A Review of “Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett

"Full Circle: A Father's Journey with a Transgender Child" by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett.

“Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett.

As a post-operative transsexual woman, myself, and as someone who counts Nicole Rundlett amongst her personal friends I can hardly enter a review of “Full Circle” as an unbiased observer. However, Nicole knows me well enough to know that I am lavish on praise where it is due and overtly critical of actions and opinions where they lack merit or validity. See my article on “Passing 101 or The Emperor’s New Clothes (REVISITED)” as an example of my critical edge.

( https://chrysalid58.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/passing-101-or-the-emperors-new-clothes-revisited/ )

I first met Nicole in Montreal at Dr. Pierre Brassard’s  Clinique de chirurgie plastique et esthétique in early November 2009. She was there for SRS (sex reassignment surgery) supported by her then girlfriend, and now, wife,  Arlene (Ar) and I was there for brow work, rhinoplasty, and breast augmentation by Dr. Eric Bensimon. A year earlier I had undergone SRS myself under the skilled hands of Dr. Brassard.

Full Circle is set apart from most other books on the subject as it is told largely by Derry Rundlett— Nicki’s father. The book is in essence a love letter between father and child. Derry chronicles the evolution of his relationship with Nicole from conception through to the birth of son, Nick, and the rebirth of Nick into Nicole. It is at once both moving and profound as the author tackles the issue of his son’s transition from male to female head-on.

Male-to-Female transsexuals can easily fall into the trap of seeing themselves less objectively than the world around them may view them. It was refreshing for me and more importantly, critical to Nicki’s well-being that she largely avoided that common pitfall in the course of her transitioning from male to female.

Both Nicki and her father were keenly aware that Nicole was seen as something “other” during the early phase of her transition. Derry recites an incident where Nicole’s gender was openly questioned. It is generally a difficult period for most male-to-female transsexuals — (I was no exception) and public scrutiny can be intense.

Derry recounts the struggle that both he and other members of the family (both immediate and extended) had in coming to terms with “Nicole”. Some relationships were indeed interrupted if not lost altogether and Nicki’s transition proved the undoing of his first marriage.

There was undeniable confusion and pain for all involved — Nicole included. Derry answers many of the questions raised by those opposed to sex-changes, transgender rights, and the like. A self-identified Christian, Derry recounts the difficulty of trying to apply stereotypical Christian methods of coping to his agnostic/atheist child ( in fairness, I am not sure about Nicki’s stance on the issue of religion).

Many close family and friends of the Rundlett’s are practicing Christians and they are treated with respect and love by Derry despite witnessing many of them failing to embrace Nicole’s new identity.

There are no rose colored glasses here despite an all-encompassing love of a father for his child that trumps any and all arguments that may be leveled against Nicole.

The author is also aware of the high number of suicides committed by gender variant individuals and the book opens and closes with an acknowledgement of that grim fact. No less a personage than Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan is afforded the book’s “Afterword” on the subject.

Full Circle is a fast-easy read despite the subject matter. There is plenty of humor to be found amidst the often controversial subjects of sex and sexuality. The book is especially recommended for parents and other family members coming to grips with the reality of having a gender variant child. Both Nicki and Derry express their shared hope that this book may actually save lives. Their concern is not overstated.

From the publisher’s website:

He had to grieve the loss of a son & welcome the addition of a daughter only to come full circle and find out, in the end, he never lost anything. The essence of his child was still the same person she’d always been.

“Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett can be ordered via aBASK Publishing:

http://www.abaskpublishing.com/full_circle_a_fathers_journey_with_a_transgender_child_by_derry_rundlett__nicole_rundlett_click_here-1

or through Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Circle-Fathers-Journey-Transgender/dp/0996239901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432627761&sr=8-1&keywords=full+circle+derry+rundlett

Also from the Publisher:

This is a 216 page tradepaper, perfect-bound 5.25″x8″ book with photos in living color. The Foreword is by Wayne Maines whose daughter won the highest transgender rights case in the history of Maine. The Afterword is by Jennifer Finney Boylan, reprinted with permission, “How to Save Your Life.”

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Jane Foster… You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

Thor Issue #8

Thor Issue #8

It’s really no secret at this point since anyone with any real interest in all this will know by now that Jane Foster has been revealed as the new Thor. However, I thought it would be worth commenting on and providing some personal insight into the latest goings ons in the world of Thor and Marvel Entertainment in general.

On some level I’m quite comfortable with Jane assuming the mantle of Thor. Admittedly, the execution of it all is lacking somewhat, for as other’s have pointed out, Thor is the given name of the Odinson and so Jane’s incarnation should have been handled along the lines of Walt Simsonson’s Beta Ray Bill… The power, the mantle is his but not the name.

Interestingly enough, Marvel had Jane assume the Thor identity back in 1978 when she appeared as the goddess of thunder in one of the “What If?” titles, (issue #10 to be exact).

What If Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor

In this “imaginary” story Jane decided to call herself Thordis and performed admirably as a female incarnation of the Mighty Thor. Since, the story was clearly a fantasy and not meant to be seen as part of the Thor canon no one seemed to take umbrage over this representation of Thor (And no, the irony of it being an imaginary tale within an imaginary universe is not lost on me).

However, old timer’s like myself will hearken back a decade earlier still when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby finally resolved the Thor-Jane Foster relationship by granting her the powers of an Asgardian goddess! Yet, within the very pages of that memorable issue, they had her fail so miserably so, irrevocably, that poor Jane was forcibly removed from the cast of Thor’s main supporting characters and immediately replaced with the goddess Sif.

The Mighty Thor #136

The Mighty Thor #136

The transition was awkward and abrupt and not even Kirby’s amazing pencils or Stan’s eloquence could blunt the jolting impact of such a major change in the direction of their golden haired protagonist. It was definitely heavy handed, but fortunately, Sif proved an interesting character in her own right, and her courage, fearlessness, and innate character as a goddess born stood in stark contrast to the timid, gentle, and decidedly human, Jane Foster.

Not Cut-out for God Duty

Not Cut-out for God Duty

But like the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads once noted… “You’ve come a long way baby!” The current Jane Foster not only has become The Goddess of Thunder but in her human form is currently battling breast cancer. Either way, this Jane Foster is a definite bad-ass and possessed of an indomitable spirit.

In many ways the character of Jane Foster is symptomatic of the wider Marvel push for diversity. Canon iterations  (whether as part of the Cinematic or Comic Book Universe) of an Afro-American, Captain America, Nick Fury, and Human Torch among others have become the status-quo. Expect to see further steps in this direction. Certainly, GBLTQ characters are gaining more press and it won’t be long before we see one or more 1st tier characters coming out as gay or representing some other sexual minority.

Thor writer, Jason Aaron may had some creative fun at his critics’ expense when he had Jane/Thor go up against old school villain, Crusher Creel AKA The Absorbing Man is issue #5. The choice of villain was deliberate. Creel is overtly male, bestial, guttural, and to no one’s surprise, misogynistic in the extreme. In facing our female protagonist for the first time he screams out at her:

“Thor? Are you kidding me? I’m supposed to call you Thor? Damn feminists are ruining everything,” he says. “You wanna be a chick superhero? Fine. Who the hell cares? But get your own identity. Thor’s a dude. One of the last manly dudes still left. What’d you do, send him to sensitivity training so he’d stop calling Earth girls ‘wenches’?”

Thor retaliates by breaking his jaw.

“That’s for saying ‘feminist’ like it’s a four-letter word, creep,”

Creel’s scathing contempt echoes many of the sentiments felt by critics of the new Thor and I’m sure Jason Aaron was smiling to himself as he put together this artful and clearly symbolic contest between himself and his critics 🙂

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A Review of the 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100) REGENCY CHESS (CANADA)

The Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100)

The Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100)

I haven’t seen too many reviews online referencing Regency Chess Canada so I thought I’d take the opportunity to do so here. Being Canadian, it was nice to see that luxury chess sets and boards could be purchased from within our national borders.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous ordering from Regency as their service is for the mostpart unheralded. Their UK mother company has an impressive 4.5 star rating from trustpilot.uk  boasting well over 700 reviews but would their Canadian branch earn that kind of lofty status? I am very happy to announce that at least where I am concerned it certainly did.

I ordered the Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100) last Sunday evening (February 1, 2015) and the board arrived just about 1pm Friday, February 6, 2015. Regency Chess Canada is based in Toronto, Ontario and I live on Vancouver Island so a 5 day delivery schedule was more than satisfactory.

The company did not appear to offer postal tracking other than a notice informing that the package had shipped. I always like to take advantage of postal tracking where available and this is my one and only quibble with Regency Chess Canada.

The chess board arrived packaged exceptionally well with plenty of bubble wrap inside 2 boxes! I was very happy with the care provided the chess board and this fact certainly reflected well on Regency Chess Canada.

Handled With Care

Handled With Care

Lots of Bubble Wrap

Lots of Bubble Wrap

The board is absolutely stunning and shows off my ebony &  boxwood Staunton chessmen to effect. It’s hard to do the board justice with regards to the camera belonging to my cellphone but it is without question the personification of what you might call chess eye-candy.

I had some concerns with regards to the high-gloss finish. I mean, sure it looked great on Regency’s website but would the gloss act as an unwanted distraction? Again, I am very happy to answer in the negative. The gloss finish represents a beautiful fusion of eye-catching design and fundamental playability. My back-up board, a matte finish roll-up green and white squared board can stay safely tucked away.

I married the board to a chess set featuring a 4″ King with a 1 3/4″ base. The board is well suited to the set in my opinion. It is hard to do the actual scale of this board justice. It is BIG!

THE BOTTOM LINE 

  • Cost: $275.00 Cdn., before taxes; $310.75 Cdn., total
  • No hidden costs
  • Fast efficient delivery
  • Paypal supported
  • Excellent packaging
  • Excellent quality
  • I would not hesitate to order from Regency Chess Canada again

Product Specifications:

  • Board Dimensions : 23-5/8 x 23-5/8 x 3/8 inches (60cm x 60cm x 1cm)
  • Square Size : 2-3/8 inches (6cm)
  • Item Weight : 8.8 lbs (4.0kg)
  • Materials Used: Stained Anegre, Maple

Regency’s Canadian Website: http://www.regencychess.ca/

* Note: the chess set featured in this review is from a competing company

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A Review of Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction Chess Set in Mahogany Box

Jaques of London's eponymous Stamp of Approval

Jaques of London’s eponymous Stamp of Approval

I’ve been playing chess since I was 8 years old — a lifetime ago. I have played tournament chess and I am a paid subscriber to chess.com where I continue to play chess daily. Over the years, like so many players I have dreamt of owning an heirloom chess set. I finally obtained one in the form of the Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction Chess Set in Mahogany Box. Here’s a link to the set as it appears on the Official Jaques of London website:

http://www.jaqueslondon.co.uk/reintroduction-chess-set.html

THE ORDERING PROCESS

I must confess this set was not my first choice. In fact, it was the Jaques of London: Simpsons in the Strand 3.5″ set that I had initially intended to purchase. I had gone some ways in the ordering process before being informed that the Simpsons (a set limited to 500 copies) was no longer available.

I was disappointed in the set’s non-availability but I adjusted quickly and decided on the slightly larger (and more expensive) 4″ Reintroduction set. I had the extremely good fortune of communicating with Jaques of London sales representative, Tracy Bateson. This woman is everything a sales representative should be; attentive, knowledgable, courteous, understanding, and proactive. Upon alerting me to the unavailability of the Simpson’s  set I was offered a choice of 3 other Jaques sets at the same price point or the option of a complete and full refund.

I instead opted for the 4″ Reintroduction set. Ms. Bateson, true-to-form, informed me that there would be no charge afforded the two extra queens I had desired when ordering the Simpsons  3.5″ set and had also requested for the 4″ set.  I should note that the extra queens retail at a not insignificant  £ 49.99 each (before taxes). The savings, needless to say, were much appreciated.

I should note that as a Canadian customer, I was unable to take advantage of Jaques’ automated online e-commerce store. Jaques has a USA branch but they also are not set-up electronically to serve Canadian customers. I suspect the same holds true for Australian and New Zealand based consumers as well.

Despite the 8 hr difference between my home on British Columbia’s west coast and Kent in south-east England, I was able to interact and exchange phone calls and emails with Ms. Bateson in timely and efficient fashion.

The set was delivered by UPS and Jaques of London provided full delivery tracking. Therefore, I was glued to UPS’ website like a 1960s era kid to Saturday morning cartoons. Delivery was quick and problem free. I made initial contact with Tracy by email on January 21st and my set arrived on February 2. However, the actual delivery schedule of the 4″ set from date of payment received to my front door delivery was an impressive 7 days!

Of course, living in Canada and suffering a free-falling dollar as we currently are, the added costs of Canadian duties and taxes apart from the approx. £40.00  plus shipping costs included at Jaques end amounted to $199.31 which I paid to the UPS driver upon receipt of the set.

The set came extremely well packaged and I am confident no damage occurred in the actual shipping process. Bubble wrap, packing paper and 5 boxes! were afforded this set’s protection. I was suitably  impressed.

Packaged with Care

Packaged with Care

MY ONLY ISSUE

My one and only issue with this entire process focuses on the issue of quality control. In my opinion, Jaques of London is the gold standard when it comes to chess sets. The company has a storied past quite literally being synonymous with the game of chess itself; Insomuch as Jaques of London had, in the words of Wikipedia:

“…exclusive manufacturing rights for a chess set designed by Nathaniel Cook in 1849 and named the Staunton chess set after Howard Staunton. This set later became the official international standard.”

Jaques were also commissioned with producing the set used by Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship. Dubbed the “Match of the Century” it is unlikely that the sheer social and cultural impact of the match and the universal  coverage the contest generated should ever be repeated.

So with all this behind it I was still disappointed to discover that 2 of my chess pieces fell far short of “Jaques of London” standards of excellence . One of the black pawns had suffered a broken collar (despite 5 boxes of packaging!)  I could understand a piece potentially suffering damage in a voyage travelling half-way across the globe. However, the damage was clearly done prior to shipping as the shredded remnants of what had been packing paper bore no evidence of any ebony shards. A white bishop also arrived in less than pristine condition bearing a couple of nicks near the piece’s base and suffering a rather too liberal application of lacquer.

I hasten to add that following a quick email to Jaques of London and once more connecting with Ms. Bateson I was immediately assuaged with news that 2 black pawns and 2 white bishops (free of charge sans shipping) would be dispatched post-haste to replace the 2 pieces that had arrived in less than satisfactory condition.

A broken pawn and a wounded bishop

A broken pawn and a wounded bishop

A CHESS SET TO BE PROUD OF

Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction set not only serves as an impressive display item but is beyond doubt a set to be played. The pieces both black & white chessmen have the knights and rooks stamped with a kingside crown. The knights are richly detailed and true to the original Staunton design. I could not be happier.

It's in the Details!

It’s in the Details!

The 4″ Reintroduction set also features my preferred Staunton bishop with a narrow gap in the mitre and a full button on top. I am not a fan of the gaping mitre but such may be to your own liking. The bishops accompanying this set represent aesthetic perfection.

A narrow mitre and full button punctuating the top

A narrow mitre and full button punctuating the top

 

 

 

THE DETAILS

The 4″ Reintroduction set features the following:

  • Reissue of the original Jaques Staunton early 1890s design
  • Limited Edition (500)
  • Signed certificate authenticity
  • Gloss finished Mahogany box
  • Woods: Ebony (NOT ebonized) and Boxwood
  • White King’s base stamped “Jaques London”
  • B&W Rooks and Knights stamped with kingside crown
  • 4″ King with 1 3/4″ base
  • Heavily weighted (presumably triple weighted)
  • NO Extra Queens
  • Board NOT included
  • Retails for £ 999.00 before taxes (does not include shipping)

IN SUMMARY

Historic! English! Quality! Satisfaction guaranteed! But this is not a budget set. It really is heirloom quality with all the trimmings. A set to proud of, displayed, played with, and handed down the generations. Personally, it represents a prized possession and the cumulation of a lifelong love affair with the game of chess.

Jaques of London 4" 1890s Reintroduction Set with mahogany box

Jaques of London 4″ 1890s Reintroduction Set with mahogany box

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Forget about “Thor a Woman?!” The Focus should really be on UNWORTHY THOR!

 

The Unworthy Thor

Above: Our First look at the newest incarnation of “The Mighty Thor” Art by Esad Ribic

Fans of Marvel’s “Thor” (and perhaps even the casual observer) may have been apprised of the changes coming to one of marvel’s most iconic heroes. The comic book fandom element of the internet has been all a buzz over the changes foist upon Asgard’s favorite son by writer, Jason Aaron. The shocker headline that seems to be the rallying point is “Thor is Now a Woman” (with or without the added emphasis of WTF!?!).

However, I think the real story here is “Unworthy Thor”. The character has a long and sadly convoluted history but such is the way of comic book fiction. For the morbidly curious check out Marvel Wiki’s entry on Thor:  

http://marvel.wikia.com/Thor_(Thor_Odinson)

At any rate, The simple fact is, Thor has done “something”… been made aware of something that has compromised his integrity or whatever, resulting in his inability to lift enchanted Mjolnir (his trademark hammer). Not only that but somehow his mantle of Thor: The God of Thunder has passed to another… an as yet unidentified woman. By virtue of her ability to wield mighty Mjolnir (or “MewMew” as Kat Dennings’ character refers to it in the movie adaptations 🙂 )  she becomes the de facto Norse God of Thunder.

Now, one would think that as a male to female, post-operative transsexual I’d be all agog over this ersatz change of sex for Thor. But in reality, I’m like “meh”. There’s no story here. The smart money is on “Unworthy Thor” going through a multitude of trials and tribulations before once again proving himself worthy of wielding majestic Mjolnir.

Mighty Mjolnir  

  For the record, there are many strong, interesting, and popular female characters of long standing in the Marvel Universe: Sharon Carter, Susan Richards, Electra, Rogue, Jean Gray, She Hulk, Sif, and so on. So, a female Thor is nothing new. Even Thor’s half-brother, Loki, and the sentient metal monster, Ultron have taken on female forms at various times with no lasting effects one way or the other.

Honestly, the whole thing’s a bit gimmicky and pandering to perceived modern sensibilities… but this is nothing new in comic book fiction either. Besides, they’re getting lots of press coverage and the minders of the Marvel mint must be happy with that. Heck! I was even motivated to blog about it 🙂 

However, what fate awaits our familiar hero? 

For me, this is the real story and has renewed my interest in the character. Even a cursory look at Esad Ribic’s depiction of  “Unworthy Thor” shows a decidedly “bad-ass” character. Okay, his pants look like they were borrowed from Jethro of “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame but that nasty looking axe and that metallic left arm are intriguing.

For what it’s worth, the axe is Dwarven hewn just as Mjolnir was. It’s not a lightweight weapon and is capable of piecing Celestial armor. It even has a nifty Nordic name: Jarnbjorn, so that’s pretty good, right?

The left arm comes courtesy of the Destroyer … a near unstoppable soulless— albeit mystically forged, entity created by All Father, Odin, himself (The big metal guy that appeared in the 1st Thor movie).  Apparently Thor dismantles the thing (not easy to do by a long shot)  and incorporates part of it into his new look.

“Unworthy Thor’s” redefined status poses a number of interesting questions…

Will the new Thor possess a leaner-meaner attitude?  

How powerful is he compared to his hammer wielding persona?

Will his female counterpart prove stronger?

Will the Hulk prove once and for-all that without Mjolnir, Thor’s a light-weight hero?

Personally, I’d like to see him become more of an embittered anti-hero for awhile. I sure hope they don’t weaken him too much. I’d still like to see him more than hold his own against some of Marvel’s biggest heavy-weights. I mean let’s be honest; doesn’t every Thor fan like to see Thor mop the floor with his competition?  

The newly feminized Thor and her beloved predecessor will début in the appropriately renumbered Thor #1 coming this October. And because, some of you just have to see Thor as a woman… below are the first two images of her released by Marvel.

thorwoman

Nuff Said 😉

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Captain America #107 A Look Back at a Silver Age Favourite

Captain America # 107

Captain America #107 is undoubtedly a high-water mark both for Captain America as a title and for Marvel comics as a brand. Published in the year 1968,  issue 107 is a fast paced psychological thriller focusing on Cap’s guilt over the death of his young side-kick, Bucky Barnes.  Nothing world shaking here; no earth devouring menace on the order of Galactus or universe threatening crisis courtesy of the Beyonder or Thanos; rather the book centers on Steve Rogers’ struggle to cope with a rapidly changing world and the challenge of finding his place in it, all whilst wrestling with demons of his personal past.

Stan Lee’s gift for generating  catchy titles is showcased here with the memorable “If The Past Be Not Dead” whilst Jack Kirby’s unsurpassed pencils drive home the point courtesy of a splash page depicting Cap flying into action against a backdrop of helmeted shadowy figures and a suitably nightmarish gaping mouthed Adolph Hitler.

Captain America is a man of supreme integrity possessing a will to fight on against impossible odds; itself a trait that personifies the American spirit. To understand Captain America is to see him as the living embodiment of the United States of America. Yet co-existing with this living symbol of American power is the man Steve Rogers, and Rogers is a deeply troubled individual.

Lee’s dialogue and Kirby’s pencils unite to illustrate a tortured man under relentless pressure.

cap107-2-3

Lee employs a clever, albeit deceptively simple writing device to emphasize the intense psychological pressure assaulting his protagonist, that of repetition. On page 2  we note the words “again! again! again!” and on the following page Bucky’s ringing accusation of “Why? Why? Why?”. The “why” is of course “Why did you let me die?” Why didn’t you save  me?”

Cap’s main antagonist in this tale is Dr. Faustus. No, not the Dr. Faustus of Marlowe’s famous play. However, Lee may have used the name to illustrate the common element of deception and trickery that appears thematically in both works. Certainly, deception is at the root of Faustus’ attack on Steve Rogers.

Somehow the use of hallucinogenics got past the censors at the Comics Code Authority. Perhaps it’s because Steve consumes them unwittingly?  At any rate, the drugs leave Steve susceptible to Faustus’ manipulations and a series of encounters arranged by the nasty doctor are strung together to undermine our hero’s confidence, to make him question his very sanity.

Again, Lee uses repetition to up the intensity level and the blurring of past and present is again perfectly illustrated by Jack Kirby as seen in the panel below:

The Nazi’s are in fact actors/henchmen hired by Faustus to facilitate Cap’s decent into madness—to utterly break him, psychologically. But as is often the case with fictional villains, Faustus overplays his cards and unbeknownst to Faustus (or the reader at this point) Cap has the prescription he’s been taking sent to S.H.I.E.L.D for analysis.

Steve then sets Faustus up for his comeuppance courtesy of some play-acting of his own. It’s a good thing he did too because, Faustus had slipped Cap an aging pill to break him in body as well as mind. Just when it looks like Cap is down and out he rallies like the super soldier he is and puts the hurt to Faustus’ hired goons.

Lee and Kirby save the best for last and I’ll let the closing panels speak for themselves:

Cap107-20

Cap’s revitalization and return to form following a book length adventure where he increasingly doubts his abilities and is at his most vulnerable is welcomed to say the least. Cap’s flying fist sans sound effect graphic is completely satisfying— a one punch knock-out blow redressing the psychological pounding Cap took throughout this tale. The sight of an unconscious Faustus and the haunting ethereal visage of Bucky over a weary Captain America is visual poetry and a suitable ending to this well crafted tale.

Anyone wishing to understand the character of Captain America is encouraged to obtain a copy of this issue. I think it rates as one of Marvel’s finest and is certainly amongst the very best that I ever read.

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Passing 101 or The Emperor’s New Clothes (REVISITED)

A 2014 update of an article I wrote for a now-defunct forum in 2008

How many of you can recall Hans Christian Anderson’s fable about the Emperor duped by his own vanity parading about naked amongst his subjects?

Emporer

The reason I mention this famous tale is that it frequently comes to mind when  encountering neophyte transitioning Male to Females (MtF’s).

The danger for the transitioning individual who fails to realistically evaluate her  ability to “pass” is two-fold. One: Much like that Emperor of old, she will likely  end up an object of ridicule. Two:  When the reality of her situation finally hits,  she can find herself emotionally devastated, spiralling into a severe bout of  depression.

While I am not advocating a “don’t transition if you can’t pass” policy of  transgender expression; I think it important to balance internal perceptions with  external realities for the reasons stated above.

Moreover, I think it incumbent upon the transitioner to maximize the success of her transition socially in order to legitimize transgender expression in the midst of a misinformed/dis-informed public.  Too often, I see outraged MtF’s criticizing society’s institutions for failing to acknowledge their inherent female status while the former still possess significant male physical attributes.

Although, we can all agree that society should offer no refuge for bigotry and ignorance; Neither should we expect a largely uninformed/dis-informed society to embrace such profound changes in its transgendered populace. I think it only fair and reasonable that we provide society the opportunity to come to terms with the intricacies involved in the process of transition.

God forbid that we should appear as modern examples of the naked Emperor along the lines of Little Britain’s Emily Howard (”Britain’s worst transvestite”) and Florence (the one with the moustache). The two of whom zealously hold fast to the standard “We’re Lay-dees” despite all appearances to the contrary.

The disconnect between internal perception and external reality is at once both obvious and painful as Miss Emily and faithful sidekick mince about England, failing repeatedly to convince a sceptical public that they are indeed, female. Sadly, these two “characters” represent a greater reality than many MtF transsexuals are willing to admit.

Simply put, “Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!”

Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!

Florence and Emily of “Little Britain”

Update:

Much of this touches upon the problematic gender binary strongly opposed by many if not most within the trans community. I have written elsewhere regarding the gender binary—

https://chrysalid58.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/bye-bye-gender-binary/

At any rate the issue is far from resolved. Recently, CNN commentator, Piers Morgan and transgender personality, Janet Mock ran afoul of one another due to the issue of self-identification vs. societal identification of gender. The trans community does not hold a monopoly on the notion of gender identity. It is common to all of us; and yes, even piers Morgan had to at some point resolve that question for himself.

Here you can see the decidedly awkward confrontation following the initial interview:

Basically, it all comes down to Piers working within a traditional binary of male and female and Janet arguing/defending/forwarding a notion of gender that is self-defined— genitalia notwithstanding. Personally, I felt the issue was far too nuanced for mainstream consumption. At the risk of advancing yet another metaphor we in the trans community too often expect the general public to join the fragmented gender arena with the precision of  a finishing carpenter when they are by in-large capable only of bringing the crudest of framing instruments to the discussion.

As an addendum to the topic of passing — Janet Mock advances the elevated idea that she is not trying to “pass” as anything. Rather, she is simply realizing the truth of “being”— in her case as a female. The disconnect occurs because the wider culture does not always add legitimacy to the individual’s perception of self. It can work fairly smoothly for someone like Janet Mock who presents within accepted societal perceptions of femininity. However, simply walking about and living life as a “laydeee” may run a little less smoothly for the Emily Howards of this world.

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