2019 New York Coming Out Transgender Conference Sessions

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My name is Savannah Hauk A crossdresser since I was young, I grew up in Detroit until my mid-twenties, moved to the big lights of the big city of New York City to seek my fortunes and finally develop the entity known as Savannah Hauk, and, as of last year, moved to the Upstate of South Carolina.

Quite a turn of events… moving from an environment of intolerance to the more alternative-living accepting Northeast, then, throwing it all away for life in the Bible Belt of America where guns and pick-up trucks abound. As you can see, I like to make things difficult on myself. While in NYC, I learned how to be a better Savannah. She grew out of a lifelong abstract idea and desire, finally, in the late-90s—and I continue to find out more about myself as Savannah and to find out more about the communities I associate with.

A couple years ago, I finally decided to write a book about crossdressing and crossdressing in relationships, mostly in response to a lot of the misinformation and judgement coming from available literature and social media. I tapped into the available research, conducted couples’ interviews, and drew on my own life experiences. So, “Living with Crossdressing: Defining a New Normal” was born.

The book was awarded the 2018 eLit Gold Medal for LGBT Non-Fictionand its Silver Medal for Sexuality and Relationships, which we are ecstatic about. I love Judy, our dog Holly, reading when I am not writing under Savannah’s name or adding to an ever-expanding zombie series under my male name, cosplay and comic cons, movies and whatever is streaming on Netflix.

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GROUND RULES

  1. No two stories in this room are alike. We hope you take away something that resonates with you.
  2. I am a crossdresser who has been seeking knowledge about myself and the community for over 40 years. That is my experience.
    Judy brings with her a worldview that did not include anyone from the LGBTQ+ community prior to being in a relationship with me. L and G aside, the terms of gender-queer, gender-fluidity, crossdressing, and trans were foreign to her.
  3. If you have questions, please speak up. You will learn just as much from each other as from us. I’m sure you have all formed bonds during this conference. Otherwise, the dreaded Q&A will be at the end of the presentation.
  4. Be yourselves. You came to this conference to search of something… friendship, knowledge, makeup tips, a reason and a place to dance. The best version of you… is the authentic you. The question is whether you can accept your authentic self and whether your partner can accept that as well.

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WHAT CROSSDRESSING MEANS TO YOU

  • At our core, all people just want to be happy. For whatever reason, we need our feminine persona to feel complete.
  • We are starlets, brides, or maybe just the girl-next-door reading at a coffee house. We just are… both male and female—to varying degrees.
  • Being true to who you are is going to be an important cornerstone of developing “you” and in strengthening your relationship.

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HOW CROSSDRESSING HAS BEEN STIGMATIZED

  • The label of crossdressing has been stigmatized to mean many things, most which do not necessarily apply.
  • RuPaul, fetishists, dominatrixes, flamboyant queens, exaggerated feminized sissy French maids… the list go on.
  • People outside the community tend to over-simplify or villainize crossdressing by defining it as simply a fetish, kink, sickness, or mental disorder… and a choice. Even this Wednesday, we were in the hot tub with four flight attendants on layover and they were shocked that crossdressing was not the same thing as drag.

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WHERE THE TRUTH LIES

  • We are those things… and we aren’t.
  • We love our makeup, just not as much as a drag queen does.
    Sensualized, but not Fifty Shades.
    A French maid that doesn’t do dishes.
    That blushing bride on a wedding day, an ultimate symbol of femininity.
  • The truth is… we are an amalgam of identities and desires and pursuits. We may love sex and intimacy in our feminine forms… we may love the feel and fit of corsetry and thigh-high boots way more than our cis-female contemporaries. We may even present ourselves in a more exaggerated feminine way than others want us to, because we are something more than our binary masculinity (and all it entails).

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THE COMBINATION OF LIFE

  • We are all comprised of “at least” six determinants of gender and sexuality. I will be focusing on the six components that are the most evident and have been most at the center of discussion.
  • The Genderbread Person and the Gender Unicorn plush have done much to foster some of these ideals.
  • The slide we have here is my version. I call it the Combination of Life.
  • It allows you to better understand yourself through Gender Biology, Gender Identity, Gender Presentation, Gender Pronoun Address, Sexual Attraction, Romantic Attraction.

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OUR BIOLOGY

  • Birth “Sex” assignment has historically been based on visible genitalia. Up until the 19th Century, birth sex was not determined by more than visible inspection.
  • The social norms have always been “M” and “F”, with “Intersex” as the in-between outlier.
  • XX and XY are not the only or absolute chromosomal variant for genetic gender markers as we had been taught in middle school biology (see XXY, XYY, XXXX, XXYY, Mosaic).
  • Biological males and females have been discovered with opposite biological internal positioning during transitional surgery, evident of the fact that even looking at a person is no guarantee of their genetic and physiological makeup.

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GENDER IDENTITY

 

  • Definition: A person’s perception of having a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex.
  • Hundreds of distinct societies around the globe have their own long-established traditions for third, fourth, fifth, or more genders. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/content/two-spirits_map-html/
  • The comfort or discomfort individuals feel in their bodies based on established biological, social, and cultural masculine/feminine norms.
  • Most of us in the LGBTQ+ community–who consider ourselves “trans”–operate outside the restraints and constraints of the established Western culture “two-gender” system.
  • In truth, there are no absolutes for male-ness and female-ness in terms of gender. I challenge anyone to determine what the absolute ideal is for “man” and “woman”, citing what roles each should play, what clothes they should wear, what absolutes are determinants for each.

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GENDER PRESENTATION AND EXPRESSION

  • Reflection of a person’s psychological sense of their true gender, whether it resembles their birth biology, their assigned gender—or, something variable or in-between.
  • Atypical (non-conforming) gender expression is different from a person’s externally perceived biology.
  • Need to buck the established tropes of masculinity/femininity to find a balance in expression.
  • The established male/female constructs have kept people from fully expressing themselves(without judgement).
  • People have been accepted as a man or woman based on their biology and “proper” appearance (makeup, fashion, and accessories).
  • Gender appearance, expression, or presentation is not an absolute from day-to-day. Whether a statement about a “trans” or “cis” individual, each day brings a different appearance based on physical needs of the day, comfort, or want.
  • One wouldn’t expect a woman to wear a dress to work in the garden, would they? A man is not forced to wear a suit after coming home from the office, is he? While we still forced to adhere to “dress codes” for public use, there should be no reason why the individual cannot decide what that garb should be.

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GENDER PRONOUNS

  • Declaration of preferred gender pronouns often proceeds in English as the subject pronoun, object pronoun, and possessive pronoun. For example, “he, him, his”, “she, her, hers”, or “they, them, theirs”.
  • The use of alternative pronouns is easier in written form than in spoken form. Because there are so many variations–either based on popularity or regionality–understanding the pronunciation, spelling, and application can be difficult. 
  • Other forms of gender pronouns: e, E, ey,hu,peh, per, thon, ve, xe, yo, ze/hir, ze/mer, ze/zir, zhe
  • Self-labeling as a determinant of balanced sense of self. While I do not see my pronouns as strong determinants for my own identity, many others, upon hearing their old pronoun in current use, many are reminded of something that is a painful reminder of a physical and social cage that they have fought so hard to escape from.
  • We do currently use “they/them/their” pronoun in the English language for unfamiliar persons, but have a much more difficult time applying the third pronoun to familiar people. (Example: “When is the pizza going to get here?” “They should be here before 7pm.”)

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SEXUAL ATTRACTION

  • Attraction felt immediately, and can dissipate just as quickly.
  • You don’t have to know or meet a person well to want to have sex with them. (ex: celebrity “hall pass”)
  • Biology does not dictate attraction or physical appreciation. I spent much time believing I must be gay because I was attracted to successfully feminine crossdressers and drag queens. I was not attracted to the biology of the man, but the femininity of the presentation.
  • Men and woman are NOT necessarily attracted to the opposite gender. This is not an absolute.
  • Procreation is not the only function of sexual attraction or want of sexual intimacy.
  • Sexual attraction is not “man/woman”, but more degrees of “Masculinity/Femininity”.

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ROMANTIC ATTRACTION

  • Takes more time to evolve than a sexual attraction.
  • Unlike sexual attraction, it often feels unexpected. You might become romantically attracted to a long-time best friend.
  • Emotional attraction does not necessarily correlate with sexual attraction. Romantic attraction can be platonic.
  • Romantic attraction is not based on genitals, but on compatibility and spirit, intellect and commonalities.
  • It is more about who the person is than what they look like. Although, being romantically attracted to someone will also allow you to see them in their best light.

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PARADIGM SHIFTS

  • What is a paradigm shift – fundamental change in the way we think.
    • Remember “Must See TV”?
    • Remember telephone land lines hanging in the kitchen?
    • Remember having to use printed maps?

POIGNANT ISSUES

  • Social Gender Constructs
  • Acceptability of Crossdressing
  • Gender Roles and Presentations
  • Traditional Ideas of Sexuality
  • Traditional Ideas of Self

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