In honor of the release of the Notes from the UnderGround
a 26 year old news letter it has been decided to post openly
all issues, now for free.
Ottawa, Canada Winter 88/89 No.1
New Ottawa Women (N.O.W):
The Story So Far
It has been seven months now, since the first meeting of New Ottawa Women, the support group for those individuals who prefer cross-dressing to the socially sanctioned alternative, and the membership is clamoring for a news letter. Actually, the members claim theyve been clamoring for seven months and Im only getting around to it now, but this is a charge I vigorously deny.
There are, however, some good reasons to issue our first letter now and the happiest one is our success.
We have had about fifty people respond, mostly from the Ottawa area, the Valley and some as far away as Southern Ontario. Not all have attended our meetings, of course, our largest turnout so far being twelve.
Still, this was enough to fill up all available seats at Judys house, with several lawn chairs standing by in reserve should they have been necessary.
We have expanded our monthly meetings to twice monthly, the first Saturday and the Wednesday which falls closest to the middle of the month. This, we hope, will allow more people to attend, as well as giving us another excuse to socialize in our skirts.
Judy has been hostess to most of these get-togethers, although we have, for variety, moved the event from time to time, an honor somewhat akin to hosting the Gray Cup game.
N.O.W. was established and continues to be primarily a social/support group. Our meetings are informal. This, I believe, has become our strength for many new friendships have been made and the unqualified support for one another has laid the foundation for what we hope will be a durable association.
Should our membership continue to grow, we will sooner or later have to address the problem of finding more space. This will require that we devote more of our meetings to business which, in turn, will likely lead us into a few minefields. Still, these are challenges associated with success and we welcome them.
For the time being, we are pleased with the progress weve made in seven months and excited by our potential. We urge those of you who have not yet attended a meeting to consider stopping by one evening. The group is stronger for your participation and all our members have benefited from the support and friendship of our young organization.
Girls just want to have fun. Some of the members on the occasion of our six month anniversary.
Ottawa, Canada Spring 89 No.2
By the inch, lifes a cinch
Probably more people read about than actually participate in self-help groups. I certainly did so for the longest time (like most of my life). I would encourage the fence sitters to try my conservative approach, First, get a post office box: this is a secure contact point Second, correspond or phone contacts as provided by appropriate journals or distress centers. Third, meet with the contact person in a neutral non-threatening public place. Fourth attend a meeting: socialize, sample the atmosphere, interact to find yourself. Fifth, relate your concerns to the organizer: feedback is needed to keep the group together.
Even if you decide to drop out talk if over with the organizer so there is no misunderstanding. COMMUNICATE: Especially with that significant other. It is not easy, but then what choice do you have? Remember by the yard life is hard, but by the inch lifes a cinch. Set realistic goals and devise a stepwise method of working towards them.
Change the goals, shorten the steps, and persevere. You came this far, you can succeed. Look for positive feelings and goals and ignore the negative.Perhaps that sounds too simple, but there is something quite dramatic implied in this process: responsibility. For most of my life I was under the impression that something was wrong with me and I tried to identify and isolate my illness. Trying to find the right label was in vain, so a cure was also hopeless. Due to guilt I tried to blame my feelings on some outside source: something was making me do this against my will, or something happened in my development, or I was raised in some faulty way.
I remember as a child when I learned that there was such a thing as ovaries and testicles that I believed that I probably had one of each: but I exhausted a storehouse of excuses and was left with the obvious: This is me.
In my particular story my coming out was due to a number of events. I started a martial arts program three years ago and this bolstered my assertiveness as well as generally helping me to physically feel better about myself.
About 18 months ago I had surgery for a liver tumor (benign:–relief!)and this as well as well the usual mid-life crisis heightened my awareness that I was not making decisions because I was avoiding responsibility. I realized I was lying to myself and the result was a split lifestyle, with both sides tense and grieving.
I am one person, but I appear to be two because that is how to adapt to this society and remain successful, influential, ect.
Its a mans world so the best way to achieve material success and be secure is to be a man. And if born with XY chromosomes, the best way to have children is to be the father.
Still there is the feeling of self-betrayal and yet once a decision is made often there is no setting the clock back. Many compromises are required in life, and sometimes sacrifices. These are rationalized as being investments , yet with reflection grief sets in with longing. But no amount of pining for the lost world will bring it about: rather positive action is required to reinstate that which was perceived to be lost. Feelings can be influenced by rationally planning changes in the environment, but the first step is to come to grips with your own feelings of helplessness. Make small decisions first, and be prepared to live with the consequences. Small successes encourage more decisions and over time character strengthens and what was once unthinkable can become one option of a long list of possibilities.
For me this has been quite a period of growing up and by no means has this been easy (but then few things worthwhile come easy or cheap).
There has been a considerable ripple effect throughout my life and on others, especially those most close to me. I have become mich more aware of others after spending so many years and so much energy watching myself. I have discovered that very few people were actually watching me, and most people dont really judge; and for those few who do judge on-the-quick, who cares about them? Yes, I make mistakes and I try to fix them. No, I am still conservative and cautious, but I take calculated risks. I am not afraid to undertake an adventure once I make the decision because I have the resolve to see it through. This is what I want to do: there is no compulsion, no duress, no pathology.
This is an act of my will and I am responsible or myself. And Ive never felt this good before in all my life: this is living!
Transvestism and Tabloid TV
In the uproar that followed the racist-inspired brawl on Geraldo, it seemed like every news medium with pretensions to serious journalism had an expose of tabloid television. In virtually every such expose there was, along with the racists, satanists and sado-masochists (and as if to demonstrate just how scandalous these programs had become), a few shots of Phil Donahue cavorting in a skirt.
Implicit in these references was the suggestion that transvestism is not a subject that Serious Journalists talk about.
It is of course, typical of the arrogance of mainstream society that it assumes there is nothing it can learn from crossdresses, or for that matter from any other minority group.
It is only when society accepts these groups as part of itself that it is willing to open its ears. When Dustin Hoffman expounded upon all he had learned form playing Tootsie, Serious Journalists everywhere were eager to listen. What he learned was what any semi-thoughtful cross dresser knew, but because it was Dustin Hoffman expressing these views it was somehow more legitimate than if you or I expressed them.
Unfortunately society is not likely to change its views overnight.
Its interest in transvestism is still largely prurient, and it assumes, no matter what we say to the contrary, our interest is prurient also.
We are looking at cross dressing from two entirely different perspectives, and from there perspective transvestism is definitely a subject for tabloid television.
I sometimes think that this is our fault, that we cross dressers have been too lady-like for our own good. We have spent so much time demurely explaining and justifying ourselves to society that we are seen to be pleading for acceptance. Perhaps its time to point out that transvestism is very much part of a society that selectively and hypocritically withholds certain privileges to one sex while granting them to the other. Frankly it has always baffled me that were viewed as if weve come form some other planet.
In everything worthwhile there are steps to be taken and I have no doubt that the exposure weve received on shows such as Geraldo, Sally Jessy Raphael and in particular Donahue has been benefical.
Needless to say though, much remains to be done. It would be marvelous to see a cross dresser on television one day when what hes wearing is not the issue.
Wve been quietly squirreling away books and publications that may be of interest to cross dressers. Most of these are from the impressive Karen Hope Collection and are on more or less permant loan to the group. This is only a partial list, as our acquisitions are constantly benefiting from the generosity of the membership.
Tapestry nos. 51 & 53
Em Femme no.8
Transvestia no. 84, 86 “ 93, 95-100, 103
Femme Mirror no. 1-4
Men in Skirts 1 & 2
Diary of a Transvestite
Understanding Crossdressing by V.Prince
Poppy Seed Cake
1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2) Grease Bundt or tube pan (DO NOT FLOUR).
3) Mix together until smooth: (mixer at medium high).
a) One package white cake mix (2 layer size).
b) One package 4 serving size INSTANT vanilla pudding.
c) 4 whole eggs ( no shells ).
d) One cup (250ml) sour cream.
e) cup liquid vegetable oil.
f) 1/4 to cup poppy seeds (as you like).
4) The Batter will be thick. Pour into bake pan. Bake one hour near the center of the oven (NOT ON THE BOTTOM SHELF).
5) Allow to cool 15 serving dust with icing suger.
Some notes regarding
With the interest shown in the newsletter, and because we still try to avoid business as much as possible at our meetings, I thought I should make a few remarks regarding the editorial policy of�Notes from the Underground and my general conception of the newsletter.
First, about the name. It is, I admit. A direct steal from Dostoyevsky and his novel which has absolutely nothing to do with transvestism. I have, however, always had a difficult time digesting newsletters with titles like Lace and Garters News
Simply because they reduce crossdressing to a caricature of itself.
Now transvestism in its repressed state can be fetishistic of course, but transvestism in its natural state ~ having the freedom to wear what you want ~ is not. So that explains the total absence of frocks and lingerie in the title but doesnt necessarily justify the title Ive chosen. There have been suggestions ~ probably true ~ that
Notes from the Underground implies were running a subversive organization here. Disregarding the fact that for a good many people we are a subversive organization, I will say I chose it more for the secrecy which surrounds transvestism and which keeps the average cross dresser employed in clandestine activities that would do the CIA proud. I must admit too that I rather relish the idea of being considered a subversive organization. Such groups generally inspire fear which if I may resort to Psychology 101, is probably at the root of the antipathy towards cross dressing.
My conception of the purpose of Notes from the Underground is as follows. It should:
- Serve as a public record of the groups activities.
- Promote a sense of the individuals contribution to the group.
- Communicate goals and help people get there.
- Show where the money comes from and where it goes. This has been simple so far since we have no money.
- Create a positive image (with no sugar coating).�
Although this list may seem specific there is actually a great flexibility in numbers 1 and 2 which allows me to throw in, say, Pams recipe for Poppy Seed Cake without so much as a worry about straying from my editorial policy. (The cake, incidentally, for those of you who werent at the meeting when we ate it was very good and I heartily encourage all of you to prepare it for the next time you have crossdressers over for tea.)
I feel I should also warn those of you with no intrest in politics that I am frequently compelled to rail away at societys double standards.
I am just bent that way Im afraid. The surest way to prevent this is, of course, to limit my participation in the newsletter by contributing to it yourselfes.
Although Note from the Underground is still nominally a quarterly, we who break all the rules for acceptable behaviour in terms of dress are not too concerned about printing issues whenever we feel like it. Theres always room for your creativity.