LLLove

I thought another piece of State of Flux would be good to get a sense of the flow from beginning to transition.

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My baby Aimee, who had been born in the car, was two days old when I went to the local La Leche League meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany. I was very involved in LLL, an international breastfeeding support organization, and was excited to show off my new baby and tell her hilarious birth story.

It was moments before I saw Sarah across the room, an extremely butch woman who was quite pregnant. My first thought was, “How the hell did this dyke get pregnant?” It didn’t take forever before I learned that she purposefully had sex with her husband so she could have a baby. Later, Zack told me that he hated his female body so much he thought about killing himself, but, wanting children, decided to use the biological body he had to bring a baby into his life… hoping it would save him from madness. (It did.)

I knew Sarah was lesbian the second I saw her. Lesbians, especially butch lesbians have a “look” about them. A strong jaw, is it? Sarah and kd lang are both my aesthetic ideal woman. Later, Zack would tell me he thought many butches, especially Stone Butches, were transmen who did not have the opportunity to come out or, as is happening in the climate now, are coming out finally after years of feeling the were men their entire lives.

But Sarah at the LLL meeting… she’d learnt about me from her childbirth class, hearing that I’d had Aimee then left the hospital three hours later without causing too much of a ruckus. She wanted that kind of birth. Actually, she wanted a home birth but was told if she did, she would not get her six weeks of maternity leave, having to go right back to work the next day. Therefore, birthing, then leaving soon afterwards was the next best thing. Later we learned, because she was in the Army, she had to stay in the hospital the required three days instead of leaving early. But, at the LLL meeting, all of that was still to come. After the meeting, Sarah hightailed it to my side, introduced herself, saying she was six months pregnant. I chuckled inside seeing this butch woman in a maternity sailboat shirt with a Peter Pan collar. God, maternity clothes were awful in 1986!

But our energy together sizzled. As I said, I was only two days postpartum and my husband had two weeks off, so I wanted to just rest and nurse my baby while he was home. Before leaving the LLL meeting, I gave Sarah four books to read and said when he was back at work, we would talk about them. Well, it wasn’t a week before she called to tell me she’d read them and would I like to talk about them now? I thought, “Sheesh, this girl sure is pushy!” and told her no, that I wanted to wait until my husband was back at work in a week. During the rest of our relationship, I never saw Sarah read another book. That she read those four in a week, I now know, was amazing. What motivation can do, right?

The day the kids’ dad went back to work, Sarah called and asked if she could bring over some pizza and Diet Coke that night for dinner, then we could talk. I laughed and now think: she sure knew how to get to the fat girl! Pizza! How could she lose?

I like to say that the night Sarah and her husband came over was the night they never left. The four of us adults became quite the team. We began playing cards almost every night. Ate dinner together and Sarah and I talked a lot during the day. There were no cell phones back then, so it was always on the landline. It didn’t take but a week or so before she asked me to be her birth assistant… her doula. The word “doula” was brand new; no one knew what it was. I called myself a Labor Assistant or a Birth Assistant for years until the word doula came into birth vernacular. I changed from Labor Assistant to Birth Assistant when a teacher said he thought I was a Union Organizer. Nope. Not that.

We also played games. Life was a favorite of mine (I really hate playing strategy games). When playing Life, Sarah would marry a woman, plopping a pink peg into her car every time. At first, I balked. “You can’t do that!” She would take the box top with the instructions written inside, point to the rules and say, “Show me where it says that in the directions.” Of course there was nothing about who you had to marry, but I still bristled, not grasping her very un-subtle references. One night she even laughed about “Lactating Lesbians” porn magazine. Obtusely, I ignored the reference. I just could not see the crush she had on me. God knows I had one on her, too, but how was I supposed to say that to a pregnant woman while I was fat and leaking milk and married to a man?

(and we go forth!)

Flux

I am cranking out about 2000+ words a day between work and my own private writings. Clearly, not enough are making it here, but I am going to work on that.

Many of you know the story of Zack and I, have read many of my stories about us through the years, from nursing our babies to his transition from a female body to a male body. But, it is time to get it all down in one place. A book? Maybe. Magazine article? Perhaps. I do not know where it is going to end up, but it feels like the story needs to see the light of day.

I’ve been writing for a couple of months and the words are flowing. I talked to Zack a couple of days ago and let him know what I was doing, that I was going to talk about the really painful and hard parts, too. He said it was painful… it was hard… to write everything I want and need to. It feels awesome having his blessing.

What I am writing is a love story. More than anything else, it is our love story.

It is called State of Flux (at least as for now) and I have the most amazing website address: http://www.StateOfFlux.ink – how freakin’ cool is INK for a writer?!? I LOVE IT!

Here are the first few tentative paragraphs. Something you would read?

Zack was resting comfortably after his double mastectomy, called Chest Surgery in the trans world. He was on his back, his mom sitting with me in the same room he was in before the surgery and would remain in for 24 hours before we were sent back to our home 45 minutes away into the US. I’d been talking to the doctor, in Spanish, about the surgery, how it went and how Zack would be feeling for awhile. The doctor’s eyes lit up, hearing I was a midwife, and asked if I wanted to see the operating room. I was tired and somewhat bored, Zack was doing well and I would be across the hall if he needed me, so I said, “Sure,” and followed him the 50 feet away.

The room was on the small side, but most operating rooms are far smaller than people would imagine, so I was not terribly surprised. I’m not sure why I was actually in there… did I think a Mexican O.R. would differ that greatly from an American one?

Then the doctor said to come look at this and I walked to the counter where, very quickly, he removed the green surgical cloth from a stainless steel tray. A tray that held my precious Zack’s two breasts. His breasts, now dead on a tray, stared up at me. The very same breasts I’d made love to hundreds of times, the breasts that fed two of our four babies for more than two years. These were the breasts he’d hated since puberty, but were so beautiful to me I took dozens of pictures of them throughout the years. And here they were, lifeless in a Mexican operating room on a cold metal tray. Dizzy, I grabbed the counter so I did not fall.

Zack’s recovery went very well. He is the most compliant patient ever and did exactly what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it. Compression bandages? On until the doctor removed them a couple of weeks later. Binder? On until told otherwise.

His incisions were really wonderfully done, not that I had a lot to compare it to. I’d not looked at the surgical pictures Zack tried to show me that were in his private transmen groups online. I could not get myself psyched enough to do it, so, as with most of the process, I stuck my head in the sand. When his bandages came off, he was flat chested, as he had always wanted to be. I felt punched in the gut the first time I saw the scars that went from mid-chest around his back, not meeting on either side. I missed his breasts terribly already.

While his outward physical transition had begun, my own inner transition would be a silent blip inside for quite awhile more. No matter, we were both on our way… to our permanent state of flux.

 

Our Trip to Lubbock (food is involved)

Heading to Lubbock

Meghann had worked in our Holistic Healthcare Center for the summer and Zack and I were driving her back to Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Zack was driving his F250 and we had a new washer and dryer for Meggie in the cargo bed. The path from San Diego to Lubbock is one of the most visually boring trips in the country. Lubbock is in West Texas, in the middle of nowhere.

Now, I cannot pee outside. When I have tried, I have had it running down my legs and into my shoes. It’s just gross.

But then there is the issue of finding a bathroom that doesn’t make me gag. Unfortunately, sometimes gagging is involved with urinating in a public toilet.

The Stop

We stopped at the smallest gas station on earth to fill up and let Meghann and I go to the bathroom. When we walked inside the tiny building, the man behind the glass counter…. Yeah, the man behind the counter.

He had no teeth and was holding a half-cooked greasy hamburger (without the bun) in his hand. The grease was dripping down his arm. Lots of grease. A river of grease. Dripping off his elbow onto the newspaper he seemed to be perusing.

It was revolting.

4burgers

We knew the bathroom was not going to be pristine.

Meggie and I took turns in the bathroom, one guarding the other because there was no lock on the door. And what if that man wanted to wash his hands. (As if.)

Walking out, we took one last look behind the counter as the man took a gummy bite into his burger, the grease oozing down his arm.

When we got in the truck, we laughed hysterically, partially from fear release. We kept asking each other if what we saw was real and validated each other over and over. That remains one of the most surreal experiences in my life.

BBQ in Lubbock

Once we delivered the washer and dryer to Meghann’s new apartment, we headed out for some Texas BBQ.

Walking in and sitting down became an adventure in staring; them, not us. Zack is transgender, but had not come out yet so people saw him as a very butch lesbian. I’m guessing that LGBTQ people are not a big part of Lubbock or Texas Tech. The whole walking in experience seemed to be in slow motion, every step taking 5 minutes before taking the next. I swear the place went silent.

We were seated at a large table against a wrought iron room separator. Zack sat next to the fence thing and cooed a hello to a baby hanging over a mother’s shoulder. The mother shot up out of her seat and tromped to the other side of the table and sat down for the duration of her meal. I’ve always wondered if she thought the baby would catch The Gay from Zack.

We could not miss the hushed volume compared to when we first walked in, and the stares continued. Looking around, we saw many men in cowboy hats and Zack made the comment that if we were in San Diego, they would be the ones being stared at. True, true!

The next morning, Zack and I hightailed it out of Lubbock. I was never so happy to leave somewhere, barring leaving my daughter behind, even though there was the greasy hamburger man a few hundred miles ahead.

It seemed more than worth it.

kyle polzin
Photographer: Kyle Polzin

 

 

Butch-femme Dynamics

I’ve always been femme. When I came out in 1979, I didn’t have one clue about the different nuances of lesbians, that took years of experience and then reading lesbian novels, books and magazines.

Meagain
femme me in 2014

Meeting My Butch

On April 22, 1986, when my youngest, Aimee, was 2 days old, I went to a La Leche League meeting and among the 20+ women, pregnant and nursing alike, I saw Zack, 7-months pregnant. (Zack was presenting as a het woman at that time.) My first thought when I saw him was, “How the FUCK did this Dyke get pregnant?!”

A tad of backstory. I’d had Aimee in the car and finagled leaving the hospital in 3 hours and Zack heard about me at his childbirth class, wanting to leave the hospital right away as well, so got up from his nap to come to the LLL meeting specifically to meet me.

After the meeting, Zack hightailed it right for me. Damn, he was intense. And so, so Butch.

Just This Side of Being a Man

Once I met Zack, my taste in Dykes was sealed. I was fond of saying I liked women just this side of being a man. (Of course, now knowing Zack was trans all those years, he wasn’t on this side of being a man, but that side.) I really cannot find a Dyke Butch enough for me. Stone Butches make me weak in the knees.

kd
kd lang – swoon

(The topic of transmen begs to be discussed here, but it has to wait for its own post because it is one of the most convoluted emotions I have whirling around inside at the moment.)

Butch & femme – a Sweet Balance

When Zack and I got together a few months after he had his baby, we barely recognized, much less understood, what the Butch-femme dynamic meant. We knew we balanced each other well. (Yes, I really am going to flaunt stereotypical male and female characteristics.) I was an awesome stay-at-home mom, nursing the babies, reading to them and researching better ways to parent.

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Zack, on the other hand, was mechanically inclined, great with spacial relations and was the “fun” parent.

playing

Delightfully, he also co-nursed the babies. (We always said how great it was having 4 lactating breasts in the house.)

SMHnursing

Then Political Correctness Intrudes

It was a gradual realization that what we were doing wasn’t the most acceptable way to be lesbians. I distinctly recall hearing that Butch-femme relationships were “aping” het marriages. (Could there be any uglier word to describe something?) I was really confused because we weren’t imitating anything; we just Were. I see now, on the periphery, as gender roles are smeared away, hints of Butch-femme acceptance again, but I promise you, there were the lean years when we were mocked and told how disgusting we were for acting like het couples.

1987
Zack & I with the babies, late 1986.

I find it interesting I never tried to be anything but femme, even when doing so was incredibly looked down upon. And my Beloved Zack, never wavered in his ButchSelf either. I love that we simply ignored the winds of Political Correctness, living our lives in delicious balance.