Clearly Opaque

I must’ve asked her—if she could paint my nails, too. I was little. Maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Mom acquiesced. But she chose to paint my nails not with the kind of pretty color that she was wearing, but with a clear coat. I was disappointed. You couldn’t tell.

Are my nails really painted? It was my way of expressing discontent. It was my round about way of asking for colored nail polish. As a child I never used to ask for things directly. Curled in on myself I was often scolded by my family for this round about way of asking for things by not asking for things.

I might’ve been too young to know how transgressive my asking mom to paint my nails was. Choosing the clear was perhaps my mom’s way of Read More »

Searching for Sophia at Starbucks

On the first night of the conference the leaders of GCN announced a new name for the organization to better reflect the evolving diversity of the LGBTQ Christian community. Q Christian Fellowship was born with a fresh, new and exciting logo.

If the Reformation Project conference last October felt like a coming home, QCF felt to me like the family had left home and was on a trip somewhere. It’s much more active and dizzying with sensory overload.

So by the end of the second day, I was exhausted and tired. As grateful as I was to have been at the Trans Retreat that day, I was missing my friends. The fact that I wasn’t able to share a meal with them, made me sad. Walking out of the main convention area toward the exit, I sat alone at a bench facing the exit. A wave of sadness overwhelmed me. I knew that my anti-depressant was wearing off. But there, in the dark hours of the night, inside the foyer of the Denver Convention Center, I felt especially alone. After a few minutes of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I… I sent off a message to Adrienne to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe I could catch them all at the end of dinner. I could meet them where they were. Read More »

Searching for Sophia in Dysphoria

Denver would be my third time being about in the world en femme. The process came together easier, if not quicker. It still took me two hours for my unpracticed hands.

I first met up with Marisa by the registration booths at the Denver Convention Center. (I met her at The Reformation Project and had kept in touch over Twitter.) It was a happy reunion. I was so grateful that unlike at TRP, I was not a stranger alone in the world. Ceri Anne was there, too. I was happy to see her. She had led us all strangers at TRP to lunch and dinner for her Pizza Quests, where we got to sample all the great pizza places in Chicago, which is how and where I made friends in the Fall of 2017.

Adrienne and her two girls joined us later due to a flight delay. As the first worship session was closing they found us at our table.

Afterwards we found ourselves at Yardhouse, a restaurant and brewery. A sweet little reunion. I was happy to be there. Happy to be reunited with my friends. The only friends in the world (as of this writing) who know me for who I am.

Adrienne had said that one of her daughters is an expert at painting nails and would be happy to do mine. Goodie! I thought. How fun that would be. Adrienne’s daughter (I won’t name them here, being they’re both minors) had brought with her two color choices. A pastel blue and classic red. Which one would I like? “You choose for me,” I said. She chose red. I smiled. I had never tried on such a bold color. But, I was glad for it. I was proud to be wearing it throughout my time in Denver.

I rode the elevator up to my room, aware of my freshly painted nails.

Read More »

Searching for Sophia Down the Colorado Highway

The blue Super Shuttle van cruised down the Colorado highway with ease. I was thankful to be the only passenger. I was anxious to get to my hotel as soon as possible. The sooner I can get checked in, the sooner I can explore the City of Denver en femme. The last time I did this was the first time I did this. I was in Chicago for The Reformation Project Conference. You could say, this time, it was the Gay Christian Network Conference that brought me to another metropolis in which I had never been.

In truth, it was not the conference at all, though I was fascinated to see what it would be like to visit a conference whose recorded live stream of Vicky Beeching was my first exposure to a world that I never knew existed.

I wouldn’t have booked my passage to Denver had it not been for my friend’s enthusiastic encouragement to make the trip. Austen Hartke was hosting the first ever Trans Retreat at GCN Conference. Adrienne insisted I should be there for it.

So at 11:55 PM, five minutes before the online ticket sales for the conference were to close, I clicked on Buy Tickets.

This is the first in a series of five about my trip to the Q Christian Fellowship Conference in January 2018

The World As I Remember It* (One of the Girls, Part Two)

The Inn of Chicago. I step out of my hotel room. Heart pounding. I feel like a spy who’s afraid of being found out. I step into the elevator. Thank God it’s empty. But floors below me, I’m joined by other patrons of the hotel. It’s a tiny space, like a closet. I’m afraid to make eye contact with anyone. But, the women don’t stand apart, trying to find a safe distance. What I sense is an air of ease, instead of the dis-ease I normally feel from other women in elevators when I’m in boy mode.

I step out into the freezing cold. I’m thankful for my parka. The faux fur protects my neck from the cold winds. I wait nervously for my first Lyft ride. Thankfully, the driver is a woman. And she’s none the wiser that I’m trans.

I arrive at the church as the first plenary for The Reformation Project conference is well under way. I find an empty pew in the back. Friendless. Scared. Feeling isolated, I choose to isolate myself by sitting alone.

This is day one of the conference. Day one of being out as myself. I hope for better on day two. With breakout sessions, I hope I’ll make friends. With that timid hope in my heart I decide to walk back to my hotel.

I stop at Walgreens to get deodorant. I gravitate toward the Secret brand. First time buying a woman’s deodorant. Yay. I get in line, hoping I won’t have to speak. I haven’t spoken to anyone yet. I’m not sure of my voice. Hitting the right pitch on the voice feminization app came easily enough. But it’s untested if I can actually sustain a conversation let alone sentences.

My cashier is a guy in his late twenties, maybe early thirties. My plan is to pay for the item and get the hell outta there. But the man strikes up a conversation. Shit.

Read More »

Rosé (One of the Girls)

Us girls accompanied her to her hotel where she dropped off some stuff before heading to the last party on the last night of the conference. She brought a bottle of rosé from her room to the rooftop bar.

This was the third day that I’d been out in the world as myself—en femme. Reflecting upon those five airy days of delight being in Chicago for the 2017 Reformation Project conference, is difficult. Because I am home now. And I am caged. The lock and key are the burden of secrecy and Read More »

Y345: Memories of Makeup

I found my color.

Saturday I went to Sephora (for the first time in my life). It was dizzying. The number of brands and product. Nervous as hell, I wandered the entire store. There were plenty customers sitting in front of the many make up vanity mirrors with lights, set up throughout the store. There were lines. I came here for one simple thing: find my foundation color.

A quick question. In. Out.

I found an employee arranging something on the wall, not engaged with a customer. I approached her and asked if she could help me with my quest. She told me that she’d be happy to, but she’s the fragrance expert (that’s when I realized what she was doing—restocking fragrance sticks) so she cannot help me. She radioed for someone to assist me. I could look around the store and they’ll find me.

Once more I braved deeper into the store, this time better able to check out the products. As I wandered around a woman with the body radio approached me. “Did you need any help, dear?” (She didn’t call me “sir.” My anxiety began to dissipate at the way she welcomed me and addressed me in an inclusive way.) I told her I hoped that she was the one they flagged down to help me. She said she was. But to my consternation she steered me toward one of those makeup stations where most of the customers were congregating.

I wanted this experience to be as simple, quick, and private as possible. She introduced me to a man, whom she said was exactly the expert who could help me.

Victor was a middle-aged gay man of Latin descent. When I told him I simply needed to know what color foundation I should be using, he immediately began with a question that caught me off guard: Read More »

A Stream of Consciousness in Asphyxia

Thirty minutes of asphyxiation. Throat closing in. Dry heaving. The blade tip of suicide scraping my brain just behind the eye balls. Hands to throat. Breathe! Dry heave and fall sleep. Wake with a start. Gasp of air. Wasn’t breathing. Thirty minutes of fear, of absolute terror. What am I afraid of? That people are starting to recognize my gifts. That in my 34th year I’m coming into my own, a certain level of respect and gravitas given me by the community. That it’s tempting to decide not to derail my entire fucking life, and instead try to live a cishet life. After all, today’s recognition and signs of appreciation from people made it seem the more attractive option. Until gender dysphoria comes stabbing with a thousand knifes like a bitch. YOU. ARE. FUCKING. TRANS. Weaving in and out of asphyxiation and sleep (or is it simply loss of consciousness?) and waking. Feeling trapped in this hideous frame. This gross anatomy. Putrid. Feeling the weight of the universe sticking to my skin, crushing me like the waters of some deep abyss of the ocean. If I try to deny it, maybe my dysphoria will at long last have mercy on me and let me die. But I know. I’ve got a reason to live. Ladies and gentlemen I’ll say. Meet Sophia. I love you. Please don’t crucify me. There is One who already took those nails for me. There is One in whose arms I’ve been carried, born to new life. Free from the bonds of decay. One day. My tomb will be open. Please don’t let my body betray and kill me before then.

What is the Fear and the Presence and the Epiphany?

One of the things about coming into accepting myself as trans, is fear. Fear of the future. A future in which the moment I’ll have to come out will be emotionally draining with lots of bewildered tears and denial and disbelief and hugs and (perhaps even) loathing and the ground shifting beneath the feet of my family and friends, co-workers and church.

While I’ve been on this journey for years and I’ve experienced reaching this point as a long hike in the woods, the moment I come out, for the people I’m coming out to, they’ll experience it as a bullet train ride with no seatbelt or windshield. When I eventually come out, I’ll be asking them to make the journey that I’ve been on for years, in a matter of moments. (Of course, for my loved ones, it won’t be, it cannot be this way; they, too, will need time to arrive. They, too, will need to put on their boots and go on the hike, until they can meet me where I am.)

This fear of the future is also about:

How will I find a new faith community that is inclusive, that will welcome me as a pastor?

Will I be able to keep working in the same company and profession I am in now? Will they be willing to evolve with me? If they cannot, how will I find a new job?

Will I lose all my friends? Will I be severed from my family?

* * *

I’m  reading Rob Bell’s new book, What Is the Bible? And in reading, I’ve experienced a moment of epiphany that felt like…Read More »