Thursday, March 15, 2012

Operation Beautiful

I did want to say hello to everyone checking in from Operation Beautiful and also thank you to Caitlin for sharing my story. I had long felt the positive sticky notes had a wonderful effect on so many beyond the intended audience. That is why I felt so moved to take a leap of faith and write in. I never know the response I'm going to get when I “out” myself. It is usually pretty good as the world at large is becoming more aware of transgender people. I have been fortunate to meet people like Caitlin who see people and look at what they can be with just a little encouragement.

Many of the past stories in this blog are about reaching out and talking about my story. It is always a scary move, but I learn and grow so much each time. I make new friends and create connections that others may not have tried. I am often pursuing the “path less taken” whether it be Civil War reenacting, contra dancing, or the Ghost Walk. I love having friends in the mainstream who know me as Stephanie above and beyond my gender identity. I feel very lucky to live in a time and place where it's possible. Not easy, mind you... but possible.

Let me give a little extra background about the story of being asked for a dance and then dropped. This has happened twice. The time I shared was relatively easy to bounce back from. My friend Rima was right there to help me. I was in a supportive group where most everyone knew me. It was an obvious case of one bad apple. And of course, Diane's “beautiful” words so made my night.

The second time was a bit more disheartening as it occurred in Knoxville. It was the furthest I had traveled away from my home dance in Charlotte. I was already in line when the guy read me and left me standing on my own. I looked around, but I didn't see anyone I knew. I slinked to the chair on the sidelines and sat out the next three dances. No one asked me to dance. I almost went straight home that night, but I'm glad I stayed. I met some nice people, and Rima found some leftover Valentine candy with one that said “You go, girl.” That made my weekend!

I am glad that I have never been outed during a dance as that could be a potentially dangerous situation. It is hurtful, and yet I think of the people who have made it all worthwhile. I don't consider myself my activist in the traditional sense. I am fairly introverted and certainly not “in your face.” There are dance friends who I have never discussed my gender life with. I respect those boundaries as I am at a dance, reenactment, or another event to enjoy those activities, not to talk about me. Of course, conversations do start up, and I'm always happy to discuss those issues with those who are genuinely interested. I don't force it... much!

So welcome again to my sporadic blog. I hope to update every week with stories of history, dancing, gender stuff, and other musings. I rarely get political although I will pass along stories from other blogs. Feel free to write with questions. The email address is in the profile link. Let me leave you with a quote from George Eliot and often shared from my late friend, Pamela Jones: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” I think I may put that on a sticky note!

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