The first time I went out in public in clothes that I genuinely felt comfortable in, I was, ironically enough, wearing a costume. I’m a trans woman, and although I had been presenting as a woman in the comfort of my own home for a little while at that point, I hadn’t ever presented the way I wanted or worn the clothes I felt comfortable in in front of other people until I went to a Halloween party hosted by some friends in 2011. I was dressed up as Velma from Scooby Doo, wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt, a red pleated skirt and kneehigh orange socks with a little makeup and a brand new way of styling my hair. As soon as my friends saw me and their faces lit up and they started complimenting me on my outfit. I don’t think I had ever appreciated a compliment as much as I appreciated hearing “Oh my gosh! You look so great as Velma!”
I’d been a big fan of Velma (and the rest of the Scooby Doo gang) for a long time, I mean, she was a nerdy girl obsessed with the paranormal, how could I help wanting to be just like her? But I really loved her since 1998. That’s the year that Scooby Doo on Zombie Island first premiered on the Cartoon Network.
Zombie Island picks up a little while after the Scooby Gang has decided to end their ghost and monster hunting days and go their separate ways. Scooby and Shaggy are sniffing out (and eating) contraband food at an airport, Fred and Daphne have a TV show called Coast to Coast with Daphne Blake and Velma is running her own mystery bookstore. The team reunites and decides to visit an island that’s supposedly haunted by a ghost pirate (which it is), but end up running into not just ghosts, but also zombies and the last remaining members of the cat-worshiping cult who originally settled the island and are now immortal werecats.
Now, I know that it’s a made for TV movie about an animated dog and his friends, but I love this movie. It does such a great job at keeping the spirit and feeling of the original series, but at the same time it improves on everything that that series tried to do. This movie is funny when it tries to be funny, it’s clever when it tries to be clever and it’s definitely scary when it tries to be scary. I remember being twelve years old and seeing Velma being levitated by a ghost and being terrified. Velma had been levitated before, she had seen ghost after ghost after ghost, but all of them ended up being old men in masks or images from a projector or sheets on wires. Seeing someone whose entire life was based around mysteries and hauntings to finally come face to face with some real supernatural happenings left an impression on me that I still haven’t been able to shake.
As a kid who constantly wished that she would be visited by some sort of miracle or magic spell or mutation or something that would turn me into a girl, I was obsessed with this movie about a group of people who spent their whole lives looking for the supernatural and then finally found it. Velma had gone her whole life looking for something that would change her world, and here, on Zombie Island, she had finally found it.
Thirteen years later when I finally decided that I was going to dress up like a girl in public, I was looking online for potential costumes. By this time I had started wearing glasses, so I googled “costumes for women who wear glasses” and Velma inevitably came up. I saw her listed and remembered the nerdy and brave ghost hunter who I so much wanted to be, I remembered the star of one of my favorite animated movies ever and I remembered the woman who after years of searching, finally found what she was looking for. That’s who I wanted to be. That’s what I was hoping would happen for me. While Velma got levitated by the ghost of a pirate murdered by the last remaining members of an evil cat-worshiping cult, I’d be happy just being seen as a girl for once.