One of the pleasant surprises this weekend at the Trans Ohio Symposium was the interest in transgender history. I guess rarely do I think of myself as a person who matters as an interesting link to our community’s transgender past.
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!