TransGriot Note: I was inspired to write this when I briefly flipped on the TV over the weekend and stumbled across one of my fave movies, It's A Wonderful Life. Hope you enjoy the little twist I gave it.
"Hey Phyllis, it's The Boss."
"I know you're rehearing at The Club for tonight's show, but I'm gonna need you to go back to Earth."
"What's going on?"
"You remember when you escorted Monica around Heaven during her out of body experience last year?"
"Yeah. She's a sweet kid."
"You did such a wonderful job during that time, we assigned you to be her permanent guardian angel."
"Thanks. So what's up, Boss?"
"She's feeling more than a little depressed about things lately. She's upset about a confluence of events in her life. While I know she's thinks too highly of herself to take her own life, I want to make sure she doesn't. I still have a lot of things I've prepared her to do on Earth that I need her to be around for to execute."
"So what do you need me to do?"
"Help her regain that sunny optimism of hers and her Christmas spirit for starters."
"When do you need me to leave?"
"How about in the next few minutes? I'll send you your briefing information about her current situation on the way down."
Monica sat at her computer desk and stared at the screen for a few hours, but the composition block for her TransGriot blog post was as empty as when she first sat down two hours before.
"This is useless. I might as well give it up for the night and see what movies Dawn rented," she said as she signed out of her blog and shut down her computer.
She exited her room and headed downstairs to the living room. She hooked a left into the kitchen to get herself some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. She pulled a large mug out of the kitchen cabinet, made a beeline for the freezer and removed the ice cream container. She filled her mug and put the container back in the freezer before heading to the living room and setting it down on the small table next to the recliner. She then moved to the big screen TV to check out the latest pile of rental DVD’s on top of it. “Hmm, some of her usual anime stuff but some Christmas ones as well,” Monica thought as she perused the stack of DVD’s. “You’re Under Arrest Christmas Edition, Noir, A Diva’s Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life.”
“I think I’ll start with It’s A Wonderful Life first before I get my Natsumi and Miyuki fix.” she remarked as she powered up the home theater system, opened the protective DVD box and placed it in the already opened DVD player tray before pressing play.
As that Christmas classic movie filled the screen, Monica started thinking about her own problems as she devoured her ice cream.
“I definitely feel George Bailey in this movie”, she said softly to herself as she finished the last of her ice cream and yawned. “Sometimes I wish I’d just been born a genetic female, then I wouldn’t have had all this drama in my life.”
Monica looked over toward the couch where Dawn was sleeping. “I know I must be hallucinating. I thought I heard somebody say something.”
Monica turned her head to the sound of the voice and noted Phyllis Hyman’s shapely statuesque presence in the living room.
“Now I know I’m tripping. I gotta stop eating Blue Bell this late at night.”
“Yes, you do if you want to drop those ten pounds you’re always complaining about.”
Phyllis noted the confusion etched on Monica’s face and said, “No, this isn’t a dream. I’m here in the flesh, so to speak.”
“So to what do I owe this visit?”
“First, your grandmother says hello and told me to remind you to check on your Dad.”
‘Okay, will do.”
“Tyra and the gang at The Beauty Shop said hello as well.”
“Give ‘em my love as well. But back to my original question.”
“I’m your official guardian angel now. The Boss is concerned about you.”
”Because I’m depressed? I’ve been depressed before and He hasn’t sent my guardian angel to check on me in the flesh before.”
“Actually, He has. Those particular times you didn’t know it.”
‘Want some more ice cream before we get started?”
“Yeah, I’ll go get it,” Monica said as she prepared to get up from the recliner.
“Sit tight, Moni, I got this,” said Phyllis as she snapped her fingers. Monica’s empty mug was refilled while at the same time one appeared in Phyllis’ right hand complete with a spoon. She sampled the ice cream and said,” I see why you love this stuff.”
“It’s the bomb isn’t it?”
“I grew up on it. Reminds me of home when I eat it.”
Phyllis finished her ice cream and resumed her mission. “Look, I know you’ve been going through some rough times lately…”
“You got that right.”
“And Christmas doesn’t make that any easier. But you gotta snap out of it.”
“Pardon me for sounding like the Grinch doll that’s sitting on the mantel next to my Trinity, but bah humbug.”
“I know you’re disappointed over the ENDA and JCPS votes…”
“Disappointed is a mild way of putting it.”
“But you, I and The Boss know it’s gonna happen. You just gotta have faith it will.”
“Phyllis, I’m tired of somedays. I’m tired of being repeatedly cut out of the legislation we desperately need as a community. I’m sick of sellout idiots who don’t have half of my God-given intelligence calling me crazy, the n-word or worse when I try to tell the truth to the transgender community about the people they shill for or expose their part in screwing this community.”
She listened emphatically as Monica continued venting her frustration about the recent developments and some other drama in her life. ”I understand.”
“No Phyllis, you don’t. It’s crap. I try to do the right, moral and decent things in my life and they seem to go unappreciated and unrewarded. It’s not that I’m looking for glory in trying to pass these laws, it’s the right thing to do. When am I gonna catch a break? When are the bad guys in life gonna lose? When are my people gonna stop being killed, denigrated and disrespected? It’s enough to make me wish that I didn’t have the ‘transgender’ label in my life. Then I wouldn’t have all this drama.”
“You really think your life would be better if you‘d been born a genetic female?”
“Yeah, I really do.”
Phyllis paused for a few moments before she said, ““Want some more ice cream?”
“This is your last one for the night,”
She snapped her fingers as both mugs refilled, then she said as she sat in the other recliner in the room, “Moni, were gonna watch a movie.”
“Oh, I won’t need a DVD for this one,” she said as she sat down and pointed the remote at the TV
In an instant Monica was transfixed as she was suddenly transported back to a 60’s era Houston hospital watching a young African-American woman give birth. When the camera zoomed in on the wall calendar it read May 4 and she realized the woman was her mother. The gentleman standing next to her as the baby took its first breaths and she held it was her family doctor back in Houston.
“Congratulations, it’s a girl.”
She watched her mother’s face light up, exhausted but happy in the knowledge that she’d delivered a healthy baby girl.
Monica continued to watch the movie as events happened in her life, but on the flip side of the gender spectrum. She got to observe during the movie a conversation between three girls who hated and mercilessly teased her not only because of her intelligence and looks, but who her parents were. As her growth spurt kicked in and she towered over everyone in her 5th grade class it got worse.
“Now you get to feel my pain,“ said Phyllis.
Monica also got to watch a conversation between her parents as they discussed a junior high report card in which her math grades were lower than expected.
“You know she doesn’t like math.”
“I know that. But Monica has to learn that she can’t skate by on her good looks. She’s too smart for that,” said her mother.
“You’re right, but I think suspending her phone privileges for three weeks was too harsh.”
“Maybe, but you’ll thank me later when she graduates from college.
Speaking of college, the next scenes show Monica standing in front of the UC on the University of Houston campus wearing a green dress suit, black hose, green pumps and holding an ivy plant. As she’s being inspected by her big sisters two of her future sorors were discussing the line and Monica’s chances of going over.
“I think Too Tall will be an excellent addition to our chapter.”
“I can’t stand her.”
“Why? Because she has a 3.4 GPA?”
“No, because she’s a legacy. She thinks she’s all that because her daddy’s on the radio.”
“The people I talked to about Monica from her old high school love her. They say she’s always been a sweet kid without a pretentious bone in her body. She was a cheerleader, student council president, editor of the school newspaper and an all district volleyball player.”
“So? It still doesn’t change the fact that I can’t stand her.”
I watched as she made Monica’s life on line hell, but she went over. She got her heart broken in college for the first time thanks to a UH football player. She was nearly date raped in another disastrous encounter She channeled that into graduating on time, serving in the sorority leadership ranks and upping her GPA to a 3.65. She also graduated from school with a psychology degree with a history minor. She’d been motivated to go into it after taking a human sexuality class her sophomore year and finding the transgender film fascinating.
Phyllis fast-forwarded it to the part where Monica has an office in the Med Center but is still single. She let her eavesdrop on a phone call in which she's being prodded by her mom to hurry up, get married and have some children before the first client enters her office for the day.
She paused the film after Monica said,” All this is doing is proving my point.”
“Yes, your life is turning out better, but what about the people’s lives who look at you as a role model?”
She showed one example of a young transsistah who was searching for any Internet blog or website that didn’t depict Black transwomen in a negative light.
“This girl stumbled across your Transsistahs-Transbrothas group on line. But since you're not a transwoman anymore, the group doesn’t get founded. Your blog and newspaper columns don’t exist either, which hundreds of people per day around the world read.”
“Yeah, I know that….”
“But you don’t know how many people you positively affect just by being you.”
“Hmm, you’ve given me something to think about.”
“God made all of us, even transpeople. You’re the only people on the planet who know what it’s like to be on both sides of the gender fence. That’s one quality that makes you special.”
“Too bad we don’t get treated that way.”
“One day, with your help, you will.”
Phyllis got up from the recliner and gave Monica a hug. “I’ve gotta get back and finish rehearsing for an upcoming show at The Club.’
“Who’s performing with you?”
“Aaliyah and Selena.”
“Wow, y’all have some interesting entertainment up there.”
“That we do. Hang in there Monica. Everything will work out and I’ll have your back.”
“That’s good to know.”
“Bye, Monica,” Phyllis said as she departed.
"Merry Christmas, Phyllis."
“Monica, I’m trying to sleep… Can you take that movie to your room?”
“Huh?” she said in a dreamy state.
“Turn it off or take that movie to your room, please.”
“Yeah, okay Dawn.”
Monica hit the remote and turned off the downstairs TV before heading to her room. She decided to flip on the TV and do a little channel surfing for something interesting. She gasped and chuckled when she discovered what the Christmas movie being broadcast that night was:
It’s A Wonderful Life.