The San Francisco Bay Times, that city's local gay newspaper, has a very moving and well-written article on the recent transition of Celtic/filk music virtuosaHeather Alexander into FTM virtuosoAlexander James Adams (which even Wikipedia has finally gotten around to noting). Courtesy of alexanderfans. The Disappearance of Heather Alexander Damn, but I'm proud to be a part of SF/fantasy fandom today...
This is closer to being me: Cambridge Cross-Dresser De-Wigged in Club, Charged with Assault I have often wondered what I would do if I had children. Would I conceal this from them? And if they somehow found out, what effect would it have on them and on our relationship? This is why I have made it a point to inform my partners at the outset.
These posts help illustrate the difference between gender and sexuality...and I hope they will be helpful to any who wish to understand why I am what I am—especially the one closest and dearest to me.
As most with any cause to read this will know, the annual Southern Comfort Conference is in full swing just miles from where I live, even as we speak. Last year, as longtime readers of mine will recall, I opted not to attend for reasons both of cost and uncertainty about my own reasons for going, as well as fear of not being able to govern myself in a fashion befitting a ladylike crossdresser in a committed long-term relationship. (The latter had much to do with tensions at the time in said relationship, some of which were—and still are—caused by my loved one's inability to deal with this part of my sexuality/personality, but I won't rehash that here.)
For over four years now I have been an Atlanta resident, and each year as fall rolled around, I've told myself I would take advantage of my good fortune in living near one of the year's premier gatherings of people like me. And each year, I found some reason not to go. This year's is shaping up as bigger and better than ever, even to the point of including a transgender job fair (first time ever) and appearances by mainstream LGBT community figures such as Human Rights Campaign head Joe Solmonese.
So why am I not there again this year? Part of it is, once again, not being certain I want to spend so much time around what are essentially other men in dresses (and a few sympathetic GGs and some FTMs), not to mention how it might affect my relationship. But the big deal-killer is that even without having to worry about plane fares, hotel room bills, food etc., the damn thing still costs an arm and a leg (for me, anyhow) simply to get in the door. Yes, I know, it's nearly a whole week of scheduled events, seminars, demonstrations, social events both within and outside. And yes, I know hotel function space costs big-time to rent, better than most know it; I'm a veteran of science-fiction convention staffs from small relaxacons to Worldcons. (Admittedly, these conventions, Worldcon excepted, generally take up less time—three or four days compared with six for the SCC—and use less function space...but even the bigger regional cons still let you in for less than $70 for the whole con.) Based on the fee schedule posted at the SCC website, the least I can expect to pay, even for a one-day, no-meals ticket, is $100.
On top of that, I am working full-time at present, and after so many times having trouble finding decent-paying work, I am not eager to endanger it by requesting time off...especially since it is an hourly-wage job, and therefore no work means no pay for however many hours I'm out. (I am still too new to qualify for paid time off.) And all the seminars save those on Saturday (none are scheduled for Sunday) take place during my workday hours. So if I go for anything but the evening socializing and Saturday's events, I'm out hundreds of dollars in both fees and lost wages.
And what would I get for that money, or the even higher fees for attending more than one day? Well, I'm already committed to a non-CD function on Saturday that requires an out-of-town drive, so that day is pretty much shot. That leaves only tonight. And registration isn't open past 5 PM at SCC, so I might not even be able to get into anything at all.
I hate like hell to dis sisters who work so hard to put together a fun and informative and helpful conference like this. But until and unless the price of admission comes down significantly, I simply cannot justify the expense for at most one night's informal socializing. I can do that far cheaper at other times and places, should I elect to.
Am I the only one whining about the cost of SCC and similar shindigs? I sincerely hope not. And I also hope this isn't just rationalizing fear of either upsetting my beloved partner or of succumbing to temptation.
Was reminded by someone on my flist today about a very good episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which focuses on a pair of siblings, both born male but one raised as female due to a botched circumcision in infancy. This got me to thinking about all the films and shows I always told myself I would buy on tape or DVD to make my own little library of gender-focused videos one day when I hit the lottery. Here are some of the ones I've seen over the years:
Tootsie, natch; any movie that can actually make Dustin Hoffman look like a believable (if matronly) woman has to go on the list. (And it has Bill Murray in an uncredited supporting role as the lead's best friend, which he cheerfully uses to steal every scene he's in.)
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Terence Stamp (Gen. Zod in Superman II and the voice of Jor-El in The CW's Smallville) plays a post-op transsexual and Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, V for Vendetta) a gay parent in a trio of drag performers in this divinely gender-bending road-trip film from Australia.
Just Like A Woman, featuring Adrian Pasdar (yes, the newly elected Senator Petrelli from Heroes!) in the lead as a man forced out of his home and his marriage by his secret compulsion to crossdress.
Switch, with Perry King as a cad rather suddenly killed whom a bi-gendered God decides to punish for his womanizing by sending him back to life in the body of a gorgeous young woman (Ellen Barkin, for whom I've had a fondness since her Buckaroo Banzai days). Jimmy Smits of L.A. Law fame supports as the former guy's best friend.
Victor/Victoria, the original film on which the Broadway musical is based. No tranny film library is complete without this one; Julie Andrews breaks our brains as a 1930s woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. James Garner plays her bewildered gangster love interest, and Lesley Ann Warren steals half the film as his dumbassed, petulant moll (Robert Preston, God rest his gifted soul, steals the other half as Victoria's drag mentor).
Just One of the Boys, a 1980s gem starring Joyce Hyser as a teenage girl who goes undercover as a boy at a different high school to win a journalism contest. The climactic scene, where she opens her tux to prove her femaleness to the real boy with whom she's fallen in love despite herself, makes it worth seeing all by itself. (It also contains the film's funniest line: "Where do you get off having tits?!")
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar: Sort of an Americanized Priscilla, with Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo (who looks way too passable and cute in drag for his own good) as three New York drag artists who hit the road and get stuck in a small Western town. Based on the same-named stage play. (Rumor has it Snipes burned his wardrobe after shooting was done because he was so afraid people would think he wasn't as masculine as his other roles suggest.)
And, of course, the usual suspects: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Boys Don't Cry and any TV show or commercial featuring a male crossdressing and/or masking as a woman (Subaru had a great one with a babe who unmasked to reveal Paul Hogan a few years back). Bosom Buddies was the only TV show I can think of which focused regularly on the subject; if you know another, please post.
One of the most talented and lovely performers I have ever known, Heather Alexander, is undergoing a change that will be all too familiar to many of the people who frequent the LJ communities on my friends list. You can read more about it here and in the LJ community alexanderfans. This beautiful person deserves and needs all the love and support she can get...though I admit I have a hard time understanding how anyone lucky enough to be born not only a gorgeous, talented woman, but a redhead would want to be anything else. :-)
The latest in my occasional series of women I admire, envy and lust after: actress Annie Potts. From her take-no-crap Janine Melnitz in Ghostbusters to her sweet, sassy Mary Jo Shively in Designing Women, from her steely inner-city teacher in the TV series version of Dangerous Minds (not everyone can take over a role from Michelle Pfeiffer and pull it off!) to her most recent recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, this little gal from Nashville by way of Franklin, Kentucky has come a long way and is still not only dazzling viewers on screens both large and small, but actually teaches others how to do it as a visiting professor of drama at a Missouri college. Oh, and did I mention she's twice married, a mother of three and another smokin'-hot Southern redhead? (But you can see that already.)
Again, in no particular order...More women I envy, admire and/or lust after. Gwen Stefani and Madonna already having been covered in earlier entries, here are some more musical hotties:
Olivia Newton-John A fave from waaay back. She can act, she can sing, she can dance... plus she's beaten breast cancer, and is helping other women the world over do the same. And did I mention that sexy Aussie accent?
Bonnie Raitt One of my fave guitar gals. That red hair with the famous gray streak...that sassy sound...that slim bod and Southern accent —and, oh, yeah, killer guitar chops and songcraft to burn.
Joan Jett With or without the Blackhearts, in flowing brunette tresses or a bleach-blonde buzzcut, this babe has everything Bonnie's got...plus a hard rock edge. (Could you be Joan? Take the quiz and find out!)
Pat Benatar With Joan, one of the icons of '80s chick rock/pop. "Heartbreaker." "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." "We Belong." "Treat Me Right." Need I say more? Her husband's pretty cool, too.
Marcia Ball With her big-as-Texas smile (she's from Orange) and lanky frame, her balls-out boogie-woogie piano licks and that smoky voice, "Long Tall" Marcia Ball is a fixture at Jazzfest in New Orleans each year.
The Go-Gos Yes, all of them: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin. Another '80s icon, torn apart and reborn better than ever.
P!nk Born Alecia Moore, this pop tart has 'tude for days and talent for weeks. From "Get the Party Started" to "Stupid Girls" and more, she kicks ass and looks hot doing it.
Melissa Etheridge Guitar goddess. Lesbian activist. Environmentalist. Mother. Breast cancer survivor and fundraiser. Singer- songwriter. Total babe. What's not to like?
Tina Turner Survived Ike. Survived racism. Survived sexism. Survived Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. And still looks and sings better than women half her age.
Annie Lennox The voice of Eurythmics and a killer solo artist to boot. Has had almost as many looks as Madonna —and a becoming sense of humor about them. "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This," indeed.
Sheryl Crow Her songs' lyrics make no sense whatsoever to me...but her voice and her looks make up for it. That and the fact that she obviously has so much fun doing what she does.
Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul. What else needs to be said?
Sheena Easton Another '80s babe I've always had a thing for. Maybe it was that gamine look and short hair. Maybe it was the lilting Scots-accented voice. Or maybe that she could hold her own against both Prince in singing and Don Johnson in acting.
Patti LaBelle From "Lady Marmalade" to "New Attitude" to "Way Up There," you name it, this gospel-trained diva can sing the living daylights out of it. The only one who comes close to Aretha for soul and vocal power.
Carly Simon My other fave long, tall piano babe. Songwriting talent, a bod that stops traffic, a heart as big as her native NYC and a smile that's even bigger. How can you not love a gal who wrote tribute songs for both Christa McAuliffe and Art Buchwald? Or blame James Taylor for marrying her?
In no particular order...More members of the list of women I admire, envy and/or lust after:
Kate Mulgrew For being Kathy Janeway, Kate Hepburn...and Kate Mulgrew, too.
Geraldine Ferraro For being first, for being feisty...and for being right. (See, Pookie? They don't all have to be sex bombs! [g])
Ann Richards May she rest in peace. For being sassy, being Texan, being a Democrat...and the "silver foot" line. My 2nd fave Lone Star lady, after Molly Ivins (see below).
Anita Morris Died of ovarian cancer in 1994, much too soon. For singing, dancing and being an all-around hottie. One of my fave older redheads.
Linda Ellerbee For surviving cancer, for never talking down to kids...and for always telling it like it is.
Gillian Anderson For being Special Agent Dana Scully...and so much more. For having a terrific sense of humor. And for being another hot redhead.
Marilyn vos Savant For being exactly what her last name implies: the World's Smartest Woman (look it up!). For being brainy, sexy and funny. And for telling me stuff I never knew each week in her weekly Parade column.
Jennifer Connelly For having guts, chops and the sexiest face this side of Andie MacDowell (see earlier entry below). And the rest of her ain't half bad either.
Ellen DeGeneres For coming out. For being a N'Awlins homegirl. For giving back. And for just being damn funny.
Molly Ivins For speaking truth to power...and making me laugh while doing it. For being another sassy Southern gal. And for being right just about all the time.
Demi Moore For being another sultry older brunette. For having talent, guts and brains. And for not giving a good goddamn what anyone thinks about who she's with...or how old he is.
Bernadette Peters For winning Tonys, Emmys, Golden Globes and more. For being willing to pose in lingerie for Playboy...and having the bod and the 'tude to pull it off. And for the sweetest voice on Broadway.
Another member of my "adore, admire, lust after & envy" list is Rosalie Anderson "Andie" MacDowell, former Brat Pack babe, fashion model, Golden Globe-winning actress and L'Oreal spokeswoman. Why do I love her? For her flawless face, a thing of ageless beauty even without the cosmetics she flogs. For a time- and gravity-defying body I would kill (or at least cheerfully maim) to have as my own. For her genuine talent (that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has continued to snub her all these years is a scandal to the jaybirds). For being yet another prime specimen of Southern female pulchritude (born in Asheville, SC and still lives there). And above all, for showing that models and actresses (and women in general) do NOT have to go on the ash-heap after they reach 40...and pass it. I mean, look at her, fergossakes! This woman is five years older than me and still hotter than many women half her age. You go, homegirl!
I have always considered myself a hopelessly heterosexual male. I am attracted to women and (so I have believed) only women. I have dated women and been in long-term relationships with them; I am in one now. And yet I find myself turned on with an alarming intensity by images of other crossdressers in full makeup and regalia, by the thought of having sex with another crossdresser, particularly if "she" is very convincing-looking as a female and attractive in that context. Even though I fundamentally and inescapably know that this is in fact another male with the same genitalia as me, I find myself fantasizing. Am I really bisexual and just in denial? The thought of having male-male sex in a more conventionally "gay" context icks me out seriously. Why am I so revolted by even watching two men "do it" -- as men -- but not when they present as fake "women"?
And why do I want to be made up and dressed to look like a sexy woman anyhow? Why does it excite me so to be the center of attention in the way that a "hot babe" usually is in social settings? To imagine that others, male or female, crossdresser or not, find me attractive as a woman? Am I simply trying to "be the woman of my dreams," as so many ads aimed at our community suggest? Is it just some twisted way of seeking the approval I crave that was not provided me sufficiently growing up?
So many of the explicit images I see other CDs post online of themselves focus on the exposed penis -- their own or someone else's on which they are performing sex acts, trying to look for all the world like a real genetic female in a porn-mag layout. (Kinda does serious damage to any attempt to portray yourself as female, doesn't it?) Why are so many of us who claim to honor and respect women depicting them as shameless sluts? Are we conditioned somehow by our male socialization and popular culture to view real females as what my partner calls "Hugh Hefner lesbians"?
My partner is angry that she can't have a man who would never even think about having sex with another man. And I can't even find a way to explain my urges and feelings to her that makes sense to either of us. I think it may be time to get back into therapy.
The second in a series: Another woman who inspires admiration and envy in me is Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie, better known simply as Madonna. Throughout her more than two decades of work as a singer, songwriter, actress and model, through all her many looks and reinventions of herself, through finally settling down with her man and becoming a mother, she has consistently confounded her critics and dazzled her fans. This is a bold woman, unafraid to strike out in new directions and take risks, whether publishing a book of erotica or French-kissing another woman on stage at an awards show. My favorite quote about her, from Esquire magazine in its annual "Women We Love" feature some years ago: "Says, 'You can have me.' Says, 'I can take you." This was prompted by the release of her latest single and video, "Jump," from the CD Confessions On A Dance Floor. MSN Video has it for you to watch here.
The first in a series, added to when I feel like it, of women whose looks, style, worldview, talent etc. make me admire and envy them. (I call them "half & half"; half of me wants to boff them and the other half wants to BE them! ;-) ) They are not listed in any order of significance, just as I think of them.
First up is Gwen Stefani, sometime frontwoman for the alt-rock band No Doubt and now also a popular solo artist...and über-stylish cover girl for more magazines than any one person should be allowed.
The image above is on her official website, gwenstefani.com, where you can find out more about her.
Current TV, the cable network co-founded by former Vice President of the U.S. Al Gore, has a new series which airs on its website as well as on YouTube.com called Joe Gets, in which a somewhat geeky guy tries out various lifestyles for a day (for example, "Joe Gets Fanatic" chronicles his adventure as a hardcore, face-painted sports fan). His latest experiment is called "Joe Gets Female" and I found it on an LJ (I was surfing gender pages and can't recall now whose). He looks amazingly good thanks to Eve of Adam to Eve Transformations in San Francisco (and has an appallingly good femme voice too!), and even goes to a bar and gets bought a drink by what one assumes is a straight male. It's not disrespectful at all and is funny in spots too. Here it is.
Hello. My name is Cynthia Victoria Hart; I go by Cynthia, Cyn or Vicky when en femme. (This is not the actual name on my birth certificate; that is for me to know and you—if you're very lucky—to one day find out. Maybe.) I am biologically male, about 5'11" and 170 lbs, with all original parts save for a tooth or two. Never done surgery, hormones or implants, never will. This is the first entry in a journal wherein I will attempt to sort out all the issues surrounding the predilection I have had for over two-thirds of my life: to wear women's clothing and makeup and wigs and padding and make myself over into my idea of a sexy woman. A lot of my friends know, my significant other knows (but has a hard time with it—more on that later), and my family does NOT know and I intend to keep it that way.
I am what some would consider a fetishistic crossdresser; for me, getting all dolled up is a very sexual thrill, and I can have an orgasm just doing that alone at home. I am in a monogamous relationship, and I have promised my partner it will remain so, so I am emphatically NOT looking for anything other than friendship and socializing with others like me and their partners/friends, genetic girl (GG) sympathizers. I don't go out much as Cynthia these days, as I am trying not to shove it in my partner's face, but when I lived in New York City, I did some clubbing. The pictures of me you see on this journal page are from that time, 1998-2002.
I have had a need to do this since I was at least 12 or 13 years old, trying on my late mother's pantyhose out of sheer curiosity (no pun intended). I still do not fully understand it, nor can I easily explain it to my partner or anyone else who isn't a CD in terms they might comprehend. Sometimes I think I'm making my own woman because I haven't found the one I always wanted who looks and acts like this—"building the perfect babe," as it were. I'd be interested to hear from others as to why they do it...or what they think are the reasons. I have worked for years on accepting this part of myself, trying to carve out a space for it in my life, since it cannot be removed from my head (much though I sometimes wish it could be...so much less hassle and anxiety and expense in my life if it were possible to excise this thing) and I cannot simply ignore it or purge and do without. (Been there, tried that, didn't work.)
My partner hates this side of me, to be quite brutally honest. She sees it as a rebuke to her because she doesn't feel she is physically attractive. She also sees it as an objectification of women and an invasion of her own very emotional and personal experiences of being female. She lives in fear that one day she will come home and find that I am planning to transition, however many times I have assured her that will never happen. (I do enjoy being male some of the time, and I am conscious that she wants me as a male.) She has seen me in person fully made up and dressed as Cynthia exactly once, and she said she felt like a caterpillar next to me. She is a very good-hearted person and loves me, though, and she tries to cope with it for my sake. I love her dearly and try very hard to accommodate her needs while getting my own met to the extent that I can. I live in my own fear that this will finally be what drives us apart for good one day.
Currently, I confine my CD-related activity to reading books and magazines, online chats and perusing of websites and Usenet postings. I do NOT do "cybersex" or "hot chats" and am always careful to avoid even the appearance of flirting with anyone online. This will likely be a lifelong journey for me, whether I stay with my current partner or not, trying to understand this part of myself and deal with it, and learn how to deal with others I touch through it in an honest and decent fashion. Anyone kind and intelligent who wishes to share this journey is invited to friend me.