Sleeping with a Stranger

ggggIMG_20170429_194118Is it risky? It depends. Here’s my take on it, based on my personal experience and some statistics that a girlfriend showed me. And yes, there’s no space between “girl” and “friend.” As to romantic relationships, I’m into girls — only. (Maybe also genderqueer people — I haven’t tried yet).

I’ve slept with only one guy in my entire life. He was my sole (and failed) attempt at having a boyfriend.  I can’t imagine anything that could better confirm a girl’s status as a lesbian as effectively as having been in a relationship dynamic with a guy and a girl, each — so that she’s making an informed decision. So yes, I’m a lesbian, very much so.

And no, romance isn’t mainly about sex — and sex is not mainly about penetration — for me, anyway — but if it were, then ironically, a girl can penetrate vastly better than a guy can, typically. Imagine someone playing the piano with his “down there” part, and the lack of precision, rigidity and control, and you can understand what I mean. As a trans girl, I personally have that same-shape “down there” body part too but the main organ I use for sex with girls is the one behind my eyes, not behind my zipper, even if that later comes into play too. And it’s just one more option, not the only option. There’s a good reason why I have healthy, moisturized, well-cared for hands, and short, smooth fingernails.

If you’re a girl and you know you’re not into girls, so be it … but if you think you might be, I recommend you try it — it’s an intense mental connection, and it can be sweet and gentle yet also primally ultra-hot. If so far you haven’t much enjoyed sex, or you feel lonely or misunderstood or unconnected to mankind, and you’ve only been with guys, then I have a pretty good guess as to the reason. Also, if you’re a girl, and you like the smooth look of the female physique, I recommend seeing one at close range, in bed. You have one life to live; enjoy it.

As to the main focus of the article: when I write “sleep with” I mean it literally. I don’t mean: having sex. That’s an entirely different category and I’m not talking about that euphemistically.

I didn’t really think it through as to how sleeping with someone is dangerous until another girl pointed out the possibilities to me. Whomever I was sleeping with could have killed me in my sleep, or  drugged me and abducted me, or tied me up and then done things to me to which I didn’t consent, or … I don’t know … sold me to a biker gang? The possibilities expand near-endlessly, all of them unpleasant.

Ironically, I’ve never trusted my boyfriend at the time enough to invite him to my place. He didn’t, and still doesn’t, even know where I live. It feels silly now that I’d trusted him with my person and yet not with the content of my apartment.

Still, property is at risk too. While I’m asleep next to someone, he could sneak out of bed, pretending to get up to use the bathroom, and yet when I wake up, who knows what he’s done with the contents of my purse, including my car keys.  And, now that I think about it, my address is printed on my driver’s license.

Perhaps 200 years ago, in the sparsely populated desert that would later become the east-of-Reno area, the biggest physical risk of death from violent attack to someone living here was probably a mountain lion.  Nowadays, it’s a male human.  And yes, I AM singling guys out.

Statistically, in the US, by far the biggest physical risk of death from violent attack to a male human is … another male human. The biggest physical risk of death from violent attack to a female human is … a male human. Trans girls especially get killed by male humans to so statistically significant an extent that we’ve begun a “transgender day of remembrance” tradition, in general protest.

Of course, not all guys are bad. Some of my best friends are guys. But if I were to keep sleeping with strange men, the odds would NOT be in my favor. Besides, it’d be pointless. Now that I know how I’m wired, I realize why there’s no attraction for me in sleeping with a guy, literally.

I do sometimes enjoy sex with guys. For me, there’s something primally hot about being pounded sexually by someone who doesn’t know me, understand me or much care about me, as if he’d just bought me at a slave girl auction. However, after he’s stopped breathing heavily and he’s turned into a mean jerk who’s suddenly less interested in me than what’s in the refrigerator or on the sports channel, I’m outta there. When I get sexual with a guy, my favorite place to do so is at a high-quality sex club where this sort of thing is much more likely to be safe. Less-safe but still okay is: a high-quality hotel room. Less-safe yet is the guy’s place.

If I go there, I always drink a lot of water before I show up. Even so, I’m almost always offered a drink right after I walk in the door. I politely decline but my thoughts are: “No thanks. I barely trust you enough to have sex with you. I don’t trust you enough to drink whatever you put into an innocent-looking glass. Even if it’s just alcohol out of a freshly-opened untampered-with bottle (for which corked champagne is a good choice), then still — no thanks. I don’t need to get sleepy, or have impaired judgement or dulled senses. I’m in full-alert mode. In the unlikely event that I do get thirsty, then I will go drink water by cupping my clean hands under a tap.”

By contrast, with girls, I trust. Violent girls are, as I understand the statistics, super-rare. If we were to pardon drug-specific crimes, then women’s prisons in the US would become almost empty. The only girl who was ever violent to me was my girlfriend at the time, after I said: “I need some space. I’m going to go away for a few hours. Let go of my arm. This is freaking me out: you literally are keeping me here physically” and yet she refused.

So many of my girlfriend dynamics have begun after we found each other online. By the time we’d built a rapport, trust had long since been automatically established, and I typically invited the lady over. Not too long after, two girls were happily waking up in the same bed. That I’m still alive, and friends with almost all of them, including on FaceBook, is not mainly a testament that I have good judgement (as did they). It’s probably more due to the fact that, as girls, we tend to be non-violent and nice to each other — and besides, it’s easy for us girls to read each other well. The few times when I got a bad vibe from a girl, there was nothing subtle about it, and I’ve never been wrong about distrusting those few; subsequent events validated my caution.

I’m grateful for being a lesbian. It makes my life so much more safe.

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The Intention to Defect …

It would be a grave mistake to equate Soviet culture with Russian culture. The Soviets were to Russians as the Nazis were to Germans, and as the South African government was to its citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The Soviets did much harm to the best Russians: those who thought independently and wanted to be productive. These traits were highly focused in Jewish Russian culture, and so this group suffered more than most, under the Soviets. Even so, leaving the country wasn’t something one could simply do.

At the time, there were strong parallels for someone living in South Africa. When I was in my early 20s, I was planning to leave the country, personally. My father cautioned me that the government was tightening the exit measures at the airport, and unless I left beforehand, I would not be allowed to leave at all, ever. I objected and pointed out that people were flying in and out of the place in large volumes every day. I didn’t see why the government would focus on detaining me.

My father looked conflicted. It looked like my father had information that would answer my question yet my father was reluctant to impart that. Finally the reply came: because I was my father’s child, and the government was already focused on my father as a dissident. Indeed, they were. In the past they had sought to detain my father, by pulling my father’s passport. Even, so my father had managed to sneak away, using a level of social manipulation that might one day make for an intriguing story in its own right, yet too long for this article.

Even though the South African government at the time was already focused on me due to my connection with my father, I had provided it additional cause to want to detain me. I had, over the preceding years, made it quite clear how much I despised the government, to the point where people high up in the government were well aware of my dissident mindset. I didn’t intend to overthrow the government; I simply intended to leave. Even so, I had been sufficiently outspoken that I’d made enemies. One of them was my abusive, drunk, mean stepfather, who had assured me that he’d made it his personal mission to prevent me from ever being allowed to leave the country. He was a Dean at the foremost (and government-run) university in the country, so he had a lot of political clout.

He and I despised each other deeply. We had been arguing bitterly about philosophy and politics, for many years. I was an avid reader of books on political freedom, with my favorite author being a Russian Jewish lady who had been born in St. Petersburg, and who personally had seen the Soviet takeover. She hated the Soviets with good reason, and she wrote passionately on such subjects, including writing a novel that had many parallels with how she had personally defected to the West. I loved her pro-freedom ideas and how well she articulated them. However, that made me even more opposed to the South African government.

I hadn’t limited my candor to my stepfather. He sometimes had colleagues over, and they would sit in his study and drink for hours on end. Sometimes I initiated the battle; sometimes I was called to his study for the next round of arguments. It had made for an interesting childhood. Over the years, I read much and thought much, and I was becoming ever more articulate.

I recall one conversation in which, to my stepfather and one of his University friends, I laid out a well-structured set of the objections I had to the status quo. I gathered that it was so crisply-reasoned that they couldn’t pick it apart. They asked me what alternative I would propose. I hesitated. I could articulate it, but my favorite author could do so much more eloquently. “I’ll be right back,” I said, and brought one of her books into the study, to read aloud some passages. It never came to that. The book was angrily grabbed out of my hands by a mean drunk man, my stepfather’s visitor, and flung across the room in disgust. So much for academic discourse.

I hated my stepfather so very much. He was intensely malicious and highly intelligent an adversary. We argued whenever we saw each other. Meal times were formal, and they were a war zone. “Do we have to argue at every meal?” my mother would ask. To me, there was no question. Of course we did.

To someone who wasn’t there, it’s hard for me to describe the culture at the time, but the movie “Swing Kids” captures the mood. It begins with a scene that shows some teenagers urinating on a Nazi poster in 1930s Germany. That sums it well. How the teenagers and young adults had a culture clash with the South African government of the 70s and 80s had much in common culturally with the equivalent situation under the Nazis and the Soviets. Bottom line: I could not just leave. I had to defect. I prepared in secret. I quietly sold my assets and I finally managed to keep unusually quiet about my opposition to the government. I planned diligently.

Regardless of how ready I would be at the time, I had committed to be out of the country by a magic date that I had chosen. That date preceded, with some margin of safety, the date my father had mentioned. The plan worked. I still fondly remember the huge feeling of relief that I felt as the plane left the ground. I was free.

For that reason, and several others, one of my favorite movies has always been The Hunt for Red October. In the story, a brilliant and talented submarine captain in the Russian Navy appears to have the sort of life that, by the standards of the day, seemed to be the life of somebody who would be perfectly happy remaining just where he was. However, for some very legitimate reasons, he was deeply unhappy with the situation, and he was indeed planning to defect — but he could not simply come out and say so.

He began planning. The movie shows the vast complexity of his plan and the tremendous challenge he had: communicating his intent to defect to someone who would be supportive, helpful and welcoming, yet without it being known to anyone else. To the casual observer, the notion was unfathomable that the captain was defecting.

One of my favorite characters (who reminds me of myself, in many ways) is an earnest young American analyst who has figured out what the captain is trying to do. The analyst is desperately trying to communicate with the captain so as to confirm the captain’s intent to defect, and to convey that the analyst is supportive of the plan. When they finally communicate directly, they still have to do so euphemistically, but they do communicate.

My favorite scene is where the captain is shocked (happily, but he hides it from onlookers) when he realizes that he has succeeded in communicating his intent to defect, and that he was indeed welcome to proceed, and being supported in that endeavor.

Downstream of that point, the remaining problems mainly involve the complex logistics of the escape, so that the captain can experience the freedom that he had yearned for, for so long.

Prince

This article was inspired directly by the tribute-to-Prince song that Susanna Hoffs announced on Twitter today.

Prince has intrigued me for a long time. When I think of Prince, I am reminded of of official historical figures who wrote in ostensible support of the Catholic Church, yet they asked the sort of questions that led to more and more questions that eventually inspired the Renaissance — a time of happiness, enjoyment, pleasure, creativity, candor, rational self-interest and reason.  These historical figures never came out in open opposition to the Church and yet, considered in context, they were as “out” as one could reasonably dare to be, at the time.

Perhaps the same can be said about Prince — and my own dad.

* * *

Nobody reminds me of Prince as much as my dad does. He was brilliant, including being a talented musician and singer. He wrote songs so successful that they became part of the culture of the University he was attending at the time.  He wrote poetry that was, at least, successful enough to woo my ultra-conservative mom into saying “I do.”  His command of languages was superb.  He spoke seven or eight languages fluently, like a native. As I recall, this included Afrikaans (a Dutch dialect), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Zulu and perhaps one more. He didn’t just speak these languages but he seemed to think in them. When he spoke French he had a sort of French personal style and attitude, which was very different than when, for example, he spoke English.  He taught me to do the same.  For example, if I have to speak in French right away, I simply can’t, but if I walk around for a while, muttering to myself in French, then I eventually start thinking in French and then it all clicks. Ditto as to German and Afrikaans.

My dad was lithe and athletic. He moved with a feline grace.  He liked to wear his hair long, and in a wild style. He wore thongs as underwear, and he liked androgynous clothes, including denim outfits and overalls. He was exemplary hygienic; I never saw him dirty even when working on my filthy car’s  greasy engine. He was also intensely focused on his health and appearance.

He was very open about sexuality. He wasn’t sexual with me but he encouraged me to discover sexuality without inhibitions.  As a young adult, one of the presents I got from my dad was a sex toy, with cheerful good wishes to go explore myself.  He taught me about math, auto repair, personal care and science, but the subject on which he most imparted information in vast and insightful amounts was as to girls — how to appreciate them, how to be nice to them, sexual positions that would maximize the girl’s pleasure or minimize her discomfort in certain situations … how to touch girls, how to talk to girls, what not to do, and so on.

He spoke with the authority of experience.  I am not aware of one girl in his love life who wasn’t lovely and highly intelligent besides. When he was in his 40s, I once asked him how many girls he’d been with. He thought for a while and replied “about three hundred.” If he was ever unsafe in his romantic pursuits, I’m unaware of it, and the him-and-I dynamic was such that if he’d had any first-hand knowledge of STD issues, then I’m sure he’d have taught me about proper cautionary measures too, beyond the obvious.

It was uncanny to see how girls’ resistance was non-existent during interaction with him. It was almost as if they were interacting trustingly with another girl — albeit a strong, brilliant, androgynous-looking girl.  When I was a young adult, the mom of my best-friend-at-the-time was in an unhappy marriage.  She was, and is, lovely — and a brilliant and courageous writer, besides. Somehow, she and my dad met, and they were soon a happy item. Meanwhile, my friend’s dad was a mean drunk with a well-polished ability to sling witty insults at his long-suffering wife. One day, he made the mistake of doing so while my dad and I happened to be present.  In a quiet, calm voice, my dad intercepted the insult and redirected it at the mean husband, who was in the ensuing silence shown up to be the rude oaf that he indeed was.  I loved that.

All of this happened in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when the white racist government culture had more than a little in common with Germany in the 1930s, including open admiration for Nazi culture.  For example, male teenagers were dressed in brown uniforms and marched around a parade ground while being told that their lives belonged to the State.  Racism was integral in the law, and the government has a deep anti-Jewish sentiment. As to sexuality, being gay meant immediate arrest and imprisonment, and the mere possession of one Playboy magazine carried a three-year prison sentence.

Nevertheless, my dad had made a point of bringing several of them along, and smuggling them in, during every trip back from Europe. I recall my excitement and joy at seeing my first Playboy, and paging through it, and seeing how wonderful it is to have so open a celebration of sexuality and the female physique. At the time, the South African government also had detention without trial, plus it liked to lock up people it didn’t like, in lunatic asylums.  I’m no fan of the Soviets and what they did to the best of the Russian people, including Jewish Russians.  That that there was so much of a common lock-dissidents-up approach between the South African government and the Soviets … it was stark.

In this article, I keep referring to my dad as “he.”  But, was my dad really a male — or was my dad a trans girl, as am I?  If the latter, then certainly he could not have dared to be open about that, even if my dad had found the words to articulate it.  For anyone born with male-shaped plumbing, to come out and say “but as far as the available evidence shows, my brain structure is female” would in that time and place have meant a one-way ticket to a government insane asylum, plus general cultural ostracism.

My dad passed away approximately ten years ago, so I can only guess — but I compiled a list of the attributes that led me to conclude that my dad might well have been a trans girl.  Without naming names, I offered the list to my mom, in conversation. It was a long list. I asked her which person in her life best fitted that list of attributes, and she said my dad’s name. Many long conversations later, we’d uncovered many more memories that could be added to the list. So, quite possibly my dad was a trans girl.

Genetically, my dad being a trans girl would make sense.  A trans girl acquaintance of mine has a trans girl daughter from her first marriage to a genetically integrated girl, and then in a subsequent marriage she had with another genetically integrated girl, yet another trans girl was born — and yet the two families had had hardly any cultural contact by which one offspring could influence the other in any way.  So, it’s either a huge coincidence or there is a genetic link.  But, we already know that being born a trans girl is fundamentally a genetic thing.  So, it makes sense that if there’s a trans girl in the lineage, perhaps looking upstream or downstream in the genetic lineage, there might be another trans girl somewhere, too — for example, my dad … whom I should perhaps refer to as my trans-girl dad, or assistant mom?

* * *

As to Prince, when I consider the symbol that Prince chose, I realize that it’s a magnificently eloquent expression of androgyny. Prince felt so strongly about this that the symbol became the artist’s formal name, for a while. From my personal experience, the first step in realizing “I might be a trans girl” is to embrace being androgynous. The next step might be (as it was for me): “wow, from this perspective, I now I realize that I am a trans girl.”

The ultra-high level of style and grace, of musical and language skills that Prince had, and Prince’s ability to connect with girls’ minds … the openness about sexuality and a caring approach as to girls … it makes me see many similarities between Prince and my dad.

As for me, I came out as a trans girl in the 2011/2012 time-frame, and even in the American West, general culture was not all that nice to me as such. At the time Prince was in the public focus, the culture was much more hostile yet. For Prince to have come out and say: “I’m a trans girl” would in that time and place probably have meant general cultural ostracism.  So, perhaps as did the pre-Renaissance critics of the Catholic Church, and perhaps as did my dad, Prince was as bravely “out” as the cultural circumstances permitted.

Me, in Automotive Speed Culture

I used to be deeply involved in automotive speed culture, driving my highly modified car at such high speeds that the speedometer needle literally swept off the right side of the dial, doing street races, perfecting my handbrake turns, founding and running an automotive mini-empire, then coming to the US and managing a serious speed shop, flagging at vintage auto races, navigating rallies, attending concourses. driving a Toyota twin-cam six on Willow Springs raceway — I miss it. So. I watched the Rush movie (again).

Rush

At the time I was a tall, slender, fearless, wiry-strong, renegade-minded, polite, quiet, shy, blonde, short-haired trans girl who had studied guy culture so well, I out-did the guys at it. When I was 24 I looked like I was 15, so I’ve been told. It was fun to be underestimated — initially.

As I watched this movie, I realized that I feel like a female blend of both main characters: the devil-may-care, wild & sexual, live-for-today, emotionally-intense James Hunt, and the calm, precise, logical, determined Niki Lauda.

The decisions and actions I regret most were when I was unjust — as in, not nearly as nice as I should have been to those who deserved it. But as to the course of my strange live, the broad direction of it … the wonderful people in it … I can look back at it, and calmly smile. It’s been a wonderful life. And no, I’m not dying…. just pensive.

Would the “me” of today have been an inspirational role model for the teenage “me” or the girl I was in my 20s? Yes. Heck yes.

For me, that’s a nice thought.