The Tranny Diaries: (Wo)men Wimp Out!

Though I have never felt the need to chop off my own willie, I take no issue with those who have. On the contrary, the trannies of the world and I have always hit it off. The best thing about living in New York was always the high density of cross-dressers, transgendered persons, drag queens, hermaphrodites and what-have-yous who sprinkled their fairy dust on all and sundry at L’Escualita, the Pyramid Club, the Copa and other unsavory boîtes. Does anyone still remember G.G.’s Barnum Room? Mandy, Candy, Sandy, Ava and Potassa … thanks for the memories! You “girls” were funny, you were crazy, you freaked people out, and you never failed to add a sizzle of Warholian glamour to any occasion. And you had guts: When the chips were down, it was purse-wielding trannies who subdued the police at the Stonewall riots, while the “butch” clones trembled on the sidelines in their Lacoste shirts.

Fan though I am of the tran, I am becoming increasingly concerned that, now that they are part of the GLBT community—gay, lesbian, bacon and tomato?—the girly men and manly girls might be losing their balls, for real. Are the gender-bending freakazoids of the world becoming pointlessly mired in P.C. dogma and victimhood? Are the increased sensitivities of a previously tough marginalized group sucking all the life—not to mention the joie de vivre—out of the very cause that they are supposed to serve?

When Simon Cowell told that American Idol contestant to buy a frock and become a Cher impersonator, it was clearly the best advice that kid had ever received, yet Le Cowell was instantly vilified by GLAAD as a tranny-bashing bully. When he asked another contestant, “Are you a boy or a girl?”, my namesake was merely posing the elephant-in-the-room question which was on all our lips. More anti-Cowell outrage followed. These kids need to toughen up! Nothing would make me happier than to see an out transgender songstress win the contest, but he/she would have to be able to get up there in front of the judges and take straightforward questions without blubbering like a big girl’s blouse. Paging Holly Woodlawn!

Meanwhile, in academia: An N.Y.U. professor friend told me that the students have all but abandoned their studies. Gender has become the preoccupying issue on campus. Kids of all persuasions—and faculty members!—now divide their time between reading Judith Butler (she’s the super-freaky academic who believes sex is a social construct and that gender is fluid) and petitioning for “trans” bathrooms. This is so that gender ’tweeners, with their heightened sensitivities, could avoid those “Hey, Blanche! What the hell are you doing in here?” moments that have always provided so many great opportunities for antagonistic dialogue to the combative Sherries and Jackies of yore.

Whatever happened to those tough trannies who strutted their stuff at Edelweiss and Sally’s Hideaway in the 1980’s and 90’s? Where are the big, hairy, hetero New Jersey cross-dressers one used to see popping into Lee’s Mardi Gras Boutique in the meatpacking district to buy their size-17 black patent Mary Janes? Ho-hum. Trannies just ain’t what they used to be.

Instead of glorying in the hilariously freaky diversity of it all like we all used to, we now spend far too much time applauding the courage of those involved. I’m thinking of the breathy reverence accorded Felicity Huffman’s “brave choices”—playing a man becoming a woman—in the movie Transamerica. Don’t get me wrong, I think La Huffman did a bang-up job, but I suspect that playing Bree was probably the easiest, most rollicking fun job of her career, requiring none of the draining nuances and subtleties that she so successfully deploys to keep her two-dimensional character alive on Desperate Housewives.

Though Bree extracts a few laughs from her predicament, this movie is hardly Some Like It Hot. Humor, or rather the lack of it, is the problem. Contemporary culture seems determined to deny the obvious fact that trannies are fun, and funny. Impersonation is the cornerstone of humor, and if we can’t chuckle at someone attempting to ape a member of the opposite sex, then what, in the name of strap-ons and implants, can we laugh at?

The recent LOGO documentary series TransGeneration followed the lives of a group of deadly earnest college kids undergoing gender reassignment. (I predict that the majority of those featured will live to regret doing something so drastic at such a young age, but, with tranny politics abounding, there was no room for common sense.) Most intriguing were a couple of fiercely butch chicks who were studying at Smith College. They were in the process of becoming men. Shockingly, at no time did these gals, or their college supervisors, acknowledge the sidesplitting irony of the central conundrum of their lives—i.e., Smith is an all-girl’s college. Bonjour!

And let’s talk about their personal style. One would imagine that two feminist F-to-M’s would, given their antipathy toward male archetypes, adopt a nonaggressive post-op dressing style. I’m thinking an effete Dorian Gray look in Hedi Slimane Dior suits, a little Paul Smith, a little Jil Sander fall 2006. Paging Aubrey Beardsley and Cecil Beaton! But no. Au contraire. As the documentary progresses, the Smith gals/guys macho it up to the point where they resemble truck-stop rednecks and, eventually, gay male bears. Yikes! It’s all so confusing. As Ray Davis of the Kinks so presciently sang back in 1970:

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls

It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world

Except for Lola

Lo-lo-lo-lo-Lola ….

Now to more mundane concerns: The most heartwarming aspect of Transamerica is Bree’s commitment to an important spring trend: I’m talking about the espadrille. We retailers are hoping to wring another season out of this particular moneymaker, and I feel that Ms. Huffman’s character has given us significant support in this regard. Get yours customized by Christian Louboutin: On May 2, the genial M. Louboutin will be coming to Barneys Madison Avenue to personalize your espadrilles with his doodles, under your direction. Trannies of all descriptions are very welcome. Warning: Sizes only run up to a 10.5.

Happy Saint Patricia’s!

The Tranny Diaries:  (Wo)men Wimp Out!