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Newsletter - August 2007

AUGUST 2007 NEWSLETTER

Annual officer elections will be the program at the August 4, 2007 meeting of the support group. The incumbents (Leader: Jennifer Mae Barnes, Vice-President: Pat, Secretary: Judy Woods and Treasurer: Ronnie Dougherty) are thus far the only announced candidates. Those eligible to run for office (please consult the bylaws-any candidate for office must have been a member in good standing for at least one year) who wish to contest any elections may nominate themselves or have someone else do so at the meeting.

August is of course our anniversary meeting in Washington Crossing. The best evidence we have is that the New Jersey Support Group first met at Washington Crossing on August 3, 1996. Oral tradition has it that four persons, all of them from the disbanded Renaissance South Jersey, attended this meeting. The identity of one of these is unknown. But of the other three, Gloria Vogel subsequently served as program chairperson of the newly formed New Jersey Support Group, Terry Risley served as president, and Dorothy Mae Thompson, longtime treasurer of Renaissance South Jersey, continued to serve as treasurer of the newly constituted affiliate, and was named Chapter Mother in 2000. Maybe one of these members will attend the August meeting. If I remember, we may toast our predecessor with grape juice, since we cannot use wine. An article in South Jersey Magazine details the founding of Welchs. Apparently the rather religious founders of this company realized that pasteurization could be used to stop natural fermentation processes in wine grapes. So we may uphold a south Jersey tradition in commemorating our history if I remember to buy some grape juice, I guess would-be wine.

Enough people did show up at the July meeting to approve the dues increase resolutions. From now on, members will pay $7.00 per meeting for entry, non-members will pay $10.00, and beginning January 2008, annual membership dues will be $30.00 per year.

On the other hand, very few people showed up. The support group was saved from a financial loss by the fact that our Vice President, Pat, donated the rent and I donated the food. This must not continue. And I know I am not donating any more food. A support group requires the participation and support of its members. If we are going to continue, we must be solvent. Chi Delta Mu has solved some of its financial problems by developing a system where different members donate food. This is something to consider.

JULY 2007 MEETING

Sharla DeLawter, a Mary Kay Consultant, Treasurer of the Tri-Ess Chapter Chi Delta Mu (which meets in Hoboken), was to speak on color coordination at the July 2007 meeting. She and her husband, Cynthia Major, President of Chi Delta Mu, arrived a little late for this. Instead, Sharla kindly offered individual consultations. I believe Roberta Meluskey last spoke on the older Mary Kay approach to color coordination at a meeting in 1999. At that time, the Mary Kay approach to color coordination was relatively simple due the differentiation between warm and cool colors. All Roberta had to do was ask members to remove their make up and then determine whether clothing containing warm or cool colors would go best with their complexion. Some people objected to being told that they cannot wear certain colors. For example, I was told that I should not wear pink or navy. OK, I like both colors. But I can enjoy them on other people, in images-and though I hope you haven't seen this, they make great lingerie colors. So I adapted. And even so, a person with a warm toned complexion can still wear cool colors as long as she knows how to compensate for this in selecting makeup hues and tones. When Roberta gave me an extra copy of the Mark Kay manual on color coordination based upon the distinction between warm and cool colors, I discovered that I had really replicated various types of looks possible within this system in the different sorts of makeup when I adapted my makeup when choosing different color wigs. Sharla was kind enough to drive all the way down to my apartment in Barrington for an individual consultation on July 12. While she would not let me have a copy of the new approach to color coordination (next time I place an order from her, I intend to request a photocopy of it rather than the usual free gift), developing facial makeup which will go with any colors appears to have its complications. Ignoring the fact that most people look better in certain colors may require a lot more makeup and a very complicated system of applying it than accepting that for best appearance, it is preferable not to wear certain colors.

Since Sharla did not give a full presentation on color coordination, there was time for the Open Forum Discussion. When it looked like we might have to dispense with the forum because of the lateness of the hour, one member came up and protested that this would constitute a disservice. She said that the planned program was but a commercial plug, but the Open Forum is what members really come for. If this person ever had to schedule programs, she would know that we would have very few programs if we did not schedule vendors. When I first served as program chair back in 1998, I had real difficulty in accepting the need for vendors. Though I use products most if not all of the vendors I invite offer, the support group cannot endorse any particular brand or product. And we also cannot advise members to reject certain brands, even those too snooty to send representatives to speak. But there is too much of an emphasis on purchases and sales in transgenderism. Many years ago a transman tried to found an association to help transgenders find jobs. The attempt foundered when not prospective employers but tranny vultures flooded the initial meeting.

But does the fault lie wholly outside the transgender community? In the case of our particular group, if it becomes apparent that a speaker may be late, we rent the Open Forum room for the evening. A group of people could just go into the room and hold a discussion until the speaker comes. A moderated discussion is nice. But discussions do not require a moderator. Next time it appears that a speaker may be late or may not show, those who want to have a discussion should simply retire to the Forum Room until either the speaker shows or we decide to get the support group business over. Former member Jackie Quackenbush used to retire there to hold her transsexual group meetings before the regular business meeting began. And unlike another local support group, that did not entail separating any subgroup from everyone else for the rest of the meeting. Numerous people objected this because such segregation of a subgroup was going on elsewhere. It was not going on here. So, even if it appears that the speaker will be on time, why not use the Forum Room for chatting? Do not wait for someone else to do for you what you can do for yourself.

Nonetheless, if a woman largely attracts pesky pimps, it might show something about the way she is conducting her life. I say this because I was a program chairperson for a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society for a few years, and I never had to invite a vendor once. I have become active in a local NOW chapter. The program speakers are not vendors. The NOW chapter is indeed a larger organization, but maybe offering more activities helps attract diverse sorts of people. I am active in a book club, the monthly banquet, and participate every Saturday but one in clinic defense, that is escorting patients past demonstrators into an abortion clinic. It might be unfair to compare chess clubs with our support group, as club ladders are the program, that is, members come there to play, play, play. But larger clubs invite grandmasters and masters to give simultaneous exhibitions. I have never seen one invite a vendor.

The Open Forum was a good idea, but it has suffered from some unnecessary baggage since its founding. One is that there has been a tendency to imitate psychotherapy. As I have stated before, no moderator has ever been a qualified therapist. Psychoanalysis has been debunked as unscientific by philosophers of science and others. Whether their arguments are accepted in other nations need not concern us here, but I really wonder if psychoanalysis is the only approach to therapy whose foundation is scientifically suspect. But more important than that, recently psychiatrist Albert Ellis died. I know little about him, but he allegedly stated that therapy should not be a pleasure. People ought to stop whining. I cannot pronounce upon whether therapy should be a pleasure or not, but if it should be, there are far greater pleasures in life than endless psychotherapy. I wonder if some transgenders do not harm themselves when people get the impression that a person who otherwise seems all right talks like she/he just moves from one therapist to another. Transgenders have just won important rights in New Jersey. We should be talking less about private personal problems than in how to use our new rights. Read Moliere' Imaginary Invalid (le malade imaginaire) about a man who was in love with the enema, then a universal remedy for all sorts of illnesses. Maybe a cure to some maladies aired in Open Forum would be to stop thinking we are sick, which we are not. And while not denying that problems exist, women spend probably a disproportionate amount of their time in the kitchen. Spending time in the kitchen requires being able to stand heat. If you cannot stand the heat, do not become a woman, part or full time.

Another drawback not so much with the Open Forum, but with the way it was introduced into the support group, was the premise that other functions must be sacrificed to the Open Forum. There is no reason to think that showing films or having program speakers will prevent members from participating in the Open Forum. Whoever told the support group this was divisive, and was perhaps trying to deprive members of information on the basis of which they could question her/his decisions and/or credentials. With the Crossings Room and the Forum Room, we have enough space to carry on three activities at once. And there should be no antagonism because some people enjoy activities while others would rather do something else. If we argue that others should accept diversity and tolerate us, we must accept diversity within our support group and our transgender community.

A third problem is this. Flashing bills attracts vendors. Now I do not want to kick the lid off the cesspool, but it costs a lot more to transition and go transsexual than to be a cross dresser. Some have felt intimidated by the Open Forum because they feel it is primarily for transsexuals. Some people have argued in the Open Forum that they must go TS because society will not accept a man wearing woman's clothes. To wear female apparel, they must become women. I am glad that I participated in functions such as Endless Mountains Girls and Girls Night out, and more recently Dinner and a Movie, which required me to appear in public recognizably as a cross-dressed male. With New Jersey's new antidiscrimination legislation, transgenders should disabuse society of the prejudice that men should not wear women's clothes. Transgenders should make it such that no one can say that she must transition because society will not tolerate a male in female apparel. Transitioning should be a free choice and come from within. At one time, women could not wear slacks. Further, most if not all of what women wear today has at some time been male apparel. If people object to a male wearing a dress, he should reply he is just regaining lost territory.

But fourth, eliminating prejudice in society against men who dress as women is going to require overcoming a community prejudice called the hierarchy. This represents transgenderism as a line where straight and transsexual represent the extreme points and cross dressing falls somewhere in the middle. The factor of bigenderalism suggests that transgenderism should be represented by a Y, where straight represents the base and cross dressing and transsexualism represent the two prongs. But what impedes the community from accepting this model? It might take a while to answer that question. But let me ask if it was wholly the community which created and fostered the hierarchy? The problem of vendors arises again to answer this question. Sure, vendors sell cosmetics, jewelry, wigs and clothing. But cannot physicians, electrologists, therapists and attorneys also be vendors? If so, will not, say, a physician want a type of transgender who wishes hormones and surgery to one who simply will want an annual checkup and may consult the doctor in the time or normal illnesses-if she has any. Which will an attorney prefer, a type of transgender who never sues or is sued, never gets a ticket or a criminal court summons, or one who will need a divorce, child custody settlement and a name change? Or take the case of a registered nurse who offers free therapy one day a week to encourage transitioning but never gets around to informing her patients that she is not, as they think, a psychiatrist. Would she want her patients to see anything else that might make them aware of what she is doing to them? I fear that the community has allowed vendors to sucker us by inducing us to swallow the hierarchy. And until we dump the hierarchy and diversify our activities, we will not be our own bosses or assert our rights.

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

Upcoming programs is being expanded to include regional functions outside the Support Group as well as Support Group meetings.

September 1, 2007-Open. But I have sent out inquiries, so if you have a suggestion, get at it! This is Labor Day weekend. Vendors are hesitant to come, and I do not want to invite a speaker for what in some cases has been a small turnout. Thus far a vendor has preferred another month, one speaker who initially chose this date picked another, and further speaker indicated she would rather wait until a good time in 2008 to speak. I think I will show a movie, which will begin at the latest at 8:00, and then members may go to the Open Forum Discussion or socialize in the Crossings Room after that.

October 6, 2007. Trish Sheridan of Lia Sophia will give her annual program on jewelry. A jewelry sale accompanied by a short talk is not educational? Once I visited a couple in Honesdale. Since I was driving directly from Endless Mountains Girls, and the couple was, and has proven to be, very interested in Jennie, I did not change, and arrived en femme. The couple restores old houses, and they wanted to view one for restoration. There was no time to change, so we went with me en femme. They were meeting with a contractor, and they wanted to see of the contractor could tell if I was not a woman. He was almost taken in-but he felt no woman would wear fake pearls with my dress! Whether true or not, I recount what I have been told. But ask Trish passing-related questions. The more you pass, the less people harass.

November 3, 2007-Former support group member and Open Forum Discussion facilitator Terri Fasano will return to speak about NOW (the National Organization for Women) and her journey toward feminism. Ms. Fasano is a post-operative transsexual who has risen to become Executive Vice President of NOW New Jersey. Some South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul Chapter members may attend, and they may join, as membership is open to allies as well as transgenders and their significant others. NOTE: WE WILL MEET WHERE WE USED TO UPSTAIRS, IN THE VERY SAME ROOMS. WE WILL NOT BE USING THE UNDERCROFT ENTRANCE, BUT THE PARKING LOT LEVEL ENTRANCE. THERE WILL BE TWO LESBIAN CIVIL UNIONS PERFORMED IN THE CHURCH THAT DAY, AND AFTER THE LATER CEREMONY, THERE WILL BE A UNION RECEPTION IN THE CROSSINGS ROOM. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THE PRESENCE OF NON-MEMBERS. THOSE ATTENDING THE RECEPTION AND NOW MEMBERS ATTENDING OUR MEETING ARE FRIENDS AND ALLIES.

December 1, 2007. We will hold a banquet at the usual time and place at what was called Diamond's Riverside and before then Anthony Merlino's Waterfront Restaurant and now has become Erini's Restaurant. Hopefully food and prices will not be radically changed. NO SUBSIDIES. NO LAST MINUTE RESERVATIONS.

I am working on 2008 programs. In fact, I only need to choose the month for one speaker who has volunteered herself. Suggestions welcome.

Jennifer Mae Barnes

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