Copyright © 2004 by Vanessa Vogue
Exotic Dancer, Hairstylist.
This is my story:
Hello to all. Let me introduce myself. My name is Vanessa Vogue. I would like to share my life story with you. I was born on January 10, 1968 and yes this makes me a Capricorn. I grew up in northwest Tennessee in a town called Greenfield, near Memphis TN. I was born to the first name of Trent. The son of a Baptist minister, I grew up in a Christian home. I have wonderful parents and two great sisters, and am very thankful for the love they have shown me.
Ever since I was a little boy everyone would say how pretty of a girl I was. I remember that my mother was so quick to correct people and tell them I was her son and not a girl. Thinking back to the first years of realizing that I was different takes me back to kindergarten days. This was when I first realized that I wasn’t a girl but a little boy. I was very confused about this, and remember going home and telling my mother. She of course tried to comfort me in the way a mother does and I let the situation go.
Then throughout the elementary and Jr. High years there were re-occurring times and situations of “being different”. I experienced feelings that I didn’t understand, other than I am different, but why??? Being so sheltered, growing up in a rural community in a Southern Baptist home, I was so limited on information about life issues. Approaching my pre-teen years and on into my freshmen year of high school was when I really was most aware of my feelings. I was also dealing with the changes with my body, and realizing about sex and about being attracted to other boys and not girls.
I had my first sexual encounter at the age of fifteen years of age. This continued on for about a year, and I for the first time experienced love. I thought from this, and what had happened between me and my first lover, that I had to be homosexual. I hid this and dealt with these feelings on my own. I sought out other friends who were gay, and made these select people my new friends. In school I was very active, belonging to many clubs. I was a member of the marching band and on the rifle line too. I loved to sing and was a member of the chorus and also theater club. I also attended modeling school and modeled for a span of three years.
I realized that I wasn’t the manly type of male model that agencies were looking for…I tried so hard to conform to how everyone wanted me to be, but their was no hiding the woman inside of me. I had such feminine ways about myself, my voice, and my mannerisms. I even had a girlfriend for awhile but that was for a cover-up. I was what you would call a Pretty Boy.
I went thru a lot of harassment thru my high school days. Other students shouted ugly things about me (calling me by the name of Trena and not Trent), flattened my car tires, and got me into in numerous fights that I never started but was punished for.
No one can ever truly understand how this hurt me so badly, but still to this day I can’t help still having hard feelings towards certain people who destroyed some of the best years of my life. I realized I had to let it go and that life is unfair. But I can understand how some kids can get to the breaking point. Others don’t realize how this harassment can drive you over the edge. But hopefully this made me a stronger woman.
After graduating from high school I attended college for one semester, but decided to drop out due to the fact once again I didn’t fit in, and I started having similar situations from high school days reoccurring now in college.
I then decided to attend Beauty School and received a cosmetology license. After that I moved to Memphis, TN, and began living my life. This was the point where I found acceptance from others like myself. I went to the famous gay bar in Memphis called George’s on Marshall in the 80's.
I walked in and laid eyes on one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Her name was Veronica York, starring in the documentary ‘’What Sex Am I’‘. I for the first time became aware of transsexual women. Soon after that I started my career as a drag star. My theatrical and musical background had prepared me for stage and with the help of a friend (Jimmy Givens) a star was born: “Miss Vanessa Vogue”. I went on to a successful drag career working on several show casts, head-lining shows and as mistress of ceremonies, and also won pageants with some titles including Miss Paducah, KY, 1987, Miss Gay Memphis, TN 1989, runner-up to Miss Gay Tennessee 1990 and also Miss Gay Kentucky 1988.
I had become friends with a transsexual woman by the name of Lee Ann Alexander who to this day is one of my dearest friends. She gave me all the information I needed and got me on hormones. She was my mentor and told me ‘’ Girl It will all happen in time I promise’‘. She was right because it did. Thanks to Lee Ann for being there for me, and also a special thanks to Rachel Thompson from Daytona, FL for all your help and guidance.
I sought out counseling in which it was clear that I was transsexual instead of gay. I started hormone therapy in 1990 taking estrogen shots and pills, developing breasts and softening my body. I was working for a company as a hairstylist and had been working there for 4 years.
I decided to start living full-time and have breast augmentation surgery in December of 1992. Once this came out, I lost my job with the company I was working at. I sought out legal help, but found out that transsexual women have no civil rights. So there was nothing I could do legally to fight this action taken against me. This is one of many reasons we should fight for civil rights.
Anyhow, I proceeded on towards my surgery, and started living full-time with a legal name change. At this stage in my life, I began my career as an exotic dancer. This was a great opportunity for me, because it allowed me to earn the money for my sex reassignment surgery.
I went to Belgium in 1994 for my SRS surgery by Dr. Michel Seghers, a very good SRS surgeon there. Dr. Seghers and his staff took great care of me. The hospital was very nice as well. After having my surgery I remember lying in the hospital bed thinking about myself and how it's going to be with my new body. I was in shock in a sense because the surgery had become a reality. I made some new transsexual friends while in Europe. My roommate was from Florida. It was an awesome experience that she and I were to share together. I also met a lady who was an RN nurse who had come back to Europe for follow-up surgery.
After being in the hospital for one week, and 10 days in total in Europe, I then flew home to Memphis, TN. I decided to get another flight to take me on to Arkansas, and stayed with my new RN friend that I’d met in Europe. She was an angel, and helped take care of me while I fully recovered.
Being able to travel internationally was a great experience and Europe was lovely. My total cost for surgery was $6500.00 in 1994, and with plane ticket and other costs I spent about $10,000. This didn't include any evaluations or blood work required for acceptance for surgery.
I have been living happily and successfully for 10 years since my surgery. I am still working as an exotic dancer (for 12 years now), and also as a hairstylist. I‘ve had no other surgeries since my SRS except electrolysis. I was blessed with a natural voice and looks. And I thank GOD for giving me this opportunity for being the woman I am. I’m so much happier finding the acceptance I always wanted and fitting in comfort into society. I am so much more powerful as a woman. HEAR ME ROAR!!!
After achieving my womanhood, my life has always come in stages and throughout each stage I’ve grow as a person. Early it was what type of hairstyle, types of clothing and make-up. Then it was finding new hobbies, and new types of music and simply things I do for entertainment. I have gone thru so much learning about what type of woman I am, and how I want to be.
I married the first time to an officer in the U.S. Navy. The marriage lasted for a few years, but ended in divorce. After that I married for the second time in 1996. I am currently still married, but we are separated right now. One of the hardest things for me has been relationships, but many people have to search hard for good relationships.
I have a wonderful Christian family. However, the transition for them was very hard. Almost like a death in the family, or so my mother has told me. But after getting used to the new me, they saw things differently. My father and I had problems over the years, because I didn't turn out to be the son he wanted. But I do know he always did love me. My mother always tried to keep the peace between us. My two older sisters always showed me a lot of love and never treated me any differently.
My father and I didn't see each other for 8 years. I did see my mother and sisters though. They prayed a lot that someday we would reunite as a whole family. It finally happened and my father and I worked everything out. They show me so much love and acceptance. The only thing I can say about these family situations is that "Time Heals all Wounds" thru a lot of prayer.
Looking back I can see that life is so much better for me since my changes. I am so much happier, and I want this for all transsexual women. I want to offer inspiration to all who may read my story. Just always remember to stand strong and never let life or someone get you down. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. It may seem so overwhelming to you now, but it will happen in God’s will. If you can stay focused and have tunnel vision, all your dreams come true.
For any questions please feel free to contact me by e-mail.
Mardi Gras, 2001
Vanessa with her poodles Star and Macy
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