Friday, October 26, 2007

The Transgender Holiday

It's Halloween Time!

You may think that Halloween is all about ghosts and goblins and scary things in the night. (And please, let's spare the ultra-conservative rhetoric about this day). You may think that Halloween is all about tricks or treats. And you may think that Halloween is all about donning a costume and having a good time. And you would be right.

Except for the transgender though. For us, Halloween is a time when it becomes acceptable for us to openly, yet still very secretively, be who we really are.

I'm not talking about those who have transitioned. This is a most special day for those still very much living solely in their hearts, their thoughts and their dreams.

I wrote in an earlier essay about my trip to the Esprit Gala in Port Angeles, Washington in 2001 as the "second time" I had ever been myself in public. The first being a support group dinner with the Northwest Gender Alliance the month earlier - and that's a story for another time! In truth, my first time in public was at a Halloween party outside of McMinnville, Oregon in 1977.

My then wife had discovered some makeup under the driver's seat of my car one weekend while I was out of town. She knew it wasn't hers. And she was pretty certain I didn't have a mistress. The ensuing discussion was most 'interesting', but the end result was that I would occasionally get made up for some bedroom fun. And at the time, this was quite enjoyable - beyond the sex, which was fun as well. So it was that we came upon the chance to join my radio station co-workers for a Halloween party at the Flying M Ranch outside of the nearby small community of Yamhill.

The decision was that I would go as "her" and she would go as "me". I hated shaving, in fact I had trouble with ingrown hairs frequently, so I sported my usual scraggly beard. The plan was that I would carefully crop the whiskers, then we could affix them to my wife's face with spirit gum. We were about the same size, so wearing my suit and slacks and tie was not a problem. She actually looked pretty good! Most of my co-workers, and it was a small station so we knew all the spouses, partners and children, didn't recognize her.

I, of course, got to dress up! I already had a rather lengthy wig, but needed some quick breasts. I found some styrofoam balls at a local store, cut them in half and Voila! Not terribly realistic, but certainly rounder than what I had. I donned a long dress, did my makeup and away we went!

As it was night and my preparation took a little longer than anticipated - those damned fake nails - we barely got there through the twisty rural roads in time to join our friends. Most humorously, another of my co-workers had also come as a woman! Paul, however, still sported his beard and was built a bit like a linebacker. And his skill with makeup certainly wasn't as adept as mine - after all, I had been practicing for quite some time. I was 5'7" and weighed a svelte 125 pounds. I'm still 5'7". Paired next to Paul, I looked stunning! Well, maybe not quite that stunning. My makeup skills, truthfully, were rather rudimentary.

Yet, lo and behold, I got asked to dance by a guy I did not know that was with another group also enjoying the festivities. Wow...what fun! Eventually the evening ended and we faced the trip home. I hope none of the pictures of that night survive today. I really don't want to know the "truth" of my appearance. But in my memory, I was the Princess and I soaked in every minute.

Halloween offers a safe chance for the hidden transgender to be "real" for just one night. While none of my co-workers had a clue about my true feelings, they all let me be Me for that one night. No guilt. No recrimination. No condemnation. No unwanted questions.

Lest you get the idea that every guy who attends a Halloween party in a dress, or woman who wears a tie is secretly a "T", then remember my co-worker Paul. He remains in radio broadcasting today at a station not all that far away from where I live now. He is decidedly Paul, though I don't know if he's ever donned another dress for Halloween.

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