Monday, December 3, 2018

Sunrise

Friday night, November 30th,  I cracked open a bottle of red, lit a few candles, put on some music, sat in a nook dedicated to Krista. There, surrounded by her music scores, I reflected and cried. 

This is not an uncommon occurrence. The difference is my music selection. “Baroque Duet by Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis.” 

I have not listened to any Kathleen Battle in over a year and a half. My wife owned every recording she ever produced, she was her favorite soprano. The recordings with which Krista would sing along sometimes matching Kathleen so well that I could not tell if it was recording or Krista that I was hearing when working in another room. 

As I lost myself in the music I reflected upon our life together and my life in the 18 months since she was killed, and the one full year since I began living publicly as Xenia. It was cathartic. 

I have a rare circumstance. I am a 48-year old single mother raising two teenage kids, widowed after her wife of 26 years was unexpectedly killed by a drunk driver. The death in a cherished partnership, best friendship, a lover and wise counsel - which occurred just as I was taking my first steps in coming out after a lifetime of closeted gender dysphoria. 

I wrote three important blogs on this weekend anniversary, revealing more the intersection of music, spirituality, and gender played in the Love between Krista and me from the very start of our relationship. In the past 18 months, I have written 23 posts relating to my experience as a woman and 10 with regard to Krista and our love, not to mention countless Facebook posts related to both. After my last, and by far my most important and revealing blog entry, One Year Out, I now feel content that I have shared all I need to share. 

Grief is ongoing, and I am still growing and learning. But now it is right that I step away and use these online forums for my musical endeavours. 

In these past 18 months, many people have thanked me for my openness with what are rather personal experiences. Many are either trans or gender non-binary themselves. Others are allies, friends, spouses, parents, and children of someone who is trans.  They tell me they have benefited from what I have shared in Love, in grief and revealing my true sex and gender.

I am indeed grateful for the support others have shown. Quite often I receive messages like, "You go girl!" and "Just Be Continue to be You..." - This is great, but it doesn't really address what is needed, you see, "Just Being Me..." is quite easy. I love who I am.  The Hard part is fighting the harmful propaganda from Religious Groups and governments.

Since the current US federal executive administration has undone many of the scientifically and medically backed policies guided by field experts that were enacted under the previous administration, women like me live in a more hostile environment fueled by lies and mis-characterizations. It is with this in mind that I commit to keep these posts public as I myself live openly and engage with my neighbors and communities without fear. 

So Now when I am confronted by people who question my sex and gender, I merely ask them for their Medical License, their WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) credentials, and in which peer-reviewed journal their research findings have been published.  If they cannot present any of those, it is safe to ignore them and go about my business -- even if this means, I have to do their job for them and serve myself because they claim a religious objection.

Having said all of that, My posts are indexed under two headings:
For Krista the index is found at: My Late Wife

For my transgender experience: Xenia Warrior Bassist

That’s all I have got to say about that. 

With Justice, Compassion, Perseverance 

Xenia
Sunrise over the western Nebraskan Sandhills (near Cody on Highway 20 - August 2017)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

One Year Out

Today December 1st is the anniversary from when I revealed that I am and always have been Xenia. It has been a year of unpacking, peeling off layers, soul mending, and growing. 

Last year at this time, I was quite uncertain how my coming out statement would be received. Given my lifetime of hiding because of the majority public negative views to which I was accustomed, I really did not know how many friends, relatives I would have after I came out. My parents, sister, my in-laws had no clue nor did the parents of a few of my kids best friends. So two days before I came out, I sent them my statement. 

When I wrote my coming out statement last year, I was still deferring to the cisgender-heterosexual normative dominant attitudes. I did not want them to question or think ill about Krista’s and my love. And I didn’t want them to freak out and associate me with those most negative and pervasive stereotypes. I myself didn’t really want to make a fuss and felt that just telling everyone was good enough. I had not yet begun to explore myself now that I am out. 

What I can tell you is that being out is the very best thing ever for my soul, psychological well being and the depths of my relationships with people. While I understand the reasons all too well for feeling the need to be closeted (which I will reveal more in this post), being closeted just isn’t worth it. 

Since coming out I have been uncovering all of the layers of protection I constucted over my first 47 years. Where I used to filter every response and defer to cis-het norms, I have now been allowing myself to react. 

This growth was made fruitful by the nourishment of a re-established lost friendship a few days after coming out last year. This friendship encouraged me to Love and Advocate for myself, explore the meaning and put into practice what it is to be Xenia, without fearing the responses of others.

I opened up. My brain which has always been female, is finally being fed the right hormones, so all of those features, instincts, inclinations I’ve always had are now enhanced- vibrant and full of colors of emotion integrated with my reason, my gut and my whole being. 

I am bold, confident, making music, writing, and engaged in my life. No longer expending so much time on keeping myself hidden which negatively impacted my capacity for empathy. Pretending to be a guy was exhausting and left me groundless. Rootless and without a strong footing it was nearly impossible to act with any self-assuredness. I did not recognize how over time, my dysphoria increased despondency, resignation - that I felt merely a shell going through the motions. Now out as the woman I am, a can proceed with confidence and strength.

Some seemingly minor but not insignificant revelations:
I can hear & understand lyrics now and react emotionally to spoken word.
I danced freely in public for the FIRST time and I could actually move with the music.
I tried hummus and guacamole for the first time in my life and loved it! 
Perception of temperature is one physical change I will share. While I love winter, my perception of temperatures has changed dramatically. I now understand why so many of my female friends really do not like winter. It used to be sub zero temps and camping, cooking outside over a fire pit and telling Viking Sagas while drinking Aquavit... no problem...But last week, having gone outside with the temps feeling like my previous body chemistry interpreted as 5 degrees Fahrenheit- then shocked to find out it was only 28 degrees...huge shift.

Socially, I have been able to move about in all areas without fear and guardedness.   As someone who has endured rape and assaults by men and avoided them when possible. Now, no longer in hiding, I have confidence to stand toe to toe with them if needed. And as it turns out, not all men are assholes, in fact some are actually pretty nice. This past year, I been able to develop friendships deeper than talking only about certain aspects of music and comedies. My late wife had already helped me overcome some of these perceptions, notably my former hatred of American Football. She  taught me how to throw a spiral, catch and understand the strategy of the defense). Having grown up with a female brain (which is the biggest determining factor in sex identification) but forced into exclusive male environments, I never understood the apparent "natural behavior" thoughts, feelings and actions of men and boys. I learned to fake it, building protective layers of "guyness." which leads to:

And it turns out I’m much more “girly” than I ever thought. Last year I wrote that I would just continue to wear flannel, jeans, and Birks as I always have. Well, that didn’t last long. I've spent the past year tearing down those layers, allowing myself to feel, act and react without barriers. While I still know that I am a woman, always have been a woman regardless of my appearance, I do really enjoy my accoutrements of enculturated femininity. (* though those external trappings do not define me.) 

When close friend who has known me as Xenia both before and after me coming out remarked, “If there were such a thing as a poster-child for why someone NEEDS to come out, its you.”

So, why didn’t I come out sooner? 

Imagine, you have a lifetime of never feeling safe to live freely as yourself. You opt to stay closeted when you fall in love because you are afraid of harm to her from the outside world, but having her know at least is enough to get by. You get into your 40s and the closeted masquerade is really taking its toll in the most negative ways: more frequent distress over dysphoria, not living openly, major depressive episodes. Then after yet another flash of suicidal ideation (spurred on by anti-LGBTQ propaganda at your kids school, fearing for your kids friendships) you return from the brink determined to come out. The future with your soul mate is looking bright 

Then one night two St. Paul police officers arrive at your front door to tell you your best friend, wife, lover for 26 years was killed by a drunk driver. 

I am 48 years old (born February 1970) and I remember growing up trans female and having absolutely NO information to understand myself nor for the public to understand. Because of our rarity trans folk of mine and older generations grew up in an age before the Internet, we were isolated and struggled to come to terms with ourselves on our own. 

I ALWAYS knew myself to be female since my first memories (clearest early acknowledgement that I am female came when I was 3 (1973). And like many of us my age, I lived in the dark for so long never talking to anyone, too scared to open up to anyone or even my physician, under fear of rejection, job loss, abuse, ostracism, excommunication. I turned to the teachings of my Christian upbringing (I was in fact planning on becoming a Lutheran minister) which viewed trans issues as a sinful "behavior" rather than what it actually is.

In 1989, I met Krista. We got to know each other when I used to go to her room and she would French braid my hair as we talked. It was on the bus on Cathedral Choir tour in 1990 that we really felt a close connection. Our Junior year in college I lived in Nottingham, England and away from Iowa, and my past.  Krista and I exchanged a few letters, and even called me on my 21st Birthday. Most of that year, I was able to focus and reflect upon me, who I am and where I intend to go. 

In Spring of 1991, I was living in a flat in Nottingham, UK with other Luther College students. I had been thinking critically about my identity for 17 years. Finally I was determined that yes when I returned to the States I was going to leave everyone I know, move to northern California affirm my gender and live in a world where no one would have any memory of me pretending to be male. I just want to blend in.  In the meantime, I tested the waters with my flat-mates…the most I would admit to any of them was that I was a crossdresser and while I shaved my legs and wore skirts, I was not about to divulge my intention. 

When I returned to the States, culture shock and rural Iowan reality hit me – the loud, nasally, forced, midwestern dialect really disturbed my ears. Soon I got a call from Krista and Kari G who were living in Madison, WI for the summer. So I left my parents some cryptic message about getting over my depression with no other indication about where I headed and drove to visit them (-thinking a Beatles song from Sgt. Pepper might be apropos for my parents feelings at that time—sorry Mom and Dad- ) . I told Krista who I was that night. Regardless we really loved each others company and by the end of that week, we knew we wanted to live the rest of our lives with each other. 

I wanted to protect Krista, fulfill her, champion her brilliance, and help her succeed in every endeavor, in the process I feared public backlash – its not just me anymore, what will happen to Krista if I come out publicly? 

Xenia  n 1994
Twenty-two years ago 1996, It was nearly impossible to find any good information anywhere on being trans My therapists in the 1990s really didn't know how to help me. Two of them suggested I find a hobby to help distract me from it… I first encountered the word "transgender" when I was 28 (1998) And in those very early years of the Internet it seemed any reference at all was not much better than the negative sensationalist, psycho-pathic, pornographic, fetishist scapegoat fear already shown in movies and Jerry Springer.

So there was nothing really that gave me the information I needed to further help understand myself. And not only cis-het society, but also feminists (which I have always considered myself) and lesbian and gay friends (who were themselves emerging in their fight for equality and justice) maintained negative attitudes toward women like me voicing their opinion that transsexuals are freaks – so I did not feel safe revealing myself to them either.

But as more of us risked outing ourselves to the community so that we could understand, medical professionals also started to take us more seriously. More useful information backed by peer-reviewed scientific research slowly developed, and we began to find support in each other and in the 2010s, (I am in my40s by now) there was now a growing list of providers who advertising that they were LGBTQ+ knowledgeable and practiced WPATH Standards of Care, I no longer felt alone. And for a while that was enough to help me.

Yet as the worldwide scientific professional medical communities verified the biological reality of multiple variations and combinations of sex and gender, a reactionary movement arose, discounting the decades of research and belittling my own experience as if being trans were some sort of dangerous PC trend. With no credible expertise, they played upon the false negative trans prejudices I described earlier. They created new lies and fears. In 2013 they INVENTED a tactic to be used against women like me, generating hysteria with the notion that we are bathroom predators. This is completely at odds with reality. They have spent millions in lobbying and legal actions which has served to facilitate violence and murder against women like me. One political ant-LGBTQ hate group, the American College of Pediatricians is intentionally deceitful in spreading misinformation to cause harm to children. Instead of politicizing science and women like me, a better use of their money would be to promote the expertise of research biologists, cognitive scientists, the medical, and psychological communities. With their broad world wide network, loving parents could teach their children we are women.

A few years ago Krista, who was Director of Organization Development and Learning at Hennepin County Medical Center, encouraged me to get my care at the newly established Adult Gender and Sexual Health clinic there. In her position she herself was gaining more objective knowledge though about my own gender dysphoria and the meaning of being trans. [* This is often a neglected part of gender affirmation in marriages. Krista most definitely was an amazing person. And it is important to note that this was no picnic for her either. For she was only 2 days younger than me, we grew up with the same lack of knowledge and resources, Our views were shaped by the broader culture which was hostile and discriminatory toward trans women. The difference is that me being trans actively sought  knowledge but not having the adequate vocabulary to accurately describe, and her not being trans had no analog to my dysphoria. But we loved each other. It is for this reason I maintain a very deep love and care for the spouses of those of us who are trans. I feel they have a much more difficult path than we do. And while I move forward unfettered from worry on how my decisions, actions might negatively impact her in myriad ways - I have both gained greater understanding and visceral empathy of her perspective - and it does break my heart that I cannot share that revelation with her..]

On May 31st, 2017 – I had both a great therapy session with regard to my coming out, regaining confidence, shedding that empty shell, that male disguise - and continuing in the growth of love between Krista and me. I put my newly uncovered conduit for expression into practice that day when I went in to Cycles for Change and allowed a man to show me how to repair my bike – I did not fear, I did not put up my artificial male persona - I was still dressed in my drab flannel and jeans, my unfiltered personality that you know now was unveiled, publicly. 
This was a pretty big break thru for me as I had been overcoming a prolonged bout with major depression. Krista was working late that night and the next evening was booked with our chorale auditions so I knew we wouldn’t have time to debrief until the weekend. 

And well, on the night of June 1, 2017, I was visited by those two St. Paul police officers. 

The whole summer when I was writing about the Love Krista and shared, All but a very few people had no clue that I was Xenia. So while I conducted business in public, - from my TV interview, to the memorial service, to band gigs – Every day and night, I spoke, emailed, and texted my growing circle of friends regarding who I really am. Ever so slowly widening my circle, but trying to be careful not to take away from the raw memory of Krista’s death. Even then, I was a quite guarded with regard to how much I shared with them. Most did not know that I started HRT on June 24, 2017. 

In mid-September 2017 I was informed that Krista’s killer finally accepted a plea deal. So at that time I both learned the length of his prison term as well as the date of his sentencing on which I would read my Victim Impact Statement – November 17, 2017. It was then in September that I decided that December 1, 2017 at 18:00 CST will be when I announce. I wanted a Thanksgiving with still all thoughts on Krista, but after that it was time for me to begin a new volume in the Sandstrom-McGuire Saga. 

So in the very briefest way possible. Everything you believe about women the way women think, feel, emote, respond- That is me. That is the way my biological brain is wired, the way my physical body responds to sensation, the way I emote. Women like me are recognized as women by the peer reviewed scientific professional medical community. All of my legal documentation from my birth certificate to US Passport to my medical records themselves acknowledge that yes I am female.  This carries weight in objectively verifiable expertise whereas the opinions of anti-LGBTQ legal activists and trolls do not.

For those who were accustomed to me in my 47 years of pretending to be a guy, You saw my disguise, the manner in which I protected myself from physical harm. And while some may still see my body, hear my voice as male, - Never forget that my loves, my fears, my cares, my desires, my needs have always been those of a woman.

Love, Strength, and Authenticity to you all.

Xenia

My original coming out statement found here:
http://www.xenmcguire.com/2017/12/the-warrior-part-2.html

For all of my blogs pertaining to my experience since coming out visit:
http://www.xenmcguire.com/p/xenia-warrior-bassist.html


Friday, November 30, 2018

Whatever: Why I Never Debate "Arm-Chair Quarterbacks"

Pfff...Whatever is my characteristically Gen X response I have been saying more frequently in recent weeks. I do get unsolicited comments from some who claim to be offering "reasonable dialog" when clearly they have no intention of learning anything regarding my experience. They do not hold back in offering up all of their bogus assumptions (clearly drawn from the propaganda Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, American College of Pediatricians, TERFs et al) as if they were legitimate sources. Remember, the fear of trans women in bathrooms was INVENTED by the Alliance Defending Freedom in 2013. On the other hand we have been using women's restrooms for decades without notice or incident.

These fear mongers discount my decades long experiences, my own diligent research, critical insight, self reflection, evaluations and discussions with medical and psychological professionals. They lack the sophistication to distinguish enculturated views inasmuch as they continue to equate girls with pink, princesses, dresses, and passivity; boys with blue, trucks and aggression,  Then with their arrogant “armchair quarterback” opinions about trans women - they mis-characterize us as “disturbed men in dresses" a phrase which only further demonstrates their ineptitude, for really, what does wearing a dress have to do with being trans? Nothing in and of itself.  I am a woman regardless of what I am wearing.

It is exhausting enough when trying to condense my 48 years of experiences to bring every individual willing to learn up to speed, I do not need to waste time with those who are unwilling.

And since they are neither trans nor are field experts who have conducted bona fide research studies published in peer reviewed journals, I have no respect for their opinion. So I simply end my participation with, 
Whatever

which is Generation X for ,"You are an idiot and I have a life."

In public, when I am confronted by people who question my sex and gender, I merely ask them for their Medical License, their WPATH credentials, and in which peer-reviewed journal their research findings have been published. If they cannot present any of those, it is safe to ignore them and go about my business -- even if this means, I have to do their job for them and serve myself because they claim a religious objection.

And if it comes down to it, It seems I have just as much right to inquire about, question their identity and refuse service if it does not coincide with my own religious views.

=
Whatever unabridged definition:
I do not waste time with detractors of my sex and gender. In every case, their objections begin with the factual error that being transgender is a behavior, an ideology. From there they take up a defensive position-- walled up within the rampart of their own fears nourished only by their stagnant political and religious dogma. They speculate with no meaningful insight – thinking themselves original in hypotheses which have long ago already been questioned, studied, and rejected by peer reviewed experts. Yet they stagnate and refuse to engage Reality. The Reality known by those who diligently conduct research, inquire and study -- not to mention my personal lifelong experience.

It is important to keep in mind that these detractors are not intelligent people. They lack the tools of and motivation for critical investigation, namely they cannot even identity the blatant use of logical fallacies committed in the arguments by those anti-LGBTQ+ groups listed above. Nevermind that their fallacious arguments are already built upon falsities. - But even then, as it is well understood that views of all deities, religions, laws, and traditions are the subjective products of humans and interpreted in myriad subjective ways and enforced by humans. Thus I cannot take seriously the claims of any “armchair quarterback” who discounts the experts and calls me delusional when I have spent my lifetime critically investigating my own views and experiences, when they themselves are unknowingly perpetuating human constructed beliefs.



Yet as the worldwide scientific professional medical communities verified the biological reality of multiple variations and combinations of sex and gender, a reactionary movement arose, discounting the decades of research and belittling my own experience as if being trans were some sort of dangerous trend. With no credible expertise, they played upon the false negative trans prejudices I described earlier. They created new lies and fears. In 2013 they INVENTED a tactic to be used against women like me, generating hysteria with the notion that we are bathroom predators. This is completely at odds with reality. They have spent millions in lobbying and legal actions which has served to facilitate violence and murder against women like me. Instead of politicizing science and the biological reality of women like me, a better use of their money would be to promote the expertise of research biologists, cognitive scientists, the medical, and psychological communities with their broad reach of their propaganda to assuage the irrational fears their followers have against women like me.  


Everything you believe about women the way women think, feel, emote, respond- That is me. That is the way my biological brain is wired, the way my physical body responds to sensation, the way I emote. Women like me are recognized as women by the peer reviewed scientific professional medical community. All of my legal documentation from my birth certificate to US Passport to my medical records themselves acknowledge that yes I am female.  This carries weight in objectively verifiable expertise whereas the opinions of anti-LGBTQ legal activists and trolls do not.

For those who were accustomed to me in my 47 years of pretending to be a guy, You saw my disguise, the manner in which I protected myself from physical harm. And while some may still see my body, hear my voice as male, - Never forget that my loves, my fears, my cares, my desires, my needs have always been those of a woman.

J.S. Bach's Saint John's Passion: Intention, Reception, Meaning

[* long and winding post regarding intention, controversies, reception histories and ultimately deep meaning JS Bach's "St. John's Passion" has for me].
A friend of mine administers a page on musicology (my academic discipline) and thankfully posts intriguing announcements and articles from around the world every day. As I am not currently employed in my academic field, his posts give me just enough to keep me intellectually stimulated on a wide range of musicological topics as I just do not have the wherewithal to sit down with the latest JAMS or IMS.

A few days ago a topic emerged regarding anti-Semitism in JS Bach's "St Johns Passion" BWV245. This was freshly on my mind as just a few weeks prior, a beautiful and most musically literate friend of mine attended a recent performance of this work and was herself quite disturbed by the anti-Semitic texts Bach selected. 

These are in fact what I consider serious issues which arise quite often when discussing the works of Martin Luther and especially the writings and music dramas of Richard Wagner.
And while this ethical dilemma continues in my own soul, This particular work has a different meaning for me which I felt compelled to share, so below is my response to this discussion: ***

"I wrestle with meaning, ethics and reception histories; how something which has always been part of joyful memories for me are downright trauma inducing for others. I often think about my home here in St. Paul, Minnesota where I have lived for the past 22 years as a mere 2 miles away from what was the thriving African-American Rondo neighborhood which all but totally destroyed with the construction of Interstate 94 in the 1960s. A mere two miles almost due east from where Philando Castile was murdered which I drive past nearly every day. - How the land on which my home sits was once home to the Ojibwe and the Dakota. And how one of the wealthiest suburbs in the Twin Cities was built on the nourishing land and lakes of the Dakota.

- But these are things which I dare say most do not even think about. Not understanding how the collective actions of our ancestors enabled our modern privilege.

So on this point, knowing and understanding the anti-Semitic influence of librettist Erdmann Neumeister in early-mid 18th Leipzig upon the culture and the views of Bach in particular is something I consider an obligation.
** On a personal level, I was born in 1970 raised in northeastern Iowa as Lutheran (what became ELCA) family. My parents both grew up in the northwestern Nebraska Sandhills. My father was a professional organist at one of the largest Lutheran churches in the nation (he himself had converted to Lutheranism both for the music and for when he married my mother - who grew up on a homestead in a Lutheran family of musicians/ranchers. - and both of my parents being music educators I grew up exposed to just about every sort of music available since I was very young.

Lutheranism to me, is synonymous with music. I never paid attention to the texts - In fact even when I am listening to pop music, I cannot understand or hear texts unless they are written out in front of me - even when I am singing the texts, unless I am studying them - to me they are always just phonemes (e.g. I love Joni Mitchell, but once I started reading what she was singing about, I really love Joni Mitchell).

My late wife also grew up Lutheran in Northfield, Minnesota. We met in choir at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. While we both started off as music majors she ended up earning her undergrads in Anthropology and History , mine in Philosophy and Classical Languages. 

And despite our strong Lutheran upbringings we by that time had become disillusioned with the BS of religion and describe ourselves as Atheists. But the culture of the chorale Music, organ works, et al and the traditions remain - I brought to our marriage gift exchanges on Xmas eve, Gluhwein and springerle; she brought teatotaling lefse and dancing.

* Now things get a bit dark for me. My wife was killed on June 1, 2017 by a drunk driver. We both had our re-auditions with the Minnesota Chorale that night. She was a contracted singer (a coloratura actually) with the Chorale, and had served as a board member. Her audition aria was, "Zerfließe, mein Herze, in Fluten der Zähren" from the St. John's Passion. I have many memories of her diligently practicing, perfecting this work for her audition Her effortless coloratura floating those passages; her out of the blue sending me a YouTube link of an orchestra playing on period instruments - knowing I would love it. - it is tied with my joys of our 26 years of singing together, meeting in choir, singing at our wedding... lip trilling this work in the car. I have heard Krista sing so many works, including both Queen of the Night Arias - but the passion and soul she put into this was far beyond anything I had ever heard her sing. Lovely, with effortless control it suited her and I was left with chills. This was her finest voice.
Xenia and Krista singing Karaoke in 1991
She never did get to perform it, the fact is she was leaving her work place were she was a Director of Organization Development and Learning for Hennepin County Medical Center and driving to her voice lesson before her audition. 

Knowing Krista, she was most likely warming up her voice by lip trilling the aria along with her recording when the drunk driver broadsided her blue Honda Fit right in the middle of her drivers side door at 71 miles mph with his SUV at the intersection of Park and 15th in Downtown Minneapolis. In fact her CD remained lodged in the player, though I managed to recover the broken case for her copy of St John's Passion. 

And I will forever associate this work with the last memories of my wife. 

** When it came time for the memorial the following week. Because Krista and I rejected religion - Music was our religion, 80 members of the Minnesota Chorale volunteered to sing at an outdoor ceremony. It was really just a gathering in a park, I had the chorale do a few prepared selections, then for catharsis some of the Middle High German sections from Carmina Burana and a sing through of the 4th movement of the 9th symphony beginning with the tenor solo / march. (Krista was on the Grammy nominated recording of the MN Orchestra just two weeks before our daughter was born). With the prepared works, I had a brief discussion with the executive director of the chorale regarding whether or not the Brahm's selection should be sung in English. - I insisted it remain in Deutsche as the music is more important to convey than any words.

* So I do strongly advocate for the understanding of the text of works selected as well as the intended us for all music. It is also important to understand the reception histories of those works and why they are used and when the new use is at odds with the intention (thinking about how politicians seem to use pop music by artists, only to have those artists speak out against the politician)
Okay, thats all. Thanks for reading."

ANYWAY, I'm attaching the memorial here...in my disguised form

Friday, October 26, 2018

...And Yet She Moves

I had a few people ask me about a necklace they saw me wearing the other day. The short answer is, it signifies Endless Commitment to Love and Inquiry, Nature and Harmony with Diversity. - 

 


The full answer:
In 1990, I finally made a clean break from the stranglehold of Fear and the Authoritarianism of men who rooted their power in the peddling of metaphysics and pseudo-science. I had been coming to this realization since childhood. You see, I was raised in a German Lutheran household, I was confirmed in a Danish Lutheran church which became ELCA in 1988. I myself aspired to become a Lutheran minister which precipitated me earning a double major in Philosophy and Latin & Ancient Greek from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. But much of this was guided my innate curiosity and unceasing desire to inquire, to learn not only the text of the Bible in its oldest recorded languages, but also learn how it came together from multiple cultures through the ages, the origins and development of the myths of Heaven and Hell, then understanding why throughout all of the ages there are so many different ways Christianity has been practiced,, scripture interpreted with thousands of competing sects each claiming to know "truth" whereas the scientific method results in One reliable, testable, measurable truth. I was also trying to overcome what was my own apparent "sinful desire" to be a woman - because I had always known myself to be female.

Through my studies I encountered so many more writings and authors from antiquity through the modern age. Not theologians, sophists, and politicians whose rhetorical aim was to Win their points by any means necessary, but Philosophers and Scientists who sought to continually inquire and develop the tools to pursue an understanding of reality as it actually is. 

I recognized then that Religion is a closed system that works under its own beliefs and rules regardless of the Real workings of the World. And when people try to use Bible quotes and apologetics to convince me. Its not going to work because they are defending a position within a closed system, but they are not inquiring into the nature of reality. 

So, just as the Founders of the United States Constitution understood when they wanted to form a new secular government which cast off the Religious Dictatorships that empowered the oppressive nobility European nations (Divine Right of Kings) I recognized that the history of European Christianity is one marked mostly by fear, authoritarianism, violence, oppression, and discrimination. One that imprisoned, silenced, and killed those who sought the nature of reality.

In the Words of the James Madison, the 4th President of the United States and Father of the Constitution:

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.  Memorial and Remonstrance (1785)
The only thing keeping me Christian was Fear. Fear of Damnation. In elementary Sunday school being told the falsehood that one can only go to Heaven if they believe in Jesus, but those who don't AND even those who never had the opportunity to even hear of Jesus are damned regardless of the Love and Goodness they have lived on earth.

But what if I am wrong? If I reject the divinity of Jesus but then head to the afterlife and turns out God is going to damn me to hell because I didn't obey and believe in the divinity? - It did not take long then for me to realize, that way of thinking is not Faith at all. It is desperation. And any God who would damn me because of that is a tyrant, unworthy of worship, and unfit to be Lord of the Universe.

It was with this realization, that Love and Goodness are not in any way dependent upon Christianity or any religion for that matter, that I began to open my mind and heart to all; that honest inquiry with the tools of Philosophy and Science are obligations; that nothing is too sacred to be questioned.

When Krista was killed last year, the Sandstrom-McGuire's received an immense outpouring of support. I would write about my reflections of her, and our lives. I was writing from my heart and many people commented positively on my words of Love.
What Krista and I never really announced was that it was our lack of belief in Christian Metaphysics, divinity of Jesus etc. was something that did draw us together. She remembers as an anthropologist being disgusted by missionaries and business entrepreneurs on how little regard and awareness they had of other cultures, yet they felt compelled to "save these people." from their cultural practices which worked very well on their own. 

For those of you who attended our wedding, you may have noticed our purposeful location, Outdoors in Nature and we did not invite God to the wedding, nor were either of us going to "Serve and Obey" each other. So we wrote our own ceremony to reflect our beliefs. In 2016, having spent 23 years of our then 46 year old lives married, we tattooed our Sandstrom-McGuire Celtic Love knot over our hearts - a Re-commitment to each other, and our shared values. In many of my pictures since I came out, I wear a simple necklace with a leather cord and silver celtic knot. This necklace is one I got for Krista back in the 1990s. It isn't fancy but I was never one for distracting from Love with fancy jewelry. And this piece is far more important to me than any price I could put on it. 

The necklace in my recent photos: The Braided Wreath encircling the Pentagram is one I purchased in 1992. Yes it does have Reclaiming / Neo-Pagan connotations. For me, an agnostic/Atheist, Religion is Art / Music is Religion. It is a mood, a genre. Now, most Christians I know are indeed full of Love and don't care if I believe or not. There are some however who fell away from my family after I announced that I have always been female. Apparently their version of Christianity holds disrespect and ignorance as a basic tenet of faith.

The reality is that in this world there are many self-proclaimed Christians who are adherents to hate, exclusion, discrimination and reject reality, expert knowledge in favor of rhetorical tricks and junk science to enforce their beliefs as Government Policy. These are the Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, American College of Pediatricians, and all of them have unprecedented influence in all branches of our current Federal Government. For Decades they have been steadily pushing hate, division and distrust- tearing down the sources of expert knowledge: public education, academic history and scientific research and replacing it with simplified pro-puritanical Christian linear histories glorifying Pilgrims and Manifest Destiny to pseudo-science like Race Science, Intelligent Design, anti-climate change efforts, and now an uninformed policy on Gender and Sexuality. - They cannot combat Truth so they rely on propaganda and legal rhetoric to diminish it. 

These are the same types of people who through the ages burned innocence heretics, waged wars over heathens, condemned Galileo, tried "witches", endorsed segregation, exterminated Jews. Some self proclaimed Christians would rather defend their gun rights over their obligations to Love.
On the extreme still, there are many who believe in Armageddon as described in Biblical Prophecies. And there are people who take their metaphysical belief and try to enforce it upon those of us who prefer to find solutions through Love, Harmony, and awareness of reality over their metaphysics. 
So, while the 2,000 year history of Christianity especially in the current age has been hateful toward me for no reason other than enforcement of groundless metaphyiscs of some human's interpretation of scripture,

So while we live in a society where Christianity has been so overtly privileged, that politicians CAN make it a point to say they go to church, that our supposedly secular government has as national Holidays Easter and Christmas; that "In God We Trust" is placed on the money - I find it really hard to believe that Christians have been persecuted in the United States. 

Therefore I wear the symbol which expresses Love, Understanding and Nature - a Commitment to Harmony.

E pur si muove
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Hunter's Moon of Como Lake - October 24, 2018

Addendum:

Junk science couldn't erase Galileo
and It Won't Erase Me
-
Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire


Scientists see a problem with Trump plan on defining sex: Biology.





The current administration and GOP at large uses junk science to deny climate change, push Intelligent Design, and most recently Gender and Sexuality, makes me wonder if the clarification of what science actually is in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005) can be applied to strike down the Alliance Defending Freedom / Focus on the Family's / Heritage Foundation, American College of Pediatricians and other religious based anti-LGBTQ ideology which is guides all of the administrations discriminatory actions.
From the ruling:
"After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. … It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64) [for "contrived dualism", see false dilemma.]
[T]he one textbook [Pandas] to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case. (pages 86–87)
ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
Accordingly, we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause. (page 132)


Friday, October 12, 2018

National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2018 is National Coming Out Day. While I had been out to a few for 30 years, I have only been out fully to the World since Friday, December 1st, 2017 at 18:00 CST. (original statement)
Xenia, Warrior Bassist
So to recap:

Name: Xenia (sounds like KSEN-ya - rhymes with Kenya) which is Ancient Greek for "Hospitality." (and a key theme of the Odyssey)

Age: 48 years old

Sex /Gender: Female (spiritually, medically, and legally recognized as such) - even for the 47 years of my life in the closet I never ever thought of myself as a man - I just don’t get how men think / react because my brain has always been biologically female.)

Most Significant Life Event: I was Widowed on June 1st, 2017 when my wife and best friend for 26 years was suddenly killed by a drunk driver in downtown Minneapolis. I just commemorated what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary (October 2, 1993) - Now I am raising our two young teenage kids. The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life is tell my kids that their mother was killed. 

Other Events: I have been raped and sexually assaulted but never reported. A) I wouldn’t be believed, b) it is humiliating to have to open up C) my assaulters seem like such upstanding men they would deny and their supporters would think that I was just trying to ruin their reputation D) I would rather not relive those experience and turn my life and kids lives upside down. - for what in the end would result in no justice for me.

Spiritual / Religious affiliation: Empathy and Inquiry are the necessary components to ethics and morality. Love is not dependent upon religion. While I was raised ELCA Lutheran I have been Atheist/Agnostic for most of my life. I do not fear damnation and I submit to no one. I distrust the motivations of those who say they do good merely because their religious tenets command it. I am guarded against those who invoke Divine Right and Fear to serve their god's will over the freewill of others in order to influence and execute laws  This unchecked presupposition that all one needs say is, "I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a good person" has been an ongoing critique not just of the competing sects of Christianity, but of all religions since the time of Socrates. It is echoed by the Founders of the United States when they drafted our Secular U.S. Constitution.  In 1785 James Madison (Father of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States) remarked in his 15 point essay Memorial and Remonstrance which advocates for the necessity of separation of Church and State: "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."  
In 2018, we are still trying to wrest our Secular Government from the clutches of those who forsake empathy and love and use religion to enforce bigotry. This Proverb from Classical Antiquity is as true today as it was in the founding of the United States as it was in the time of Socrates:
"Religion is deemed true by the common people, false by the wise, and by the rulers as useful." 

Politics: I ignore memes, sound bites, short political ads (especially negative) and a.m. talk radio - my politics and life decisions is based upon peer reviewed and expertise of honest inquiry and evaluation of data and evidence. For this reason, climate change has always been my primary voting issue because without farmers and clean water we won’t last long. Nature exists to be nature, it is not intended for human enjoyment and exploitation. As human beings dedicated to learning we want to understand the mechanisms of Nature which enable existence of all things living and unliving and what we can do / not do to ensure we don't fck things up.

Reverence: Until they create a human who requires no food nor water nor the necessary elimination of waste products after consumption, every human being is equal and deserving of love and empathy. When other humans seize power and stand in the way over other human rights, we call them on it.
I do revere expertise in the peer reviewed interpretation of objectively verifiable evidence. Therefore the interpretations of climate scientists are revered in the field of climate science. The understanding of biologists are revered in the reality of Evolution; the evidence of medical and cognitive professionals in the field of sexuality and gender are revered above politicians. Civil Engineers are revered in safe building codes, professional plumbers and electricians are revered over the amateur unlearned home owner....etc. 

In conclusion: 
I am the embodiment of rural American values of one born and raised in northeastern Iowa: 

A 48-year old Metalhead bassist / Classical musician / Medieval & Ancient Greek scholar, Blackbelt Martial Artist, well-traveled solo adventurer who loves tent camping in all 4 northern climate seasons, rides horses, loves animals, Environmentalist, bicyclist, house building-do-it-her-selfer, widowed parent of two who had a favorite high school teacher in the late Lois West (Senator Chuck Grassley's sister---who would probably kick his ass were she alive today) who pushed this woman to seize the moment and embrace life.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Morning Music Moods

Last Wednesday,September 12, 2018 the lead guitarist in my KISS tribute band posted a musical teaser of him playing an excerpt of one of our covers for our upcoming show at Minnesota Music Cafe in St. Paul, Minnesota. It looked like such a fun and easy enough thing to do: Set the video in selfie mode then play a brief excerpt - I felt obliged to respond, playing and singing my part from the same section of the song.
Xenia with her homemade Oxymoronic Fretless Precision Frankenstein-Bass
Well, since then I became inspired to post my own excerpts of some of my favorite bassists- the ones who inspired me when I was first learning the instrument. So Here I have collected all of my video excerpts in one place. [* When looking at the dates of my musical excerpts, please keep in mind I started playing bass in October 1983,
My 8th grade band director gave me Carol Kaye's How to Play Electric Bass and Jaco Pastorius Invitation and say, "Learn this!" It would be another 22 years before YouTube was launched, and MTV never showed bands we liked, so like many Gen X self taught bassists from northeastern Iowa, we had to learn on our own swapping bootleg mix tapes,singing bass lines along to sections of LPs over and over and over and over again, or learning riffs from a friend of a friend whose cousin taught him how to kinda play it. I was also fortunate that I could read music even though not much existed in the way of easily available transcriptions. But since I heard Randy Rhoads was studying classical, I started looking through my Dad's organ books to play Bach and fine tuned my bass playing by using Classical guitar technique.
So this is the music, the groove that was already in my blood. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) was the number one song in the US they day I was born. 
In fact you might consider this project an ethnography of a Generation X trans woman from rural Iowa. ]

2018 Video Collage:
Iron Maiden - Carol King - King Crimson - The Who - Motorhead - Queen - Stevie Wonder
https://www.facebook.com/100009319008569/videos/2288387461481865/UzpfSTI2MDE4MzczNDg0NzUwMzozMzkxNTAzMjAyODQxNzc/

Xenia with Jeff Rutland of TC Hit Squad
photo by Steven Killen

September 2018
9/12/18 - Gene Simmons (KISS) - Shout it Out Loud (1976)
9/13/18 - John Entwistle (The Who) - Heaven and Hell (1970)
9/14/18 - Jack Bruce (Cream) - White Room (1968)
9/15/18 - John Deacon (Queen) - Bicycle Race (1978)
9/16/18 - Geddy Lee (Rush) - By-Tor and the Snowdog (1975)
9/17/18 - Paul McCartney (The Beatles) - Lovely Rita (1967)
9/18/18 - John Wetton (King Crimson) - The Great Deceiver (1974)
* 9/18/18 (Tuesday Two-fer) - Geddy Lee (Rush) - that cool bass riff in La Villa Strangiato (1978)
9/19/18 - Nathan Watts (Stevie Wonder) - I Wish (1976)
9/20/18 - Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) - Invaders (1982)
* 9/21/18 - Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) - Mother Goose (1971) - playing acoustic guitar
* 9/22/18 - Paul McCartney (The Beatles / Harrison) - Something (1969) - recorded October 2017
* 9/23/18 - Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) - Into White (1970) - playing acoustic recorded January 2018
9/24/18 - JS Bach, Coffee Cantata BWV 21, - Madchen, die von harten Sinnen (1735?)
* 9/25/18 - Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire - The Warrior (1991) - recorded March 2018
9/26/18 - Charles Larkey (Carole King) - I Feel the Earth Move (1971)
9/27/18 - Fran Sheehan (Boston) - Foreplay (1976)Xe
9/28/18 - Lemmy (Motorhead) - Ace of Spades (1980) - doing my all Female Motorhead tribute.
* 9/29/18 - George Harrison (The Beatles / Harrison) Long Long Long (1968) - recorded Jan. 2018
9/30/18 - JS Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 in G - Allemande (excerpt)

Xenia with Tyler 'Taz' Azure of TC Hit Squad
photo by Steven Killen
October 2018
10/1/18 - Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire (Solar Plexus) - Song #2 (1990)

** 10/2/18 - Day Trip to Decorah, Iowa - Dunning's Spring - Commemorating my 25th Wedding Anniversary to Krista Lynn Sandstrom (February 19, 1970 - June 1, 2017)

10/3/18 - Evening Meditations on Bach and not giving a fk
10/4/18 - JS Bach - Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor (actually me just goofing of on 6 string)
10/5/18 - Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) Jack the Stripper / Faeries Wear Boots (1970)
10/6/18 - Come Fly With Me - Live with Shoop! at the Stillwater Art Festival
10/7/18 - Jimmy Bain (DIO) We Rock (1984) - Live with Black Rainbow
10/8/18 - Craig M. Gruber (Rainbow) Man on the Silver Mountain (1975) - Live with Black Rainbow
10/9/18 - Paul McCartney (The Beatles) I Want You (1969) - recorded October 2010

*10/12/18 - Stylized Reading of an obscure Bible verse Ezekiel 23:20
10/16/18 - John Dowland - If My Complaints (1597) - experimenting with lute tuning
10/18/18 - Acoustic jam (Iron Maiden) Wasted Years (1986) - just me jamming..
* 10/18/18 - My French Student Encounter in 1990 - Response from my 10/12/18 reading
10/19/18 - Just jamming on my 1960s Kay Upright Bass -


10/20/18 - Xenia - Morticia - Exposure to Sunlight - Live on Radio (live premiere)
10/20/18 - Xenia - Morticia - Live on Blast Beats and Bicycles pod cast (we start at 49:40)
10/22/18 - Xenia - Black Rainbow mix - A live mix of Black Rainbow at the Dog House.
10/22/18 - Xenia - Visibly Jamming some Sabbath with my Black Ripper and Rainbow Pussy hat.
10/28/18 - Xenia (Morticia) Bela Lugosi's Dead - from our Live show at the Turf Club
10/28/18 - Xenia (Morticia) Deadlier than the Male - from our Live show at the Turf Club


November 2018
11/04/18 - Xenia - Baby You Dig  - practice with my 11 piece vocal jazz band - Shoop!
11/08/18 - Ace Frehley (KISS) Getaway (1975) - yes all the cool bass lines were played by Ace.
 -- 11/08/18 - Getaway - Full band practice with KISSin Time
11/16/18 - Man on the Silver Mountain jamming on my 6 string bass
11/17/18 - Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill - early early morning ;)

December 2018
12/1/18 - Black Sabbath Christmas Album idea (an idea I've had for about 30 years)
12/20/18 - Putting on my Demon Make-up before the Show
12/20/18 - Deuce - C'mon and Love Me - Parasite - kicking off our 21 song set at MN Music Cafe
12/20/18 - She & 100,000 Years at Minnesota Music Cafe
12/20/18 - Hevy Kevy's Drum Solo - me spitting Blood then singing God of Thunder.
12/23/18 - Something (1969) by George Harrison live at the Finnish Bistro
12/23/18 - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1968) live at the Finnish Bistro
Demon Unmasked! at Neisen's on 1/17/19

January 2019
1/1/19 - Just an excerpt of me listening to my Progrock LPs while drinking wine ;)
1/17/19 - Detroit Rock City - KISSin Time Unmasked at Neisen's Open Jam Night
1/17/19 - Parasite - KISSin Time Unmasked at Neisen's Open Jam Night
 * and Parasite from a different angle
1/23/19 - Re: my homemade Oxymoronic Fretless Precision Bass & Ancient Greek Music Theory
1/23/19 - Iron Mitten - Jamming Number of the Beast while wearing an Oven Mitt.
1/24/19 - I Can't Let Go (1964) The Hollies - and some other noodling around on Beatles stuff



February 2019
2/27/19 - Firehouse and Shout it Out Loud - Live at Route 47 Open jam with they guys from Hairball
2/27/19 - Close-up view of the same performance with Hairball.

March 2019
I had Influenza!!! AND I had my shot!!!

April 2019
4/03/19 - Man on the Silver Mountain - with TC Hit Squad (Jeff Greene on guest Vocals)
4/03/19 - Holy Diver - with TC Hit Squad (Jeff Greene on guest Vocals)
* LESSON 4/22/19 - Holding the Bass / Long Term Health
4/24/19 - Wasted Years - with TC Hit Squad (Greyson Serie on guest Vocals)
4/28/19 - Into White (Cat Stevens) & Mother Goose (Jethro Tull) at Finnish Bistro
4/28/19 - Something at Finnish Bistro
4/28/19 - While My Guitar Gently Weeps - at Finnish Bistro
4/28/19 - How High The Moon - goofing off at Shoop! rehearsal.

May 201
5/1/19 - Cold Gin at the Open Jam hosted by TC Hit Squad
5/8/19 - Carry On Wayward Son - at the open jam hosted by TC Hit Squad
5/8/19 - Rock and Roll Band by Boston - with the TC Hit Squad
* LESSON 5/14/19 - Singing the Bass & Singing the Voice - tips on how to play and sing simultaneously

Yes, I am a native Iowan.  You can tell by my shirt, we are afterall known as the Great Potato State ;) 


Music sounds better on vinyl because the Music was better ;)
Xenia circa 1981/2
"Femmy"from the All Female Motorhead Tribute