I was at a meeting of independant film makers.
A nice grown-up woman saw me standing alone — I had nothing to sell — and came over to welcome me.
“So, why are you here? Are you an actor, ummm, actress?”
Sweet of her to change, even though most women these days prefer “actor.”
I told her I was a writer, never before imagining I could be pretty enough to be an actress, though I did know transwomen who did believe they could be an actress, and the stories I heard about one “deluded transsexual” were enough to keep me from ever considering emerging. Ah, Jennifer, I am so happy you were wrong and I turned out nothing like you.
What I did notice on the nice woman, though, was her burgundy Persian Lamb coat. You don’t see many Persian Lamb coats anymore, and even more rarely in a deep Merlot color.
I bet she loved that coat. And since she had no challenges with trying to hide any part of who she was, she could take what she loved and wear it on her back, all winter.
Transwomen know that while people who went though puberty as female can wear something odd and it will just look individual, we can wear something odd and have it take away our hard earned gender, reducing us to being defined by our birth genitals.
We end up not wearing what we love, rather we wear what will help us blend in. So sad.
I don’t think this is just a problem for transwomen, though. Geneen Roth talks about wearing her beaded silk butterfly blouse to the market, and how many other women were astounded she would do it. Geneen’s message, though, was simple: you only have one life to shine in, so why the hell should you stay boring just to avoid being seen?
I’m sitting here in my shaman weeds, the sparkly long skirt, heeled boots, low cut top, magical jewelery, long hair, eyelashes and glitter. There is a trans event tonight, and my parents are back soon, so if I am every going to have a chance to wear my work clothes, this is the time.
Will people turn their heads? Hell yeah, they will. But if we can’t be visible at a panel on transwomen, can we ever be visible?
I know, I know. Many don’t want to be visible, to be marked as “other.” Some even think that the best way they can not be marked is to silence all people who might talk about the experience of otherness, or queerness as I might call it. They just want to get a sex change and move on with their normative life.
I’d love a sex change too, but I long ago understood that hormones and plastic surgery, even on my genitals, does not a sex change make. That stuff may facilitate gender shift, desire shift and power shift, but in and of itself it does nothing.
Until then, the best I can do is invoke my own beauty by invoking what I love. Tell me who or what you love, and I will know who you are, as Kate Bornstein is so fond of quoting. If I love rich Persian Lamb or gold or stones, well, I love them. If I love making dinner and doting on family, well I love that. If I get to indulge in what I love, I get to both express myself and grow myself as a human, as an individual walking on this world we share, rather than just holdng to whatever a group identity might ask of me.
I get to love it, whatever it is.
And I give you permission to love whatever you love too, if that is any help to you. Sing your own song, do your own work, follow your own heart, and love it.