Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baby Update!

It's only been a few posts since I last uploaded pictures of Baby, but it's actually been months already. He's looking a lot more like an adult bird than he did, so I thought I'd post a couple pictures of him from the first week, and some of him from now.

The first picture:May 1st.

Broccoli Face: May 3rd.

On swing eating miller: June 8th

Looking out the window: July 10th

Posing on his perch: July 10th

Sideways: Sept 3rd

Shaking off the water: Sept 3rd

Ketchup and Seed Feet: Sept 3rd

The 'she' in Yesheva

I believe that the trouble some transsexuals have being accepted by society has to do with people's (mis)conceptions about who we are. It seems that while most of us live an otherwise typical and average life, we are not the examples of transsexuality that people remember. There are some transsexuals out there that put forth a very different portrayal about what it means to be transgendered, a very over-the-top, absurd, Jerry-Springerlike portrayal. Unfortunately this is what people seem to think of when they hear the word transsexual. I think it makes it hard for transsexuals as a whole to gain mainstream societal acceptance.

For this reason I am usually very happy when I read a news story that involves a transsexual woman portraying us with some level of normality, especially when she is immersed in a traditional, conservative environment. It leaves me thinking that while at first her associates may be horrified, eventually her normality and humanity will win them over.

My friend Levin works at a Jewish university in New York where a male professor has just come back to work as a woman. Levin sent me an article in the New York Post that tells the story. You can go read it at the link above, but the basic outline goes like this:
  • A male professor named Jay gets tenure at conservative Jewish university
  • Jay takes a couple years off
  • Jay comes back as a female professor named Joy
  • Faculty is horrified, students don't care
  • Joy mentions unfinished memior with a convoluted and completely stereotypical transgender-oriented title. 'Inside Out: Confessions of a Woman Caught in the Act of Becoming'. Oh please.

Normally if I am reading an article about a transsexual, this is exactly the news story I would prefer to read. It has everything that I think is required for North Americans to better understand and accept transsexuals. It talks about a transsexual living an average lifestyle within a conservative environment. It seems to describe the perfect scenario where frightened conservative people will be exposed to the normality of transgendered people. It isn't that hard to project ahead and imagine that this currently horrified faculty will eventually think of Joy as nothing other than an average woman. All we transsexuals need to become fully accepted in society is for everyone to know/work with/heard of transsexuals that are just normal every day people and not at all how we are portrayed in sensationalist media.

"...massive violation of Torah law, Torah ethics and Torah morality."
- Rabbi Moshe Tendler

Still, this article didn't really make me feel good. It left me trying to be hopeful, but feeling like it is a tainted hope. I don't want to be pessimistic, but I can't help it. The problem is that while I believe people are capable of overcoming the insignificance of what it means to be transgendered, in this case we are not just dealing with people - we are also dealing with religion.

The article above quotes Rabbi Moshe Tendler talking about Joy: "[S]he's a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual. There is no niche where [s]he can hide out as a female without being in massive violation of Torah law, Torah ethics and Torah morality." Please note I have corrected Moshe's incorrect pronoun use.

I am sure his comment is, pronoun use notwithstanding, correct. Even if he wasn't a rabbi at a rabbinical school, I've been informed via comments to this blog (all of which were unceremoniously deleted) of my own immorality based on religious standards many times over and I am sure that some of the commenters must have been Jewish. Even if none were, it doesn't really matter because those so zealous in any particular religion all have something in common, and that is either an outright inability to rationally think, or an overabundance of ability to suspend thought while indulging delusion (what they call faith).

I suppose what I just said can be hurtful to some, but that doesn't really bother me. I think what is more hurtful is to think about poor Joy who did nothing wrong, but will be subtly punished anyway during her time at a religious institution. Even if she is by all appearances treated with respect, she'll likely sense the disgust exuded by, and hear the words muttered by, at least some of her co-workers who will fervently believe she is immoral and unethical despite how well she lives her life.

I fully believe that the average conservative individual can overcome his or her misconceptions about transsexuals, and I fully believe that individual people can realize and admit when they are wrong, but religion never will.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Untitled Part II

This article describes the events of the last Saturday.
I've hesitated to post this blog article in case it makes me look like an ogre.
When I think back to it all, I sort of feel like I was an ogre, but then I remember how scared I was at the time.

You're probably wondering why I couldn't come up with a clever title to my last blog article. Untitled Part I is a rather boring title. The reason is that I only posted that story as a prologue to this one, and so it is the first part in a story that I just could not think of a name for. The problem is that there are so many titles that run through my head right now. All of them fit, all of them introduce the story, but none of them are complete. If I had to pick though, I suppose two of the best titles are "Why You Should Always Call the Police", or "I Should Have Just Stayed Inside".

Saturday morning I was rushing to get ready to meet my sister. We were going to do our grocery shopping together. She showed up on schedule at the front door. I said I'd be right out, but I left through the back so I could toss out a bag of garbage. After tossing it, I walked up through the parking lot between the two buildings and I saw some maintenance people repairing the door at the main entrance to the building next door.

Later on when I got home I asked the maintenance guy what had happened. His name is Cliff and he has worked on a few things for me and I know him to be a man of few words. He didn't say anything at all, he just pointed down to apartment #1's window.

The view of apartment #1's window through my bedroom window

I said, "Those kids broke it?"

Cliff didn't say anything, he just smiled and nodded, then he raised his eyebrows, sighed, and shook his head. He had a helper that I recognized as one of the tenants in the building next door. Helper was thankfully a bit more vocal and said, "You didn't hear it?" He seemed like he didn't believe I couldn't hear it. "They had a party and sometime around 4am they were out here goofing around and shattered the door." I truly didn't hear it. It takes me a while to fall asleep, but when I do I am out like a light. I ended up talking with Helper and nodding with Cliff for a few minutes more and then I left them and forgot all about it until later that night.

At about ten o'clock I was in a marathon Warcraft session with Jenna, Caspers, Stubb, Nighel, Wynch, Boud and Chino when I realized how hot it was in my apartment. I opened the window and soon afterwards I realized there were more voices coming in my window than there were coming out of my computer speakers. I took a look outside and saw a small group of young adults standing outside my bedroom window.

After an hour they were still there. They were laughing and talking. It was only 11:00 and I was still playing the game, so I didn't mind.

After an hour they were still there. They were laughing and talking and smoking pot. I was still playing the game, so the voices didn't bother me... but I am a smell-o-phobe and the smell was getting on my nerves.

After an hour they were still there. They were laughing more and talking louder. They were still smoking pot and they started playing music. I was getting ready for bed, and so I stood at the window for a while so they could all see me. I hoped this would make them realize they were being too loud for 1:00am. If they did, they didn't care. I put my fan in the window and turned it on. It didn't do much to help me from the smoke, but it did cool off my room and partially drown out their voices. Then I laid down to go to sleep.

After another hour they were still there. I was in bed, but not yet asleep. I went to the window and said "Can you guys be quiet?" They thought I made funny joke. Despite my bedroom still being hot, and even though I didn't want them to think they had won, I closed my window.

After another hour they were still there. Even though my window was closed I could still hear them laughing and I could still hear their music. I was more than upset. I was very tired and very fed up. I opened the window and yelled "SHUT UP!" and then I slammed it shut again. I heard them all laugh.

It was a little before 4am when I decided I needed to make a larger imprint on their minds. I thought if I went outside and actually spoke to them it would do more good than yelling out my window. As it turned out this was not a good idea.

I went out the front door. Unlike my previous blog article where the sun was already coming up at 4am, this time it was still completely dark out. I walked around the side of the building and saw a dozen or so people standing in a loose circle in front of the entrance to the building. A couple of them were smoking. I saw a beer bottle or two. The music was coming from the Apartment #1's open window. All of the people in front of me were talking at the same time.

At first nobody noticed me. I wasn't trying to sneak up on them, I was just between two angle-parked cars, and I guess not easily seen. When I came out from between the cars I was seen immediately. I suspected a lull in their conversation where I could interject with my calm voice of reason and logic and perhaps some slightly veiled threats of calling the police. That isn't what happened.

I thought I must have been recognized as the woman in the window because as soon as I was visible one of the girls yelled at me. It took me by surprise how she skipped speaking and went straight to yelling. She told me to 'get the fuck back inside, fuckin white bitch'. Halfway through her question another girl yelled at me. I think she asked what the fuck I wanted, 'fuckin white bitch'. After this second question everyone was yelling at me so it was hard to determine what anyone was saying to me, other than they all ended their questions and comments with the words 'fuckin', 'white' and 'bitch'. I had managed to go almost 37 years without being called a fuckin white bitch at all, and here in just a few seconds I had been called one about thirty times.

From where I was I couldn't really see them except to say they were short or tall, skinny or fat. It scared me that I couldn't actually see their facial expressions, or what any of them were doing with their hands. I could see that the loose circle of once laughing, pot-smoking party-goers quickly changed to a perfect semi circle of angry young-toughs with me in the middle. Every muscle in my body tensed up and I felt both paralyzed and ready-to-spring at the same time.

As I look back on it all, time didn't seem to progress at a constant rate. At this point time felt like it was moving very slowly. I am sure the entire incident had only taken seconds up until this point, but standing there it felt like a very long time. A pretty, skinny girl with a pony tail stepped forward and stood right in front of me. The defiance in her body language and the anger in her verbal language made her seem extremely fierce despite her size. With her face close to mine she yelled, "What the fuck are you gonna do white bitch?" I heard some girl off to my side say, "Yeah, what're you gonna do white bitch?" I didn't answer either question. In fact I hadn't even said a word yet. I was completely speechless.

I don't think my posture was indicating how scared I was. I think I looked like I was ready to fight someone because the fierce skinny girl said, "I fuckin' dare you white bitch." Her backup singer friend to the side said, "Yeah, fuckin' dare you, white bitch."

I took a step back and suddenly the fierce skinny girl said, "That's right step BACK BITCH!" and then I think she thought it would be funny to make me flinch or jump or simply run because she abruptly lunged towards me. Time up until this point had been progressing so slowly, but when she lunged towards me everything sped up to the point I barely remember what happened. What I do know is that when she jumped forward, I didn't recoil from her. I grabbed her shirt at the shoulder and the collar and pulled her around in a circle leaving her flat on her ass in the middle of the semi-circle.

I must admit that even while the words 'what have I just done?' were running though my head, I felt some sort of satisfaction among the guilt. I don't mean to say I believe this was a good outcome though. The entire situation had become something very different than what I first imagined. Everything just seemed to have turned so sour and gone so bad. I turned around to go back inside. As I rounded the corner towards the entrance of the building I couldn't even hear what they were yelling anymore because all I could hear was the sound of my blood pounding through my head.

By the time I got inside my apartment I realized none of them were outside my window anymore. I stepped out onto my balcony to take a look around. Nobody. I had no idea where they went. I could still hear music from apartment #1's window, but no voices except for the sudden and unexpected voice to my right that said, "Are you OK?"

I looked to my right and to my surprise I saw Helper standing in the parking lot. I assumed he had seen the entire incident. I said I was ok and asked where they had gone. He took a cue from Cliff and said nothing and shrugged. Then he said "I was going to call the police there." I didn't know if he meant he was going to call the police on me or on the group of kids, but then he said "Those kids have no boundaries."

I didn't have a chance to comment because we heard the voices returning. The entire group was coming around the building and I heard someone say "That's not her, that's not her!" I took a step back inside my apartment, out of sight.

They were all talking at once again, this time yelling at Helper. I heard another voice say "fuckin' beat up my sister???" and among the yelling I heard 'white bitch' a couple times. It seemed half of them thought Helper was me, and the other half was saying "that's not her".

Helper put up his arms as if to ask what they wanted with him. Once they all realized that he was not me, the group settled back into their old spot and seemed to behave as if nothing happened. I covertly peeked out at them and saw the fierce skinny girl laughing and talking just a little bit louder than everyone else, letting everyone know that her bruises from hitting the asphalt didn't hurt.

I didn't sleep at all that night. The kids continued making noise until well after six in the morning at which point some of them went inside, and the rest walked en masse down the alley away from the morning sun.

If this ever happens again I'll know I will not be able to convince a group of kids to be quiet. If it is anything at all like this time, I won't even get a chance to say anything at all, so I shouldn't even try. Even though I'm the one that first and only one that laid hands on another, I still feel like I was pushed into it. I know that if this ever does happen again, I won't put myself into that situation again. I will not be going outside at all, I'll just stay inside and call the police.