My Transgender Life: Superstar

Andy Warhol transvestite Superstar Holly Woodlawn, acclaimed for her performance in 'Trash', photographed in her Greenwich Vi
Andy Warhol transvestite Superstar Holly Woodlawn, acclaimed for her performance in 'Trash', photographed in her Greenwich Village apartment in 1970. (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

There were so many phrases and titles flitting and flying through my consciousness this past week. I love and sit in joy and amazement watching how one of these ideas will jump out above the others and flesh into one of these little stories that I share with you. Sometimes, they take over and start writing themselves, and sometimes I force myself to open the file and just watch my fingers as they start to dance over the keyboard.

This past weekend, I had a few ideas that were sitting on post its, my white board, or just floating around my mind -- yet I had no clarity which one would cry for its freedom to become whole.

I woke up this Monday morning, December 7, which has its own infamous place in history and felt disconnected from my blog. I was empty and decided to put writing on hold today, and just do some cleaning and repotting of plants.

Then.... I first saw it on Facebook, and then here on HP. Holly Woodlawn has passed.

Yesterday, I was happily nostalgic as I heard a DJ say it was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles album Rubber Soul. Probably millions or even billions of people will know that reference. On Facebook I exchanged so many memories of records and songs that the day finished on a pleasant note.

Today, I am trying to assess my feelings to Holy's passing and wondering how many people even know that she was a real person.

I never was brave enough to take that "Walk on the Wild Side," but living in confusion and hiding in my teens and twenties -- and for the next 4 decades also, it was important to see Holly and the Warhol culture of Superstars, even if I had no idea how or if it related to my very own life.

They were different, they were queer (oh my god -- I said it!), they were in your face, they were troubled, but most important they were public. I was confused and afraid. I am not sure whether they made me more or less confused and afraid, but I knew I was glad they were there.

I graduated from college in 1969, and moved to Boston for my first job as an engineer. I remember talking many of my newfound friends to go in the "seedy" neighborhood of Boston to see Warhol's Trash. There is nothing like taking new friends to see something like this. I will never forget it. All while I was getting very good at hiding in plain sight.

...

..plucked her eyebrows on the way,
shaved her legs, then he was a she...
- Lou Reed

Oh how I dreamed it could be so simple! But the Warhol Superstars were not real people right. They were not like you and me, with real lives, real bills, real friends, real family and real commitments. They drank, they drugged and they sold themselves. Or -- was that a story that I used to protect myself? Even if it was true. Superstars shine brightly but they burn out too.

...

I am still trying to understand how I feel about this news. I wonder if Holly Woodlawn was a happy person. Did she really live her truth? I have an image planted in my brain of her from the movie Trash, that is not pleasant. Was that a movie or an early reality show? I am not sure I really want to know.

What I do know is that by allowing herself to be seen, way back 45-50 years ago, this made a difference to me. Mostly by letting me know that even though I did not understand that internal conflict within me, there were others with similar if not identical conflict. I have talked much about how we are all unique like snowflakes. Even Superstars are unique snowflakes.

Holly Woodlawn's Super Star will always shine bright to me. RIP.

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Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .