One night mid or late 70s I’m sleeping in my bed and it’s about 3 a.m. and the phone rings and it’s this kid. This was in the days when every telephone was personally installed by a Ma Bell representative and you could never turn the damn things off.
I remember like it was yesterday, the day she was born. When I saw her pretty little face I knew that my life had taken on a new meaning. I was in law school, newly married, and a proud father. Those days seem to haunt me, on days like this. Days when the seasons are in between winter and spring, the extra hour of light on the never-ending clock shines through, exposing my holes. Holes created by year of pain. Pain only a parent knows when they lose a child. My only child. My baby girl.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. R. A. Walker, an African-American Transgender man born and raised in Baltimore City. Born in 1962, I asked if he remembered the Civil Rights movement. Immediately his head reared back, smirking and assuredly told me, “Yes I do!” “They took that lady’s handbag!” he recounted. See, right across the street from my church was a white church and the next thing I knew a man came into our church alerting us to ‘shut down the church, go home, Martin Luther King been shot!’ We rushed home to be met to my community in turmoil.
This happened, probably in the early 70s but truthfully, for me, that whole decade was absurdly accelerated. One night I was coming out of an uptown bar in my usual illegal condition just after last call and I was definitely ready and at my peak for this kind of activity. In 20 minutes I was driving down Eastern “the Avenue” at Patterson Park, ground zero for a seemingly unlimited supply of young guys looking to “go out,” make a little money, walking, watching, sitting, signaling on all the corners, hitch-hiking, whatever.
“Transmen got it easier than transwomen.” The unspoken sentiment suggests his experience is of lesser value because he is able to enjoy male privilege. For a black man of trans experience, male privilege is a mixed bag. Blending well does not equal easy. This is where the real transition begins.
As a young adult seeker, I joined the Episcopal church in 1973 and by 1979 I was happily ordained as one of its clergymen. For four years in two different seminaries, one in the UK, one in the US, I had been trained in both its evangelical and contemporary theological traditions. I identified for a long time with the conservative party of my church that was opposed to women or gay clergy. However, in spite of that position I found myself in a long and sometimes difficult spiritual and intellectual journey that changed my mind and my life.
“I think I’m Trans.” The words came out just like that! …In their mind, but never outside of the therapists office. A simple realization with so many implications, they prayed for understanding and confirmation. There had to be an explanation, a clear cut linear reason for being ‘this way’. A heavy burden now forming in their chest, they now must accept the new reality and all of its excitement! Their dark world became a bit brighter and he was able to put some of the puzzle pieces of his past together. Buried transgender secrets began to emerge from the split physical and mental existence of childhood. Small windows opened, giving the little boy fresh air to breathe, inviting him to sit on life’s porch. Yet, when he ran into the house for a snack, as little people do, he remembered that he had a family. The window closes, the curtains are drawn and they return to those who love him unconditionally. Eventually the aromas of his soul found their way, connecting with his spirit, allowing the little boys’ memories of his former self to permeate every crevasse of his life.
Sunlight shining brightly into the play area, the youngster stood in the doorway watching their classmates franticly pick and choose toys to play with for free time. Feeling disconnected and alone; unsure of the response, the three year old would receive, developed a new courage to pick up that sturdy old truck, place it in the sandbox and hoped for the other male children to join in. Briefly, one classmate pretended to play along, but not for long. Just for a moment they felt connected to the world. Called for reading time the youngster stayed behind to relish in their new found relation to the world until the teacher noticed. Reluctantly joining the group, the little person cleverly decided to use the restroom to get away from their peers. Instead of returning to their ‘spot’, the brave kid decided to sit in the corner protected by the tall bookcase and pentagon shaped working table. Balling up with a book and a kid size chair as the audience they stared at the pages feeling a discord inside.
REACHING OUT TO THE GAY AND LESBIAN COMMUNITY?
ADVERTISE IN BALTIMORE OUTLOUD WITH PRIDE!
We are an award winning independant free news publication published every-other Friday, distributed free in Maryland surrounding Baltimore, parts of Southern PA, and Rehoboth Beach, DE. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org