Why history seem to be less appealing lately

When I was at work the other day I found myself saying that I am not overly interested in history and historical things. First I just thought it was just an expression of my forward-looking creative mind. However, today I realised that it might be much more into the whole thing.

When I was in school I actually was fairly interested in history and had really good grades in it. I think most of my interest was focused at the Second World War era and of course aviation in particular. I still have all these books in my bookshelf but I seem less and less inclined to read them. It is not because I have lost interest in miitary warfare, in fact in my job I think I need to consider historical lessons learned quite a lot.

I believe it has more to do with progress in terms of human rights, democracy and respect for minorities. My own journey into the woman I am today and my work with LGBT-rights has actually influenced me a lot. So much that is has became a centerpiece of all my values. I have learned so much about all the aspects of human rights from laws and regulations down to the importance of awarness building in schools and society in general.

Each time I see some historic exhibition it often is fairly obvious that the situation for women, ethnic minorites, gay and lesbians, transgendered, disabled people was a lot worse than it is today here in Sweden. I have a hard time disregarding the fact that it would have been a real tough for me to live in that era and that gives me a feeling of sadness. I think that is why I find it very hard to be fascinated by historical reenactments, historical cities and exhibitions. I have no interest in either taking part in nor watching people reenacting an era where women in general and lesbian ones in particular had such a hard time.

This also seems to overflow to my feelings when I see news segments from other parts of the world where it usually feels like travelling back in time in terms of respect for human rights. However, my feelings in these case are different because I feel an urge to do something to change the current situation. Still, it also seem to give me reminders of “old times” which makes me even less interested in history.

Of course we also have the aspect of my own history which I find myself struggling with now and then. I have chosen to be completely open with my background since I desperately don’t want to get back in the closet again. On the other hand it is hard to relate to my own history which represent a time where so many central things were wrong. It is sometimes even hard to relate to the fact that it was me doing this stupid things back then. I also find myself more uncomfortable to be reminded about what it was like then, my old name and things like that. It nearly makes me shiver sometimes.

Finally I think I have a tendency to be charmed by new novel ways of solving problems and that I think is the final nail in my history coffin. Playing with a ten year old computer isn’t actually that much fun and I fail to be charmed by the thoughts of that time. One of the few exceptions is that I actually enjoy going to the National Air & Space Museum where there obviously is a lot of old aircraft. Still, I often skip the oldest parts of the exhibition and move to the newer aircraft and of course enjoy future-oriented exhibtions the most.

So, history seem to make me feel there wouldn’t be any place for someone like me in that setting and the sad part is that it is probably true.

Am I too hard on myself or too scared?

Me in front of the US Congress
I am back in the US again, this time for two weeks. The first one in the DC area and the second one in the Norfolk area. Decided to stay in the DC area over the weekend – assumed there would be more interesting things to do there. Today I have walked around at The Mall and saw the congress and then I went to the National Air & Space Museum. It was a good afternoon even though I was there by myself.

Most of the LGBT people I know they usually try to explore the LGBT-scene when they are visiting a city. Sure, most of them travel privately with LGBT-friends or partners so I guess it is a little bit different than for me. I usually end up travelling to nice places in the line of my work and that means spending time with heterosexual collegues nighttime. It is no problem really, I like to have the company and evening discussions are sometimes more productive than the formal meetings during the day. However this time was the first one in a long time where I will not have the company of a collegue all the time so I at least started to check out the local scene here in DC.

Generally, I still can think it is stressful to sit by myself at a restaurant. I guess it is because I project that I am a strange person that is sitting there by herself because she has no friends. Still, looking back 10 years I would have been terrified by going to a restaurant by myself and now I can just be uneasy at times.

So I found two cool places for lesbian women here in DC. The first one is called Lace and is an upscale bar-restaurant-nightclub which seem to be something I have not seen before. The other is a bar and nightclub called A Different Kind of Ladies Night and seem a bit more casual. I thought about going there but the whole concept of going there alone seemed a little bit too scary. I don’t really know if it is that I don’t trust my social skills of havinga at least a decent time or if it is because of my transsexual background. Sometime I feel that if I go there with another woman I am unconciously “vouched for” that I am ok because I have company and by another female. So I ended up staying at the hotel. I wonder if I should dare more or if I am just too hard on myself…on the good side is that I definately could see myself at both those places in somebody’s company. That is at least some kind of progress…

The importance of seeing someone like yourself

Transgendered people in media
I guess it a little bit late but today I learned that in the just finished (thanx Annelie for the update!) cycle of America’s Next Top Model featured a 22-year old woman called Isis (middle picture) which has a transsexual background. There wasn’t any mention about her background in the official release but just like me she seem to think that openness is the best strategy and came out in an article in the USMagazine.

First I was happy for her just for the chance of being a model because ten years ago I have to confess that I dreamt a little about being a model. I guess it is the ultimate affirmation of beauty and femininity. I got to know a photographer back then who took at a thousand images of me and I believe doing those photoshoots and seeing all the images meant a lot for my process. Then I thought about that this meant that she actually got a chance to follow her dream just as the other girls on the show. That is really something for a group of people unfortunately used to being treated badly (read the comments on the USMagazine page if you want to see ugly comments…).

However, I wonder if the biggest things isn’t that fact that transgendered people actually are starting to see someone who are like them in the media. Invisibility is a hard thing to handle. The review from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) notes that a positive trend is that more transgendered characters are appearing in film and television. We have of course Alexis in Ugly Betty (left image) but she is played by a genetic female. In Dirty Sexy Money however the transgender character Carmelita is played by Candis Cayne (right image) who went through her transition 10 years ago. Not only a transgender character but also a transgender actress that has a successful career.

Further they noted transgendered Laverne Cox in VH1’s I Want to Work for Diddy and in America’s Got Talent Dorae Saunders, a transgender woman and Tina Turner impersonator, appeared. I had not heard about it but there apparently was a romantic reality series Transamerican Love Story which featured transgender actress Calpernia Addams as the bachelorette, and included a transgender man among the contenders vying for her affection. Read what Out&About wrote about the show.

Sure, there is always the argument of whether or not these are “good” representations of transgendered people but I guess it must not matter. It IS important to be visible and sooner or later people themselves find out that all transgendered are not the same while we shared some common experiences and problems in life. I think the future looks promising. It does not hurt that these women are stunningly beautiful either – seeing that your dream can become true!

The Land of Affirmations

I spent last week in Las Vegas, Nevada and as usual I enjoyed being in the United States again. On my way back home again last Friday/Saturday I started thinking what it is that makes me like it there. Sure I think I am more pro-US than most Swedes are and it always nice to go on a long trip – it is almost like an adventure. But there must be something more to it…

First of all I think the gender roles are a bit more accentuated in the US especially among the business (or military) people that I normally meet. It is something about how people dress I think. Women are in general a little bit more formal (during daytime) than what is common in Sweden and also in general a little bit more makeup. Match that to a style which favours sneakers (during leisure time) together with pink colors and it fits me like a glove ūüôā So I actually think I blend in better in terms of my looks in the US. All of this are generalisations of course but still. I actually feel a little less stared at in the US which of course is a big relief for me.

However, what really affects me is the constant affirmations I get everyday when I am being adressed as “Miss” or “M’am”. Lately I seem to have became more of a “M’am” than “Miss” actually I think I feel rather good about that. The first times years back I noticed this of course and became very happy but I guess I became used to it over the years while forgetting the effect it had on me. It is very good for my mind to get these affirmations when being addressed on the aircraft, at the hotel reception and at lunch. It secures me on my “pink cloud” where I feel secure and proud of myself.

Actually there are very few wrong pronouns when I am in the US also. I can hardly remember when anybody over there used the wrong one for me the last time. Here in Sweden it happened just a few weeks ago at the Headquarters in the middle of a meeting.

So I guess America is good for my self-esteem. Fortunately I am flying back there on Monday morning and will stay in the Virginia area for two weeks.

Note to non-Swedes: In Sweden the equivalents of Mr/Miss/Mrs are hardly used any more. Maybe if you get a very formal invitation from the King, otherwise it is usually done with some kind of humorous remark. It is very informal conversational climate.