Every once in a great while in your life you meet…

I got a lot of TCW stuff done today after work. Feel good about that.

At around 8:00, I left home and went to the bowling alley to distribute flyers about the upcoming TCW “For Sale by Owner” seminar. I left a flyer per lane, but have a real sense that these folks are not exactly the type to 1) own property, and 2) sell it themselves. I probably just have a bad attitude.

I spent a little time with Sue and David’s team. I listened to Sue do her usual rant about the contracting company she’s working for, and how she’s being screwed in their layoff.

In discussing our upcoming trips, Donald mentioned that next year they’ll be going on a cruise up the Northeastern coast. He said, “Gary and I will be celebrating 30 years together, and we’re bringing the child along,” indicating David. I didn’t know that was the situation — not that David was “the child,” but that Gary and Donald had been together so long before David.

At around 10:00, a most wonderful thing happened to me, and that is, I met Gillian. What a pleasure! I felt instantly “connected” to her — in that I mean totally comfortable, and I really liked her. Her friend Heather was really nice, too. She looked very “New York,” or rather, I should say, very “big city” to me. I mean it was obvious that “she won’t from ’round here.”

We had great discussions about a number of things, many being around sexual orientation, of course, and fashion. Gillian had the same hang-up as Gregor about the jeans shorts — with the emphasis on the jeans. I’m starting to think that their dad whipped them with some object made out of denim when they were kids. Ah, the Brits!

I related the story about a session I attended at the Gender Pac conference back in May that I have been wanting to capture in writing for some time. So I will “cut” it here.

One of the workshops/discussions I attended was called, “Feminism, Drag and Tranz.” It was to explore whether doing drag (both drag queens and drag kings) was in support of, or against, feminism. The two different sides basically were: (1) it’s against feminism because drag queens are men making fun of women, and drag kings are women trying to be men, and (2) it supports feminism because feminism is about women (people) being able to do/be whatever/whomever they want to be, and men being able to dress up like women and women being able to dress up like men is in that spirit.

Okay, so let me set the stage for the conference and for this particular session. First of all, a majority of the attendees at the Gender Pac conference are transgender folks. Some straight people were there (for instance, companies and organizations sending their HR folks there to be educated), and of course some bi, gay and lesbian folks. I was there because IBM became a corporate-level sponsor of the conference this year, and as a result was awarded complimentary tickets. I met two of my IBM colleagues there, one a gay man, the other a lesbian. (In fact, there is a picture of the three of us in the first frame of the panel heading the GenderPac homepage at: http://www.gpac.org/ncg/pressrelease2002.html

This particular session was led by a panel, with one moderator sitting on the panel. The moderator is a fairly well-known civil rights activist butch lesbian. She is not transgendered. She loves to dress totally in man’s clothes. That day she had on a man’s suit, complete with a tie (not a clip-on). Hair hair is very short, grey, and combed back. So, she is the moderator, is a woman, but looks somewhat like a man.

Joining her on the panel is “Sissy.” Sissy is a totally straight man, and he could look no straighter. He has that ruddy complexion — like that of a drinker — thinning gray hair, no make-up — he looks totally like a “man.” However, he is wearing a quite short, pleated skirt — very much like high school cheerleaders wear — and a cute, short-sleeved frilly blouse. He is from Montanna — out in the sticks. He is here at the conference because he is totally ostrasized from all our communities — gay, straight, and trans — just because he feels more comfortable in a skirt and blouse. He actually dresses like that all the time at home — including at his job — from which he was fired, and with legal action, rehired. He is constantly verbally abused, and has been arrested three times, one time buying a birthday card for his daughter in a local card shop. That’s all he was doing.

Joining them on the panel is a drag-king. She is the headliner in the Great Big International Drag King Show II, which was one of the conference’s main entertainment events that you could attend. So, she is a woman who dresses up like a man for her act.

The panel discussion begins with the moderator, the lesbian dressed like a man, calling on folks in the audience for their thoughts. The first person she calls on to comment on whether drag is in support of or against feminism is a transexual female-to-male youth. This boy, who used to be a girl, is wearing a red baseball cap and has on a tank-top. His youth, more than anything else, makes it hard to determine if he is a boy or a girl, though. However, the moderator refers to him as a “her,” and he corrects her by saying, “I am a boy.” Unfortunately, the moderator didn’t hear this comment (the boy is half-hidden from the moderator behind a pole, which doesn’t help things). The young man makes his comment, and the discussion continues, with the moderator sweeping the room from left to right taking questions and comments.

The discussion has moved along, and Sissy (on the panel), the totally straight man dressed in the skirt and blouse, now speaks, and then takes comments and questions, starting back on the left side of the room. He calls on the same young boy (with the red cap and tank top), and in acknowledging him refers to him as a “she.” Uh oh!

The boy stands up, puts his hands on his hips, and yells (much to the entire room’s horror), “I am a trannyboy! I said I was a ‘he,’ and this is the second time I’m called a ‘she!’ I would think that this place, here of all places, people would get it right!”

Total quiet in the place.

The butch lesbian moderator says,”Hold it now! Time out! First of all, let me apolgize to you. I’m one of the people who referred to you as a “she,” and I didn’t hear you correct me. I’m sorry for that. Second of all, we cannot assume that everyone here knows everything about transgendered people and transgender issues; many people are here to learn just that. People are going to make mistakes. We need to learn from each other and be patient, and most of all, we all need to be respectful.”

In the meantime, Sissy, who started this whole thing, sort of has his head cocked like he is totally confused, and now he says, “Trannyboy??? I don’t even know what that is! I’m from Montanna. We only have three colored people in the whole town!”

A collective breath is drawn in by the entire room. A black, lesbian standing right next to me, bends over with her hands covering her face and shaking her head, saying, “No he didn’t say that!”

The room was in pandemonium.

Just at this time, I looked around the room, and I thought, “My God. This is like being in the twilight zone.”

After recovering from this, everyone on the panel called on people in the audience to speak by saying, “You in the red cap,” or “Yes, you with the green shirt on…”

We sat and talked for about an hour-and-a-half at Third Place, and I just totally enjoyed myself. Hugs and kisses to Gillian and Heather, and best wishes for a safe trip home!

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