Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Woman's Prerogative

It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. We've heard that saying a million times. As a man, I never really understood it. Men are trained as leaders to make a decision and stick with it no matter the consequences. Never mind the iceberg just up ahead. Stay the course. Don't be indecisive or waffling. Even if that choice leads you and everyone else over a cliff, it doesn't matter. You made the decision, and that makes you a real man.

I had a situation yesterday that made me understand for the briefest of moments that it is ok to change your mind. I went in with one assumption about what was right and came out with something very different. And wouldn't you guess it? It involved buying a formal dress. Now tell me how many of you are really surprised?

Let me preface this by saying Saturday was one of the most full scheduled femme days ever. I started the day by spending a couple of hours at Pride Day in Charlotte with my good friend Pamela Jones. We set up a table for NC TG Unity. The spirit was very strong, and it makes me very hopeful for the Charlotte GLBT community. I finished the day with the Transcarolina group in Greensboro at Warehouse 29. It was fun to see some old friends and make new ones. I have to admit I am not big on clubbing. However I do enjoy people watching, and that part of the show is always fascinating at Warehouse.

In between all that involved some very important shopping. I had a running list in my mind of what I wanted, and I think I checked off my whole list except for some new jewelry. Sorry Ms. Carmen! After checking into my hotel in Greensboro, I was off to my favorite department store Kohls. I love Kohls as I think they have the best combination of prices and clothes. The damage at Kohls was a new cream silky slip (feels so nice) and a couple of eyeshadows.

My next stop was David's Bridal where I wanted to buy a dress for the Saturday night gala at Southern Comfort. This is where I had my mind changing experience. Now you may be asking, "Stephanie, don't you have plenty of dresses?" Yes, but they're all floor length which is the style I love. However, this year at SCC, I'll be working with the video crew at SCC, and I need something I can move around in. I was thinking something knee length and free flowing. Immediately the saleslady found something in blue that I liked. It was cute, and the material felt really luxurious. It seemed to fit the bill.

I asked her if I could look around some more. Shortly I found a black tea length halter top number made of organza that was calling my name. I never even tried on the blue dress as I loved the black dress that much. It occurred to me that the black dress was a better choice as I didn't have any dresses in black. It was much more sophisticated than my first choice. It is also a dress that I can wear a number of places. The important thing is I liked the way I looked in it. So imagine the pic at the top in black, and that is the newest formal in Stephanie's prom closet.

The funny thing is I never would have picked out the dress from a catalog. While the internet and mail order are wonderful things, nothing beats trying clothes in person in front of a mirror. In fact, I was saved one skirt purchase at Kohls after trying on a skirt I thought I would like and having the mirror prove me wrong. It truly is a feminine experience trying on clothes and being surprised (in both good and bad ways) by the results. Many personal shoppers even suggest to try on at least one outfit that you normally wouldn't wear. Pretty good advice I would say.

I finished my shopping spree with a flirty skirt for the night from Fashion Bug and then a manicure. Have I even mentioned I was totally at ease en femme with the thermometer touching the upper 90's? Most of the stores were fairly crowded, but I was just another young woman shopping. I become more comfortable each time. I know how to shop better, and it saves me from making some bad choices. And you know... it is ok to change your mind especially when formal dresses are concerned!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Songs That Make Me Cry

Most people put at least one iPod or iTunes list on their blog. As a guy, I would never consider making this list. The reason is that I couldn't explain why I cry at certain things. However Ms. Carmen told me that one of the great things about being a woman is a release for overwhelming emotions. It has to come out somehow, someway. Even Mr. Darling on Andy Griffith never gave an explanation. He just said, "That one makes me cry," and Andy would pick (literally) another tune. So here are off the top of my head some songs that make me cry.

1. Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward
2. Watching and Waiting - The Moody Blues
3. Will the Circle be Unbroken
4. There is a Time
5. What's the Name of the Game - ABBA
6. It's Too Late - Carole King
7. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day
8. Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
9. Come Monday - Jimmy Buffett
10. Fly Away - John Denver
11. Who Are You Now - Blue Jays
12. Beth - KISS
13. Amazing Grace (on bagpipes)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dress Montage

A little dress collage from over the years. I have featured five of the dresses in stories so far. From L-R...

1) Royal blue dress
2) Fuschia dress
3) Wine dress
4) Teal dress
5) Peach dress
6) Debutante dress

Monday, August 13, 2007

Larry King Show Review

I am not disappointed I watched the Larry King Show on CNN Friday night. I was immensely proud of all the guests as they represented themselves and the community quite well. However, I was somewhat disturbed by Mr. King's line of questioning. Larry King is a multiple award winner and has been long been regarded as an important figure in broadcasting. He is someone I admired as I startd my broadcast career a year before he finished his long running syndicated radio show. I must say I have rarely watched his CNN show except when issues of major importance to me were featured. In other words... not very much.

I understand Larry King Live still has good ratings for a cable show. However, in looking back at some of his guest lists, he does rely on somewhat sensationalized topics. Maybe that is how be approached Friday night's show. Mr. King is notorious for his minimal pre-show preparation. I have learned he didn't even talk to any of the guests prior to the show. I understand he wants to come across as unbiased. In this day and age and with his salary, Larry King can stand to adapt to modern expections of good journalistic preparation. On the plus side, he did allow the guests just enough breathing room in their answers to come across as real people. They are the reason the show ultimately succeeded.

The positive in a talk show format is that good articulate guests with interesting stories make for strong television. There is no live interactive audience to shout you down, and a Larry King show will be much more fair to the guests than Jerry Springer. Of course, the types of guests (and therefore the audience) on each show is far different. While Larry King may feature sensational topics, he does allow room for a fair discussion. It could also be argued that he asks questions that the normal American tv viewer might ask. I thought the panelists particularly Jessica handled them all very well.

The one theme from the show was that everyone has a different path in life. Even within the TG community, there is so much diversity. Each of the TG guests was at a different point of transition. Each had experienced difficulties with family and job. Even Jessica who appears to be the most fully realized as a post-op has to deal with an unsupportive mother. We know Susan Stanton has had to turn her life around in a relatively short time and fortunately can live very well on the speaking circuit. That doesn't mean her life is easy. In the end, everyone has to do what works for them. By featuring positive images of the community, we give each other the strength to find our own path. To know you are not alone on your journey is truly a powerful message.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Larry King Tonight at 9pm

Set your DVRs/TIVOs tonight for 9pm ET on CNN for Larry King Live. The tease is:

Men who have surgery to become women, women who become men. Go inside the world of transgender people.

The poll question on the the front page is straight forward: Have you ever wished you could be the opposite sex? At the posting of the blog the answers are running 25% yes/ 75% no. Oh I did vote yes. That doesn't mean I want to have surgery at this very moment or even in the near future or ever. Has the thought crossed my mind at points in my life, and are there times I would have said yes? You better believe it.

Larry King Live website

On another subject, I watched very little of the Democratic presidential candidates debate on Logo, the gay themed cable network although I did see some of the recaps. Part of me is delighted as a transgender person that the candidates gave this serious time. I am also somewhat thrilled that the 2008 election affords citizens of this great nation an opprtunity to cover so many issues with the candidates. However, it is still a long ways until the first primaries and caucuses in January not to mention the fact that the voters of North Carolina rarely have a chance to affect the vote in the primaries. I will be interested how the candidates handle themselves barring some great national crisis once Christmas rolls around. I expect the issues will not change much, but the writing may already be on the wall in regards to a favorite for both parties by that time.

The realistic side of me is still somewhat pessimistic in regards to GLBT causes. If the gay community believes the Democratic Party is their great salvation, they will be in for a rude awakening. Even a large number of Republicans will start supporting us when it becomes politically expedient. So much of politics is about the ability to raise money and then turn that money into votes.

The reverse of that is that the candidates will say whatever we, the people, want to hear. If the vast majority of voters do not support our causes, the candidates will not give it much more than lip service. That is why the real work occurs at the grassroot level in the form of education, and education is something that happens everyday everywhere from the churches to the grocery stores. There will also be a percentage of people that will never change their minds about us. We will never reach them unfortunately. Most who see us simply living our lives and giving to the community have and will over time be more supportive. It does take time, but we have seen positive results. Hopefully the candidates in 2012 and onward will be more aware of the groundswell of tolerance and maybe even admiration for those in the community. Then we will become a true participant in the affairs of the nation.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Story Behind the Dress #5

With the thermometer here in the not so deep south threatening triple digits for the next three days, I thought it was time for another edition of the ever popular dress series. While lemonade and sweet iced tea are acceptable remedies for the hot weather in this part of the country, I also enjoy thinking about the cooler seasons.

This particular dress certainly qualifies as it is what I regard as my Christmas dress. I have worn it many times to Kappa Beta Chrismas parties and other yuletide occasions. I bought it at a consignment shop in Fayetteville in fall 1998. This was a special trip as I got to meet several of the local sisters including the fantastic Kathy Louise. The consignment shop was run by a supportive woman and opened especially for us after hours. A couple of the wives also showed up. This was probably the first time I had gotten a real woman's advice as I tried on outfits which was very much appreciated. I ended up buying this dress along with a fuschia prom dress which I will feature later.

The dress is admittedly a different style from some of my prom dresses. Some would even say it is a bit conservative. I like it for several reasons. The slightly silky cloth material feels wonderful particularly in the skirt. The ankle length skirt also has a good sway to it which always rates high in my book. I love the contrast of the maroon and the ivory lace. Notice the short ivory heels in the pic which match the lace very well. No gloves or fancy jewelry are needed with this frock although I do enjoy the matching lipstick an blush.

Finally, while maybe not appropriate for a more formal outing, the dress is perfect for holidays and semi formals. Its one of my few dressier outfits where I really don't have to worry about walking. Its pretty much a put on and go outfit... not a lot of fuss involved. I don't have to think about a floor length skirt, tons of ruffles, or a strapless outfit. While I love all of the above, there are times when I don't want all the hassle.

I still have this dress in my closet, and it still has a place in my heart. Maybe if I wear it, the mercury will retreat to double digits. Well a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Something in the Water

One of the things that amazed me when I started going out over nine years ago is the richness of the transgendered community in the Carolinas. I don't know if this is possible to determine, but it seems this region has a larger than average number of TG folks and therefore a large number of groups. I will try to keep up to date the local list to the right sidebar. I believe there is one or more groups that all of us can find a home. I will explain why below.

For the first several months of 1998, I visited only Kappa Beta as it was convenient for me and provided fantastic support. Kappa Beta will always have a special place in my heart as that is where I came out. KB is a Tri-ess affiliate which means that it is primarily for heterosexual crossdressers and their wives/girlfriends. It is also mainly a social group which is very helpful for the new girls. KB meets once a month in Charlotte, NC and has been my most regular outlet. The one thing I am very proud of concerning KB is their inclusion to not just crossdressers in the TG community. It is vital that even in a social and someone less serious setting that we all mingle. I know I have learned so much about the TG community and also myself.

The other type of group is generally called "open" groups which involve more serious discussion of TG issues. I first visited Phoenix in Asheville in July, 1998 and broadened my horizons immensely. Phoenix is lead by Holly Boswell and Jessica Britton and has been going strong for almost 21 years. Holly and Jessica's involvement with the community on a national level gives Phoenix an amazing depth of experience and knowledge. My first trip was a bit overwhelming to say the least. I'm not sure I was quite ready, but much of what I learned has stayed with me. I'm sure a return trip to Asheville is in the works. Similar groups include Triad Gender Association (TGA) in Greensboro and the newly formed Charlotte Gender Alliance (CGA) in Charlotte. They both meet monthly. If you attend any open group meeting, be prepared to tell a little about yourself, and seriously listen to the concerns of your sisters and brothers in the TG community.

One of the great success stories is Trans-Carolina lead by Janice. They started out as a place for TG girls and supporters simply to meet at various places across the Carolinas and has now grown into a 501(c) non-profit that will soon be donating to worthy causes in the TG community. I have yet to attend one of their soirees, but Trans-Carolina has brought a spirit to the region that has been missing for some time. I will talk more about them once I actually get to the group. Let's just say for now I am quite impressed as Trans-Carolina is the closest thing to a unified Carolinas TG group.

I have not even touched on groups in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Myrtle Beach. All of the above groups have web and Yahoo Group connections. Simply email the contact on the web pages for more info. I am very proud of those involved and their efforts to bring us all together. As I said in the open, there is a place for each of us somewhere in the TG spectrum of groups. Make every effort to find and then to contribute to yours.