Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Friday, December 22, 2006

Katryshka's Plight

I want to tell a story about my friend Katrushka's situation.

Katruschka is a 32 year old transsexual woman who lives at a pagan spiritual collective in the Catskill Mountains. She came there via a short stay in West Virginia, having gone there as a refugee from Mississippi. Pantera, as Katrushka is called fondly by her friends, is struggling to regain functional stablility in the face of the horrible pain which she experiences because of being cut off from her 5 year old daughter, Sweetie Pie.

Katrushka acts as the Information Technology and Communications coordinator at the spiritual collective. She used to be a pilot on a regional airline, before that a Greyhound bus driver, and before that a professional online game player. She is six feet four, with a guitar shaped body, long black hair, face like Bones in the current TV series, and prehensile toes. She is a self identified vampire, and dresses only in black, featuring black combat boots and a long black trenchcoat. For some reason she speaks with a soft panther-like accent.

Katrushka is like many trans people in that she has a child. Sadly, she is also like many trans parents in that the state has taken her parental rights from her. The state ignores the rights of the child to know and grow up with the nuture and admonition of their blood parent.

Sweetie Pie's mother has a history of mental illness, and the state has also stripped her of her parental rights.

Sweetie pie lived happily with Katrshka for years. The the state became aware that Katrushka was the de facto custodial parent and intervened in such as way as to destroy Sweetie Pie's family.

One morning before dawn a twelve person SWAT team descended on the apartment where Sweetie Pie and Katrushka were living. Katrushka did not know what was happening as the door was kicked in and men poured into the little apartment holding guns and blazing lights. Katrshka put Sweetie Pie on the floor and covered her with her body. The large men from the police tore Sweetie Pie from the arms of Katrushka and took her out of the apartment. They forced Katrushka to the ground, where they proceeded to kick and pound her with their clubs until she lost consciousness.

Katrushka was naked when she awoke, lying on the cold concrete floor of a three by eight foot cell. A flourescent light glared from the ceiling. The light was an affront, but Katrushka later learned that it would only be on for one hour a day during her recreation period, and that she would lie in total blackness for the other 23. They offered her the option of remaining in the solitary cell, or being transferred to the general (male) population. Since she is a beautiful woman, Katrushka had no option but to opt for solitary. Her only means of communication for a month was to write on paper illuminated by the light filtering under the door.

Katryushka was never charged with anything, but was kept in jail for 91 days, which meant that underMississippi law she lost her rights to have custody of her child.

A lengthy court case ensued between Sweetie Pie's parents and the Mississippi Office of Child Welfare. Eventually the case came before the famous judge Jefferson Campbell. This was the judge who had the laws of Leviticus printed in summary form in a pamphlet which he gave to all visitors to his courtroom.

Judge Campbell officially labeled Katrushka an "it" in court documents because she is a transsexual. This treatment was in the face of the fact that all of Katrushka's documents indicate that she is female. The judge ruled that Katrushka and the other parent would have no parental rights whatsoever, and were never to be allowed to have any contact with Sweetie Pie ever again. Sweetie Pie was to be settled in a foster home, and eventually put up for adoption.

This whole ordeal put Katrushka into the tailspin from which she has not yet recovered. Her room in the Catskill home is replete with reminders of Sweetie Pie. There is a large butterfly on the wall, and large stuffed toys on the bed which were part of Katrushka and Sweetie Pie's family life together. These things are sacrosanct to Katrushka. They are the most tangible evidence she has of her beloved daughter, and the little family they used to have. It is as if the most important part of Katrushka's life has been frozen in time.

This story horrifies me. I was lucky that I never lost contact with my own children, partially because they were old enough and ornery enough to be unlikely to go along with attempts to keep us apart. Their other parent did not try to come between my children and me. Nevertheless, it was my worst nightmare that there would be legal intervention between my children and me to take away our legal right to hang out together.

Katrushka has helped take care of Caleb, my two year old grandson when he has been with me sometimes. She is such a good person with children, sweet and fun, but also firm and teaching correct behavior. It breaks my heart to see her with Caleb. Caleb likes to be with her.

This story is about what some good Christian people do to some loving people to better serve their Lord. There may be another chapter to the story someday. What will be in that chapter?

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reflection on Spiritual Meaning of Gender Conforming SurgeryTransition

I wrote a response to a discussion on the yahoogroup at . I have copied and pasted it here as I sent it out on the list

Brooklyn, 12/15/2006

Dear Helen,

Welcome to this group. I am also a relatively new member, and participate rarely in the discussion although I read all posts. I am very interested in the discussion on handling "transition" from the standpoint of spirituality and rituals. The discussion seems to focus on the time of SRS, which to me does not encompass the commonly accepted definition of transition, which focuses more on the transition of social perceptions. Nevertheless, a key time in my transition was having what was then called SRS in Brussels in July 1995. I was 54 at the time. I was only vaguely aware of the historical Cybele at the time, although I had a sense of trans spirituality and spiritual calling related more to participation in Wiccan ceremonies, and reading about Two-spirit people among the indigenous people of North American.

I went through the SRS experience jointly with my partner, Chelsea Goodwin who at that time already had a long formation in pagan thought and practice. I cannot recall that we did anything that was conscious ritual during the period immediately before or after our SRS, although Chelsea may have a better memory about this than I. There were, however, many aspects of the days immediately before and after our operations which had a powerful spiritual content.

The first thing to mention is that Chelsea practices tantric sex magic (raises magical energy through lovemaking). We made love many times in the days before our surgery, lying together in our little hotel in Brussels, and during our quick trip to Paris before surgery. In Paris we naturally went to the Louvre, and there stumbled upon the famous hermaphrodite sculpture. We stayed near the sculpture for about an hour, thinking about what we were and what we were about to go through, and listening to the comments of the crowd filing past the work. We both felt a tremendous visceral affinity to "our" hermaphrodite.

Later we went to the Pere Lachaise cemetery and communed at the graves of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, whom we have always felt to be our role models and spiritual sisters. We also spent many quiet moments at the grave of Oscar Wilde. The height of our sense of connection with the spirits was at the grave of Jim Morrison, where Chelsea went into a kind of otherworldly trance at the graveside: the crowds fell back, the wind suddenly gusted fiercely, wild thunder clapped. The crowds, the guards, and I looked on in awe as the wind whipped Chelsea's diaphanous dress around her slender body, and her hair whipped behind her head. For a moment she seemed to be a towering bird of prey speaking directly to Morrison's spirit. Torrential rains suddenly inundated the cemetery, and we all dispersed among the grave markers, where Chelsea and I huddled together in a powerful embrace as the rain washed over us.

In the hours before surgery back in Brussels I wrote letters to each of my three children, telling them that I loved them dearly. Chelsea and I kissed, and we prepared for my death (or possible new life) by holding hands in quiet conversation.

On the day after my surgery, Chelsea, alone in the hotel, prepared for hers by writing to me plighting her love, and giving me instructions for her funeral.

When I awoke from surgery Chelsea was there waiting to give me a kiss. When she awoke I was bedridden, but we lay together in our hospital beds, side by side, and laughed with each other.

As I awoke I had the distinct sense of being born again.

I feel that my "day of blood" as we call it was not a sacrifice in any sense, but rather a movement toward the goddess by aligning myself more in keeping with my nature as I was born into this world. Spirituality to me is involved with centering and finding the sweet spot of alignment with the natural flows of the universe.

Rhona McMahan

--- In, "Helen Metzger" wrote:

QUOTE>> So I was curious. I am aware than many of you are not transgendered, pagan or priestesses, but I am also sure that many of you are (probably all three). I have had a burning question on my mind for a few years now, but I am not sure how I will ask it. Here's a go at it: How do many of you ritually handle the issue of transition? In the past people have done this many ways; either though days of celebration ending in the inevitable deed, or though prayer and devotion to the goddess leading to the swift blade of the midwife and spiritual union with the Mother. I am sure the methods used in days past are vast and cannot easily be accounted for, but I think the Truth shines clearly. In modern times the process is entirely regulated by our system of allopathic medicine. I feel that this system severs us from our spiritual roots and makes us another "diseased" patient and in need of their "cure". I could probably go so far as to say that our current medical system goes out of its way to remove all traces of anything that could be construed as Spiritual.

How do you integrate this? We follow a divine calling, I do not need to research anymore to know this much. How is this manifested in our ultimate change? How do we integrate the profound change of our world, with the physical change of sex and our spiritual calling?

A teacher of mine once told me that the things around us and in the world are merely reflections of all that is in the heavens and that all that is in heaven is a reflection of worldly things. I feel that our challenges have a very clear reflection in the Mother, but I am curious if anybody has found a way to reflect the process of change itself?