Friday, July 26, 2019

Outreach Memories

Doing outreach at Southern Connecticut State University
Doing outreach at Southern Connecticut State University

For over a dozen years, I performed outreach at various colleges and universities in Connecticut including a regular twice-a-year gig at Southern Connecticut State University for the Human Sexuality class taught by Professor Anna Schildroth. Anna left the University about the same time I retired, so I lost that outreach opportunity and have not been doing much outreach since then.

What's "outreach?"

It is an attempt to educate and enlighten non-transgender people about what it means to be transgender. Typically, we accomplish this by giving a brief autobiography and then answering questions from the students to clarify and expand upon what the students may already know or upon what we stated in our biographies.

Here are some of the more memorable questions I have answered doing outreach.

Q: Are you married?

A: Yes.

Q: a woman?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have any children?

A: I have a 30-something daughter, who is very supportive.

Q: Where do you go out when you go out as a woman?

A: The mall, restaurants, museums, shows, etc.

Q: Do you crossdress when you have sex with your wife?

A: Never

Q: Why do you have your nails done only to go out once or twice a month?

A: I wear pre-glued, stick-on nails that take about 5 minutes to apply.

Q: How did you pick your female name? (This is probably the most asked question.)

A: It is a female version of my male name.

Q: What do you do when someone stares at you or reacts negatively to you?

A: I try to disarm them with a smile.

Q: What do you do when you are at a bar and a guy hits on you?

A: I say I am not interested and point to my wedding ring.

Q: Which bathroom do you use?

A: I always use the ladies' room.

Q: Did you have a hard time learning to walk in heels?

A: No, I took to heels like a duck takes to water.
Q: Don't you worry that your voice gives you away when you are out in public?

A: Usually my voice is not an issue. (By the way, my voice is not deep and I am soft-spoken even in male mode. In female mode, I just crank the softness up a few notches. However, I am always working harder to improve my feminine voice.)

(I turned the question around and asked the class, "If you did not know I was a male, do you think my voice would give me away?" Three or four students answered and they said, "No.")

Q: How do you hide your genitalia

A: I wear a panty girdle or Spanx panty to keep my genitalia in check. At one time, I tried a gaff, but discovered that it was very uncomfortable and that my male parts would escape frequently and required regaffing. The panty does a much better job keeping those parts in place and is much more comfortable.

Q: Do you do hormones or have you had surgery?

A: No. (My answer often surprises the students.)

Q: The way you move your hands and gesture is very feminine. Are you doing that intentionally?

A: It is not intentional. (I noticed that I gestured while answering the question and suddenly became aware that my hand gestures were indeed feminine, which gave me pause.)

Q: Do you buy your clothes in a "big" women's store?

A: Not necessarily. I am a size 16 or 18 above the waist and a size 14 or 16 below the waist, so sometimes I find clothes that fit in the "Misses" section and sometimes in the "Women's" section.

Q: What is your sexual orientation.

A: Lesbian.

Q: What would you do if you could do it over again?

A: I would live 24/7 as a woman without hormones and surgery, but I would have electrolysis.

Q: Do you ever feel that you are really a female?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you ever think about living full-time as a woman?

A: I think about it every day.

I don't go fishing for compliments when  I do outreach, but some come my way nonetheless.

A female student loved my hairdo and thought that my wig was my real hair. A pretty student said my makeup looked "fabulous." Another commented that I should teach the females in the class how to apply makeup.

One female student thought I looked good enough to do female impersonation.

Another female student commented how good I looked for my age. Immediately, another female jumped in and said how well I was put together. After that comment, nearly all the females started talking at once, commenting about how nice I looked. I blushed with embarrassment and thanked them for their compliments.

One student commented that my outfit was "cute." That made my day until another student stopped by to say, "You are so pretty!" She was very pretty herself and I was stunned by her compliment.

My most memorable outreach experience occurred four years ago.

After the class, a female student approached me. She said that when I entered the class, she thought I was a woman, not a trans woman, but a born woman.

Thank you, I thought to myself, but then she added that besides thinking I was a born woman, I was also the most beautiful older adult woman that she had ever seen in person!

I thanked her profusely aloud as she examined my presentation up close. She thought I was about 45 years old and she was very surprised when I revealed that I was 60 a the time.

Then she told me something very personal that I will not repeat here. I thought I detected her eyes beginning to well up.

The encounter became so emotional for me that I cannot remember if I gave her hug or not. (If I didn't, I should have.)

Those few minutes with her were priceless to me and I will remember her forever.

By the way, I am available to do outreach. Contact me via e-mail at stana-stana (at-sign)

Source: Boston Proper
Wearing Boston Proper.

Oliver Thornton and Maulik Pancholy
Oliver Thornton and Maulik Pancholy femulating in a 2016 stage production of The Taming of the Shrew.


  1. Your outreach post is always worth a rerun. Now that you are retired from work and semi-retired from blogging you do have a treasure trove of ancient blog posts that well merit being retrieved from the dust bin and given a new life.

  2. I love the photo from "The Taming of the Shrew". I saw that production at Washington Shakespeare Company (WSC). They really did quite the production. Members of the cast performed in the lobby before the play, and I met Oliver Thornton. The play is a raucous comedy and was played "straight". The audience knew all the actors were men, but after a short while we really didn't notice. There was nothing done in the play to highlight "Drag", but they didn't try to hide it, either. It was named one of the top productions in DC that season. Just to make that season even better, later WSC produced "Kiss Me Kate", Cole Porter's musical about the play. Thanks to discounted tickets I saw both productions twice! Here's a link to the WSC page about "The Taming of the Shrew":

  3. The Trans group I used to belong to would regularly invite a therapist/educator to our meetings. In turn, she always invited us to attend one of her college human sexuality classes. The outreach was always rewarding and exciting, and the questions were all over the place. I remember one highlight (how could any of us forget?): a student asked about our "breasts" and pursued the question. One of our girls quieted him down when she reached into her dress, pulled out one of her breast forms and tossed it into his lap. Well, that loosened everyone up and we got into a wonderful discussion about how we came to be the CD/TG ladies we were. It was probably the best afternoon I had spent as Mikki to that point of my life.

  4. I have shifted away from the Q&A type of format to a guest lecture format where I take over teaching the class. I find it covers more material than a Q&A format, some of the topics I cover are…
    The similarities and differences between LGB and T
    The discrimination we face and how it affects us.
    Intersectionality – how being a member of another minority affects being trans

    I have a circuit of about 4 college that I do training for in classes for nursing, public health, and education. I have a gig coming up next month to do training for the staff of a prison, the will be the second training I did for the Department of Corrections. The first one was in a maximum security prison. Connecticut may be the first state to mandate trans inmates be housed in the facility of their gender identity.

  5. AnonymousJuly 26, 2019

    Years ago, my nephew would comment that "He was a lesbian trapped in a mans body". Me too, nephew.

  6. AnonymousJuly 28, 2019

    Stana, being a lesbian makes perfect sense. I don't think these students are the only ones to be surprised by your natural femininity because you truly are very beautiful and sexy.

    You do turn heads for looking good and "put together"

    I have seen other gurls who try too hard or dress incorrectly and stick out because of that

    Lets face it, I can get away with being a middle aged business woman and dress appropriately though I do keep flats when my 3 inch heel wears me out.

    I did wear red 4" inch heels after just buying them in Payless and I seemed to attract stares for sure as they were not appropriate for my look.

    I dont want stares but just want to be accepted as I am but also want to be complimented or recognized for the work I had to do to pass when people notice that I just may be a man.


  7. I don't consider myself a woman. None the less, even when I wear standard men's clothes and no makeup I still get ma'amed frequently due to my relatively long hair, hips, and DD cup breasts.

    Now I have a deep masculine bass voice, and sometimes when I talk I still get ma'amed.


  8. Stana after reading this entry to the blog I want to restart my "outreach." I stopped doing out reach because it became too much to handle (that is the short story.) I am really considering starting again however my mentor has dropped out of sight and I feel I would be going it alone. Not sure what to do.