Friday, December 1, 2017

The Warrior, part 2

What you need to know:

I have a warrior spirit. A powerful Identity full of strength and self-confidence. It is a fire. It can provide the warmth and loving comfort of a nurturing hearth This fiery spirit can also rage with focused scorching heat toward those who would harm , my wife and our children. I strive for Justice, Compassion and Perseverance, thoughtfulness and empathy. I conquer irrational fears, prejudices and stigmas which weaken hearts so that all may find strength with their own inner spirit.

My wife and I are soul mates.

We are intimate in soul just as we were in body. She knew my spirit before we even began dating. Then we shared ours deepest selves long before the kindling of our romance. 

Our romantic, passionate intimacy was all the more meaningful because of our Love and insight into each others hearts.

In short, I remain physically and emotionally infatuated with her! My Warrior Spirit continues to champion her, her life, her memory, and our children.

Bearing this in mind, She loved me deeply. I felt it every day through smiles, looks, touches, and voice. She knew my soul intimately my loves and my pains. She always knew that...

Dolbadarn Castle near Llanberis, Wales
December 1990

...I am a transwoman. I always have been. I have been since my first memories as a 3 year old (1973).

She knew before we began our love relationship that I had planned my affirmation (transition) in 1991. This is the subject of my poem, "The Warrior."

We unexpectedly fell in love in June of that year. And our love, romance and protection for each other never stopped.

She was not physically attracted to women. She loved that the male physique I inhabited reminded her of Michelangelo's "David." So I gave that to her.

With my female heart and soul, I remained in this male form for her and championed her success. Even occasionally growing a beard to make her laugh and be joyful.

She knew maintaining this male fa├žade was very difficult for me. She directly referenced it in the letter she wrote in my personal Journal on October 11, 1991, and specifically with the second line of her wedding vow to me. As this shell drains my energy with every single interaction and social outing, she felt the need to apologize to me time and time again. I assured her that she never needed to apologize to me for her emotions and simply for liking what she likes. I love her. Seeing her joy, her love, her freedom - seeing her light up in my presence, I could never take away her joy.

Now, she is no longer physically present. I have no need and no desire to continue wasting this incredible amount of energy, constantly looking over my shoulder, keeping on guard, and falling into indecisiveness and weakness for the simple sake of upholding this unnecessary male cloak. 

I am a woman. My name is Xenia (rhymes with Kenya)

The full weight of my Love, Strength and Resilience has been exposed through the openness of my grief at the passing of my true love and soul mate. You have read it. You have cried with me. You have commented upon it, my openness, my integrity, my honesty, my virtue. You openly demonstrated your admiration for Xenia. In every action, you have been witness to what it is like for a trans woman to mourn the loss of her soul-mate. Xenia is who I truly am.

Do not confuse my grief, my revelation for weakness, lack of confidence, and need for consolation. Do not assume my announcement is impulsive or the outgrowth of some midlife crisis. You should know me better than that!

I am a warrior. I have no fear. I still champion the values my soul mate and I shared and remain ever protective of her and our children.

That is all you need to know. If you wish for more clarity, read on.


As I have been living every single moment of my life as a woman but in disguise as a man, I can assure you that there is nothing you can possibly think of, suggest or offer that I have not long ago already contemplated and tried.

You might be tempted to ask, 'Why do you want to be a woman'; or 'Why do you think you're a woman?' my response: well Why do you? Ask the same question of yourself and give me your answers. Or is it just that you know your gender and identity and never felt the need to explain.

This is Identity, it is a deep knowledge of oneself. It is not a behavior, it is not an obsession, it is not an impulse of base desires it is not about gender roles, customs, gendered behaviors, clothing or sexuality, It is Identity. It is intrinsic, it is ones innate core. For both allies and detractors who are not trans; have never experienced the discord; have no analog to comprehend the reality of a soul which is not reflected in the body.They have no experience to compel questioning the nature of Identity, for they have never known differently. It makes some sense then that they can only look at the superficial, external expression of trans women and men and come away with a very wrong conclusion that it is merely a behavior about clothing, about sex. They cannot help but remain fixated in this falsehood of the shadow world. 

There is no doubt that some might be concerned that I have not thought about our children. Thinking it best for me to remain closeted, dishonest for their sake and perpetuating the stigma. This attitude is reinforced by the fears cast by the negative stereotypes of trans identity. It is not overly dramatic to describe the emotional impact to a transwoman as one would show care to a person bleeding out from a severed artery. It is the equivalent to saying to her, "I see that you are bleeding and losing strength, but since many people are squeamish about blood, can you put a small band aid on the flesh and wait for the bleeding to stop before you take action to heal?" 

That is not an exaggeration. It is always better to live Truth and honesty. I love my children and they me. Their pediatrician, their therapists, and my children themselves know I am doing the right thing. I have their support and love. There is no stigma in being trans, there is nothing to "fix." Stigma only exists if you want to perpetuate the myths. 

I do not need to recount the countless instances where I have been confronted by those who find false comfort in dehumanizing me and other trans women and men. It is really an every day occurrence--don't pretend it isn't. It is being subject to a constant barrage of dehumanizing gestures ranging from open acts of hostility to something as seemingly minor as a casual comment intended as a joke. In those instances I have for a very long time communicated the reality of my personal experience through third person voice.

Even with the benefit of my experience, there still remain those who without either personal first hand experience or dedicated research in cognitive science and psychological practice, refuse to take up the call of inquiry, the path of Socrates -- exemplified by my wife's phrase-- Seek to Understand. They instead find false comfort, wasting energy on sustaining their base fears when they could be demonstrating simple acts of Love. It seems they will be in for quite a shock when it is their time of reckoning. Just as the hypocrisy of the Pharisees was rebuked by one who knows Love, then God certainly sees through the fallen hearts of their heirs who claim First Amendment rights to defend their hatred. 

I am certain my revelation probably comes as a shock. And while I have been living this every single day for over 40 years, for many, the reality of transgender identity is a new phenomenon. They might mistake it as some sort of invented fad. This impression is done no favors by the propaganda--outright BullSh*t really, spread by political organizations and their lawyers. They prey on the base fears of otherwise good and caring people of Faith. They lead them down a dark path, twisting the message of love their Faith encourages; forcing them to express hatred and bigotry through this infection of lies and misinformation. Insane myths about bathroom predators (seriously?!?!?!), sociopathic serial killers in the movies, and sex crazed maniacs intent on tricking others for some nefarious purpose -- prejudice their guts, close their hearts and cloud their heads. In Truth, assumptions that transwomen are mentally unsound, confused, weak, and delusional are without merit.

Who I was before this announcement I am today. If you liked me before, I don't see why you wouldn't still.- merely because your perception of me has been shaken. I am still the same person. The strength and resilience, that Zen Warrior frame of mind I have so often been told I radiate; my kind-hearted and loving spirit - the very definition of that foundational virtue of hospitality the Ancient Greeks termed xenia.
I am not a weak, not powerless and certainly not a delicate, demure gendered stereotype some still believe women are / should be. I continue to be the strong, confident, capable, compassionate heavy-metal-loving-eco-feminist-Sci-girl-power-nerd-Warrior Bassist I have always been.. I still like those things I have always liked and have always outwardly expressed (Fencing, Martial Arts, Music, History, Classics, rough camping in all 4 Minnesota seasons, canoeing, horses, darts, whisky, strong black coffee, collecting antiquarian books, American Football, Nordic skiing…) and I still like those things I have not previously revealed. [FYI - I have never liked pink or frilly things, nor ever desired to play house, play with dolls (my childhood heroes were Wonder Woman and Jill Munroe)]. I don't need someone else to define me. There is a LOT more to woman than perpetuating those relative social stereotypes] 

I still prefer to wear jeans, t-shirts, flannel and Birks. And for the most part I think fussing over make-up and hair is a time-consuming hassle. I don't object to dressing appropriately feminine when the occasion calls for it, but I am a college educated woman of action. My peers tend to be college educated professional women. [* after 8 1/2 months of being out and allowing myself to be free to like what I like, it turns out I'm more "femme" than I ever thought I was. Xenia August 17, 2018]

In closing, I will always cherish my wife, my partner, my soul mate for the past 26 years. The one and only one with whom I planned on sharing my entire life. I do not think I can ever express the love, admiration, awe I have for her in a way that nears the depths of my heart. I will continue to grieve but live with her spirit. Now is the time, however, for me to begin life anew, to move forward with purpose and guide our children with the same honesty and passion we shared before her death..

As our children have known for some time now. And we have talked about this at length. They do not anticipate this disrupting their true friendships. I am hopeful that remains the case. Since my wife is their Mother and they always called her Mama, I will never take that title. To my children alone I allow the right to call me Dad and refer to me with male pronouns. No one else is allowed that.

For everyone else, I am Xenia (rhymes with Kenya)... On formal occasions my address is Ms. Sandstrom-McGuire. I use she/her pronouns. I do understand that friends will make honest mistakes, accidentally referring to me by my old name and male pronouns I can easily forgive that. For those who rudely insist on disrespecting me by referring to me by my former names (one of which I have not used for over 30 years because of the pain associated with it) and insisting on placing upon me a male identity because it makes THEM feel better, they can expect me to ignore them entirely (or respond with an equally immature retort where I call them a name of my choosing because that will make ME feel better.) So with me, as with any trans woman -- or any human for that matter, endeavor to be gracious, loving, and kind. Respect Human Dignity.

My lifetime of experience as a closeted transwoman has infused my warrior spirit with resiliency in the face of rejection, ostracism and even hatred from those who claim friendship and love for us. I cannot control how anyone will receive my revelation, but I will no longer lie to protect their comfort. I will continue to guide our children so that they will forever live with the virtues of honesty, integrity, love, justice, compassion, and perseverance that their mother and I forged with our relationship.

With much love,
Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire, M.A.
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Just a quick note on my name,
"Xn" is the traditional abbreviation of my given very German middle name, "Christian"
The "X" is actually a Greek letter "Chi" the first letter of Xristos (Christ) which has been used for 2000 years.

Many times whether in martial arts, playing chess, playing bass etc. I have been told that I have a "Zen" spirit. so I changed the Greek "chi" to a "xi" and added the "e" to create "Xen"
I am a warrior, and there was already a warrior princess whom I admire named Xena.
So my dear friend and confidant from the past few years suggested, "Xenia" which I remembered is the Ancient Greek virtue of extending Hospitality to strangers.(and actually Xena is the shortened form of the same name)
and that is how I ended up with Xenia.
Xenia, Warrior Bassist 

Related Links:
I have been working for decades behind the scenes advocating Trans rights. Here is one of my many examples which hit me as close to home as it ever has been. It is my work as a closeted transwoman trying to bring sanity to my kids school:

My wife and me with a few of our Delta Alpha Delta sorority sisters
Luther College 1992.
Xenia 1994 (photo by Krista)
Krista and Xenia (goofing off)
Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire, December 1, 2017

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