Saturday, March 27, 2010


I had meant to post these thoughts some time ago, but they've not congealed until today when I read today's column by Christopher Goffard in the Los Angeles Times.

About a year and a half ago I put up a post that was critical of Christine Daniels' having taken down her blog at the Los Angeles Times and, without comment or explanation, having resumed writing as Michael Penner. I was very rightly criticized and corrected for this posting. My intention had not been to criticize this very personal choice but the fact that the reportage of it had not been brought to closure. Last November, the person in whom both these identities dwelt committed suicide. The pettiness of my criticism stood before me in full relief.

It is hard enough for anyone to transition. The potential losses can be devastating, not to mention the fact that one stands open to ridicule and unmitigated hatred. No matter how many statutes are passed, the idiot mind of the mass is slow to change, and prejudice has a nuclear half-life. Friends and family turn away or become monstrous. Add to this mixture the fact that someone transitioning from male to female is now held to a brutally unfair standard of beauty. Transition is tough enough in an average setting - how much more difficult if one is already, to a greater or lesser degree, in the public eye. Some are gifted with chutzpah, bless them, and can use the notoriety as a bully-pulpit, but not everyone is made of such stern stuff.

I'm not saying that transitions aren't successful or that there are not thousands of now happy men and women who have solved a major life problem and are now more productive than ever. But it's not a panacea. Chronic depression, ADD, personality disorders, ad infinitum are still there for many and must still be dealt with.

We cannot - must not - judge. We must love. We must support. I regret that posting with all my heart. I had no right to criticize this person's choice on journalistic or any other grounds. I did, however, have a deep obligation to try to understand - as did all who came within the slightest contact of either Christine Daniels or Mike Penner. Stereotype or not, I have felt from the beginning that to be a woman is to be open to the Divine Feminine, which is the embodiment of compassion and nurture. I am ashamed that these qualities were not with me that day. And I am still saddened by the loss of an excellent writer and a good human being.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brother and Sister

I haven't posted since December. It's enough to say that I've been overwhelmed with work and with a continuing lack of privacy and time to think of something worth saying. So I had decided to simply put up a humorous post saying I was still alive. I've done it before, about a year ago, with a picture of Madeline Usher from Roger Corman's House of Usher. I just spent a fruitless half hour looking for another picture of Madeline and didn't find one that suited my fancy. As I was looking, though, I began to wonder why I'm fixated upon this particular story. Hmmm...

An artsy but ineffectual male has a twin sister who is rendered ineffectual by her lapses into catalepsy. She appears to succumb, and he puts her into a coffin which is placed deep within the bowels of their ancestral mansion (read consciousness). This coffined-up sister comes to, and with superhuman strength pushes off the coffin lid and forces open the huge oaken door of the dungeon to which she has been consigned.

"Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!” — here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul — “Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!"

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell — the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust — but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold — then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.

I keep coming back to this story -- have done so since I first read it decades ago.

I wonder why.

I wonder if my alter-ego, who is so protective of me and of whom I am so fond, has anything to worry about.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get out of this bloody nightgown and take a shower.