|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on July 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM|
I had the privilege of conducting an email interview with Stana, of the blog Femulate . I am thankful that she took the time to talk with us, and hope you enjoy her story. When we conduct interviews for our site, we aim to let the individual speak for themselves. We want Transgender stories to be told in a way that is understood by our community, not as filtered through a normal media lens. That being said, enjoy the interview!
1) So how exactly do you pronounce your name? How did you choose it?
Stana rhymes with Donna.
When I was in the closet, I did not need a female name because who was I going to talk to in the closet? But when I joined Genderline on Compuserve, I needed a female name ASAP. I did not have time to think about it because I was anxious to get online, so I did what a lot of transgenders do just out of the closet, that is, use the feminine version of their male name. In my case, I used "Staci," which in a roundabout way is the feminine version of my male name, Stanley. I never really liked the name, but everyone got to know me as Staci, so I was stuck with it.
Years ago, I became aware of the name "Stana" when I acquired a circa 1910 postcard from Eastern Europe that depicted a female impersonator named Stana Behavy. I filed the name away for the future.
About three years ago, I e-mailed some recent photos of myself en femme to a co-worker, who knows about my femulating.
She e-mailed back, "You’re so cute Stan…very lovely. Hot dress…love the color too."
Reading that response made me think: I am out to people who know me by my male name and I intend to come out to more people who know me by my male name.
Why not make it easier for them by using a female name that is similar to my male name? "Stan" and "Stana" are so interchangeable that one does not have to worry about slipping up when speaking my name? No one, certainly not I, will call them out if they say "Stan" when they intended to say "Stana" and vice versa. "Stan" can even be considered short for "Stana."
And I like the name. It is unique (I always like to be unique). And it is a good fit, that is, it simply suits me. So, I became "Stana."
2) What is your story Stana?
Growing up, I did not think I was different, but my peers and adults made it painfully clear that I was different. I was just being myself, but myself did not fit the model of an all-American boy in 1960. However, I liked myself and did not want to change something I liked, so I continued my journey aboard the good ship Lollipop and damn the torpedoes.
Around puberty, I discovered crossdressing and found it to be a good match for "myself." Thereafter, I considered myself to be "a plain vanilla crossdresser," which in retrospect, was my way of denying that I was transsexual. In the back of my mind, I thought I might be transsexual, but that scared me, whereas crossdresser was easier to accept. Go figure.
I was happiest when I crossdressed and I wanted to be happy more of the time, so I crossdressed as often as possible. In June 2009, I lived as a woman in New York City 24/7 for four-days. It was my epiphany; it was then that I realized that I am a woman. Since I have male body parts, that makes me a trans-woman, a transsexual, but that is just a technicality. In my heart and in my soul, I am a woman.
I intend to live as a woman as much as possible, but since I am married to a woman, who married a "man," I plan to honor that commitment and be a good husband to the woman I love. As a result, I live a compartmentalized life. In one compartment, I dress as a woman; in the other compartment, I crossdress as a man.
3) How do you identify?
I am a woman (technically, a no surgery, no hormone male-to-female transsexual).
4) Could you say a little bit about your site?
It is very popular. It astounds me that on average, over 5,000 people visit my blog every day to read what I write.
I invented the word "femulate" to use as the name of my site and to my amazement, even the use of that word has caught on in the trans world!
I think the blog's success is due to a number of factors:
> I post something new every day. As a result, people come back every day because they know there is something new there to see unlike some blogs that post less frequently.
> Many people have written that they read my blog because they live vicariously through me. They are closeted, can't or won't go out, so they depend on me to be en femme for them, which is something I am glad to do and glad to write about.
> My blog accentuates the positive unlike some blogs that I call the "woe is me" blogs.
> I write for a living, so I know how to write. I also have a sense of humor that I attempt to use in my writing.
5) What role do you see Femulate playing in the online Transgender world? Education? Community building?
My goal from the start was to write about my "adventures" out en femme so that it would encourage others to get out of the closet and join me in the real world. (If I could do it successfully at 6 foot 2 and 210 pounds, I figured anybody could do it.) I think I have achieved my goal because I receive e-mails all the time from my readers who say that they were encouraged by Femulate to get out of the closet and go out en femme.
I try to educate my readers on how to femulate successfully. There are so many pieces to that puzzle (makeup, clothing, speech, mannerisms, movement, etc.) that I am happy to share what works and what does not. Sometimes I don't practice what I preach (my skirts are occasionally too short), but when I follow my own advice, I usually get by.
I am an advocate of "community" especially for those who are just stepping out for the first time, after all, joining a support group is how I got out of the closet. However, the community can become a closet, too. Sooner or later, you have to expand your horizons beyond the community if you really want to live. That does not mean you have to abandon the community, but you should explore the real world beyond the community.
6) I have read about many educational events you have been involved in? Can you tell us about these and about your experiences doing them?
Originally, I had an ulterior motive for doing outreach: it gave me another opportunity to go out en femme and in addition, to talk about myself. (What could be any more attractive to a narcissistic T-girl?)
But after I did my first outreach, I realized that most people were clueless about us. They had a lot of false notions concerning transgenders. Some people thought we were freaks and some were actually afraid of us!
When I discovered how mistaken they were, I felt that I had a duty to try and educate them. If I was successful, they might spread the word and educate their friends and relatives and someday, everyone would realize we are not freaks. Rather, we are people just like them.
Besides outreach, I have done workshops with transgender youth similar. In those workshops, I try to teach the attendees how to femulate successfully. I have been femulating for nearly half a century and I am able to teach the young'uns a thing or two. Seriously, the workshops I have done were very helpful according to the critiques of the workshops that I was privy to see afterwords.
7) Do you have a piece of advice you'd like to share with the Transgender community?
Franklin D. Roosevelt was not talking about being transgender, but his words are applicable when he said, "..the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
I retreated into the closet for a very long time before I overcame my fear and advanced into the real world. I realize now that I had nothing to fear and I regret all that lost time in the closet when I could have been living the female life I was meant to live.
My advice is "don't let fear paralyze you from living the life you want to live."