Sunday, August 28, 2005

Roll Call

(by Jenna Taylor)

Ladies,

The time has come for us to open the closet doors, turn on the lights, dust off the old handbags and stand up and be counted. As our society has come, albeit kicking and screaming, to accept certain alternative lifestyles, it has generally ignored the most inane and loving one. I'm talking about us, The Gender Expressionist.

We have all, including myself, sat back and watched Hollywood and the mainstream media, both of which claim diversity, malign us by portraying us a sexual deviants. All one has to do is sit through "Psycho", "Silence of the Lambs" , or "Dressed to Kill" to see the villian is a crazed TG.

Uhm, can I get a head count here? How many of you have your mother on ice in the basement? Are building a body suit from girls"roomy thru the hips"? Or in your part-time position as a therapist plan on attacking your patients? I suspect none.

What is at the very core of our Gender Expression? It's a desire to display our warmth, love and compassion for others. Under societies current guidelines, who "owns" those traits? Women. Exactly. Yet is it conceivable that men can also be those items? Of course.

What is at issue is our right as men, to express these traits without ridicule. And far be it that we do so in a manor that even further "shocks" society. Crossdressing. How many of us are approached by members of the "mainstream" and asked, "Why do you do this?" I for one relish at the opportunity to explain. Yet, should we be forced to "fight" this battle over ignorance one "combatant" at a time? No. Pure attrition will not not only take forever, it will not send the message of unity and solidarity we need.

"So, Jenna?" you ask. "What can I truly do about this?" This is a reasonable and logical question to be asking. My answer is as follows.

GET INVOLVED. In countless cities across this country there are support groups, Yikes, I said those words. "Support groups". I HATE those words, in that it implies a room full of "broken " indiviuals looking to their therapist of guidence. Your local TG group does provide support, yet not in the clinical fashion. It's the sisterhood. The solidarity of members uniting, marching in step, on the same sheet of music to each other. Are we a "rag-tag" group of gals at times? Of course that can be the case, at times. Yet the majority of the time are we strong, proud, and confident? You betcha!If the movement is to go forward, it needs participation. If "being out" is not your thing, and you want to support the cause, you have options. Try to attend a meeting locally, and if not, the next town over. This way you are away from prying eyes. Almost all groups have a secure meeting place with changing facilities. Check with the ones in your area.

GO ONLINE. Not comfortable in being out AT ALL? Go cyber. AND I DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT MEAN "Trolling for Tgirls." The absolutely LAST thing we need in bringing acceptence to our cause is the SEXUAL overtones, that societies tries to label us with. Are we human and thereby sexual beings? Of course. Yet isn't every other human being out there? And this does not define us. Many of us do not even bring our gender expression physically into our sex lifes. We do of course add love, warmth and compassion to "our game" and most of our partners truly appreciate that! So go online. Chat with your fellow TGilrl. Not about "hooking up" yet about the common problems we all endure. Offer your life experiences and mistakes, so that another may not follow in those mistakes.

The time has come, it's D-Day, H-hour. Time to storm the beaches, fight for liberty, all in the name of others, so that future generations may exist in peace, free from tyranny.(As the Battle Hymn of the Republic plays on with the unfurling of the American Flag!) LOL

Uncle Samantha Wants You!!!!!

Jenna Taylor

10 comments:

Arianne said...

Hi Jenna, et al.,

Ok, I guess I'm safe. The only taxidermy I ever done was to keep some earth worms in formaldehyde in high school. ;o) Although, now that you got me thinking, there is maybe one ex-girlfirend that I would not mind keeping on ice... hummm.

I am sorry here but I fail to see the shock I could provide to society by attending any local support group. Would marching on a gay pride parade help at all? Maybe it does... but looking closely, there is little in there that even remotely looked like prude and loving. So much for that, unless...

The population at large is also way too familiar with the common term "transexual". Shouldn't it read "transgendered" instead? Just remove the "sex" and "sexual" in the term and people in general will have a much different opinion of the phenomenon. It's all about perceptions isn't.

Day after day I strive to provide constructive ways to help people and ideas to move forward, yet here, I'm speechless. I personaly do not think any type of measurable change will come in our lifetime but like the other optimists in the group, I wish very strongly that it does. These types of changes usually spans generations. Homosexuality has been at it for centuries, yet, they're just breaking through the ice. I just hope to see noticeable change in "my" humble lifetime.

About 10 years ago I saw this French Canadian film about the journey of a transexual into womanhood called "le sexe des etoiles" (translate into "the sex of the stars"). It was kinda boring, had local actors and was low budget but it still managed to make me cry though for the issues that it covered. I'm doubtful the other 5 attendees that were in the cinema at the same time as me felt even close to this. As you might have guessed it was never picked up by a major film studio either, for the "American-ised" version...

I'm all for unity but let's face it, we're a minority!. Unless we all follow Boy George, RuPaul and Michael Jackson (oops I meant Janet, of course) foot steps and sing "I will survive" in perfect harmony or appear in Priscilla Queen of the Desert part 2, we're bound to have very little air time.
The TV show idea from a few weeks ago made ponder quite a bit, but I digress.
I fail to see what could be done in the short term that could have significant impact.

We are also a far stretch away from the so called logical position society is imposing on us. Any down to earth woman will tell you boldly that you do NOT need to put on makeup and a skirt to show warmth, love and compassion, to name only a few feminine traits. But crossdressing goes beyond that and I for one refuse to be categorized by anyone as to my own motives and reasons for dressing as the opposite sex. I have the given right to say "because I LIKE IT, I NEED IT"... period.
I'll stand in unity to say this anytime.

And lastly, as much as I get your wittiness on the drum rolls at the end, I can't resist stating that even the UN flag is no match for the scope of this never ending beyond-universal battle. *wink*

So what is it really, roll call or role call?

Sincerement votre,

Arianne
xoxox

Dee Femina said...

Hi Jenna,

Yes you are 100% right. It is time for "roll call" or as I call it, "Time to stand-up and be counted".

But it's so difficult. We have jobs, positions in society, wives or partners, children...oh god, how do I tell my teenage children...and so much else. Off course none of this is an excuse because, let's face it, the Gay/Lesbian movement had to contend with all or most of those same issues and the Feminist movement had to contend with similar issues.

I don't believe joining a Support Group will helps us achieve our aims of being accepted by society, although it certainly does help in terms of providing solidarity in general and support for those who need it.

We have to do something...and it will take a huge effort, commitment and sacrifice...to make society understand that we're normal and have a valuable place and role in society. Currently society thinks that we're one of the following:
- sexual deviants and/or perverts
- shemale prostitutes
- gay drag queens
- transexuals
And off course provided you substitute "alternate kinky" for "sexual deviant/pervert", then there is nothing wrong with any of those descriptions that society attaches to us. But we are so much more. We are transgendered firstly, which as you all know has nothing to do with sex or sexual activity...but that's not what society thinks.

My transgenderism is in fact respected and valued both at a personal relationship level (wife, kids and friends), but also at a business-level. I approach people and strategic problems from an angle that no-one else does...because I think both as a woman and as a man.

I say my transgenderism is respected and valued...but here's the rub...none of the people I generally interact with know that I'm transgendered. So imagine what a positive impact I'd have on us as transgendered if the people I interacted with knew that I was transgendered. It would change their perspective totally. And if all of us did that, well then eventually we'd change society's perspective.

But we have to be prepared to stand up and be counted. And most or all of us have so much to lose or risk at a personal level. So how do we change this? I have no idea...well at the moment I have no idea.

What I am doing is that when I go out en femme, I spread positive messages by acting like a normal person...which off course I am. I can see that those who I've come in contact with have had their eyes opened and they now have an understanding, respect and acceptance for transgendered people. How many people am I talking about? Smallish number...maybe 10 people in a very direct sense over the past 6 months, and maybe a 100 who've seen me in clubs or restaurants. Small number, not enough and not fast enough...but it is a start.

To succeed we will however have to mount a concerted, focused, strategised campaign similar to that done by the gay/lesbian and feminist movements. And we'll have to be brave and prepared to make sacrifices.

I know I'm not ready to do that...but I'm getting there. And I know we all need to do that...come out publicly and insist on acceptance and our rights in this society.

You are right Jenna...it's Roll Call time.

Michele Angelique said...

Jenna Taylor wrote:
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 11:28:08 -0400
Allo Arianne,

After reading your reply, I see your position. Yet let me bring some points to light.

1.) You need not shock anyone. Although your beauty will turn heads. Attending a support group is just meeting others, our peers whether its at a meeting /hotel room for discussion or as I have established in the Baltimore Washington area, an Events group. Where local girls can post, like GengerEvolve and see if anyone else is heading out. Now, every Friday evening at a local club, the Hippo, you can find at least 1/2 dozen TGirls sometimes 15! out for a night of dancing.

2.) Your wish is coming true. More and more, the mainstream is using the term Transgendered. Whether it is becasue they think it more P.C. or whether they do not truly understand the meaning. Either way, the word is being used. If you noticed my web site, I refer to myself as transgendered. I remove as much "crossdressing" references and replace it with simply "dressing".

3.) Help is on the way! I recognize your sincere wishes for change. I understand your pessimism on change occuring in the near term. However, although homosexuality has been around for centuries, you are viewing its North American acceptance in context to modern Western civilization. Modern Western civilization took prominance in the 16th century. Puritanistic values prevailed versus less ridig views in Eastern cultures. Prior Western civilizations, Roman and Greek embraced homosexuality. So the contemporary gay movement you see has truly made its strides in one generation. Starting with the Stonewall movement. Plus their trailblazing has made it easier for the feminist movement only a few short years later, and now for ours.

4.) Sundance. Sundance is but one media movement bringing to light the stories of indepenant film makers. "le sexe des etoiles" is exactly the style of film being support at Production companies today. Indies are hot. We need to push as much thoughts and ideas out through groups like Sundance as we can. Grassroots is needed, yet the portal to mainstream is key. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

5.) Your most important point you made. "I for one refuse to be categorized by anyone as to my own motives and reasons for dressing as the opposite sex. I have the given right to say "because I LIKE IT, I NEED IT"... period." That is the essence of our movement. I could not have said it any better. Somehow, others not in the transgendered life, seek understanding and some wish to provide empathy. Empathy come from an understanding of experiences of others, not sharing the same experiences. I can have empathy for a woman that goes through child birth, having been there during the birth of my 3 children and seeing the struggles of their mother. And from the physical pains I have personally suffered and can tie the two together. We need to "paint the picture", show the emotion behind it, and allow others outside of the movement to "take ownership" of our situation. Selling 101. We need to take them to the left side of their brains. Where all the emotion is played out. Many of them, our wifes and girlfriends, went from the left side to the right side as soon as we came out to them. They tried to reason it out with logic(Some would say "Enter a fight while unarmed")LOL. Enlightenment

Yes, its both a roll call and a role call. We call have our roles to play in life. Are you up for the challange of this role?

Thank you and keep the faith

Avec Amour

Jenna

Michele Angelique said...

ARIANNE WROTE:

Hi Jenna,

first, as much as I may look like a pessimist here, I am 101% behind you. All the efforts you and others are putting in for support groups and the likes are absolutely commendable. You have my greatest respect and deepest admiration because yes, indeed, they do help us understand us better and that is a much needed process. Just being here among you these past few months has been a revelation for me.

The on-line principle is also good for those who seek that information. But again, us helping us. How do we bring the information outside the circle? This is the question.

Where I do not see the point is where this applies to the general public at large. They also need to be educated and they are just not attending that support group meeting. LOL!!! I'm certain any normal woman would be more than understanding to see a TG in the woman's restrooms at the local mall if they saw us for who we really are.

As soon as you talk about everybody else, our image has been mediatised in all the wrong ways so much that the general population almost sees us as circus attractions more than the caring, loving person that we all are. There is this prime time TV show here that is all about drag queens and the TG world (or so it seemed). http://www.radio-canada.ca/television/cover_girl/ In the first few months of air time, the show was practically boycotted by the local TG community because it was personifying us in all the wrong ways, i.e. as being gay, entertainers, prostitutes and taking drugs. The new seasons ahead look more promising but is due to the outrage of the CD and TV community that even made headlines. Yes, there is hope.

On the silver screen, of course we need more films that deals with the true TG issues. The problem with this is that they just don't sell. In those who did, we are again portrayed as entertainers.

I would have thought that SCC be more mediatised than this. Maybe it's just me not finding the information but I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this.

Then there is this natural aversion we get from some people. Like us, they are a minority but they are the type that hurt us the most. Just last night I came across an email in Dana Lange's group about such typical homophobe. His message, that made whatever little hair I have left rise up, read:

> You're a normal guy who has invented a new way of getting in the
> girl's locker room, and maybe into a girl's panties. I don't see
> girl in you at all. It's bordering on insanity that the forces
> of 'diversity' are using the authority of the STATE to force
> everyone who works for the university who employs you to put up
> with this nonsense.
>
> DAVID

This character type will always be around, just like Bubba. He's the one who need to attend a group meeting. ;o)

So yes indeed, we are on a very long journey, and I think I'm up for the challenge because it is a very big one at that. Whatever I can do to make this world a better place I will do without hesitation. But like Dee mentioned, some of us may have a hard time in the process because of the personal implications this duality encompass. We're not all ready to expose this to our young childrens and our boss.

Rock on.

With Love,

Arianne

Michele Angelique said...

JENNA WROTE:

Arianne,

Great points. Not to worry, I don't see you as a pessimist. Just pessimistic on change in the near future! And that ok, because that's your perception.

I learned along time ago that,

PERCEIVED TRUTH = TRUE TRUTH

If someone's perception is x, then to them x =reality.

This hold's true to the general public. And that is what we must change. How do you do this? First we must educate each other, in order to build our fractured and closeted community into a union of spirits. Not all of the same mold, yet bonded by a singular thread. Build and nurtute the community. This before we ever dare take the message to the streets!

Dana Lange's "admirer" named David, is a perfect example of perception = equals reality( No this is not a math class.) To him, Dana is a man looking to join the "girl's club" or worse. Just another way for a guy to sneak into the girl's locker room. Hmm, which movie was THAT from? The fact of the matter, Dana is a woman. Dana, chromosomally(is that even a word?! YES I looked it up) is male based on the XY factor. This does not change the fact that she is female gendered. So David could never understand her situation.

Yet, let us not forget. David has EVERY right to judge us. Yes, that's what I said. He has every right to judge us. Because it's his judgement. And how do we make judgements? Based on our own personal knowledge and experiences. THAT IS WHAT WE NEEED TO CHANGE.

Public knowledge, and through which, public experiences.

Lets bind the community together to sing in unison, so we may let the rest of the world hear our song.

We can affect change. The road is long. The path will be unclear at times. We face enemies along the way. ( No, not Bush, Rumsfeld or Chaney silly) I have seen the enemy and the enemy is....

Arianne, I love you very much and value your insight. I am truly looking forward to meeting in Atlanta. I am a firm believer that there are no misconceptions, face to face. The eyes always give you away.

With all my love,

Jenna

Michele Angelique said...

MIRANDA SKYE WROTE:

Hi Jenna !

I think your perceptions on "perception" are spot on!!! (I LOVE this stuff).

For anyone that HASN'T seen this movie (out on DVD now) ..... I would suggest giving it a view. It's a mindblowing journey on the repercussions of "perception" and may turn victims of circumstance into "doers of circumstance".

http://www.whatthebleep.com/

Just a resource that encompasses all my philosophies that I thought I could share.

Have fun at the SCC everybody ........ it is my wife's perception that I remain in the closet a bit longer ... oops!

-Miranda

Michele Angelique said...

Wow, Jenna I love your enthusiasm! In response to your Roll Call, I totally agree that it is time to start marching forward, moving toward progress. The only way to do this is to be united in solidarity for the cause. There are many ways to accomplish this, and any measurable effort made by anyone counts toward the goal. I agree with your idea that it's time for everyone to get involved with the community to the best of their ability. Positive public representation is needed; many more transwomen must become visible in society.

Before we can take our message to the world, it needs to first be determined exactly what is "the cause"? Who are we and what do we represent? And who are we not? We come from all walks of life, all around the world, what is the glue that holds us together? Before we can "represent", we have to decide who and what we are representing. What is our position? What defines us? Without this, we can't even begin any strategic directed movement because we ourselves don't know where we're going.

The movement must begin with the formation of guiding principles that proponents of the movement can support (manifesto, mission, principle, doctrine, directives, etc). Solidarity can only come with a solid definition of purpose. There is a need to redefine transwomen, and differentiate you as a distinct group apart from the other groups who may resemble or impersonate you.

There are at least three points I think need to be strongly promoted:

1) Transwomen love women and femininity

If the women of the world could see how much you support us, how could we not embrace you? The reality is, we have no idea that you even exist! You are like Peter Pan to us. Visible groups who crossdress (ie: drag queens) do not love us, and in some ways they are ridiculing us. Other groups (ie: shemale pornstars) are abusing our feminine charms and demeaning the image of women. You are the opposite of those groups in the sense that you actually LOVE us! You respect us, you strive to do credit to our image and support our causes. We don't know about your special kind because you are mostly closeted. I was floored at the discovery of you, like finding some windfall stash of rare diamonds that no one else knows about.

2) Transgenderism is not a sexual orientation

While I applaud the effort of the gay/lesbian/bisexual movement to include transgenderism, in some ways the GLBT movement has promoted the view the TG is a sexual orientation. Even the most free-spirited liberal people out there might not realize this critical point of distinction. We need to erase the notion that conclusions can be drawn about sexual orientation based on gender identity. No such relationship exists, as TG people come in every type of orientation that ordinary people do.

3) Transgenderism is neither a mental disorder nor a fetish

Psychologists are working from the premise that only the above two choices are possible. The transperson who is happy and comfortable with their duality is not recognized. No one has properly defined the duality as a gift, which to those who can freely express themselves, it is. The pain/grief of the duality is often only a result of social repression and negative external consequences, not the duality itself. If you were able to just be yourselves, many of you would rejoice and celebrate your duality as a gift.

*****

Let us start to formulate a cohesive statement about who we are and what we represent. Here are some questions for your consideration and feedback... let's focus not so much on present realities, but on the ideal...

The Epitome of Modern Transwoman: Who is She?

1) What are the commonalities among transwomen? What are the differences?

2) What principles or beliefs can you all agree upon and/or embrace? Which don't you?

3) How do you differ from other types of crossdressers? How are you similar?

4) What do you seek from society? What are you not seeking?

5) How do you strive to conduct yourself? What conduct do you avoid?

*****

Yes Jenna, I wholeheartedly agree, it's "Time to storm the beaches, fight for liberty, all in the name of others, so that future generations may exist in peace, free from tyranny." It's just a matter of formulating a strategic approach, a roadmap for solidarity... so let's get started!

I'm not so sure about this part tho = (As the Battle Hymn of the Republic plays on with the unfurling of the American Flag!) LOL!! Too funny! Can't we at least get our own song and flag??

Much love,
Michele

Marlena Dahlstrom said...

We're facing the Catch-22 of those who can "pass" into "normal" society. It's not a new problem, light-skinned blacks who could pass for white back in the Jim Crow era faced a similar dilemma: do I risk sacrificing myself to improve the life of my group as a whole. Yes we need our Rosa Parks, but let's not forgot the she was arrested and convicted for refusing to give up her bus step.

Am I willing to be open about my cross-dressing, letting people know both my homme and femme identities? No. And I admit to cowardness, but I'm self-employed and I'm gunshy risking my livelihood. Which is why the "activist" fight for transgender acceptance has been -- and probably will continue to be -- led by the transsexuals. When you've got no where to hide, you might as well fight.

But there other avenues of attack. Part of it is me just going out en femme and being "normal." I know I don't always pass, so I'm educating people just by being seen. Could I do more? Yes. When I'm read, I could probably go up and talk to them (assuming it's not Dave or Bubba) and explain a little about us. The problem with just being read, is that people probably assume I'm a (sedately-dressed) drag queen, since they aren't really aware of cross-dressers. I'm also willing to do outreach to colleges, etc. (The good news is that I ran across a study showing that ironically, men shows the greatest change in acceptance once they realized cross-dressers were 1) hetro and 2) otherwise regular guys.)

Another point of leverage is the power of the purse. Cross-dressers spend far more than TSs (both because they are far more of us and typically we've got more money) and I'm sure the t-friendly policies of a number of stores are a tacit recognition of that. While it's obviously be better to be "out" when leading a campaign to reward/punish a retailer, it's definitely something can be done behind a femme persona.

Likewise, we can do the same for other lobbying efforts. For example, I wrote the presiding judge in the case of the Spokane TS who was jailed for failing to pay child support. (Given the disputed facts in the case, I merely asked the judge to make sure the court was properly educated on TS issues since the judge in the case made some pretty uneducated remarks from the bench.)

Given that we CDs are unlikely to storm the baricades, I think it's going to be long process, and much of it's going to happen through the changing of minds one at a time.

Dee Gregory said...

Our new theme song? (to the tune of "Battle Hymn")

(with the drums and fifes sounding stronger as they come over the hill…)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of our gender on the rise,
With some hidden in the shadows and some ‘out’ before our eyes
We will show them we are special with our kindness, no surprise.
Our truth goes marching on.

Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Our truth goes marching on.

We’ll be educating others with a brilliant shining smile,
In hope that they wont judge us, ‘til in our shoes they’ve walked a mile,
With inner strength and lots of patience, gently prodding all the while.
Our truth goes marching on.

Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Gender! Gender! Hallelujah!
Our truth goes marching on.

Tia said...

One major problem here seems to be the confusing of Transsexualsism with behaviors exhibited by cross-dressers, transvestites, and dragqueens.
In the States, this is all lumped together; whereas, elsewhere in the world; e.g., the EU, the distinctions are clearly defined- both medically and legally!! Transsexualism, with a known biological basis, and traced to fetal development, is quite different from the latter paraphelias.
CDs, TVs, and DQs are essentially performing a parody of women, and may (or may not) get a sexual high from the behavior.
This is not the same as Transsexualism, a condition where the individual clearly feels completely ill at ease in her(his) birth sex, has the brain anatomy of the opposite sex, and wishes to physically conform their physical anatomy to their brain anatomy. These are very simply different phenomena.
That Transsexuals are not generally well accepted in the gay community does not help Transsexuals in gaining societal acceptance. Orientation is not the major issue for Transsexuals- whereas education of the public as to the condition of Transsexualism, and proper access to healthcare and insurance are major issues to most Transsexuals.
As a Post-op, having experienced the difficulties of transitioning, I agree that we need to educate and get the facts out to the public. But, I don't have the same issues that CDs, TVs, and DQs have, nor do I, as a Transsexual, have the same issues that the gay community has. Transsexuals need to establish themselves as their own community, not accept the inferior status accorded to us by the Gay community, and not sublimate our own issues by pretending they are the same issues as individuals in the cross-dressing community. I can fully support them in their own struggles, but their issues, and struggles are NOT the same as those experienced by Transsexuals, and it only serves to further confuse the public, and delay acceptance for Transsexuals.
From my experience, its why so may Transsexuals here, once post-op,
"disappear" into the "mainstream" community hiding their true selves. That's a sad state of affairs, but it isn't going to change until Transsexuals organize as a group, and push education and action for real change.
If we continue to take a back seat, and continue to try to "fit" ourselves into the gay and cross-dressing communities, we will never make progress, and never gain acceptance.