- Who are the Tennessee Vals?
The Tennessee Vals is an accepting social and support group for persons discovering who they are, in terms of gender. The T Vals offer a safe and confidential atmosphere for transgender persons, their families, and friends. The group is open to all individuals who identify themselves as intersex, androgynous, transsexuals, or transgender; whether gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual. Members are encouraged to support, educate, and make friends within the transgender community specifically, but also within the LGB community, as well. The Tennessee Vals is not a singles, swingers, or fetish club. Inappropriate behavior (please see the Conduct page) at Vals meetings is not acceptable.
- What’s a Val?
We’ve been asked this question so many times that we decided to explain our nickname online.
The inspiration for our group name came from the state’s historical tradition as the Volunteers, or “Vols.” Vols then became “Vals” because it resembles “gals.” Some have suggested the name is an acronym attributed and the various suggestions have included: “Vanguards for Alternative Lifestyles,” “Variations on Alternative Lifestyles, “Values of Adaptive Learning,” etc. Some are obviously better than others. However, the Tennessee Vals we remain.
- What is the purpose of the Tennessee Vals?
We are here to help each other gain acceptance of ourselves and others like us. If you, a friend, or family member is facing a transgender issue in your life, you are welcome to join us in our meetings. We try to frequently schedule presentations of interest to our group members. The meetings also have time dedicated explicitly to socialization, where the members can share their problems, fears, hopes, and aspirations; and seek advice, feedback, and gain a greater understanding of themselves with the help of peers.
All Tennessee Vals meetings are in a secure place and you have the right to remain anonymous, if you desire. Potential new members are encouraged to call or write for a personal contact with one of the Vals Directors to assure their motives for contacting the group are legitimate. We do this for the protection and safety of everyone concerned.
So, please join us in our welcoming community in Nashville. We have members from all over the State of Tennessee and some surrounding states.
- Who can come to a Tennessee Vals meeting?
Our meetings are reserved for those who consider themselves transgender, anyone who is in a relationship with a transgender person (family, spouse, therapist, or close friend), and anyone who provides service to the transgender community (doctors, therapists, vendors, sponsors, etc.).
- The website doesn’t specify where you meet. Exactly where do you meet?
For security purposes, we do not publicize the location on the website. If you are interested in attending a meeting, contact (e-mail, write, or call) the Tennessee Vals, and tell us about yourself (why you want to attend). We will get back with you as soon as we are able.
- I called the phone number and all I got was a voice message. What’s up with that?
The Tennessee Vals have a voice mailbox to receive phone calls. Leave your name, phone number, and appropriate calling times and instructions, and someone will call you back.
- I want to receive information, but I’m afraid someone will pick up my mail or intercept a phone call. What can I do?
We understand your possible desire for privacy and will work with you as best we can. We can e-mail you all the information you need. Otherwise, provide us with appropriate contact information and/or instructions. We will try our best to protect your confidentiality as instructed.
- Do you give out your mailing list?
No, we keep our mailing list private and only the Board Members are allowed to see the list.
- When do you meet?
The Vals always meet on the second Saturday of each month at 5 pm. The Vals host a night out on the town the third Saturday of each month. We will occasionally have extra group outings during the month. Check the newsletter and website for announcements of these outings.
As noted in Item 5 above, the meeting place is in a secure location away from public view, so don’t be concerned about getting in or out without incident.
- Do you ever cancel meetings?
Seldom, but the Tennessee Vals do cancel meetings in winter months, if weather conditions are very bad. If you have doubts, check this website for such announcements. If we’re canceling, we’ll post it on the main page as soon as it has been decided, and we’ll also make an effort to e-mail or call our members.
- Are there any fees for attending the meetings? How much is membership in the Tennessee Vals?
The annual membership fee is $35 or a door fee of $5 per meeting. Attendance at your first Vals meeting is always free. The membership application form is available here.
The Tennessee Vals is a not for profit organization, and members support the group financially by a minimal meeting charge to pay for outreach and communication. For more details, contact the Vals. No one facing economic hardship will be turned away.
- How do I dress at Vals meetings and events?
Any way you want to dress is fine with the group. Some will come dressed completely as their adjusted (true) gender, and others will just show up as their birth gender. It’s entirely up to you. There is no pressure to dress either way, and you are welcome, no matter what.
- Can I change clothes at the meeting site?
Yes, we have two locking bathrooms that are suitable for changing clothes and/or applying makeup.
- Do you have rules of behavior for your group?
Definitely, they are listed on the Conduct page. Please take them seriously.
- What happens at the meetings, and what can I expect?
The Vals general meetings begin at 7 pm, with the transition meeting beginning at 5pm. In the hour or so leading up to the general meeting, we have time for casual social interaction, so feel free to mix, mingle, and network. Once the general meeting is called to order, announcements are made about news and upcoming events of interest to the transgender community. Then, the meeting program begins and last for an hour or so. Afterwards, many of our members go out and socialize at the local restaurants and nightclubs. The Vals general meetings are conducted by the Board of Directors, lead by the Chair and Vice Chair. Meetings of the Board, which are held at a different time and location, are also open to all Vals members.
During the announcements at the general meetings, members sometimes mention upcoming legislative votes and/or political events that might be of interest to the transgender community, but the Tennessee Vals is not a political organization, and we do not get involved in political activities. Those who have interests in transgender political issues may contact the Tennessee Transgender Political Action Committee (TTPAC) at tenntg.com.
The Tennessee Vals is comprised of friendly persons from all walks of life, who enjoy each other’s company and our shared experiences. We are not a singles group, and we don’t run dating services. What happens outside of the meetings is your business, but you won’t be propositioned or harassed at our meetings. To get a better idea of exactly what goes on at general meetings, please browse through our summary reports of Previous Meetings.
- What sort of people are in the group?
The Tennessee Vals membership is comprised of a diverse group of people from many backgrounds, ethnicities, and careers. We have members from the entire gender spectrum, from cross dressers to post-operative transsexuals, and all sexual orientations. Although our primary focus has been on those transitioning (transitioned) from male-to-female, we also provide support for those transitioning (transitioned) from female-to-male.
- What if I don’t want people to know who I am?
You can use an alias at the meetings, a feminine or masculine name, and reveal as much or as little about yourself as you feel comfortable. If someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, just say something like “I’m sorry, but I’d rather not say, just yet.”
- I would like to meet and talk to someone one-on-one before I go to a meeting. Do you do this?
Our group does have a Big Sister program in development, and we’ll have more information on that program in the near future. For now, if you need to meet someone one-on-one to discuss transgender issues before you come to a meeting, contact one of the current members of the Board of Directors. In general, Vals members prefer to meet new people in public places for their own safety, and we’ll usually want to talk to you by e-mail, instant messenger, and/or telephone before setting up a meeting.
- I’m transgender, and I’m coming to Nashville soon for a visit and would like to meet someone from your group just for socializing. Do you do this?
Call, write, or e-mail and ask if anyone is available. Give plenty of notice before you come and perhaps someone will be able to meet with you. You’re certainly invited to attend our meetings.
- Where can I find a therapist or medical doctor who understands transgender issues?
Check out our Resources page, and then click on Medical for a partial listing of professionals in the Middle Tennessee area. This list should not be considered an endorsement of specific professionals on the part of the Tennessee Vals. If individual members have recommended any of the names on the list, feel free to contact those members for their opinions. Also, click on Research for additional medical information, including descriptions of the various types of medical professionals and their credentials.
- How do I go about starting hormone therapy?
That’s a very popular subject among transgender people, but it’s also one that should be taken very seriously. It’s often difficult to get straight answers, or any answers at all. You can find some online hormone resources on our Research page (look under “Hormones”). As an organization, the Vals will not recommend specific drugs or hormone regimens, but some of our members, as individuals, will gladly offer their experiences, general and specific opinions about hormones, and their recommendations for medical professionals who have experience with transgender patients.
While many transgender persons undergo hormone therapy on their own, for various reasons, it’s always better to be under a doctor’s supervision. In the past, many of us did not have access to information about therapists and medical doctors in Tennessee who could properly diagnose and treat transgender patients. However, self-administration of hormone therapy can be very dangerous. We want to help provide information in the hope that people feel as empowered as possible. Please see FAQ 20, above, for more medical information.
- Where can I shop for clothes or shop while I’m cross dressed?
In general, anywhere you please. Our money is green, not pink (or blue). Treat sales staff with respect, and you will be just fine. Some places will even make special arrangements if you want to try on clothes. Any of the major retail areas in Nashville are fine places to shop. However, we are working on compiling a list of stores that are especially transgender-friendly. Click on “Resources” on the main menu for additional information.
- Where can I get a makeover or find transformation services in Nashville?
At present, we do not have a list of places to get makeovers or transformation services, but we might in the near future. In the meantime, if you are interested in such services, call, write, or e-mail us to request the information, and we will try to get you in contact with other sources. Individual members may be able to offer recommendations.
- What are some transgender-friendly nightclubs to go to in Nashville?
The Vals have a list of LGBT-friendly nightspots on this website. Check out our Nightspots page.
- Is Nashville a safe place to go out dressed?
Yes, in general. Many of the Vals have been all over Nashville, to many different places, and have never had a serious problem. As always, use your best judgment. One good thing to ask yourself is, “Do reasonable adults gather here?”
- What about the police?
Metro Police have had training, some conducted by the Vals themselves, about transgender issues. If you should encounter the police, don’t try to deceive them or use them as a “passing” experiment. Instead, tell them exactly who you are and tell them you’re transgender.
- I’m interesting in dating a trans person. Can you help me?
The Tennessee Vals is not intended to be a dating service. If you’re interested in a relationship with a transgender person, try the local nightclub scene or the personal ads.
- I don’t live in Nashville. Is there a support group in my area?
The Tennessee Vals maintain a list of local support groups in the southeastern United States on our LGBT Groups page. For a listing of support groups nationwide and worldwide, visit the IFGE homepage at http://www.ifge.org. We are working on expanding our own list, so keep checking back.
- I’m still not sure. What should I do?
That first step out into the community can be a scary one, and that’s perfectly normal. We have all been through that first crucial step. You have nothing to fear or be ashamed of, and you have everything to gain by joining us. Let us help you in your transgender journey. Click here for a membership form.
P.O. Box 331006
Nashville, TN 37203-7507
Email the Vals: [email_link email=”Membership@tvals.org”]Membership@tvals.org[/email_link] All inquiries will be confidential.[/titled_box]