Posts Tagged ‘social networking


Help me get my beard cleared for my 40th Birthday (at the end of the world)

Shelter from the rainRecently a couple of very good friends of mine decided to start an online fundraising campaign to help me raise money to finally, finally have the procedure I have been waiting all these years to have.  A campaign called, “Friend Lorelei Feeling Fabulous At Forty”.  I am frankly in awe of the wonderfulness of my friends.  I realize I am a very lucky woman.

But, as the saying goes, “The Lord (substitute here: Friends On The Internet) helps those who help themselves.”  So I thought it was only proper to tell you all a little bit about why I’ve wanted this procedure so badly.  As well as the slightly extraordinary coincidence coinciding with my, gulp, 40th Birthday.

I’ll start with this procedure my good friends are helping to raise money for and which perhaps you, dear reader, would consider helping with.  As you have probably figured out by now by your careful powers of deduction, I am in fact a transgender woman.  And as a transgender woman, I know there’s one question I get asked more than any other.  “Have you had ‘the surgery’ yet?”  Or, as it’s sadly more often phrased, “Have you, ummmm, cut it off?”  Which I presume to be referring to SRS (or GRS or GCS or whatever the current vogue for the surgical procedure once known as a “Sex Change Operation” happens to be).

The funny thing is, realistically, this is the least of my concerns.  Very few people actually get intimate enough with me for the state of my genitalia to be a concern.  And those who do are pretty much already going to be hip enough to deal well with what they find.  And frankly, though I may get that surgery someday, it’s so far out of my reach as an independent artist and writer, that I resigned myself to the fact that it may never happen when I decided to start my transition.  Honestly too, I’m reasonably comfortable with my body.  The hormones have done wonderful things to it and everything, even my genitalia, works in exciting new ways.  I feel like a woman, I’m shaped like a woman and when I look in the mirror, I see myself now.  And I know I AM a woman.

But there is one thing.  One loathsome wretched thing that reminds me everyday that I have not always been gendered thus.  That reminds me of all those years spent trying to pretend I was a boy.  That can still knock me down and pull me out when I am feeling good about being the woman I knew myself to be.

I still have to shave everyday.

And I hate it.  Everyday I wake up and reach a hand to my face to wipe the sleep from my eyes and I feel stubble.  Scratchy stubble.

The hormones have even reduced the once fairly thick hair that covered my body to almost nothing.  Requiring increasingly less maintenance every year.  Not a lot more than any woman.  But my beard is unfazed.  I’m not even lucky enough to have alight beard.  No, it’s thick and it grows fast.  Back when I used to occasionally let it have it’s way, I could practically sneeze and find a full beard.  In all seriousness I could grow a thick, mountain man beard in around two weeks.

I was 6’4” with a full beard by the time I was a sophomore in High School.  I hated it.  When other boys were pretending to shave still-clean chins, I was trying to simply ignore the hair sprouting all over my face.  I had that first beard for at least a year and I can still remember the first time I shaved it off.  My face had physically changed in that year of rampant, testosterone-fueled puberty.  When I looked in the mirror after removing all that hair, I saw a stranger.  I literally did not recognize the face looking back at me.  It was radically different from the last time I saw it.  Though I knew reasonably that it was my own reflection, I would not connect with it again, I would not see myself again until I began my transition years later.

This pain, I share with you.

Much is rebalanced now.  I see myself in that brutal mirror.  The woman I am.  But that woman still has to spend 20 minutes everyday just scraping the fresh hair off of her face with a never-ending series of increasingly dull and unjustifiably expensive razor blades.  And it hurts like hell.

Simply LoreleiNot just emotionally either.  It is physically very painful..  Not only do I have a very heavy beard, but I have very, very sensitive skin.  And I shave much, much closer than an average man would ever bother doing.  I have to shave twice in fact to get smooth enough and invisible enough to pass muster and not have to worry about too much returning stubble by evening.  I shave first with the grain, and then re-lather to shave again, against the grain.

It is, as I said, intensely painful.  Like dragging fire across my face to begin everyday.  And there is always blood.  Often lots of it

After years of experimentation, I have discovered that I have to shave before I shower if I’m to go on with the day not looking like an extra in a zombie movie.  The only thing that stops all the blood and soothes my blazing face somewhat is a good warm shower and my face in the spray for at last a few minutes.

If I’m lucky, my face will not be too red and irritated looking when I get out.  If I’m really lucky, there won’t be some nick or cut that keeps bleeding all day.  Drying up into an ugly scab only to start bleeding again while I’m out and about.  Prompting strangers to tell me I have blood pouring down my face.  Always fun.

In point of fact, this routine adds a solid 3 hours to every morning of everyday for me.  2 hours if there’s an emergency….  I have to wait at least an hour after I wake up for the sleep swelling of my face to subside enough for me to be able to get that really clean shave I mentioned.  Shave too soon and there’s stubble half way through the day!

Then there’s the razors.  Really the only one that does the trick well enough with not too much blood and irritation is the Gillette Mach 3.  But the blades are crazy expensive!  $15 minimum for a 5 pack!  And if I use a blade more than twice, the quality degrades fast, while the pain and blood amps right up.  Gods forbid I get cocky and use a cheap disposable thing in an emergency.  We’re talking real horrorshow blood oh my droogies.

This need to shave everyday seeps into every aspect of my life.  I rarely date, because I’m afraid to go home with a man.  I’m terrified of waking up in the morning covered in stubble in a strange bed.  Or worse of having to exit quickly in the dress I had on, with an unshaven mug on the bus.

Jungle LoreleiIf I’m out at night I feel like Cinderella.  I have to get home before the stubble pokes through my makeup and I turn into a pumpkin.  Even worse, for someone who loves saying yes to adventures.  My need to shave and have a hot shower afterwards severely limits my ability to just go!  I must make sure, no matter where I rest my head, that there are shaving and showering facilities available in the morning.

Still not done though.  Because my beard is so heavy, there is a “beard blue” hue to my face that can only be hidden by careful and fairly thick makeup.  I can never just throw on a little lipstick and mascara and be done.  I have found that a little makeup, with out the beard cover and foundation, makes me look, for lack of a better description, like a bad crossdresser.

So it’s lots of makeup or none at all.  And none at all has it’s own consequences.  With none at all, you can see the slight redness and irritation from shaving and that hint of “beard blue” under the skin.  And at 6’4”, well, it’s a good thing I’m okay with being Out as trans….

And not that “passing” is all that important to me.  I know I can be a beautiful woman without having to “pass”.  But there are some days where I would like to blend in a little bit better.  When I’d like to just be read as an average, if very tall girl, out and about.

So, while GRS might be the end all and be all for other transwomen to be able to feel truly like a woman (and I do get that), for me, not having to shave, not having that daily and painful reminder would be a huge step to being able to just be me.  To be the woman I am, doing the things I do, with a lot more time to do them!

So, this is why my friends, who have heard this all first hand at one point or another, have launched this campaign to raise funds for me to finally afford to have laser clearance done on my face.  It’s not that much really if all the people I have affected with my work and my activism can pitch in a couple of bucks.  I would really appreciate it.  And it would indeed help me to do even more of what I do!  Saving the world with a clean face!!

As for saving the world….  Well, that’s why my friends have timed this around my 40th Birthday.  You see, the day I turn Forty (shudder) is December 21st, 2012.  Just a couple of weeks from now.  And as it happens, it’s also the day the Mayans predicted would be the end of the world.

And hey, maybe it is.  Or maybe it’s just the start of a new chapter.  One in which Lorelei finally gets to feel as fabulous as people often tell me I am!

So please, if you are able to, click through the link to the fundraising page below.  Spread it around to your own contacts if you feel so inclined.  It just takes a minute or two and a few dollars each from everyone who reads this to help me reach the goal of $4000.  And save my world.

I love you all!

Slainte Chugat!!!

Friend Lorelei Feeling Fabulous at Forty


Ticked-Off Trannies With BLOGS!!!!

Okay, now I tend to be extremely conservative about jumping on Boycott bandwagons, especially in relation to entertainment/pop-culture products or projects.  Before I was an activist of any kind, I was and am an actor, writer and comic performer.  I’ve studied and worked in comedy for most of my life and I know what a fine line it is between what is offensive and what is funny.  How often and easily that line blurs.  I like inappropriate jokes, edgy entertainment and boundary pushing art.

I am also exceptionally leery of censorship of any kind, even and especially of topics that I am personally offended by.  Restriction of free speech and artistic expression of any kind can be a very slippery slope.  We voluntarily allow far too many freedoms to be taken away from us in the name of Political Correctness and Safety.

I also believe in basic decency and politeness though.  I’m not much of a Christian, but the Bible did get it right when it said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I believe that.  I think if we all treated each other with a bit more respect and open-mindedness the world would be a much better place.

So when I read the various Facebook posts by transgender friends and allies who were crying foul against a movie called “Ticked Off Trannies With Knives”, I was immediately on guard.  I have previously defended the use of the word “tranny” as a popular colloquialism.  I know it’s offensive, but it’s also fairly pervasive.  I feel it’s better to defuse it than allow it to be a weapon.

That said, my immediate reaction, based on my relationship with and respect for the sources of the posts was one of personal offense.  “This horrible film must be stopped!!!”  My reaction was so visceral I felt I could not trust it.  I needed to think before reacting.  So I waded into the source material with an open mind, watched the trailer and read both the blog postings against the movie and the fan support for it.

After all, the film is being featured in the much respected Tribeca Film Festival, which was started by Robert DeNiro.  I’m kind of a movie geek, so even a loosely implied connection to DeNiro is enough tom get my attention and excitement up.

The trailer immediately evoked some very emotional responses for me.  It invoked the brutal death of Angie Zapata and other transgender women.  Like a spell it conjured the horror of violence against my community.  The violence that keeps me from being able to live with the woman I love in San Diego.  Violence that I and many of my brothers, sisters and others live in fear of every day.

It tried to buddy up to me and say, “Hey, this is a movie by trannies, for trannies.”  It painted itself as a movie that felt my pain and was as angry as I am!!  A classic revenge fantasy.  Bloody.  Dangerous.  Funny too.  And maybe just a little inappropriate, but in the fine tradition of classic Blaxsploitation movies.

Blaxsploitation, if you’re not familiar was a genre of film that emerged in the early 1970’s that was often accused of portraying negative racial stereotypes and exploiting sensitive issues.  But for all that, they were some of the first films to be made primarily for black audiences with almost entirely black casts and made by black filmmakers.  For all of their faults, they are pretty amazing and groundbreaking films.

With that in mind, I was totally prepared to suspend my offense and possibly even be prepared to enjoy the trailer for a film that billed itself as “transploitation”. I actually kind of wanted to like it!

Geared up and angry from the invocation of transgender bashing and open minded from my love of movies like “Shaft” and “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” I found myself immediately disappointed by what appeared to be a cast of Drag Queens being billed as “transgender”.  I found not identification and visceral vindication, but alienation and offense.

Even at that, I tried to remain open-minded.  I all too often have people asking me if “I can do Streisand”  and “What songs do you do?”  When I tell them I’m a performer.  Because I’m trans and an actor, people often assume I must be a female impersonator and it always pisses me off.  So I was prepared to dig deeper.  Maybe the movie was made by transgender filmmakers or had a transgender crew.

Nope and nope.

Turns out the movie was directed by a gay man with nary an actual transgender person* in sight.  Hardly, the Melvin Van Peebles of our community.  After very careful review and much critical thought I came to the conclusion that this movie, “Ticked Off Trannies With Knives” is not “transploitation” so much as simply, exploitation of transgender people.

Please, if you are a transgender person, an ally of transgender people or even just a lover of film, check out the links and the trailer below for yourself.  If you are as offended as I am, let the folks who organize the Tribeca film festival know how you feel about this film.

*Author’s note: I am reliably informed that in addition to the now publicized 3 transgender women in lead roles, there were also a number of trans crew members. So there’s that. Weigh that as you will. -LE 4/19

(And yes, I know the link is broken… I left it as a sign that change is possible if we speak up. Director Luna re-edited the trailer and I’ve posted it below.)


The New Tech Voyeurism

I have a Confession.  I like to watch.  Everything.  I am very curious.  One of my absolute favorite things to do is simply to sit somewhere busy and “people watch”.  Or walk around on a crowded city street.  When I’m waiting for a movie or concert to start, I will spend most of the time looking around the theatre to see who else has come out to see this thing, participate in this experience.
I once went to a screening of Pasolini’s Masterpiece Salo, which is based on a novel by the Marquis DeSade, mainly so I could see who would show up to a public showing of it.
Of course I like to watch cute girls (and boys too!), but I especially relish watching all of the characters go by.  From the busy businessmen to the cuddling couples to the fucked-up frat boys, I watch how they carry themselves, how they move through space, how they interact with each other and their environments.
The crazies are a particular treat.  Especially when they’re good and removed from reality.  I will almost always listen to their stories.
I will watch and try to figure out what these random people’s stories might be.  And as the old saying goes, “God is in the details”.  How a person is dressed, what they’re reading, or drinking or carrying.  I have my own special tells though, specific things that give me the richest information.
Shoes for instance.  I can tell quite a bit about someone from their shoes.  A man in a nice suit with a pair of loafers on is not a man who likes to look good.  He is wearing the suit because he has to.  It’s his uniform.  As soon as he gets home, he will probably slip into his favorite, ragged sports team t-shirt and a pair of baggy shorts.
On the other hand, a man in a slightly ragged suit with nice shoes, is possibly not making the highest salary, but he’s going to be a much more interesting person to meet and he possibly even takes pride in his appearance!
I can also, personally, learn a lot about a person from the books that they have on their bookshelf (or the lack thereof).
But for me, the thing that tells me the most, that adds colour to the pencil sketch, is music.
Which brings me, in a kind of a roundabout way to the actual subject of this particular blog.
I am sitting right now in the Haymarket Café, a little place in Northampton Massachusetts of which I am inordinately fond.  I have a pot of lemon ginger tea and a nice spot by the front counter, where I can see all of the coming and going, ebb and flowing of the people around me.
I also have my trusty, slightly ghetto-ized Mac PowerBook.  Sylvia.
She’s a few years old, and a little cranky.  She won’t turn on unless she’s plugged in and has a USB keyboard because her built-in one no longer works.  She also has a USB track-ball mouse plugged in because I do a lot of work with music and video editing and I hate the trackpad for that stuff.  But she still does what I need, mostly, and I am very fond of her.
All of this makes for an unusual setup, with wires and peripherals everywhere.
But still, I digress.  I merely paint the picture of this moment.  A six foot four, drop dead sexy transwoman with an uber-nerd setup in a crowded, socialist coffeeshop.
What I have discovered, that I wish to share with you, is that a new (at least to me) feature on iTunes allows me to listen to and browse the music libraries of any Mac users sitting nearby.
For me, this is the holy grail of people “watching”.
As I write this I have been switching back and forth between various music libraries, scanning through the artists and hitting shuffle.  One person is heavy on hip hop, another pretty folky.  There’s someone who really like local music.  And someone who favors Ani DiFranco and NPR.
I found out that Lady Sovereign has a new album that I had not yet heard about.
It’s interesting to try and figure out who these people might be.  A Smithie, a townie, a bored suburbanite or a political activist?
I wonder if they even realize I am listening?
All I really know are the names of the playlists.  “Jane Smith’s Library”, “Chouzou”, “Lindy’s Music”, “Guerre de Fleur”.  Even those details help to tell the story though.  Are they whimsical or straightforward?  Angry, with a lot of NWA and Rage Against The Machine?  Or a little sappy with a music library heavy on the Abba and light on the Metallica.
There are mix CDs, where the tracks were never named, just the album.  “Judy’s Random Retro Mix” and “Some Love Songs For Lucy”.  Or just “Jason’s Disc”.
While I was writing those last few lines, the library I was listening to went from Sade to the Pogues to something simply called “track 8”.
I keep looking around to see if I can match up playlists to faces.  I am convinced, because I can hear their music, that they can somehow read these words.  That they are looking at me because they know!
I tend to forget that I stand out in a crowd sometimes simply for being who I am.
I suppose they just might read these words though.  It is a public blog.  Anyone can click through.  Maybe it was your music I was listening to.
I have been sitting here for several hours and I have barely spoken a word to anyone around me.  Even though they are very close.  It is you that I have been talking to, while I have been listening to their music.
And even now, when I was about to wrap up, hit Save, take off the headphones and close iTunes, I am informed via a helpful window, “One or more users are connected to your shared iTunes library, are you sure you want to quit?”
Of course not.  It is somehow gratifying to find that they are watching me!
Far be it for me to turn off the feed.
Now I want to scroll through my own music library and wonder, who I may appear to be?
It’s a brand new voyeurism for a brand new era.  This is “Radio Around You”.


A Website Recommendation

I’m sure I don’t know exactly who of my expanding readership will want to set up a profile here, but you fine folks are all people I thought might be interested in knowing about this site.  I try to stay a step or two ahead of the social networking curve and this is the latest site to actively catch my attention.

It’s a social networking site aimed at Women and the Queer Community.

I just set up a profile and thus far it seems pretty user friendly.  Pretty much along the lines of MySpace before it became such a clusterfuck.

Enough customization choices to keep things interesting, but not so many as to swamp the average user.

So drop on by, say hello and lezbe friends (sorry, I couldn’t resist…)!!!!!

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