Dina’s Diner April 6, 2020

| Apr 6, 2020
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The nationally syndicated Dear Abby advice column is still going strong believe it or not. My local paper carries it and on March 19, 2020, Abby answered a letter from a 16 year old girl who had a crush on a classmate named “Ben.” I just noticed that this letter was also mentioned in TGForum’s TWIT feature on March 23, 2020.

The girl identifies Ben as a transgender male. Ben’s mother and classmates at school do not approve of his trans identity. The letter-writer, though, confesses that she has had feelings for Ben for about a year. She believes Ben also has feelings for her but seems reluctant to connect. After canceling a meeting for coffee, Ben said he wasn’t “emotionally prepared” for a relationship.

The letter-writer says she thinks constantly about the issues they would need to discuss and is frustrated that Ben isn’t ready to get serious with her. For this, she blames the pressures placed on Ben by his unaccepting mother and classmates.

Jazz Jennings and a beau.

Abby advises the teen girl to get control of her emotions and the frustrations of her relationship desires because it isn’t healthy for her. But she also counsels that Ben is on “a long and complicated personal journey.” If he isn’t ready for a relationship she will have to respect his feelings and circumstances. She advises to connect with a Genders and Sexualities Alliance at the school or online to learn more about issues that Ben may be dealing with.

Dating for transgender teens presents daunting issues for both parties. Even Jazz Jennings – arguably the most famous trans teen in the world – had a relationship breakup. The person who dates a trans person is also stepping out if only because trans and non-binary identity is still something of a cultural curiosity. The teen letter-writer may be upset at Ben’s mother’s lack of acceptance but I wonder how her own mother might feel about her daughter dating a trans teen male. Trans dating presents potential conflicts far beyond “normal” hetero relationships. And those can be tough enough without all the extra issues trans people and their partners confront.


I saw an interesting item in TGForum’s The Week in Transgenderism in the Mach 16, 2020 edition. It called out a new Korean TV series with a transgender character. I followed the link to a Forbes Magazine article about the show and later checked other websites for information about it. The series is titled Itaewaon Class and apparently is an adaptation of a “webtoon” (I’m not sure what that means, exactly) of the same name.

Here is how the Jakarta Post began its review of the series: “A sociopath. An ex-convict. A transgender. A high school dropout. And a dark-skinned biracial guy. All the social misfits one can think of in South Korea have come together in Itaewon Class, a drama that celebrates diversity and the underdogs in a country widely seen as homogenous.” I thought that was an interesting take on the show’s concept. I daresay that Americans don’t often think of diversity when one thinks of Asian cultures. And if you want to see what the series looks like . . . it’s on Netflix now!

Lee Joo-Young in Itaewon Class.

The storyline has some young people managing and working in a small pub. Actress Lee Joo-young plays the transgender woman who is hired as the chef for the bar. Lee Joo-young is not transgender in real life, she is a cis-female actress.

The Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) seems to be having its day in the sun of pop culture — at least to a small degree. Thanks to their nutty neighbors to the North, South Korea seems to be the land of economic success and well-behaved people who are just as pop culture obsessed as the rest of us. The Korean boy band BTS is something of a worldwide sensation as young girls display their perplexing adoration of pretty boys, some of whom are gender ambiguous. The Ladies Professional Golf Association’s top rankings are filled with players from South Korea and several others of Korean descent who call other countries home.

The Forbes article about the show had some interesting statistics from a survey of Korean attitudes about transgenderism. “Survey data found that more than half (59.1%) of the respondents said that transgender people should be able to have surgery so their body matches their identity. Over half (56.9%) agreed that transgender people should be protected from discrimination. The survey also found that a majority (80.2%) of participants reported having seen transgender people but not knowing them personally.” That seems pretty progressive to me. The article also said the estimated trans population (probably not including crossdressers) of South Korea is only about 1,200 which in a country of over 51 million seems very low. The Forbes article notes that Lee Joo-young’s transgender character in Itaewon Class may help move that needle even a little further along.


Diana Zurco

The TWIT feature here at TGForum had a couple of small items of interest in the March 23 2020 edition.

One of them was about newly appointed news anchor Diana Zurco who will appear on Argentina television. Diana is the first transgender news person to hold such a post. The NBC News website that wrote about Diana had a few interesting facts in their article.

The average lifespan of Argentine transgender persons is only 41 years. That seems remarkable and tragic. The site reported: “Why do trans people live such short lives?” Zurco asked. “Because they are in a situation marked by family exclusion. A high percentage of trans girls in our country are expelled from their homes at a young age. And in the absence of opportunities, their bodies end up being their merchandise, their job.”

We see that also in the U.S. where so many trans women involved in sex work, or living in other dangerous circumstances fall victim to violence. There was some controversy about the life expectancy of trans persons in the U.S. being only 35 years. That seems to be disputed but even if it’s off by 20 years, say to 55 – that is still 20 years shorter than cis-peoples’ life expectancy into the mid-’70s.


Valerie Perrine in Lenny.

I was thinking of the actress Valerie Perrine recently. In the 1970s and ’80s she had an active movie career. Even though her star seemed to drop, she always remained one of my favorite women and when I thought of her earlier this week that crush was still as strong as ever.

She was blessed with a pretty face (of course) but she had a kind of naughty twinkle in her eye when she smiled. She was the homecoming queen who wanted to make out behind the garage or the wife who would flash her boobs just as you were leaving the house for work. Not surprisingly she found parts that traded on her natural sex appeal as a Vegas Showgirl (Diamonds Are Forever), an outer space marooned porn star (Slaughter House 5), a stripper (Lenny), vivacious disco Queen (Can’t Stop the Music), and Lex Luthor’s ditzy girlfriend (Superman I and II).

Perusing her list of movie credits reminded me she was in some good films like some listed above plus The Border, and Electric Horseman, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the stripper wife of Lenny Bruce in Lenny. She was also the first female to bare her breasts on American television when Public Broadcasting aired a production of the play Steambath in 1973. Valerie appeared in a nude pictorial in Playboy in the 1970s and on the cover during the Superman promotion in 1981. One article about her career called her “the thinking man’s sex symbol.” Another profile capsulated her career this way: “With her tiny voice and full-figure, Perrine tended to be cast as the good-hearted bimbo.”

Like all of my showbiz crushes, she had an indirect influence on my crossdressing desires. There was a still photo from the Lenny film where she was provocatively posed wearing a pair of gold lame slacks with high heels; in the Superman films she was always gorgeously displayed in sexy glamorous outfits or poses; her part as porn star Montana Wildhack (one of the great character names of all time) in Slaughter House 5 was languorously nude throughout the film; and in The Border there is a quick flash of her cute bottom in a thong panty. So there is all that also wrapped up in my memory of Valerie.

Valerie Perrine is 76 years old at this writing and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. I remember seeing her on a Tonight Show appearance during her heyday. When she came out from behind the curtain she did a full body wiggle, shaking her hair like a wild woman. That’s the Valerie I will always remember.


As I have mentioned many times before, the suggestions from the good folks at Pinterest.com continue to amaze me. Not long ago, I was getting recommendations for pins and boards (as they’re called) showcasing “big hair.” Most of the photos came from the 1980s but a fair amount also included photos from the 1960s. While the ’60s photos featured a lot of the big beehive and bouffant hairdos popular in that era, the ’80s snaps had a wide variety of voluminous curls, perms and heavily sprayed architectures that seemed to defy gravity as well as common sense.

Now that’s big hair.

I’m a big fan of big hair. Last year I wrote about the welcome return of the “natural” being adopted by more and more African-American women. The tightly coiffed and sprayed ‘dos of the 1960s led to more relaxed styles by the end of that decade and into the 1970s. If you’re not old enough to remember the amount of attention that was paid to Farrah Fawcett’s sweeping bangs and golden girl corona in the mid-1970s, believe me – it was something. After the Vietnam War, stagflation, the Iranian hostage crisis and the entrée of the glamorous Reagan presidency, Americans were ready to kick ass again. For women, that often seemed to take place atop their heads. The giant shoulder pads of women’s fashions in the 1980s needed hair volume to prevent women from looking like pinheads sticking up between giant epaulettes.

Hair – like breasts – is an easily visible differentiator between the sexes. Even men who wear long hair don’t tend it the way women do. Take a good head of hair and sculpt it into a creation and it can be a defining personality trait – for better or worse. Now, it is fun to look back at some of the excessive hairdo’s of the 1980s and laugh. But as I perused some of these crazy ’80s creations I found I liked a lot of them.

There’s a reason that drag queens usually sport huge hair. It’s exaggerated glamour – like the rest of their personas. Slipping the wig on – even if it’s a normal volume and style – is the point when I feel complete when I’m getting dressed. Maybe you feel the same. In the crossdressing game, the hair is literally the crown of femininity. And if you want to wear a crown make it a big one.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


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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