Tag Archives: lesbian

Topless in the Locker Room – Part II

topless-at-the-gym-2

When I’m in a gym frame of mind, I pencil in my workout time and I don’t let anything else get in my way. I pre-pack my gym bag with shorts, socks, a T-shirt, sneakers, and a charged iPod. When I’m in a gym frame of mind I feel strong and solid. I don’t hesitate or find excuses to avoid going.

I didn’t go back to the gym after I came back from New Mexico. It took me six weeks to get around to it, and when I went back, it didn’t feel right. Not the first time, not the second time. The third time I realized that I didn’t want to go into the locker room to change or shower. I forced myself to do it. I wasn’t avoiding working out, I was avoiding changing in public. I was avoiding being naked in a women’s space.

For 15 years I have steeled myself to walk in and out of the women’s locker room. I tried to convince myself that not only do I have a right to be there, but that I should keep going until it stops bothering me. That I should exercise my right to use it. Continue reading

Between the Neck and the Knees

strike-zoneFor most of my life I paid as little attention as possible to everything between my neck and my knees. I was shocked each time I got my period. I didn’t track it and I didn’t prepare for it. It arrived, I dealt with it, and then it was over. I was in so much denial that I left no room for dysphoria.

Between the ages of 21 and 42 I never went to a doctor for a check-up. Or to a gynecologist. I had a superficial physical each time I was promoted at work. Other than that I only went to the dentist and the ophthalmologist.

I didn’t want a doctor to tell me to lose weight. I didn’t want to spread my legs for a gynecologist. I scheduled a routine physical (in 2000) only when I realized that I was the same age that my Dad was when he dropped dead from an aneurysm.

The week before my doctor’s appointment I bought a new cotton futon for my bed. The old one was 12 years old and lumpy. I sleep on my stomach, but I was having trouble sleeping through the night. The nurse practitioner examined me, and told me I needed to lose 40 pounds. She asked me how long it had been since I saw a gynecologist. I told her the truth. She insisted on doing a pap smear and a pelvic exam. After the exam she asked me if I’d noticed a lump in my abdomen. She guided my hand over my belly from the left side to the right side. I felt it. She said it was probably a benign fibroid and that I should get a sonogram and then consult with a surgeon about getting a hysterectomy.

When I went to sleep I felt the lump again. It was big. It wasn’t the mattress. Continue reading

Mx. Fix-It

Gender-ObsolescenceI miss transistor radios. In the summer, I’d lie in bed, trying to stay awake, listening to the radio station of the New York Mets. Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner gave the play by play. They held out hope that somehow, someway, the Mets could turn it around and win the game. I held out hope that somehow, someway, I’d wake up and be a boy.

Transistor radios were magical. Portable. Cheap. SImple. They had an on switch, a volume control dial, a tuning dial, and an earphone jack. I still own a variety of boy toys that play music. My iPod and iPhone are the current pocket size devices that keep me connected me to my past.

For the first time in my life I am having trouble keeping up with technology. Not just computers and smart phones, but appliances that have too many bells and whistles. Unless it is made by Apple, I am no longer able to look at the box, unpack it, and go right to the quick-set-up-guide. I am doomed when the first step is to download the App and go into product settings.

I’ve always been good at setting stuff up. Cribs, IKEA furniture, stereo systems, or computer networks. I’m careful, I’m logical, I’m diligent, and I read the instructions. Lately, I’m afraid of turning into the angry old man who rails at the sales clerk that digital files are the devil’s handiwork and that nothing will ever sound as sweet as an analog LP (i.e. a vinyl record album) and a vacuum tube amplifier. Continue reading

Downward Dog or Warrior Pose?

warrior-pose downward-dogAfter two years of procrastination, I signed up for a four-week Fundamentals of Yoga class at Integral Yoga. I put it off because thin women in stretchy yoga pants intimidate me, and because I would not be caught dead in stretchy yoga pants. Yoga pants remind me of the hideous leotards and tights that my mother made me to wear to gymnastics and modern dance classes.

If I develop a yoga practice, I want it to feel aligned with my gender. I’m hoping that yoga will be another transition tool. I want it to help me manage my anxiety, calm my brain, keep me in touch with my body, and improve my flexibility and balance. I’m two weeks into the course, and I’m ambivalent.

I go to the gym for strength training and cardio. I don’t enjoy working out, but I like how I feel after I work out, and I like how it has changed the shape of my back and shoulders. It took me years to feel comfortable using free weights and barbells, and to stop worrying about whether anyone was watching me. After I work out I feel a little stronger and more confident. I can turn my brain off during a workout because I’m concentrating on my form, but the moment I step outside my brain starts chattering again. Continue reading

Marches, Guns, and Safety

Not-My-Pride

Gay Pride 2015

The last time I marched at Gay Pride in New York, I swore I was never going to march in the parade again. Some friends in Queer Nation drafted me to help carry a banner. We were right behind the Walmart rainbow float “Give me a W, give me an A, give me an L – what’s that spell?” Doesn’t spell Gay Pride to me.

Christopher Street Liberation Day March - 1977

Christopher Street Liberation Day March – 1977

I loved Gay Pride when it was still the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. It was my favorite day of the year. It was energizing being around so many people who were out. I could feel the solidarity, even though I knew that the leather men, the Trotskyites, and the lesbian-feminists wouldn’t talk to, or work with, each other during the rest of the year. There were no official contingents, no floats, no corporate sponsors. Just a mass of men and women and a few in-betweens chanting “What do we want? GAY RIGHTS!  When do we want it NOW!” Or “Ho Ho Homosexual, Anything else is ineffectual.” I’ll take liberation over pride any day.

I remember what is was like when gay men and lesbians had no rights at all. When most people thought that it was safer to be in the closet than to be out. Our rights are fragile. What is happening in Russia and Turkey could happen here; Donald Trump doesn’t have to win the election for intolerance and intimidation to take hold. Continue reading

Icy Stares and Hot Springs

I didn't wear my hat while on vacation.

I didn’t wear my hat while on vacation.

The game plan for my vacation in New Mexico was to go gender free as much as possible; to only use women’s facilities when absolutely necessary. I did nothing to soften or tone down my gender expression. I dressed comfortably and to please myself. I tried to carry myself as if I belonged everywhere I went. No shame. No apologies.

This plan worked better than any other plan I’ve followed. I found the family/accessible restrooms in the airports. I swam in the hotel pool in my trunks and rash guard. I also wore them in the two hot springs we visited. I had a serious massage at a spa where there was no mention by me, or the masseuse, of my top surgery/scars.

The only place that was a problem was the changing room in the spa. We stayed at the Ojo Caliente MIneral Springs Resort & Spa. We booked a room in the 1916 “historic” hotel wing. So historic, that guests must shower in the spa locker rooms before and after “taking the waters”. There was no shower in the room, or even down the hall. It is rustic, and less expensive than the newer rooms. A little like travelling on a budget in Europe. Continue reading

There Is No Turning Back

There are three boxes of Streit’s Passover 100% Whole Wheat Matzos on my kitchen counter. I don’t eat bread during Passover. I don’t eat any chametz (wheat, barley, spelt, oats or rye) for the eight days of the holiday. I’m not particularly observant, but eating matzo and creating a queer/feminist seder help me feel connected to my heritage and to other people who are struggling to be free.

The rule to “eat matzoh but nothing else made from flour” makes sense to me. My parents explained that we made matzo because we (the ancient Jews) were fleeing persecution and didn’t have the luxury of letting the bread dough rise and baking it in an oven. Once Moses set foot in the Red Sea there was no turning back. I understood it symbolically, but I wished that matzo tasted like a pancake instead of a burnt cracker. Continue reading