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Ask Jane, Column 9

Isolated No More ... Out with the Girls

Photo: Eve, Jane, and Miranda, taken by Jamie.

Jane,

Hi. I'm 17. I don't know if I'm a transvestite or not. I was wondering if you could help me answer this?

Dear URNA Friends,

I deleted this writer's name; otherwise, this was the entirety of his missive to me. I receive at least one of what I feel is an urgently asked question each week. Each time, I write back and ask questions, hoping to start a dialogue that I hope will guide the writer toward resources that might help. But rarely do I hear back after the initial furtive attempt to reach out. It's been three days since I wrote back to this young man; I've heard nothing again from him.

As every one of you knows, isolation can be the worst part of life's challenging journey into self-understanding, eventual self-acceptance, and ultimate self-celebration. I know very well the value of community when facing the confusion of self. As a very young woman I battled an addiction; I began to heal only after I found a community of understanding souls who had walked in my tortured shoes themselves. Like so many of you, while I appeared quite fine to everyone around me, I lived in a private hell, suffering guilty secrets, wondering what was wrong with me.

I urge this young man to read books like my URNA colleague's fine book, Alice in Genderland. And to talk to others he knows are safe to share his concerns and fantasies with, like the members of this community. Reaching out to the physical resources a city might provide is more difficult but usually enormously worthwhile. I live in San Francisco, which is blessed to have resources for transgendered souls of every stripe.

One of those resources is Eve Summers. Eve runs a transformation studio here called Adam to Eve (www.adamtoeve.com). Eve invited me to join her and the girls (clients she had given makeup lessons or makeovers to that day) for a night on the town Friday evening. Eve hosts two such Friday nights out each month.

Since I'd just received the young man's letter above that morning, I was eager to meet everyone and listen to as much of their stories as they wanted to share.

Twelve of us gathered Friday night at one of the girls' apartments. Libations and conversation flowed as Eve performed a few magic makeovers that were nothing short of startling, then we walked the several blocks to the transgender bar Diva's (so very girly, a few of the girls didn't want to take the hike to Diva's in heels and so grabbed a cab).

We drank, danced, watched a floor show, joked about the "tranny chasers" ogling our group, and got to know one another a bit.

Annie (I've changed all the names and combined some identities for the sake of each girl's privacy) is a young woman with luscious full lips and graceful hand gestures that belies her genetic reality. She is forced underground partly because she is a member of the armed services. But her bigger issue is her partner: Annie is married to a MtF who knows the issue of having been born the wrong gender and can't understand (and so minimizes) Annie's need to express herself as a crossdresser.

Ginger is a Mae West sort of gal, her sexuality raw and loud. She was man - and all man, only man - until well into middle age. That all changed when researching the TransAm online. While doing so, she accidentally (if you believe there are accidents, that is) found herself visiting not just TransAm Sites but Tranny sites. Ginger told me she had never known, until she found herself pulled again and again to these sites, that this was a part of herself she needed to explore. Having this midlife realization has shaken her foundation and come at a high price: she's now in the midst of a painful divorce. Like all trannies, Ginger is beginning to date and wonders whether she'll find an accepting partner.

Theresa had played around with lingerie and other women's clothing casually for years. But when a motorcycle accident severed her genitals five years ago she dived into the transsexual lifestyle. The accident caused Theresa the loss of her partner, job, health, mobility, and sexual identity (but not her self of humor; she said she had SRS by the quick method).

Told she'd never walk again, Theresa now stands tall with legs up to there (killer legs, I'm so jealous, that stun in a micro-mini leather skirt) and struts her sexy stuff in six-inch heels. She's got the bearing of a woman who's earned her inner strength the hard way and yet possesses a feminine charm and vulnerability that's nothing short of seductive. Theresa grapples with questions of hormones (she must take regular testosterone injections), connecting sexually without genitals, expressing love, forming a new sexual identity.

On our walk to Diva's, I realized that at least two of the girls were out for the very first time that night ... they verily flew down the street, saying they felt a freedom they'd only ever dreamed about.

I was deeply touched. With the freedom of a genetic female, able to dress as I want anytime I want, I can't know this exhilaration. But I surely witnessed it and felt it in others Friday night. Men of all ages and shapes transformed in body and soul to be the womann of their dreams, dressed to the nines, and doing something so simple, so innocent, something anybody should be able to do if they want: to go out all dressed up. I loved seeing the rewards of breaking the isolation ... pretty, perfumed women walking down the street, swinging their handbags, giggling and free.

If you want to inquire about Friday nights out in San Francisco and/or a makeover or makeup lessons, lease contact Eve at eve@adamtoeve.com. Eve possesses a spirit as feminine, accepting, and nurturing as a mother's ... but better than a mother because she's awesome with a makeup brush! With touch and talent on those who dared to come out, I witnessed transformations not just of face but of essence.

Bless you all this Thanksgiving. Don't eat too much now... you'll want to get into your slinkiest gown on New Year's!

Xo Jane

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