The Duality & Unity of being T
May I tell you my story?; The story of a local Trans Matriarch
By Olivia Margaret Ontko, T.M.P Contributor blogger
In 1998, after close to 20 years of denial and multiple purges, I finally admitted to myself that I was Trans. The internet was just beginning to be the social action catalyst it now is, and there were a few online groups for transperson. But the whole community was cloaked in secrecy for fear of harassment, physical violence, and sordid tales of torture and death especially in the Southeastern states.
Nevertheless, I haunted the internet looking for a gathering of others like me. And I found it! It was known as the Southern Comfort Conference, and it was held in Atlanta. With some trepidation I made hotel reservations for me and my spouse, who was trying hard to be supportive.
The fateful day came. We climbed into our car and set off for Atlanta, with me in a light travel dress... Arriving in Atlanta we parked and took the elevator up to the lobby. It was full of women who seemed to be taller than average....more about that later.
After checking in we looked around a bit, and then went back to the room to take a nap and get dressed for supper.
We left the room and got in the elevator. Down it went to the Ballroom level. The doors slowly opened and I was riveted to the floor, my jaw hanging open in disbelief. The Ballroom was full of more than 800 people. And they were all Trans.
That week changed my life. I attended seminars, saw presentations on bovines, how to walk, how to talk, how to be full of chalk (for the military types). I had a glamour-girl makeover. I bought clothes. I bought jewelry. And talked to everyone who came within range. The topic of discussion? How do I start and maintain a local support group.
An aside... I was sitting in the lobby when a Delta Airlines crew bus pulled up. About 4 flight crews disembarked, and stood still for a moment but with their eyes sweeping left = right = left = right. They went to the desk and got their room keys. I heard them agree to meet in ten minutes, so I stayed where I was. This was about to get interesting. Shortly thereafter the first group of stews got off the elevator and headed for the bar. Ordering their drinks, one of them said to the barkeep, "What is this, a convention of tall women?" Well. The whole bar rocked with laughter. One of the "tall girls" in a mini-micro-skirt, otherwise known as a gown less evening strap, went over and said in a startling deep, very deep bass voice "Let me tell you a few things, ladies...", and, as she talked, the stews' eyes got bigger and bigger... She finished her introduction and said "Any questions, ladies?" There was a pause, whereupon one of the stews raised her empty glass and loudly said "How does a girl get a drink around here?" The broken ice clinked in the glasses and we all toasted our solidarity.
I came back to Charleston full of zeal, but had realized that the fledgling group would need someone to serve as a point person as could not fulfill that role. Why? Because I was still not out, and 95% of my company's revenues came from contracts I had with mainline Christian churches...
A girl I had met in Atlanta gave me the phone number of one Terri Foxx in Givhans, whom I called upon my arrival home. We set up a meeting at my office after hours. That is how stealth we felt we had to be. We met, and talked into the night, and CATS was conceived.
To be continued....
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