So I gave my talk.
The auditorium was almost completely full and there were a bunch of people standing. I mostly recognized the teachers who knew me, but there was one who I didn't; she asked if I remembered her and I said no and she was really sad, but then she reminded me who she was and I was able to say "Oh yes now I do!" and that it was better for me to not lie because that way we could re-establish a connection. So that was OK. Hilariously, a couple of teachers came up to the front of the auditorium to talk to me while people were filing in, walked right past me
, and up to the high school boy wearing makeup and girl jeans who had helped to organize the event.  ("What's she going to look like?" "It can't be that hard, just find the boy in girl clothes.") I don't know if that counts as passing or not. :)
I ended up doing about 30 minutes of direct speaking and then 15 minutes of Q&A. I stood at the bottom of the auditorium where I could lean against the stage if I wanted, held a microphone in my right hand, and held 4"x5" pink note cards in my left hand, which I tossed aside when I was done with them. (Audiences eat it up. Conferences, colleges, high school kids, doesn't matter. I'm not even sure why. It's so simple! I guess the first time they don't expect it --- who throws their note cards when they're done with them? --- and then it lends a sort of rhythm to the talk and gets people to pay attention.) I managed not to talk with my hands so much that I displaced the microphone, although I'm used to (preferred) not bothering with a mic or just using a podium. But using a podium for this would have been really distancing, and I wanted to establish as much rapport as I could.
I introduced myself and talked about how this sort of event would never have happened while I was in high school --- we never talked about any of this stuff. Then I laid out an outline and actually got through the whole thing. I tried to explain what trans was, inasmuch as I even know, and went over some basic terminology, like what it means if someone is a "trans man" versus a "trans woman."  I didn't get to get into passing, but that was OK; I explained that transition isn't just surgery and talked about language and presentation and legalities and hormones. I tried to explain why "What causes this to happen?," while interesting, is a dangerous question by talking about the John/Joan experiment
, which seemed to get a lot of people's attention.
They'd focused in the all-school presentations on bullying and the perpetrator-bystander-ally-victim
model. I explained some of the language they shouldn't use or it would be bullying (they got a real kick out of "shemale" being a "porn word" but I think it made the point). The thing I tried to get across that was trickier was that a lot of the time, with trans people, you can hurt someone a lot by accident if you use the wrong name or pronouns, and it compounds itself quickly if not controlled because other people start to do the same thing. I used the story of the teachers on Monday night who were genuinely friendly but kept flubbing the pronouns and how awkward that was and I don't know how much it got across to the kids but it definitely got the adults thinking. And to a certain extent I was educating the teachers as much as I was educating the students, so I think that's good :)
The question and answer session was difficult but actually really fun. I can prepare talks reasonably well and am OK to good at giving them, but I really like being called on to do and say things on the spot, and you can usually tell the best parts of my talks because I don't look at my notes for a while. Taking questions on trans issues is always difficult because people are absolutely going to ask rude and personal questions, everything from "What people are willing to sleep with you?" (my glib response is always "Bisexuals!") to "Does it feel different to have a penis or a vagina?" which I responded to with an explanation of how it's sort of like healing a broken arm. It's tricky to balance keeping the answers interesting and true without making the whole thing a referendum on my sex life; luckily a bunch of the questions were actually really good and I had prepped answers to some of the obvious questions so I was able to play it cool. I actually got spontaneous applause on a bunch of my answers, so I think I did OK.
After I got flooded by high school students thanking me and wanting a hug and wanting to tell me about how they were trying to start a GSA, which was awesome and scarier than giving the talk, I walked through the school for a bit. It's very different from how it used to be --- there's a second floor where there used to not be one! A group of boys laughed at me amongst themselves, one of them saying "Oh my god look at how he walks," and I just said "It's the shoes, and I can hear you" and kept walking. It's very nice to get made fun of in high school and just seriously not care
. I'm sure some of the students came for the spectacle, to laugh at me and not with me, and that's fine. Some of them will keep laughing at me, and maybe I planted a germ in their minds, and that's all I can do.
That took more out of me than I expected, but I could do it again more easily, and I could do it again at a high school that wasn't my alma mater much more easily. So I'll probably keep those notecards, with a little shuffling, and maybe I'll get a chance to use them again. There's a videotape; if it isn't hideous, when I get a copy, I'll post it.
 Who looked astonishingly like Kevin Barnes.
 I'm always surprised how many people get this wrong. A trans man is a man who is trans, and could also be called ftm in a different set of nomenclature.