Michiee’s very tall and extremely slender body is one that women envy and men as he tells me, yes, even the straight ones, find themselves enamored by. It would take an effort not to love him. In fact, in the few hours I spent with him I quickly realized it was hard for almost everyone not to love him — a woman interrupted our lunch and tried to convince him that they had met before, our waitress was eager to point out that he frequented a bar she worked at, the guy at the gas station where he stopped to get cigarettes was in no hurry for him to leave. During the time that I was able to fend off his fans, this is what I learned about Michiee’s transformation from men’s to women’s wear…
How did the transition to dressing like a woman begin?
I was very fashionable in high school. I didn’t wear what the boys wore. I wore what the girls wore. I wasn’t too girly but I still got picked on everyday because I wasn’t conforming to other people’s definitions of what I should be as a person. After high school, I realized that I was going to be me. I was through trying to hide who I was to please other people. I grew wings and flew.
That says a lot for a teenager. When did you come out?
After high school I went to my first gay bar. I met a guy there and fell in love. He kept calling me. My mom finally asked who I was talking to and I told her. She had known I was gay but she was waiting for me to tell her. I was crying when I told her. I thought she was going to cry, but she didn’t. She only told me to be careful and to not let other people tell me who to be.
How are you treated as a cross dresser?
In my opinion, women are very judgmental of me, much more so than men. They are taken aback by me. They take offense to me. It hurts. It hurts when they say bad things about me. But I love them still. I want to empower them. I want women to love themselves more than they love the guy they are with. I want women to have more confidence in themselves. I think some women are hurtful towards me because of their own insecurities. They don’t like seeing me confident. My confidence makes them judgmental.
Have you ever had any situations where you treated very poorly or you felt threatened?
A few months ago I walked into this little bar. It was a straight bar. There was a group of guys and girls. I saw one of the guys whisper something to one of the women. I couldn’t hear what he said, but my spirit told me it wasn’t cute. As I walked past them I said, “Go to hell.” I just was not in the mood that day. The girl started yelling at me, telling me to fuck off. She grabbed her drink and threw it at me. It missed, but I grabbed my drink and I threw it at her. It was just one of those days. It could have been my fault. I could have misunderstood the whole thing. That was the only time.
Where do you hang out?
Straight bars. I don’t like gay bars. There is nothing for me at gay bars. I am attracted to bi-sexual men. I don’t like anything feminine. A lot of gay guys are not looking for someone as feminine as me, if they were they would not be gay. I would rather go to straight bars where guys like guys like me.
It just really seems that guys would treat you more poorly than women.
Guys have drive by judgment. I think they look at me as being too confident to say anything to. They would heckle me but they would not say anything directly to me. Women are much more in my face than guys. I think it is because with guys I can be somewhat of a fetish to them. A forbidden fruit.
You are a fetish to all guys?
Not all guys. Some.
So what you are saying is that you think the average heterosexual guy has a fetish for you?
Guys are physical beings. I think they are intrigued by me. They want to know what I do when I am with a guy. Some tell me that they wish their woman would be that way with them and I don’t even mean sexual things. Guys want to have their back rubbed. Guys want someone to be good to them when they get home. Guys want a woman to pay attention to their needs. Women don’t need to be holding the baby and picking up toys when their guy gets home. Guys need attention. He wants to be cuddled to. You can get a lot more out of a man when he is laying down than when he is sitting up. You get the truth out of a guy when he is laying down. When he is sitting up he is on guard. When he is laying down and you are rubbing him, massaging him — that is when you get the truth out of him.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about you?
That I want every man and that I want to be a woman. I don’t want to be a woman.
Do you want to be referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’?
People can call me anything they want. He or she either is fine. I can relate to both men and women. I do however have nieces and nephews and I make sure that they call me uncle. I would never want to confuse them.
Do you ever wear prosthetics so it makes you look like you have boobs?
When I am doing drag shows I do. When I am off stage they immediately come off. When I am going out for the night – no boobs. I go out as flat as a pancake. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea.
What wrong idea would guys get from you having boobs?
That when they get me home that I am a woman. It is deceiving to have breasts. Since 1992, I have had six friends that were murdered when a guy took them home. The State of Michigan has not found the killers. The State of Michigan does not give a damn. This is why I realize that I have to be in charge of protecting me. I am not counting on Michigan to do it for me.
If you felt safer, would you go out for the night with boobs?
No, it is still deceiving. It is not me. I don’t want them. Why would I act like I have them?
Do you have any interest in a sex change?
I always wondered what my life would be like if I got one. I think it would interrupt everything that I am trying to do with music and fashion. It would totally change my vocal style. It would confuse the whole thing.
After you decided that you were going to be a cross dresser what was that transition like?
I realized that if I was going to dress like this I had to either go somewhere that it was appropriate or I was really going to need to learn to protect myself. I needed to determine where I could go that I would be safe. I needed to find places that were gay friendly but not necessarily gay bars.
Did you find that friends that you had prior to being a crosser dresser were not understanding of the changes you were going through?
No, all my friends knew. To this day, all my elementary school friends say, “You have always been gay. You have always been this way.”
So you believe you were born with these feelings?
Oh, definitely. Definitely. (Laughing) I was born hot. Spiritually hot, you know what I mean?
Are you dating someone now?
No. My boyfriend committed suicide in June. He was bi-polar. I did not know the extent of his illness. I did know that he was supposed to be on medication. I was the one that found him when he had died. He did it while I was taking a nap.
I can’t imagine.
People think I am so strong. His death affects me more each day. People think I am fine, but I am not fine. I am more stern now. I am withdrawn. I know he is ok now. (Crying) I want people to tell me the truth. He was hiding something from me. He wasn’t honest with me about how he was feeling. I used to really open up to people. I don’t anymore. I used to take everyone on their word and I don’t anymore. I don’t trust people as much as I used to.
How long had you dated before he killed himself?
8 months. (Crying) Yesterday, was the anniversary of the first day we met. We met at a bar. I went home with him that night and never went home again. This is funny because I never cry like this. For the first three months after he died, I could easily talk about it. I don’t know how long it is going to take me to heal from this. He was the first person to ever take care of me. I miss him.
It hits you at weird times. I have been a pile in grocery stores and fine at funerals. It is especially tragic the way he died.
He suffocated himself. He took a can of spray glue and emptied it on a towel and wrapped it around the right side of his body and then put a trash bag over his head and breathed in the fumes until he died. He must really have wanted to go. He had really thought this out.
When I saw him I immediately called my cousin to come and be with me. I didn’t want to call the police and have no one with me. I didn’t know what the police would think about a gay black guy in an apartment with someone that had died.
I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine.
No one can. I have never cried like this. I know he is ok now.
What is the biggest reward of being a cross dresser?
The compliments that I get. The compliments that people give me on my spirit. The compliments I get from wearing the clothes that I have designed.
What would you say is the biggest challenge about it?
People judging me. People being negative towards me. I know that I have great taste in clothing and fashion. When someone says otherwise I think, “Come on, you could have just kept your mouth shut.” That is the down side of it all. They don’t even get a chance to know me as a person. They would rather just be negative. They don’t even know what kind of person I am, what kind of heart I have, what I do for a living.
When you are out do you use the men’s or women’s bathroom?
Women’s. (Laughing) The ladies room. There was a time when a woman had a problem with me being in there and I thought, “Why do you have a problem with me being in here? I don’t want you. I don’t want to look at you. What is your problem?” Sometimes the owner or the manager of a place will tell me that I can’t go into the women’s bathroom and I tell them that I will go into the men’s bathroom but if I have a problem they better have the security to protect me. I need to protect myself.
Do you think you would have a problem using the men’s bathroom?
I thought I would, but it turned out to be a good advantage because I meet guys in there.
What would it mean to you, if for whatever reason, you had to dress as a man?
It would mean that I am not being true to myself and that is living a lie. As poor as I am, if I had a job that required me to dress that way, I couldn’t do it. That would be living a lie. If I had to do it to help kids, I would do it, but otherwise I just couldn’t. I would never do it regardless of the lifestyle I could have.
What would you say is your greatest fear?
Dieing before I complete my life’s journey.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having a prosperous career in music and fashion.
When and where you happiest?
On stage performing with a band in Tokyo.
What is your greatest achievement?
Singing in Japan. The crowd was going crazy. They didn’t even know me but they were going crazy.
What is your greatest regret?
(Crying) The loss of my dad and Daryl [his boyfriend that passed away]. My dad never got a chance to hear my music, but because of him I am into music.
What would you say to people that would say to people that explain men that dress as women as having mental issues, drug problems or prior abuse?
They have small brains. They don’t have a clue. They think they know everything. Why would I choose to be ridiculed everyday? Why? Why would I try so hard to be me but know that there are people that want to kill me because I am who I am. I have never been with a woman in my life. I have kissed only one woman and that was on a dare. She was a butch lesbian. I don’t get aroused by women. (Laughing) I do like straight porn though.
The world is never going to get more open or peaceful with people not understanding each other.
If people have questions about other people, whatever that question is, they should just ask. No one should ever assume.
To learn more about Michiee go to: www.myspace.com/michieedevale