If you’ve ever perused that feed to the right of your screen, you’ve discovered that I am indeed on Flickr. And once or twice on this blog, I’ve opined of how Flickr can be a nice avenue to show off one’s outer beauty.
Whenever it’s the last week of a year, I find myself looking at the calendar on the wall, noticing the dwindling dates of December, and asking myself, egads, where has this year gone?
The gravity of knowing that one year is about to give way to another makes one think of all that’s to come with the new calendar on the wall as well as, naturally, all that occurred while the old calendar was posted. And a lot happened in 2018, including something you probably know by now if you’re a frequent reader of this blog: My having to depart my previous place of employment and eventually finding the current temp-to-hire assignment I call my new income source.
But rather than bore you with another post of the professional journey Male Mode Me took in 2018, or for that matter any other issues that popped up in my life this year, I want to lift my cup of kindness yet for one of the more enjoyable days of my previous 365 that should not be forgot. At the end of September, I joined up with a Flickr friend and fellow male-to-female crossdresser. The two of us first got together a few years ago at my apartment, at my invitation. Back in the fall, my friend put out the call for someone to join her for an afternoon at her place, which she would have all to herself. (Her wife doesn’t mind her dressing up but wants no part of it.)
My Flickr friend and I spent the few hours of that late afternoon trying on outfits, conversing (despite my not being a brilliant conversationalist), and just enjoying that “girl time.” And, yes, we took pictures. It was just these past few days that I finally got around to going through the photos from that afternoon. First was this pic of yours truly in a leopard print dress and trusty leather belt you probably saw before on here:
And this dress I found earlier in September at St Vincent de Paul. Yes, there are diamond shaped studs along the lower halves of the sleeves and above the hemline. And, yes, it was love at first sight when I saw it, especially considering the fact that it’s in my size (8).
And here’s me in another item I found at St Vincent de Paul, a tank top all glittery in front-panel sequins. I pair it here with a patent leather mini skirt I found at Forever 21.
But the best photo of yours truly from that late afternoon was one of the last pictures my friend and I took.
Yes, you’ve seen this “me” shirt I found in the Macy’s markdown racks back in March. But the suit? I had just bought this Who What Wear pantsuit earlier that very day before my dress-up rendezvous. A few days earlier, I had actually noticed this suit on the rack at Target but didn’t think of purchasing it then. After that, however, I thought about how my femme side deserves to have a professional look. I mean, an endless stream of wigs and leather skirts isn’t enough sustenance for a crossdresser.
So when you look at me in this suit, you’re not just looking a crossdresser. You’re looking at a human being who in 2018 went through the sadness of losing one job; regained pride in finding new employment; and for one Saturday afternoon, put aside the worries of the outside world and took the time to be… well, me.
It’s this day of meeting up with someone and dressing up for the camera that is one of the better moments I will want to remember 2018 for. Yeah, the steep slopes and rough seas of this year will linger in the back of my mind, but my glass will be raised in honor of the good moments and good people I spent them with.
Here’s hoping when you raise your own glass at midnight tonight (or earlier if you like to turn in early on New Year’s Eve as I do), you’ll have your own happy moments and good friends you’ll remember from 2018. Thanks for reading, and may you all have a happy and safe 2019.
Back in September 2017, I posed for a professional photographer for the first time, doing so before the camera of Katie Berry at Smoketree Photography. Three months later (December 2017), Katie, her partner, and their friends in the Everyday Gay Holiday art studio/collective on Atwood Avenue threw a holiday get-together for their friends in the LGBT+ community — a “HOLIgay” party. While I’m not a party person, I jumped at the chance to doll myself up, snack on some food, and mingle with other LGBT+ people from the Madison community.
Being the photographer that she is, Katie set up a corner in the studio to let the partygoers use her fancy camera and snap a few free selfies in front of a festive “toyland/horse/holiday/winter wonderland” setting. Not wanting to pass up a photo opportunity while looking fabulous, I took the remote and snapped a few photos. There I was in red hair, soft sweater, and patent vinyl Forever 21 skirt, and Katie’s remote clicker in hand, smiling and being all beautiful for the camera. (Oh, the Santa hat was among the available props in the studio.)
Yes, I hear you from a mile away. “Yes, Allison,” you’re telling me, “we don’t mind you telling about what’s going on in your life and what you’re digging. But we just want to see new photos of you.” Okay, you got your wish.
One Saturday back in may of this year, I attended a regular meeting of the CD/TG support group I’m a part of. On most Saturdays after our meetings, our group meets up at some restaurant in the Madison area to break bread, literally and figuratively. On this particular Saturday, we had dinner at Short Stack Eatery, a LGBT-friendly restaurant I’ve talked about here and here and will eventually devote a full post to sometime soon (the food and atmosphere are that good there).
Do you remember my post from September where I added a song called “Don’t Give Up” to “Allison’s Jukebox”? You know the one where Peter Gabriel sings of deep lament and Kate Bush tries to steer him toward the positive? Yeah, I bummed you out with that one, didn’t I?
Well, let’s see if I can brighten up your spirits a little bit with another addition to my jukebox that just happens to have the same title, “Don’t Give Up,” yet has a background that nicely dovetails with the week we’re in right now, Transgender Awareness Week. Please have a look & listen to the Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/YouTube personality Maggie Szabo:
[*sound of loud rumble of thunder and spooky music*]
Salutations, ghosts and goblins! Before you directed your eyes to this paragraph, you probably took a gander at that old photo of yours truly at the top of this page. Yeah, that was me a few years back looking all so sultry in a sexy witch outfit and leather boots.
The timing of both donning that costume back then and writing this post now are intentional: Yes, today is, and the date of that photo was, Halloween. And since it’s Halloween, you’re probably thinking this post will be all about the joys of dressing up en femme on Halloween, right?
Well… [*sound of record scratching on phonograph*] not really.
Halloween has always been, and perhaps always will be, an occasion when you can dress up and display to the world a personality you normally wouldn’t appear as. Many of my crossdressing sisters (and, yes, brothers too) will use this day as the perfect excuse to bring their hidden side out of the proverbial closet.
More likely than not, Halloween will be a time when some fine young gentleman will don a wig and a dress, slap on some heels and makeup, and carouse around town in a female appearance. And depending on the effort they put into their outfit and comportment, the resulting display will have various success. Just read them for a few seconds and you can tell whether they dressed up en femme to make a good impression on passersby, or just threw on something for their own giggles and jollys.
The thought of that “I’m just dressing up for Halloween” thing brings me to this quote I just happened to come across the other day during an online search:
“Putting on a dress and a wig doesn’t make you a transgender woman.”
Unfortunately, the link that had that quote was broken, meaning I can’t confirm the context the speaker was intending with those words. I do know, however, that those words came from a trans woman. And I know that said woman started out life assigned with a male identity, but would over time begin to don women’s clothing and makeup; take on an online feminine identity; and eventually realizing that said feminine identity was the one she was born to be, birth certificate be dammed.
Despite not knowing the context of her line, I could imagine how that could be interpreted as being directed to some guy only dressing up as a woman for some Halloween party. “Hey, dude!” he’ll probably tell his friends in a bit of intoxication and self-sarcasam, “I look all girly.” But as soon as his party ends and he’s safely home, he’ll shed that dress and wig and head back to the everyday life of a cis-gender male. And during that brief time he wore a dress and a wig for the sake of doing so, there’s a good chance that he won’t have the chance to feel empathy toward someone who has struggled with gender identity and has yearned for acceptance while transitioning.
But then… that guy just wearing a wig and dress on Halloween could be someone like me. As I noted above, Halloween is the perfect time for a crossdresser to dress up, leave the closet, and have a good time. And it doesn’t always have to be at a party. I mean, they could use the day to dress up for the camera instead of some partygoer. I say this because a fellow WordPress peep whose blog I love to follow posted photos of her wearing a vinyl dress and butterfly wings. Yes, she posted them for Halloween. And, yes, she’s a male-to-female crossdresser just as I am. And, yes, even though she may not live full-time as a woman (and neither do I), she does consider herself part of the broad trans community.
But even though she’s a part of our transgender community, she doesn’t live full-time as a woman. But does that make her any less of a transgender woman? I don’t think so at all, and I think a big part of that, in addition to her looking stunning, is the fact that she’s a big champion of our community. She has used her blog to share stories about her everyday life, her photos, and tidbits in support of fellow crossdressers, other trans people, and our allies. She has great comportment through her positive actions, and that’s something that’s beneficial for our community at a time when we desperately need any positive imagery.
So, back to that quote I came across: “Putting on a dress and a wig doesn’t make you a transgender woman.” The person who said that has a valid point: Don’t just put that dress and wig on tonight. If you’re gonna look the part, try to play the part. And, no, I don’t mean put on a falsetto voice. Be friendly to others. Have a positive demeanor. Take a compliment. Give a compliment, too, especially to some other guy who may also be wearing a dress and wig.
And don’t just compliment that guy in that dress and wig, empathize with them… for perhaps deep down inside they are trying to figure out what it is that makes them a transgender woman.
I want to share with you a little personal tidbit I left out during my recap of the OutReach Awards Banquet I attended last week Friday. And I want to preface this by saying that I have never told anyone I’ve worked with or encountered in my professional career that I dress up as Allison, nor do I have any plans to do so. And there have been only two people who have seen me present as both female and male, and both of them have seen me in male mode only once.
All that being said, there was someone I’ve encountered in my professional male-mode past who was literally inches from me at the OutReach banquet.
If I haven’t said so in specific terms before, you’ve likely gained the impression on here that it’s always a thrill for me to get dressed up and venture outside my house as Allison. And while I’m one who normally likes the intimacy of small groups, an awesome feeling always surfaces in me when en femme in a large congregation of people. Such was the case again last Friday evening:
OutReach, the LGBT+ support center here in Madison, staged its annual awards banquet last week. at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center. As the name implies, the event is a combination of a fine meal, friendly conversation, and awards to those who promote equality and quality of life for the LGBT+ community.
It’s been a full week, one that’s been somewhat busy and very wet, since the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally, but I’m finally ready to share with you some of my experience. As I’ve mentioned here and here, this year’s parade and rally was held under an ugly shadow, not from any rain clouds but under the specter of controversy. A loud contingent from Madison’s LGBT+ community raised a ruckus over the presence of the Madison Police Department at the parade, with some threatening to stage a counter-protest. In the end, parade organizers withdrew the applications of LGBT+ employee resource groups from MPD and UW—Madison Police as well as the Dane County Sheriff. Members from those groups could (and did) march in the parade, but had to do so unarmed and out of uniform. (Side note: The Madison Fire Department decided to withdraw one of their engines from the parade in sympathy to the boys in blue; it was MFD’s decision.) While OutReach’s move to formally eliminate the police entries upset some parade supporters and still likely upset some protesters (especially since the parade permit still required MPD to provide security), the parade and rally (**SPOILER ALERT**) went off without a hitch and without any rabble-rousers causing disruptions.
I’ve been away from WordPress for over a week and, oh boy, has a lot gone on around here. For one, I am in the midst of new temporary employment, which I promise to expound on in a later post. But I want to devote this post to a little something… okay, a rather big something that’s been going on here in Madison, one that has plagued the biggest and most important event in Madison’s LGBT+ community.
I’ll cut to the chase and let you know of the outcome: There will be an OutReach Pride parade this coming Sunday afternoon, starting at the west end of State Street, circling once around Capitol Square, and ending with a rally. And baring anything unforeseen on my end, I will be there as Allison and marching with fellow members of our crossdressing/transgender support group.
You may be reading that and are thinking that there was a possibility that the parade and rally wouldn’t be taking place at all. On the contrary, the event is not in any danger of not taking place. However, it will be taking place without one prominent group of participants — law enforcement. Had they been part of the parade, there would have been another prominent group that would have boycotted the event — those who have real disdain for law enforcement.