Thursday, August 20, 2009

Caster Semenya

I caught some of the sports news online last night, and it was all abuzz with reports of an African woman whose gender was being questioned. I watched some of the interviews on Youtube and I can unfortunately see why people are judging her.

Her name is Caster Semenya, she's 18, and she runs for South Africa. On Wednesday, she won the 800m run in the World Championships. Actually, she dominated the race...outpacing the nearest competitor by more than 2 seconds. Caster, herself, was about 2 seconds off the world record.

Part of the controversy is that this girl rose to greatness out of nowhere. She has grown up playing soccer and has had her gender questioned before. Just this track season she posted a world leading time in basically a high school track meet. The South African team pulled her up into their national team so fast that they didn't have a chance to deal with the questioning of her gender in quiet fashion. At least her family and country are sticking up for her.

Personally, people are questioning her sex because she tore up the competition. If she got last place, I bet there wouldn't be this outcry about her gender.

I feel for her. I've run into a number of women while playing sports that may not fit what most people consider female. She does have some male characteristics, and testing may not be conclusive, but at what point do we judge? It's just too bad they weren't able to clear this up before the championships.

Caster has had her gender questioned before, and it appears that she has been teased about her appearance for a good portion of her athletic career. This is nothing new for her...except that the audience just got a bit bigger.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


When one considers transition, I've been through a lot. I've had most of my penis removed, with what was left inverted inside of me. My face has been rearranged and rebuilt. An electrified needle has been inserted into my face and body over 60,000 times.

And after all of that, I get scared by falling 100 feet.

In an airplane.

That was trying to descend in rough weather.

With me on board.

The plane had already been moving around more than most people would be comfortable with. The plane tossed around...side to side, twisting and turning, up and down...but when the guy next to me who had been showing little fear before the big drop reaches for his seat belt, you know it's far from usual.

"I haven't had to strap in this tight in 20 years," he says to me.

Obviously I survived since I am writing this entry, but I seriously thought about dropping down to kiss the ground after we landed. I have been through rough flights before, but this was beyond was violent.

What pissed me off, though, is that we were early, and we simply could have flown around a little to wait on the weather...or at the very least, the damn pilots could have warned us about the turbulence before our decent.

But, no.

They had to let us toss around in the back and wonder if we would see tomorrow.

As I walked past the pilots and exited the plane, I felt like rearranging their faces with my fists, shoving fire hot needles into their skin, and kicking them so hard in the groin that they spoke like Mickey Mouse for a month...but, alas, I was just happy to be alive.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Perfect Fit

A while back, I caught a friend's Facebook post about a 7 day film festival. Basically, each team had 7 days to put together a short film about 7-15 minutes long. The film would have to incorporate "secret items" that would not be known until the first of the seven days. So, basically, we had 7 days to write, rehearse, film, edit, and score a short film.

I contacted Marty and said I would love to be involved, especially with the writing part of it. The timing also fell perfectly in line with my layoff. Friday, July 31st was my last day, and we started the film on August 2nd.

I sent out a small list of ideas for shorts, and went over some of the ideas they had as well. One of my ideas was to play on Romeo and Juliet, but from a modern trans-perspective. We met in a small park Sunday afternoon and went over the "secret items" that had to be included. Basically, they made him pick his favorite films and then we had to incorporate at least one of them into the movie somehow. He picked Dune, Screaming Queens, and one other trans-film. The initial goal was to have a poster of Screaming Queens in the background for a shot or two, but things changed over time.

We went with the Romeo and Juliet theme with the trans-perspective and decided that an MTF and an FTM would fall in love, but their fellow trans-friends wouldn't be very positive about their relationship. The two would meet, would tell their friends who they are dating, but their friends would disapprove but agree to meeting the other. We would find out that they are actually coworkers that know one another before the final meeting of all parties.

I spent all of my first unemployed day working on the script, and by about 6pm, my mental energy was running out. I made it to the dinner portion of the script, but I couldn't figure out a way to end it. I called Marty and told him I was at a loss on how to move forward...and likely out of steam.

"Tell a joke," says Marty.

Hmmm...yeah, a joke. I remember the remake of "Look Who's Coming to Dinner" where they make a joke in which you think one thing, but then get the other. The joke asked, "What do you call 300 white guys chasing one black guy?"....the PGA tour.

Marty and I then scoured the internet in search of a good trans joke we could use to break the tension. Neither of us could find one, but my mind slowly churned one out...which we incorporated into the film.

Marty asked me to include some Dune quotes after I submitted my initial drafts with some Star Wars references in the dialog. Star Wars has way more memorable lines than Dune, and when asked to remove the Star Wars lines, I just couldn't find a good way to move the dialog forward in those, we kept the Star Wars references, while also throwing in the Dune ones. (I told Marty to just tell them my movie was Star Wars.)

A short scene or two were eliminated before the final order to keep things going and not slow down the action. In fact, we couldn't find a large grocery or drug store that would allow us to film our initial opening scene (where our FTM and MTF leads were buying feminine products), so we shifted it so they were both trying to rent Dune...which also worked well with our Dune quotes.

I totally should have recorded what happened behind the scenes, as we had a lot of fun working on it all. Marty said he went from "steady-cam" to "jiggle-cam" any time he laughed during filming. There is also another version of the final scene were Sponge Bob shows up...which is absolutely hilarious, but I don't think it made the cut.

The final draft of the script was pushed out Tuesday with filming starting Wednesday. We wrapped filming Thursday night and Marty then had the remaining task of putting all the scenes together, along with the score. I think he did a fabulous job of putting everything together and have no idea how much sleep he lost while making it. And, while he didn't have Hollywood resources to tap into, I still think it's a fun little flick. I even got to act. If you look closely, you'll see that I play the bartender.

Below is the final product for the 7 Day Film Festival:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Last Friday was my final day of employment. It's OK, I'm financially set for a while...enough to let me take a break for a bit.

I had my exit interview with HR on Thursday, and my boss and I went over the final checklist on Friday. About an hour before the final checklist, though, I went around to say my good-byes.

Note to self: Skip the estrogen prior to your last day at work.

It is very hard saying good-bye to a lot of good people that I've spent time with over the past 8.5 years. I tried to hold back the tears, but I know my eyes were glistening. My voice cracked a few times, too, when I could barely find the air to speak.

I'd almost wished I hadn't taken any estrogen that morning...maybe to lessen the degree of emotion I felt. The estrogen seems to enhance and amplify emotions for me. Was there any need to feel the extra pain and suffering of saying good-bye?

But then I thought, if I wasn't feeling the emotion...if I wasn't expressing the emotion...if I wasn't absorbing the emotion, would I be living? Isn't life all about the experience?

It was funny, though...while I was very emotional in saying good-bye to a lot of coworkers, I felt fine on my drive home. Maybe I'm looking forward to the break, spending some time with my mom, and the chance to do a little freelance writing this week.