Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Calling

(by Michele Angelique)

I do not know what it is, but my recent introduction to the transgender community has sparked some truly amazing feelings in me. I am a passionate person in general, but no single other thing in my life experience has ever grabbed my attention with such undeniable magnetism, such pure force, that it feels almost divinely inspired. I am compelled to make a positive contribution to the transgender cause, though I can not explain why I feel so strongly inclined. I can only try to tell you what is motivating me.

My writings to date are the tip of the iceberg of what has been welling up inside of me, there is so much that waiting to burst through to the written word. From the very first moment I interacted with a tgirl (in person or otherwise), in March 2005, I was captivated. I joined URNA in April and found all of you, each so special and beautiful in your own right, and yet so under-represented. I am positively blown away to find so many extraordinary, talented, intelligent, kind-hearted people all together in one group.

Yin spirits in yang bodies, you are brilliant in my eyes. You are nothing like the negative stereotypes that society sees. Yet my heart breaks at the realization that you are trapped, like beautiful caged birds, not so much by your bodies but by social oppression. The injustice of your plight overwhelms me, and I am driven by the desire to help you, to do whatever I can to emancipate you.

It seems to me that a minor shift in perception is all that is needed to trigger widespread acceptance of transgenderism. If others could see as I see, there would be no more lonely tgirls. I see so many obvious merits to the feminine evolution of man, so many points of understanding I want to communicate, yet I have been holding back these thoughts. I have been trying to block them out of my mind, but without success. I know this could consume me if I let it. I fear that if I open the floodgate and let it start pouring out, how will I focus on my successful but demanding career which has been 10 years in the making? Am I ready to start from scratch?

I look at what is more important, more fulfilling, in terms of life goals and I wonder: is this corporate finance career I have made simply a distraction from my true purpose of making a difference in this world? Yet if I am to move forward on a larger goal of openly dedicating myself to helping create new understanding of transgender identity, my finance career will not survive. These are mutually exclusive life paths, and I am standing at the fork in the road. If I want to climb the corporate ladder, I can not risk putting myself on a site like URNotAlone. I am easy to recognize so I could not live a double-life. All forms of discrimination are rampant in the upper ranks of the old wasp boys club finance/investment world, and to succeed in that world it would be necessary to maintain the status quo in all aspects of my life.

Being honest with myself heralds the realization that the status quo would be a waste of my precious human life. The beauty is, it is not too late for me to forge a new path, one that is more meaningful and important than spending my days working to make money for greedy strangers. I have pursued the field of finance not because I love money, but so that I may one day be in a financial position to fulfill my philanthropic dreams. My largest goal in life has always been to somehow make a positive difference. I am coming to realize that my present path may be the long way around. I have always been entrepreneurial, willing to take risks, and I know that this new path must be driven by a leap of faith. It just feels more right to me than anything I have felt before.

What I am feeling is not grounded in logic. I know I will suffer short term losses in pursuit of longer term gains for others, but it is what I must do. It feels as though a larger force is tapping me on the shoulder, calling upon me to deliver a message that is more important than anything else I could ever do. I want to do whatever is in my power to help you to cast off your shackles, unlock your closet doors and reclaim your true identities. This might sound grandious, but all change starts somewhere, why not here? As Lao Tzu says, even a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Whatever progress we make here as a group will help to pave the way for the coming generations of transgendered people. You do not have to come out of the closet to make a valuable contribution to this cause. If through our united expression, we can work against the negative stereotypes, and produce even a glimmer of positive understanding from society at large, life will get easier for all of you.

I have decided to trust my instinct, follow my heart, and dedicate myself to your beautiful path. I can not explain what force has guided my ship to your shoreline, all I know is it is made of pure intention and based on love. I am here with you to stay, and will contribute my abilities, resources and time to making a better world for you.

Thank you all for welcoming me with open arms.

12 comments:

Jenna said...

Let me be the first to leave a comment. Because no reply to this post is necessary.

Michele, I love you. Your warmth and empathy, love and support ooze from your text like honey from the hive.

This higher calling is one I too have felt. I gave up a sucessful career in finance also, to spend more time available to help others. Unfortunately, mostly local girls.

Thank you for your contributions and may God Bless your path.

Jenna Taylor

Marlena Dahlstrom said...

I wish I could share your optimism that only a minor shift in perception is needed to trigger widespread acceptance.

So that make me all the more filled with love that someone would make a personal sacrifice on our behalf. The dilemma you faced is one that we've all wrestled with, so I know it's not a decision made lightly.

With admiration and love,
Darla

Shannon said...

Hey Michele,

First of all, let me say thank you. Thank you for the love you've shown our little subculture, thank you for bringing all your strength and insight to bear upon it, and thank you just for being you! It is appreciated. *kiss*

I know this was a tough decision for you. There is risk in accepting who you are; we've all been smacked in the face with that. But this is a path you *must* follow. I'm glad I don't have to tell you that, because you've discovered it for yourself. And isn't that the best source of all.

Love you tons,

-Shannon

P.S. So when are we going to do Oprah together?

It's Victoria Derhen... really! said...

Michelle, I admire you even more for your commitment to take such a stand. And I thank you for what you've done already, if just for organizing this blog (even though I know it goes much further than that) that brought out such amazing insights from the contributors. I may be able to give up therapy soon :)

I know we girls would take up a collection to tide you over for a while, but with the declining US$ and all, I have a feeling the total wouldn't come near to your corporate compensation ;)

Xs and Os,
Victoria

Stacie said...

Michele;

If you travel the path you feel destined to travel, you will need to support yourself and there in lays the rub. Most of us are not independently wealthy so we have to make a living.

This may sound crazy, but perhaps our paths were destined to cross because I might have a solution for you.

One of the reasons I responded to your initial post in the genetic women who love crossdressers group was your use of Yin & Yang to describe feminine and masculine energy. That was not something I expected and told me you are a thinker, that you studied or at least read about Chinese philosophy and thought.

Your reference of Lao Tzu and the use of a nautical metaphor for ending up on the shores of 'trannyland' in this post only reinforces my feeling that I was right to respond to your post.

You are one of the few people I've met, to talk about Yin and Yang and/or Lao Tzu. (I first read Lao Tzu in the early 70's but had not picked it up in the last few years.) Your nautical metaphor also struck home because I spent over 20 years in the US Navy.

So, by responding instead of lurking like I normally do, you ended up inviting me to join this blog. Then you decided you wanted to help the transgeneder community, and you need to make a living while doing that, and I happend to have a potential solutioj for you.

Her name is Jo An Torres and she is the owner of I Love It in Fremont, CA. Her URNA Profile is - http://profiles.urnotalone.com/44092
her yahoo group is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iloveitgirl/
and her website is http://www.iloveitgirl.com/

When I first met Jo An, she didn't know it was her calling to help us either. She was just running a vintage/used clothing & costume rental store. She ran an ad is some of the TG communities newsletters,(which was how I met her) but was not otherwise very involved in our community. Today, while she still has her brick and motar store today, she is also now very involved in supporting our community. Unfortunately, her husband is going to retire in a few years and they plan to retire to New Mexico. So unless someone steps up to take over, in a few years I Love It will be no more.

So please check her out and see what you think. Is it not destiny that you met me just before you decide that your destiny lies in helping us, and I happend to know that Jo An is looking for a GG to replace her ?

Jo An believes strongly that whoever takes over her business needs to be a GG. Of course, you'll probably have to move to California, but if it's your calling, then it will happen.

Now I may be totally out in left field about this, but my gut feeling is you would be the right person for the job. Maybe you could start off by just joining her group to get a field for the girls that are in group. She helps a tremendous number of new girls and new or old girl, we all love her. I believe Darla is a member of her group. I don't know about any of the other girls here. Any of you other ladies who know Jo An/I Love It can chime in.

Whatever the outcome, I'm glad to be part of your blog. Thank you. Let me close by paraphrasing something from Zen Buddhism - What is gender? The mind is gender!

Love to all of you.

Stacie, the philosopher. Not

Rhenaiya said...

There simply aren't words for me to express the effect you have on my life. The long conversations we have given me a fresh perspective. Your understanding and willingness to grow along side of me as a person inspire me to be the best woman I can be. Your affection reminds me to love myself. I doubt I will ever be able to show my full gratitude. Much love, meow...

Dee Femina said...

Hi Michele

You are a truly amazing person. There is nothing more rewarding than pursuing one's calling instead of the constant chase after money and status. And off course I absolutely admire and love you for taking up our cause (I feel a similar calling, but that's another topic).

HOWEVER, I must sound a word of warning. And this is going to go contrary to all the other comments.

The warning is that we as t-girls are or can be inclined to disappoint or let people down. Not because we are bad people, but because our lives can be so complicated.

So carefully think about this and know that we may disappoint you at times or even often. You may be ready to take on the world, and that's wonderful, but when you look behind you to see where we are in support, you may find many (or most) of us missing and in hiding.

I'm only saying this because I don't want you to get hurt or disappointed.

Dee Femina said...

Michele

Have you read "My Husband Betty" by Helen Boyd?

You should! Helen is a journalist (in NYC) and she is married to a t-girl. She is actively and fairly publicly working in the field of your Calling. Have a look at http://www.myhusbandbetty.com/ .

Helen can be fairly direct in some of her views about us. In some way she doesn't believe we are a worthy cause because we aren't prepared to stand up for ourselves. And you know what, I tend to agree with her.

So sweetness, read "My Husband Betty", talk to Helen Boyd, maybe talk to my friend Cyanne as well (she has much much in common with you)....and then think some more about all of this. And only then decide whether this is a cause you want to throw yourself into or whether you should continue to search for that cause that will bring true meaning to your life.

Alexis Rene said...

Michele,

Wow!!! If this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you have been feeling inside... I can't wait to read more...It is getting like an addiction here when I see you have wrote something new.:)

K as someone else noted no reply is "necessary" to what you have wrote, While true, I am tossing in my 2 cents.....
I see things in two different lights...
One is what Dee wrote...My first comment when I saw this posting a few days ago was going to head into that very direction.... But you already know the perfect and the imperfect nature of all of this.
As I am sure you have already made and lost friends who were there, then gone as suddenly as they appeared. Some as they went back into reclusiveness and denial. It happens sadly and abruptly.:( <~ I know cause I did it a few years back so feel I can say it out loud.
You are the only one who knows where the balance of it all lies for you.

The other point is the magic of your whole story lies in just three little words..."Leap of Faith".
Within that is where all the "magic" is held. In my view you took that leap by posting a profile at URNA with a picture, You took that leap while engaging in the ratings thingy, with great success I might add! Additonally by posting here all the while becoming so much more of a prolific personna....Some never find that calling in which to leap towards and live within the mundanes of a ho-hum life.

So you have already proven that you have the wings to fly. I knew you were hiding them somewhere Angel! :) Keep your faith girl and you will land on your feet everytime.

If there is anyway we can help or do anything just say the word.

Arianne said...

All I can add that wasn't already said is;

Oscar Wilde once wrote "I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works."

You could certainly start by writing a book. ;o)

But he also said "It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating"...

Life is all about choices isn't it.

Whomever holds your hand through this journey will be the happiest person on earth.

With love, awe and admiration,

Arianne

Karen Reeves said...

Michele, so much of life is a crossroads. It's the fork in the road, the wonder of the "path not taken".

In our world society success is measure by financial gain. If you have a large salary you are a so called "winner". If your salary is low you are a "loser".

Sadly success is not measured by bettering the world, by helping others. Money spent to improve the future lags while we seek immediate gratification. A pro football player earns many times the yearly salary of a nurse or teacher. Martha Stewart becomes a convicted felon and gains a new televison show.

Michele, you have looked into the crystal ball and decided $$$ is NOT an ends in and of itself. The holy dollar is not enough.

The betterment of the human condition is your goal. How inspiring, how uplifting, how simply dignified and truly honest !

I totally admire you and respect you ! How many have caved in to the language of monetary greed ?

I bow my head to you in ultimate respect and admiration. Thank you for supporting us Tgirls and reaffirming our existence.

You are an inspiration ! Hopefully others out there will see the light and follow your beacon. For me it's a beacon of hope for a better world.

Most Sincerely,

KAREN

Michele Angelique said...

Karen, thank you so much for posting a comment in response to my article "The Calling". Since writing it, I have come to a new realization. While it's true it would be difficult to pursue the conventional "corporate finance ladder" while at the same time publicly representing and advocating for the transgender community, my life paths may not be as mutually exclusive as I once thought.

You see, I have invested the past 10 years in developing my corporate finance career, much of my effort has been directed at the educational aspect. I've got a university degree, extensive securities/investment training, and my Level II Chartered Financial Analyst (yes! I *did* pass the exam!). Rather than investing my time climbing a ladder in someone else's company, I have invested largely in my own *brain*... while a ladder can be ripped out from under me, no one can take away what's stored inside my head.

What I've realized is that the knowledge I've gained still has value, and so long as I don't allow myself to be put into a vulnerable position where politics and discrimination could occur, I can still earn a good living. At the moment, I am consulting for about 10 different companies, charging an hourly rate for my services which is double what I would make working for someone else. While I don't have a regular "paycheck", I do have the security of knowing that if anyone doesn't agree with something I'm doing, it's not going to change my life. So long as I don't relegate myself to having a single client (ie: one employer), I'll be ok. Whatever it is that I do in the future will have to be on an independent basis, which fits well with me because I am highly entrepreneurial.

This brings me to my next conclusion... what I've learned in the past 10 years about business and finance can also be used to further develop our cause. I have many entrepreneurial visions for projects we can do that will benefit the transgender community. In many ways, I would undertake these projects in much the same way I would any other business, except the goal would not so much be "shareholder value" but rather "community value". My investment experience can be used to generate funds at a more rapid pace than would otherwise be possible, which can then be reinvested into our organization and enable us to do more. In addition to promoting understanding and celebration, I want to help the TG community in tangible ways... this will require money. Although the linkage between my finance background and my involvement in the TG community can not be readily seen at this time, I am a strong believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. We just have to trust that everything will come together as it should. For outsiders looking in, what I'm doing may not make logical sense. For you people and those who know me well, we can all agree that I am following my heart.

When faced with the choice of spending my life making piles of money for nameless, faceless greedy strangers or corporations vs. dedicating myself to making a better world for beautiful loving people who are currently misunderstood... well, there really is no choice is there?

I've never felt so much love in my heart as I do for you all.

Michele