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Roadshow and Tell

Transsexuals perform at the Media Co-op.



"August 2nd, 2005, the day before my first shot of T," says a female voice.

"August 31st, the day before my third shot," says the voice again, slightly rougher this time, as though the speaker has a cold. With "November 10th, the day of my eighth shot of T," the voice has dropped to that of a pubescent boy. By "my 16th shot of T," the voice is now recognizably male.

The "T" is a shot of testosterone, and the voice belongs to Kelly Shortandqueer, a transgender performer and one of the founders of the Tranny Roadshow, a group of traveling transsexuals who perform across the United States.

I watched the group perform last week at the Media Co-op. The tour has visited cities as far away as Toronto, although they don't get much farther South than Memphis.

Shortandqueer, along with fellow transsexual Jamez Terry, organized the show on a whim.

"I just wanted to be able to perform," says Terry. He posted on a few Web forums and sent e-mails to a few friends. "Within a week, I had gotten hundreds of e-mails," says Terry.

The Roadshow's performances vary from monologues to songs.

"The show is not explicitly political. A lot of the acts don't even deal directly with gender, but a lot of the art is very identity-based," says Terry. "I think it's hard to break into the mainstream art community, so we had to make our own space."

Shortandqueer opens the show with a monologue about the high and low points of changing gender, while trying to deal with colleagues and customers at OfficeMax.

"I hate it when my co-workers try and over-correct," he says during his performance. "'Oh, Kelly, you would look great in that blue shirt, because you're a boy!'"

"Passing," slang for someone appearing as their chosen gender without others suspecting, is a topic of both interest and pride.

I was clueless about the Roadshow founders' sex, even after they tried to guide me with several prominent pronouns. Finally, Terry, who works as a dog trainer in Alaska, said in an offhanded way, "I'm not even out at my job. As far as they know, I was born male, and I'm happy to let them think that."

But wait, I thought Terry was born male. I guess that's part of the beauty of the Roadshow: I wasn't sure where everyone was going, and I certainly didn't know where they had been.

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