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December 2010

Heels up on the Desk
Editor’s notes by Meredith Newton

Oh, yes, the holiday season is upon us again. Uh oh! In this month's newsletter we are again glad to feature numerous articles.

We are happy to welcome back Rae Kelcou! Her contribution this month centers around transitioning and a devotion to football.

An interesting combination, to be sure, and one not to be missed. Melody Anders relates a story about being closeted, yet being out and about in a very interesting place and time. Her story is a fascinating one. Check it out!

We’d like to get your responses a little survey I'm doing on 'your first time'. I’m stopping there. You'll have to read the piece! We are also featuring an item on the growing number of openly TG political candidates. These folks are in the U.S., so if you are in Europe (or anywhere else!) certainly let us know about such individuals in your area. This article features three names recently in the news, so by no means are we trying to cover every single TG politician.

Josie Brissette is taking a look at a famous novel of a utopian future and wondering what life will be like for us one hundred years from now. A dream, to be sure, but one worth fighting to attain.

Okay, let’s get to it!

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The Day I Became a Lesbian
by Melody Anders

Well, an honorary lesbian might be a bit more accurate. Some time ago I was co-owner of a custom motorcycle shop in West Los Angeles, just south of Beverly Hills. We worked on everything from dirt track racers to stock bikes, cafe racers and choppers.

One of our regulars was a rather mannish woman named Belle who rode a decade old Harley Davidson 74 cubic inch V-twin. She apparently didn't believe in preventative maintenance, so we saw her fairly often. My business partner, Bill, used to joke if she started to go to another shop, we'd probably go bankrupt.

She was a great favorite of the guys who used to hang out at the shop, not because of Belle herself, but because she always had a very pretty girl, always a different one, along with her. Bill called them “Belle's Nubile Beauties.”

Belle was average height for a woman, but somehow gave the impression of size. She had a “flattop” haircut, short and flat as a ruler on top and swept back over her ears on the sides ending in a small “duck tail.” I don't think I ever saw her wear anything else but a plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans.

One day she came into the shop and walked over to where I was working. Everyone else in the shop was checking out her friend, a petite Latina with very long straight black hair. Belle said, with a slight smirk, “So how are you doing today, Jack?” I felt myself beginning to blush. “Come on out and take a look at my hog, think the primary chain is loose again.” I followed her out to her bike where we were alone. “Thanks, Belle, for not outing me!” I blurted out. She grinned and said, “I wouldn't do that to you.......Melody.”

My girlfriend in those days was a transsexual named Cyndi. She was the first other transgendered person I ever met. I was very much in the closet back then and she delighted in getting me all dressed up and taking me out to clubs and restaurants. I think maybe she enjoyed my discomfort as much as my company. Anyway, the night before she and I had gone out to a club in West Hollywood, and then went to a cafe to get a bite to eat before going home.

As we were eating I heard a Harley pull up, the rumpty-rump exhaust is unmistakable. A minute later, a couple of women were walking towards our booth. Yes, it was Belle and one of her girlfriends. I had obviously been clocked. “Hi, er...Jack, who's your friend?” My mouth was hanging open and I couldn't make a sound. Cyndi said, “Melody, don't be rude, introduce us!” “Oh, so it's Melody, is it?” Belle laughed as she and her friend sat down opposite us in the booth. We had a nice chat after the introductions were made, though Belle's girlfriend and I were mostly pretty quiet.

As we took a look at Belle's Harley, she asked me, “Mellie, some of my friends are going for a ride on Saturday, why don't you join us?”

Cyndi and I were very close, but she had absolutely no use for my passion for motorcycles. The whole time we were together, she never once climbed on my bike for a ride. Being Melody and taking a ride was a dream I thought I'd never fulfill.

“I don't know, I might not fit in with your friends.” “B*llsh*t, they're just girls like us!” I gave in and agreed. “Great, meet us at the cafe we were at last night at 9 a.m.”

Cyndi and I picked out my outfit, white T-shirt, jeans and my black leather jacket, and helped do my hair and make-up. I had just gotten my first pair of silicone breast forms, which filled out the t-shirt nicely. “Are you sure you won't come with me?” She muttered something about “death machines” which I took as a firm NO! I kissed her goodbye and took off on my British vertical twin and headed for West Hollywood. It was a wonderful feeling, riding through the streets as Melody.

When I arrived at the cafe's parking lot there were seven or eight other bikes there, Belle's Harley, a Ducati, a couple of British twins like mine and a couple of Hondas. As I shut down the bike, Belle and dozen or so other women walked over to me. I was a bit apprehensive, but for the most part, they were friendly and accepting, maybe because I, too, was an outsider of sorts.

We rode out onto the street and headed for the Hollywood Hills. Belle was clearly the leader, her girlfriend, a blonde this time, sitting behind her. As we got into the hills, several of the bikes were clearly more suited to the curvy roads than a Harley, but nobody ever thought of passing her. It was a great ride, paved wide main roads to residential streets and back to main roads. We ended up at a local biker hangout that everybody called the “Rock Store.” On nice days, especially weekends, there would be dozens and dozens of bikes, all kinds of bikes, parked there. Belle pulled up and stopped. I was a bit frightened to face the huge number of bikers hanging out in the parking lot. I worked with these folk all day at the shop, but facing them up close all made up and femme looking was a new experience.

We got plenty of cat calls and whistles as we make our way inside the store, the girls seemed to just accept it with a “none of you jerks has a chance with us” attitude, which I tried to emulate. As we walked out with sodas and beers, one large, hairy guy walked up to me and said, “Hey Blondie, wanna go for a ride?” I have him my best aloof look and said, “In your dreams, honey.” and walked back to the bikes with the rest of the girls. Belle slapped me on the back, almost knocking me down, “You sure told him, girl!” with a big laugh that the rest of the girls joined in.

Still a bit nervous, I had trouble getting my bike to start. After a couple of tries, I took off my jacket as it was getting warm. In those days, breast forms were not attachable, at least I'd never heard of any. As I tried to kick start the bike there was considerable bouncing and juggling going on inside my t-shirt. As the bike finally started, I heard whooping and shouting from the crowd of bikers around me.

The rest of the day was a pleasant ride, but uneventful. Afterwards, I rode home to Cyndi. When I told her what happened, she said, “You're getting braver, girl.”

I only rode one other time with Belle and the girls, at a L.A. Pride event, but I'll never forget my first time out as Melody without another transgendered person for support.

Katie Glover's Girl Guide

Home for the Holidays - A Gender Society Perspective
by Meredith Newton

Time for AutumnOkay, another holiday piece! For those of you who are not religious, nor care one whit about this time of year, just bear with us!

It has been said more than once that “why do we need one time of year to rejoice and be nice to each other? Why not do that all year long?” The point is a valid one, of course. If you remember “A Christmas Carol,” (and how could you not?), once Scrooge mended his ways he kept Christmas in his heart all year round. And what of those who are not Christian? Many people say “Happy Holidays” and not “Merry Christmas.” This does make sense since New Year’s is included.

But the holidays come with a price. No, not those prices that drain our bank accounts. What I mean is called overkill.

In the U.S., some radio stations start playing holiday music 24/7 before Thanksgiving even starts. We are sure you can appreciate how irritating that is, not to mention hearing those same songs over and over in stores. We’re not being the Grinch here, just realistic! There is such thing as overkill, and we know all too well how it happens!

How about putting an end to the endless remakes of “A Christmas Carol?” Or, many TV shows parody “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We think it’s time to knock it off! Let’s start making some new holiday entertainment. By the way, stage shows do not count. However, we never get bored watching “A Christmas Story” and seeing Ralphie get his treasured BB gun! Or watching Charlie Brown learning the true meaning of Christmas.

Are we complaining? Not us! We just think there are so many ways we can celebrate this time of year. We can sure treasure past traditions. Why not make some new ones? And why not have a special TG holiday tradition? The possibilities are endless.

Here at the Gender Society we definitely want to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Once New Year’s is past us, and we get back on with our lives (and diets), we do truly wish that we can keep the spirit of the holidays going throughout the year. That is, until summer arrives, the temperature is hotter than the sun and the air conditioner breaks down. It sure is hard to be merry at that time!

Happy Holidays!

Your First Time
by Meredith Newton

Okay, I got your attention with that byline.

While we have discussed this in the Forums from time to time, I would like to start collecting stories of the first time you went out as your true self. You can be anonymous, use a phony name, etc.

I am looking to assemble a collection of these stories as a way to inspire and encourage others to not be afraid. I could talk to you on the phone, you send me an essay, an e-mail, or whatever works best. Contact me through the GS site or my personal e-mail addy - merenewton@hotmail.com.

So, when was your first time, and how was it?

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Rae’s Ramblings
by Rae Kelcou

Time for AutumnNo, please, not that sort I’m afraid. Put down your rucksack and remove your hiking boots. I don’t do physical. It’s verbal rambling you’re in for. As that’s what I appear to do most, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable title.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a very bizarre side affect of taking hormones as part of my transition. I have to say it took me by surprise and was the last thing I expected to happen. I have become increasingly fanatical about football (soccer, that is). Before you hold your head in despair perhaps I should explain a little more. I’ve always had a passing interest in the highs and (more often) lows of Exeter City FC. I used to live there and so, naturally, just looked out for their results and division placement. Nothing too heavy, nothing too unhealthy, almost an acceptable inquisitiveness.

That all changed, in my opinion, with my transitioning. Eighteen months ago ECFC suddenly hit my radar with renewed vigour. From the discreet checking of the occasional Sunday paper I currently find myself embroiled and integrated with the club on many different fronts. Saturday afternoons are almost sacrosanct. Home or away it makes no odds. I’ve subscribed to their online commentary and you’ll find me eagerly listening to the match. At the same time typing away in the online fans forum. Due to my over the top optimism I’m known there as the ‘Queen of the rose tinted spectacles.’ 2-0 down? Not a problem. I’ll be the one confidently stating ‘just need three goals to win this’ with a slightly nervy ten minutes to go. I look forward to the weekly internet TV programme [How many clubs at our level can boast that? Hah!]. And with well over two thousand posts in the fans forum I’m certainly a regular there.

I’ve no idea why this has happened although, to be fair, I’m not complaining. Lest anyone think perhaps it’s a physical attraction – I’m a girl, I like guys, reasonable assumption – I should point out that, thanks to the combination of Estradiol Valerate and Decapeptyl, I have the sex drive of an underachieving gastropod. Another fact I’m not complaining about, mind you.

What really interests me, ‘though, is how the world is changing. How, in what was once a macho dominated area, I can be so easily accepted. There are many natal women following the club and I have made some good friends. Whilst I don’t promote myself as ‘Rae the Transsexual’ neither do I hide the fact. I post under my real name and list my personal web site www.raekelcou.com [shameless plug!]. I also follow the club on Facebook and have several ECFC supporters joining my ‘friends’ list. All of whom can see at a glance who I am before sending their request. I’ve met several of them in person whilst visiting my Step Mum who still lives in the city. And a great time was had by all – mind you, we are usually listening to the match. Thus far – I’m always happy to be cautious – I’ve received absolutely no problems whatsoever.

I’d be willing to bet that the Neanderthal that recently accosted a member of our site doesn’t support Exeter City FC …

Looking Backward and Forward
by Josephine Brissette

Josie BrissetteIn 1888 Edward Bellamy published his infamous novel “Looking Backward,” the story of a utopian future. In this novel the main character of Julian West awakens from a hundred-year sleep (induced by hypnosis, no Rip Van Winkle here) into a society that was only a vision in the late nineteenth century.

While the adjustment was difficult at first, the world of the future was one of freedom and no poverty. The book inspired “Bellamy Societies” and greatly influenced the Utopian Socialist movement.

I just had to wonder while thinking of that book? What will the world be like for the GLBT people a hundred years from now? We’re making a lot of strides now, yet, as we know all too well, have a long way to go. Here’s a few ideas:

Full acceptance. While prejudice and hate will never fully go away, we can be ourselves without worry. Maybe we can even get rid of labels.

Full rights. Full civil and human rights! The right to marry, change our birth certificates, get a passport with our true gender, you name it. No discrimination.

Medical techniques. It’s amazing what medical advances have taken place over the past 20 years alone for those who want to transition. Can you imagine what they’ll be like in another century? That leads to:

Changes in the Standards of Care (SOC). Those who want to transition will have fewer hoops to jump through. After all, look how many psychological and psychiatric organizations are removing transgenderism as a mental illness. The waiting and treatment time will be reduced.

For those of us who wear glasses and/or contacts, the Gender Society web site can go straight to our glasses! The chatroom can sure be a blast that way.

Hey, I realize I’m being a dreamer. It would be nice to have all these things now.

Unless you’ve made a deal with the guy who has the horns and pointed stick, we certainly won’t be here when that hundred years passes. It is important for us to leave a record of what we, and those before us, have gone through as a reminder to those in the future. Even if one or two of my proposals above go through, those who follow us need to know what we experienced.

I don’t mean this as an ego boost or that they should worship us. Just like with attaining civil rights, it is important to remember how the work and sacrifice of others gave us the rights we have today.

I really don’t think Bellamy had any of us in mind when he wrote the book. But what he wrote sure gives reason to think of what could be, realistic or not.

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Transgender Political Candidates
by Meredith Newton

As we have discussed here in the Tribune many times in the past, in recent years we have seen our community rise to greater prominence in the eyes of the mainstream. We are finally being portrayed for who we truly are rather than as degrading stereotypes. While we still have a long way to go, we have made significant gains.

One of these gains is in the political arena, at least in the United States. We know that President Barack Obama appointed Amanda Simpson – a transwoman - to the post of Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department. There is a TG person in the U.S. federal government, and wouldn’t you know, the world has not fallen apart!

We have to be careful with saying “the first TG person to run for office” as we do not know exactly how many of our community were heavily closeted while serving as a public official. We need to say “the first openly TG person” instead. I learned this lesson from Stu Rasmussen, who is mayor of Silverton, Oregon. Stu, who is obviously TG and who graciously gave us an interview some time back.

While there are numerous openly TG candidates in both the U.S. and Europe, there are two that we would like to highlight, both transwomen in California. They are Victoria Kolakowski and Theresa Sparks.

Kolakowski was successful in her political aspirations. She was elected Superior Court judge in Alameda county. A 49 year old patent attorney, she is the first openly TG trial judge in the country, and not just California. While her margin of victory was slim, she still managed to take the spot. While some questioned her level of experience compared to her opponent, she certainly brings a level of diversity to the bench not previously seen.

Theresa Sparks was not as fortunate. Her bid to take the District 6 Supervisor position was unsuccessful. However, in 2003 she was the first openly TG person to be named “Woman of the Year” by the California State Assembly. She also actively works for GLBT rights.

And of course, we must not forget our own Bennie Lee Ferguson, a long time member of our community, who ran for the White House in the last US Presidential election.

These few examples are certainly inspirational. While they are TG, as any candidate will tell us, they must present themselves as being the right choice for everybody and not just a small community.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to have someone who understands in our corner!

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