It was tempting to create a fantasy life for my character, but I made myself inject the realities I experienced when I went out in public in my female persona, and the workplace realities faced by my transsexual friends who had transitioned at work. As therapy, it kept me from lapsing into that dream world many of us have where everything in our lives becomes perfect as soon as we transition. As I made my fictional character deal with the realities of transsexual life—making a living, finding a place in society, having friends, etc.—I also began to understand my own gender issues more clearly.
The journal became very consuming and in a relatively short period of time I had around 50,000 words. As I re-read it, I realized some of the scenes were really good, and the heroine, the future Bobbi Logan, was a unique character—different from me, and different from any character I'd ever encountered in literature. At that point, I decided to write a novel based on the character and incorporating some of the scenes I'd already done.
|Coming Out Can Be Murder (2012)|
- see here.
The other manuscript is going to take a full rewrite (or more) and is probably several years away from publication, at best.
I should add that I spent a year after finishing Coming Out Can Be Murder marketing it to reviewers and readers. I also spent quite a bit of time last year working on a new version of the book with an LGBT publisher, Riverdale Avenue/Magnus Books. The new version published in March 2014 as 'Transition to Murder.' It includes a significant plot change and is the basis for the sequel.
If I were younger, I'd give serious thought to doing something like the Primrose as an e-zine for a national audience. We have many, many great bloggers in our community, but there is no central location readers can tap to find their work easily.
As a result, many trans people read only a small fraction of the thoughtful prose produced each week about the transgender experience.
When we did talk about gender issues, I learned some vital lessons that I fear many of our sisters don't learn, the most important being that gender is not your identity, it's just part of your identity; and some transsexuals choose not to transition or transition only part way because other things in their lives are more important and could be put at risk.
|At Chicago Be-All conference (2012).|
I think a lot of other northern cities are similar. It's much harder in rural areas and in the southern states where many people can't even accept having an African-American president. But I think we are making great progress everywhere, even in the south.
To me, the most obnoxious problem right now is Hollywood using cis gender actors and actresses to play transgender women. The argument that the role should go to the best talent makes me want to puke. It's like using a great white actor in blackface to play Martin Luther King. I don't care how great the actor is, it's an insult.
We are poorly organized, poorly funded, and have a hard time working together effectively. The gay and lesbian groups are strong where we are weak and have embraced our cause because they actually do believe in equality and freedom for everyone. Thank goodness we have them on our side!
We represent less than 1 percent of the population so we really can't tilt an election by voting as a block. Politically, we're probably better off being active members of LGBT advocacy groups and developing spokeswomen who can call on elected officials as educators rather than power brokers. Educating political staffs, a role engaged by Mara Keisling, is a much under-estimated tactic in American politics, but it can sometimes be more effective than money.
I'm at an age where I recognize the difference between the sex-and-romance kind of love, and transcendent, life-altering love. I enjoyed sex-and-romance love immensely in my young and middle years, and I'm still a sucker for a good romantic comedy.
I had the good fortune to pursue romance right into the arms of my wife and as we have faced the thrills and calamities of 26 years of raising children and grandchildren, and forming and re-forming our relationship, we have created a bond that goes beyond romance, a bond that defines us as individuals and a couple. I don't mean to paint this as a panacea—our life together has been hard at times. It's like we're two lovers whose lives alternate between the honeymoon suite and a foxhole in a long-running war.
The challenges forge the bond we share, and the bond defines me now. I wouldn't have it any other way. Indeed, as I write Bobbi Logan's story, I'm haunted by the need to give her a foundation for transcendent love.
I favor casual clothes for mature women—jeans, slacks, below-knee dresses, sandals. To keep life simple, much of my wardrobe is black and white, but my faves are rich in warm colors. In warm weather I especially love long sleeveless dresses but I hardly ever wear them outside the house because I'm so self-conscious about my muscular arms and shoulders.
As a side note, I spent last week at an intensive writers workshop and as I looked around the room I realized that my taste in clothing and presentation was a lot like the cis gender women in our group…we are writers first… Levis, t-shirts, comfortable shoes, quick-brushed hair, minimal jewelry and makeup. Of course, if there had been a formal dinner at night we could have had fun with that…
For my personal, selfish goals, I want to place my second Bobbi Logan book with a publisher who will help me get it in front of traditional book reviewers and straight audiences where it can do all of us a lot of good. I hope to have that happen in 2015. After that, I will do the re-write of my manuscript about a Vietnam veteran and his anti-war activist college lover meeting each other 40 years later on a canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness.