11 March 2007

A writing exercise

I spent yesterday at Gather the Women event in San Bernardino - my second attendance, after one back in October 2005. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who shared feminist perspectives on the world.

Just like last time, my mentor Gayle Brandeis was scheduled to do a women's spirituality writing workshop. But the timing (2PM) was not right, and I ended up being the only one to show up ready to write. This turned the workshop into a wonderful one-on-one opportunity to explore my novel and do some exercises related to it.

One of the exercises Gayle had me do was to have Sarah write me a letter. I am posting the letter (in all its roughness) here, and eventually this may find its way into the finished work as well. I was out of ideas as I came up with the letter, but it was quite eye-opening.

Dear Rachel,

I want you to remember, as you finish my story, that I am grateful to you for documenting my life.

I sincerely hope that no one suffers from gender identity mismatch like you and I did. But God has decreed that one in a few thousand will suffer from it, so it is important that our stories are told.

I want people to remember that people like me are far from alone, and are not going away. I long for a day when someone like you and I can run for public office on ability alone, but reality is not there yet. But I’ve been fortunate enough to have flown for a major airline, and to make a dignified living for myself.

Thank you for blessing me with many wonderful people. Without my supportive parents and friends, I might be just another statistic. I hope that as you tell my story, people will become more accepting of the likes of us.

Thanks also for the downs in my life, especially the high school jocks and the layoff, to remind people that we still suffer from the society’s prejudices. But thanks also for allowing me to recover – something many of our sisters will never get around to.

I hope that if telling my life story saves the life of even one transperson, or makes one cisgender person more sympathetic, then it would’ve done its job.

Thanks again for telling my story, and for giving me a wonderful life.


(Afterthought: Sarah needs to whine a little bit in this letter. For example, she could talk about the sperm bank visit, and how embarrassing it was.)

We also did exercises naming female role models for Sarah (I named Kwan Yin and the chess queen, as well as ideas on how to improve Sarah's mother), and what makes her tick and say "YES" (I named womanhood itself, and little things that come along with it from feminist camaraderie to retro fashion, as well as Sarah's aviation interests).

A priceless workshop session, I have to say. Every aspiring writer needs a good mentor, and I am fortunate to have one in Gayle.

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