Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up

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Entertainment for men

No, this post isn’t about Playboy, though hopefully when you finish reading you’ll understand why I titled this post with that magazine’s former tagline.  This is going to be a rant about a recent controversy a certain fashion retailer got into.  That company is Victoria’s Secret, the (in)famous designer of lingerie and women’s wear that are nowhere near the dowdy floral gowns its founder frequently found on sales racks.  It’s a safe bet that the mall near you has a Victoria’s Secret selling scantily designed undergarments and/or a PINK store selling sleepwear for the college-age set.

Before I get into the controversy in question, take a gander at this photo.  (Gentlemen, don’t drool.)


Photo credit: Corey Tenold via Vogue

What do you see in that photo?  Obviously, you see a multitude of beautiful women.  That photo is from last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  Every year since 1995, and every holiday season since 2001, Victoria’s Secret sets up a very glitzy show to showcase and promote its lingerie, sleepwear, or whatever else they’re selling.  It’s not a sedate affair for sure:  The setting is elaborately designed; the music is live and pulsating; the costumes are extravagant; and the star wattage is high, with A-list stars both strutting the catwalk and providing the music.

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Some things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018, my fellow Americans!  Yes, yes, we know this is a day where we’re supposed to join our families in eating turkey by the plateful, watch starlets lip sync down a New York boulevard, veg out in slumber post-dinner while watching grown men in helmets hit each other into oblivion on only 3 days’ rest… and try to think of what they’re thankful for.  Oh, and start thinking about what gifts to give their loved ones come Christmastime.

While I will likely hate-watch the Macy’s Day Parade (whoops, I did it again), definitely watch some football, and put thoughts on holiday shopping on the back burner, I won’t be with my family on this Thanksgiving.  Not that I don’t want to; it’s just that our family has already had our Thanksgiving to-do the first Saturday of this month.  Just as she did last year on the actual holiday, our mom wanted to host Thanksgiving again at her senior living apartment building.  However, the only spot in said apartment building big enough for all of us — the meeting room — was already booked this day, as well as the Saturdays before and after it.  The earliest she could host us was back on November 4.  And so, that’s when we all got together:  My mom; my stepfather; my sisters and their families; and I, who was assigned (again) to bring pumpkin & apple pies and Cool Whip (the low-fat version, my decision).

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A poem: “Drawing a Line”

Tuesday, the 6th day of November, will be the 2018 “mid-term” general election here in the United States.  Just as it was two years ago, it’s preceded by a lot of anger and vitriol.  Well, let me correct myself there:  There’s a lot more anger and vitriol now than there was two years ago.

There’s a lot more worry, too:  Worry that this will be the only way to once and for all put checks and balances on the administration of You Know Who.  Worry that if progressive-minded people don’t come out to vote this election season, virtually all the progress we’ve gained during the previous administration’s tenure will be lost forever.  Worry that the proclivity of You Know Who to demean whole groups of citizens, and the uncivil mainstreaming of those vile words by his supporters springing from the darkest corners of the internet, will turn into legal discrimination.

But there is a very important way to start countering all of that fear.  It’s what canvassers and volunteers have been reminding you to do.  It’s what the celebrities you follow on social media are reminding you to do.  It’s what the millions of women and men who’ve marched in the streets 22 months ago know what needs to be done when all is said and done.  It’s called voting in the general election on Tuesday.

Here in Madison, or at least in the polling station where I vote, the ballots we fill out are the type where you take a black Sharpie marker and complete the arrow next to the candidate you’re voting for.  It seems like a perfect metaphor for taking a stand against the demagogue who has made our lives a living nightmare the past 24 months.  May this poem, even as it sounds more playful than it should be, serve as a provocation for you to exercise your right to vote… that is, unless you’ve voted already in this election.  If you have voted, then good for you… but encourage everyone else you know to vote.  If they don’t think their vote will make any difference, tell them it’s something that needs to be done, come rain or shine.  It’s the way to make a formal delineation between the good and evil in our country.

Drawing a Line

A flag says “Vote Here!”
Signs say “register here”
And the registrar says, “write your name on the line”
With ballot in hand
I wait and stand
For a spot where I can draw my lines

Hey!  Look up!
A spot has opened up
I can step apart from this very long line
With marker in hand
I take my stand
And draw some very important lines

Looking down
I must stare and frown
At names that are frightening and unkind
But I do know
That there are those I can show
My support by drawing some lines

To the one who says
That only one race, religion, or gender is best
You don’t deserve anyone’s time
Especially from me
Whose mind can clearly see
Hatred and his name, connected by a line

But there’s one who says
“Have faith, don’t fret…
“No matter who you are, I don’t mind.
“If you’re man or woman,
“gay, straight, or bi,
“You should have pride.”
Thanks.  You deserve, next to your name, my line

To those who are bitchin’
That a woman’s place is in the kitchen
Begone!  You are out of your pitiful minds
Put up or shut up!
Great women are standing up
For the chance to have next to their names a line

I panic at the sight
Of one name who makes frights
Out of those disadvantaged or without a dime
But there are those who say
“You deserve a step up today”
By their names, I will happily draw a line

My trans siblings
Have heard dark things
Making them think their wonderful lights shouldn’t shine
But hatred is opposed
By many others at the polls
And by those whose names we will be drawing lines

We stand as one nation
Against hatred’s provocations
We say to those currently in charge, it’s time…
Time to end the hate
That you clearly seek to stimulate…
Between your wickedness and civility,
We stand as one to draw a big, thick line!

To the forward-thinking people
Who will stand up to hatred and evil
We support you and back you.  Now it’s time…
To give you the chance
To lead our nation with class
Yes, for you, we’re happily drawing our lines

I’m just one person
That is for certain
But it’s well spent, these few minutes of my time
To have my say
On this very important day
For the best candidates, I’m drawing a line

There!  My civic duty is done!
Through the machine, my ballot runs
But many others like me are taking their own time
To make their selections
In this important election
Together, we will contently say,
“For the best candidates, we’re drawing a line”

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Nice news and worse news

I had been hoping to use this space to tell you about my evening at the OutReach Pride Banquet this past Friday evening.  I’ll get to that in another post, hopefully in a day or two.  I had also been hoping to use my Sunday and Monday to put salve on the wound of seeing my beloved Milwaukee Brewers’ playoff run come to an end (just one game away from the World Series).  But there’s something even more wounding — an item that affects my trans sisters and brothers — that no amount of salve will heal any time soon.

But first, I want to share with you some good news that might perk up spirits, at least briefly:  The story comes out of Uruguay, or “The Oriental Republic of the Uruguay,” if you want to be all formal.  Uruguay has stood out among its fellow South American nations in terms of not only democracy, peace, press freedom, and economy, but also social advancements, among them tolerance, inclusion, and personal rights.  Not bad for a relatively small country of 3.4 million citizens.

That reputation of tolerance and inclusion was buffeted by news from last week, when the lower half of Uruguay’s General Assembly approved a law that guarantees rights to the country’s transgender citizens.  What kind of rights?

Trans people in Uruguay will have the right to gender confirmation procedures, including surgery and hormone treatments, all paid for by the state.

It assures that trans youth under the age of 18, with parental consent, can undergo gender confirmation procedures, and that child can appeal to the country’s Civil Code if they cannot.

A 1% minimum of public sector jobs will also be reserved for trans citizens over the next 15 years; as well, a certain percentage of public and private educational scholarships

The law will also establish a pension to provide compensation to trans people who were persecuted during Uruguay’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s.

Pretty awesome stuff from a country that has already prohibited incitement to hatred on sexual orientation and gender identity grounds in 2003; gave full marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2013 (and assured them civil unions and health & parental rights before that); and assured trans people the right to change their name and legal gender, with or without surgery, on their legal documents since 2009.  And while trans Uruguayans cannot yet serve openly in the country’s military, perhaps that will be the next roadblock to be cleared in Uruguay, one that the passing of this new law will hopefully help foster.

But while it’s so good that these new advancements for trans people in Uruguay are happening, that’s in Uruguay.  Here at home, however, came news over the weekend that should make you shudder:  The New York Times reported that the administration of You Know Who and his evil cronies is considering a very drastic move — “narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”  In other words, when interpreting Title IX (the 1972 law that banned sexual discrimination in federally-funded education), they would reverse the previous administration’s policies and seek to limit one’s gender identity by the junk they had in their trunk when they entered this world.  Should there be a question about one’s gender at birth, it would be a settled through a genetic test.  (A genetic test?!)

Needless to say, the news of this proposal left me with a lot of anxious feelings.  For one, I felt frightened for the well being and potential future my trans sisters and brothers may face if this policy comes to fruition.  This move, the brainchild of a so-called “civil rights” director who firmly holds antiquated and myopic beliefs, would, in the eyes of the United States Government, literally wish a whole group of people — at least 1.4 million, by a 2016 guesstimate — into the proverbial cornfield. (Kids, ask your grandparents who spent a lot of time in front of the TV where that term came from.)  If an anti-gay bigot can make a whole demographic of people into “non-persons” with the stroke of a pen, who knows which other group or groups would face a similar fate?  You know, groups who are not old, white, male, protestant, and of Anglo-Saxon descent?

(Side note:  If you thought this anti-trans stand was only about “the bathroom question,” this news proves you dead wrong.)

Then I felt equal feelings of anger and hopelessness.  Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 2 years, you know that this current administration and its cronies have true disregard for the broad LGBT+ community, if not in law or not (yet) in policy then in belief.  Just the news over this proposal is triggering feelings that our community is being pushed down to the proverbial ground, again.  No, it’s not fun to be trampled upon like this.  Yes, it’s peeving me off, and it should boil your blood as well.

But I also feel a lot of pride and passion in our community.  Almost immediately after this news surfaced on Sunday, there were calls for action, from in-person rallies to the social media topic #WontBeErased or similar variations.  There’s also the threats of legal action if this policy goes to force.  This passion won’t be a magic wand, but for at least this moment it can be the spark of a movement that leads to ensuring that rights and protections for the trans community will not be inhibited.

Perhaps most importantly at this time, I feel a sense of urgency.  And a need for anyone — nay, everyone — to stand up, speak out, and fight back against this pure evil being proposed.  Talk to a friend, co-worker, stranger, neighbor, or even a bigoted relative, but tell them that the rights of human beings are at stake.

I am only one voice, and not the most perfect of voices at that.  But if we all stand together in our own way, however big or small or simple or loud, we will create a powerful voice that will stand up to anti-trans phobia.  It won’t hurt.  Matter of fact, it will only help pave the way to a better future for the trans community, the LGBT+ community, and humankind.

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Random personal stuff (10/17/2018 edition)

Thought I’d share with you a few things that are going on in and around my life.  First off, I’m still on that temp-to-hire assignment.  Am I happy about it?  Well, I’m happy that I’m getting paid, if that’s what you’re wondering.  I won’t bore you in this post with the details, but I will say it’s probably the most demanding work I’ve ever done in my career.  There are lots of things to learn, and the boss is a very hard person to please.  But at least they can’t say I’m not trustworthy:  I do show up when my shift begins; I stay late if need be; and I do my best to at least try to learn and retain what I’m learning, and ask questions when necessary.

Despite that, I’m quite nervous about my long-term prospects at this company.  The person who’s been training me is planning to depart by the end of this month, and most of the responsibilities of this position will fall to me.  So, yeah, a lot will be demanded of me, and I’m not sure if I’m quite ready for all of it.  [*sound of my throat swallowing a big lump of nervousness*]  But if it doesn’t work out… well, who know’s what will happen for me if it doesn’t?  But I know I will at least take with me a better sense of what I can do, what I will need to improve on, and a bit of personal pride (as dinged as it might be) that I did my best in a difficult role. Continue reading

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Coming out, so to speak

Today (October 11) is National Coming Out Day, a day set aside to celebrate those in the broad LGBT+ community and to highlight the many in said community who have self-disclosed their sexual or gender identity — “coming out” — to family, friends, or whomever else they feel should know at the time they’re most comfortable to tell them.

When I last opined about National Coming Out Day on here a couple of years ago, I pondered the question out loud, “Will I come out?”  I wasn’t really ready to come out back then, or at least fully disclose to the whole wide world that I live as a male-to-female crossdresser who has been questioning their sexuality.  And I’m still not.

Well, perhaps I should clarify that:  In the past few years, I have indeed displayed my crossdressing side to actual, non-online world.  Well, okay, it’s just safe, accepting locales in Madison and it’s been mostly along with like-minded people like me.  But every time I have done so, regardless of the setting, it’s been an exhilarating experience.

And perhaps I should really clarify all of that:  When I’ve ventured out wearing a wig and a dress and makeup, or whenever I’ve posted photos online, I’ve never made a practice of telling the world, “Yes, my name is [insert my male name here].”  And if you wouldn’t consider that coming out of the closet… well, it’s been technically Allison’s closet that I’ve been breaking out of, so I will both agree and disagree with you a little bit.

Agree and disagree, you’re asking?  Well, yeah, why not?  One of my long-held hopes as Allison has been to display my feminine side to the world at least once.  And in the past couple of years especially, I’ve been doing it quite a bit.  It could be at a private support meeting, or it could be at a post-meeting dinner with friends, or it could be a pride parade.  And each time, it’s been a thrill to have been welcomed and accepted.

But will I come out to my family, colleagues, and relations who have only known me as a loving and devoted son, brother, uncle, and worker?  No, I have no plans to do so.  They only know my male mode side, and I’m still worried that they will shun me and disown me, only because I present a side of me that’s not entirely that of a straight, cis-gender male.  Yes, it’s the pits to live in such fear, but it’s a real fear that I have.  Will they be accepting of me if I came out?  I don’t know for sure.  Maybe one day they will (pardon the expression) come right out and say they’ll love me unconditionally, even if I were to say, hey, I’m not entirely a straight, cis-gender male.  I know I’d love them unconditionally if any of them were to come out.  Of course, those who know me professionally might not care.  Indeed all they will say to me would be on par with, “Yeah, okay, that’s fine, but I need that report tomorrow!” *sigh*

National Coming Out Day is a day whose general idea is that it’s okay, daring, beneficial, or whatever similarly positive adjective to live as openly LGBT+.  And while it’s good to live so openly, there’s still that stigma of being shunned for that reason.  I still live in fear of being shunned by the family I hold dear.  But I am glad that I’ve been accepted by those who are like me and don’t mind me being… well, me.  That includes the online friends who know me as only Allison, those who first met me online and came to meet Allison in person… and the friend who has met both my male and female sides, has appreciated me as a whole person, and has become the closest friend I’ve ever had.

So, yeah, I’m out of the closet, so to speak.  It’s just that those I’m out to mostly know only my female side and just happen to not be blood relatives.  And you know what?  That’s fine.  National Coming Out Day shouldn’t have to be a day where everyone who’s LGBT+ must shout out who they are from the rooftops.  Just doing so to just one person, and only doing so when they’re ready to do so, is what this day is supposed to promote.

On this National Coming Out Day, here’s hoping that you appreciate and admire the stories of those who have come out as LGBT+ to those they care about.  If you’re firmly in the closet and not ready to come out, don’t worry.  While it may not be apparent to you now, there will be those ready to accept and support you when you’re ready to come out.  They may only be friends you haven’t met yet, but know that they’ll be supporting of you when you’re ready.

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Random personal stuff (10/4/2018 edition)

Just a few quick personal tidbits from my life to keep my writing juices flowing:  First off, as I’ve mentioned before, I am currently in a temp-to-hire assignment at a certain charitable organization here in Madison.  Tomorrow ends my 9th week with them, and… well, the going there is a little bit better.  I won’t get into details for the sake of personal confidentiality.  But I will say that the first month or so there, I felt overwhelmed and more challenged than I had been expecting.  Now, while I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I had been, I still feel the challenges.  It does leave me to think at times What did I get myself into here?  And it does make me hope that when the incumbent in the position takes his leave around the end of this month (as had been the plan) and I must take the steering wheel, I hope I won’t steer the boat aground, as it were.  But at least I have someplace to spend my days that isn’t the confines of my apartment.

Speaking of leaving the confines of my apartment, I did so this week even while not feeling my best.  It’s now autumn here in Wisconsin, a time when the leaves start to fall, the temperatures start to cool down, and I always seem to get a nasty cold.  A year ago, I got rocked by a nasty cold that lasted just over a week.  This past Monday, I started feeling that same sore throat, woosy head, and stuffed-up nose feeling as before, and it had me worried that it was another week-long cold.  Luckily for me, after a few days of sharp drops by the thermostat, Wednesday was a warm day, allowing my body to readjust.  So, as I write this on Thursday night, I don’t feel too bad at all.  Yay!

Of course, a reason I wound up with this cold in the first place is the fact that I didn’t take precautions to stay warm while the temperature dropped and I had to venture outside when the temperature dropped last weekend.  But I’m glad I did venture outside last weekend, for I got to play dress-up with an online acquaintance.  She is a cross-dresser as I am, and I drove up to her place about an hour outside of Madison late last Saturday for a few hours of dressing up, snapping photos, and conversing.  The good part about it was that we had a pretty nice time (no hanky-panky involved, so get your mind out of the gutter).  The better part about it was that we took more than a few pictures, which I haven’t had the chance to go through this week (what with my work assignment and all).  The best part about it was that after losing her own job just as I had, my acquaintance found new employment (yes, she feels good about it).

The worst part about that dress-up time however?  I had to drive through a pounding, cooling rain storm.  Guess that’s how I got that nasty cold I’m thankfully shaking off.

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Allison’s Jukebox: “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

That above “#NowPlaying” tweet from over 6 years ago is how I commented on the song I want to go into detail in this post:  “Don’t Give Up,” a duet by the English artists Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.  Before I get into how moving a song this is, have a listen to it first.  Really, listen to it and don’t just watch Peter and Kate in an embrace.

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On assignment

As many of you regular readers may know, I had to leave my previous place of employment back in June, after which I ventured into the great unknown that is looking for new employment.  Most of my search has taken me to the equally great unknown that is temporary and staffing agencies.  By my count, I signed up with 7 such agencies during this summer, and it could have been 8 had I not actually gained regular employment through one of those agencies.

If you have been looking for your own new employment, perhaps you too have signed up with an agency or two.  It’s part of what has been billed the “gig economy,” in which short-term or freelance work, as opposed to something that’s long-term and permanent, is prevalent.  An employer may not want, need, or be capable of employing someone for a long time, so they’ll retain the services of a temporary staffing firm, who will do the legwork when it comes to searching for and compensating qualified workers.

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Rain, rain, go away

If you’re wondering, yes, I did march in the OutReach Pride parade last weekend.  And, yes, I will have a post on it coming very soon.  But at this point, I will thank goodness that the parade took place on the warm, pleasant Sunday we had in Madison last weekend, not the wet, stormy Monday that socked us.

For those of you who do not live in Dane County, we were hit with a massive deluge of rain Monday afternoon into Monday evening.  How much rain?  Judging from the reports I saw, my particular location on Madison’s west side got socked with about 8 inches of rain.  That could be an underestimate on my part, considering that locales to the immediate west of Madison got hit much worse, including just under a foot of rain in Middleton and over 15 inches in Cross Plains.  It was, according to county emergency management, the all-time Wisconsin record for heaviest rainfall within a 24-hour period.

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