Voice therapy

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I have been back to The Voice Clinic of Indiana— http://www.voiceindy.com/ —for a check-up on my surgery and for my first two sessions of therapy.

Dr. Parker once again snaked that infernal scope through my nose and into my throat. He immediately commented how good things look. He said that the stitches have held perfectly and noted that the webbing is forming as he had hoped. The ends of my wide smile surely were touching both of my ear lobes.

He removed the scope, then showed me the video. He didn’t even have to point out how much smaller the white area is. I am perhaps ninety percent healed. He pointed out the end of a suture, which clearly sticks out. To get rid of it, he jammed a scissors down my throat and snipped it off. (Of course, he did not!) No, he said it would dissolve.

Watching my vocal cords in action, he noted how the bottom half was not completely closing, leaving a little gap. That, he said, is the source of my hoarseness, or, as he called it, the breathy sound. That is a perfect lead-in to my session with Gabrielle, the voice therapist.

Gabrielle relates well, laughs easily, and her education, experience, and professionalism always shine through. I grew fond of her quickly. Of course, anyone who laughs at my humor is someone I will quickly like.

She talked about my breathiness. Noting the video, she said that with exercises I can close the gap where the vocal folds are not coming together and achieve a clear sound.

You surely know how singers warm up with “me, me, me, me, me”? The “m” forces one to use the front of the mouth. This gets the strain off the throat. Gabrielle gave me four exercises to do twice a day, for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. The first is to warm up by saying “meeeee” a number of times, working to achieve a clear sound.

After a couple of minutes of that, I move onto saying “whoop,” over and over, going from low to high pitch. At first, it was hard to make a clear sound with this. After a week, it now comes out crisp and clear every time.

Next the “boom” comes down. I say that word, now going from high to low pitch. This one is harder. I cannot consistently make it clear, as with my whoops, but I have improved.

The “boom” contracts the vocal folds, while the “whoop” stretches them. Moving on, to strengthen the folds I say a series of “meeee” sounds, at pitches from the lowest to the highest I can comfortably go. I usually hit six pitches. I am to hold the “meeee” for twelve to fifteen seconds. Try it. Fifteen seconds is a long time to do this. My longest is seventeen seconds.

I return to a series of “whoops” and “booms,” and then one more time to “meeee.” By now, I’ve gotten to at least twelve minutes. Whew! I can feel it.

If you find that you would like to improve the clarity of your voice, these lessons are for you. After only one week, I was seeing very nice improvement. But, wait! There’s more!

The first voice lesson was March seven. I returned nine days later. Gabrielle was armed with a new exercise.

She gave me a straw, the really wide kind that makes sucking a milkshake smooth and easy. She instructed me to place one end against my top, front teeth, close my lips around it, and suck in air. She modeled it for me. When she sucked in, you could hear the air. When I did it, there was silence.

My tongue was in the way. I had to consciously drop it, touching its tip to my lower row of teeth. That did it! Suck-cess!

Next, she had me breath out, focusing on the front of my mouth. Then, she had me add “meeee” to it, and then remove the straw as I did it. The goal is to “meeee” with clarity, removing all breathiness. This came easily, a perfectly clear noise.

Yet, when I returned to regular speaking, here came the breathiness. Wow, do I have a lot of work ahead of me.

I am to continue with exercise number one, and add this one for five to ten minutes at a time, twice a day. After “meeee,” I say a bunch of “m” words, like “mama” and “milk” and motion.” After doing well with those words, I move on to non “m” words, which are harder to voice clearly, words like “vote” and “rain” and “lamp.”

Gabrielle recognized how many questions I have been asking, so she knew that I was enjoying learning how all of this works. She told me that this exercise comes from Joseph Stemple. Here is a video, showing him working with a patient.

When you are on this YouTube page, the menu should show other, similar videos. You might find what you are looking for, if you long to improve your voice clarity or strength.

So that I can chart my progress, Gabrielle had me download a voice pitch analyzer app on my phone. On it, I can record my voice and chart my pitch levels. Here is a screen shot of my first effort.

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Note the gray bar. It shows the range at which I spoke. See that I never went below the female range, and I also reached the top of it. On another page, which tracks my recordings, it says “Your voice is in the female range.” Wonderful!

I have not posted any videos since January 31, when I was permitted to begin speaking.

On that day, you heard a terribly raspy voice. I am pleased to report that I have improved a lot. You hear a tiny bit of that in the two voice lesson videos.  Since I have a ways to go, I will forego a new, regular video for now. With how rapidly progress is coming, I hope to show you my new voice by early April. Then, try to shut me up!

Meet my dad

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My dad.  That’s me, next to him.

As my father would have turned ninety this St. Patrick’s Day—typical German, trampling on another country’s pride!—he’s on my mind. Here are some of the things I hold most precious about him.

Reminiscing is an activity of affirmation. Sure, I could recount some of Dad’s weaknesses, but those are easily overcome by his strengths, the things which made him a person who was of value to many. I gladly ignore the lesser things to promote the greater.

Besides, my father gave me so much. In many ways, he gave me exactly what my mother gave—a good work ethic, faithfulness to family and friends and work and community and to the Lord, to value money and things and take care of them, and a friendly spirit which shows respect to all. My folks were people you both wanted to be around and were glad to have around.

Dad taught me both directly—“When you hoe around potatoes, heap the dirt toward the plant to keep the spuds from the sunlight”—and indirectly—listening to him on the phone with Montague citizens (Dad was city manager), his patience and respect were always present.

He was, in a word, practical. He saved scrap metal. When he had enough to trade in for a few bucks, he took it in. His smile shined as he proclaimed, “There. I have some pocket money.” He gardened—usually having more than one, utilizing space at either of his brothers’ farms, and at my brother’s in-laws’—and canned and froze bushel upon bushel. He composted, turning vegetable scraps into soil-enriching material.

When I got married, I immediately put in a garden and started a compost pile. Every stop I’ve made—from Michigan, to Indiana, to Iowa, to Michigan, and back to Indiana—I have put in a garden—in every place, needing to begin from scratch, and knowing how to do it because Dad had taught me—and started a compost pile. I have canned and froze countless pints and quarts of produce.

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My latest mound of compost, which I will till into the garden any day now.  Note how dark it is, compared with the dirt.  It’s wonderfully nutritious!

I am about as bad with a knife as any human, but by watching and helping Dad carve up many deer (I never knew you could take them to a meat processor), I found myself doing that when I got the only one that I bagged when in Iowa, with him not around to take the lead, plopping that buck onto our dining room table and methodically carving out steaks and roasts as I envisioned how he had showed me the way to slice up the venison, and taking the rest and canning it, turning once-chewy portions into the tenderest meat treats.

There seemed to be no project which Dad, whom I loved to call Pop, could not tackle. Depression Era farm boys grew into men whose first thought was, “How will I do this,” not, “Who can I hire to do it?”  With that attitude, we tore a house down to the studs and rebuilt it for my brother and his family, who has now lived in it for four decades, and then did it for my family and me.

The one thing that brings Pop to mind the most is when I am doing a chore which I might not be able to complete that day. We used to cut firewood together—another lesson: use wood that you can get for free, cut and split it yourself, and save loads of cash heating your house—and as we stacked it, he said, “When you think you are done, you’re pooped, say to yourself, ‘I can do one more load.’” (This earned him our playfully mocking him as we would say, “Just peckin’ away.”) A few weeks ago, as I raked my front yard, my arms wearing out from a job they are not used to, I found myself saying, “I can do one more section. Just keep peckin’ away.” Thanks, Pop.

For all of the important, similar traits my folks had, they were starkly different, too. Mom was easily flustered; Dad was unflappable. Mom’s frustration came out verbally; Dad never gave away if he were feeling any angst. Mom suffered more physical maladies than a person ever should; Dad made it to his final month nearly ailment-free.

As many things which form us are learned, just as many come from how we are built. For example, my older brother, Tom, resembles Mom in suffering many physical ills, and he is, um, shall we say, just a bit impetuous when he feels foiled.

I find myself having inherited Dad’s nature. I love telling anyone who will listen that at his funeral many remarked how, of all of us kids, I was most like Dad. And, if you are wondering, now that I am transgender, do I feel differently about this? Nope. Not a bit. Transitioning aside, I remain John Eilers’ son, and most gratefully so.

One thing that all of us kids got from both of our parents is the gift for gab. I suspect this, too, is both a thing of nature and nurture, how one is built and is influenced.

My sister, Sue, got married when I was eighteen. At the reception—Montague folks can picture the VFW hall jam-packed—as folks finished eating, I observed my parents, with Mom going one way and Dad the other, visiting each table.

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Dad and Mom enjoying a celebratory drink at Sue’s wedding reception.  That’s my younger brother, Dave, looking on—and perhaps hoping they leave an unfinished portion behind!

 

The next day, I asked Mom about it. She said, “They were kind enough to come. It was important that we thank them.” As my years rolled on, I saw in myself the need to honor and respect folks in the same manner.

It’s even more than this. The ability to make conversation with anyone, anywhere, about anything, is such a gift. I have so valued it that I have deliberately cultivated it, using it to my advantage in every sphere of my life. With it, I hope that I glorified my Lord Jesus when I was a minister, as I was comfortable in every situation, with people of all ages, in all of life’s stages. Nowadays, wherever I go, this capacity to chat, to make a joke, to put people at ease, is as important an attribute as I possess, and is doubly important for my new situation in life.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for this cherished gift.

Another lesson both my parents taught was to appreciate what you have. Thankfulness is a powerfully important attitude. It shapes so many aspects of our everyday life, from the smallest things to the biggest, the easiest to the hardest, the most common to the unusual.

And this takes me to one final way to appreciate being John and Floye Eilers’ child. They brought up us kids in the Christian faith. More than in the faith, faithfulness was key. We were in worship every Sunday. We were taught to pray. This faithfulness to the Lord spilled over to family and friends and community. I observed it in my folks. It profoundly impacted me as I matured.

In his later years, after Mom had died and I had moved away and became a pastor, Dad and I would talk about what we were reading. Often, he commented about where he was in the Bible. Faithfulness. There’s always more to learn.

Often in our conversation, Dad commented about the bounty he had just picked from his garden. Thankfulness.

Often, Dad spoke of his post-retirement charity work at the food bank. Hard-working. Giving spirit.  Community.

Often, Dad remarked about one of my siblings or a grandchild, reveling in the latest neat thing. Family. Unity. Joy.

Always, Dad closed with “Love you guys.” Love. A father’s love. MY dad’s love for ME.

Precious.  Priceless.  Imperishable.

 

Pre-SRS-surgery physical

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Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, Indianapolis

Another hurdle jumped. Was it the final one? In an unexpected twist, there might be one more.

My sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is scheduled for April 11. That’s four weeks from today. Yes, I am counting it down, just short of marking X’s on a calendar.

Though my surgeon, Dr. Sidhbh Gallagher, is with IU Health, my surgery will be performed at Eskenazi Hospital, in downtown Indy. Why Eskenazi? Because they have the best unit for this surgery.

Their burn center.

Yup, their burn center. There, they have top-notch folks, with the best experience, performing plastic surgery and providing post-surgical care. SRS qualifies as plastic surgery. I am delighted that I will be in the best of hands.

After having passed the physical for my vocal cord surgery in January, I was confident about yesterday’s physical, what they call pre-anesthesia testing. But, with SRS being a very serious surgery, I did not know if the physical would be more extensive.

It was. Barely.

We went through all of the expected things. Katora, who got things off on good foot by complimenting my purse, took my vitals. She then poked my finger, to test my blood sugar, a test not done for the previous surgery. I was curious what it would be, though I’ve never had trouble with my blood sugar. It was 107. A very good number for late morning.

As nurse Karen entered to take my history and go over the instructions for the day before my surgery, things had heated up between Katora and me. Quickly, I had found her to be fun for bantering, so I gave her the full arsenal of my wit and dorkiness.

She had trouble finding a vein in my arm, to draw blood. “You call yourself a phlebotomist?” I needled her. “You know, I can walk the few blocks to 440 University Ave, to IU Health, where Ramitha takes my blood every few months, and she’ll have the vial filled before you know it.” Karen was belly-laughing; Katora was indignant. She pretended to ignore me and headed for the back of my hand.

Ouch! To be poked there stings! Katora got the last laugh on that one.

Clearly, her work here was done. Katora exited and Karen got down to it.

Are you allergic to anything?  Not that I am aware of.

Do you smoke or use tobacco products? Never.

Do you drink? Rarely; maybe a beer or two a month.

Ever use any illicit drugs? Never tried them.

Do you have ANY bad habits? No, Karen. I’m perfect.

Okay, I made up that last one.

Dr. Gallagher’s able office manager, Nicole, had already given me instructions for the surgery, but Karen went over everything. She had one new one. She gave me a bottle of an antiseptic/antimicrobial cleanser, instructing me to wash thoroughly from neck to bottom, both the night before and the morning of surgery. Infection occurs all too easily with this surgery, so all precaution is taken.

Karen was thorough and friendly. She responded to some comment I had made with a question, which led to more questions about all I had gone through leading up to this time. Her concern was genuine, and the questions were good ones. I appreciated them.

We finished up. There. That hurdle was jumped. I had thought it would be the final one. Several weeks ago, when Nicole gave me her set of instructions, I learned of another potential hurdle, and this one might be very tall. Indeed, when I learned of it, I thought, “What on earth? You want me to do what? You’re taking away my lifeline!”

One month before surgery, which was last Saturday, I was to stop taking my hormone replacement therapy (HRT). That means, from now until the surgery and for two weeks after, I will not be injecting estrogen, assisting it with progesterone, and inhibiting testosterone with spironolactone and finasteride.

That means, over the next few weeks, my estrogen level will gradually drop and my testosterone level will rise.

That means, by the time I arrive at surgery day, my testosterone and estrogen should be returned to the levels of a genetic male.

I am a bit scared of this.

Here’s why.

After beginning HRT in September, 2013, I stopped taking it three times. Each time, about a month after stopping, when my levels returned to normal for a male, I crashed. Badly. Worse each time.

Each time I resumed HRT, about a month into it I felt better. I have read and heard enough from other trans women to know that this is a real, physical experience, and not that of the mind—psychosomatic—so dramatically are we humans affected by our sex hormone levels. (Pregnant women are not joking when they blame dramatic mood swings on their hormones being out of whack.)

Why do I have to stop HRT before surgery? First, estrogen helps blood clots form easier. The more estrogen in one’s body, the more prone one is to blood clots. Second, surgery in the mid-section makes a person more prone to blood clots.

Having me stop HRT now, to get me back to the very low estrogen level of a genetic male, is purely for my surgical and post-surgical health, even if it might work against me in other ways in the days leading up to surgery.

I had been on HRT consistently for two years. I’ve now been off of it three days. The clock is ticking toward April 11. Will I crash in the final days before surgery? Might my excitement for this huge event be enough to buoy my spirits?

I am determined not to let anything get me down. For months, and with each passing week, my anticipation has only grown, my desire to have my body match my brain has only heightened.

I am soooo ready for this.

Giggles, grins, and groans

Here are the most recent ways my mind has wasted its days.  I suppose that’s better than my mouth waisting me away.

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When I refer to my house as an estate or castle, I am using a manor of speaking.

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I decided to make my house a castle by installing a ring of water around it. Employing men to keep it clean of marauding intruders (subpoena servers, kids selling cookies and candy bars), they failed at their knightly duty. Hauled before the neighborhood court, the head of the round table, Arthur King, handed down their decision: “You must return to being a house. You have been de-moated!”

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In auto industry news, I heard that production of gas pedals is accelerating.

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I have received some shocking news: I am an only child! My sister told me. My brother confirmed it. And now my other brother is wondering if he also is an only child.

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I got a great deal on this utility pole, but when I was lifting it from my trunk, I dropped it, it rolled down the driveway, spun around the oak tree, and came to a rest in the ditch. I am in desperate need of a pole vault.

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Bless IPL’s heart.  They erected the pole in our back yard, where the old pole was barely able to stand.  It was transformng!

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Since my thermos knows when I put something hot into it so that it keeps it hot, why don’t my sneezes know when I am holding a full cup of coffee?

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Enviously observing the success of Taco Tuesdays at his next door neighbor and friend’s Juan-A-Day Mexican Restaurant, Dieterich decided to heavily promote Wienerschnitzel Wednesdays at his Let’s Go Deutsche Grill.

Dieterich now buses tables at Juan’s.

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I was working on a theory to explain why we experience deja vu, when I had the weird sensation that I had done this before.

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As the tide swept me out to sea, I realized that I should have been keeping up on current events.

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My love for the ocean comes in waves.

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And finally, this one is no joke.  For the first time in my life, I have hair long enough to wear in a pony tail!

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Book excerpt

Since late December, I have been writing my life story. I set a goal to have it completed by the end of winter. Forty-three chapters and over 80,000 words later, I am on track to make my goal. When I have the first draft done, I will seek to find a publisher, most likely by way of first securing a literary agent.

Over the past two years, I have written so much for my blog that it would seem I have few stones of my life left to be unturned. Writing for the book about one of the situations which rocked my life, I penned the following thoughts regarding family rejection. It so profoundly impacts virtually every transgender person that I am sharing it with you now.

This is an excerpt from a chapter. The chapter begins with a specific event which occurred after I transitioned, then concludes as I return to the incident which prompted the thoughts captured in this excerpt.

These are as important as any words I have written regarding what we transgender folks experience.

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Family Rejection

And then I fell apart.

I wanted my old life back.

I bet you know the feeling, when something has happened and you want to get into the wayback machine to the time before everything went wrong. Before your spouse left you. Before you lost your job. Before the doctor’s pronouncement of your cancer. Before a loved one’s death.

I am writing this in the winter of 2017, and I still want it. I knew that the telling of this was going to stab me in the heart. Every difficult event which I have recounted in these pages has moved me to hard tears, to whatever emotion was appropriate to that moment. And, right now, as I typed, “I wanted my old life back,” my jaws hurt from the bitterness of failure, mixed with the tears of loss, because I was unable to maintain my life as a male and transitioning put me into this spot, the rejected one, the outsider which, every time something like this occurs, the hot poker jabs into my eye, the one that burns with, “You transitioned. You knew this was going to happen. It’s your own damned fault.”

From my reading and getting to know trans folks, I believe that one hundred percent of us experience these rejections by family. Sometimes, it is stark: “You are no longer my child.” So commonly, it is blunt: “I’ll never use your new name.” Regularly, they persist in using the pronouns of our birth sex, no matter how much we appeal to them to correct this. Many times, they set ground rules: “You can attend family functions as you, but not as this person you are pretending to be.” And, in that decree, they show their attitude regarding our transitioning. That they have not truly heard us. Have not heard our struggle. Our pain. How badly we have been torn apart for so many years. How much we need to figure this out so that we can finally experience inner peace. Wholeness of being.

We suffer the worst rejection from the ones we need the most. We are not respected in the place where we deeply long to be understood, to be valued, to be a beloved member of the family.

Oh, there will be allies. Perhaps, one of the two parents will be understanding, even wonderfully so. A sibling or two will hear us and rally to our side. Grandparents often surprise us with their love, their ability to accept our revelation, when we fear that their being two generations removed will make that impossible.

We are deeply grateful for the ones who accept us. We rely on them. We cling to their affection. They often go to bat for us. Might make inroads with other family members. Can be the ones who are heard when we are not heard, will not be heard, are no longer given opportunity to be heard.

Sadly, we rarely get that coveted one hundred percent. I have neither met nor read of any trans person who has.

If we don’t get the complete support of our family, there will remain those gatherings we will not be able to attend, to which we will not be invited, when we might even be told we cannot be present—“You will in no way go to the funeral”—but the others, the one or more who reject us, are able to attend, are invited, would never be looked down upon for their rejecting us.

These are the stories that I have heard firsthand from trans folks, the accounts that I have read on social media and blogs and in books, and the situations of my own experience. These are the things which always plumb the depths of our hearts and the pain we suffer, the aching for love, the longing to be understood. To be included.

The hurt is as awful as the warmth of the sun on the first nice day of spring is wonderful.

Of course, we want our friends, too. We suffer similar hurts from them but, in the end, friends are replaceable. Very few friends are lifelong, but come and go with where we live and work and the groups we join. We fill in the hole created by the friends who reject us with other friends and new ones.

But we only have one set of parents. And our children. And siblings. And grandparents. When we lose them, we lose way more than home and acceptance. We lose the first identity we knew in life. The identity we carry in our last name. In our history. In our legacy.

When we transgender women and men and queer and gender fluid persons lose our family, we might as well have awoken from a terrible injury which left us with permanent amnesia. Indeed, when we are cut off from family, amnesia sounds like a good thing, a welcome friend. With no memories comes no pain from the rejection of those who were in our past. A fresh start. The possibility of a level playing field. Build a new family from those who accept and respect us.

This all is what visited me that day, when it was thrust into my face that I was not welcome. That I was rejected. That I was an outsider.

That I am an outsider in my own family.

How will you react?

I intend no offense in the descriptions I make or the pictures I use.  My purpose is to paint as vivid a picture as possible, that I might strike the reader square in the heart.

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There are many things in life which are not typical. Which are out of the ordinary in one’s everyday life. Which are unusual, even to the most experienced person.

There are many things which might be offensive. Visually unpleasant. Emotionally challenging. Politically, religiously, philosophically disagreeable.

Which of these will you accept? In which of these will you treat the non-typical person with the same respect you show to the typical majority? Will include them as any other? Simply accept their situation in life—live and let live—as you accept the so-called “normal” people who do not have any visible or known “abnormalities”? Or things you dislike? Or with which your vehemently disagree?

When you encounter them, how will you react? Will your reaction not even be discernible, or will you recoil in disgust? Let it be, or make a fuss? Let them pass, or immediately leave the party or place because you simply won’t abide with them in your presence?

Who decides what or whom is non-typical? Who determines that this one passes muster and that one doesn’t? Who looks okay and who does not? What behavior—assuming no laws are being broken—is acceptable?

Actually, you do. I do. Each person makes the determination. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so are offensive, unpleasant, challenging, and disagreeable.

The things which might come to your mind while reading this are not those which are objectively determinable—that which offends this one does not offend that one—but subjective, personal, based on how each person is put together, how she or he views things.

I won’t get into political issues. Religion, either. I have in mind things which are visual, which strike the eye as one rounds the aisle in the grocery store, sees at a wedding reception, observes on the street.

I have in mind the person in a wheelchair. Or, not simply in a wheelchair, but who needs to be pushed in order to be mobile. The one who is sitting by you in that restaurant, who needs to be fed. Who might make noises. Who might not have control of his arms. Or his bodily functions.

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I have in mind the overly-obese person. The one who can walk, but the long aisles of large stores necessitates the using of a motorized cart.

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I have in mind the adult in front of you at check-out who uses a government assistance card to make her purchases. The one whose purchases you now scour. A bag of apples? Okay. A package of chicken breasts? Okay. A gallon of milk? Okay. Two bags of Doritos? A twelve-pack of Coke? A carton of ice cream? Alcohol?

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I have in mind the biracial couple. The black man and white woman. Or, since most of my readers are white, the white man or woman with take-your-pick-from-any-other-non-white-people-group. And then they behave as if they like each other. And show public displays of affection.

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I have in mind the gay or lesbian couple. Reread the previous paragraph and now picture two men, or two women.

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I now have in mind the queer couple.

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I have in mind that guy with tattoos all over his face. And neck. And arms.

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The person with piercings . . .

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. . . or with brightly dyed hair.

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I have in mind the person whose appearance fits in with what is your norm, but when she speaks out comes a foreign language. And it becomes obvious that she can’t speak more than a few words of English.

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I have in mind that man standing with the sign, seeking money or food or a job, whom you see every day where you get off the freeway on your way home from work.

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Finally, I have in mind that person who clearly means to present as female or male but you can easily tell that how he or she is dressed is not the sex on their original birth certificate.

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What do you do with any of these, whose appearance, or sexuality, or gender, or “lifestyle,” or nationality does not fit your views on life?

Frankly, I am not concerned if any of these bother you. Whether some of them are objectionable. Even offensive. I am not looking for all of humankind to fit into a cookie-cutter mold where we all have the same beliefs and feelings. What I am looking for are reactions.

Reactions are telling. They expose feelings and beliefs.  And they especially reveal prejudices.

  • “Why do they have to bring crippled people out in public? Disgusting!”
  • “Can’t fat people just stop putting a fork into their mouths? Disgusting!”
  • “If my taxes have to help pay for the food of the poor, I should be able to go through their purchases to make sure they aren’t wasting my money. Disgusting!”
  • “The more we mix the races, the more trouble we have. Disgusting!”
  • “Queers! Enough said! Disgusting!”
  • “Hey, tattooed and pierced people.  You don’t have to look at yourselves when you are out in public, but I have to look at you. Disgusting!”
  • “This is America. If you can’t speak English, go back to where you came from. Disgusting!”
  • “Beggars! If they really wanted a job, they would find one. I did grunt labor for years at minimum wage and made something of myself. They can, too. Disgusting!”
  • “Transgender? They might as well be poor, obese, queer, tattooed, pierced, begging for money, and married to a queer of another color. It would complete the mess which is their lives. Disgusting!”

When you find something disgusting, how will you react? If your disgust prompts mean-spirited comments or jokes, eye rolls, or making fun, whom are you serving? Whom are you helping? Are you making your community better?

If you will visually or verbally react, might you eventually physically react? Teach the disgusting ones the lesson they need to be taught? Destroy their property?  Harm them in their body? Post about it on social media for the purpose of inciting more similar behavior from those who already think the way you do?

If you will do any of the above, I will never be in agreement with you. If, however, you find a situation needing change, and you use legal means to address it—writing to your representatives, lawfully picketing, peacefully and respectably protesting, posting well-thought-out, non-belligerent pieces on social media—and do so without distorting facts or ignoring the inalienable rights of others, whether or not I agree with you I will respect you for your efforts.

This world belongs to every person in it. Every person, who is acting lawfully, deserves to be able to go about freely, shop freely, gather freely, without fear of snarky comments and looks of disdain. Without fear of the next jerk who will make them feel like they are less of a human being.  Without fear of bodily harm.  Without feeling they need to sleep at night with one eye open.

Remember, you  typical and “normal” ones, who hold others to your personal standard, to check your hypocrisy at the door if you are one whose kids get nothing more than your put-downs, or who justifies cheating on taxes because the government already gets enough of your money, or who can’t purchase what your family needs because of money blown at a casino, or who promises the next door neighbor to trim those overhanging branches but has no intention of doing so, or whose family longs for the affection you give to your alcohol, or who goes out with friends while your child looks for you in the audience of his concert or sitting in the stands at her ball game, or . . .

You can name as many other ways as I in which humans go about their lives as typical and “normal,” but who have a long way to go in living up to the high standard of what it means to be a respectable human being.  How people appear, dress, speak, experience their gender or sexuality, or how rich or poor they are rarely factor into how they act.

People you reject might be more moral, have a higher ethic, practice greater compassion and caring, be nicer neighbors, harder workers, and be better citizens than the ones who look typical, whose behavior is “normal.”

The ones whom everyone accepts, just because of how they look, what language they speak, with whom they associate.

We people do not come out of a cookie cutter. Externally, internally, we all are unique. Appearances do not reveal the quality of a person. When we realize these things, and when we remember that we want to live in peace, and go about our tasks without fear of being harassed or folks making fun of us or harming us, the world might finally have a chance of being a really good place to be.

A good place for all.