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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Of ordinary strength


I was recently asked to provide input for a piece being written in Baltimore GayLife concerning Women's History Month. I was asked who my role models were and if I knew any Sheroes (she-heroes, women regarded as heroes.) After citing several role models and women I admired and looked up to, I was informed by the author, I had be listed as a shero by someone else and if I could write a little something on it.

Humility, that ever elusive sliver of mercury, impossible to grasp and deadly to hold,  has been my guide. I failed but managed this:

I’m Jenna Fischetti. I have been a facilitator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland’s (GLCCB) Gender Identity Group since 2006. It is a peer led group for gender non conforming persons. I have been sober for 6 years. In both areas of my life, it was necessary for me to seek integrity.
For me, the moment I integrate the inner and the outer, I produce integrity. The processes for sobriety and for gender authenticity require that I take the actions (outer) so that I may live the truth (inner).
The amazing dynamic which has appeared in my life is that these lessons, these experiences transcend sobriety and gender authenticity. They apply in everyday life, to everything I do. I was just blessed with the gift of alcoholism and a gender which is free of a binary construct. Without these opportunities in my life, it is impossible to say I would have ever known real integrity.
The growth that I must go through in order to consummate my truth in all areas of my life requires that I live to be of love and serve to others. Worthy intentions indeed, yet it is imperfect in persistent practice.
Moreover, I am humbled when I am approached by peers and those outside the select recovery or transgender communities who use words like “courageous”, “inspiring” “brave”.  I suspect I never gave those words a second thought before. It is because the words they use describe actions I took because of my faith in God, in my Creator. Simply put, it was a Power far greater than I.
When I let go of the notion that I alone could author change and accepted that I needed help from others, my life changed. My God works through other people. The men and women in my life who were overtaken by societal expectations of their gender, forced to deny their own truth, helped me by allowing me be of service to them. The peers imprisoned in drug and alcohol addictions, wanting to be free, yet not knowing a path, were my life rafts to safety. No, for it is most assuredly in giving that I have received. If any one ever believes I’m a SHERO, it is because they see the actions of countless others helping me along the Way.
Today there are Principles I have as Guidelines in my life. They give me strength to grow spiritually. It is my basic spiritual believe that each and every human possesses a spirit, a soul which is equal to all others and embodies the Divine. Our bodies, our minds, our gender are the diversities we utilize to touch and help each others. My experiences help you, and your experience help me. The end game is to awaken the Spirit in all of us to practice love and tolerance of others. Again, this Way is imperfect in persistent practice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Do I Feel at the End of the Day...



“We can worry about who is this and who is that, we can argue about who does or doesn’t belong. We can talk about how much more legitimate one or another of us is. In the end, we’re all somebody’s freak – and basic human dignity is not a privilege of the lucky superior few, but a right of all or none.” -Gwendolyn Ann Smith
I've been busy. Life is full and so are its challenges, especially for a member of the transgender community.  

I've lost friends and gained new ones. I’d been forced to find new surroundings and met the challenge with open arms. Like most transgender people in this country, I live well below the poverty line ( <$9,000 per year, albeit the concept of “poverty” in this country is relative) I’ve had my life threatened on the streets of Baltimore and the shoebox I sleep in is just cozy enough to refresh me for the morning trek to the bus stop daily.

I can not begin to claim I am an expert on the challenges of small finance and street harassment  but I am working on my Masters.  I am a transgender person without means for FFS, SRS or at least an orchiectomy. I am unable to swirl a fat check (no, not fat chick as I do not want any “hate mail”) into the coffer of those promoting the Slow March to Equality, nor would I want to.

I exist, I believe, at the Will of my Creator.
  The length of the hallway between that door which opens after the other one closes, is sometimes very long, but its always just as long as its supposed to be (Thank you Gil). The experiences I live through, both good and bad simply serve to give me the tools I need at this very moment.

So while I may consider myself one of those at extreme risk of the rampant transphobia which exists in this world, I am not above the principles of spirituality I wish to ascribe to. It’s just that I have a standard I have to uphold irrespective of the chicanery of others.  Because someone professes virtue yet practices them not, I am not excused from my own action. Even if the acts of others increase the risk I face, I have to accept they are as they are supposed to be. I do not have to approve of them. I can stand up against them, however, I must not allow my principles to be martyred.


So, those of privilege who feel they speak aptly for those without and do so with the smugness and hubris of royalty, I wish to offer you peace and wellness. I need not approve of your thinly veiled cries for notoriety and popularity which wherefore previously escaped you. You were simply just the bullied geek in the hall, band instrument in hand, and alone.

I know because we are one in that.

May we grew as one in this.


Monday, January 17, 2011

And POOF! I'm an Icon

..wave the magic wand and a few thousand dollars, you too can be held up as the latest poster child for Role Model and success story in the Wonderful World of Dizzy.

I'm not sure where we went wrong. In the rush to crown role models, or more appropriately, Idols on the par with any popular television show, we have skewed our sense of success. It is not longer that triumph of the internal struggle and its profound impact on the lives of countless others, , its the attainment of the most recent procedure, the hobnobbing with the current In Crowd and the swilling of the fattest check in the trough of Gay Inc. No, by any measure of a civilized society, these are not qualities consistent to Character or Greatness, let alone Leadership. They are monoliths to Self.

There appears to be an interesting turn of events with former members of our Elite. They've seem to have descended Sinai, wiser and more humble for the experience and have quietly taken a place of worth. One such person, at times much maligned of recent, has been drawing my admiration for her quest in life. The improvement and empowerment of individual change in the lives in a local community. Nothing national. Just wishing to make an impact. She is becoming that true role model. I wish to learn from you.

Another has calmly existed for years, a voice of reason and clarity. Always striking accord with serenity in our Sea of Calamity. When derisive debate erupts, I can turn to a pearl or two of wisdom and calmness and reflect. Her vision sees the harmony in the discord.

They are all around us. Some formerly notorious and notable, others becoming obscure. Many never shone bright on the big stage, but all seek selflessness. These are my Icons. My hero and heroine.

The Narcissist and the Autocrat are not my cuppa. Earl Gray suits me just fine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Child Within

A dear friend presented me with this book to assist me with mediation. Sadly, I'm only recently spent time with my nose in it. However, as with our friendship, when the student was ready, the lesson plan would appear.


The Child Within - Many of the emotional wounds that we carry around were inflicted when we were children. One way to heal such wounds is to comfort the child within. Imagine a child standing before you. Gazing down at the child, you realize that its you when you were small. Kneel down beside the child and introduce yourself. Encourage them to come toward you. If they are willing, hold them close to your heart in a warm embrace. Reassure the child that they are safe in your arms and that you will always be there to protect them from harm.I burst into tear the moment I saw, myself, standing there, arms at my side, no more than 4 years old looking very much like the photo here.



I reached towards him and was distracted by a message from a friend. And I realized, the true message. My vulnerability is my strength. My growth comes from it. Like the inner child I seek to protect, God sees me as His inner child and is there, on His knee, offering me His hand, and holding me near His heart, protecting me on my journey.
I am blessed and for that I am eternally grateful.


"A great man is he who does not lose his child's heart" -Meng Tzu (c.372-c.289BC)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Decade

Happy New Decade to all of my friends and family. A side effect of being a bit geeky is knowing that the New Millenium and thus Century and Decade started on 01/01/01. This means of course last night marked the close to our very first decade of a very apparent brave New World. Most for the obvious reasons, many for reasons yet obscured, yet I suspect, we all feel great change. I know I do.


In looking back, but briefly, I've seen the lost of deeply cherished loved one and the placing of new ones in my life. I've seen my old notions eradicated only to witness new ones germinate. I've taken stock of growth in others, albeit finding that growth within myself too.


My tears, my laughter, my fears, my joy, my struggles and my Faith all still exist. However they have changed. I have changed. The world I view through my own eyes has changed and for once, I end a decade grateful for it all.



Monday, December 27, 2010

Dear Holdout Coworker,

Dear Coworker,
I realize you are the lone hold out of my peers at work which refuses to accept my existance. I understand when you refuse to reply to my hellos. I can have empathy with your disrespect of my personal property by throwing it away. I feel the rise in your bile as I sit directly across from you in the break room causing you move to another table. My dear coworker, I am compelled to love you with every ounce of my existance, even when its seems to go to no good. Because sweet friend, oh frightened one of questioning faith and strength, you are I and I am you.

Love,
You

Friday, December 17, 2010

My coming out note from May 2010

I wanted share a note I wrote on a profile I kept of me, presenting as male. I wanted those who I was friends with to be told in a manner in which I controlled the tone.


I sincerely hope this note helps someone else, either in their own transition, or in coming to terms with a friend or family members coming to terms.


Dear Friends,

After years of struggling, therapy, love and support, I am finally being true to myself. I realize this may come as a shock to some of you. To others, you've been with me all the way. I am not changing who I am, just how I present on the outside to match who I truly am inside.(1 Samuel 16:7).


Every moment we shared was real. Every laugh, every tear, every heartbreak and every joy served to bind our lives together. Each and everyone of you has been an instrumental part of my growth, my life and my sobriety. I only hope we will continue to grow from here.

I am closing this profile down and redirecting all of my friends to my true and active profile at


http://www.facebook.com/jennaelizabeth


I will not try to send you a friends request. I will allow you to make that decision on your own. I only have the deepest love and respect for each and everyone of you.


God Bless you on your journeys,


Jenna Elizabeth Fischetti

Monday, November 22, 2010

I wasn't the only one with a "Coming Out" story in my family

In May of this year, I removed any pretenses of my own making, which served to deflect the attentions of anyone, including my family, to who I truly am.


The reactions were mixed as expected. Six months later I can see perspectives held by friends and family members for what they are, their own opinions of who I am and what they believe to be truth in the World. I can allow them to live in their beliefs with the comfort that many only want happiness and eternal life for me, as they understand it.


In this process I have received numerous words of comfort from friends and old acquaintances. Many professing offers of support whenever they may be needed by me. This outpouring is even from friends of friends or barely known coworkers at previous jobs. Yet the greatest support I have received to date is with someone else sharing their own Coming Out process.


After a half of a year into this, I was left comforted by the reactions of my immediate family, whether it was positive or negative. For the positive was unexpected, and the negative less than feared. However, the conversation I had with my father last Monday, was to set me free.


We, at some point in our discussion, entered upon the topic of how my "process" was going, how my level of acceptance from others was impacting me. Fairly enlightened subject from a man I feared my entire life. I proceeded to explain that ultimately, the level of comfort was of my determination, and that it was my acceptance of others that would see me through. What followed surprised me.


My father is Head of the Parish Council at the local Catholic Church. He chooses to attend daily services. He has a political viewpoint which runs to the Conservative side of the spectrum. He has told off colored jokes in the past. But this night, we strolled in the realm of spirituality and I was enlighten.


Our discussion from six months back had my father relating my parents thoughts at that time, that I might be gay, but that when I started dating, they felt I was just going through a phase(referencing my crossdressing behavior as a preteen). That, presently, it would be easier for him to understand me if I was before him explaining that in fact I was gay. For he had a context, an understanding of what homosexuality is. Yet, transgender was more difficult. He also shared that,he would need to understand transgenderism better and the only context he had was a mutual friend of his skiing buddy from our very same hometown who transitioned 20+ years ago. So in seeking truth, he asked me how my process was going. As I explained the details I could see a different reaction on my fathers face, for I was speaking not technically, but from my heart. I spoke in terms of spirituality and not of physicality. He then offered me this. " I can only relate to you from my own Coming Out process, and have grown to understand the word Empathy.


My parents were Carter Democrats, blue collar Baltimorians at heart. Raised Roman Catholic, they had a profound spiritual conversion in the late 70's. They became born-again Christians. My father was to relate to me his experience in coming out for Christ in a world which looked askance upon such beliefs. I too, as their child displayed my disapproval at their following. My father named his newly formed company Christian Real Estate. Lost friends and business associates all because he was being true to himself. His process, as he relates today has given him empathy. He can seek to understand what the Christian Scientist believes or of what the mindset of Socialist political opinions may hold. That true Christianity offered us humility through our differences and tolerance for our shortcomings.


I hear, read and see much in the way of attacks upon others, simply because we do not like their view or our perceived lifestyles. And these from the community of diversity towards those without such open mindedness. I, as a professed child of God, am ill equipped for such thoughts. For that, I am grateful.