Sunday, July 31, 2005

GenderEvolve.com Website Preview

(by Michele Angelique)

In a previous post I mentioned creating GenderEvolve.com as a resource portal for the transgender community. Thanks so much to everyone who posted link suggestions, and I look forward to more as we go. Every link I followed lead to more great links. It is amazing how many awesome sites are out there, how many inspiring transpeople, leaders, communities, and how much progress has already been made.

The current form of this website is just a beginning point. The site itself will be a constant evolution, and I know that its current state is not optimal. There is much room for improvement in every area, and I look forward to collaborating with you all to make this possible. What you see on the site now is very simple, nothing fancy, created for virtually no cost. As things progress, the website will get more refined, but for now I just want something decent enough to put online.

The main links categories along the left menu are verbs:

Understand (clinical, family, medical, social)
Communicate (media, personals, chat, support groups)
Transform (everything pertaining to feminine beauty)
Celebrate (leaders, artists, musicians, literacy)

New links will be added continuously to every section, as we find them. In particular I would like help on screening through yahoo and msn type groups. There are thousands of these, and it is hard to tell what they are about just by the cover page. Many of them are restricted membership, so you have to actually join to see. It takes time to review these types of sites. We can not link them all, so we should only link those for which we know of a good reason to link them (ie: one of us or someone we know has been there and participated or lingered, and can recommend that group).

The purpose of GenderEvolve.com is to create an atmosphere of understanding, communication, transformation and celebration. In addition to all the links, we have an art gallery featuring about 100 fine art pieces. I included this because I want to showcase pictorial examples of femininity and grace, so this art gallery idea is a fun way to do that. We have an amazon.com bookstore, with titles on transgenderism, crossdressing, womens issues, beauty, and goddess spirituality. Links to the Art Gallery and Book Store can be found along the top menu.

Last, and definitely not least, we have our Features section, also listed on the top menu. This is where I would like to feature our contributions. Of all the searching I have done on the web for transgendered sites, I have not come upon any one site that has the depth and breadth of progressive dialogue between a group of transwomen, such as what we have been engaging in. We have something very special going on here. I think each of you incredible insights, and if you will allow me, I want to feature your contributions via the GenderEvolve website.

This being said, any of you that would prefer your input or photo remain off the website need only tell me and it will be done. This is not something I want to enforce upon any of you, nor can I presume that everyone wants to be featured. For this reason, I am giving you a preview, as the website is not yet live on its domain. I want to make sure this is o.k. by all of you, and get your input and comments before publishing it.

I would like for our blogspace to be the behind-the-scenes to our website. I do not plan on linking the blogspace to the website, as I would prefer the blogspace to remain somewhat private. This way, we can still have informal conversations on the blog and collaborate on future directions for the website.

I chose this day, July 31st, to reveal the site to you because it is my birthday. I figured that in years to come, we could all get together each year for a big party on July 31st to celebrate the anniversary of GenderEvolve, and at the same time it would be a good excuse to celebrate my birthday too! lol };o))

So without further adieu, may I present GenderEvolve.com in the making...
http://dominess.com/genderevolve/development

Please let me know what you think, and also, if you find any links that do not work or other technical difficulties... please do tell. Also, for your photos, each of you can send me up to 5 face pictures that you like and I will crop them and rotate them on the site. If you want to change your photo, you can send your photo preferences to me at ladydominess@yahoo.com.

I thank you all for giving me the inspiration to want to do something like this, and I look forward to your comments.

With all my love,
Michele

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Evolution, lesson 1

(by Arianne Travis)

I thought this title was appropriate. After all, this is the GenderEvole blog spot isn't?

Gender evolution... WOW!. I mean I feel like being philosophical here, can someone really evolve in his/her gender self definition? I'm inclined to think so. Wait, of course we do!. We all start somewhere and move somewhere else, right? Change should be constant. Whatever happens along the way makes us stronger, better, a bit like mother nature trying new recepies of life, new combinations, new sequences of atoms, etc... some are good choices, some are mistakes, errors, faults, erratums.

I do remember a lot of good choices in my "evolution" as a transvestite. Most are fashion related (Oh Tom, I LOVE YOU!!!) but are no match compared to the very few real friends that I now have.

Bad choices should especially be remembered also, I mean they have to. How can one evolve without making mistakes, right? Who hasn't made a bad choice of wig? or the wrong color of shoes? or the wrong day to plan an outing, LOL! Ah, what a joke.
Some of these mistakes involve people too, unfortunately. Deciding who will know and who shall stay in the dark regarding our little secret can be so trivial sometimes.
Of course, we're all humans.

Today was a day of such error for me:

"Thank you
Kind regards,
Arianne
"

Oops, pressed the sent button too quickly again.
Holly shit! (if there is such a thing) WRONG COMPUTER!!! LOL!!!
A simple signature in a work related email, destined to someone who would not and does not, and I stress the word NOT, comprehend at all, possibly exposing my deepest secrets.

Ok, panic button please!

Of course I saved the day with a lie, a diversion, a sorry ass excuse, hoping that this mishap is now long gone in history. But the fact remains that I made a 7 letter mistake. One that could have been a lot more serious.

Simple word of advice: Just be careful out there when the 2 of you are at the same place at the same time!!! Lol! ;o)

Lesson learned? I sure hope so.

I have evolved and will sleep better tonight.
Next?


xoxo
Arianne (yeah! I think this name is appropriate here...)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

What's the "End Game"?

(by Jenna Taylor)

Hello Ladies,

I recently arrived home this evening, or should I say this morning from a "night out on the town". Now, since I was driving, there was no alcohol involved it the evening. So I won't receive a BWI(blogging while intoxicated) . Yet my soberity has left me with one nagging question.

What's the "end game"?

As I look forward to an evening out en femme, with friends I am usually excited. The chance to let loose with my feminine fancies in full regalia is intoxicating . Yet at the end of the night, I'm faced with the evening's epilogue. The regretful return to regular me. Removing makeup, nail polish and, oh those wonderful clothes is got to be the biggest let down in the world. I can feel the pain of the crew for Ringling Brothers on the last night of a sucessful campaign in any particular city.

I usually prepare for the evening out several days in advance. I know if I'm going out, say over the weekend, I'll keep my nails long, paint the toenails and shave myself. This way on the evening of my en femme episodes, I can reshave without rushing or nicking and just paint my fingernails. Careful planning and stratigic maneuvering highlight my week. I can live with this. I mean, the buildup is well worth it. It just the decompression that "kills" me.

I want it all( who doesn't). I love my male self. I love my female self. It's just that I believe I compromise my male side too much in order to fullfill my female side. I'm no spring chicken and like to think Mrs Right is out there. I'm not looking for Mrs. Right-Now. So there is some sense of urgency. I mean I want to share all the love I possess with someone other that my friends and family." Can't have it , all by yourself." is a catchy line from a country song. Yet I know this androgynous persona I've become is not appealing to the fairer sex. At the end of it all, I'm sliding more into the female realm and further and further from my male self. I'm not too sure I like this.

Maybe I should be posting this at "The Diary of a Mad Transgendered Woman " blog. Yet from the roster of girls assembled here, I know some wise and caring input will be received.

Looking for that magic pill,
Jenna Taylor

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Characters

(by Shannon Summers)

In a recent conversation, a good friend referred to Shannon as being a ‘character’. She meant it as a compliment, that the whole of myself is greater than the feminine persona I created. Nonetheless, I was a bit taken aback. I consider girlself to be very real, perhaps as real my guyself. Maybe more so. I found her comment to be a challenge to my sense of self, and it got me thinking.

I suppose in many ways, Shannon is a character. When I first started presenting my girlself to the world, I made a lot of conscious decisions about who Shannon would be as a person. What kind of clothes should she wear? How would she present herself in social situations? Would she be fun loving or conservative? Sassy or demure? Would I incorporate my intellect and ideas into my presentation (I have a masters in science), or would I simply play the ditzy blonde role?

These, I felt, were important decisions, comparable to the identity crises most teenagers go through. As people, we are defined by such things.

*****

I also started pondering the nature of ‘characters’ in pop culture. One of my favourite pop culture icons is a rocker formerly known as Brian Warner. At one point in time, Brian was described as a shy, sensitive college student majoring in Poetry. He was hardly noteworthy or controversial. When he started up his band, however, Brian adopted the pseudonym Marilyn Manson. His reasons for doing so were not so dissimilar to our own. As the entertainment editor for the school paper, he wanted the opportunity to write reviews about himself.

At first, the persona of Marilyn Manson was little different than Brian himself, a sad poetic clown reminiscent of Alice Cooper. Over time, however, the character of Marilyn evolved. Brian began incorporating more of his ideas and images into the act, ranging from pop culture affections (even his name is an amalgamation of supermodels and serial killers) to his distaste for his strict Christian school upbringing. This, of course, sparked a firestorm of criticism (mostly from the religious right), which served as a catalyst, forcing him to refine the character of Marilyn with greater clarity and purpose.

Nowadays, friends say they can no longer see Brian Warner in Marilyn, that he has been entirely subsumed into the character. In fact, Marilyn takes great offense being referred to by his former name, saying, “I earned my name. I earned the right to be called Marilyn Manson. It’s not like I’m Brian Warner in the closet and wear my Marilyn mask when people can see me.”

*****

I’m also a huge comic books fan, and it’s hard not to notice the similarities between comic book characters and tgirls. In addition to the secret identities and double life, there are the secretive costume changes, the larger than life personalities, and the enhanced sense of empowerment. We simply are more powerful as gurls. Oh, and the fact that I can still pull off a head high roundhouse kick in 4” heels doesn’t hurt either. Hahaha.

Spiderman has long been the marquee character of Marvel comics, and the strength of any Spiderman story is his alter ego, Peter Parker. Petey was the protagonist that all comic book fans could identify with. He was naïve, bullied, insecure, and just a little too smart for his own good. A smart aleck geek who acted like he knew better because, well, he always did.

As Spiderman, however, Peter became powerful. Inwardly, he was still the same, but no longer was he content with a mere wry smirk to himself. Now his insights were manifest, an in-your-face taunt to the villains, often driving them over the edge and into his ready hands. Over time, the character of Peter Parker changed, as it became harder to hide his growing confidence and personal strength. Even when walking along in street clothes, he knew who he was. He was Spiderman. No amount of costuming could ever change that.

*****

Throughout the course of my life, I have been very blessed to have known quite a few people who could only be described as ‘characters’. Quirky oddball sorts who made no effort to fit into mainstream society; in fact, they gave up trying a long time ago. My life has been enriched by each of them in many ways.

People prefer it when we fit into the preconceived notions. It makes life easier for them, simpler to understand. Thus, we live in a world of judgment and expectation, and the march of conformity continues unabated. Even in our own little community, there are social pressures to conform, to fit into the standard model of what a ‘true’ transgender person is supposed to be. We have norms of expected behaviour, and people who are all too ready to communicate and enforce those expectations.

We hear it all the time, and I find the concept to be so diminutive. To be a ‘true’ TS you have to be x, or you should be y because that’s what ‘real’ women are like. Well, it’s occurred to me that there’s diversity within the female population. Not all women are the same. Some are dainty and proper; others are wild, fun, and out of control. Likewise, even in our own community, should we also not allow for the same tolerance of individual differences? Not all are going to fit into the same mold. Why should they? That’s what makes each of us special and different.

So in answer to the question, is Shannon a ‘character’? Gawd, I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Seeking Recommended TG Links

(by Michele Angelique)

Lately my mind has been flooded with ideas about how to move for positive change. Some of my ideas are grandious dreams, while others are more pragmatic and attainable in the here and now. The purpose of this post is to tell you about what I envision we could easily do as a team over the next couple of months. With a coordinated effort, we can build something very special in a fraction of the time it would take any one of us on our own.

GenderEvolve.com will focus on delivering progressive, positive information and resources to the transgender community. Initially I would like to develop a user friendly search-engine portal site that leads to the best of the transgendered resources on the web. The goal is to make GenderEvolve a focal point which will begin to draw an audience of like-minded people.

Your help is needed to identify superior content to feature on the site. Some of you may have already done significant research on the internet and have a handy list of favorite tg websites and links to share, while others may want to spend some additional time researching. Whatever you can do to gather and share information will help.

Please share your high quality recommended links in any of the following categories:

1) News stories involving transgendered people, issues or causes
2) Significant tg events and venues around the world
3) Existing web portal/link sites for transgendered people
4) Support groups and tasteful connections sites like URNA
5) Chat rooms, yahoo groups, bulletin boards of interest
6) Transgendered talent, such as musicians, artists, writers
7) Transgendered leaders, professionals, spokespeople and supporters
8) Recommended books, magazines, movies, other communication venues
9) Recommended providers of goods and services for the transgendered
10) Scientific, medical or psychological research studies about transgenderism
11) Other content at your suggestion

Once the site is online, we will advertise on URNA and try to get reciprocal linking with sites listed. I would also like to recognize each of our contributors (you) on the genderevolve website, with your bio, photos, and links. I am very proud to be associated with such a beautiful group of beings, and I want to put you all on a pedestal if you will let me. I greatly admire each of you, and I will do what I can to ensure you reap positive rewards for your contributions to this project.

If you be so kind as to post your link suggestions in the comments section of this article, we can all collaborate together and get this moving forward.

With all my love,
Michele

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Calling

(by Michele Angelique)

I do not know what it is, but my recent introduction to the transgender community has sparked some truly amazing feelings in me. I am a passionate person in general, but no single other thing in my life experience has ever grabbed my attention with such undeniable magnetism, such pure force, that it feels almost divinely inspired. I am compelled to make a positive contribution to the transgender cause, though I can not explain why I feel so strongly inclined. I can only try to tell you what is motivating me.

My writings to date are the tip of the iceberg of what has been welling up inside of me, there is so much that waiting to burst through to the written word. From the very first moment I interacted with a tgirl (in person or otherwise), in March 2005, I was captivated. I joined URNA in April and found all of you, each so special and beautiful in your own right, and yet so under-represented. I am positively blown away to find so many extraordinary, talented, intelligent, kind-hearted people all together in one group.

Yin spirits in yang bodies, you are brilliant in my eyes. You are nothing like the negative stereotypes that society sees. Yet my heart breaks at the realization that you are trapped, like beautiful caged birds, not so much by your bodies but by social oppression. The injustice of your plight overwhelms me, and I am driven by the desire to help you, to do whatever I can to emancipate you.

It seems to me that a minor shift in perception is all that is needed to trigger widespread acceptance of transgenderism. If others could see as I see, there would be no more lonely tgirls. I see so many obvious merits to the feminine evolution of man, so many points of understanding I want to communicate, yet I have been holding back these thoughts. I have been trying to block them out of my mind, but without success. I know this could consume me if I let it. I fear that if I open the floodgate and let it start pouring out, how will I focus on my successful but demanding career which has been 10 years in the making? Am I ready to start from scratch?

I look at what is more important, more fulfilling, in terms of life goals and I wonder: is this corporate finance career I have made simply a distraction from my true purpose of making a difference in this world? Yet if I am to move forward on a larger goal of openly dedicating myself to helping create new understanding of transgender identity, my finance career will not survive. These are mutually exclusive life paths, and I am standing at the fork in the road. If I want to climb the corporate ladder, I can not risk putting myself on a site like URNotAlone. I am easy to recognize so I could not live a double-life. All forms of discrimination are rampant in the upper ranks of the old wasp boys club finance/investment world, and to succeed in that world it would be necessary to maintain the status quo in all aspects of my life.

Being honest with myself heralds the realization that the status quo would be a waste of my precious human life. The beauty is, it is not too late for me to forge a new path, one that is more meaningful and important than spending my days working to make money for greedy strangers. I have pursued the field of finance not because I love money, but so that I may one day be in a financial position to fulfill my philanthropic dreams. My largest goal in life has always been to somehow make a positive difference. I am coming to realize that my present path may be the long way around. I have always been entrepreneurial, willing to take risks, and I know that this new path must be driven by a leap of faith. It just feels more right to me than anything I have felt before.

What I am feeling is not grounded in logic. I know I will suffer short term losses in pursuit of longer term gains for others, but it is what I must do. It feels as though a larger force is tapping me on the shoulder, calling upon me to deliver a message that is more important than anything else I could ever do. I want to do whatever is in my power to help you to cast off your shackles, unlock your closet doors and reclaim your true identities. This might sound grandious, but all change starts somewhere, why not here? As Lao Tzu says, even a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Whatever progress we make here as a group will help to pave the way for the coming generations of transgendered people. You do not have to come out of the closet to make a valuable contribution to this cause. If through our united expression, we can work against the negative stereotypes, and produce even a glimmer of positive understanding from society at large, life will get easier for all of you.

I have decided to trust my instinct, follow my heart, and dedicate myself to your beautiful path. I can not explain what force has guided my ship to your shoreline, all I know is it is made of pure intention and based on love. I am here with you to stay, and will contribute my abilities, resources and time to making a better world for you.

Thank you all for welcoming me with open arms.