ALTERNATIVE POINT OF VIEW OF TRANSGENDERISM


Raven Snook

Profile by Raven Snook

What is your name and what is your background?

Hi, my name is Raven Snook and I am a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body (you may remember my autobiographical article in The 9th Tranny Guide). While this may sound like a gender / mind fuck, it’s really quite simple; I never truly feel feminine until I am dressed up in my makeup, heels and corset. I think this stems from my childhood. I was extremely tall and overweight. My classmates mercilessly teased me; in fact I remember one telling me that on a scale of one to ten I would be a six – IF I had a sex change. There was nothing particularly masculine about me, however there was nothing particularly feminine either. I was large, awkward, basic brown hair, large Jewish nose and hazel eyes. I remember looking in the mirror and wondering: am I a girl? If so, how come I’m not petit, rosy-cheeked and perky like other little girls? I had breasts by age eight, my period by age ten, developments that confirmed my gender, yet I didn’t feel like a female. I hated "girlie" things: Barbie, tea parties, gymnastics, Easy-Bake ovens, yet I loved glamour: MGM musicals, sequin circus outfits, floor-length dresses, my mom’s platform boots. As a prepubescent I was already creating my own aesthetic, my own sense of style, self, and gender. It wasn’t enough that I had been born a biological female: I had to find the appropriate costume to truly see myself as a woman. In college by age 18, I was already calling myself "a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body" or a "female drag queen." I started to write monologues about my experiences and compiled them into a series of one-woman shows. Today, I am a New York-based freelance writer and performer who pens and performs personal essays about my life. I also contribute articles about theatre and nightlife to a number of NYC publications including Time Out New York, the New York Post and the Village Voice. I act on stage and (sometimes) TV, and live with a wonderful, Gothy man who understands my own particularly take on gender identity.

Are you happy to be called a tranny and what does this name mean to you?

Believe it or not, two married drag queen friends of mine got into an argument over whether or not I was a "tranny." One said yes, it’s a state of mind, not a physiological state of being. The other said no, it’s specific to biological gender transition. All I know is, I was part of a drag pageant on “The Maury Povich Show” where audience members were presented with 12 gorgeous gals and asked to separate the biological women from the transsexuals. An old biddy bet $100 that I was a tranny. I loved it! I was proud to be dubbed a tranny that day.

How old are you and how young can you remember thinking about or actually cross-dressing?

I have been dressing up for as long as I can remember. I have a photo of myself at five wearing a floor-length white lace dress, lipstick and a tiara. I am surprised I didn’t come out of the womb in heels! Now at age 31, I continue to dress up every single day. You’ll never catch me without red glitter lipstick (which my mom calls "The Ruby Lippers"), heels and a corset… except maybe in bed!

Where do you buy clothes?

My weight goes up and down, but right now, since I am a big girl (size 12 - 14) I tend to buy dresses made from stretchy material, and I wear corsets almost every day. I also buy vintage clothes and shop in cross-dressing boutiques like the recently defunct Lee’s Mardi Gras (where I always fit into the smallest size. Hooray!) Since I love Goth garb, I also buy a lot from Hot Topic’s Torrid line which is for plus-size divas of the night.

What leads you to choose the styles you wear? Do you have one look or many images?

I consider my look to be a combination of Glam and Goth. I called it "Dragula" until Rob Zombie came along and appropriated the word. I guess "Glampire" would be the best description. I don’t stray too far from black, red, and glitter, although for Halloween I was "Whorothy" (Dorothy from Oz after a few years walking the streets). For this I donned a gingham corset and ponytails, so I am capable of other looks.

Is makeup and hair important to you and if so how do you achieve your look?

I SUCK at hair. That’s what wigs are for! I am lucky to have friends who are stylists and they create some incredible wigs for me. I used to wear them everyday…but these days I save them for special occasions and just plop a tiara on my head as day wear.

To what degree do you practice hair removal, and other body feminization?

Like I said, I use corsets to help my shape, wigs and falls to pump up my hair. Luckily, I am not hairy (I have shaved friends’ backs when they do drag, it’s a major pain!)

Who knows that you dress?

Honey, everyone!!!

How often do you dress and if you go out where to?

I used to party almost every night but honestly, now that I live with my man we don’t get out as much. But I continue to dress up everyday. People constantly say, "you look great! Where are you off to?" and I say, "life!" Why shouldn’t I look special and fabulous every day? When I look into the mirror, I want to see a goddess. That takes work, and I am willing to put in the time. When I do go out it tends to be with my friends, some tranny, some drag queens, some straight. I love being able to experience all kinds of scenes and parties, so one night you might find me at “Sweetie’s ‘tar Tartare”(a drag party), Michael T’s “Rock and Roll fag party” –”Mother Fucker”, or visiting friends at “Lucky Cheng’s” drag restaurant and bar. The next evening my man and I might hit a Goth night like ‘Albion’, or just have a quiet dinner with friends.

How much of a sexual turn on is trannying for you?

My ex (who was bisexual) used to dress in drag when we made love. My current man has a feminine side, he wears glitter and paints his nails, but he’d look pretty scary in drag (sorry hon!) Honestly, for me it’s a turn on to take OFF my drag, but only with someone I feel totally comfortable with. I want them to accept me as a raw product.

What is your definition of feminine?

Sexy, soft, glittery, curvy, Mae West and Rita Hayworth (not Gwyneth Paltrow or Cameron Diaz.) Confidence, breasts.

To what degree do you feel gender dysphoric?

I feel like my brain is asexual, or neutral. My personality (and in some ways, my sense of self) changes depending on my environment. If I am with a bunch of breeders (straight men), I can be one of the guys, or a sexual object of desire depending on how I am feeling. I can be more vulgar or macho than any man if I put my mind to it. When I am with drag queens, my rhythm shifts. I am all fabulous and confident, larger than life. And alone with my man, I am yet another person, vulnerable, sometimes insecure.

To what degree would you consider permanent hair removal, hormones, surgery?

This doesn’t so much apply to me, although I would love to get the waddle under my chin tucked in!!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who has just found they are not the only tranny in the world?

I have met many women from all over the world who call themselves "drag queens trapped in a woman’s body" as well as men embarking on their journeys in drag. I always tell everyone the same thing: drag isn’t about your gender, it’s about your state of mind. Anyone can be a drag queen. It’s about reinventing yourself, imagining your perfect persona and bringing it into being. Sometimes it involves gender transition, either permanent or temporary. Sometimes it is as simple as finding the right shade of lipstick. In the end, it’s about creating the unique and ideal you.

For more thoughts check out my website www.geocities.com/Broadway/Stage/3403/ravensnook.html