We spent two nights there in Sedona – I was too tired to push on immediately and there was just too much to see there to rush off. We had some good food and laughs and I almost got taken home by a waitress at a bar there because I am a shameless flirt`- she called my bluff and had a great time. I became intrigued by Koko-peli. He is a Native American (Anasazi) deity associated with
fertility (and bringing children to many young women apparently often to their parents chagrin) and prosperity (bountiful harvests and so on), but my take on him (and I mean no offense to those whose beliefs I may accidentally be trampling on here) is more like a Native American patron saint of partying and music since he is always portrayed playing flute (or toking on a pipe - must be some realy good stuff) and appears to be dancing up a storm. His image is all over the Southwest, but very prevalent in Sedona. I even had a dream about Koko-peli the first night there in Sedona and I guess I feel a bit of a kinship with this seemingly happy and life-loving fellow. At least I can say a part of the Southwest has come away with me. I know I will be going back again for another visit someday.

Then we headed for Santa Fe. We got into town after dark and got lost in downtown – with all those narrow, poorly lit one-way streets (that were always going the wrong way too) but after making the same circuitous route through downtown, twice, finally we found
lodgings and great food at a GLBT friendly Bar/Restaurant called the Cowgirl BBQ. The next day we did the tourist bit and bought a few gifts for people we know (and some really great locally made herbal Sandalwood soap – oooh! It is heavenly).

On our way out of town we paid a visit to one of the areas best-kept secrets – a place called “
RainbowVision”. We had tired to find it when we arrived but managed to miss it in the dark and I am so glad we went for another look. Not only was there a highly rated GLBT bar and Restaurant there (which was what we had originally sought), but an entire GLBT retirement community – even assisted care living too. This is one of the first of its kind and it blew us away to find such a warm and friendly and all inclusive place. We were given a tour of the facilities and were completely amazed at how pleasant it is there – everything necessary for comfortable living. Who would ever expect to find such a gem way out there? This discovery sure changed my ideas about what New Mexico would be like. By the time we got here I was so frustrated with my camera I did not bother to take pictures, and rather than my trying to show and tell you all about this best kept secret, please follow the link:

Now I have seen living proof we can carve out a good place for ourselves in the world we live in and make it work so well that the non-GLBT crowd will want in too - And they do in Santa Fe!
We then made our way to Roswell, but we forgot to take our foil helmets and so the aliens found us and made us eat a great Italian dinner right there in town and they let me take a picture with one of them too. So now I carry several bits of the Southwest with me wherever I go – some in my memory and some they said were harmless, but why I keep playing with big heaps of mashed potatoes now isn’t clear to me…

Tucson AZ was our last stop and that too proved to be a great experience (except for one incident with some people that were too drunk for their own good, but that kind of thing goes with crowded bars with crowded bathrooms). We got into town on the weekend when one of the semi-annual street fairs was on and the booths that filled 4th st - over a mile of them I think - were closed for the night, but the town was quite alive and jumping. We felt quite safe and welcome walking around into the wee hours of the morning there and felt right at home - finally nobody much was staring at us. We had a very yummy “Greek” pizza at Magpies an then found the GLBT bar there called It’s About Time (or IBT I think is was what the sign said). I was finally coaxed out onto the dance floor and actually lived through the experience, though I guess that means I am no longer a good little Baptist girl because I don’t feel even slightly ashamed of myself now that the nails holding my feet to the floor are gone.

Sedona, Santa Fe and Tucson are most definitely places I will be returning to and spending a little more time in one day soon. I never knew there was so much to see out there in what I had believed to be just a hot and dry wasteland. I don’t think of California as nearly so progressive now that I have seen the Southwest and met some of the people there. Just the other day even Iowa proved to be more enlightened than CA by opening up marriage for all, and now Vermont too. Soon we will all prevail if we remain stedfast in hope and peaceful social action.

Hugs and Blessings to you all,