Alpha-Male

Views: 3502

There is a small town stuck between Houston and Galveston. It is one of the many settlements south of Houston that seems to cling to the freeway for life. This particular berg is famous for three things:

1.)    A large topless joint that beckons men to exit the freeway so they can have their heart broken by at least 162 women;

2.)    An old Spanish-style church whose 15 foot adobe Christ is designed to inspire the unsuspecting sinner to make a mad dash for the confessional least they be judged on the spot by its two rather large menacing eyes (that, BTW, seem to somehow track you much like the Mona Lisa’s do); and,

3.)    The local water tower which is prized for its pealing façade immortalizing the high school team of 1977.

I had the honor of calling this town my home for a few years. In fact, it’s where I did a lot of my transitioning and first experienced some of the hidden perks that seemed to come along with my new gender role.

I’d been experiencing trouble with my car’s transmission, so I pulled into a local garage to have them take a look at it. As I navigated my car around used tires and oil slicks, I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a rather large yeti attempting to till the grime under his fingernails with the edge of a screwdriver. While I had not yet transitioned, I was very close to moving forward with it. This meant that I was living in a strange twilight state whereby I was hyper-conscious of every nuance manhood demanded of me. I had to consciously carry out each action as if I had the lead part in some weird and sweaty play. Each gradation of expression that drew me away from my innate personhood exacted a psychic toll that was becoming too high.

Since I had obviously parked my car in the middle of alpha-male central, I felt it best to present this greased Neanderthal with my very best impersonation of a male. I parked my car and tried to calm my heart palpitations by reciting my man-mantra: “manly-man, manly-man, manly-man…” As I closed my car door, the mechanic squinted his eyes and stepped over to my car.

He told me that he was on his break and explained to me that every goddamned time he went on break, some asshole would pull up whining about his car. With that greeting, it was established that he, not I, was the alpha-male.

I apologized for interrupting him and asked if he would like me to come back later. He told me that he’d take his break later and went on to explain that the “asshole” in his introduction wasn’t me and that he was just talking about assholes in general. I gave him a nervous tic and he asked me, “Just what the hell’s your problem anyway?” I explained that my car’s automatic transmission wasn’t shifting properly. After checking the transmission fluid, he shook his head and laughed at me. It was clear then that I was trapped in some type of ritualistic rite males are apparently expected to engage in to determine dominance and that I had been demoted to the level of prepubescent simpleton.

The mechanic told me to walk to the front of my car. An icy panic settled into the pit of my stomach as I got out of my car. I told myself to make sure that I walked with the same swagger the mechanic displayed when he approached my car. “That’s it. Take big steps. Big steps… No! OMG! What are you doing?!? Are you trying to show off your swishy hips?!? Big steps… That’s right. Walk like you’ve just crapped your pants. Yep, that looks real good. Step. Squish. Step. Squish. Step. Squish.” While I was feeling fairly confident about my approach at the time, I’m sure I did a fine impression of an epileptic ballet dancer as he almost dropped the dipstick he was holding as he watched my machismo in action.

He told me that the transmission fluid was low and that I needed to put some in. I desperately scanned the engine looking for a cap or sticker that read, “PUT TRANSMISSION FLUID HERE” but there was nothing like that to be found. Since he obviously knew, I asked him where I needed to put the fluid. He looked at me as if I had politely asked him to wear my underwear on his head.

“How much are you gonna pay me to show you?” he asked. As he looked me up and down, he added, “I’ve got a wife and kids to feed.” Why was he telling me about his family? Did he expect me to express some sympathy for his plight? Was he attempting to show me how virile he was? I told him that I had about a dollar-fifty in cash when he slapped my back – hard – and began to laugh. Did I miss something? Apparently, we had somehow become friends since he was laughing instead of scowling and showing me where and how to put the transmission fluid into my car.

About six months later, I returned to the same garage to put some air into my tires. By then, I had transitioned. The same mechanic was on duty as I pulled up and instead of grimacing at me, he stopped what he was doing and bounded across the parking lot in the direction of my car. As I got out to walk towards the air-hose, he instructed me to get back into the car while he volunteered to check each tire and top them off. He also asked me if I wanted him to check the fluids under the hood. After he was done, I asked him how much I owed him. “Nuttin…” he said, “But a smile.” He flashed a head full of mangled teeth at me. I couldn’t help but notice that a bottom tooth looked like the dirty end of the spark plug he was fidgeting with. I automatically frowned and he stopped showing me his teeth. It occurred to me that I’d perhaps broken some sort of rule; his disappointment was written all over his face. Worse, the disappointment was quickly becoming a display of offended neutrality. I realized that I’d just been classified and filed away under the bitch category of his brain. I tipped him 5 bucks, thanked him for his help and drove off watching him look from the back of my head to the tip in his hand in my rearview mirror. It was only then that I realized that I was smiling like an idiot.

Name & Gender Change: Do-It-Yourself?

Views: 572

ACT ONE

I was sitting on the banks of a peaceful river. The sun was out and it was fall. I laid back to take in the beauty that surrounded me. I splashed my left feet in the water of a nearby stream. There was a soft breeze that carried the light scent of honeysuckle.

The ancient oak that I was reclining under was magnificent. Its mighty limbs reached down to the ground. I studied its majesty for quite some time. That was when I heard the call of a distressed bird. This creature was perched in the limb just above my head. How could I have missed such a thing?

This grizzled bird threw its beak open wide, giving off another ear spitting call.

Damn! 4:30 a.m. I fumbled with the off switch on the alarm clock, knocking over the glass of water I kept on my bedside table. I can only compare the sound my alarm makes to the unholy union of grinding metal and fingernails on a chalkboard.

I thought to myself, “I have a lot to do today. God if I could just go back to sleep.”

I need to get up. I need to get ready. I thought of the things I needed to do. I reminded myself to make sure I have all of the documents I would need to file for my name and gender change. “Where did I put that check? God, what time is it? 4:35 a.m.” Four hours of sleep.

It was about then that I noticed that my foot was wet. So I did what any rational individual would do. I laid in the dark and wondered why I had a wet foot.

I slowly reached under my covers. I found to my amazement that there was a rather thick rope in my bed. I crinkled my nose and thought that perhaps one of my roommates was attempting to play some sort of practical joke on me. I grabbed the rope tightly and began to pull it up for a closer inspection.

Suddenly, the rope was forcefully pulled from my hand. I heard a rather loud thump. My foot was still wet. My mind raised back to a childhood fears of snaggletooth monsters crawling into my bed.

I switched on the light just in time to see what appeared to be a mutant rat hiss at me. Its demonic eyes reflected the overhead light. It huddled itself in the corner of my room.

“My god! It’s a possum!” My mind raced. My foot… my foot… wet. I thought, “A possum crawled into my room, under my covers and has been eating my foot!”

A second later I realized that my foot felt fine. “He slobbered on my foot!”, I thought. I reached under the covers to inspect my foot and then slowly raised my hand to my face.

The possum had released the contents of its bowels on my foot.

I am sure that there exists some volume of omens which would explain precisely what it means when a creature who, upon feeling the need to defecate thinks to itself, “No, I think I will hold it… I feel the urge to save it until I am in Cristan’s bed.” And so, against all natural instincts, it clenches it’s little butt cheeks while it finds its way into my house, then into my room so that it could quietly creep into my bed, under my covers and then crap on my foot.

In fact, it was an omen. My incontinent friend had fired a sticky warning shot all over my foot. I should have taken heed. I should have stayed in bed.

I was going to file my petition far name and gender change that day with a friend. I had thought this day would never come. Never was about how soon I could scrape together the money to get my name and gender change. I was caught up in a catch-22 that many find themselves in: they can’t get a job because they have a the wrong gender marked on their license, but they can’t get it changed because they don’t have the money to pay for a lawyer because they can’t get work.

ACT TWO

We arrived at the courthouse early in the morning, filed our petitions and received our court assignments. I was assigned a court that no one had tried to go through yet. I swallowed the icy grip of panic that was twisting my stomach.

When we went to get a court date from the judge’s scheduler, I was informed that if I would like to wait around, the judge would be back soon and would then listen to my case. My heart leapt as I realized that I might walk out of the court building with the ability to get a job, write a check or legally check “F” on all of my documentation.

My exhilaration was extinguished when the court scheduler informed me that the sitting judge was on vacation and that the judge that I would be seeing was his fill-in. My heart sank lower when I caught a glimpse of the replacement judge. He was old and by old, I mean ancient. It also appeared the he found it to be fashionable to wear as many necktie pins as possible that quietly referenced to his choice of religion.

So my friend and I waited. And then waited some more. Then we waited longer. I thought that it would be a good idea to double check with the scheduler. My knees went to rubber when she told me that he had gone to the legal library to double check some of the statutes that had claimed on my petition.

I knew that I was sunk. My case hinged upon trying to bring many points together in order to show that if you look at that specific section of the law in a certain way, that you could then justify the change of name and gender. I knew that nowhere in Texas law did it specifically say that it is legal, or for that matter, illegal for a pre-operative transsexual to obtain a name and gender change. Would he agree with the argument? Did he know about the Littleton case? If he did, would he find it relevant? I almost threw up all over the smiling scheduler’s desk.

I went back to waiting. I paced. I prayed. I thought, “Breathe, breathe in and let the fear out… let it all out. That’s right… it let all of that nasty anxiety out. Feel all that fear, stress and anxiety leave as you open you mouth and exhale…” I went to the bathroom to vomit.

Finally the judge asked to see me in his chambers. I walked in and he sat down. I sat down. He got up to retrieve a law book. I stood up. He sat back down. He asked me to sit down. I sat down. He looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at the law-book and looked at me. I looked at the collage of tie pins: small golden and silver crosses, bibles, doves, halos, stone tablets, rings of thorns and chalices swirled in a biblical medley. I felt sick.

He told me that the section of law that I quoted in my petition said nothing about gender changes. He spoke these words crisply – authoritatively. There was a silence that seemed to echo in my head. I realized that it was up to me to either make this happen or at least get him to defer this ruling for the sitting judge.

I explained to him how to get form that section of law to the evidence that I had to a gender change. The judge licked his parchment lips and said, “But it doesn’t say anything about a change of gender in here.” I went on to educate him about the oppressions transsexuals face on a daily basis, the job discrimination and the plethora of suggestive studies that have been done about gender, brain structures and prenatal hormone levels. He looked at me, at the floor and then the law books. I looked at his tie pins. I went on to educate him about the standards of care – the standards which one must adhere to in order to receive SRS – the same standards, which all but said that it patients should get a gender change. I went on to explain that the courts have a long, long history of deferring to the experts in areas where expert advice is needed. He leaned back in his chair and said, “But it doesn’t say anything about changing your gender here.”

I could see that I was getting nowhere with logic and – god help me – I resorted to acting the part of a silly female who really didn’t know what she was doing… or possibly, where she was at. All of a sudden, it seemed that we were getting along famously.

He told me about the years and years of judgifying that he had done. He told me about his family. He showed me their photos. He told me about what he did when he wasn’t sitting in for a judge who was on vacation. He told me about both his last fishing excursion and golf game. Then he agreed to let the sitting judge hear my case. I smiled… sheepishly, and thanked him as if he had just put an end to the holocaust, received another court date and went to the restroom to vomit.

Note: After two more court dates, the author received her name and gender change.

Patriarchy, Petitions & Possums: The Simple Process of Getting a Name and Gender Change in Texas

pandp
Views: 1031

The Omen

Damn! 4:30 a.m. I fumbled with the off switch on the alarm clock, knocking over the glass of water I kept on my bedside table. I can only compare the sound my alarm makes to the unholy union of grinding metal and fingernails on a chalkboard. I needed to get up. I needed to get ready. I thought of the things I needed to do. I reminded myself to make sure I have all of the documents I would need to file for my name and gender change. “Where did I put that check? God, what time is it? 4:35 a.m.” Four hours of sleep.

It was about then that I noticed that my foot was really wet. So, I proceeded to do what any rational individual would do. I laid in the dark and wondered why I had a wet foot. I slowly reached under my covers and to my amazement, I found a rather thick rope on top of my leg. I crinkled my nose and thought that perhaps one of my roommates was attempting to play some sort of practical joke on me. I grabbed the rope tightly and began to pull it up for a closer inspection. Suddenly, the rope was pulled from my hand. This forceful tug was accompanied by a rather loud thump at the end of my bed. My foot was still wet. My mind raced back to a childhood fears of snaggletoothed monsters crawling into my bed.

I switched on the light just in time to see what appeared to be a large mutant rat hiss at me. Its demonic eyes reflected the overhead light as it huddled itself in the corner of my room. I screamed, “POSSUM!” It hissed at me again. My mind raced. My foot… my foot… wet. I thought, “A possum crawled into my room, under my covers and has been eating my foot!”

A second later I realized that my foot felt fine. “He slobbered on my foot!”, I thought. “Oh, god. My foot is covered in possum spit!” I reached under the covers to inspect my foot and then slowly raised my hand to my face.

The possum had released the contents of its bowels onto my foot.

I am sure that there exists some volume of omens which would explain precisely what it means when a creature who, upon feeling the need to defecate thinks to itself, “No, I think I will hold it… I feel the urge to save it until I am in Cristan’s bed.” And so, against all natural instincts, it clenches it’s little butt cheeks while it found its way into my house, then into my room so that it could quietly creep into my bed, under my covers and then crap on my foot.

In fact, it was an omen. My incontinent friend had fired a sticky warning shot all over my foot. I should have taken heed. I should have stayed in bed.

I was going to file my petition far name and gender change that day with a friend. I had thought this day would never come. Never was about how soon I could scrape together the money to get my name and gender change. I was caught up in a catch-22 that many find themselves in: I couldn’t get work because I had the wrong gender marked on my license and I couldn’t get name and gender changed because I did’t have the money to pay for a lawyer because I couldn’t get work.

Wherein I learn to really hate the patriarchy

A friend and I decided to file our petitions together  We arrived at the courthouse early in the morning, filed our petitions and received our court assignments. I was assigned a court that no one had tried to go through yet while she was assigned a court I knew to be fair. I swallowed the icy grip of panic that was twisting my stomach.

When we went to get a court date from the judge’s scheduler, I was informed that if I would like to wait around, the judge would be back soon and would then listen to my case in his office. My heart leapt as I realized that I might walk out of the court building with the ability to get a job.

My exhilaration was extinguished when the court scheduler informed me that the sitting judge was on vacation and that the judge that I would be seeing was his fill-in. My heart sank lower when I caught a glimpse of the replacement judge. He was old and by old, I mean ancient. It also appeared the he found it fashionable to wear as many necktie pins as possible that quietly referenced to his choice of religion.

So my friend and I waited. And then waited some more. Then we waited a bit longer. I thought that it would be a good idea to double check with the scheduler. My knees went to rubber when she told me that he had gone to the legal library to double check some of the statutes that had claimed on my petition.

I knew that I was sunk. My case hinged upon trying to bring many points together in order to show that if you look at that specific section of the law in a certain way, that you could then justify the change of name and gender. I knew that nowhere in Texas law did it specifically say that it is legal, or for that matter, illegal for a pre-operative transsexual to obtain a name and gender change. Would he agree with the argument? I almost threw up all over the smiling scheduler’s desk.

I went back to waiting. I paced. I prayed. I tried a calming exercise  “Breathe, breathe in and let the fear out… let it all out. That’s right… it let all of that nasty anxiety out. Feel all that fear, stress and anxiety leave as you open you mouth and exhale…” I went to the bathroom to vomit.

Finally the judge asked to see me in his chambers. I walked in and he sat down. I sat down. He got up to retrieve a law book. I stood up. He sat back down. He asked me to sit down. I sat down. He looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at the law-book and then looked at me. I looked at the collage of tie pins: small golden and silver crosses, bibles, doves, halos, stone tablets, rings of thorns and chalices swirled in a biblical medley. I felt sick.

He told me that the section of law that I quoted in my petition said nothing about gender changes. He spoke these words crisply – authoritatively. There was a silence that seemed to echo in my head. I realized that it was up to me to either make this happen or at least get him to defer this ruling for the sitting judge.

I explained how to get form that section of law to the evidence that I had to a gender change. The judge licked his parchment lips and said, “But it don’t say anything about a change of gender in this book, here.” I went on to educate him about the oppression trans people face on a daily basis, the job discrimination and the plethora of suggestive studies that have been done about gender, brain structures and prenatal hormone levels. He looked at me, at the floor and then the law books. I looked at his tie pins. I went on to educate him about the standards of care – the standards which one must adhere to in order to receive genital reconstructive surgery – the same standards, which all but said that it patients should get a gender change prior to taking that permanent step. I went on to explain that the courts have a long, long history of deferring to the experts in areas where expert advice is needed. He leaned back in his chair, looked at the ceiling and said, “But it don’t say anything about changing your gender here in this book.”

I could see that I was getting nowhere with logic and it occurred to me that the problem may have not been the facts of the case; rather, my problem may have been my logic. So, I changed course and like any good little lady might, I asked him about his great grand kids. All of a sudden, it seemed that we were getting along famously.

He told me about his family. He showed me their toothy photos. He told me about the years and years of judgifying he’d done. He told me about what he did when he wasn’t sitting in for a judge who was on vacation. He told me about both his last fishing excursion and golf game. And then, suddenly, he proclaimed that he’d let the sitting judge hear my case.  I smiled… sheepishly, and thanked him as if he had just put an end to the holocaust, received another court date and went to the restroom to vomit.


When I came back to see the sitting judge, I learned that he wanted to hear my case in open court. I walked into his courtroom and was transfixed by the huge, badly taxidermied longhorn steer attached to the wall behind the judge’s bench.

As the judge came in, I stood up. When the judge sat down, a man with a gun told everyone to sit down. I sat down. The judge began reviewing the docket and he called my old name. I stood up. The man with a gun told me to sit down. I stat down. The judge called my old name again. I stood up. The judge looked at me. I looked at the judge. The man with a gun looked at me and then at the judge. The judge asked me if my name was [insert old name here]. I gave a nervous tick that passed for a nod. The judge grunted and the man with a gun told me to sit down. I sat down.

When he called my old name, I walked towards the dead steer. Its bulging plastic eyes seemed to track my movement. When I was standing in front of the judge and his dead cow, I noticed that he (the  judge, not the dead cow) had a rather large waxed handlebar mustache. It reminded me of Snidely Whiplash and a strange sound escaped my lips. The judge looked at me. I looked at the judge. The judge told me that he checked his law book and that he couldn’t find any statute that would allow him to change my gender.

From my research, I knew that this long-term judge was a Republican. I also knew that the new female  judge just down the hall was a Democrat. I asked if he would be willing to transfer my case to her court. He thought about it for a little while, frowning… and then slowly smiled and agreed to transfer my possibly controversial case to the female judge’s court.

I knew a few things about the judge he was transferring my case to. I knew that she was fair to LGBT cases. I also knew that she’d grant the  name and gender change because I had helped a few people go through her court already.

When I returned to the courthouse, the female judge reviewed my paperwork in her office prior to court. In less than 5 minutes, she’d signed off on my decree and changed my life.


Years later, my judge was replaced by a Republican. By then, she’d helped a lot of trans folk move forward with their lives. As it happens, her record of fairness towards LGBT people was never an issue. Eventually, my judge lost her race to an anti-choice female Republican judge who wound up quitting before she served her full term. A male Republican judge was appointed to take her place.