Everybody Needs A Little Time Away

I am on a self-imposed mental health break from Facebook. It’s unfortunate, because that is my connection to a lot of the people in my life, but I just needed a little less of the outside world for awhile. My patience for willful ignorance, always at a premium anyway, has worn even more thin now that I regularly engage trans-phobes and try to break through the walls of ridiculous notions and false information. It’s tiring.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I am speaking on a panel next month at an event put on by the sexuality education group at the nearby college. It’s about Kink, which is pretty broad. Not sure what the other panelists are about. I guess I’ll find out.


BDSM & The Trans Community 

Thanks to gross misrepresentation in popular culture (due in large part to the deplorable “50 Shades” franchise), the long maligned and misunderstood aspects of human behavior known as BDSM/”kink” are lately even less understood. To the average person, the mere mention of BDSM conjures up images of violence and abuse. While it might be easier for practitioners to simply hide their inclinations from the general public, I think this is problematic. Just as I feel there need to be representatives of the trans community putting themselves into the public eye to normalize “trans-ness”, so too does the BDSM/kink community need such representatives. Not only is the misrepresentation of this approach to life, love, and sexual expression unfair, but in the right circumstances, certain elements of BDSM and BDSM relationships can actually be helpful tools in processing and coping with some of the issues many trans people experience. I intend here to touch on just a few, to give those with minimal exposure to the actual practice of BDSM an idea of the possible beneficial roles healthy BDSM can play in the lives of those inclined to explore it. This approach will focus on the BDSM lifestyle, not actual sexual activities. While these can be and often are an integral part of a BDSM relationship, it is not necessary to include them in such a discussion, and in reality I feel would even distract from my purpose. Throughout this piece, I will make reference to BDSM concepts by their known parlance in the community. A brief explanation of these abbreviations and terms will follow.

One of the first things I’m often asked when I reveal that I’m a Dominant is about my gender identity and power roles. The public (including many in the trans community) tend to think of women in general and trans women specifically as naturally submissive. Add to the fact that my chosen gender presentation is unabashedly “traditionally femme”, and people are often caught off guard when they discover that I’m a Domme. While this clearly points out problematic assumptions about gender identity and gender roles, on a more personal scale it’s easily understandable. I, too, asked myself the same questions during my self-discovery and early transition. Am I still a Dominant? What’s the difference between Dom and Domme, really? How much of what I think is my natural inclinations towards dominance is really me, and how much is just the (toxic) masculinity I adopted when playing that role for so many decades? This was a very important part of my coming to terms with being trans, and I almost lost myself in it. There are precious few resources that address these concerns.

Further questioning of assumed power dynamics in regards to gender identification, from within the BDSM community, illuminates another point that I think worthy of note. The concept of “Femme Domme” or feminine/female domination is deeply connected to many aspects of BDSM, both in intimate practice and in lifestyle. Within the community, women who are interested in expressing dominance are highly sought after, by men and women alike- even moreso if they have considerable experience doing so. There are myriad sub-types of domination, many totally removed from the bedroom or bedroom analogue.  What does this say about what society seems to expect of women, versus what a large, but hidden, portion of society openly pursues and praises? How does this affect how we as trans people should view ourselves as we struggle through our personal journeys of discovery? Is there a case to be made for indulging in one’s inclinations towards dominance in this way, in order to freely express one’s self without fear of being judged for not conforming to societal expectations?

Some practices within BDSM seem to be purely of the bedroom-analogue type, but actually extend into the life of the practitioners. One such practice is known as “forced chastity”, where a mechanical device is used to restrict access to the genitals. Those who engage in forced chastity tend to be submissives, although I do know of some “switch” couples who practice mutual forced chastity. The people I’ve talked to that engage in this practice talk often of the feeling of disconnect they have because of the device. The restriction is symbolic of the power they have elected to give their Dominant over themselves and their bodies; it reminds them that those parts do not “belong to them” anymore. The specifics of how this plays out in practice varies from couple to couple, but the idea of this disconnect is common. This leads one immediately to think of genital dysphoria, suffered by numerous trans people who feel their genitals are “wrong”. Could this be a tool to lessen that distress? Properly managed by a caring dominant, it seems this idea of separation can be enhanced and channeled. The dysphoric person who wishes to not have those genitals might find some comfort in the idea that even though still physically attached, those offending parts aren’t theirs anymore. And, if they aren’t theirs, then they certainly can’t define them. It’s not clear how effective this might be on a broad scale, but this is an example of how combining concepts of BDSM with challenges faced by trans people might yield possible solutions worthy of further consideration. My limited experience and discussion with members of both groups imply a lot of promise, but these discussions won’t ever happen without bringing these groups together for that purpose.

The most interesting overlap between BDSM and being trans, to me, is the idea of D/s relationships as a healthy analogue of and surrogate for a failed relationship with an authority figure, such as when a trans person is rejected by parents or family. This is a sadly widespread experience in the trans community, and many practitioners of BDSM openly admit to finding comfort in their relationships as a replacement for the lost approval and support of their parents or other such figures of authority.  The benefits here should be obvious, provided the submissive finds a healthy relationship with a good and caring Dominant¹.

And that last bit is key to why these types of communication and support are so badly needed. There are predators in the world, and the BDSM community might just have more than their share. Potential practitioners of BDSM are going to find the community one way or another. Certain aspects of BDSM (“gender play” being the most glaringly obvious) are tailor-made for the gender-questioning, and one could throw a beach ball at a trans support group and probably bounce it off of a dozen people who have already had at least *some* exposure to BDSM through such practice. Ignoring the overlap between gender-questioning and BDSM/kink is like abstinence sex ed- we do nothing and get the exact results we should expect from doing nothing. BDSM is NOT for everyone, and no honest supporter of such would say so, but creating a safe and open resource for folks who are questioning, or even engaged in the practice or lifestyle who just want to work through issues, should be considered a necessary part of community support. When the idea of a BDSM support group for trans people was first suggested to me, my initial thought was “Well, if it’s done right, I’d be part of that” and that was the end of my thoughts about it. But the more time has gone on, and the more my name has been tossed around with the idea, the more people have approached me about it. This is a need. The community wants this, and the community needs this.  BDSM is about choice, communication, and consent, and those drawn to it will universally extoll how it has positively impacted their lives. Just as the popular narratives regarding trans people are misinformed and false, so too are the narratives regarding BDSM and its practitioners. If we owe it to our community to help correct the popular misunderstanding of one, then logically we owe the same for the other.


  1. This concept can apply in reverse, as well. A Dominant trans person may have been cut off from their children (either by wish of the children or action of the other parent). A D/s relationship can serve as a surrogate and outlet for those parental instincts, potentially providing the Dominant with a way to come to terms with that situation


BDSM– An overlapping acronym representing 3 different concepts- Bondage & Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sado-Masochism. While each of these 3 concepts are distinct, there is often overlap between them. The first and last focus largely on practice and physical expressions of intimacy; the middle concept tends to be more about how participants choose to structure their personal relationships, be it short-term or long, physical or emotional, or combinations thereof.

Consent– The backbone of all BDSM interaction. Participants agree beforehand what is not permissible (“hard limits”), what is permissible or even desired, and in some cases areas the participants wish to explore that may still be uncomfortable to them (“soft limits”). In some cases, “soft limit” is used to describe when a submissive participant wishes to be “pushed past” that limit- having an experience they think they desire but may be reluctant to try.

Dom/Domme/Dominant– A person who takes a dominant role in a BDSM relationship or scenario. While it’s not an official distinction, the label Dominatrix usually implies one who does so in a professional capacity. These are the masculine, feminine and gender-neutral forms respectively. When used to describe a specific individual, it is usually capitalized.

D/s– Dominance/submission. In this form it is usually used to describe a relationship, where the participants have opted to structure their power dynamic strongly towards the Dominant. There are varying degrees of immersion into this type of relationship.

Dynamic– a blanket term used to describe the specific nature of and agreements within a particular BDSM relationship.  Most commonly applied to a D/s relationship.

Gender play – A fetish subset of BDSM practice wherein participants present as a gender other than their own to varying degrees; such presentation may be restricted to private space, but possibly also in public. The exact expression and particulars of this vary from dynamic to dynamic, in some cases being described as “forced”, although this is a misnomer as such play would have been consented to initially between the participants. There is an overlap between gender play and a desire for or interest in degradation/humiliation which is considered problematic by many transgender people.

Submissive (“sub”)- A person who takes a submissive role in a BDSM relationship or scenario.

Switch– A person who identifies as both Dominant and submissive. A switch may swap roles with the same person, or play different roles in different dynamics/relationships.

TPE (aka “24/7” or “24/7 TPE”)- Total Power Exchange. A level of D/s relationship where nearly all decisions are made by the Dominant.  This sort of relationship, in order to remain healthy, requires deep trust between the participants, a mutual understanding of their individual needs, and constant communication. While such situations could be potentially abusive, participants in healthy TPE relationships report relief from anxiety, confusion, depression, and lethargy. By taking control of aspects of life planning and simple decision making, the Dominant frees the submissive from the mental anguish that might be felt from such tasks as basic as simple time management to what to have for dinner. Such relationships can be long or short term, and are as different as those who choose to practice them. As with all aspects of BDSM, consent and communication are key, and all aspects of a TPE dynamic are clearly laid out by and between both parties. Practitioners who choose to make their dynamic long term and celebrate with a ceremony often exchange contracts outlining their responsibilities to each other, their mutual goals, and hard limits.


Oh, Damn, It’s Been Almost a Month

See, this happens every time I start blogging again. Frickin’ life, man. I’m still here. Ups and downs as my body gets used to injected hormones, but that’s to be expected and I have an amazing support system in place. I’ve been putting some energy into the Center near me, stepping up to lead things and whatnot, might have a fairly important project brewing out of that. And, I’ve been working on some writing for a literary magazine that asked me to submit. All in all, despite some hyper-emotional outbursts, things are good.

I feel like I’m settling in to this life. My life. The life I was supposed to have. Sometimes I think of all the things I missed out on, living that life that wasn’t mine, and it makes me sad. Like prom. I went to proms; I had decent times. I certainly didn’t “hook up” after any of them, but I’m still friends with a lot of those women and it’s really nice to have those shared memories. But I feel like they should be entirely different memories. I should get to go dress shopping, and have someone buy me a corsage, and walk around with my heels in my hand because they’re way higher than what I’m used to. I proposed we throw a prom at the Center. It seemed well received, so we’ll see how that unfolds. I know who I’m gonna ask 😉

The other thing that gets me is “passing”. I want to represent the community and stand up for trans people and help normalize trans-ness. I do. But I want to do it when it’s safe and I’m strong enough to. I don’t want to do it every time I need to run to the store. I don’t want to do it in the grungy gas station where I have to go inside to pay. I don’t want to do it every time I need to use a public restroom.

People tell me I pass, and while I see a difference in my appearance, I don’t think I do completely. I still see too much of old me in that face. I’ve changed my hairstyle, my mannerisms have just sort of changed almost on their own. But I feel like everyone “can tell”. And 75% of the time I ignore it and don’t pay attention. But that other 25% is HARD, because I feel like I look like an impostor, and a fraud. I do OK when I’m with other people- cis or trans- but when I have to run out on my own, that doubt creeps in. I guess it will fade with time. I hope it does, anyway, because it kind of sucks

I Grow Weary . . .

I really want to be a meaningful part of the LGBT community. I have always been driven to community service in one way or another, and I have skills and talents as a speaker and organizer. I *should* be involved. It’s a natural fit for me.

But, man, some of y’all make it HARD. I’ve decided to think of some of the people I’m encountering as “electrons” . . . they’re totally negative and always follow the same path. Some of them are very strongly bonded to those paths. And, yes, it even seems like some are drawn to me. It’s frustrating. I want to help these poor electrons, but they just sap so much energy. I am compelled to intervene, but I am so tired of beating my head against brick walls. All the little electrons trigger my Mothering instinct and drive, and yet my misanthropy (my own negativity, to extend the metaphor) pushes me away.

You Know You Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way

“I’m a bitch. I’m a lover. I’m a child. I’m a mother” – Meredith Brooks, “Bitch”

I am a bitch. Well, maybe. I’m definitely a mother- always have been. I am a matriarch, born of a matriarch, born of a matriarch. My grandmother raised 4 kids solo in the 50s/60s. She was kind of a badass. She raised my Mom to be strong and fierce. My Mom passed that on to us, but it was tempered by the loving presence of my Dad’s Mom. I like to think they all gave the best of what they had to us, and their influence on who I am is undeniable.

And I am, just as Meredith says, all of those things. But the point I want to tease out here is . . . are those really different things? Like I said, I’ve always been “a Mom”, and I love it. It makes me proud and happy when my friends turn to me for advice and guidance, and even moreso when I see them happy as a result. I fix things. I see connections and offer insight. I’m the “go-to” adult for a significant number of my dearest friends, and I revel in it. At risk of sounding arrogant, I’m good at it, too. I’ve been called Momma/Mom more than once, and it makes me smile. People like “Momma Kelli”; people come to her for advice and support.

People (OK, most people) don’t care as much for Kelli the Bitch. She’s always telling people what they should do, bossing them around, speaking her opinion. She’ll call you out for being wrong, and correct you when you don’t ask. She comes across as arrogant.


The only difference between Mother and Bitch is how I am perceived, and that perception somehow overrides the behaviors. Society wants the Moms; society (generally) hates the Bitches. We revere Moms. We hold them up as our guides and inspiration. We praise and defend them against those who would cast aspersions on them. But, man, do we hate a Bitch. “And still, she persisted.” The audacity! When a woman’s guiding influence or suggestion is seen as motherly, she is lauded. When it’s not convenient, determined to be “out of place”, or too aggressive, she is quickly chastised and censured. But, same actions. Same behaviors.

And this colors how we interact on an individual level. We take care to *make sure* we aren’t being seen as the Bitch, lest we be dismissed, or worse, attacked. Well, *I* don’t do that so much, because I don’t care anymore. I have little to no control over how I am perceived, so why sweat it? With a few exceptions, the people I interact with on a regular basis know who I am. They know what drives and motivates me; they know in general I have the best interests of those I care about at heart. And, like I said, it’s the same behaviors. Whether or not you think someone is being nice enough doesn’t change the quality of the advice they’re giving. If it changes the chances that you’ll take that advice, that’s on you. If that makes me a Bitch, oh well. 😉

Your Religious Freedom Stops At The Door Of Your Church

I recently lost what I thought was one of my dearest friends because of my belief that decent people stand up for others. She didn’t think so. She thought that if it doesn’t affect you, then there is no moral reason to care. I disagree. I think most decent people disagree. I think, above all, the people who claim to be part of a religion of love, that praise the love their God has for them as seen in the sending of his own progeny to help guide them, MUST certainly be called to stand up to wrong. To stand up to evil and injustice. To stand up to discrimination.

I’m tired of letting people pretend that their religion not just allows but IMPLORES them to discriminate, to ostracize, and to hate. You are free to hate. Be an asshole all you want, but don’t pretend it’s because of your religion. It’s because you’re a horrible person. Allowing you to bring negative consequences to bear against someone who you have decided doesn’t measure up to your idea of your religion isn’t “religious freedom”. It’s forcing your religion.

The funny thing is, so many of the “religious freedom” crowd are also the first to shout down any *other* religion. They throw pork at mosques. They complain about “the Zionist plot”. It’s not OK for those religions to be free; just theirs.

And you let them. It’s not the vocal minority that I blame . . . it’s the silent Christian majority. This is being done in *your name*. The federal government made it legal for health care practitioners and workers to refuse to treat *MY* people because of *THEIR* and most importantly *YOUR* religion. You have a choice. You can continue to say nothing, and let it get worse, or you can open your mouth and scream your opposition. See, our screams don’t matter. Our screams come from “sick and twisted” “confused people” with “pathetic delusions”.  We are the abominations. But you . . . you are their power, because they act in your name and they get away with it because you don’t say otherwise. For the love of the God you believe so loved this world that he gave up his own son, say something. Say it clear, and say it loud, because my people’s very lives are at stake.

No practitioner of any religion has the right to harm because their religion says so (and yours doesn’t even say that, but that’s another post). If you believe they do, we are not friends. If you believe it’s OK for you to say nothing while this happens, we are not friends. And maybe this is me “immersing myself in a world that has me out of touch with the reality the rest of [you] live in”. But I don’t care. If you’re not willing to say something on my behalf, we are not friends. Because that is what it means to care about, support, and be a friend of someone.

If you have an LGBT friend and you don’t speak out about this to any and everyone who will listen, you’re a fraud. And we are not friends.

On Passing

Despite all evidence to the contrary, and in full recognition of how incompatible this seems with my extremely deep set misanthropy, somehow I continue to believe that most people want to be good and kind. That’s the only explanation, really. I’m still convinced that I don’t “pass”. I’m convinced that everyone who doesn’t call me out is simply being nice to me. The lady at my son’s school who did a quadruple take on my license and told me she needed *my* ID could not possibly have been that taken aback and confused, right?

I’m working really hard to rationalize to myself how most people MUST know I’m trans on sight and yet when I had aforementioned son out to dinner, and he loudly called me “Dad” twice, everyone around us became visibly uncomfortable or curious. It had to have been the lighting, right? It must have been helping me “fool” people.

Old Southern men in the grocery store want to help me with things- I guess when they notice I’m walking with a cane? But old Southern men are nice and gentile and have been brought up to be mannerly, right? Maybe they have bad eyesight, I tell myself.

There’s the whole added complication of the idea that making a big deal out of “passing” is problematic as it endorses cis-het norms of beauty and womanhood. But, for now, I’m not gonna fight that battle. I know how I see myself when I close my eyes, and quite honestly, I’m entitled to my own vision of myself rocking the aesthetic of my choice just as much as someone who wants to blaze their own trail. I’ll be aspire to be Betty Page meets June Cleaver and you do you, honey. There’s room for both, but that’s a whole other blog post.

So, anyway, I seem to be out there passing far more often than I realize or am willing to accept. I can’t wrap my brain around it- I know I’ve changed but I still see so much of what I’ve always seen in the mirror. In a way that’s good- my son’s biggest worry when I came out was how different I’d look. His Mom pointed out that I’ve never been very traditionally masculine, even with a beard, and that the changes would be gradual, etc etc. I guess as long as I still see that dude I used to think I was in the mirror to an extent, he does as well, and I’m willing to be uncomfortable in all other situations if it helps him ease into his role in my new life.