I’m at GenderFest today in Las Vegas, NV. Would you believe it’s the first of its kind? Back in SF, this kind of conference would have drawn thousands of people but here in LV, there were only a handful of participants. Why? Like most other states excluding the states of Pacific Northwest, the issues surrounding Transgender and the community that supports it is just unfortunately out to lunch. But, today we can at least participate in something that is making a huge impact locally and hopefully globally for years to come.
I’ve been attending and speaking at sexuality conferences the past few years and this topic is so incredibly rich with interesting people. Their stories are more inspiring and their experiences are so flagrant, I just felt I had to share one.
A very tall grey haired older woman came and sat down next to me in the room this morning. She walked in so elegantly. Almost like she was strutting down the runway. She stood up in the conference and identified herself. “I am a Transexual Post-op who transitioned when I was 20. That was 53 years ago.” Since Judy was sitting next to me, I had to find the chance to speak with her and in only 20 minutes I learned how she got through her life as a Transgender M2F in the 50’s and 60’s. She described her transition as you might hear a supermodel explain how she went from farm girl to urban city chic. It wasn’t what I expected. I’ve heard thousands of stories from children, parents and teachers, but none that lived like she did.
She partied at Studio 54 with Andy Warhol, hung with Sylvia Rivera (transgender activist) in the 60’s and was present at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. She said the “Transexuals” of those days were “kept” women and had to hide or they would be killed. In New York City, she said, if she was caught in anything resembling women’s clothing she would be charged and brought to jail. “Everything was discreet back then and hidden”. She said you couldn’t just go out and be yourself.
It’s 2017 and some things haven’t changed. According to the other guests I spoke to today, Las Vegas is even behind the times when it comes to Transgender folk. I was told by a police officer who attended the conference that most of the community he says are all homeless. I kept thinking about how sad this was and even worse, they didn’t have many plans to change that.
I’ll be back later today to report more. For now, signing off. Good day ladies, gentleman, and any and all genders present.