Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why Dress Up and Go Out?

(by Felicia Conti)

Someone recently asked the question as to why transgendered women like to dress up to the 9's to go out on the town. Here is my attempt to answer that question from my vantage point.

Can you imagine having a magic wand and waiving it and entering through a port hole into a whole other existence that is filled with enchantment, glamour, excitement, and admiration from others? Women are such lovely creatures especially when they dress up and amplify their physical attributes. Honestly, I am envious and admiring of my true female sisters for they have been gifted with subtle influences that go beyond the obvious power of domination that males possess.

For me, going out enfem has to do with attaching to the power of the experience, to have a piece of that magic that women possess through their feminine beauty and charms, to morph into a higher essence.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Shades of Pink

(by Devi) A word about the title - 'shades of grey' sounded rather depressing, and not particularly relevant to the vibrancy and excitement of my own transgender expression. I initially considered 'shades of red' but the only red I could picture was the deep crimson of my favourite saree. So pink it had to be.

Shades in the title refers to those that characterize transgender expression in so many ways. The transgender world comprises people with so many different motivations, though, that it is impossible for me to speak for everyone, and I don't claim to do so. Transgenderism is such a wide spectrum that it's easy to narrow one's focus and view a subset as the whole.

Even my choice of the colour pink is an example: a reference to male-to-female, rather than female-to-male transgenderism. Perhaps a more appropriate choice to pink would be 'rainbow'. I speak primarily from the perspective of someone who pursues this part time and has no intention of permanently crossing the fence. The primary capability my transgenderism affords is, in a way, the ability to view each side of the fence from that side as well as the other side.

Shades of Origin

The expression of femininity begins in many ways. For some like me, it began very early, around when I started in elementary school. I found women, their attire and mannerisms mesmerizing. Silk sarees were a particular favourite, and I got to see women in them all around me, all year long. The sight, sound and even the scent of the silk was appealing. I had long wavy hair, and when women playfully used a headband or tied it in a ponytail, I found it pleasurable despite my outward protestations. It wasn't long before I started dressing. I knew even then that it wasn't 'normal', but as in the case of everything else, I chose to do things as I wanted to, as long as no one else was harmed. Ok, so maybe some clothes got a bit more crumpled...

Unlike the traditional sexually derived gender identity that is inculcated from birth, transgenderism can begin to manifest itself at different stages of life. It is a source of wonder to me that those who begin much later - even in their forties - can find it as fulfilling as I have. I suppose those who begin later might wonder how someone could start so much earlier and not be bent out of shape emotionally as a result.

Shades of Self Acceptance

With the development of transgender identity comes conflicting emotions. On one hand is the desire to express the opposite gender identity, either in a physiologically permanent way, or just as a temporary period en femme, depending on the individual. On the other hand is the restrictions imposed by the outside world, and one's own self loathing.

It helped me that I never viewed my dressing as something to be ashamed of. Unnatural, maybe, depending on the social mores. But I liked to enjoy it even within the restrictions. While the need for discretion within a largely unaccepting society is something not much can be done about in person, I believe that individual self acceptance follows when one genuinely treats the gender they are expressing as equal to their biological one. If a man sees the feminine as the 'weaker' or any other similar pejorative, his own en femme expression would reflect that, and affect 'his' ability to accept 'her'.

Shades of Motivation

There are several shades just within this. One tangent is that of the ultimate goal - whether just a continuous expression of the other gender on a regular basis, or permanent desire to change oneself. There's the part-time crossdresser who puts on just a few items, or a full ensemble once in a while, and on the other end a transexual whose change is permanent. Another tangent is frequency, ranging from fulltime to very infrequent.

Yet another issue is the very origin and evolution of motivation - prior to puberty, during the teenage years, or later. My own fascination with the feminine precedes my sexual development. While I can certainly be aroused en femme - something I don't see as any reason for shame anyway - it doesn't take away the joy (and the narcissism) of seeing myself look feminine.

An overtly sexually driven motivation (e.g. the stereotypical image of 'shemales') only makes the argument for the acceptance of transgenderism more difficult, for the simple reason that such a depiction doesn't measure up to reality as far as either gender expression goes. A balanced depiction, whether the motivation is to dress part time or transition fully, helps not just one's own self acceptance, but gradually by society.

Shades of Expression

From motivation follows a diversity of expression. For some, a few feminine, or even arguably unisex, items will suffice. For others, perfection in 'passability' alone will suffice. In between are many shades of, well, pink I suppose. There's (thanks to Marlena for introducing the me to the term) underdressing, where a transgender person is usually content to wear a few items of feminine wear under masculine attire. To some, like me, that doesn't make sense. But equally, I find it acceptable to want to dress partially, where I'd wear something that is outwardly a combination of unisex and feminine, while otherwise being masculine.

There's a tendency in the community to sometimes build a hierarchy around the perfection of expression. Looking good in general is in any case a gender-independent societal desire, a primal instinct with its origins in natural selection. But my own acceptance of overt partial dressing (in an accepting environment) while not wishing to covertly underdress regardless of circumstances makes me aware that while I may be instinctively not always be comfortable with those whose transgender expression isn't similar to mine, I cannot but accept and welcome their desire to do so as they wish.

There is the caveat that if such expression on the part of others negatively affects me, I would wish to redress it. But doing so by denying the other person's transgender identity is futile. It is like denying a common trait of anyone who causes you embarassment - "yes I know he did that and he claims to be from Oregon, where I'm from. But no Oregonian would do that, so he can't be from Oregon!" Redressal can follow by several means - positively portraying oneself, advising those who you feel are painting a negative picture, or both. But there are admittedly times when nothing satisfactory can be done.

Shades of Contentment

Contentment could arguably be interchangeable or treated as a corollary to either or both of motivation and expression. But I'll view it separately from a longer term, continued, perspective. Motivation and expression have their peaks and troughs. For me, there are times when I've felt motivated to dress almost continuously over several days, and periods when I voluntarily (as opposed to because of circumstances) haven't done so for weeks. Too much invariably leads to tedium, and too little to anxiety. Even for someone who dresses fulltime, there would likely be periods of 'girly girl' and more drab dressing.

It takes time to realize when it pushing the upper or lower limits because it affects the contentment of transgender expression. Too much, and sometimes the overwhelming emotions can be traumatic. For some it manifests itself as purging, self-loathing, or both. Too little can lead to a range of issues, both during the period when transgender expression isn't possible, and when it finally is again. Perhaps this gender expression and sexual expression follows similar lines, though there will be those who argue with a degree of justification that there's nothing wrong with a whole lot of sex. For me, I've found it useful to deny my desire to dress for short periods when I'm strongly motivated to, and partly dress during times when I'm not. It doesn't necessarily always help, but it's self assuring.

Epilogue

I probably dwelt on too many areas to be particularly coherent in any of them, but it is a reflection of the shades of gender expression within not just the entire transgender community but a single member as well. For those of you who managed to read this far, you have my genuinely tongue-in-cheeked admiration.

Katharine Hepburn

(by Jenna Taylor)




“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get--only what you are expecting to give--which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving.” – Katharine Hepburn



Katharine Hepburn will long be remembered as Hollywood’s greatest actress. Although many people will not remember she led a rich and interesting life. She was an immensely complicated, intelligent, and driven individual. Additionally, she was the Antichrist.



The daughter of her urologist doctor father Thomas Norval Hepburn and suffragette namesake mother Katharine Houghton, Katharine was an athletic tomboy as a child, and was very shy around girls her age. She was largely schooled at home. She did attend Bryn Mawr College, however, and it was here that she decided to become an actress, appearing in many of their productions. After graduating, she went on to perform in several plays on and off Broadway. She finally broke into stardom with the lead role of the Amazon princess Antiope in "A Warrior's Husband" (1932). Film offers followed. RKO signed her to a contract. She made five films between 1932 and 1934. For her third, Morning Glory (1933) she won her first Academy Award. Her fourth, Little Women (1933) was the most successful picture of its day.

However, stories of her refusal to play the Hollywood Game, always wearing slacks and no makeup, never posing for pictures or giving interviews, soon leaked out. There was even a largely held rumor that she walked around the studio in her underwear in the early 1930s when the costume department stole her slacks from her dressing room. She refused to put anything else on until they were returned.

Many audiences turned their backs on such behavior and accordingly, so did Hollywood. A brief stint back on Broadway, followed by several lackluster films and she was soon labeled “box-office poison”. It was then that she made a pivotal change in her life. Instead of compromising her principles, she took the lead in “The Philadelphia Story” (1938) on Broadway. It was a smash hit. She quickly purchased the film rights and negotiated her way back into the Old Boy’s Network which was Hollywood in the 30s and 40s. It was on her terms. She was her own woman.



The suffragette upbringing in a liberal family environment forged a set of values and standards she lived her life by. When one is asked what memorable qualities of hers they are familiar with, her accent and mannerisms will be high on the list. Yet secondarily, almost no one will forget her crossdressing. Sure, her wearing of slacks in an age when it was not fashionable is hardly crossdressing. However, if her reasons for wearing pants are explored, you will find it stems from a desire of gender equality. Her love of all sports from tennis to archery to golf and skiing, proved to the world, she was comfortable in a man’s woman. For her, equality was genderless.



As the twentieth century’s leading gender bender, Katharine Hepburn is the Antichrist. Hyperbole as it may be, she set the tone for a movement in American culture, aided by Rosie the Riveter in WWII, and the auspicious Gloria Steinem in the 60’s and 70’s. Today’s feminism movement can trace its roots in celluloid back to The Great Kate. Modern lesbians owe a large portion of their acceptance in society to Katharine of Arrogance. Ironically, she accomplished this without destroying the paradigm society’s perception of women. Women were still allowed to be the fairer sex. Soft, warm, loving and nurturing, the female role model was not destroyed, yet remarkably enhanced. It is because life imitates art in our society that Ms Hepburn will always be a hero to me. Her decision to live her life, according to her rules was the true catalyst to today’s current gender expression.



You may feel my labeling of Katharine Hepburn as the Antichrist is a poke at the religious right. This is not quite the case, although no one is safe from lampooning. Her values and positions on gender equality are, by today’s standards, moderate to somewhat conservative. She will live on forever through the little screens of American Movie Classics (AMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Yet for some of us, her pioneering spirit, grit and perseverance needs no electronic reminders. The “mark of this beast” is on the labels hanging in my closet.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

M2F2M

(by Annette Brunette)
As I flip through all the pictures from my transgender photo albums dating back from 1995, I sometimes wonder where everyone went. "Where are they now?" my mind seems to be saying. Some of the ladies have gotten married and have kids. Others, divorced. Some have seemingly vanished from the community only to reappear again, years later, down the road.

A small number of gals are/were in the process of transitioning. Some of them lead successful lives as post-ops. Others are struggling. Alcoholism. Divorce. Job termination. As an outsider looking in, I believe the hardest time for the post-op transsexual is between year one and year two. Some of the novelty of being a woman has worn off. Gals who in past years received sterling performance reviews suddenly get fired. Did they forget how to do their jobs? I think not. It's not all gloom and doom, however. I know at least two couples who, even after surgery, remain happily married.

I first met Kimmy at the Tiffany Club, a local tg support group. Kimmy was tall with a very friendly smile and a beautiful melodic voice. At the after hours party of the big tg conventions, she would often pull out her guitar and we would all sing along. Eventually, Kimmy began the difficult process of transitioning. Hormones. Hair removal. Growing out her natural hair. Voice feminization. As so often happens with transsexuals, Kimmy eventually had surgery and disappeared from the community. I never knew what became of her until someone pointed out a letter she wrote that was posted on the Tiffany Club website. To say that I was shocked is putting it mildly. I guess it goes to show that you never know what curves life will throw at you even when you accomplish your innermost needs. Sometimes you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and it wasn't really what you wanted. But you don't know that until you get there.


************************************************


SEX CHANGES
(This is a true story.)
Three weeks ago, I changed my gender... Again...

Let me start from a more sensible point. In 1986 I first joined the Tiffany Club of New England. At that time it was in a house in a residential section of a Boston suburb. After less than a year of membership I purged all my clothing out of fear and didn't cross dress for about nine years. But in 1995 I went all out with my dressing, to the point that I sought help from a therapist. The more I cross dressed the more comfortable I felt in my female role. I became one of the leaders of TCNE, contributing wherever I could, serving on the Board, attending all the events.

All this time my wife was OK with this, even enjoyed helping me sneak back into the house without waking the children.

In 1998 I felt strongly that I was transsexual, and was diagnosed as such by my therapist. I cheated the system by buying hormones over the internet without a prescription or letter. I got hair replacement through a local office of a nationwide firm. My moods were swinging back & forth such that my family didn't know who would be walking into the door when I came home.
I was hospitalized more than once for depression & bipolar disorder.

My marriage imploded in 1999, and I went to live with my girlfriend. I lost my job, my house, many dear possessions, and the woman with whom I had spent twenty-five years. But, things were looking up: I went full-time, my girlfriend and I fell in love, I got a good job with a public utility, and was able to see my wonderful children frequently. A year later, my therapist, endocrinologist, psychiatrist all gave me letters of reference for SRS, which took place in Winter 2001. It was a wonderful experience? A little painful, but the pain subsided.

Fast-forward two and one -half years to today. I am back in my original gender role. Why? I went into it all too fast and convinced myself of something which was not true. Don't get me wrong for a moment: I do not have any regrets. Even though I am unquestionably male on the outside, I have a vagina, which I consider a natural part of me. But, after four years full time, I did not feel comfortable in the female role. I equate the feeling to a left foot in a right shoe. I am six feet tall and I got sick & tired of the "freak" factor. You know, the double-takes and overly accommodating, nervous people. Fortunately, during that four year period I was never assaulted. I was most concerned about when I reached 60 or 70? What then?

So I changed my gender back to male. I guess that makes me a M-to-F-to-M, if labels need to be placed. This discussion was not meant to dissuade anyone, nor to provoke thought. It's merely my story and I chose to tell it to the community that helped me
and supported me through my transition.

Sam

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Change We Wish To See

Article resposted from www.laceyleigh.com.

The Change We Wish To See
By Lacey Leigh, June 3, 2004

One of the more common threads of conversation among crossdressers (CDs) centers around a quest for the reason behind crossdressing. Some speculate about hard science; prenatal "hormone wash" theories, hippocampus or corpus callosum brain structure, and XY-XXY-XX alphabet soup genetics. Others embrace soft science; childhood environmental factors, absent fathers, and withheld affection as the root cause. One individual has even suggested a nutritional precursor, citing infant consumption of cheddar cheese!

As amateur psychiatrists, geneticists, and behaviorists, CDs argue their pet theories with a certain emotional investment. They are seeking an explanation, a reason, or a cause for that which has so negatively impacted their lives. Some pursue a sort of cultural forgiveness; a way of proclaiming, "Don't blame me, it's not my fault. I was born (shaped, influenced) to be this way. I'm a victim! I'm ashamed of what I am but I'm helpless to change."

These folks aren't looking for an answer; they're seeking absolution. Plus, copping a plea to some warm, comfy, and loosely defined "disorder" only serves to further reinforce the notion that we belong in a box of granola - with all the other fruits, nuts, and flakes.

Honest introspection is always a good thing. However, staking one's happiness on stumbling into crossdressing's Prime Directive is a fatally flawed premise.Think about this: If everyone related to crossdressing in the same manner we regard left-handedness (ie: different but no big deal - unless you can put a 98 m.p.h. fast ball over the inside corner of the plate, about knee high) we wouldn't even begin to agonize over all of this.

The roots of our problems are not biological, psychological, nutritional, or behavioral. They are cultural. Period.

Although I'm reluctant to dignify these negative cultural attitudes with a term, the one that fits best is "transphobia" (an irrational fear of transgendered people). Transphobia is, literally, a social disease; a malady of the culture. Until our culture evolves, we can excuse, justify, or self-diagnose until there's ice on the river Styx and it won't make a whit of difference. The malady lingers on...Some activists favor a political attack: "We'll agitate & demonstrate, lobby & march, and huff & puff until we blow down the walls of prejudice. We'll badger legislatures, picket city councils, and pester county boards into passing more laws to make culture accept us!"

Yeah, that'll work.

The problem with any sort of attack is that quite often those who are targeted will reflexively respond with a defense. And who can fault those among the public for resisting, especially when something they yet don't understand "... is being shoved down their throats."?

While I admire the dedication, sacrifice, and vision of those who use politics to advance a transgender agenda, extrapolating their slow and painful progress thus far projects out to full transgender emancipation ... somewhere in the year 2073, give or take a decade or two.

One high-profile transgender lobbyist shared her frustration with me during a chat at last year's Southern Comfort Conference. "We just don't have the numbers yet," she confessed. "The transsexuals - a tiny percentage of the transgender population - get their surgery and dive 'into the woodwork' to disappear from sight, while the crossdressers - the largest and least outspoken group of TGs - won't come out of their closets!"

Setting aside the possibility that most crossdressers may not even consider themselves as transgendered, I suggested to her then and to you now, perhaps we are looking into the wrong end of the telescope.

Cultural change of the sort we're after is rarely a 'top down' process. It's almost always a grass-roots evolution growing from the bottom, up. Rather than waste breath on those hardened walls of social resistance (unresponsive bureaucracies, indifferent legislatures, and butt-covering-finger-in-the-wind politicians) perhaps we might consider another, parallel approach. One that offers enormous potential to accelerate that change.

In order to modify cultural attitudes, it is helpful to be visible within that culture. As long as we allow the public's first impressions to be made by drag movies, slasher flicks, and drive-by observations outside fetish clubs, we have no right to expect the culture to react any differently than now.

One great way to demonstrate to the public at large that crossdressers, transsexuals, and TGs are harmless is by providing more opportunities for the average citizen to interact with harmless open crossdressers, open transsexuals, and open TGs.

Show the public some confident, proud, and self accepting TGs who don't perpetuate the stereotype by whining about dysphoria and I'll show you a public that is beginning to understand.

Give the average citizen a few moments of conversation with a confident, poised TG who doesn't extend the cliché of man-as-bimbo-in-miniskirt and I'll give you another citizen who is beginning to 'get it'.

Such an approach first requires an act of faith on our part. We must be prepared to eschew the comfortable, easy, cop-out, dismissive, excusing, deflecting, and justifying theories, explanations, and diagnoses (that carry with them the corollary expectation of a 'cure' - or worse, the pronouncement of 'incurable'!).

We will be better served by refusing to concede that anything is 'wrong' in the first place! Of course that means unburdening ourselves of the accumulated shame, guilt, angst, and denial that our culture has so generously inculcated within us.

This purge not just desirable, it's critical.

Most individuals will be much more comfortable around an open crossdresser or a non-stealth transsexual who is pleasant, self assured, and levelheaded rather than one who appears to be justifying culturally shameful behavior with pseudoscience and psychobabble.

The simple truth is that others take their cues not so much from what we say but from the manner in which we are seen to regard ourselves. People will mirror our attitudes - whatever they may be. So it's in our best interest to settle our own internal conflicts first.

It's difficult to imagine how we can expect acceptance from others when we haven't yet found it within ourselves. And just in case you're from the "Fake it 'till you make it" school of thought, self acceptance can't be pretended - so don't bother. Inner esteem is built through multiple small successes over time. True self confidence starts to develop as we begin eradicating the residual, internal belief that there is anything in transgender expression about which we should be ashamed. It is helped along by refusing to consider convenient disempowering diagnoses or tempting theories that, if embraced, excuse us as helpless to change, compensate, or adjust.

Both change and charity begin at home.

The change we wish to see?

We must be the change we wish to see.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

For the Love of Dressing

(by Michele Angelique)
One thing we all have in common is our love of feminine dressing. I’d like to share my own girl-woman evolution, and explain how dressing has impacted me. I understand completely why you need this feeling because I need it too. I may well need it so much as to be unhealthy. Yet I’m genetically female, so my excessive dressing habits are “normal”. Upon close introspection, I realize my obsessive compulsive feminine dressing energy was a large factor that drew me to the transgender community. From you I gain a sense of equilibrium and balance. Interacting with you allows me to refocus my energy less on my own dressing and onto yours. We have this common ground, and it’s so comforting to me. With my love of feminine dressing, I know that if I’d have been born male I would be a t-girl.

The joy of feminine dressing runs deep for me. I’ve always been a girly-girl. As a little girl I loved doing fun girlstuff like playing “dolls” or “house” or “dressup”. Every day I would enjoy having my long hair done in french braids, pigtails or half-up half-down, and would always request the ribbons and barrettes. I wore a dress at every possible opportunity, complete with pretty tights, shiny shoes, even cute frilly panties. I remember one of the most important qualities of a dress was its spin factor… the degree to which it would twirl outward. When I would wear a twirly dress, I would spin myself round and round, mesmerized by the fabric of my dress flowing outward. I would insist on demonstrating the twirl of my dress to anyone who would pay mind to me. Of course, in doing this I would invariably become dizzy and fall down on the floor with my cheeks all flushed, giggling hysterically.

In my perfect little world, I would have dressed femme every day. My mom set limits in this area because she wanted me to have a diversity of interests (thankfully!). Plus it was probably a lot more trouble for her to dress me up like the little doll I wanted to be, than on those days when I was resigned to more practical attire. I was always lucky enough to be able to negotiate the dressup at least a few times a week, so I certainly didn’t suffer.

Part of why I was so drawn to dressing girly was the notable positive reaction from those around me. When I would dress up pretty, I would get more attention, and people seemed generally more receptive to me. Before the age of 5, I already had an inkling of the power of feminine beauty and charm. I would work my little girl “cuteness” to the maximum (or so I supposed). Being a girl definitely had its advantages, yet I grew up in an era and place where girls basically had “equal” status to boys. I got to enjoy the fun of being a girl, while having the same opportunities boys had. I know how fortunate I am for having experienced this.

As I moved into my teen years, dressing was still a huge part of my life, although it took on a different form. No longer did I want to be girly. Instead I wanted to be SEXY and BAD. So I experimented with my look, constantly changing styles. At the age of 13 my look was inspired directly by Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. I got into sexy dresses and mini-skirts, lace nylons and gloves, scarves, ripped up clothing mostly all black, with white, red or hot pink accents. Makeup became my new-found obsession, which I applied to excess, and in every manner of experimentation I could conceive. My hair was always wild and huge, often different colors, punked out in any variant of ways. Jewelry was overdosed upon, earrings, chains, rings, bracelets… and accessories, belts, chains… and footwear, heels always, preferably something saucy and spiky (I still enjoy the dominant power of the heel click factor), rain, snow, whatever, reason and practicality be damned!

By the age of 16, I began to emerge from the wild-child phase, and become more of a young lady. The dressing was still a big part, but again, it took on a different form. I began to have a taste for more elegant styles, subdued yet always quite feminine. Deeply ingrained in my psyche by this time was the daily ritual of styling and curling my long hair and applying full makeup, and I would spend anywhere from 1-3 hours per day on dressing and beautification.

Not much has changed in my 32 years as a female, only the emergence of my different dressing styles. My love for feminine beauty and dressing has remained constant in my life. As you may have noticed from my pictures, I still dress up and experiment with my look often. On a daily basis, I still perform the beauty ritual, even if I’ve no plans to leave the house. It’s something I need, I crave, and I indulge perhaps to a fault. Mirror, mirror on the wall… it has always been my best friend and my worst enemy.

The self-adornment options available to females are endless. Fashion choices are bounded only by imagination, and undergarments alluring and sexy. Proper makeup can conceal almost any “flaw” and hair can be styled in a plethora of ways (with wigs as an alternative). Women’s jewelry is pretty, dainty, sparkly, eye-catching. Shoes and accessories are available in literally millions of different designs. For men, the options are not even 1% of what is available to women. Men have to just accept themselves in a totally natural state, with very little opportunity for improvement beyond a certain point. Women have the opportunity to enhance and maximize our outer appearance, transforming ourselves into whatever image we want to portray. As women, we have available a whole spectrum of identity crafting tools to which men are not permitted.

What is needed on both sides of the equation is balance. Women are fortunate to have all the trappings of beautification available to them, yet it’s a two edge sword. Women who dress to excess may hinge a great degree of self-confidence on outer appearance. I must confess to falling into this category, as for many years I would not leave the house without my “mask”. I have come to realize that I feel like a different person when dressed, partially because of the vastly different outside reaction when dressed vs. drab. Not only must I care far too much about approval from strangers, but I need to also understand that it’s just window dressing, costuming even. The makeup isn’t ME. When dressing must occur before self-confidence kicks in, it can’t be healthy. This is my challenge.

The other side of the coin is men, who are not allowed by society to modify their appearance at all. Even if their outside does not match who they are inside, they must settle for the basics. Men are relegated to a very narrow set of boundaries in terms of self-expression. Society condones men becoming physically fit, smelling good and being well groomed, but that’s about it. Any further measures to improve ones appearance are frowned upon. It seems so inequitable compared to women’s opportunities in this area.

Due to my own love for dressing, my sense of fairness, and my belief in gender equality, I could never condemn a man for (cross)dressing. In fact, I very much enjoy interacting with men who dress. I never imagined there could be men who would bridge this gap, and truly understand what women go through in regard to the beautification ritual. Too many times in my life I have heard from an ordinary man “why does it take you so long to get ready? can’t you just throw on some jeans? hurry up! c’mon lets go!” who upon getting his wish might say something to the effect of “well geez, you’re not really going out looking like THAT are you?” Never again will I hear these words, thankfully.

Men who dress have an appreciation for all the little details that go into the process, and will notice the effort in a positive light. Men who are clueless about dressing assume women roll out of bed looking like this. Men who dress present a most refreshing evolution from the status quo of men. These are the people who are bridging the gender gap, and whose courage will be the foundation for true equality between man and woman.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Out of the Closet... into ... life

~ Written by Adarabeth Veau

This message was developed for those individuals who have not ventured from their world of secrecy because of shame or guilt, not so much for those that have faced their fears and walk more confidently, whatever their journey may be.

It is a brief synopsis of contributing factors to my own level of spirit and in no way is intended to pull someone kicking and screaming into something they do not dream about...

For me, I have a dream ... it is of a place called anywhere...

"Haven't you wanted to be free my dear? I can't keep pretending you don't exist... that I don't know you. You do, in my mind, in my heart, in my reality ever time I look in the mirror... Come... take my hand... I will take you there... We will leave tonight… there's no need to tell anyone, they will only hold us down... so by the morning light we will be halfway there, halfway to anywhere, a place where you and I can be – however, whoever – without shame or guilt, without fear... So unlock your heart, drop your guard, I will take you there... Where honesty no matter what we wear is paramount... where we are safe to just be..."

I have a dream...

Seven of nine...

This is the number of lives I have used up. Why nine you ask? Because like a cat, I always land on my feet.

When I was 6, my 8 year old brother and I went swimming in a fast moving aquaduct about 2 miles away from my grandparents rural farm in Southern Alberta. I got carried away and carried under. My brother saved me. Life one.

When I was 7, my now 9 year old brother took me skiing for the first time. In his infinite wisdom he decided he would take me to the top of the mountain (at the time 2 chair lifts and 1 t-bar to get there). All the way up I cried how scared I was. At the top, he was so frustrated with me he told me I was on my own and he would see me at the bottom. I never saw him until the end of the day. My first run was nearly my last one ever as I did not know how to stop and literally flew into the trees. Life two.

When I was 8, my brother (see a pattern here) decided we should go fishing about 3 miles away from our home in Southern British Columbia where we lived in a small community surrounded by mountains. Oh, we caught some fish alright, and the attention of the first of 3 bears I would have the pleasure of seeing up close and personal over the next 20 years of my life. Life three.

Flash forward 11 years. Not to dismiss the close calls in those 11, but one knows when they are kissing death just what it feels like.

Bear number 2 was my closest kiss of death yet... life four.

At 20, I had already well begun my addiction to epinephrine – adrenaline. I had been to 12 countries, 32 US states, 5 CA provinces on my own, skydived, para-glided, skied double black diamonds, encountered much more wildlife up front, and a wide host of other adrenalizing events.

Most intoxicating was going out as Adara for the first time totally public. I had my nails, hair, and makeup done professionally at malls and salons close to where I lived. My clothes were new and in style. And I was transformed from the 5 year old playing with mom's stuff – through an adolescents FULL of fear of discovery by tough brothers, and girlfriends who loved it or hated it – into this very pretty, if not awkward young woman.

There were no near misses as I discovered my new drug of choice – exploring my dual gender identity in the public realm. But my previous close calls had given me more reasons for, rather than against, this exploration. My feminine side refused to be silent. Life was too short to keep her stifled.

Life number five, at 22, confirmed this very loudly. When one rolls a 14 ton picker truck over, crawls out of the shattered windshield, they get a new perspective on life. You appreciate it better. You begin to wonder why feelings of shame or guilt or even fear were valid at all. And you begin to believe nothing should stand in the way of just being yourself. Of just loving yourself and exploring all that that means.

At 25, I as Adara or anyone else was quite comfortable expressing myself.

Crawling down an 80 meter cliff with a thawing wet wall of water beside me, constantly reminding myself to stop being so stupid and use ropes next time made me wish I had stayed at home to break in those new heels. Stupid life number six.

At 25, though, living an extreme life gave me the courage to be myself and to dress up and go out with pride whenever I could ...

Then at 27, I was in Dominical, Costa Rica. Here, number seven finally taught me once and for all, life is too short. It was the most dramatic and closest time I have ever come to know this life ends with finality. Riptides, 7 foot waves and darkness. When you face the reaper, your life does not pass before your eyes, the ones you love and the things you love do. And after, if you are lucky enough, you hold all those things dear.

And because of that, I will never put my identities into a closet again. None of them.

Now to ruffle some feathers...the purpose of my rant...

From my view of life in general, transgenderism specifically - it is all like a rodeo. You have the crowds, the bull rider and the majestic bull. The crowds are safe in the stands – like a closet. No show from them. No fear of pain, rejection, or risk. They are behind the stands. Holding their emotion away even from themselves. Safe.

Than you have the rider. Bold enough to be on display and get into the action. They are living freely and with courage. They have faced some of their fears, and good or bad, right or wrong, they get out there. And they live for the ride.

And finally you have the Bull. It does not care who is looking at it. Its one purpose is to give the rider the ride of their lives. Or to die trying. It is the boldest creature that will buck and kick and always try to be free. If you can hang on you will have the ride of your life. Or you can be that ride...

The question is which are you?

The `cause' of having our community not just tolerated, but actually accepted within the greater community comes from those who have stepped from the confines of the closet and into the real world. Some of us are far more comfortable keeping their identity hidden from everyone else in their lives. Perfectly fine if you are truly comfortable there... there really is no 'cause' in this form of safe.

But if you are not, than what is stopping you?

If you want to be open, liberated and to freely express yourself, whether you cater to the definition of CD, TV or TS the only thing stopping you ... is ... you.
Sure, you may have to face down a plethora of reasons, fears or objections... but is it really circumstance or will that holds one back from just being themselves? The liberation of self, in accepting self, and finally celebrating self, is what life is really all about.

Don't you owe it to yourself to discover this?

Of course.

You do.

It doesn't matter the clothes you wear... we are all draped until we shed the confines of shame, fear or guilt. In that, our nakedness frees us. It is the confidence of realizing, accepting the strength of yin and yang energy within oneself that one becomes liberated.

You do not have to face dying to know this.

So, come, take my hand, the hand of all those who have walked before you...

Explore my dream...

Adarabeth

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Biology of Belief

(by Stacie Ku)

Just read an interesting article in today’s (Nov 14, 2005) San Francisco Chronicle about a new book "The Biology of Belief” (http://tinyurl.com/bsdu7) which triggered this train of thought. It is the author’s belief that our beliefs, not our DNA control our biology. Taking that premise to the extreme, might it be possible someday for someone to change gender simply by thinking about it; to change that little chromosome back to xx or xy??

Gender (external biology) and femininity/masculinity (internal psych) are not the same. Western society says our external dictates our internal, so doctors have been known to surgically chose a baby's gender when a baby is born with dual sex organs, or say a baby was a girl when it was really a baby boy with undescended testicles. The baby is then raised consistent with their external gender.

We are in this group because regardless of our physical gender, we are different inside. Could the simplified cause of transgenderism be that our mothers subconsciously want a daughter when we were conceived or during the early stages of pregnancy when our cells were still asexual?

I can remember my mother saying she wished she had a daughter when I was young. Perhaps she was hoping for a girl after I was conceived since I already had an older brother?? But because she didn’t know enough about it, or how to really do it, she was only partially successful, affecting ony my psych but not my biology?

While the mind body connection does exist, it has not been fully explored or documented to Western scientist’s satisfaction, so they disparage it. Yet remember at one time, it was accepted that the world was flat and that the Sun revolved around the Earth. How would ancient scientist explain the Internet, radio, television, the microwave over and so forth? Would they believe what they could not prove or duplicate with their ancient technology? Would those things not seem magical to them?

Was the Delphi Oracle a myth or an unexplained way of communication with unknown forces to predict the future? Is our present day weather forecasting the modern day equivalent of the Delphi Oracle?

I guess the point I am trying to make is just because we can’t understand it or explain it, does not mean it did not exist, or can not work. Our minds and subconscious works in ways we still do not understand. We have not learn to write programs for our subsoncious, we just barely know how to operate our minds. Imagine what we could do if we could reprogram our subconscious?

In the early 90’s, I did a fire walk with Tony Robbins. I actually walked barefoot across about a 15 foot bed of hot burning coals. Yet it felt like I was just walking on cool popcorn. Talk about reprogramming! It was a signature moment in changing my beliefs about what was possible.

So, while currently in the realm of science fiction, perhaps some day we can learn enough about the mind body connection to change our gender through thoughts alone.

Stacie
Working on her mind body connection

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ever so foolish...

(by Alysyn Ayrica)

Forgive me if this is something that seems ridiculous, but the closer it gets to the anniversary of Jenn's death, the more I find myself dwelling on her.

Throughout the year I've been struggling with this loss, but no amount of crying dispels the hurt.

I wrote this letter, which I plan on setting on her gravesite November 30th, the day before, as to avoid any chance meetings with her mother (a whole different set of emotions...don't get me started!):

Dear Jenny,

When you left, you took a promise with you.

You married me to escape a life, and, instead, found someone in whom you could hide. You said that you didn’t love me at first, but, in time, learned that I was worthy to be loved. I can’t find it in myself to agree to that, but you never failed to find your way back to me, and I could never let you go.

The pain we experienced in the short time we had together was excruciating, but somehow it performed as an adhesive to bind us in ways that confounded the rest of our family, and even many of our friends. They saw the closeness we shared, and knew without a doubt that I worshipped you.

We fought a battle that exceeded the bounds of fairness and consideration. In the end, we discovered that we were strong enough to put aside the concerns of our families and only see the truth of what must be done in each other. We knew that the happiness of our children was more important than our pride and anger.

We made a promise to each other…for better or for worse, in sickness and in health...we remembered that there were more important considerations in this life than our own desires. We remembered why we stayed together all those years, through the difficulties that seemed to plague us. We found each other again.

Sitting in that courthouse, the hardest thing in the world for me was sitting there, looking into your eyes, and telling you that I missed my Jenny; and your response made void all of the heartache, because you came back to me.

Two weeks later you were gone.

I have tried to tell myself that it is better, because now there is quiet. You can no more cause the chaos you were so adept at creating. You were so sick, and there was nothing that I could say to make you understand that it was something you needed to take more seriously. I knew that, one day, you would die…sooner than anyone else expected; but I always thought I would have the chance to be at your side, saying goodbye. I never even got that much.

I was supposed to see you in a couple of days, and we were going to spend time together with the kids. Why couldn’t you at least have waited a few more days?

Jenny, I have tried to move on. I have dated, fallen in love, and have been hurt more in this last year trying to prove to myself that I can continue living in your absence.

But I can’t. You have become a stone in my heart.

I wake up each morning, the sun across my bed, reminding me of so many mornings when I would turn and just stare at your beauty. Often I would wake you by tracing your hairline with my fingers, feeling your silken hair which fascinated me for so many years.

I still see the often elusive green in your eyes shining up at me, and that smile which forced me to dream of many brilliant possibilities of lives to come. I remember the way your top lip crinkled when you kissed me, or the funny way your mouth would move to one side when you were feeling mischevious. I hear your laugh, and wonder if I can ever share those memories with our children when they are old enough to truly appreciate them.

You stole my heart and will so long ago, the truth is that I never was able to live without you after our vows were exchanged.

Oh, how I miss you. Everyone that has come after you has been merely a potential replacement. Is it even possible for anyone else to fill this space in which you have resided for so long?

Thank you for my children. They have given me so much to live for. Without them I would be truly lost. I had contemplated, for so long, leaving this world so that you could have them without regret or embarrassment, finding a new life in time. Instead, I am left to care for them, as inept a parent as I am, and with an emptiness where you rightfully belong.

I want you to know that I’m doing my best to keep the peace with your family, for you and for the kids. Your dad and I have become closer, and I love him dearly. Your sister is precious and dear to me, and I never think of her as anything other than a beloved sister of my own.

Your mother and I are on tenuous terms, but I prefer not to create problems if none are necessary. I promise that I will try to be as forgiving as possible for the sake of the kids’ love for her.

But, as for me, I’m so empty. I don’t know how to feel about anything anymore. How is it that for someone so sure about everything else, I can be so lost where my emotions are concerned?

I am not so foolish as to wish that you would come back to me. You are, for once, at rest. It is all I ever wanted for you…to be at peace.

I just wish peace didn’t have to come at such a high price.

I still love you, Jenny.

Alysyn


Please God, spare me from having to write such as this next year...

Friday, November 11, 2005

11:11 on 11/11 of 11

(by Michele Angelique)
It is the 11th moment of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, and 11 11 2005 sums numerologically to 11… {1+1+1+1+2+0+0+5}. Therefore, this moment is 11:11 on 11/11 of 11. It is time to talk about the number 11.

At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” the Armistice Treaty officially ended World War I. There is great significance in this day, and also in the number 11. A master number, the number 1.11111111 squared = 1.2345678987654321. One encompasses all other numbers, a fact which is mathematically significant. The number 11 carries the vibration of evolution, not only in commemorating peaceful resolutions to wars, but through powerful new wisdom brought forth by the New Age movement.

Today is an appropriate time to open another new door between the Transgender and New Age communities. I have previously referred to the Kryon information of the Venus Transit gift. I will now confer about Solara and the 11:11 gates of human spiritual evolution. The significance of 11, and in particular 11:11, has been presented by both Kryon and Solara. Just as Kryon’s information supports transgenderism, so does that of Solara.


Recall that the Venus Transit is an 8 year window of feminine energy brought to Earth by the energy of Venus in its orbit between 2004 – 2012. Kryon says this is a time where the gender energies of the planet will come into balance. There is potential for great change, assisted by feminine energy of love and balance brought by a stronger cosmic connection to Earth’s sister planet, Venus. The information presented by Kryon regarding gender balance is highly supportive of self expression as a transgender person.

The power of 11:11 also connects to transgenderism, and on this 11/11 of 11, it is time to highlight the connection. I want to share with you the wisdom of Solara, another highly influential teacher who is widely regarded in the New Age community. Unlike Kryon, Solara is a human being alive on earth. Similar to Kryon, Solara’s message is one empowering the human race, of awakening and human evolution.

Solara makes no attempts to convert people to her way of thinking. She merely holds up a new kind of light, and presents it in a way that resonates with a strikingly large number of lightworkers. She is a powerful, influential, wise, gifted, brilliant spirit, and at the same time, she is human. Her messages are presented from a slightly different perspective to those of Kryon, yet they are from the same divine source. Solara describes herself as a “spiritual revolutionary”. She is not a guru, nor does she have "followers", rather she serves as a catalyst to activate us into our own mastery so we may inhabit the Greater Reality. Solara is also not a "channel". She simply embodies her vastness; something available to all of us. To read more about Solara visit
www.nvisible.com

Solara has been highlighting the significance of 11:11 since approximately 1987, around the time of or shortly after the Harmonic Convergence. This was an important cosmic measurement point, where humanity was tested to determine whether to evolve/ascend to the next level… or not. The balance of humanity chose to evolve. As such, Kryon refers to the Harmonic Convergence as the 11:11, and regards it as the occurance of “permission to evolve”. It is around this time that Solar began her 11:11 work.


Solara conveys that 11:11 is our “wake-up call” and our “trigger of remembrance”. The significance of noticing 11:11 can be compared to a lucid dream, whereby the dreamer awakens within the dream state. 11:11 taps you on the shoulder, prompting you to look at the clock at exactly that time, and then winks at you as if to say “remember, this is only a dream”. 11:11 whispers in your ear “it’s time to wake up now”. 11:11 is like a glitch in the matrix that keeps popping up, telling us that something is not as it appears to be.

To make the connection between Solara’s message and transgenderism, it is necessary to first provide a brief background of the signficiance of 11:11. The following is exerpted from Solara’s website.


A TRIGGER OF REMEMBRANCE

Repeated sightings of 11:11 have happened to millions throughout the world. Many want to know why this is happening? What does the 11:11 signify? For many years the numbers 11:11 have been mysteriously appearing to millions of people all over the world. Often appearing on digital clocks, the sightings of 11:11 tend to occur during time of heightened awareness, having a most powerful effect on those seeing them. When the 11:11 appears to you, it is your wake-up call. A direct channel opens up between you and the Greater Reality. The 11:11 is an insertion point for the Greater Reality to enter the present moment. When this happens, it is time to stop whatever you are doing and LOOK LARGER.

You can enter the Greater Reality and travel deeper into the Invisible. You can seed a long held desire, receive a vision, ask for help in some specific area of your life or simply feel the Invisible insert itself into the present moment. The revelations you receive will not come in the form of mental concepts. Rather, it will be an enhanced state of being in which you will see everything as if with new eyes. A deeper understanding of what is truly real will surround you. It tells you that it is time to take a good look around you and see what is real and what is illusory. It's time to pierce the veils of illusion which keep us bound to an unreal world. You have been chosen, because you are ready, to step into a Greater Reality. To lead the way for others into a new way of living, into a Greater Love. To ascend from duality into Oneness.

The 11:11 is the bridge between duality and Oneness. It is our pathway into the Unknown. Each time we see the numbers 11:11, our cellular memory banks are further activated. There's a stirring deep inside, a hint of remembrance of something long forgotten. The appearance of 11:11 is a powerful confirmation that we are on the right track, aligned with the Greater Reality. The appearance of 11:11 is an always beneficial act of Divine Intervention.

The purpose of the 11:11 Activation was to open the Doorway of the 11:11. This Doorway is the transition zone or bridge between two very different evolutionary spirals; our old one which is anchored in duality and the new evolutionary spiral of Oneness. Each evolutionary spiral is aligned with different Great Central Sun Systems. The Doorway of the 11:11 opened on January 11, 1992 and is now scheduled to close on November 11, 2011.

According to Solara’s message, during the period of 1/11/1992 to 11/11/2011, there will be 11 Gates/Doorways of human evolution presented. Of the 11 Doorways, 7 have been “activated” so far. Activations involve performing group ceremony/ritual at a specific time and place. Groups of literally tens of thousands of human lightworkers have made the journey to physically attend at that time/place to assist in the Activation. On seven different occasions and locations since 1992, lightworkers from around the globe have converged for the sake of evolution, with another four yet to come. Imagine a football stadium full of people, gathered together in some remote location, performing a ceremony to unlock an energy portal which will unleash the potential of human evolution. It is an understatement to say that Solara’s work has been revolutionary in the New Age community. In Solara’s words…




Within the Doorway of the 11:11 there are Eleven Gates. Each Gate is a stepping-up station to a new frequency band of energy. These Gates are similar to locks in a canal. Once a Gate is activated and entered, we begin an intense process of transformation and initiation as our beings are immersed in a new frequency patterning. Traveling upon these frequency bands, we master the lessons of each Gate until we arrive at the next Gate. Each Gate has a unique vibratory keynote with which we must align ourselves in a state of harmonic resonance. It is this process of alignment which gives us the needed recalibration so that we may travel deeper into the Invisible. The Gates of the 11:11 can be entered at any time once they have been activated, for we are not all on the same timing within our evolutionary spiral. Hence, you might be currently experiencing any or all of the first four Gates. However, a Gate may not be entered until it has been properly activated.

The First Gate - Healing our Hearts

The focus here is on the healing of our emotions. This requires a constant process of letting go, a continuous reevaluation of our old ways of feeling & loving. With this much needed healing of our individual hearts, we experience an activation of our One Heart. The One Heart is the heart of all. It is the core of our new emotional body. This means that we share the same heart, a much vaster and truer heart than before. The One Heart is the heart which cannot be broken. There is no more "giving" or "receiving" of love. Love simply is, a constant recycling, coming and going and recirculating. As we let go of the experiences of the past, we learn to live our Love.

The Second Gate - And the two shall become One

The keynote of the Second Gate is the two becoming One. This entails an intensive process of reunifying all our inherent polarities: inner male & female, Sun and Moon, spirit and matter, Earth and Star. Our new emotional bodies are strengthened, further anchoring the One Heart. We now embody the Lovers from Beyond the Stars; a deeper, vaster Love than we ever experienced as True Loves. The reunion of the Lovers from Beyond the Stars back into One Being creates the doorway into a new heightened level of Love called the Greater Love.

To read about Gates Three to Seven, visit www.nvisible.com

Solara’s information is relevant to the Transgender community because the Second Gate balances inherent polarities, including that of gender. I propose that transgendered people are evolving through Gate Two, and reunifying their inner male and female polarities. It is due to this balancing of inner gender influence that males are inclined to outwardly manifest their inner femininity, just as females are inclined to outwardly manifest their inner masculinity. Men exhibiting femininity should be celebrated because it is a sign of human evolution. Based upon Solara’s message, a man can not evolve without transcending Gate Two, which includes embracing his feminine self.

The linkage here is that Solara’s influential 11:11 message supports transgenderism. Those who resonate to the message of Solara, must also embrace transgenderism. If evolution through Gate Two requires the balancing of male/female, it follows that transgenderism is actually the state to which all humans must aspire if they are to evolve. A transgendered human is a more evolved human. All who align with Solara and have passed through Gate Two must themselves have become transgendered in the process.

At this precious moment of 11:11 on 11/11 of 11, the light in me salutes the light in you, the beautiful transgendered Ones. Know that you are in the right place, at the right time. When you see 11:11, be reminded that human evolution is quickening, and you are forerunners on this path. As say both Kryon and Solara, the time for balancing gender duality is NOW. Transgendered people are moving in an evolutionary direction.

With reverence,
Michele Angelique








Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Beast and the beauty

(by Marlena Dahlstrom)
In "My Husband Betty," Helen Boyd points out that sometimes the reasons behind crossdressing are straightforward: we want to look pretty. That's certainly true in my case. Wanting to look good and feel sexy at a time growing up when male beauty wasn't openly acknowledged and "pretty boy" was (and still is) an insult made that difficult do en homme. And yet, like most women I suspect, I've always had an ambivalent attitude toward my appearance.

A bit of history. I was a latent metrosexual long before the term was coined. But I always wanted to be stylish but in high school, I was a bit scrawny and unstylish - think "Daria" but more out of a less of skill than ironic intent. After escaping high school hell, college was a change to reinvent myself. I worked out, I buffed up - not out a desire to butch myself out of crossdressing, but a desire to look good. Once a girl picked me up saying she liked my pecs and for that I might have married her on the spot. I got stylish - although always careful to stay this side of the dreaded "G" word. In short, I looked good. So much so that a girlfriend who'd been a model saw my - uncharitably one might call it vanity and exhibitionism - and suggested I give modeling a try. It didn't really go anywhere, but I ended up with some great portfolio shots and my first introduction to the wonders make-up could work. (I had cheekbones, cheekbones!)

But then came graduation. Journalism is a romantic career and publishers are all too willing to use that to their advantage to pay poverty wages, especially starting out. I could barely afford food, let alone a gym membership. I was no longer walking constantly. I moved a lot (switching jobs is often the only way to move up the ladder in journalism) and I was lonely. Food was one solace. You can guess the rest. Soon that buffed out body was encased in a protective layer of fat. My style fell away too. In part poverty, in part no longer feeling attractive.

Once I was finally making enough to afford my own place, I resumed dressing. If I didn't think my real-life en homme self was attractive, at least I could be a ravishing goddess in my fantasies. And my dressing was more focused on the stereotypical "CD dress-up": lingerie, short skirts, tight tops, etc. The mind is great at seeing what it wants to see. The love of crossdressers for mirrors and cameras is well-known, but I think it's more than just narcissism (although I'll admit to a bit of that). Rather I think it's in part because we've bought into the beauty myth just as much as any woman, and yet we've got so much further to met that utterly unrealistic ideal. So we look and look in hopes seeing a reflection that looks like what we'd like to see. But in the back of mind I knew that frankly I looked bad and frankly a bit ridiculous.

So when the time came when I decided I wanted out of the house, I put a lot of time and practice into looking "realistic." Before I stepped out door, I decided to do an acid test and post my photo on Hot-or-Not. I was rated about a 5. Less than I'd hoped, but better than I feared. I consoled myself that I still looked better than about 40 percent of the women there, plus a few deluded souls actually gave me 9s and 10s. And so I went out into the wide world. And blended in successfully. A bit too successfully.

Those of you who were here when Michele introduced the rewards for participation remember the hissy I threw. What you didn't know is that it had inadvertently touched a very raw nerve. I frankly was intimidated by how beautiful you all are. I felt like an ugly duckling among the swans. (I should be quick to point out, it's nothing any of you said or did, it was my own insecurities surfacing.) But if I couldn't be Daphne from Scooby-Doo, I could at least be Velma. However, with the rewards system now I felt I was going to have to compete there too. (Again I realize this wasn't Michele's intent, merely my insecurities.)

Fortunately, later on I mentioned this to Michele. She pointed out that one reasons I was rated a 5 (aside from the vagaries of Hot-or-Not) was that I was presenting myself as an average-looking woman. And she was right. Partly I think it was that I lacked the confidence to think that I could be not only passable, but truly pretty (not fantasy pretty). And part of it may have been subconscious fear. As Michele pointed out, a pretty woman will attract attention and I need to decide if I was ready to handle it. For a crossdresser in particular attention is a two-edged sword. Is someone staring because they find me attractive, or because they see a guy in a dress - or both? Thankfully Michele pushed me to get a new, longer and far more feminine wig. I did some more makeovers and instead of just focusing on a daytime look, for the most recent one, I told the MAC make-up artist I wanted something more glamorous, something suitable for clubbing.

The work paid off. When I got my haircut last week, I let slip that I'd gone in drag for Halloween (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Naturally, I had to share the photos. Cries of "Oh my god" went up as the photos got passed from stylist to stylist. One actually thought it was my "sister" and it took awhile for the other stylists to set her straight. Everyone complimented me on how pretty I looked and needless to say I was overjoyed.

I once tried to explain the feeling I got from dressing to those episodes of "What Not to Wear" where the fashion victim is someone who's often a bit overwhelmed by life and her frumpy exterior reflects her worn-down feeling inside. But after the makeover, they not only look more stylish, but often feel revitalized and sexy and confident. (They'll actually comment on how they know it's silly that a seemingly superficial thing as a makeover can have such an effect, but it does.) Well the push I got from Michele, has really felt like that. I feel pretty and witty and bright. It's a good thing I'm not wearing mascara right now, because I've been crying as I've been writing this. It's a good cry, but talking about this definitely has touch on some deep emotions.

A reflection of my new self-confidence came after putting up the new photo up on Hot-or-Not as a comparison. It was rated a 5.5 - up a whole half-point. Feh. I realize I'm older and fatter than the nubile young things who post there, but if they can't recognize a MILF when they see one, then they're the ones who are out of luck.

The funny thing is my attitude toward the sexual side of dressing has also come full-circle in a way. Yes, although I've always felt I had a "feminine" side, there was also an auto-erotic component, more prevalent at first, but (like a lot of others) declining in importance as I got older. But when I started going out publicly, I kind of renounced that side or at least looked down on it. I wanted to be a "respectable" woman, not someone wearing hooker-wear to the mall. But as I've come to accept that I can be sexy without being slutty (unless I choose to be the latter), I've been willing to acknowledge again that being sexy and dressing for pleasure is part of it at times.

But best of all, it's helped re-spark my confidence that I can be attractive en homme. I'd been moving in the direction already. With a different career and more disposable income, when I moved to the Bay Area two years ago, I took the opportunity with the help of a fashion-forward friend, to re-invent myself as a snappier dresser. About six months ago, my hair stylist talked me into getting highlights and I haven't looked back. But somehow until my en femme makeover, I never quite felt fully confident in myself. I still don't think I'm as attractive as I am en femme -- after all guys don't get the advantage inherent in make-up and other enhancers. But somehow that shot of beautiful glamour as a woman has convinced me that I can be a handsome man again.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Inside Image?

(by Lauren Thomas)
A believable image, is how we want to see ourselves and how we want others see us. Whether we are part-time or full-time, each of us tries to create an image that is believable to us, the people we meet, as well as those who only see our image on the Internet. Just how important is our image anyway? For most of us creating a believable image is very important, and is probably the first thing we begin to work on; and also the one thing we work on the most. Creating a believable image is probably the most important part of being Transgendered, regardless of who you are. And for those who actually live full or part-time, creating a believable image is probably more of a real necessity, because they must interact with people face to face. Also, if you have a presence on the Internet a believable image is what really attracts the attention of others. For most of us creating an image takes time and work, and in some cases there are some medical procedures to help us along. Our image is usually base on our own perception of what is believable, and hopefully those who see our image will feel the same. I call this the "Outside" image, the image that people see in the real world, or on the Internet.

If you spend anytime on the Internet viewing the different personal web sites, profiles, and TG listings you will see lots of believable images. So, you might agree that we do spend a lot of time trying to create a believable image. Most of these believable images come from hard work and experience, while a few are the result of photoshop, or are downright fakes. If you have a presence on the Internet then you probably have an email address and if you have a believable image, then you probably receive a lot of emails from total strangers. Most likely these emails will be filled with compliments, and getting lots of compliments may improve your confidence, or at the least make you feel good about the image you have created or achieved.

If you want even more exposure, you can enter contests for GOTM, or get involved with rating systems where your judged and compared to others. There's nothing wrong with rating systems and contest, as they are fun and most of us don't take them seriously. Personally, I rate everyone a "10", and if it's a contest, I vote for someone I know who has probably contacted me in advance and asked me to vote for them. Or, I just pick the person who in my opinion has the most believable image. While most of us probably accept the email compliments, ratings, and contests in stride, and enjoy them for what there worth; I suppose there are some that actually live for this kind of attention because for them this truly validates the believable image that they have created or achieved. I can imagine that there some people that have a believable image, but are so arrogant and self-centered, that the feelings of others really don't matter to them. They are so caught up in themselves and their believable image, that they must have constant validation, and not getting what they want makes them frustrated and angry inside.

This brings me to say, that one problem I find with the Internet at least when it concerns a believable image, is that normally all we see is the "Outside" image. As believable as these images may appear, we really don't know what the person is like on the inside; unless we have the opportunity to interact with that person and really get to know them. The Internet is filled with believable images, some of which are just incredible! However, how many of those believable or incredible outside images match up, or come close to what is on the inside, "The Inside Image"?

Lauren

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Can the Gloves Come Off ?

(by Alexis Rene Jones)
So I was going through some profiles on urna the other evening and stumbled across a familiar looking & absolutely stunning girl !

I mean if this is the height of where transition can go....Sign me up ASAP ! Am only teasing but yes she is that gorgeous ....

Anyway this girl has been a staple in the much talked about ratings at urna for a long while. She still has the same pic up as when Iarrived to the site in Dec. '04 ... Almost a year now.

Long story short I wrote this said girl twice over a three month period, Two very sweet letters not really asking for anything other than to pay her a genuine compliment or two and I heard nothing back from either . I guess my writing wasn't ( Still isn't? ) up to par ... So with this in mind I decided not to waste anymore time with it(her);).

The following month I noticed again she was right at the top of the ratings system and also noticed she had yahoo messenger so I thought....Why not pop in and tell her she is in the top ten or whatever and congratulate her sort of thing?(She hadn't signed infor a couple of weeks) Immediately the next day she signs into urna thanks her gorgeous friends for the votes and again zero response back to me .... Hmph ! Now it is a quest to get this girls attention at least for just a second ....

The following month the exact same thing happens...She is soaringin the ratings and I let her know where she was at with yet another sweet letter via messenger. Again she signs in signs her post op friends books and leaves .... And ya guessed it no response back to me ... This was in May. I gave up writing her....yah yah I got the hint lol

Now I know this all sounds needy but not trying for that aspect at all!... I am just trying to say , well read her latest comment in her bio thingy at urna as it is worth READING !

http://profiles.urnotalone.com/35330

The point I want to make is this .... No matter how many hormones or surgical things one can do .... No one can erase their history of where they started .Also Compassion and being gracious is something that comes naturally and cannot be found through artificial means as previously mentioned !

Yes, while Lany Nicole Kershaw may possess beauty...It is only skin deep and judging from her comment she is VERY HOLLOW and lacks much of the things in life that most seek irregardless of gender !I am sorry to rant for so long(particularly if she is your friend)I just despise when someone takes the condescending position from where they "think" they are !!! GRRRRR!!!!

So now there is the Angel & Devil thing on each of my shoulders....The Angel says leave it alone ...the latter says make/take an issue with her words ....What do YOU think ??? Does a statement like what she poses offend or is she justified ???

Alexis

Friday, October 28, 2005

Damnation Aly, Pt. 2

(by Alysyn Ayrica)
Stability. That oh so elusive standard of living which most women desire, but very few actively seek. Somehow the dramatic turmoil seems to bring about the romantic drive within us, sparking our earliest imaginings of what that Cinderella story would entail.

Just as boys want to wield their sword and shield and battle the dragon, girls imagine the storm waves of passion crashing about them making love’s embrace all the more thrilling.

But life is rarely like that, is it not? Our movies are merely condensations of the collected commonalities and only rarely are they singular scenarios.

So the quest becomes this: how to reconcile the nesting and nurturing instinct of an innately identified woman with the distinct wanderlust of a very confused and unresolved masculine persona…no, stability is not so easily established.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”(Bible; Book of Proverbs)

In struggling with my internal identity I realized that, even at a young age, it was often perceived to be unnatural. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what “unnatural” really meant. Biblically, I realized that it was defined as “that which was not intended”, which, in turn, was often labeled an abomination. But the dilemma came when making the distinction between the absolute biblical understanding and the spurious social definition.

It took me until my advanced adulthood to understand that society defines “unnatural” as “anything that we don’t understand and are unwilling to flexibly attempt to identify.”

Nothing can prepare a child more for the bends and breaks than the incontinency of a societal misapprehension of the meaning of life’s basic identifiers. When the adults around you are so unaware of their own function in life, how oh how are they supposed to guide the virginal comprehensive infrastructure of one still growing out of infancy and childhood fancy?

I began to find my solace and education in the literary works of not only my favorite sci-fi authors, but poets, debaters, politicians of old, and Christian commentators and historians. In their musings and verbal excursions there was clarity. Things were explained. Ideas were meted out to refine reason. These were my first loves.

I also came to realize that this foundation in rational thought was also a means to maintain my masculine identity and somehow shut out the flood of emotional intensity which was, daily, filling up my basement. It became, over time, much easier to deny that this house had, in fact, no basement than to come up with new excuses as to why the door was locked and barred. Eventually the water rises and begins to seep through the cracks in the floorboards and under the doorjamb…

It seemed a feasible reaction – delving into in-depth biblical studies – the goal, of course being to somehow clearly define this quandary of gender quantification. I’d grown increasingly weary of constantly, year after year, waveringly breaching my feminine nature and then stepping back into the masculine role offered me at birth, disgusted at not only my lack of sophistication at the task, but also at how like a trapped animal it made me feel. At these times I was surely ready to gnaw my own foot off to merely gain a taste of freedom. It was the longest decade of my life…

“Whoever thinks that he is helping to keep God’s work going on the earth cannot help but believe that God will help him.” (Charles Fillmore)

When a couple is first married, usually the first few years are fraught with adjustments to each others personality differences, and for a while tears are the norm. How much more so when the other in the union sets a standard of perfection which, on the face of things, seems impossible to achieve, while, in reality, the expectation of achieving these goals is not actually placed upon you. To enter a relationship with a perfect God can be daunting, for sure. Spending the time to get to know that person is difficult and often mind-bending.

With an earthly marriage (to a woman whose own personality demanded every ounce of strength and composure of me) to maintain, as well as working and going to school full time to enhance my career and prepare for the advent of the inevitable offspring (which inevitably came!) I began to realize I was fighting a battle on two fronts with quickly diminishing ammunition. Despite the decades of crying out in desperate prayer, fasting as a means of enhancing the meditative quality of that prayerful delivery, and service within the church leadership and various missions, I was still without recourse or decision. Time was slowly running out, as I soon came to realize.

After our first year of marriage my wife began displaying obvious symptoms of her bi-polar disorder…increasing migraines. This lasted for the better part of our second year and opened up some doors in our marriage which needed, at very least, better hinges. That is to say, once opened they never closed, if they didn’t fall off altogether. The turmoil of not being able to find competent medical assistance, of her constant state of paranoia and hallucinations which put me into situations of having to defend myself where no offense was extant, became an emotional burden that, I admit, I was not “man” enough to handle with grace. In time, the symptoms became more subtle as she learned to hide the paranoia, to become ashamed of the hallucinations, to fear being found out by those within the church and labeled “crazy”. Though she was loved by many, and it is doubtful that such a thing would have happened, she was loathe to accept this as reasonable and only exacerbated her condition by not admitting that she was becoming worse; eventually she was beyond help.

I often explain to those with whom I discuss these things in depth that my transition was, in essence, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” regarding my marriage. I was the only one who was willing to admit that the marriage was falling apart. You can only be told to leave “because that’s what you really want!” so many times in five years, even if it’s not what you really want, before you begin to realize that it’s actually what she really wants. Hoping that it would somehow bridge a proverbial gap in our marriage – the one she perceived being built of regretful mistakes and the loneliness that it brought to her life – she vied for the conception of a child hoping to bring some semblance of meaning to the vows. It was the near death of our second child due to spinal meningitis that we both reached our breaking points. It was the beginning of the end, and it ripped at the very fabric of my being.

The fighting, the emotional distrust, the accusations, the constant fear being projected into every event…the constant series of trials…for some reason it doesn’t make it any less painful when a marriage finally disintegrates.

“’Fallacy of the Continuum’ and other commonly wielded verbal weapons.”

I began hormones without my wife’s knowledge.

Well, that’s not exactly true. We had discussed it as the next step, but she was to go on a church retreat that weekend and we were to continue toward our decision when she came back. I know it was deceitful, and inevitable…wrong, and exactly what I had to do. I don’t excuse my actions, but I also know that no matter what she had decided on her part, for me the decision was irrevocable. She discovered the extent of my deceit a few months later when my breasts began to form.

Until then she had been trying so hard to find a way to make me change. From church counseling to constant lovemaking she knew that a loss was in the works, and her fragility could not even begin to fathom the extent. Most women have to deal with the loss of their husband, but know that the man will still be there in some capacity, whether for the children or merely out of congenial familiarity. How painful is it to live with the loss of not only your husband, but the actual male identity that once inhabited the persona, while still interacting with that person? I don’t pity her the difficulty it caused her. I often attempt to place myself within that same scenario on a hypothetical level utilizing all that I experienced, and often feel that I would make the same decision as she did; but without the insanity part, of course.

The battle on both fronts continued to wage well into my first year of transition. Not only was the din of war deafening within the marriage itself, but overwhelming within the conscience I had nurtured to vigorous health all my life. I had knowingly committed myself to an act that had a great probability of destroying all that I held dear in my life…family, friends, even my children…and risked just as great a destruction of my own soul. Is it possible to remain spiritually intact after having performed such a heinous act?

As our discontent became the inevitable separation, and as that separation progressed into divorce, her depiction of me became more and more monstrous. I had finally found the quiet place in my life, realizing that in becoming outwardly truthful I was able to silence the battles which had waged for so long within. Though hurtful, the harm that she sought to inflict upon me via court battles and the constant demeaning of my character to others close to us eventually became as effective as whining children…frustrating to deal with, but ultimately and effectively harmless.

Her death brought the much needed, if reluctantly accepted, peace; and there is hope for further growth, unhindered by the barriers of irrational behavior.

**

The most troubling part of my journey through the brambles of transition has been witnessing firsthand the many intelligent and hurting ts women who have chosen to turn their backs on God merely because of their transsexual condition. My dismay isn’t because it is not such a difficult and life-questioning event; in fact it is so much so that anyone who hasn’t had to deal with it should praise whoever it is they pray to and give great thanks for sparing them this trial. My dismay derives from the fact that the only real perspective they will receive is through the spiritual growth they obtain while working through this and communing with their God all the while. The truth of the trial comes not in the clothes, the hormones, the relationships…the truth comes from the Truthgiver. All things derive their meaning from some source. All things are created for a purpose. To assume that any act is random is foolish and ignorant. We don’t always know immediately what we are here for, but rest assured, there is a reason, and it will be revealed in its proper time. Everything leading up to that point is growth…maturity.

It took me 36 years to really understand this.

I still don’t really know as of yet what my real purpose here is. I guess I have a lot of growing still to do. I do know that, one, I am solely responsible for the healthy growth and development of two human beings. I say this tongue in cheek, but if there was ever a time to question the wisdom of God, this would be the decision I would present. I, being the least qualified to be a parent, am suddenly the only parent that my children have. There are things in this world that I will truly never understand, I admit. There is one thing, though, that I do know without a doubt…

I am no longer afraid.



To my sisters with love from my heart,

Alysyn

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Broken Vessel

(by Alysyn Ayrica)
Again, though I wrote this a month ago, I keep coming to this place. It seems to know me by name, and often asks me to stay...


Within a chain of events sometimes comes the realization of one's worth and relevance. These things are never hidden, except in the context of personal perspective. Desire and need often supplant truth in claiming the vision and distorting one's self-assessment.

An earthen vessel, ornate and craftily created, is often looked upon as a thing of beauty. Set upon a pedestal it creates an atmosphere of delicacy and sophistication. Yet, in truth, it is merely a container. It's purpose at creation was to accomodate something of true worth...even something as seemingly simple as life-sustaining water.

What Is to be done with the vessel when it is shattered? Does it not depend on the artisan? Is the original purpose of the vessel relevant?

Many times the potsherd speaks more voluminously than the vessel unscathed. In it's pristine state it draws glances, is commented on and appreciated briefly, and eventually blends into the background.

Yet, it's pieces provoke curiosity, questions...and often speculative debate.

This is the purpose the Artisan of the heart has set for this soul. Emotion has been a taint for too long on reason, and desire...need...has hindered understanding.

Too many day wasted wanting for that which has not been determined. Too much felt in vain.

Here John Keats has relay'd so eloquently:

"How is it, Shadows, that I knew ye not?
How came ye muffled in so hush a Masque?
Was it a silent deep-disguised plot
To steal away, and leave without a task
My idle days? Ripe was the drowsy hour;
The blissful cloud of summer-indolence
Benumb'd my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;
Pain had no sting, and pleasure's wreath no flower.
O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense
Unhaunted quite of all but---nothingness?"

-Alysyn-

Saturday, October 22, 2005

How to guarantee a broken heart...

(by Alysyn Ayrica)

In recently cancelling a profile and blogspace I realized that there were still areas of concern in my life which hadn't been fully reconciled. The following is reposted to this forum as a way of presenting the same quadrous misgivings I have to an, obviously, more thoughtful group for further consideration...

*****

So how does one pinpoint the exact time to begin opening yourself up to the possibility of being in love? In the case of one being purposefully disconnected to protect vital emotions from being constantly assaulted by the carelessness of others, how does the time become recognizeable when those barriers must be necessarily moved aside to allow the sincere and loving complement to migrate to your very core?

When dancing along a precipice, eventually the fear of falling must subside and become a known inevitability. How often is it safe to test the limits of our standing? Is the ground at the end of the cliff firm enough to tempt standing closer, still, to the edge in an ever-increasing anticipation of that plunge?

The truth is, no matter when the fall, the end result is the same: destruction.

At some point we must all come to the end of ourselves. Oft times it is in the context of love, in rare occasion it is in service, which is another form of love. The difficult part is making the decision to step up and decide if the love we percieve to be there is worth the risk of stepping out of that protective suit to bathe in it. So often that opportunity is passed up due to fear.

There is a rationale in protecting onesself from the tirade of negative experiences this world offers; but is that not more a general device? What if something specific and real, the disturbance in your head, the hammering in your heart, the simultaneously excited/scared feeling in your belly at the mere thought of that one, presents itself to you...with only slight hesitation, but clear in intention?

What if fear begins to cloud your mind to the point that you would maladroitly push such a one away, still in a protectorate mode that has become all too familiar?

What if...?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Feminine Influences

(by Felicia Conti)
"The person(s) in my life who most influenced or most helped me with the development of my feminine side is......................"

The person in my life who most influenced the development of my feminine side was probably my mother. She was an amateur actress who played the leading lady parts in a number of plays. I remember sitting in the theatre as a young boy when this steamy woman would walk out on stage and everyone would be entranced by her beauty. Was this the same woman who I called “mom” and who only hours before had been preparing my dinner? I remember trying on her clothes and wondering if I would ever be transformed from what I considered to be “ordinary” to “special”? Second in line, was probably my sister who developed at a fairly young age into a real beauty. She had lots of cute girlfriends and lots of guys calling on her constantly. She also had lots of clothes that fit me. Maybe I could learn to be beautiful too? I think that I learned something about feminine comportment from years of observing and interacting with my mother and my sisters. I have to think that this early learning helped me to catch on quickly and to find it relatively easy to exhibit feminine mannerisms when I am now in the feminine role.

Most of my feminine existence stayed in my fantasy life until several years ago when a therapist suggested that I try dressing again. After getting some fairly acceptable pictures posted on Yahoo, I met an experienced translady, Lori Michaels who helped me to get ready for my first night out on the town. In doing my make-up, she was able to give me a glimpse of my potential and a realization that it was possible to look good as a female. Several months later, during a down period when I was feeling I was making no progress in my feminine development, I met Joey Brooks, a make-up artist and drag performer who did my make up and gave me a make up lesson. She helped me to achieve the next level in my feminine development at least as far as physical presentation go. Additionally, I purchased several make up videos on line, including one done by Raven, the drag entertainer from Atlanta. Of course, I have had to tone down the drag effects to get a more natural look.

Working on my mental, emotional, and spiritual development as a female is much more difficult to discern as that work cannot really be separated from the years of work I have done on myself as a person, in general. Although I sometimes do enjoy role-playing when in my feminine role, for the most part, I strive to be fairly consistent whether I am primarily male or female at the time. My current therapist along with a number of my trans-friends (both in person and in GenderEvolve) have been very influential and helpful in my broader feminine development. At this stage, I would say that I am adolescent in terms of my emotional feminine development. I have a long way to go to achieve some kind of wholeness and a definite sense of direction for my life.

Felicia