J. M. Ellison was the keynote speaker on Saturday. As I mentioned in a previous post, their presentation leaned heavily on transgender history. All of a sudden I was reliving my days of trying to follow the exploits of Virginia Prince and her Transvestia Magazine.
The more I heard, the more I started to remember the Pre Stonewall Days when men could be arrested for simply dressing like women in public. Remembering back, I had to have heard or read about the arrests during my pre teen years in the 1950's/early 60's primarily in Dayton, Ohio.
Of course, this was all before Al Gore invented the internet and any news concerning being a transvestite was extremely difficult to find.
As we (J.M. Ellison and I) spoke later, I went into my memories of my resultant Tri Ess mixers in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. My earliest days (Late 1970's) of finally meeting others of like gender persuasions. To my knowledge Tri-Ess is still in existence today. One of my earliest learning experiences had to do with the "layers" of "cross dressers" I encountered. All the way from men in dresses smoking big cigars and wearing cowboy hats to ultra impossibly feminine creatures who I couldn't believe were ever male at all. Even back then, I had a difficult time figuring out where I belonged in this setting. These were the years before the transgender label was even used at all. One way or another though, I was always able to go when I could and learn more about my gender conflicted self each time.
Back tracking a bit to J.M. Ellison's interview with me, one of the more intriguing questions they asked me was...was I a feminist?
A question we will discuss in another Cyrsti's Condo blog post which involves us all!
I think I must have been aware of the illegality of my being dressed as a woman in public in my early teens. I was certainly aware that driving a car without a license was against the law. Nevertheless, at the age of thirteen, I would take advantage of any opportunity to get dressed up and "borrow" my mom's car late at night. It was my intense need to get out of the "dungeon," which was my basement bedroom and (cross)dressing room, that made me willing to take my chances. I never had a place to go, as I was scared to death of even unlocking the car doors, but the excitement of each outing would be enough to satisfy my desire to be anywhere beyond my dungeon walls. I continued the occasional enfemme motor-touring, even after obtaining my driver license at the age of sixteen.ReplyDelete
By the time of The Stonewall Uprising in 1969, I had been one year into what was a seventeen-year deep suppression of my gender identity. I vaguely remember it, but I do remember very well that I was relieved, having convinced myself that I was never going to be in such a situation.
I've often thought about the irony that the uprising occurred at a place named Stonewall. Well, at least I've acknowledged the puns! :-) I stonewalled myself and my gender identity for most of my life, and I had also built so many walls around myself - walls it took years to eventually break down. At least I'm no longer breaking laws (in most states).