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MICHELE AND JANIS, 2007

BELLINGHAM, WA 

JANIS 2011: Not much has changed since the photo was taken. We’re still enjoying living and working on our 5 acres with our chickens and ducks and gardens and trees. We’ve made some progress on our projects—remodeling in the house and garage, planting trees, updating, improving, learning. That’s about it.

MICHELE 2007: Janis is a brilliant writer and thinker, mother, gardener, cook, photographer, designer and loving spouse.  She has written two books to help employers and employees deal successfully with workplace transitions:  Transsexual Workers and Working with a Transsexual. Janis and I founded the Center for Gender Sanity to assist folks transitioning at their workplaces.

I am 62 years old and I am a retired Los Angeles firefighter and fire captain, a lesbian, a father and grandparent; political activist, feminist, Buddhist, artist and novice welding student.  I will not deny that my transition into womanhood challenged many people in my life.  Like societies in general, fire departments are resistant to change.  Some members are misogynistic and despise queer people.  I have all the more appreciation for those who accept me and compassion for those who hate me.  Three principles have helped my journey.  I committed myself to very intense personal growth work. I dedicated myself to my family and the career I loved.  I worked to become more grounded as a Jodu Shinshu Buddhist.  In this long process I became empowered, open to my deepest, most painful feelings, and learned that life is what I have at the very moment that I am living it.

We are all verbs, humans be-ing.