I hadn’t been planning to write a blog post tonight, but the significance of today is too important to ignore. So, here goes, and forgive me if the thoughts I want to communicate don’t come out perfect: Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day. Basically, this is a date to commemorate the progress women have made throughout the world, honor the women who pushed for that progress, and recognize the progress that still needs to be gained to ensure that women worldwide have equal rights and opportunities.
It’s Sunday afternoon as I write this, and instead of going to the gym or running errands as I usually do on a Sunday, I’m just relaxing and doing an odd job or two around the house. And, of course, writing this blog entry. The reason I’m relaxing is because the past 48 hours or so have been pretty busy for my feminine side. The CD/trans support group I’m a part of had a Saturday afternoon meeting. And Friday night, I took part in what I want to talk up here — another open-mic poetry reading Friday night at Mother Fool’s coffee house on Williamson Street.
Just a quick thought to share. And, yes, this photo looks familiar. It’s one of the pictures I shared in my previous post, during which I recounted my day posing for Caitlin at Smoketree Photography (gotta give credit where credit is due). When I posted this photo to Flickr, I added an aside I want to expand on a little bit here. One of the outtakes from my session with Caitlin was of me having a little bit of playful fun with the traffic driving past our shooting location. I gave the traffic a playful waive of the hand, as if to say, “Well, hello there, good looking.”
One thing’s for sure: Male Mode Me would never do something as playful as that.
If you’ve ever put on a costume for Halloween, perhaps you notice that your personality changes a little bit. Your inhibitions start to loosen up, and you go from someone who’s rather reserved to one who is more outgoing than usual. The happy feelings you exude rub off on everyone around you; that joy and happiness spreads quickly. It’s almost as if a light switch in your mind is flicked from “off” to “on,” doesn’t it?
Every time I get dressed up, be it for venturing out or just staying inside, I notice a clear change in my personality. Male Mode Me and his straitlaced, reserved personality “steps out of sight” for a bit. In his place steps Allison, ready to brighten everyone’s day and offer a little bit of playfulness for the mirror, a camera, or a stranger passing by.
For sure, I am definitely more confident and outgoing when dressed up as Allison, which isn’t always how Male Mode Me appears to be. Methinks Male Mode Me could stand to learn a lesson or two from Allison.
For my fellow crossdressers out there: When you shed those male mode clothes and step into your favorite skirt or dress, do you tend to notice a more playful, more outgoing, more confident version of yourself making their presence known?
A little admission: I have never really had any sort of a bucket list. You know what I’m talking about, the list of items and activities you feel you absolutely, positively need to do before you (*ahem*) shove off this mortal coil. I’ve never had the urge to see an exotic locale (Canada is good enough for me), nor have I desired to parachute from a plane (I hate heights). Nope, for better or worse, I’ve been rather modest about the figurative heights I want to shoot for in my life.
That’s not to say that I don’t have things I would love to do as Allison before I expire, not minding too much if I will never get the chance to do them. I already have presented my femme side in public several times in the past year alone, including marching in a pride parade and performing my poetry. I have also longed to get a professional makeover and pose for the camera afterwards.
Well, back in September 2017, I didn’t get a professional makeover. But I did pose for a professional photographer.
Last September, I learned on Facebook about a “LGBTQ Photo Pop-Up” event here in Madison. The event was set up by Caitlin, who runs her own photography business called Smoketree Photography. As Caitlin communicated on the event’s Facebook entry, the rationale for the event was this: Intentionally or otherwise, a LGBT+ person can be put in an uncomfortable situation when working with photographers who come from a background that can be considered “traditional.” Their subjects and events are usually heteronormal in nature (e.g. man-and-wife weddings, proms, etc.), and their mindset can be heteronormal as well. This can result in photos that don’t reflect how their LGBT+ client see themselves as. Caitlin and her “pop-up” event sought to alleviate any such discomfort and create a safe environment for their subjects.
A question for you: Have you watched any of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games at this point? Yeah, you knew I was going to ask you about the Olympics, what with the title of this post, the logo to your right, and the “BOOM! Boom! Buh-BOOM! Boom!” coming out of your TV set. Since Pyeongchang, South Korea is now in the second half of its Olympic fortnight, I thought I’d highlight some interesting notes about I’ve watched and read about the Olympics.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of these Games that I’ve noticed and taken a routing interest in is the performances of LGBT athletes in Pyeongchang. This article from The Advocate gives a nice summation of the performances by out athletes up to this point, but I’ll do a quick summary of what are perhaps the two most noteworthy feats, both of which happen to be in figure skating. First, there was out skier Eric Radford of Canada, who with skating partner Meagan Duhamel were part of the gold medal winners in the team competition and later won bronze in the pairs competition. It’s a bummer that both Eric and Meagan are retiring from competitive skating, but they are certainly going out on a high note.
Okay, okay, you’ve had your fill of me talking about the business world, and I hear you. You want to see an actual new photo of me? Well, let me take care of that right here and now. If you’ve noticed the calendar, it’s still February. And here in Wisconsin, February still means we’re in the grips of winter, no matter what some groundhog may say. And when it’s winter in Wisconsin, one really needs to bundle themselves up before opening the front door and facing winter’s chill and snow. And that includes…
Yep, a winter coat. The past year-plus, I’ve been venturing out of the house as Allison much more often, primarily to support group meetings. Before this winter, I never had a women’s winter coat. No, I don’t mean the leather or denim jackets that occupy my closet; as lovely as they are in their own right, they’re more suited for a season like spring or autumn, when the weather in Wisconsin isn’t as harsh as what winter regularly brings. So, back in December, I moseyed over to the Burlington that’s located here on the West side. When you think of Burlington, you tend to think of coats (it’s website is still BurlingtonCoatFactory.com), although it also features other clothing as well as home decor and gifts. But it’s that “Coat Factory” part of its old name that still makes me think of Burlington as a store for affordable outerwear. And sure enough, this purple Madden Girl coat was on the sales rack.
A couple of quick thoughts on this Sunday afternoon. First, I had mentioned in my last post about a bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly that would prevent local municipalities in the state (cities, counties, townships, etc.) from enacting and enforcing anti-discriminatory employment regulations and protections. A State Assembly committee had a hearing on the measure Wednesday afternoon. And from what I recall hearing Friday night at the trans/CD support group I regularly attend, there is a little bit of good news on the matter. Apparently, there were quite a bit of comments made in the hearing against the bill. And it may have made an influence on the conservative powers-that-be in the committee, who hinted they had no plans to send the bill to a full vote by the Assembly. That’s good, for it’s a piece of legislation that can potentially do a lot of harm to several groups of workers, including those who are trans or gender non-conforming. Needless to say, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is against the Assembly bill (as well as a similar measure in the State Senate), comparing it to the controversial HB2 measure in North Carolina, which was one of the most anti-LGBT ordinances in the United States.
Okay, I’m about to get serious. I’ve always admired how Wisconsin has, generally, had a history of progressive treatment of citizens who are part of diverse groups. A prime example of this was the 1982 legislation that prohibited discrimination in fields such as housing and public and private employment based on a person’s sexual orientation. That law had bipartisan support and was signed into law by a Republican governor who was fiscally conservative yet progressive on social/cultural issues.
Okay, peoples, time to show off yours truly in another outfit.
Last weekend, I attended another meeting of the trans support group I am part of. This is the outfit I chose to wear:
An anecdote to lead off: Back in October, I joined fellow members of a trans support group at the OutReach Awards Banquet. One of our cis-gender allies joined us, and at first, she wasn’t sure exactly which table was which, but she checked her table number on her name tag and, by coincidence, sat right next to me. Ours was Table 44. “Good,” she chuckled, “because I like ’44’ better than ’45.'”
Note the quote marks around “44” and “45” in that last sentence, for our friend wasn’t joking about the tables on that night. No, hers was a remark about the era in which we’re stuck in right now. One year ago this weekend, You Know Who formally and officially became the 45th You Know What. In the 52 weeks since then, it’s felt as if we’ve collectively turned around an endless line of dark corners, each bend darker than the one before it. There are far too many of those dark corners to be specific about here, though I should note the latest… er, one of the latest of dark corners from this week concerned an “overhaul” of the Department of Health & Human Services’ Civil Rights Office. The proposal would add a division that protects those in the medical profession who desire to “profess their religious expressions,” up to and including their objections to providing services or caring for people they have religious objections to, including abortions or treatment to trans patients.