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Sunday, February 10, 2013

MY BISHOP-GAUNTLET OR PARADIGM SHIFT

I HAD THE MOST INCREDIBLE DAY TODAY, AND I WANT TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!

I really have been thinking about, dreaming about, and dreading this day all my life. I have thought for over 24 years that my wife would have outed me to my Bishop as a cross-dresser by now. Every day I went to church I expected to be called in and interrogated about my transgender identity, for which I thought my wife would label it cross-dressing, or transvestism, or something else I know she would liken unto a disgusting perversion. I've lived my life in fear of this. I let my wife have all the power. Mostly I didn't care. I'm an extreme feminist and I would never ever belittle, disenfranchise, denigrate or subjegate any woman, let alone my wife. I always let her control things, to my own detriment. I have lived a cuckolded-like life. Everything is exactly the same but the boyfriend living upstairs. Today, everything changes.

Being forced to be celibate for 18 years can really make a person resort to extremes to stay sane. I tried to make things work for me as pretending to be a man. Running Campaigns, working on campaigns, being an organizer and activist, being on 5 different Board of Directors, being a youth baseball, soccer, football, t-ball, and hockey coach. Being a wilderness guide for YMCA Adventures. Working in Factories, Natural Gas Pipelines, a painter, a roofer, a businessman, a hockey player, an Army Man, and myriad other things. Much of this was compensation, or over compensation, for who I knew I really was. I was ashamed of who I was. I tried always to hide it. I kept it to my hidden places......buried wardrobes in forests, and abandon places.
I would only dress up as myself in secret, with few exceptions. I had paper routes from 10 years old. They were afternoon papers, but on Saturday Mornings I would dress as myself in the wee hours of the morning and do my papers as the girl I was.

This guileful life continued until just recently. I would only go for my "me" walks at 2-4 am, when there is the fewest people awake, and least chance to be caught. I was caught a couple of times resulting in significant events I will explain in a different post someday. I want to keep this mostly upbeat.

Today was just always going to be a big day. I really was ready for anything. When I got home I was exhausted, because I must admit I didn't get any sleep last night, and only 2 hours the night before. I quickly got on facebook and posted a "Life Event" so I wouldn't have to type my experience over and over 50 times. I spent several hours answering the comments and being inundated with a dozen people chatting with me at the same time. I love my friends and they were really anticipating this day with me. I count myself as the most fortunate girl in the world with all the friendship, kindness, and compassion I am shown by my friends, and "squish's". (You all Rock!).


The following is the Life Event Post I made.....for those of you who were so kind to read and comment there already, feel free to skip ahead. I will make additional remarks about today, and my Bishop-Gauntlet afterward:


MY MORMON/LDS BISHOP ACCEPTS, LOVES, AND WELCOMES ME AS A TRANSsEXUAL WOMAN: First Interview with New Bishop (I Couldn't Have Hoped for a Better Outcome)
Today in Akron, Ohio (2 photos)
I have been contemplating this day all my life. There are myriad ways this meeting with the lay leader, (Bishop, like a Pastor) of my local Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or to others, the Mormon Church. I anticipated any outcome, but the most likely were mostly dis-edifying and punitive in nature. I could have been set on a course for a disciplinary council that would dole out a dis-fellowship status or an ex-communication. I was not anticipating what happened. 

A few days ago I was unexpectedly overcome with feelings of happiness, brought on by hearing the song, "Off the Wall", by Michael Jackson. In it I kept hearing the words, "life aint so bad". The last couple days, in addition to the happiness I had overwhelming feelings of comfort to go along with my happiness. I could feel the effects and the frequencies of the many prayers said for my benefit. Some of you have fasted for me, and others have done and expressed great efforts for me. Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have received these supplications, and have made me aware of them, and have answered them with effects of edification for my behalf. Miracles are happening!

I was met at Church at 8:15 am, by my best friend at Church and the exec. Secretary with, "there is an unexpected Stake Audit, and the Bishop can't see you today." This was upsetting because my wife surprised me with, "I need you to ask the Bishop for Rent assistance this Month", while we were driving to Church. Wow, thanks for the heads up on that honey. A Brand new Bishop and I have to beg for money and tell him I'm not "a Man". No pressure! So I was like, "can you squeeze me in for something during Sunday School, so I can get help with rent at least. He's a friend, so he did what I asked. He came back with a 1pm slot for 10 minutes. I thought all through Church, "oh my gosh, another week of anxiety".

1pm came and I went in. I set up a plan to work it off, I already work at the Bishops Storehouse 10-15 hours per month, plus evidence of my 40 hours per month of charitable volunteering and other work. I got the Check, but he then said, "It's going to me 20 minutes before it's ready, so why not start talking about what we need to talk about." I said okay.

I asked to start with prayer, and I'm glad I did. He offered. I then asked him what the former Bishop had told him. He said that I had told him I had some gender issues and that "You thought you were a woman 'trapped' in a mans body". I told him that's not how I put it. He said he studied up on the issue. I explained to him about more than my Transgender identity, I told him I was a Transsexual Woman, and that I have known this since 4 years old. That I have been celibate for 18 years. He asked me if this was forced or by choice, I told him by force, and he was shocked. I explained my history, which I wont go into detail here, but I will later in a further status or my blog....this is too much to type up separately for all my friends for whom I have so much love.

Suffice to say this Bishop is all I could ever ask for any leader of any Church, local group. He had all my core values, of love, empathy and compassion. His love for me was so obvious, and he wanted me to know that our Heavenly Parents love me, and that Jesus loves me. He expressed that he too was more feminine than his wife and that the former Bishop teased him that if his favorite color was pink , that he was crossing a spiritual line. No wonder this former Bishop chastised me so disedifyingly last month. 

My Bishop said he saw no problems whatsover with me presenting as the woman that I am. At Church or otherwise. He was familiar with the Handbook, even more than the former Bishop who had 6 years to study it. My Bishop new more in 2 weeks! He went right to the exact passages and said I was in violation of none of it. It would even allow me to have surgery if I had okays from a counselor and a doctor, as my health would not make it an "elective" surgery. He was very concerned for my health and well being. He does not want me to be suicidal. 

My Bishop was very concerned for my well being at Church, especially our rich and snooty, snobby Ward. he said, "Our doctrine is accompanying of the real you, but our culture is not. Our Ward especially will be really mean to you. I am ashamed of that. LDS in general are a very mean culture, and we need to work hard to fight that" My Bishop seems to be quite enlightened, and I asked him about it. He said he has several family members that are LGBT, and some of his family has married LGBT and they thought they could change them, but this is your identity and you can't be changed. I was so overwhelmed with heavenly emotion I broke down and sobbed. He returned that emotion with a warm loving hug.

Finally, he asked me how I felt about my Priesthood. Now my Feminist Mormon, Leah, kicked in (He kept calling me Roberta, Lol). I explained to him how I feel that all LDS Women hold the Priesthood or Priestesshood already, and that I, as a woman, have utilized it righteously and successfully. He agreed that he thought that some future time will have a new revelation establishing more likely a Priestesshood. I was blown away. My heart was so full of love, empathy and compassion for him. He is a feminist/LGBT welcoming Mormon Bishop. Could it be I may be lead my someone who is nearly as liberal as me. He totally treated me like his peer, and not his inferior. I am so tahnful for him. God saw to it My Bishop was changed at exactly the right time. I know my former Bishop would not be half as accepting. I have never been so proud to be a Mormon. Now off to the Stake President, some time later, and another 1 or 2 hour meeting next week with this same Bishop. No, No, No....Life Aint So Bad at All. In Fact Life is Pretty Dang Good. ;) :D ♥

Okay, so here is what I want to add to what I said earlier on the Life event:   Some other points my Bishop made were as follows. He said that he had inquired of a gender specialist about my situation. He said he wanted to know my sex, and since I had children that I must be a male. When the point was made that I had three daughters, the "specialist" had a caveat that there may be extenuating circumstances for my sex, perhaps a chromosomal differentiation. He clearly believes, like I do, that sex is between the legs and gender is between the ears. He was quite okay with me attending the Ward as "Roberta" (I didn't divulge the name I am going by now), and wearing a dress and a wig. I was taken aback that he so freely admitted that our Church is full of a bunch of intolerant, small-minded, holier than thou's, and that they would be mean to anybody different than them. He said if it were up to him there isn't even an issue we me attending as a woman. None whatever. He told me he didn't care what others would think that my rights to be my true self outweigh the intolerant sensibilities of any ward 
members. His only concern was for my health and my well being. He was worried that I would have my feelings so deeply hurt that I may quit coming to Church. I assured him I was strong, and that I was capable of being my true self and holding my own. Anyhoo, pasting this post from facebook here has caused the formatting of this post to go crazy, and it is not letting me make paragraphs or change the columns. I will just say that today really changed my life....again. Something happened today that I never thought was possible in my lifetime. I owe the people that chose to install him as my Bishop a big favor, because I truly have found an advocate. It doesn't hurt that we are exactly the same age, and both are feminine. I wanted to hug him and he said he wanted to hug me too. No Bishop has ever hugged me so hard and so warmly as this Bishop. He is so kind and understanding and I am truly blessed to have him there for me. I hope he can hold his own in advocating for me with the Stake President. I don't relish going through the opposite emotions next week. I truly feel anything is possible. The heavens have opened up and I can see inside them, and they are wonderful. I feel like the Bruno Mars song "Locked Out of Heaven". Although, instead of sex taking me there, it is Liberality, one of the Heavenly Virtues.  I see the makings of a paradigm shift coming. It gives me such hope and optimism. I will see the whole Ward on Friday night at our annual Chile Cook-Off. And my Bishop, the cook that he is, has won it for 7 years running. I want to go early to be a judge. I will get to eat till my hearts content. Amazing that my Bishop unlocked my heart, imprisoned in this basement for so long, and he's going to serve me heaping amounts of his award winning chili. Of course, no one else in my family will go, they all hate chili. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

MY 'GO AT THROTTLE-UP YEAR', AS A PHOENIX, & Go 49ers!



So, it just occurred to me that it has been one month since I came out to my wife and daughters, on New Years Eve. So far, it has not been as freeing as I thought it would be. Probably because not much has changed. Their reactions to me were very cold, and unaccepting, and warrant me being low key and remaining cautious about any transitioning. This is with the understanding, by my wife's reaction, that I will be asked to move out immediately if I present to them as Leah. This is something I think I thought was going to happen, so I'm not so shocked about it anymore

Yesterday I saw some large envelopes in the trash, that had been opened. I picked them out to look at them and was startled to find out they were addressed to me, Leanorah-Laurelei Grace. Now they know my name for sure, but I have nothing to hide. If they want to check out all my online activity, I'm fine with that. I am kinda upset they found out like this, and even more so, that they didn't see fit to pass the mail off to me. I'm going to be careful not to sign any more petitions as Leah, at least for the time being. I'd also rather my friends address my mail as Bob, until I do move out. I enjoy actually receiving my mail, even more than the wonderful feeling of seeing my true name in print. It is so much fun receiving mail as Leah. I feel like a teenage pen pal, back in the day.

I've received some wonderful gifts in the mail I was actually able to intercept only because they were too large to fit through the slot, and they had to be brought to my side door, the one I access from my cold basement. Some beautiful prints which remind me everyday of my own beautiful soul, and my divine feminine. And, the cutest purple knit hat with a pink flower that everyone wants to kiss, and a matching scarf. I wore them to my University of Akron LGBT-Union meeting this week, and got a picture, which I made my new profile and cover photo here. I have also received the gift of some of the most wonderful phone calls from my facebook friends, whom I consider my sisters. I would be so lost without them. I know with certainty, if not for these four remarkable young women, I would have sunk into a deep despair and depression. I want to publicly acknowledge these women for the Angels and inspiration they are to me. Julia, Lori, Marni, and Bertita are awesome people that are a godsend to me. I want them to know that they mean more to me than they'll ever know. They will always be in my heart, and I am eternally grateful for them being in my life. I appreciate all my online friends. I love them all. It's the only place I actually ever get any love, so it's so easy to love them back.

So, here I am, my dishes are done. I'm embarrassed to say I let 3 weeks of dishes pile up, so it took me 3 hours to do them. I am a horrible housewife. And I'm not even working right now, so I have no excuse. I deserve some of the alienation my family gives me. But, for right now, the dishes and the housework is done, which is a great feeling. I always go for a celebratory walk after doing so much housework. I have pep and happy feet in my step. I'm smiling and happy, and I'd be pretty damn fun to hang around right now, if I had any friends. Anyway, I went out for a walk in 15 degrees with a zero wind chill. I have a nice San Francisco 49ers Starter pullover quilted winter jacket, that I am so proud to strut around in. Sure I wish it was all pink and girly, but Bob gets to have fun too. This is the first time I can smile ear to ear wearing this in 18 years! Its over 20 years old, and still in pristine condition (because I wear other 'Niner jackets when they aren't in the Super Bowl). It's a great contrast, this red jacket in the white winterscape of Northeast Ohio in mid-winter.

I was walking merrily along, and low and behold there were a group of boys throwing a football around. We're a hearty lot, us Buckeyes, and we'ff play football in any weather. I was coming toward them and started waving my arms, like my wide receiver/ tight end days, signaling I'm open for a pass. Sure enough, they obliged me, and let go a monster, hail-mary pass down the middle of the snowy street, right smack through the intersection, about 40 yards. What ensued happened all in slow motion for me. Bear in mind, I'm out of my blood pressure meds, and I need new eye glasses. It's a dark cloudy day, right near sunset, so most of the light was from the street lights. I lost the ball at its apex, and had to run up to get it, when i regained sight of it. No problem, I have an athletic resume, with 20 years of competitive ice hockey, baseball, football, soccer, lacross and baskeball. I slipped on some ice, but managed to stay upright, and 'bounce', thud-bang, the ball hit me square in the chest, deflecting straight up in the air. What followed, seemed like a clown juggling act at a circus. I danced around in the middle of an intersection trying like the dickens to haul this beautiful pass in. It was like my life depended on it. My team, the Forty-Niners will lose, if I cannot catch this pass. I must have batted the ball back up in the air half a dozen times. Then, elation! I did it! The ball was mine.

 I've never been so happy to catch a ball in all my life. Not only am I going to keep my warm body, but my team is going to win the Super Bowl, my life is going to turn around, I'm going to rise up out of this basement, like a phoenix, and I'm going to go all-in to my true self...blasting off...throttling-up, to break free of the enslaving gravitation pull of a guileful life of lies. This is my 50th Year. And it's going to be my best year ever

I face my new Bishop of my Church on the 10th. My appointment is for right after church at noon. He said to plan for at least an hour, maybe more. This is the beginning of my gauntlet I face for daring to be truthful about my identity. I plan on spending a great deal of the coming week, pouring through the science of transgender/ transsexual, and trying to put together a letter I want to read to him. I don't trust myself to get across what I want to get across, just from the top of my head, knowing I'll be emotional, and highly stressed. I would appreciate any suggestions or tips or guidance any of you would like to share with me in the comments below. I would very much appreciate your help.

I love my Church, and I want to make a difference from within the Church, as a member in good standing. I want to make it a safe place for all LGBTQIAA people. Many people may think I'm crazy for doing so, for wanting to stick around in such an unwelcoming place, when so many welcoming, loving alternative exist. Any of you who know me, know i never pick the easy way, I never go with the flow, I always "kick against the pricks". I'm a natural born outlier. In the half-full/ half-empty argument, my answer is "neither, you have the wrong size glass". Well, my Church has the wrong size policy. It's not even doctrine or dogma. It's changeable, and very doable, very actionable.

I've thought quite a lot about this in the last month. I feel a strong pull to seek full time employment in the area of LGBT and Feminist Civil Rights. I'm going to write a blog post about this, and talk about it in greater detail, but suffice to say here, my mind and heart are very much settling on this. I don't feel it is a passing phase. I have been a feminist and LGBT activist and advocate for free all my life. I doubled down last year on this, and now it's time I feel, to go All-In. *That* will be my "Go-At-Throttle-Up".

I can't wait for the big game on Sunday...Happy Days are Here Again, my friends....Go 'Niners!!

With All My Love,

Leah-Lori