Can You See Me? Thoughts on the Transgender Day of Visibility

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Is this thing on?

But why do so many people ask me if I’m “from Transylvania?”

 

Psst. Over here. I’ve got a little surprise for you.

Are you sitting down? Are you ready?

Here goes: I’m a transwoman. LIVING AMONG THE UNSUSPECTING HUMANS!

DUN-DA-DUN!

OK, maybe not such a huge surprise.

Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Like the other major event on the Trans Calendar every year—the Transgender Day of Remembrance—today is all about sharing. But unlike the dark and somber day in November, when we take stock of our losses and mourn our dead, today is a celebration. It’s about owning our identities, and embracing the lives we deserve. It’s about encouraging others, and breaking boundaries, and sharing with the people we know and love the best, most honest version of ourselves.

Today is a day when a lot of folks will be talking about Geena Rocero’s new organization designed to fight for transgender equality and civil rights around the world. We’ll be talking about the inspiration we find in strong and brave women like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, who not only own their womanhood, but refuse to put up with being demeaned or made into a curiosity by those who can’t—or won’t—acknowledge their worth.

And some of us will find a little time (as we do) to talk about ourselves. I’m a transwoman who at, just two years shy of 40, finds myself still working on things I thought would be long settled by now. But that’s probably true for anyone on the cusp of 40; what I would like to focus on today is the fact that I’m doing what I love—writing and editing and basically raising a ruckus—and getting paid to do so. I’ve managed to write and publish two books under my own name, and many more under a pseudonym. I am not the healthiest person, but I’m working on it. I’ve got friends and family whom I adore (and, having taken leave of their senses, adore me in return).

Life as Claire is good. It’s getting better all the time. And to anyone out there who’s in the closet, on the fence, or otherwise arranged by a preposition in relation to a wooden object, wondering if there’s a life to be had as a transperson, on the day when we shout from the rooftops “I EXIST!”, I say yes, there is.

It’s scary, and exciting, and occasionally deadly dull (as most lives are). But most importantly, it’s an HONEST life. One that lets you look the world in the eye and say, “I will not build walls between myself and the world—nor will I allow them to be erected in my path.” (You don’t have to be so dramatic about it, but seriously, it’s a good feeling. Try wearing a cape while you say it.)

Today is a celebration. And if you’re feeling scared, or confused, or even just curious, I encourage you to read this pamphlet from the HRC. It’s a good place to start for anyone who knows—or is starting to understand—that they’re trans. It’s also a really helpful tool for anyone who has a trans* person in their life, and wants to help, and understand, and support them.

Trans* folks are more visible than ever before, and I truly believe that it’s a good thing. Good for the countries of the world, and good for a species of angel-stuffed apes who too often think in binary. It’s my sincere hope that, as the years pass and trans* folks become not only visible in, but vital to, our collective understanding of what makes a healthy and happy society, we will have more laughter and love to share each March.

And far, far fewer tears to share come November.

You’re NOT Alone: Trans*folks at Christmas

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Christmastime is here.

(I’ll wait while you finish singing along to your mental Vince Guaraldi Trio.)

It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I am something of a curmudgeon, but at the holidays, surrounded by my friends and family, I get sentimental, and am reminded that I have so very much for which to be grateful. I came out at Christmastime, and while things were CA-RAAAAZY rocky for awhile (the better part of a decade, actually), through hard work, love, and lots of luck, my family and I have reached a new understanding and found peace.

And yet, for so many of my trans* peers, this is the WORST time of the year. Families who don’t understand, or don’t want to, can make a transperson feel incredibly isolated, hated, and utterly alone. Rejection, scorn, and blame aplenty can make you feel like life’s not worth living.

But let me be the first to tell you that’s NOT the case. You’re not alone, my dears, and no matter what abuse and hate you’ve endured, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t have to struggle alone. Sometimes, just the sound of a friendly voice can make all the difference.

The December Project

No matter where you are in your transition, if you need some love and understanding, please get in touch with THE DECEMBER PROJECT. Jenny Boylan and a team of volunteers take it upon themselves every December to reach out over the phone to trans* folks who are feeling isolated and unloved during what should be one of the happiest times of the year. They are a small team, but they do their damnedest to call everyone who needs that human touch of kindness over the course of the month.

Your Holiday Mom

Coming out can create some serious tension between you and your folks, which sucks if you value your relationship with your parents. Enter Your Holiday Mom, a site that features a new post from loving Moms, Dads, Aunts and Uncles EVERY SINGLE DAY of the holiday season. Full of hope, love, and understanding, these posts might not take the place of your actual folks, but they can remind you that you’re both loved and worthy of love.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Transitioning should be the most joyous and awesome thing you’ve ever done for yourself. But bigotry, ignorance, and hate can make it a very trying time, and you might (as I did, in those dark days after I first came out), think suicide is your only option. BUT IT’S NOT. If you need more than a friendly voice, or are in need of emergency counsel, please, please, PLEASE reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here:

1-800-273-8255

They also have live chat support online if you don’t think you can handle a phone call. But whatever you do, if you are in crisis, PLEASE talk to them before you attempt a permanent solution to temporary problems.

(I’m not being glib here: I know those problems seem overwhelming, and that your life isn’t worth living. I have been there. I AM YOU. So please, don’t be afraid to reach out, because hands are waiting to pull you up and into the light again.)

Drop me a line

I’m nobody’s expert, and I’m nobody’s guru, but I am always happy to talk to someone who’s got questions about transition. I might not have ALL the answers, but I will do my best to answer your questions and let you know you’re not alone. This is the hardest, most awesome, most terrifying, most amazing thing you will do in your life (and something many of us do in order to live our lives as our best selves), so if you’re looking for a comrade-in-arms, or just a new pal, hit me up on El Feisbuk, The Goog, or via email. You’re not alone! You’ve got a whole world of friends and family you haven’t even met.

Happy Holidays, my Hordelings. May your days be full of love, light, and luck.

Random Recipe Attack! Honey-Lime Pear Coffee Cake

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Pear-licious!

My pears were small. No fanned rows here, and yet STILL DELICIOUS.

A few friends recently asked me to share the recipe for my coffee cake. This is either because they love me, or because they’re tired of having to put up with me just to get some freaking coffee cake.

Either way, in this edition of Random Recipe Attack!, I give you Honey-Lime Pear Coffee Cake.

NOTA BENE: The base cake is the same cake I use for ALL my coffee cakes, so if you’d rather have crumbly topping like a goddamned Frenchman, be my guest, Francois.

CAKE:
1.5 sticks of butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
4 TSP baking powder
1 TSP Salt
2 TBSP cinnamon
1.25 cups milk (whole is best)
3 egg whites (or whole eggs. Knock yourself out, Lord Lipitor.)

PEARS:
2 medium Bosc pears, cored and sliced.
Juice of 1 lime
3 TBSP honey

PREP THOSE PEARS!
The night before you make this sensuous treat, put your pears in a resealable plastic bag, along with the lime juice and honey. Give it a shake and make sure every slice gets coated well. I use Bosc pears for this cake because they’re a bit firmer than their creamy Anjou cousins, and will stand a little abuse. But they’re STILL PEARS, so don’t go flapping the bag around, or you’re going to have delicious mush, and all your friends will mock you behind your back.

You monster.

Let those bad boys macerate in the fridge overnight, and don’t go poking or prodding them. They’re PEARS.

YOU’RE GONNA MAKE IT AFTER ALL

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix like nobody’s watching. Feel free to use less cinnamon if you hate deliciousness and our freedom.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients (with a spoon, not your hands, you dirty bird). Add eggs, softened butter, and milk.
  4. Use your hand mixer, stand mixer, or the two hands God gave you, you lazy loaf, and mix until all ingredients are combined well. Don’t worry about little butter nuggets. AND DON’T OVERMIX, CAP’N CUISINART.
  5. Spread the mixture in a well-greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan with nice high sides.
  6. Top with pear slices. I find that fanned rows work best, because then everyone gets a little bit of pear in every piece of cake. GODDAMNED RIGHT I’M FANCY.
  7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until firm.
  8. Let the cake cool for about ten minutes, then serve warm with coffee.
  9. Extort favors and love from your friends with promises of additional future cakes.

This cake will keep well, covered, for a few days, but I think we both know that’s not gonna be an issue. It also freezes quite well, but keep it airtight, and once you thaw it, don’t stick the leftovers back in the freezer, for woe will be your lot. Besides, it’s a coffee cake, not that coffee can of money you think your spouse doesn’t know about.

¡BUEN PROVECHO!