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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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Filed under Christianity, Publishing, Transgender

Days of Future Past: Joe Walsh, Prophet, and WarBirds Revisited

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything—this summer has really been about shedding some pounds and engaging in a daily 13k walk around my local area. Since I live in glorious BC, Canada, the view I take in on my walk is spectacular and features a mix of rural pastures, thick forested areas with well worn paths and sweeping views of the majestic Pacific Ocean. But I mention all this as a quick aside to the main topic today which has to do with “outing” myself in order to fill in some gaps left over from my transition which began back in 2005.

From 1995 until somewhere around 2004-05 I was heavily involved in what is considered the Internet’s first  “Massively Multi-player Online Game” (MMOG), WarBirds. The game is basically a WWII flight-simulator that allows subscribers to  engage in virtual air combat flying simulated versions of World War II aircraft, including the likeness of the gorgeous Spitfire IX pictured above.

The call letters, PR P, reference yours truly. Before the World Wide Web took over and Facebook and MySpace beckoned a world of non-savvy computer users to post pictures of their pets, zingoing bingo, bejewelling  themselves, and running virtual farms—online entertainment took the form of BBS systems and telephone access to dedicated networks such as CRIS.

Such was the case for Kesmai’s, Airwarrior, a direct predecessor to WarBirds and out of which sprang the latter’s nascent community. In 1994, I remember calling into Kesmai’s server and talking with a male representative who asked me what my “handle” was (think, username). I had come up with the name “Prophet” as a tip of the virtual hat towards my Christian faith. Well, without missing a beat the voice on the other end of the line said “Ok ‘Prop’, let’s get you started” or words to that effect. He punched in the necessary information and exclaimed with no small degree of surprise “Wow! I can’t believe it’s not taken!” Such a pithy, descriptive epithet huh? And it was all mine! So Prophet was shortened to Prop and that’s how I was known (at least online) for the next ten years of my life. “Prop” was such a cool but friendly sounding name. I think it suited me perfectly—although, I do remember one of the Finnish guys telling me: “I always picture you wearing one of those beanies with the propeller on top” LOL! We actually had, not one, but a whole squadron of those “propeller beanie” guys playing WarBirds. Called the “Dweebs of Death ” they were a “can’t miss em’ ” sight at the many conventions we held.

When my gender crisis exploded in full force during the summer of 2005  I knew it was time to hang up my virtual wings and with the exception of my dear friend “JT”, in Memphis, told no one in the WarBirds community of my impending transformation from male to female. Why didn’t I have a big coming out announcement? Honestly, WarBirds was such a testosterone fueled environment that I simply couldn’t cope with it all. Besides, although I was an active member of the WarBirds community I only saw the guys face-to-face semi-annually at the various conventions we attended.

And so I basically disappeared overnight and that was that—close chapter—close book on WarBirds. However, it doesn’t really end there. Earlier this year when I decided to resurrect my dormant writing skills I rediscovered “WarBirds: The Story so far…”  the book I co-authored back in 1997 which chronicled the rise of WarBirds and the evolution of its online community. A Google search resulted in my stumbling across Librarything, a website dedicated to authors and their work. I was somewhat surprised to see my name and book listed there. In fact “WarBirds: The Storyso far…” has about 3 Google page listings featured for it. Frankly, it was encouraging to see.

So, I generated this blog and updated the entry on myself over at Librarything making mention of the fact that I am in fact a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. In some ways, making claim to my book as “Rachel” was a bit like putting a carrot out in order to trap rabbits. It was only a matter of time till my old “buddies” from the WarBirds community would track me down and learn of my newly minted female status.

Yesterday, a trio of brief messages arrived pending my approval here at this blog. Honestly, I was super happy to hear from them. Their words brought a smile to my face and genuine affection from my heart. In fact, it was those messages (see my WarBirds post under the Publishing section if you are at all curious as to what they said) that prompted today’s post. So a very warm and gratitude filled thanks to my old friends—“Poog, Udie and JT”!

You guys are the best ❤

By the way, Udie (pronounced, You Die) is such a nice friendly guy that I could never equate the idea of a ballsy “you die sucker” attitude emanating from his 4-letter handle. So, somehow I had it fixed in my mind that Udie should be read and pronounced as “OOdee” Lol, That right there tells you a lot about me.

Udie’s note to me references Intellevision’s classic, if not legendary, voice modulated title, B-17 Bomber. Udie, hails from Texas and we both remembered playing this early 1980s “flight-sim” mutually recalling with shared mirth the southern drawl excitedly intoning: “Bandits 3 o’clock” and the game’s title “B-17 Bomber!” Although, with that southern inflection it sounded more like “Bayndaits 3 o’clock” and “BaySayvantaeeen Bawm–ber!”

In a related but entirely different context, I was offered a chance to see Joe Walsh perform here a couple days ago. Another dear friend was promoting the show and had offered me a couple of complimentary tickets (in the VIP section, nonetheless). But you know, the thorns on the vine sometimes aren’t worth the fruit. The catch was that shared acquaintances were to be present who displayed a mocking self-satisfied attitude when word of my transition first reached them and others who simply disapproved of my sex-change and with whom my relationship ended pretty much as soon as word came of my impending operation.

I just didn’t feel like subjecting myself to their scrutiny.

And so, I missed out on what was undoubtedly a great concert. But, I have no regrets as to my decision to pass on the opportunity. Personally, I think a passive approach is best when connecting with old friends and acquaintances.  I don’t recommend an “in your face— I’m here I’m Queer” deal with it attitude. Rather, I like the kind of approach expressed in the sentiment below:

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear

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Filed under Publishing, Transgender