Monday, March 02, 2009

TV Guide

A few weeks ago I went to see a showing of the movie The Wrestler (Rourke was robbed!) in my hometown of Parsippany, NJ. It's a suburb: There are mini-vans and malls and soccer moms and lawns of manicured grass. In the bathroom at the movie theater I discovered that there are also transvestites in the suburbs. Something about just coming out of The Wrestler, with it's gut-wrenching scenes of a done-up, down-and-out, aged man reaching for his ideal of reality in a world that just won't quite cooperate, made the site of a wo/man in a wig, powdering his nose and touching up his lipstick, completely captivating. All of the sudden it sunk in how brave that was, how possibly dangerous, how rebellious, how complex. And when the wo/man at the mirror caught my eye and smiled a sweet smile, I also realized how joyful it could be, how freeing to just step out in the world as who you are.

Maybe this sounds strange. I've wanted to write this post for so long now and have really struggled to find a way to express exactly what I want to say. The bottom line is that I suddenly have so much admiration for these transvestites, they brave public opinion to be happy. And, I'm not talking about the show queens, the spectacle of camp womanhood on men in drag bars (although that's deliciously fun), I'm talking about the men who are dressed to meet their boyfriends at the Panera in the strip mall, the men who are running errands at Target with a handbag and fresh lipgloss, who are getting out of a taxi with their dresses in dry cleaning bags. The ones who hope you see them and see the woman who lives down the street or up the block.

I found pools on Flickr of transvestites (TV's) dedicated to those who go out in the real world as real girls. A lot of the comments on the photos are words of inspiration to those who are still too scared to go out in public dressed how they really want. There are wo/men who leave messages under the photos saying they wish they could be so brave as the ones in the pictures. There are compliments aplenty on outfit choices and makeup applications. There are tips swapped about matters of beauty. Many use the photos to get ideas of how to dress, of how to get made up, how to pass effectively. It's an amazing play of femininity. There are groups who meet through the Flickr pools and then gather up to go out together--strength in numbers.

The whole matter is such a clear example of what fascinates me about the act of getting dressed; how we put on clothing and accessories that say things about us, that tell stories and create identities. How interesting is it? I give the courageous community of TV's out in the world as real women a nice big nod of admiration. You go girls!

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