Friday, November 30, 2018

Wigs for Fun

Before I had my hairline surgically fixed I was pretty much forced to use wigs for everyday wear. It's not a fun thing to wear a wig everyday. They're hot, can get itchy, they can get messed up easily, and sometimes can look really unrealistic. Plus wearing wigs all the time kind of made me feel more like a crossdresser. I know plenty of cis women wear wigs and plenty of transwomen do too. There's no shame in it certainly. But I personally felt somehow less natural. I felt like I was still "dressing up" and not a "real girl." Have I mentioned that I tend to be a fairly anxious person anyway? Transition hasn't really changed that. 

Naturally I was super happy when my hair got fixed. It meant no more wigs! And so for the last ten months I've been wig free. It's been nice. My head is cooler. It's less itchy. And my self esteem has gotten much, much better. Plus it's fun to be able to play with your real hair; dye it, put it up in little buns, and just generally play around with it.

But the other day I had off work and decided that it would be fun to do some wig pictures. I would be going out to an art opening at the Museum of Sex with friends that night so I thought it would be a great opportunity to dress up to the nines. Of course it ended up being a freak blizzard that day so didn't wear heels or the wig after all. But it was still fun to dress up a little, especially since I had new fuzzy coats to show off.

Here's some pics I took. I took a ton because when you look that good you have to capture it for future generations.









Monday, November 26, 2018

Two Years Full Time


It's been two years. Yes, it's been two years since I took the step of living my life full time. Like any extended period of time there have been good things and bad, but on the whole, I think it's mostly been good. That first, terrifying day I came into work, putting one foot in front of each other and trying not to think about it, seems so long ago. It feels almost like a different lifetime.

The thing that I think is the most surprising is just how utterly normal everything is. This is just my life. For years I was absolutely terrified of the idea of living my life full time. It was such a terrifying prospect and now it's just life. It's like being utterly terrified of a wolf only to have it come over and cuddle with you.

But life hasn't all been wolf cuddles. Almost every day I still deal with impostor syndrome. I think that I'm not a "real girl" or that I stand out like a freak. Maybe one day self-doubts go away. Or maybe that's just how my brain works. But while I'm super happy with who I am and with my life, I still sometimes feel like a fake. I still deal with low self-esteem about my looks and about my bone structure, about my voice, or my gestures or my walk. Am I acting too much like a guy? Is my response to a situation too masculine? Am I behaving femininely enough? It never goes away and I doubt it will.

But I love my life. The vast majority of my friends (and many of my co-workers) have only ever known me as Faith. I think I'm much more confident and happy. I'm out to basically everyone in my life. I've been on HRT for three years and seriously looking into some surgeries for 2019. My own hair has grown out and I have ditched wigs. I literally am the cool redhead I always wanted to be.

Here are two pictures of me taken two years apart. The first is about 2pm on my first day at work as a girl. The second is my two year coming out at work anniversary. When I look at these two I can clearly see how much more comfortable and confident I've become as a woman.



Okay, maybe part of that is my fuzzy coat. I call it my rockstar power coat. It makes me feel cool and confident. But even without magic fuzzy coats, I still feel good. Two years has been surprising easy. It was almost like I made the right choice about transition.


Gender Rebels Podcast: Dealing with Persistent Misgendering

Friday, November 2, 2018

Garbage: You Should Always Meet Your Heroes

Me in the lower right - utterly enraptured. 
Whoever said "you should never meet your heroes" clearly never met Shirley Manson. Or Butch Vig, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson (aka the band Garbage). In the past I've written about how important an example Shirley Manson was for me. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to a soundcheck, to attend a Q&A, and to get a photo with the band. It was an absolutely amazing experience. 

During the Q&A, the first question was a question someone asked about how Garbage feels about their large number of queer fans. It's true, they really do. And I was reminded of the last Diet Cig concert that I went to. I was in the crowd, rocking out, and looking around at the other attendees. "Why does every band I like always seem to have a huge queer following?" I thought to myself. Then it hit me. "Oh, oh. It's because I've always been queer!" Garbage has been an amazing ally for the LGBTQ+ community and has always been outspoken in their support. Heck, Shirley once even said that her favorite fans were the transgender fans


At that point I was bursting at the seams. I raised my hand and instead of asking a question, I simply gushed about how amazing the band was, and how their music had got me through so many tough spots, and how I would have never found the courage to explore my femininity or transition without Garbage. I said this whole thing through a stream of tears. Shirley and the band were so encouraging and wonderful in their response. "You accomplished this yourself. That was you."

"I had a good soundtrack," I interjected. I did have a damn good soundtrack growing up. And songs like "Queer," "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)," "Candy Says," and "Bleed Like Me" helped me find my way through gender dysphoria, self doubt, bullying, shame, and fear.  


I've felt transgender my whole life. But there was something about Shirley Manson that made me feel bold and powerful enough to get out and explore my female side. Suddenly I wasn't ashamed of these feelings any more, they didn't need to be buried. I could express them. Shirley was bold, powerful, fearless and still incredibly feminine. She gave me the strength to come out a little bit, to embrace my own femininity and let me understand that femininity didn't mean weakness or submission. Being a woman could be awesome and empowering and you also got to rock some seriously cool clothes.



After the Q&A Shirley came right over to me. Everyone else was shuffling over to the photos, but Shirley came by to see me (well, me and the two people right next to me who had cried through their own similar comments - Shirley affectionately called us "the weepy corner"). She knew who I was from a letter and copy of American Transgirl (with all the Garbage references tagged) I had sent her, and also from Instagram. She told me she loved my skirt. You told me that I was strong and amazing. It was all I could to stop myself crying as I thanked her profusely for everything, for just being her. Shirley gave me a warm hug and I nearly cried again.

I was in high school in the 90s when I discovered Garbage. Back there, in the Georgia suburbs, I was stuck in an evangelical Christian school, a conservative town, and a family that was Republican and military. It was not a good place for a young queer transgirl to be. Most of the music I listened to was grunge, metal, or industrial. It was loud, angry, and masculine. I was frustrated by life, deeply lonely, and worried I was going to hell for being queer. But then I found Garbage's music.


That first pink, feathered album cover seemed so different. I absorbed every song of that album like the little baby queer sponge I was. I listened to it on repeat so many time. I would tape Garbage's music videos when they were shown on MTV. I clipped every Garbage article or picture from every magazine I could find.

And because of Shirley Manson I started to see that femininity wasn't weak. There was power and strength in femininity. If someone as cool as Shirley could be feminine than maybe I could start to accept my own feminine side. The first women's I every purchased for myself was a pink feather boa. The next was fishnets and eyeliner. I first started letting myself come out to other people. I first started presenting female and going out. I started to become slightly more comfortable with myself and my queerness for the first time in my life.



After the Q&A we went to get our pictures taken. When I came up Shirley said to me "We're gonna have to do a glam pose." She mentioned my skirt again, quite emphatically telling me how much she liked it. And grabbed onto me for the picture. I don't think my pose was too glam. I was nervous and I only had one chance. I would have loved to have taken a few more, a few hundred more. But I think it came okay all things considered. Truth is no matter what I'd probably find something about myself in the picture that I didn't like. That's just how I am.


For me Garbage is the more than a favorite band. Shirley Manson is more than just my favorite singer. She was someone who empowered me in a way I didn't even think was possible, and she empowered me when I needed it the absolute most. And for her and the band to still be awesome and to understand it and to get it. It's just so immeasurably valuable. 

In fact, two days after the concert I was sitting at my desk at work and listening to Garbage. I just kept thinking about how amazing it was to go from this place of utter shame and doubt and fear and loneliness. In that place I was in high school I thought that my transgender thoughts meant that I was a terrible person, that no one would ever love me, that I was unworthy of love, unworthy of friendship, and a horrible person. Being able to have Shirley Manson and the other members of Garbage accept me as no different from anyone, accept me as a person with value, and to be so awesome in their support for trans people means the world to me. 

I broke down crying at my desk. And the whole time I was crying I had a smile on my face. They were tears of joy. I hurried to the bathroom to cry and sob in a stall. Then came out and fixed my makeup. And in that moment I realized that the validation from Garbage had allowed me to let go of something that I had been holding onto for twenty years or more, something I didn't even realize I was carrying with me. I was able to let go of a lot of the pain and fear and shame that sixteen year old me had to endure.

And so I printed out my picture with a little Version 2.0 style graphic. "Not Your Kind of People" is Garbage's anthem for their fans. Garbage fans tend to be the misfits, the weirdos, and the freaks. But the band gets that because that's who they are too. So I put this up at my desk. When I'm feeling like the only weirdo or freak at my normie-centric office, I can look at that picture and know that, while I might not fit in at work, I do fit in with heroes.


And now I can't wait to see Garbage again! But then again I always want to see Garbage play live. 

Gender Rebels Podcast: Are You Intimidated By Cis People?

Friday, October 26, 2018

First Electrolysis Appointment


After my previous attempt to start electrolysis failed, I reached out on r/MtF about it. You see, for electrolysis to work you have to grow your hair out for three days. Now imagine trying to present female with three days of beard growth. My gender dysphoria was through the roof. At noon I broke down, went home from work, and shaved. So, on Reddit a few people recommended leaving only a postage stamp sized area unshaved. That way you could still get electrolysis but you wouldn't feel like a lumberjack* at the same time.

So that is what I did. The eight sessions of laser that I got definitely thinned out my hair quite a bit. There are still two dark patches on either side of my mouth but otherwise it's not too bad. I picked one of those chin to mouth triangles of thick hair and left it unshaved for three days. Honestly it wasn't that bad doing just a tiny section. Makeup mostly covered it up and since it wasn't my whole face I didn't feel too dysphoric.

In choosing an electrologist, I also went out to some other local transgirls for advice. I found one that was local, that was a transgender woman herself, and who had decent yelp reviews and recommendations. I wasn't thrilled about the idea that they were working out of their apartment (that didn't seem too professional to me) but they had come highly recommended so I decided to just go with them. The other place I was considering was a fancier place in Midtown that cost at least three times as much. Now, sometimes you do get what you pay for, but other times you get ripped off by people trying to sell luxury when really you just need a service.

With a little patch of three days of beard growth, I headed out for my post-work appointment. I was a tab bit perturbed when I sat down. This is because the woman was talking to me and she had the electric wand/applicator in her hand. I feared that she was about to start and I hadn't yet mentally prepared myself. So I asked her to pause and go over what she was going to do.

It turns out that I was wrong - she wasn't near starting yet. But, she still took a few minutes to go over the process as well as both short and long term effects. She even had handy illustrated charts. Mostly I knew this but didn't mind the primer again. In electrolysis a probe is inserted in the hair follicle. In this method is uses radio waves to heat up the water molecules in the follicle and kills it. It's kind of like a miniature microwave oven. Then it gets plucked out. There are apparently other methods but my practitioner said those could cause injury. The radio version was safer. Well that's good.

We started on my facial patch. This was to be my introductory fifteen minutes. It hurt. Yes, it hurt. It wasn't fun. But I think each kill hurt less than laser, there were more kills overall. So it's like would you rather have 50 hits at pain level 20 or 20 hits at pain level 50? Still it wasn't as bad as threading. Nothing is as bad as threading. The pain level was probably comparable with plucking.

She kept talking as she did the procedure. It was tricky because I didn't want to talk and potentially ruin something. So I mostly responded with hmmms and uhmmms. After what only felt like about four minutes, she paused and I took the opportunity to ask how far along we were. We were in fact ten minutes along. That was good. It wasn't fun but it also wasn't that bad. I'm not sure I would want to do an hour of it. But fifteen minutes wasn't that bad.

Afterward she had me put an icepack on it for about five minutes. Then she put on some special post-electrolysis cream. I was told to not put anything on it for at least a week; no lotions or soaps. Instead she said that one had to use witch hazel as it's an astringent. Electrolysis can leave the former hair follicles open and if there is too much moisture bacteria will move in. That's why she also recommended a triple antibiotic ointment. So I'm doing both those four times a day.

Now I have a quarter sized hairless patch on my face. It's good to know that, while those hairs hurt, they are done. They never need to be removed again! Now, because hairs go through a dormancy cycle, you have to do each area twice. And then often you need to go back one more time to get any stray stragglers. So fifteen minutes down. Fifteen hundred minutes to go. My next appointment will be for twenty minutes. Wish me luck.


*Lumberjack might be a bad example.

Friday, October 19, 2018

I am Rather Terrified of SRS



My first sex reassignment surgery consultation is scheduled for December. It's just under two months away. I've gotten the five (five!) letters I needed. I've talked to therapists and spilled my guts. And now I have the appointment. It's both exciting and terrifying. So in that sense it's a lot like a roller coaster, only with way more blood. 

For years I've thought about this surgery. I've imagined what it would be like to be complete, to be normal, to "finish" my transition. Since I first got the internet I've researched SRS and learned all I could about it. The lyric from the Velvet Undergound's "Candy Says" resonates in my head; "I've come to hate my body / And all that it requires in this world." And now, I stand at the precipice. This can totally happen. This can happen within a year. This could be my 2019.

And I'm both excited and terrified by the prospect of that. I've never had surgery before. Sure, I had minor surgery when I was about three but I don't remember it. I've never stayed overnight at a hospital. Heck I've never even been in a hospital other than an emergency room. And this isn't a minor surgery. This is slicing up genitals and rearranging them. It scares me.

What if the surgery gets botched? What it it doesn't heal properly? How bad is the recovery going to be? I hate the idea of changing bandages and having a catheter. I hate the idea of being cooped up, unable to walk or go out. I hate not being able to shower. How much pain will there be? What it it's so painful that I get addicted to opiates? Will I really need to get electrolysis down there before hand?
Will my new parts work right? Will all the nerves connect right? Will it change things in my relationship? What if I don't dilate properly? What if I'm a slacker about following the doctor's orders? Will I wreck it and ruin everything? What if it doesn't look right?

So needless to say, I'm frightened by this. But also excited. Luckily this is a feeling that I've become well acquainted with during my transition. Guess we'll see how it goes. December is just a consult. I don't have to make a decision.

Well, I should probably make an electrolysis appointment.


Also what's the best term to use? For years it was sex reassignment surgery (SRS). And then a couple years ago gender reassignment surgery (GRS) started popping up. And now I've started to hear gender confirmation surgery (GCS). Not sure if any of those names really get it right, but I tend to use SRS for a couple reasons. For one it's the first term I ever heard. Secondly I grew up near a nuclear plant called the Savannah River Site, which every called SRS. So it's a fun subversion of that.

Gender Rebels Podcast: Does Transition Change Your Hogwarts House?



Listener Vanessa is asking the hard questions!  What if you used to be Gryffindor but now come up Ravenclaw? Are all transpeople automatically Gryffindor? What is the Sorting Hat's actual methodology of personality assessment? Is the Sorting Hat clairvoyant? And the name "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" is so binary. What do enbies do?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Gender Rebels News


We are so exciting to announce that we are going back to weekly episodes! Now you'll get a heapin' helpin' of Gender Rebels goodness (with all the fixins) each and every Thursday! Check it out at genderrebels.com


Also we are introducing a new podcast! It's a limited run podcast where Faith, a huge fan of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatches key episodes with newbie Kath who's never seen it. Faith loves BtVS so much that she took her name from one the characters (try and guess which one!).

The first block of episodes that we'll release will explore the main arc of the second season.  If you want to enjoy Faith & Kath: Vampire Slayers, support us on patreon by going to patreon.com/genderrebels

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Colette: A Transgender Girl's Thoughts


There's a moment in Colette when our protagonist, the toast of fin de siècle Parisian society, returns home to her rural town and the embrace of her mother. Exciting though life in Paris may seem, she lives under the thumb of a controlling and lecherous husband. Colette laments "I must get used to marriage," only to have her mother respond "Better to make marriage get used to you." We follow Colette as she does indeed make marriage, her husband, and Paris get used to her.

Colette tells the story of the Nobel prize nominated French novelist of the same name. She was a young farm girl when she married writer and literary critic Henry Gauthier-Villars, better known by his nom de plume of Willy, who was fourteen years her senior. He takes her to Paris where he introduces her to the salon set; the intellectuals, writers, artists, and performers. Unashamed as she is by her farm girl roots, Colette struggles to fit in and suffers through the boring parties. She quickly discovers that her husband has chosen to ignore their marriage vows, openly flirting with and having affairs with young women. When she confronts him about this, he shrugs her off and tells her that such behavior is expected of men in his station.


Willy's opinion of extramarital affairs is much more traditional when he sees Colette seated with a couple at a party, happily having her palm read by the husband. Hypocritically enraged, Willy demands that Colette leave the party with him. On their ride home he chastises her for flirting with another man. It's then that Colette surprises him. It wasn't the husband that Willy should be jealous of. It was the wife that had caught Colette's eye. Unsurprisingly Willy isn't bothered by the idea of Colette having lesbian affairs. And so Colette finds her first taste of the freedom she has been longing for.

As the perpetually broke Willy is unable to pay more ghost writers, he enlists Colette to begin writing a novel for him. She pens Claudine à l'école, a semi-autobiographical novel about her school days. Due to its honesty and feminine style it begins flying off shelves, becoming especially popular with the young women of Paris. Frustrated as she is forced to watch Willy take credit for her novel's success, Colette begins an affair with the young Southern belle Georgie Raoul-Duval. Ultimately Willy discovers this affair and, in a selfishly sadistic turn, begins his own affair with Georgie. Upon discovering her husband's actions, Colette is enraged and heartbroken.


Throughout the film we see Colette's need for personal agency, be it romantic or professional, repeatedly denied by her husband Willy. This is a struggle that LGBTQ+ people often face in their lives. Those who say that they love us, or who have promised to love unconditionally, are often the same ones seeking to control our behaviors and to deny us the freedom to be ourselves.

Colette's own coming out is represented realistically. The path is almost never clear for LGBTQ+ people and we see that Colette's path is winding, hesitant, and exciting. We see how absolutely delighted and satisfied she is to seethingly tell her husband that she is attracted to women. This is perhaps the first time she has ever admitted this to anyone in her life. We see her nervousness as she calls on Georgie for the first time, timidly walking up to the door unsure is she is really going to do this. We see her excitement at finally finding another woman to share herself with. And most importantly we see how her confidence grows as she begins to really find herself. 


There is one other important aspect of coming out that the film portrays accurately; the importance of meeting like minded people who can help guide you as you discover your true self.  Colette find this in Mathilde de Morny who his better known by her nickname Missy. An artist and aristocrat, Missy flouts convention by dressing in masculine garb and being an open lesbian.

Colette is immediately drawn to Missy and the two begin a serious romance. One afternoon at Colette's country house, Missy opens up to her about her gender dysphoria. She explains how one day as a child she tried on her brother's school uniform and felt right for the first time in her life. This a moment that many transgender people go through as they discover themselves. The film portrays Missy as a real, complex character who is capable of loving and being loved. It's a wonderful portrait of a transgender person.

Later Colette even corrects Willy when he refers to Missy with female pronouns. Colette insists that Willy use he/him and gender Missy correctly. In the film this presented within the greater context of Colette's rebellion against Willy's manipulative and controlling nature. But it was wonderful to see a film stress the importance of correctly gendering trans people. Willy also states that in the world everything is either feminine or masculine (perhaps using the French language as a basis). So if that is the case what to make of Willy? 


Despite Willy's insistence, Colette rejects the idea that everything must be either masculine or feminine. Like Missy, she begins to crossdress, wickedly flaunting a man's suit while Willy rolls his eyes. Colette even goes out on the town while wearing the suit, risking arrest for crossdressing. We see her beginning to find the power that comes with blurring gender lines and taking control her own presentation. She'll now longer acquiesce to being Willy's little farm girl or school girl.

Throughout the film, Colette journey to discover and accept her true self sexually and gender-wise is fully intertwined with her own rebellion against her husband's authority over her. Colette finds herself suffocated by the legal situation she's in. As a woman she has no rights; over her work, over her household, over her finances, over where she goes and who she sees. She has to depend on her spendthrift gambler of a husband for financial support, even as he makes all his money off her writing and refuses to give her credit. As she begins to accept herself as a queer woman she becomes more confident, bold, and rebellious.

In a satisfying turn of events, Colette finds the strength to divorce Willy and leave him for good. She and Missy go on tour with a dramatic performance of their own creation. The play is openly queer, so much so that it causes a riot on its opening night (caused by some agitators who came specifically to cause trouble).  Queerness and agency go hand in hand in Colette. Ultimately her story is one of finding her true self, a journey which also gives her the courage to break free of her controlling husband. In the end Colette owns her work, her presentation, her gender, and her sexuality. 


It should be stated though that the film looks only at the rich and upper class of Parisian society. While there are maids or clerks in the background, we don't learn their stories or follow their journeys. The characters we meet are all members of the upper class. While the salon society of fin de siècle Paris was more or less accepting of queer people, entry to this society was provided only to the upper classes, and the wealthy. They accepted queerness only within certain class limits. We see Missy, a transgender woman as well, and male characters who are coded gay (although it's not explicitly stated). But these characters are all wealthy and white. Missy's unconventional gender presentation is only accepted because they are titled and descended from royalty. Colette, the child of rural farmers, is only able to be openly queer by marrying into this society.


Colette is an exquisitely shot film chock full with beautiful scenery, elegant costumes, and fantastic performances. I personally love the idea fin de siècle society; all salons and creative people at parties with a simmering queer undertone. Like Weimar Berlin in the 1920s, I think that I am naturally drawn to periods of time and places where people were creative and queerness was open and accepted.

While I think that Colette presents a realistic portrait of queerness and coming out, I am unsure of exactly how realistically it did present the the actual people's lives, unfamiliar as I am with the real people the film is based on. I sympathized with Colette. There were times when I found myself infuriated by Willy. I wish there we saw more of Missy as that would have been a really interesting character to explore.

Still, I enjoyed the movie and its depiction of LGBTQ+ characters. I loved that the film portrays not a strict "queer" role but rather that messy smear of a rainbow that LGBTQ+ people often exist in. Is Missy a transgender man? Gender queer? Non-binary? It's left somewhat open and it is the same with Colette's queerness. Often as LGBTQ+ people find themselves they try on various roles or blend the roles as needed to find their own place. And the film shows that coming out is, ultimately, about agency.

My only real issue with the movie (and it's a tiny one) is that it almost felt like a little bit like superhero origin story. We follow a young and naive farm girl as she discovers her queerness and agency. I wish we would have spent more time on the older, more confident, more daring Colette. Because she was amazing. Here's hoping for the sequel.

Colette with Missy. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

So I Went to the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference


Recently I attended the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference for the first time. And spoiler alert but I had an absolutely fantastic time. It was truly a wonderful time and I can't wait to go back.


When I had first heard of the conference I was a bit apprehensive. My history with transgender groups and people has often been one of denial and self-segregation. That might sound weird, but I think I tended to shy away from other transgender women except online. Online I could develop friendships but actually hanging out with other trans people? That made things feel too real for me. Better to keep things at a healthy distance right?

Well, when I finally did end up finding a local transgender women's group, I went and found that I didn't really feel like I fit in. Most of the people were much younger than me. Many were still in college. So the group felt permeated by some aggressive far left thought and dominated by a handful of strong personality individuals. It was a safe space, but I didn't feel that comfortable. It wasn't quite my scene.


Politically I'm pretty fair left (at least farther left than most) and consider myself a progressive or even a democratic socialist. And yet, I occasionally find myself annoyed by the far left. So, when I thought about travelling to Philadelphia for a transgender wellness conference I wasn't super excited. In my mind I pictured a large group of people walking on eggshells, afraid to speak for fear of being jumped upon but a tiny minority of loud spoken holier than thou trans activists.

Another reason that I felt a little apprehensive is that I'm usually the only the only transgender person in the room. It kinda makes me special. Around my friends being transgender is my thing! Being at a conference full of other transgender people? Suddenly I'm no longer special. I'm ordinary.


I was totally wrong to be apprehensive. In fact, the conference was welcoming and accepting. There were no loud mouth activists trying to assert holier-than-thou dominance. Everyone was relaxed, cool, and having a great time. From the moment we walked in to the moment we left I felt amazing. I didn't feel like a freak, didn't feel like an outsider. I felt welcomed and accepted and it was awesome. There was such an upbeat positivity to the whole event. The organizers really did a fantastic job.

Each day there were tons of different classroom sessions all all different aspects of transgender life; everything from surgery to insurance to religion, voice, criminal justice, political activism, and more. Kath and I did a whole episode about the conference so I won't go into detail on each particular session suffice to say that they were (for the most part) highly interesting and informative.




In general these were fun and informative. Once I heard our first speaker (in the silicone injection talk) swear and joke around I knew we wouldn't be walking on eggshells. The Gender Minorities in the Bible was super fun for me, even as an atheist. Until we were talking about queerness in the Bible, I hadn't realized how I kind of missed good discussions on the Bible. The voice talks were quite helpful and gave me some good tips and tricks, including on how to cough in a feminine manner. The humor was great but the witchcraft one was a bust as was the non-theistic perspectives talk. But the Biological Studies was fantastic. It was about the science behind gender dysphoria and it was a standing room only crowd. Spoiler alert - there's lots of science but nothing conclusive. And getting FFS covered by insurance was a great boon as I had never even realized it was possible!

Plus Kath and I got recognized about ten or twelve times. So my fears of being ordinary in a room full of other transgender people turned out to be false! It really does make one feel pretty special to be recognized. Of course we weren't anywhere near as famous as some attendees. One YouTube channel was there and had a long line of people waiting to meet them. So I can feel special but without it going to my head too much.



Beyond the talks, there were social events scheduled each evening. Kath and I tend to be introverted, but thankfully some cool people introduced themselves and we had a blast making new friends. The first event on Thursday night was a party (with open bar) at a nearby museum. I'd always wanted to attend a party at a museum. Kath and I even dressed up. Though sadly, no super villains showed up to steal the museum's prized collection of jewels. You can't have everything right?

There was another party on Friday night. At this point I should say that the convention center doesn't seem to be in the best part of Philadelphia. There were a lot of homeless people around. And our hotel, which we picked for its close proximity to the convention center, was next door to a half-way house. There was a long underpass (maybe a hundred yards long) between our hotel and the convention center. As Kath didn't want to attend Friday's party due to tiredness, I decided to go by myself. That meant walking a hundred yards by myself through a poorly lit underpass past about twenty homeless people. I did not feel safe. Thankfully I wasn't harassed or anything and there were other convention attendees also walking along so it wasn't that unsafe. But I didn't quite feel safe. That party turned out to be more of a drag show than a real party. As I don't personally care for drag I didn't stick around for too long.


Now, as I had never been to Philly, we had to try out the local delicacies (I apologize right now for the food pictures in this post. Delicious though they are, these are not photogenic foodstuffs). The convention center was across the street from the Reading Terminal Market, which is a gigantic open area with various shops and restaurants. Apparently it features some of Philly's most famous foodstuffs (or at least the ones that tourists love because they were on Food Network). 

We had the famous roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich that people told us about, but it was mostly just bland. Kath didn't even finish it and gave the other half of it to a homeless person. There were a lot of Amish stalls including one that did amazing barbeque and another that made equally amazing (and equally greasy) breakfast sandwiches. We finally got to try pork roll/Taylor ham, which is apparently a New Jersey specialty food. It's basically saltier, fancier baloney. 


We also had to make sure we tried Philadelphia's most important culinary export; the cheesesteak. For this we walked to Pat's, which is apparently one of the two most famous cheesesteak places in Philly. The other is racist, so we didn't go there. 



And we discovered that the cheesesteak is best when covered with Cheeze Whiz and grilled onions is the best option. Who wouldn've thunk that Cheeze Whiz would be good? We were seriously surprised and ended up eating two more cheesesteaks (at different places) with those same fixins. Tough later we would discover that hot peppers make it even better.


On Sunday, since the conference was over, we decided to go see Eastern State Penitentiary. It's the first penitentiary in the United States. Plus one of my ancestors did time there back in the 1800s for some sort of insurance fraud.


Yes, I got selfies in a place that was known for its human suffering! See, there were no photos allowed at the conference except for certain designated areas. And those areas did not have the best lighting so I ended up with only a handful of photos from conference. And the other spot we visited on this trip, the Mutter Museum, also has a no photos policy. So I  had to get my photos somewhere!



For those who don't know, the Mutter Museum is a large collection of biological oddities and specimens. They have some sections of Einstein's brain, the liver of Cheng and Eng (the original "Siamese" twins), a whole ton of skulls, pickled punks, and other human specimens. It's fascinating but we had planned it for before lunch and it kinda killed our appetite for food.


Eastern State was fascinating however and they made sure that the entire tour was quite education. Though there were also plenty of nice and spooky still abandoned parts of the prison. 





On the whole we had a lot of fun in Philadelphia. The conference was the really fun part though. Fun though Mutter and cheesesteaks and prisons are, it was amazing to find myself in a friendly and supportive environment where I could learn so much about transgender issues and topics. It was fascinating and I learned so much and had so much fun!


It's funny but when we got back home, I literally felt a little bit deflated. Like I was on such a high being able to just fit in with people like me. When we got home it was kind of a let down. I wanted that high to continue! I wanted to see more and talk to more people and learn and share so much more.


We'll have to come back next year! And hopefully have a table in the vendor section. If you see us stop by and say hi.