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“ The dharma is a matter that can’t be shortchanged. You have to work it step by step, doing what you can in any given situation. You can’t leap up to heaven.”

Kim Stanley Robinson
“ The Years of Rice and Salt”

      I grew up on Long Island , NewYork,, not far from New York City, and several small towns in Vermont, with a sojourn in Sarasota, Florida. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve struggled with my gender identity.  I always had  intense fantasies of wanting to be a girl..  Most of my high school experience was pretty unpleasant. People somehow sensed I was different. I went though a stage when I got beaten up a lot and as I got older I experienced constant verbal abuse. Several times I seriously thought about dropping out of school because of this.  I went though several periods of intense cross dressing in high school and college. Shortly after graduating university I saw a therapist about my intense desire to be a woman but I felt my sessions were less than useful. At that time it was very difficult to find much useful information on transgenderism.  .It was only until much later on that I was able to figure all this out.
     I love history and decided to be a Social Studies teacher. Unfortunately I graduated with a Masters degree at a time when the job market for teachers in the US was very bleak. It’s a long story but I received an invitation from the Chinese government to come and teach in that country as what was termed a “foreign expert”. I worked for the Bank of China, teaching their future employees (in English) at an economics institute in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. My time in China was among the happiest in my life-I fell in love with the country, its culture, and people.  Chinese students are wonderful  and I met people who became some of my best and closest  friends. While there I had the opportunity to travel to almost every city in China, from Shanghai and Beijing on the east coast, to Hohut in  Inner Mongolia  in the north, Dali on the border of Burma, and  Tulafan and Kashgar in far western Xinjiang Province, near the border of Pakistan. I experienced a huge variety of cultures and peoples . To me this was endlessly fascinating.  Being a foreigner, a “laowei”, I was in a privileged position in comparison to my Chinese friends, who had limited mobility and were living under an extremely corrupt, highly bureaucratic, repressive government. I knew people who were involved in the underground human rights movement and people who were survivors of the horrendous Tienamen Square crackdown in 1989