(With apologies to James Fenimore Cooper for appropriating the title)
Now before anyone gets incensed by the title of this latest raving of mine let me explain: I consider myself a Transvestite. In fact, I consider myself an Action Transvestite or, if I can be excused a momentary lapse in modesty, a Celebrity Transvestite. It doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge or accept anyone else’s self-description or identifier but it saves me having to include every known title…I mean, The Last of the Trannies/Crossdressers/T-Girls/T-Gurls/Chicks-with-*cough* etc would read somewhat ridiculously wouldn’t it? Anyway, on with the read:
I’ve been thinking about this on-and-off for a while – in fact I lightly touched on it in a previous rambling of mine. Are we, the girls running around now, the last of our kind? Let me explain. I had something of an epiphany at Transformal on the weekend…apart from maybe 3 or 4 of the lovely ladies who attended this wonderful event we were all the wrong side of 40 and most of us the wrong side of 50 years old. I was chit chatting about the similarities a lot of us have (often being tall-ish, taking care about how we present, like “getting on the grog”, love to dance etc) with my new best buddy the lovely and super smart Mel, daughter of Fay, whilst we shared yet another fag among the foliage outside. Now before anyone gets too overheated about that, Mel and I shared many fags over the weekend as we are both consenting adults. Mel asked me about how long I’ve been doing the dressing thing and how I started…. (Insert harp music and a wavy images)
Back in the day, and we are talking the early 1980’s, I used to run around in a fast and fun crowd of t-girls. We were in our 20’s, each as fit as a trout, and up for anything. We would carouse at a hotel called The Buckingham Arms or another called The GreenDragon with every other combination of gender diverse folk on Friday and Saturday nights and we had an absolute ball. There were 3 girls I caught up with regularly who were like me in age but there was an extended gang of perhaps up to 15 who would turn up intermittently on these nights. There were lots of other age groups there as well including a couple of girls who would have been about the age I am now who used to tut tut at our behaviour and look down their noses at us – for me, nothing has changed over the decades since. We used to call these old t-girls “Hinge & Bracket” (lovers of musical theatre will pick up on that reference) and they wanted nothing what-so-ever to do with us. Probably fair enough too. All that aside, there was some sort of succession plan in place. The older ones simply eventually disappeared off the pub scene and the next group more or less took their place in the same way a vending machine works. The older ones tended to become office bearers in The Carousel Club (the local version of The SeahorseClub) or write dull articles in gay newspapers.
Eventually, even I grew older, changed names a couple of times, and long stopped going to so-called gay venues. I also had 8 years off here and there for various reasons before slipping back in to our lifestyle as if I’d never been away. The thing that I really noticed when I came back, apart from so many girls hiding behind their keyboards and relying on photos taken last decade, was that there was no longer any young ones around. Not one. Why was this?? Fleshing the whole scenario out with Mel gave me clarity: the reason there are no young trannies around anymore is that there is no need for them. The generations coming up behind us, and we are talking from those in primary school now to their 20’s, do not see colour. They do not see religion. They definitely also do not see sexuality or gender diversity. Boys and girls run around together in friendship groups with no sexual overtones and they are constantly hugging each other. If a young male of 21 wishes to express his feminine side, regardless of his orientation, he can whack on a bit of lippy and some slacks straight out of a remake Can’t Stop The Music and off he goes without fear. There is also a sub-culture of men in Europe who wear business suits and high heels I hear. If a young lassie wishes to wear a sharp white pressed shirt, waistcoat, spats, and a homburg tilted at a jaunty angle she can head outside like that as well which must make the manufacturers of bib-and-brace overalls shudder with fear. Sexuality, and sexual orientation, is fast becoming a dead issue and in perhaps 20 to 30 years will be completely a non-issue. Yes, we can all point to individual examples in today’s world but I am speaking “in general”. In the not-too-distant future being Gender Non-specific will be commonplace. A man with a highly developed feminine side will be no more remarkable than a man these days with a Ned Kelly beard.
So are we the last of the Trannies? I suspect so. I suspect we will go the same way as the Masons, the Night Soil Man, the Anti-Larrikin Squad, and Bob Santamaria’s Point Of View. Society moved passed all of them and it will move past us as well. Is that a bad thing? No, of course it isn’t. Society evolves – that is exactly what it has been doing since we either crawled from the primeval slime or stole that forbidden fruit. It is healthy and it is right.
One day, long after we are all pushing up the daisies, someone somewhere will crack open the TGR files and the cornucopia that has been our lives will be laid bare for future generations to study and marvel over. The will be astonished at what we did and why we did it. They will also wonder how we created these other lives and all our secrets will be laid bare – the baffling ones and the ones that make complete sense and the ones that sit somewhere in the middle. Some of them will be green with envy that they were born in the wrong time and that they never went to a lunch get-together with a bunch of t-girls at a pub or that they weren’t able to attend a Transformal. Maybe they will have Tranny weekend festivals like those weirdo’s do who dress up in medieval outfits and bash each other over the head jousting? Who knows? Maybe the really interested ones will place a plaque at The Carrington noting that it was the location where these wonderful events were held and they might just plant some flowers for their favourite girls? (FYI future people if you’re reading this: I love orchids just on the off-chance I’m someone’s favourite). It’s something to think about isn’t it? Whatever happens, whenever it does, know that in this day and age when communication has never been easier or more prolific that we, the last of the trannies, will provide the most information of any generation that came before us right back to when Ugg started trying on his wife’s fur loin cloth in some dingy cave in Ethiopia millions of years ago.
You are all special and you will all leave your mark.
On behalf of Mel~
Emma you are amazing and I loved having a fag with you Oh LA LA!
Remember what I said do it for you and how good it makes you feel. Don't give a rats arse about what others think! Own it girl! You have the legs that I don't. Everyone looked amazing, gorgeous and glamorous! Loved every minute!
Can't wait for our next adventure
I'll send you orchids my lovely Em
Mel certainty is a great daughter. She has been my rock since my wife passed away. Don't know what I would have done without her.
Now she is partying and dancing with her Dad, I mean Fay. She had a great time at TF and wants to come again next year. She thinks all my girl friends are wonderful and that the majority are better looking than her girl friends!
Butt, excuse the pun, back to the topic. Before I came out in public back in 2007 my only excursions were the sneaky walk down a deserted shopping strip or a walk through a school yard where there was little chance of being seen. Now with a little confidence gained from TgR and the Internet and changed community standards I can stroll down Main Street in broad daylight with my head held high as the TGLBGBLTXVZ community is now accepted by most people. There is no longer the need for young people to slink around and hide from prying eyes like we used to. Thus the covert style of organisation i.e. Seahorse and some private groups are struggling to survive and open groups like TgR with open public events such as TransFormal and TransFusion are gaining popularity.
TransFormal must survive because it provides the perfect opportunity for older first timers to experience the feeling of dressing freely in a public forum with so much support from their peers. This year there were a large number of first timers including Stephanie58, who by the way looked amazing, It also provided an opportunity for my daughter, and probably other partners, to meet the CD and TR community
She things we are a crazy lot, not strange, not weird, just crazy and that is a complement.
Thank you all for making her so welcome.
And yes as a 9 year veteran, I think this years was absolutely the best so far. Thank you Adrian and Megan for all the hard yards. Perhaps if I am retired next year I could lend a hand.
I feel I cannot let Fay's comment pass without adding how much Fay helped me battle my fears and "come out" at Transformal 18.
Fay and i first came into contact when i corresponded with her about Transformal a few months ago. In that correspondence I added my email address which included the name of a suburb I had lived in before moving to the Southern Highlands 18 months ago.
Fay recognised that suburb name and, as a result, we realised that we had been living within a mile of each other throughout the previous 20 years - and i had spent the time hiding away in my home!
Fay then very kindly offered to meet me in Sydney where she, aided by Shanalee, provided me with the impetus to finally commit to outing myself at Transformal.
And Transformal 18 was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and i will always be grateful to Fay for giving me the "push" that first-timers often need.
And now I hope I can emulate Fay's contribution to Transformal by assisting other first-timers to "join the club" and help keep Transformal going.
"Last of the Trannies" - it's an interesting thought but Emma, you've put the case so well. I think many of the 'tranny' groups you mention started, either formally or informally, as a way for "like-minded people" to express a part of themselves that was at that time, frowned upon, or even despised. Indeed, for many of us who worked in certain areas, discovery might well have resulted in dismissal from employment. That was one of my major fears for close to 40 years. As the sole breadwinner of the family for most of the time, as we raised four kids, being able to go about in public wearing a nice skirt and top or jeans and stunning boots, had to take a backseat to housing, feeding and clothing a family.
Times though, certainly have changed. The 'Rainbow Community' has become much more accepted and we have a greater degree of freedom to be who we are. Of course, there are still detractors, the gay community still faces slur and insult and we're much the same, possibly because a need to cross dress is even less understood. The fact remains however, that younger people of today can be out and about in general society in whatever manner they choose. How many of us have tut-tutted as we've seen young people board a bus or a train, wearing jeans that seem to have more hole content than material content, or glanced sideways at a young woman sporting numerous tattoos, or even young fellows with 'man buns'? How many of us have express those 'society thoughts' then gone home to slip on a pretty dress or some cute lingerie?
I don't think we'll be the last of the trannies, as such, but I think it's a good thing that more and more of us are realising that being who we are and wearing what we want to wear, no longer needs to be confined to a weekend in Katoomba, or prancing at a ball near the airport, or lurking in a car until it's dark enough to sneak into a support group meeting. It took forced retirement to finally convince me that I no longer needed to fear those around me. I still get funny looks but I like to think they are no more quizzical than the girl with the torn jeans gets, or the bloke with earrings that look like logs from the fireplace. I have only to overcome my own reservations as I try new experiences. Perhaps we don't look at ourselves as the last of the trannies, but rather as the first of the free breed. Young people like Fay's Mel, or my own daughters, have set the bar for us. Let's limbo under it while we still can.
I don't think that we are the last of the trannies in a terminal sense...there will always be those who will want to throw on a skirt and sashay up and down the street..I just think we are the last to live the way we have. The ladies above make good points and the experiences they have had both pre and post getting out in the real world will resonate with most who read them. I just don't think those experiences of hiding in the shadows, or of having a maximum freak-out in case you're discovered, will feature in the future.
The lovely Anya and I had a long chat with Stephanie on the Friday night at Transformal. Stephanie chatted about the doubts she had regarding her appearance and how she didn't think she was overly convincing. Typical first night nerves conversation. I can't speak for Anya though I suspect she'd agree that all I could think was "You're ****ing kidding, right?" Stephanie shone in both appearance and deportment in our eyes. It would be a big deal finally letting her feminine side out after so many years of hiding but by crikey she pulled it off in spades.
Oh and Mel is spot on Fay! We ARE a crazy lot.......thank god for that hey? I didn't see any glum faces around the place or wallflowers on the weekend - all I saw was lots of chit chat and laughing.
Really what have you been drinking? It took you this long to work out we are a dying race!
Your post, although frivolous in language, deserves to be considered carefully, because what you observe is exactly how things are.
I expect your decade hiatus just makes the change appear even more worrying.
You and I are from the old school - and sadly are just plain getting old.
The new school doesn't need all the social infrastructure that we developed last century.
And so those structures are crumbling around us. Over the last 10 years it has been like watching Limbo City collapsing in Inception.
Of course I have my theories. And as they are as good as the next woman's I might share them.
Before the 1970's if you had any desire to dress you kept it to yourself.
Going out in public was a high risk strategy; telling anyone was suicidal.
The result? A lot of very a lot screwed-up Transgender people who probably didn't even realise they were trans.
How many of the loonies in Mental Asylums were in fact suppressed cross dressers? We will never know.
This means that anyone born before, let's say, the mid-60's has suffered to a greater or lesser degree from their gender being suppressed.
Although we may like to deny it, the baby boomers and older, carry mental scars. We suppressed our gender for so long and most importantly during our adolescence when we were trying to 'find ourselves'.
Although it became more common to dress and go out in the 1980's the need for secrecy was still paramount. Life in public was tough; you frequently copped abuse or worse. And so the community developed social structures where it was safe to come out of your shell. Secret crossdressing societies flourished, balls and private restaurant nights popped up in most capital cities, and we started sharing information on Bulletin Boards and then the web. Life in our shells, and out in the public eye was so stressful we had to release the tension by having fun - in little bursts, once or twice a month. Life was great - as long as you didn't take yourself too seriously. We didn't realise it at the time - but what were were seeking was closer to therapy than real life. And for many of us, the therapy worked.
Meanwhile a new generation was appearing. A generation which had not experienced the mental persecution of the last century. Society moved away from a position of hostility towards the gender diverse, and without the need for safe spaces and therapy, the youngsters just kept pushing the boundaries of social acceptance. Change in the last 10 years has been so fast it is undermining the very assumptions (dress code, secrecy, relationships) that used to define our "Tranny" life.
The baby boomers had to make a choice. We either moved with the times, or stayed in our comfortable but crumbling structures.
The movers threw away the secrecy, told the world, and participated openly in society; after all, the youngsters said they had a right to be there. And as more of the community was seen the attitude of society changed faster.
The stayers found that they were all getting older, their numbers were dropping because of natural attrition, and life just wasn't fun like it used to be. Soon the East Wing had to be locked and left to decay, then the West Wing, and now they are thinking of locking the front door and down-sizing. It is getting harder and harder to find the therapy - and paradoxically easier and easier to get the drugs!
I was lucky - helped by a bit of not-so-gentle nudging out of Seahorse I was forced to move. I really miss the old "Tranny" life - but I now have a completely different therapy - near universal acceptance in public.
As Emma observed, the writing has been on the wall for anyone who cares to read it. Sadly if you aren't in a position to jump into the big bad world without your armour on, then there is little you can do. But as they proved on the Titanic - you can have a lot of fun dancing to the band whilst the ship goes down.
Let your hair down girls and party like there is no tomorrow!
Totally agree with the sentiments here. Chameleons WA eventually shut down due to the lack of members. We are more able to get out and about now in the general population. The internet also means communication is so much easier and resources far easier to find. I MUST get to Transformal next year. The last 2 years I have been in Sydney in June so getting away twice in such a short period of time couldn't be justified!. Thanks again Emma for such a great thread. I'm one of the old boilers in your age group. Not long now to the big 60!
I see it now as some archeologist in the future ponders a pair of fossilised size 44 heels dug from the lily beds in the grounds of the Carrington and realises they are a symbol of the Age of Enlightenment when dinosaurs strutted the streets of Katoomba in a celebration of their love and support for each other. Yes indeed the Golden Age of the Trannysaurus is a marvellous time, one Im so pleased I have been introduced to. Not sure the Anthem should be "MyBoy Lolly Pop" though. Perhaps its "A Long Way To The Top"
Awesome Michelle - I love that you have used archeology as the scientific study. This means we are studying a dead culture. While I would like it to be a live culture in the future, I do believe it will be dead soon. If you had engaged an anthropologist I would then have held some hope that the culture was alive in the future. Sadly this girl and her size 43s are still kicking, but alas in complete oblivion to the next species terminating event. Live long and prosper TGR......
Hi Ladies, there’s a lot of interesting thoughts out there on, The Last of the Trannies, but before we all start singing It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, the disappearance of clubs, groups and the society’s we grew up with is not just happening to TgR and Seahorse. Yes some clubs are flourishing whilst others struggle to survive and attract members, think about some of the more conservative groups out there and how they are faring as a lot of us and the people we know are heading towards the grey haired generation.
I’ll start with these 3; Christian based churches, Bowls Clubs and the RSL, the last time I saw a well-attended church was for whoever’s wedding it was as I happened to drive past, there are exceptions try parking near a Hillsong Church on a Friday evening. A lot of Bowls clubs and RSL's have combined and are now run by a management company that’s put in a bistro and more poker machines, possibly even a TAB agency to generate income for the club, and keep it afloat and going. It would appear to get the membership numbers up, booze, food and gaming is the solution. I use these examples as one group supplanting another and the other 2 as adaption and change in our evolving world.
One of my work colleagues is associated with the local Rotary Club; who ever had anything to do with the Rotarian's in days gone by, older men in business suits standing around the bar drinking after their dinner/meeting. Well in this case, my mate’s wife is their local Rotary President, and a lot of what the club does is directed towards the local community and their families, again change from within to keep up with the times. I wonder if the Mason’s would invite me to join I could wear a very nice evening dress instead of a dinner suit, and I would have no problem wearing an apron especially if it’s frilly.
As already a noted by others, acceptance of transgender men and women in Australian society is not much of an issue now, and in Australian we lead the world is some aspects with the GLBTIQ community. What other country in the world has had both there Prime Minister and Opposition Leader both attend the 2018 Sydney Mardi Gras parade, or equivalent, and speak positively about it to the media.
The Internet as it is now, I have NBN, changed everything for everyone and all the different social media available makes it easier than ever before to socialise but in a remote sense. I think TgR might survive for a while in some form or other as an adaption of its current form as a social media available to those interested. Maybe I’m just old fashioned where I feel more relaxed in a Trans social environment as opposed to being the only Tranny somewhere, a bit like the odd one out.
The only recent experience I have of a negative reaction towards me, out as Rosemary, was in Strand Bags at Glendale Shopping Center, one of the shop assistants just looked down her nose at me and walked away from me scowling, I got the message and took my money to Autograph and spent it there, still haven't got a new handbag yet. On the lighter side of life, yesterday whilst out shopping I was at a store counter ready to pay for the blouse and skirt I wanted and the older shop assistant was making a joke about her appearance, hair in rollers with hair net, long cotton tee shirt style nighty and slippers. She looked at me and I said, yes but yours hairs all done for a big night out dear isn’t it, after that she got me to sign up for a Millers card and email list, great service at Millers in Maitland .
As far as acceptance goes I felt great, but I didn’t know at the time the best was yet to come, I needed a couple of things from the supermarket deli and a bottle of wine, so I went to the little mall in town. I headed to the deli counter I spotted my beautician, who is lasing my chest for me, she was standing next to the ticket dispenser as I reached for a ticket I said Hello M… M… did a double take and said I didn’t recognise you, we chatted and as she left she turned back and said, what do I call you, I replied just call me Rosemary. M… walked away with a smile on her face, l’m looking forward to my next laser treatment and the conversation that follows.
I suppose I have strayed a bit on the topic of the Last of the Trannies, but acceptance makes life so much more enjoyable and a pleasure to be out and about. For those whose front door is a barrier in their life when frocked up, try going out in small easy stages, as to Trans social clubs I would have to agree there long term future is not assured. Trans event such as Transformal and the Seahorse Ball will only survive with club members and a dedicated organiser and team of helpers that make these events happen.
Am I showing my age but who else still holds balls, even in the ADF messes they still call them balls but the events tend to be a themed fancy dress party, my current mess is having a slow take up on ticket for the Medieval Winter Ball despite a lot of advertising and the cost is only about $60 a head, how much did you send each on your last night out at a restaurant including drinks.
Don’t forget the younger generation is out and about but with all the other GLBTIQ lifestyle festivals and events that happen, we are competing for numbers. Well enough of my ramblings, I look forward to reading the assorted replies from the brains trust of critics, TIC.
A very quick input. Definitely not the last of the Trannies - things just happen in a different way with the younger generation. I set up a FB profile about 2 months ago and already have well over 1,000 tranny friends. Given my age, they are pretty much all younger! Electronic age. All online now. I can’t move for Messenger messages....
I think the easy accessibility of just having an online crossdressing life in the majority of cases has excused people from taking the plunge and stepping out into the big wide world. You can instead stay home on a Saturday night and doll yourself up and practice and practice until you get the perfect selfie which you can then post on your Facebook profile and wait for the adulation.
Perhaps that's all a bit harsh...but there is more than a gem of truth there I would suggest. The Tranny Age that Emma refers back to was a time when contacting your friends meant going to a secret crossdressing society, hitting a friendly restaurant on Friday night, or letting ones wig down at a ball. At least back then you knew what your friends were really like - warts and all.
Well , today things aren't that secretive - I remember bellowing to the seahorse society in the 80s and needing to go rent a post box to keep the confidentiality up and reading on the magazine a list of members numbers - sort of a pin to be discreet !
These days are different ...