Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Schedule


I hope everyone has been enjoying the cool fall weather and the colorful leaves. This is one of the times I really enjoy apartment living watching everyone rake up their leaves. I love the explosion of color, but I detest cleaning up the fallen leaves. I must admit most everyone in my town has done a beautimous job in keeping their yards clean.

A good friend recently asked me about my reencting schedule and other appearances. My goal for 2009 is to have a full slate of Pride shows and other activities on the slate. I enjoyed so much the Pride Charlotte and Southern Comfort presentations that I'd like to expand as much as time allows. A lot of this will be dependent on my work schedule and my application to a local reenacting group. Once I start confirming events, I will put up a schedule someplace on this blog

My ideal situation is a combination of mainstream and GLBT events. I feel a desire to work in both arenas. The mainstream events give me an opportunity to grow in that world and develop new friendships. It also shows the world a positive transgender role model. On the flip side, I hope to encourage those in my community to follow their dreams by being at the GLBT events. I have mentioned before that so many keep doors closed because no one else is doing something. My philosophy is to calmly and gently blow those doors wide open! Well I do have to remain the genteel southern belle :)

One date I would like to mention is Thursday, November 20th. We will be having the 2008 Charlotte Transgender Day of Remembrance at the GLBT Community Center in Charlotte. Doors will open at 7pm with the memorial beginning at 7:30pm. I will post more details soon.

I will also be at the first Transgender Policy Summit this Sunday in Durham put on by Equality North Carolina. I look forward to learning the latest on the federal and state initiatives particularly with the recent elections. There's much ground to cover, but we are making headway.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SCC 2008

A big thank you to everyone who attended my seminar, TG Adventures in History, at the Southern Comfort Convention this year! That was my first presentation at SCC, and I was pleased with the good turnout (about a dozen) for a 9am start. I know history may not be the most exciting subject at that hour, but it was a true pleasure to be surrounded by people who enjoy studying all aspects of our past. The best thing was all the ideas for reading material and transgender related topics. It meant so much for the attendees to share their experiences with me. I was particularly moved by the lady who says that this is my "reality" versus being a "dream." Those who read my blog know that is a big deal for me. That is a big part of the magic of SCC... hearing everyone's stories. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Once again, I volunteered with the tech crew at SCC. Due to my work schedule, I missed all of the fun setup work ;) I heard it went fairly well with the great sound crew from Be-All arriving early Wednesday morning. It also helped that we were more familiar with the Crowne Plaza Ravinia being the second year there. Someone on our crew made a great point Thursday that our volunteer work saves SCC a fair amount of money which can instead be used for scholarships. With so many newcomers this year to the conference, it is so gratifying to put a value on what we do. Saturday night was especially fun as I ran a handheld camera in front of the stage during the band's (TMI) performance. I love that kind of creative work although I've never done it wearing an LBD! Hey, I can still be stylish while lugging around the camera.

That reminds me also of the fantastic Thursday night at Maggiano's with the Vanity Club gals. Everyone knows I love dressing up, but I also enjoy seeing all the lovely ladies in our club show their stuff. It really is a varied group of intelligence, beauty, and style. I'm honored to be a part of them. So many asked about my reenacting. Thanks to Andrea for organizing the dinner. The food was great, and the company was even better.

So for those of you who keep track of such things, I wore 5 dressy/formal dresses: Thursday night: the pink strapless a-line dress at Maggiano's; Friday night dinner: the floral green dress; Saturday morning: the green Civil War dress; Saturday night dinner: the blue Loralie southern belle prom dress and the little black David Bridal's dress. Whew! I know my roommate Maddy thought I was a bit nuts with all those dresses. I still need to wear that debutante dress somewhere... hmmmmm. Work on that one.

The Sunday morning at the conclusion of SCC is the first planning meeting for next year. Everyone goes around and gives a quick thought. There are so many good ideas and tweaks. It's hard to do them all, but I know the planning committee appreciates all of the suggestions. Anyone presenting new ideas is generally encouraged to get the ball rolling on it. The biggest challenge is finding entertainment that most can enjoy. Some of the acts (particularly the stand-up comedians) fell a bit flat. The couple who played Friday night (Coyote Grace) were fantastic. I also enjoyed TMI Saturday night, but hard rock isn't for everyone. Donna Rose and Mara Keisling both spoke at Saturday lunch and were inspiring as always. I hope both speeches can be streamed online.

I will leave you with a thought that a few made Sunday morning: SCC saves lives. A bit of a stretch, you say? Just look at all the first timers at SCC (some of whom are going into public en femme for the first time). They have finally found the start line for their gender journey. Sometimes just starting the trip is the biggest triumph of all. I'm sure many never thought they would get to this point. Some may have even given up. Now they know there is a family ready to embrace and help them along the way. That knowledge can lift one's soul and spirit to never before imagined heights. Yes, SCC saves lives. And even more importantly, we can all carry that back to our homes and give that gift to more. Each of us can save a life by helping a person find their true self. Labels don't matter here. Living is what counts! Help all of us live to the fullest.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Am I TG Enough?

Something that the religious world is quite familiar with is the idea that one must be a committed to a certain philosophy in order to be right with God. These are sometimes called "chosen sects." Anyone who has not understood or applied a particular principle is not consider "saved" according to these sects' belief system. Even if this person has been devout and committed all their life, none of this matters to the "chosen one" if he/she has not accepted a way of thinking partiular to the group.

One example I will give was my time with the International Church of Christ (sometimes called the Boston Movement in the 80's) in my college years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Like many so called fundamentalist groups, they believed they had the key to salvation due to a literal interpretation of the Bible. In Bible studies with potential recruits, church members were trained to dismiss any past Christian experience of the recruit. If one area of non conformance with church doctrine was discovered, that point was hammered to the point of making the person believe he/she was not saved. The church could then push re-baptism (thus nullifying any past salvation experience). Really it was a baptism into the church making the new member compliant to the new teachings.

The fallacy with the above is that at no time do we ever fully understand the level of any commitment even to God. Our growth has been called by some a spiraling path upward. We learn over our lifetimes, but the initial decision never changes. We may recommit ourselves, but that is not the same thing as accepting salvation. Over time, the new member of the ICOC learned that the leaders' commands and teachings were considered gospel as well. To disobey the leaders is to disobey God. Essentially, the leaders were the gatekeepers to God and salvation. They created hoops that were never intended by God. Much has been written how this tactic is commonly used by cults to keep members in line. Needless to say, it has lead to many wrecked lives over the years.

I wonder if at times we have similar gatekeepers in the TG community. They can take many forms from leaders in the community to therapists. We also divide ourselves so much with all the labels... TS, CD, TV, drag queens. We even have gender variant groups who refuse to associate themselves with anything TG. Each group has its own spokespeople who create rules (some seemingly in an arbitary manner) deciding who is in and out.

This can be especially frustrating for newcomers to the community trying to find their place. They walk into a community with the same politics as the real world. I know I was shocked at much of the infighting. I agree we should educate ourselves and others of the issues facing our community (especially workplace and health). That is part of the plan to achieve greater acceptance in this world. However, I had hoped that with all the grief we take from the mainstream, the TG community could pull together in a better way.

Fortunately, this is not true everywhere. I understand that my path is different from everyone else's. What works for me may not work for someone else. We all must choose the path that we believe is intended for us. Support groups play a vital role along those paths. The kind word of encouragement or even a small helpful suggestion may be the turning point for a fellow lost soul. Conversely, a unnecessarily harsh comment could easily drive one of our sisters or brothers back into the closet. We may never know the results of our actions. Do know they have an impact, both positive and negative. Just knowing you are not alone in your journey may be the thing that keeps us going.

One of my favorite Bible passages is in Romans 14, verse 5 (NIV):

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

This tells me that it is possible for both parties to be right. In our competitive society, we have been taught that there must be a winner in every situation. When it comes to determining my path, I will win by doing what is right for me. I cannot make that decision for anyone else (nor would I want to). Some will say they can. I doubt it. We can best help each other by removing the obstacles to self realization. Eliminate the pettiness. Be kind to each other. No matter what label you think you can put on another person, they are first and foremost a human being the same as you. Never forget that, and maybe we can move towards making this world truly better for all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Doldrums

In the old days of Kappa Beta, summer was a very quiet time. Since many crossdressers did not want to shave their legs and arms for fear of being outed, they simply went into hiding until they could start wearing outfits that covered more. Some had summer family obligations and did not want to embarass others by showing unshaved skin. I always feel for many of my married sisters who have to compromise in this way. As Dr. Phil says, negotiate everything.

We even had a prom of sorts in May called the Magnolia Ball. It was like a going way party. See you in September. You know I loved it being the prom queen. It went away after 2001 as it became too cumbersome to organize. If you're interested, here are the dresses I wore each year:

1998

1999

2000 & 2001


Part of me misses those days. However, if this blog is any indication, I hope it's obvious I am not going back. I still like the pink dress though!

This summer has been quite productive particularly with 2008 Pride Charlotte. The CGA booth was quite successful and gives us hope to take it to other festivals. Transgender Adventures in History was also a huge thrill. Telling my story makes me feel like I am telling the whole community's story. It truly is an honor. Here are a couple of pictures:




The thing about summer is that it must give way to fall. The season of fun turns more serious as the kids return to school, and the vacations end for the adults. It seems there is that period when my thoughts turn to the latter half of the year even with the thermometer in the 90's. I call it the summer doldrums because my mind and heart are ready for the fall activities... things like Southern Comfort Conference, Civil War reenactments, the fall fashions, high school football, and even the U.S. Presidential elections. Summer fun still beckons though. I even wore a short skirt for the first time in ages at Pride, and yet I look forward to wearing that green Civil War dress when the leaves start to fall. So fall is not all gloom and seriousness. It's just the work must continue, and so must the fun in its own way.

A couple other notes:

Congratulations to the Durham Gender Alliance on a successful first meeting. Victoria and Susan are wonderful representatives for the community.

I have also set up a Flickr page. Feel free to add me as a contact :) Now I'm being told I have to do Facebook! These social pages will be the death of me yet...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pride Charlotte 2008



Just a reminder that Pride Charlotte is this Saturday, July 26, 11 am to 6pm at the Gateway Village on the west side of uptown Charlotte. For those not familiar with Charlotte, Gateway Village runs between Trade Street and 5th Street between N. Cedar Street and N. Irwin Avenue. Pride Charlotte is a day when the GLBT community can be out and proud. This year's theme is "Live, Love, Be." It's that last word that means so much although the first two are pretty special too.

I am scheduled with my Transgender Adventures in History presentation on the Community Stage at 1:20pm following Elke Kennedy of Sean's Last Wish. I couln't be more honored to be following this courageous lady. She is such an inspiration. The Community Stage is one of two stages at Pride Charlotte. It will be on Trade Street. I look forward to being in my southern belle best and then quick changing to something cooler! As my friend Nancy Wichmann reminds me though, women in those days could not change into something cooler. So I can't complain too much.

On a more serious note, I do hope this is the beginning of a greater presence for the transgender community in Charlotte. Last year's booth was somewhat hastily organized and not even a CGA or Kappa Beta function. Pam and I still had a great time being a part of the day's activities. By the way, Pam will be saying a few words at 12:20pm on the Main Stage. This year, we have asked for input from so many of the groups including PFLAG. Also many of the regular CGA attendees are volunteering to staff the booth for the entire event. Even a few new members have jumped in to provide a banner, buttons, and the handouts. I am so impressed with their willingness to contribute.

My hope is that as Pride Charlotte grows, so will all the letters represented in GLBT. While we continue to learn more about each other, we also will show the mainstream a united front of people who are being true to themselves. In my mind, anyone who attends a Pride event is saying just that: I will be true to who I am. I know in my life I have reached a point where there simply is no other option. The other choices are not really choices at all.

I would like to invite anyone who is interested in learning more about the community to drop by and say hello at our table. Parking and admission is free. We should be near the Main Stage in the covered shady portion of Gateway Village. There are plenty of entertainment and food vendors. I would even welcome the new transgender person or crossdresser to attend and chat with us. You'll be amongst friends, and all of us have been down that road before. We would love to help you on that same road.

Pride Charlotte Entertainment Page

Week of Pride Charlotte Schedule

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pride Charlotte - TG Adventures in History


My "award winning" presentation, TG Adventures in History, has been scheduled for the Community Stage at 1:20pm at Pride Charlotte 2008, July 26. It will be similar to the presentation I did for the Kappa Beta Christmas party except I will wear only one costume. For those who missed it, TG Adventures in History is a combination of my living history stories and experiences, TG historical notes (primarily ancient history and 19th cenury), and 19th century women's fashion. I will be dressed (hopefully!) in my famous green Civil War gown including the hoop skirt. I am still waiting to hear back from Jeff on a changing room. Otherwise, I might just wear a simple prom dress ;) I invite everyone to attend! I will also be representing CGA at their booth that day which is a huge honor. More information about 2008 Pride Charlotte can be found at http://www.pridecharlotte.com/

Also, I was recently approved for a seminar at this year's SCC. It is scheduled for Sat, October 4 at 9am in the Gardenia Room at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta. This will be over an hour long presentation with a Q&A at the end. You can find more information about this year's Southern Comfort Conference (scheduled for September 30 - October 5, 2008) at http://www.sccatl.org/

The theme for all my presentations is being who you are and following your dreams. I have a dream of being an openly TG living historian and reenactor. I want everyone to have the faith and courage to follow their dreamds even if it's something that has never been done before. My love of history and period fashions is very real, and that is what wins people over.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sean's Last Wish (cont.)

Stephen Moller was sentenced to three years prison time at a courthouse in Greenville, SC for the punching death of Sean Kennedy. Moller pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He could have received anywhere from time served up to five years. The three year sentence falls somewhere in the middle, but he will likely only serve another year in jail.

My heart goes out to Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother. The pain she has had to endure is beyond description. She received very little comfort or relief at the hearing yesterday. Moller’s attorney, Ryan Beasley, put forward several shaky arguments as to why his client should be released on time served (about seven months). He tried to downplay the incident as merely a disagreement and fight between two drunken party goers. Beasley even went so far as to suggest that Sean’s fatal injury came about from someone helping him after the punch and dropping his body. I understand our justice system gives every defendant the right to a vigorous defense. However I wish our intelligence would not be insulted so much.

The larger question is the role of a hate crime. In a way, should it have mattered? A young man was killed, and it was not an accident. While death may not have been the mostly likely outcome, it is one of many reasonable and possible outcomes. Also where were the charges of assault and many others that I’m sure I’m not aware of? Why did the DA’s office agree to such a simple charge in this death? I realize in the state of South Carolina there is no second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. However, it appears other charges were not even pursued.

This is a situation in which the gay and transgender communities have become all too familiar with. Our cases as a general rule are not investigated or prosecuted as strongly. Why is that? Part of the justice system says that you are at the mercy of the local system no matter whether you are a victim, suspect, or the accused. Across this country, there is a huge variance in how similar cases are handled. Add to that the complexity of politics and election cycles, and we are all subject to how a particular DA may be feeling that day. We are all affected by the prejudices and whims of the individuals in justice and law enforcement. This is why it’s so important to elect fair minded and level headed candidates when we have the opportunity. At some point, the scales of justice must be made truly level. We all lose when they are not level.

I will be seeing Elke Kenndy at the PFLAG meeting in Salisbury Saturday morning. I look forward to giving her a big hug and offering my support. In her grief and sorrow, she has triumphed with her spirit. By carrying on her son’s memory, Elke insures that Sean will continue a positive impact on the world. At the same time, I pray for Stephen Moller’s soul.

Greenville News Article

Associated Press Artcle (courtesy Charlotte Observer)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Debutante Dress with a Pic and Video!

I'm sure many of you were wondering if I was ever going to put on that debutante dress again. After all it has been a year since I wrote about it, and she has shown all these other beautiful dresses. In fact, it was the first post in this award winning blog. Well never fear, my dear debs. Not only do I have a pic. I also have a video!

You'll probably also noticed that the debutante dress makes an appearance in the title page. It signals the start of a slightly different path for my life. I will always be the "Prom Queen", but I am now more the "TG Southern Belle." It is hopefully a maturation on my part. A Southern belle signifies a woman while still quite young but now a bit wiser. She is much more worldly yet still knows how to be feminine, and she still gets to wear beautiful dresses too.

Enjoy the video. Remember, since this is my debut, there is much more to come!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sean's Last Wish

One of the great controversies in the TG community is our association with the gay community. Many fear such a connection will only reinforce the belief in the mainstream that all crossdressers and transgender people are really gay. There is also the disillusionment over the ENDA debacle. The reality even there is that it brought our two communities closer as we realized how much our struggles are similar. Only those at the top of the HRC leadership do not see that. However that is a story that has been debated and analyzed in much better ways by better writers. However the fight does still continue.

Then there are those stories where the labels can be thrown away. They are simply about the human condition. It is a truly tragic story. Out of the despair and grief of losing a son, hope and even triumph reigns. Such is the story of Sean Kennedy, a 20 year old man that was taken from us far too soon. Yes, he is gay. That’s only part of the story.

Sean Kennedy was murdered just over a year ago. The short story is that he was leaving a bar in Greenville, SC early the morning of May 16, 2007. A young man in a car asked if he could spare a cigarette. He obliged, and then another person got out of the car and felt like he had the right to throw his fist through Sean’s face breaking the bones. Either the hit or the resulting fall shattered a piece of Sean’s spinal cord and killed him.

The four young people sped away in their car not realizing that Sean was dead. The young man who delivered the fatal blow even left a cell phone message to one of Sean’s girlfriends saying that Sean owed him $500 for a broken hand. The message was callous and cruel as he literally laughed about what he had done. Fortunately he was caught the next day. Unfortunately the South Carolina court system was not setup to properly dispense justice. The best they could charge the killer with was involuntary manslaughter as it was determined the act was not premeditated. Ironically the phone message was the deciding evidence. The sentencing hearing is set for later this summer. Chances are he will get off on time served.

Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, has spoken out since her son’s death about the lack of appropriate laws for this situation. Any kind of federal hate crimes law would have brought on federal charges. The death of the Matthew Shepherd Act last year likely means Sean’s death will not be the last. Also in South Carolina, there is not voluntary manslaughter or second degree murder. The prosecutors were very limited in how they could charge Sean’s killer.

Elke has crusaded tirelessly across the county speaking to many groups. The CGA was graced with her presence at the May meeting. An amazing thing happened as we shared our experiences. We realized we are not alone in our struggles. Elke admitted to us a lack of knowledge about the TG community. She now knows we support her in her fight. Once you get past the labels, our experiences are so similar.

One part of the discussion that I will share concerns churches and religious groups. As I noted in a recent post, it is difficult for a self professed TG Christian to find their place in either world. In Elke’s case, her church family abandoned her shortly after Sean’s death. They could not find anything in their belief system that would allow them to support Elke. In their view, homosexuality is an abomination. They will not come out and say it, but they probably believe Sean deserved to die.

So I asked Elke why does the church (particularly in more conservative regions) focus so much on this one supposed sin? One of my biggest pet peeves is that this world has far bigger problems such as corruption, greed, and lack of love. Why do we rail so much against this one “sin?” My belief is that addressing the above problems would force us to look in the mirror. At least with homosexuality, we can throw stones and be self righteous. Elke also correctly noted that so much of the belief system is taught from a young age. Many don’t associate with the gay or TG community. It becomes much easier to speak against and eventually hate a group of people you don’t know. It is my firm belief that hate caused Sean’s death.

Please note that the above is not a blanket indictment of all Christians. Pam and I have had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Christians who while they disagree with our lifestyle clearly do not hate us. Some have even taken the opportunity to know us and realize we’re not such bad people (and vice versa). We’re even somewhat normal sometimes! It is my prayer and hope that these conversations are the beginning to a greater understanding for all parties.

I will finish by saying that if you have the opportunity to hear Elke Kennedy speak, please do so. She is scheduled for the Salisbury PFLAG meeting at 10am, Saturday, June 14th. Go to their website, Sean’s Last Wish, for other appearance dates. She even apologized to the group at CGA for coming on a bit strong. I told her there was no need to apologize. She is a wonderful and impassioned speaker and an outstanding listener. I was honored she could attend CGA. You will be lifted by her story and undying spirit. We need more Elke Kennedy’s in this world.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Wrote a Story

And it has now been published! Entitled TG Short Stories with Carollyn Olsen and Friends, this paperback features three short stories. The first, You've Got Male, was penned by my good friend from the Vanity Club, Carollyn Olsen. The second, Loving Change, was written by yours truly. The final story is Third Kiss from Lady Silke Loretta Martin.

Loving Change features a crossdresser and her supportive live in girlfriend on the evening of their six month anniversary. A night of love making leaves a permanent change on our protagonist, or does it? A short excerpt:

Every touch from her brought such a tingly wave of joy upon me that I barely noticed her leading me to our bedroom suite. We both kicked off our heels as I followed her siren call.

“Close your eyes,” she said. “This will take a minute, but keep them closed until I say so.”

I closed my eyes. Amanda was a sensual, tender lover and I relished these moments of surprise. I felt her unzipping my dress letting it fall to the floor. She moved my legs to help me step out gracefully. My bra and waist cincher were undone letting the coolness of the room rush against my smooth hairless chest. She moved my arms straight up, so I could be feel a silk material sliding over my torso and falling down below my knees.

“Just a moment more, Shell,” I heard the luscious voice command me. Something special was in store when she called me by my femme name. I sensed Amanda moving around, the rustling of fabric, and then her closeness in front of me.


To order, send check or money order to:

Carollyn Olson
PO Box 1241
Loomis, CA 95650

The cost of the book is $12 (US regular mail); $15 (US Priority Mail) and $18 (US for International Mail. Add $5 and Carollyn will also enclose a copy of Deception which was her first novel.

Monday, May 26, 2008

God Does Not Make Mistakes

My good friend Robbi Cohn has been passing this link around about a Fox News story on transgender children. Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric specialist at Boston's Children Hospital, is amongst a growing number of doctors that recognize TG tendencies in children. He also assists in therapy for children as young as age seven and recommends medicine that will delay the onset of puberty while these children are given the opportunity to determine their true gender. Of course this being a Fox News story, several conservative doctors are used for a rebuttal essentially questioning Dr. Spack's morals and judgment. One even goes as far as calling him and the children's families child abusers. Another word used is "barbaric." Dr. Spack is truly a courageous individual for pursuing true science in the face of increasing opposition from his learned colleagues and the public at large.

While I agree treating TG children must be approached with all due caution, it must be noted that this treatment is not done in a vacuum. The point of therapy is to involve the family and their child in the decision making process. We know children realize the difference between boys and girls at a very young age. It would make sense for children to figure out over time if they do not fit in with their birth gender. This is a worthwhile area of study so that children do not grow into teenagers and adults that at best can't find their place in this world and at worst commit suicide.

God does not make mistakes. If you scroll down to the comments section, you will see that phrase from a conservative audience numerous times. It is one of their mantras repeated so often like a skipping record. Guess what? I agree, but not in the sense they are referring. Many of the posters believe gender is fixed and cannot be changed. To do so is like playing God. To change it is sacrilegous. Never mind that no one is born "perfect." We all have imperfections whether it be bad eyes, ears, or heaven forbid any number of conditions such as autism or Down's Syndrome. We most certainly attempt to treat all of those and more in order to improve a person's quality of life. Transitioning (both surgical and non surgical) for TG individuals is no different.

God does not make mistakes. I agree. I and all of my TG brothers and sisters were made this way for a reason. I am only now starting to understand that. I have a long way to go in my understanding, but I know I am this way to God's glory. It goes beyond the prom dresses, the Civil War gowns, makeup, the wigs, etc. I truly was blessed with the soul of a woman. I see the world through a woman's eyes. I am a woman. I was dropped into the body of a man. I don't totally know why. I know I have to work a bit harder to be me. It's still worth it though. I wouldn't trade my life for any other.

Those who know me well know me as a woman. Even on a Saturday trip to Latta Plantation, I was treated as a woman. They know me no other way. My friends tell me they see my confidence in being who I am. Maybe I am just sick of hiding. Whatever the case, it's a wonderful feeling to be accepted. That acceptance begins with you. Once you accept the real you, the possibilities are endless.

God does not make mistakes. I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Continuing Education

One of the fun things I get to do from time to time is speak at universities across the area. I love going back to campus as a college girl of sorts because I get to live somewhat vicariously through the students. Of course, the engery, enthusiasm, and influx of ideas are all infectious. At times I wonder what life would have been like if I had come out in my college years and lived en femme. This is somewhat self defeating though as I do believe in a greater purpose for my life, and I am on the path I need to be.

Wednesday afternoon, my good friend Pam put out an email call for a speaker for the Day of Silence event at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. The other scheduled speaker had become sick the previous evening and could not make it. I got the email at 5:15pm and immediately phoned Pam that I'd love to join in. After getting my directions straight and jumping in my phone booth, I made it to the campus at 7:30pm in time for the 8pm event.

I met a wonderful group of students involved in GLBT outreach. The Day of Silence is meant to bring attention to the issue of bullying and harassment of young gay and TG students. The national day was Friday, April 25, but the Winthrop group held theirs on a day when the auditorium was available. Several taped their mouths as a way of saying that it is the silence that is killing the community. Removing the tape at the end of the day is a way of breaking the silence.

Pam gave a wonderful prepared speech focusing on how far we've come. I delivered my impromptu speech which nowadays also features the debutante dress and the Ghost Walk stories. I shared these because I am beginning to relate Stephanie to the real world, and the real world is in turn knowing me and hopefully liking me better. In fact, one of the banners in the auditorium said, "Don't hate... relate!" That is the story in a nutshell of how I win people over. It is more difficult to hate someonew when you know them. One person at a time, we are knowing each other better.

I believe Pam and I pass along more than just a few extra years of experience. We pass along hope. Hope that because of their efforts, they are literally creating a better world right before their eyes. All of our efforts are never in vain. If we can give the younger generation hope that they are fighting the good fight, then we all have already won.

A couple of more notes: I have a new YouTube video with the dress in the picture. Of course, that is the Loralie model. I think I have found a dress I can wear this year. I love digging through my closets and finding outfits I had fogotten about. I would do a Story Behind the Dress, but this story is still in its preliminary stages. Wait a few months on this one!

Southern Comfort registration is now open. The earlier you register, the better a deal you get. I will be at the last planning meeting in August, but I'll also be sure to pass along any new details I hear before then.

One new group I've started visiting is the PFLAG chapter in Salisbury, NC. I came out to a friend in that group in March. They are still somewhat low on TG members, but Pam and I hope to change that. I had a very nice dinner with them Friday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Favorite Color

When anyone asks about my favorite color, I will now point to this lovely shade of fuschia that I had my nails on my hands and toes done in at Happy Nails in Charlotte. I am blessed with fairly small hands and feet for a ::cough, cough:: male body. I just love the extra feminine touch that this color adds.

I have added a new video as well to my YouTube collection which will now have a link to the right. In addition to my videos, I have a favorites list with all the best videos of prom, formal, and historical gowns. Of course the poofier and longer the gown, the better I like it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Roll the Video

A very bad first video, but it gives you a nice look at my favorite Civil War dress with a little sparkle thrown in for good measure.



Stories with this dress:

Latta Plantation Ghost Walk

My Dream Dress



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Finding That Perfect Dress, Part II

Today we will look at some general tips for shopping for formal dresses. Most of these are common sense, but many still overlook them. Again, everything here applies to both genetic and t-girls.

1. Start Early

I would suggest starting at least two months ahead of time before a planned formal. Add another month if it’s during prom season. This gives you time to find the dress, have it altered, accessorize, and have a picture session ahead of time. Most of the nice shops have extra staff during the busy prom and debutante season and can work you into their alteration schedule. Make sure you have the same shoes and underwear you are planning on wearing when you go to have your dress altered. Don’t skip or delay these appointments if you are shooting for a certain date. At Poffie Girls in Gastonia, NC, they worked with over 400 girls during prom season alone!

Now if you’re not on a schedule, you can do the above at a more leisurely pace. Just understand that if you don’t give a specific date during a busy period, you will probably be pushed to the back of their schedule.


2. Do Your Research

When you have a formal coming up, know what style of dress is on the invitation (semi-formal, black tie, etc.). Many shops are geared to specific events such as the prom and the debutante ball and will have the appropriate dresses in stock. Also look at the price range, and set a budget for your entire outfit including accessories. That is a number you can give to the store ahead of time. Finally research the dress styles by visiting online sites and reading fashion catalogs. That leads to the next tip.

3. Try Several Styles

Some events like a debutante ball are specific with the dress styles. Others are more open ended which allows you to experiment a little. Admittedly the number of choices can be overwhelming with different looks in length, cut, material, and color. Also add in the current fashion trends which can send you a direction you don’t want to go, and the new dress buyer can be in for frustration. That is why it is important to try on several different dresses each time. Get into the habit of trying on something that you think you wouldn’t like. You may surprise yourself! It is quite the experience when you find the dress that is truly you.

4. Accessorize!

Once you have found the dress, you’re only half finished. The accessories truly complete the look. I love finding the perfect necklace and the right set of gloves with each of my dresses. It’s like they were meant for each other. Also find a nice set of shoes. Even a second pair that is more comfortable for later in the night is not a bad idea. Schedule an appointment with your hairdresser, and have her help you. Don’t be afraid to play with different hairstyles. For cold nights, find a nice fur coat or shawl. Mix and match as you see fit. Play with different combinations once you have your dress. Try the outfit on at least once beforehand with all your accessories to see how they come together.

5. Be Nice to the Help

While working with Jackie, the seamstress at Poffie Girls, she told me so many stories of snooty girls who couldn’t find the time to stand still or get off their cell phones while having their dresses altered. She then told how nice I had been. When it came time to ask for some pictures, I know she was more than glad to help me out.

The moral of the above story is that it pays to be nice to people no matter the situation. However, many young women do not take the dress buying process seriously enough to take advantage of the best resource… the people. Be nice and respectful to the sales lady and the seamstress. They can make your life so much easier. They want you to be a happy customer so you’ll come back. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are professionals who have dealt with most situations and can make your dress buying experience as close to perfection as possible. Use their knowledge to your benefit, and be sure to thank them afterwards. It really will come back to you in a positive way.

6. Have Fun!

All of my dress buying trips have been on my own, and I have a blast each time. Even as a T-gal with an admittedly deep voice, I am not afraid to chat it up. I have the best conversations. I have been fortunate that most times, I have not been on a schedule for a particular event. Ninety percent of the time, I have seen a dress and picked an upcoming event that it would match. So I suppose I do things in reverse. I also love making a full girl’s day out with a pedicure, shopping, and eating out. It is difficult to enjoy if it is one thing in an already hectic schedule. In short, don’t just buy the dress. Enjoy the process and the day to the fullest.

I hope the above tips have been helpful. Each dress brings back memories not only of the times I have worn it but also how I obtained it. When I wear the dress and accessories, I am feeling more than just the material against my skin (which is wonderful in itself) but also the memories and emotions associated with it. I can think of few other things that have that kind of affect on me. It’s a little like magic. Imagine that all in a dress. The discovery of that special dress is truly only the beginning.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Finding That Perfect Dress, Part I

With prom season right around the corner, many young ladies (both genetic and trans) are searching for that perfect dress. It can be a daunting and time consuming experience. One of the fun things over the past ten years has been searching for and finding some wonderful dresses. I have probably found dresses and gowns from every possible venue. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I will go over each of the possible options in Part One. In Part Two, I will pass along some tips when shopping for dresses. All tips are good for both genetic and t-girls.

Shopping Options

1. Specialty or Boutique Shop

Some of the best bridal and formal dress shops can be found in the most unlikely of locations. Even the smallest towns have at least one boutique that caters to brides-to-be. While you may not be looking for that dress in white, most of these shops also have bridesmaid, debutante, and yes even prom dresses.

The advantage is a well trained staff that can help you with sizing and styles. You also cannot beat the ambiance of being in a place dedicated to you finding the right dress. It’s nice to have a personal assistant working with you every step of the way. Being surrounded by all those luxurious dresses is an experience beyond description. Many even have alterations onsite. Of course, you also have the best in quality of dresses. The disadvantages are costs and sometimes selection. Call ahead if you have a favorite designer in mind to see if the shop carries them. If your budget allows for it, the experience and the dress itself are worth the extra costs.

2. Discount Dress Shop

Shops like David’s Bridal have become popular for their costs and even better selection of dresses, accessories, and shoes. While the name may still suggest wedding day attire, most of these shops have plenty for the formal gal as well.

The advantage of a discount store is usually a greater variety of dresses since these shops rely on volume. Some even have online stores so you can look ahead. The prices are more affordable as well. The staff quality is not as consistent as the specialty store. One associate may have to work with several people at once. It may be best to visit during slow hours. Also the quality of the dresses themselves is a notch below the boutiques. However, if you still want the experience of shopping for a dress without breaking the bank, the discount store is the way to go.

3. Goodwill or Consignment Shop

In recent years, the donation stores have gotten a better reputation particularly in ritzy neighborhoods. They are no longer the rundown stores of old. The newer Goodwills are clean and well stocked. Some of my favorite dresses (including my first and most recent) have been bought at Goodwill.

The major advantage is costs. The most I have ever paid for a dress is $10. One in between area is selection. I have found some older styles that I adore. Of course, it is all hit and miss. It is best if you are open to looking for all segments of your wardrobe as you’re more likely to find something. The time to visit is the weekends as that is when most of the drop-offs occur. It is also the busiest time. The one disadvantage is that you’re completely on your own. You will also likely need alterations.

4. Seamstress/Dressmaker

A good seamstress can be a girl’s best friend. Even if you already have the dress, chances are it will need to be altered. Establishing a relation with an experienced lady can reduce the headaches considerably. She will make sure the dress fits *you* . When you wear the dress on that special night, you know it will look and feel good. Once you are confident in her alterations, you might even move on to having her make dresses from scratch. They will be completely unique, and the choices of material, color, and style are limited only by your imagination.

Another choice is an online seamstress (like the Very Merry Seamstress) that specializes in historical or other costume dresses. It is nice to find someone with that kind of experience to make a specialized dress. Communication is key here since there is no face to face contact. Make sure the sizes and instructions you send in are correct. Also follow their instructions to the letter as this will allow them to do the best job for you.

5. eBay and other online sites

eBay has become an internet institute with everything you would ever need. It is almost an economy unto itself. As such, it is far more difficult to find the good deals as most sellers are savvy enough to insure they get the highest bids. Still with a bit of perseverance, you can find some amazing dresses for less than retail. The standard rules apply for staying within budget (don’t overbid yourself and check shipping costs) and checking for sizes (read the entire listing for correct sizing). The selection increases before prom season and also before the Christmas holidays. However, you can find numerous auctions for just about anything year round. Accessories like jewelry, gloves, and shawls are also in abundant supply.

Almost any outfit you buy online will require alterations. Figure that into your costs. Also don’t forget the online stores particularly during clearance time. I bought my favorite peach dress which retailed for almost $300 for under $100. Also sites like Craig’s List offer some good options particularly on wedding dresses.

I have 16 formal dresses in my closet, and I have used all of the above routes for buying a dress. My favorite? Clearly the boutique shop. If money were no object, I’d go there every day! However, I have been pretty fortunate in my hunt for some nice outfits no matter how I go about it.

In Part Two of Finding That Perfect Dress, I will offer some general shopping tips.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happenings Ten Years Time Ago

Stephanie Marie's First Picture, February 21, 1998I chose the above psychedelic tune from the Yardbirds because it has indeed been a long strange but wonderful trip. Ten years ago yesterday (2/21), I ventured out for the first time en femme. I believe Stephanie was truly born that day. Believe me, I was one scared girl, but it set the stage for what has followed.

It was a Saturday afternoon at a Kappa Beta meeting when I walked in a room at the old Arena Inn on Independence Boulevard in Charlotte, NC. Inside, a few crossdressers had gathered. I had already contacted Sherri Lynn, the corresponding secretary for KB at the time. We had chatted on the phone several times in the preceding month and a half. I knew I was going to get a makeover from a GG friend of the group.

When I walked in that room, I had little idea what to expect. Everyone was nice, but I knew I was opening a door on a part of me that had not seen the light of day. I was full of questions. Sherri was great at answering all of them. She took me to Lucy’s studio where I was to get my makeover. About three from the group also joined us. As soon as I sat in the chair and she started to apply the makeup, I knew there was no turning back. When she was finished with my makeup and wig styling, I looked in the mirror and was amazed by the results. There I was… a girl. That was Stephanie looking back. I was the girl in the mirror. I was her.

However, it wasn’t until I stepped outside that it all truly hit me. It was warm for a February day with a nice light breeze. The sun hitting my face and the breeze against my skirt made it all feel very real. I knew this was right. This is who I was meant to be. I wasn’t a freak. I wasn’t even a man in a dress. I was simply me, and I was out never to return to the closet.

I am a little unusual in that I had never put the full physical picture together until that day. I had played mostly with clothes and some with makeup and wigs over the previous eight years. However, I had never worn the whole package (clothes, makeup, wig, shoes, forms, etc.) until then. I really had little idea how I would look. The whole effect was quite intoxicating. Six months later after finally getting somewhat competent doing my own makeup, I could look in the mirror and see a girl in the mirror. In fact, I would probably ask her out if I saw her on the street.

I have grown so much since that first outing. I feel like I learned so much the first two years and then had a lull for five years. The past three years have seen another growth spurt where I have a greater understanding of my feminine nature (much of which I have written about). I am thankful to be able to be the real me and to continue to explore and learn. With the help of supportive friends, I know it will continue. I look forward to what lies ahead while reminiscing about that first outing. I enjoy briefly taking myself back to that day and remembering how I felt. It gives me courage and strength for the future to know I took the big step into that motel room. I will continue to take those steps down the road which will lead me to a larger role on this stage we call life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Education of a Different Kind

I have written about my presentations at UNCC. Those are admittedly done before a somewhat willing and impressionable audience. It is a form of outreach that is both rewarding and honorable. What do you do though when there is no classroom? When you need to educate already intelligent and successful adults? How do you get the word out about a truly pressing issue?

This past Saturday, I assisted in handing out leaflets outside the HRC Gala at the Charlotte Convention Center. Called an educational initiative and organized by Angela Brightfeather from Raleigh, NC, and Monica Helms from Atlanta, Ga, it was designed to enlighten members of the GLBT community about employment issues and the ENDA bill. It seemed appropriate that this came on my tenth anniversary at Kappa Beta. I along with several of my KB sisters stepped out in a larger way. I couldn't have been more proud of Pam, Tammy, and Trish for their efforts. Also thanks goes to a young gentleman named Scott who attended the gala and then joined us afterwards.

You may recall that I attended the HRC Gala a year ago along with thirteen of my TG sisters. We had such high hopes that night. We had even planned to increase the TG attendance at the gala until the fiasco last October. The funny thing is I am still filled with hope, but we will have to proceed with a different gameplan. I sensed that most attendees from this year's and last year's gala are supportive of the TG community. The problem as always is politics, and the best way to affect change is to talk. We talk to them. They talk to the leaders of HRC. As some point, the message gets filtered by the time it reaches the top. That's one reason why the effort must be constant.

I have said many times that I am an activist of a different kind by simply being out and about. I leave the lobbying to the professionals. However that does not mean I can't be a foot soldier from time to time. Bodies are always needed, and I was happy to be one Saturday night.

What follows is Angela's Brightfeather's press release:

PRESS RELEASE
From: It's Time-North Carolina
Please pass along to all lists.

February 18, 2008

Report on the Educational Initiative in Charlotte, NC

On Saturday, February 16th, Transgender activists in North Carolina gathered in Charlotte, NC at the convention center in the downtown area and at the Westin Inn across the street, to conduct an Educational Initiative against the Human Rights Campaign during their largest fund raising event in North and South Carolina called the Gala Dinner. The action was taken to protest the role of HRC and their participation in the removal of Transgender protections from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, commonly referred to as ENDA.

After four years of being included in the ENDA legislation, Transgender language was stripped from the latest version that was voted on and which passed the U.S. Congress in October of '07. This was due to the political maneuvering efforts of Congressman Barney Frank (D. MA), who for years has insisted that gender inclusive legislation was bound to fail. The complicity and approval of HRC who had promised to support only gender inclusive legislation and then flip flopped on that position due to suggestions from Congressman Frank that HRC's future participation and influence in GLBT legislation might be lessened if they were not agreeable to his strategy of "incrementalism" regarding Transgender protections has angered Transgender activists.

Before the Gala Dinner held in the evening, HRC conducted a leadership workshop for students at UNC-Charlotte Student Pride that ran from the morning into the afternoon. Transgender activists from Raleigh and Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA were invited to address the students for an hour during the workshop, discussing the impact of HRC's actions since March of 2007, when Transgender lobbying efforts in Washington, DC first found out from congressional offices, that support for a inclusive ENDA was being eroded. They presented a timeline of actions that led to the removal of gender inclusive legislation by Congressman Frank and the reasons why HRC felt compelled to join Frank in the act of marginalizing the Trans community from the legislation, by using misleading polls and by threatening Congressional leaders with bad "report cards" from HRC in the face of a critical upcoming election year in 2008.

Later in the evening after the Gala dinner, activists distributed over 900 leaflets to attendees leaving the dinner. Many of the attendees took the time to stop and talk with activists to tell them that they strongly objected to HRC's position on ENDA and understand the seriousness of it to the Transgender community. Many of the attendees already knew that Trans-activists would be present during the dinner due to a well published story in Q-Notes, the leading GLBT publication read by many in the Carolinas. http://www.q-notes.com/top2008/top01_020908.html Many of the attendees thanked the activists for being there.

After the guests left the convention center and returned to the host hotel across the street, many sought out the Transgender Hospitality Suite in the hotel, where it was standing room only while enjoying after dinner coffee and conversation about their concerns regarding HRC's position on ENDA and their agreeing to eliminate the gender portions of the legislation. Reverend Jimmy Creech, a well known and respected GLBT leader in the Carolinas and known nationally for his support of GLBT issues and the recipient of Leadership Awards from HRC, discussed some of the significant effects of HRC's actions against the transgender community and it's exclusion in ENDA and the role that Congressman Frank played in that process, with Angela Brightfeather, the State Director of It's Time-North Carolina who was the organizer and sponsor of the educational initiative.

Reverend Creech sincerely questioned exactly what it is that the transgender community needed people like himself to do to assist them. Angela Brightfeather noted that they need to study the fliers that were handed out at the dinner and confront the HRC Board of Directors that they know and who they have contact with about that information and make them aware that they risk their future support if they do not support an inclusive ENDA in 2009 when it will probably be introduced in the U.S. Senate by it's leading sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy. It was noted that their very questioning of the "theory of incrementalism" as mandated by Congressman Frank and HRC will mean that HRC is out of step with their own membership; a bad situation for HRC who depends on their members for donations and operating expenses.

It was also noted that no HRC employees, staff or Joe Solomonese, who was in attendance at the Gala was seen or visited the Transgender Hospitality Suite to talk with people there.

It's Time-North Carolina wishes to thank those who worked on behalf of the Transgender Community in the Carolinas, many of them coming from local support groups in the Charlotte area and notes that the funny little secret about educational initiatives that have been held is that they instead of dividing the GLBT community, do exactly to opposite and draw on the common concerns and feelings that GLBT people have for one another, along with being fun and enjoyable.



Angela Brightfeather, State Director
It's Time North Carolina

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Story Behind the Dress #6

Hot pink!Has it been since last summer since I updated this series? And so many dresses to go too! The prom queen is losing her touch. However this time of year, many of the young ladies are thinking ahead to that special spring dance. My special dances are usually at Southern Comfort and the Kappa Beta Christmas party. So I have a ways to go before thinking about my next dress. Sometimes I don't need a special occasion to buy a dress. If I see something I like, I get it! Such is the fun of being a girl :)

I bought this dress in December of 1998 along with my crimson Christmas dress at a consignment shop in Fayetteville, NC. It is similar in style to my first dress, the royal blue number. However the color stands out much more... either a hot pink or almost a fuschia depending on the lighting. The style is admittedly a little outdated with the puffy sleeves and irregular skirt hem (long in back, short in front). I think it was more poplular in the late 80's and early 90's. It has plenty of room for accessorizing with a nice neckline and also for some gloves. The short white gloves seem to match best, but you can go with opera length too. I still love it and keep it in my closet.

The dress was a bit of a departure as I was very much experimenting with colors. The color of this dress stood out so much, and it seemed to satisfy a wilder side. I think in retrospect it started my love affair with all shades of pink eventually leading to the strapless pink/peach gown. Its interesting to watch the evolution of my tastes over the years. I wore this dress quite a bit in 1999 and 2000. Maybe one day it will make a comeback!

For those who missed the first five installments, here they are:

Story Behind the Dress #1


Story Behind the Dress #2


Story Behind the Dress #3


Story Behind the Dress #4


Story Behind the Dress #5

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Promqueen's Guide to... Computer Games!

When I'm not wearing my finest in long satin gowns, I do take on a few other hobbies. I have always liked video games going back to the days of Pong in the 70's. My very first gaming system was an Atari 2600. Like most geeks during the 80's, I also had a Commodore 64 which was a fantastic gaming system. I played Dr. J. and Larry Bird Go One on One until the wee hours. However it wasn't until the 90's that PC gaming started to come of age somewhat. While I still like the consoles, I have most of my fun on the computer. My current specs are hardly breathtaking, but most of my favorite PC games do not require a system that can launch a rocket into space. The funny thing is that many do allow me to be a female character. So here is my list of favorite PC games that require a bit of feminine touch to be successful.

Civilization II (1996, MicroProse) - The Civilization series is now up to number four (with Leonard Nimoy as a voice talent), but the second in the series is truly a groundbreaking turn based strategy epic. You start with a band of settlers in 4000 BC on either a randomly generated or real life earth and lead them through several millenium of exploration, scientific discovery, diplomacy, conquest, and eventually into space. You choose which classic civilization you wish to emulate and your ruler (which includes the great female leaders of history). The computer is quite the challenging opponent and will have the other countries gang up on you if your empire grows too large. The choices balance military, economic, and scientific decisions on truly a grand scale. My only qualm is that the end game can get easily bogged down if you're fighting a major war. However the Civilization series is so good that the only worthy successors involve space travel.

Similar games: Masters of Orion II, Alpha Centauri, Galactic Civilizations II

The Sims 2The Sims 2 (2004, Maxis, Electronic Arts) - Following up on the huge success of the original, The Sims 2 is a game about what else? Life! It is a combination of real time strategy and house building. Your character starts with a basic house designed you. He/she manages the daily struggles of job, relationships, and time management eventually getting promoted, adding on to the house, getting married, having kids, growing old, and yes, dying. Much like real life, there is no score. Your goals are completely open endeded. Your character does display several basic needs that must be fulfilled to keep him/her happy. One of the favorite parts of the game is picking your wardrobe including your wedding dress on that special day. You also can add on to your house upgrading and redesigning everything along the way. The Sims 2 has thirteen additions already (six expansion packs and seven stuff packs), but only the original game is needed to enjoy the true experience. The Sims 3 is already in production.

Elder Scrolls MorrowindElder Scrolls Morrowind (2002, Bethesda Softworks, Ubisoft) - Roleplaying games have long been a staple of PC gaming highlighted by the outstanding Ultima series in the DOS days. The major difference between console and PC RPGs is the open ended game play on the computer. The main character is given a freeform game world and is allowed to make his/her choices. You can choose to follow the main quest or go out and attempt to slay monsters far off the beaten path. Console games like the Final Fantasy series tend to be more linear. Generally, the character is forced down one path with only a few chances at branching off. Ironically, Morrowind while being the third game in the Elder Scrolls series was the first to also appear on its console cousin, the Xbox (also playable on the Xbox 360). Like every game in the Elder Scrolls series, you start off as an unknown prisoner. You can customize most facets of your character including gender. You are let off on the island province of Daggerfall where you start your quest. Where you go from there is up to you. It is recommended that you get the the Game of the Year Edition which includes the Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions.

Similar games: Elder Scrolls Arena, Daggerfall, and Oblivion; Gothic series, Ultima series, Two Worlds

Heroes of Might and Magic IIIHeroes of Might and Magic III (1999, 3DO) - The HOMM series is now up to version five in its addictive combination of strategy and role playing, but the second and third editions are generally considered the best in the series. The player has the choice of several scenarios or a campaign each with various size of gaming worlds and goals. You usually start with one hero, a paltry army, and one city. Over the course of the game, you explore the gaming world, build up your city, recruit new creatures for your army, and eventually encounter and battle your opponent(s). As your hero wins battles, he/she grows in strength much like a RPG game. However the elements of a turn based strategy game are most prevalent both in the battles and the larger map where the heroes are moved. The music score is also quite stirring, and each scenario/campaign has a solid story which connects them all together. HOMM III also had two expansion packs which add a large number of new scenarios and campaigns. The best value is HOMM III Complete which includes the original and the expansions in one package. Another option is a subscription to Gametap which allows you to play the base editions of HOMM I-IV.

Similar games: Disciples series, Lords of Magic, Age of Wonders series

Grand Prix LegendsGrand Prix Legends (1998, Papyrus, Sierra) - It might seem strange to include a racing game, but those familiar with GPL know it is regarded as one of the finest simulations period. Inspired by the movie Grand Prix from 1967, GPL recreates a watershed season in F1 racing. Driving these powerful machines before the days of downforce wings and grippier tires requires, dare I say, a light and feminine touch. A good PC racing wheel is an absolute must. Eleven tracks and all the cars from 1967 are part of the game, but a particularly devout community has expanded upon the original game in the forms of graphical upgrades, hundreds of add-on tracks, and even mods which simulate the 1965, 1966, and 1969 seasons. A good set-up is also helpful, and some of the best come from Alison Hine (aka Eagle Woman). It's no coincidence that this fine lady was able to run quite competitively in many sim leagues. It is also a testament to the game that it remains so popular ten years after its release. The Alternative GPL Track Database is the best starting point for all the fantastic add-ons. The game itself is still available for a reasonable price. With some time and patience, you too can experience the thrill of racing with the wind.

Similar games: rFactor, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, F1 Challenge 99-02

Note: My computer specs are a dual core AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ CPU, ATI Radeon X850 Pro video card, 2 GB PC3200 RAM, Creative SoundBlaster 2 ZS sound card, Logitech MOMO wheel, Windows XP Home Edition. All of the above games listed including the similar games list run smooth as butter on my system. Most games have active communities which are easily found on Google.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Can Crossdressing Be Stopped?

A good article by Ms Courtney:

The Crossdresser: Is He Powerless to Stop?

My reply:

Ms. Courtney, thank you for the excellent and thought provoking article. Many crossdressers purge because of the intense guilt society inflicts on those who are different. I experienced this many years ago in a church group. I finally came to peace when I understood that the feminine side of me was actually beneficial, not hurtful. Any pressure to not dress came from outside, not within. Society is slowly changing thankfully. Part of that is because crossdressers and transsexuals are much more out in the open, and the world can see they are happy and fulfilled by being their true selves. Once we understand this, people will stop trying to “cure” us because we have already found the remedy by embracing the woman within.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Reading for the New Year

Here are a couple of article making the rounds in the message boards:

Susan Stanton's Lonely Transformation

Susan Stanton had her life turned upsidedown almost a year ago when she was outed as a transsexual by a local newspaper reporter. The same paper, The St. Petersburg Times, has followed her story since. She is clearly struggling to find her place in her new world. Job issues are something most in transition struggle with. However, Susan Stanton has become somewhat of a pariah in the community by distancing herself from the same community. I am disappointed by her attitude regarding ENDA, but I can understand her need to blaze her own trail. However I would ask that she not speak for the community. She is only speaking for herself.

Crossing Over

Zoe Brain blog response

If this piece were written in anything but the Wall Street Journal, I'd give it little creedence. It is an example of a writer trying to be too cute or clever in an end of the year piece. She can barely get past the bathroom issue as a scare tactic or the religious world's view of the TG community. It feeds on the mainstream's base fears and does nothing to advance real education. If it weren't for so many eyeballs reading it, I'd laugh it off. The numbers we have to fight that do read this though are the scary part. This is the perception we fight against everyday. I also included a link to a lovely TG blogger from Australia who has crafted a better response.

What does this all means? Our struggles continue. That should be no surprise. Three steps foward, two and a half steps back. We must continue to move forward though. I do that by simply being out. I wouldn't have it any other way.