Wavy Gravy: Transsexual Role Model

Lannie RoseThat clown Wavy Gravy made me a transsexual. Well, he didn’t actually make me a transsexual, but he inspired me to be one. More accurately, this icon of the sixties hippie movement provided a model that helped me understand my transsexuality.

As I began living more and more of my life as a woman, and feeling very, very good about it, I wondered, how could this be? Could it possibly be true that I was a real woman, in spite of my male body? I had been getting nowhere contemplating, Am I fundamentally a woman at my core, and what exactly does that mean? Indeed, those questions may simply be unanswerable. I decided the more relevant question was, Is living my life as a woman what I need to do in order to be happy? Or, twisting it around slightly, If I choose to live as a woman, will it increase my ability to build a happy life? Based on my experience spending time as a woman, I could answer that question with a confident, “Yes!” But in my gut, I was still worried. Could I be a woman just because I wanted to be? Was it reasonable to ask the world to accept and respect me as a woman just because I said I was?

That’s when Wavy Gravy hit me. Well he didn’t actually hit me, but if he had, it would have been with a big floppy bladder that went “Pfffffffttt!” and it would have been very funny. What actually hit me was the fact that Wavy Gravy lives his life as a clown. Now he certainly was not born a biological clown, so he must have transitioned to it. Apparently he decided, somewhere along the line, that presenting himself as a clown was the best way to express his true self. It allowed him to do things he could not do – or do as effectively – as a mere man. He was able to live a happy, productive, meaningful life only as a clown. So that ‘s what he did. He did it so sincerely, lovingly, and thoroughly that the world accepted and respected him as a clown. I am sure it was not an easy journey, but he undertook it enthusiastically. I wondered if he even considered the choice or if he simply needed to be a clown.

Wavy was a familiar face in the peace movement that stopped the Vietnam War. He formed the Seva foundation to bring much-needed medical care to third-world countries. Later, he ran Camp Winnarainbow, teaching performing and circus arts to kids of all ages and economic backgrounds. Being a clown was not what Wavy Gravy was all about. It was just what he was.

So there you have it. If Wavy Gravy could be a clown, surely I could be a woman. And if I did it sincerely, lovingly, and respectfully, then I was confident that the world would accept me, too.


This reflection is an excerpt from Lannie Rose’s book “Lannie! My Journey from Man to Woman” ©2007 by Elaine Rhodes. It is used here by permission of the author. If you are interested in learning more about Lannie’s work, please click the following link to visit Lannie’s website.  

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