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Dina’s Diner 11/24/15

| Nov 24, 2015
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HAIR ONE MINUTE, GONE THE NEXT

Ruth Bell

Ruth Bell

The New York Times Thursday Styles section had an article about up and coming model Ruth Bell in the November 12, 2015 edition. Ms. Bell, 19 years old and from a small town in England, has become something of the “it” girl in modeling circles thanks to having shorn her hair to a short crew length for a modeling gig some time ago.

According to The Times, the buzz cut that left a boyish cover of straw-blonde hair atop Ruth’s head has made her a sudden favorite model for several big name designers. She isn’t the first model to popularize a shaved or very short cut but things tend to come and go in fashion circles so her version of the short hair look has currently captured the imagination of the fashion world. “She’s rocketed all of sudden, hasn’t she?” said Paul Hanlon, the London stylist who first cropped her hair. By the way, The Times reported that Ms. Bell donated her clipped-off long locks to a wig charity for chemo patients.

Even though the fashion world has seen the short hair look going back to the 1960s with Twiggy, and the rise in the 2000s of the androgynous male model, with actual transgender models now, the idea of a young female model going with a boyish haircut is still viewed as a bold move. Stylist Hanlon said, “For a woman to do that, it’s very extreme.” Ruth herself recognizes the powerful effect of her short hair decision. “You wouldn’t be interviewing me right now if I hadn’t cut my hair. No question.” she told The Times reporter. Given all the attention and opportunity it has opened up, she said, “Having no hair is the easiest and best decision I’ve made in my life so far.” She’s only 19 so let’s hope this doesn’t remain the best decision in her lifetime. She is also wise enough to know it might not last. She told The Times that “I don’t want hair again after this . . . but I might have to, a year down the line when people get bored of me.”

And now it has begun to spawn some copycats, young models who have cut their hair to peach-fuzz in order to grab some of that mojo. Ruth told The Times, “I did a show and there were five girls with shaved heads. One girl came up to me and was like, ‘Yeah [I] shaved my head because of you.'”

Hair is one of the defining physical and cultural differences between men and women. Crossdressers who still maintain a male identity for the majority of their time, use wigs to transform their heads (often naturally bald or balding) to provide that most important feature of feminine appearance. As with women wearing typically masculine items like combat boots, overalls, or plaid flannel work shirts, it’s easier for women to  cross gender norms, so going with ultra-short boy haircuts is easier for them as well. A few months ago, I had an article about the prodigiously endowed actress Ariel Winter’s breast reduction — another instance of a woman removing something crossdressers prize for themselves — if only. It’s a little infuriating to see real women discarding the things we prize so much as symbols of femininity. But it’s a free country. And men are generally doing better than women, so we must suck it up — and tug on the wigs and strap on the falsies.

TRANSGENDER ROLES AND TRANSGENDERS ROLL

I came across an interesting article on the ESPNw.com website for women’s athletics. It reported on some transgender roller derby participants under the headline “Transgender Athletes Find Community, Support in Roller Derby” and it appeared on November 12, 2015.

I have heard of the revitalized sport of roller derby that I enjoyed watching as a kid on an old UHF station with a wire antenna. After seeming to disappear for a couple of decades, team circuits started to appear again in cities large and small. Apparently, there is still the banked track version of my youth and now a flat track circuit (which I had never heard of before). The old derbies were made up of men’s and women’s squads on each team (but competed separately) and the “sport” had many of the fakey elements of old pro wrestling. I’m not sure how this incarnation of derby stacks up against its forebear but according to the ESPN article, the new derby is a welcoming place for transgender athletes.

Trans Roller Derby Ladies

Trans Roller Derby Ladies

The ESPN article said, “When WFTDA [Women’s Flat Track Derby Association] started considering the inclusion of trans skaters in the mid-2000s, there was concern it could dilute the concept of an all-female sport, something distinct from the female versions of men’s sports that came before. “The primary concern for the membership, as I remember, was a sense of competitive advantage,” Michelle Donnelly said, “which the evidence just doesn’t support. We have athletes who are trans at elite levels and some are not — like the rest of the population.” Some of the featured trans derby girls were accomplished professional individuals who were looking for something to satisfy their competitive athletic drives.

The article opened by featuring on derby participant Josie Simonis. “As an adult, Simonis took a hiatus from sports. Simonis was in graduate school at Cornell working toward a PhD in ecology and environmental science — busy enough, even without coming to understand who they were as a person and taking the steps to transition. It was like a second puberty, Simonis said, and since team sports had been such an important outlet before, Simonis, who is 6-foot-2, jumped at the chance when someone said roller derby was a place that welcomed transgender athletes. “That was fantastic,” the 31-year-old said, “but then I had to learn how to skate.” Another transgender roller was introduced thusly: “In 2010, Penelope Nederlander took a skills class with the LA Derby Dolls, who skate on a banked track. She loved it, but as a newly transitioned athlete, she wasn’t even sure she was eligible to play. “I approached the league and I said, ‘I’m trans. I’m not sure I should try out,'” said Nederlander, who now skates as Fifi Nomenon. The league didn’t have a policy on trans athletes, but within a few days of Nederlander’s question, they created one. They asked Nederlander if her driver’s license had an “F” in the gender column. She said it did, and the league said that was good enough, without even asking to see the ID.” As you can see the new derby likes stage names for its rollers. Ms. Simonis’ moniker is “Trannysaurus Wrex” which shows she has a sense of humor about herself. Another trans skater goes by “EduSkating Rita” (if anyone remembers the ’80s movie it parodies).

The derby organizations are also looking at policies that would address even less traditional gender roles such as those who identify as the opposite gender but do not plan to surgically or medically transition completely. “As a member-driven organization, we can define women in the way that’s most appropriate for our organization,” Donnelly said. Another quote was, “I see people who don’t have access,” Simonis said. “Yes, I’d be rocking the boat, but it’s a boat that needs to be rocked sometimes.” It’s interesting to see a sport that flies somewhat under the public’s radar addressing this issue so straightforwardly. One wonders how it would have evolved had the big money and popular exposure been a factor in its deliberations.

The article continues later, “As Maxwell Schneider [a female to male trans skater] talked to teammates about their changing thoughts on identity, the league made an effort to get it right. Skaters would approach announcers about what pronouns to use when announcing everyone, and later those announcers would fact-check with Schneider to make sure it worked. “That brought me to tears sometimes, because people are really trying,” Schneider said. “In derby there really is a place for everybody. People bring all sorts of things to derby. Because it’s skater run, that makes the league better. People are valued for who they are.”

THAT’S DODA, WITH TWO D’S

Carol Doda

Carol Doda

The New York Times (and many other news outlets around the country) reported the death of Carol Doda on November 9, 2015 at age 78. Carol Doda was a famous topless dancer from the early 1960s when topless dancing — like Playboy centerfolds — was still a titillating leading edge of the sexual revolution. According to The Times obituary (which was given as much space as deceased Nobel Prize winers, by the way), Ms. Doda’s first foray into toplessness while go-go dancing at a club in San Francisco was “impromptu” on the evening of June 19 1964. I guess that means she just freed the girls on her own initiative, although the item implied that she was still wearing the nipple-covering tassels which also was a thing in the early days of go-go.

In any event, her birth of topless dancing in San Francisco happened to coincide with the Republican national presidential convention that was marked by the rise of incredibly conservative delegates backing Barry Goldwater. The Times reported that “Delegates flocked from the convention hall to the Condor Club to see her act.” Herb Caen, the San Francisco newspaper columnist called Carol “the Susan B Anthony of this particular liberating movement.” The obituaries noted that she began working as a cocktail waitress at the tender age of 14 and began go-go dancing shortly afterwards, having lied about her age and looking older than she was. She also went bottomless in 1968 but the state of California stopped that. She was found not guilty of indecency after a club raid. She never married and she continued dancing — clothed — until 2009 when she would have been about 72. She once said, “The only way I’ll stop performing is when I can’t walk anymore, honey.” “A lifelong San Franciscan” one local paper said proudly.

Carol Doda also became the first (as far as I know) famous personage with silicone enhanced breasts. She had pumped them up to size 44D through multiple surgical procedures using emulsified silicone which The Times reports is the active ingredient in Silly Putty and has long since been banned for that purpose. Long before I (as a young boy or teen) ever saw Carol Doda, I had heard her name used as a punchline in “naughty” jokes on The Tonight Show and the like during that era. In fact, she was so well known for her pointy silicone breasts and mane of platinum hair that I thought she might have been a “sex change” before I even knew exactly what that meant.

So rest in peace, Carol. You gave joy to many.

IT AIN’T FAIR, I TELL YA

Pageant participant.

Pageant boy.

A few Diners back, I wrote about “Womanless Beauty Pageants” that feature middle school or high school-aged boys in drag revues in small town rural America. Not very surprisingly, the Japanese also have “WBP’s” with the predictable result of incredibly natural-looking femme boys.

When I was first getting into socialized crossdressing, one of my new friends made the comment that looking passable was easier for the very young and the very old. It was getting a reasonable facsimile of femininity during the middle years that was so confounding for most male crossdressers. One could have easily added the footnote that Asian crossdressers are in a whole other league. (The famous movie line “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” could have easily been about two Western crossdressers consoling each other). So when I came across an article on a website called RocketNews24.com on October 29, 2015 under the headline “Japanese High School Boys Hold Annual Beauty Pageant, Look as Cute as Ever” I knew it would be pure gold.

This is from the RocketNews24 website: “Once a year the boys at Komaba High School, in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, hold a drag contest to find who among them is the prettiest girl. Students style their hair, don wigs and makeup, and slip into skirts for the contest, in which they’re judged on how well they can pull off the ‘kawaii girl’ look and attitude. The pageant has its own Twitter page where photographs of this year’s contestants are shared and votes are solicited.” Another website that picked up the story (OddityCentral.com) had this to say: “As it turns out, Komaba High is one of the most reputable prep schools in Tokyo. Founded in 1950, the school was recently designated by the Ministry of Education as a ‘super science high school.’ A large number of its students are accepted into the prestigious Tokyo University each year. Students participate in a wide variety of interesting extracurricular activities, but at the end of the day, they’re all a bunch of teenage boys with raging hormones and no real contact with girls on a daily basis. So they use the annual Culture Festival as an excuse to doll up and showcase their own feminine side.”

I guess we can leave it right there. An all boys school where they release their hormonal energy through crossdressing. Mull that over a bit.


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

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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  1. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    The womanless beauty pageants have been around for a long time. We talk about them in the Comedy Theater on Sister House and you can view many of the pageants thru these links
    http://www.sisterhouse.net/familyroom/2013/02/19/welcome-6/#post-189
    http://www.sisterhouse.net/familyroom/womanless-beauty-pageants/

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