Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One Person's Journey to Womanhood – Part 2

By Monica M

Before we get on to the teenage years and all that history stuff, I should give a little information about myself. I am in my mid-50s, married to a wonderful woman who is very accepting of my feminine side.

However, she does like her guy around, so I am a part-time guy. I am no op and no hormones (given a free choice, these might be a little different!) I believe that all relationships need compromise and these are some of mine. Her support for Monica is very important in my life and I do not want to push things as I love her dearly.

We have been together for a great number of years and I told her that I was transgender back when I knew that she was the one for me. Somehow I knew it was not right to enter into a relationship without full disclosure. That was one of the few flashes of genius I have had in my life. However, it is fair to say that neither of us knew at that time how this would all play out. Maybe, like in The Matrix, she would have taken the blue pill if she had known.

I have referred to my story as a success story and that is the way I see it now, but it was not obvious from the start how it might turn out. Sure, I am not full-time and sure I am not on hormones or post-op, but I have what I consider to be best thing that you can achieve as a transgender no matter what. I have a close group of women friends who support and love me for the woman that I really am.

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I believe that part of the depression that leads to suicide is the inability to connect with other women and to find support amongst them. This group of close women friends is priceless to me. I have a Heart Circle call with about 6 or 8 of these women each week by Skype. You could not hope for a more loving and supportive bunch of women.

This series of blogs will tell the story of how I got from a place that seems familiar to many who have travelled this road to one of great emotional satisfaction and enjoyment. There is nothing special about me, I have been lucky and have had great breaks; but looking back, I can see a pattern which can be woven into a strategy that may help others. As I have said, anything I can do to help people falling into depression and suicide is well worth the effort. It is my small contribution to our community.

However, just because there is a strategy does not mean that the journey is easy. It is still hard work and lots of effort, but at least with this strategy, one can see the goal and the benefits of the goal and you can see others who have walked that path and achieved the results.

Again, this is just my idea of success; others may have different ideas of living a successful transgender life and it would be great if they could lay out their strategies to help those who follow. The more we lay out the paths for those who follow, the easier it will be.

There is a certain responsibility for us pioneers to show the way to others or at least, suggest the way to others. It is up to those who follow whether they want or see the value in the path that we lay out, but at least, we are helping others by giving them options.

(Part 1 of One Person’s Journey to Womanhood appeared here yesterday. Part 3 will appear here tomorrow.) 

 

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the-cramps---all-women-are-bad---single---1990

Two members of the punk rock group The Cramps femulated
for the cover of their 1990 single All Women Are Bad.

 

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Source: ideeli-

Wearing Blu 39.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Person's Journey to Womanhood – Part 1

By Monica M

Struck by the crazy number of suicide attempts in our little community, I approached Stana to do a series of guest blog posts in the hope that the more success stories we have out there, the less people will attempt suicide.

Our little community is between 0.1% and 1% of the population depending on how you count. 41% of us have attempted suicide and of the people who try, about a fifth succeed (our rate is 9 times the national average). To me this is unacceptable. It has to be stopped! But, how? These posts are my contribution to helping stem this tide of needless destruction.

The more we understand what makes us tick and the more we understand the stories of those who have successfully climbed the mountain, the more we can develop strategies to succeed ourselves. But it is important to be aware that “successfully” is a loaded word. There is no general transgender story, every transgender person's story is different and every person's definition of success is different... and to some degree, that is part of the problem.

Here is my story and my strategies and I hope that those people who are similar to me in approach can learn from my successes and my failures.

Source: Unknown

The Early Years

I was born into a large family of girls. This may have had some bearing on the outcome of my journey through life (Ya think?!). From early on, I have known that I really was or wanted to be a girl. My mother said that when I was 3 or 4 years old, I tried on her girdles in (what I thought!) was secret. I have no memory of this. It was an occasional memory that my mother dragged up. She died not knowing that I was transgender (well, if she did, she never let on!).

However, I do have an early memory of going to visit an aunt and uncle when I was about 5 or 6. I rambled off to explore the house while the adults were talking. I went through my aunt's underwear drawer and tried on some of her girdles. I think I had a thing about girdles back then. I have no recollection of how these girdles fitted me. I must have been swimming in them!

I also remember visiting a different aunt and uncle (and their kids) when I was about 11. Again I sneaked into my aunt's underwear drawer and took a girdle and a pair of nylons and locked myself in the bathroom to try them on. I was in the bathroom for so long that people were knocking on the door to get in. I had to come out, but, how? What would I do with the clothes? I stuffed nylons into the toes of my shoes and hid the girdle rolled up under my sweater.

How I managed to get away with these exploits is beyond me. But, herein is the first lesson: people only see what they want to see.

Next up, the teenage years.

 

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Source: Unknown

Singers Roger Taylor, Peter Straker and Freddie Mercury
femulating in the 1992 1987 The Great Pretender music video.

 

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Source: ideeli

Wearing Evan Picone.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Very Out

tgsymb After work on Thursday, I was waiting at a red light at the on-ramp to the parkway when I noticed two decals on the red Chevy Cavalier in front of me.

I have seen one  of the decals on other vehicles countless times in the past --- the blue and yellow equal sign that the Human Rights Campaign uses as its logo.

On the other hand, I have never seen the other decal on a vehicle in all my life --- the transgender symbol.

I was impressed. Here was someone who was very out about who he/she was, so much so that they were willing to display it on their vehicle.

Maybe the driver was not trans, just a supporter and admittedly, most civilians would not know the significance of the transgender symbol, not to mention the equality symbol, but still...!

I tried to see if I recognized the driver, but I could not get a good look from my perspective and when we got on the parkway, the red Chevy sped off leaving me the dust.

I wish I had an opportunity to talk to the driver and commend him or her on their true grit.

 

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johnny-depp---21-jump-street---tv-us---ca-1988-1

Actor Johnny Depp femulates on television’s 21 Jump Street in 1988.

 

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Source: Madeleine

Wearing Madeleine.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Enjoy Doing Outreach

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The second part of my woman's day involved doing outreach at two Human Sexuality classes at Southern Connecticut State University. Professor Schildroth has been inviting me to her classes in New Haven for the past eight years and I always try to accept her invitations schedule permitting.

Lately, there have been four of us doing outreach for Professor Schildroth's classes: Michelle, a post-op male-to-female transsexual, Quinton, a post-op female-to-male transsexual, Mary-Ann, a no-op no-HRT male-to-female transgender, and myself.

We start each class by giving a brief biography, then the class gets split in two with the post-op folks doing Q&A with one half of the class and the no-op folks doing Q&A with the other half. Half way through the class, we switch groups so that all the students have an opportunity to quiz the post-ops and no-ops alike.

Sometimes the students are very hesitant about asking questions, but that was not the case on Tuesday. Each of the four groups of students we outreached had at least one member who was anxious to ask us questions and once the ball gets rolling, it seems to loosen things up and other students chime in with questions.

Many of the questions we have heard before. For example, on Tuesday, we were asked how we chose our female names. (That is probably the most common question we get.) On the other hand, the students often surprise us with questions we have never heard before. One question that we don't get too often, but was asked twice on Tuesday is how do we identify sexually. ("Lesbian" was my reply.)

One question from Tuesday that I never heard before was what is the one thing we want to get across to the students?

My reply was that we are not freaks like you may have seen on the Jerry Springer show. Rather, we are just like everybody else, average people you encounter anywhere --- and then I added --- we just dress better (that got a big laugh).

In between classes, we went to the student center to eat a snack and chat. I had a wardrobe malfunction while walking to the student center. The high heel of my shoe got stuck in a crack in the sidewalk and I lost my balance. Luckily, Professor Schildroth was at my side and caught me before I fell and hit the concrete. That was a close call!

In the past, I have received compliments from the ladies who work in the food court and Tuesday was no exception. As I perused the menus of the food court restaurants, a woman behind one of the counters caught my eye and mouthed the words, "I love your dress." I mouthed back a thank-you and with that, I decided to buy something to eat from her establishment.

Tuesday's outreach was one of the more enjoyable ones I have participated in. The students seemed to enjoy it, too, and most of them wanted to participate in the group photos, which I posted here on Wednesday.

And when we posed for the photo in the late afternoon class, instead of saying “cheese” to put smiles on everyone’s faces, we said “femulate.”

How cool is that!

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Professional femulator Sarah Mitch.

 

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Source: Madeleine

Wearing Madeleine.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I love being a girl

IMG_4015_cropped Tuesday was another wonderful woman's day for me!

My outfit was a rerun of the outfit I wore when I attended the True Colors Conference last month. The weather was much more appropriate for the outfit than it was nearly a month ago when I was chilled to the bone whenever I was outside.

I wore my Sofia Vergara wrap dress, Avon jewelry including my Pandora knock-off bracelet (which I just love), Hue black tights, Payless black bag and Nine West black wedge shoes. I also wore my Fashion to Figure trench coat to keep off the rain which was in the forecast for later Tuesday.

The first part of my plan for the day was to go shopping at Fashion to Figure in the Westfield Mall in Meriden. I literally arrived at the JCPenney entrance to the mall as the doors opened at 10 AM.

When I entered JCPenney, I was shocked to see that the store was going out of business. The sales floor was mostly bare with only a few racks and tables remaining.

JCPenney had been an anchor store ever since the mall opened in 1971 and I have enjoyed shopping there en femme on countless occasions. I felt sad about its demise, but I was not surprised. The Westfield Mall like others in the USA have been in financial distress as their customer base, the middle class, has been vanishing. Stores close and the floor space remains empty unless a "dollar store" or somesuch arrives to fill the vacated space. I hoped that would not be the future of Fashion to Figure, so I was going to do my part to not let it happen.

I had made a wish list of interesting items I had seen on the store's website, but I forgot to bring the list and had to work from memory. Luckily, a very good sales rep named Luce did my bidding and was able to find every item I described to her. And off to the dressing room I went to try on all the clothing she had for me.

The blue peplum top I liked fit perfectly. I loved the color and liked how it looked on me. It was a keeper.

I tried on three different sizes of faux leather leggings, but did not like how they looked on me in any size, so there was no leather leggings to my shopping cart.

I loved the jump suit, but the first one I tried on was too big and it seemed that I would have to do without until Luce located a smaller size on display in the store's picture window.   

I need another dress like a hole in the head, but I saw the one that caught my eye online and I just had to try it on. Three tries and I found one that fit me like a glove and it was the final item to go in my cart.

It just goes to show you that the sizes can be all over the place. Starting out, I told Luce the size of the trench coat I had bought at her store during my previous visit and she used that size as a base for the clothing she found for me. That base size was only good for the peplum top. The jump suit I bought was a size smaller and the dress, two sizes bigger, so you never know.

As I exited the store, another customer remarked, "I love your shoes!"

"Thank-you," I replied, but thought, "I wish I could say the same."

I wore the Nine West wedges for the first time when I attended the True Color Conference last month and they lasted about two hours before I switched to flats. I thought that they were uncomfortable that day because I had set the ankle straps too tight and as a resulte, they were cutting into my legs. So when I put the wedges on my feet Tuesday, I made sure that the ankle strap was as loose as possible, but it did no good. Two hours in, my feet were killing me and I still had about seven hours to go.

Payless to the rescue! They have a store just across the way from Fashion to Figure, so I decided to see if I could find something that I could wear the rest of the day. The Payless sales rep sized up my predicament and concluded that the wedges were uncomfortable because they did not have a platform. She may be onto something because I have another pair of wedges with a heel just as high as the Nine West wedges, but with a platform and I have worn those wedges all day long in the past without any discomfort.

Payless did not have much in my size except for two pairs of 3-inch high heel pumps --- one in black patent and the other in nude patent. What the hey! I tried them on and they were so comfortable I could not believe it. Payless was having a buy-one get-one for half off sale, so I bought both pairs and walked out of the store wearing the black patent pumps.

By then it was time to go to Southern Connecticut State University to do outreach. As I walked back to JCPenney to fetch my car, my right shoe slipped off my foot three times! This was not good, so when I returned to my car, I stuffed tissue behind my heel inside each shoe and that kept the shoes on my feet the rest of the day without any discomfort.

 

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Professional femulator Francis Russell, circa 1940.

 

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Source: Bebe

Wearing Bebe.

Chelsea Manning Blogs About Her Legal Name Change

chelsea_manning

“Today is an exciting day. A judge in the state of Kansas has officially ordered my name to be changed from ‘Bradley Edward Manning’ to ‘Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.’ I've been working for months for this change, and waiting for years.”

Read the rest of her story here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Casa Susanna Interview

Source: Salon.com Salon.com today posted an interesting interview with Katherine Cummings (photo right), a former guest at Casa Susanna and a consultant on the stage production Casa Valentina.

You can read the interview here.

Dos Classes

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class2

Above are photos of the very cool students in the two Human Sexuality classes at Southern Connecticut State University where I did transgender outreach yesterday afternoon. I have a lot to say about yesterday, so stay tuned.

 

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frankie-james-grande---pageant---nyc---2014

Actor Frankie James Grande’s amazing femulation on stage in the
New York stage production of Pageant: The Musical in February 2014.

 

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Source: MyHabit

Wearing Kay Unger.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dos Casas


You can see vintage Casa Susanna photos and an article about Casa Valentina here.

(Thanks to Meg of Call Me Meg fame, for the link.)







Actors Wade McCollum, Scott Willis and Bryan West in the Phoenix, Arizona,
stage production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert in 2013.







Wearing AQ/AQ Uropa.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Woman’s Day

womans_day Tuesday is Woman's Day for me --- a full day out in the world as a woman.

I plan to do a little shopping in the morning, then go to Southern Connecticut State University to do transgender outreach at two Human Sexuality classes.

I live for Woman's Days --- those days when I can experience the world in my preferred gender. The rest of the time, those non-Woman's Days, I reflect on my last recent Woman's Day and anticipate my next Woman's Day.

Which is kind of sad... wasting those days in between living as a MINO (man in name only) when I  could be living full-time as a woman.

C'est la vie.

 

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Actors Alex Ringler and Marty Thomas femulating on stage in Pageant: The Musical
(New York City, February 2014).

 

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Source: Madeleine

Wearing Madeleine.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

They might as well

dressbarnformen

Dressbarn is super supportive of the trans community.

Their sales personnel do not bat an eye when a guy shopping for clothing in their stores wants to use the dressing room to try on what he picked out.

Dressbarn used to close the store and let groups host Very Indulgent Parties (VIPs). Members of the group would model the latest fashions and everyone in attendance could make purchases at a discount. I don’t see that option on their website any longer, but in the past, they were just as comfortable with transwomen VIPs  as they were with genetic women VIPs.

I always feel very comfortable shopping in Dressbarn, whether I am in en femme or en homme. The sales personnel at my local Dressbarn know me in either mode of dress and treat me with respect and in a friendly manner either way. And I am treated that same way in any of their stores even where I am UFO (unidentified femulating object).

So when are they going to drop the other high heel shoe and open a men’s department? Probably maybe never, but they will still get my business.

 

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Professional femulator, Percy Vanderpoel, New York City, 1885.

 

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Gila Golan