It was March 8th of 2002.
I had been chatting online for over 6 months on Yahoo, usually in the evenings, when my parents were outside in the living room watching their TV shows.
I was always on edge, as my parents would occasionally come into the room or use the bathroom next door, in which case I would quickly minimize the windows on the computer to hide what I was looking at.
It was in these chat rooms that I met other transgender people…where I had conversations and realized I wasn’t alone, that there were other people like me out there. These chat rooms provided a portal for me to enter into the world of gender non-conformity.
I chatted with Kazumi, this Japanese American girl who had been fulltime for several years. I was very cautious in getting to know the people I felt could be trustworthy, and spotting out potential friends who might be able to offer gateways in helping me to in getting dressed so I could find a look that I liked, and feel comfortable enough to go out consistently to explore a side of me I knew was suppressed.
For months Kazumi and I bantered online and a few times on the phone, and finally, one night, she said she was free and going out. I immediately invited myself, politely, and asked if I could go over to her place and if she could help out a beginner, with hopes that she wouldn’t mind me imposing on her night out…
I immediately made up an excuse that I was hanging out with some friends for the night, and I snuck out. It was a work night, a Tuesday. But I didn’t care.
I went to her house, and was really nervous as I entered the elevator and hit “3” on the buttons, as I had never met her yet.
A heavyset Japanese American girl opened the door, and invited me in. She gave me a quick hug and then took me into her bathroom, and started applying makeup on me.
I remember feeling so happy, and that the moment felt so surreal. I was shocked I was going through with all of this, yet I knew in my heart that it was something I wanted to do, and that it was something I had waited to do for decades.
The only thing missing was a wig, since she had her own real hair and didn’t wear any wigs. I ended up spiking up my short flattop cut that I used in my daily drab life, by using hairspray. It was a dyke look, as I had few options with the short hair I had. I didn’t care, I just wanted to go out.
We finished getting dressed, and stepped out into her hallway. None of her adjacent neighbors were out, but when we got into the elevator, and the doors had closed, I finally had the courage to let out a breath.
She saw how nervous I was and she reassured me.
“You look great, don’t worry.”
We drove to the transgender night clubs going on at the time, which was called Club GirlTalk, held at the Mayfair Hotel in Los Angeles on Tuesdays.
When we pulled into the parking structure, a gentleman (which I later learned was, in a cruder term, called “tranny chasers”) greeted Kazumi, and walked with us to the hotel’s lobby.
I was so nervous, and trembling physically. I was feeling a mixture of fear and freedom.
I walked into the club and saw all these other transgender women there, and felt a bit more comfortable. I remember feeling reassured that I wasn’t alone out there in the world of vanilla folks, that there really were people out there like myself. Perhaps I did have a tribe after all! I started to not feel so physically pressed to hide and I didn’t feel as unattractive as my inner critic was telling me the whole time. I also didn’t worry about not having long hair as much at that point.
The song by Newcleus “Jam on It” was playing, and I saw a few well known trannies in the LA area at the time, who had made it onto the magazine “Girl Talk.”
I also met Naomi that night, a friend of Kazumi. Naomi was an older, slender, cute Japanese American crossdresser. Naomi would prove to be an important friend throughout the years of my journey of self discovery.
I ended up socializing most of the night, and even got a kiss from Veronika, a girl I had a crush on and never thought I’d meet, let alone get a kiss from when we parted that night.
I even played the piano in the lobby of the hotel, and some of the transgender girls gathered and were wowed by one of my songs.
Looking back on that night from 11 years ago, I realized how much I denied myself and how I hope society changes enough so that we encourage people to be themselves and don’t have needless suffering like my life has been the past decade.
How my inner critic was so harsh, that I dismissed my musical talents, I dismissed my true self, all for the sake of falling in line with the “matrix,” to appease and please society, who didn’t give a shit about transgender people to begin with…
I’m thinking of going back to the lobby of the Mayfair hotel in Los Angeles one of these days. It’ll be just like visiting San Francisco a few weeks ago. I think it will massively trigger memories and it will be interesting to see how far I’ve come, the milestones associated with my first time out in Los Angeles as myself.