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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Buffalo Bill (Really Not a Football Post, Promise)

I’m not totally sure what is going on here, but for the past few days now I’ve been depressed and ornery for no particular reason. I’m pretty sure it’s hormonal, because others have reported similar cycles that I seem to have as well. This doesn’t make total sense to me since my daily dosage is the same and I lack a uterus and other reproductive plumbing that I understand is the root cause of monthly cycles. Then again, most of my medical knowledge was delivered 30 years ago by the gin soaked cutups on M.A.S.H. Damn you Trapper John! Well, I’m going to use my sense of misplaced irritation and direct it toward something we have all hated for a long time. Silence of the Lambs.

Locally speaking, no one here was real thrilled with the nickname ‘Buffalo Bill’ being slapped on Jame Gumb, the evil psychotic prick in the movie. I don’t have any huge love for sports, but I still didn’t care for the local defamation. Of course I cared for the defamation to the trans community even less. That’s right, ol’ Bill was allegedly a transsexual who was trying to right natures’ wrong by kidnapping women and starving and lotioning them in a well that’s in his basement for some reason, all to skin them later to add to the ‘woman suit’ he picked up sewing to create. Apparently the author felt that this was a plausible option trans people may consider from time to time.

Look, I’m not saying that all trans people really have all their issues buttoned down tight. There are, well, less-hinged sisters out there and yes, there are problems. Big difference though between being a bit flakey and an abhorrent avatar of pure evil. For the most part, we don’t really tend to be violent people. Well, except for a rare few like that other Michelle who killed her wife (not to be confused with this Michelle). If anything, we tend to feel uncomfortable with aggression due to the perception that it is a male trait.

OK, instead of rambling on like I do, I’m going to narrow down the three things I really hate about this story/ novel/ movie. To start, this movie has two villains. One of them is such a dangerous, diabolical and frightening character that there is a need to dress him up to look even scarier in order to wheel him around town. Compared to Buffalo Bill though, the trans character, he seems pretty all right as long as you aren’t on his shit list. In fact, it might even be interesting to have coffee with him and chat a bit, as long as he didn’t feel the need to cook anything for the occasion. Bill on the other hand has no redeeming qualities. Creepo look, creepo voice, collects bugs, has horrible fashion sense, and dwells in a small slovenly house with a disproportionately large, labyrinthine basement that contains a dry well. Oh, plus the whole kidnapping and skinning thing. That’s our trans representation right there folks.

“Well Michelle, it is a horror movie and it’s not like this hasn’t been done to other groups. Not everyone thinks scientists are out there trying to create human centipedes now.” Yeah, true, no one comes off good in horror movies. At the time this came out though, trans representation was limited to Dr Frank. Fucking Dr Frank. Two popular representations in like 15 years, with a trend going extremely negative. Don’t even throw that ‘Tootsie’ shit at me either. She wasn’t even a real CD. For every evil scientist, you have a dozen hero versions out there saving the world on the silver screen. I suppose wax museum curators and clowns are in the same boat, but I’ll leave them to take that up in the more popular wax and clowning blogs.

Finally, the big cop out. Sure, in the movie the sadistic cannibal casually remarks that Buffalo Bill only “believes” himself to be a transsexual. I’ve actually read about people defending the depiction on that one half-assed line. Oh, well sure, everyone will pick up on that right away because they are all too aware what transsexuals really are. We can all breathe easy now. Never mind the fact that in terms of diagnosis, without a post-mortem autopsy, we don’t exactly have a lot of corroborating physical evidence for our status other than we are what we say we are. If there was a blood test or something, don’t you think we would be carrying the results around in our purses? “Eat this Jimmy! I tested T!”

It is just a movie, and now an old one at that, and I am just being grouchy for no good reason, but still. It sucks when the media casts us in a dark light. For many people, that is the only trans exposure they have. Someone who has only seen ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and then encounters me, I have to wonder if they are getting all sketchy because I whipped out some hand lotion or happen to be shopping for a new basket.


CSA Does Not Make You Gay (or Trans)!

My least favorite theory on how LGBTQ folks came to be (as if we need an origin story like Batgirl) is the all too prevalent myth that we are all victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). This of course does a huge disservice to both LGBTQ folks and CSA victims at the same time. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but any overlap (and there is overlap)  is strictly coincidental. That’s our topic for today folks; how our old pal widespread ignorance has once again managed to once again unzip and foul two passerby in a drunken cross-eyes piss. I know, gross, but I think it’s how we all feel about it.

I’m really good at starting with the obvious, so I’m going to do that. I’m not at all sure how this idea got started, because there is no evidence whatsoever that being victimized by CSA causes someone to be gay or trans. Nada. Yes, some CSA victims are gay and trans, but they were gay or trans before the abuse occurred. If I had to guess how this imbecilic little tale came about, I would say that some savant in the field of logical fallacy decided that CSA is a horrible thing that causes horrible effects, and the most horrible effect they could think of is being gay or trans. Yes, yes, I’m also hot potatoes irritated by this as well.

As this is a trans forum, I think it’s right to do the gracious thing and address first why this is wrong to do to victims of CSA. Aside from super warped world view pedophiles and truly reprehensible organizations like NAMBLA (really not sure why they are not slapped with a terrorist organization label), everyone sane agrees that CSA is a horrific thing. CSA victims are scarred for life by the experience because you simply can’t obliterate the sense of trust and inherent inviolability of self in an innocent child without terrible consequences. Survivors deal with shattered psyches, paralyzing fears and anxieties, agonizing relationship issues, suicidal tendencies, feelings of worthlessness, addiction, and some even become perpetrators themselves to continue the destructive cycle. I think this is enough to deal with without tossing “and become gay or trans” on top of it. That many are able to overcome such debilitating assaults on their innocence and still manage to thrive and achieve is a testament to the human spirit. Many others simply can’t, but it still doesn’t make them gay.

Those of us born into the LGBTQ demographic also have an array of enervating odds against them from the start. Assuming the root cause of this is CSA, however, does us and our families a huge disservice. Aside from struggling with personal issues simply as a condition of our existence, many or most of us come from stable, loving, non-abusive families. I had a very happy childhood myself, and am very fortunate to never have had my trust violated by anyone. What I despise about the false link to CSA is that it casts my family and overall circumstances under a cloud of suspicion. “What really happened in our house to make her trans?” Nothing. I was never even hit. Not once. Nor was I mistreated in any way by relatives, friends of the family, babysitters, teachers, priests, friend’s parents, or complete strangers. LGBTQ people really already have enough to deal with in terms of their family without making them defensive about something they didn’t do; especially the supportive ones.

We also don’t appreciate that chalking up our innate orientations to a causation of horrific evil that by nature makes it a very negative thing. We do not consider being gay or trans to be a bad thing in and of itself. Yes, even in today’s society we admit that it would probably be easier to be in the majority, but that is entirely due to the words and actions of intolerant people. It’s not a cause of shame, the mark or poor character, or the result of a reprehensible act. Don’t even get me stated on the “lifestyle choice” or sin thing. Ugh. No one made us this way, nor did we make ourselves this way, we simply are; a less prevalent but very real part of the natural world.

Finally, to anyone who may have found this post due to a internet search to quench your thirst to link a heinous wrong to a natural condition, I hope you read the whole post and listened. Survivors of CSA have enough to deal with less your crackpot theories. We LGBTQs simply came out that way, and every shred of credible scientific evidence speaks to this being true long before air touched our infant skin. If your belief basis is biblical, well, nothing I say is going to dissuade you from holding to that, no matter what mountain of contrary findings written through the fabric of physical, chemical, and biological creation is amassed. Not even your sacred texts, however, go so far as to suggest CSA makes you gay. I can only suggest that perhaps you shift your focus to helping those who were wronged, preventing future occurrence, and showing charity of spirit to your fellow humans, however you find them.

10 Easy Steps to No Bake Gender Transition

I did a few of these humorous little lists way, way back in the day, like a good month of two ago and then stopped. Many people hated these lists and called them “The trite little scribbling of a madwoman. A puerile attempt to apply troglodyte simplicity and banal humor to a serious and complex issue; far better burned or bum wiped then read.” I then came to my senses and decided to reject my own comment from the approval queue. Besides, I’ve been shoveling out a lot of the heavy stuff lately and I’m really all about having some lowbrow fun while sipping a Lowenbrau. But please, feel free to raise some indignant objections because everyone just loves a big prickly Pete.

1. Decide You Might Be Gay. It’s finally penetrated your brain that none of the dudes you are surrounded by knew how to walk in heels by age 10, and most have never even tried. Clearly, you are some kind of freak. The strong affinity towards femininity leads to only one conclusion. Gay men are kind of like women, so you must be gay. This can be a real conundrum if you are not at all attracted to guys; the tried and true hallmark of gay male culture. Something is not adding up. Either you are atypically gay, or something else all together. The answer eludes you as you practice ballet moves in your room in a pilfered tutu and stuffed bra.

2. Throw Away a Ton of Pretty Shit. There is no problem in the world that can’t be solved with a black Hefty bag stuffed in the bottom of the can on trash day. Well, at least if the garbage men aren’t curious, but as I was to find out later, they are. Now you are whole and complete in your male identity and could die right now without anyone ever knowing that perhaps you were just a little bit fancy. The feeling of heady satisfaction lasts for up to 15 minutes before deep, inconsolable regret begins to settle in. In reality, that pretty shit you tossed and will always miss universally consists of things that you really had no business wearing to begin with unless your preferred look is ‘skanky hooch 60 lbs past her last shopping trip’.

3. Admit the Jig is Up. Incredibly, joining the military, a biker gang, or rebuilding the engine on an AMC Gremlin failed to turn you into a man. If you are smart, you gained clarity of thought there. Chances are though, you got married and maybe had kids. At the very least you found yourself cohabiting with a vicious little terrier with severe gender misogyny. Regardless, now you have to figure out what to do and it’s not going to be pretty. If you opted for path A and checked out, I doubt you are reading this unless you got screwed yet again and sent to the wrong place where I hear this blog is proudly featured. Path B is where we really get started on this list.

4. Make Sure You Got This Right. I started by buying Jenny Boylan’s book and highlighting all the passages I thought were relevant to my life. Four highlighters later, it seemed a safe bet there was more than could be chalked up to coincidence. Some start with a support group and sit there feeling like a big bag of douche for showing up in dude mode surrounded by trans who just seem to have it all. Ha! You are still woefully ignorant at this stage, but it’s probably for the better. All roads lead to a therapist, because the AMA decided they were missing out on a goldmine by ignoring the least employable segment of the population. Once again, you will sit there feeling like a big bag of douche as they hammer you with questions to make sure you didn’t skip step 1 while dredging up everything you have ever been insanely embarrassed about. In the end, it all comes down to one little nugget; you are if you think you are. WTF?

5. Draft a Fricking Plan. Without a plan, there can be no attack, and without an attack, there can be no victory. I remember Booger saying that in some movie where he didn’t play Booger, but someone just like him. What a male way of thinking! It’s still not a bad idea, because this is starting to get complicated. Open a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or fish out a lipstick smeared Arby’s napkin from under the seat and start writing some shit down. This will make you feel better and get the therapist off your back, but reality will in no way conform to this half-assed list.

6. Crap Your Pants. The “I yam what I yam” bit only worked on your diagnosis. If you want medical intervention, you have to start walking the walk. This means venturing out in public as your true self, or more specifically, doing something so terrifying that an adult diaper is required. “True self” at this point is a misnomer. What probably seemed like a kickin’ look down in the basement behind the furnace looks absolutely ridiculous in the light of day. If you are lucky, someone in your household will stop you before you head to the Galleria looking like a Sue Heck/ Krusty the Clown/ Genesee Street Hooker joint effort. If, however, they have a sense of humor or burning resentment, they will just say, “have a nice time!”. Eventually you will realize that a whole bottle of Schmear by Maybelline isn’t a single serving, and that the ass hugging leather micro-mini doesn’t help you blend as much as you thought.

7. Lay Off the Blush For a While. Nothing will make you wish you were gay faster than explaining to people you are transgender. Not only do you have to tell people, but you have to explain what it means to every one of them. Holy shit is this mortifying, tedious, and downright irritating at the exact same time and doesn’t seem to get easier per telling. In person is good, because most people won’t hate you to your face, though some will hate you to your ass as you walk away. Nothing makes you feel like a court mandated reporter of a sex crime conviction than making the rounds, especially since you can expect many of the same looks, even though you did nothing evil. Expect plenty of highly personal questions about your genitalia.

8.  Gain Weight. You finally got your hormone letter and waste no time getting some. After so many years of nasty ass testosterone, you are in no way prepared for experiencing the puberty cycle of a 12 year old girl. All of a sudden, all that girl talk about walking by a cupcake and gaining 12 pounds doesn’t seem like such a silly exaggeration anymore. Get acquainted with the salad menu real fast. This is all amplified by your upper body strength tanking along with extremely slow progress in your exercise regime. You also find why women need such huge closets. Having a range of 4 different sizes in there just may save you from wearing shorts in January.

9. Bring On the Pain. There may have been a time you had perverse pride in being able to grow a mountain man beard in less than a week or be mistaken for Chewbacca at the beach. That time is over, and it’s not going to take care of itself. You do have choices. Option 1 is to develop a $50 a week Gillette habit. This just sucks and won’t last long. Option 2 is to slap on lead goggles and experience intensely painful laser blasts to your face and body to eliminate up to 65% of dark colored hairs. Option 3 is to spend up to 200 hours having each one of nasty hairs electrocuted and plucked in a slightly less painful procedure. Option 4 is to join a circus. There are no two ways about it; this is going to suck.

10. Get Banned From Government Offices. You will want to avoid this, but it will be hard. Local, regional, and state governments found a way to save money by having inmates classified as criminally insane draft their name change process and requirements. The bureaucrat you find yourself explaining things to will hold this process so dear, that to suggest any alteration will be like you announced a hit on Santa. “Yeah, ya gotcher forms in triplicate, ID, social security card, and birth certificate, but I don’t see the note from yer mom or an Adelphia cable bill from 1998. Better luck next time, Nancy!” Don’t kick him, he knows not what he does. You can, however, smear a booger on the back of the form as you hand it to him and feel vindicated. In the end, you will no longer get weird looks handing over your ‘Ralph Belly’ drivers license and credit card, unless you are a nincompoop and went with ‘Kelly Belly’.

From this point on, it’s pretty much up to you. Once you log a year in the “real life test” to ensure at least 12 more months of sweet payments to your therapist, you can qualify for a bit of the old ‘snip-snip’. In the mean time you might get some other body work done on your face, breasts or ass, but I can’t speak to that until I decide to go that road. So there you have it, childhood to full time in just 10 steps so easy I’m shocked that everyone doesn’t do it.

“Trans-Friendly”… Yeah, What Is That?

What the hell is ‘trans-friendly’ supposed to mean anyway? My twin sister from another mister did a recent post that got me thinking. She does that; write posts before I do and makes them better, but I like that because it always gets me thinking. In this case she talked about many trans women being a bit behind the curve due to post-dude-traumatic syndrome damage sustained, and how we often seek the back of the bus because of it. At the least of it, we get a little touchy simply by the nature of our identity realization. One would think that changing genders is relatively simply and seamless, but no, no it’s not.

One aspect of this I often see on message boards is a focus on whether a particular business, restaurant, employer, or service of some kind is “trans-friendly”. What I find interesting about this is that the whole concept is entirely made up by the trans community as near as I can tell. I’ve scoured sign making businesses far and wide and have yet to encounter one that offers any kind of ‘come hither’ placard that specifically welcomes trans folks. Not even Spencer’s which you think would have a clever little ‘No Heels, No Service’ bit of drollery. Conversely, there also seems to be a dearth of ‘Tranny Beware’, or ‘Shoo Freako, Shoo’ signs as well. It’s as if we are never even a thought in the mind of these establishments. What gives?

The prevalence of ‘trans-friendly’ type questions is a clear indicator that this is an issue of significant importance to a lot of folks. Even with my crushing lack of perception on the subject, I would still like to know if they are going to spit in my turkey club down at the Ptomaine Diner, and if so, whether it’s clear or implied policy by management. Look, implied policies can be negotiated, so I don’t hold them to the same importance. As it turns out, any mention of trans people in any company literature from the mom and pop corner shop to a global dominator of corporate power is greatly lacking unless lumped in with dozens of other groups they pledge not to discriminate against. Even my grizzled veteran of HR with his dozens of years of experience had to have me bring a book in to get an idea of what this new transgender headache really meant for him. Face it, we aren’t even so much as an afterthought.

Yes, Transphobia exists, as does the clear discrimination and poor treatment that results from it. I’ll never argue against that point. Aside from some obvious organizations like the WBC and KKK who pretty much want to tell everyone to suck it, I do have to say that it’s a rare organization indeed that has explicit trans-unfriendly sentiment built into the business model. By logic then, anyplace you reasonably want to go is decidedly not trans-unfriendly. Even holy rollin’ Chick-Fil-A won’t lock the doors in the unlikely event they see us pulling up to grab a sandwich made from the most boring meat on earth with three shitty pickles scattered on top. Anyone who wants to make money will probably take yours.

Many of us have had bad experiences, or at least mildly uncomfortable ones. Last time I went to IHOP the host ogled me with such intensity that I’m not inclined to return. I don’t think that was a management directive though. What we really encounter are individuals who for whatever reason, aren’t as nice and polite as they should be when we walk through the door. Chances are, if we got someone else in front of us, they would be perfectly nice. An employee with skewed notions about things is a far sight different than the whole place being trans-unfriendly.

The real issue then is our own sensitivity. I don’t think we can help that due to the nature of transition and attempting to present ourselves far differently then we came up being trained to do. My ex brought this point up in the spring when we were waiting for her car to be completed at Firestone, and they totally forgot about us long after the work was complete. “If something like this happens after you transition, we are going to assume it was on purpose because you are trans.” Oh, so very true. Meatball waiter screws up our order? Trans-unfriendly. Cable guy comes late? Trans-unfriendly. Greasy Joe down at the oil change place tries upsell us on some bullshit package we don’t need? Trans-unfriendly. The truth of course is that the poor quality service with an attitude is simply what we can expect as Americans and has nothing to do with our trans status. If anything, I think I’ve actually gotten better service overall, and I’m not even one of the pretty ones who dresses sexy. Not that this makes them trans-friendly necessarily, but that they suddenly remember that they will have perceive themselves as a dick if they don’t step up the game a bit.

I stopped replying to those threads a while ago, though admittedly for time constraint reasons. My universal answer is that all places are neither trans-friendly nor trans-phobic. They are places with employees who are as diverse as any demographic and that you should go there. If you get poor treatment, simply don’t go back, or go back when someone else is working because there is something there you have to have. Your money is just as green as that of the half-drunk schlub in the zuba pants with a hankering for Jim’s Steak Out.

Different for Girls

My ex recently happened on a tasty little trans movie I was not familiar with called ‘Different for Girls’ (linked, so I don’t have to write out the whole synopsis), and I was remarkably impressed. Trans movies have come far since the old days when we were characterized as either extraterrestrial mad scientists with a penchant for gothic schlock, or super duper creepy bug collecting serial killers attempting to make a woman suit out of skin. I’m sure the trans folks coming out at that time really loved having to constantly explain that the moth wings on their blouses came from walking too  close to the bug zapper as wide eyed relations prepared to flee while screaming that they never lotion. This was way different.

In most recent trans movies, there is by rule a narrative by which either the trans person or someone close to them has to come to terms with the trans person’s identity. I don’t think there is any way of getting around that. Confusion, misunderstanding, and chaos inevitably give in to acceptance and understanding, at least in those with a happy ending. The exception of course is when the trans person is killed before the end, like in ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. I was hoping this was one of the former as I was in the mood for a pick-me-up when we turned it on and not looking for a good cry. Um, in case you haven’t seen it, chances are I’m going to spoil this even more for you, so maybe you should watch it before reading this. Just saying.

It was a well done movie and had a compelling story line aside from one of the protagonists being trans, but there were two aspects of this that I really wanted to talk about. I was absolutely thrilled to have the trans woman in the role of a female love interest. I don’t care that this was used to make the film more avant-garde or interesting, or that one of the main obstacles that had to be overcome was the male lead, Prentice, learning to look at Kim as a woman, and not his old prep school pal Karl. The other obstacle of course was that Prentice was mentally and socially stuck at 14, and that the love of a good woman forced him to grow up. Through the latter, Kim, like any good female love interest, played the more mature, professional, adult with reservations that focused more on his overall immaturity rather than his struggle with her gender identity. You have to love that. For once, the trans person was the character who had it all together.

The other thing I really loved was easily missed. Kim is employed as a greeting card verse writer in a primarily female office. One of the other workers, apparently an admin who sits near her, seems to have a touch of cattiness toward Kim. She is quick to bring the boss over to Kim’s work station when she spies something inappropriate. She is even faster to hand Kim an empty box near the end when we are all certain she is about to be canned after being exposed in the tabloids as Prentice’s “shocking” ex-male girlfriend. What I loved is that the root of this is never explained. It could be Transphobia, or it could simply be office politics and a standard personality mismatch. Due to the lack of clarity, I would be very interested to see who saw the movie and perceived it as one over the other.

Kim is neither the primary protagonist nor the victim. She is mistreated at the start of the film when portrayed as an adolescent boy who tucks to take a shower and gets tormented by the others. She is likewise mistreated by the police who first attempt to reach up her skirt, then keep her in a cell overnight and threaten to have drunken disorderly men put in with her, and finally hint that she could be sent to a male prison. While the skirt reach is clearly an anti-trans action (the aggressive cop thinks she’s a “transvestite”), the remaining actions are an attempt to influence her to convince Prentice to drop charges against one of their own.

All together it’s a great little love story, even though I feel she really settled by ending up with a hyperactive man-child. Through it all, however, there is clarity that the writers and director intend for the character to be a woman with her transgender status as merely a component of her character and not the sum of it.

Unique and the Grouchy Old Fool

Something about Bill O’Reilly really pisses me off. I’d say it’s hard to put my finger on it, but it’s kind of already there and hard to deny. I know, I could be talking about anything right now, can’t I? This time it’s about the character Unique on ‘Glee’. How have I avoided talking about last spring’s latest diversity inclusion on my favorite progressive hit TV show? I must be off my game or something.

For you culturally confounding people who read my blog, but for some reason don’t watch ‘Glee’, I’ll explain a bit. The main cast of characters, the one’s you see in all the promos and commercials, has a rival group called Vocal Adrenaline. VA is housed conveniently a few blocks away from our chirpy band of misfits in this forgotten corner of Ohio that somehow produces a multitude of nationally renowned glee clubs at the high school level. A new superstar emerges at VA, encouraged by rivals, who belts out numbers that would make Diana Ross gnash her teeth in jealous rage. The new star, using Unique as a stage name, is revealed to occupy a male existence off stage.

It hasn’t yet been made clear if Unique is a transsexual figuring herself out, or a stage drag queen who is comfortable with a male identity at all other times. Plenty of time to explore that. Either way, anyone under the trans umbrella is a welcome addition. It took TV land long enough to break the race barrier, along with the interracial relationship barrier, and far longer to crack the gay barrier, but it looks like our turn has finally come around. I seriously don’t count goofy gender bending for laughs schtick like ‘Bosom Buddies’ or the short lived ‘Work It’.

As expected, conservative pundits declared the ruination of America, which makes perfect sense after ‘The Jefferson’s’ and ‘Will and Grace’ somehow failed in that regard. I mean something is bound to topple us into Armageddon, so it might as well be an African-American kid in drag. Old Bill O’Reilly spoke out in defense of our nation’s youth and shamed the Fox network of all people, for providing an example for impressionable young children to follow straight toward the hot and rusty gates of Hell. Wait… what?

I’ll admit, I don’t know his personal history and I’m not in the mood to Wikipedia him to see his youthful accomplishments as a scrappy stickball player from Hell’s Kitchen, or the real life inspiration for hit 80’s show ‘Silver Spoons’. For all I know he was created from dust into the form of a disagreeable old curmudgeon we see today and thus knows not the ways of American male youth culture. Those of us who do, however, are dead certain that putting on a dress is not the path to bona fide stud muffin popularity. Yes, at some point things might change as they often do, but I really think that it’s a stretch to say that a boy in a skirt has got the Vegas odds of becoming prom king. Male youth popularity is firmly rooted in the paradigm that girls have to want you and other boys have to want to be like you. Most girls are just never going to want the guy in the dress and most boys are never going to want to go that distance to emulate him, no matter how cool he might be in other areas.

Assuming this is true, and it is, what the hell is Mr Bill going on about? “Oh nooo! Kids are going to start taking the least effective ever road to popularity! Oh noooo!” My older readers are going to get that, but if you don’t, you are probably too young and let it be. What he is really crying about of course is that mass exposure to something not well understood at large works in favor of making it OK. When someone lives by pat little truisms like “girls are girls and boys are boys” have their diminutive orderly worldview challenged by real life complexity, they get a little grumpy. They are now forced into the position of either reconsidering their position and putting some honest hard thought and research into an issue, or jumping up and down and insisting that danger and ruin lay in wait.

We all understand that Unique is a welcome addition to our viewing pleasure. We all know that no straight boy, comfortable in his male gender identity, is going to be inspired to raid mom’s closet for her best chiffon and start belting out show tunes. We also know that there are kids watching, lounging on the couch and doing their very best to look disinterested, who know there is something deep inside of them that is wrong and different. Seeing Unique might make them feel just a little less alone, a little less of a freak in hiding, and spark a tiny ray of hope. Sometimes that is really all a person needs to decide to keep living one more day.

Gorilla Jaw and Other Fun With Facial Electrolysis

I walked into work yesterday expecting to pick up a cute and kicky little nickname. Gorilla-Jaw. Trust me, it’s not as feminine as it sounds, but it was sure how I felt. I did actually know a girl known as Gorilla-Jaw back in college, and felt even worse about my unkind thoughts toward that poor petite little blond girl with the simian jaw line. And no, nobody kicked me in the head or anything. I just had my first electrolysis appointment on Monday.

You will be astonished to hear that in spite of my soul crushing temporary deformity, this is not one of my usual airing of grievances I like to throw out there. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’m also very sore, very swollen, and very dismayed that I have like 93 more hours of this before I’m done. Fuck. Once again I have to say that anyone who thinks this is some kind of lifestyle choice is fricking insane.

If you are a long time reader, you may remember that I began facial hair removal by subjecting myself to getting shot in the face with lasers, and griped about it plenty in an old post. It did help, quite a bit, but after 6 treatments I got the impression that any dark hairs it was going to kill for good were probably gone, and it didn’t touch the grey ones. Going full time has necessitated meticulously shaving every single day, and my poor skin is starting to show the effects. Even buying top of the line razors does not quite achieve what the commercials promise. Yeah, it’s close, but in a ‘horseshoes close’ kind of way. Not quite cutting it.

I booked an appointment with the local guru of trans facial hair removal. I’ve seen his finished work and had the chance to ask them, for real, how good he really is. Apparently pretty good, or else they are all of the mean spirit type who are now secretly laughing that I got roped in as well. I choose to think otherwise of my sisters and I’m comfortable with that. I showed up to Executive Clearance and was pleased to find that his pricing model was structured as such to keep overhead as low as possible. I also noted that he must be a huge wrestling fan because his collection of paraphernalia was impressive enough that I suspected the storefront had a revolving sign that sometimes read “James’ Shop of Highly Specific Sports Collectables”. I was hoping this wasn’t his little way of telling customers that he knew the moves to hold you down if need be, because he probably could have. He also had both ‘Mannequin’ and ‘Mannequin 2’ in his DVD collection, which was unquestionably worrisome.

James was itching to get going and prepared by washing up and brushing his teeth, something I deeply appreciated. I lay back on what was essentially an old-timey hospital gurney and fired up the equipment. It’s always nice when something about to be used on your face needs to be audibly fired up until crackling with energy. Laying back, there was a monitor about a foot above my face, on which James liked to play movies from his computer. Today’s viewing pleasure included a full trans lineup – ‘Transamerica’, ‘Kinky Boots’, and ‘Breakfast on Pluto’. Nice, as I had not seen any of them yet. As the credits rolled, he got to work.

Electrolysis is considerably different than laser hair removal, and much more personal. Peering through intensely lit magnification, James would grab my face to center the target follicle, insert his super duper thin probe down the hair shaft, zap it, then pull the hair out with a tweezers. The combined pain effect is similar to a bee sting, between the pinching, the electric shock, and the plucking. James’ philosophy is to only zap the root and follicle to avoid blowing out a larger hole in your skin. This is great for appearance, but pulling the root through the hair shaft is like yanking a tennis ball through a garden hose. Pinch, zap, yank, pinch, zap, yank. 3500 times over a 9 hour period. In all fairness, we did break for lunch.

I’m a glass half full gal, so I’ll start with the upside. He uses top quality equipment and with many thousands of hours of experience, he’s about the least painful game in town. Most will only book clients for 2 hours at a time because that is the limit of their pain tolerance. James will keep you below the critical threshold for up to 12 hours; craftsmanship not seen since the really gifted medieval torturers. Also, he got 3500 hairs that will never grow again. The immediate downside is that the effect of zapping and plucking 3500 hairs is a face that takes on the look of someone who needs an immediate epi shot.

The real piss of this is that I will have to go back. Lots. Typical beard removal takes 100 to 150 hours. The laser treatment puts me on the very low end of that, but still, holy shit. In the 8 hours of treatment, he got my chin, upper lip (holy potatoes ouch!), and upper cheeks. Yes, that’s it. I don’t know what plans you have every 6 weeks for the next year and a half, but if they don’t get you labeled ‘Gorilla-Jaw’, they have to be better than mine.

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