By Monica M
2010 was the year of two conventions: Esprit in Port Angeles (the classic coming-out convention) and Southern Comfort in Atlanta (the biggest convention of all).
Esprit was really great for helping one to get out and about. The town is small and seems to love the transgender community. There are so many other and more experienced transgenders out on the street, it makes it so much easier to make those first steps. For example, the Chinese Restaurant where we had dinner one night must not have had too many transgender diners because the staff came by frequently to gawk at us. By then, we were able to take it in our stride.
Typically, there are about 30 or 40 people at Esprit and you quickly get to know them all as you will meet them again and again in the various classes that you take. There were classes on makeup, safety, dress, deportment, voice, wigs, movement, etc. and there are usually a number of guest speakers.
The atmosphere is very friendly and helpful and the committee goes out of its way to help the new people. Couples are very welcome and there are special joint couple sessions. There is a real happy, festival atmosphere as those of us who have repressed our feelings and love of things feminine let it go! I would recommend it to anybody and especially to anybody who has a partner.
We drove to Port Townsend one day for some practice away from the safe home turf. We wandered around the shops in the town and nobody paid us any attention or bothered us despite me being as nervous as a kitten. While walking around the town, I slowly started to calm myself down... so much so that by the time we were leaving, I felt ready to go into an ice cream parlor to get some ice cream for my wife and some coffee for myself.
As soon as I walked into the shop and closed the door behind me, I noticed a troupe of school girls! Oh! No! The literature says that meeting a group of schoolgirls is the worst thing because they have no mercy on us transgenders. I nervously tip-toed past their big table to a table safely out in the yard. Not only did they not harass me, they never even looked at me! Phew!
Here are some photos from my time in Port Angeles. I am normally quite a shy person, but as I was throwing caution to the wind, I decided to go all out and even participated in the fashion show. It was fun.
Southern Comfort is a different experience altogether and it does pay if you are going to join a group as it can be very lonely amongst such a large crowd. It is interesting to see so many trans people, but it is not very intimate and quite impersonal.
Having said that my den mother (whose name I have forgotten, sorry) really did a great job keeping us together and organized. However, I don't think I would bother going to a convention again. I liken it to a Japanese student who wants to learn English. If she only hangs around with other Japanese students while she is in the USA, she will not really learn a lot. It is better to go native and in my case, I figured a better use of my time was to spend it with cisgender women.
But how? The best was yet to come!
Here are pictures from Southern Comfort.
(Part 16 of One Person’s Journey to Womanhood appeared here.)
Wearing Tahari Arthur S. Levine.
Actor George Sanders femulating in the 1970 film The Kremlin Letter.