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Archive for June, 2010

In the past few days I’ve sent out several emails and made several phone calls looking for transgender activities, resources, or support in my local area. The response has been underwhelming. This is about Northern California — specifically, the East Bay. It may be better in your local area, or it may be even worse.

Poking around on the Web, I found a Health Center in Fremont that has some LGBT services. Their only TG-related connection is a Transition Hotline. So I called and left a message on the hotline. Nothing too complicated — I said I was looking for a referral to a TG-friendly electrologist in Pleasanton, and did they know of any? I gave them my phone number and specifically said, “If I’m not here, it’s okay to leave a message on this phone.”

Forty-eight hours later, I’ve had no callback. Somehow I don’t think that qualifies as a hotline. It’s not even lukewarm.

I left a voicemail for the pastor of a nearby Unitarian Church. The Unitarians make a point of being LGBT-friendly. I didn’t say anything about that specifically, I just said there was something I’d like to talk with him about. No callback.

I sent out three emails seeking information and possibly that elusive referral to a TG-friendly electrologist. I’m 0 for 3 on the replies. Nobody even sent an email saying, “Sorry, I don’t know of anyone.” These people are just rude, that’s all.

I phoned the Billy DeFrank Center in San Jose. Long drive from where I live. They have a drop-in transgender group on alternate Fridays, but no other TG services. Did the guy I spoke with have a contact person for that group? No, he did not.

I looked on the city website where I live for possibly relevant social services. Several groups in the area provide services of one sort and another — for teens, elders, abused women. I wasn’t expecting to find anything TG-related, and I didn’t. I even looked in the Yellow Pages to see if any local psychotherapists list a gender specialty. None of them even lists gay or lesbian specialties, let alone transgender.

By now, I’m not even depressed. What would be the point? This whole situation is just very silly. I’m reaching out, but I might as well be floating around on a life raft in the middle of the Bay. I can wave at the cars on the bridge as they rush past, but I don’t have a paddle.

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I couldn’t remember who said it, so I googled it, and I’m glad I did, because I had the quote wrong. Paul Krassner said it, and it wasn’t, “Hippies are voluntary niggers.” It was “Yippies are voluntary niggers.”

Bear with me for a minute. I’ll get to the point.

For the benefit of those who didn’t live through the fabled (and thoroughly over-exposed) Sixties, I need to connect the dots a little. The hippies were an actual social phenomenon. The Yippies (technically, the Youth International Party, or YIPpies) were a bit of cynical media manipulation by Krassner, Abbie Hoffman, and a few other people. The Yippies never really existed. They had a brief flare-up of notoriety in 1968 and quickly passed from view. Hippies are living among us to this day.

I don’t think Krassner was seriously suggesting that the oppression suffered by the Youth International Party, or for that matter by hippies, was on a par with the oppression suffered for centuries by African-Americans. Okay, those kids at Kent State did get shot down by the National Guard, and a lot of other hippies did get beaten up and hassled by the police. But taken as a whole, that amounted to far less than one tenth of one percent of what African-Americans had gone through, and continue to go through to this day.

Krassner wasn’t afraid of being deliberately inflammatory, though. It was his way of shaking you up, getting you to question your assumptions. So who knows what he was thinking? What I think he was suggesting was that Yippies (and hippies) were deliberately opting out of mainstream American (or, as he might have spelled it, with a bow to Franz Kafka, Amerikan) culture. They were outsiders to that culture, as surely as African-Americans were. Hippies didn’t buy into the values and attitudes that prevailed in the world they were forced to live in. They had their own songs, their own heroes.

I got to thinking about this after reading a few recent blog entries (not in this blog — elsewhere) about transgendered women being murdered. Oppression? Oh, my, yes. It’s huge. Today, in this country, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of race. But in more than half of the states (I’d have to look up the exact number), it is still entirely legal to discriminate against the transgendered.

We can be fired from jobs. We can be refused housing. We can be (more…)

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The Dead Zone

Getting old is cruel enough no matter what your situation. If you’re transgendered — if you have a male body and features but feel more natural presenting socially as a woman — it poses some special cruelties above and beyond the usual set.

I identify, and strongly, with the beautiful young MtF women who post their video blogs on YouTube. That’s who I want to be. I’ve left it a little late, sad to say.

I don’t identify well with the older crossdressers whose photos I see on the forums where I’ve been hanging out lately. Or at least, I’d prefer not to. I’m sorry to have to say this (because that’s pretty much what I look like too), but … well, after sleeping on it, I’ve edited this paragraph. I don’t want to insult anyone. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be comfortable going out in public with these ladies. And while I’m distrusting their fashion judgment, I might (unconsciously) start questioning their judgment in other areas.

But fashion and looking your personal best are not what I want to talk about tonight. Nor do I want to insult other people, who after all have little enough control over how they look, though perhaps a tiny bit more control than what they’re exercising. No, this post is about socializing. About being part of a supportive peer group.

I live in an mid-sized town in Northern California. There are, as far as I have been able to determine, no transgender-related activities of any kind in this town, nor in any of the nearby towns. There are also no professional services of any kind for TGs. Sure, I could (more…)

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Been wishing you could squeeze into that little black dress? If so, read on.

A couple of years ago I had slid up past 190 — not obese on a 5’10” frame, but definitely chunky, not petite. I put myself on a diet and dropped to 170. Lately the numbers on the scale have started to creep up again. Also, I have an extra incentive now, so I’m going back on the diet, aiming straight at 160 this time. I can tell you in two words how to lose weight. And unlike a fancy celebrity diet, this method is guaranteed to work.

Eat less.

The only way you’re ever going to lose a single pound is if you’re taking in fewer nutrients than your body needs. Your body has been storing up soft, jiggly layers of extra nutrition in case of an emergency. Now you need to get your metabolism to start using up some of the lard in the larder.

This is so simple and obvious that it’s shocking that anybody could ever make a nickel marketing diet plans. The reason diet plans sell, I’m pretty sure, is because people have (more…)

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Okay, ladies, tonight I started studying the flairs and foibles of fashion. Yes, on the Internet — I hope you don’t have a problem with that! (I sort of do, but it’s late, the stores are all closed.) I’m gathering some good, helpful tips, especially ideas for us older gals. I’ll post those in a few days.

In the meantime … why settle for a nice romantic comedy when you can watch explosions and flying body parts? Readers crave fresh meat, and I aim to please. While prowling around, I paused to study a bunch of posed photos t-girls have taken of themselves and uploaded to crossdressers.com (great site, by the way!). None of these observations was made by barging into anyone’s home and criticizing what they do in private — it’s all right out there for the world to see.

A few details have been changed to protect the innocent — or the guilty. Here’s a laundry list of how not, repeat not, to impress anyone as a t-girl:

  • Eyebrows too heavy, inadequately covered (covering never seems to work) and inadequately shaped.
  • Shiny foundation, with perspiration showing through — powder emergency!
  • Chalky white foundation — especially dangerous with the red, red lips.
  • Too much blush — clown cheeks.
  • Too much lip liner. Any visible lip liner at all, actually.
  • Wig poorly chosen (usually way too glamorous) or poorly styled.
  • Wig sticking out from head.
  • Man’s glasses. Get the glasses, girl, or get contacts. Even bumping into the furniture would be an improvement.
  • Poorly fitting outfits (usually too tight and bunchy).
  • Tight top emphasizing broad shoulders and deep chest.
  • Failure to accessorize.
  • Hey, this is the only necklace I own! Cut me some slack! I stole it from Aunt Gladys’s bureau when I was 13, and I think it’s just gorgeous!
  • Heavy stockings. (Wonder why.)
  • Wrong shoes for the outfit — color clash or style collision.
  • Visible beard shadow.
  • Failure to minimize disastrous features (a big nose, for instance) by having the rest of your look so together that we’ll give you a pass on the nose.
  • Black leather boots with a wide black belt, thus emphasizing the wide male torso and heavy bones. The boots by themselves are maybe okay, if the rest of the outfit says “petite.”
  • Showing too much skin around neckline and upper arms — worst on older women, but the male golfing tan from the elbows down is a no-no even if you’re 20-something.
  • Looking embarrassed.
  • Looking scared.
  • Looking defiant, crazy, or lost.
  • Shoulders hunched forward.
  • Trying to look like a hooker, but without either the raw material or the fashion skills to pull it off.

If you’re not guilty of any of these faux pas, congratulations! You can go anywhere and everyone will be happy to see you. Look, I know shopping is tricky. But if you’re going to do it, do yourself a favor, girl! Get into it, have some fun, and do it right.

As Lady Astor is supposed to have said, “I don’t mind what people do, as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” (Runaway horses were a real danger in cities in the 19th century.) Let’s all try not to frighten the horses, shall we?

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Who would be (or was) the hardest person for you to tell that your inner, felt gender identity is not what they’ve always “known” it was?

I hit a little bump in the road today. Or maybe a bigger bump, not sure yet. The bump is called Mom. Mom is getting on in years, but she’s a survivor. She could have another ten years in front of her. If I can’t possibly bear to tell her anything, then I’m stuck. I have a problem. The problem is not being transgendered; the problem is my locked-down relationship with Mom.

I’m not going to share the innermost details of my life story here. I may not even mention the eyelash curler that was on her vanity table when I was little, or that I knew what it was for and probably tried it out a few times. As I think back on it, though … (more…)

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Candid Camera

Last night I was clicking through a few photo gallery uploads by the ladies at one of the TG forums where I hang out. Some of the gals were more convincingly feminine than others, let’s put it that way.

There can be two reasons for this, if not more. Some of it is simply inexperience. We don’t get trained in how to do clothes when we’re little girls, or teenage girls, because we’re being trained to be boys. (Been there, done that. Ugh.) For those who are just starting out, it will get better over time.

But it does require training! I want to become a fashion expert. I want to know how to look my personal best. That’s one of my resolutions for this year.

A less benign factor, which I’m pretty sure comes into play (it certainly has for me, though less now than in earlier years), is stark raving fear. I think some of us are terrified to look too convincingly feminine — because what would that mean? What would it say about us? So we stay gawky and dress badly and show off our bony knees and use lots of awful orange lipstick.

The question I would like to ask myself is, if I’m not looking and feeling completely feminine, why not? What’s stopping me?

There’s also plain old discouragement. “I’ll never succeed at this,” we tell ourselves. “I’ve got the wrong bones and the wrong face!” But you know what? A lot of absolutely gorgeous women surely feel the same way about their bodies and faces. The big difference between us and them is not the raw material we have to work with, it’s our attitude.

My new idol is Susan Miller, up in Portland. Susan goes out in public a lot, and she has her fashion statement really, really together. If she lived closer, I’d pay her for lessons!

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