Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Good Friends and Girlfriends - A Blog for Suddenly Fem by CiCi Kytten
When I was a little boy, I had a lot of girlfriends. Not the romantic kind. I was too young for that. I’m talking about kindergarten. Elementary school. In the classroom and on the playground, I tended to hang out with the girls.
I was a talkative kid. Still am. Every year, my report card indicated that I needed “to spend a little less time talking to my neighbors.” Some people thought I was a flirt. And I probably was. A boy constantly talking with the girls. But now, looking back, I’m not so sure that I was flirting. I think I was engaging in girl talk. No one likes to stereotype genders, but back then the boys typically roughhoused and the girls typically chatted. While I engaged in more than my share of roughhousing, I apparently preferred chatting. And I definitely preferred the company of girls.
That all changed around the time I discovered sports -- around 4th grade of so. My competitive streak came out and I started spending my recesses with the boys playing kickball, dodgeball, and kill-the-guy-with-the-ball (a sport that I’m sure is destined to become an official Olympic competition some day). I also got the sense, somehow, that I should spend more time with the boys. Yet, I can’t recall anyone specifically telling me that. It was just a feeling. A feeling that eventually ate away at my young mind, and I succumbed to social convention.
“Succumbed” probably isn’t the right word to use. I had a blast as a boy. I loved sports. I liked competing. And I really enjoyed being a part of teams.
Then adolescence hit and all the fun of chatting with girls was replaced by romantic and sexual tension. Paralyzing tension. I didn’t talk to a girl for most of my middle school years unless I had to. They terrified me. I had no sisters so while girls are often a mystery for boys, they were truly a mystery for me. I knew absolutely nothing about them.
Yet I was so drawn to them. Not as the other boys were. Not with sex or some version of it as my objective. But to be like them. To be liked by them. Accepted by them. It didn’t work. I was awkward. The age was awkward. And I was decades away from both realizing and accepting my trans nature.
So now, years later, one nice benefit of being a part of the trans community is that I got my girlfriends back. It started online when I joined cross dresser chatrooms in the early 00’s. I found friendship and support and sympathy -- not just as a cd or a transperson, but as a human being. Sure, sometimes the rooms could get catty or competitive. But I did my best to avoid all that. I gravitated to the more thoughtful and sensitive girls. And I was able to bond with many of them. Without even meeting face to face.
Of course, the talk in the chatrooms wasn’t all girlie. Lots of motorheads were in there talking about their cars. And in the fall, on a typical Sunday, the talk often centered on football. But I loved it. I learned so much about the physical art of transformation -- dressing, style, makeup -- in those chats. But I learned even more about the emotional side of trans life. The impact of the camaraderie, commiseration, support and inspiration that I discovered in those chats had an impact on me that I can’t even begin to measure.
Of course, now, years later, I’ve gotten to know many girls personally. And the bonds have only grown stronger. I used to -- quite subconsciously -- compartmentalize the friends from my guy life with the friends from my girl life. But I don’t do that any more. Particularly since some of my girlfriends are among the dearest and closest friends I’ve ever had.
I was moved to write this column about girl chat and girl friends because two of my good friends recently passed away.
Madilyn Carey was a good friend in the Las Vegas trans/cd scene. She liked to organize get-togethers, both formal and informal, and she loved to show visitors around her adopted city. If you check her Facebook page today, you’ll see numerous testimonials and memorials accompanied by photos -- she seemed to know every tv/cd who ever set foot in that town. And that’s quite a lot of girls.
I’m not going to pretend that I was one of Maddy‘s best friends -- she had many other friends who were much closer to her than me. But she was so friendly and welcoming, it was impossible not to get to know her over the years. I was always impressed by how passionate and opinionated she was. In person and online, Maddy wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
Ironically, this reminded me of another dear friend who passed away last fall. Tricia Love was also known for her friendly and welcoming nature. She reached out to new girls to try to make them feel comfortable and accepted. Her house in Pasadena was a meeting place for so many of us in Southern California -- I’ll never forget the many conversations (and dart games) that took place there. I’m going to sound like some aged old-timer here, but what I remember most about those times was the laughter.
Tricia, like Maddy, was a very intelligent and thoughtful person... and very opinionated. People don’t just stumble into trans life. Because of the times in which we all grew up, trans life was unfamiliar territory. Trans life had to be faced with a certain amount of inner strength and determination. With the passing of these two good friends, I’ve realized just how important it was to be both friendly and opinionated.
TRICIA AND MADDY - THEY DID MORE FOR OUR COMMUNITY THAN THEY EVEN REALIZED.
Opinionated because trans integration into society is still in its infancy. We -- as a community -- are still feeling our way around in the world at large. So we argue amongst ourselves sometimes about how we should go about it. On the other side of the coin, society is gradually getting to know us. Often begrudgingly. It takes a strong person to put themselves out there in that environment. Maddy and Tricia were strong like that. We didn’t always agree on everything -- but that’s how it should be. And this is where the friendliness comes in. Despite any differences, we enjoyed each other’s company. Despite any differences, we were -- and are -- bonded by our shared experiences and by our shared goal -- to move our community forward and to see trans life and trans people embraced by society. Sometimes in formal, organized ways. And sometimes simply by having the courage to be ourselves.
I have so much respect for the girls I’ve met in this community. Some have become dear and cherished friends. Some have become even more than that. While on the other hand, there are many girls that I won’t get to know all that well. That’s just the odds when there are so many girls coming out these days. But I have respect for all of them. All of you.
Someone asked me who could take Maddy’s place as a social leader in Vegas. But no one takes another person’s place. Maddy and Tricia weren’t amazing ambassadors and hostesses in our community because it was their job or their duty. They did it because that’s who they were. They genuinely wanted others to feel comfortable and happy. They genuinely liked being around other girls.
When I meet a girl who’s new to the scene and I try to calm her nervousness, I tell her that along with a lot of other experiences, she’s about to meet some of the most amazing people on earth. And I sincerely believe that. I am so impressed with the girls I’ve met. Strong-willed. Opinionated. Fun-loving. Courageous. Thoughtful. Loving. Generous. Sensitive. And kind.
Thanks to my trans life, forty years removed from kindergarten, I’ve gotten my girlfriends back. And I can’t begin to tell you all how much that means to me. I’m just so sorry to have lost two of the coolest.
Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.
Posted by CiCi Kytten at 2:39 AM