Dina’s Diner 2/11/19

| Feb 11, 2019
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DID YOU EVER HAVE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND?

Gender nonconforming child.

When I read an article that appeared on the Slate.com website about gender-nonconforming kids, I thought of that old Lovin’ Spoonful song. The song begins, “Did you ever have to make up your mind, Pick up on one and leave the other behind?” The article was headlined “Would Being Able to Predict Which Kids Will Identify as Transgender Actually Be Good for Transpeople?” The article was written by trans man Evan Urquhart and appeared on the Slate site on January 28, 2018.

The article looked at two studies about gender-nonconforming children and found that the children who went on to transition were closely allied behaviorally with kids who had already transitioned as well as cisgender children of the opposite sex. There were marked differences between the transitioners and the non-transitioning children studied. So Mr. Urquhart asked the question: “What if there were a psychological test to tell if someone was transgender? Would the controversies over trans youth disappear if there was a clear way to sort out which children would grow up to be transgender adults and which ones would not?”

Here is a key paragraph from the article: “The Olson [Kristin Olson, the lead researcher] team’s paper is careful not to say they have identified a test for transness, but it does hint at what such a test might look like. According to the data, gender-nonconforming children who eventually transitioned were more strongly gender-nonconforming than their nontransitioning peers: They liked more toys typically associated with the opposite sex, were more likely to say they were already part of the other sex or would grow up to be that sex, dressed in a way closer to that of the other sex, etc. It’s easy to imagine a codified version of these measures being used to help parents of gender-nonconforming children understand how strongly gender-nonconforming their children are compared with others, and therefore how likely those children are to transition later in life.”

Another study by Lisa Littman looked at something called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). This found that some extremely gender-nonconforming children are genuinely trans and others with less extreme behaviors were not. Unfortunately, some people feel that the Littman study will be used to “debunk” trans kids because so many do not go on to transition despite their seeming trans behaviors. Interestingly, Evan Urquhart wrote that his own gender nonconformity built slowly over time and he likely would have been identified as a “non-transitioner” in the Littman study. Urquhart posits that trans men may be slower to transition than male-to-female children which would be impacted if studies were used as early transition identifiers. So there are concerns about outsiders labeling people incorrectly — especially when opponents are anxious to halt any accommodations for trans children.

The article concludes with this paragraph that puts the scientific approach in perspective: “So what if there is, eventually, a screening mechanism that can tell whether a child is likely to grow up to be transgender? It won’t change much. Parents will still feel frightened and unsure about the best way to help their gender-nonconforming child thrive. Adults will still have to make decisions about which treatments to pursue; often those decisions will be right, but sometimes they will be wrong. Acceptance of trans people who fit the established mold may improve, but at the same time a test would provide justification for treating those who don’t with suspicion. Scientific research can give us a framework for understanding, but in the end, it can’t tell us who we are or how to live our lives.”

KEEPIN’ IT REAL WITH DRAG

The New York Times Sunday Arts section had an article headlined “Searching for Authenticity? Drag Queens Can Help.” The article appeared on December 23, 2018. Three recent entertainment productions — the movie A Star is Born, the TV series The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel, and Netflix movie Dumplin’ — all utilized drag queens as “authentic” performers uncorrupted by fame or industry limitations.

Harold Perrineau in Dumplin’.

According to the Times article, there is a condescending attitude at work despite the surface attempt to give the drag queens in all three productions a positive image. Here are some quotes from the article: “Ally [Lady Gaga] can accentuate qualities of femininity and female aesthetics for her drag persona, but Jackson [Bradley Cooper] sees her talent in spite of the drag, not the drag as an augmentation of her talent. While A Star Is Born is fond of its drag queens, it ultimately condescends to them. For Jackson, and for the film, the artifice of drag (or pop stardom) is an obstacle to authenticity, not another path to it.” And, in Dumplin’, Lee [Harold Perrineau] is essentially a “magical Negro,” the racist trope of a black character who, without agency of his or her own, doles out wisdom to the main white character. The drag queens in Mrs. Maisel are something for her to gawk at and use in her comedy. Because all of these projects are about straight women, the way they depict drag queens feels little more progressive than the convention of the gay best friend, popular in 1990s romantic comedies like My Best Friend’s Wedding.

I haven’t seen any of these movies or shows so I can’t say whether the criticism is valid or off-base. It sounds right because Hollywood often uses supposedly overlooked art forms (think classic jazz or “serious” literature) to point out how genuine their main character is while everyone else is simply chasing popularity or money. It’s just ironic that an art form that is based on artifice and imitation — drag — would be used as a symbol of authenticity.

FROM SHEER TO ETERNITY

We’re all familiar with sheer stockings and pantyhose but I’ve noticed a resurgence of sheer material in dresses and even athletic leggings. Sheer. The word itself is onomatopoeic. Think of the whisper of nylon-covered thighs brushing together: sheer, sheer, sheer. The dictionary says the word comes to us from the German origins of Middle English for “pure, clear” and fittingly, “shine.”

Many of the daring red carpet fashions we see on female celebrities have featured sheer panels as they try to one-up the last daring red carpet exposure. I started to notice sheer panels and sleeves on some dresses worn by our local TV newswomen. And more and more of the shiny athletic leggings worn by young women have sheer insets on the thigh or calf. A few years ago at a Christmas party, the girlfriend of a young co-worker wore a skintight dress with a sheer panel over the cleavage area of her bosom. It was hard to look away.

Sheer fabric on the news.

I wrote of my admiration for local newswomen here about a year ago. Not long ago, on one of the 5 o’clock newscasts, the female anchor was wearing a black dress with sheer material from above the bust to her neck and covering her arms to the wrist. It seemed a little too much va-va-va-voom for late afternoon but I refrained from writing a letter protesting the brazen display of gossamer covered skin.

In my last Diner installment, I mentioned the actor Cody Fern’s gender-bending Golden Globes outfit. His blouse featured a sheer yoke and sleeves above a shimmery black shirtfront.

The more recent development of sheer windows in women’s leggings cuts right to the heart of fetishism. When I see part of a young woman’s thigh under a sheer panel in her leggings it is much more enticing to me than if she was barelegged in shorts. Why? I have no idea — but if the bride of Frankenstein was wearing a tight dress with sheer bodice and sleeves I’d be checking her out instead of running in fright. Maybe you, too? Am I alone?

When I was watching the newswoman in her sheer shoulders and sleeves, I thought to myself that she should wear this every day. Of course it didn’t happen. Sheer today. Gone tomorrow.

POTPOURRI

Here are some items I found interesting but for which I didn’t have much more to say. I looked up synonyms for “potpourri” trying to find a more interesting headline for the collection. The best was “gallimaufry” but that sounded negative as did “mishmash” and “hodgepodge.” “Pastiche” has an arty flair…and I discovered that “salmagundi” is a mixed salad. If it’s good enough for a standard Jeopardy topic, it’s good enough for the Diner. Potpourri, it is.

“Eddie” and “David.”

The New York Times had a review (January 23, 2019) of a new play titled “Eddie and Dave” about the band Van Halen and its members. The Times headline caught my eye: “A Gender-Swap Lark? Might as Well Jump.” The play is written by a woman (Amy Staats, who also plays Eddie) and features an all-female cast playing the male leads.

Here is an interesting quote from the review: “When it comes to glamorous drag, men who impersonate women have traditionally had an unfair advantage over their female counterparts. Just think of the boundlessly flamboyant options available for guys to transform into gals: baubles, boas, high heels, bouffants, ad infinitum. As for women doing men, what’s their choice, really, beyond business suits and sloppy sweats? But these figures hail from the 1980s, a decade in which big hair and glam metal rock ruled the airwaves. The professional (and often offstage) attire of the male musicians who practiced this earsplitting art embraced a peacock panoply of baubles, boas, high heels and, yes, bouffant coiffures.”

The only female part in the play — that of Valerie Bertinelli, Eddie’s TV star wife — is played by a male actor in drag. Nice touch, that.

Them boots are made for legislatin’.

New United States Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) is openly bisexual, has white-blonde hair, and has received notice for her style of dress in her first few weeks in the Senate. On her swearing-in day she wore a pink coat with a fur stole and beneath it a sleeveless white and print dress that was the kind of color splash the chamber doesn’t normally see. Or ever see.

In late January, in her first month as a Senator, Sinema came to the chamber wearing another sleeveless dress and sporting over-the-knee tan suede boots. There is a photo of her meeting a constituent in her office wearing black leather thigh boots with an all-black ensemble.

The online magazine Slate.com had an article (January 31, 2019) addressing her controversial clothing choices headlined “Krysten Sinema is not Just a Funky Dresser, She’s a Fashion Revolutionary.”

A photo that appeared in The New York Times Dance subsection on December 26, 2018 arrested my attention. The photo showed a ballet dancer captured mid-move in a graceful, artistic pose. The brief feature was headlined “Ballet is About More Than Just Movement.” I was surprised to read that the graceful beauty was a member of the all-male ballet troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

Long Zou Takin’ it to the street.

The dancer was Long Zou, who was the youngest recruit (at 21) when he first joined the troupe back in 2009. Here is a great quote by Long for the Times: “I tried to be a good male dancer. It took me a while to figure out that’s not what I’m good at.” During the Trock’s brief stop in New York, Long Zou will perform Harlequinade a piece that I saw described as difficult and often used by students to impress during auditions. The Times said, “The technique doesn’t stress out Mr. Zou, who trained in China in the Vaganova method. “It’s very charming, very youthful, very naïve. Just be happy. That’s it” he said.”

Chris Hara as Ariel.

Yet another New York Times photo caught my eye and set off my trans-dar. In the January 15, 2019 edition the Theater subsection had a feature on something called “BroadwayCon.” A photo at the bottom of the page showed an attendee dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid plopped on the floor texting. When I saw the way her feet were splayed out and how long her false eyelashes were I knew it had to be a guy. The name identified her/him as Chris Hara. Oh, how clever to have a gender-ambiguous name like Chris. But I knew.

Sure enough, Chris Hara is a theater enthusiast, actor, and apparently performed in a New Jersey community performance of The Little Mermaid albeit in a male role. Funny to wonder now if he was — or how much he was — disappointed he couldn’t play Ariel instead of Sebastian. But good for you, Chris. You make a good-looking Little Mermaid.

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Category: All TGForum Posts, Transgender Community News, Transgender Opinion

dina

About the Author ()

I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

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