Trans Mission Breakdown

Article excerpt

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to--see now, that really was the problem. It was cut down to where there should have been something, but there really wasn't very much of anything. There was a mass of silicone and some artful bra construction and canny makeup shading, and at first blush it probably looked like cleavage, but it didn't take even the untrained eye very long to realize this dog would not fetch, this bird would not fly, this cow would not milk.

Lola, whom I knew from Hebrew school, when his name was Harold--the first boy at our temple ever to inquire whether instead of a bar (masculine) mitzvah he could have a bas (feminine) mitzvah as his coming-of-age ceremony--was pouting sugar into her cappuccino and unloading a lot more as well.

Lola is one of those people who had never been at home in her body even though a lot of other people had. Although he could have spent his life as a very swishy salesclerk getting beaten up by fag bashers, he had chosen some years ago to go fully transgendered, which meant he could get beaten up by a more interesting class of men, those who wanted to wallop women as well as fags.

This was the least of the problems, Lola was telling me, and she had no shortage of those, starting with a fistful of civil rights abuses that would make Coretta Scott King ask to be excused so she could go lie down in a darkened room for a spell. Lola had been rejected by pretty much everybody in what she called the Real World. She had even been rejected by the television show of the same name when she wrote in to be a participant. But that wasn't what was bothering her. She had come to a realization.

Many years ago, when she was only dickering with the idea of ending her dickering days for good, she had come to visit me in Chicago, where I was working for a big-time newspaper. There she had met a fellow named C. Ridgely Paterson, who went away on an extended vacation and returned as Carla Blakemore, girl reporter. Our joke then was Ridgely's last words to his surgeon: "Make it snappy! …