I was born and raised in the Midwest. We moved a lot, but gravitated to the area south of Dodge City, Kansas, USA. I entered the Navy at 17, was placed in the NSA, Ft. Meade, MD, left because of my personal needs, recounted in Shadow Life, transitioned to female in 1981. I went to college and graduate school, got my Master of Social Work and my LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a psychotherapist, forensic psychiatric social worker, and got my first pilot certificate. After a few years I met my husband, a fellow pilot, who helped make the 1st Air Force One and was flight test engineer in charge of the SR-71 at Lockheed, Skunk Works.
It was a mixed marriage, not unlike in some ways, a racially mixed marriage in the 1960s might have been.
I have always been interested in cultural differences, how diverse people can get along, and it intrigues me how people filter their view of life through their own experiences, their own issues. I do it, too. How can we not? Yet, there also seem to be some needs we face as diverse human beings living on this earth together. In precise detail, everyone is different from everyone else, but also in a general sense, large groups of people can also be radically different from other groups.
So how can we get along? How is it possible for groups with diametrically opposed values and views to coexist in peace, even synergism?
The answer, I believe, is in the quality of respect for the quality of diversity, itself, that a person adds to the richness of our human experience by being different. Certainly I draw the line at expression of difference with violence. But where the difference is in what the person believes is right or best, or whom she loves, or how he dresses, or his field of study, or how he believes his body should be—
The essence of coexistence is respect despite difference. It must be that we can learn to value another human being even if he is different.
People who are different demand equality in life. Of course. Who wouldn't want equality? But then I sometimes see those same people lash out in anger at others with a different view. My view: I think we need to extend the hand of friendship to others who are different, even those who think we're messed up or think we shouldn't be here, in order to help us gain our own dignity, our own integration. As Meryl Streep said on the Golden Globes, paraphrasing, anger, bigotry, violence, begets more of the same. We need to be what we ask.
Further, we need to extend the hand of acceptance to ourselves as well as others. A lot of people talk a big game but don’t even apply that acceptance to themselves—hiding aspects of themselves, embarrassed to admit, fearing what other people will say.
My husband was a conservative Republican Christian man 40 years older; I am a liberal Democrat Jewish transsexual. I live what I'm sharing. Can a Christian and a Jew be friends? Can people of different races or religions be friends? Can two opposed people get along somehow even if they'll believe differently their whole life? Yes. With civil decency.
That is who I am, what I try to live, what I believe in, what Shadow Life is about.