My birth forename was “Gloria” — shhhhh…. Now that I’ve told you, I’ll have to twist your knickers if you repeat it!!
Can you begin to imagine a worse name being given to a girl child who would identify as lesbian and then transition from female to male??
An obituary for Gloria Swanson, the “Glamor Queen of Hollywood” was printed in the New York Times in April of 1983 (emphasis mine):
Gloria Swanson, a symbol of enduring glamour who was perhaps the most glittering goddess of Hollywood’s golden youth in the 1920’s, died of a heart ailment yesterday in New York Hospital. She was 84 years old.
Through the 1920’s, Miss Swanson was Hollywood’s top box-office magnet. At premieres, thousands struggled for a glimpse of her, and fans deluged her with 10,000 letters a week. Her flamboyant gowns and innovative coiffures and even her chin mole were copied by millions of women, though few could hope to achieve the sophistication, charm and beauty of the petite actress.
Noted for her extravagance, Miss Swanson earned $8 million from 1918 to 1929 and spent nearly all of it.
The beauty of the 4-foot-11-inch actress, who had large blue eyes and brown hair, defied the standard criteria. Her profile was called too chiseled, her nose a ”ski slide,” her teeth too big and her chin too strong. Yet the total effect was stunning.
Their most sensational production was ”Male and Female,” based on Sir James M. Barrie’s play ”The Admirable Crichton.” Its setting gave De Mille an opportunity to depict cave-man love scenes on a desert isle and Miss Swanson coyly bathing in a sunken marble bathtub.
Recalling the giddy era of Hollywood’s youth, she remarked: ”We lived like kings and queens, and why not? We were in love with life. We were making more money than we ever dreamed existed, and there was no reason to believe that it would ever stop. We had just fought the war that was to end all wars, and everyone believed there was nothing but peace and pleasure ahead.”
In 1950 she made perhaps the most spectacular return in film history in ”Sunset Boulevard.” William Holden played her cynical young lover and Erich von Stroheim was her protective servant.
The actress was married six times. Most of the marriages were brief and, in an interview, she said, ”The mess I made of marriage was all my fault. The trouble with me is that I’ve always been too independent.”
What an icon to live up to with the same forename!!! The last thing I wanted was feather boas and glamor. Yet it was her images I saw on TV growing up. If the name itself wasn’t bad enough in being connected to this standard of glamor, how many young children can correctly pronounce a 3-syllable name? So one schoolmate started the trend of calling me “Glooey Baby” — coulda slapped her!
But yes, I’ve always been a little “too independent,” and that was the strength that helped me transition from female to male. Now I’m a mostly-ordinary guy in a t-shirt with an ordinary name: Terry. No feather boas and glamor — just sneakers and jeans.
In my most recent instance of disclosing to someone that I am transgendered (this week), the fellow looked me up and down quizzically and asked, “Are you thinking of changing from male to female?” Greater compliment could be paid to no man who’s been on my journey. Here’s why:
If you want to see a longish clip of Gloria Swanson from This Is Your Life (1957), here you go:
I shall end with a tribute to my birth name:
Peace on earth and mercy mild…
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