Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How old are you?

Many, many years ago, another trans-woman once told me that our psychological ages, as transwomen, differ from our physical ages due to not having lived as our gender during a significant time in our youth. She suggested that our "new age" can be determined by taking the age at which we went full time and dividing it by two (rounding down). Then add all the years after going full time.

(This tends to work well for those over 30, but if you are under 24, it's quite skewed.)

In my case, I transitioned at 33. Dividing in half and rounding down is 16. Add the 5 years since then, and I'm 21.

Hey, I'm legal!!!

...but I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.


This coming weekend is packed.

Tomorrow night is TGSF's End of Month Social at the Cathedral Hill Hotel on Van Ness. It's been a while since I have been, so I hope to see some new faces.

Wondercon runs this Friday to Sunday, and I hope to drop by all three days to check it out. Saturday has most of the content, but, unfortunately, San Francisco Coronation is also that evening. So, I'll be heading out from Wondercon to enjoy an evening with the court system.

I was looking over the current Wondercon schedule, and I found a number of programs I want to catch, including:

The Birth of Gay Comix
— San Francisco was a birthplace for underground comics. It was also a birthplace for the queer comics movement with a pioneering indie comic called Gay Comix. Edited by Howard Cruse and San Francisco artist, Robert Triptow, Gay Comix was one of the first comics to present stories by and for the LGBT community. Robert Triptow and early gay comics creators Burton Clarke (Gay Comix), Vaughn Frick (Gay Comix), Jeff Krell (Jayson), Lee Marrs (Pudge, Girl Blimp), Trina Robbins (It Ain't Me Babe, Wimmen's Comix), and Mary Wings (Come Out Comix) take you on a fascinating trip back to the '80s and the beginnings of queer comic books. Moderated by Justin Hall (True Travel Tales, Glamazonia the Uncanny Super Tranny).

Comics Arts Conference Session #4: Comics, Culture, And Society — Diana Green (Minneapolis College of Art & Design) looks beyond the often-addressed "camp" aspects of EC stories, and delves into the way the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered subtexts and depiction of ambiguous gender in EC Comics played into the burgeoning, shifting acceptance of gay culture that began in the 1950s. Trevor Strunk (New York University) takes up the privileging of hybridity in the language, drawing style, and themes of Jaime Hernandez's graphic novel Locas, from Love and Rockets, specifically in the portrayal of the fictional town of Huerta. Kate McClancy (Duke University) asks whether the post-9/11 political climate forced a reimagining of V for Vendetta's portrayal of an anarchist in the film version of the graphic novel.

Queer Women in Comics — You think Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For) is one of a kind? We know she's unique, but there are lots of other queer women working in comics. Paige Braddock (Jane's World), Greta Christina (Best Erotic Comics), Joey Alison Sayers (Thingpart), and Leia Weathington (Bold Riley) present a spirited discussion of what it means to be lesbian, bi-female and transgendered in comics today. Moderated by Patty Jeres, Prism Comics board co-president.

I have to admit, I haven't read too many comics in the past years, with the last one being the Dark Knight Strikes Again series...but before that, I'd probably have to go way back to the early 90's. They just got so expensive on a college budget, and they are quite addictive such that you have to read all of them to stay up on what is happening.

Wondercon is more than just comics, though. They have a ton of sessions, as mentioned above, and a lot of upcoming stuff, too, such as the new Watchman movie. Being a geek and sci-fi fan, I was also excited to see some of the actors listed as appearing this weekend. So, as you can imagine, I have a full list of things to do.

I guess the best part of it is just attending the show and feeling the mass excitement. Unfortunately, no Mulder or Scully this year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This time of year

February never meant anything to me in the past. Sure, it has that occasional leap day in it every 4 years or so, but it was always the short month. It was always a cold month. It was always a dreary month. Yeah, it has Valentine's Day right in the middle, but you have to have a loved one to really make it special.

On February 14th, 2004...over 5 years ago...I went full time. Four days later, on February 18th, a proverbial truck hit me and rearranged my face. A year later, on February 22nd, 2005, I had SRS.

February has, in a way, become a new month to me...a reminder of my once lost path finally finding a way home.

And, yet, once I found my way home, my life became complacent, to a degree. The sparkle of the journey is lost by the routine pattern of a common life.

If you've watched much TV in the past 50 years, you realize that any program revolving around the journey didn't do so well once they finally made it fact, the story usually ended when the journey home was complete. Lost in Space, Gilligan's Island, Star Trek: Voyager...just to name a few.

But, my story starts anew once the journey has ended. I suppose that's possibly what my life needs in order to be less complacent. I need a continual journey. I need to do new stuff and go new places all the time.

One of my first appearances as Ms. Transgender San Francisco was this past Saturday. Alexandria, who emceed the Cotillion, is part of a monthly drag show called Faux Girls. A number of the Ex-Com are familiar with this show, so they suggested I attend.

As we waited for the show to start, I noticed one girl sitting by herself just in front of me. I moved seats just slightly and asked if she was here alone. She was, and she didn't know the other person with a reserved seat at her table...who had yet to show up. She was from eastern Europe and lives in New York, but her visa was about to expire, so she was out in San Francisco to visit. She was by herself, and she was just out catching the different glitter of San Francisco. We chatted briefly before I moved back to my seat.

I ended up meeting a Russian girl at the show in a similar situation, and we chatted a bit after the show was over. She was quite fascinated by all of the transgender women at the show, and her eyes sparkled with the inquisition of a child wanting more.

Perhaps it is a youthful thing, perhaps it is an inner energy...a drive to experience and learn, a simple yearning for all there is. Might it be the sweet taste of excitement, the natural device of caffeine, and the potential to follow the rabbit around the corner? Or maybe it is a subliminal search for love, a quest for the soul that makes us whole, or a desire of that which makes us smile every time we think of them. Whatever it is, I haven't had enough of it lately. I need to refill my cup.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What next?

Every time I ran for Ms. Transgender San Francisco, I went in with an action on support groups, bring different groups in the Bay Area together, be active in outreach, and that type of stuff.

Even after not winning, I still worked on being a liaison to SF-TEAM from TGSF, and, of course, I am still involved with a number of speaker's panels.

This year, I went in with a little different angle.

The Day of Remembrance activities in San Francisco proper have been lacking the past few years. Sure, Marty has been trying to hold a ceremony at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, but a lot of people like the candlelit marches. I commend Marty for keeping the tradition alive in San Francisco, but I think a lot of people still want to see the march happen. I still hear stories of people randomly meeting in Dolores Park on the evening of November 20th, and honoring those people that were killed because they didn't fit the gender binary.

And, so, my initiative here is to see some type of official gathering in San Francisco. I hope to start work on this soon, but will also be looking to a few groups to help sort out some details.

I was involved with Gwen Smith on a number of past DOR's in San Francisco, so I'm not new to this ballgame, but I think the San Francisco tradition needs to be kept alive and strong.

Before I go into a lot of other stuff I want to do with my year, I figured I'd also bring up the usual stuff that Ms. TGSF does. She is typically required to attend a lot of the court system events, especially San Francisco's Coronation. She is also involved with SF Pride and a few of the other local pride activities.

In the transgender world, though, she usually attends a lot of the TGSF activities such as the monthly socials and the outreach events like Castro Street Fair. Ms. TGSF also makes the rounds of local transgender organizations like Diablo Valley Girls, River City Gems, Carla's, I Love It, and others.

I know that Ms. TGSF has been involved with float building in the past. It's a lot of work...from what I remember in my past days of helping build it. I'm still up in the air about what to do for this, but I believe the TGSF Ex-Com has some great ideas to work with. I know that Prop-8 has been a big issue this past year here in California, but I think for the transgender world, ENDA may be closer at heart. Perhaps a float with all of us in business attire would 'suit' us well.

I need to get a binder so I can track all of these activities, and I have a friend working on business cards for me. I also set up a Facebook account (and a Myspace page) to network a little better and keep up with the local activities, as well as the national activism.

One of the upcoming activities I'd like to attend is the Transgender Leadership Conference in San Diego (event on facebook). I went to the one in Berkeley last year and made a lot of good connections, and learned a bit in one or two sessions. And if anyone knows anything about my love for the word 'energy', well, there is a lot of it at this conference.

Another thing...I have never been to a transgender conference outside the Bay Area, and the only one I have attended here has been California Dreamin' in San Jose. I hear about Southern Comfort, Gold Rush, and Chicago's Be name a few...and have seriously thought about attending in the past. Perhaps this is the year when I make a cross-country jaunt to attend them.

One thing I have mulled over the past few years...ever since missing out on the Transgender version of the Vagina Monologues in LA, has been the idea of doing a Transgender Monologues program here in San Francisco. It would be a collection of perspectives from the transgender world, presented by transgender people and their allies from all walks of life, talking about all the different issues we deal with...both good and bad. This will take a lot of work, but it's something I'd really love to pursue...especially with so much talent here in the Bay Area.

Finally, another of my goals is to get more contestants for TGSF's 2010 Cotillion. As I and the TGSF Ex-Com ate breakfast the morning after the Cotillion, I joked that next year was 2010, a Space Odyssey.

(The 2010 film is actually entitled 2010: Odyssey Two, but that doesn't work so well as a Cotillion sequel.)

I have never seen a room grow as bright as it did from all the light bulbs going off. Ideas came from all different directions...monoliths, HAL-9000's, red lights, and space ships. They even came up with a theme: 2010: A Trans-Odyssey. The geek in me loves it.

So, I plan on hitting up as many people as I can to run for Ms. Transgender San Francisco 2010. It's only an action packed year away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Keeping out of the kitchen

We have a cafeteria where I work. It's not as good as Google's cafeteria, but it's still pretty decent. They remodeled our cafeteria recently and changed a few of the staff around. Initially after the change, we had this one guy in there who made some really nice dishes for me. They say that a skinny chef is not a good chef, so this guy must be fantastic as a chef.

Oh, and he loved to chat me up. He was always hitting on me, and in his last week before being transferred, he wanted my business card so he could call me sometime and we could hang out. I knew what he was really interested in. I told him I liked girls, but he was very persistent.

He seems like a nice guy, but I just didn't want to make the whole T thing an issue at work.

Before he left, we had another chef come in as well. This new chef said I looked like the Puerto Rican women he knew...with the curly hair and freckles. He's still around and now makes a lot of the personal dishes.

Another guy that works in the kitchen has been trying to chat me up for years, and today he was a little more forward...sorta like the two of them are vying for my attention. I told him I like girls.

It's the easier thing to do instead of sitting them down and telling them the past.


I mean, I don't mean to flirt with them if that's what they think I am doing. I am friendly with them, and I chat them up as they make my food. And, sure, I kid with them a little.

But, hey, I value people that know how to cook, because I'm not the best at it. And they know that I'm a picky eater...but they make some really good dishes. And they treat me well.

And I'll still likely chat them up, but it's hard keeping their advances at bay.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

The TGSF 2009 Cotillion was held this past weekend, and I, along with 2 other contestants ran for Ms. Transgender San Francisco. I ran this year for a couple of reasons. TGSF has struggled to have a solid number of contestants the past few years. When I competed in 2004, there were 8 of us. In 2005, just 5. The past few years, there have only been 3 at max. Also, a number of ExCom members have been looking to retire, so I challenged them that if they ran again, I’d run for Ms. TGSF...because we need for there to be leaders in the transgender world here in San Francisco. We need people to stand up, and be proud and united.

I was contestant #1 this year, Lisa was contestant #2, and Robin was contestant #3.

Lisa is tiny. She’s way shorter than me, and only weighs around 100 pounds, if even that. She looks good, and she has a decent music background to work with.

Robin is a little older than myself and has a great spirit about her. She is very perky, and her heart is warm and true.

Both were great contestants to have for this Cotillion experience.

Breaking down the different sections, I think we were all probably pretty even in the interview...the heaviest weighted section of the Cotillion. A lot of people don’t realize that 40% of the Ms. TGSF judging actually takes place before the Cotillion even starts. There were some hard questions, and I’m sure each of us had our strong and weak points. I know one of the questions came up about financial resourcefulness, and I really have no idea how to secure more funds for TGSF. It’s actually been a running issue. I know they discontinued membership dues while there is no newsletter being produced, but they have received some funds from the Gay Pride alcohol booth they have run the past few years.

For the active wear section, I think I did pretty good. I wore this really nice blue cocktail dress along with some new pumps I bought about 3 hours before the Cotillion started. I was lucky that my write-up fit in pretty nicely with the set props. I studied some of the Paris features, and incorporated them into my little sashay. I’ve always done fairly well in this section...where I try to work the crowd into the bit. Energy, baby, it’s all about energy.

Next up was the presentation, and I knew I would be weak on this one. I haven’t taken a dance class in a few years, so I had no dance routine to work with, and I’m not a singer, but I figured I’d give it a go and just try to put a lot of energy into it. (Hey, there’s that energy word again.)

I asked CJ Khing a few months ago if she would perform with me at the Cotillion. So, she played guitar while I sang "Changing Worlds". Basically, I borrowed the music from Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars", except I changed the words a bit to fit more in line with the T world. Here are the lyrics:

"Changing Worlds"

We’ll do it all
As ourselves.

We just need
For everyone.

If I stand here,
If I may stand here,
Would you stand with me and help me change the world.

I don’t quite know
Why they judge
Or call us names.

Hateful words
Are said too much
But that’s enough.

If I stand here,
If I may stand here,
Would you stand with me and help me change the world

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me your hand, I’ll hold it here until the end.

Let’s spend time
Changing worlds
Around ourselves.

We need our lives
To remind us
To find our way.

If I stand here,
If I may stand here,
Would you stand with me and help me change the world

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me your hand, I’ll hold it here until the end.

All that I am
All that we ever were
Is here in our hearts where no one else can seem to see.

I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will change for us, I promise you.

If I stand here
If I may stand here
Would you stand with me and help me change the world?

When I first started singing on stage, I started to have the same paranoia come over me that happened a few months back when I was out doing karaoke with some friends. The flushness filled my face and I started to feel the pressure of all the eyes looking at me while I sang horribly. And then, I said, "fuck it"...they get to listen to how bad I can sing, but they also get to listen to my message.

We were cruising along fairly well until we hit the last slow verse. CJ jumped into the chorus one verse too early, so I was caught a little off guard. Luckily, CJ played it out and we were back on course to finish strongly.

Again, I know I’m not a singer, but I wrote those modified lyrics a while back and felt they really came together for a strong song. That, and I love the original "Chasing Cars" song.

Lisa performed an original song that she wrote. That was definitely her strong point. She played guitar while singing, so, as you can obviously tell, I'm very impressed.

Robin also performed an original piece of hers, but it was more of a dramatic monologue. They are hard to do, and I’m sure there are many ways to interpret her presentation. She finished strong, though, and got a good reaction from the crowd.

For the formal wear, I think I worked it similar to the active wear section. I wore an old dress from a few years back that fits really well. OK, it’s black, but I think you can still look good in black at the Cotillion. Granted, I haven’t seen many people win while wearing black, but I guess there is always a first.

In both the active wear and formal wear write-ups, I definitely had some fun with stuff. I made up as many "designer names that I could. In the formal wear portion, I listed my fake bracelet designer as Beret LaFavre as a little side joke. I doubt anyone heard it..or got it. I thought about wearing my Green Bay Packer earrings and listing Beret as the designer, but figured that might be a little overdoing it.

After the formal wear, it was time for the final question.

The first time I ran for Ms. TGSF, I blew it on the final question. The second time I ran, I was behind in points, and the eventual winner nailed her final question.

This time, I drew a question asking about what one single thing I could do as Ms. Transgender San Francisco to...well, to something. I don’t remember the exact question. Sigh. I’m getting old.

After having dinner with Carissa and Charlotte this past Thursday, Carissa was able to play that little bit on her camera...and we made out the question to be:

"What one thing would you do as Ms. TGSF to make the community at large more aware of trans issues?"

Anyway, I said that I enjoyed talking to organizations through the different speaker’s bureaus...but that there was one thing that not only I, or the other contestants, but everyone in the audience could do...and that was to be live their lives.

I felt Lisa’s question was a bit tougher, and Robin ended up with one that had a number of touchy ways to answer it.

Once all of the judges turned in their scores, they pulled us back on stage for the final tally. Robin ended up with Ms. Congeniality and then they gave each of us a dozen roses. It’s nice that we were all able to at least walk away with the nice flowers.

The three of us locked arms on-stage as we awaited the announcement of who was the new Ms. TGSF. They always like to draw it out and make us anxiously await the announcement of the winner.

...and then Alex announced I was the winner.

Lisa, Robin and I did a group hug and I told them they did a great job. It becomes kind of a blur of flash bulbs after that. They gave me another dozen roses along with the tiara.

Ahh...the tiara. That thing is heavy, and it’s round, and it has trouble staying on my head. I’m going to have to engineer it a little so that it doesn’t come crashing down on something in the future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful...I just have to get it to stay on my head.

Anyway, after that, we took a bunch of photos out in the front lobby. One of my favorites is the three of us together. One of the hardest parts at that point was getting the smile to last for so long. At some point, the muscles that hold a smile start to get numb and you can’t tell if you are smiling anymore...or, at least that’s sorta what it felt like.

And, of course, there are so many camera's going off that you have no idea where to look for the next one.

As the picture requests dwindled, we made plans to hit the city. I was hoping to drive up with Carissa, who volunteered to help me backstage, but Ally and everyone else instructed me that I had to go in their car.

So, we cruised up to Marlena’s where I was introduced around the bar. I met both the reigning Emperor and Empress of San Francisco, as well as a number of other dignitaries.

We were going to meet Lisa and her assistant, Andrea, at the Starlight Room near Union Square after that, but it appeared to be shutting down at 2am, so we all crashed at a nearby diner, where we also ran into Laci from LA who was up for a gig.

By the time we made it out of there, it was well past 3am. By the time my head hit the pillow Saturday night, I was very tired, and even more tired when I got up early Sunday to attend the morning-after-breakfast. Had it been my way, I would have slept in, but I was to attend the morning after breakfast at the host hotel by 9am, so I ended up with about 4 hours of sleep, but it concluded a very fun night.

So, I’d like to thank some people.

Everyone that planned, organized, and implemented the 2009 Cotillion did a great job throwing everything together. Wendy managed a great raffle auction, Ally and Lisa produced a wonderful program, and Alex did a great job emceeing the event. Karen, the photographer in the lobby did a fantastic job of taking post-pictures, but also pictures throughout the program.

Lisa’s back stage assistant, Andrea, was great. She was a GG that knew Lisa from many years back. She helped everyone at different times and was great spirit backstage. She was also hawt!!!

I’d also like to thank Carissa for not only helping me backstage, but also helping everyone else who needed a little assistance. Both Carissa and Andrea came through in helping repair a wardrobe malfunction as well as helping make the backstage environment really warm.

Overall, it was a nicely run Cotillion, and I had a really good time running again. I guess the third time really is a charm.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I have a love/hate relationship with shopping.

Part of the bad side is spending money, of course. I got into this habit of not spending money unless I really needed to, and I'm still in that mode a bit. The other bad side to shopping is it's kinda hard to find decent stuff that actually fits. The shoulders and lack of a small waist turn really cute clothes into the worst thing I've ever seen.

Not to mention, I think designers want to produce something that no one has ever seen before so they skip over making something really basic that everyone would like to have.

Take for example last night and my quest for a new pair of shoes.

My work shoes are basic black shoes with a medium heel with enough width so I don't trip over curbs. They provide just enough support for my arch so it doesn't cause me issues. The pair of shoes I currently have are worn beyond what they should be. I've looked previously...twice, in fact, and couldn't find anything I liked, nor anything that fit, and fit properly (mainly in respect to either giving my toes enough space or supporting my arch).

Last night, I started in Macy's and worked my way around to a few different shoe stores. I found two pairs that seemed decent, but neither were what I really wanted. I simply bought them because I need something.

But, sheesh, how hard is it to make a simple pair of black work shoes that look good?

I was also looking for a spare pair of shoes for this upcoming Cotillion weekend, and perhaps a new pair of black boots for general usage here and there. Again, impossible. And anytime I found something close amongst the showcase of shoes, it was interesting seeing a few other women picking up the same shoes I picked up. It was as though we were all searching for something simple and basic...but it was not to be found.

OK, I actually found some nice shoes at Macy's, but out of the five shoes I liked, only 2 of them had anything close to my size. And I still fall within the size 9-10 range, so I'm not out there in total bigfoot forest land. When I tried on the 10, it was way too big, but when I tried on the 9 and a half, it felt a bit snug. Weird, I know.

I put my foot in the shoe size device, and it says 9 right on the money, but 9's are usually too small for me. It probably has something to do with the size and width of my foot that makes me jump up a half size or more.

While searching around for shoes, though, I looked over a lot of other cute outfits. Some look great on the little mannequins they have, but I know it would be drastically different with me wearing them. My eye has gotten alarmingly good at picking out anything that I have a shot at wearing, and usually when I do find something, it's always 50/50 on if my size is available.

When I was in Hawaii, I saw this really cute long sleeve t-shirt...and they totally had my size. When I checked out the price, it was $120. Wow. Supposedly it was a designer T, but still, $120 was a bit much. Another of the really nice t-shirts was $170. Talk about eyeballs flying out of their sockets.

I really need to go on a super shopping extravaganza sometime, as I need to update my work outfit and find a few new casual ones as well. Of course, before doing that, I probably need to go through all my clothes and donate those I haven't worn lately.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Third time is a charm

This coming weekend is the 2009 TGSF Cotillion...and, I'm running once again for the title of Ms. Transgender San Francisco.

This year's theme is Paris Nights, and while I have hardly any ties to the French, I do love their bread, fries, and sweets. I have a nice blue dress picked out for the active wear section, and I'm actually going to recycle a dress for the formal wear. Oh well, I'm a reuse-recycle-reduce type of California granola girl. Well, sorta. I still drive a sports coupe, but at least it's only a 4 banger.

The interview is complete, as I and the other contestants met with the judges this past Saturday. Basically, we're finished with the first third, we still have two-thirds to go.

We'll start out with the intro's and active wear, have our presentations, walk the walk during the formal wear, and then answer the final question. If the final question is of the same caliber of questions from the interview, it's going to be tough.

For my presentation, I've decided to sing. Yeah, I know...I'm not the greatest singer. I'm pushing for energy, and then trying to make it sound kinda decent so it's not another American Idol catastrophe. I borrowed one of my favorite songs, modified the words a bit, and have a friend playing guitar. It sounds fantastic in my head...especially in the shower, but less so when recorded. I'm still practicing this week in the hopes it sounds decent come this Saturday night.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Almost Super

It was a darn good game. Darn good. Too bad I was rooting for the Cards, though.

I mean, come on...I had to root for my ol' bud Kurt Warner. He took the Rams (when I was living in Missouri) all the way to a Super Bowl win back at the turn of the century. That, and the Cards were a great underdog team to root for. Larry Fitzgerald is a helluva receiver that plays very clean from what I have seen...something very rare in this day and age.

Anyway, the only good thing about the Steelers winning is I don't have to listen to all of the 49er fans telling me about their 5 Super Bowl wins and crap now that the Steelers have 6. Muahahaha.

So, I'm over at my friends place watching the game. At the time, there were four of us...the other three being "mostly lesbian" women. I say "mostly" since some of them have dated men in the past. It's surprising how many lesbian women are actually semi-OK with dating a guy.

Anyway, they started talking about the Margaret Cho show that they went to, and how she has a hot tranny friend. Supposedly Margaret is into FTM's and has one in her show.

So, is using the word "tranny" in a good sense OK to use by the queer community? It's shorter than using "transsexual" and broad like "transgender"...and they thought he was hot.

Hell, I have no idea. It seemed OK to me, especially since it was used in such a positive manner.