some days are diamonds: why a trans nashville songwriter came out in a book

It has been said that each person’s life contains enough material for at least three good songs, two fine paintings, and one great book. Okay, I tried the painting part but I am afraid there are still two blank canvases somewhere waiting to receive my masterpieces.

But the songs, now that is another subject entirely.

I have written about 500 songs, of which, over 200 have been recorded. As a guy in Nashville, writing songs for Johnny Cash, John Denver, and for movies like the Burt Reynolds classic, Smokey and the Bandit, I was giving shelter to the knowledge that I was actually a transgender gal. A new look at those tunes through the prism of truth and one could find obvious clues to my secret persona. 

Creative obfuscation became a daily routine in the “old days.”  My real, authentic self was draped in a cloak of invisibility, the honest person in a fog of paranoia and fear of discovery. And that state gave an odd creative energy to the success I knew in the music business.

So comes now my book, my own personal contribution to the creative trifecta.

2As a transgender woman I feel it is my duty to my trans community to write my story and to claim the achievements I had in my previous life along with the changes that have become my new life. So many of us, after transition, melt into the general population to live in stealth, never admitting who we had been, never a clue to who we were. All the while a transperson might still be living in a sheltered state, though now rooming with a very real fear of being “outed” and imagining members of the paparazzi lurking in the bushes.

But my book, Some Days Are Diamonds, is my offering to add a different point of view to the gender conversation. I want people, trans and cis alike, to know that even a country music songwriter from Nashville is not immune to being gender fluid. We do not choose to be transgender, it chooses us.

Here’s the thing: it has been my impression through the years that often the public perception of transgender persons is that we have been totally incapacitated by our “condition.” At best, we were hiding in shuttered rooms just waiting for gender transition so that our lives could begin—unseen and unproductive.

What equine folderol!

So many transgender folks have embraced a public knowledge of life before gender reassignment. A few examples might include: the Wachoski sisters, once brothers and the wonderful geniuses behind so many great movies, have not elected to run from the truth of their past and their present.

Jennifer Leitham, Jazz bassist who performed with so many jazz greats, is effusive in her honest details of  “his” life then and her life now. Laura Jane Grace, lead singer with the group Against Me, is very visible in her “trans-ness,” as well as Kristin Beck, former Navy Seal and now a translady. And, of course, Caitlyn Jenner, an American icon as a male, an American icon as a female,.

My hope is that my book will be my small part in giving at least a few more souls the chance to say, “I knew her before she was “her”!

And if the paparazzi should be found peering through my windows, well, maybe I can get them to help me load these two blank canvases into my car.

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Deena Kaye Rose is a Nashville songwriting legend. She has written songs for some of country’s most renowned stars like Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, John Denver and wrote the theme song to the all-time American classic movie, Smokey and the Bandit. In Deena Kaye Rose’s new book, Some Days Are Diamonds, she chronicles the best and worst times of living the raucous and crazy musician life all the while knowing that she was suppressing her true feminine self. Today Deena is a transgender woman and activist, sharing the history of her journey in performances and lectures around the country. She is letting trans persons know they are not alone. Deena’s hope is that her tale of growing up knowing she was a transgender woman in a time when those topics were considered either taboo or nonexistent in the Bible Belt of the United States, may add a positive note to the transgender conversation.