Tag Archives: Transgender

Visions of Faerie

It didn’t take me long, as a child, to realise that the cutesy creatures with wings weren’t the real deal. With access to folklore, I discovered a world of faerie folk and spirits of place that was neither safe nor cute. The Lords and Ladies, The Good Neighbours, The Little Folk. Offend them at your peril. Whether you think they are real or not, they act as representation of our relationship with nature, conveying the message that anything less than care and politeness could cost us dear.

For me, there are certain books that encapsulate my sense of what faerie is. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norris is a fine case in point. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Yeats’ Stolen Child capture both the allure and danger. The suggestion of faerie will cause me to pick up a book and read the blurb. So many times I’ve put those books down again, able to tell that the author just doesn’t get it. More often than not, it’s the sheer otherness that isn’t conveyed. Faeries are not just humans with pointy ears and better costumes. In folklore, they are a race apart, with radically different attitudes and rules.

I came to Giselle Renarde’s ‘Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice’ as an editor not a reader. (Just so you know I have biases). Renarde’s faeries are not part of some uncanny otherworld, but instead exist in our world, just beyond human perception but occasionally impinging on it. She makes them very much a part of nature, as a significant portion of faeries are (kelpies, piskies, pookas, boccans and so forth are very much in the world). However, she gives them a social structure more suggestive of the Shinning Hordes style faerie who troop between their mounds at Samhain and Beltain. It raises some interesting questions about how we designate an entity as spirit of place, or as fey. I suspect these are rather arbitrary, human ways of looking that don’t reflect the actualities all that well, but we are stuck with our human perceptions, language and understanding when it comes to dealing with that which is other.

The usual way of handling faeries in fiction is to send in a mortal character we can relate to – be that Janet of Carterhaugh in Tam Lin, or Thomas the Rhymer encountering the Queen of Elfland. These two tales pitch mortals against faeries, Janet rescuing the human Tam from captivity amongst the Fair Folk, Thomas enchanted by the Faerie Queen, but eventually returning to the world. It is, in many ways, the easiest way of exploring otherness in fiction – looking through the eyes of someone we can readily relate to. It helps to make the Shinning ones accessible, without bringing them too close.

Renarde takes the bold move of telling her tale from an entirely faerie set of perspectives. There are no human characters to engage with. She runs with two perspectives, characters who are both sympathetic, and very clearly not human. Part of the success of this stems, I think, from her very careful language use, having elements that take her characters away from human experience without making them unreadable. No mean feat, I would say. There’s also a dash of magic. Renarde isn’t a pagan, but she handles ritual and sex magic with a deft touch, creating scenarios I think the majority of pagans would find resonant (and sexy).

The language of faerie, of fey is used by, and about glbt folk. For a while ‘fairy’ meant camp, and probably gay, certainly if used in relation to a man. It doesn’t seem so prevalent as a term at the moment, but it’s out there, and I’ve known glbt folk who adopted fey names as an expression of self. To be fey, and other, may be to be gender-queer, and not part of the mainstream. Which means that it works on many levels to set a transgender tale in the context of faerie folk. Renarde’s faeries can wish themselves into being whatever they desire, so for most, gender change would be an easy option should they seek it. Renarde crafts some startling challenges for her characters. Even in a culture rooted in otherness, it is still possible not to be able to fit, and the journey to becoming who you are, is still a tricky one. This is a story that works well on a metaphorical level as well as being a good piece of folklore rooted fantasy.

Here’s the opening…

Y Tylwyth Teg, the fair folk, have lived on this mount since before there was a country to speak of. After a skirmish with y gwragedd annwn, the wee folk of the lakes and streams, our great-mothers and fathers, settled in these hills and became the gwyllion, good folk of the mountain. There were no human creatures in that time—only the fair folk, existing unhindered in our ways and travels. We used to ride the wild horses over hill and dale. These days, they’ve all been tamed and we’ve taken to riding wild pigs, errant dogs, and even ducks, if we must.

It’s out today from loveyoudivine, and well worth a look. http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=document_product_info&cPath=6_61&products_id=677 – and there’s another excerpt over there too.

Transgenders Workplace Struggles

Her Name Was Steven has lit CNN with a new buzz while today’s new topic became about Transgenders in the work place.  While the person speaking had a positive experience, it made me think of someone who didn’t.

Back in the late 90’s, I worked at a (Nameless) Warehouse. Now, when I got the job I admit to being very surprised because they did seem to be an equal opportunity employer. Where I live and during that time, very rare. There seemed to be an equal eclectic mix of all races, all genders, and many, MANY different lifestyles.

However, after two years being into the job, a guy I will call Tim, but we actually nicknamed Skittles, came to work making an announcement. He explained openly to everyone, “I am going to live as a woman for a year so I can have an operation to BE a woman.” And from that moment on, Tim asked us to refer to him as a HER, and call her (we will say) Sarah.

I thought AWESOME for her and what better place to work at then one who had an eclectic mix of peoples…gay, bi, straight, and so on!

Sarah was bursting with excitement and VERY open and willing to answer ALL questions. Me and a girlfriend even made plans to have her over to my apartment one night so we could give her a new makeover, color her hair, go on a shopping spree and so forth. I really thought Sarah had found her bit of happiness and why not…she was on the top of the world about to be what her heart wanted.

Unfortunately, even though the Warehouse seemed like an open place to work by all races, lifestyles, and faiths …once Sarah stepped out of her closet, all hell broke lose. Guys became REAL paranoid about Sarah hitting on ‘them’. Some girls, not many, began slandering and gossiping, as if Sarah threatened them in some way. Then a week or so after Sarah’s announcement, the GL’s (Supervisors) called each department into a private room for meetings without ‘Sarah’, asking how everyone was feeling about it and so on.

I remember sitting in the closed off room thinking, this meant trouble. Something inside said that they were trying to find reason to get rid of Sarah and if too many people had a problem with her, then there ya go.

Not one woman said a word but boy did the guys start spewing crazy stuff like, “I don’t want to be hit on.” and “this is too distracting, so many gossiping about this.” and whatever other foolishness came to their minds.

When the GL looked at me, I corrected every single one of their so-called problems by calmly pointing out how ridiculous they were. I even said, “And no one has to worry Sarah hitting on them since she’s a Lesbian and has no interest in men.” The room became real quiet but the snarkiness stopped or so I thought.

A few months later, Sarah was fired for supposedly knocking over some boxes and “not reporting it”. Sarah happened to be one of the highest quota makers in the Warehouse. She had worked there for two years and hadn’t even missed a day of work. We all knew her firing was bull and a cover up.

Unfortunately, I never saw Sarah again and I soon quit the Warehouse too. CNN’s spotlight on Transgender issues made me think of her after all these years.

I once thought…

keeping secrets, hiding in the dark, is what fueled trouble, speculation, and paranoia. Sarah’s open approach, preparing all of ‘us’ for what she was about to go through… a change…trying to save us from wondering, speculating, or being paranoid…trying to ease our minds when she was the one on the verge of such change…

Well it didn’t save her or make us more comfortable, did it? And that’s what she was more concerned with…making her transition more comfortable for everyone else who knew her, because believe me, that girl was so happy and on so much of a natural high that when the ugliness started, it never even phased her.

I hope Sarah got her operation and found a job that could move past the personal stuff and focus on how productive her skills were and how dependable she was.

I hope Sarah/Skittles found her rainbow….

C.H. Scarlett