Another issue of the online magazine I published in the early 1990s
“Where Dreams are the stuff Reality is made of”
DECLARATION OF PURPOSE
“This journal exists to promote the concept that each human is a unique individual, intrinsically entitled with an equal right to pursue her own destiny as far as it does not inhibit others in that same right. The Subversive shall serve as a ready forum for the free expression and exchange of ideas that do not violate this mandate, in the belief that tolerance grows from a familiarity with variety.”
Melanie Anne Phillips, Editor
WHERE TO FIND THE SUBVERSIVE:
The Subversive is available FREE as a download on America Online, Compuserve, Genie, several servers on the Internet, and various BBS around the world.
For those who wish to Subscribe, contribute articles, stories, personal experiences, information, jokes, or whatever Email Melanie XX on America Online BBS (MelanieXX@AOL.COM on Internet), VNSV96e on Prodigy, Melanie Phillips on Feminet, or write to:
Melanie Anne Phillips
150 East Olive Avenue
Burbank, California 91502
Only original material will be accepted unless quoted in the context of an original work or submitted with credit to the original author along with permission to reprint the material.
Submission of original material for publication in The Subversive constitutes a non-exclusive license to Melanie Anne Phillips by the author/copyright holder to reproduce all or part of the material in any media.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It is my desire to make this publication available free online to all who wish to read it. However, due to copyright laws, any overall license would allow unscrupulous individuals to excerpt portions and use it for their own personal gain. Therefore, should you wish to upload this publication on your BBS or simply generate hardcopies for support groups and friends, please write me about a free specific license for your purpose.
by Melanie Anne Phillips, Editor
“IDENTITY VS CENSORSHIP”
CENSORSHIP. There’s a word guaranteed to stir a reaction. If you’re not for it, you’re against it. It’s like abortion: there’s little middle ground. One camp says we must protect society from itself in order to promote social growth. The other camp says we have to fling the gates open to prevent social polarization. A fun argument to debate over coffee: plenty of enjoyment, I thought, until the issue came to rest at my own doorstep.
I’ve never been an editor before. So, I have no experience and learn as I go. But I always felt I had an open mind and a good heart and expected that would prevent the “C” word from ever becoming an issue. WRONG!!! Who defines an “open” mind? Who defines a “good” heart? Well, I do, of course. In fact, we all do. Which is just great if you are Jane Individual with responsibilities to your own opinions and none others. But the moment you hang out a shingle saying, “Editor”, you are really saying “Express your opinions through me.” And at that very moment, you become a censor.
Nonetheless, through almost a year of publication of The Subversive, I had never considered (nor had the need to consider) rejecting a submission or censoring a work. I figured my “good” heart would set the mood of the magazine and my “open” mind would keep me flexible enough to accept things that didn’t quite match it.
I’ve been a film editor for years, and though I sometimes had to lose an actor’s best “take” for the sake of the scene, there was not much of a thought to it. It was obvious to me that the good of the whole outweighed the good of the individual. Apply that to life, however, and you can’t believe your own mouth!
So here I am, professing an Open Forum for all points of view as long as THEY do not profess limiting someone else’s point of view. Here I am, patting myself on the back for being so “fashion forward” and wondering how the other poor dolts ever ran into trouble. Here I am, minding my own business and >PLOP<, the “C” word lands right in my lap.
I was never so shocked in all my life!
Apparently, a story written by one of our contributors that I had been serializing from issue to issue had gotten a bit too “hot” and the readers were getting restless. I got one “reference” to it (not strong enough to call a complaint), then another, and another. Of course my first reaction was to cry “Censorship!” and jab that word right back at those who had grumbled. “Where is your morality?”, I demanded. “What about Free Speech?!?” So self-righteous was I, so posturing, so binary.
Then, America Online refused to accept The Subversive in the downloadable archives if the story was included, and a deal to distribute The Subversive through a major gender organization was suspended. And the worst part of it was, the story did not reflect MY sensibilities as well!
Oh, it was VERY well-written, and VERY original. It just wasn’t MY personal cup of tea. But, Dammit (or should I say Darn it), this was America, after all. And people had a right to know (whether the wanted to or not!) It was my moral obligation to make sure EVERYONE got heard – not society’s obligation, not AOL, ME, just ME!!! (Darn it!.)
So, like a true supporter of the ACLU, like a true social minority, tilting at City Hall, I clenched my fist in tenacious indignation and stuck by my guns: I published another installment. Expecting the worst, I prepared for an onslot of hate mail. I battened the hatches, hunkered down and… nothing. NOT A DURN THING!!! Apparently, everybody who had something to say had already said it.
“Well”, thought I, “the storm has blown over… and little damage to boot!” Little damage, that is, except to my “open mind”. I smiled with satisfaction at the outcome for days, applauding myself for my willingness to go down in flames, rather than recant my dearly held philosophies. But the whole time, something deep inside keep smirking up at me: “Grin while you can you pompous, shallow, egocentric non-entity.”
“Non-entity!?!”, I gasped in outrage, “How DARE you, Suh! (And by the way, what exactly did you MEAN by that comment anyway?)” “I meant”, said self, “that your morality has no limits… your publication has no limits… YOU have no limits!!!” “Moi?” “Yes, Moi!”
Limits? What do limits have to do with Censorship? Well… I thought about it – the arbitrary line: what did it really mean? Who draws it? Does it have to be drawn at all? And after a while I came to realize, yes it does.
But why? I had successfully weathered the slings and arrows of limiting perspectives! Yes, all but my own. You see, by not drawing the line, by not setting limits, I had failed to define either the publication or myself.
Something can have an identity, a personality, as it were, only by knowing where it begins and where it ends: what its edges are – the extent of its domain. If something is unlimited, why then the something is EVERYthing, for it has no limits to define it. Limits are the membrane of any functional system. What’s inside the membrane is part of it, what’s outside is not. It is a subset of a greater whole, but not homogeneous with its parent set.
Sure, definitions are arbitrary: they segregate a portion from the whole and look toward its unique qualities that differentiate it from the whole. But without arbitrary definitions, there is nothing but the whole, the mean equilibrium as if there were no currents and eddies, no concentrations and rarifications in an even and balanced amalgam.
But the world is not a steady-state. It is not a bland sameness. Life, love and happiness could not exist without death, hate and sorrow. For every focus there is a blurriness, for every good a bad. All we can do is try to corral the positive things around people and leave the negative ones for the stones and the dirt. We can hope to group that which is good for humans with the humans, and take that which is bad for humans and shoot it into the sun.
THIS is what definitions are all about. To recognize that there are inequities, floating like little soft-edged islands in a sea of mediocrity. And we can daisy-chain these islands together to form a human continent in which to live.
Fine. What does all this have to do with The Subversive, Identities, OR Censorship?
I came to realize that as much as I wanted The Subversive to be all things to all people, it could not be without neutralizing itself. And as EDITOR, it was MY responsibility, my FAULT, for choosing an arbitrary identity for the publication.
I began the Gender conference two years ago as a “safe haven from sexual harassment.” It was intended to be the one place online that a body could go to discuss the gentle, peaceful, issues of self-discovery – not just another gathering place for self-gratification.
I caught a lot of flack in the beginning, from members of the fetish community that saw cross-dressing as primarily an erotic endeavor, existing only to satisfy animal instincts.
Well, I have nothing against that purpose. In fact, I engage in it myself from time to time. Truly, animal instinct can be a real day-trip! But there’s all kinds of places to go for that. Any public room on AOL, any adult book store in any city, any chat-line BBS in the country – LOTS of places. But how many safe havens?
The Subversive was intended to be the same concept in print. And it started out that way. But, as it grew and attracted more readers (I estimate over 1000 per issue as of this date) the more erotically oriented folk found a ready forum as well (due to my lack of limits). And as new material was included, the personality of the publication began to change. All the old parts were there, but the new ones were in the same membrane. THAT was what people were upset by: not that a certain story existed or was available, but that it moved into “their” house – in a sense, into their sanctuary.
Suddenly their safe-haven was safe no more. They could no longer open The Subversive KNOWING what they would find, and that it would be kind and gentle and peaceful. Now they had to raise their guard again, pre-censor what they were about to read, just as they would in any other forum. What made The Subversive special was dying.
But what to do? WHAT should I do? Start refusing submissions from diligent, talented people just because their ideas conflicted with mine? How could I possibly draw THAT THICK A LINE?
Oh, yes, there are great justifications: I’m not a medium, just a publication – they can send it out Email themselves. I’m not trying to actively suppress their publication everywhere, just choosing not to put it in here. But they are just that, justifications.
All right, once again, what to do? What to do to define the identity of The Subversive as I wanted it to be – as a force for change in the overall society, but at the same time keep an Open Forum for all who wished to be heard? How could I blend MY desires for making a statement with conflicting desires of others? How could I satisfy both my “Open” mind and my “good” heart?
By keeping them separate.
What a concept. Two publications: one, The Subversive to be the safe-haven it was intended to be – a publication for the heart. The other, “Can of Worms”, a bar room brawl of a magazine – no holds barred and anything goes – a publication for the mind.
This way, Can of Worms would simply reflect the turmoil of the world as seen through the eyes of talented and thinking writers. Their conflicting points of view would balance out, probably doing no good, but also doing no harm, yet engendering all to think, all to be aware, which keeps us all from being so naive that we are caught unawares. In contrast, The Subversive would offer a positive alternative to the brawl, a peaceful, loving and kind disposition that COULD do some real good and have little chance of doing much bad.
So, as of this issue, the racier material, the more intense fiction, will be published in Open Forum, the more romantic, personally fulfilling articles and stories will remain in The Subversive. The Subversive exists to bring insight, Can of Worms exists to incite.
I realize not all will want to get Open Forum, and so, it will be Emailed by request only. If you currently subscribe to The Subversive and would like also to receive Can of Worms, Email me and I will include you on the additional mailing list.
I hope this approach satisfies all of your hopes and needs as much as it satisfies mine. But remember… neither publication is anything without your contributions. These are YOUR publications – designed to reflect YOUR thoughts, YOUR feelings, YOUR desires. Without YOUR support, they cannot and will not continue to exist.
Thank you for your understanding as I learn and grow, and thank you for the trust you have given me to be your editor.
— Copyright 1993, Melanie Anne Phillips
And now for the next installment in the serialization of the book:
RAISED BY WOLVES:
A TRANSSEXUAL DIARY
Melanie Anne Phillips
The pages beneath, chronicle my 30 month journey from a life as an apparently normal husband and father to that of an apparently normal woman. In the hope of capturing the immediacy of this emotional trip into the unknown, I shunned the retrospective approach, opting instead for a daily Diary.
Each entry was made on the day the events actually happened, expect as noted. And each is filled with the raw and unpolished thoughts and feelings that held me at that moment.
Of course, this leads to a somewhat meandering story, as well as contradictions in my point-of-view and personal emotional outbursts that I’m sure will make me squirm once this is published. But anything less would be less than truthful. And if this document is to serve any purpose as either a tool for tolerance and understanding or as an inspiration to those contemplating any major life-change, then it must be completely honest.
April 2, 1990
I spent the last two days seeing if I could dredge up the old feelings. I really needed to know if that part of me was closed off and no longer accessible or merely unused and falling into disrepair. It seems to be the later.
If I try hard enough, I can regress my thoughts to the point that it seems as if nothing at all has happened. The last year vanishes and I am back to square one. And, surprisingly, I find some comfort there. It is a familiar ground and I find in it no fear (or perhaps I should say uneasiness) especially in my dealings with Mary and the kids. I suppose I am projecting inward my certainty that they would be much more comfortable if I stopped right now and returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear. What’s scary is that this idea no longer frightens me.
At this juncture, neither lifestyle or mode of thought is significantly more appealing than the other. But let me break that down. My life as Melanie is incomplete. I must hide from Mary, the kids, and the neighbors. I have but a few short hours every morning to present myself in that manner. And comfortable access to the social world eludes me, due to my continuing self-consciousness brought on by fear of “ugly beard-shadow bleedthrough” (sounds like a detergent commercial?). Of course, as a male, none of that matters, and from both a relationship and physical perspective, the social grease is slicker.
So at this point, I cannot honestly say that I am wholly drawn to Yin or Yang. Now, question: will that change in the future? There is a lot in that question. A dual lifestyle is impossible to keep secret in a practical sense, but could be embarked upon if disregard for social acceptance is paramount. But at what cost to kids, marriage, career, self-esteem? But if a choice is made, losses could be incurred severely in either direction.
You know, the inner journey may be over (or maybe not) but the empirical solution races ahead of me at matching speed. The day or reckoning moves one day forward for every day lived, as if the moo were the Sword of Damocles, constantly hanging over my head yet never approachable.
I guess I just have to back off. I have to wait. I have to settle in and let things run their course. The answers I seek will come to me of their own good time, and hunting after them merely scatters the little buggers into the bushes where they lay low until the coast is clear. Damn little buggers!
April 24, 1990
Well, it’s been over three weeks since I last made an entry. Its not that things have slowed down or evened out (although to some extent that is true) but rather that each day brings a slight alteration in my emotional status and I have been waiting for the Big Picture to emerge. It still hasn’t.
Take everything I have been mulling over these last few months, temper it down to a manageable level of stress and mix it all up together. It now can be rationally (more or less) considered, but is still in such a state of flux and disarray that no permanent conclusions can be drawn.
There are days, especially when I am very tired, that I feel particularly masculine. But these are few and far between. And there are days, especially when I like what I see in the mirror, that I feel particularly feminine. These also are the exception. Mostly these days I just feel like me.
It becomes increasingly difficult to determine how much I need this lifestyle as I entrench myself more fully into it day by day. As the pain of my earlier suffering becomes nearly forgotten, the need for this transition becomes more obscure. And since I am so content with living this life, the drive toward surgery is hard to justify.
Last Friday, two film friends of mine began their documentary of my transition. We met at Mark and Juniko’s who joined me in a discussion of our perspectives on my situation over wine and cheese and in front of the camera. I realize that this much public disclosure is bound to have repercussions for the rest of my life, but I feel the benefits to my career this notoriety will bestow warrant the downside risk. I am most concerned, however, that my responses to questions on my relationship with Mary might hinder our relationship by their candor. Time will tell.
Saturday last, Mary and I went to a home show at the L.A. Convention Center. As we wandered wide-eyed through the hundreds of displays, we began to actually feel like homeowners – the consummation of our marriage – long dream. Sharing, laughing, munching snacks: we melted through each other as a single unit.
And Sunday brought shopping for garden tools, yardwork, and playing rented video games. Truly, these two days were our best in years. Mary told me that she felt guilty because she was so happy and (with regard to my situation) she shouldn’t be. I told her that meant she was content to enjoy what worked for her without regard to anyone else’s opinions or expectations. But our mutual fulfillment turned out to be simply lack of communication, as the next day would prove.
Monday, Mary called a bank about the loan we need to take on the house to clear the estate debts. She mentioned that she had told the clerk that the deed would be in both our names, in order that her income could help qualify us. Later, I reminded her that I would only add her name to the deed if she agreed that even if we separate, she will neither kick me out of the house, nor sell her half to anyone but me, to prevent another co-owner from deposing me. She did not want to make this commitment. Not because she planned on getting rid of me, but because she felt I should KNOW that she would never do such a thing.
In discussions of this with my friends, they have unanimously urged me to hold onto ownership completely to insure my protection. But, as usual, foolhardy me has decided to add her name and take my chances. After all, this home is not a bribe for loyalty to come, but a reward for loyalty already provided. In short, she has earned it.
This uncomfortable discussion blossomed into a truly painful near-argument. And here is where the misunderstandings of our new-found bliss emerged. Apparently, Mary had been feeling that we were so happy that I was content with the status quo and would not need to go for surgery. I, on the other hand, thought our happiness was due to Mary’s final acceptance of my decision to have surgery and to enjoy life with me anyway.
This communication progressed through our mutual declaration that our marriage was over and permanently dissolved at the moment the knife grazed my wee-wee. I packed a laundry basket with a pillow, bedspread, tooth brush and paste and hauled it out asking Mary if she agreed |I should just move out right now.
Finally, the tension lowered (as it always seems to do) when we realized that the advent of that precipitous moment was some six months in the future at the earliest. We agreed to disagree, each earnestly pursuing a change of heart in the half year remaining.
Today, Mary and I are great friends again on the phone. We laugh and kid and when I say, “I love you.”, she says, “I love you too!” I must admit here that I suppose if the choice was to have the operation and lose Mary, I would probably decline surgery. After all, life IS good as Melanie, but only with my loved ones near and dear. But my plan is to withhold this information from her unless backed into a corner. This way, she supposes that I would leave rather than accept a non-surgical alternative. And in this manner, I force her to try and reconcile her feelings and embrace tacit approval. Failing that, I guess for the near future, I would be doomed to the life of a push-me/pull-you as the price of an unbroken relationship.
P.S. Another quick note: As you have been made well aware, the one major area of self-consciousness about presenting myself as Melanie has been my beard. And with the cost of electrolysis out of the question for perhaps six months, and even then another two years of treatment… Well, I’ve been pretty depressed by the people who have lately jumped at a second glance at me as if struck by an electric cattle prod. That sort of encounter can ruin your whole day.
BUT! K-mart offers a home electrolysis kit for a mere thirty dollars. And once I got it home (to buy it was no choice at all!) I was pleased and amazed to discover that it actually works! Portable, with a nine volt battery (included) it has a comfort-level setting, computerized time, and feels just like the fifteen hours of “professional” service I have already endured. Albeit much less painful as well.
After a simple five-second treatment, the hair merely “slips” out, not tugging or pulling as with plucking: a simple indication that the root has been destroyed. I shan’t know for sure for five weeks or so if this tiny marvel can save me thousands of dollars and hours of pain, but at the rate I am able to use it, I will have cleared the entire face in one week instead of two years. Let’s keep our eyes crossed on this one!
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: At this point in my transition, I became very busy in my career, ultimately working as many as 24 straight 12 hour days without a day off. As a result, entries in my Diary became a more sporadic, hit and miss endeavor.)
Tuesday, June 5th, 1990
So much has happened since my last entry of six weeks ago that I have had no time in which to commit it to paper. But now, an hour (but a single hour!) has opened up and I am compelled to bring you up to date lest I lose continuity altogether.
As I pen these words I am sitting in my editing suite on the seventh floor of the Equitable Building” on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in downtown Hollywood. That’s right! I’m actually editing a FEATURE film on Hollywood and Vine! I guess I’ve finally made it to the Big Time!
And as I drink in the reality of my situation, I stand amazed that life has been so good to me. Scant weeks ago,The Director finally pulled his legal matters together and called to say he was ready for me to start editing his feature. This was incredible! After years of disappointments and frustration, hundreds of carrots dangled in front of me always to be snatched away, after 22 years of longing to work in feature films, the moment had actually arrived!
But how unprepared I was for the speed at which I was to be thrust into my lifestyle as Melanie in the fullest trial by fire! The first order of business was to purchase a video editing system to work on. (Many features today, although shot and released on film, are edited in video). To this end, I put the Director in contact with a video equipment company I had dealt with before.
Almost immediately he set up an appointment for me and his Producer/wife to inspect the gear. Now remember that up to this point I had been avoiding one on one personal contact as Melanie for fear of voice, beard, body language – in short, for fear of being “read”.
But here I was, thrust into the limelight and asked to evaluate the system and discuss it with the sales staff and engineers. Well, I just did it. I tried not to think about it, but concentrate on the task at hand. Now – I don’t know if they read me or not. Surely I must have at least appeared a strange woman. But the marvelous thing was, no one said anything and no one freaked! I was utterly amazed!
In the days that followed, we ventured into a number of companies as we gathered parts and information. I found that even if they looked at me weirdly, that if I made eye contact and cheerfully conducted business, their look would evaporate in moments, and we would be laughing and exchanging tech-talk in no time. My confidence expanded exponentially.
And a good thing too! For as soon as I settled into the office, the Director had me out running errands in downtown Hollywood ALONE!!!! What fear rolled over me that first trip out to buy video tape! But again, NO REACTION! Was I changing? And if so, inside or out? I still do not know.
The system finally arrived and the technician who installed it treated me with protective condescension – “Don’t you worry, I’ll have it up and running in no time!” Wow! Did he REALLY not question my womanhood?
So far, so good. Then the NEWS: “We are having some interns interview for a position as your assistant.” Oh, my God! But they came and they went and they didn’t bat an eye! What the hell is going on here?!?
To date, I have worked for two weeks now with Julie, an intern from Cal State Northridge. We work in the same room and frequently converse shoulder to shoulder. And she has not yet caught on! This is a college girl, mind you – an intelligent and discerning young woman, who sees me only as Melanie, the editor.
Now I am truly flabbergasted! Have I really come that far that there is no farther? I guess so! Two other interns accept me without question as well. And the handsome mid-twenties male lead came in the other day to see “dailies”. When he left, he gave my arm a squeeze and said, “Thanks for the extra effort.” The Producer says he called her and mentioned, “By the way, that woman who is editing for you, what was her name again? She was really nice.” No, Sir, YOU are nice!
These days I walk easily the two blocks down Hollywood Boulevard from the parking space. And I read the starts on the “Walk of Fame” wondering if someday one will read Melanie Anne Phillips”. Somehow, I think it just might!
P.S. Today is a primary election in California, and, for a lark, I showed up to vote dressed as Melanie with a Dave registration. The red, white, and blue fluttered proudly in the light breeze as I crossed the threshold of the polling place, feeling simultaneously that I was in some small way defiling the sanctity of the Altar of Democracy, even as I exercised the freedoms it secured.
I approached the inevitable little old lady and handed her my card, saying, “Don’t freak, but this is me.” She didn’t get it. She just looked at the LAST name, found it on her list and said, “Mary?”. I said, “No…” and pointed to “David”. She said, “What?” I said, “That’s my name.” She said, “What’s your name?” I said, “David”. She said, “Huh?”
Her husband, hearing the commotion, stepped forward asking, “What’s the problem?” I replied, “I’m in transition. I used to be this” (pointing to the name) “and I’m becoming this…” (pointing to myself). He still didn’t get it.
Finally, a girl in her late twenties looked over at the card, my Dave driver’s license and me. She said, “Remember me? I used to live across the street.” Taken aback, I recovered with, “Oh, yes… How are you doing?” “Fine”, she said, and, “My kids miss yours since we moved. Would it be okay if I brought them over to visit?” (This from a lady who up to this instant knew nothing of this side of my life?) “Sure!”, said I, amazed at her composure.
Well, she vouched for me and ramrodded the thing through, getting me a ballot. The old guy finally figured it out and stared at me on my way to the poll, as I deposited my ballot, and as I walked out the door. For all I know, he is staring still.
Mary (on the phone) asked, “Did you vote as your other self?” (She wouldn’t say the name.) I told her. She said, “When they asked for my I.D. and I saw that you had voted, I figured that’s what happened.”
“Amazing,” she mused, “that out of three poll attendants, one would be a neighbor! “How do you feel about that?”, I ventured, anticipating the day my predilection becomes common knowledge on the block. “I find it hysterical!” She giggled and continued to laugh! This woman astounds me!
Wednesday, June 6, 1990
THOUGHTS ON THE JOB:
2:40 pm – Asked by the Director’s Producer/wife to answer phones while she was tied up in meeting. Would nave resented as below my station as Editor. Now, no problem – enjoy helping out.
2:55 pm – Asked by the Director to make coffee for their guest. Felt honored to be the hostess. Made coffee, then asked how the guest wanted it, and served.
4:05 pm – told Sabina (another intern) that I had to rush home at five o’clock for my son’s Cub Scout meeting. She said it was time to call in Super Mom. I guess I really am Passing!
4:45 pm – Wen I went out for track in my last semester of High School, just so I could say I did it, I was on the borderline by weight between “Varsity” & “B” squads. I had a choice between being the worst Varsity member or the best “B”. I elected to join B squad. I just realized that as a man, I felt weak and helpless – the bottom of my squad. But now, I feel like one hell of a powerful woman. In fact, the intimidation I felt as a male (real or imagined) is gone. I have admitted all men are my superiors (apologies to women’s lib) but on the women’s team I’m at the top of the heap. So, not so oddly I suppose, my “masculine” self-confidence has increased tremendously, since becoming a woman.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I became so busy on the feature that I resorted briefly to jotting down a short note each day for several days, just to maintain a chronology. I include those here.)
WEDNESDAY: My feature film, The Strangeness, that I directed in 1980 was screened nationally on Movie Greats Network on ABC at 3AM!!!
THURSDAY: Julie bubbled into work and greeted me with, “Hey, woman!”
FRIDAY: Mindi was home sick. Mary couldn’t come home, so I had to. I stayed dressed in Melanie mode, though I had a jacket on, and she did not seem to notice a difference.
SATURDAY: I told the kids.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ll fill in a bit of what happened when I told the kids. Mary had agreed we should not tell them until they asked, sparing them as long as possible. This also turned out to be a good plan, as it gave the kids a long time to get used to the subtle changes in me so when we did tell them, it was not so much of a shock. At this time, I was still living at home as Dave and at work as Melanie, which pretty much tore me apart. But Melanie was creeping more and more into my Dave life, both physically and emotionally. Apparently, Keith and Mindi had begun to talk among themselves about the changes in Daddy, for on this day, they came to me together and said they had something to ask me.
I knew instantly to what they were referring, but asked what they wanted to know. They said that they had noticed some different things about me and wondered why. What things? Some of my clothes, my voice, my chest. I told them to wait a moment, told Mary, who was washing dishes that the time had come and asked if she wanted to join me just have me do it. She said she would prefer if I did.
I had already rehearsed what I would say when the moment arrived, so I sat down the kids and said very straight out, that the reason they had seen these changes was that all my life, since I was a child, I had always wanted to be a woman. I did not know if this was really for me, but I needed to find out.
Then I parallelled my story to that of The Little Mermaid, which they had recently seen. I explained how I always lived in one world and wanted to be part of the other world. But just like Ariel, I could not join that other world in my present form. I needed to make physical changes and also learn how to live the way of the other world.
I told them it was not certain I would go all the way through with the change, but did not want to live out my life always wondering what it would have been like. Then I reassured them that I was still Daddy, and would always be their Daddy.
I encouraged them to ask questions if they wanted, now or at any time of me or Mary, and to talk with each other if they felt like it. I told them they could keep it secret from their friends or tell whoever they liked, including teachers.
Finally, I made certain they understood that this was not caused by anything they did, but by something within me. Nothing they did or did not do could have prevented it. I also wanted them to know that I was not doing it TO them, but FOR me, and that my greatest concern was that it should not interfere with their happiness.
Then I gave them each a big hug, and reminded them not to keep their feelings trapped inside, but to share them and keep communication open. They were both smiling and happy at the end of the conversation.
SUNDAY: Keith saw some stocking of mine I had left in the car and asked if they were mind. I said yes. He replied, “Oh, Daddy hose!”
MONDAY : I began leaving the house in the morning openly dressed as Melanie for the first time.
TUESDAY: Rather than working late as usual, until 10:00 pm, the Director decided we should take a break and go to USC for a retrospective screening of Kubrik’s Clockwork Orange. I had not been to USC for years, still hurting from my self-consciousness when I attended. As soon as I stepped on the campus, I saw it for the first time: the trees, the building, the college experience I missed when there as Dave. After the screening, I cried with the joy of being freed of those hurtful ghosts all the way to the car. The Director took me out for Chinese food in China Town.
WEDNESDAY: Went on a location scouting trip to Watts and South Central L.A. Felt better because Don, the male intern was along with the Director and me. Got out on Broadway to take pictures, asked Don if he would stick close as I didn’t like being out there alone. He cheerfully escorted me.
THURSDAY: Location trip with the Director and Julie to Palm Springs. Wore shorts and Tank top. Got read a lot all day. Why? Julie never noticed.
FRIDAY: Location hunting with the Director at Malibu beach. Not read at all. Spent some time on the sand as a Malibu beach bunny, hair blowing in the wind. Came home in daylight for first time as Melanie in view of several neighbors. Keith said, “You look good! Sexy, today!” Mindi asked if she could feel my breasts. I said okay. She squeezed them then said, “They feel good!”
Sunday, July 8, 1990
At this very moment, I am sitting on the back of one of the equipment trucks on the first day of production. I can’t believe I am actually working on a feature film as a woman and getting away with it, stock free! No raised eyebrows, no sideways glances… I keep wondering: are these people blind, or what ?!?
Now, I KNOW they’re going to catch on. They HAVE to! It’s ridiculous to even imagine they won’t. But so far, the conversations are girl to girl, and the men have second-classed me already.
We are setting up in the scummiest part of downtown L.A., in a burned-out industrial section, next to a bridge where the homeless sleep. Toxic seepage stains the blackened sidewalk and smears beneath my feet. In contrast, I feel so comfortable, so fulfilled: this is how life was MEANT to be! Gone is the fear of discovery: my personality is being fully expressed and is so sincere and real, that even beard shadows cannot conjure up a male image. I feel that I am female with every fiber of my psyche, and if anyone DOES perceive the remaining maleness of my body, they will still think of me as a woman in the wrong body.
I am standing now under the bridge. Mattresses lay with surprising neatness and regularity, as if conforming to the master plan of a miniature city. The production cop speaks with the sole occupant at the moment of the village, who busies himself (by his own initiative) with sweeping his pavement floor, cleaning house for the movie crew.
The smell of fresh urine wafts from a nearby wall, but only from THAT wall. Again, crude, but organized by a code no less social and rigid than that mainstream mandate to which most of us adhere.
So we just got to this new location on Broadway, when I looked in the mirror and discovered that my make-up was melting off my face. Mortified, I realized I was starting to get a lot of stares, each a piercing tear in my female confidence. I rushed off to the car to fix what I could. And it worked! I’m back on the location, looking good and feeling even better. Lunch has just been called and none too soon! Did I mention that all the shots we have done today were designed by Yours Truly as visual consultant to the director?
Lunch is “et” and Mel is better! I only had 1 1/2 hours sleep last night because: The director had called me in unexpectedly to do design some final shots. Of course, the work ran over, so I was late in arriving at my support group meeting which just happened to be that night. This was to have been a special evening: my first time there in four months, now more feminine, voice better, hair longer, confidence high – my triumphant return!
But, as it got later and later at the office, my hopes of my “reward meeting” began to vaporize. Then, the investors arrived, we showed the first scenes I had edited and I was on the road at 10:45pm.
I arrived at the meeting and as I opened the door, I could see the impressed faces look me over. I was just dressed in office fare: blue jeans and a light demi-blouse, and that casual style combined with the confidence of six months full-time was pretty damned impressive! (Boy, I just LOVE to gloat!)
Anyway, the meeting lasted until 3:00 am! And it was all I had hoped for. Suddenly the lost soul novice had become the practiced and successful elder-stateswoman. Here I was, still frightened to death at times about discovery, acting as a shining representation of “The Dream” incarnate! (Is this self-serving, or what !?!)
I met a lot of new friends, gave advice, hobnobbed with old friends, and revelled in the reality of the transition, on the eve of my rebirth into the real world on day one of production.
Interestingly, I was approached by someone I had seen at the meetings four months ago, who introduced themselves as being involved in a major position on the movie I am editing. Wow! What a coincidence! There are only 25 people in this group, and two members were both involved in a big way in the same production! And even more odd, the meeting is held only one block away from the home of the director of the movie! (Although he doesn’t know it.)
But, I finally had to leave and managed to grab some quick shut-eye before getting up for production. Back to now… Our final shots were taken with one of those big camera cars, towing the “picture” car as we tooled around the streets of downtown L.A. with the help of a police escort to stop traffic.
I came home and retired happy, confused, fulfilled, and full of anticipation for tomorrow!
Monday, July 9, 1990
Today we shot in Malibu. Most of the material was from the camera car, doing “tow shots” of the Corvette. I had been worried about how the make-up would hold out on that windy stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, but needlessly. Everything worked just fine. It was a real kick to saunter around in Malibu as just another California Girl, hoping that I attracted at least a little of the right kind of attention.
I spent more time working with the Script Continuity Supervisor, Toby, today. She is very friendly and I enjoy our little side conversations about work, the film-biz and life in general. I had never even seen a camera car until yesterday, but had designed all the shots it was to be used for, and now we are spending all day shooting from one. Incredible how my personal and professional lives are growing so quickly at the same time. I wonder if it is cause and effect or merely coincidence?
We have to make a company move to Palm Springs tonight, and Toby and I agreed to car pool in her nifty little sports car. First, we both had to stop home for supplies and to freshen up. Unfortunately, my battery was dead, as a sign had told me on the way to Malibu to turn on my headlights on a winding stretch of road, and I forgot to turn them on again. I got some jumper cables from one of the guys and the two female interns helped me get the car started.
When I arrived home, the kids were all over me, and Mary had a list a mile long of questions about finances. But I wanted to hurry before Toby picked me up, as I truly think she accepts me as Melanie without question, and I cannot bear to suffer the potential consequences of her meeting my wife!
This has been of concern to me lately: Before, I worried about how my old friends would react to the news about me. Those fears never materialized. But now that I am being accepted as Melanie, I worry that my new friends will feel tricked or betrayed when they ultimately learn about my past. In all honesty, I would never lead someone on just to put him or her in a foolish position. I am just being me, in my new life, and hope that as my new friends discover the old me, they will not turn their backs on the new one.
Toby arrived, and I carried out my sack of clothes goodies for the Palm Springs shoot. The drive was 2 1/2 hours, with one stop-over for burgers at a drive-through. I cannot express how fulfilling it is to engage in plain and simple girltalk in the manner I always dreamed of. At last I can converse on subjects that truly interest me: not sports and women, but careers and guys. Things can be “cute” or “sweet”, and my tendency to giggle is perfectly in vogue. Toby is a caring and sensitive person (don’t blush, Toby) and I value the time we spent together as travelling companions.
We arrived at the hotel at 11:30 pm, each going to respective rooms to prepare for tomorrow’s production.
Tuesday, July 10, 1990
The 5:30 alarm went off and jolted me directly from REM into Production Mode. I showered, shaved (barf!), and put on my make-up fourteen times. Then went outside to check the make-up in daylight, then put on my make-up fourteen MORE times!
Joined Toby and we drove to the location on North Palm Canyon Drive. Today was scheduled the most important scene from my perspective: I had co-written the scene with the Director from our joint concept, worked out most of the angles myself, and would be editing. All in all, this single two minute scene might stand alone as my sample reel, if things went well.
We were shooting in the window displays of an art gallery doubling as a tux and gown shop for our purposes. The scene involved the male lead playing both his character and his alter ego, as represented by a mannequin in the window that comes to life. To complicate matters, we were using a “double” for over-the-shoulder shots of our hero talking to himself. Plus, I had planned out dolly shots and angles utilizing reflections juxtaposed in the window.
Photography proceeded beautifully, but slowly, as the Director has a tendency to over-do retakes, trying to get the “perfect take” from every angle. This perfectionism weighs heavily on the crew. The temperature rose to about 110 degrees. This, combined with a lack of sleep from long production hours, drained the crew of energy. But to their credit, they hung in there, professionally, and without recrimination. And to their amazement and to the Director’s credit, he was harder on himself than on them, spending more time in the heat, more energy with his enthusiasm, than any two of the rest of us, combined.
In any event, by the end of the day, we had completed almost all of the scene, and were forced to call an end to the day, due to drooping crew and loss of light. That night, the Director was still wired, and he had me over for a script conference about the shooting tomorrow. By the time I finished, the crew had gathered in and around the hotel swimming pool to drink beer – LOTS of beer!
There were about six or seven guys (mostly “grip” types – huge, rednecked, beer-guzzling good ol’ boys: but you gotta love ’em!) and three of us girls. Now, I was the “old lady” of the group, all of 37, but Julie is in her early twenties and Dorit is only 19 (God! I’m almost TWICE as old as she! Damn!) So, of course, THEY were lusted after, but at least I was included in the ribald conversation. It was till about 85 degrees by the pool. And, since it was dark and I knew my hours old make-up could not be seen and the other girls were in swimsuits, I pulled off my tank top and lay on the lounge chair in bra and blue jeans. What a thrill THAT was! Just lazing by the pool, laughing and getting drunk, sharing private looks with the girls over the comments by the guys.
These days, on hormones, two beers make my lips numb. And by three, I start slurring and get tipsy when I walk. Well, I did three to the guys’ seven and figured that was enough. So, tank top dangling in my hand, I sashayed off to my room, thoroughly enjoying my first appearance in public in such skimpy attire.
(NOTE: Right after the Palm Springs shoot, my work situation began to deteriorate. The director turned out to be a real perfectionist. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds truly needs to support that approach. So he maneuvered, cajoled and even threatened the people who were working for him in order to get more out of them for the same money. He would not let the production be completed at the level he could afford: he wanted greatness. He was very good at playing on those who do not like conflict. He would wheedle away, getting a bit more from me everyday until I found myself exhausted and near nervous breakdown. I was forbidden to go out to lunch or dinner and had to take my meals at the editing console and work while I ate, usually with him sitting by my side. My days expanded to six per week. My hours expanded to 10 per day. Eventually, I worked one stretch of 24 straight 12 hour days without a day off. At times, I fell asleep at the editing console. He would wake me up and we would continue. Since I was paid flat rate, I made nothing extra for this. And since the project was already longer than I had expected, my money was very low. I was $30,000 in debt on credit cards and expecting bankruptcy at any time. I was adjusting hormone doses and PMS along with sleep deprivation and the tension had completely destroyed my health. Still and all, I had never walked away from something I promised to do, and continued to honor my commitment, even though the terms had been changed, and not by me. On some days I felt wonderful, but they grew fewer and fewer between. This is the reason I wrote less and less frequently – there was no more motivation in me. I just plodded through the days like a P.O.W., hoping for it to end. This was a mood I seldom spoke of in my entries, but is was behind everything I did and thought.
(Expanded notes from July)
July 23, 1990
Embarrassing day as I had done electrolysis the night before, expecting to be working alone, and equipment problems required working closely with a technician while my face was bright red and swollen. He said nothing.
July 24, 1990
Work has gotten very hard with longer hours and great tension. The director today demands that I do more work that I contracted for at no additional pay since he was out of money. I am already working more house per day and more days per week for a longer term than our verbal agreement called for. Work has become very oppressive at times. The director seems only concerned with completing the job with the best quality at the lowest cost no matter how much the rest of us suffer. The number of hours worked for a flat rate bring my hourly rate down to $2.50 per hour, but I need the credit and it is my ticket to make transition into society. Still, I am so worn down by the effort I can hardly go on. I refuse to do even more for the same money. He threatens me with a lawsuit, saying he would put a freeze on Mary’s wages and I wouldn’t have enough money to buy food for my kids. Eventually, we compromise.
July 26, 1990
Mary’s Birthday. No money to buy her a present because I am paid so little. My assistant, Don, takes a phone call from a friend who asks for “Dave… I mean Melanie” After the call, Don asks if Dave is my husband. I tell him the truth. He goes to the director to verify because he thinks I am putting him on. When he returns, I am in tears, never having told anyone about my past before. He is understanding and puts his arm around me. I laugh through the tears – we are still friends. Later that night, as we leave, he discovers his car is stolen. He cannot continue to work with us. I worry for a moment that it is just a lie to get away from me, but then accept it is just one of those things.
July 27, 1990
A distant relative shows up at the house looking for a place to stay and $10 for gas. I have to introduce myself as the new me. He seems okay with it, but I wonder if it is just because he needs ten bucks. Either way, word is now going to be spread to all the relatives in the clan.
Wednesday, August 1, 1990
An anniversary: one year ago today I started hormone therapy in the Hollywood doctor’s office. One YEAR! My God! As cliche as it be: “It seems like yesterday.” Can it truly be that nearly 3% of my life has now been spent under the influence of female hormones?
I leaf through the previous entries to this journal and pause, amazed that so much has happened in so little time. And, of course, anniversaries offer the irresistible invitation to speculate on the year to come.
From where I stand, the view is much less cloudy than a year before. My life is stable now: emotionally at peace, creatively fulfilled, monetarily improving. My marriage is secure. Perhaps is always was, but NOW I am confident in its strength. My children and I are as close as parents and offspring can become. In short: if I were to die tomorrow, it would be with a sense of satisfaction at having achieved (at least to some degree) everything I ever dreamed of. From here on out, “it’s all gravy”, or, “the sky’s the limit.” Which conjures up an image of beef broth rain dripping from mashed potato clouds.
But what about this year past? What about that fateful decision one turn around the sun ago? My entry of that day, the first entry of this journal, is right on target: “I looked out over the universe, waiting for that fateful sting that would propel me into a life I’d only dreamed of.”
And now, I lead that life, different than anything I had imagined and more satisfying than I could have conceived.
Many uncertainties await me in the future. That is true for all who have lived. But here and now, one year later, I’m really glad I came.
(Notes from August:)
Saturday, August 4th, 1990
Don, my former assistant on the film, came by my other office where I run my own company to do some editing. Even after having learned of my past, he acts no different. Nothing has changed in his attitude. What a guy!
Sunday, August 5th, 1990
PMS severe on new medication (Estinyl). I tell off my step-dad who lives with us. Tell him he was responsible for my mother’s death, that he is a bum for not helping around the house or with the finances by getting a job. No regrets, I really mean it. He is a born-again, so he just sits there until I am finished. Then says he is sorry I feel that way.
Tuesday, August 7th, 1990
I catch the director screening my calls unless it is an emergency without telling me, so that I will have more time to work. Over the last couple of days I have been playing with the new way to pitch my voice. Late this night at work I try it. It gets stuck there. When I come home I cannot bring it down. Mary gets mad as she does not want me to be Melanie around the house. Finally, after an hour, my voice relaxes back to its normal range. Neat trick, if I can master it.
Thursday, August 23rd, 1990
ALIVE! I’m Alive again! My first real day off in almost three months and the dead veil that clouded my life and smothered my thoughts has lifted like an ugly fog in the morning sun. And the words… my God, the WORDS! They’re back! I feel as if I’ve snuck up behind the muses and goosed them!
I had no idea I had fallen so far. Pushed by the director to one extreme after another, I slowly decended into a sort of freeze-dried hell, where the shape of things remains the same, but the substance is gone. Ask me if I believe in Zombies!
It is five minutes to eleven pm. And THAT, my dears, is the self-ordained cut-off point for this noble day. So my refound words must needs be brief.
Can you imagine the simple joy of reading a chapter in a book? Doing a load of laundry? Going to the restroom TWICE IN ONE HOUR? Today, I did ALL THAT and MORE!!! No, I really did!! Mundane to you, perhaps, but rare and glorious moments to me: deeply felt sensual experiences to be carefully preserved and savored again on rainy days in front of the fireplace.
Summer wanes, and fall prowls restlessly outside, but in a small house in California, Spring began today…
(Copyright 1993, Melanie Anne Phillips)
(The Transsexual Diary series will continue in the next edition of The Subversive)
I urge you all to keep a diary of YOUR personal journey, whether it be through transition or not. The attitudes and even the order of events becomes cloudy through time, and I am continually amazed to re-read things that memory would have me believe had happened differently. If nothing else, it is a good way to see long-term patterns in yourself that you cannot see except in retrospect. That objective view alone is worth the inconvenience of keeping a journal.
Mental Relativity is a new theory of psychology developed by my good friend and associate, Chris Huntley, and myself over several years. Its impact is far ranging, offering insight in areas of justification, problem solving, and decision making.
Because it is a RELATIVITY, the theory offers no absolutes. Rather, it defines the relationship between the processes of the mind in such a way that one can objectively see what things subjectively look like from any point in the process. From time to time, this column will explore one of those points of view.
This month I am publishing two Mental Relativity articles. The first, “B.S. and the Sexes” explores the relationship between the minds of women and men. The second, “Mental Sex” is a reprint of an earlier article that defined the nature of the minds of women and men independent of each other. Since this is a reprint, I have placed it second, however, if you have not read Mental Sex, you might appreciate the first article more by reading the second article first.
“B.S. and the Sexes”
Melanie Anne Phillips
“B.S.” That’s what we see so often in the “other” sex, whichever that may be. “They” don’t see things the way “We” do. “Our” desires are different from “Theirs”. What makes sene to Us is gibberish to Them (and vice versa). B.S. – no matter which sex we are, we see it in the other one.
But B.S. is not what you think. It really stands for Blind Spot, and that is the reason we don’t agree. You see, men and women have different Blind Spots. We can’t see our own (that’s why it’s blind!) but we can quite easily see theirs.
What are these sex-specific blind spots? How did they come into being? From cultural indoctrination, perhaps? Some sort of learned behavior imposed upon the sexes by society? No, society ENHANCES the blind spots of each sex – the intrinsic dark void in each of our minds is placed there before birth. In fact, it is a pre-condition to the development of self-awarenes.
To Understand how these blind spots develop and why they are essential, despite their negative repercussions, we must look at how the mind is organized, and how that organization differs between males and females.
As a first step in this description of the mind, let’s define awareness. According to Mental Relativity, awareness describes a mind that is able to learn. (Actually, the technical definition is much more complex, but that is the gist.)
You see, a mind that cannot learn must merely respond to its environment. Whenever a non-aware organism, through its senses, perceives a stimulation by something in its surrounding, it responds to that. If food lands on one of its receptors, it will respond by pulling it into its digestive system. It does not, however, anticipate and will not sweep the area “looking” for food.
To be sure, a non-aware organism may appear to search for food, but that is a pattern dictated at the instinctual level, not through its learning. The proof of this would be to place the organism in a different environment that requires altering the search technique just slightly in order to obtain food. A non-aware organism would not adapt to the change, and would continue to employ the instinctual method until it died of starvation, even though a slight change in approach would yield all the food it needed.
To examine an organism that DOES learn, let’ take a look at good old Pavlov and hiss dogs. Pavlov set up an experiment in what came to be known as “Classical Conditioning”. In Classical Conditioning, a subject (in this case, a dog) has an existing “built-in” (or instinctual) response to a particular stimulation. In Pavlov’s dogs, the stimulus in question was a meat powder that he introduced into the mouth of the dog by means of a tube. As soon as the meat powder hit the dog’s tongue, the animal began to salivate. This was called an Un-Conditioned Response (or UCR) to an Un-Conditioned Stimulus (or UCS) because it occurred naturally.
Next, Pavlov began to ring a bell at the same time the meat powder was introduced. The bell began at the moment the powder was present, and ended at the moment it stopped. This is called a “Contingency” between the Un-conditioned stimulus or the meat powder and the Conditional Stimulus of the bell. In other words, the sounding of the bell was contingent on the stimulus of the meat powder.
After several feeding sessions were performed in this manner, Pavlov rang the bell without providing mat powder, yet the dog salivated nonetheless. It had become Conditioned to the stimulus of the bell, and reacted in the same way as if the meat powder had been present. The salivation, in this situation, is called a Conditioned Response, since it does not naturally occur when a bell is rung until the conditioning was imposed.
Now, this conditioning is exactly how we learn from experience in our own lives, and it is really very simple. When we see two things that always occur together, we begin to assume that if we see one, the other is somewhere around. We establish a contingent relationship between the two. Although Pavlov did not test for this, it is true that if (after conditioning) Pavlov had provided meat powder WITHOUT the bell, the dog would have expected the bell to ring at any moment. Why? Because the dog is not only aware, but SELF-aware. In other words, it can look to its own experience to ANTICIPATE a future occurrence.
This is a complex issue, so let’s spend a bit more time on it. When the dog responds to the Conditioned Stimulus as if it were the Un-conditioned stimulus, it has learned. But when the dog is presented with the Un-conditioned stimulus and expects the Conditioned stimulus, it is anticipating. The learned response defines awareness, the unlearned or anticipated response defines self-awarenesss.
So what is the difference in the operation of the mind between being aware or self-aware? In awareness, the mind merely responds to experience. The more it experiences something a certain way, the more likely it is to respond to it. In self-awareness, the mind is responding to what is NOT there that was there before. In other words, the mind is not merely comparing the environment to experience, but is also comparing experience to the environment.
What’s the difference? In Awareness, the mind never questions its experience. To be sure, conditioning can erode if not reinforced (called Extinction) but it is not questioned by the mind, just the experience begins to average out to another conclusion. But in Self-awareness, the mind doesn’t just go with what experience says, but tries to judge if experience is valid when there are factors that have not been experienced before.
Now pause for a moment, and examine the incredible ramifications of this notion. A self-aware mind, in the face of contradictory information, can still cling to its pre-conceptions! Take a new look at prejudice, teaching an old dog new tricks, stubbornness, and clinging to goals against strong opposition. Suddenly, the mechanism behind these (and many other) human attitudes and responses becomes much more clear.
But what of the differences between the blind spots of men and women? How does anticipation and self-awareness fit into that? To take the final step toward our understanding, we need to examine the mechanism of anticipation more closely.
When a mind is only aware, it is triggered by a pattern of conditions in the environment as an arrangement of items (contingency) or a progression of events (causality). Arrangements are experienced and learned as a spatial pattern, whereas sequences are experienced and learned as a temporal pattern. Space or time has no effect on the way AWARENESS operates. In fact, AWARENESS in both men and women operates with both.
The ability to anticipate, however, exists in a mind that compares its spatial experience to its temporal experience. Again, a big concept that needs fleshing out. The key here is that the mind is no longer just comparing its experience to the environment, now, triggered by a situation in the environment, it compares its spatial experience to its temporal experience. Rather than seeking relationships or associations from internal to external, SELF-awarenss seeks relationships that exist completely internally.
The process of self-awareness then, is all within the mind itself and not dependent upon direct external reference. So we describe a self-aware mind as having TWO kinds of experience, one based on space, the other on time.
So much has been written about the nature of the left brain versus the right brain. Volumes of research have been done to map and describe the spatial functioning of the left half of the brain and the temporal functioning of the right. In contrast, Mental Relativity is concerned with relationship BETWEEN the two sides of the brain.
Let’s pace an experienced mind in an environment. The environment has a spatial arrangement of things and a sequence in which things happen (or change). The mind has a set of experiences based on how things are arranged, and a set of experiences based on the sequence in which things happen. In order to anticipate, we need to see how the arrangement of things changes over time, or how the sequence of things changes in different situations. The first measure the changes in space against time, the second measures changes in time against space.
The two kinds of experiences build up until patterns (that are essentially averages of all that has been observed) are created. These averages do not give an absolute certainty that some things will go together or happen in a certain order, but provide a LIKELIHOOD or probability that things will progresss in time or arrange in space a certain way.
But when the probability indicates one future based on spatial experience and a different future based on temporal experience, the mind must decide which one to go with. It must “weigh” its experience of space against its experience of time. A MIND CANNOT CONSIDER BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
This is the key concept to the understanding of Blind Spots and how they differ between men and women. When a mind is faced with a conflict between spatial and temporal conclusions, it would be hopelessly deadlocked. Both “sides” of the mind are giving conflicting information that leads to no clear-cut pattern of response. So although either set of experiences, temporal or spatial, if existing alone would have a precise guideline for the organism to follow, taken together, the organism cannot “decide” how to respond.
In terms of evolution, any organism that became “mind locked” would be easy prey, and not likely to continue its line. However, organisms that gave more credence to one set of experiences over the other in the event of a deadlock, although biased in its evaluations, would have a significantly greater chance or survival. And that is just what happened. All self-aware species weeded out the genes that lead to balance and favored those that led to a biased view. But WHICH biased view?
Objectively, both sets of experience are equal in their validity for survival. So, as one might assume, chaos being what it is, BOTH kinds of organisms evolved. We call them male and female.
Before there was such a thing as physical sex, before there was such a thing as humans, the earliest protozoa evolved into two distinct branches: the temporal-favoring line and the spatial-favoring line.
How does this “favoring” work, and which one is male and which female? A mind that favors one set of experiences over the other functions by giving consideration preference to space or time. In a favoring system, the mind processes an observations FIRST by one set of experiences, and only then by the other.
Imagine an incoming observation. It contains both an arrangement of things and the vectors of how things are changing. The mind searches the lower level of awareness and finds the two patterns in conflict. Temporary mind lock: what to do? Unable to respond immediately without thought, and rather than not react at all, the mind will hold that observation in short-term memory and examine it either with spatial experiences or with temporal ones. But whichever it uses first, the very act or examining the short-term memory, changes its nature.
We have all heard how the act of observation changes that which is observed. This is where it happens. By examining a “held” observation first by space, for example, the short-term memory itself is organized into a more spatial bias or pattern. Then, when the temporal experiences come into play, the temporal nature of the original observation has been polluted, diluted or filtered in such a way that the time sense is slightly hobbled.
This is not to say that the time sense gets nothing at all, or even that what it gets is greatly mangled. If the original observation, although deadlocked between time experience and space experience would have called for a very similar reaction in either case, then the alterations caused by space-first may be minimal, and time sense will get an almost faithful reproduction of the original observation to compare to. But if in a dead lock, space experience and time experience each call for widely divergent reactions, then the original observation is extensively deteriorated by the space-first processing, and the time sense gets an extremely inaccurate version to compare to.
This is the cradle of the conscious process of consideration, but again, that is beyond the scope of this article and will be reserved for future explorations.
The point here is that one kind of mind will favor space, the other time. The space-favoring mind will have an inaccurate temporal appreciation of observation, the time-favoring mind will have an inaccurate spatial appreciation of observation.
There is one last step. Let’s look OBJECTIVELY at space sense and time sense. From this perspective, space can see the arrangement of things directly in an observation. It does not even need to refer to short term memory or experience to locate areas of sensory stimulation. Surely to IDENTIFY an item would require experience, but to be affected by it does not. Time sense, on the other hand, cannot glean anything from observation without comparing one arrangement of thing to a later arrangement of things to see how they have changed.
In this respect, time sense is once removed from observation already, which makes it more fallible to inaccuracy. But in another respect, time sense contains one more dimension of information than space sense, because it is not only aware or two sequential arrangements of things (doing the job of space sense) but also compares them together to see how things are changing, a feat space sense cannot do.
So, each has a special ability and a special drawback that cancel out in the long run, making each as effective for survival as the other. But more importantly, we can see that space sense operates DIRECTLY on the observation and time sense operates on a STORED observation. That is how the sense of time is generated within us. And that is the last step:
A space-favoring mental systems focuses on the EXTERNAL world, a time-favoring mental system focuses on the INTERNAL world.
It’s no great leap to see how this figures into a concept of male and female minds an how one favors external things and the other internal. And it immediately adds clarity to our understanding of the relationship between spatial and temporal ability (accuracy) and the sexes.
Mental Relativity defines the framework of a mental systems as a BOS or Brain Operation System, since it dictates how the brain will operate. SBOS refers to a Space-favoring Brain Operating System and TBOS refers to a Time-favoring Brain Operating System.
Now, in terms of evolution, an organism with an SBOS would be aided by a external ability enhancing biology, and we see this clearly in the aggressive and muscle building effects of testosterone. A TBOS mind would be aided by an internal ability enhancing biology, and we see this in the pacifying and emotion building effects of estrogen.
Physical sexes did not evolve into male and female mind. Female and male minds evolved into physical sexes.
The biochemistry and the biology evolved to enhance the functionality of the two primary species of organisms that first evolved: male and female. The two primary species of male and female branched into all forms of animal life including humans. Symbiotically, parasitically, the two species grew along many parallel branches, in tandem, inseparable, intimately dependent upon each other for survival, similar physically due to their similar environments, but as different mentally as aliens from two different planets.
See the temporal (Emotional) Blind Spots that can occur in the male. See the spatial (Practical) Blind Spots that can occur in the female. Future articles will discuss common Blind Spots of each: how they occur and how to deal with them in ourselves and in our co-species.
As a final thought, born of my feminist leanings, consider that in a savage environment, males are best equipped to tame it. But as they do, they structure it according to their own spatial bias. This is not intentional, they simply operate that way. As the environment is controlled, language comes into being, science evolves, society and religion ore established. But These are all second generation from the natural environment itself, and begin to intrude upon the special temporal domain of females.
Eventually, humankind moves from a frontier society to an information society, and the immediate observation of the unaltered natural order of the environment becomes increasingly rare. When was the last time in our work-a-day world that we saw a tree that was not planted, but just grew there? Who planted it and where? When was the last time we saw more dirt than pavement on our way to the office? Who paved the streets? In what pattern, SBOS or TBOS? Who designed our educational system? Our communication system?
All that a woman sees, all that she learns from the moment of birth, is already biassed by a male point of view. Just as the mind suffers inaccuracy in one sense or the other based on bias, women are double-hobbled by having their very environment and education already reflect the way men see things. So a woman’s mind has no language, no logic, no religion all her own. She only has what she can make out of the male versions provided her.
This is the hear of my message and the thrust of my future career: to bring things back into balance.
In an information society, the focus of importance has shifted from the external world to the internal one. But women, who are best prepared to handle this new frontier do not even know what it is to think like a woman. To be sure, they think AS women, but have been trained to think LIKE men.
Women are realizing this more and more as their intrinsic value to the Inner Frontier is becoming more and more apparent. But in order to fully realize their potential as members of humanity and as individuals, they must develop their own language, their own culture, their own religion. Only when women can speak as women AND like women will they be able to tame the Inner Frontier with the same pioneer resolve of their male counterparts in the wilds of the old one.
But a warning: the real danger is that women will seek to make over their brothers and subjugate the, as Surely as males had done to them. Whether out of revenge or through ignorance, we might turn the tables on our brothers and force them into the mental prison from which we are just escaping.
“So what!”, a militant feminist might ask. So this: if we allow the pendulum to swing the other way, we will hobble our ability as a species to deal with a savage environment. Things that are intrinsically obvious to males would elude us, and the men we had cast in our image. The infrastructure would eventually crumble and we would fall with it, once more into the wild world we so recently anguished in. And then… when culture and science were gone, males would rise once more as the dominant species and force our great grand-daughters into slavery anew.
Just as with the mind, time sense must be built on space-sense, not replace it. We cannot take revenge, we cannot ignore the needs of ourselves nor our brothers. Yet, Equality is not the answer for we are not equal – we are different. The answer is Equity which will divide our resources and our power in ways EQUALLY BENEFICIAL to the special needs of the two species of humanity.
That is our calling, that is our change: to stop the pendulum once and for all and let each species prosper in its own way toward its own ends, recognizing our mutual dependency, revelling in the splendor of our differences, striving not against each other, but pioneering together, male and female, to the stars of the heavens and the stars in the mind.
Copyright 1993, Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
For most of us on the Exploration trail, trying to determine if we are Transvestite or Transsexual is of paramount importance. We wonder if we just happen to enjoy wearing women’s clothes or if perhaps there is something more innate: perhaps we really ARE women in man skin.
Naturally, the answer to this question is central to our choices for the rest of our lives. And yet, we cannot seem to get a grip on it. This is because it is an issue of feelings, not logic. But how are we to know if the way we “feel” is male or female? After all, we have nothing to compare with.
This issue troubled me throughout my life. I read what I could (always secretly), watched television programs, scoured the pulp magazines, and more than once suffered the depressions brought on by ripping my psyche up in search of the Truth. Even when I began living fulltime I had not achieved any certainty, and had to settle for saying, “Yes, I want to change my sex, but I don’t know if I am really a woman inside.” All my time with my therapist, all my meetings in a support group brought me no closer to satisfaction.
Then, about six months into fulltime, a friend I had known for 13 years asked me to breakfast. He reminded me of the theory of story structure we had toyed with while at the USC School of Film. In the past 10 years, he had (with his partner) built a million dollar a year business creating software for the entertainment industry. He asked me if I would like to work with him developing the theory into a software program for his company. I agreed, little knowing that I would spend the next three years developing a new psychology that would ultimately explain the REAL differences between men and women.
We began by hypothesizing that stories were not just about a bunch of different characters reacting like real people, but that each and every story was an analogy of a SINGLE MIND dealing with a problem. That meant that every character, plot point, thematic progression, Act break, scene structure, EVERYTHING IN A STORY, was part of the analogy of the mind: the STORY MIND.
The Story Mind was not intentionally created by authors but was a by-product of their effort to build successful story arguments by anticipating all the ways an audience might consider the story’s problem. Only by pre-including the audience in the story could the author be certain not to leave a “plot hole” of faulty logic or untrue feeling. Over generations, quite unaware of its significance, authors had created conventions of story structure and dynamics that actually represented the functioning of the human mind.
This concept has now been developed into a program at a cost of over a quarter of a million dollars in development expenses, and will be released along with a book on the Theory of Dramatica around the middle of this year. Certainly big rewards are to be had. But the REAL reward for me, is that in order to create the program, we had to map and understand the psychology of the Story Mind, which is an analogy to our own psychologies. In so doing, we developed the concept of Mental Relativity, that explicitly defines the manner in which the processes of the Mind relate, one to another. And the best part of all was that Mental Relativity not only explained, but REQUIRED there to be differences in the thought structures of men and women in order to work.
What does this mean? Simply that the minds of men and women work differently at a STRUCTURAL level. That is to say that the way data is received, stored, retrieved and processed is DIFFERENT between men and women at a BIOLOGIC level. This is not just a BIOCHEMICAL level, but in the Brain Operating System (or B.O.S.) that is hardwired before birth.
As we know, ALL fetuses start out in female form and then alter to the male blueprint if the child is destined to be a man. Different parts of the body’s development are triggered at different points in the pregnancy. Recent medical theories of transsexualism have it that at the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, a developing male fetus must receive a flush of testosterone over the brain in order to trigger it to hardwire in the male pattern of data processing. If that hormonal flush does not happen, the body will develop male, but the brain will be irrevocably cast in a female pattern.
Such a child would be assumed to be male. But that is only the physical body. INSIDE, the child thinks as a female. And yet, even though this is an internal/external type of hermaphroditism, the inside cannot be seen, and the child has no other way of thinking to compare to. So, the child learns to think LIKE a man, even though it always thinks AS a woman. The Subconscious mind operates according to the FEMALE hardwiring, but the Conscious mind operates by training and choice.
If you look at the Mind, there are four parts: The Conscious, The Memory, The Subconscious, and the Pre-Conscious. “Pre-Conscious” is a term we coined in Mental Relativity to define the area of mental and physical response that occurs as a result of observation before the Conscious mind is even aware of stimuli: like pulling your hand away from a hot pot. Subconscious, in contrast, is biased by the biochemical stew (which includes, but is not limited to, the effects of hormones). The Subconscious fosters our predilections to one thing or another. Memory is structured by the cumulative impact of experience, and Conscious is the arbitrator that shifts the balance of credence between experience, observation, and predilection.
In essence, both Conscious and Memory are open to manipulation, by choice and experience respectively, as to the structural way in which they operate. Then, that structure is filled with data from observation and internal considerations. But the Subconscious and Pre-Conscious are not subject to direct manipulation of STRUCTURE. Rather, the Subconscious must defer to the biochemistry, and the Pre-Conscious is subservient to the hardwiring set before birth that determines the B.O.S. Male Hardwiring freezes Space to measure things through Time (causing a linear logic base to the Sub and Pre Consciouses. Female Hardwiring freezes Time to measure things in space (causing a non-linear logic based on proximity rather than order). Mental Relativity calls these two hardwired thinking patterns, Mental Sex.
These last, in concept, are not exclusive to Mental Relativity. For example, the January 20, 1992 issue of Time magazine ran a cover story on the differences of men and women in which eight pages were devoted to recent research about the hardwired differences between the sexes. In fact, they even report the 12th to 14th week hormone theory as the point at which the hardwiring sets in. Also, a new book, Brain Sex (which has also been produced as a three part television series) describes the biologic differences between male and female minds.
So is Mental Sex the answer to the gender question? No, it is only one fourth of the answer. The other three parts are Anatomical Sex, Sexual Preference, and Gender Identity. Let’s look at each one, and then how they work together.
Anatomical sex is simply that: male or female. Certainly everyone has some physical traits that are more associated with one sex or the other, but in the end all of us (except hermaphrodites) are clearly male or female.
Sexual Preference can be straight, gay, bi, or none. And this is true of men as well as women. So, just being a male or a female does not dictate one’s Sexual Preference. Already we can see the number of variations are possible just between Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference.
Gender Identity is a SPECTRUM running from completely masculine to completely feminine and covering all the ground in between. Some straight men are very feminine, and some straight women are very masculine. So, once again, Gender Identity is not attached directly to either Sexual Preference or Anatomical Sex. Certainly, even an individual slides around a range on the Gender scale depending upon mood, present company, and task at hand.
Finally, we return to Mental Sex – the hardwiring of the brain. And this also is not absolutely tied to any of the other three. When you combine Gender outlook with Mental Sex Hardwiring, influenced by cultural pressures of role based on Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference, THEN you end up with all the variations of human beings that we see in real life.
Now, I was a completely masculine man as Dave, but I could not relate to men on the most basic of levels because my data processing was not operating with the same system. Its kind of like trying to run MAC and IBM programs on each others machines without translation or some kind of shell. Well, that “shell” was the pseudo personality I developed as a child, based on rejecting my own operating system and adopting a functional but non-intrinsic system that ran other programs: thinking LIKE a man, even while thinking AS a woman.
Yet this does not make me any more “authorized” to be transsexual than anyone, regardless of hardwired Mental Sex. In fact, someone with a strong feminine Gender Identity, is equally justified in seeking surgery to allow for a SOCIAL role more compatible with their MANNER of approaching life.
None of these four aspects of Sexual Identity is more important than the others. It is the combination and interplay between them that determines the sort of sexual/gender animal you are. But knowing that there ARE four, and WHAT they are, has aided me in understanding why I have felt and feel as I do, and has made me comfortable in accepting that my personal decision to have surgery was not only right for me, but also the most efficient way to resolve many of the inequities in my life in one bold stroke.
The moment any of us realizes we have questions about our Gender selves, we have begun a journey of exploration. And we must see it as such. Answers are not obtained by snap decisions, but by gathering information and learning every step of the way. Just because we have made the decision to explore, does not mean we are obligated to go further than we really want, nor are we forbidden from realizing we have gone too far, and that our answers lie far closer to us than surgery.
So what is the difference between a Transvestite and a Transsexual? Ultimately the Transvestite is the person who enjoys a feminine side but really does not wish to have surgery, and the Transsexual is a person who has it. Trite? Not really. Happiness is an ethereal thing: hard to grasp and harder to define. But that is the real goal – to be happy, whether by accepting our desire to adopt the female role from time to time, or to embrace it permanently. If you do not have surgery and you are happy, you are a transvestite. If you have it and are happy, you are a transsexual – regardless of your hardwiring, upbringing, affectations or anything else.
So Mental Relativity holds some answers that may even ultimately determine absolutely the hardwiring of any individual. Yet, even if we knew for sure, in the end, each of us must find our own path to self-acceptance. Still it is better to search for our way in the bright light of knowledge than in the moonless night of ignorance. Shine a light and take a step.
Melanie Anne Phillips, Editor
(Copyright 1993 Melanie Anne Phillips)
MELANIE'S WISE WORDS OF THE MONTH "Shout in whispers." - Wilma Snakestare
AMERICA ONLINE GENDER GROUP STATISTICS
Contributed by Marsha J, Gender Room Secretary
Attendee Stats as of March 1993
AK. 1 AZ. 2 BC. 2 CA. 28
CO. 2 CT. 5 DE. 1 FL. 12
GA. 3 IA. 1 IL. 16 IN. 6
KY. 1 LA. 5 MA. 6 MD. 5
ME. 3 MI. 7 MN. 3 MO. 6
MS. 3 MT. 1 NC. 5 NH. 4
NJ. 7 NM. 4 NV. 1 NY. 11
OH. 9 OK. 2 ON. 3 OR. 3
PA. 4 RI. 1 TN. 1 TX. 10
UT. 1 VA. 6 VT. 1 WA. 4
WI. 4 WV. 2 WY. 1
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 224 MEMBERS FOR HELPING TO CREATE A SAFE HAVEN OF SUPPORT FOR EVERYONE CONCERNED WITH GENDER ISSUES!!!
Don’t forget to attend the Gender Room Meeting on the America Online BBS in the Community Room at 9pm ET every Sunday evening. Use Keyword, GLCF, then select Lambda Lounge or Community Room depending on your version of the software. For specific information, directions, or to order back logs of the chats, Email Marsha J, the Gender Room secretary.
“The Paradox that Lurks the Locks”
Melanie Anne Phillips
Time will purge the ones who merge,
the words of “Time” and “Space”.
(They really aren’t connected),
‘cept by moments in one place.
But Space will out the ones who tout,
a link ‘twixt “Space” and “Time”.
They are not chained together,
by reason nor by rhyme.
Yet something stands between the sands,
dividing “Hour” from “Glass”:
The Paradox that spans the lochs?
(Not energy nor mass!)
Some enigmatic creature then,
that stretches ‘cross the span?
The paradox that lurks the lochs?
N’est monster, c’est man!
“May you never find occasion to say, ‘If only…..'”
BEST SELLING NEW VIDEO RELEASE!!!!
Copies sold from California to Maine, Chicago to Finland!
“MELANIE SPEAKS!” In this new video, Melanie Anne Phillips explains how she achieved a new voice for her new role. The program provides exercises in Pitch, Resonance, Dynamic Range, Annunciation, Body English, Vocabulary, and Grammar in a step by step fashion that makes it easy for you to develop your own unique feminine voice and vocal patterns. The “secret” is a special exercise that let’s you develop a truly female resonance that you can turn on or off at the drop of a hat. If you have ever been embarrassed by your voice or have contemplated vocal surgery, see this tape first!!!
Melanie Speaks! – 49 minute educational video ………….. $20.00
Dry Spell……………………..110 pages, scriptbinding………….. $20.00
An original sci-fi/thriller screenplay by Melanie Anne, following a woman archaeologist as she struggles to destroy a deadly organism discovered while documenting Native American ruins.
Snowstorm……………………..102 pages, scriptbinding……….. $20.00
An action/adventure screenplay by Melanie Anne, that crosses the paths of a teenage boy entered in a dangerous cross-country snowmobile race and the ruthless destruction of an entire town by a druglord.
The Day After Christmas………….50 pages, Softcover……………. $5.00
A fully illustrated, satire on the threat of nuclear war that follows the destructive activities of “Saint Nuke” on The Day After Christmas.
Dichotomy……………………..30 Minutes, Cassette Album………. $10.00
12 Original songs by David Michael Phillips, multitrack: keyboard, guitar, vocals.
Tarnished Karma………………..30 Minutes, Cassette Album …….$10.00
10 Original songs by David Michael Phillips, just before embarking on transition. Many of the lyrics pertain to the inner conflicts of gender dysphoria in a disguised manner, as this decision was not public at the time. Multitrack: keyboard, guitar, vocals.
All prices are post-paid, U.S. mail. Send orders to:
Melanie Anne Phillips
150 East Olive Avenue,
Burbank, CA 91502
EDITOR’S NOTE: It is my desire to make this publication available free online to all who wish to read it. However, due to copyright laws, any overall license would allow unscrupulous individuals to excerpt portions and use it for their own personal gain. Therefore, should you wish to upload this publication on your BBS or simply generate hardcopies for support groups and friends, please write me about a free license for your specific purpose.