Summer of t-shirts #9

This post is a continuation I started last summer, basically in celebration of the fact that I can now wear t-shirts without feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.  Hooray for top-surgery, which was now a year and two months ago.

This beautiful specimen of a shirt was uncovered in a thrift store in Spencer, MA, just outside of Worchester, last summer while my spouse and I were visiting one of my friends from high school, and her husband and toddler.  In case it’s hard to make out the print, this says,

 

“THE MORAL MAJORITY IS NEITHER.”

What does that mean???  At first, I didn’t know, and I don’t have a smart phone to “gooooogle” the phrase ASAP, so I just bought it an forgot about it.  I did know I needed to have it, but I wasn’t going to start flaunting it until I found out what it was all about.  I had a vague recollection of the term “moral majority” and that it was bad according to me (It really does just sound bad!!!), but that was about it.

I’m sure there’s more to the story, but according to wikipedia, the Moral Majority was a political organization started by Jerry Fallwell (The New Christian Right), mostly active in the 1980s.  Critics started stating that “The Moral Majority is neither,” meaning the organization was neither moral nor a majority, and the slogan spread to bumper stickers, and other “swag” items.

This appears to be a homemade t-shirt from that time period (I’m following clues from the tag of the shirt.  I could be mistaken), and it seems like it’s iron-on letters that are slightly felted.  This added to me falling in love with this shirt.  I feel that it is a good time and place to be wearing this t-shirt out and about, frequently, and proudly!


Summer of t-shirts #8

This post is a continuation of a series I started last summer – basically, the best part of top surgery, for me, is getting to wear t-shirts and tank-tops and button-down shirts without having to layer or bind.  So I started featuring a bunch of my favorite t-shirt, and here’s yet another one!

Today is one year and one month after top-surgery.  This date seems like much bigger of a deal than my one year anniversary.  Why?  Just because of a flood of serendipitous things (I am still recovering from my semi-recent hospitalization – still out of work, and lots of things are connecting in my brain that would not normally mean much.)

Anyway, one year ago, today, I went on a day trip because I was bored.  I had been out of surgery by a month at that point, and I still had another month before I got back to work.  I was itching to not wear the ace bandage and nipple-gauzy thingies.  I was tired of staying at home all day, or relying on others for rides because I could not yet lift my arms to drive.  Enough time had passed, so I went on a day trip to one of my favorite spots in upstate NY.  It felt so good to be out in nature, getting all sweaty and stuff.  I remember feeling safe enough that I took off my t-shirt and let the ace bandage air out for a bit.  (I distinctly remember the breeze from the lake against my skin.)

Sooooo, what I’m trying to get at:  Yesterday, just fairly coincidentally, I ended up at that same beach.  I actually went to 4 parks (park hopping!), over the course of 12 hours, again, by myself, and again, I had a blast!  This time though, I took a different route – I had looked at maps prior to taking off, and deliberately decided on a course of action.

One of the small towns I was gonna drive through is Fulton, NY.  And I’m thinking now that I was drawn there because I have this really old t-shirt I got at a thrift store in my early 20s, and I wear it a lot, but have never been there.  You know what?  There is no way this image could be correct – this town is landlocked!  (Furthermore, it’s technically a city, but it’s so tiny and rundown, I was baffled by that.  I bet this town has a history to tell.)

I have a whole lot of shirts that are fairly random and were just thrift store finds over the years.  And I wore them all when I was young without any qualms or thinking twice.  But now I’m kind of like, “wait, what is the deal with this shirt, anyway?”  Or, “I’ve never actually been to this place – the image just looks cool.”  Etc.

So, expect some more t-shirt-centric posts from me soon!

You can find the rest of the series, from last summer, here:  T-SHIRTS!


The Secret Emotional Life of Clothes

When I think about Halloween, I think candy, jack-o-lanterns, movies, and all that stuff, but I also think about it as the perfect opportunity to try out something totally different, appearance-wise, and test out whether it’s worth exploring past that.  I’ve definitely seized it as an opportunity in the past, both to try out a different type of “masculinity” – dressing like my idea of a punk a few times, something I was definitely interested in; and also to see what it felt like to dress femme.  I think a lot of people try out things like this too, in the guise of a “Halloween costume.”

I wrote about that here:  Hey Halloween! (how costumes fit into our lives)

I just listened to a really interesting podcast about how what you wear can affect how you feel, how you’re treated, what you decide to do, your cognitive abilities, your identity, and so much more!  It starts with a brief snippet of a Halloween night, with kids running around a neighborhood in all kinds of costumes.  Here’s part of that transcript, talking with a girl who is afraid of flying:

FRANNY: I’m wearing a leather jacket and an aviator hat and aviator goggles and jeans, boots and an aviator scarf.
ROSIN: Franny’s dressed as…
FRANNY: Amelia Earhart.
MILLER: Yep, a woman who ate airplanes for breakfast.  Who was…
FRANNY: Awesome and brave.
ROSIN: And as Franny puts on the white silk scarf, the leather jacket, the hat with the floppy ears…  …Guess what happens?  The nervous disappears.  If I put you in an airplane right now, what would happen?
FRANNY: I’d feel like a pro.

It’s true, to an extent!  We’ve all experienced this, somehow or another, I think.

Listen to the full podcast here:  Invisibilia

For me, shoes have always been a big deal – probably my favorite element of self expression.  I remember the first time I got to get a pair of boy’s shoes, in 3rd grade, and the emotional tenor of that moment and of every single day that I got to wear them.  It was the best thing ever.  And of years later, in my early 20s, when I first got a pair of skateboarding sneakers – it was that same feeling (or, OK, maybe a diluted young-adult version of that same feeling) because I decided that I was worthy of wearing the type of shoes I always coveted.  And I was an adult.  And I could buy and wear whatever I wanted (I had a hard time “letting” myself buy things that I wanted.)  And now!  I recently got a pair of Reebok pump basketball shoes, and I have such a fun time just putting them on!  I’m not a skater or a b-ball player, but that’s OK, shoes say so much more than “basketball,” “running,” “work-boot,” etc.

What are your favorite articles of clothing to play around with?
Have you used Halloween as an opportunity to try out something new, that you might want to incorporate into everyday life?

There are 6 other stories in the podcast, including someone who uses sunglasses to avoid getting bullied, and then ends up feeling so strongly about their magical powers that he just ends up never taking them off.  This was my favorite story, and it’s the first one, so if you wanna just hear that one, it’s totally worth it!

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Parts 2 and 3 are also really good.  Part 2 is about a person who started out as a cross-dresser, and then after a breakup, they started wearing feminine clothing all of the time, and identifying as a trans-woman.  She was also a fairly public figure, doing stand-up comedy regularly and being covered in the media.  She was also 6’5″, never passed, and always was on guard, feeling paranoid and defensive.  It was wearing her down, and the feminine clothing had lost their allure.  After about 7 months, she went back, from “Sarah,” to “Will.”  And he endured backlash from the trans-community for doing so.

Part 3 was about a social science experiment (I think I’d read about it in a book, as well), where people were asked to put on a white lab/doctor’s coat, and then go through a battery of concentration tests.  The control group wore their regular clothes.  And it was proven that those with the coat on did twice as well as those without!  Was it something about the extra weight on the shoulders?  No, that was tested for with just pressure being applied.  What about if the coat was referred to as a “painter’s coat” instead of a “doctor’s coat?”  No go – that did not produce any improvements.  It appears that when people feel like they are putting on something that has a particular meaning, they will, largely subconsciously, act accordingly.


Summer of t-shirts #5-7 / Band t-shirts

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:

The Police, from the Synchronicity time period

The Police, from the Synchronicity time period

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…):

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The Honeydrippers

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The Clash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

Summer of t-shirts #4 / Transgender Trailblazers

Summer of t-shirts #3 / Back to work

Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1


Summer of t-shirts #4 / Transgender Trailblazers

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).

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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:

One month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1

Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

Summer of t-shirts #3 / Return to work


Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

a photo of a "Kodak Batteries" t-shirt

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!)

a photo before the pride parade in 2006

drag buddy and me

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please note mismatched Converse – one green, one purple

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:

1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1


1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1

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):

a vintage t-shirt that says, "music lives on TDK"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.