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What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow? Part I (1993)

What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow? Part I (1993)

©1993, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1993, November). What’s that transsexual doing here, anyhow? Part I. Southern Belle, 7(3), pp. 5-6.


Read Part II



Southern Belle Pages, Part I (PDF)

What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow?

Part I

By Dallas Denny


I’m not a heterosexual crossdresser, nor am I the partner of one of the members, but I rarely miss a Sigma Epsilon meeting; in fact, I come early and stay late. Who am I, and why do I come?

Let me start with why I come. I come because Sigma Epsilon and Tri-Ess have part of my life. I come because I love and respect the officers and members, both individually and collectively. I come because I am in turn respected and loved. I come because I’m a magnet for those with feelings of gender dysphoria, who seek me out in private to talk. I come because I have such a good time. But most of all, I come because Sigma Epsilon is part of my life.

From the time I was twelve until I was forty, I dwelt and dealt in solitude with my feelings of gender dysphoria. I knew there were others out there like me, but they were certainly not in the gay community or in the ads in magazines I found in adult bookstores. They were completely invisible to me.

Then, in the late 1970s, I heard about Tri-Ess. the Society for the Second Self. Well, I certainly had a second self! I wrote Box 194 in Tulare and got the membership booklet, and even corresponded briefly with Virginia Prince. But I didn’t  join because I felt I was something other than a crossdresser. I came very close to mailing in my membership fee anyway, but I didn’t want to violate the no-transsexuals membership policy. And so I went back underground for ten years.

In 1988 I said “What the hell!” and sent the membership fee to Tulare. I promptly received my registration packet and contacted the then-fledgling Sigma Epsilon. In fact, it was our very own Joan Ann who replied to my enquiry about coming to a meeting. In November I drove crossdressed from my home in the upper East corner of Tennessee to Chattanooga and attended my first Sigma Epsilon meeting.

At that meeting I found companionship, warmth, and understanding. For the first time in my life, I was with others who understood and accepted how I felt. I can’t begin to express how important it was to have that sense of belongingness. After years of feeling like a stranger in a strange land, I was finally home.

Joining Tri-Ess was a turning point in my life, for through Sigma Epsilon I was able to make contacts which helped me to pursue my personal journey. That journey, as most of you know, is commonly called transsexualism. But I wasn’t quite sure I was transsexual, for I didn’t fit the stereotype. I hadn’t played with dolls as a child, and was not so gender-conflicted I couldn’t function as a male. I didn’t hate my genitals. When I read the pain-filled autobiographies of transsexuals, I didn’t see my own life. But even if I didn’t fit the transsexual stereotype, I deeply and truly desired, and had persistently desired since my early teen years, to be a woman. In fact, I had come a long way towards being one, for I had been consistently taking female hormones since January, 1980—nearly ten years. My body, my interests, my emotions, practically everything about me had been profoundly altered during the decade I had spent underground. I was physically and emotionally ready for the next step, whatever that would turn out to be, and if I hadn’t found Sigma Epsilon, I would have lacked the support I needed to make that step.

With my future course becoming clear to me, I wrote a letter to Robin Kiefer in late 1989. In it, I expressed my support of and love for Tri-Ess and Sigma Epsilon, but said I felt I didn’t fit the membership criterion and would be looking elsewhere for the help I needed to complete my journey.

Robin read that letter aloud at the next meeting, and something unusual and wonderful happened. It was decided by vote that if I or any other transsexual person felt Sigma Epsilon had anything to offer, we would be welcomed. That was a courageous move, for it was against the rules of Tri-Ess National. I received that message with tears in my eyes and love in my heart, and with it I became a Sigma Ep girl for life.

I have pursued my personal journey, which has taken me not only into full-time living and sex reassignment surgery, but into advocacy work on behalf of other transgendered persons. Robin, Linda, Rachel, Kathy, Joan Ann, and other old-timers, and many newer members have shared in my joy and offered encouragement along a way that has often been difficult.

I like to think that not only are Sigma Epsilon and Tri-Ess special to me, but that I’m special to Sigma Epsilon and Tri-Ess. I was shown concrete evidence of this last year, when I was not only invited to attend the Holiday en Femme, but received a Friends of Tri-Ess award. The plaque hangs proudly on the wall, directly in my line of sight as I work at my computer to write this. I will get other awards in this life, but none will be more important to me. And I will receive love in my life, but none will mean more than the love I have received from Tri-Ess National and from Sigma Epsilon.

And that’s why you’ll see this transsexual at Sigma Epsilon meetings!