Voices of Transgender Pride: Dan Herrle (2 of 15)
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 1, 2016)
Ferndale, MI – The largest gathering of transgender people in Michigan happens every year in Ferndale with over 200 gender non-conforming individuals and supporters coming together for Transgender Pride in the Park.
An unexpected downpour had nearly 100 people huddled under a pavilion while much of Geary Park flooded and heavy rains knocked down the tents over vendor booths. The closeness and the futility of the mess meant lots of laughter, getting to know strangers, and a memorable experience for attendees of the August picnic.
For some, Transgender Pride in the Park is their only opportunity to be around other trans people. For some it is even the only time they go in public dressed the way they wish they could the other 364 days of the year.
This series is a result of an afternoon’s worth of conversations.
No individual story can speak for the transgender community. People have different perceptions of themselves, different labels, different pronouns, and different ways of expressing themselves. But the one thing almost everyone there (including the cisgender folks) wants is to simply be themselves without the scorn or judgment of others.
Here is the second of 15 Profiles from Transgender Pride.
#2 – Dan Herrle
Dan Herrle looks sharp in his suit. With strong arms, short fuzzy hair, and a beard most people that meet him can’t tell that the world once expected him to be ladylike. Like many people who are gender non-conforming, Herrle sometimes struggled with what to wear, especially to job interviews and more formal events. Like many young men tee shirts and shorts make the perfect ensemble. But he says that he cleans up nice.
As part of FTM Detroit Herrle tries to find ways for transmen to get educated about the little things that help make presenting and transitioning easier. Having a traditionally masculine haircut is an obvious early step, but so is binding. That’s when individuals wear a compression vest or wrap their torsos with cloth to minimize the chest area. FTM Detroit helps guys with that, even providing a network for those who no longer need binders to pass theirs down to the younger men.
“My absolute favorite was the workshop we did about suits. We called it “If the Suit Fits” and we brought in a person who works as a suit fitter to come talk about how to buy one,” Herrle said.
“Buying a suit is complicated for anyone, but with we’ve got different-shaped bodies. We need to be able to talk about what kinds of cuts look best if we have hips, or how to account for the chest area. The rep took our measurements and brought in terminology about how to buy one. We got a formal wear 101 with ties and ascots.”
Some of them also learned for the first time how to tie a tie.
“We don’t always have parents to teach us that stuff. You think of this image of the dad teaching the son how to tie a tie – a lot of guys here don’t have that.”
Rejection is a common theme in the lives of LGBTQ youth. Parents reject their children at a time when they are most struggling to figure out who they are. Without support young transgender people may not end up in environments where they have good mentors, access to employment, or friends that are positive influences.
FTM Detroit provides the kind of structure and support that literally saves lives.
The group stared informally with some friends who met while attending Wayne State. “We go started because a few trans guys at Wayne State met and we started hanging out every couple of weeks, drinking beer and just hanging out. It was very casual.
“Then people would be like ‘hey I met this other guy, can he come too?’ And we just kept adding people.
“It got to be the guys who were more experienced were helping the newer ones, and we thought that we should be doing more. Make it more of a formal group and really start helping people.”
Herrle and a handful of others started FTM Detroit, a group that is essentially headquartered in a house in Ferndale where four of the members live.
“Our events are open to anyone that is supportive of the community, but we have support groups that are just for people who are transmasculine or questioning so they can feel safe and around other people who really understand.”
Herrle said that another issue for transmen is that when they take hormones and grow beards, they are perceived to the world as male, but then struggle in LGBT spaces when others perceive them as cis gendered males. “Because I was so stealth it’s like I was invisible. People were like ‘What’s this cis guy going here? A lot of transmmen go through that. Especially if they were in the lesbian community before, sometimes friends don’t stay with you when you change,” he said. “I’ve had supportive people in my life, and some unsupportive people, but that comes with any life.”
He just prefers to be one of the supportive ones for others. To learn more about FTM Detroit check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FtMDetroit/.
Transgender Pride in the Park is an event that grows each year. It is hosted by Transgender Michigan, and other groups come with information and smiles to share. PFLAG Detroit, Gender Identity Network Alliance, and FTM Detroit were among those in attendance.
The oc115 is doing a series of profiles from the picnic. CLICK HERE to search for others, and SIGN UP FOR DAILY HEADLINES so you won’t miss future features.
Voices of Transgender Pride: Dan Herrle (2 of 15)