I’ve been busting out some of my oldest t-shirts this summer; some of them I haven’t even looked at in years – I have them stored in a box. Others I see, but don’t touch, every day – they are on a hanger, on the wall, like fine art. After having top surgery earlier this summer, I have been getting to know my collection again. And, it includes some really old gems, including band t-shirts from the 1980s.
Like this one:
This was taken 10 years ago, as part of a drag photo shoot. It was most likely the last time I wore the shirt. I can wear it again, now, if I want! Although, maybe I better keep it in nice condition – I found the same shirt, in a muscle-t style, selling online for $71.82. And my other The Police t-shirt (not pictured) is selling for $134.23.
I got this shirt for $5. There is this amazing local record store that has tons of gems, but it’s really hard to locate anything. The store is a mess, but in the 1990s, it was even worse. There was literally a mountain of t-shirts, starting from on the floor in a space that may have been about 8ft by 8ft – it was sectioned off by railings, like a bull pen. You would walk onto shirts and just start digging. I found this, plus these shirts, and more (another The Police, Echo and the Bunnymen, David Bowie…):
They were all $5. In the early 2000s, I went back to uncover more treasures, and I was horrified to find that they were all organized neatly on racks and hangers, alphabetically. And none were under $20. Suddenly. And I would have probably bought more at that price, but it looked like it had been picked through extensively. I couldn’t find any I’d actually want to wear or display. Bummer. I guess the influence of online selling had swept in, and cleaned up this mess. For the worse. Still, I am glad I was able to get a piece of it while it lasted.
P.S. The Honeydrippers were a band from 1981-1985, formed by Led Zeppelin lead singer, Robert Plant. It was kind of a part of that resurgence of 50s style music, in the 80s. Other memebers included Jimmy Paige, Jeff Beck, Paul Shaffer, Brian Setzer, and a bunch of others. They only recorded one EP.
This post is part of a series. Here are the previous ones:
This is a series in which I highlight different shirts I am now able to wear un-self-consciously, because I had top surgery earlier this summer!
This one is a brand new t-shirt – it was designed by Erin Nations, a transgender comic artist living in Portland, OR. You can get one here: Transgender Trailblazers Tee. You might want to act now – they could go fast! (Looks like he’s already out of size M light-blue shirts, for example).
From the website: “50% of each sale will be donated to the TransWomen of Color Collective. TWOCC is a grass-roots funded global initiative created to offer opportunities for trans people of color, their families and their comrades to engage in healing, foster kinship, and build community. They strive to educate and empower each other through sharing skills, knowledge and resources as they build towards the liberation of all oppressed people.”
Ten trailblazers are illustrated. “They were/are advocates, activist, pioneers, community leaders, and historical figures in the transgender community. Through their actions and involvement, they paved the way for many trans people, allowing us to live our lives more openly, safely, and authentically.”
Here they are, with a brief description that I cobbled together from various websites:
Sylvia Rivera (top) – She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance. She attacked the HRC and Empire State Pride Agenda for not being trans-inclusive. A lasting quote: “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.” The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was founded in 2002, in her honor, and aims to ” guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence”.
Miss-Major Griffin-Gracy (2nd from top, L) – She’s the executive director of Trans Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project. She was a leader in theOne month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts 31 Stonewall Riots and then imprisoned for 5 years, which led to her also fighting the prison industrial complex.
Leslie Feinberg (2nd from top, R) – A self-identified trans, butch lesbian, communist. Wrote Stone Butch Blues in 1993. Also wrote Transgender Warriors and Trans Liberation. She did not care what pronoun was used in reference to her, as long as it was with respect.
Alexander John Goodrum (2nd from top, center) – An African American Trans, civil rights activist and the founder and director of TGNet Arizona. He took his own life while in a psychiatric ward in 2002; he was posthumously awarded the Godat Award for his service in the LGBTQ+ community.
Lou Sullivan (3rd from top, L) – He was possibly the first trans-man to openly identify as gay, and he was largely responsible for the understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity being separate facets. He also founded FTM International.
Kate Bornstein (3rd from top, center) – There’s no way to condense her accomplishments here. Just look her up! Read her books! Also she just posted on her twitter feed, today, about it! – “Tickled pink to be drawn on one of these T-shirts by Erin Nations.”
Louise Lawrence (3rd from top, R) – She worked with Alfred Kinsey and later, Harry Benjamin, and she counseled other trans-people just by having them drop by.
Marcelle Cook-Daniels (bottom, L) – He worked for the IRS and was working on his masters in computer science. He was a transmasculine African America activist and leader, presenting at many conferences and contributing to a handful of books. He took his own life in 2000.
Reed Erickson (bottom, center) – He became very wealthy over time through his professional life – he studied to be an engineer and later successfully ran two large companies and invested in oil-rich real estate. In 1964, he founded the Erickson Educational Foundation, which “helped to support, both through direct financial contributions and through contributions of human and material resources, almost every aspect of work being done in the 1960s and 1970s in the field of transsexualism in the US and, to a lesser degree, in other countries. The EEF funded many early research efforts, including the creation of the Harry Benjamin Foundation, the early work of the Johns Hopkins Clinic” as well as information, counseling, and a referral network.
Marsha P. Johnson (bottom, R) – A close friend of Sylvia Rivera, she was a leader in the Stonewall Riots and later a co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and an organizer with ACT-UP. She was also a member of Andy Warhol’s drag queen troupe, Hot Peaches. A lasting quote, whenever she was asked what the “P” stood for: “Pay it no mind!”
Others in this series include:
Yesterday, I wore a t-shirt to work for the first time! It was glorious. I have been back to work for two weeks now, after being out for 9 weeks recovering from top surgery. It has been going more smoothly than I could have possibly imagined! Physically, I’m back to 100%, and in terms of work dynamics, I’m right back where I left things, which is better than I could have hoped for. I pictured I might be the odd person out, after being away so long, but everyone genuinely seems happy to see me. Our supervisor even got muffins for the day I came back!
So, work uniform: We have four styles of shirts we can wear – all of them are navy blue with the school district’s seal embroidered in yellow. The choices are:
long sleeved button-down
short sleeved button-down
Every 2 years, we can order 5 more. I had been down to only 5 total, though, for years, because I continually ordered more and more size S short sleeved button-downs, and they kept being too big. I had 5 that my spouse had tailored and hemmed (thank you!!!), and that was it. I had 2 t-shirts and one polo shirt, which I had ordered at some point, but never wore. Until yesterday!
Why didn’t I just wear a t-shirt immediately upon returning? This might be mild paranoia, but I didn’t want to change things up immediately for fear of fanning whatever rumors might be going around about the type of surgery I had. I only told 2 people at work, and I didn’t really want to talk about it. The short sleeve button-downs have pockets with buttons that just happen to fall right where my nipples are! Haha. So, I looked pretty much the same before and after surgery, in those shirts. I wanted a little time to pass before I moved on to what I really wanted to do: Wear a t-shirt!
I gotta say though, t-shirts are not as conducive to this hot weather. (It is soooooo hot in the school.) They are 100% cotton, and they get wet with sweat. The short sleeved button-downs are cotton/poly blend, and they are billowy and wick away moisture.
Once it’s fall, winter, and spring, I am going to be loving it though. I just need more shirts though! I think this is one of the years we get more – I’m going to order 5 small t-shirts!
In other work related news, I added a new page to my blog. It is called, glossary of janitorial words and phrases. I’m sure I’ll be adding to it as I think of more. Check it out – it might make you laugh (or possibly gross you out)…
I got this gem at a thrift store in 2000 or 2001. Back when you could still get old t-shirts for $2. I remember especially liking it because I never really thought that Kodak was known for their batteries. As if this t-shirt was an announcement to remind people that they should buy the batteries too, while they’re at it. I haven’t worn this in years, but I wore it all the time in college. I actually had it in a box of shirts I wanted to keep but were no longer in rotation. It’s coming back into rotation now, full force! Although, there is a hole in it, and it is one of the delicate ones that are getting pretty threadbare. So, we’ll see.
Oh, I also wore it in the pride parade in 2006, because I was going for every rainbow color in my outfit, and this fit the bill. Now I’m noticing some colors are more prominent than others: I could have been marching for McDonalds! (And Kodak, of course. …In 2006, the company was giving it’s best shot in the production of digital cameras, but by 2012 it filed for bankruptcy and phased out of that market. It’s still hanging in there in the printing and imaging fields, and it does still produce certain types of specialty film. I couldn’t find anything on the Kodak wikipedia page about batteries though!)
I’m realizing that I need to change the way I fold my shirts. They all have a crease down the middle (see top photo) that I need to get rid of, by learning how to do it like a pro. There are a bunch of videos on how to accomplish this in 2 seconds, like this:
I tried it a few years ago, but never got the hang of it. I feel a lot more motivated now though. It’s going to be fun to learn.
(One note about the upcoming week starting tomorrow – my spouse and I will be on vacation in MA and NH – I’ll be away from the internet. I love not going on the internet for long spans of time, but I will miss staying up-to-date with blogs!)
This post is part of a series about my t-shirt collection – now that I’ve had top surgery, I can wear them all again, all the time!
For more posts in this series (so far), see:
Yesterday, I went out in a t-shirt, without the ace wrap I’ve been wearing for 3 weeks, for the first time! It felt seriously amazing. (I still have sterile pads over my nipples because they are still sloughing off gross stuff, so it’s going to get even better, once that’s over!) I don’t know when I last wore just a t-shirt, out – 10 years ago? 12 years ago? Sometime in there, before I started feeling overly-self-conscious about my chest.
I had my 1 month appointment via Skype, with the physician’s assistant, and it went pretty much how I imagined it would. I focused mostly on what to do to continue healing, which is going slowly, and also to change my return-to-work date. Whenever I brought up a concern about an aspect of the appearance, I was told, “Right now it is ______; in _____ amount of months, it will be healed nicely. Your final results won’t be visible until a year from surgery.” It felt like I was being fed stock answers. I can live with that for now, but I doubt things are going to change enough for it to actually look good. I’m not happy with the results. Some of it seems like no big deal – it can be fixed. One thing though does have me worried: it seems to me that some muscle may actually have been taken out, along an axis crossing through the nipple, on the right side.
I’ll just continue to document the changes or lack thereof. Such as: neither areola is actually a circle. I’m being told that they will change into circles. I highly doubt that. I’m concerned that down the road, it’s going to be a struggle to get anyone connected to this surgeon to acknowledge that I might need revisions. If that’s the case, I envision myself getting opinions from other surgeons, and going from there…
All this is far away though. Right now, I’m enjoying focusing what I am happy about: wearing t-shirts!!! This was the number one thing I was looking forward to. I’m thinking I’ll start a short series where I write about some of my favorite t-shirts. Here’s one (this is the one I wore out, yesterday):
It says, “MUSIC LIVES ON TDK.”
I have found that to be true – most of the blank tapes I’ve gotten to make mix tapes have happened to be TDK! I found this at a thrift store about 12 years ago. I used to wear it a lot, under flannels and hoodies. Nowadays I rarely wear it, not because I stopped liking it, but because it started to get pretty threadbare, and I don’t want to wear it out. I have a couple of t-shirts like that – I love them and have worn them too much and now I don’t really get to wear them. (Largely because they were worn so much before I got them, too. I’d guess this shirt is at least 30 years old.) It is 50/50 (so soft!), which is way better than 100% cotton, in my opinion, but I wonder if that contributes to it not holding up so well. Also, it is a size large, which always gets to me with vintage clothing, because people used to be so much smaller back then?!? I am a present-day small.
I just did a google search for this t-shirt, and found one on etsy selling for $146.06 Canadian dollars, which is currently $113.34 US dollars. Dang! That’s a keeper.