Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dinner With My Peeps

Every year, two leading edge ham radio groups get together and have a dinner on Friday of Hamvention weekend. AMSAT is one group; they are at the forefront of ham radio communications via satellites. TAPR is the other group; they are on the forefront of ham radio digital communications and I am a director of TAPR, as well as its secretary and newsletter editor.

These two groups are my peeps and represent some of the makers and shakers of ham radio. These are the people I look up to and are in awe of for all they have done for ham radio over the years. As I said in my bio, "My fondest memories of ham radio are rubbing elbows and making friends with the makers and shakers of our hobby who show up at Hamvention every year."

I have attended this dinner every year for over 25 years and since 2010, I have attended as a woman. When I attended as a guy, I mixed in with the other dinner attendees chatting and joking about ham radio and other gizmos.

That changed when I began attending as a woman. Presenting as a woman to a predominately male group who had known me previously as a guy was very daunting and I did not mix well. It got a little better over the years, but usually I would buy a drink when I arrived, stake out a table for me and my friends and be seated to wait for the speakers to speak and food to be served.

This year was typical. I sat down and saved a couple of seats. Folks filled up the other seats. One asked me if I was a ham or the wife of a ham. I said that I have been a ham for almost 40 years. When I told him my callsign, he reacted as if he was familiar with my callsign, but he looked a little confused and couldn't place me... well, you know why.

Anyway, this year, the speakers and food were very good and around 9:30 PM, 150 people were ready to call it a night when the president of TAPR returned to the dais one more time. He asked me to stand up, congratulated me for winning the Special Achievement Award and urged the audience to give me a round of applause.

Not only did 150 of my peeps applaud, but they all got up and gave me a standing ovation. It was a very emotional moment; my eyes began to tear up and I almost lost it, but I smiled and said thank you over and over again.

What a moment! I will cherish it forever.

Source: Polo
Wearing Polo.

Joe E. Brown
Joe E. Brown (right) in the 1944 film Shut My Mouth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When did you make the gender switch?

This year, my Hamvention experience was amazing and filled with so many memories! Where do I begin?

In case you just tuned in, Hamvention is the largest ham radio convention this side of the Arctic Circle and I have been a regular attendee since 1979. Also, I am a well-known writer in the ham radio world having penned among other things, five books and over 1,200 articles.

Since 2010, I have been attending Hamvention as a woman. Although it was scary the first time going in, I quickly realized that most of the attendees did not recognize me as that well-known writer. Rather, they assumed I was a middle-aged woman, probably the wife of a ham, helping out at one of the booths at the convention.

Aha moments only occurred when someone examined my name badge and recognized my call sign. Those moments were few and far between and I was basically invisible at Hamvention. As a result, I passed successfully.

This year was very different.

The folks who run Hamvention chose me (as Stan) to be the recipient of their prestigious Special Achievement Award. I had to decide quickly who would go to Hamvention to accept the honor.

I thought about it for about 30 seconds ― that invisible middle-aged woman who has been attending Hamvention for the past six years would make the trip to Dayton to pick up the award.

So I emailed the Hamvention folks my biography and a current photo to display on their website and print in the convention program, which means that anyone who looked at the website or program would see that the winner of the award was that well-known writer, but now he is a she!

Some people thought that the Hamvention folks had erred using an unknown woman's photo with Stan's write-up and that is my fault. I stuck with Stan because (1) the people who nominated me for the award nominated "Stan" not "Stana" and (2) Stan not Stana, was responsible for the bulk of the accomplishments I was being honored for. As a result, there was some confusion among the civilians attending Hamvention. The following anecdote is an example of their disorientation.

Throughout the Hamvention, I kept running into a husband and wife in my hotel, who I recognized from past Hamventions, but could not remember who they were. So whenever I saw them, I would just wave or say "Hi" and leave it at that.

Saturday evening, as I exited the hotel dressed to the nines to attend the awards dinner, the husband was outside smoking. I said "Hi" and continued to walk to my car, when I heard the husband say, "Stan, when did you make the gender switch?"

I turned around. He did not seem angry, upset or transphobic, but rather curious, so I politely answered his question.

"I've been reading your articles for years and I had no idea!" he added.

And that was atypical. A few people asked me what name did I prefer, but most people accepted me as I was without asking me to explain myself.

And it does not get much better than that!

Source: Express
Wearing Express.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
A chorus of gurls in the 1944 film When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I just returned home

I just returned home from my trip to Dayton, Ohio, to attend the Hamvention. I had a wonderful time and have a lot to tell you, which I will do during the next few days. 

Source: Harper's Bazaar
Wearing Lands' End.

Edda Edda
Edda Edda, professional femulator in Weimar Germany