By Paula Gaikowski

Being transgender in the 60’s, 70’s, 80s and 90’s, information was a scarcity. I’d devour any bit I could find. In the 60’s, I’d scour the tabloids in the back of Maybrook Sweetshop for scandalous stories. In the 80’s, I’d tune into Sally Jesse or Donahue to listen to crossdressers and transsexuals tell their story.

Once in the 80’s, I sat furtively in the library reading Jan Morris’s biography Conundrum afraid to take it out for fear that “they” might know. In the back of that book, I remember finding a folded note; on it were four words “You are not alone.” A wave of emotions rolled over me. Someone else shared my problem and understood.

Then came the Internet and a community of like-minded persons who educated, supported and comforted each other.

Daily I read Femulate and other transgender sites. I am always eager to learn more about the transgender experience.

So then came Caitlyn Jenner. If she had rolled onto the headlines in the 1980’s, I would have bought her book and read it secretly in the parking lot at work. However, there was the Vanity Fair cover, her book and her television show and I stood there like a scared middle schooler at her first dance frozen.

Caitlyn Jenner is a controversial figure in our community, however, that wasn’t what was keeping me from picking up her book.

I was baffled myself.

I’ve now read her book and now I know why.

Every time I saw her picture and every time I heard a joke or transphobic comment, it judged and criticized me. She was the same age and had lived through the same struggle; she could have been the one who wrote that note. So when people mocked or insulted her they insulted and mocked me.

Reading her book was like a reading about myself, sisters’ clothes, over-compensating, denial, hidden makeup and clothes, sneaking out dressed, etc.

I hope to get some time after the holidays to review her book and share my thoughts with my sisters here at Femulate.

There’s a lot to think about.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Source: Bebe
Wearing Bebe (Source: Bebe)

Finalists in the Queen of Dhwayah
Finalists in the Queen of Dhwayah transgender beauty contest in Kochi, India.