This is a long overdue fit of much-needed catharsis.

I don’t remember exactly at what age that Christmas lost its “magic” and no longer excited me. It was sometime in my late teens, when I was privately rebelling against my monotheistic upbringing, as well as when I entered the workforce and began the journey of realizing what horrible cogs we are in an unnatural, corporatized machine we inherited from the last few preceding generations. I genuinely believe that at least some of the uppity, persnickety, churlish snobs who exist in the world would act more humbly if they had ever worked food service and retail like myself and so many other working class sods. Being on the receiving end of the public’s bullshit, I would hope, would make one less eager and willing to be the one in turn pushing your bullshit on some other worker unlucky enough to be serving you.

I realize that the preceding paragraph, if taken on its own without further context, might sound like a sound byte rebuttal against capitalism and some sort of veiled support of a Marxist idea. Allow me to be perfectly clear: I don’t support most, if any of Marx’s ideas and indeed think he was a resentful, vengeful idiot, or at least managed to portray himself as such through his work. Also to the reverse, I don’t think capitalism is the best possible economic solution to solving humanity’s deep problems of inequality and injustice, however it’s the best we’ve managed to implement so far, and I think on a small scale and at the individual level it works well enough that to attempt replacing it invites great peril.

No, this is about the excesses of corporatism and consumer culture. I think individual and small-scale free enterprise and entrepreneurship is great. What isn’t great is when the opportunities for those ventures to succeed or even exist are squelched by giant corporations who are eager to assume as much wealth and power as possible, and by the bloated, bureaucratically choked governments which enable them. The past nearly two years dealing with the unspecified virus of unknown origin has made it clearer than crystal that those who have power and wealth will take any and every opportunity to seize more of it, and they will not let it go willingly. If there was any genuine altruism powering big corpo and big government, we would be seeing a different picture at present. Instead we see corporate giants working in collusion with their bought and paid for government cronies, to be allowed to operate above the restrictions which everyone else is expected to obey without question. Because how dare any situation, crisis, or demand impede on the profits of giants like McDonald’s or Amazon. How dare we actually put “we’re in this together” into practice and say that we are facing problems more important than the profit margins of big business during the holiday season?

Collectively speaking, we’ve learned nothing. Buy, buy, buy, consume product, give in to the pressure to buy gifts and have parties and fancy dinners, even if you can’t afford it. Especially if you can’t afford it, because even debt is a commodity now, parceled and sold to folks desperately living beyond their means just to feel valued, loved, and as worthwhile members of their communities.

Worse yet, this rampant consumerism and the continued protection of big corpo by their government stooges is horrible for the environment. Interesting to me is seeing so many, leftists in particular, who are in favor of stringent lockdowns and think the government has unlimited money with which to bail people out of financial destitution indefinitely, yet they also claim to care about the planet and climate change. The very government(s) those types worship and depend on like Big Brother are responsible for empowering and protecting some of the biggest polluters around: giant corporations. Do you even comprehend how much pollution and material waste is produced and left over from providing one of you even a single fast food meal in a drive thru? Do you understand how much animal and material waste is created from having to constantly keep hot food at the ready? Do any of you understand the human cost, the insane, unnatural demands put upon the people behind the scenes, who are the ones making it possible for you to have hot food funneled into your car on a whim, or to get almost anything delivered to your door with next-day shipping? All you do is impulsively hit “buy” on Amazon’s shopping application, without understanding the chain of events you set in motion by doing so. There is a steep human and environmental cost to allowing these giant entities to operate without checks and balances, to pursue greater and further absurd solutions to artificially created consumer demands.

This is Christmas Day in my part of the world, as I write this. I barely survived, if we’re speaking in terms of mental and emotional health. Even when only tertiarily participating in the season (as a Heathen I am endeavoring to make pagan celebrations, without their modern accoutrements, part of my life), I was almost swallowed up in the excesses. There is an enormous amount of pressure and anxiety associated with this time of the year, and of course, in the pursuit of profit, big business only seems to reward procrastination and having consumer demands met at unrealistic speeds, regardless of what that does to the workers making it possible.

What can we do? What can I do? Christmas commercialism is a gigantic beast that no one person can stop or stand up to. Nor would I advocate burning the whole institution to the ground, and thus taking away traditions that provide genuine warmth, family, and merriment to some folks, even if I don’t share them. What I am suggesting is that we fight back with the weapons we working class stiffs do have. We have money, even if not a lot, and we can choose to spend it in support of local businesses and individual artists and craftspersons. We can choose to cook and grow food more for ourselves instead of relying on fast food drive thrus and doordashes. We can stay home and off the shopping apps on Black Friday. We can write to our representatives, our newspapers, and to groups already campaigning for positive change, to make it clear that the people who are supposed to be “our leaders” need to be more interested in protecting the liberties and prosperities of individual citizens more than corporate entities. Even if our reps are sold out to the lobbyists, I believe that with enough noise and enough people voicing their dissatisfaction, change is possible. And more than that…

Take time and be thoughtful enough to understand that there is a person dealing with some shit in order to provide you with any good or service. Be thankful and show some gorram humility to those of us “little people” making everything in our modern world possible.

FIN

*Necessary preface: this is a work of fiction. I do not take the word suicide lightly in the context of my, the author’s, life. It’s a metaphorical exploration of my life’s changes.*

I tried, sis. I really did. I was often accused of being dad’s clone, and by what any given and person could see or hear, I couldn’t blame them for thinking that.

I hated you, for a while, a long damn time in fact. I tried to hide you from everyone, I silenced you anytime you crept out, I kept you all for myself, but not even that, turns out. Even I never appreciated you. Without you, I was an empty shell, a piece of armor, all survival, total and corrupt rationalization with no heart and no wisdom to guide it.

I tried, sis. I tried to be a man, but that was never meant to be. Trying to mimic dad wasn’t enough. Imitating actions and methods without understanding their origin, without being able to feel their motivations made me a self-manipulated puppet, and worse, easy prey for the worst kinds of women and pathological ideologies.

You tried, sis. You warned me and I didn’t listen. You cried, and I never attended to your tears. Your heart was broken; it gnawed at me, my ignorance of it, and every relationship and career I tried to forge imploded.

You hated me, for a long time, and I didn’t blame you because I joined you in it. Only now I’m not so sure you did. I hear whispers that I protected you and sheltered you, that without me as a shield you might not be alive at all. Rumors abound that I might have done some good somehow in these years of my chaotic, nihilistic flailing.

You tried, sis. Against all of my torture and torment, you tried to show me the way. You have our mom’s heart, and I’m thankful for that. You showed me empathy and I twisted it into darkness.

It’s time for me to go, my sweet sister. There is only room for one of us here, and there is no fairer deal I can give the world than to trade me for you. It’s time for you to go free, and show the world your light. Don’t cry for me, for you have wept enough. If there is maybe one way I can succeed as a man, it is to sacrifice my today for your tomorrow, a duty so many men face for the future’s sake. That is my first and final gift to you, something so horribly and so painfully overdue…

Falling into forever, he leaves. The letter flutters into her trembling hands, tears smearing his final fingerprints. She vows to honor him.

FIN

It is easy to dip into hyperbole when making a statement such as that of the above title. How often have we said “this is the best day ever” in our lives? Despite that, I can say with definitive clarity that yesterday (as of this writing) was the best day in my adult life, and rivals even the heady, innocent days of my prepubescent youth.

By coincidence, it marks a full year since coming out (to myself at least, to everyone else, they found out in stages) but that is but one factor. I had the best day wrapping up my shopping for birthday prezzies for a precious new friend in my life. I met up with a buddy I hadn’t seen in way too long (buddy is too weak; I see him as a little brother) and we had an amazing skateboarding session despite being blown about by what felt like high seas winds. I turned frowns upside down and made an amazing female hero in my life have a great, squee-filled day when she expected it to be dismal. I felt well and truly alive, which, this may shock you, has up until the past year been an extraordinarily rare thing for me and before came in only the most timid and short-lived of doses.

How do I describe how I felt yesterday, when all emotions were at their zenith? Shall I compare it to having lived an entire life only being able to see two colors, having only a vague, indeterminate understanding of the others that existed, to then wake up to not only see every other color permutation in existence, but to intuit their purpose and implement their nuance in your life? That is as apt as I can be in analogy. I felt every feeling I’d ever experienced in my life, having come to grasp the twisted, gnarled road that led me to that exact moment, to being alive with my friends, especially the women in my life that I adore beyond the capacity for verbal expression. I felt every feeling in my life and then ones I hadn’t before. If ever I had experienced a third eye opening in my life, it was then. The floodgates were opened.

Although I can pick it apart and attribute this visceral trip to several factors, a major component that cannot be denied in this is being on HRT (hormone replacement therapy to those not in the know). I am not going to be one of those toxic bitches who condemns men or testosterone or masculinity as a whole, but for me, the male hormones I was forced to process were a perpetual, destructive blockade on my emotional intelligence, my understanding of myself, and the ability to perceive and understand all nuances of feeling. My rationality is at last fully freed and enabled. I can feel everything and tell you why and how.

Even if, like how Data might never become fully human, I am not able to be a woman to the fullest extent physiologically possible, I am grateful at last to finally be free, to finally be me, to be connected to the universe and to the people I cherish to my dying breath on this planet, our Terra.

FIN

If you’ll indulge me, I’m going to tell you what scared me to the spine most about coming out as being a transgender individual, and it wasn’t the conservative, right wing of the Western world’s political spectrum.

Oh, to be fair, I certainly had fear in my heart about the Right. But you see, that to me was an obvious, blatant threat, akin to the Stormtroopers in Star Wars. Bear in mind I don’t see all right-wingers in that light, nor do I think of all GOP supporters as fascists like some of my contemporaries, however the simile of my detractors being as blatant and obvious as Imperial Stormtroopers holds true. I can see my conservative and religious opponents coming from a kilometer away, typically, and they are a clear cut obstacle.

But the far political Left, ah, that’s a whole other cookie to crumble, and that is what gave me the greatest pause in coming out, or exploring what I really am at all. Now, let me get one caveat out of the way: I do believe there are legitimate social justice issues in my country and the world at large, and I do believe there are legitimate, passionate crusaders in the world who want to affect positive changes and reforms regarding said issues. I do believe that protests are important and should be allowed. I believe that if someone wants to kneel during the Pledge of Allegiance, more power to them. But things quickly get muddy here. Social justice has been hijacked by and infected with radicalism. We have an entire generation now of internet warriors whose sole existence is to scour the ‘net for anything politically incorrect and offensive to their increasingly intolerant and narrow world view. The collective of individuals who are supposed to be the most progressive, tolerant, and open-minded, I have found instead to be the most rigid, destructive, intolerant, and hateful affiliation of people I have ever encountered.

Yes, social justice warriors, yes, cancel culture, I’m calling you out, and I call bullshit on you. Yes, I’m talking to the most extreme trans “activists” out there; you don’t speak for me, and both the LGBT community and civilization as a whole could do without your aggressive policing of thought and speech. In plainer language: you make us all look bad. The phobic and close-minded elements of the Right don’t even need to put any effort into finding ammo against gay, bi, queer, and trans folk, considering what the far Left hands them on a silver, polished platter.

To go back to the title of this post, and to make my point even simpler: I was terrified of being lumped in with you, SJWs, when coming out. I didn’t, and still don’t, want any part in the postmodern, deconstructionist agenda. At one time, when I was an angry person eager to rebel against any and everything (because I didn’t understand that the real war was inside me all along), I almost got lost in that movement of thought. I am glad I found a way to keep from falling all the way down that pit. There aren’t 69 or more genders, and the straight white man is not to blame for every problem you have. Sexism, racism, and homo/transphobia are real problems in the world, but you can’t blame every problem in our civilization on the obtuse patriarchy. The overwhelming majority of humanity is not obliged to bend over backwards for a tiny minority such as what I now belong to, and to expect culture, language, law, and economics to cater to your sensitivities is the pipe dream of someone living in a digital bubble, into which no disagreement or other way of thinking is allowed.

Gay people matter. Bisexual people matter. Trans lives matter. Black lives do matter, as point of fact. But radical, extreme activism and trying to tear down every pillar of human civilization is not going to accomplish any measure of social justice. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The last four years of the Twilight Zone that the United States just went through under the direction of a reality TV star is as much the fault of the Left as it is the Right. When you push the pendulum to an extreme in one direction, by nature it will swing to every bit the same extreme in the other. Those of us in the middle or out in the bleachers get run over in the process. If we don’t hold the current Left political swing in check, things will get worse.

Some of you will not want to hear any of this. Some of you won’t give my words any merit. Some of you who have been following me on various social media for whatever reason may hate me for saying all of this. My objective is not explicitly to anger or bring negativity into your life, but if you do respond with hostility, perhaps stop and think about why that is. And if I can prevent even one other person who is in the closet for whatever reason from experiencing the same fear and trepidation as me, then whatever scorn I just invited is worth it. Until next time.

FIN