Dear Albuquerque and Friends

After three years in a state I had only visited but grew to love, it is time for my journey to take me to a new destination. Leaving Oklahoma for Albuquerque saved my life, and I cannot put into words my thankfulness for this place and everyone I have met along the way. Albuquerque has been the first place I have lived where I felt at home. The feeling was small at first, but it only grew as I made connections with coworkers and friends. Because of Albuquerque and finding joy in my work, when I thought I could no longer go on, I found within me the will to live and to be my true self. When I took my leap into the unknown, I knew that it would likely cost me everything. I was wrong, and as I came into my true self, I found the most incredible friends and have had the most amazing experiences these past three years.

From the early stages of “I like boba” to board gaming at Empire to cosplaying for a Welcome to Night Vale live show to narrating my flight down a mountain with two long thin boards attached to my feet to falling asleep with the sounds of New Mexico winds shaking the aspen and pine canopies above my tent, my heart soars with memories. My heart soars with life well lived because I finally felt free enough to be myself. As I take my next step on my journey, I reflect on how much things have changed, especially with how I see the importance of choosing one’s family. Albuquerque and so many wonderful friends and coworkers have become my chosen family, and you shall always be in my heart. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and allowing me to thrive in this beautiful city that has become my home.

At the end of this school year, I found myself truly torn with what I wanted to do next on my professional journey. And, as I reflected on the experiences that truly meant the most to me, a desire and drive within me grew. I’d had the pleasure of modeling lessons this past year time and time again, and with each lesson I taught, my desire to teach again grew and blossomed. I’ve also been fortunate to work with the Reducing LGBTQ Adolescent Suicide Team and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, as part of the Transgender 101 Presenters Bureau, and I was able to be the advocate I so desperately had needed growing up in small town Oklahoma. That work, in addition to the very real threats to democracy and LGBTQ rights from the current president’s administration, has led me to seek career opportunities in a place where I feel that I can make the most impact, New York City.

And so, my time in Albuquerque will be coming to an end. The words I write here do not even begin to do justice for how I feel about this place and everyone who has been a part of my journey. Thank you.

Love,

N. Bailey

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R u ok

R u ok

Yeah, why would I not be?

Because sometimes life is incredibly hard.

Agreed, especially with an administration hellbent on taking away my rights and was elected because of racism and corrupt white men afraid of losing power and with the assistance of a murdering autocrat. Or, when family tries to hide who you are because it makes them uncomfortable . . . is what I type out, but I don’t send it. Instead I simply send, Yeah, I am good.

But, I didn’t feel good.

I felt confused, hurt, and lost about so many different things.

A battle to upgrade or not to upgrade my cell phone became an unbearable existential crisis.

So, when my friends arrive with boba and a vehicle full of camping gear, I entered the open road and made my way into the woods.

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 6: Words

The road seems to fade in and out of focus.

I can’t get the article out of my head.

Why was it sent?

I thought they were an ally. Now, I am not so sure.

Is this what I should expect from now on?

To believe that someone has my back only to be disappointed later when uncertainty fills a silent void of communication.

The tires rumble on the highway as the road seems to pull me forward, in and out of focus.

*          *           *          *          *

My first pit stop is in Santa Fe.

I usually fill up the tank before I leave town, but this time, I just wanted to be on the road. I wanted to hear the voices of Night Vale and of Ira Glass. I wanted to focus on something other than looming questions before me.

Above the gas station convenience store, a sign reads: “Blimpie’s Is Now Open Inside.” I assume the name for the shop came from the sandwiches resembling a blimp. I guess it’s no weirder than a sandwich shop being named after anything else.

It just highlights the strangeness of words and names, like pit stop.

I assume that it is a racing term relating to stopping at a “pit” for refueling and tire checks, but my only real knowledge of racing comes from Pixar’s attempt to sell toys via anthropomorphic vehicles.

I don’t remember “pits” in the movies.

Maybe, there were.

*          *          *          *          *

Traveling means bathroom awkwardness.

It is the only part of traveling that I hate.

Which bathroom will I receive the least amount of stares and whispers?

Since my latest session of laser has made shaving difficult, I head to the men’s bathroom as I button up my shirt to try and hide what’s underneath.

Above the urinal, a “health center” vending machine hangs covered in graffiti. Through the black sharpie scrawls, I see the promise of “barely there bikini” and “exotic” condoms. Each description is more ridiculous than the last.

I dart out of the bathroom, hoping to not be seen.

There’s still many hours ahead.

*          *          *          *          *

I pass another billboard proclaiming the premiere shooting location.

In bold letters, it’s advertised as if this is a good thing.

What kind of a country continues to allow mass shootings again and again and again? Columbine wasn’t enough. Pulse wasn’t enough. (Insert name here) wasn’t enough.

What will be enough?

*          *          *          *          *

The tires rumble on the road, jostling memories loose.

I spent my whole childhood worried I was not manly enough, I was too effeminate, I was too nerdy, I was too weak, I would never fit in . . .

The last one still fits, but it’s funny how things change.

*          *          *          *          *

I see the text message flash before my eyes.

Love.

It feels like the last thing that I need.

I need an ally.

An advocate.

*          *          *          *          *

When the sign warns that the Focus on the Family headquarters is up ahead, I cannot help but know that they use the term in a very specific way.

Family to this conservative group means Christian, and it does not mean LGBTQ+.

I’ve begun to notice a trend.

Whenever an organization has “family” in its title, it almost always refers to a very specific type of family.

A family that excludes me.

My Ideal Bookshelf – The Imperium Game

The Imperium Game, K.D. Wentworth

Much to the disappointment of my 4th grade teacher, I eagerly leafed through the newest scholastic book ordering form, searching for the newest releases of my favorite series, Animorphs.

When the next set of books arrived, she hand delivered them to me by calling me back to her desk. While I don’t recall how the conversation started, she informed me that her dismissal of the series stemmed from the books being ghost written with no credit given to the actual author.

I did not really understand the concern, likely because I was in 4th grade and did not really connect why this would be so impactful to an author.

I took the books from Mrs. Wentworth and quietly went back to read about transformations and the saving of the human race.

In the last few years, K.D. Wentworth, author and 4th grade teacher, passed away. She left behind eight imaginative and fun novels: The Imperium Game, Moonspeaker, House of Moons, Black on Black, Stars over Stars, The Fair Land, The Course of Empire, and The Crucible of Empire. The latter three were published in hardback and the last two co-authored with Eric Flint.

A few years ago, I began to reread her novels, and I recompleted Stars over Stars, then my life transitioned into something new. I have not gone back to them since, but upon preparing this post, I discovered that Eric Flint had written a third Jao Empire entry, The Span of Empire, which has prompted me to want to finish my reread of her novels.

While each novel was creative and unique, my favorite was her first.

There is something monumental about a first published novel, and I found it inspiring that a full-time teacher wrote and had her words published.

It made me want to be a writer.

Yet aside from that, The Imperium Game was a perfect blend of video gaming mechanics, mythology, and a futuristic setting.

Think Westworld but with gods and goddesses.

My Ideal Bookshelf – The Hobbit

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

One of the first epic fantasy novels I ever read, and I have since lost track of how many times I’ve read it.

I loved the world that Tolkien built and devoured The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. After traveling the lands of Middle Earth, I would eventually trek through the Two Rivers during the Third Age. I would flee to safety with the Mother Confessor through the lands of D’Hara. I would man the Wall with the Night’s Watch in Westeros.

And most recently, I donned Shardplate to protect the lands of Roshar from the Voidbringers.

Yet, Middle Earth is where my love for epic fantasy began.

A journey that began with a hobbit.

Perhaps, part of my love for The Hobbit stems from the release of The Lord of the Rings films while I was in high school. Starting my freshman year, every winter break, Peter Jackson took his audience to the cinematic worlds of Middle Earth. Aside from Star Wars, there’d never been a set of films that had transported me to such an imaginative and well-developed world.

I would feel similarly about the Marvel Cinematic Universe upon its interconnected releases.

With new series of novels and films to be released in the future, who can say what world I shall travel to next . . .

My Ideal Bookshelf – The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

During my junior year of high school, my AP English class was assigned to read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

I was not looking forward to it.

Two years prior, the same teacher, in my opinion, sapped any love I might have for John Steinbeck from me with a unit over The Pearl. Although one of his shorter novels, I could not stand it. I did not see the point of the grand story it was trying to tell. But, perhaps, I was still upset by the teacher’s ode-to-love unit with Romeo and Juliet. After both the teaching of Romeo and Juliet and The Pearl, I knew I would find myself loathing both Shakespeare and Steinbeck, not respectively. The musical, Something Rotten, had the lyric correct when it said, “God, I hate Shakespeare,” although for me, the lyric should have included, “and Steinbeck.”

Yet, with time, my opinion on both authors would change.

Shakespeare would not be until college when I studied in Oxford.

Steinbeck would be just two years later.

I remember having a conversation with my mother about The Grapes of Wrath, where she warned me not to tell my grandpa that I was reading it. As a former farmer in Oklahoma, it he had found the portrayal of the Oklahoma family offensive and condescending. I also remember talking to my grandfather about the book. I don’t remember what he said, but I do know that he was not upset or distraught by our conversation. The takeaway here is that I clearly was not heeding the advice of my parents even then.

. . . But, I also remember that coming back from the Route 66 Museum field trip, after finishing the novel in class, I was flashed by a school bus full of girls . . . So, perhaps my memories of The Grapes of Wrath are completely skewed.

Yet, I do remember how much I loved the structure the novel.

A pattern of every other chapter being either about the Oklahoma family or expanding out to say something profound about the way of life during the Dust Bowl.

The odd chapters were poetically beautiful, portraying the time period in complexity, ugliness, and beauty.

A Far Cry from Boys Don’t Cry

During my senior year of high school, I rented Boys Don’t Cry, and while my family attended another college football game, I watched it in secret.

As I write this now, I am trying to remember why I rented it, but I find that my entire memory of renting and watching it has been blocked out.

And while the film’s story was based on actual events, it felt far removed from reality for me because just like Nip/tuck, another cis actor was playing a trans character. Although, at the time, I still had little to no understanding of what being transgender meant, what it meant to transition, or any other trans related details. All I knew was what Hollywood told me. Trans male characters were played by female actors. Trans female characters were played by male actors. For me, Hollywood reinforced the idea that being trans was acting a role, not being true to one’s self. Some, but not much, progress has been made since then.   

I simply remember a deep discomfort with watching the film, as if it left me in a trance that I could not shake. The film was violent and tragic, leaving a young viewer, such as myself with the impression that if you seek that “lifestyle,” there will be no happy endings.

Fast forward to today, two recent films standout.

Love, Simon and Blockers.

While Love, Simon focuses on queer acceptance, the core of the film is a love story. Not only does the main character find himself, but he finds love in the process. And, without providing any spoilers, the film does not end in a violent tragic murder, a media cliche all too common for queer characters.

With Blockers, a film I would not have seen had a friend not said we-are-seeing-this-let’s-go, it’s juvenile in its plot, but there is one area that was a pleasant surprise. While films of the past and those still current, treat queerness as a joke, an easy punchline to suggest someone is gay, this film treats a daughter’s coming out with an actual storyline. In a unique role reversal of sorts, which still deals with queer acceptance, the film never mocks or belittles the character’s queer identify. And again, no tragic and cliched queer death.

While much of mass media still fetishizes and mocks queerness, there are brights spots. Love, Simon and, I can’t believe I am saying this, Blockers are two examples of films that treat being queer as not just okay but something to be celebrated.

This is a far cry from how queerness is treated in Boys Don’t Cry.

Perhaps, given time, it will get better for all LGBTQ+ individuals.  

“What will it do. .”

My mother texted those words to me long, long ago during the first Women’s March.

It was a simpler time back then.

It was before the 45th president fired the FBI director over, as he said, eloquently as ever, “the Russia thing with Trump and Russia.”

It was before equating people protesting white supremacy to Nazis.

It was before the Muslim travel ban, and before the trans military ban, and before the countless lawsuits against an administration with no regard to the rule of law.

It was before the #MeToo movement.

It was before Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

It was before the wave of women running for political office.

It was at the beginning of 2017.

A simpler time.

Yet, in the midst of the “Red State Revolt,” the Oklahoma teachers go on strike.

Perhaps, I should not have sent the sardonic text of “I won’t ask you “What will it do. .” after my mom sent me images from the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

Her response of “Why not” told me I missed the mark.

A few back and forths between the two of us, and I am left wondering if things will really change in Oklahoma.

A state that has vilified Democrats while its Republican leaders equate striking teachers to whiny teenagers . . . well, let’s just say I have my doubts.

All I hope is that teachers, parents, and politicians remember what led them to this point, what led them to year after year of education cuts.

I hope they remember in November.

 

The Memo: The Top 10 Trump Controversies of 2017

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/366336-the-memo-the-top-10-trump-controversies-of-2017

Trump, contradicting his own words, denies firing Comey over Russia probe

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/politics/trump-comey-russia-investigation/index.html

All the president’s lawsuits

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/28/politics/president-donald-trump-lawsuits-analysis/index.html

More Than Twice As Many Women Are Running For Congress In 2018 Compared With 2016

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/20/585542531/more-than-twice-as-many-women-are-running-for-congress-in-2018-compared-to-2016

The Red-State Teacher Revolt Has Been Brewing For Decades

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/americas-growing-teacher-strikes-were-decades-in-the-making_us_5ac8f468e4b0337ad1e8979c

Oklahoma governor compares striking teachers to a ‘a teenage kid that wants a better car’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2018/04/04/oklahoma-governor-compares-striking-teachers-to-a-a-teenage-kid-that-wants-a-better-car/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fdba7b88bbe1

Collecting Dust and Memories

One large duffle bag filled with shoes, pants, shirts and sweaters.

Six plastic grocery bags filled with shorts, shirts, belts, ties, and more.

I take the bags of clothes from my car and lay them out on desks across an empty classroom.

So many of the articles of clothing hold various memories.

An off-white striped sweater an ex dubbed the “hot boy sweater.”

A leather jacket the survived crashing my uncle’s electric scooter on a rainy afternoon as the tires slid out from under me on a wet and gravely turn.

A Freebird’s World Burrito t-shirt earned after accumulating too many points from too many build your own burritos.

Ties and shirts purchased in high school to help me look the part at speech tournaments around the state.

Ties and shirts purchased to try and help me look the part and fit in a role that everyone expected me to fill.

All of it laid before me as if from another life.

A life that was easier, yet harder at the same time.

For months, the clothes had hung or were folded in my closet collecting dust. After coming out at work, I’d traded out my business casual attire for something more femme and dapper. And so, the old life sat back collecting dust and memories.

Now, that life sits on desks ready to be picked up by any student, coworker, or anyone in need of a quality suit jacket.

As I close that empty classroom door, my black wedges clacking on the floor, I feel a little lighter and a little more me.

“I don’t want to say lifestyle”

Some of this is a rehash, but all of it leads to this: “Senators Are Scrutinizing A Trump Nominee After His Transgender Daughter Accused Him Of Using Slurs.”

In the spring of 2017, my relationship with my family was highly strained after coming out to them as transgender in 2015, but I decided to lay down the gauntlet by sending them my blog post, “To Whom It May Concern.” In that post, I laid out where I stood on the 45th president and how I needed to know if they would support me or if they would not. A follow-up post chronicled their responses. With the aftermath of that fatefully sent post, relations with my family strained further. And, it was during this strain that I was told of my father’s new position, one nominated by the 45th president.

From my father’s response to the sent post, I’d known he hadn’t bothered to read what I’d written, about the democracy destroying individual corrupting the presidential office and everything the administration touches. Yet, upon hearing the news, I’d thought there was nothing I could do. Another anti-LGBT+ official in a sea of many.

I was wrong.

While I did not speak much to my father over the course of the spring or summer, seeing him only once during my sister’s high school graduation and would have seen him another time had I not been uninvited to my brother’s collegial graduation, I did receive a text from him in October, which included the presidential press release about his nomination going forward to the senate for confirmation.

I’d been wrong.

There was something I could do.

I’d thought that the position was a done deal. I had not realized that this was a senate confirmed position. After spending months watching nearly every swampy and anti-LGBTQ+ nominee confirmed by the senate, regardless of the outcry, I had had enough.

I wrote to my senator and to various LGBTQ+ organizations.

I waited.

And after making a few connections, I did an interview with an Oklahoma LGBTQ+ news outlet called, The Gayly.

After “Child of Trump nominee speaks out” was released, familial relations continue to be strained as I was told that I am “wrong” and “mean” and “cruel” for speaking out against my father.

Perhaps, my favorite thing I was told was “He dosent think those things u said. He was just reacting in the heat of the moment. This isn’t easy.”

I opted to avoid Oklahoma for the holidays.

It was a good decision.

I heard nothing about when the confirmation hearing would be, nor did I seek out information from my family. But, I did browse the Web, attempting to find the information on my own.

It was an attempt that would lead nowhere.

Yet as the spring neared, I was contacted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, one of the organizations I had reached out to in October, about my father’s upcoming confirmation hearing. They wanted to know if I was interested in being contacted by a reporter.

Enter Buzzfeed.

I told the reporter my story.

And, when he reached out to my brother to confirm it, my brother denied the events that happened.

And, so, the story with Buzzfeed was shelved.

Except, that it wasn’t.

Not entirely.

As part of the confirmation process, my father would not only have to respond to the Gayly article but would also have to respond to the retweets from his Twitter account which had such gems as sports franchises having “lost their moral compass” by their support of trans rights and allowing trans people in the military was “immoral garbage.”

In regards to his Twitter account, he was only trying “to elicit conversation.”

But, with the Gayly article question, asked by Sen. Feinstein, he denied the things he said.

He lied to congress.

Another Trump nominee lied to congress.

And so, with the questions asked and his responses given, the article was published.

Where things go from here, I can’t say, but I am certainly doing more than just trying “to elicit conversation.”

Look.

You don’t have to agree with what I have done.

You don’t have to like it.

But, people deserve to know the views of who represents them in government.

And, if you don’t like it, well, I guess I’ll just say this. If you agree that trans people are corrupt and freaks, well, then, I guess I just don’t support your type of lifestyle.

 

Side note: Well I appreciate the exposure, I was totally surprised a version of the Buzzfeed article running on The Advocate, considering I had never spoken to anyone from there. Also, they used an old Facebook profile picture for the article . . . Fascinating.  

 

“To Whom It May Concern”

https://formergoldenchildblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/to-whom-it-may-concern/

“Three out of Four Reactions”

https://formergoldenchildblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/three-out-of-four-reactions/

“Child of Trump nominee speaks out”

http://www.gayly.com/child-trump-nominee-speaks-out

“Senators Are Scrutinizing A Trump Nominee After His Transgender Daughter Accused Him Of Using Slurs”

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/senators-are-scrutinizing-a-trump-nominee-after-his?utm_term=.yegRyNRr2#.tlQ8dR8E1

“U.S. Marshals Nominee Accused of Transphobia–By His Trans Daughter”

https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2018/4/16/us-marshals-nominee-accused-transphobia-his-trans-daughter