Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Boxes

(By Brianna Austin)

Fear can singularly be the most debilitating emotion we as humans experience. And, to bare one’s soul may be the most frightening of all human endeavors. Fear is instinctive. We sense it when we are in immediate danger. But what about long term danger, do we sense that? For most of my 47 years, my life was molded by a quiet, undetectable force of expectation – both my own and others. Are the goals we strive for really our own? How do we know? And, what if you dream of what your life should be, only to wake up one day to find out that what you’re living is not it? Can you change who you are, should you?

I’ve been transgender since - well, long before I ever knew what that meant. Slowly, I’ve come to learn what certain meanings represented, only to realize that being transgender means much more than the box people tried to get me into. After a lifetime of internal conflict, I began to recognize certain truths that were about to change my life in profound ways. Like many, my wanting to experience “being” a girl, was overwhelming – compulsive, a need I had to fulfill. The word “compulsive,” conjures up images of someone out of control. It screams of Anthony Perkins in psycho: a schizophrenic who can’t control the demons within. But the truth is, for most of my life crossdressing was compulsive. But, rather than releasing the raging demon within, it brought out a fun-loving, happy, free spirit, and I found a sense of balance in the process. The “box” that the media built, didn’t represent me. In more recent years I transcended the act of dressing and simply lived how I felt from day to day, androgynous much of the time.

After decades of repeat and purge, I first began to actually think about and understand elements of what I was struggling with. The fear had subsided, and with it came a clarity that was just as overwhelming as crossdressing at an early age was. Over the years four questions kept coming to mind:

1. What would it be like to be a girl,
2. Could I become a girl,
3. Would I prefer to be a girl, and
4. Should I be a girl

For a group of people (TGs) that don’t completely understand themselves, it would be almost impossible for outsiders to accurately identify and define the varied characteristics from one group to another. But yet, they try. I referred to myself for years as a drag queen, ignorant of what that really meant, and that the label was inaccurate. As we entered the new millennium, there are now so many boxes to choose from: transvestite, drag queen, crossdresser, she-male, transsexual, t-girl, and the all-inclusive transgender. Boxes, boxes and more boxes - are any of them accurate? They seem to be a double-edged sword. For some they serve as a beacon of light to lost souls in search of a safe haven of like-minded individuals, while at the same time they divide, isolate and confuse others.

I was in Boston, covering the Tiffany Club’s First Event Convention, when I became engaged in conversation with a young, handsome and outgoing F to M transsexual named Robbie. I learned that Robbie avoided discussions about sports with other F to M transsexuals. He never liked sports growing up, yet all the transsexuals he knew, did. “Maybe I don’t fit into this group,” he thought – because the description on the box didn’t fit. It would be logical that many M to F transgenders (a catch all name) experience this as well. They want to belong somewhere, and if the group has a slightly different identity, they disguise or hide it. How sad is it that people can come out, only to still be in hiding.

Do you have the courage to pursue who you should be, rather than who you could be? Knowing who you want to be, and who you should be, are not necessarily the same thing. That distinction may reveal itself in the final leg of the discovery journey. But in finding yourself, you have to consider many things. I once gave a piece of advise to my friend’s daughter, who was just entering NYU as a freshman. I told her, “Find your passion – that in which you enjoy the process as much as the result. Then, find the core of who you are and fulfill your life outward from there.” U Thant, co-founder of the United Nations, was once quoted as saying, “You can’t know how you want to live your life until you know how you want to be remembered.” So, how do you want to be remembered?

In trying to discover who you are and what you’re about, are boxes helpful, or do they pigeon hole us in the eyes of the mainstream, and each other? Feel free to write me and let me know what you think.

http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?/ym/Compose?To=brianna@briannaaustin.bigstep.com or post at

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brieannaaustin/

Brianna Austin is a contributing writer at Transgender Forum, TG Community News, Lady Like Magazine, the NY columnist for Girl Talk Magazine, and editor of Girls Club Reporter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Transgender Employment Solutions

(by Michele Angelique)

Many transpeople find themselves changing employment at some point during their transition. Often it’s been lamented that the only opportunities for t-people are in the entertainment business. Obviously, this situation has to change. Unemployment can be a source of added psychological stress during transition, a time which may already be fraught with challenges. This issue must be addressed in order to find ways in which transgender people can be financially secure, either through employment or entrepreneurialism. Let’s examine various sides of the issue, and find progressive ways to facilitate solutions.

***
Trans-Friendly Employers

Whether or not to transition “in the workplace” is a question facing many transpeople. The answer often depends upon the employer’s perceived tolerance toward such a change, the peer culture within the workplace, and how financially dependant the transperson is upon the employer. These factors lead many transpeople to remain “in the closet”, and live a double life in which they attend work presenting a different gender than they spend the rest the time. This condition leads to emotional stress and paranoia for the transperson that their employer should learn of their secret. Unfortunately, many cases have told us that all too often this fear is well-founded.

A close friend of mine was living the double life, and one evening she was spotted by some co-workers while out en femme. Within a week, not only had she lost her job, but word had traveled to competing firms in the city which might have hired her. The result for her was to be forced to start from scratch rebuilding a career in a different line of work altogether.

Another close friend decided not to live the double life anymore, and decided to come out to her employer. On the surface, it seemed a risky revelation given that she works in a “manly-man” type of business, and 95% of her co-workers are blue-collar males. However, she decided to have a meeting with her managers and tell them of her transgendered status and intent to transition permanently. She explained that she would like to begin coming to work wearing makeup and female clothing. The owners and management of the company were supportive of her, and sanctioned the requested changes.

She has since been going to work looking incrementally more feminine, while always remaining in the bounds of prudence. She dresses similarly to the women in her workplace, as her goal is not to receive extra attention or be a distraction to others, but rather just to be herself. She’s now happily doing just that. Her 50+ male co-workers have been respectful and accepting, some have even asked sincere questions wanting to better understand her transition. Her story gives me hope because sometimes an abundance of tolerance may exist in places where we assume there would be none.

The problem is, it is difficult to determine whether a company will be trans-friendly or not, until you take the plunge and ask the question. For some people, asking that question is just too risky, so it never gets asked.

I propose that we begin building a page on GenderEvolve that indicates the names of companies known to be trans-friendly. We can collect t-friendly employer names from the transgender community, and we can also contact companies and find out if they qualify to be listed on our page. If anyone reading this knows of trans-friendly companies, please respond in the comments section of this article or to employers@genderevolve.com .

The Transgender at Work (TAW) project is a focal point for addressing workplace issues for the transgendered. TAW provides resources for innovative employers who want to set their company employment policies to help their transgendered employees to be at their most productive, without spending energy hiding an important part of themselves and pretending to be something they are not. Transgender at Work (TAW) focuses on voluntary cooperation between employers and employees. While civil rights laws are important to understand, and provide useful examples of language, advocacy for laws is outside the scope of TAW.

Resources for transgendered employees: http://www.tgender.net/taw/tg.html

***
Self-Employment Opportunities

The other career option for a transgender person is to become their own boss. This is the ideal solution for maximum personal freedom. There is no reason a TG-owned business must be based on, or have any relation to, transgenderism. There is no limit to the type, nature, scope of business that a transgender person could undertake, it just depends upon individual skills, visions, talents and financial resources to get started.

The first question to ask yourself when thinking about starting your own business is “what do I love?”. Think of what activities or causes make you the happiest. Ponder any and every avenue that might enable you to do these things that you love, in the context of providing valuable goods or services. If you can earn a living doing something you love, you will feel like you’ve never worked a day in your life.

The next question to ask yourself is, “what am I good at?”. Any business that you own should enable and challenge you to operate at your best. Honestly evaluate your strengths, identify your top five strengths, and look for ways to build upon those. Similarly, identify areas that may be required in your business but are not within your realm of skill, and think about ways to support those areas. You may wish to partner with others, or hire consultants to fill in the gaps.

The third question to ask yourself is, “who else would value these things?”. The types of people that fall into this category are your potential customers. Think of ways you might be able to get their attention with your product or service. Consider the demographics of these potential customers, such as age range, income, family status, cultural genre, location, habits, education, lifestyle, and preferences. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what might compel you to make a buying decision.

Take the information you have gathered in the above three questions, and put them together. You now have a basis for a potential self-employment business opportunity, and can begin seeking to fill in the details. Here is a valuable resource portal to guide you through the rest of the process of starting your own business. http://www.entrepreneur.com/bizstartups/

***

In conclusion, many transgendered people may find the best solution to be self-employment, although the transgender employment situation is one which is bound to change over the coming years. Employers will become more aware, and human resource policies will be written that prevent discrimination against transgendered people, in much the same way that sexual discrimination policies have evolved to prevent harassment of women on the job. It is my hope that we will be able to gather an ever growing list of trans-friendly employer names to add to our special page on GenderEvolve.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Candidly Transgender

(By Brianna Austin)

I was walking down Broadway -- a small group of friends in tow – when, just as I crossed West 22nd Street, I heard a voice shout, “Hey, beautiful, is that an Adam’s Apple you have”? With a chuckle I turned and saw four or five guys in their late-20s, sitting in their compact car (no doubt part of the “bridge-and-tunnel-crowd” that descend upon Manhattan from New Jersey, Connecticut and the other New York boroughs each weekend) laughing as they waited for the light to change.

“Honey, that’s the least of what I have,” I said with a giggle, prompting them to laugh once more. We then engaged in a playful banter for the next few moments. Were they initially laughing at me? Perhaps, though I wasn’t sure, but, now, they were laughing with me. As the light changed they pulled off with a parting, “you’re pretty cool, have a great night!” And so I did.

Since I had walked out of the closet so many years ago, encounters like these have become a regular occurrence for me. I don’t necessarily go looking for them; but it’s pretty hard not to find them when you’re walking down the street in a pink, spaghetti strap, Gucci mini-dress and matching spiked sandals. And though things don’t always go so smoothly, I have to say that most times they do.

For all the remarks that are aimed at me, I never took any of it too seriously. Several of my friends were offended at the Adam’s Apple remark, and given the chance would have opted for a simple, “Fuck you,” or some other aggressive response. Many of the guys who are arrogant with TG girls are often insecure within themselves to start with, making for a potentially explosive situation. So, when met with head on anger it is a breeding ground for physical confrontation. Leaving me to wonder why any TG would risk the possibility of physical harm as their first course of action? What purpose could such an action provide?

Even if I had taken an aggressive stance, met a physical confrontation head on, and emerged victorious, what is the prize? The odds are higher that I would have ruined my new shoes rather than changed anyone’s views about me. Not to mention that the rest of the evening I would have been all worked up emotionally, only to have me right back where it all started anyway. That’s not to say that I take everything that comes along, because sometimes, you just have to stand your ground. But I at least try to give the antagonist a way out, by trying to ease the tension first. If it doesn’t work, then sometimes you have to decide your next option. In fact later that same night, outside of Centro Fly, the club we were en route to, another fellow yelled out from his SUV, as he was waiting to park.

Again – with a smile – I found myself in a verbal banter; however, this time was different. This guy was hostile and arrogant. The more my remarks brought laughs from his friends, the angrier he became. But, I never downgraded him; I only made light of the situation. It is easy to keep a lighthearted mood if you don’t allow people under your skin. By realizing that their words don’t define you, but only them, makes that easier to do. Someone calling me a freak, fairly or jerk doesn’t necessarily make me those things; but does define them for saying it. With every insult he threw, I tossed back something light and easy, until finally, when he had been verbally out jousted long enough, he screamed, “ I’m gonna kick your ass fagot!”

What was I to do? My friends were quite stunned when I reached down and took my shoes off, looked at him and quietly said, “OK, come on. But, keep in mind that how bad a beating I give you will depend on how dirty you get my dress.” He stood there a long minute, absorbing the words, and finally, cracked a smile and started to laugh. And that was that. Maybe he realized how ridiculous the whole affair was, or perhaps he suddenly realized that had he lost, his friends would never have let him live it down. Still, right until the very end, I kept offering him a way out through humor, and just in time, he took it. Confronting someone is always a last resort however, and only if you’re confident you can handle the situation. Otherwise just walk away: use your head, not your ego. Believe me, I have walked away from many hostile situations where I felt that I was in danger.

For the most part I have found that being candidly transgender disarms people. Straight guys love to yell, “You’re a guy,” or something to that effect. But, when you shrug it off as though “Your point being,” what else is there really left for them to say? Their punch line came and went, and had no affect. When they then know that you know that they know, everyone is more comfortable. That doesn’t imply abusing yourself for their sake, but rather making light of the obvious. There are times when being TG can be funny, and onlookers shouldn’t be expected to pretend that something out of “their” ordinary hasn’t occurred. When someone yells out, “Hey, you’re a guy,” that’s an observation not necessarily an insult. And even if it is first intended to be, most people would chuckle when my friend Dahlia would counter, “Thanks for reminding me, I had almost forgotten.”

In the end, we are new to people in the mainstream, and many, especially young straight guys, are intimidated and insecure. So, to cover it up, they try their hand at an insult for laughs. Our society breeds contempt and insult: watch any of the late night talk shows. So I say, there is too much drama in the world already, so why add to it. Does it make you feel better to be hostile to make a statement? Get over it, and make your point by example: live and let live with a smile. Even if the other person is a little slow to grab the idea, usually they’ll realize how silly they are acting in time. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be trying on a new pair of shoes?

Until next time, get out, be safe, and always think pretty!

Brianna Austin

Brianna Austin is a free-lance writer for Jazz Review Magazine, Glide Magazine, TgForum.com, and Girls Club Reporter, and previously contributed to Lady Like Magazine, Tg Community news, and Girl Talk Magazine. She can be reached at: www.briannaaustin.bigstep.com

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sacred Feminine


Finding The Balance, Honoring The Feminine

The goddess is the female divine being, the Mother, the Amazon, the healer, the lover and the Queen. To speak of the Sacred Feminine is to speak of the innate divine qualities of women throughout the ages. It harks back to all times when power manifests as a positive attribute, not associated with control or supremacy, but rather potential and strength and the earthly powers of sun and moon and nature.

Examples of suppression, even unintentional, of natural feminine instincts abound. Women can be ticketed for breast feeding in shopping malls. The fact that twenty-eight days in the lunar calendar and twenty-eight days in a woman's cycle is treated as hardly more than a coincidence. The rich and hugely interesting pantheon of female mythological characters and deities are not practiced with great regularity.

But to a well-tuned eye and ear, signs of the archetype of the Goddess are apparent and abundant. The concept of the Sacred Feminine entered mainstream consciousness with the bestselling book The DaVinci Code. Pilgrimage tours to sacred sites for women featuring ancient ceremonies are gaining in popularity. Curiosity and a good library will unveil many intriguing tales and traditions from which to cull.

The Hopi Indians tell of Ha Hai-i Wuhti, the mother who nourishes all beings be they kachinas, humans, sentient or insentient placing a female at the center of all creation. The Hindu's have the great Mother Durga who, though beautiful transforms into her wrathful form. Quan Yin is the familiar Chinese goddess of compassion. In Africa, the Orishas are honored as both Gods and Goddesses.

All animals, humans included, are born from the union of male and female. Appreciating our feminine side in the spiritual sense means valuing the feminine principle, along with the masculine principle, as equal and fundamental aspects of the Divine. The yin yang symbol is a reminder of this perfect balance within us. And now is the perfect time to find that balance by honoring the feminine.

Who are the women in your life? Pay attention to the contribution of women to our society. Lift the glass to them, sing their praises, honor them in whatever way, small or large. Paying this respect reaffirms our connection to the divine, the Goddess, the Earth and each other.

For more information visit Sacred-feminine.org

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Transcendgender Way

(by Michèle Angélique)

As discussed in my recent article, the Transcendental movement was sparked by a progressive literary guild in the 1800’s whose writings led to freedom for the slaves and uplifted the status of women. We at GenderEvolve are similarly, a literary guild writing to influence freedom for transgendered people and continued improvement of status of women. It is appropriate to renew the legacy of the Transcendentalists by forming a similar paradigm.

Let us direct our efforts to sparking the “Transcendgender” movement. To “transcend” is to rise above, to go beyond, to surpass. Applied in present context, it means to “rise above physical gender”. With this, let us define what holds us together as family and friends, sisters and brothers, for the common purpose of influencing a shift in societal perceptions about transgenderism.

A “Transcendgenderist” believes that all people are gifted with an inherent combination of feminine (Yin) and masculine (Yang) characteristics, independent of biology. Self-actualization is facilitated by understanding one’s own male and female selves, and building upon the strengths of either or both, without being encumbered by the status quo. Transcendgenderists seek abolition of all forms of gender discrimination, and aspire to achieve harmony and equality between man, woman, and everyone in between.

A Transcendgenderist expresses and embodies a unique blend of male and female qualities. (S)he bridges the gender gap through experiential transformation, which may be internal, external, temporary, permanent, frequent or rare, depending upon the individual. In the case of a biological male, transformation entails the internalizing and/or externalizing of a more feminine (Yin) perspective. In the case of a biological female, transformation is internalizing and/or externalizing a more masculine (Yang) perspective. In the case of one who is dedicated to transcending gender, ongoing introspection leads to the evolution of an external image which closely reflects the inner gender balance of that person.

Experiencing a broader realm of gender characteristics, a Transcendgenderist fosters strengths of both genders, while striving for emotional balance and a deeper sense of empathy. By reversing gender perception, a greater understanding is achieved, resulting in the awakening of dormant facilities and realization of latent potentials. Transcendgenderists become more complete human beings through experiential gender transformation, and are eventually able to go beyond, to transcend, gender conflict and become integrated at a higher level. The resulting whole person is greater than the original sum of male/female parts.

Transcendgenderists ascribe to the Transcendentalist motto that all people, regardless of gender, race, religion or creed, have the basic right to “be fully human”. Similarly, Transcendgenderists advocate freedom of expression, tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of diversity. The Transcendentalist movement began an era of progress toward supporting women in masculine roles. It is in this spirit which the Transcendgenderists advocate supporting men in feminine roles.

As a group following in a similar literary path, we at GenderEvolve shall push forth the reawakening of the same transcendent movement which emancipated our brothers and sisters of yore.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The gender of words.

The French language has this peculiar structure of attributing gender to just about everything. A simple apple is no longer just an apple, it's "une pomme" in the feminine sense rather than "un pomme" in a masculine form. Who ever decided that an apple should be feminine rather than masculine goes back to a time long ago and hold no logic whatsoever. Who are we to argue the roots of a language that has evolved for thousands of years like everything else, right?. When referring to some animal form like a dog, it usually take a specific gender name like "un chien" and "une chienne" for a male and female dog respectively. The same holds true for humans, "un homme" and "une femme" are grammatically correct in their gender assignment.

The same gender attribution is also found in Spanish, Italian, German and many other Indo-European languages. If you think the French have a hard language to learn with two genders, German, which has 3, is a bit more complex. Then, wait until you learn Swahili. They have 6 distinct gender distribution in their nouns (at this point it is more a "noun class" than a gender). If you really feel like you need a challenge, the Bantu family of languages (Africa) have a total of 22 distinct noun classes with some languages using as many as 16-18 on a daily basis. Have fun ladies. (
http://members.aol.com/sylvanz/gv7.htm)
(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_gender)

The feminist community should also have a ball knowing that the words vagina, ovaries and breasts, in French "un vagin, un ovaire, un sein" respectively, are all masculine in the grammatical sense. Transgendered people might even find it confusing that a beard, "une barbe", is feminine. I will not even comment on the need to change the gender of a noun, in special cases where it is used in its plural form or changing the ending of adjectives according to the gender of the noun they are referring to. All this may sound very confusing at first if you were never exposed to the French language either in school or in everyday life, but you get the hang of it I guess.

But the topic here is not to discuss the intricacies of French language or the genderless aspect of the English language, even after thinking that a word like "hung" has very little feminine attributes. For many years, the information age has eased the concept of people communicating in written form with one another. What used to be pen, paper, envelope, stamp and a week long travel to get to its intended recipient is now an electronic letter, a much easier and widely used form of communication. Being quick and easy, people write and exchange more.

Words alone are but the tip of the iceberg here. Everyone who has writing ability will exert a specific writing style, building phrases, paragraphs and text to convey the message they wish to deliver. The question I asked myself a while back was a bit troubling for me in a sense that, tossing aside the vocabulary a person may use, can gender identity come across the writing style used by a person? Do men write like men and woman write in a more feminine way?

Since my mother tongue is French, I often have to analyze phrase construct more than the average English speaking person and as a result often discerned how some people do represent their gender very well in their writings. Are the words that we use, the phrases, the thoughts we are expressing, capable of communicating some form of gender identity? Maybe, to some degree at least but that could be just my personal opinion at the lack of empirical data. Well, I rarely saw a female writing a phrase like : "Hey, I think u r cute, hit me up and w'll chat". Yeap, that's definitively a male identity. Case closed. Hummm…well, is it really? Are we analyzing the poor grammar or the message’s representation of a male trying to express his need to conquer? If it is about grammar alone, could a female with the same level of intellect write the same way? Frankly, I never was exposed to this dilemma before and found it quite intriguing.

What we have to say often reflect our moods too, blurring further more the distinction of what could be called a gender oriented writing style. I often saw genetic woman write in a manly authoritative form. Does it mean that the actual circumstances brought the masculinity out and affected their style?. And what about the female working her way through the ladder of male dominated corporate organizations. They do express a more direct, authoritative and logical line of thought that is, for the most part, more prevalent of male identity.

I have read from many sources that a genderless approach is always preferable for an author of fiction and novel. Trying to instanciate an opposite gender line of thought on certain characters can be an exceedingly difficult task.

Simply Googling "gender of words" will bring some fascinating topics of language and grammatical definitions, gender definition and even a set of interesting discussions on gender identity from very different backgrounds. (artistic, religious, psychology, etc…)

Are we to think that we all write in a rather genderless form dictated solely by our level of intellect and the context at hand, possibly superimposing emotions and inner feelings on top? If I had to speak only for myself, I can’t differentiate when the male or the female part writes specifically. My mind is only one deep inside, even if the physical manifestation of this transformation is temporal.

As you can see, I am asking lots of questions. Words and their use is obviously not my forte in life but I was astonished by the dichotomy in the evidence, and the lack of, gender identification in the way people express themselves in written form. I am but a student here.

Love and Hugz,

Arianne

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Who Are We Trying to Be?


(by Samantha Leigh)

One of my deep ponderings of the latter part of last year relates to 'Chelle's recent post of spoiling the pass and this recent hair removal "Why' question. I've been working on being the best possible version of me, which of course would be different at the end from anyone else, but our quest might be similar enough.

The short answer to 'Chelle's question, in that I think she is similiar enough to me, is that she wants ACCEPTANCE. Accept me for who I am, come after me with pitchforks; because of who I am, but do not waste my time with false premises wrong ideas, even if they seem helpful in the short term. Love me or Hate me but please do it for the right reasons.

There are many pieces of extra baggage that "We" crossdressers pick up along the way. Skills we are not necessarily aware of. We are experts at concealling who we are, from other people and from ourselves. Most of us here have been experienced earlier in life at portraying the 'Man" other people expected us to be. Doing things we were not enthusiastic about just to fit in, whether clothing, or mannerisms, or conversations. You just don't talk about your favorite color of Nail polish in the guys locker room. We lived as a manlier version of the men we actually were.

When we get to the point of exploring our selves and arrive online in the CD, TG pick your label community, before many of us figure out much of anything we are faced with a brand new set of expectations. The pendulum swings. Can you remember the defining point when you stopped thinking of yourself as an inaduquate man and started thinking of your self as an inaduquate woman? ;-)

A lot of what is proffered as 'support' to the 'community' is an exchange of one set of problems for another. An exchange of a a false masculine fascade for a false femmenine fascade. The support groups are full of "you really should do this" advice. I feel that meeting our TG peers expectations of our femmenine selves can lead us down the wrong path as much as Society at large's masculine expetation of us.

The two parodies I see most often are the slut and the hyper-femme. We wax on about the problems of the slut often enough. The hyper-femme, the TG that wants to out Femme the women is another type. Having a learned responce from the masculine world of caving in to expectation, I think many of us in the femmenine realm go overboard the same way. From the "of course I'm a Man" to the "of course I'm a woman", to the point of claiming to be out doing women.

'Chelle was around for my TG newby days on another list. My wife having arrived before me was provided a laundry list of "your husband should do this or dire consequences may occur later in life". I went from tottal non-dressing denial to the Mall En Femme in 90days. The support group you find yourself in tends to reproduce a given cookie cutter version of CDs. The slut lists will reproduce more of the same. Some lists, the hyperfemme. Others the "oh my wife oppresses me".

How many have you have seen threads in another group about what a CD observed at the Mall about women. Most of these threads tend not to be revealing of anything useful and usually harp on how unwoman like women are; or some obscure behavior of women and how does one reproduce it. Wives on lists are always thrilled about these threads.

Another thread is the CDs buying femmenine hygene products and finding innovative ways to make use of it. I think this out does the Bikini line question. This is clearly a pointless emulation excercise. I am a woman---- women use tampons---- I must use tampons. Even if you think you're a woman trapped in a mans body, your mans body ain't menstrating. My wife once wanted to reach through the computer and slap some silly CD who was going on and on about how they wish they could have a period.

Human nature and observation will tell us that not all natal women are alike. I'm pretty sure that no single woman has all of what we could list about womanhood and femmeninity. There seems to be a flow in our community to be "all the woman you can be"; it's part of that pyramid that puts TS at the pinnacle. Even if you knock the top off the pyramid there seems a striving for the level below the pinnacle, a superiority over the levels below. I can pass you can't; I wear higher heals and/or shorter skirts; I dress 100% En Femme more often; I wear more femmenine clothes; I remove more hair than you; etc in the CD olympic games.

Lacey Leigh often discusses conforming to societal constructions of gender duality. I believe that CDs themselves are the largest proponents of maintaining this duality. People pendulum swinging from conformity to a masculine construct to conformity to a femmenine construct (or a parody there of). I think within the TG persons education is a great sense to cave in to peer presure, at first society at large and later the CD community expectation.

For those of you still awake, my point or question is.... Are you trying to be a woman, or are you trying to be yourself? Are you trying to be the best version of yourself you possibly can be or are you trying to be someone else? Were you happy at the initial joy of your crossdressing experience but still feel like something is missing? Do you find yourself doing something silly because you read it online? Real psychologically healthy women don't TRY to be women. 'Chelle is one of the first people I met online and still know. Although we have only met once I think we both have enjoyed watching each other grow from afar. 'Chelle, I think you have ascended, you don't want to pass as a woman; You do pass as a person! You may still have goals you want to achieve, but I suspect you are now comfortable with yourself.

For me it started with my wife saying something like" You're just going to the supermarket for a few things, you don't need to put on make up." I'm more than Make up and clothing deep. My femmeninity is part of being the best version of me I can be. It's not an escape from my reality. I'm not worried that my kids calling me Daddy means that people know I'm not a woman. I know I'm at peace being me. I'm transgendered, I just pass easier as a man than I do as a woman. I like to think I pass as a real person all the time.

I hope this has given everyone something to chew on.

Love,
Samantha

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Focusing on The Best You


Each of us has been blessed with unique qualities. No one else has lived through precisely the same circumstances, possesses exactly the same qualities, or thinks just the same thoughts. We love, appreciate, and hold dear vastly different things. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to justly compare oneself to others and yet so many people stake their happiness on how they fare when measured against a neighbor, a coworker, a sibling, or Hollywood star.

It is easy to think that if you had her eyes, his house, her job, or his money, that you'd be truly happy. Your value as a person has little to do with what you look like or what you possess and comparing yourself to someone else denies your own wonderful gifts and talents. Everyone has worth, but the source of that worth is individual. Learning to stop comparing yourself to others begins with accepting your worth, because your own acceptance is the most important.

Regularly assessing your worth in terms of other people's gifts, be they talent, money, looks, or material wealth, can lead to dissatisfaction, even when you're on top of your game. It's important to remember that you are you and will always be you, not someone else. Your individuality is something to take pride in. When you get the urge to compare yourself to someone else, meditate on the fact that you are lovable, capable, and special the way you are.

Instead of focusing on traits you don't possess, and others do, or vice versa, concentrate on what you yourself have. You may be a great painter, very funny, or physically fit. Or you may be exceptionally organized, a capable parent, or profoundly patient. Usually, when we compare ourselves to others, we come out feeling devalued. In noting the positive differences both in yourself and the other party, you appreciate and foster distinctiveness.

The gifts which you have been given can be used for the benefit of everyone you come into contact with. Realizing and embracing such a concept enables you to focus on bringing out the best in yourself, so that you can celebrate your own achievements as well as those of others.

http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2005/488.html

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Unnamed Feeling

(by Alexis Rene Jones)
My thoughts have been revolving around a subject regarding acceptance from significant others to those trangendered for the last few weeks, regardless the stage of transistion mentally or physically. I have not been able to make heads nor tales of my thoughts at all. As this is all speculative at best as I am single. However this impacts many.

As with anything, When I am trying to comprehend thoughts or feelings I try to view introspectively and objectively and hopefully garner an outside point of view as well.

So with that, I put my mindset back to about ten years ago when I was married and denying my own feelings of what was within. When I say "denying feelings", That is putting it lightly. I was burying them with a vengence as I just could not bear anyone to know or try to accept what was me. I mean how could I think someone else could accept what I would not about my own perception of who I was.

After trying to place a bearing on all of this I tried to imagine what if my beautiful wife would have came to me and said...."While you have been away at work, I have been wearing your clothes with my hair tied back tightly and I can style it back much like a man. I have also been working out and trying to gain some muscle mass as I am more comfortable with the masculine than I am with the feminine side within. I still love you and hope you would stick by my side. However if not, I am sorry about your decision and this is a road I must travel with ...or without you."

I would have been horrified and scared. Wondering where "I" went wrong. Many feelings of an underworld would have came to light of day for me to see. Questioning everything frantically, I would have let my mind be my own worst enemy. So back then my immediate comprehension of such information would have resulted in her or him per say to hitting the bricks. The response being out of defending the perception people had of me would have ruled over the realization of myself.

Current day, After my divorce I have avoided relationships based on numerous reasons but one main is that I do not know where my future lies just yet. So for me my life is relatively simple in terms of being free enough to explore who I am without compromising someone I would love and care about.

My question is this, If your significant other was the transgendered person and not you, How would you react? Speculative I know... More fitting to the wives and a few husbands of many would be, How did you react and what happened thereafter? While it would be great to say we are enlightened individuals in this world with supportive souls and all things have a happy ending, That is just not the case as I see many a transgendered souls suffering the pain of choosing what is within them and what is before them in terms of their families. This sort of decision can get to the life threatening stages of depression or stress related complications. Which is why I am addressing it now personally than later as it will impact my future greatly!

It is metaphorically said that a mind is like an umbrella and only works while open. However this is much deeper than any metaphor can conclude.
While we hope for people to open their minds to us, Do we do the same in return because we are evolved or out of convienance?

I know this is redundant but....I am sure there are plenty of wives and maybe a few husbands in the world who may be able to enlighten us upon this subject and I hope some will share some positive or negative experiences on this as it would enlighten many and quite possibly help others see a broader real world spectrum of what exists in terms of significant others.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crossdressing and Fashion (with a capital "F")

(by Marlena Dahlstrom)
“It’s not the clothes.” How many times have I said that when the lament of “women wear pants, so why can’t I wear a dress” surfaces with clockwork regularity on online crossdressers’ groups I belong to. Usually it’s in the context of making the what-ought-to-be-obvious point that women wearing men’s-styled clothing aren’t trying to portray themselves as the opposite gender, as crossdressers typically do. And yet, after reading Anne Hollander’s fascinating “Sex and Suits,” which looks at the evolution of modern men’s and women’s clothing, I wonder just how much of my crossdressing is in fact about the clothes.

To briefly summarize, Hollander convincingly makes the counter-intuitive argument that since the late Middle Ages men’s clothing has been the fashion innovator—and that women’s styles have been both imitating it and borrowing from it for centuries. Before the 1200s, both sexes wore roughly the equivalent clothing: bag-like garments that were variously wrapped, belted and fastened. The length might differ—men often wore shorter ones for activities, such as physical labor and war, that required greater movement—and Northern European men added loose-fitting leg covers to cope with the climate, but the similarities far greater than the differences.

It was the under-garments invented to protect wearers of plate armor from their metal casings that sparked a revolution of closely-fitted garments for men that culminated in the “modern” men’s suit, invented around 1800. The wildly varying experiments in men’s clothing—compare the portraits of Henry VII, Rembrandt and George Washington—also reflected a “modern” sense of Fashion (with the capital “F” as Hollander refers to it through the book), which has an insatiable desire to move on to something new and different than what people are wearing at the moment. Whereas women’s fashion, while inventive in surface decoration and accessories, and incorporating the concept of Fashion, remained unchanged in the fundamentals until the 20th century—when women finally appropriated men’s fashion wholesale for their own use—although even today women’s fashion retains an emphasis on “using ornament and color according to expressive inclination” that was once the common to both genders.

But people generally don’t see it that way. As Hollander notes: “Actual women take “Fashion” seriously or not, depending on their lives, means and views; but they may all believe that it is something legitimately possible for them, something any woman may ignore if she likes but always has an absolute right to take part in…. Most men, in accordance with modern rules, are still quite comfortable ignoring “Men’s Fashion” in its show-businesslike aspects, and feeling that it is not actually available to them nor really even aimed at them.” And that: “For the past two centuries, men have dreaded looking like fools much more than women have; and so the dress of the male tribe has had a somewhat stronger uniform quality than the female one. Women have envied that very thing about it—and sneered at it too.”

What Hollander overlooks is those of us who want to participate in Fashion—I’ve always been a bit of a metrosexual, decades before the term was coined—but who felt it was off-limits due to their gender. As Helen Boyd’s husband, Betty, put it: “Sometimes I just like pretty shoes and pretty blouses but because I have a penis we have to use big words to describe it.” I’ve often said that if I were a bit braver and society were a bit more accepting I’d be tempted to do the Eddie Izzard look (warning: site has audio clips) part of the time—someone who dresses as a “man,” but with make-up, painted nails, jewelry, plus some flashier sartorial elements of women’s clothing.

If I’d been able to this when I young, would I have become a crossdresser? Probably. Doing something one knows is stigmatized requires some deep-seated drives, as evidenced by the difficulty that even those of us who hate their crossdressing have giving it up. And I’m well aware of my other reasons—among others, a chance to take a gender role vacation and a chance to be someone else when I was an unhappy, socially awkward kid.

But I do wonder. I’ve heard enough accounts of crossdressers, particularly those who started as young children, where the initial attraction was simply to wear the “pretty things” that girls got to wear. Certainly, there’s an obvious transgressive thrill to wearing what boys/men don’t get to. But to what extent is it simply Fashion’s siren call to wear something other than what one is currently wearing. To use clothing “to be mutable and multiple, decorative and colorful” (as Hollander says of women’s fashion). To participate in what Hollander refers to as the “ancient forms of display—glitter, exposure, constriction, adornment” that were once the prerogative of both genders—and things that many crossdressers seem to adore. To have available the dizzying array of choices seemingly available in women’s clothing. A crossdresser I know refers to herself as a “glamoursexual” and I think that’s not a bad way of putting it. As Hollander notes, a concern about the decorative effects of one’s clothing would never have been despised as effeminate by Henry VIII or any of his contemporaries in Renaissance days.

But I think we avoid acknowledging the importance of fashion and clothing in the reasons why one might crossdress because it’s often considered “nobler” (or at least more “respectable”) to talk about being “feminine” souls trapped in men’s bodies—and because there’s the fear that doing so seems frivolous. Not to mention the whiff of fetishism. Carrie in “Sex and the City” may be allowed to obsess over Manolos, but a man who does so is considered a pervert. And god knows, I have seen crossdressers online whose only topics of conversation seems to be shoes and the heights and styles thereof. Nonetheless, Hollander makes a number of observations about Fashion and its participants that I think provide some very asute—if wholly unintended—insights into the attractions and psychology of crossdressing.

It’s intriguing that the two major feminine innovations in fashion—the skirt (which split off from the dress) and décolletage—are ones that fascinate many crossdressers, especially in tandem with the mini-skirt. There’s an obvious appeal in that these are “women’s only” clothing—men’s fashion has never seriously incorporated either, although its has borrowed many “women’s” elements. (Often this borrowing is actually a bit of sartorial recycling since these were men’s fashions that had been long ago discarded and subsequently adopted by women.)

But equally importantly, they both show off the body in a way that men's clothing simply doesn't. As Hollander notes, while men’s fashions clearly articulated their form in ways that women’s fashion didn’t, men’s actual bodies invariably remained fully covered. “Men’s fashion has never used provocative exposure as part of the formal scheme; and shirts, once invisible under medieval doublets became elegant status symbols when they began to emerge, not erotic elements…. Traditionally, a man in nothing but underwear is undignified and ridiculous, or vulnerable and perhaps even sacrificial, but symbolically stripped naked, and not enticingly semi-nude.”

Even today: “Modern men’s short-sleeved formal shirt, often forbidden in strictly correct circumstances, have their disturbing flavor partly because they were really borrowed from women, for whom arm exposure is respectable. Men have allowed themselves to take their shirts off, or to roll up the sleeves and unbutton the collar, in negligent or hearty modes; but they have not been moved to cut open the neckline or cut the sleeves so as to exposure the skin in interesting ways. Nor did they ever do so with coats, gowns and doublets, all during fashion’s long history. Even very short shorts for men, along with skin-exposing undershirt, both quite recently adopted, are also slightly disturbing as public male garments for city wear—I believe because they also have dared to borrow the modern female rule for ordinary exposure.” It’s notable that the opened-a-bit-too-far shirt of the stereotypical lounge lizard in fiction is used to symbolize his sleaziness. In contrast, in antiquity as Hollander notes, “it went the other way: men were bare and women covered.”

So one of the appealing things about crossdressing for me is precisely that ability to be deliciously exposed, to put myself on display in a way that would at best get me labeled an exhibitionist (and more likely a pervert) in masculine dress. And I’m not even talking about slut-wear. Rather it’s just being in something dressy and showing a bit of leg and a bit of neckline, and clothing that follows my (faux) curves. No more than a woman who’s proud of her body might show.

This was brought home to me recently when I attended an event in the sort of formal gown I’d desperately envied as a young man in a tuxedo. The dress was black just as my tuxedos had been—so it was a draw on color—although admittedly black velvet is a far more sensuous fabric, and the bow as well as draped fabric around the neckline provided more ornamentation. But it was the bare arms, chest and back, plus a hint of ankle and most importantly the way the dress gently hugged my body that made me feel profoundly sexy in a way that I’d never felt in a tuxedo, no matter how well tailored.

Hollander says the freeing of women from corsets in the 1920s and 1930s wasn’t fundamentally a matter of practical comfort—women had been doing physically taxing things for centuries in corsets and considered themselves comfortable—rather “[i]t instead concerned a new style of female corporeal pleasure, one more visibly expressive of what women had always like about their own bodies, the physical feel of flexibility and articulation in both limbs and torso, even without vigorous activity, the sense of subtle muscular movement and the strength of bones under smooth skin, the rhythmic shift of weight. Literature and nude art show that men had always admired women’s bodies for these very qualities but during most of European history they were personal secrets only to be privately enjoyed and perhaps revealed by artists, but never openly expressed by fashion itself.” Perhaps crossdressing stems in part a desire to experience for myself what men had traditionally admired about women’s bodies from afar.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between feeling you can put yourself on display and feeling that you’re obligated to do so. En femme, I’m a “big chick” no two ways about it and I can only imagine the pressures I’d feel as an actual woman who has to confront the beauty myth every day. But if women face too much pressure to look sexy, often men lack the opportunity to feel sexy at all. As Hollander says a man “[w]ith the shirt collar open and the sleeves rolled up, he may indeed be very erotically exposed; but that effect, unlike deliberate feminine décolletage, only succeeds by looking artless.” [Emphasis mine.] So artless in fact, that a man himself would never consider that state of dress sexy. The widespread popularity of lingerie among crossdressers I think is an attempt to evoke that feeling of consciously being “enticingly semi-nude” that they feel isn’t available to them as men.

There’s a similar appeal in our attraction to make-up. Hollander argues that in the 20th century, personal beauty became “a variable individual manner no longer associated only with a perfect young face and figure”—which was emphasized by the growing cosmetics industry, i.e. beauty wasn’t just for adolescents and that “[m]akeup became the emblem of the conscious, creative charm that transcends all indifferent physical attributes, and therefore makes age irrelevant.” Crossdressers also received these messages—even if we weren’t an intended audience and on a practical level, crossdressers that I’ve seen both en homme and en femme typically do look younger and more attractive en femme, since makeup is by definition intended to enhance one’s features. Would I want to feel like I had to do my make-up every morning? Definitely not. But damn, I do feel more attractive when I’m wearing it.

(The pernicious side to this beauty myth is that if you’re not beautiful there’s no one to blame but yourself. It’s the equivalent of the anxieties that American men have felt about being “success objects.” Free to be a “self-made man” (unlike the Old Country where own’s place is society was historically usually inherited and unchangeable) you’re free to succeed—but if you don’t, or aren’t as successful as you feel you ought to be, the “failure” is yours and yours alone. The head of one cosmetics company once said there are no ugly women, only lazy ones—and its interesting that the jab also invokes the same “lack of effort” ascribed to unsuccessful men.)

Obviously putting on make-up is time-consuming, women’s clothing and shoes can be far less physically comfortable than men’s clothing (although men’s clothing, such as ties, aren’t necessary comfortable either). And wigs, breast forms and hip pads are often hot—“trannies in heat” really means being constantly worried an unladylike “glow” (OK, sweating a like a pig) in summer weather. But the psychic comfort crossdressers get often outweighs any physical discomfort—just as it has for any dedicated follower of fashion.

According to Hollander: “Contrary to folklore, most changes are not rebellions against unbearable modes, but against all too bearable ones. Tedium in fashion is much more unbearable than any sort of physical discomfort, which is always an ambiguous matter anyway; a certain amount of trouble and effort is a defining element of dress, as it is of all art. In the past, stiffness, heaviness, constriction, problematic fastenings, precarious adornments and all similar difficulties in clothing would constantly remind privileged men and women that they were highly civilized beings, separated by exacting training, elaborate education and complex responsibilities from simple peons with simple pleasures, burdens and duties. Change in very elegant fashion usually meant exchanging one physical discomfort for another; the comfort of such clothes was in the head, a matter of honor and discipline and the proper maintenance of social degree.”

While the satisfactions for crossdressers are different than those of the privileged men and women of yore, it’s interesting that we often glory in precisely those fussy bits that drive women crazy—and ones that they’ve often abandoned. In “Girlfriend: Men, Women, and Drag” Holly Brubach described how at a famous New York City boutique for drag queens and crossdressers: teddies, garter belts, Merry Widows “and other paraphernalia which, despite the fact that it is now virtually extinct in most women’s wardrobes, is loving perpetuated here as an integral part of the standard-issue femininity kit.”

The drag queens Brubach interviewed often prided themselves on being far better paragons of “femininity” than actual women and in online crossdressers groups one hears complaints at regular intervals about the lack of femininity in the way women dress and act today, and how they too are "better" at portraying woman than most women themselves. (Fortunately, these complaints from come small minority of crossdressers, ones who fail to see the obvious irony of complaining about society’s intolerance of their desire to wear dresses while simultaneously telling women how they “should” dress and behave.)

But male admirers of transsexuals and crossdressers (less charitably referred to as “tranny chasers”) do often comment about how we’re more “feminine” than the real thing. Which in a sense is probably true since we have to try harder to be seen as “women.” And so doing convincingly can be tremendously satisfying. Not only in the sense one might (or might not) feel in inhabiting one’s “true” gender—but also in the sense of accomplishment, of mastery of craft.

Hollander points out that being good at Fashion is also hard work. “With all the contradictory pressure at work in Fashion, it’s clear that those who are the best dressed are those with the greatest degree of self-knowledge, whatever the fashion genre…. [T]his brand of self-knowledge is usually not consciously and therefore arguably not knowledge at all, and it effects are only another kind of unconscious revelation. To seek it consciously means to devote time and effort to specifically visual self-understanding, not to physical or moral improvement. It means deep detached study in multiple mirrors, the sort of private workout that yield real knowledge of your actual appearance: your rear views and side views, both sitting and walking, your normal head movements, your gestures and facial habits while speaking—all requiring a detailed self-regard that has itself gone out of fashion, again especially in puritan America. It is the sort of thing associated with expensive French courtesans or English Regency dandies whose only assets were their distinctive physical charms, which required constant technical maintenance backed up by ferociously clinical self-scrutiny.” Or of crossdressers whose frequent obsession with mirrors and photos is well known.

Not that narcissism (and sometimes self-arousal) isn’t a factor in our love for own images. But even if we’re considerably less self-aware than the courtesans and dandies about what we’re up to, I think some of the same self-scrutiny is at work. To paraphase Fecility Huffman, we have to learn “feminine attractiveness” like a second language. So I for one have carefully studied my photos figuring out which angles and which poses are most flattering. Consequently, I’m far prettier in them than I appear in real life.

Crossdressing may be pleasurable, but it’s also a skill that one can take pride in when done well. A reporter for a gay magazine who went out for an evening en femme with a local crossdresser’s group aptly summed it up in his story: “A successful transformation involves more than slapping on powder and lipstick, throwing on a dress, and talking in a falsetto. As a creative art form, crossdressing can be as demanding and expressive as painting or sculpting, singing or acting.” Or Fashion.

The Transcendentalists

(by Michèle Angélique)
GenderEvolve can be compared to the Transcendentalists (tran·scen·den·tal·ists), a progressive literary group in the 1800's whose influential writings during the period 1840-44 led to emancipation of the slaves and achievement of significant rights for women. Similarly, 160+ years later, we at GenderEvolve are writing collaboratively with the goal of influencing the social emancipation of Transgendered people, and achievement of true equality for all feminine beings. The Transcendentalists advocated equality, human rights, social acceptance, and expanding human consciousness, just as we do at GenderEvolve.

Although mostly comprised of men, the Transcendentalists also held the belief in the "spiritual eminence of women" because they highly valued the traits of empathy, introspection, emotions, sympathy, compassion, all deemed to be strengths of the feminine. Similarly, the GenderEvolve group is comprised primarily of male-to-female (M2F) transgendered, and we all hold femininity in the utmost regard. The Transcendentalists were non-religious, and yet, they had spiritual liberty. They shared a cornucopia of religious views because they agreed on the premise that all humans (regardless of gender, race, religion or creed) are made of God/Divinity, and that no human is superior to any another. Similarly, GenderEvolve is an open-minded forum of progressive thinkers who believe in the equality of all people, and the right to choose ones own beliefs and self-expression without judgement.

The commonalities between GenderEvolve and the Transcendentalists are numerous, and it is inspiring to see the impact this small group had on society, just by writing collaboratively as we are doing. Here is a bit of background on this remarkable group of transcendental literary freedom-fighters, whose example we would do well to follow.

Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement which originated among a small group of prominent intellectuals in New England from about 1836 to 1860, which resulted in evolutionary new ideas in literature, religion, culture and philosophy. The movement advocated an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical, a state which can only be realized through self-introspection. They shared the belief that divinity is immanent in each person, and in nature. They embraced the premise that individual intuition is the highest source of knowledge, which led to an optimistic emphasis on individualism, self-reliance, and freedom. The transcendentalists went about creating literature, essays, novels, philosophy, poetry, and other writing that were clearly different from anything elsewhere.

Transcendentalists became involved in social reform movements, especially anti-slavery and women's rights. They believed that at the level of the human soul, all people had access to divine inspiration and sought and loved freedom and knowledge and truth. Women and African-descended slaves were human beings who deserved more ability to become educated, to fulfill their human potential (in a twentieth-century phrase), to be fully human.

The Enlightenment had come to new rational conclusions about the natural world, mostly based on experimentation and logical thinking. The pendulum was swinging, and a more Romantic way of thinking -- less rational, more intuitive, more in touch with the senses -- was coming into vogue. The Harvard-educated Emerson and others began to read Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, and examine their own religious assumptions against these scriptures. In their perspective, a loving God would not have led so much of humanity astray; there must be truth in these scriptures, too. Truth, if it agreed with an individual's intuition of truth, must be indeed truth.

Theodore Parker wrote, “Woman I have always regarded as the equal of man—more nicely speaking, the equivalent of man; superior in some things, inferior in some others; inferior in the lower qualities, in bulk of body and bulk of brain; superior in the higher and nicer qualities—in the moral power of conscience, the loving power of affection, the religious power of the soul; equal on the whole, and of course entitled to just the same rights as man; the same rights of mind, body and estate; the same domestic, social, ecclesiastical, and political rights as man, and only kept from the enjoyment of these by might, not right; yet herself destined one day to acquire them all.”

The movement derived some of its basic idealistic concepts from romantic German philosophy, notably that of Immanuel Kant, and from such English authors as Carlyle, Coleridge, and Wordsworth combined with mystical aspects influenced by Indian and Chinese religious teachings. The ideas of transcendentalism were most eloquently expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in such essays as “Nature” (1836), “Self-Reliance,” and “The Over-Soul” (both 1841), and by Henry David Thoreau in his book Walden (1854). The movement began with the occasional meetings of a group of friends in Boston and Concord to discuss philosophy, literature, and religion. Besides Emerson and Thoreau, its most famous members, the club included F. H. Hedge, George Ripley, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker, and others. Primarily a movement seeking a new spiritual and intellectual vitality, transcendentalism had a great impact on American literature, not only on the writings of the group’s members, but on such diverse authors as Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman.

Prominent Transcendentalists with birth and death dates:

* 1792 Thaddeus Stevens (1868)
* 1793 Sam Houston (1863)
* 1795 Dred Scott (1858)
* 1797 Sojourner Truth (1883)
* 1800 John Brown (1859)
* 1800 Nat Turner (1831)
* 1801 Brigham Young (1877)
* 1803 Ralph Waldo Emerson (1882)
* 1805 Joseph Smith, Jr. (1844)
* 1805 William Lloyd Garrison (1879)
* 1807 Robert E. Lee (1870)
* 1807 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1882)
* 1808 Jefferson Davis (1889)
* 1809 Edgar Allan Poe (1849)
* 1810 P.T. Barnum (1891)
* 1811 Harriet Beecher Stowe (1896)
* 1813 John C. Frémont (1890)
* 1815 Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1902)
* 1817 Frederick Douglas (1895)
* 1817 Henry David Thoreau (1862)
* 1819 Walt Whitman (1892)
* c. 1820 Harriet Tubman (1913)
* 1820 William Tecumseh Sherman (1891)
* 1820 Susan B. Anthony (1906)
* 1821 Mary Baker Eddy (1910)

The Transcendentalists had five U.S. Presidents:
* 1795 James K. Polk, 1845-1849 (1849)
* 1800 Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853 (1874)
* 1804 Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857 (1869)
* 1808 Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869 (1875)
* 1809 Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865 (1865)

Sample cultural endowments of the Transcendentalists include the following:
* The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison
* Walden, "Civil Disobedience", Henry D. Thoreau
* Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln
* Encyclopaedia Americana, Francis Lieber
* Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
* The Transcendentalist, Ralph W. Emerson
* The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
* "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", (song, Julia Ward Howe)
* The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Jr.
* The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
* The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Jefferson Davis


*****
References:
http://www.bartleby.com/65/tr/trnscdntl1.html
http://www.emersoncentral.com/transcendentalism.htm
http://www.emersoncentral.com/transcendentalist.htm
http://www.transcendentalists.com/what.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendentalism