Monday, May 5, 2014

Victoria's Confirmation Party

I have written times about how Lisa Empanada's Affirmation Party was a defining moment in my life.  The love shown that day was absolutely amazing.  Just the idea of it:  a party showing that all of those people care enough about a transperson to celebrate their transition to their True Selves... even the thought of it brings tears to my eyes (especially when I think of how Lisa threw it all away.)

With Lisa at her Affirmation Party

I was invited to the Confirmation (Affirmation) Party of my dear friend Victoria.  She is a first generation Indian American (Indian as in the India subcontinent) whom I've written about a few times in this blog.  I've known Victoria for several years, as she has been a fixture on the Philly Trans scene for a long time.  She started transition a few years ago and has followed the steps of coming out, etc, with Class and Grace.  Hers was one of the letters upon which I modeled my letter to my job about transition.  Victoria is also a member of my support group.

I received the invitation some time ago, and I told her I'd be honored to attend.  It would mean planning around my wedding anniversary, but if she wanted me there, then I was going to be there!

So Saturday, April 26th, 2014 was the date.  My anniversary was Thursday April 24, and Wife and I celebrated on the 25th.

Early on the 26th, I went to New Concepts Med Spa to get my eyebrows done, then to Salon 3 to get my hair styled.  I really wanted to look my best for that day.  I decided to wear my favorite dress- the polka dot one.  The amazing Linda Lewis did my makeup.  I felt I looked good.

Ready for the Party!

I arrived early to help set up.  Various people had responsibilities to bring things.  I brought a Guest Book purchased at my bookstore.  It was quite a nice one.  Balloons were tied to weights, flowers were arraigned, gift table established, props hidden, and wine was opened.


Party room is ready!


The Bill of Fare


Victoria arrived thirty minutes early.  She was radiant and gorgeous.  Soon others began to arrive as well: Victoria's family, old friends from childhood and school, other invited transpeople.  All of the childhood friends sat together, as did all of the transwomen, etc.  Victoria sat with her family, in a chair marked by balloons and a floral arraignment in a shoe shaped vase.

Victoria


Flowers for Victoria

Victoria was so happy.  Her family is her life, and here she was surrounded by them and their love.  I've always envied the closeness she has with them.  As much as my Mum would protest otherwise, until recently I had no such thing.  There was always the specter of the Woman I truly am that kept me distant.  That and fear of terrible punishment.  I am VERY pleased to say that I misjudged them, and have my parents' acceptance.  My brother?  Not so much yet.  Work in progress or lost cause?  Only time will tell.  But I digress.

Victoria is a twin, and her twin brother was the MC for the dinner.  He introduced the speakers and, along with others, kept the festivities moving.

You see, Victoria's party was far different from Lisa's.  Lisa's was about education and not a little closure.  Victoria's was about inclusion and acceptance.  I'll explain that as I go.

It was Victoria's family's idea to provide her with all that she missed growing up male.  And that is where the props came in.  She was not aware of these plans.

The first part was Annaprashan, or first solid food ceremony.  It is here that the baby is given her "family" name.  I knew about this from reading Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.  Her aunt fed Victoria rice, symbolizing her first solid food, and the Name was announced to the family and guests.  As that name is private and for family, I will not repeat it here, but I was very honored to be among those that heard it.

Eating Rice (Picture courtesy Victoria Datta)

She then had her eyes covered and was to choose from various items on a tray.  On the tray were money, a pen, a book, and a clump of soil.  The object the baby reaches for indicates her path in life.  Victoria chose dirt, meaning either farming or property ownership.

The next part of the meal came, then after Victoria was given a fourth birthday "Princess Party" where her young niece presented her with a wand and tiara.  The cake also had a wand and tiara.

Princess Victoria

Another course, then it was Prom Night!  her cousin "asked her to the prom" and gave her a corsage.  She pinned a boutonniere on him.  They then posed for many pictures (I wondered why she didn't text all her friends that "HE ASKED ME OMG!!", but when she was Prom age, there was no texting.  Historical accuracy is a must.)  (hee hee)

Prom Night!  (Picture courtesy Victoria Datta)

Another course, and it was Graduation!  At her high school (and University,) women wore white caps and gowns.  Her high school classmates helped her on with her white cap and gown, then posed for pictures.

Congrats Graduate!

Then a mutual friend Tammi stood and spoke for the trans group.  She led everyone in together saying "We confirm you" to Victoria.  A candle was lit.

That was a LOT!  After dessert, Victoria's father stood to speak.  I got the impression that this was the first time he really allowed himself to discuss his feelings on the topic, as he covered many aspects and spoke so eloquently.  He thanked "that table" (as the table where we tg's were seated had been referred as lovingly by several speakers) for helping Victoria reach this place.

Then Victoria spoke.  She thanked everyone for coming, and thanked each "group" of people.  She spoke of the journey, of sacrifice, and of love.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Victoria's sister in law had asked me to speak, but after Victoria's words, I know whatever I would say would be lame and superfluous.  Besides, she deserved the last word.

At Dinner

 With dinner over, some of us gravitated to the bar.  I spoke to a couple of Victoria's high school friends.  As it turns out, one of them, who I will call "Doc," was a member of my fraternity, but from a different campus.  So Doc and I shared stories.  He and another friend, "Ross," had many intelligent questions about being TG.  Doc started buying sake.

My "Big Sister" Mel was also in attendance for the party.  She was leaving when she saw the sake, smiled, and told me to try to be good.

One sake.
Two sake.

Linda Lewis arrived.  I called her at the end of dinner, and invited her to join me at the bar.  She had a glass of wine.

Three sake.

I handed Linda my car keys, and, as the party was breaking up, I suggested that we all head over McKenzies.  Doc and Ross said they'd be there.  I guess they were overruled by their wives, as they didn't come.

Victoria gave me this

So it was Linda, my friend Amy, and me at the bar at McKenzies. Linda had some food, and I had a drink.  I was suddenly very tired, which was a strong indicator that I'd had too much to drink.  Linda guided me back to her car before I fell asleep on the bar, which was looking really, really comfortable.

A chugged bottle of water and two aspirin later, I was in bed.

So I've been to two confirmation/ affirmation parties and they were markedly different.  Lisa's was more informal but more informative, as she had Alexis Lake speak to discuss "transgender 101."  Victoria's was more formal and full of ceremony and experiences.  Which was better?  There's no way to compare them.  Apples and Oranges.  Both experiences were unique to the family giving them and the women being honored.  Lisa was more free spirited and all about educating people about the trans experience.  Victoria and her family are more formal and have more ritual.  Each party was the perfect expression of love from the family giving it.

Love.

So many transpeople are deprived of Love.  We are disowned by parents, divorced by spouses, and denied by children.  Then every once in a while a glimmer of Hope, like this one.  Hope that one of us would succeed... that one of us would beat the long odds against us.

Victoria is doing it.  She is beating the odds.  Her gender confirmation surgery is on May 13.

To Victoria and her family, thank you for allowing me to attend such a heart warming and amazing event, and thank you Victoria for not only allowing me to write about it, but also...

Thank you for being you, and for being the dear friend that you are.

Good luck on May 13, Victoria.  I will be there for you. 

2 comments:

  1. I am sure you mean her sex reassignment surgery is May 13 because lets face it with the 56 genders available on Facebook how could one possibly decide which gender to confirm? Okay that was sarcasm and was meant as such.

    To tell the truth I like you and I am rooting for you but me thinks you have eaten a little too much of the transgender pie. Despite what many may say there is no such thing as Gender Confirmation Surgery because cutting your nuts off like Sandeen does not confirm anything except Sandeen was nuts.

    One corrects ones sex and not one's gender and that is a simple inarguable fact. Gender Reassignment Surgery is kind of silly when there are 50+ genders and I am willing to bet even you realize that is rubbish. I am guessing your friend Victoria is finishing her road of travel and is having sex reassignment surgery. If not thne she is a fool.

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  2. If you don't have anything nice to comment, please don't.

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