I was asked if I would do an article on the Vanity Club, a transgender group, one that I have belonged to for 25 years, and which just celebrated its 25th anniversary in DC. I’m going to share an edited version of a speech I was honored to give. It was at dinner, where I happened to be the oldest active member among the ladies in attendance.
In 1995, the internet was just at its beginning, and we just wanted to not be alone, wanted to be able to share who we were. From the many of the original group, there are just three of us left who are still active, but over the years we have had over 700 members come and go, and currently are 200 strong. We represent all parts of the spectrum, all parts of the world. We have cried when we lost friends and celebrated when we met new friends. Originally, it was pretty much an open invitation if someone knew you, but over the years it became a more structured service, not just a social group. As such, we have big sisters, little sisters, and someone who must sponsor you and the membership must vote after being vetted by the Membership committee. But this has been good because, for those that join, we have confidence that they truly want to be part of our community.
What is most important to me from being in VC? It is the friendships. My VC sister, Sheri, who I first met in 1995, is my dearest friend, and that is what I believe is most important: the friendship we all share. With friendships comes trust and respect for one another. We each had our journeys, and each one was unique. Since Sheri retired and moved to Florida, I have missed her deeply; we talked about everything and knew each other in our work lives. I was still active duty military, an officer, so it took a lot for me to be open with her about my personal life, and her in return. It made our friendship that much stronger.
How many of you remember GeoCities on the internet? Before VC came to be, I had a site on GeoCities, called Linda’s Paradise. It was a place where I could share, not just about me, but information on the transgender community, whatever was in the news, on television, or in the movies. I had a friend’s page where if you had two hearts it meant we had actually met and one heart if a friend I knew had met you, but not me personally. So, it was a safety mechanism. So, does this sounds familiar? Something like Facebook? Yes, it is true; I do not have an ounce of innovation in me, because if I did, I would have seen the light! But my point is really the world continues to change, and some days it takes three steps forward, and some two steps back, so continue to be mindful of your environment and be safe.
At the VC anniversary event, they asked me when I originally joined VC what did I think the Club would look like in 2021? Well, back then I hoped it would continue to grow and we would have members from all over the country and the world. That much has come true. We didn’t have big sisters and little sisters; I think that is wonderful. But it is so much more. We have sisters who lead their private lives, and we have sisters who are very active and advocates for all those in the LGBTQ community. That part I think is awesome. So, whether being private or in the public mainstream, we all continue to represent VC with dignity, professionalism, and integrity. If you would like to know more visit the site Vanity Club Organization or reach out to me, love to chat.
*Brina’s note: (I felt that it would be worthwhile to share about another respectful group, as Marie previously commented about Tri-Ess. Our sisterhood on this site has continued to grow and has become a voice and a beacon to others. I want to personally thank Linda for sharing and for being a member here at CDH!)