Friday, October 10, 2014

LGBT History Month (Part 3)

I remember when…

Now that I once again had a computer at home and could access the internet I started searching the internet for stuff on transgender.

One of the first sites I came across was Melanie Anne Phillips and her diaries, I read a chapter a night, and I could wait to get home from work to read it, I even ordered a hard copy of it. The next site that I found was Rebecca Anne Allison and I also read her diary following her trials and tribulation as she transitioned.

In reading their stories I began to see that it was possible to transition and still have a life. That it was all doom and gloom like the news media portrayed trans-people. These were real people with real lives.

It was then that I was going through a medical crisis of my own leading me to believe that life is short, that life was beginning to past me by. So I started to research support groups in the area and I found the Connecticut Outreach Society and the Twenty Club, but that was for “transsexuals” and that wasn’t me.

I sent out an email to the address on their website and in my diary I copied the email exchange…
In a message dated 9/18/1999 9:34:53 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> After reading your website I realize that you probably get hundreds of the
> emails, but for me this is the first time that I have ever said anything to
> anybody about my Cross-dressing. I think I would like to go to your next
> meeting on Sept 22, but I would like some more information about COS.
>
I am glad that you have taken this first step - it is a HUGE one! It's not an easy thing to deal with I know
> First let me tell you something about myself first. I am in my early 50's
> and single. I live in ________. I have been secretly Cross Dressing since 7th
> grade. Since I've started surfing the web I found a whole new world out
> there. Now, I think it's time to take the first step. So....
>
> Question #1
> Would it be Ok if I can dress in slack and a blouse? I would wear a
> skirt, but I haven't shaved yet this year. Also I would feel more
> comfortable going out for the first time in slacks in case something happen
> while driving there. I don't want to change there at the meeting place.
>
That is perfectly OK - we do have bathrooms that are suitable for changing - but many of the members come en femme. We don't really have a dress code per se - it ranges from quite dressy to very casual - and you will often seen jeans and sneaks especially if someone is en route from somewhere. While the majority of people are in a dress or skirt, a blouse and slacks would be perfectly appropriate.
> Question #2
> How many people are usually at the meetings? I really wouldn't to be
> there if there were only a few people there, after all misery love's
> company. Or if there are too many, I don't to lost in the crowd. I guest
> what I’m really asking is "are the meeting clickist". I was in a ski club
> a number of years ago and the meeting were.
>
it is hard to predict. Our first meeting (Saturday the 11th) had a large turnout - perhaps 25-30 - but Wednesday's are often a different crowd. Typically we might see 10-20 though it might be more since it is the first Wednesday meeting. I would not describe our meetings as "clickish" - usually members are eager to talk to and help out new people. It's really such a relief to be in a group of people who have similar issues and feelings, that most new people just sort of sit and absorb it all! While some of the members have developed friendships that run a bit deeper than just the two "group" meetings per month, that usually comes with a level of trust and over time. As you can imagine, many of our members are very concerned about privacy and security and we respect that - so that some members just show up for meetings and get the newsletter and are content with that. I will say that I will not be able to attend the Wednesday meeting - which is why I am copying this reply to Stephanie - she is our outreach director and I hope will be at the meeting on Wednesday to greet you if you are able to come. Steph was one of the people who made ME feel comfortable at my first meeting 3-4 years back - and I am sure she will do the same for you!
> Question #3
> Are there many members my age at the meetings? I don't want to be the
> "old maid" there.
>
Our membership ranges from 20's to 70's - with most being in the 35-50 range. You would not be the old maid! We have about 75 "dues paying" members with another 25 or so on the fringes - they show up from time to time but aren't members for some reason.
> And...Question #4
> How do I get there?

> These are the main question that I can think of, I have a lot of other,
> but they can wait.
> I'm nervous about this and it really a big step, but I think I want to do
> this. I am still afraid talking to a stranger about coming out, hopefully I
> will do it.
>
Well, if you can make it Wednesday - wonderful - and if not - don't be too hard on yourself. Almost every member has a story about coming to the meeting place. But please *do* feel free to reply to this – and continue the dialogue. You are contemplating some very big steps - and it might take some time and building up a level of comfort. I am heading out of town tomorrow for a week (which is why I can't be at the meeting) but I will be picking up email while I am away - so will be happy to continue a dialogue.
> As I take a deep breath and click on the Send button. I await your reply.
>
You can exhale now!
> Thanks;
> *Diana*
It was a big step for me but when I walked through the door and saw other people like me  it was like a five hundred pound weight was lifted off my shoulders

At about the same time I started a blog on Geocites, my first entry was May 15, 2000…
Over the weekend ( May 13th ) the Connecticut Outreach Society ( COS ) had their annual banquet. This is the first time that I went, since I'm a new member and it was also the first time that "Diana" stayed overnight. I had a really great time. The food was great, they had some great speakers, Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie of "Gender Talk" radio, they also had a talent show which was also really great. As you can tell I really enjoyed it. They had slightly over fifty guests and the banquet was held at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Waterbury CT. I got a charge out of the mundanes*as they walked by the entrance to the conference room, their eyes kind of popped out and their jaws dropped when they saw us. I was a little worried about going out, but it was OK. I signed in at the front desk in boy mode and helped in setting up the stage for the talent show, I had to walk by the banquet room a couple of times before I recognized any of the people because, they were also in boy mode. Went up to my room and changed. I wore a black velvet dress and mid-heel pumps and went marching off the to banquet. It got over at eleven and I helped them take down the stage. Unfortunately, I still was wearing my pumps and my feet were killing me. All in all I had a good time and would do it again, maybe even go to Tiffany's First Night with other COS members, it sounds like it will be fun.

*Any one know where I got the term mundanes - it was from Babylon 5 - that's what the telepathy's called the non-telepathy's
One of the reasons that I started the blog was to show that it was possible to go out in public and not have the world come to an end; I was paying forward what I learned from Ms. Phillips and Dr. Allison. It is still one of my goals for my blog along with educating the public about trans-issues and also to help kept the trans-community informed is what is happening around them.

I have been up to my brother's and sister-in-law's condo in Maine for the last three days for my birthday, so I wrote these blogs in advance.I should be driving in my driveway just about now.

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