Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Place to be a Southern Belle Part 2

I wanted to share my latest news about my latest upcoming adventure. Most of you know I have a love for prom and formal dresses. This goes back to my earliest memories of knowing that I liked women's clothing. I found I also liked the Civil War era dresses with the big hoop skirts. Of course, its a whole lot easier to find the prom dresses than those big Civil War gowns. Still I have had two custom made for me in recent years. I was left with one problem... where to wear them? I enjoyed the history side of it as well (I am quite the History Channel geek) and decided to start checking out local historical sites.

In late August, I visited en femme a historical site in Charlotte called Latta Plantation. I asked about times I could return in period costume. Their Halloween and Christmas events were recommended to me. I emailed the volunteer coordinator about working at the Halloween event (the Ghost Walk). I was upfront about my desire to be a female character since I am transgendered. She responded saying they could probably use me as a guide and to stay in touch. I offered my services as a guide for one of the nights.

Yesterday I received an email back from her saying I was on the schedule as a guide for Saturday night, October 27th. I will be leading visitors from haunt to haunt telling scary stories along the way. Oh yes, I will be dressed as a Civil War era southern woman. This is exciting for me on so many levels. I do have a genuine interest in the history of the region so it will be more than just the thrill of being en femme. I still live so much of my life in boy mode, but I want the experience of doing something real as Stephanie. Volunteering is one way I can get my feet dirty in the real world. It is a little scary but exciting at the same time knowing I will be in a completely mainstream setting without the safety net of a group. I will get read. There's just no way around it. However, I am understanding more and more that people are fine with me because I am fine with me. They see that growing self assuredness and honesty, and people can accept it.

I would be remiss if I didn't invite everyone! The Ghost Walk at Latta Plantation is 7-10pm Oct. 26th-27th. I will be working the Saturday (Oct 27th) night only. Admission is $7. Latta Plantation is north of Charlotte near Huntersville. You can find more information at http://www.lattaplantation.org We will be having a work session October 14th. I will have more details to post after that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

TG in the Workplace

Some of this is heavy material, but it is worth reading. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently posted its Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for 2008. Unfortunately, activists in the TG community have pointed out (and rightfully so) that it falls far short in covering the "T" in GLBT. My short response is that we still have a long way to go in terms of educating the business and corporate world about us. This is a short list of articles explaining and commentating on this in more detail.

Corporate Support for the Trans by Donna Rose

The Blue and Yellow Stepchild by Marty Abernathy

HRC Corporate Equality Index: Rating Criteria

Transitioning into New Jobs and Genders (Los Angeles Times article on the First Transgender Career Expo at SCC)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Southern Comfort 2007

Whew!! It's over, and I feel like I'm in a period of detox. I'll have more substantial material about SCC 2007 at some point, but suffice to say it is truly a climb to the mountaintop where I can breathe the rarified air of the essence of the transgender community. Unfortunately you do have to come down at some point, but at least I can bottle some of that air to carry me through the real world. Being around an estimated one thousand of your sisters and brothers and especially working with some of the best in the community is truly an experience beyond words.

Here is part of what I wrote in the Kappa Beta Yahoo Group:

It was also my pleasure to work along side Kari and Marilyn as volunteers at SCC even though we were in different departments. My body and mind are still recovering from what is always a life changing week. This week was a big longer as I arrived on Tuesday, worked Wednesday in drab setting up the ballroom, and then spent the next three days en femme as part as the tech crew. As a volunteer, you truly understand that things don't just happen on their own. It requires so much work and planning from a tremendous group of talented and dedicated people to make the conference "just happen."

I was very honored to be part of that group, and it was made even better because I worked as the real me. The wonderful ladies who make up the tech crew were gentle with this newbie as they showed me where to put that wrench, tighten that screw, and move that light. Hopefully I held up my end with some good camera work. The play Saturday night in particular allowed the video crew to shine with some nice close-ups that most in the audience would have missed without the big screens.

Of course, it is always nice to see the old friends and make new ones. I was constantly apologizing for cutting off conversations to hurry to the next tech setup. I renewed acquaintances with at least two people who have known me since the "beginning", i.e. the time in internet chat before Kappa Beta. I also met one young woman named Millie who was at SCC three days. I asked, "Oh, your first Southern Comfort?" "No," she replied. "My first three days out period."

That is the magic of SCC. It is expensive, but it is worth saving up for. I'm already planning for 2008.


It is an emotional experience especially with my volunteer efforts. I now know just a little of what it takes to put such a conference together. Thank you does not seem to be near enough to both the organizers and the attendees. That is part of why I feel moved to continue to give back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 11th Reflections

The video of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City six years ago tomorrow still creates a hollow place in my stomach. The memories of feelings of dread and helplessness from that week seem so real. One of my high school classmates was on one of those planes. I think of the lost dreams and lives from the thousands who are no longer with us, and it gives me the realization that I must live life while it is still with me.

I will try to keep this as unpolitical as possible as the discussions over the American lead wars since that day are totally legitiate and reasonable. The one thought that crowds my mind is that a group of people on the other side of the globe felt like they had the right to impose their way of life on us. They were so strong in their beliefs that they felt (and still feel) fully justified in killing indiscriminately. How does this affect the transgender community? Clearly we are a group that many religious extremists around the world are uncomfortable with. It is safe to say that they look on us with utter contempt. In a country run as a theocracy, the rights of TG people would be the first to go. The good news is more of the mainstream public is being to understand that our rights are worth fighting for. In reality our rights are the same as everyone's rights... to be ourselves in such a way that doesn't take the same right away from others.

So in a way, the spirit of September 11th moves me to discover myself more. That exploration connects me not only with my inner soul but also with the rest of the world. As I understand myself better, I understand the world better. This is part of the gift of a dual gender. I can still cry when watching the towers tumble and rejoice as the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

For Your Listening Pleasure

We've been having a wonderful time at the Community Kink chat room on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET for Fabulous Femme chat. Ms. Carmen is on the radio live, and Ms. Cecilia hosts the chat. Ms. Cecilia always tapes a report for the show, and her last one was on the topic of the differences between men and women and how it relates to transgender folks. It's a free download and well worth the listen.

Ms. Cecilia - The Differences Between Men and Women

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Place to be a Southern Belle

Another day, another outing, another new thing for Stephanie. Those who read this blog regularly know I have a fledgling interest in Civil War history and of course the big beautiful women's gowns from that era. To recap, I have two custom made Civil War style dresses including one that is based on an encyclopedia picture from my childhood that I recently rediscovered. I even identified myself as a crossdresser to the online seamstress that made this second dress for me, and she was incredibly friendly throughout. The whole story is at My Dream Dress posted in July.

Yesterday, I made a visit to Latta Plantation north of Charlotte, NC. Latta was at it height during the early 19th century and has events based on both the Revolutionary War and Civil War. This was my first such trip en femme, and I dressed fairly casually. I wanted to inquire about which events would be appropriate to dress in period costume. After paying my $6 for the tour, I spoke with one of the ladies dressed in a 21st century tshirt and jeans. She walked me through the events that might work but seemed somewhat non-commital even saying it wasn't illegal for me to come dressed that way. I didn't get the best vibes from her, but at least she had been honest about the possibilities.

Afterwards, I walked with the tour group which included a few small children. One little blonde gal kept looking up at me like she couldn't figure me out. As the site was short of staff for the Labor Day weekend, our tour was lead by the farm manager Ken. He turned out to be very nice and also was a godsend for the young children as he extended the tour to include all the farm animals. We met all the chickens, roosters, sheep, horses, mules, donkeys, and even a pygmey hog named Fat Boy whose days were numbered. While Ken kept the tour fun for all, I was thinking I had fallen short in my quest. I had not seen anyone dressed for the 19th century.

Upon my return to the visitor center, I was greeted by a young blonde named Nicole who was dressed in a lovely simple blue colonial dress. Finally! She said I was welcome back anytime and went on to say that many regular visitors do show up dressed in costume. She went on to recommend a few more events that might work for me. I told her about my two dresses, and she seemed genuinely interested in my stories. So I have a few dates to add to my calendar when I can play southern belle for a day. I might even recruit a few fellow belles to join me.

I will continue to look for similar historical sites. Who knows? One day, I might be the one giving the tour.