A central figure in many episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Carmen Carrera first appeared on the show in its third season, and was the second contestant in the show’s history to rejoin the cast after being eliminated.
She also appeared as a drag “professor” in the spinoff series RuPaul’s Drag U. Carrerra presented as male during the third season of Drag Race, and came out as a trans woman the following year, in 2012.
Since then, she has appeared in many magazines, including the cover for the fifth anniversary edition of Candy, and is involved with AIDS activism and advocacy.
In a recent post I mentioned sports as one of the items of baggage I took with me when I crossed the transgender gender frontier. Obviously, undertaking such a difficult journey requires planning and experience to attempt a smooth trip.
The first lesson I learned was relying on an obsession with appearance was not going to work. Certainly projecting a feminine appearance helped open gender doors but didn’t accomplish much when I was faced with one on one interactions with the public. In order to survive, I had to pack gender communication skills as well as trying my best to achieve a feminine voice. To this day, I am not sure I ever made any real strides with my voice. Even after attempting vocal lessons.
I guess you could say I was traveling light and learning as I went during the early part o f my journey. I discovered the hard way how women lead a multi layered experience.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was losing my male privilege. I lightened my baggage extensively and quickly. All of a sudden I was excluded from male conversations. Even to the point of supposedly not knowing the quickest route to where I lived. All of that was easy compared to the danger I encountered when I made in roads to areas where cis women knew not to go. I was fortunate to have not been subject to violence. I learned quickly to park in lighted areas and not be cornered by over aggressive admirers in narrow hallways.
All in all, it was a terrifying yet exciting time in my life.
So, what do you pack? What about your sexuality? In my case, I ended up with women anyhow so it didn’t matter. On the other hand, these days, I know several transgender sisters who have made the journey and found men to live with. Plus with all the information available today I know several transgender individuals who were able to make the transition journey with their spouses. Finally, with all the surgeries and insurance becoming available, I know too several trans women who have found and established relationships with other transgender women through the increasing influence of social media.
Even though the gender crossing won’t be easy with many hills and valleys along the way, the most important item to pack is your desire to make the journey. Otherwise, if you aren’t willing to add or discard items along the way, the trip will be so much more difficult.
My weekend was built around sports with a pleasant surprise added in.
As I have already written about here in Cyrsti’s Condo, I was deeply shocked by The Ohio State Buckeyes losing in college football. Almost as shocked as I was when the NFL Cincinnati Bengals won their first game yesterday. To make a long story short, both happenings are rare.
I’m sure there are many of you who could care less or perhaps didn’t carry sports with you as part of your baggage when you crossed the gender frontier. Sports was always such a big part of my life and I was delighted when I found other accepting cis-women who shared my passion.
Now, onto the pleasant surprise. Liz and I’s tenth anniversary was actually August 5th. We have been putting off (for various reasons) going out and celebrating since then. Yesterday we finally made it. We went to an upscale steak house for huge rib eyes. For the occasion I wore a simple lace top and leggings.
The steak was good and I was able to splurge a little on the sides because the diet has been progressing so well. I am now down 22 pounds to a weight I have not been since basic training.
So excluding the Ohio State loss, it was a great weekend, and the weather was good too.
On the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 United States terror attacks, it’s important to look back and never forget.
Not only do we need to have to honor the first responders who headed into danger to rescue whomever they could. We need to remember all of those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania tragedies.
Then there were all of the Americans who paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan, which included all of those wounded or are still suffering from their roles in yet another thankless war.
On occasion I feel as if the term “gender fluid” is a relatively new term. In fact those of us in the more mature age range remember when transvestite was one of the only words we could use to describe ourselves except maybe cross dresser. Then, along the way, the transvestite term was shortened to “tr_nny” which became a gender slur in some parts of the world.
The reason I bring up the gender fluid term in today’s post is I heard it recently from an eleven year old person on national television. They said they didn’t know what gender they were. I quickly flashed back to my youth and knew I felt the same way. In fact, I have written extensively in the past the number of mornings I woke up not wanting to be a boy anymore. On the other hand when I was successful doing “boy” things I enjoyed it. Definitely gender dysphoria at it’s most severe. From a time before gender dysphoria was even a term. Plus, I can’t even imagine having such an understanding and supportive set of parents.
As I grew, served my time in college and the Army I prefer to think I “grew” into the transgender term too and out of being gender fluid. Once I experienced being around other so called heterosexual cross dressers, I learned there was a whole other level of individuals who loosely identified as transvestites. These persons were the impossibly feminine visitors to the mixers I went to. They just didn’t fit. Somehow they were out of place.
Soon I discovered I felt out of place too. I certainly didn’t fit in with the ultra masculine men in a dress crowd and barely tried to hang out with the “A” listers as I called them. I tagged along on the adventures they embarked on after the regular meet ups. I discovered a wonderful world of gay clubs along with the chance to live my life as a feminine being.
All of this decidedly terminated any chance of my gender fluid tendencies but not quite. Even though being feminine felt so natural, going out with friends cross dressed as a man felt good on occasion also. I guess you could say any traces of gender fluidity for me was becoming toxic.
Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and took advantage of several drastic changes in my life. I put my suicide attempts behind me and started hormone replacement therapy. Which once and for all forced my male self into his closet.
It also ended any lingering ideas of being gender fluid.
I have re-written this post several times as I try to include all of you who are still living in your closets. Finally, I decided to go ahead and publish it because hopefully there will come a day when you too can live freely as your authentic selves. Now, here is the post:
I used to resent quite a few of the transgender women I knew who underwent gender realignment surgery then promptly went stealth. By “stealth” I mean they went away to simply live their lives away from the remainder of the transgender community. Before you say the often irritated and jealous transgender community…I agree. In fact, in many ways, I don’t blame them.
Even so, to a large degree, there were very few trans women and men to follow.. No one to tell us it was perfectly OK to feel and act the way we do.
Over the years, I have battled the urge to go stealth even though for the most part it has been available to me. Much of being able to go stealth has much to do with my partner Liz as it does with me and any so called passing ability. Since I so rarely go anywhere without her, I am so very used to letting her lead the way with calling me the proper pronouns.
Sometimes I wonder if being too invisible as a transgender woman once again is letting the community as a whole down. Or what the subject even means to the average transgender person just trying to get by.
As I try my best not to be too in depth about the topic at hand, recently I had a chance to unfortunately witness yet another ugly episode of transgender infighting. To make a long story short, in the transgender – cross dresser support group I am in (or used to be), a disturbance erupted between two members basically concerning who was more trans than the other.
Once again it seemed to me, the more things change over the years, the more they stay the same. I mean really, what does it mean if a person is more trans than another.
Maybe on the other hand, as a community we should protect the out and proud leaders we have gained such as Laverne Cox.
The more out and proud trans people we have, the more chance we can defeat the evils of the stealth and the invisibility culture.
Out of the many invisible Facebook friends I have, one of the ones who is not and I am absolutely fascinated with is Melonee Malone (no relation to Connie). In addition to being beautiful, she adds uplifting inspirational posts about surviving life as a transgender woman.
On this Labor Day weekend, here is Melonee: on a rainy morning in her native Wisconsin.