Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Learning to fly

This is going to be a series of posts about what I think are important things for transpeople to think about. These are the lessons I had to learn, the things that let me be who I am now. If you find them useful, please let me know.

From a post about SCC 2007:
One of the more remarkable moments of the trip was a small one. One of the DC Posse wanted to go to the mall across the street, but didn't' want to go alone, so of course I generously volunteered to join her. Yes, I'm so selfless...Did some shopping, we tried on hats (she wanted a ball cap, which she kept putting on sideways), got coffee. On the way back out, she asked me how I could stand people staring at me. 

I said, "What people?" I had not noticed anyone staring. I really don't worry about what other people think when I'm out, unless they are openly hostile. It's not like I think I won't be noticed-I'm tall, big, and not exactly a shrinking violet in public. To learn how to be comfortable with yourself and not panic when you are "clocked" are two important social skills any transperson has to develop, quickly. Unless you want to remain in your closet forever...
This is a story I tell often. I use it to illustrate how your attitude matters so much in how accepted you are in public. But there's a bit more to it than what I wrote...

SCC moved to the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in 2007 from their old Midtown Atlanta location. The hotel we used was being renovated to become a W Hotel, and we ended up in NorthAtlanta, in the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area. We were getting used to a new venue, which was far from our old grounds. But one nice thing was there was a mall across the road from the hotel. Perimeter Mall is an upscale mall, with the only standalone MAC Cosmetics store in Atlanta. Anchored by Dillard's, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, it has a wonderful selection of stores.

Unlike Midtown, Bucktown or Little Five Points, you're in the 'burbs here. So the attitudes aren't always as liberal. And it was a Saturday afternoon, so there were a lot of people there. And I can just hear some of you say "I could never go out to a mall on a Saturday afternoon! I might run into someone I know, or I won't be passable enough, or people will point at me and say bad things or..."

Well, you're right, you might run into someone you know. But if you're in a different city, who are you going to run into? Or, if you're in your own, do you realize that you probably look a lot different en femme than you do en homme*? I know I do, and I've had people I know walk past me multiple times and not even recognize me.

Being "passable," what does that mean? Most would say it means being able to pass as a cisgendered woman in most situations; that nobody would think you were not TG. And that is something that very rarely happens. Most of us have something that is going to be incongruous. Hands that are too big, an Adam's apple that shows up, shoulders a bit too broad...So no, you're probably not going to pass. But you probably do look very feminine at a glance, and even beautiful. People give you the respect they give most women, because you present enough clues to trigger that response. It's something I believe we all have, and it works most of the time.

In a public place, people tend to not want to attract attention to themselves. Plus, society frowns on open displays of hostility or aggression. We may thing negatively about someone due to a prejudice-and we all have them-but we don't act on them. Have I had people openly stare at me? Yes. Have I heard comments and remarks made behind my back? Yes. I have walked down a street and had young men yell "It's a dude!" at me. Of course, that was in the French Quarter on a weekend night when the tourists are the most chemically lubricated...The number of times I have been confronted in person by someone I can count on one hand-and those were more the "stupid remark, let's watch the tranny piss herself" type. When I failed to run off in fear or embarrassment  they would walk off wondering what went wrong. What went wrong was that I didn't care what they said. Not giving them the power to fuck up my life? That's what mattered.

And I'll pick this up later.

* I am being MTF-centric here because I am more familiar with that situation.

Friday, June 24, 2011

This is a test

Trying to get my Facebook to pick up posts from my blog, just ignore this, okay?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Requiem for a friend, and an announcement.

When I took my first steps into discovering who I was, I looked for a local TG support group. Through AOL's Transgender Community Forum (in '97, this was the best resource I had) I discovered Gulf Gender Alliance in New Orleans. Sending their contact a message, she told me I'd need to be screened before I went to a meeting, and she knew someone in Lafayette who she could send me to. And so, one afternoon, I went to a warehouse off Ambassador Caffery to meet the woman who would be the first person I had ever come out to face to face.

Ann ran a business selling shoes to women with large feet, and was approached by crossdressers and transsexuals looking for shoes that would fit. She became part of the community. When I met her, she talked to me with kindness and caring, and I felt comfortable. She introduced me to Crystal Little and Cissy Conley, who would become so important to my growth over the years. I met other CD's through her. And I spent hours talking to her, becoming friends. When I needed a place to store my things, she offered to let me use her warehouse.

Later, when I moved to New Orleans, I went to my first Southern Comfort in Atlanta. And the second person I saw when I walked into the hotel was Ann. From then on, we'd see each other every year at Southern Comfort, catching up. We remained friends, and I looked forward to seeing her each year.

I had known she had been ill last year, but did not know the extent. On June 5, Ann passed away. I found out yesterday, and I am still numb.

If not for Ann, I don't know how my life would have changed. She was a friend when I needed one, gave me advice when it was useful, told me the truth when I needed that, and I can never thank her enough for what she did. I will truly miss her.


I will not be at Southern Comfort this year. The short reason is that I can't afford it right now. Also, I just don't feel the same need to go that I have in the past. The last couple of years I've felt like this, but I managed to turn it around. Maybe a year away will give me the desire again?

I will miss my friends, and having a week being Zelda full-time. Please raise a glass for me, and have a ball. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Going to The Church

The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I finally got out to The Church-first time since November. Because The Church is only on Thursday and Sunday nights, it's hard to find people to go out with me. But since it was a Monday holiday...

It took me longer than normal to get ready-I just couldn't find the right outfit. I got dressed, and within ten minutes I hated what I was wearing. So I had to get dressed all over again, and barely made it out of the house in time. I decided on something Gothy but basic-sheer black t-shirt that I got off eBay years ago, black cami underneath, my red and black leopard print corset from Timeless Trends, the black lace covered mini from Torrid, fishnets (of course!) and my black patent lace-up knee boots from Electrique Boutique.

Got to The Church and started finding people I knew. We'd posted a note to the Dallas Feminine Expressions Meetup group, but knowing that this is not everyone's cup of tea, I didn't expect many to show up. We had about eight people, which was better than I'd expected, and everyone loved the place. Plus, I got to meet some fun people, got compliments on my outfit, gave compliments, danced my ass off, and had a great time. A lot better than I've had in years.

Part of that was being in a place that I like. I "grew up" in the goth scene, and I still fondly remember going to The Blue Crystal/Whirling Dervish in New Orleans, and other places in Atlanta and Chicago. Dancing to music that feels right to me? Fabulous!

But also I've been seeing a doctor about some issues. I've been diagnosed with thyroid problems, and being treated for it. I've also started antidepressants, because I can't live the way I have been for so long. Hopefully both will get me back to a place where I'll feel better. Not totally, but more than I have been.

This coming weekend is A-Kon, a huge anime/manga/cosplay/etc. convention here in Dallas. I've volunteered/been volunteered to judge a maid's contest again. Unlike All-Con I'm not going to try to cram everything into one day; I'll hit the vendor's up on Friday, do the judging and walkabout Saturday. Now to find some things to wear...

Call to arms-DSM-5 revisions and their negative impact on the TG/TS community

This is from the Pink Essence group, but it's something we should all be concerned with. 
By Kelley Winters, PhD 
May 28, 2011

On May 5, the American Psychiatric Association released a second round of proposed diagnostic criteria for the 5th Edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These include two categories that impact the trans community: Gender Dysphoria (formerly Gender Identity Disorder) and Transvestic Disorder (formerly Transvestic Fetishism).

While GID has received a great deal of attention in the press and from GLBTQ advocates, the second transvestic category is too often overlooked. This is unfortunate, because a diagnosis of Transvestic Disorder is designed to punish social and sexual gender nonconformity and to enforce binary stereotypes of assigned birth sex. It plays no role in enabling access to medical transition care for those who need it, and it is frequently cited when care is denied.

I urge all trans community members, friends, care providers, and allies to call for the removal of this punitive and scientifically unfounded diagnosis from the DSM-5.
The current period for public comment to the APA ends June 15.

The entry in the current DSM on Transvestic Disorder, like the former entry on Transvestic Fetishism, is authored by Dr. Ray Blanchard of the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (formerly known as the Clarke Institute). Blanchard has drawn outrage from the transcommunity for his defamatory theory of autogynephilia,
asserting that all transsexual women who are not exclusively attracted to males are motivated to transition by self-obsessed sexual fetishism.

He is canonizing this harmful stereotype of transsexual women in the DSM-5 by adding an autogynephilia specifier to the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis.

Worse yet, Blanchard has broadly expanded the diagnosis to implicate gender-nonconforming people of all sexes and all sexual orientations,
even inventing an autoandrophilia specifier to smear transsexual men.
Most recently, he has added an "In Remission" specifier to preclude the possibility of exit from diagnosis.
Like a roach motel, there may be no way out of the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis once ensnared.

What You Can Do Now

1. Go to the
APA DSM-5 website, click on "Register Now," create a user account, and enter your statement in the box.
The deadline for this second period of public comment is June 15.

[NOTE: Safari may not load that web page. Use Firefox or another Browser instead]

2. Sign the Petition to Remove Transvestic Disorder from the DSM-5,
sponsored by the International Foundation for Gender Education.

3. Demand that your local, national, and international GLBTQ nonprofit organizations
issue public statements calling for the removal of this defamatory Transvestic Disorder category from the DSM-5.
So far, very few have.

4. Spread the word to your networks, friends, and allies. for More Information

Cross-posted with additional comments at the
GID Reform Advocates Blog.