I met Carmen at my home group, and have always enjoyed her thoughtful comments, intelligence, and her honest, open, and warm personality. This podcast features a portion of her story followed by an interesting conversation based on her experience as a transgender woman and a freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Carmen has the utmost respect for AA and credits it for her sobriety, but she says, “facts and events are what they are.” And it’s a matter of fact that three different AA groups suggested she belonged somewhere else. They asked her to leave, and she thinks her belief system was just as much a problem for these groups as was her transition. They told her that she was a “distraction.”

Seeking another way, Carmen read Charles Bufe’s book, Alcoholics Anonymous Cult or Cure, and began to google “Secular AA.” Her search results produced a long list of possibilities, including our group, We Agnostics Kansas City. I’m glad she found us and that she now has a place in AA where she is accepted and feels at home. I’m also grateful to her for enriching my own life and for teaching me through her example.

There are many things about Carmen that I admire, but what I find perhaps the most inspiring is her ability to transcend pain and to offer understanding and forgiveness to those who shunned her.

During our conversation, she made the comment, “there comes a time when we just have to be comfortable with who we are.” That time has arrived for Carmen. Sitting across my kitchen table, as we recorded this podcast, was a woman beaming with self-confidence and contentment— completely comfortable with who she is.

When I asked her about the AA program and if she believes in the Steps, she told me quite plainly that she believes in herself. She believes in living a moral life, which to her means being good to others and treating them as she would want to be treated.

Relying on her intellect to search for the truth, Carmen finds herself drawn to people who are seeking the way. She’s wary of those who are certain they know the path, because those people don’t have to think. One of the gifts of sobriety, she believes, is that we can use our intellect as part of the recovery process. I believe this is a healthy attitude and a welcome respite from the anti-intellectual sentiment found in many AA meetings. It’s an attitude that embraces the spirit of a sign we often find hanging on the walls of our meeting places—a slogan urging us to “think…think…think…”

Thank you, Carmen, for our fascinating conversation and for agreeing to share your story with the rest of us.


To learn more about Carmen, check out these links:

The Tenth Voice KC’s LGBT Radio: Trans Talk Featuring Carmen!: This is an informative program featuring two guests who talk about issues facing the transgender community. Carmen’s segment begins at about 27:04.

Carmen’s Performance at the Outburst Gallery: Carmen gives a performance narrative of her loss of innocence on a grade school playground, providing a look at one of many events that hinted at her gender dysphoria.

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