"A Love That Is Out of Anyone's Control"
(Attention conservation notice: Diary-like navel-gazing today. If you're here for the Actual Philosophy, come back the week after next.)
ROSE: [...] we can't both exist. I'm going to become half of you. And I need you to know that every moment you love being yourself, that's me, loving you, and loving being you.
—Steven Universe, "Lion 3: Straight to Video"
I'm not really sure what other people get out of fandom conventions. There are panels, but pop-culture analysis is better in blog form than live discussion. There are autographs, but there are only so many celebrities I want to pay forty dollars in order to meet for forty seconds. There's the vendor hall, but I don't need more useless material possessions: my life is about bits, not atoms.
For me, it's my one socially-acceptable excuse for crossdressing in public.
... well, that's not quite right; "socially-acceptable" isn't the concept I want. I live in goddamned "Portland". (Which is actually Berkeley, but when I started my pseudonymous gender blog, I took my savvy friends' cowardly and paranoid advice to obfuscate even my location, and now I have to keep saying "'Portland'" for backwards compatibility, even though at this point my bad opsec is more akin to a genre convention or a running joke, rather than a real attempt to conceal my identity.) Everyone and her dog has trans friends here. My new young male coworker just staight-up wears a dress and makeup some days, and no one bats an eye. (My attempt to "Blanchpill" him was ... uneventful.)
So if I don't need to fear getting beaten up or even menacing stares, why do I need conventions to dress up? Could part of it be that I'm too old? The fact that I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a dress to work (!!) probably has something to do with my sense of propriety being calibrated to the world of 'aught-six, in contrast to my coworker, who I guess would have come of age in the Obergefell- and Jenner-era world of 'fifteen. For all that this blog is about resisting pro-gender-variance social pressure in the life of the mind, I should at least endeavor to notice when I succumb to anti-gender-variance social pressure in real life.
I think another part of it is an intuition about—how do I put this? Not wanting to commit fraud?—or not wanting to commit obvious fraud. The reason I'm so glad that there's a word for the thing that isn't "crossdresser" or "transvestite" is because it's not about the clothes; it's about wanting to actually have the body of the other sex. The clothes are just a prop. And the prop ... noticeably doesn't work. I don't pass; I have never passed. My voice is wrong; my skeleton is wrong; my movement is wrong; my face continues to be wrong despite makeup. At least at Fanime (where everyone and her dog is in costume) there's no pretense that the pretense is anything more than that. If you fool someone—if only for a moment—then great, but if not, then at least you're not fooling anyone about whether you're fooling yourself.
I'm probably just bad at crossdressing/cosplay? I've never put the kind of effort into, say, a makeup tutorial the way I do for my intellectual endeavors. My Fanime costume was authored by the Amazon product recommendation algorithm: after adding the pink wig to my shopping cart, the "Discover Related Products" sidebar picked out the hoop skirt and the Mr. Universe tee from Episode 48 "Story for Steven". (The sword in the photo illustrating this post is borrowed from another cosplayer cropped out-of-frame.) And unless I become more skilled, I feel like I've hit diminishing returns on conventions—like whatever I was going to get out the experience, I would have gotten either this time or one of the last six (previously: as Ens. Sylvia Tilly at San Francisco Comic-Con 2018, as Equestria Girls Twilight Sparkle at BABSCon 2018, as Korra at San Francisco Comic-Con 2017, as Pearl at FanimeCon 2017, as Lt. Jadzia Dax (circa 2369) at the Star Trek 50 Year Mission Tour San Francisco 2016, as Pearl as San Francisco Comic-Con 2016).
As far as other special events go, I'm flying out to Portland—the real Portland—tonight for a tech conference, and to visit friend of the blog Sophia. You'd think a few days of vacation should do me good—I've been an psychological wreck all year (I mean, even more than my average year) over having accidentally catalyzed a civil war in my local robot cult—except that the same cultural forces that have subtly-yet-fatally corrupted my beautiful robot cult, just own the open-source tech scene outright, which is likely to present a source of additional stress. The spirit of bravery that sings, I will fight for the place where I'm free—for the world I was made in, must subsist in a brain wracked by constant emotional pain that—sometimes—is just tired of fighting.