What follows is the speech I wrote and used to address a gathering of supportive men and women for the Long Island Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ held on November 19th, 2017
Hello. My name is Savannah Hauk.
I would like to thank the organizers of this Transgender Day of Remembrance event, who were gracious enough to ask me to speak this evening. I am truly honored… and terrified… as one of Barbara’s requests was that I tell you a little bit about me… part of my story as a transgender individual… about who I am.
I grew up an ordinary kid in the Midwest to lower-middle class blue collar parents. I worked hard because that was how I was raised. I graduated in the top ten of my high school senior class, played football, went to college and graduate school for architecture.
I am also a crossdresser.
I discovered that when I snuck into my parent’s room and opened my mom’s drawer to find what I considered to be a treasure trove of girdles, slips, underwear and pantyhose. I don’t know why I had a pressing need to try on these things. It felt good. It felt right. But, the worry of being discovered made me put everything back “just so” and rush out. Trepassing felt wrong; wearing feminine clothes felt right.
So I discovered I was a crossdresser years before I ever heard the term.
Before the blessing and curse that is the Internet came along.
Regardless, I knew to keep what I was doing private and to myself. I had no place to gain an education, and queers and drag queens were the butts of jokes. So as I grew older, the secret got bigger. I continued to explore on my own through my adolescence, but, as it happens, life got in the way.
I got married, then moved to New York City in the mod-90s to seek out our fortunes.
It was then that I proclaimed that I was a crossdresser! But didn’t that mean other things went with it? Was I homosexual? Did I want to become a woman? Those ideas didn’t fit what I thought about myself but it took time and self-analysis to find my answers to those questions.
At this same time, my wife was discovering herself, too. She asked for my permission to pursue a lesbian relationship. I would have been a hypocrite to say no? After a year she left me for another woman… How ironic that I wasn’t woman enough for her.
After that I fell in love a few times. Both were told about Savannah as soon as we got serious. In the late 90s, Savannah danced in the clubs with one girlfriend. By the early 2000s, I was deep into the closet as a result of another.
It wasn’t until I met Karen at Femme Fever for a makeover did I realize what Savannah could become. In the discussion groups, I met people with stories I could relate to and friends I could bond with. They helped me to realize that the world does not have to be such a fearful black-and-white place.
But I still had fear.
After one discussion group, I had to get money from an ATM. I was petrified when I walked toward the harsh and brightly lit, floor-to-ceiling windowed 7-eleven. My friend Victoria joined me as we approached the door. I panicked when a woman left as I was entering. She opened the door and held it for us. I whispered a Thank You and she smiled sweetly. I extracted my money and we left back into the night without incident or dismemberment.
My fear seemed kind of silly at that point. Now, going to dinner, the mall or to Starbucks seems routine.
And now, I am in a relationship with a wonderful; woman. I told her of Savannah when it was obvious things were getting serious. After my news, she needed to completely change her way of thinking about crossdressers. She read all she could. She asked all she could. Every day we are a work in progress. We, with other crossdressing couples, collaborated on my book, Living with Crossdressing: Defining a New Normal.
My girlfriend followed her heart about me. In spite of the warnings of her best friend who told her to dump me immediately because of her own experience with a fetish crossdresser. My girlfriend’s best friend (now, former friend) believes crossdressers, and all transgender individuals, are all the same.
She’s right. We are the same.
Many of us have struggled with our identities. Many have felt abandoned. Many have hidden themselves from their family, friends, and the world – for fear of being discovered and ostracized.
Now, we have come together to remember those who have been taken. We are human beings with the capacity to be compassionate and humane.
We all have had labels cast upon us, either by our own making or through categorization by others.
Stand proud… because labels do not define you. Define yourself by the words you speak and the actions you take.