Saturday, June 28, 2008

To Mace or Not To Mace

Prior to my “debut night” (see ‘Big Deal’ post), my SL friend Bau suggested I get mace. I took hir seriously, but didn’t get around to it. I’ve since been out femme-dressed a few times with no incidents… until last night.

I went dancing with my friends Tammy & Toast, but at a different club than I had before. Because the club was a) more mainstream and b) in my own neighborhood, I didn’t want to go QUITE as femme as I have. I wore a leopard spot headband and leopard spot skin-tight Capris, a black sleeveless shirt and a short sleeved black hoodie, plus eye-liner and lip-gloss. Toast (a cisgendered male) has long hair and wore a skirt and make-up. Tammy was in black with a short skirt and spikey hair.

I first suspected trouble when I saw the baseball cap guy pushing shots on his friends (who were sitting alongside the dance floor). He was drinking liquor and beer and obviously drunk off his ass. He came onto the dance floor and was deliberately dancing backwards into Toast. He had that drunken trying to get away with it but telegraphing what he was doing thing (for example he kept looking back over his shoulder to make sure he was heading for Toast). Finally Toast exchanged some words with baseball cap guy. Toast then stormed off the dance floor. I positioned myself in such a way that ‘b-c’ guy couldn’t pull the same shit on me, but I didn’t want to let the guy stop me from dancing. Eventually Toast and Tammy came back to the dance floor and ‘b-c’ guy started talking to Tammy and she told him off as well. He continued to look and point at us as he talked to his friends. I noted (just in case) that he was wearing sandals and I was wearing combat boots.

Eventually he and his friends left and I thought that was over and enjoyed the rest of my evening. Until closing time came and as we were getting ready to leave, baseball-cap guy showed back up without his friends. Now I was spooked. I started to discuss with Tammy and Toast arrangements for walking home together. I didn’t think it was safe for any of us to walk home alone. The DJ (a friend of Toast) overheard and said “which guy?” Toast pointed him out and the DJ started yelling at the guy to get out of the bar. Baseball-cap guy started yelling back at the DJ that he was going to call the cops. Eventually the owner of the bar and the bouncers took over and got ‘b-c’ guy out of the club. Potentially, however, he was outside and angry. When Toast, Tammy & I left the club, we didn’t see him. We put Tammy in a cab; Toast walked me home and had his bike to ride home. So we all were unscathed, but I’m thinking I better get that mace now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Few Thoughts

I went north to spend a few days with Lumi. We went out quite a lot “dressed”; me in femme-dress, Lumi in boi-mode. We went to the post office, ate in restaurants, shopped in local quirky stores and big chains. We got a lot of double takes, and in one case got the “evil eye” from an old man. I did find that my normal hyper-vigilance ratcheted up a few notches to the worrying about “who’s going to come running to beat me up” level. I hate to admit it, but I was feeding into stereotypes, being particularly wary of construction workers and large men. I also had some fear that we would be refused service, but no; in fact all the shopkeepers and restaurant staff we’re as cordial to us as they were to anyone else. Other than that there was ease and comfort and naturalness to being dressed femme. I’m just me and this is how I dress.

In a conversation about some “survivor guilt” (waiting to come out late in life when I’m relatively stable and knowing I’ve avoided a lot of suffering that my fellow gender transgressors suffered), Lumi reflected on the difference in reaction to transwomen based on age. Zie said something about the threat to manhood and sexuality that a young transwoman has on cissexist men is stronger than the threat an older transwoman would have. I thought later that this could be related to what I’ve read about older women’s invisibility, going off the radar after a certain age. Some idea is forming about this but it hasn’t developed yet.

The day after I got home I was with a group of friends and acquaintances and the subject came around to what boys are like. Some of my friends were new moms and one in particular was talking about a book promoting the currently popular idea that our education and socialization no longer lets boys be boys. There isn’t enough aggression allowed in the classroom and playground these days. The book apparently suggested that parents play rough with boys. Both mothers agreed that their sons responded well to jumping and being tossed about. Then it was suggested that one child’s interest in trucks and big machines was because he was a boy. A non-mom told a story about a recent encounter with a young boy who giggled upon seeing her cleavage. She then jumped to the conclusion that the child was a “guy” already. This angered me. In trying to express my anger to some trusted friends I found myself confused…

You see, when I was in denial about being a transwoman, I used to take the position that there were NO inherent gender traits. I was all nurture and no nature in my philosophy. A factor in my taking this stance was, no doubt, due to the fact that very few traditionally male gender traits were part of my experience, and many traditionally female ones were. In a way, I suppose, I was claiming there was no such thing as gender at all. The social construct was a lie. Coming out of denial, however put a different light on this. I found that I wanted to claim the female-gendered traits as my own, as some kind of proof of my true nature; though I couldn’t say my sense of being a woman comes from these traits. I am still uncomfortable with assigning traits to a specific gender. Certainly not everyone who has untraditional gender traits is trans. No doubt there is some balance between nature and nurture, but what is it? Lumi asked me if I had read Serano's “Whipping Girl”. Zie suggested I read it with the caveat that zie didn’t agree with everything the book said. I picked it up today and will report back when I’m done reading it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Big Deal Is That It Wasn’t a Big Deal

May 29, 2008: My public debut* in femme clothing**. I went dancing in a club with two cisgendered girlfriends, Tammy & Kristen.

I SO didn’t do this alone. Besides the physical presence of T & K, there were those who helped me put my debut outfit together. I wore in a bright red long spandex skirt, the first I bought since I was 28. My friend Mary went out shopping for that skirt with me (God bless her). This skirt flares out beautifully when I spin xD. My orthogendered friend Lumi (who has given me most of hir femme wardrobe) provided me with the empire waist paisley red white & black top; which is cut in points at the bottom and hides my belly really well. Lumi also hand-made the magnetic black bracelets I wore. Rather than buying one, my friend Toast suggested I got to the craft sore and make my own velvet choker ribbon. Toast helped me shop for the leggings I bought (but didn’t wear – more on that later). Tammy sent me to the store where I got my killer combat boots with frilly swirl detailing ::grin::. Then there are all the friends who have given me emotional/spiritual support, to name just a few who specifically gave my butt a push towards public expression; Shiva, Beta, Talia, Alison, John and so many more.

Tammy not only went with, but did my hair and make-up first (Tammy is my hairdresser as well as my friend). I had discovered before I got to her house that the tights just wouldn’t stay up. Partly the material, partly I’m the wrong shape for them I think. Tammy pulled out of her drawer a pair of seamed fishnets for me to wear (God bless her). She said fishnets will stay up (and they did). When putting on the eye make-up, she gave me a blow by blow explanation of what she was doing and would hold her hand up to show me where to look. It was so sweet :) She also did amazing things to my hair with a flatiron. I looked in the mirror when she was done and was just awestruck. I looked beautiful. Really beautiful***.

Off to the club. Tammy drove. In the car there was a moment when I wasn’t even conscious of what I was dressed like, which I thought was a good sign. I was at ease already. Earlier in the day, I was excited and anxious and called a dear friend who gave me great advice. She had a therapist once that told her, “You have to be willing to have bad sex.” So she told me that I had to be willing to have a bad debut. “The point is you’re doing this, whether or not you have a good time doing it.” We got there and Tammy asked the bartender to hold onto our purses (after reminding me to take out my lip gloss for touch-ups). Kristin met us there and Tammy introduced us to a few of her friends. A few people I was introduced to seemed to me to have bemused looks on their face, but others didn’t react at all to my looks.

The club isn’t a tranny club, or a gay club, it is a very tolerant come as you are club. It was 80s night in the club, the kind of club music I used to dance to back in my college days (when it was new). Then She Wants Revenge’s “Tear You Apart” came on. Not an 80s band, but 80s influenced. It’s a song often played at the virtual club Fracture owned by my friend Beta. It was like my Second Life**** family was with me.

I danced for about three hours. Tammy had joked that I would do nothing but spin in circles because I was so enamored of the way my skirt flared. I spun a bit more than I might have otherwise, but not excessively; though at the beginning Tammy did call me on looking at my skirt while I danced :). A few times the skirt did catch on the bottom of my boots, but fortunately didn’t stretch it out. I did find myself holding the sides of my skirt and swished them around :). An interesting thing happened with the fishnets. There was a rip in the crotch and occasionally my “manhood” would catch in it, calling attention to what many misguided people think determines gender. It was an almost ironic touch I think.

But the way I danced was not only about how I interacted with my clothes, but the freedom of expression they afforded me. Both Tammy and Kristin told me that I looked like I was having so much fun they were having fun too. Afterward I was talking to Tammy about it. I related it somehow to something that happened to me earlier in the week. I was running down the street and had the sudden “you run like a girl” fear. I learned to run more “macho” in my youth in order to avoid getting beaten up. It has never come naturally to me and I still “catch” myself and run in “macho” mode. But this time, this time I didn’t. I ran like I ran, whether it was like a girl or not. There was a similar freedom in my dancing on May 29th. I love to dance and often dance enthusiastically. Now I was dancing with abandon. There was joy, too. Pure joy.

*I don’t count my 29th birthday ’cause that was a private party, and I don’t count the Halloweens because it was Halloween. I should also mention that I did take Lumi & hir daughter out for sushi in pigtails and a lace top previously, but that was without make-up and I wore “male” pants and shoes.

**I don’t want to say “en femme” ‘cause I wasn’t trying to pass, and I don’t want to say “cross-dressing” because despite my physical form I was dressed appropriately for my true gender.

***My spouse wants me to maintain internet anonymity so I won’t post pics here. Any of my SL (Second Life) friends can IM me in game and I’ll be happy to drop a pic into your inventory :).

****A very involving 4-D (3-D graphic/real time) multi-user computer interface where I identify as Trans, but embody as female.