Sunday, November 29, 2009


I've been kicking around a column for the last few days. It's another of those where I go through draft after draft, and end up discarding them all. Then something happens out in the world that casts my own thoughts on to the back burner.

Mike Penner was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times. He made headlines in 2007 when he came out as transgendered. He was taking a vacation, and when he returned, it would be as Christine Daniels. Christine continued to write for the Times, and she wrote a blog for the paper wherein she recounted her ongoing transformation. In November of last year, she wrote that she was stopping her transition, and she went back to using the name Mike Penner. There was a story in USA Today about this, and what they called "reverse transitioning".

I even did a post about it. It was one of the first relevant news items I remember posting. I remember concluding that I did not want to reverse my changes. I have hardly begun to transition in any meaningful sense. I could not then see any reason to stop, or to go back. "The only way for me is forward," I said.

That is still true, though I have come to recognize some of the obstacles in my way. Just a week ago we were memorializing the victims of hate and violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It seems we forgot to look out for those who fall to their own doubts. Mike Penner was found dead yesterday, apparently of suicide. I lost track of him after the USA Today story. I am subject to the same sort of internet-derived short attention span as everyone else. I suppose it didn't help that I'm not much of a sports fan.

This isn't the time to wallow in uncertainty. I've got to go on. More than that, I need to support my friends. Every time I hear about a suicide, I wonder who that person didn't talk to. Who didn't offer them a friendly ear, a supporting shoulder? If there's anyone out there who feels like this, please talk to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Power of Memory

This is one of those times when I don't have to worry about writing the same sorts of things as other bloggers, because we're all writing about the same things.

Thursday was Thankgiving Day. I won't waste any wordage here about the historical significance of the day, or the revisionism, or any of that dreck. Nor will I recount the contents of the feast (though it was fine), or reminisce of dinners past. No, I just want to say that I woke up this afternoon to the aromas of a traditional dinner, and for a moment, I was twenty, and ten, and five, and I took a deep breath, and all was right with the world.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Year

Last night my friends and I marked the eleventh Transgender Day of Remembrance. We marched down Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk from Scope down to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (an obelisk), carrying the signs we made Wednesday. My friend Tracy and a lady named Vega read off the names of the fallen, then we walked back to Scope and adjourned to TACT for refreshments.

There weren't any ugly incidents while we were out. There was an old homeless man we encountered on the way back. I think he wanted to get to know some of us better, but he eventually went on his way. I did get a couple of nice complements on my outfit. I wore my purple sweater from Dots with a grey plaid skirt and purple tights, with a pair of black l.e.i. boots I scored at a thrift store in Churchland last year.

I got lost a couple of times heading to TACT. For some reason, I thought it might be reasonably close to where we marched. It was way, way down Granby Street, almost in Ocean View. I got there just in time for a quick snack and a sit-down with Julian and LLLLL before they kicked us out. I went home and changed for work. Nate had cooked while I was out: barbecue chicken and rice. And he baked brownies! I had one before I came to work, and it was incredible.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preparing to Remember

Last night I drove over to Norfolk to help put together signs for our TDOR march on Friday. Most of the signs show the names of everyone who has died since this time last year. The names and their stories come from this website:

There are a lot of names. I wish I could say I was surprised. What did surprise me was how many of the fallen are unidentified, especially in Central and South America. It's like without names, these people didn't exist. That hurts as much as their dying. There was another murder this past weekend in Puerto Rico. The suspect went looking for a "date" in the red light district, picked up the victim, then flipped out when he discovered she was male. He then proceeded to decapitate her and chop off her limbs. When the case first came to light over the weekend, a detective in PR was quoted as saying

"Someone like that, who does those kind of things, and goes out in public, knows full well that this might happen to him."

Makes it sound like she was asking for it. I've been lucky. I haven't seen a whole lot of violence in my life, and haven't experienced anything worse than name-calling when I was out as myself. I wish there was something I could do about it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

As Long as I'm Flogging Other People's Stuff

This is the new trailer for Mass Effect 2. I can barely contain my excitement about this game. Lucky for me, I only have to wait until January. I like this "Legion" character. So far it's got the best lines.

"We do not experience fear, but we understand how it affects you. Organics do not choose to fear us; it is a function of your hardware."

Ooooh. Scary monsters.

Thank you for your consideration, I think

I took a walk through Olde Towne this afternoon. I had to drop a couple of pieces into the mail (model parts for friends in England and Wales), and decided to trek through the neighborhood on the way home. I spotted this sign in front of a Baptist church/private school I attended when I was a child.

Their spelling is atrocious, but I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Freaky Deaky! (New Lady Gaga Video)

This is the new Lady Gaga video. It premiered about four days ago. It's got intricate makeup, elaborate costumes, and freaky shoes (courtesy of Alexander McQueen). Drag artists all over the planet are no doubt choreographing numbers based on it. I might've even found a costume for next Halloween. I love it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th is the next Transgender Day of Remembrance. Attending a TDOR event last year is how I connected with my support group. The practice started in 1999 to commemorate the death in 1998 of Rita Hester, a transwoman in Boston, MA. As we make strides toward a better future, it's important to remember those who came before us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Self Publishing Gone Hideously Awry

I saw this posted in a hobby forum under the title "Self Publishing Gone Hideously Awry". If you click through the title, it takes you to an Amazon page for a woman selling her own self-published religious tome.

What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Button, Button

There's a movie coming out today entitled The Box, with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. They play a couple with money troubles. Out of the blue, a box appears on their doorstep, featuring a big red button under a glass dome. Later, a man arrives, telling them that if they press the button, a stranger will die, but they will be paid $1,000,000.

The film is based on a 1970 Richard Matheson short story, "Button, Button". I guess after the huge financial success of I Am Legend, someone in Hollywood decided Matheson was bankable again.

I'm not greedy or anything, but if said box landed on my porch, I'd press the button as many times as they'd let me. A million dollars would be enough to pay all my debts, cover all of my near-future expenses (moving, hormones, et al) and leave me a nice little nest egg. Who knows, maybe I could finance my own lobby and buy a couple Congress-critters. Get 'em to ram ENDA through both houses and onto the President's desk.

Yeah, a Senate sub-committee held the first hearing on a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act since 2002. Oddly enough, no trans people were at the hearing.

Sesame Street

I used to watch Sesame Street, when I was little. This week is the fortieth anniversary of the show, and to commemorate that, the last three days Google has featured characters from the show in their header. Wednesday the "L" in Google was Big Bird's legs. The day after, Cookie Monster had his mouth all over the top, like he was "Nom, nom, nom"-ing the search box. Today it's Bert and Ernie, television's first socially acceptable gay couple. Ba-doom boom.

Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week. Please don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Sorry. It's been a long, stressful week, and I thought a little levity would lighten the atmosphere.

EDIT: Yes. Yes! I KNOW Bert and Ernie are not really gay. That's one of those horrible urban legends, dating back to the early 90s, at least. It was meant as a joke. One in poor taste, perhaps, but a joke all the same.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Conservatives shop sex ops ban to GOP

From Politico:

Apparently, the conservative culture warriors are trying to hobble the proposed reforms to the American healthcare system. No provision has been made in any version of the bill to specifically cover sex reassignment or other procedures, but someone has already drafted language for an amendment which would specifically prohibit the government from paying for such procedures. From what I understand, it's hard enough to get private insurance companies to support anything related to being trans. Preventing the Feds from providing support would make it that much harder.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Fitting Memorial

A couple of days ago, Nate was going through a box of our family recipes when he happened upon Mom's recipe for chicken casserole. It's simple - chicken, rice, stuffing mix, cream of mushroom soup, so he went to the store and got the missing ingredients.

I'm having it for dinner as I type this. Nate's a pretty decent cook, and he's done the recipe justice. We were talking about that just now, when he asked if I remembered what day it is. Mom died two years ago today. I think it would warm her heart to know we're eating her casserole today. It warms mine.

One more from Halloween

I promised I'd post another photo as soon as I could find them. I hereby nominate myself for "Girl Most in Need of a Waist-cincher".

But for the witch hat, the entire outfit came out of my closet. The corset top, black lace tank and the boots are from Torrid. The skirt and stockings are from Hot Topic.

Jesus, Queen of Heaven

It seems the producers of this play in the UK are getting blasted for daring to portray Jesus as a transsexual.

Cheesing off the religious establishment? That's my game all over. Such a shame it's not playing on this side of the pond.

Naturally, when I saw this, I thought of Tori Amos. From Boys for Pele, the song "Mohammed, My Friend":

"Mohammed, my friend/It's time to tell the world/We both know it was a girl/Back in Bethlehem"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Epilogue

I wasn't able to get online at all yesterday after I left work, and I only had a few minutes to check my email at home, so this post comes twenty-four hours late, so I've had time for a little more analysis than I might've posted in a raw recap.

Friday wiped me out. Between sitting up all morning waiting to get paid, then running around all afternoon paying bills and stuff, then getting too little sleep before going back to work, I was exhausted. I had my Halloween costume assembled, but I had to put a few finishing touches on myself. I'd made a half-hearted effort to shave my legs Friday night, but my heart wasn't in it, so I resolved to wear black tights with my costume.

Getting ready Saturday evening, I remembered that I had a pair of black-and-white striped thigh-highs that I picked up at Hot Topic a couple of years ago. I think they're meant to stay up on their own, but I wore a garter belt anyway, just because. I had trouble fastening the rear set of tabs, so I enlisted Nate in hooking me up. I told him he could scratch an item off his bucket list. The expression on his face was priceless.

I ditched the "Eris" makeup in favor of something I thought was Halloweeny, a Revlon palette of smoky greys and green. The polish I bought turned out to be more of metallic onyx, but it worked with my outfit, and it matched the tone of my star earrings almost perfectly.

By the time I was ready to go, Nate had our neighbors all psyched up to see me in costume, so I strolled across the street for a photo op before rolling out. Because I forgot to bring along my camera, the only photos of me from this excursion were taken by other people. A few of them have appeared on Facebook and elsewhere, so I'll try to find one or two to post here for everyone's edification and entertainment.

The party at Mike & Mark's was great. I am not a party person, in the usual sense. I like to meet and hang out with people, and maybe have a drink or two, but that's all. That's the main reason why I don't spend a lot of times in bars. That, and I can only put up with so much cigarette smoke. This party was different, somehow. I only knew a couple of the people there, but the others I met were very friendly. There was dance music playing on Sirius. There was a big cooler outside filled with beer and wine coolers, and the fixings for assorted mixed drinks in the kitchen. There was food - I've seen wedding receptions that had smaller spreads.

I think I was the only trans person there, though I wasn't the only one in a female costume. There were three fellows from the Hampton Roads Men's Chorus, dressed as the Golden Girls (they had a female friend dressed as Rose to fill out the set). Towards the end a carload of friends showed up dressed as assorted dead people, including a guy dressed as Jackie Kennedy on November 22 (a pink Chanel suit covered in blood) and another dressed as Anna Nicole Smith (wearing stripper shoes that looked impossible to walk in).

Towards the end of the party, I was talking to a woman dressed as a fairy. I think she was a little drunk. She asked me what I was dressed as. I asked, "The hat doesn't give it away?" She told me she loved my costume, but I should ditch the witch hat and tell people I was a hooker. OH NO SHE DIDN'T!!!

I tried to explain how demeaning that was, both to me and to women in general. I told her about the people I have known who turned to sex work because they couldn't find regular employment. I told her telling folks I was a prostitute could get me arrested. She would not be dissuaded. I broke off the conversation and found someone else to talk to.

The picture above shows me, Tiffany and her girlfriend Danni.