Feb. 5th, 2011

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After a slight delay due to snow, I'm spending a week full-time as Shirley. Somehow, doing it when I was completely housebound due to weather just wasn't the same so my week started on Thursday instead of Tuesday.

A few things happened before this week to help prepare. On January 27 I was part of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition day of action. They called for people to come to the State House and speak to their representatives (or their staffers) in support of a transgender rights bill. (Basically the bill would make gender expression a protected category, in much the same way that race, sex, and sexual preference already are.) So Shirley went and spoke to the staffers of Martin Walsh (likely to support the bill) and Jack Hart (who certainly won't but I was nice to his staffer anyway). Afterward I did a bit of shopping in Downtown Crossing and got a pair of winter boots and my first pair of girl jeans. (Until then all my dressing as Shirley had been in skirts and dresses, but sometimes pants are so much more practical!) A couple of days later I want to Market Day at Birka, an SCA event in New Hampshire; I wasn't there as Shirley, but I bought a skirt for her which will be described later.

By Thursday, after being cooped up in the house for two days (everything that I would have done on Tuesday and Wednesday got cancelled due to weather) I really needed to get out and dance! So I made the expedition to Concord for the contra dance, with a brief stop in Harvard Square on the way for more shopping (a sweater and a second pair of jeans, and some froyo at Berryline). It's not one I attend all that often for two reasons. One is that it's a major expedition to get there, involving a subway ride to Porter and then a trip on the commuter rail, unless I get a ride there. The other is that there is often an excess of men there; the competition for dance partners is vicious, I'm not naturally pushy, and I'm not that well known to that community, so the result is that I end up sitting out more dances than I would like. (Most nights the ideal number is zero, but occasionally I get dizzy, especially if I've been following because there are more spins, and need to rest for a bit.) I wore an amazing skirt that I got at Birka last weekend; a huge thing that belly dancers sometimes wear. I'm not sure whether mine is a 15 yard or a 25 yard skirt (that's the length of the fabric at the hem line), but in any case there is a LOT of fabric and it flies out prettily when you twirl. Mostly it was fun, but the competition for partners things still seems to apply. And I was annoyed that more of my male friends and acquaintances didn't ask me for a dance. (Hint: if I've got boobs I want you to ask!)

The day on Friday was spent on the mundane task of laundry, though it's slightly less routine when I'm dealing with Shirley's wardrobe because there are more special handling items. (Have to make sure not to put bras in the dryer, and lots of things that require cold water washing.) In the evening I went to a production of the Vagina Monologues in Cambridge; I've read the book and wanted to see it on stage for years but somehow never got around to it. (In part that's because it was so Not The Thing of my late wife; she had little interest in or patience for identity politics.) The timing of seeing it en femme was accidental; I didn't even know the show was happening until yesterday when I got an email newsletter (The List) of local events. A pleasant surprise; somebody I know was in the production. Another pleasant surprise: one of the monologues (a newer one that isn't in the book) was about the experiences of transgender women when they were growing up, and "having the girl beaten out of them". I identified strongly with that one; mostly I was spared actual violence (the nuns wouldn't stand for it) but it certainly felt like the threat was always present. No, I never imagined growing up to be a girl, the notion of that was simply outside the mindset of the Northeast Pennsylvania Time Warp, but I know that I was uncomfortable with "being a man" and it caused difficulties with my classmates.

Not sure what I'll do today; there is a monthly dance in Jamaica Plain (modern, not the contra dance; that's not happening this week) that I've heard about but I'm not sure it's still running. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday and I don't know of anybody who is holding a Super Bowl party, so I may just stay home and watch the game on my computer (better than the TV set because it has an HDTV tuner installed). Monday will be SCA Great Council, Tuesday is morris practice if the weather cooperates, and on Wednesday I can either go to SCA dance practice or the English dance in Arlington if I'm feeling like going out. So the week is maybe a bit more of a social whirl than usual, but my girlfriend is away in California so there is less reason than usual to stay home!

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