After ten weeks of being away from home (nine weeks in Australia, then a week in Phoenix) I was home again. Besides readjusting to the time change and jet lag, the cool Midwest spring weather was a bit of a shock to my system. With my wife still in Australia until the end of May, and with an adult son at home who works nights and sleeps during the day, I had opportunities to get out.
One order of business was to stock up at Costco. The closest one is about a 35 minute drive, but it’s also reasonably close to one of my favored shopping destination, a Clothes Mentor store. Clothes Mentor is an “upscale” thrift store (i.e., slightly higher prices, but better quality of goods for sale) and I’ve found some nice things shopping there before. I decided to dress and hit the Clothes Mentor first, then do my Costco shopping.
I decided on a more casual outfit to better fit into the Costco crowd, a patterned bodysuit top and my black jeans, combined with my black (fake) leather jacket, which I bought at Clothes Mentor. I tried on a few dresses, wasn’t sold on any of them, and then headed to Costco to restock after being away for the ten weeks.
Two days later, it was St. Patrick’s Dee so of course I needed to get out, and decided to wear what I call my elf dress, paired with green tights and my shorter boots. Besides being the Dee of the Irish (I’m almost half Irish from my mom’s side), the NCAA basketball games were being televised, so I decided to go to a local casino. As I’ve written before, I’m not a big gambler, but casinos are always open, they have refreshments and adult beverages, and a few shiny objects to play (video poker, in my case), plus TVs showing the games. I played multiple hands of video poker ($.25 per hand, max loss $20), lost a few dollars, had a couple of adult beverages, and was just happy to be out.
The next night, Satur-Dee, was our monthly dinner meeting of the St. Louis Gender Foundation. Because of being in Australia, and missing in December because I had Covid, it was my first time attending since the November meeting. In times prior, we used to meet in a hotel meeting room with a catered meal, but with our numbers dwindling, we now meet in public at a restaurant. The restaurant is happy to have us, and our members have adjusted to meeting in public.
A comment on the recent public trend in the US, regarding, in some states, the vilification of people on the Transgender spectrum. One political party, having no good ideas of how to move our country forward, has decided to make an issue of Transgender rights and access to medical treatment for Transgender children and adults. The complaints are not based on facts, but simple bigotry in order to keep their base satiated, to allow those politicians to remain in power. Missouri is one such state (which in large part a reason I never moved closer to my job and remained living in Illinois, by far a more progressive state) passing laws to discriminate against TG folks.
However, while those right-wing politicians denounce drag queens and trans athletes (while ignoring guns and that the real groomers are often pastors and priests), the irony is that it has never been a better time for Transgender individuals (including crossdressers like me). People on the whole are more tolerant and accepting than ever. While the politicians blather on, the public is actually quite accepting, and in my many times out, I have never had an issue.
Because of this progress, our STLGF meetings are now out in public, instead of being hidden away in a hotel room. Another reminder of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
If you are reading this, and reluctant to go out in public because of the blathering of those politicians, understand the reverse is true. It has never been a better time than now for you to go out in public. The attitudes of the public continues to be more accepting, and one can only hope those politicians eventually feel the shame they so richly deserve.
I decided to wear the dress I had planned to wear to our December meeting, a green velvet dress, another find from Clothes Mentor. But before dinner, I chose a top and skirt combo to stop off at the Nordstrom in the Galleria, to say hi to my GG friend Karla. I also needed a picture with my borrowed yellow purse, to show to my GG friend who lent it to me, Ms. Dee-ism (as I will now refer to her, as she very much enjoys the title). After doing some walking around, I went to my car, got the dress and heels, and changed into my dinner attire in a changing room (after all, they are for changing!).
At the dinner I got caught up with the other members (we had about ten in attendance), and answered a number of questions about Australia, always a topic of interest for many Yanks (as my wife refers to me and other Americans).
Following dinner, as the same casino was on the way home, I stopped off again. This time, it being later, I went into the Sportsbook, as it was not as crowded as the night before. No video poker, but still adult beverages and TVs to watch the games, and I still had my phone (of course) to entertain me.
To complete my week, my bestie Michelle and I made connections to meet Sun-Dee evening. I went casual with a top and jeans and so did Michelle. I came bearing gifts; two dresses I had found at thrifts in Australia at dirt cheap prices (my favorite brands), plus an Australian Pride t-shirt. I ended up bringing back four Aussie Pride t-shirts from Australia, one for myself, one for Michelle, one for my friend Renee (to be hand delivered to her ten days later, which you will read about soon), and one for Ms. Dee-ism. I wanted us all to be sistas, as Michelle likes to say. Michelle and I ended up at Hooters, sharing our normal plate of nachos, accompanied by adult beverages–a good way to finish my first week back in the good ol’ USA.
Love the narrative.
Love the outfits.
Love the person.
You’re up next.
Back in the dark ages of STLGF of the early ’90’s, we would meet at the Howard Johnson’s, but only in a meeting room, sans food though. So afterwards, the brave 12 or so of the 30 to 40 atten-Dees, would gather at the Pizza Hut in south Saint Louis. Yes 30 years ago was a long time in the past, but most of us had a closet door that was welded shut. At that time we were viewed by the public as more of an oddity than a threat. In my many trips post meetings to the Pizza Hut we were never bothered; so those that didn’t join us because of fear missed out.
My opinion is that most of the fear of public interaction is internalized fear and is really not an issue. For the newbee, the more experience being out in public results in more confidence and self assuredness; thus more pleasure in being in public. Like anything else in life.
Many thanks for your reply.
Those of us who go out today owe a tremendous thanks to those 1990’s (and before) STLGF members (and to all who were brave enough to appear in public). We stand on your shoulders (and those shoulders were probably padded shoulders). Acceptance today is directly related to your (and others) boldness in those “dark ages”.
I understand the fear, because I was there. I expected torches and pitchforks, but found acceptance and friends. I hope my writing helps overcome that fear, much like reading Sharon’s website was one of the factors that told me I could get out.
Hope you are well, and that our paths cross soon.