Beth's Blog

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's been a while

Odd. I haven't even thought about this blog for a while. Now I see that I abandoned it after one post, almost 2 years ago.

The only reason I really looked it up again was that I saw that pilot for Pretty/Handsome, and felt like writing something about it. But now that I think about it, I wonder how I managed to get through the past couple of years without venting here.

This month has been particularly rough. I have two children in Israel, and both of them have birthdays in June. And whoever decided that Father's Day should be held midway between them should be shot. Then my partner's mother passed away last week, and I found out that friends of mine, who I'd kind of assumed knew I was trans, actually don't. Which believe it or not, is almost as much of a cause for nervousness as the opposite would be.

And then there's Lilly. Gah. I mean, I posted about her on the Dina list, but it's still bugging me. My partner works some hours as a lifeguard, and knows Lilly from there. Lilly is this local frum lady, who apparently knows all about me. She went to the head of the Agudah here in town and asked him how to relate to me, and he told her that I was to be considered a guy. So that's what she does. She's told my partner that if we were ever to break up (chas v'shalom), that she'd probably have to get a get.

She knows this Orthodox lesbian couple, and was going to introduce them to us, because it's not like there are dozens of us around here. But she decided that since one of them is really frum and really makpid on yichud, she couldn't, in all fairness, introduce us without telling them about me. My partner's response was to tell her it wasn't for her to tell. As a result, she won't make the introduction.

I thought about going to this rabbi and pointing out to him that even if he doesn't hold by the psak that says I'm halakhically female, I'm entitled to, but my daughter (not the one in Israel, the one here) is in day school here, and I can see a rabbi who would rule that way without so much as talking to me deciding to get her kicked out. Basically, I'm afraid of him.

I think that's what gets me the most. I'm not accustomed to backing down and being afraid. But it's not just me. I have to think about my partner and our daughter, too. Otherwise, I probably would have gone kamikaze a long time ago.


There's a review of it here, but you'll probably have to scroll down for it.

Pretty/Handsome is a new show on FX that stars Joseph Fiennes (from Shakespeare in Love) as a married guy with two kids who finds himself in that wonderful world we call TS Crash.

I downloaded the leaked pilot and watched it last night. It's good. Not perfect, but it's never going to be. Still, there's no question in my mind but that they had real transfolk advising on the show.

As far as I can tell, it's really premiering this fall. And yes, it was created by the same people who made Nip/Tuck, but even so, it seems amazing.

Carrie Anne Moss (Trinity from The Matrix) plays his wife. Robert Wagner plays his father, and Blythe Danner plays his mother. Honest to God, I don't know how they got a cast like this together for something as unlikely to fly.

I remember Helen Shaver's character on The Education of Max Bickford. That was the last time there was a trans character in prime time that wasn't being played for laughs or tragedy. I'm ignoring things like Lisa Edelstein's tranny lawyer on Ally McBeal and Wilson Cruz's Stephanie in the first Christmas ep of that same show. But Max Bickford got cancelled quickly, and I think that the trans storyline was part of the reason.

Still, that was 7 years ago, and it was on network TV. This is FX, which may be basic cable, but is still cable. So maybe it has a chance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I wasn't actually going to do this.

Does anyone really need to know that there are transfolk who are frum? What good can come from that? Frum gays and lesbians have enough of a hard time in the frum community... those of us who have changed sex aren't even on the radar.

So much of the Torah depends on whether a person is male or female. And even if the modern Western world is all about blurring distinctions, the Torah is about the exact opposite. Differentiation, respecting the distinctions between things and dealing with the reality of those distinctions, is probably the most basic concept in all of Judaism.

We differentiate between the sacred and the profane, between light and dark, between Jews and non-Jews, between Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim, and yes, between male and female.

So how are we supposed to deal with someone who jumps the line from one category to another? You can't become a Kohen if you aren't born one, for instance. And the difference between male and female is much more extreme than that between Kohanim and Zarim.

Personally, I don't usually think a lot about the fact that I grew up as a boy. It's been more than 11 years now since I transitioned, and life is just too short to get hung up on all that stuff. But it does come up. A woman on a forum I participate in found out and started referring to me by an abbreviation, because she thought that calling me "Beth" was wrong. Ultimately, she checked with her rav, who told her that "her analysis was flawed". But her first reaction was to deny me even my own name.

A person I know... who I knew for a very short time about 10 years ago, recently decided to transition. She's frum, too. We do exist. And while some of us have given up, eventually, there are those of us who insist on remaining frum. Who refuse to allow this one aspect of ourselves to be an excuse to abandon Hashem's Torah.

I spoke today with a friend of this friend. A guy who cares about my friend a lot, and wanted to try and understand some things. One of the things he said was that people on my friend's blog had gotten the impression -- from me! -- that Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, author of the Tzitz Eliezer, said it's okay, halakhically, to transition. That upset me, because I know I've never even intimated that such a thing is the case.

So I thought to myself, maybe there should be a place where people can ask questions. My friend's blog isn't a good place for that. The feelings are too raw. And to the extent that the blog exists, it's her blog, and it should be about her. But this... this is my blog. I can do anything I like with it, really. I can post dumb jokes on it every day. I can go and get a cat and post boring pictures of my cat doing cat-things every day. I can let it lay fallow and never post on it at all -- the fate of most blogs that get created, I expect. What I am going to do with it, though, is different. I'm going to answer questions.

The forum is open, people. Ask away. The blog should be set up to send me an e-mail any time someone posts a comment, so if no one asks anything, I'll probably never (or hardly ever) even open this up again. I might post rants from time to time. Ranting is, after all, the primary purpose of blogs, and who doesn't like a good rant every now and then?

Maybe, if the mood strikes me, I might post some descriptions of some episodes I went through during transition. My memory of the time is a bit fuzzy in places. Like it was someone else, and not me. I think that's mostly because transitioning was the single most uncharacteristic thing I've ever done in my life. I'm booooring. And conservative (little "c"). And pretty right-wing. The freaky life has never held any attractions for me. But... yeah, there were some freaky times along the way. That's for sure.