Posts Tagged ‘transition

14
Feb
14

A Winter Memory

InATreeAloneThis evening I went for a walk in the snow, at dusk into the darkening night.

The world reducing to icy blue landscapes highlighted by grey shadows.

Orange house light spilling onto drifting lawns. Wooded patches reducing in detail, fading into black.

As I walked through the neighborhood, blowing sleet stinging my cheeks, icy wind whistling. I approached the edges and I remembered.

The trees.

Unbidden and in a flash, the memory that floated through my mind on the flickering shadows was of being a hidden trans girl of 12 or 13 in the little village of Marstons Mills on the sandy spit of Cape Cod.

Dressing up alone. Barricaded in my room. Bursting at my teenage seems. Desperate to be honest and out in the world. Afraid of anyone knowing.

So it was to the woods. On snowy, blustery days, much like this. The days when a timid teenage trans girl could count on all the watchful watchers staying snug and secure, away in their homes.

Carefully, in my room, I would dress underneath. A secreted skirt from stored away clothes. Stockings stolen from my mom’s dresser drawers. Whatever odd items I could acquire, awkwardly arranged.

On top of this, wet winter, cold weather clothes. Bulky layers that keep the wind out and secrets in.

I would go outside. Down the street, around the block, to the edge of the neighborhoods. To the woods by the pond.

Deep into the shadows I’d go. Just out of sight, just beyond the edges of the spilling orange light. Out through the scrub pines and the bramble.

And there I’d strip off my layers. Peeling away the winter weather androgyny. Down to the summery girl underneath.

And in those white wooded patches, snow stinging my nearly naked legs, wind biting through my too-thin dress. For a few moments I was exposed. Unhidden. Out in the world.

With only the trees for company.

I always was nervous of being caught. Or hopeful of it perhaps. Of no longer needing to hide. Of having my secret stripped away, very like those warm winter layers.

But I was clever at my lies. I was too good at hiding my secrets just beyond the edge of the woods, or in my bedroom after school.

For a few moments though, I was out of my room. Out of the house. Standing shivering in the stinging wind. Just a scared young girl, happy to be without a mask, in the shadows of the woods.

The stinging, shivering, punishing cold acceptable payment for the price I supposed I needed to pay. A manifestation of the guilt and the shame I manufactured for my imagined sins. But for all that, as well a glorious reminder of being alive. Unavoidably aware and awake to the moment.

Eventually, all too soon really, I’d begin to put the layers back on. Replace the damnable disguise. Slowly, even against the cold. Savoring the danger of being exposed. Caught out in my carefully crafted lies.

Once again, bundled up and secrets hidden, I’d trudge back out of the snowy woods. Pretend to be a boy. My secrets sufficiently safe.

The trees never told a soul.

But every so often, when the wind whips and the sleet stings. When I walk through the dusk into the darkening night. They whisper to me on the wind.

And even though I no longer hide, no longer cover my secrets in androgynous layers. Though I celebrate the woman that girl has become. The trees remember the time before.

And I do too.

SummeryGrrl

13
Feb
14

“Transparent” A transparent Trans review.

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I just finished watching the pilot episode for “Transparent” the latest attempt out of Hollywood to portray the trans experience. And Wow. I mean, really, wow. That was not what I expected.

And I mean that as high praise. At least kind of. But let me explain.

I would be lying if I said I had gone into this without expectations. I’ve been hearing about this show for quite some time now. First rumours. Then confirmation. Then hints through the trans pipeline about the behind the scenes production.

It took very little detective action to take a look at who was working on this. It even turned out that I was connected to the director, Jill Soloway from about 20 different directions. Including the husband of the first woman I ever had a crush on at summer camp. Who I recently reconnected with when she asked if she could take some naked pictures of me! (They’re on the internet, if you really want to know that much about me. And they’re quite nice really!)

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Seriously, so much enduring love to my queer friend who saw through the facade of “straight white guy” and gave me her copy of this to read.

So that’s my full disclosure of a sort. And I went in with split expectations. On the one hand, some of the people I was connected to the director through are people whom I admire a great deal. Including my mentor and friend, the amazing improviser, David Razowsky. I also was very impressed by the work Soloway has done previously. Including as a producer and writer of the series Six Feet Under and director of a section of a film based on the autobiographical novel Valencia by queer author Michelle Tea. A book that was really quite inspirational to me when I read it out in L.A. just previous to my transition.

On the other hand. Hollywood hasn’t been doing the most bang-up job of representing trans people lately. There have been close steps, almost okays, but then they invariably fail.

With only a couple of exceptions, the late night television roster seems to have been a veritable factory of faux-pas and insensitive portrayals lately. And in primetime, we are still far too often portrayed as sex objects, psychos or the as punchline for jokes that were already old when Milton Berle was putting on a dress for laughs.

So I’ll admit, when I saw that the pilot for Transparent was out on Amazon Prime, I pressed play with a great deal of skepticism. If perhaps skepticism tempered with a bit of hope.

And right from the first moment, I was surprised. First of all, the titles. These weird, throwbacky, seventies sitcom style titles. A font that looked lifted straight from The Jeffersons.

As a child whose favourite babysitter growing up in the Seventies and Eighties was our little black and white tv, I was hooked instantly on a wriggling worm of nostalgia. So, imagine my surprise when the very next shot is of a couple in bed and, and….

Waitaminute! They’re showing that woman naked!

This isn’t the seventies anymore, this is how people actually sleep in their beds as couples!! Naked, with sheets partly thrown off. Because it gets hot in L.A.!

Holy heck!

Already I knew that whatever expectations I might have where going to be up for grabs. Still, I watched each scene, waiting for the reveal, ready to be all clever and know-it-all trans advice columnist and say, “Ah ha!” I knew the hammer was about to drop!! There it is! There’s the awful, cheap joke about a guy in a dress!

But it kept not happening.

Now, I don’t want to give too many spoilers here. I suggest that you watch the show yourself. Give it your own attention. If I were to tell you too, too much it would spoil what I liked most about it. Which was that I found it consistently surprising.

What I will tell you is that Jeffrey Tambor was quite sensitive in his portrayal of a late-middle-aged father in the beginnings of male-to-female transition. I consistently liked how he played each scene he was in. And his relationship with his three children was very real feeling to me.

Also, it’s a great deal more adult than what you may be used to on network tv. There’s nudity and there’s sex. Quite a lot of it actually for a half hour sitcom.

If that’s not your thing, you might want to steer clear. I know I have one friend who is not at all prudish personally, but who consistently fast-forwards through love scenes, because she just hates them! She’d get a nice short film out of this episode.

As for myself, I liked the more adult theme, mainly because I think it gives the writers a lot more leeway to explore genuine human stories. It opens up far more avenues than traditional sitcoms are able to explore. Which in turn, I hope, will allow the cast and writers to flesh out (Ha!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist…) a more authentic portrayal of the trans woman of the title and the characters around her.

F--k Yeah Jim Croce!!!

F–k Yeah Jim Croce!!!

There were a few other touches I liked personally. The music was one of them. There is a very nice scene where the daughter and son of the main character are going through their dad’s record collection and they stop to comment on a Jim Croce album that they loved.

The whole scene reminded me very much of my own father and his record collection. Which included that same Croce album, which I loved as well!

For me, that allowed me to flip perspectives and identify also with the kids of this trans parent. Their characters being much more of my own generation, than Tambor’s trans character.

As for Tambor himself, I also harboured very conflicted feelings. I really, really like Jeffrey Tambor as an actor.  And though he’s perhaps better known for his roles in Arrested Development or The Larry Sanders Show. I was a huge fan of the show, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future when I was a geeky punk teenager. In fact, in many ways it was pretty seminal to the person I became. It still inspires what I aspire to be. “Live and direct.”

But picturing Tambor’s character from that show, a harried, perpetually stressed out television producer named Murray, as a trans woman, was causing me a bit of dissonance, to put it mildly. It was a little hard to shake.

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But Murray!! Your mustache is so epic!

Also, I’m really tired of seeing cis people (Someone who identifies as the gender they were identified as at birth. Ie., not trans.) play trans in tv and movies. Still, Tambor does an excellent acting job here, and given the early transition time period of this show, I found the casting to be actually appropriate.

To the producer’s credit, there appeared to be several authentic trans people playing smaller parts. And I have it on fairly good authority that if this show gets picked up for more episodes, they plan on casting a credible ensemble of genuine trans people. Fingers crossed.

So, would I recommend this show? Though I know the sort of trouble I could get in to with my more radical friends for saying this; yes, yes I would. I think it’s worth at least giving a chance to.

Transparent is currently available on Amazon Prime as an Amazon Original Pilot. A “Test Pilot” if you will! (I know, I know! Listen, I was a comic before I was a radical trans activist okay?? A girl’s just gotta get these things out sometimes.) And if enough people watch it and tell Amazon that they like it, the show will get a go at more episodes.

I rather hope it does. I’m curious to see where they go with this story and these characters. I’m hopeful they might even do it right! Certainly if they can continue to be able to surprise my jaded media-analyzing self, they’ll be on the right track.

And finally, I personally hope it gets picked up because, speaking frankly, I’d love to be part of that cast! This queer trans, activist, adventurer and pageant queen is ready to balance out all the marching and saving the world stuff with a little more of the making people laugh scene again!!

Slainte!

11
Dec
12

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

17
Nov
12

Santa Monica Boulevard Through Hollwood

As I sit  here in my room in Springfield, MA, typing these words, I have tears running down my face.  It’s the week when we observe the Transgender Day Of Remembrance and I’ve just read another news story about a transgender woman who was murdered.  Honestly, I read a lot of these types of stories.  Not just this week, but all year.  I’m an activist, a speaker on transgender issues and I write a regular column (and this blog) about transgender lives and people.  These stories are always sad to me, but some very specific stories always hit me particularly hard because they bring the horror so very close to home for me.

I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, I’m not.  But you read so many stories of horror and violence and even for someone constantly reminding others that we are human, other people with lives and loves; there is a distance to the stories that necessarily desensitizes them.  An intentional distance that makes it possible sometimes to simply get through the day and do the work that needs doing.

But every so often, like just now, I read a story of violence committed against a transgender woman in Hollywood.  Specifically the strip of Santa Monica from Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood to Vermont Avenue in East Hollywood.  And it tears my heart out.

Because this was my neighborhood.  90% of my life in Hollywood was lived out against the backdrop of this very strip.

I worked, played, performed and drank at The Improv and The Second City in West Hollywood and lived for several years, first by the intersection of Highland and Santa Monica, a block or so from, what some locals refer to as, “The Tranny Taco Stand” (and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center) where Transgender Sex Workers would often congregate at night.  Then by the intersection of Santa Monica and Normandie, which roughly bracketed the other end of the stroll informally/formally designated by the LAPD as the Trans Sex Worker Strip.

I was not an average Angeleno by a lot of respects.  For one thing, besides my ethnically Irish disdain for the sun, I lived in LA for 8 years without a car.  I walked, biked and took the bus everywhere I needed to go.  I was also very good at “scamming rides”, sometimes with virtual strangers.

I did not, as many Angelenos do, see the city as a blur through the car window.  I knew it from close up, the pavement under my feet.  The people I passed by, aware of me, as I was aware of them.  I closely interacted with the city, I knew it’s smells and patterns and the other denizens.  It is how I prefer to know the world.  I’m a writer and a storyteller, I live for and actively soak up the details.

And it was also during this period that the man I was still trying to be was actively ripping apart at the seams and I finally began my own transition.  It was where I went, in a very short span, from actively repressing my gender issues to occasional cross-dresser to part-time, transitioning transwoman to “Full-Time” Me.

And so very much of that journey was so intimately tied to this strip of geography.

For one thing, I have always been fascinated by the underbelly of The City.  The red-light, sex worker districts, the ghettoes and the decaying downtowns.  The City that lives when all the “good, decent folks” have gone home to their houses in the suburbs.  The City of Night, to borrow a phrase from John Rechy.

I’ve wandered the “Combat Zone” in Boston at the very end of it’s days.  Known the darkened streets of some of Chicago’s more ill-advised neighborhoods.  Lived in a dilapidated Movie Studio at the very boundaries of New Orleans Lower 9th Ward, after Katrina.

So it should be little surprise that I was drawn to Santa Monica Boulevard running through Hollywood, like a moth to a flame.  Even before I found myself living in that area, I would walk the strip from West Hollywood to Highland late at night.  Fascinated, wanting desperately to figure a way to talk to the transwomen I saw there.  To connect with them somehow.  Or as I later discovered, really to connect with myself.

I had the oblivious attitude of a very tall, white skinned person, used to being perceived as male.  And also, a definite disregard/active neglect for my safety.  I carried so much guilt for so very long, I think sometimes I wanted to be punished, to be hurt.  To commit a sort of a “soft-suicide”.

Let me be very clear, I do not/did not actively believe there was/is anything wrong or in need of “punishment” about being trans.  And I am extremely fortunate to have been able to come out the other side of these feelings to a bright new world, physically unhurt, if a little bruised and battered psychologically.  But intellectual belief and subconscious fucked-up-edness can be two totally different things.

As I passed through my own journey, finally accepting myself, deciding to do something about it and then breaking through my own self-imposed barriers of identity, Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood was my backdrop.

I went from being a furtive tourist to a part of the landscape.  Though I had little direct interaction with these transwomen who were also living out their lives in this same geography, when I began transitioning myself, I came to greatly value the little nods of recognition.  The eye contact we would make in passing that said, “I know”. 

As I began to recognize specific people, transwomen who lived in my neighborhood, who waited for the same bus with me, those little acknowledgements where the first time I began to feel myself part of a community.  Part of a family.  These were my sisters.

I don’t want to appear to place myself all that far apart from them either.  I was not merely a tourist.  I did my own small share of sex work.  Not much, as I was always skittish of sex work and extremely fortunate to have a network of support and people who took care of me.  I never had to work the street.  I did a little as a dominatrix and mostly as a dominatrix’s assistant.  But don’t let anyone’s semantics fool you, it was sex work nonetheless.

And though I had to work through a lot of repressively puritan issues myself (I am a Yankee Girl from Cape Cod…), I have neither regret, nor shame.  It was part of my own journey and I have many friends who are proud to be sex workers and own it as their profession of choice.

I also know that, while some actively choose it, sex work is often the last option left between starvation and survival for many women, especially transgender women.  It baffles me when I hear folks in my community expressing disdain for our sex worker sisters.  When I know they know as well as I do, the massively institutional discrimination we face.  How much harder it is for us to find employment, housing and support, just to live our lives.

And I well understand the fetishization of trans bodies .  The cold looks that turn us all into sex objects, that imagines there must be an access price for our sexuality, whether we have done/are doing sex work or not.  I will readily admit, I have been guilty of the same.

But these are our sisters.  These trans women I came to noddingly know, the community of the streets.  The trans women who lived and worked in and around my old neighborhood through Hollywood, on Santa Monica Boulevard were the first to acknowledge me as ME.  They accepted me far more readily and unquestioningly, on the basis of little more than a nod and a glance, than did many more “respectable” members of our community, by whom I often felt judged.

So, this is why, when I read these stories of violence, it is the ones from my old neighborhood, East to West Hollwood; Santa Monica Boulevard; South of Sunset and North of Melrose, that are the stories that tear me apart.

Every murdered trans woman I see on the news from that area, every time I hear about another attack, I look at the picture and I think, “Did I know her?”  “Was she the woman who would smile at me when I would ride the #4 bus home from work late at night?”

These are not just stories.  Not merely news items or statistics.  These are our sisters.

There, but for nothing more than blind good luck, go I.
Here is the post I was reading when I began this piece, from the excellent blog, Planetransgender:  “LAPD Task Force Looking For The Western Transgender Murderer

25
Sep
12

Hiding in “Mac”

Sometimes, I want to hide in “Mac”.  I want to curl up in the old boy character I created and lived as for the outside world for so many years.  Put on a suit, a tie and a pair of two-toned Stacy Adams.  Slip out of the house and head to somewhere no one knows my name.  Some bar maybe in the parts of town I avoid, where nobody has heard of the fabulous Lorelei Erisis.  I would bind my breasts like a drag king or a transman and neglect to shave.

Of course, I have no idea what I would talk about.  I was never much into sports even when I was still pretending masculinity.  In point of fact, I’m a good deal butcher as a woman than I ever was as a man.  But it might be nice to play the part again, just for a few minutes.  To escape from the burden of being myself all the time

This may seem an odd thing to express, especially coming from such an outspoken advocate of visibility.  And make no mistake, it’s not a desire to de-transition either.  The choice to be me, to stop hiding was a decision I spend very little time or energy regretting.

But I did spend some thirty-odd years playing this character called “Mac”.  And despite hiding who I was, it was not a character I disliked.  I was even proud of the man I tried to be.  And I was not so very different.  I tried to be kind, gentle, loving, forthright and intelligent.  I tried to be the best version of what I thought a man could be.  And I often enjoyed the role.

Blasphemy, I know.

I was lucky enough to know the pleasures of falling in love on more than one occasion.  And fortunate enough to survive the torments of falling out of love, at least for the most part.  At least visibly.

And I certainly never tried, even as a man, to be like anyone else.  Blending in to the crowd mattered as little to me then as it does now.  I was afraid to let the world know I was truly a woman.  But other than that, I could give fuck-all if I stood out as being different from the herd.  In fact I went to rather great lengths at times to do just that!

My parents were hippies, as I’ve mentioned before, and I was therefore minus a lot of the stereotypical “male role” conditioning.  Sports were not forced on me.  I was encouraged to cry as well as to turn the other cheek when violence threatened.  The men in my life were unashamedly sensitive and the women were proudly strong.

And there was almost never an occasion I can remember where I was required to wear a tie.  Possibly as a result of this, when I found men’s formal wear.  Fitted shirts, tailored suits, nice shoes and silk ties.  It struck me as a sort of “Guy Drag” I could be most comfortable hiding in.  It allowed me some avenue of elegance that I was yearning to express.

I discovered very quickly that people treated me rather differently when I was wearing a tie than when I was not.  Also, given that my closest friends were punks, freaks and weirdos of the most wonderful sort, it allowed me to stand out even from them.  Ironically, my conformity to a dying standard of masculinity made me a non-conformist among non-conformists.  I also still have not a single tattoo or piercing, for much the same reasons.

After a while and several different lives lived, this became my uniform of sorts.  It was comforting to me to slip on my two-tone shoes, soles worn thin by miles and miles of city pavements.  Easy to put on a suit.  It took less thought than it did for me to dress “casually”, which was always a nightmare I could not understand.

In my late teens/early twenties when I was experimenting with all sorts of things and most especially, doing a good bit of acid, I would almost always wear a tie when I was tripping.  I found that the physical act of straightening my tie had the effect of mentally pulling myself together when I started to feel sketched out.  Also, it made authority figures much less likely to question what I was doing.

I remember for a bit when I was living in Evanston, Illinois, I took to smoking a pipe.  A real, old school, “Fifties Man”, “Bob” Dobbs style pipe.  I would fill it with mostly marijuana and a little bit of strongly scented pipe tobacco.  The smell of the pipe tobacco covered up the smell of the pot and dressed like a good, upstanding, straight white guy, I would walk through downtown in broad daylight, getting pleasantly high.  Nodding to policemen and greeting passers-by.

I remember that sense of privilege.  And I remember even then thinking it was kinda fucked-up that I was treated so differently, so reverently, just because I looked a certain way.

Of course, this is not precisely about that either.  I am not bemoaning the loss of that privilege.  What was it but the social equivalent of a sleight of hand anyway?  A fantasy perpetuated by mutual agreement.  I knowingly and gladly traded all that away when I began my transition.  And I would do it again.

But.

I do miss that character.  When times are hard, as they are now.  I want to so badly to be able to hide in it for just a few minutes.  Forget who I am.  Pretend my troubles belong to someone else.

Pull on my Stacys, straighten my tie, light a cigarette from a silver case and see where the sidewalk takes me.

How ironic that now that I’m finally not hiding alone in my room, or some anonymous crowd, all dressed up like a girl, that I find myself wanting to do the same thing again.  Except now it’s to be the character I was trying to escape.

 

02
May
09

I Got My Hair done For The First Time!!!

I got my hair done the other day for the very first time!!!  It was a major milestone for me in my transition.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Umm, Lorelei?  How that heck have you managed to avoid ever getting your hair done?!!?!’

I mean, I’ve had haircuts certainly.  And I even had my hair stripped white once so I could dye it bright blue for my wedding.  It’s a long story.  Someday I’ll show you all the video.

Anyhow, like I said, I’ve never had my hair DONE.  All girly at the salon Done.

I’ve been letting my hair grow for a couple of years now, since I decided to go ahead and really, truly, actually transition.  It grows like a weed, I’m really lucky, and it had gotten really long.  Like halfway down my back.  It had actually gotten so long that it was getting caught in my armpits when I sleep and I would often end up cranking my neck when I tried to turn over.

I’ve actually had long hair for most of my life.  My parents were good hippies and in all the pictures of me as a little kid I’ve got longish curly blonde hair and people would always say when they saw the pics, “Oh, what a cute little girl!”  It is little wonder I have gender issues…  At some point though, anatomy got in the way and people started to say, “What a cute boy.  And what nice hair he has!”

I cut it for a minute in Middle School in a desperate attempt to get teased less.  It really didn’t work though so I let it grow back as soon as I got to High School.  The point between short hair and long was soooo wretched and awful and Mullet-esque that I felt greatly compelled not to do anything so foolish as cutting it again!

This caused some problems socially, as I considered myself neither a hippie (my parents were hippies and a girl’s got to rebel somehow!) or a metal-head.  The two main long hair social sets.  I thought of myself as more of a punk.  I preferred the Dead Kennedys and The Sex Pistols to The Greatful Dead or Def Leppard!!!

I was also fascinated by mod/traditional skinhead culture and style.  I was friends with a number of what I thought of as Garden Variety Skins.  Not the Neo-Nazi type mind you.  The ones I knew hated them for giving skinsheads a bad rep.  They weren’t necessarily rascist so much as angry and alienated.

Still, I certainly wasn’t going to cut my hair, so for a while when anyone asked I told them I was “A Skippy”.  A skin-hippie.  I dressed like a skin, but I had long hair and I have never been very angry or violent.  It did help keep all the short kids with a chip on their shoulder from picking on me though.

I also discovered that girls often liked me because of my hair and were not shy about saying so.  Let’s face it, I was a shy Doctor Who fan who liked to get all dressed up like a girl when I was at home alone.  I was going to take every compliment I could get.

Still, my realization of the fact that girls liked my hair gave me good reason to resist all urges to cut it.  Even to get that big Roostertail Mohawk I have always wanted!

After I got off Cape and moved to Northampton (the first time), my friends quickly began to notice that anytime I was hitting on a cute girl, I would take my hair down.  I usually kept it in a ponytail.  I often still do.

I would be talking to a girl and eventually, my hair would come cascading down, long, dark blonde and naturally wavy.   And  surprisingly, it usually worked!!!  I was absolutely incorrigible.  There’s more shameless tactics I used in my adventures trying to meet cute women, but that’s for another time.  Allow me to stay hair-focused here.

Eventually I moved to Boston and my hair stayed with me.  I became a club kid, and a Goth.   Concurrently.  Trust me it’s a much harder balance than you would think.

And I discovered Manic Panic!!!  My long hair entered it’s multi-coloured phase.  It was streaked purple and red and green.  All done at home.  Usually by girlfriends or drunk friends or even drunk girlfriends!!!

I got my hair trimmed every so often.  Every six months to a year usually.  And it was never more than getting rid of the dead ends.

Then, after my hair and I went traveling around Europe for a piece, I came back to Boston to a seriously unstable girlfriend a fair bit of apathy about my life there and decided it was time for a change.  Time to go, go, go!!!

So I moved to Chicago!  The windy city!!  And like I said it was time for a change.  I went and I found a reputable hairdresser and I said, “I want to cut it off.”  At the time of course that had a different connotation than it does when I tell people that same thing nowadays.

I cringed as I heard the scissors near my head.  I practically got my ears lopped off from flinching at the sound.  I got my first “guy haircut” in a little more than a decade.
I usually kept it in what I thought of as the “Superman Style”, short but slightly wavy on top.  This generally rapidly progressed to what I referred to as the “Mad Scientist” style.

My hair has always been very fast growing and thick.  Despite my new attempts at “being a man”, I never got any better about how often I visited the hairdresser’s.  I tried to do it every six months at least, but that meant I often ended up with big, unruly hair.  Styling it for me usually consisted of running a strong brush through it and hoping for the best.  I begged, I pleaded, but more often than not, my hair simply did as it pleased.

I kept my hair short for some years after that.  Through Chicago and a Marriage and all the craziness afterwards leading to my move to LA.

I was desperate that if I kept my hair short, I could pull off this whole being a man thing.  Like I said.  It didn’t work.  And when I did decide to transition I immediately began growing it out, or more specifically, simply not cutting it.  For a fairly frightening minute or two, I looked a little like Kenny G on a bender.

Still, even when my hair was long and girly again, something was never quite right.  For all my bluster, I am as insecure about my appearance as any transwoman.  Any Woman for that matter!!!  My hair was the same basic style it had always been and so I always looked just a little like “Mac” to me.  No matter how girly I am becoming.

I had been putting off getting my hair done for the longest time.  Finding all kinds of excuses not to do it.  Finally though, I had a big show coming up.  I’m hosting Northampton Gay Pride!!!!  Kind of a milestone really.  An out and proud TransWoman hosting Pride!!!

I was going to have to look my absolute best!!  It was time to get my hair done.  But where?!!?  I agonized.  My very patient friends listened to me agonize.  At last, my friend Annie took matters into her own hands and arranged for me to meet with Debbie Droy, “The Foil Queen Of Main Street”!!!  Debbie is the owner of The Underground Day Spa on Main Street in Northampton.  And she is FABULOUS!!!!!!!!

I walked into the Main Street store front with the London Underground inspired sign and down a flight of stairs, it is indeed underground, and came out in a very light and airy and pleasant feeling salon.  It is actually only kind of underground, the widows open up on a nice bright and sunny back entrance.

Debbie asked me what I had in mind.  I should mention here that I know I am a nightmare type of hairdressing customer.  I haven’t been living as a girl very long and I don’t speak “hairdresser’s” at all.  I think I kind of stammered something like, “Kind of a trim maybe and some kind of coloring maybe kinda-sorta-thing.”

But Debbie patiently asked me all the right questions and had a great manner.  Very friendly and professional and sure.  She was fast, but she never rushed.  She washed my hair and trimmed it so it regained all of it’s natural bounce and curl. Then she put in the bleach for the blonde streaks I wanted and worked with my idea to do something fun without going too extreme.  I have a tendency towards doing extreme things.

She put the foils in my hair and talked with me pleasantly about all kinds of things and then I got to sit in the steamer for the first time!!!!  Debbie gave me the latest copy of glamour to read (at my request) and I felt so damned girly!!!!!!  It was great!!

I remember watching women in those steamer/dryer things at the salon as a child with my Mother and it seemed like such a special club!  And I wanted so badly to join!!

Here I was at last.  In the girl’s club at the salon, getting my hair done.

When Debbie took the foils off, I saw a brand new Lorelei emerging.  She had given me these wonderful looking blonde streaks and my hair looked so good!  She blow-dryed my hair so we could get a good look and it looked fantastic!  There was less “Mac” looking back at me from the mirror.  I felt new.

I thanked Debbie, who assured me if there was anything I was unhappy with I should come back and she would tweak it for me (my language here, a little tech-y, I know).

There was absolutely nothing wrong with my hair though.  In fact I couldn’t be happier!!

I thanked Debbie and asked for propaganda so I could tell my friends!  Then I walked out into downtown Northampton.  No makeup.  Sweating with the 98 degree heat.  And I felt Beautiful.  OMG!!!  I felt so confident and happy!  Like I could do anything.  Simply because I had a Great New ‘Do!!

I even got hit on in the street by a pretty young black man!  Very pretty.  Yum.

I never had any idea how marvelous it is to get your hair done!  I could never quite understand why all the women I knew were always doing it.  I mean sure, I understood the desire to be well presented and to want to look pretty.  But I had no idea simply how good it feels!!!

Yaaayyyyy!!!

So thanks Debbie Droy for my first real sexy hairdo!!  Thanks Underground Day Spa!!!

I highly recommend giving them a visit.  It’s well worth it.  They were more than trans-friendly.  They were trans-relaxed.  And they have a whole range of Spa services.  Massage, a steam room, facial treatments, waxing and of course Great Hair styling!!!

I’ll be going back to try them all!

Slainte!

Underground Day Spa
151 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060
413.586.4050

http://www.theundergrounddayspa.com

Fabulous!!!

Fabulous!!!




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