Sigh. Just freakin' GREAT... :(

Looks like the repeal of DADT is going to join the long list of items where the cowardice of the Obama administration and the utterly useless Democratic majority in Congress is going to shortchange the people who voted them in to office.  For one, I am now absolutely fed up with Obama's total unwillingness to expend even an erg of energy or a shred of political capital on the social issues that matter to me.  Sure he has an intransigent opposition.  He also has the strongest legislative majorities in two generations.  He also HAD the clear support of the American public before he and the weaklings in Congress pissed it away.

Fecklessness on this level reminds me of Lincoln's line to McClellan when the general refused to engage the Confederate Army no matter what the Union's advantage: "My dear McClellan: If you don’t want to use the Army I should like to borrow it for a while.”

Am I going to vote Republican?  No.  Am I going to stay at home on Election Day?  No.  Am I going to expend any more energy or capital in support of this irretrievably flawed version of the Democratic Party and its aloof, uninterested leader?



Got one of these coming into my life soon...

Originally uploaded by DL44
... yep. Time for more laser hair removal. It's ridiculous how much time I am spending keeping my body clear.

To add insult to injury, of course, it's just ridiculously fucking expensive. Fortunately, a good friend referred me to an all-you-can-lase place that charges a flat monthly fee. For clearing large areas (and in laser parlance, apparently I am a "large area") this will cost about 1/2 as much as the place I used last time. So it's still obscene, but not quite as bad as I had feared.

Of course there's still that small matter of the "slight stinging sensation, like getting snapped with a rubber band" (yeah right). I really don't tolerate pain very well, but there's just no alternative I can see. I cannot spend my lifetime trimming, shaving and Veeting my "large area". So if you hear some screams from the midtown area on the morning of October 7, you'll know what's up. And if you see me later that day and I am in a really lousy mood, you'll know why.

ZAP! OW! Only a few thousand left to go. Fuck.

I have no idea why it's so difficult to post these days...

I have a bunch of stuff on my mind, and it's not that I don't want to blog.  Somehow, it just seems like the whole act of writing for hours on end is a deterrent.

So I'll try for minutes, and we will see how that goes.  One of the less-cosmically-significant parts of my trans life these days has been a series of minor body mods.  I've already mentioned that I dropped a cup size.  I am probably the only person in the world who would notice.  (Well, Dev noticed when I asked her to specifically compare my as a C cup versus a B cup.)  I've also been going with a lot less hip padding.  I discovered a very comfy, fairly cheap, cute and durable line of undies with a modest amount of padding.  Did I say comfy?  Wooh.  That is really driving it.  Well, that and my continuing desire to find out exactly how little I have to do to my male form to make it acceptably female.  (That will be a separate subject.)

I have undertaken another big mod, and I apologize if this is TMI for those who don't like fem illusions shattered.  But I removed the rest of the hair on my torso.  I'll get into particulars next post, promise.  But the really odd part of it all is that I feel like I have made too many changes, too fast.  It's kinda like going through reverse puberty (reverse, because things are getting smaller and less hairy), only in a few months rather than years.  Anyway I am finding the changes jarring, to say the least.  After the next post about finding myself essentially hairless, we can talk about the impact on my favorite sport: shopping!

And maybe that will jumpstart the blog for a few entries....

That special day!!!

Well, I was in the city today. Got enough walking around so that I am comfortable with the following declaration:

Today is Tights Day!

That is, the first day of the year when a statistically significant part of the female population of NYC (not those "of a certain age") determined that it was now ok to wear tights, pantyhose or stockings. I figure in a couple weeks I'll be ready to join the crowd!

Trans people of all stripes, rejoice! Your fashion days are nigh!

Best laid plans, and all that....

Hi everyone!  Well, I am back in NY from Texas.  Sorry about the absence o'blogging.  I did not have nearly as much downtime during the rest of my vacation as I anticipated.  I also really kind of got caught up in posting some pretty hefty updates on my flickr page.  (And that means an awful lot of picture sorting and selecting....which I'm still very slow at.)  So that was one way in which my best laid plans ganged a'gley, to paraphrase the poet.

I had also been planning to blog some about the prospect of coming out as trans.  Not as a transitioner, but just as transgender...more in the Eddie Izzard sense of "executive transvestite".  I think I have already summarized some of the reasons in an earlier post.  Anyway, I've been organizing my thoughts, and then had more plans sent a'gley thanks to a one-liner tossed off by Helen Boyd (I think) somewhere.  I don't even remember where or in what context - for all I know it was a Facebook greeting.  She said something suggesting that we should seek to do the minimum possible to make our gender dysphoria bearable*.  I think it may have been a warning to a transitioner who might have been able to cope by means short of transition.

It got me thinking, though.  Do I need to come out to make my personal brand of GD bearable?  In a word, no.  In fact, heck no.  There are some problems I was hoping to pre-address, most notably the issue of deception/concealment in the (still quite likely) case of one of my kids finding out about my life as Erica Foley.  But the more I read about that, the more I suspect that I might be able to manage that aspect after the fact.  There were other reasons, but none was as important, and certainly none of them rose to the level of "have to address" to deal with my own GD.

So now I am taking a much bigger step back and asking about coming out at all, rather than how/when/to whom.  I've just started to really re-think that one, so right now I don't have much to say.

Except to thank Helen for an incisive comment that, while it may have been a throw-away for her, has really provoked some heavier thinking in me.  Thanks Helen!

* Helen, it's quite possible that I am taking this out of context, and for all I know you didn't even say it.  If I've messed up, please let me know and I will apologetically correct myself.  Though it will complicate this blog entry somewhat ;)


Now vs. then

All right.  Let's see if I have this straight.  About 9 months ago, if you were in Ann Taylor or Ann Taylor Loft, all you saw was ruffles.

Fast forward to present.  Go into either AT or ATL, and your choices are:

1.  Ruffles
2.  Animal prints
3.  Ruffled animal prints.


End of rant.  Thanks for your patience.

Proposition 8 overturned! More....

OK, I actually want to spend more than 500 characters on the subject of Judge Walker's decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Bear in mind that while I am a lawyer, I am not an appellate litigator (or any sort of litigator) and am certainly neither an expert on Constitutional law or the Supreme Court.

That said, in my view, Walker's is an interesting, well-positioned opinion. It has clearly been designed for the sole purpose of surviving appeal and hopefully turning a five-judge majority on the Supreme Court. Walker also clearly enjoyed delivering a well-deserved stomping to David Blankenhorn, one of two experts called by the Prop 8 proponents.

The factual record is summarized and evaluated about as exhaustively as I have ever seen in a District Court ruling on a Federal civil rights question. Usually in these cases (not invariably), the factual findings are not seriously in question and most of the print goes to the legal arguments. Walker's ruling goes exactly in the other direction. For non-lawyers out there, there is a reason for this. Appellate courts are free to re-consider questions of law. Determinations by the trial court as to the facts of a case, however, are supposed to be respected unless they are clearly erroneous. Walker's decision represents a set of factual findings that are designed, inasmuch as possible, to lead inexorably to the legal conclusion that Prop 8 violates both the Due Process clause (DPC) and Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

Interestingly, this decision might well raise the stakes for future civil rights litigation at the trial court level. If the decision holds, lawyers are going to need to think much more carefully about planning their work at the trial court level, rather than just assuming they can bring out their heavy intellectual firepower at the appellate stage. Candidly, based on everything I have read, the Prop 8 proponents did a godawful job in the trial court. To be sure, they were up against one of the great A-teams in trial lawyer history, in the form of Boies/Olson. That said, they brought a knife to a gun fight; as a consequence, the trial record probably could not be optimized from the point of view of confirming a fundamental right of gays to marry.

I don't know the process for determining whether this case will go to a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (that is the Federal appellate court for the portion of the USA that includes California) or to the entire Court. My guess is that the decision will be upheld by the 9th Circuit, though it's possible that a panel made up of a subset of more conservative judges might first overturn it before being reversed by the entire Court en banc.

If this case were the only gay marriage case out there, it's possible that the Supreme Court would decide not to hear it--presumably leaving Prop 8 overturned--and defer consideratio of gay marriage for another 5-10 years. Again for non-lawyers: unlike the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court is not required to hear most cases where appeal is sought. However, with two recent Federal District Court rulings in Massachusetts holding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional (the Coakley and Gill cases), I simply don't see how the Supremes are going to dodge the question.

The Supreme Court has a pretty strong facility for disregarding inconvenient findings of fact. So Walker's carefully laid out case should not be assumed as the end of the discussion. Let's take as read that Scalia*, Alito and Thomas are absolutely never going to uphold Walker's decision. Roberts is probably also a no vote, and let's assume that Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan are safe votes to uphold. That means it all comes down to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

* Fun aside for law geeks: Walker cleverly quoted Scalia's dissent in the Lawrence case, which overturned a line of prior cases upholding criminal sodomy laws. Basically, Scalia said that if the majority cannot impose moral views such as in a criminal sodomy statute, how could they ever restrict the right of gays to marry? If Scalia were to respect Lawrence as binding precedent (don't worry, he won't) and were to give proper credence to his own argument (don't worry, he won't), then he should vote to uphold Walker's decision in the Perry case (do worry, he won't).

OK. Back to Kennedy. Walker's decision was basically written for Kennedy's consumption. In both the DPC and EPC areas, Walker delivered conditional rulings of law. There are some subtle distinctions between the arguments under due process versus equal protection, but for present purposes we can equate them. Walker says two things in each case:

1. IF YOU CONCLUDE, from the facts outlined in his ruling as they apply to the law, that gays have a fundamental right to marry same-sex partners, then Prop 8 clearly fails. The legal standard for abriding a fundamental right, usually known as "strict scrutiny", requires a showing of a compelling state interest in the matter being regulated and that the restriction is reasonably related to that compelling interest. The factual record in this case is such that, in my view, if a Constitutional scholar were to take it as settled law that there is a fundamental right to marry, there is no way to uphold Prop 8.

2. ALTERNATELY, if you do NOT conclude that there is a fundamental right to marry a same-sex partner, then the test for determining whether a law violates DPC/EPC is whether the law has a rational relation to a legitimate state interest. Here is where Walker spends most of his time, laying out the argument that the facts do not show any legitimate state interest in limiting marriage among gays, and that Prop 8 does not advance any other legitimate state interest.

If the Supremes agree with Walker on either basis, then Prop 8 fails. However, if they choose door number 2, their ruling does not need to address whether there is in fact a fundamental right to marry. This is the escape route for Justice Kennedy. It's quite similar to the approach Kennedy followed in the Lawrence case on criminal sodomy. Prop 8 would be struck down, but the door would not (necessarily) be slammed on future laws restricting the right of gays to marry.

Kennedy is an extraordinarily sharp man, though I disagree with him on Constitutional matters more than I agree. He's smart enough to see that certainly in 30 years, almost certainly in 20 years, and probably in 10 year,s gay marriage is going to be a generally accepted fact of life in the USA and most of the world. I suspect he will not want one of his last swing votes on the bench (he's getting old) to clearly be on the wrong side of history. Still, his innate conservatism will probably not allow him to innovate a fundamental right that was implicitly disapproved by a majority of the voters in California less than two years ago.

That said, I respect Walker for spending a decent amount of ink on dictum (non-binding observations) clearly outlining a powerful constitutional, humanitarian and sociological case for modernizing outdated views of marriage. Rather than a blind respect for history and tradition, Walker eloquently argues that we dignify the institution by purging it of outmoded connotations of gender roles, procreative obligations and similar historical primitivisms. I'd love, LOVE, to see the Supreme Court take the broader view and on a 6-3 vote find a fundamental right to marry.

And I am convinced it will happen... in another ten years or so. For now, I'm hoping for a 5-4 squeaker on the rational relation test.

Oh yeah... there's one thought I haven't been able to fit into the discussion above. But, since this is just a blog, I'll just put it here. One interesting facet of Walker's decision is the road he did NOT take. He did not come up with a narrow ground for invalidating Prop 8. Maybe he didn't have one, but I suspect that he could have come up with something - some procedural failing that called for Prop 8 to be overturned. That would have represented a potentially easier "escape hatch" for the appellate courts to nullify Prop 8 without considering broader questions of due process or equal protection. This Supreme Court would probably have leaped at the chance to avoid granting cert (certiorari = choosing to hear the case) because Prop 8 was tossed on a technicality. Then again, with the DOMA cases in Massachusetts coming up at the same time, maybe Walker was right not to duck the more fundamental questions. Anyway, his determination not to give an easy out definitely raises the ante considerably - hence part of my relief that his opinion was so well done!

On the brighter side...

... and no, that's not just an allusion to this very bright top.

There's one area where I am definitely making huge progress, and that is in dealing with warm weather. The reduced makeup (and, I dare say, some improved technique), as well as the conquest of my bare-leg-phobia, have definitely made summer outings more practical. Last year I was doing ok, though it was one of the coolest summers anyone could remember in NYC. This year.... well, I'm still managing ok, even though the weather has been simply brutal!

All of which probably means I will be totally unprepared come this fall.

Oh well. Nice problem to have!

O brave new world! Yeah, whatever.

It's an odd mix.  You feel like you have the soul of Ariel, until you look in the mirror and see the face of Prospero.  A little younger, perhaps, but that's who it is.

And then you go out in the world, wide-eyed and excited like Miranda... feeling pretty, and a little nervous, and just thrilled by the possibilities that await you.

Until the timeline reverses itself: daylight turns to storm.  You catch a glimpse of yourself reflected in the water and it's not Miranda's face that stares back.  It's Caliban.  No blushing beauty, just a twisted weird creature.  And the author couldn't even be bothered to make you heroic.... or even truly comic.  You are just pathetic, in the classical sense of the word.

Sigh.  The imagery of the Tempest is depressing as hell if you're having a bad self-image day in Transland.

Less is more, and adventures in lingerie-land

Yep, I hve pretty well decided that I am permanently going down a size.  I think (and a friend agreed) that it just makes me look a bit less chest-y.  The most recent photos on my flickr page should show that the change is not exactly profound - but I do think it's noticeable.  Anyway I am happy with the change.

At least in some senses.  I do, now, have to essentially re-buy my entire underwear drawer.  I only have a couple of bras in 38B and I really only like one of them.  So I went over to Macy's on Wednesday.  The first thing I learned is that 38B is a LESS COMMON SIZE.  I remember several years ago when I went from a 40C down to a 38C, and it was like being transported to bra nirvana.  Suddenly I actually had (gasp) choices!  Well, 38B is one of those sizes that not everyone bothers with.  I saw about four different styles from Calvin Klein that would have been great.  No luck.  Chantelle, same.  And so on.  Finally, I was getting hungry and just figured I would pick up some reliable standbys while I gave this whole development some more thoughts.

Interesting aside.  I don't know if it's a special day in the calendar or something, but about half of the women shopping were orthodox or Hasidic Jews, many with their husbands in tow.  And they were buying LOTS of stuff.  It's like they were on some sort of biennial quest for undies.  And you can just imagine what they, and their husbands, thought of me :)  ...

Anyway I picked up a couple other things, and then I got the next surprise.  Remember: this is the Macy's at 34th Street / Herald Square.  Their flagship store, occupying an entire city block.  The lingerie department is easily 15-20,000 square feet.  It was about 7pm on a Wednesday night.  And they had two cashiers for the entire place!  WTF?!?

The lines were pretty long.  Now, I am actually ok with shopping for my undies en femme.  I am even ok sitting there in the relatively close space of a line of shoppers, clutching a set of hangers with itty bitty intimates while not worrying about the occasional stares.  But it was quite clear that I was going to be waiting A Long Time.  As I watched the orthodox woman at the front of the line actually grunt (no joke) with the effort it took to heave an armload of panties onto the counter, I decided this was simply not going to work.  I was starving, and had no intention of sitting in line for 30 minutes for the privilege of paying full price for a couple bras that weren't even perfect choices.

So I left.  I'll try again (not there, thank you very much!) during the daytime this week.  Failing that, it'll be back to the intertubes.