Friday, June 10, 2011


Today many people regard vegetarians and the notion of vegetarianism as a little quirky. After all, "real" people eat meat... lots and lot and lots of meat. Steaks, hamburgers, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, fried chicken, turkey, duck, ham, pork chops, bacon, lamb chops, tuna, salmon, sea bass, cod, shrimp, oysters, clams, whale and dog for the highly civilized Japanese and Koreans. Yum. Yum. Lip-smacking good.

"Everywhere there's lots of piggies, living piggy lives, clutching forks and knives, to eat their bacon." (George Harrison)

But this question of vegetarianism is a very old one. Many of the great Greek philosophers recommended it. Their argument was strictly moral. It is wrong to kill animals when you do not need to do so for sustenance.

Other revered voices advocated the vegetarian diet: Confucius, Buddha, Asoka, Zoroaster, Seneca, Da Vinci, Newton, Shelley, Rousseau, Voltaire, Emerson, Montaigne, Schweitzer, Darwin, Kafka, Shaw, Twain, Thoreau, Edison, Tolstoy, Sinclair, Wordsworth, Einstein, Wells, Bronte, Alcott, Wesley, Luther, Schopenhauer, Ghandi. It's a virtual who's-who of intelligence and creativity. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Adam and Eve were vegetarians.

But on this subject we have not listened to these, the wisest of teachers. No, still we gorge on the flesh of our animal cousins. Indeed, now as never before in history. Oh, today we must have meat, lots of meat, as the centerpiece of every meal, whether Whopper or Wellington. Why? Because we are addicted to it. We love the taste. Yes. But mostly because we are unthinking, uncaring, lazy, conformist consumers.

"It is no easy task to pull out the hook of flesh-eating from the jaws of such as have gorged themselves with luxury and are (as it were) nailed down with it." (Plutarch)

In this modern age we have so many more facts in front of us than these great minds.

We have a plethora of scientific studies that prove beyond doubt that a vegetarian diet is healthier than any which is animal protein based.

We know that the meat products that are served to us so appealingly packaged, so remote from the bloody abattoir where the screams of the innocent never cease (and we would never, ever consent to visit), are really nasty pieces of work, tainted with rodent droppings, insect parts, bacteria and intentionally loaded with chemicals, drugs and hormones, not anything comparable to the at least more authentically procured meats of yesteryear.

We know the human population has exponentially exploded since their time. We know that we are pushing the planet beyond its sustainable limit. We know that over a billion people in the industrial countries are ravenously consuming everything they can stuff into their faces. We know the high environmental costs of vast cattle, sheep, hog and chicken production. We know it takes 15 pounds of grain, over a thousand gallons of water and a gallon of gas to produce one pound of beef. We know the serious air and water pollution that these factory farms produce. We know we are fishing out the seas, yanking out everything we can as fast as we can. We know that we cannot continue on like this. Yet four billion people in the emerging economies such as China, India, Indonesia now aspire to live like we do. While another billion, hopeless and helpless, needlessly starve for want of a more equitable sharing of our planet's resources.

We also know that eating meat is not natural for our species. No other ape, our closest biological cousins eats much, if any, meat. Our entire physiology, including our teeth and intestinal tract, dissuades it.

But what do we do with this information? "Supersize me! Give me a Double Whopper!"

"And truly, as for those people who first ventured upon eating of flesh, it is very probable that the whole reason of their so doing was scarcity and want of other food." (Plutarch)

Our ancient ancestors learned how to kill and eat animals. They did it to survive. Even then, the majority of their sustenance generally came from foraging vegetable matter.

But we are not those people anymore. We do not have to kill animals any longer. We have advanced. We have supermarkets filled to the brim with the most delectable fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, breads and pastries and sweets from around the world so as to flabbergast kings and emperors of old. It is well past time that we grew up, accepted our responsibilities for who we are and what we do, thinking and acting with more concern for our own well being, compassion toward other intelligent beings of creation, and mindfulness of our individual and collective roles in preserving and protecting the planet home.

Seven billion animals are killed each year to feed gluttonous humans. Ceasing the needless and wanton killing is a critical threshold we must cross in our evolution as a species.

"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy." (Plutarch)

So the arguments against flesh-eating are strong and compelling, the arguments in favor flimsy and whimsy. It comes down to individual character and the will to control oneself, and rise to a higher level of consciousness and being. Yes, it comes down to morality, doing the right thing, compassion, Dharma: the right thing for yourself, for those other living creatures, for the Earth, and for the Universal Spirit (God).

If you haven't examined your own true beliefs on this very important subject, and taken action to support your convictions, well, you are just another piggy, living a piggy life.


With the increasing disparity of wealth, which has demonstrably not well served the societies that have indulged an economic structure that allows for, or, indeed, encourages such inequity, it would seem that our culture, and our species, needs to address a fundamental question head-on. How rich is too rich?

Indeed, if most spiritualities and philosophies agree that a simple life is most honorable, and certainly most "natural", what does it say when an individual, or a society, spins out of control in the opposite direction? It means that that individual/society has lost its way, spiritually, morally, even rationally. And yet, so often we actually see such out of control behavior applauded, encouraged, celebrated, strived for. We have now become buying-consuming zombies, where the currency, literally and figuratively, of a "successful" and "admired" life is wealth, possessions and fame. Our true value system has been turned upside down.

Why have our thousands-year-old spiritual traditions been unable to thwart, or even contest, this depravity of the mind and heart and soul? To the contrary, many of them have joined in with it... now proclaiming that "God wants you to be rich!", an astounding corruption of the message of Jesus and other spiritual founders (but, of course, a trusty method for making the purveyors of such proclamations rich).

Perhaps this is another case where we have to hit rock bottom before we wake up and get our act together. As long as the natural world and our economic systems seems to keep gushing forth wealth, free for the taking sometimes or with just a modicum of luck, the bull-rush of people clamoring to get more than their share simply builds, unabated. And now, as never before, the world economy has opened up this golden dream to the billions of India, China, Indonesia and other formerly forlorn third-world outposts who now want to live like Americans or Swiss.

The planet cannot sustain even us Americans, much less three billion American-wannabes. The bottom is near. The planet itself will fix this problem for us, if we cannot.

Is it possible that at the last moment we could save ourselves? Are we yet on the cusp of a species-wide epiphany that much of the old wisdom is confirmed in the mess we have made of our planet and our societies, and that the answer is moral, spiritual, intellectual self-control?

So we must change. We must evolve. We must transform individually and collectively. We must live up to our vaunted position as the Universe becoming conscious of itself. And stop being such greedy, stupid cretins.

As for those who will not control themselves, and there will surely be many, they must be controlled for the benefit of the whole.

Individually, we must embrace living simple, consuming not just less but far less, recognizing that happiness is not a commodity to be purchased. We must reground, rebalance, reconnect with the natural realm and our own human ancestry, neither of which intended us to need so much to live meaningful lives. We must bond in some semblance of solidarity with the billions of people living today who have virtually nothing compared to us. We must, at all costs, reinfuse our lives with some manner of virtue, which bonds us to our human family and the wider natural world, and helps us understand that "right living" is our higher purpose. And through this perception and philosophy we transform our current admiration for garish consumerism and waste and wealth into contempt for such behavior and lack of ethical/aesthetic compass.

Collectively, we must be willing to advance laws that likewise support a holistic approach to governance. Predatory capitalism and over-comsumption must be redefined as unwanted, indeed threats to economic stability and national security. A return to an aggressively progressive income tax rate is very definitely in order. Didn't America's economy, and middle class, do quite well during the 1950's through 70's, when the top tax rate was at least double what it is now? Under Eisenhower, a Republican, the top tax rate was over 90%. Today, conservative ideology has returned it back to very close to where it was when?.... 1929!

I'm no Marxist. I'm a capitalist myself. I'm self-employed. I've started several businesses. But we only need to look at the carnage, both in 1929 and today, to see the harvest of unregulated capitalism... and more importantly the glorification of greed. Only the double-edged sword of public opinion and governmental regulation can change this paradigm.

Am I dreaming that we can turn this around? Perhaps. But look at how world attitudes have changed, diametrically, in the past 50 years regarding such issues as civil rights, environmentalism, vegetarianism, women's rights, gay rights, animal rights. We are witnessing the evolution of human culture in real-time right now. Though this issue --- controlling greed -- may be the gnarliest of all, it also has the biggest stakes.

Now, my answer to "how rich is too rich?" I believe in today's dollars no single individual needs more than $250,000 per year to "live rightly".  Go ahead, add another $100k for every member of the household (keeping in mind that adding too many children to our planet's load is not living rightly). I'm being very generous. It's way more than I make. You're still in the top 1% of all humans who have ever lived on Earth. There you go... live it up. You're not rich enough to be able to buy anything you want. You're a peon compared to the super-rich. You'll need to balance your budget. If you're careful you might be able to take care of your kids for their lifespan... but doubtfully your grandchildren. And that's good. Why should you be able to foist on society not just one but multiple generations of potentially lazy and unproductive uber-consumers?

Oh, but you make much more than that. Give it away. Give it all away. Redistribute your wealth according to your preferences. Pick causes that sincerely benefit people or the planet and go deep. If you are fortunate enough to have that kind of money, why don't you take the words of the wisest and use it to make others happy, which in turn will make you happier? It's rational. It's moral. It's spiritual. It's good. The incentive to make more money is still there... except instead of being mere self-gratification it is holistic gratification and wider happiness you are creating. All we have changed is the moral grounding; we have excommunicated greed.

If you don't have the self-control and strength of character to give it all away, then you deserve public derision and contempt, and a visit from the IRS... as in Ike's day.

Where is the liberty in this? Your liberty ends where the public good starts. No individual, or small collection of individuals, should be able to horde most of the chips in an economic system, particularly when the mode of their collection is morally corrupt. When that becomes the case, the system must change.

 Where are the leaders, the voices, who might forward such a transformation? The planet is waiting to see what we do.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


At the question was "What is the Meaning of Life?" As usual, all the responses focused on human concerns. Here's my reply:

The problem with humans is that they are so... human. They can't get over themselves. Everything revolves around them. Even God is obsessed with them, or so the humans believe, despite not the tiniest shred of evidence.

Well, the best thing about humans is that they are human, and capable of wondrous things: abstract thought, language, culture, art, music, literature, science, architecture, technology. Despite seven billion of them running around loose on a smallish planet, they manage to get along... more or less, yet another testimony to the Universe's general preference for order.

But why can't they just try, once in awhile, to be more like animals, or plants, or fungi, or dust? It shouldn't be so hard. Aren't these are our little cousins? Maybe they know something we have forgotten. Our DNA line has been around for four billion years. We've only been human-like for a couple of million years... a pittance in the grand scheme of things. And our atoms have been around for longer than that! They date back to the star before our star, and the great supernova explosion that provided the building blocks for our solar system.

What is the meaning of life? Is that the question? Or is it the more myopic and narcissistic question, what is the meaning of human life? And would there be any real difference? Maybe the fundamental question is what is the meaning of existence? Why should we leave inanimate objects out of the conversation?

When we break out of our anthropocentric delusions, the answer seems pretty easy. The meaning of ALL things is existence itself. Because they exist, they have meaning. The whole has meaning, doesn't it? Therefore, the component parts must have meaning. Unity is comprised of diversity. Every mote of dust has just as much meaning, in the cosmic scheme of things, as anything else that exists. In terms of meaning, all things are equal. It's an egalitarian Universe. Only the whole has more meaning than the component parts.

And we are part of the whole. Therefore we are meaningful. Equally meaningful. A Nepalese peasant's life is as innately meaningful as that of the President of the United States. And a frog's life is as innately meaningful as the peasant's or president's.

Living things have a little more control than inanimate objects over the meaning of their existence, that's all. They have more options. So it's a quantitative thing, not a qualitative thing. And most living things have no problem handling their options. They go at it. They are champions at staying in the moment, and trying to live up to their potential. They try to be the best bacteria or orchids or ants or chimpanzees they can be. Existence equals meaning. Not just any existence.Their existence. God, the Great Spirit, the Universal Force, Evolution, Nature - whatever you want to call it - gives them this one chance at existence -- and, by God, they make the most of it.

Oh, but not us humans. We're so smart we've figured out a better way of existing. We can time travel! Our minds race into the past, future, further future, closer future, further past, closer past. Oops, what's going on here in the present?

And we've created culture that supports and inspires us, but also distracts and disparages us... setting us up as pawns and dupes in a largely exploitative economy, where we are seduced to spend vast portions of our existence doing absolutely meaningless things. But that's OK because if we squander or completely screw up this existence, we've got it worked out (in our minds) that there's an afterlife to be enjoyed. No wonder cows look at us like we are crazy. From an existence-maximizing point of view, we are lunatics.

The meaning of human life is to be fully human: to live, learn, laugh, love and lament. Strive toward your potential of human spirit and virtue. If you don't reach your destination, that's not the point. The journey is the point. It's the dash between the dates that will be on your tombstone.

Meanwhile, everything else in the Universe is existing as well. The volcano is going to be the best volcano it can be. The tsunami is going to be the best it can be. The rattlesnake and lion and great white shark and virus are going to be the best they can be. Mother Earth's tectonic plates are going to let go at times. Get yourself cross-ways with any of these energies just existing, and you may not continue to exist yourself.

Humans, with all their intelligence, should know better. By now we should be experts at synthesizing our intellectual awareness with the rest of the Universe and perceiving it not as something to fear, but something to respect, even find beautiful and spiritual.

But a case could be made, as Mark Twain suggested, that humans are the "lowest" animal. Full of hubris, sometimes sheer evil, we are a doozy of a species. With all of our creativity, and all of our toys, we are the only species that gets bored. Bored with existence. Ho-hum. What a dust mote would give to be alive (if it were conscious) and be able to wiggle around.

Why can't we be more like our dogs? They know the meaning of life. It's ingrained into their every cell. How about dolphins? Are those guys the happiest creatures that ever lived? Or maybe it's parrots.

It's ingrained in our cells, too, if we could shake out of our stupor and realize: all we really have to do today is breathe. The meaning of existence is to be your best self. For a human that should mean taking all of this intelligence and awareness and bonding with everything else that is also existing in this spacetime. Bonding with the Universe. Now that is meaningful.


A recent discussion at involved the question of "Who is a great man or woman today?" The question came from a fellow in France, wondering who alive today would be worthy of being buried in France's most celebrated tomb, the Pantheon, alongside Mirabeau, Rousseau, Voltaire, Zola, Hugo, Pierre and Marie Curie, and other heroes of French history.

Here is my response:

I would offer the perspective that "greatness" in our computerized age is necessarily different, and perhaps more difficult to achieve, than was possible in earlier eras. In the past, a mighty warlord, spiritual leader, politician, scientist or thinker could literally take matters into his (or occasionally her) own hands and bend all of human history to their will, usually within the environment and context of cultural conflict. In our much larger, infinitely more interconnected, and, thankfully, more calm society (overall) today, that's nearly impossible.

In all of our vast global military apparatus, there is no Alexander, Genghis Khan, Joan, George Washington or Napoleon. Who among political figures of the past 70 years seems much more than a pipsqueak compared to the steely and snarling leaders of the World War II conflagration, much less the likes of Elizabeth, Peter, Lincoln, Lenin. In science, wasn't Einstein the last of the superstars? In philosophy, who in the past 50 years, even with the advantage of all previous perspectives, has impacted upon the world as did Voltaire and Rousseau? In religion, no one has risen to the highest prominence for 1,500 years. In art, music and literature, have we produced anyone who remotely approaches van Gogh or Dostoevsky or the Beatles (four decades ago), much less Leonardo, Michelangelo, Beethoven or Shakespeare?

Despite there being far more people, better education worldwide, and a quantum difference in opportunity to communicate and interact, since the 1960s very few "giants" have poked their heads up far above the playing fields of just about any discipline. So perhaps we must in some ways lower our standards of "greatness," and/or modify the criteria which we utilize to evaluate. I would suggest that our modern age calls for something different, more subtle, than raw impact. We have fought ridiculous wars, we have proved ourselves to be nifty technological tinkerers, as well as extremely creative artisans, crafts-persons and abstract thinkers. What we have not managed to do so far, very well - despite the full force of religion and law - is to deeply inculcate the necessity of developing and keeping "virtue" in our thoughts and actions at all times.

We might define "virtue" as pertaining to the highest and best values of our shared humanity. Certainly these qualities would manifest themselves in a life that exhibits and promotes peace, knowledge, equality, liberty, courage, love, service, happiness - not for self-serving, nation-serving or otherwise divisive purposes, but as unifying and edifying examples of the human spirit.

I think an excellent candidate for the term "great" who is living today would be Stephen Hawking, but perhaps not for the reasons that might first come to mind. Yes, he is one of the premier living astrophysicists and has contributed mightily to our knowledge of the nature of black holes, which may turn out to be a key to understanding the structure of the universe itself. Yet those significant achievements are but a by-product of the fact that Hawking is surely an absolute giant - of all of human history - in terms of his indomitable spirit. Hawking, as you know, suffers from one of the most insidious diseases known to humankind - motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which has left his body paralyzed and atrophied. As this disease slowly destroyed much of this physical self, a process that would have likewise plundered the mind, emotions and spirit of most people, Hawking marshaled his only remaining resources, his mental capacity, and forged onward and forward on his pursuit of happiness. His greatest scientific discoveries, as well as his marriage and children, happened after he was diagnosed with ALS. He says that he is happier with ALS than he was before. This is a stunning statement, and an incredibly inspiring and virtuous story for all time. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred years from now, Stephen Hawking's story of power of mind may still be celebrated. His demonstration of the range and depth of human resilience and optimism is unique and exemplary. He went one-on-one with utter despair, and came out victorious. He is a dubious candidate for the Pantheon, but Westminster Abbey, along with Newton and Darwin, would be an appropriate resting place for the ravaged body of this titan of the human spirit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


When I started my transgender journey many years ago I thought I was transitioning from male to female. There was a clear destination to the journey: womanhood. 

Through years of hormones and electrolysis, "real life experience," and, finally, Gender "Reassignment" Surgery (GRS), I doggedly clung to the goal of becoming a "real" woman. I'd heard other "transsexuals" speak of being reborn, going so far as to abandon their original birth dates in preference for their day upon the operating table. The long-term effects of hormones, the self affirmation of RLE, and the skill of the surgeon made it seem as if the objective was possible. 

Still something inside me could not reconcile the facts of the matter. I innately realized that longing is not being, and no matter how hard we try we can't always become what we so fervently wish to be. Despite all the time, energy, money and pain invested in the pursuit of this objective, acknowledging that the dream would never completely come true, was unexpectedly relieving. Coming to terms with this reality enabled a whole self integration. Dispelling an untruth allowed for a much cleaner, healthier view of self and world.

So I don't claim to be a woman. I'm a transwoman, infused with feminine psychic energy and now the proud owner of reconfigured female acoutrements, yet still rooted in male biology. My XY chromosomes are still there. My cultural experience, from boyhood through four decades of male privilege cannot be erased. Sure, if I could snap my fingers and be born again, I'll try it as a full-fledged female, but since that's not in the cards, I must accept the blend of masculine and feminine thoughts and feelings that define me, and affirm the sacredness of that reality.  

I am a gender explorer, a traveler across the great divide. It's a rare privilege and perspective. Why should I deny such a special characteristic in favor of a figment, however appealing. I'm better off grounded and balanced in me, rather than in fiction.

So it's better for me to face up to reality and acknowledge and appreciate that I am not man, I am not woman, I am transwoman, meaning a female-like individual who has emerged from maleness. This is amazingly healing for me. 

Yet this identity is also better for others. Most cis-gendered people, those who enjoy perfect congruity of biological sex and gender identity, cannot fathom the mindset of those who would change their sex, and inherently doubt that such a thing is possible, though some are kind enough to play along with the charade to some extent. They're actually correct. You can't change your sex. But you can change your gender, if you want to. That's been going on for thousands of years. The "transgender" people of today are the "eunuchs" of antiquity, the volunteer eunuchs anyway. It was easy enough for cultures back then to assimilate eunuchs; they were cool people, versatile, creative, non-threatening, not so very different from we modern transgender people.

It seems we could go a lot further and faster toward assimilation if we self-identify as something that is at once more accurate for ourselves and palatable for cis-gendered people. I never felt comfortable telling a woman that I am a woman. It just didn''t fly in my mind, much less theirs. It's an insult to their experience, as well as a wild conflation of my historicity and physicality. But when the term transwoman is substituted for woman the effect is very different. Now I'm on solid intellectual ground, and they are offered the opportunity to open to a new possibility that doesn't impinge upon their identity. So the term "trans" becomes a portal to acceptance. 

Giving up the dream of ever becoming a woman, I am free to be a real transwoman. No denial or delusion is required. I don't have to hide or devalue my history. I don't have to twist myself into a theoretical pretzel. It's not what I originally envisioned, but now I believe I have found the pathway that I was born for.

Annie R.


In the book Evolution's Rainbow, Joan Roughgarden, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University, who also happens to be a transwoman, describes the many ways both sexual orientation and gender identity diversity proliferate in the natural world. From plants to animals, "gayness" and "transness" is far from rare, promoted she suggests by evolution itself. She also recounts the many variations of human sexuality and gender roles in human cultures throughout history and around the world. What emerges is a much clearer perception of the grand diversity of nature, and how we transgender people fit right into the scheme of things. 
Yet Roughgarden also succinctly confirms the difference between sex and gender. The "sexuality" of an organism is determined strictly by genetics: guided by chromosomes which trigger hormones and fashion internal and external organs which then facilitate the production and care of offspring. From a biological standpoint, an organism's sex is defined strictly by the gametes it produces. Essentially an organism is biologically programmed to produce either large gametes, eggs, or small gametes, sperm, and the rest of the "sexual" apparatus of the individual is structured to in some way serve these gamete-producing organs. So the basic binary template of male and female morphology is established.

Sometimes, as in an intersex human, the highly complex genetic blueprint gets a bit tangled and produces an individual with non-normative chromosomal combinations and/or ambiguous or dual sexual organs. But for the vast majority of individuals of all higher animal species, the male/female sexual dichotomy is fairly firm (though there are examples of some animals actually changing their sex).
Still, genes do not entirely define our destiny. We are not simply our sexual biology.Our biology extends to many other non-sexual components. Our
arms, legs, eyes, ears, etc. have little or nothing to do with sexuality.  Certainly the brain is not simply (or mostly) engaged in sexual activities. Within the vast neural network of the brain is where biological sex and gender identity meet, and generally there is a high degree of congruency. But it is here, in the multitude of synapses and their chemical and electrical communications, that grand potentiality  may create something very different from what the basic chromosomes intended. This is the realm where "male" and "female" duality translates into "masculine" and "feminine" diversity. Here is where "male" doesn't always equal man, and "female" does not always equal woman. Traits or propensities supposedly belonging to one or the other polarity may now be blended, like the colors of the rainbow, to create something unique and original. Unlike sex, gender is not bound by a strict binary. So it therefore becomes possible for gender identity to conflict with sexual biology. 

Modern societies offer some remedy for individuals with this conflict. Though the individual may have lived their life heretofore as the gender mandated by their sexual biology, they may elect to transition their gender socially, legally, and, to a significant degree, physically.
When this happens, the sexual biology of an individual is not fundamentally changed. Modern science cannot yet transform chromosomes or replace a large gamete producing morphology with small gamete organs, or vice-versa. All we can do is tinker with some of the aspects of our innate sexual biology, through hormone regimens or surgical procedures involving the macro manifestations of our micro-genetics. No doubt, we are wonderfully blessed in this day and age to be able to do even this. Never before in history have trans persons been able to take their physical gender transformations as far as we can today. The results can be extremely personally healing and enriching, not to mention sometimes beautiful.
These people TRANSform their physical self, including some of their sexual components, to more closely match their preferred gender identity. They TRANSition from the gender assigned or associated with their biological sex to something closer to the "opposite" gender.
They may or may not have previously occupied culturally, socially and historically (and often deeply internally) that original gender. More and more trans children are coming out very early in life, and perhaps they can claim to never have acted upon that original biological sex-based gender role. Yet, historically, the more common trans story involves an individual who did act upon, and at least partially accept, that sex-based gender role for some time. Typically, trans people "come out" (to themselves and others) after many years, perhaps decades, of struggle to fit into that sex-based role. Many transwomen emerge from a background of full-on manhood, having enjoyed sex as a male, fathered children, served in the military, held macho occupations, indulged in typically male hobbies and diversions; while it is not uncommon for transmen to have borne children. 

Whether they come out early or late, however, none can claim to be able to change their sex. Though they may now be swimming in different hormones and have a "neo" sex organ, which is all fine and good, their sexual biology is basically the same as it ever was. Nothing has changed at the sex chromosomal level in their 100 Trillion cells. Nothing has changed in their gamete-producing capacity. They still can't create the opposite sex's gametes. 

Do many of wish we could change our sex? Of course. But wishing it could be so does not make it reality. The reality is that human beings cannot change their sex. 
So the term transsexual is scientifically inaccurate. As the great biologist Edward O. Wilson explained, "the quintessential female is an individual specialized for making eggs.... the male is defined as a manufacturer of sperm." 

When a person undergoes Gender Reassignment Surgery (note, it is no longer called "Sex Reassignment Surgery" by medical professionals), they do not come out the other side with the ability to produce the opposite type of gamete, indeed, they come out lacking the ability to produce any gametes at all. But that does not alter their gamete-producing infrastructure. You can castrate a man or provide a hysterectomy for a woman, but that does not negate their essential maleness or femaleness. Someday when a biologically male transwoman can carry an implanted embryo to term within her belly, even that will not refute the fundamental maleness of the host body. 

It is true that some animal species can change sex. A few fish, amphibian and reptile species can do this. In these cases an individual actually switches the ability to produce different gametes. But no birds or mammals can do this. Until the time when science and medicine truly can alter one's very sexual biology, we should phase this term out of the language used to describe and define those of us who embark on a very profound gender odyssey. 

So the word transsexual is scientifically and medically inappropriate. It is an impossibility for humans at this time. It's also culturally inappropriate.
The term transgender is far more accurate, as well as infinitely more reflective of the wide diversity that comprises all of the organisms, of any species, that do not conform to dualistic gender roles. The vast majority of individuals within the animal kingdom that adopt non-normative gender roles also do not change their sex.

Within the incredibly complex tapestry of human culture the phenonomenon of transgender individuals glistens among the threads dating back into antiquity. We've always been here, and we always will. We should welcome anyone who wishes to join our tribe, even if only for a short while, as they explore their gender identity and blend the magical-mystical male and female essences. So gender queer, butch lesbians, femme gays, cross-dressers, anyone bending gender are welcome. The broader our inclusion and the larger our group the better for all social purposes, including the acquisition of civil rights and recognition. 

"Transsexual" is relatively new to language, having been introduced less than 100 years ago, and it is understandable how it has survived since that time. And you can see where the problem starts: with a great deal of confusion over the words sex and gender. Culture at-large has long used the word "sex" when it really means "gender," though rarely vice-versa. The sign-up form asks whether your "sex" is M or F. Usually this is not a problem because sex and gender are most often congruent in an individual. But it is certainly not always, so this is technically incorrect usage of the term. Some modern forms (as well as schools, universities, medical facilities, etc.) are now using the better, more accurate and inclusive term, "gender," instead. Conversely, however, the word "gender" is never used where the word "sex" is appropriate. A beautilicious babe is "sexy" not "gendery." And she may engage in "sex" not "gender" with a hot dude. Though most people don't even realize it, this usage reflects the fact that "gender" correctly applies to the whole person, while proper usage of the term "sex" always refers to some aspect of biological sexuality. Having "sex" is all about that gamete-producing infrastructure; we are engaging in a potential exchange of gametes with the partner. The terms "heterosexual," "homosexual," "bisexual," and "asexual" all refer to someone's sexual orientation -- who they are sexually attracted to - so the word "sex" is perfectly appropriate to these terms.

The term "sex" should always refer to something involving biological sex, and specifically the gamete-producing infrastructure. Any other use of the term is incorrect.
It is strange that many in the transgender community cling to the word "transsexual." In fact a tiny but vocal minority suggest that this word is crucial to distinctly separate those who are "serious" about their "sex" change - usually meaning those who have had or are very near to having their "Sex" Reassignment Surgery (SRS) - from those who are just fooling around - meaning cross-dressers, gender queer, non-operatives and most pre-operatives who may or may not ever cross the crucial surgical gateway. The TS crowd calls all of these wannabes "transgender," while labeling themselves, the real "women" and "men" who have "never changed their gender" as "transsexual."

So their idea is that their gender has never changed... they've always been real "men" and "women"... and now they are changing their "sex" (by which they primarily mean secondary sex attributes: penis, breasts, beard, etc., along with wholly cultural "sex" designations: hair, clothing, shoes, etc.) to match the "gender" which they claim to have always possessed and identified with. 
Of course, this is the precise opposite of the way biologists and medical professionals perceive what is going on. Those in the medical community, including most of the doctors now performing the actual surgical procedures, have dropped the "sex" term in favor of "Gender" Reassignment Surgery (GRS), acknowledging the fallaciousness of the earlier term. Likewise, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of medical/psychological conditions, the term "transsexual" has been almost completely displaced by the terms "gender" and "transgender." Even the name for the condition, "Gender Identity Disorder" (DSM-IV), changing to "Gender Incongruence" (DSM-V) emphasizes the psychological source of the condition, rather than any sexual biology.
Meanwhile, the motivation of such exclusionary, self-styled "transsexuals" appears to be fear that they will not be taken seriously, culturally, as a "woman" or a "man," as long as they are lumped in with all these other "freaks" (as they call them) who are running around cross-dressing, gender-queering and "transgendering" while not passing very well. In their minds, these amateurs just muck things up for the pros. Ironically, it's the same argument that many gay, lesbian and intersex people have about the weirdo transsexuals! Many gays and lesbians feel that they would be a lot further along in social acceptance if we weren't held back by transsexuals.
The tenacious ownership of the term "transsexual" speaks loudly of their confusion of sex and gender. By taking hormones and rearranging some of their tissue, many of them really think they are changing their sex. Meanwhile, in their minds, their gender has ever remained oriented toward the opposite "sex." Of course, this contention is blown away by the personal histories of most of them, cavorting sometimes for decades as full-fledged men fulfilling their sexual purpose. Conversely, these "transsexuals" see a "transgender" rabble playing with gender, wobbling back and forth, and not serious about changing their "sex." 

A big part of the disconnect is that many of these "transsexuals" wholly buy into the gender binary. They are conservative in their desire and determination to "conserve" the old tradition: that there are only two "sexes" and never the twain shall meet. They see their transition phase as a very temporary (and very awkward and uncomfortable) caterpillar-like phase through which they must pass before they can bloom like a butterfly. So, in their world, the "trans" stands for "TRANSitory," a stage to be rushed through, be done with and never look back. With hormones and a nip and tuck here and there they emerge as the certifiable real "woman" or "man" that they always knew they were... and the "trans" aspect can be dropped altogether. So now they are a man, or a woman, "with a trans history."
The problem is that it's all based on shaky factual ground, if not outright falseness. Those who would erase or deny their history and their biological facticity set themselves up for eternal conflict, within and without. Those who deny the special characteristics of their individual essence and sacred trans journey only denigrate themselves and their comrades by failing to embrace and honor their true uniqueness. Fortunately, this old transsexual/stealth model is giving way to a more enlightened transman/transwoman self identity among trans persons, where the individual is out and proud, at least among their family and closest friends, but often in the wider world as well. It is the blend of masculine and feminine energy and perceptions that is the magical thing, not the "pureness" of some imagined male/female dichotomy. Also, it is the transgender journey that is important, not the arrival at some hoped-for, but mythical, gender destination. This is a much more hopeful and helpful model for both trans individuals, trans community and culture at-large.

The true and large phenomena of the transgender journey can't be summed up by a single word. But the best word we have is, indeed, transgender. Sex and gender are entirely different things. And it is not the person's sex but their gender that is TRANSforming along the transgender journey. While sex is first and foremost a physical, biological structure, gender is a mental construct, and mostly comes into play in juxtaposition not with just a single sex partner but with culture-at-large. It is the role you agree to play: physically, emotionally and intellectually within the framework of your culture. Unlike the cisgender person who is perfectly congruent (and conformist) in both their biological sex and gender identity, the transgender person does not agree with the gender that has been assigned to them on the basis of their biological status, and claims the right to determine their own gender. Thus, a transgender person departs from the normative congruency/conformity of sex/gender and goes forth into the great middle between the presumed binary of sex/gender. So we see the difference between binary and polarity. A binary means either/or, one or the other, no other choice. A polarity has two poles, but there can be a world in-between. The transgender person is a sojourner in that vast, mostly uncharted territory between the poles of gender.
There are certainly differences between those who go further on the gender pathway and those who stick closer to the template of their sexual biology. These differences are easily reconciled, legally and medically, without destroying the over-arching descriptive term: transgender. Almost ALL conditions of the human experience occur along a spectrum, a rainbow, of potentiality. You can be four feet tall or seven feet tall. An adult can weigh 80 pounds or 400 pounds. You can have the blackest black skin or snow white. You can have an IQ of 120 or of 50. You can be slightly bipolar, or autistic, or tragically extreme in these debilitating conditions. The transgender community also exists as a spectrum, with somebody situated at every spot along the continuum between the poles of gender. Casual or occasional cross-dressers (many of whom, it should be noted, deny being "transgender" even as they continually, albeit temporarily, "transition" to the "opposite" gender presentation) occupy one end of the spectrum, while the self-described "transsexuals" are on the other end of the scale, conveniently forgetting that they, themselves, likely passed through an extended phase that an objective observer would accurately describe as "cross-dressing." Some people are now claiming the right to be fluid in their gender identity, or to have no gender identity, or to be both genders. In all of these examples, the biological sex of the individual remains fixed, it cannot be changed, but the gender is transforming, transitioning, transcending, relative to both the interior biology and the cultural/societal expectations.
A modern society can manage to distinguish between those who are casually playing with gender, and those to whom it is important to completely change aspects of their physical self to better match their gender identity. Those transgender people who need and/or want assistance from clinical or legal professionals to facilitate their pathway to holistic health and social balance will find their way to and through increasingly helpful and understanding systems. Of course, these transmen and transwomen (the appropriate terms for them) are different from cross-dressers and gender variants, and culture-at-large is already awakening to these distinctions. Meanwhile, those within the transgender rainbow tribe whose pathway may never include a name or driver's license change, much less surgery, still seek and deserve recognition as valid persons, free to establish their own gender identity and find their spot along the gender continuum. The best way to facilitate this cultural evolution is to present a cogent, united front of all gender variations. Fractures from within this community, especially divisions based upon faulty logic, will not ultimately help anyone.

In saying goodbye to the term "transsexual" we also liberate ourselves from its heavy baggage. Unfortunately, "sex" is the most loaded word in language, capable of distorting and degrading any subject. The "sex" in "transsexual" guarantees sexual objectification of the individual, as well as interjecting an unwelcome degree of non-seriousness to this issue which is of paramount importance to our community. So, again ironically, the term that self-described "transsexuals" wish to preserve in order to separate them out from the "transgenders" in order to be taken more seriously has a fatal flaw that will thwart that very effort.

And they seem blithely unaware of how limiting the term actually is to their holistic (whole) self. By self-describing as "transsexual," they are proclaiming that sex is the end-all/be-all (or at least the very most important component) of what they are all about. Their very being revolves around the concept of not heritage or intelligence or kindness or goodness or skill at something or relatedness to something, but rather, and simply, the concept of sex. What they are, most of all, relates to their sexuality. Wow! Who else says this? No one. Gays and lesbians don't self-describe first and foremost as gay or lesbian; it's just their sexual-orientation, that's all; it's not who they are.  How anyone expresses their sexuality may have absolutely nothing to do with their gender identity.

Which brings up yet another incongruent aspect of the word. Other terms involving the compound component "sexual" relate specifically to sexual orientation (who you are sexually aroused by): heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual. By this convention, "transsexual" should be defined as someone who is sexually attracted to transpersons! And sure enough, it turns out that they are out there. 

So transsexual might be preserved as sexual-orientation term, like all other similar words, but it abjectly fails the test for use in the ways that it is currently used.
In a sense, the term "transsexual" also reminds of another word that is woefully ill-considered, one that should have been discarded centuries ago: the word "Indian" for the native people of the Americas. Long after everyone had realized that Christopher Columbus did not, in fact, bump into India, the term persisted to describe tens of millions of people and cultures that were anything but Indian.
Today there are some transgender people who claim to reject "transgender" as a describing term but embrace the term "transsexual," just as there are many Native Americans and First Peoples who accept and use for themselves the term "Indian." Acceptance and use/misuse, however, doesn't make a term correct. And there is no good reason why any individual or collective of people should be referred to by terms that are flat-out untrue, even if they don't mind or want to be. 

It is time to get rid of these false and misleading terms. If we can't seem to counter the weight and momentum of 500 years of misusing "Indian," we still should be able to overthrow 100 years of misusing "transsexual."
To jettison this incorrect and divisive description of our personhood and pathway cannot help but elevate the discourse and perceptions. Who among us who are currently defined as "transsexuals" regard "sex" as the primary essence of our self or journey? Virtually none. It is the "gender" identity that is of foremost importance. And for trans people the real magic is the blend and the journey, not some perceived purity or destination.
In rallying around a single, broad and inclusive term, transgender, we now have a logical and moral base of perception, a defensible bastion from which to protect ourselves from an often perplexed (if not hostile) general public, though at the same time proclaiming the TransNation, proudly flying the rainbow flag of diversity - both natural and cultural - and welcoming all who would join us, comrade or ally. The greatest precepts of human culture are on our side when we stay on the right side of science and the right side of virtue: Equality, Liberty, Community, Diversity. Put "Gender" in front of these terms and you have the best way forward. 

A big step toward this goal is to hasten the demise of the term "transsexual", to perhaps be resurrected when the day comes that human sexual biology itself can be fundamentally altered. When the cells and chromosomes and gamete production apparatus of human sexual biology can be flipped within an individual, then we might say we have changed our sex. Meanwhile, I'm very happy with the gender pathway I have explored, and proud to consider myself transgender and a member of the TransNation.
Annie R.


Should the transgender community take its Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration out of safe spaces, such as a Q Center, and into the at-large community? Should we leave behind the discreteness and security of our comfortable, regular meeting place and make this event a vehicle for engaging the public, pursuing our mission of education and outreach, taking the opportunity to win over allies?
Or, as some members have stated, is TDOR just for us, our one "sacred" day of the year, which should not be diverted to other intents? As a powerful symbolic statement, could TDOR be taken into churches, synogagogues, mosques, perhaps winning over some of the fair-minded and good-hearted congregants, or is this an afront to those trans members who vehemently oppose organized religion? Would taking TDOR on the road be the perfect way to bring visibility to the injustices and violence our community is exposed to, or would this be politicizing a supposedly somber ceremony?
This is my viewpoint.
TDOR is the closest thing our disparate community has in the way of an acclamation of solidarity. It's a ritual. Some call it "sacred." We light candles. We sing songs. We give speeches (sermons). We mourn the dead. We elevate into empathy. We try to conjure up some tiny flicker of cognition of who these people might have been, though we can never know them, really, in the least. Yet what burns inside all of us who take TDOR seriously is the concept of justice... more specifically, lack thereof in the cases of the deceased. Justice is a moral concept. And a political one. So are the concepts of Equality, Liberty and Individuality, which also come into play at the TDOR commemoration.
We all love our safe meeting places. They are our safe little nests. We have had five TDORs at our safe nest, the Rainbow Center in Tacoma, WA. Attendance peaked at around 50 a few years back, but has dwindled since. It's the same-old/same-old. Afterward the ceremony, I have to say I don't feel much better. After the candles have been snuffed, have we really accomplished anything? We haven't brought back the dead. We haven't honored their lives by doing anything of real value. So perhaps we should ask ourselves, "what would THEY want us to do?"
Here are some points to consider:
The facticity of the matter, especially given that the majority of the names that we read aloud are Hispanic, is that most of these murdered trans people were Christian. Where do you think THEY would want us to commemorate their lives and mourn their deaths?
How do we honor their lives by emphatically rejecting their beliefs? Would they, when alive, have preferred to integrate their lives and deaths within the structure of a faith community? Probably yes. Would they, knowing they would be killed, then acquiesce to their very death being "used" to propagate some semblance of greater understanding about the transgender phenomenon? Surely yes.
I share a disdain for organized religion. I think religion divides people, is irrational and immoral, and has not served humankind well at all. Certainly the legacies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are dripping with blood. I hope for a time in the history of our species when we have left "religion" behind and have embraced a truer spirituality. But, alas, that time is not now. Not even close.
Yet while some of us (by no means the majority of trans people) may perceive organized religion as an "enemy," we should be able to see that there are many people involved in these churches, temples and mosques that are very good-hearted and want to live rightly. There are allies to be won in these congregations. There are minds and hearts to be changed. Perhaps only one or two in each sanctuary. But is that not more than we would change with yet another TDOR at the Rainbow Center, preaching to the choir?
TDOR is the PERFECT event to take out into the community... whether it be to a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a community center, college venue, or wherever. It is our one, ritualized event, steeped in seriousness and meaning. If we are to touch the hearts and minds of any of those potential allies, to light the justice fire in them, this is the most powerful way to do it. Inside a church or civic center we are sowing seeds of change, and who knows how they might take root and grow. Or, to use another metaphor, we leave behind a vortex trail that may swirl for years and affect a multitude.
Several local churches, including a Catholic church, have INVITED us to hold our sacred TDOR within their walls. That is an honorable, and remarkable, offer. Think about it. Who would have imagined such a thing 50 years ago? Shall we slap it away? Shall a few of us be so dogmatic in our own entrenched mindset that we disallow the very many religious members of our own trans community the opportunity to commemorate this emotional event in the beautiful setting of a church sanctuary, rather than once again at the all-too-familiar Rainbow Center location? Will we turn away from the opportunity to win over as allies one or two or perhaps more members of that congregation who might choose to join us in our event, and honestly wish to learn about our community? How would that be honoring our mission to educate and promote unity and diversity?
I, for one, being a believer that the arc of history bends inexorably (though not necessarily smoothly) toward greater equality, greater liberty and greater justice, would find it deliciously sublime if a bunch of trans people and their allies were to march directly into the belly of the Catholic beast and openly commemorate our dead. This would be utter "blasphemy" only a short time ago. If you choose to believe in the soul's immortality, you might just perceive the crucified Jesus smiling down upon us, as the throngs of theological tyrants through history shudder in their graves.
What kind of conversation, or debate, or protest, might our arrival stir up in any of these churches which has invited us to share our saddest stories and most somber evening? Would that be so bad? No, it would be great. Would some members of the church picket our event? Would others join us in solidarity? Would we get media coverage of such a happening? Wow. Cool.
For the squeamish, we don't have to go first into a Catholic church. The Unitarian Church, one of the staunchest institutional defenders of equality, liberty, justice, rationality and gender rights, the home of William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson, is likely also available to us. Other progressive churches would also welcome us, I am sure. Do we embrace this possibility, or do we fall back into safe space, rote routine?
So, you see, there are many angles to consider here. To dogmatically say that "religion has been bad to trans people and we won't have anything to do with it," is a very narrow and self-defeating tactic. I am not thrilled to report that we live in a very religious country... one of the most religious on Earth. We can go to war against that facticity, and thence find ourselves at war with the majority of society, as well as with many of our own trans community members - or we can use the weight of that facticity to further our own cause, tapping into the substantial amount of good will, good intentions, and good people that abound within these institutions.
Whatever we choose to do, let us move forward together... in solidarity with ourselves and with anyone - of any race, color, creed, or other variance - who wishes to join with us on this remarkable march toward Gender Liberty.
Annie R.


According to many fundamentalists and dogmatists, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. No evidence is more compelling to some of these people than the proliferation in America of gays, lesbians and transgender persons.
Pastor Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona has a lot to say about the subject... and so do I. My comments are in blue.
"My sermon today is about 'Gender Identity'. We are living in a day and age when the line between gender is being blurred, where the line between a man and a woman is being slowly erased. In this strange, wicked society that we are living in now in America, where you have the gays and lesbians and the 'transgender', unbelievable things are going on. And so therefore I say, as a preacher of God's word, that this message needs to be preached more than ever before."
Pastor Steve (may I call you that?), you have barely started and you are already completely wrong. This doesn't bode well for your credibility. America is far less wicked today than ever before. Less "Christian", yes, but also less wicked. We don't enslave people any more. We don't overtly discriminate against Native Americans. The "witch" hunting craze of you Puritans is a memory of long ago. Women, racial minorities, children, workers all have far more liberty and equality than ever. Yes, it's true that backward people like you fought hard against all of these advances, including the abolition of slavery and emancipation of women, but you lost, badly, and you will lose the current struggle for equal rights for gays, lesbians and transgender people. What you don't understand is that the line between the genders has been blurry for as long as there have been genders. We stand ready to educate you on a subject you really know absolutely nothing about.  

"Today perversion abounds. Children are being brainwashed, starting at five years old when they enter school, that homosexuality, sodomy, perversion is an alternative lifestyle. They are taught that men and women are the same. No they're not the same. They are different. They are not identical. They have separate identities. And we're not saying that men are better than women, or women are better than men. Though by the way, men have authority; women do not. Now that's just the way the Bible preaches it. And so that's what God is saying. He wants there to be a difference. He wants there to be short hair and long hair. And in-between, in the gray area, nobody needs to occupy that unisex gray area in the middle. Now, does that make sense?"
Frankly Steve, no it doesn't make sense. Not a bit. Your "thinking" is just a mashup of confusion without any basis in reality. No one in the gay, lesbian and transgender communities is saying that men and women are the same or "identical". That's a complete fabrication, Steve. Better refresh your memory about bearing false witness. We do maintain that everyone is equal, regardless of gender indentity or sexual orientation, and that no gender should have authority over another. In this belief we are in perfect accord with American values and the teachings of Jesus. But Steve, you are in severe discord with both core American and Christian beliefs. Now in this matter between short and long hair, you have climbed way out on a rotten limb. But let's allow you to crawl even further out there:
"And however you men want to get your hair cut, that's up to you; however you want to grow it is up to you, but it oughta be short. Now you say, 'wait a minute. Didn't Jesus have long hair?' Just because you saw a painting of Jesus with flowing, long hair and he looks kind of like a girl. The man who painted Jesus painted him to look like a queer because he was a queer himself. People make Jesus look like they want him to look. In an Hispanic church, he looks Hispanic. Then in a Catholic church he's a white Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes."
Wow, Steve. What a load of hooey! Do you really have followers ignorant enough to believe this? The "Hispanic" church has an "Hispanic" Jesus, and the Catholic Church has a white Jesus? Uh, Steve, the "Hispanic" church is the Catholic Church. And, really, you believe that all of the images of Jesus... all of them, throughout history, depicting not only Jesus, but Moses and Abraham, Joseph, even Adam with long hair, are all totally wrong, because they were drawn by "queers?" Actually, if it were so, that would be cool. But who can buy it, I mean, outside of your clueless congregation? Pray tell, Steve, where do you get this information that Jesus wore a crew cut? There is simply no tradition and zero evidence for such an wacky idea. But wait, perhaps you have hit upon a a novel new theory: Jesus was Pontius Pilate! After all, it was the Romans of that time period who had short hair; the Hebrews traditionally had long hair.
"The Jesus of the Bible was manly. He wasn't a soft, feminine man. He was a manly man, and that's why the Bible teaches a man should be manly, have a manly hair style; women should be feminine and have a feminine hair style; there ought to be a difference between men and women."
Earth to Steve. It's clear you truly don't understand the essence of Jesus. Like the Jews expecting a messiah that would kick ass, you long for qualities in Jesus that are emphatically not represented in the Gospels. Jesus was human, not manly. Jesus was supposedly God, who has no gender, or is all possible genders. You want a raging lion; Jesus was the lamb of peace. You want a warrior, but Jesus was meek, quiet, loving, caring, gentle, nurturing, forgiving, non-judgemental, all characteristics you, yourself, describe as feminine! If you want mighty warriors, there are plenty in the Bible. But not Jesus. He taught love. Sadly, you don't get the message. You stand for division, judgement, bigotry, ignorance and hate.
"God says that men should not wear women's clothing, and that women should not wear men's clothing. Deuteronomy. It's simple. It's clear. It's not talking about colors. Where in the Bible does it mention colors? It's never mentioned is it? Now, do I think men should wear pink shirts? I think you're being a little bit girly there brother. Pink shirt or lavender, you know what I mean? Stick with some stronger colors, right?"
Steve, you are just making it up as you go along, aren't you? You admit there is no mention of restricted colors in the Bible, but you are ready to enforce restrictions based upon... well, nothing. And do you really want to call out Deuteronomy 22? You really want to go there? OK. Let's go. We're not afraid of it. We simply reject it as hopelessly antiquated. Clueless congregation, Steve's cherry-picking here. He's gone into Deuteronomy 22 and plucked out one verse, and has conveniently ignored the entire rest of the chapter. Did you know he pulled that trick on you? He's kind of like a sideshow magician, pulling cards out of his sleeve, hoping to dupe you. Deuteronomy is the place in the Bible where it says that wearing the clothing of the opposite gender is an abomination. But... Deuteronomy also says that your house must have a parapet. Does Steve's house have a parapet? I'm guessing not. Oops... abomination! You also have to wear tassels on the corner of your clothing. Steve, where are your tassels? Not there? Steve, you are an abomination! A double-abomination! Uh-oh, we've opened the can of Deuteronomy worms, haven't we? What about mixed fibers in your clothing? Blasphemous according to Deuteronomy! Someone check Steve's wardrobe... any cotton/polyster blend underwear in there? Steeeeeeeeeeve! A triple-abomination!!! Oh, and Deuteronomy is just getting warmed up. This chapter also mandates some colorful rules pertaining to women, for instance, requiring that brides be virgins, or, well, they should be stoned to death... in front of their father. If a man rapes a virgin he must marry her and they may never divorce. Oh, and adulterers must die. All together Deuteronomy 22 is one of the very best reasons humanity needed the loving, non-judgmental and forgiving message of Jesus. So Steve, repent of your multi-abominations, and cease judging anyone else.
"Is there any question whether Pastor Steven is Steven or Stephanie right now? I'm not going to wear pants or shirts that look girly. I want to be as masculine as possible. And I think that girls should try to be as feminine as possible. And yet today how many times have you sat and stared at the airport: is that a man or a woman? You say, well 'it' has short hair. 'It's' wearing a pair of pants. You don't know. But in God's world, you know. God does not want confusion. There's supposed to be a big, big, big difference between a man and a woman. The man is characterized by strength, by boldness, power. The woman is supposed to be a meek and quiet spirit, gentle, loving, caring. There are just different attributes to a man and a woman."
Steve, thou doth protest too much it seems. You're judging, demonizing people you don't even know. That's not Christian in the least. You're really struggling, aren't you? You're so angry. Are you hiding something? Are you hiding.... Stephanie? It's OK, Steve-Stephanie. We're here for you. This is God's world. It's the way He makes it. He is not confused, and doesn't give a damn what kind of clothes we wear. He sees our hearts. God created sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. It's everywhere in nature. It's prevalent at every level of life, from single-celled organisms to worms to fish to amphibians to reptiles to mammals to humans, as you have duly noted. Why do you fight so hard against what is natural? That's a game you will never win. Natural science has humbled the mighty Catholic Church; little podunk preachers like you are but grist in its inexorable arc toward progress. 

So, as a Christian, you are very confused. You know, Steve, in Biblical times those persons that we would today call "transgender" were called "eunuchs." Look it up, Steve. The Bible has no problem with eunuchs. Jesus talks specifically about eunuchs and welcomes them into the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Philip baptizes a eunuch. So you are completely wrong in your orientation toward people of non-normative gender presentation. Far worse, you have veered away from the primary Christian precepts of love for one another, forgiveness and non-judgmental demeanor. Steve, Philip's eunuch friend was far more Christian then you are.
But Steve, you are also un-American. You don't really believe in freedom, do you Steve? You don't really believe in equality! You don't really believe in justice! In your diatribe you've insulted all of those long-haired, knicker and ruffle-wearing patriots of the American Revolution, you know guys like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and John Paul Jones, not to mention great later heroes like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. You've also labeled every single one of the brave warriors of the Indian nations a sissy! You don't know a thing about history do you, Steve? How can you be a preacher and forget that the strongest man in the Bible, Samson, had long hair and lost his power when it was shorn? It seems that you are ignorant that the bravest military unit of history, Leonidas and his Spartans at Thermopylae had long hair (and obeyed their women). How about the greatest general in history, Alexander, with his tousled locks? Long hair adorned the uber-manly Germanic tribes, the Vikings and the Celts, whose blood probably flows in your veins, you little ingrate. Steve, you'd cower in the presence of Genghis Khan's ponytail, and there's no way you have the chutzpah to tell St. Joan to stop wearing pants! And pray tell us Steve, do you presume to possess such wisdom to know God's truth better than Leonardo da Vinci, Copernicus, Newton, Bach, long-haired men of truly sublime genius?
No, Steve, you're just a very, very confused puppy. You truly don't know what the hell you are talking about. You're just talking. Pumping yourself up. Trying to get a rise out of people. A virtuous man or woman, or anyone in that "gray area" in between, would shun such pride and prejudice. We've already established that you don't understand love, peace or forgiveness. What it all boils down to here, Steve, is that you believe in one thing only: conformity. To you, conformity is God. You want your congregration, and the world, to conform to your black-and-white concept of gender and morality. You want to dictate how everyone should look and behave and think. That's mind-control. That's tyranny. That's slavery. And that, Steve, appears to be your religion. We can only hope that your clueless congregation will some day wake up and oppose you... rebuke you... because you are truly lost, and truly harmful and hateful.
Men of Steve's clueless congregation, is Pastor Steven Anderson the best among you? Are you going to sit there impotent while this ignorant hater sneers at the primary precept of Jesus, to love your neighbor, and rants at you and your women and children? Really? Sad. Sad. Women of Steve's clueless congregation, don't let your pastor call you an abomination for just being comfortable in your jeans. Don't let Steve regiment, brainwash and crush the spirit of individuality of your sweet and gentle children. Are you real Americans? Then declare your independence from idiots like Steve; in America you are free to do whatever you damn well please, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Proclaim your Gender Liberty! Wear your pants into church this Sunday and teach Steve some humility. Pastor Steve is a pitiful man. He'd probably be a much better person if he would get in touch with his inner Stephanie. 

More crazy Pastor Steve here:

Annie R.


There's a lot of hurting out there, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering. We can look at the news and see people, good people, being pushed over the edge. We see it in our own circle of friends. Perhaps we are close to the edge ourselves.

A recent newspaper column about one of the gay kids who recently committed suicide spoke about how it was too bad that he was so young and hadn't had time to "season against hurt." I thought that was very profound. Think about it: "season against hurt."

What does this mean? Does it mean turn yourself off emotionally? Does it mean building a wall between yourself and others? I don't think so.

My idea of seasoning against hurt is to build up our own self-esteem to the point where the attitudes and words of others, especially of those we don't put too much stock in, simply aren't capable of harming us.

We know who we are. We are a good person on a sacred pathway, the hero's journey. We are noble. We have spent a lot of time (and worry) thinking about what we are doing. So on this subject, we are informed, intelligent and experienced. Those who would try to hurt us with words or attitudes are often ignoble and ignorant. They don't value our journey, largely because they really don't know a thing about it, and they certainly haven't experienced it. Oftentimes they haven't thought very deeply about ANYTHING... much less something as important as our sacred journey.

WE are the experts on the subject of transgender. They are not. WE are the experts on the subject of ourselves. They don't know what they are talking about. By simply trying to be who we authentically are, WE are in the right. They are in the wrong if they try to thwart us.

WE are exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. According to our American Declaration of Independence, these are INALIENABLE RIGHTS... endowed by the Creator. The ignoble and ignorant would attempt to deny us those rights.

WE are doing exactly what the great spiritual teachers and wisest philosophers and most eloquent poets throughout history have told us to do: be true to yourself, take control of your life, accept responsibility for creating the person you want to be, and throw yourself passionately into life.

And so we take the road less traveled.

YES! WE are the abnormal! The non-standard. The non-conformist. The uncommon. The questioning. The original. The interesting. The transforming.

They are the normal, the average, the standard, the common, the unoriginal, the unquestioning, the conformist, the unchanging, sometimes just plain dull!

Do not aspire to be like them! Be who you are you. You are a beautiful work-in-progress, just the way you are, right now. Believe in yourself and the righteousness of your cause, your pathway, your hero's journey. Be the hero of that journey. Go for it. Assume the power! Be the change you want to see in the world and in yourself.

Build yourself up. Temper yourself like fine steel. Be hard and sharp, but flexible. Do not allow the ignoble to bring down the noble. Do not allow them to hurt you. Use the passion of your journey to simply ignore such conformity and ignorance. You have the choice as to how much power you will give them. Return to them the full measure of the worth of their negative attitude... Zero!

You know your value, and they don't. If you refuse to give them any power, they can't touch you with hurtful words or attitudes!

Annie R.


In the 1830s and 40s Ralph Waldo Emerson urged poets and other creative types to reshape stale language; to enliven it, make it your own. And so I am following that transcendental mandate when I refuse to be injured by mere words.
Not long ago I might be angered or frustrated or hurt by someone using the wrong pronoun, and certainly by the use of seemingly crude, crass and cruel terms like "she-male" or "he-she" or "it" or even "tranny".
But no longer. I have reclaimed these words and phrases, on my terms. Just as I refuse to allow religion to steal my words "spirituality" and "faith", I also will not succumb to the emotional damage intended (or perhaps even unintended) by the flingers of such phrases that attempt to demean me and the sacred transgender journey. Such words and phrases are not sticks and stones, and they can only hurt me if I allow them to. I will not.
But I'm not putting my fingers in my ears and singing, "La-La-La, I can't hear you." I hear them loud and clear. And as I take these terms and carefully parse them, I see that some of them are based on truth, and others pure nonsense. I then feel free to take anything valuable from the former, while completely discarding the latter.

"She-male"? "He-she"? What does that mean? Let's parse the terms. Yes, I am a blend of masculine and feminine energy and perception. That is part of what makes me unique, special, unusual, interesting, non-conformist, magical. I am two-spirited (at least), whereas most people are only one. There may be advantages to being able to perceive the world through a single lens, but I believe that I am blessed to be able to see reality through two lenses, those of male and female.
"It"? Really, someone called me an "it"! OK. So they are saying that I am indefinable, beyond their capacity to comprehend or imagine; I am an aspect of reality that has rendered them infantile in their command of language. They are befuddled in my strange and mystic presence. Cool. I like it. As an "it" I go beyond the human realm to become one with the Universe. Very transcendental, indeed.
Now "tranny" is a special case. How can any one of us get upset being called that word? We invented it. It's just the diminutive/affectionate version of "transgender" or "transsexual" as Johnny is to John or Patty is to Patricia. Diminutives are usually forms of affection. And that's the way we should perceive it. Doesn't matter who flings it at us. It's our word. We will define it.
"Tranny" is not like the "N" word, which was invented as an oppressive, bigoted, hurtful, perjorative slang for those of what used to be called the Negroid race. You will notice, however, that black Americans have reclaimed and reshaped it, too. Even this rather odious word has become a term of affection within that culture. I'm not entirely sure that this is the best word to rescue from growing disuse within general American culture, but it's their call, their word, not mine.
"Queer" and "dyke" are yet other words now embraced by the very people whom these terms were originally meant to insult. There are many others.
So you see, words are just words. They are puffs of air from someone's mouth. Like bubbles they emanate from their source and float to us. We can capture them in the palm of our hand, examine them to determine if they have any truth or value at all, and discard them if they do not. They are not bubbles, not bullets. They have no inherent power... only the power that we give over to them. Yes, words can carry powerful meanings, but those meanings are up to us to define. If a word or phrase carries truth, then we should respect it. If it is off-base and only meant to hurt, we should just reach out and pop the bubble, never allowing it to affect us. Each of us has the right to carefully parse words and determine for our own self how we will interpret them and react to them, and there is no rule that says we have to go along with the meanings or intentions of the speaker.
In so doing, we set ourselves free from the tyranny of language. Mere words now have a very hard time hurting us. We take the power of words and claim it for ourself. Rather than having to take whatever it is they may be giving, we take it as we like it.
And I rather like that!

Annie R.


My name is Annie R. I am a transwoman. I live in the Pacific Northwest. This is my blog. I'll be discussing many subjects, not all of them transgender related, but I'll try to weave in any transgender connotations that come to mind. 

I'd love to hear from any of you. Leave a comment or just say "Hello" back, and let me know you are out there.