Sep 20, 2010

Enough about me. What do you think of me?

So, dear friends, in my last post-SCC post, I prattled on about some of what I had learned about myself while enjoying a full week en Femme, embedded in the TG ranks. That essay drew a good number of really loving and thoughtful comments. Thank you all for enduring it and enjoying it to the degree that you did. Only fair and reasonable I suppose to look at the flip side of the coin and think a little about where and how the Cross Dresser fits in and is perceived by our larger universe.

One of the signals that sounded very clearly came at the conclusion of the first every seminar I attended. The session Proctor handed out audit forms that we were encouraged to fill out. Did the presentation meet expectations? Was the presenter skilled and knowledgeable? Would you invite her back next year? Standard questions and vital data, data that I am sure that SCC staff and management will act on and optimize.

The audit forms asked for a little demographic information having to do with identity. I cannot recall the particulars exactly. Transitioned Post-op, and Living 24/7 come to mind. Female-to-Male, Supporter / Significant Other too. And nestled in between these clearly defined communities, “Recreational Cross Dresser”.

This really caught my attention. You might know that I rather like words, and think of them as possessed of remarkable power.

Recreational Cross Dresser.

Now, for me, Cross Dressing is recreational. It is recreational in so for as I really have fun becoming and being Petra. Terrific recreation and highly encouraged. In another and more important sense, Cross Dressing has helped me to literally re-create myself. I am a warmer, more empathetic, happier person now than I was in years gone by. There is enough evidence to tie cause and effect together, and much of that evidence has back-zips and shoulder straps. Hooray!

But in the context of a demographic survey, the term Recreational Cross Dresser does connote something else, and that something else is not quite so serious and impactful as I believe Cross Dressing to be. Or at least, how it has been, and is for me.

Recreation, in this context, also speaks to motivation for the act of Cross Dressing. It is difficult, really, to know peoples motivations, and if motivations are to be addressed, then surely there are other valid ones (sexual pleasure, theatricality/incurable exhibitionism, power exchange, sedition, etc.) Stop me if I sound a little brittle on the matter, but the check boxes clashed with my stripes (ed. …too late to stop you m’dear).

Now friends, I do have thick skin, and even thicker with a plastering of Dermablend beard cover on, but the words are there, black and white, and they do have meaning, yes?

It is not difficult to understand and empathize with the roots of this minor infraction against my sensibilities. The lives of Transwomen have been made more awkward, more of a lightning rod for ridicule, prejudice, ignorance and hatred then they ought to be in part as a result of the broad public perception of Cross Dressers.

If you have ever hit a gay bar on Halloween, you know what I mean. Over the top, over-exposed, under-dressed, boobs-out, booty-calling, flaming Technicolor travesties of femininity abound. Sadly, these visions are much of what the rest of the world calls to mind to deal with and understand Transpeople. How about media depictions? Cross Dressing Bank Robbers are thwarted somwhere thrice daily it seems.

In this way, sad to say, some elements of the Cross Dressing spectrum truly do totter, hand on hip, directly in the path of broader acceptance of the differently gendered. Ouch.

And therefore I understand, fully, how even the most “live and let live” transitioning and transitioned women, would want the recreational Cross Dresser to just live elsewhere. There must be another planet with good vanity mirrors and a Karoake machine out there, in another Galaxay preferably, yes?

Perhaps this contributes to the somewhat guarded welcome that the Cross Dresser is extended in the company of (some) Transwomen. There is always more though, is there not?

I suspect, that the brave woman who has been through or who is a few appointments short of HRT, FFS, electrolysis, silicon implants and injections, nips, tucks and the complete, traumatic up-ending of family lives, social order and commercial prospects that goes along with all of those things must look at the Cross Dresser with care and concern. Perhaps we are seen with a sense of ... “o god, you poor lamb, you are playing with fire and really have no idea of what you will have to endure ...”.

Hmmm. If ‘twer me on the far side of gender re-assignment, I suspect that I too would be quite guarded in my society with Cross Dressers. I would feel terrible if I said or did something that tampered with the jury, said or did something that unknowingly influenced a decision of such gravity. A deeply personal decision that a fragile, precious, delicate human life would need to live with, by and for themselves.

Other contributors? Sisterhood and sympathy aside therefore, this embryonic person, the Cross Dresser might appear to the fully enlisted Transwoman as a green platoon recruit, freshly dropped into savage jungles of combat, not yet battle tempered. Perhaps the circle does not widen and welcome fully until we display calm and cool in the firefight we have willingly walked in to, until our true colors have been shown.

Fair enough. Again, if ‘twer me, with Drivers License and Passport indicating “F”, I would hold a little back from the Cross Dresser, recreational or not. See where they are after a real tour of duty.

These feelings were to me, atmospheric, and subtly evident, very early in my week at Southern Comfort. I did, therefore, what I could to have a seriousness of purpose, a listening posture, and as well as I can muster, a genuinely womanly, ladylike attitude and approach to each moment and encounter. Fortunately, all of that comes readily to me these days, much more so than in younger years.

Showing up, smiling and not falling off ones bar stool goes a long way. The circle did widen and welcome more and more over the course of the conference. For this I am grateful. As different as my path today seems from the paths of many new friends and acquaintances, we did, on the whole, manage to focus on commonly held experiences, perceptions, material and emotional desires, and the random bric-a-brac of everyday things miles away from matters of chemistry and biology, gender and wardrobe.

These new friends and acquaintances, above all, contribute to my happy anticipation of next years SCC. I will have another year of experiences tucked in under my belt, and perhaps be a better contributor to the life of our Pink Platoon. In the meantime, there will be a good handful of undercover sorties en Femme deep into Plain Vanilla territory. Not entirely friendly territory, and there are a growing number of sympathetic hearts out there too, partisans in the long battle for social justice, or something like it. I look forward to turning a few of them, and ducking whatever flack I might run into.

Comments from people who do identify as Transwomen particularly welcomed today. Thanks sincerely.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has transitioned, I see "crossdressers" and all others as being at their particular stages of development. I don't look down on anyone.


Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Jillian - thanks for the visit, the thought and the comment.

I agree, we are all at some stage of development.

I am not suggesting that any one group looks down on any other group. We all do look differently at one another sometimes, but hopefully with open eyes, hearts and etc.

Please visit again soon.

xxoo - Petra

Jerica Truax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Friend Jerica

You mention a wonderful word in your comment that somehow eluded the post. Respect.

You absolutely have mine, and I am glad to have earned yours.

So happy to see where you are today relative to a year ago, and how beautifully your voyage is going.

I will be sure to drop a line if I am up in the NW, but surely you will visit Atlanta next year so we can hang out a little. Won't you?

Love - Petra

Claire L Hallam said...

I like the idea of a Pink Platoon. I might try for a commission.
Jerrica made an insightful comment to your wonderful post.
I suppose those of us who are not on a journey of transition fall into a whole range between "would if I could" to "makes a better man of me". Even if I know I'll not make the journey, the latter description seems to miss something for me. Like a younger J, I am certainly confused, but crossdressing doesn't affirm or bolster a male "Me"; rather the me just seems to have more than one gender component. Not sure if this makes any sense, but thank you Petra for making me think again, and to your wonderful commentators for their insight.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Claire, thanks so much for bringing your thoughts.

I think I get what you are saying. I think I suffer from it too, to a degree. The closer we look at something, the smaller the elements get, they atomize and disappear. But we have to try, yes?

Everyone else, please join in. This is the discussion I have been hoping for.


Petra Bellejambes said...

Claire, thanks so much for bringing your thoughts.

I think I get what you are saying. I think I suffer from it too, to a degree. The closer we look at something, the smaller the elements get, they atomize and disappear. But we have to try, yes?

Everyone else, please join in. This is the discussion I have been hoping for.


Couture Carrie said...

Gorgeous post, darling!
You look amazing!
And I love what you say about how cross-dressing has helped you re-create yourself!


Anne said...

I think this is a reat post and a GREAT and very important POV. There is a lot of acrimony ecause there are so many that simply choose to deny or fefuse to acknowledge the obvious differences of which you so clearly speak. This is not a question of hierachy or values, it is simply about different.

I salute you for your courage in admitting that..." if ‘twer me, with Drivers License and Passport indicating “F”, I would hold a little back from the Cross Dresser, recreational or not."

Tights Lover said...

Awesome post, Petra, and one I've been giving a lot of thought to the last few days.

It's a complex world you're discussing that involves so many people in so many different stages with so many ultimate goals in mind (to say nothing of those of us who still have no idea what the 'ultimate goal' is). Some 20+ years after this ride began, I often feel no closer to answering the 'motivation' question.

I particularly like the comment above from Jerica. Jerica certainly has my utmost respect as well for pushing aside all constraints and letting her true colors show.

I do understand the "make a better man out of me" argument. I think sometimes in life you can't give yourself exactly what you want but in these situations, often times, a little bit is better than nothing at all. You can't completely repress who you are forever. At least, not without the ensuing frustration and bitterness.

Anonymous said...

All in all, people no matter what label is put on them just deserve respect and happiness..if it makes you happy and complete, it is what is is.

Miss Neira

Anonymous said...

Another precious turn of phrase - yes, that check box clashes mightily with my stripes too - not so much the stripes on my clothes as the stripe of my being.

Forgive me for being blunt - at the same time both a failing and strength of mine - but "recreational crossdresser" is an awful phrase with very little nuance in establishing a hierarchy of tgirls with the "recreational" ones at the bottom.

Much too much to write in a comment - excellent fodder for a post of my own, no doubt - but suffice it to say I believe that we tgirls are far too varied in our experiences and attitudes and needs and motivations to be capable of being sensibly divided into just 2 groups.

And, please tell me if I am being overly sensitive when I translate that check-box choice into the following question: do you take yourself seriously at all?

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