Dark Odyssey'd (#2)

Dark Odyssey: Winter Fire proved as hot as the first DO we went to this past fall, with a very different feeling. I did miss the group meals (since they were great for meeting new people while standing in the chow line) and the dress code (vanilla in public areas of the hotel, anything goes in the conference areas) was a little confusing and frustrating – and didn’t give you as good of an idea of the real variety of people who were there – but overall, it was a very sexy event, liberating, and a wonderful chance to talk to others about sex and pick up good information, techniques, and tips.
Still – when Tristan Taormino tells Nina Hartley to check out your rack, and then Nina Hartley tells Betty she looks like Hillary Swank in her formal wear, life is good.
Other MHB Boarders went too, and have been posting their reports in a recent thread.

Victoria's Dirty Secret

It seems the folks at ForestEthics have discovered that Victoria’s Secret uses old-growth forest for the umpteen million catalogs.
C’mon, trannies, this isn’t cool. Write to them and tell them to cut it out.
Here’s a sample letter:
Right now, Victoria’s Secret is no angel when it comes to forest destruction. It is shocking that Victoria’s Secret sends out over a million catalogs a day – 395 million per year! And it is not very sexy to know that Victoria’s Secret catalogs contain paper made from the endangered forests of the Canadian Boreal, one of the largest wilderness areas in the world, or that its paper use threatens the forests in the Southern US, one of our country’s biological treasures.
In order to be a responsible corporation, Victoria’s Secret must stop sending endangered forests to our mailboxes and:
* End purchases from any company that is not identifying and halting logging in endangered forests in the Canadian Boreal
* Maximize post-consumer recycled content in catalogs (achieve 50% post-consumer recycled in five years);
* Ensure that all suppliers are shifting to Forest Stewardship Council certification;
* End the use of any forest products sourced from other endangered forests, such as key areas of the Southern U.S.

Victoria’s Secret must change now. We hope you will see that when it comes to our last remaining endangered forests, less is not more.

Boycotted in Phoenix?

Betty and I got back home a few hours ago after having been in Phoenix since Friday. I’d been invited – quite a few months back – to be the keynote speaker this year at the Glitz Ball. A lovely CD named Grace – who was, I’m sure, the instigator of my being invited – picked us up at the airport, and as we were chatting (with me still blurry on anti-anxiety drugs because I hate flying), she casually mentioned how a bunch of people weren’t coming this year because I was guest speaker, and just as casually, started talking about something else.
Betty and I checked into our room and I asked if I’d been experiencing auditory hallucinations as a result of the drugs, and she said no – she’d heard what Grace said, too.
Later we were introduced to a few amazing other people, including Rene McCray, who does a lot of the makeup for the trans-community in Phoenix. We were both told we’d get along, and get along we did. She’s no wilting lily. She came into my workshop a little late, and just as I was about to end the session, she asked loudly, “So why do some people hate you?” or some version thereof. Maybe it was “Why doesn’t Tri-Ess like you?” It was one of the only questions I’ve been asked that I wasn’t expecting, but my answer went something like this: 1) for starters, I think sometimes people like to shoot the messenger, and 2) I publicly criticized Tri-Ess for their policies of excluding gay crossdressers and transsexuals from their groups, and for not letting local chapters (which might be the only trans support in their community) make those decisions for themselves.
Rene and I ended up speaking later (while she was generously doing our makeup), and I got to ask her if it was true that some people weren’t coming to the Glitz because of me. “Some,” she clarified, was about 40 people who’d come the previous year who hadn’t come this year – because of me.
I have to say, it kind of took me by surprise. I’m not surprised that people who have benefited from a group’s existence would defend that group or its policies. But I’m privy to a lot of information these days, and I know that arguments about Tri-Ess’ policies are going on throughout Tri-Ess, and even very high up in the organization. That is, what I’ve said about Tri-Ess a lot of Tri-Ess members are saying about Tri-Ess, so I didn’t think my comments were nearly as controversial as they apparently were. (To boot, many people have said such things about Tri-Ess long before me, including Dallas Denny and other former Tri-Ess members.)
I feel terribly that the Glitz should have suffered on my account, but I also wondered if the people who hadn’t come had read my book. Yes, I criticized Tri-Ess, but I also think my love for crossdressers is very, very clearly laid out. If I didn’t love CDs, and if I didn’t think they could do better in terms of their acceptance of TSs and gay CDs, I wouldn’t have bothered to take their main organization to task for their exclusionary policies. (Some would replace “exclusionary” with “discriminatory” but I’m trying to be nice here.)
What makes the whole thing even more ironic is that a gay men’s chorus sang at the event, and there were many TSs there, and workshops for them as well. That is, the Glitz is a mixed event, meant to unify the various factions of the trans-community. So the people who didn’t come are not people who refuse to mix with transsexuals or homosexuals, but rather refuse to listen to anyone who tells them it’s not nice to exclude either group from their organization.
Despite that, I had a wonderful time! I met a lot of people over the weekend, and had more than a few wonderful conversations. The speech I gave was not the one I’d written, but I expected that: I don’t like to write speeches at all, because I often have to write them before I meet the people I’m talking to, and prefer to tailor my remarks to the people who are in front of me.
So I’d like to thank Grace, and her lovely wife Anita; the straight partner of the trans-man who was willing to answer my questions; Rene, Bonnie, the bearded lady and her friend, ‘Just Evelyn’ and her partner Lacey (who came because I was speaking), and all the other folks who were kind enough to tell me they liked my speech, and who made me feel welcome despite the “controversy.”

Glitz Speech

Our trip to Phoenix and the Glitz was a little nutty thanks to the usual trans community in-fighting. I’d written this speech about partners and family, but when I got there I realized an entirely different speech was needed.
So I never delivered this one (though I will use it for an upcoming speech elsewhere, no doubt).
* * *
Thanks to G____, B_____, and to all the people of Transgender Harmony who put the Glitz together for inviting me to speak tonight. An especial thanks for the excellent timing – even a few days’ escape from a NY winter is more than welcome!
There are moments when I’m at an event like the Glitz, talking to another wife while our pretty husbands share beauty tips, and I wonder, “How did this happen? How did I get here?” and then “What did I do to deserve this?”
Do you ever have those moments? Times when you’re just astonished at how things have turned out? I don’t know how many years you have to go back, but I’m sure all of you can remember a time when the only place you went en femme was from the bathroom to the bedroom. Your heels had never walked on pavement. Maybe there was a time when your wife didn’t know, or your best friend – maybe they still don’t. But everyone in this room has made some kind of progress to be here – whether this is your first time out (first timers? Where are you?) or if you’re in the middle of your real life test. How big a step, or how many you’ve taken, isn’t always the important thing.
One of the things a wife has a really good view of is how hungry for progress you are; it’s the thing that scares the dickens out of us. More than one CD has gone from telling his wife that he likes to wear women’s clothes to him planning their annual vacation around a trans conference, so he can spend a week en femme. You can call it euphoria, or kid in the candy store syndrome, but no matter what you call it, it makes wives nutty. That’s especially true when they’re initially accepting, in any way, because somehow, coming out as a crossdresser, or a transsexual, affects your ability to measure, and every mile only looks like an inch. As a result, we start to feel like we’ve been taken advantage of, with the ever-escalating needs, the ever-increasing purchases. There are times now I feel surprised when I see a man WITH underarm hair.
And of course it’s not just wives. For some of you, the loved one you drive most crazy might be a close friend, a parent, or a child. No matter who it is, there’s almost no doubt that your need to express yourself will make them a little crazy remembering the right pronouns. I’m here to tell you – we need your help.
A very mature but young transman told me recently that he dreaded telling his mother he’s going to live as a man. He wasn’t worried about her being accepting – in fact, he was pretty sure she would be – but he understood what he was taking away from her, and how much he was pushing her. He said to me, “She already accepted me as a lesbian, and lost all of her dreams of planning my big-white-dress wedding, and now she’s going to lose her daughter altogether.” And I thought, when he told me, that all of us should be raised as women until a certain age, where some of us can then decide to live as men. Transmen are – in my experience – the coolest guys ever. I like to joke with Betty that if I’d known about transmen when I was single, we might not have ever met. But my point is – he got it. He got the loss, the change, the sense of feeling that we have to accept more and more – that sometimes, it feels like the changes never stop.
What that transman knew and understood was that his transition wasn’t just about him, and that his own happiness was also the cause of his mother’s disappointment. His concern for her had the potential to enable him to help her through his transition. It gave her the chance to have a good relationship with her new son.
It’s not just people living fulltime who need to help their loved ones through change. A wife who is told her husband is a crossdresser has to adjust just about everything in her life as well. Her ideas of her marriage, her man, and her future all change. Her sex life might change. She has to start thinking about gender and so-called “deviance” in ways she probably never has before.
The thing is, I hear too many stories of things not working out. Whether the cause is transition or euphoria, I don’t really hear much in the greater trans community about how to think about others as part of your self-expression, and what I do hear seems to be kind of condescending, along the lines of “how do I get this person on board for what I want and need?” Which is not quite the same thing as “how do I help this person I love deal with the changes I’m about to thrust upon them?” or even “how do I modify my needs in order to keep this person I love from running as fast as she can?”
There are workshops on fast track transition, but never any on transitioning slowly enough so your partner can keep up. There are workshops for CDs on how to remove hair but never one on how to do your wife’s makeup, so she can feel glamorous too. Endless makeovers, photo shoots, and receipts – all add up to a lot of time and energy and money, and the wives, and girlfriends, – especially the ones who are willing to be here, or join an online support group, deserve to feel pampered too. Look at it this way: if you spend as much on your partner as you do on your femme self and you won’t run out of closet room so fast. Honestly, would you go to a week-long conference for whatever her gig is? Would you want to be around a bunch of women who scrapbook, knit, write fiction, do yoga? Do you know as much about her as she does about both of you?
The bottom line is that your loves ones are your best allies – potentially. If you can help them understand, they can become the people who will stand up and say you’re not crazy, and that this isn’t a joke. We don’t have the shame to get past, we don’t have the internal conflict. Once we’re on board, we’re on board. You want us on your side. Nurturing our change – along with yours – will go a long long way toward getting us there.
I don’t say all this only because I’m a wife. I say it because I don’t want to see anyone else end up on the other side of the mirror alone. I say it because I’ve seen too many relationships – romantic, familial, friendships – strained to the breaking point. I know it’s not easy – that you’re impatient, that the revelation of who you are is HUGE. It’s easy, when you’re online, reading message boards or mailing lists, and coming to events like the Glitz, to think that everyone knows about gender. But they don’t. The education isn’t out there – on TV, transsexuals are still shown as serial killers when they’re seen at all. Crossdressers are still a joke. You know that when you tell family and friends, you have to start with transgender 101. I’ve yet to meet someone trans who isn’t on their way to a PhD in trans studies, which means, of course, that you’re way ahead of us, a Chief Financial Officer of a global corporation teaching someone how to balance a checkbook. The chasm between is what causes the difficulties. What we need – as your potential allies – is to get you to slow down, and yes – please repeat that.
We can all do something to help couples and families through. When a married CD friend says, “I went shopping,” you can ask: “what’d you get your wife?” When your favorite transwoman starts listing her hormones, WITH dosages, ask her how her mother, father, wife, or child is. Remind each other that you’re not in a void, that you’re not alone, and amazingly enough, that there’s more to life, and gender, than hose, heels, and hormones.
You deserve for there to be more. You deserve love, and happiness. Being trans is not easy – not ever. You’re reinventing yourselves in ways that are mind-blowing, but you innately understand why you need to. We don’t. We’ve never thought about gender. You have no choice. Most partners can get that. We can see the difference, even when we don’t like it. Sometimes we know it even when we know we can’t go with you. The liberation – the sheer joy – y’all exhibit is obvious. Hold onto it in your dark moments. Hold onto it when your mom screws up your pronouns for the Nth time. Hold onto it when you look in the mirror and don’t see what you want to see. Hold onto it when your wife cries about her loss. For you, there’s struggle and joy, but for us, it’s just struggle and loss. You need to find a way to let your joy, your liberation, infect us, recharge us. It’s your joy, your freedom, that will win over not just partners, but friends, employers, family – and the rest of society. And it’s way better than Angry Tranny Syndrome.
When most of us can’t make up our minds how to cut our hair or quit a job, you’ve gone and imagined the impossible – and started making plans to have it happen. If you give your loved ones a minute, once in a while, to catch their breath, they’ll be there for you when things look bleak. Your wife will remind you not to tuck your dress into your pantyhose. Your best friend will help you figure out the line between being a man’s man and a macho jerk. Your mom might be the one to see that after all, you DO look like her. Give us time, give us love, and give us hope. Some of us will get lost, or stuck. But lots of us – I mean look at this room! – will be the ones who help you go forward with grace, confidence – and far from alone.
* * *

Off to the Glitz

We’re off for Phoenix tomorrow and the Glitz Ball. I’ll try to keep notes and report back Sunday night or Monday, but at the very least, I’ll post my speech.
You all be good, and have a great weekend!

Woman magazine

A few months back Betty and I did an interview and photo shoot with a really nice journalist. The article she was writing was intended for a German magazine called Das Neue Blatt, but so far she’s not sure if they’ll be running it.
However, she did manage to get a UK magazine called Woman to run it instead. So on February 21st, an article about us, based on this interview, will run. I’m very excited about it as the magazine has a circulation of 500,000, with an average readership of 3X that! Imagine, 1.5 million people exposed to me and Betty and our odd life.
But hopefully it will do some good for those in the UK who might see it – the mothers and brothers and fathers and sisters of crossdressers and trans-folks who are having a hard time with a loved one’s gender identity. That’s the hope, anyway. And if it means I might finally sell the UK rights to the book, too – well, no harm there either!
Keep an eye out, UK readers. I’m getting sent a copy but my guess is that you’ll see it before I do!