Geeks, Hackers, Transvestites and Circuitry

I just spent a rather fantastic weekend at Notacon 8 in Cleveland, Ohio. If you aren't familiar with Notacon (and are too lazy to click the link), it's a hacker / maker con. It's a weekend filled with talks, demos and workshops on the geekiest shit you can imagine, presented by the smartest people you will ever meet.

In other words, it's a building full of Neo's.

Anyway, my talks were on The Art of Akira and How NOT to Redesign Fark.com. The first was a more entry-level, non comic book/anime world talk on Akira, animation and my collection and the exhibit itself. The latter was half analysis of modern design on the web and the difference between commercial vs. Community sites, and half confessional by me on what exactly exploded in 2007. It all went really well. There will be video soon, when it's up I'll link it.

I attended talks that ranged from heuristic analysis of viral outbreaks on computers vs. Biological viral outbreak mapping, wiring and soldering circuit boards, building audio chipcore music tracks using glitched Amiga boards, lockpicking "lock pick proof" locks, the history of the ink pen and falconry. I hung out with security and tech ops from companies like Amazon and SecureWorks and spent the better part of the weekend trading old Dot Com war stories with Alex P. from TheDailyWtf.com. And I loved every second of it.

But the thing I loved most was meeting a middle-aged transvestite named Mark. Mark was part of Notacon staff. I'd seen him at other Notacons, but was so busy or engaged I never reall ran into him. But this con, everyone collected every evening into the con suite which was the upstairs lobby of the exhibit halls. And when Mark floated up to a group of us, dolled up in heels, makeup and falsies bigger than my wife's realsies and said hi, I just had to get to know him.

I heard his stories and saw pictures of his wife, who he loves very much. He told me how he gets jumped once a year by Neanderthal guys who have to solve confusion and fear with violence. He doesn't want a gender reassignment and isn't gay. He just really, really likes dressing as a chick.

I respect the shit out of Mark. He faces obstacles you and i really never have to face. And arguably he brings it on himself; after all he could just dress like a dude and solve his main problem.

But it would just introduce an even worse problem. When he dresses like a lady, hes comfortable in his own skin. Every single day when he walks out of the house, he knows who he is and what he wants to be, and EVERYONE else who doesn't get it can go fuck themselves.

Can you say the same? I can't.