The Notes from The UnderGround News Letter Vol.2 No.4
Ottawa, Canada July/August 1990 Vol.2 No.4
Traveling with Jenny
In the spring of 1980, my mother moved to Victoria, B.C. from a small city in Eastern Ontario. While she wanted to keep her car, which she loved, she couldn face the 2,500 mile trip herself, so she offered an expense paid trip to brother which he accepted with alacrity. Unfortunately, since school was in session at that time of year, brother’s wife and children were not free to travel and he would have to make the trip alone. Naturally, therefore, he made immediate plans for me to take his place. Its funny but it seems that, back then, after a certain period in the closet, I was shy about coming out, so I didnt make my first appearance until the first night in a motel (well-dressed ladies don’t camp in pup tents; it wrinkles the clothes as well as the hair do). However from there it was Jenny all the way! The first problem occurred when I had to take back an alarm clock brother had bought the night before at K-Mart in Sudbury (he forgotten to pack his, or mine This was in Sault Ste Marie, at another K-Mart store. It was the end of a busy day both for me and the girl at the Courtesy desk, so when the lady security guard started questioning her as to whether I was a man or not, the courtesy girl snapped back “I dont know”, clearly indicating she didnt care.
After getting permission to take another clock (which I tested before leaving), I just left as anyone tired from a day on the road would do. Problem two was being stopped by the 0.P.P. for speeding. He nailed me fair and square doing 135 clicks in a 90 zone. You had to be there to appreciate the look of confusion on his face as I tried to explain that I was “He” and that “She” (the name on my ownership) was my mother. I’m sure he thought I’d come away with my husbands drivers license. In any case, since only speed laws were broken, the ticket was the only consequence, to wit $40.00, and three demerit points, enough to earn a nasty letter from the Ministry of Transport. During this part of the Journey, I stopped at a small truck stop to go to the powder room and have a cup of coffee, in that order. As it wasnt busy, the wife half of the husband and wife team that operated the place, was sitting watching TV (the tube) and knitting. At first, when I tried to strike up a conversation, she seemed a little hostile, but as I persisted in chatting about the curling bonspiel on , television, she soon thawed, and we had a nice little kaffee klatsch, Just the two of us. I seemed to pass all right, eating in restaurants, some crowded, some not, taking rooms in motels, and refueling with no problems. Once, in the Saskatchewan prairies, two young men in their late teens, dressed in neat, conservative blue suits, and driving a neat, conservative blue pickup truck, clearly went out of their way to get a second look, as I sat at the gas pumps. And in B.C., a pharmacist insisted on waiting on me personally when all I wanted was a nail file. I was flattered by the attention until he ended with “Thank you, Sir”.
Those two incidents taught me not to hurry my make up Job, and to .test it in daylight I But in Winnipeg I dropped into the Bay to check out a sale and found the most adorable outfit consisting of a full, permanent-pleated skirt, (I’m a sucker for either pleats or full skirts; to have both is heaven!) with a matching pull over, in mauve, one of my favorite coulors. when I realized it was only a size 16, but at a price I couldnt resist, I asked the sales clerk if I could try it on (to give her a chance to say no). As it was fairly busy, she didnt even look up, but said, “Take it into the fitting rooms back there, Madam.” So I did, and it fit like a dream! So I bought it, and no one batted an eyelash throughout the entire incident. Later in Vancouver, I bought a lovely turquoise, pleated skirt in a shop specializing in tall and over sizes. I tried it on and paid for it with a charge card brother gave me. It has his name, but my signature, and after verifying with the charge card company that that was all right, the manager bagged my purchase and thanked me very much. I also used my charge card to obtain additional travelers cheques in Brooks, Alberta without difficulty.� This was my first trip through the Rockies, though I’d been as far as Alberta many times in the past. How beautiful they are! How sad that Im not a poetess to express their loveliness! I couldnt bear to Just drive through, so I stopped for the night in Golden, B.C. The room had windows on both front and rear, so there was always a spectacular view. Fortunately, it was off-season and half price or I could never have afforded this room, which was gorgeous in its appointments as well.
About 150 miles out from Vancouver, I stopped to pick up a young Indian girl hitch- hiking into Vancouver from her reserve. I was a little hungry for company by then, and she seemed safe enough. we had a nice chat, stopped for lunch together, even exchanged spritzes of each others cologne. After dropping her off, I drove around Vancouver to familiarize myself with its layout. At nine o clock in the evening, closing time for stores, I Just finished exploring a large shopping centre in North Vancouver. As I got off the escalator, in the parking garage, a little guy, not more than�asked me to go for a drink with him. He was quite persistent, though I refused him politely three times, and kept walking towards my car. There was no real problem. In fact, I was more amused at what a “Mutt and Jeff” couple we would have made had I gone with him! By the time I got checked into my motel, it was late and I was pooped, so I dropped into the bar for a nightcap. Mid-week things were slow and the only real activity was a foursome of women apparently closing off a night out together. They didnt seem to pay me any attention, but as I left the bar and walked toward my room, I heard a scuffling noise behind me and looked around to see one of the women had followed me and was giggling.
As I turned, she dashed back into the bar. The thought crossed my mind to go back and sit down with them to see if they really wanted their curiosity satisfied, but I was so tired, I didnt give a damn at that point. Next afternoon (I slept until noon) found me exploring central Vancouver and shopping After supper, the evening began to chill and I hadnt brought a wrap into town, but I remembered a lovely white woven shawl with black lines through it that I had seen earlier and decided not to buy because the budget had long ago gone out the window. So I hurried back to the store and found theyd changed the display and my shawl was gone! The sales clerks were very kind as they tried to find where it had been stored away. It was an interesting experience as I had not been insistent or assertive, but had merely expressed to them my strong attraction to THAT wrap. They seemed pleased to co-operate, (I had THREE of them looking for about five minutes!) and when they finally located it, the purchase was made. I had discovered that a local traditional Jazz club had their meeting that night not far from my motel, but when I arrived, I was a little disconcerted to find out it was a dance. It was crowded with couples and groups. I soon was lost in the music and enjoying myself, when a man young enough to be my son appeared at my elbow and asked me if I liked the band. He so startled me that before I could adjust, brothers voice answer dude. I dont think I saw anyone disappear into a crowd faster than he did. In the morning, I let brother out of the suitcase, while I climbed back in. He drove me down to the bus station and put me UNDER the bus back to Ottawa, while HE got to FLY back after crossing to, Victoria, delivering the car and visiting with mother (who doesnt know she had two daughters) for a day.
Louisa, A True Story of 1914
When I was a teenager, Just after the Second World War, I was involved in a conversation which included a Scottish lady, then in her seventies. For some reason, the talk had turned to the uncovering of spies, and little Miss Gordon told us how, just before the First World War, she had been living on the south coast of England.
“In those days,” she said, “passports were quite rare. British people, at any rate, only needed them if they were travelling to some very lawless place like Russia or Turkey. Travelling to France or Germany, for example, was simply a matter of buying your ticket on a train or steamship. If you wanted to live and work in another country, it was a matter of going there and finding a Job, not of first providing suitable identification and satisfying the immigration authorities. There simply werent any! Accordingly, there were quite a number of foreigners working in England at that time, and it was not at all unusual that the girls’ boarding school in the town next to where Miss Gordon was living had a German maid. However, all this changed in 1914, like so many things. All Germans were suddenly “enemy aliens,” and although the idea of them being spies, or being able to harm the country in any way was mostly ridiculous, they were all investigated and some were even interned. So it was that one morning, Miss Gordon had met the headmistress of the school, who was looking extremely shaken. “We’ve lost Louisa!” she told Miss Gordon. “Shes been taken away by the police.” Miss Gordon couldnt believe it. Louisa had always seemed a very pleasant girl whenever she had met her. She knew that not only had Louisa performed her regular maids duties to the full satisfaction of the headmistress, but that she had been very liked by all the young girls, and was even something of what we would now call a den mother to them. “They must be mad,” Miss Gordon had replied, “Louisa couldnt possibly be a spy.” “No, shes not a spy, replied the headmistress with a touch of hysteria in her voice, “shes a man!” Miss Gordon told us with an air of puzzled amusement that after Louisa had left, the women found in her bedroom a large quantity of handmade, embroidered and lace trimmed underclothes. She had clearly been very skilful with her needle. when first I heard this story, nearly forty years ago now, I wondered Just how close Louisa’s compulsion was to my own. Now I feel sad to think of her being unmasked. However, she must have had many happy times in that ultra feminine atmosphere. I like to think she was able to resume her dressing at some later time. Julia Matheson Julia is a member of the Cornbury Society in Vancouver.
I have noticed in the last few year the frequency of crossdressers appearing on national television. Geraldo, Sally Jesse Raphael and Donahue have at one time or another had transvestites as guests.” Donahue even wore a skirt on his talk show last year. These guests range from some of the best female impersonators in the country to crossdressers like you and me. I have also noticed that the audience in the shows are accepting the fact that we are not a threat to society. Even the newspapers and Dear Abby, like the column on May 9, 1990 in the Ottawa Citizen, are portraying us as normal people.
Programs like the Canadian production CODCG use crossdressing as part of their format. Tommy Sexton does a great Barbara Walters and Tammy Baker, and Greg Malone does a great Barbara Frum. Some of the sitcoms and the soaps have a transvestite as part of their story line. We seem to be coming out in the world more and more because of shows like these.
When you hear people talking about crossdressers or transvestites, its not in a derogatory tone of voice but in a so what attitude. I have walked the malls in Ottawa (all except one) as my twin sister and she has purchased clothes with maybe just a side glance from the sales clerk. We are not monsters anymore in the public eye. when they see me on the street, I will get a smile from the real ladies, because they know we are having fun. If the fashion industry has put women into ties and slacks, its about time we were allowed to wear skirts and blouses and portray the female identity
Dear Ted (Alison)
Thank you for your nice letter. Im happy that you and your group liked the bit from the Spring issue of our magazine about your group and its newsletter. It’s not BS, I really do like your newsletter and since Ottawa is so far away from our core membership, membership in your group for our Ottawa area members and readers is a logical step for those who wish to get in contact with others like themselves. I find your relationship with Tri Ess interesting. It would seem from the lead editorial in Tapestry # 55 that they are going through a period of soul searching. The Beaumont Society in England went through a similar period two years ago and emerged triumphant. I hope that Tri-Ess will do so too.
As for MSC, we are purely a social organization. we agree with P. E. Trudeau that we have no business in our members bedrooms. Even so, it turns out that about 95% of our members are heterosexual.
I found the article “where Do we Go From Here?” in the May/June issue of N.F.T.U. very interesting. I find myself to be in exactly the same position. I look forward J to the (usually) monthly meetings, but I want to live full time as a woman. I dont know that I am experienced enough to get away with it, but I would like to try. Part of the problem is that society in general is ignorant of us, and is, therefore, likely to be hostile. So what is needed is education of that society.
They have to be informed about us and need to be told that we pose no threat to them, their children or their beliefs. I am prepared to do what I can to achieve this goal, but I dont know how to go about it. I recently wrote to Transition Support in Toronto to tell them that I was prepared to appear on a TV talk show if they wanted me to, but I heard nothing from them. Where do I go from here? Perhaps you have a suggestion?
(Anne is editor of Monarch magazine) As the years go by, I find I’m never quite pleased at my rate of progress in educating the world and, consequently, my rate of progress in freeing myself to wear what I want to wear. Sometimes I have to remind myself that Ive accomplished more than I ever imagined already. I sometimes think its sad that there is no one to congratulate and encourage us for the personal gains we’ve made. The rest of the world would prefer not to acknowledge the victories we’ve had over the obstacles theve put in front of us. Your volunteering to appear on television took courage. I dont have any suggestions, but if you can maintain that strength (cross-dressing is exasperating because you can never let up or your courage regresses), I� feel sure youll find opportunities for public education.
HEELS, REBELS & POTTERS
King Louis XIV of `France was a short man, so he ordered high heels for his shoes. Soon other men were wearing high heels too. Louis, who reigned from 1643 to 1715, had his shoes trimmed with lace, ribbons, bows and Jewels. A favorite pair had bows 16 inches lacross! Not fancy enough, Louis decided, so he ordered famous artists to paint the heels of his shoes with the scenes of battles his troops had won. (Sounds like the Imelda Marcos of the 17th Century.)
From the Associated Press:
Machine-gun toting guerrillas, some in dresses for lack of other clothes, cruise the streets of Liberias second largest city, waiting for the order to invade Monrovia, the capital.
(I’l bet the rebels in the dresses get a lot of respect when they have machine guns in their hands. Where do I sign up?)
Transvestite potters in the pueblos of New Mexico can be traced back more than 150 years. The most famous man woman was the Zuni, Wewha, an important informant for Matilda Coxe Stevenson who, with her husband James, was a pioneer anthropologist in the Southwest. She referred to wewha as “the strongest character and the most intelligent of the Zuni tribe within (her) knowledge.” Harmony by Hand: Art of the SW Indians. Chronicle Books. 1988.
The first_ annual Corn Roast and Barbecue at Mont Cascades, Quebec, September 29, 1990. Details in the next newsletter.
No, we haven’t forgot about our name change, for those of you who are� awaiting the results with breathless anticipation. were just slow. Results of the vote should be available by next newsletter.
I want to thank a certain member of the group for introducing three super I ladies into my life. These ladies enjoy the game I am playing and find nothing wrong with my dressing up and looking like a woman. I feel comfortable in their presence as Joanne or her twin brother. when we talk about crossdressing or any other subject there is an aura in the room. They have looked at pictures of Joanne as we sipped coffee in her salon. I guess it is the right time in my life to meet more people and to express myself as Joanne. And these three ladies make it so easy to do so.