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