I use his real name because I know he would not be offended to read this. We first met in the mid-1970s, when he came to Patchen to buy a Christmas tree. My whole family soon knew Wally and as the years went by we all started looking forward to his annual visits. I believe he came alone that first year but shortly after, he started bringing his girlfriend Paula. He was full of energy and he loved to talk about anything and everything. He was far better at talking than he was at listening but we didn’t mind because he had interesting things to say, and he was so incredibly animated that we all thrived on his energy.
He had opinions on everything but one of his favorite subjects was politics. The mid-1970s was a time when free-speech liberalism, spawned in the 1960s, was gradually deteriorating and he was frantic that it was fading in favor of a new “Librallism” that would eventually dominate the mainstream of the Democratic Party. In his mind that would be a sad moment for him and others like him who embraced the traditional Democrat Party values of the decades leading up to and including the 1960s.
But politics was not Wally’s only passion. He was particularly vocal about people of financial means throwing their weight (and their money) around – regardless of their political affiliation. I remember him making jest of a conversation he had overheard, where the two were comparing the model series numbers of their BMWs to decide which person was the most important. That might seem a little out of place for him because he owned and operated a very successful small business and seemed to be doing quite well for himself.
The 1970s yielded to the 1980s, then the 1990s, and we were able to watch him and Paula get married and raise a couple of kids. Eventually, the kids went off to college and the visits went back to Wally and Paula every Christmas season. Then there were a couple of years when Wally came without Paula – I never asked, but later Wally reported that they had been divorced and the failure was all his own. He did not seem as animated and talkative after that but I always looked forward to his smiling face and his unusually vigorous handshake. Then, after decades, the year came when Wally didn’t show up and we all wondered what had happened.
Some years had gone by when I was sitting at my computer in the barn as the Christmas tree season was getting underway. A woman had come in the side door and found her way to where she could see me through a window into my office. She was dressed in what my mother would have called a house-dress – straight up and down, no-frills, no flowers on it, just a plain old dress. She had shoulder-length hair, and a pleasant smile but was not a particularly attractive woman by most standards. She waived and I motioned for her to come around the corner to my office door. As she extended her hand and grasped mine with that familiar vigorous handshake, she said, “you don’t remember me do you”? I said, “I do now, Wally”.
Wally had become Priscilla of course, and the three of us (Wally, Prescilla, and I) went on that day to have a long, enjoyable conversation – Priscilla being the same old Wally that I had known for all those years. We talked about his/her personal journey and everything else going on in the world at the time. I never saw either of them again and I have a lot of really deep, sometimes conflicting, thoughts and feelings for these two people. I will explore some of those here, and as time goes on I will attempt to continue the exploration and add to the lists.
Thoughts & Feelings in no particular order
- Much confusion has been created by distorting the word “gender”[i]The word literally means “kind” (from the Latin “genus”), and was originally a linguistic term to describe the masculine and feminine forms of language. to mean something for which it was never intended. I have substituted the word “sex” to describe this important difference in the human species.[ii]A proper definition can be found in any high school biology textbook printed prior to 1980. Those who might have misplaced that textbook can try “Genetics For Dummies”, chapter 2.
- People are created as either one or the other of the two sexes and are not offered an opportunity to choose between the two. Most of us are content with the outcome, but those who are not, have the freedom in the civilized world to alter their outward appearance to correspond more closely with their inner feelings.
- Most (not all) languages are “gendered” to include masculine and feminine forms to recognize the important differences between the sexes.
- Wally and Precilla are the same person, albeit with altered physical attributes and perhaps unseen cosmetic surgery and hormone therapy. The fact that Wally, as he thoughtfully described to me, was more inclined to think of himself as a woman, is one of many aberrations[iii]. . a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected of human nature.
- His feelings and his expression of those feelings are not things to be condemned or demeaned, nor are they things to be celebrated. If someone is born with a crooked nose or one leg shorter than the other, we don’t celebrate them or their condition. There is no National Crooked Nose Week or parade for short-legged guys. We embrace them and accept their condition as we do all others, as imperfect humans.
- He of course could not become a woman any more than he could become Spiderman, but what he was able to do was to change his outward appearance to more accurately reflect those inner feelings. I respect his decision and admire the courage required to do what he did.
- However, if Wally were to present himself as Priscella at an arm-wrestling contest (he would not, of course), that would be an absurd violation of common sense. He is still a man except for his outward appearance and the way he feels about himself.
As I wrote about Wally, some feelings began to evolve in me that I didn’t understand, but which obviously had more to do with me than with Wally. I quickly realized that what I was feeling[iv]Many years ago, I was asked to name some feelings – I could not put a name on a single one, which led to many years of working with a Psychologist, by the name of Jane Jordan, in Santa Cruz that literally changed my life. was sadness that he had to go through all those years of despair before finally mustering up the courage to say, “To hell with society’s stigma, I am going to follow my feelings and start acting the way I feel.” If I were to see him again, I would tell him how much I admire that courage.
When I see government policymakers reacting with absolutely no forethought or common sense to try to “help” someone like Wally, who doesn’t need “help” from anyone, I feel resentful because they end up hurting others and helping no one. Look no further than allowing the so-called “transgender” people to use their faux identity to compete with legitimate contestants in sporting events. I feel angered at our policymakers, disappointed about our inability as a society to choose smarter ones, sorry for their victims, and helpless to do anything about it.
Written: May 23, 2022
Published: May 23, 2022
Reader feedback always appreciated
|↑i||The word literally means “kind” (from the Latin “genus”), and was originally a linguistic term to describe the masculine and feminine forms of language.|
|↑ii||A proper definition can be found in any high school biology textbook printed prior to 1980. Those who might have misplaced that textbook can try “Genetics For Dummies”, chapter 2.|
|↑iii||. . a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected|
|↑iv||Many years ago, I was asked to name some feelings – I could not put a name on a single one, which led to many years of working with a Psychologist, by the name of Jane Jordan, in Santa Cruz that literally changed my life.|