Well, shit happens, doesn't it?
I almost didn't get to go to Orycon this year. And I'm gonna take it in the shorts for the loss of pay because I ran out of sick time because I'd been sick with pneumonia because...
You get the idea. And then the OSFCI got buried in late entries and they didn't process me so I sniveled, I did, and sweet Michael Pinnick, the co-chair of OSFCI, who goes by the name Czarcasm in one of my other tribes: The Darklings (polyamorous followers of Darklady aka Theresa Reed), stepped in and personally fixed the problem with John Lorentz, the other chair at OSFCI.
(Everybody has a pseudonym there. I just go by Michelle, which gives you an idea of how unoriginal I can be. I'm also not polyamorous. Real boring.)
So I got to go. I volunteered. I entered the costume competition. I got stinkin' drunk Saturday night after the disaster at the costume competition. More about that later.
I didn't meet any writers. I didn't read any of my stories as I'd planned. I did, however, spend about $50--food and a couple of rings from the dealers room--put in about six hours total guarding the Hospitality Suite and the Game Room and manage to make an utter fool of myself at the costume competition.
Friday went pretty good. Picked up my badge about 6:10, about an hour after I'd planned and strolled around, poking my nose into things. I had my new hairpiece on, the one that Jamie from the salon had done for me and I looked pretty good. Ten years younger. (gawdamn Male Pattern Baldness!) I stayed as late as I could but began to fade around 11:00 pm. Missed Theresa's panel on Gender that happened around midnight. (I think they put her stuff on late at night for two reasons: 1)They think only the perverts will stay up long enough to attend these and 2)They don't want anyone affected by the perverts. ('They' being the nimrods who did the programming this year.) Had a good time, otherwise.
Saturday was another thing entirely. I'd stayed up too late. I was fried and overslept. I couldn't get that damned hairpiece to look right and wound up wearing my ol' standbye big blonde shag. I wore the black velvet pantsuit and red satin blouse with the big collar and fold-over-jacket cuffs. Those cool black velvet low heels with the rhinestones I bought at Goodwill, long ago before I came out and boy did Elis look at me funny when I purchased them. I was late to breakfast with the Darklings and I could tell Our Lady was annoyed as hell with me but controlling it admirably. I thought.
I thought I looked good. Theresa giggled and told me I looked like a fuckin' flight attendent from the '70's. Actually, she used the word: 'stewardess'. Scornfully.
This was not an auspicious beginning to the day. We finished breakfast around noon.($15 is what that sucker cost me. But it was good food, so there ya go...) I headed off to volunteer, idealism shining in my baby blues.
Four hours later, I was bored, tired and eager to change clothes for the costume comp. Now! I was thinking. Let's do it now!
Let me explain: I had the most killer outfit imaginable picked out. I'd done four hours of handstitching Thursday night, taking it in about four inches each side--both my machines died--and it's one of the prettiest dresses I own: fire engine red with black mini-pokadots with a black tulle' underskirt, off the shoulder and cut low in the back. Add a pair of black velvet fingerless gloves, black patterned p-hose, the Priscilla Presley wig and those cool cuban heel shoes--also from Goodwill-- and I looked efin' fabulous, I did.
Well, I sashayed up to Theresa's room after borrowing her cardkey around four and began my work.
First off, I wore too damn much foundation. I dunno why I did that. Force of habit, I guess, from when I used to do the drag queen bit. But things were going rather well, I thought. I glued jewels to the Priscilla Presley wig with eyelash glue, and was well into it when Theresa popped in around 5:30 and fed me snacks and alcohol. The alcohol was a bit of mistake, in retrospect. If I'd been sober, maybe I might have been able to handle better what happened later at the costume competition.
I hit the call time for the CC right on the button and sat around with the rest of the folks. The emcee, an old duffer whose name I did not catch (and should have so I could mail him cab fare so he could go drown himself) came up and down the line of us contestants, taking names and asking how we wanted to be introduced. He came to me and asked me my name.
"Miss Michelle Rose,"I said proudly.
He blinked at me. "Miss?" he asked, rather pointedly.
Alarm bells should have rung. I was tipsy, so they didn't. "Uh-huh," I said, rather enthusiastically. "And could you add: 'The Fabulous Fifties'?" (The Con's theme was Through the Years or something like that and I thought I looked delightfully retro.)
His eyebrows went up and he looked down at his clipboard. "Hmmm," he grunted and scribbled something. I was too keyed up to notice his reaction. Too keyed up and drunk.
He moved on. I sat there, jittering. After a few more minutes, a couple of stage hands came in and announced that they would be the ones at the front of the stage to help us contestants off so we didn't stumble in case we were blinded by the stage lights. One of them, the female--who had a decidedly dykey air about her--looked at me and grinned. "Especially you, honey," she told me cheerfully. "Are you supposed to be someone special?"
Still no alarm bells. I can be so effin' dense sometimes. "No, not really," I said, rather distracted. Showtime was coming up fast and I was getting a serious case of stage fright. There were a lot of people out there.
"Well, you just walk out, bow to the Empress of Style and then come forward and we'll help you." She snickered and elbowed her partner who favored me with a toothy grin.
I still didn't get it. They left and we were off and running a few short minutes later.
I was number five in line. I hit my mark behind the curtain, they announced me, the stage hand pulled the curtain back and I waltzed onto the stage. I was three steps out there when the announcer's intro sank in:
"MISTER Michelle Rose. The Fantasy Fifty!"
I almost stumbled but I curtseyed, pivoted toward the front of the stage and, beyond the lights, I saw the two stage hands break up laughing and high-five each other.
This time I got it. Sometimes it takes a friggin' building to fall on me but I got it, oh yeah. Connections snapped and fizzled through my sozzled brain and I knew without coming any closer that there was no way I'd make it off that stage without those two morons dropping me into a disjointed pile.
No way! my blitzed brain screamed at me. Get out! NOW!
I did a one-eighty and sashayed back toward the emcee who was glaring at me over his pince-nez. As I passed him, he muttered: "You're supposed to go off the front, asshole."
"Not a chance, asshole," I murmured back at him and stumbled back down the stairs into the backstage area. I found a chair and sank into it, shaking like a leaf.
I let most of the group go off and then snuck out the back of the backstage area and headed for the rear of the room. Nobody noticed me, thank Ghod, else I might have burst into tears then and there. I hung around waiting to see if someone might possibly approach me and apologize for attempting to play a practical joke on the 'ridiculous' tranny but nobody did.
I slipped out and went across the way to watch a really cool Celtic/Gaelic band named Tricky Pixie. They were so damned good, I quite forgot my embarrassment and humiliation for a while and just enjoyed them.
When they were done--I applauded until my hands hurt--I went back to the CC room, intending to find that effin' emcee and thrash an apology out of him. Guess who was at the door? No, not him, that dyke with the warped sense of humor. She recognized me.
"Hey!" she yelled at the top of her voice. "There's the guy who fucked us up! Hey man, can't you tell when we're just messin' with ya?"
I glared at her and brushed past her. She tried to push me back but I was moving too quickly. I couldn't find the emcee so I turned around and headed back out, thinking that maybe I could find Michael and lodge a complaint. The alcohol was burning off from all the anger and high emotion and I seriously wanted someone's head on a platter. As I approached the door, I saw another young lady there who'd been with the dyke when I came in. I went up to her and in calm, measured tones, I said:
"You people need some education in gender issues. I may look like a man in a dress, but in fact, I am transgendered and I am living full time as a woman. It was not right for your associate to call me a 'guy' nor was it right for the emcee to introduce me as 'Mister' and I do not appreciate being the butt of a very juvenile joke. I intend to report this to the OSFCI co-chairman. Do you understand?"
She stared at me glassily. "Hey, listen," she began. "It was just a joke. You need to lighten up..."
At that point, I'd had a bellyfull. "No," I snapped. "You folks need to grow up and quickly. I'm prety laid-back but the next tranny you dis' may not be so easy-going and she's probably gonna hand you your pointed little head. Get a clue, youngster. This ain't no joke."
And I sashayed outa there, fighting down tears.
I hit the bar. I got a drink. I sucked it down in ten seconds flat and went to find Michael. I found him about a half-hour later and poured out my heart to him and sobbed a bit while he held me and soothed me and promised he'd look into it and kick some ass.
I like Michael. I trust him. I know he's a man of his word. But I'm never going to put myself through that again, you bet your ass.
The rest of the night passed with me hunting down free alcohol and doing my level best to get fried.
I succeeded admirably. I had to take a cab home and the driver was female and very understanding. She got me home for under ten bucks and I tipped her another three and staggered upstairs to my place, dropped my bags on the floor and bawled like a baby for a while.
And the moral of our story is?
I expect that from the average man on the street who's clueless and hostile. I expect it from the religious fundies who think I'm Satan's whore and have an ideological axe to grind over me. I can even endure it from a suspicious cop who thinks I'm a hooker.
But not my tribe. Not from S-F people who not only should know better but I know have been trained better. Not from supposed free thinkers and progressive people who should know who and what I am without me having to throw a hissy fit.
I'm gonna go again next year and I'm going to volunteer again and I'm going to be cool and calm and oh so urbane.
But I'm never entering a costume competition, ever again, at least not at the Oregon Science Fiction Convention.
Not this trans woman.
Michelle Diane Rose
November 30, 2008