As a transgender woman, I see imperfections in myself everyday. My photos often reflect those less than ideal looks and my insecurities concerning them. Over the years, I have become more comfortable in my own skin, and my photos show that. As my last short story alluded to, I still feel like a teenage girl sometimes. I am slowly growing out of that phase. However many of my girlfriends tell me the insecurities never go away. You just learn to deal with them better. The above photo represents many things to me. If you had shown this photo to me five years ago, I would have said that is impossible. Out in the open, my natural hair, a feminine dress... the look is so much of what I've been working towards in my presentation. Add what I know today with my love of contra dancing and twirly skirts, it should be a winner. It is after all me in my favorite dance dress taken in a beautiful setting off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock. It was the cap to a wonderful Easter week

She Found

 A young girl celebrated her 11th birthday by opening her closet door to peek outside. Her closet had grown considerably in her life, but she desperately wanted to see what was outside. She had heard and seen many things about the world outside. Her closet was a safe place and had many pretty outfits. The young girl would dress up and put on her make-up. It was fun, but it was time for something more. She put on her prettiest dress, fixed her hair, and stepped outside. This is what she found. She found that those in the world had a difficult time understanding her. She looked and spoke differently than the other girls. Everyone would tell her that she was a boy. "But I am a girl!" she exclaimed. People looked at her in a funny way. Most people, that is. Some were kind to her. One lady even said she looked pretty in her dress. On her next adventure outside the closet, the young girl happened upon a building with a loud wooden floor. People gathered around a lady wit

Why I Came Back

Why I Came Back Not to the blogging world, not to the LGBT community, but to a second contra dance. By all rights, I shouldn't have returned. I only danced four dances that night. I was the only transgender person there. I was lost in so many ways... the dance, my proper role, the other dancers. I was not dressed particularly well, and I'm sure I looked like a mess at the end. Yet there were enough positive threads to weave together an experience that I could build on. It also helps that I don't give up easily. I had been looking for something and a place to be me. After my experiences at Latta Plantation, I wanted a more regular mainstream activity to be Stephanie. I would present as Stephanie, be known as Stephanie, make friends as Stephanie. I had reached the point where I was ready to socialize with the world. For a time I thought it would be in Civil War reenacting (and that card is still on the table). I would have been satisfied with a book club or a cookin

Dance Bliss

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. (Friedrich Nietzsche) Before I ever started contra dancing, I could not understand the joy imprinted on a dancer's face. Otherwise normal people came to life when paired with a favorite partner surrounded by familiar sounds. Couples moved as one knowing the other's steps and moves intimately. What seemed like chaos with a few dozen couples moving around a dance floor was actually a carefully orchestrated merry-go-around. I watched, but I just... didn't... get it. Of course, I was only eight at the time wearing a 1970's era powder blue monkey suit (I think it's called a tuxedo in polite circles) watching my grandparents ballroom dance. I have shared the story of being mesmerized by the women's beautiful dresses, but the dancing itself was still a mystery to me. Part of it may have been put off that the dances resembled something out of Lawrence Welk whose

Fire on the Mountain

It has been a frustrating few days for the LGBT community in North Carolina following the approval of Amendment One in North Carolina. The count was 61 percent for, 39 percent against with just over a million people voting for it. As usual with amendments involving gay marriage, the polls were a few percentage points too optimistic. While the number was overwhelmingly for the amendment, it is not the worst defeat involving gay marriage amendments, not by a long shot. That does give some hope for the future. So what went wrong? The first thing to understand is that the pro-amendment forces in North Carolina have been planning for this vote for several years. They literally prayed for the opportunity, and it was gift wrapped to them in the 2010 election when the Republicans took over the state legislature after 140 years of Democrat control. They also have the experience of 30 state victories to draw from nationally. In fact, most of their funding came from non-profit groups outsid

The Reluctant Voter

I've had this HP Pavilion laptop going on five years now. It still has Windows XP and is getting a little worn around the edges. It stutters a bit running the recent videos, and it definitely will not run the latest games. The only upgrade was to the memory. The hard drive is only 60 GB. I like it that way as it forces me to carry only essential programs. I also enjoy it for the times when I want to write away from my desktop or play an older game. The screen is plenty big, and it has wireless. I use it still for my history presentations as it can hook up easily to another monitor. It does exactly what I want it to do. With this laptop, I have carried on a tradition similar to the stickers on a college football player's helmet. Every time I vote, general election or primary, I put the "I Voted" sticker on the laptop. I rarely talk about political stuff. I am the typical independent who has become more dismayed with both political parties in recent years. Still

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 Steph