Writings

I am providing below the blueprints for this monstrosity I call a blog structure.  There are some parts undone, some parts neglected, and it is not completely decorated with the poetry and the art.

I find it easier to rearrange if I can see it in a venue like this.  Since I have some other work to publish this weekend, I’m publishing this tonight.  Order will change as time passes.  Newer works will be added.  Some will find their place.

Part of the difficulty with producing that book that several of you have been demanding is my tendency to believe that my words should be free.  Here they are at that price.

Robyn

Life

Who the hell I am

This is in the nature of an introduction, but please see below in the comments.  There are many introductions.

Beginnings

Teen Years

Seeking love, finding only beads

Between the Rock and the Hard Streets

A Winter

Hippie Memories

Roles, Duties and Responsibilities

The Unfather

Friday Philosophy: Getting Real

Journey

Coming Out…Way Out

Response and Reaction (unpublished)

Bigotry

Finding the Net (split…part included with Women-only space…see below)

Finding Voice and Community

A letter to my mother

The Role of the Father

Changing sex in a small town

Tolerance and Diversity (unpublished)

Layers of Why

Crossing the Gender Line (my first performance piece…unpublished)

A Gathering of Rainbows

Divorce (unpublished)

Making Friends (unpublished)

April

These were the bad old days…

Insurance? For whom?

Diary: retrospection:  I kept an online diary back in 1994, during the last 5 weeks or so before my surgery.  That’s what we called blogs back before they were called blogs.  The entries were republished at Daily Kos last summer and are available at the link.

Looking Back at my Future

My Wisconsin Adventure:  being the account of my surgery, in two parts.

Vignettes–late 1994

Road Trips

Vigil

Searching for Filisa (unwritten)

A transition through poetry (they’ve all been posted here, just not all at the same time)

Public Service Announcement (unpublished)

Going Home

Aftermath

A Wedding

Thoughts

Spirituality: Truth

Friday Philosophy: Nonviolence

Nothingness and Being

In the Beginning

Friday Philosophy: Learning to Count Past Two

Declaration of Gender Liberty

From Outside the Gender Prison

I wrote a column back in the 90s for the Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s news magazine, Triangle Rising.  Internet friendly versions are here:

The Gender Prison

Role Models (partial)

Women-only space (jump to Integration)

Life in the Passing Lane

Pride

The Substance of Style

Choices

Building a Better Society

The Question of Religion

Controlling Shame

Dear Distressed:

Let Me Get This Straight

A Political Hunting Accident (unpublished. Time specific)

Ellen (unpublished. Time specific)

Special Rights (unpublished. Time specific)

I am a human being (converted into my second performance piece…see below)

Communicating with the Faithful

A Supreme Response

Ain’t I a Human?

Integration

Deceit

Lesbian Separatism: a discussion (unpublished)

A Review (of Hausmann)

A View from Outside the Gender Community (review of Califia)

…And a View of the Gender Community from the Inside (response to Califia)

A Need for Dialogue

Jonesboro

Oreo (unpublished)

PFLAG:

Parents and Children (unpublished)

Standards of Care

Getting Lost in the Politics (unpublished)

Review:  “…mom, I need to be a girl”

PFLAG, Inclusion and Me

The Great DSM Diagnosis Debate (unpublished)

A Willing Ear and an Active Protector

Kurt

Friday Philosophy: Death

Relatively Recent:

From the Heart

Who Am I?

Role Models

I am a Human Being

State of the Onion

Lonely Times

The mountaintop

Family

Beyond Belonging

Employment Discrimination: Where do we go from here?

Revisiting the Mountaintop

Friday Philosophy:

The Closet

I am a Lesbian

Outness

Love

If only you were gay…

Remembering

Hatred

Altruism

Journey

A Letter and a Response

The Observer

Perfecting my own brand of insanity

Too many poems, too much doubt

Hopes and Expectations

Jump Shift?

Delirium

Like the water

The Task at Hand

Where ragged people go…

Perspective

On Aging

Horton Hears a Boomer

A grand fiction

Thought Salad

A fair game on a level field

Freedom of Choice

Traveling Light

Pushing Back the Boundaries

Mixed Veggies

Judgment

The Most Recent Story Arc

Friday Philosophy: Addressing the Future

…the lessons are waiting.

Weaving Reality

Friday Philosophy: Picking up the rhythm

Friday Philosophy: Nebulous answers to cogent questions

30 comments

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    • Robyn on June 6, 2008 at 4:20 am
      Author

    No need to pay attention.

    Unless you want to. 🙂

    Robyn

    • RiaD on June 6, 2008 at 5:02 am

    O me, O my! such a lot for me to peruse (^.^)

    i am hitting the little ‘+’ so i can return often to this….

    i really had NO idea how much you’ve written…

  1. This is a great anthology. It will be neat with illustrations too.    I feel like this deserves a listing in the blogroll or maybe in a Docudharma Hall of Fame.  Yeah that’s it – a blog Hall of Fame would be fab.  I’ll have to think about that some more.   Meanwhile, kudos on the Writings Robyn!  

    • Robyn on June 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm
      Author

    There are 9 parts and the link goes to a search result giving the 9 links.  I had to change the time frame on the search so that they would appear.

    Robyn

  2. for you to write a book.  I feel like you and I have discussed  in the distant past over at koslandia.

    You’ve got a lot of great chapters.  A little bit of transitional stuff to glue ’em together, and you’ve got a hit (in my estimation).

  3. you could remember that password…

    Quite a journey, friend. I have lots to learn, thanks!

    • Robyn on June 7, 2008 at 6:00 pm
      Author

    …to probably fill up a good part of a book by themselves.

    I’m going to post a few of them in the comments.  Might stir some discussion.

    • Robyn on June 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm
      Author

    Introduction

    (an excerpt from my currently untitled autobiography-in-progress)

    Let’s get this straight right from the beginning.  I’m a transsexual woman.  For whatever reasons I may have had, I changed my sex.  I was born with some male body parts, but I’m much better now.  

    Being transsexual is an evolving process.  It takes longer for some people to evolve than others.  In my case it has taken nearly 48 years so far…less than some, more than most. I’m still evolving and I imagine I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.  

    Evolution is painful for any individual, so many of us fight it tooth and nail for most of our existence.  If we’re lucky, we realize at some point that we have to stop trying to swim upstream and let the river of life carry us to whatever shore it will.  That’s a frightening prospect because there’s no guarantee that we still won’t drown along the way.  All that is certain is that swimming upstream isn’t a fruitful endeavor.

    The vast majority of the people in the societies of the world cannot possibly imagine what would drive someone to change sex.  Waking up in the morning is not an occasion for self-doubt for them as it is for us.  Gender is not a confusing issue for them.  For transpeople gender is the supreme issue.  It colors just about everything in our lives in one way or another.  

    Our obsession with gender sets us apart from mainstream societies which consider gender one of the few immutable attributes in a human being.  Tampering with anything which is supposedly immutable is fraught with danger.  In the past few years I have seen signs that societies are beginning to evolve away from the concept of immutability of gender, but as it is with evolution of an individual, evolution is a painful process for a society and unfortunately the pain of a society is generally inflicted on some of its individuals.  

    For those few of us who can escape the whirlpool of fear, pain, and danger that we find swirling around us, there is the hope someday of reaching some distant safe shore.  It’s not an easy journey because it involves an investigation and interrogation of one’s self that the vast majority of people would be hard put to withstand.  We must delve into our soul and peel away the layers of deceit we have cloaked it with, forever searching for who we really are.  In the end we are compelled to bare that stark naked soul to the world.  

    I’m sure that there are still more layers of my own soul to be peeled away until I get to that nugget that may be in there somewhere.  Or maybe I’ll just keep peeling until I die and never reach it.  I do know, however, that I’ve become a better human being through this process: stronger, braver, kinder, more patient, more understanding, more open to new ideas.  

    I hope that through my writing I can help others through their own personal journeys of discovery, especially my transgendered sisters and brothers, but also anyone who has ever had a family member or a friend who was transgendered and anyone else who encounters the compulsion to rip apart their soul as they travel the river of life.

    • Robyn on June 7, 2008 at 6:10 pm
      Author

    Word Wrapping

    Words are powerful. Words convey meaning and meaning is the substance of ideas. Ideas can be dangerous. Or perhaps it is rather the case that some people seem to find ideas dangerous. Personally I believe in the freedom to have and voice ideas. Campaigns to limit the expression of ideas are what I find dangerous. But then, I have discovered that I am a creature destined to push limits wherever I find them.

    I believe in growth of the individual. I believe that cultural restrictions on individual growth need to be examined for their purpose and challenged if that purpose is found lacking. Human beings should to be free to evolve beyond what is classified as “normal.” Normality is stagnation. A human being has to grow in order to reach full potential. Such growth often stretches the limits defined by the culture on what is or is not normal.

    I am not a normal human and I have not lived a normal life. What I believe is not what is normally believed by normal people. How I have lived my life is not acceptable to many adherents to the cult of normality. So my abnormality is considered by some to be dangerous. My ideas may be no less so.

    For some reason the voice that surfaced from within me a few years ago has been found by some to be a voice of reason. If it were not so, I wouldn’t share my thoughts as I do. I share them and my reality in the hope that something here will help someone cope with their own reality and on the off chance that something here just might lead to the world being a fundamentally better place to live.

    Art Link

    Solitary

    We are Normal: a duet

    Would you please

    Lend me food?

    I am hungry.

    We do not know you.

    You are alien.

    You are not welcome.

    We are normal.
    Can I please

    Share your water?

    I am thirsty.
    We own the water.

    You are strange.

    You cannot have any.

    We are normal.
    Will you then

    Share your fire?

    I am cold.
    We need all the warmth.

    You are other.

    You must go away.

    We are normal.
    Is it too much to ask,

    To be able to live,

    To be able to be?
    We don’t like your kind.

    You are different.

    You make us think too much.

    We are normal.
    But all I want is

    To live in peace,

    To be happy.
    You have no right to be happy.

    You offend us.

    You hurt us by existing.

    We are normal.
    I know how to love,

    How to care,

    How to hurt.
    You are not one of us.

    You don’t belong.

    We want you to die.

    We are normal.

    –Robyn Elaine Serven

    —June, 1994

    Words.

    I let myself out of a bottle in 1992. Doing that has not been without its consequences. The foremost of those consequences has been the liberation of my thoughts. Words have come poring out. Sometimes I have captured them. If you listen, you may capture them as well…or they may capture you.

    Words.

    The words should not come without a warning. Contained herein is what I thought as well as what I think. In some cases, I don’t think that anymore, at least not in the same way. But process is important when you are constructing a life, so I’ll stand by those words as what I thought at that time and in that circumstance.

    Words.

    Some people have said that they think some of the words are wise. Some people undoubtedly will think that they are stupid or even dangerous because I may not think in the same way that they do. And of course some people don’t think. What can I say? My reality is different from anyone else’s. I can only be who I am and live my life. I can only report on what my reality looks like from my perspective. If that interacts with your reality, be prepared for consequences.

    Ideas always have consequences.

    • Robyn on June 7, 2008 at 6:23 pm
      Author

    And there is the more traditional introduction, such as this one, excerpted from my introduction for DailyKos, which was entitled From the Heart (9/25/05):

    Who am I and why must I speak?

    I’ll try to give the short version…while not very short, at least it doesn’t have footnotes.  My name is Robyn Serven.  I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Oregon.  I was born in Portland, OR, but grew up living in a small town somewhat to the south and west called Lake Oswego.  I couldn’t afford to live there now, but at the time there was an area of the town called the First Addition where many of the worker-class people lived.  My father was an electrician, a former World War II bombardier, a bigot and a drunk.  This latter condition was the cause of his death.  My mother worked in a laundry owned by her father and wrote articles for the weekly Lake Oswego Review, of which she became a copy editor before she died.  From outward appearances, people probably thought I had a rather normal childhood and adolescence.  If it weren’t for the fact that I spent a goodly portion of those years terrified, I might agree.

    I got a scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, but emotional problems on my part lead to a severance in our relationship after a year.  Since it was 1967 and I was no longer in college, was born male, and was a pacifist, I chose what I thought was the better part of valor and left for San Francisco in the summer of ’67. There followed the longest 16 or so months imaginable, which included two trips back and forth across the country, one on the Poor People’s March on Washington, and time spent in the lower east side of NYC, camping on a beach south of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, and wandering around on the block on Haight Street that seemed only to be there when I was stoned, which was often.  Then Nixon was elected president and Reagan was elected governor of California and many of us figured it was time to disperse: there was no point hanging around where we were easily collectible.

    I ended up in Joplin, MO, with a friend who turned out to be pregnant with my child. I had a social background that required that I try to do “the right thing,” so we got married.  Our daughter was born in August of 1969.  In 1971 I was tracked down by the FBI while working at a pizza restaurant in Veneta, OK, and given the choice of pleading guilty to “moved, left no forwarding address,” which was punishable by 5 years in the Oklahoma State penitentiary, or volunteering for the draft.  Given the option of two years with pay vs. five years without, I chose to support my family, figuring that I could always run again if they tried to send me to Vietnam.  

    The Army may not have a sense of humor, but they are great with irony: after basic training, I was sent to MP school at Ft. Gordon, GA.  In order to avoid overseas duty, I volunteered for Correctional Specialist School upon completing MP training.  I was permanently stationed at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. It turned out that the Army had been neglecting to pay the prisoners correctly for years and one of my schoolmates in Georgia was picked to be company secretary, so  my mathematics background gained me a slot in the Prisoner Pay section of the Finance Office, so at least I managed not to actually have to work in the prison much.  I was discharged in 1973 as a Spec 5 (Scandanavian heritagealert: if you’re going to do something, do your best job).

    I returned to college at first Portland Community College, then Portland State University, and then the University of Oregon, graduating in 1981.  My first employment was at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for three years, which was followed by 16 years at the University of Central Arkansas, where I earned tenure as the one of the department’s algebraists.  

    During my time in Arkansas, my daughter came out as a lesbian, my spouse and I got divorced, and I underwent a sex-change operation. As you might assume, this last item did not go over well with the good citizen’s of Arkansas, so my last 6 years there were not the best of times.  I was, however, selected to be acting chair (for a few months) of the Faulkner County chapter of NOW, a member of Little Rock PFLAG, a member of the board of the Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and was a columnist for a time, writing “Outside the Gender Prison” for the Triangle Rising.

    In 2000 my partner (I identify as a lesbian) took a job at Seton Hall (which she no longer has) and I quit my job and moved here to New Jersey as well, having pretty much used up excuses for not leaving Arkansas for a friendlier clime. After teaching as an adjunct for a year (math at Montclair State and computer literacy at Bloomfield College), I was invited to apply for a full time position in Computer Information Systems at Bloomfield.  I’ve spent the succeeding years teaching myself how to profess computer programming and as secretary of the faculty governance structure, a member of Women’s Studies faculty and a co-coordinator of the Gay/Non-Gay Alliance. This is my tenure year.

    Okay…so that’s much more about me than probably anyone needs or wants to know, but I want to be open about where I am coming from.

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