Monday, January 25, 2016

A Fun Angel Photoshoot

Once upon a time I was an angel. Yes, it's true. And it's hard to believe it was 11 years ago! Seriously, this story began way back in 2005. Back in that year when the world said goodbye to Johnny Carson and Pope John Paul II and said hello to YouTube, Titan and the last of the Star Wars prequels. It wasn't a great year, but it wasn't that bad either, I guess. It was just a regular year. I was living in Queens at the time and still finding myself getting used to this whole New York city thing. On the internet, I was making friends on Myspace and Urnotalone and one day that summer one of those friends reach out to me with an idea. 

She was a photographer and wanted me to be her model! But she had a different idea for what look I would show off in her photoshoot. 

See back then, I was really enjoy the whole goth/punk/cyber/I-shop-at-Trash-&-Vaudeville look. Maybe it was a popular look at the time or maybe I just tended to gravitate toward other people that shared the look. Personally, I loved it. Fishnets, big boots with lots of buckles, corsets, vinyl dresses and gobs of dark black eyeliner and deep plum lipstick. 

Fishnets? Check. Boots with an absurd number of buckles? Check. Frilly skirt with metal bits? Check.

More fishnets? Check. Metal bits in my face? Check. Hard core makeup? Check. 

Gas mask? Check. Wait, gas masks was a thing? Oh, good old punk/goth/cyber/fetish days.

Yeah, it was good times. But this photographer had seen all my gothy pics and wanted to push me to do something new. She wanted me to be the exact opposite. She wanted me to be an angel. 

So, I went out to the teenage slut stores of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens and found a white dress that would work perfectly. It was a halter dress, with a billowy white skirt and multiple layers of chiffon-like rayon. To go with it, I found some silvery-white heels with clear plastic straps. Because ethereal beings in heaven totally go for clear plastic. Yes, heaven has strippers. Finally, I stopped by Ricky's to pick up some white fishnets (because I still couldn't quite get past fishnets) and a blonde wig. 

On the appointed Saturday, I took a cab or a train to her place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I can't quite remember). Though they are only four miles apart, Williamsburg and Astoria are, due to the vagaries of the NYC subway system, an hour and a half from each other by train. So, I didn't venture into Williamsburg too often back then. Honestly, I still don't even though I now live in Brooklyn. I think it's some residual subway-fatigue from back in the day. 

As I was still newish to the city and still very new to the concept of going out in public dressed as a girl, I went dressed as a guy and brought clothes to change into. The photographer did my makeup; a rather subtle job. As she sat there giving me a sort of golden hued look, she explained that my makeup had traditionally been quite harsh and high contrast. For my angel look, she wanted to bring out something prettier, gentler and more all-together heavenly. Finally, for the last part of my transformation, she gave me a grand pair of real feather wings. I put them on and became the angel she had once imaged me to be. 

To start, we used her large photographic backdrop. This was a roll of grey paper that was maybe fifteen feet wide that was kept on a mount about twelve feet up. Bringing it down, she laid it across the floor to create a dimensionless space for me to inhabit. With a few lights set up, we began the photoshoot. Taking light meter readings ever so often, she snapped away at me as I ran through some poses; first some basic ones then I tried some stupid coquettish ones and a few accidental awkward ones that were inevitable for an inexperienced model like me.  

We did a few inside photos on the grey background and then the photographer announced that the wanted to get some outdoor photos. Outdoor photos? Okay. That was crazy talk. Now I had taken outdoor photos before, but here was an adult woman telling me that she was going to take me out in public, dressed an angel, in front of god knows how many and make he stand there while she took photos of me. Okay. I got super nervous at this prospect. Especially when she mentioned the park and that she'd drive us there.

What choice did I really have? Though I was terrified, I was also pretty excited. I got in her car and we drove a little bit to McCarren Park. We got out and I went with her out into the park, walking in public with my little dress and high heels, wig and makeup and fishnets and angel wings. My closest guy clothes were miles away. I was terrified. Oh god yes, I was terrified. 

As we began to take more and more shots, I found myself much more relaxed. Sure, people were looking over, but no one was pointing and laughing. It was just another photoshoot in the park. We ended up doing tons of photos, especially as the photographer noticed that the light was getting just right. She had me stand between the camera and the sun to catch that light behind me so I would literally glow. 

Above is, I think, my favorite shot of the entire photoshoot. Rarely did I ever take profile shots, so it's a kinda unique pose for me. Plus, that is the prefect lighting. It's amazing what a good photographer can do. They can really bring out the best in a person and capture it. 

Eventually the sun started to set and so we headed back to her studio. By that time I had forgotten that my only boy clothes were miles away. I was just having such a great time. I would have hopped on the subway in a second and hardly noticed, I was so happy.

Later she sent me a CD of photos, some of which are here and some of which I still haven't even released. Like many of my online friends from back then, we've lost touch, but I'm still so thankful she gave me the opportunity to pose for a real photographer. These photos are something that I really treasure.

It's been a long while since I've had a processional take my pictures, but I'm hoping I can have another real photoshoot sometime in the future. There are Groupons and hey, if you're a professional photographer looking for a model or a muse, just let me know. I'm always happy to have my picture taken. 

Why There Are No Transgender Characters in the Star Wars Galaxy (Another Thought)

Okay, for those of you who read my post Why There Are No Transgender Characters in the Star Wars Galaxy, I wanted to add something else I just noticed, having watched The Force Awakens for the fifth time today.

Yes, I am personally responsible for 0.035% of this film's domestic gross. 

There was something I noticed that I hadn't thought of yet in well, a transgender context. It reminded me a little bit of when people transition, but their families refuse to call them by their chosen name as a means of denying that their transition is real. A young person will change genders but their parents will keep calling them by their birth name (or dead name. I personally hate the term "dead name.").

But in Force Awakens (five week old spoiler alert), we see Han, who knows his son prefers to go by his Dark Side name of Kylo Ren, refuse to call him that. Instead he calls him Ben. Kylo Ren is what his friends (Hux, Phasma and Snoak being as close to friends as Kylo has) and co-workers know him as, but the change isn't real to his dad. Nope, to his dad he's always just Ben because Kylo's family just doesn't accept his new life.

Being trans-force-side is just a phase, Ben.
Even Luke, who knows that his father has lived for thirty years as Darth Vader, insists on calling him Anakin. Even when Darth Vader tells him "That name no longer has any meaning for me."

Jeez. These people are jerks. That's just another reason not to transition in the Star Wars galaxy. People won't accept you for who you really are. C'mon, Luke & Han, just accept that some people choose to transition. Whether it's to a new gender or to a new side of the Force, there's new life changes and often a new name. Don't be jerks. Accept your loved ones for who they really are.


Attack of the Clones features some alien race that the other characters call "Changelings." Apparently, they can change their appearance at will. Now that would great skill for a transgender person to have. The trans kids of that race have it so easy, don't they?

Zam? Is that a boy's name or a girl's name? It doesn't matter.

So are there transgender characters in Star Wars or not? Maybe Rogue One or Episode VIII will finally show us once for all. Or possibly that Han Solo origin story will finally shed some seriously interesting light on that character's early years...
Be sure and check out my final thought on this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Winter Night Out

Having spent my more formative years in the American South, I've never really been able to wrap my head around winter. Why is it so darn cold? Back in the South it sometimes got as low as 30F but that was rare. Christmases were in the 50s and by early March spring was in full force with blooming flowers and 70 degree sunny days. 

When I first moved to New York, I didn't even own a winter coat. Seriously. My "winter coat" was what might call a light jacket. Now, I'm a little more used to the weather dropping to 50s by mid-November then staying cold until mid-to-late May. I mean, I'm used to it, but that doesn't mean I like it. 

But, winter is upon us. January is not my favorite time to even leave the house, much less to get all dolled up for a night on the town. Then again, MLK is a three day weekend, which actually means you get two Saturday nights in a row! So, having spent Saturday holed up on my couch playing Civilization, my partner dragged me out for a Sunday night bar crawl in Brooklyn. After all, we didn't have to work Monday so we could stay out as late as we wanted! Plus we had champagne left over from New Year's Eve for Monday morning mimosas. So out we went! 

Okay, and I totally wore the same dress again. But, I predicted that before when I said of my new Brooklyn Industries dress "Now my only problem is wanting to wear this new dress every single time I go out. Yeah, I totally wore it again. I can't help it, it's cute! Plus I got to wear my new-ish ankle boots, which are super comfy and super fashionable and cute as well. It's an outfit that I love. Yeah, I'm totally like that five year old who only wants to wear their favorite outfit to school and just won't wear anything else despite their mom's protests. 
Me in love with my own outfit.

Of course, as a concession to the cold, I added a sweater and hat. Going out as a girl in cold weather really isn't that bad. Sure, you miss out on the fun of wearing a dress with bare legs on a nice sunny day (a feeling that makes me happy just thinking about it), but you also miss out on the overheating. Seriously. Overheating is a big issue for me in summer. 

What with a corset, hip padding and a wig, I'm basically wearing extra layers every time I go out. There are times in summer when it's almost too much and I find myself getting overwhelmed by the heat. One time I had to bail on a summer evening out with girlfriends because it was so hot and humid and I was so uncomfortable. Especially as the bar we were in was crowded and hot as well. 

In winter's much better. All those extra layers just help keep you warm. So I can get away with a light dress and tights with just a sweater over it (and a coat for outdoors). In even the most drafty of places, it's still not too bad. 

Take that, winter!
For MLK Eve (extra Saturday!) we headed over to Fort Greene, a cool neighborhood in Brooklyn that features the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument, the BAM theater and plenty of good bars and restaurants with some great selfie-lighting. 

Unfortunately, most places were pretty dead on a Sunday night, even with a three day weekend. We did manage to get hit on by some middle-aged business guy types from Long Island or New Jersey or Iowa or somewhere. For the most part they were harmless, but eventually my partner had to loudly butt in with "She's my wife!" to explain that we were not on the market. Especially not for those guys. Maybe if Poe Dameron wants to cuddle, then okay. But just cuddling. 

And of course I had to get my photo in front of the cleverly named Not Ray's Pizza. You see, in New York there are tons of Ray's Pizzas; Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, Original Famous Ray's, Famously Original Ray's. Eventually someone had to go with Not Ray's. It's cheesy, but I love it. 

So yeah, it's cold. It's dark. It's snowy, but that won't keep this Brooklyn girl from getting out and having a good time.

And...counting down the days till I can wear just a dress outside! (At least 64 days until that first unseasonably warm day in March).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Why There Are No Transgender Characters in the Star Wars Galaxy

You know, Star Trek gets a lot of flack for not featuring LGBT characters. In the 50 years since the original series aired on television, Star Trek has tried to feature a liberal, humanist view where all types of people work together for the common good. Back in the 1960s, it was amazing to think that one day a starship crew might feature African-American women or Russians working right alongside white men. Of course, the white men were still in charge, obviously. Let's not get to crazy here.

But despite what Star Trek tried to show us about equality, there was one big group they left out. LGBT people. Sure, there were a handful of episodes featuring LBGT topics (like the time that one member hermaphrodite race totally got all hot and bothered over Riker's beard or the time that they introduced Vulcan AIDs in Enterprise). For the most part though, LGBT people are no where to be seen in Star Trek.

Then again, Star Wars is also notably missing LGBT characters. Unless you listen to some people on Tumblr who insist that The Force Awakens' Poe Dameron is gay.

What? We were just cuddling. Stop trying to make it into something dirty. 
Now, it makes sense to me that there aren't any gay characters in Star Wars. Heck, there's not even any sex in Star Wars. Han and Leia kiss, what, twice? Three times? That's it. Even Anakin's parents didn't even have sex. If you watch Attack of the Clones, it's not just the Jedi who can't date. Apparently Galactic Senators can't even have boyfriends for some unexplained and inexplicable reason. In all of the original trilogy we see only one actual couple, Luke's aunt and uncle. Despite the number of people in the galaxy, there doesn't appear to be a lot of boning going on. So, really, no one's even straight, much less gay or bisexual.

But, why are there no transgender characters? That has nothing to do with sex after all. Well, I think I've figured out why there are no transgender characters in Star Wars. There's a few reasons:

Terrible Medical Care
The Star Wars galaxy features amazing technology; light sabers, hyperdrive, starships and even droids that are smart enough to whine and complain. Yet, there is one area in which the technology of the Star Wars universe utterly fails and that is medicine. Seriously, if you watch the films, medical care in the galaxy is worse than the United States, and that's saying something. Maybe it's because there are too many alien species and anatomies for doctors to really study. Maybe it's because doctor droids are only programmed to deal with the two most common injuries (people whose limbs are hacked off, and people who fall into bottomless pits). And maybe it's because the only doctors we ever see are droids, the same type of machine we also see constantly falling apart, malfunctioning and, in the case of battle droids, being completely ineffective at their primary task.

She's either losing the will to live, or something. Heck if I know, it's time for my coffee break. 
"Shouldn't we offer some anesthetic or maybe let the burns heal before we-"
"Shut up and keep bolting on robot parts." 
"He had a cut on his face. What's the tank for?"
"That's standard treatment for all Mon Calmari. He's Mon Calmari right? I can never tell with you lifeforms."
So if you were a youngling on Dantooine or Bespin who grew up questioning their assigned gender, would you really trust these medical droids to provide counselling or prescribe you medicine, much less to perform something sensitive like laser hair removal on your face or surgical reconstruction of your genitals? Would you really trust the same droids who couldn't even give Anikan a cream or something for his third degree burns to perform your gender reassignment or facial feminization surgery?

After all you don't want to end up like this guy.
Hang on, this is the only non-droid doctor we ever see in Star Wars.
Definitely not saying much for healthcare in the galaxy.
Extreme Poverty
Unlike life in the United Federation of Planets, life in the Star Wars galaxy is fraught with peril. In the movies we've seen multiple wars, the breakdown of trade and a highly stratified society where the rich live in luxury apartments in the city and can afford all kinds of expensive, fashionable clothes.

Pictured: a Space Republican
Meanwhile the vast, vast majority of galactic citizens live on crappy planets with few resources, where the economy is based on harvesting water from the atmosphere, mining gas from clouds or collecting junk to trade it for green instant bread.

Even sadder than the moisture farmers are the sand merchants. 
You just know Ugnauts don't have a 401K.
Wish I had some blue milk to wash down that green bread.
Between monthly hormone prescriptions, hair removal, both minor and major surgeries, gender transition is not cheap. There's no way that most people in the Star Wars galaxy are going to be able to afford the treatments. Most people appear to have no job security or health plans (assuming they would want the health care). Even the most stable employer, the Empire, clearly doesn't have a functioning HR department, otherwise they'd have dealt with all that workplace violence and the hostile work environments created by upper management. 

In many places, the Empire doesn't even bother to run things, letting petty warlords and gangsters control entire planets. With no law and order, the moisture farmers are the lucky ones. Many people just end up as slaves to the gangsters and criminals. Imagine a world where the most menial jobs are already filled by slaves and droids, where schools and education apparently don't exist, and where the rich create their own rules without government involvement. There's just no good jobs out there.  

Plus no one in the Star Wars galaxy even has any real money. When people do talk about financial transactions, they often mention credits, which implies that there is no hard cash to be had. Everyone is just exchanging credit in some sort of galaxy-wide Ponzi scheme.

Credit and junk; the twin backbones of the galactic economy. 
With poverty, no real job opportunities, no way to better yourself through education and no stable employment to be found, it's not surprising you don't see any transgender people choosing to start their transition. How could they ever hope to afford all the treatments required? Chances are, they're like Luke or Rey, stuck in poverty and pining for a better life that seems forever out of reach.

An Already Too-Complicated Bathroom Situation 
Transgender access to public restrooms is becoming the next major civil rights issue in American society. While transgender people just want to be ensured they have the same rights and protections as any other citizens, some religious extremists have attempted to smear transgender people as deviants or sexual predators based on unfounded fears and ignorance.

With the Star Wars galaxy's dazzling array of different alien species, from the giant slobbering Hutts to the cuddly yet deadly Ewoks, it would make sense that bathrooms are already super complicated.

Artwork by Sergio Aragones. 
It's no wonder then, that transgender rights are a low priority in a galaxy with such a complicated bathroom situation. Do you just have one big bathroom for everyone? Do you segregate it by species? Would segregating by species be perhaps too similar the "separate but equal" approach of the Jim Crow South? Are Wookies offended by having to share a bathroom with Jawas? Would the Gungans, who have historical animosity to the Naboo really want to share restrooms with them?

Adding in the question of which restroom transgender people and aliens should use just adds a whole other layer of chaos to this already sensitive topic. Perhaps the transgender lifeforms of the Star Wars galaxy are fearful about coming out and starting their transition with the restroom situation as confusing and potentially threatening as it already is.

Government & Religion  
We've already touched on how terrible the Empire is as an employer, but now let's focus on how terrible they are as a government. For starters, if you think the Military Industrial Complex has too much of stranglehold on the US budget (18%) imagine what the Empire must spend.

These Star Destroyer's ain't cheap. 
In fact, we never actually see the Empire involved in anything other than military operations. And at one point they clearly did have some other branches of government. But we're told in A New Hope, that the bureaucracy has been dissolved and that regional governors now have direct control over their territories; regional governors like Grand Moff Tarkin and Moff Jerjerod, who we see spending all their time in military facilities, ordering troops around, wearing military uniforms and planning strategies with admirals and generals. In Star Wars there is no non-military sector of government.

There's definitely no Imperial Department of Health and Human Services. We've already seen how badly health care works in this galaxy, how badly the territories are governed, and how poorly the economy is managed. That all makes sense when you consider the fact that the Empire doesn't bother with anything that isn't a TIE fighter, an AT-AT or a Star Destroyer. There's no budget for health or psychiatric counselors, much less social workers or gender specialists. There's no budget for caring doctors who will help people start their transition, there's no budget for counselors for spice-addicted homeless transgender younglings, there's nothing.  

No transgender care, but TWO Death Stars? C'mon!
The First Order is even less well run and has only a fraction of the resources the Empire did. Now, I'm sure the Rebels or the Resistance might be sympathetic to a gender questioning member of their guerrilla organization, but they have no real resources at all and are barely hanging on, in a rather desperate situation. I'm sure if a transgender pilot went up to General Organa and was like "General, any chance we could offer gender care as part of a Resistance health plan," she'd give you a stern but caring look and say "Maybe after the First Order is defeated, we can look into a having a health plan. May the Force be with you." 

Now speaking of the Force, there's another issue that plagued the Republic; the Jedi Council. As ineffective as the Empire was at governing, the Republic was even worse. It was so bad that people happily let the Empire take over. Rather than having an actual military, the Republic relied on a weird cult of un-elected religious zealots to provide both defense and law enforcement. 

Jaywalking? Yep, cut off their arm with a lightsaber. That's all we have.
Sadly, like many organizations run by religious nut jobs, the Jedi Council would have been opposed to LGBT rights. First off, remember that Jedi are, like Republicans, anti-sex. To the Jedi sex is a completely unnecessary distraction. They really hate sex because it creates attachment, which they view as bad. Because they're religious nuts. So when the Republican senator from Corellia stops by the Council and asks if they'd like to maybe support her proposal to legalize gay marriage in the galaxy, the Jedi are gonna say no. Gay marriage is like any marriage. It creates an attachment, which leads to jealousy, which leads to greed, which leads to fear, anger, etc.

Totally sent down the dark path by gay marriage. 
As we said, gender dysphoria has nothing to do with sexual attraction, but the Jedi aren't going to be too crazy about the rights of transgender people either. You see, dysphoria is a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. For a Jedi that's a path to the dark side because it creates a want, a need for something that if you don't get it, makes you angry. The Jedi way is to ignore desires, push them way down and forget about them. Let it all go.

So when a youngling, who's been taken from her home to be raised in a quasi-military religious order, comes to master Yoda and says "I've never felt comfortable in my gender role. My whole life, I've just felt like I should have been a boy." Do you really think Yoda is going to send her off to the gender clinic to get some testosterone? Or do you think he'd do exactly what he did with Anakin? Tell them to ignore their longing because it's a distraction from the Force and could lead to the dark side.

Compassionate, I am not. 
If you express that you're transgender, the Jedi will tell you to just walk it off and get back to training with your lightsaber. There's people out there with too many arms, we need to be ready to cut them off at a moment's notice.

Then Again Maybe they Do Exist After All
Perhaps we're being a bit too narrow-minded though. While Star Wars doesn't actually feature any transgender characters we're aware of, it is a rather diverse galaxy after all. We've seen that protocol droids can have male or female personalities in the same body.

Remember the girl Threepio from Phanton Menace? It's okay, no one else does either. 
And when it comes to aliens, let's just face it. We humans can be pretty racist. What do we really know about most of the aliens in the Star Wars galaxy?

Guess my birth gender!
Sure, many of the background characters have exhaustive backstories in the Extended Universe, but those stories are no longer cannon. Maybe now they'll write some new stories about all the random background aliens and just maybe they'll include some transgender characters who managed to transition despite the lack of resources available in that galaxy far, far away.

Also, I had one other thought about The Force Awakens if you want to keep reading...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chickening Out

As a geeky person growing up, I was one of the earliest fans of the internet. Way back in the early Nineties I played on MUDs, looked up song lyrics, or just chatted with people on the Compuserve message boards. Later in high school and college I started to explore some of the crossdresser and transgender sites out there. Mostly they were heavy on terrible dick-in-panty photos, pantyhose shots, old cds in pantyhose smoking cigarettes in pantyhose and rather short on good information. But it was still fascinating to learn that there were other people like me. Okay, sort of like me. I've never been into the sexual aspects of dressing and I've never liked pantyhose (I just accept them as a necessity that's required if I want to wear dresses in fall and winter).

As far as I could tell from AOL, Compuserve or the Geocities website, there didn't seem to be any other crossdressers or transgender people in Augusta, GA. I knew a handful of people from the local gay bar, the Colosseum, and there were at least a couple of transgender people on the periphery of my social scene, but in general I was too afraid to ever talk to them, befriend them or heaven forbid, share my own secret with them. Sure, I was out to a few friend as a guy who liked to dress up as a girl sometimes, but I had never actually had a conversation with another person like me. Everyone else was probably just as afraid to come out as I was, so as far as we all knew we were all alone.

Luckily as the 21st Century dawned, things began to change. Firstly, I moved from suburban Georgia (if there's a bright center to America that's the city that its farthest from) to New York City. Secondly, the internet quickly evolved from a fun curiosity to a daily staple of modern life. Vibrant online communities were sprouting like so many digital mushrooms. So with me in a bigger, actually happening, cool town, and with the internet abuzz with life, I was so excited to finally find other people. I looked forward to finding friends to talk to, share feelings with, shop, go out and explore with.

Quickly, I was able to find a lot of friends. Between Myspace and, I was able to meet all sorts of interesting people. It was amazing time. It seemed like there were so many people out there just like me and we had all been waiting around until we could find connections. There were a plenty of great people, some of whom I still talk to today. I met beautiful, young, infinitely passable trans girls who had started HRT at 15, forty-five year old crossdressers who loved to get groups together for nights out, closeted cds of all ages, cam stars, porn stars fetish models, young transgender women just starting a new life, drag queen wannabees, and people of every comfort and experience level, I was most drawn to the gothy/punk types; gosh, so many of us wore big boots with hundreds of buckles, fishnets, corsets, vinyl skirts& dresses, dredfalls and crazy high-contrast makeup. It was my favorite style of all.

My typical outfit. From 2003-2007 I single-handedly kept the fishnet stocking industry in business. 
At the time, I was just finding the freedom and courage to go outside as a woman. Back then, my priority was get out, be out, and to have fun with the type of clothes and style I liked. Really, it wasn't about passing for me. Sure, at the time, I would look in the mirror and see a beautiful young woman, but when I went out wearing what  I would wear; boots, fishnets, tiny skirts and hardcore makeup with thick eyeliner and blackish purple lipstick. That'd the sort of thing I'd wear for any occasion, which back then, mostly consisted of trips around the block or maybe a bodega if I were feeling courageous. Courage was something that didn't come all that often in those early days.

Buckles came more easily than courage. 
Friends came a little more easily. There were many friends I'd talk to by email, or chat with on Yahoo or Myspace. With a good few, we'd swap numbers and talk on the phone from time to time. One the people I spoke to most often was Emery. I really enjoyed talking to her and looked up to her as well. Emmery was about four years older than me and way ahead of me as far as gender changes and living life. Having been on HRT for a year and had already electrolysis done on her face. Tall and thin, with pale skin and shoulder length chestnut hair, Emery lived in Manhattan, in Inwood, and had just started living full time. In one of her emails, she told me how happy she was to finally throw away the last of her boy clothes. On many nights, I'd sit at my computer chatting with Emery, just hearing about her life, hopeful that maybe one day I'd be as together as she was, as ready to start my new life. Maybe one day I'd be as courageous as my friend Emery.

As summer faded into autumn, Emery and I finally made plans to meet in person. Honestly, I can't remember what we made plans to do. Probably drinks or coffee. Something basic. Just as friends (at least I think). It was a Saturday night and we had spent much of the day chatting and I was really looking forward to meeting someone who had changed genders and was also a functioning adult with a job and an apartment and was really living the life.

So I got dressed up in my usual punk outfit; a black tanktop, a super short red school girl skirt complete with pleats and plaid, thick eyeliner, deep plum lipstick, lots of spiky black bracelets and knee high black boots with silver buckles. I grabbed my skull purse and after about a half an hour of psyching myself up (and a couple of drinks for liquid courage), I finally headed out the door.

Pictures: Passing 100%!
It wasn't cold that night, but it was windy. I remember because my skirt kept blowing up and I had to sort of hold it down as I walked to the train station. Back then the station was about ten blocks from my house. It was a raised platform (the N/Q at Astoria Blvd.- then the N/W.) which sat a few stories above the Grand Central Parkway, an twelve lane concrete ribbon stretching off to the Triboro Bridge and then to Manhattan and the Bronx beyond. The view from that platform is rather amazing, actually, though over the years I got used to it. I walked every last step, ten blocks, from my apartment to the subway, my black gothic boots pounding the filthy Queens pavement past bodegas, hookah bars and butcher shops.

Then standing up there, standing on the platform, I saw the lights of Manhattan glitter in the distance, felt my skirt blowing around, my spike-covered punk bracelets weighing heavy on my wrist, my red Ricky's wig sitting atop my head. And I felt ridiculous. I felt so stupid and ridiculous. I felt like an absolute faker.

Out there, somewhere out in the this gritty city, there were people like Emery, living their lives, struggling through their lives, living every single day as a woman. And here I was in stupid, trashy, bizarre clothes, probably not remotely passing and I felt like the biggest idiot poser of all time. How could I, in my stupid costume, go and meet someone who was really struggling every day, someone who had the real courage to go out every single day?  Someone who dressed sensibly, as a real woman was. Emery was a real woman and I was a stupid crossdresser. How could I show up when I was such a stupid, inexperienced poser?

I turned around and went home. I couldn't face Emery. I IM'd her, apologized, said I wasn't feeling well. Went on with my life. Emery went on with hers. We never did meet. And I regret that. Emery, should she ever read this - I'm sorry. I'm really sorry.

The other day, someone posted a photo of themselves on the train platform in Queens. Another platform, not the exact same one. They didn't show their face in their photo, like many crossdressers who aren't yet comfortable being out. Her post was titled "So comfortable going out now. Wish I had fellow friends" I wrote to her, but she never wrote back. That's okay. Maybe she will one day and hopefully she'll have a little more courage than I did back in the day.

I'm thankful that people who were more advanced than me, or further along in their transition than me, or more comfortable with who they are were there for me. There's some great people in this community. There really are.

Sorry that was maudlin. Here's a picture of a cute puppy to make up for it.