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Why Would A Man Want to Cross-Dress?

Probably the first question everyone, both CDs and spouses ask is, "Why would a man want to cross-dress?" I know that is the first question that I asked myself when I first became aware of my desire to cross-dress. Being a scientist, I immediately looked for the root cause and quickly learned that while there are many theories, the cause is not known. However, the fact remains, I have a strong desire to wear women's clothes and have had it from my first recollections as a small child. This is not something I wanted, and like most of us, it is something I would not have chosen. But having accepted myself, I very much enjoy the bright colors, varieties of fabrics and jewelry that afford me the freedom of expression and pure delight that I get from my Lucy clothes. Is this really much different than much of the enjoyment that genetic females get?

Some of you may reply that one of the major reasons that genetic females wear attractive clothes is to appeal to men. True that is not one of my reasons. I am very much a heterosexual male, and I have never wanted anything but my Don clothes when I wanted to be sexually attractive. However, none of us, either men or women, want to spend all of our time attracting the other sex. As we get older, we spend more time pursuing other goals, but more and more as time goes by, we want to wear clothes that appeal to us. I am not satisfied with the limitations deemed appropriate for my sex any more than most women would be if they were limited to wearing dresses all of the time, as they were during the first part of the last century.

Perhaps you may be thinking that society says it is all right for women to wear bright colors, but men are supposed to dress in keeping with their supposedly stoic nature. However, this certainly is not the desire of many men. Various studies have shown that a large number of cross-dressers exist worldwide. Estimates have ranged from three to eight percent of males in developed countries, and some therapists say that in particular groups such as retired upper middle class males, the percentage may be much higher. No one knows how many of us there are because many cross-dressers stay in the closet. If less inhibited, perhaps many more males would enjoy and wear many of the garments they now shun publicly.

Even though I was wrapped in a blue blanket and conditioned from birth to "be a man", I and many others still enjoy women's clothes not only when they are being worn by the fairer sex, but when I am wearing them. So what could I do once I realized that this desire wasn't going away? My first problem was to accept myself and to be honest with my spouse. This is the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. Fortunately, I told my wife as soon I realized this was part of me. However, I felt a deep guilt for years, and periodically purged everything. The result, each time, was that I became withdrawn, harder to live with, and both Joan's blood pressure and mine would go up.

Fortunately, Joan did not give up on me, and we both tried to understand and work through the problem. We came to realize that, while we were conditioned by society for our reproductive roles, we each had a broader range of interests and needs. And many of our desires were not that much different from each other. We both dearly love our roles as lovers, parents and grandparents. We love romantic evenings together, and we love to do most of the things most couples do. We both love wearing pretty dresses, and we both spend the majority of our time in casual shirts and pants. And we both love pretty jewelry. Are either of us basically really that much different from each other?

Because we are now retired, we have the good fortune of spending much of our time together. True, I often accompany Joan as Lucy, but more often I accompany Joan as Don. My mode of dress is conditioned by what we are going to do, and each day we decide together how we are going to dress. It is important to me to pass when I am cross-dressed, not because I want to be a woman. Rather, when I am dressed in my favorite clothing, my Lucy mode, everyone including Joan and me are more comfortable that I am being perceived as a woman. This permits us to go about our business without spending all of our time explaining cross-dressing, and I get to wear the clothing and jewelry that is most desirable to me.

But wait you say, what is in it for Joan? I am certain she will tell you that she has a husband who is most appreciative for her love and tries to reciprocate by being attentive to her needs. And she has a husband who loves to be with her, and do things with her. We have lots of fun together, and it is not dependent on how I am dressed. Joan remarked recently that she sometimes has to turn and look at me to see how I am dressed before she addresses me by name, either Don or Lucy. Other wise, as she pointed out, I am the same person. We have found the silver lining in the cloud that once cast a long shadow over our lives, but we both wish only that we had found it sooner.

Note from Joan: I agree with what Lucy has said. However, I would like to add, that many of you will remember the difficult time women had in fighting for the right to wear slacks and many of the articles of men's clothing we take for granted today. Not only did we have to fight the men, but there were many women who did not feel we should be doing this. The advertising community, in order to sell more clothing, has really done a number on all of us. Some of you younger ladies will probably not remember the bra burnings and other arguments for the right to dress as we please. It was a tumultuous time, but we made it through and things have evened out. Hopefully our husbands will also be able to have some of the feminine clothing without having to go to the public forum to fight openly for them.

The Teen-age Years of Cross-dressing

During their teen-age years, most girls are intensely interested in clothes. This is the period of their life where they experiment with styles and challenge the conventions of dress adopted by their mothers and older sisters. Initially, they may not make the best choices, but with the guidance of their mothers, peers and older sisters, girls develop a sense of what make up, hair and clothing styles and fabrics are right for them. By the time they have matured, each woman has developed her own sense of style that is very much a part of her identity. No matter how hectic her schedule, she has been challenged every day for years to present an acceptable appearance. In the process, she has had a lot of practice developing her self-grooming skills.

Contrast the background of the wife/SO with that of her CD partner who has just gotten up the courage leave the safety of his closet and venture forth for the first time. He often has had little guidance in selecting and wearing his feminine wardrobe, and he has little experience with feminine hairstyles and makeup that are right for his feminine persona. Instead of experiencing the positive reinforcement that results from compliments, he has received or lived in fear of receiving negative comments and condemnation. Is it any wonder, that the first time out for most of us is a tortuous affair, and once we start venturing out, that many of us devote as much time and money to cross-dressing as we can get away with?

It is at this stage of our development that most of us push the boundaries that we have negotiated with our partners, and our behavior when it comes to cross-dressing is not too much different than our wife/SO right after puberty.

I would like to tell you that my development to my current level of comfort was devoid of this phenomenon, but if I were ever foolish enough to suggest this was the case, I am certain that my wife would vigorously object. For she tells me, that I made the same journey through the teen-age years of cross-dressing as everyone else. Fortunately for me, she never gave up on me, and she still continues to help me and to encourage me to look my very best.

Your Second Self – Blessing or Curse?

It is wonderful to be alive. God has been very good to me, and it feels great to have finally realized that having a second self doesn’t mean that I am burdened with some awful curse. In fact I have come to feel that my feminine self is a blessing. However, it has taken me a very long time to get to this point.

After many futile attempts to purge the love of feminine clothing from my life. I finally realized that my feminine side is always going to be a part of me. Though, I am very much a heterosexual male, my interests scatter across the spectrum of what is defined as “male interests” and those that are defined as “female interests”. So what was I to do? Wring my hands and say “I am cursed” over and over to anyone who would listen, or try to come to terms with myself and get on with life. For me, the only choice was the second one, and that was when I turned to the Internet.

After devoting a considerable amount of time on the internet researching cross-dressing and related topics, I began to realize that I had no more control over whether I was going to be a cross-dresser than I had over being a south paw. The trait was in-born as was my preference for using my left hand. Therefore, it made no sense to continue feeling bad about something I couldn’t change.

Still needing to reconcile my newly found understanding and my religious beliefs, I researched biblical references and learned there is little substance in the bible for condemnation of cross-dressing. It was then that I was able to begin casting off my feelings of guilt.

As a result of my association with Tri-Ess and the never wavering support of my wife Joan, I have been able to “accentuate the positive,” as an old song goes, and leave behind any traces of the guilt and other negative feelings that have plagued me for so many years. The best part is that it feels so good, and life keeps getting better.

Now I’ve made a case for getting rid of guilt and other negative feelings, but you are probably wondering why I have gone so far as to say having a second self is a blessing. It is based on the improvement of my relationship with my wife and my greatly improved view of the world in general, now that I am no longer distracted by guilt and other negative feelings. Without the guilt, it doesn’t matter that I am not a macho male. For me, part of the progressive buildup of guilt, that preceded each purge was the assumption that being married to a macho male was what was best for every woman , and by not “measuring up”, I was forcing my wife to settle for less, much less.

After I was able to dismantle this elaborate guilt mechanism, I really began to hear what my wife was saying. Instead of assuming how she feels on any issue, I seek her opinion. I am very much enjoying her advice concerning my enfemme appearance. Because I feel good about myself, I do a better job of cross-dressing. Joan is more comfortable when we go out, and while it is not her favorite activity, we still have lots of fun. We have always enjoyed doing things together, but I was never a very good shopper. However, now I very much enjoy shopping, and she says that I probably enjoy it more than she does.

What my second self now means to both of us is that we have a broader base of things in common. Her interests are very broad and include stereotypically male traits (watching sports and driving fast cars), and my interests include several stereotypically female traits (dressing in feminine finery and collecting porcelain dolls). The bottom line for me is that as long as I maintain a reasonable balance between cross-dressing and other activities, my second self has definitely become a blessing. And I am certain, that what your second self has, or can become, is up to you. If you now feel that you are cursed, get help to reorder your life so your second self can become a blessing. On the other hand, if you are already fortunate enough to have your life aligned so that you can view it as a blessing, my only advice is, be vigilant in maintaining the balance between your masculine and feminine selves and enjoy.

Our Special Blessing

As Joan will tell you, it can sometimes take me a very long time to get it right, but I am convinced that I finally have.  What has finally creeped through my thick skull is the realization that when God created me and others like me he/she gave me something special.  For I truly have come to believe that we who are cross-dressers are gifted, and as any gifted person will tell you, a special gift can be a tremendous burden until it is used to benefit that person and others.

The special gift to which I am referring goes much deeper than cross-dressing because cross-dressing is merely a manifestation of our gift, and that gift is a soft feminine side.  A side of us that does not have to dilute our masculinity one bit, but rather provides us qualities that other men do not have.  Where the problem arises, is that we are brought up to believe that the stereotypical stoic male is the ideal and that displaying one's feelings is a sign of weakness.  Unfortunately most of us are very conscientious, and we try to please our parents and teachers, but this carries with it a cost.  It causes us to suppress our feelings, but our feminine side can't be crushed.  Typically we seek an outlet, and that outlet is cross-dressing.

For so many years, I had it just backward.  Like most of us, I equated femininity with weakness, and I felt that having a feminine side made me less of a man, and I always felt sad that I couldn't be the man that my wife deserved.  Joan always tried to tell me that I was a just what she wanted, but I thought I knew better.  Without realizing it, I had totally bought into the Hollywood ideal of what every woman wanted in a man.  Yet I went through repeating several-years-long cycles of cross-dressing, followed by purging, and starting all over again a few years later.  Like I have often said where cross-dressing is concerned, I am a slow learner.

After I retired, I tried to live the stereotype of the successful retired man.  Once again, I decided that I was no longer going to need cross-dressing.  (I am indeed a very slow learner.)  After all, I convinced myself, if it had not been for the stresses of my professional life,  my need wouldn't have continued throughout my adult life.  I even tried to get excited about playing golf.  However, one day on my way home from taking a lesson with the club pro, I was thinking about how expensive golfing is, and it occurred to me that I would much rather be buying a dress. At that point, I went on the Internet and found  Tri-Ess.

What has happened since has been wonderful.  I soon learned their are others like me, and those who have learned to use their gift are very special people. As the result of our membership in Tri-Ess, Joan and I have made some wonderful friends, our marriage is better than ever, and I now do things because I want to them -- I no longer feel like I'm playing a part.  I now realize that my feminine side is a plus that adds to my capability to be a successful husband, father and grandfather.  It even helps me to do a better job of passing because I feel good about myself.

If you are a CD still trying to resolve your inner conflicts, I hope you soon come to realize that your feminine side is truly a blessing, and I hope it won't take you as long as it did me.  Once you learn that it is a blessing and stop trying to run from it, you will be much happier.  And if you are the wife or significant other of a CD, I pray that you will be able to accept your husband's gift, and help him accept it.  When this point is finally reached for both the CD and her wife/SO, a whole wonderful future will open up, and both of you will wish that you had reached it much sooner.  However, you will feel that it was well worth your tough journey to get here, and like Joan and me, you will thank God every day for your wonderful gift.

Getting It Right

One of the most difficult parts about being either a CD or the SO of a CD is getting past the societal baggage that each of us acquired during our formative years. Until we do this, it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately assess our own strengths and weaknesses.  In my own case, I considered my feminine side as a big weakness for many years.  Joan assured me that she accepted me just the way I am, but I thought that I knew better.  Surely I reasoned, she really would rather have someone who more closely fit the male stereotype, someone who was "a real man."  The result was that my accounting of my own assets and liabilities was grossly out of balance, and I spent years going round and round the cycle that is all too familiar to so many of us: cross-dressing, feeling progressively guilty about it, purging and then starting all over again.  Progress toward understanding what cross-dressing was all about was very slow because we remained isolated from other CDs and SOs.  Tri-Ess didn't exist when we first started struggling with this issue, and later we feared what exposure would do to my career

After I retired, I decided to search the Internet to learn more about cross-dressing issues.  As a result, I was forced to accept the fact that I was always going to be a cross-dresser, and I decided that I might as well join Tri-Ess and try to get as comfortable with this awareness as I possibly could.   Joan and I joined together, and we have found it to be a very rewarding experience.   It has been wonderful at chapter meetings to meet other couples with the "same" secret and be able to share experiences.  Just coming together with other CDs and SOs was reassuring.  The tutorials on makeup, colors, wigs and the like have been helpful to improving my enfemme presentation.  Although Tri-Ess was a big help, I still had three issues to resolve on my own before, I became completely comfortable with myself and was ready to say that my second self is a real blessing. 

After we joined Tri-Ess in 1997, I became increasingly comfortable with being a cross-dresser , but I still had lingering concern.  How could I be certain that my cross-dressing was not in conflict with the will of God. Neither Joan nor I felt that I could get an unprejudiced answer from the minister at our church, so I turned to the Internet.  There, I found thought-provoking discussions by ministers, rabbis and laymen concerning relative passages in the bible.  I also found some of the best articles on this topic in the Femme Mirror.  As a result of my research, I have come to the conclusion that cross-dressing is not against God's will unless it is combined with an activity that is violation of the Ten Commandments, as for example cross-dressing to conceal identity during the commission of a crime.  For each of us, getting our head's right with God is something very personal, but something I believe that we must do.

I also needed to make certain that I fully considered Joan's feelings.  Joan had always been supportive though often less than enthusiastic.  Coming together with others and talking at chapter meetings helped me to realize that a problem still existed.  True, I had always tried to consider Joan's feelings , always been very careful to make sure she knew she was the only woman in my life and made certain that she had any clothes she needed before I got anything for Lucy, but I always had been so busy feeling guilty about not being the kind of man she should have that I failed to really listen to what she was saying.  She had been telling me for years that she was very happy with the man she married, and when I finally paid attention, the feelings of guilt disappeared.  However, it took several years for Joan to feel certain that my purges were a thing of the past. 

The third thing that I had to do was to make certain that I knew what I needed to be true to myself.  I have been richly blessed with a wonderful wife, two very fine sons  and five (soon to be six) grandchildren.   We have been very fortunate to retire in a very nice community, and we have many friends.  But I also have been blessed with a feminine second self, and as a result enjoy cross-dressing as much as possible.  So the issue for me was to maintain our comfortable life style while getting the opportunity to cross-dress as often as possible, in other words to make cross-dressing additive to our quality of life. 

I told Joan that I would like to cross-dress as often as I could while keeping the risk of disclosure within limits acceptable to both of us.  We agreed that I would tell her when I wanted to cross-dress, and she would tell me if she had reservations.  Neither of us had any idea of how well it was going to work, but we both knew that communication was the key.  We have been doing this for several years now, and for us it works.  (By the way, I check periodically with her to make certain she feels that we are still on track.)  How well does it work for us?  So far, it is working very well, and this year, I have gone out cross-dressed an average of two times per week.  There is nothing magic about the frequency with which I cross-dress.  It is the frequency with which we are both comfortable given our current circumstances, but  we both know that it will undoubtedly change as our circumstances change.  Given the many friends we have made in Tri-Ess, the enjoyment  and satisfaction I get from cross-dressing, and the  closeness that Joan and I have as a result of having worked together to cast off our societal baggage,  I have come to feel strongly that my feminine side is a wonderful blessing.  Both Joan and I believe that I have now gotten it right, but it took me  more than forty years.

Four Steps to Making Cross-Dressing A Blessing

In "Our Special Blesssing", I wrote that Joan and I have come to realize that my feminine side, of which cross-dressing is a manifestation, is a wonderful gift, and I expressed my wish that everyone reading this column would also come to realize their feminine side is a blessing.  But after reading it, I felt certain some of you were saying, "Well that was easy enough for Lucy to say, but it sure doesn't seem like a blessing to me."  In "Getting It Right", I told you more about how Joan and I reached this conclusion.  In this article, I plan to discuss what I believe to be four essential steps that can change the way you view cross-dressing from considering it a curse to realizing that it is a blessing.  I hope these steps will be helpful to you as you continue your effort to understand that being a CD and having a feminine side does not have to make you feel like less of a man.

For a CD to view his involvement with cross-dressing as anything but a curse, he needs to:

Once you have worked through each of the steps I have discussed above, it is my hope that you will begin to realize what a wonderful blessing cross-dressing can be, and you should be able to get more enjoyment out of your life.  Best wishes for your future happiness. The whole process requires dedication to change your life.  However, to make it work, you must be determined to work your way through each step, and you must set aside all negative feelings regarding your need to cross-dress.

Developing a Balance

Everyone in our community is aware of the parallel threads that surface when members of the cross-dressing community get together, either in person or on the Internet, to talk about the problems with which we are coping. Each of us has experienced or currently is experiencing very great difficulties, and this is true both for cross-dressers, and the significant others of cross-dressers. More than once, you undoubtedly have thought that another person’s experiences parallel yours. Not only are you likely to find similar incidences to those you have encountered, but you also are likely to hear recurring themes. It is these themes that I think might be worth while to reexamine. For each theme appears to me to be very representative of problems that each of us encounter as we try to understand the impact of cross-dressing on our lives. How well we handle the underlying problems may well determine whether we are able to forge the basis for a lifetime of happiness, or we are going to be doomed to a lifetime of despair.

It has become very apparent to me that each of us, CD and SO, are working the same basic problems from different perspectives. Each is struggling to understand, and at the same time offload the baggage of a lifetime of exposure to societal biases. Neither would have voluntarily chosen to have anything to do with cross-dressing. While neither probably totally understand what their partner is going through, they often can benefit by working through their concerns together.
When cross-dressing enters the picture, the success of a continuing relationship is dependent on the couple achieving a balance with which both can sustain. Emotions often run high, and it is easy for one member of the relationship to get hung up on what their partner said in a moment of anger. There are periods when either partner will feel that they can not endure another moment related to cross-dressing. A wife may feel that that she just doesn’t want to deal with it, while her husband may wish he could drop dead. However, through all of the difficulty, it is important to allow each moment filled with negative emotion to pass, and then to press on. And the biggest rule is to communicate. Too often, one partner will assume what the other is thinking. When this happens, constructive progress is in grave danger of being set back or derailed. Probably one of the worst cop-outs is to say, "I just want what my partner wants" without any real conviction. This approach appears destined to produce negative emotions, discontent and stress.

The sustainable balance that accommodates the needs and expectations of each partner is as varied as the possible combinations of marriage partners. What works for one couple may not work for anyone else. Where each of us is in our personal journeys to achieve an acceptable balance with our marriage partners probably has a lot to do with the relative amounts of pain or happiness each of us currently is experiencing. As we begin a new year, perhaps it would be especially useful to review common problem areas with the goal of adopting realistic new-year’s resolutions that could help us improve the quality of our lives.
 

Maintaining A Balance

While most of my articles concern cross-dressing, I also am aware that it is very important to keep it in balance with other things we hold dear. Upper most on this list are our families who are very much on all of our minds during the holiday season. Certainly, family was uppermost in my mind, when Joan and I departed Thanksgiving week for a Caribbean cruise with our older son, his wife and their two sons.

Our planning began two years ago when Joan and I sat down with our two sons and their wives to discuss a special celebration for Thanksgiving in 2000. We decided to celebrate aboard a cruise ship in the western Caribbean. Our plans called for leaving Ft. Lauderdale on board the MS Ryndam on November 18 and returning November 25. However, everything didn't go as planned. Our younger son and daughter in law presented us with another grandson in August, and as a result have a baby who is still too small to travel. Since our older son had had to reserve time off for this event many months in advance, we decided to go ahead with the trip with him and his family. (We hope to go with the other family at a later date.)

Earlier this year, I told you how much I enjoyed spending two weeks on a cruise where I was cross-dressed for the entire duration. Now, just eight months later, I was on another cruise. Only this time, I was very much in the drab mode with none of the vestiges of Lucy. Perhaps you are wondering how I faired this time. Well, I had an absolutely wonderful time. After all, I am also a husband, a father and a grandfather, and this cruise provided me with the rare opportunity to spend a week of quality time with my wife, our older son and daughter-in-law and two of our grandsons, ages13 and 9. It was great fun to witness the delight of both grandsons as they discovered ocean cruising. They experienced great delight with the unique features of each port that we visited, took full advantage of the ship's virtually endless supply of food, and occasionally tried to get the best of grandpa.

Joan and I have something to be especially thankful for this Thanksgiving. For God has given us the grace to accept what we cannot change and to get on with life and enjoy it to its fullest.

How Wonderful Life Can Be

How wonderful life can be if only we have the courage to play the hand we're dealt in a way that is beneficial to everyone around us as well as being self fulfilling. Like so many other CDs it took me along time to fully learn this lesson. But I believe that I have finally learned, and I can say without any reservation that I like being me. And yes, that includes the part of me that is a crossdresser. Being Joan's husband, the father of two fine men, father in law of two wonderful women and the grandfather of six wonderful boys are my greatest blessings, and for me crossdressing is an added blessing that doesn't take away from or get in the way of my other roles. It is a matter of setting priorities and maintaining balance.

Over the course of my adult life, the frequency with which I have dressed, after I became comfortable with myself, has depended on demands from competing priorities. Now that I am retired, I have frequent opportunities to don my Lucy clothes. It is not that my priorities have changed because family has always come first. The major change, of course, is that I no longer have much of my time taken up by work-related activities that would require me to be in male attire. In fact, I did not cross dress at all for several years when we were caring for my father-in-law after he developed Alzheimer's disease.

Few people fit the stereotype for their sex, but many of us who are CDs do a good job of keeping up the façade of the stereotypical male so that we can go about our lives unmolested by other people's prejudices. The necessity of maintaining this façade is a factor that makes it difficult for us to break out of the mold. As a result, it often takes us a long time get up the courage to discretely pursue our interest in crossdressing or anything else that is stereotypically atypical, and this was certainly the case for me.

I first went out crossdressed 27 years ago, and I have been going out since, except for the few years when we were caring for my father in law. Being blessed with a wonderful wife who has always been willing to help me resolve any problem is a tremendous advantage. Joan always goes with me because that is the way we prefer doing most things. We always consider what we are going to do ahead of time and try to anticipate and avoid potential problems. We have had many fun times going places together as two ladies. We have attended concerts, gone on ocean cruises, traveled by airplane and even attended a wedding. We frequently go to lunch, take power walks at a local mall and go shopping. Because we always plan ahead and participate in activities at places and times where we never draw unnecessary and unwanted attention to ourselves, we have rarely had any problems, and we have never had any serious repercussions.

The Pill

How would you answer the following question? If a pill were invented that could eliminate any trace of your crossdressing would you take it? Recently, one of our sisters asked me that question which earlier had been asked of her.

After thinking about it for a while my response was an emphatic no. Perhaps this appears to be a strange answer, given the many difficult problems a crossdresser encounters. Certainly, taking such a pill would eliminate all such problems, but it also would erase an important part of me, a part that has exercised my emotions greatly and in the process helped me to develop far greater sensitivity and compassion. I wouldn’t want to lose that.

Besides I enjoy dressing up and going out, and I finally am becoming very comfortable with who I am. It took me almost forty years to get over the guilt of not being satisfied to just be a guy. Certainly, I enjoy being a guy, especially being a husband, father and grandfather. But I also like my feminine side, and I absolutely adore dressing up and permitting my second self to come forward.

When I am crossdressed, I have always tried to be a lady, and I find that the same genteel qualities that I have tried to develop when Lucy is out of the closet have helped Don to become more compassionate. Certainly, experiencing some of the prejudical behavior to which women are subjected every day has made me more sensitive to what Joan must put up with.

In turn, Joan was asked whether she would want me to take such a pill. Certainly, the removal of crossdressing from our relationship would eliminate an area of concern for her, but without hesitation, she also said no. She reasoned that crossdressing is very much a part of me and to have my second self disappear would be like having part of me die, and she did not want that to happen.

Well dear sisters, both CDs and spouses and SOs, how would each of you answer this question. Consider it carefully; you may gain insights into yourself.

Being A Lady

Let’s look at what it means to be a lady. Our wives are all lovely ladies, and we who are CDs all try to emulate them when we are cross-dressed. But what exactly is each of us trying to achieve? What is a lady?

My definition of a lady as applied to the transgender community is anyone who develops the capability to emulate societies’ concept for the actions, dress, manners, speech and mannerisms of refined women in polite society. I believe the underlying principle for every action of a lady is no different than for the deeds of a gentleman, and that principle is The Golden Rule.

Building on The Golden Rule, a lady is always kind and gentle in her demeanor. She is strong without being threatening. Most often, she asserts herself and, achieves her goals without being overtly aggressive. Wherever possible, she is pleasant and avoids offending those with whom she interacts.

Her clothes, hair and makeup express her individuality, while at the same time blending well with other ladies in her community. All of her movements are fluid, never jerky. When she sits her knees are together, and except when reaching, she keeps her elbows close to her sides.

Her voice is soft and melodic, and as she speaks she varies the pitch, rather than the volume when she wants to add emphasis to the words she is speaking. She rarely, if ever, resorts to using profanity or vulgar expressions. She is polite and seeks to influence others by seeking their concurrence rather than by being dogmatic. Society permits her to express more emotionality than her male counterparts, but she rarely loses control.

Each of us is very much aware that all of the above and so much more is part of being a lady. We who are CDs start way behind our wives and significant others, who have been immersed in their roles since birth. However, by following their example and taking full advantage of any coaching they offer, each of us can learn the skills for being perceived as a lady. First, we have to develop a passable image. Then we must learn to sustain it for every minute that we are dressed.

Winning The Head Game on Passing

How long does it take for a CD to get to the place where she can go forth with confidence and consistently pass? Until she is comfortable with herself, and she has developed confidence in her ability to make an effective presentation through research and putting into practice what she has learned. Only then will she lose the fear of being discovered because she will come to realize that she blends in and is not the center of everyone's attention merely because she is crossdressed.

The essential quality without which all other effort is futile is the ability to overcome her fears and project an image of confidence and well being. If she can project an image of being at ease with herself, everyone is more likely to be at ease with her. But if she appears ill at ease, everyone around her will be ill at ease, and they are going to be looking more closely at her as they try to determine the nature of her problem. As a result of this heightened curiosity, they are more likely to pick up any flaws in her presentation.

When I first started going out dressed, I was certain that everyone knew that I was a male in women's clothing. However, I soon became aware that most people on the street had more important things to do than to pay much attention to me. I also learned that when I acted insecure I invited closer scrutiny. On the other hand, even when I got questioning glances it really didn't make much difference because no one ever knew for certain. And it would not have made much difference anyway because I always went out in areas where no one knew me.

As my presentation got better, my confidence increased, and as my confidence increased my presentation got better. My approach has always been to research any problem that I was trying to solve. I continue to read articles about fashions, makeup, voice, gestures, walking, etc., to observe genetic females and to put what I learn into practice.

Whenever a CD tells you that she can't pass, you can be certain that she can't. As long as she holds to that belief there is no way that she is ever going to pass, and there is not much anyone can do to help her. On the other hand, even if she doesn't pass very well but believes that she can pass, and then goes about the process of developing her presentation, she should soon at least get to the place where she blends in.

Passing

We all have heard CDs stating there is no way they could pass because they are too tall or too fat or any number of other reasons. Yet afterward, we often have seen someone else on the street in feminine dress who is at least as tall or fat or whatever, and said something like, “that woman is so feminine it obvious she is a genetic female.” So what are the traits that distinguishes someone who is perceived as being a genetic female from someone who is always “read”.

First of all, it is attitude. Most women appear confident and at-ease. They show by their attitude that everything is all right and they are doing what they should be doing. As a result they call far less attention to themselves than someone who appears to be insecure and feeling out of place does. For, it is human nature to question what is wrong, and look more closely to find out what it is.

Next comes appearance. Women start with characteristic shapes that most CDs do pretty well imitating. Important here is taking care to choose breast forms, waist cinchers and hip pads that produce believable proportions. Most of us also get pretty good at getting women (SOs, retailers, hair stylists and cosmetologists) to assist us in choosing wigs, developing makeup techniques and learning color coordination.

If we have learned our lessons well up to this point, and go no further, we may blend in, but we certainly will not pass. For though we may appear feminine at first glance, our movements and our voices still give us away. This being the case, what must we still do to pass?

First we must learn to walk and move like the women we are emulating. Start by observing the people around you and pay close attention to the way women walk and gesture compared to men. Not only must you develop an awareness of the movements and gestures of the ladies, but also you must become especially sensitive to your unmodified actions that, should they randomly reemerge while you are dressed enfemme, will at the least cast doubt. You will observe that the differences are the bigger when women and men are dressed up, and they tend to be less distinct as dress becomes more casual and unisex. The differences in shoes and clothing make men and women walk differently. However, even when men and women are wearing similar shoes and virtually unisex casual clothing, there are marked differences. Women roll their hips and step more on the inside of their feet. They keep their elbows close to their bodies. They allow their arms to swing fairly freely from the elbow, and the palms of their hands are turned inward. As they walk and gesture, their movements are more fluid and tend to flow gracefully.

.The most common deficiency that ultimately keeps CDs from passing is not having a voice. Probably the most commonly used argument is, “my voice is too low, and there is no way I can develop a believable feminine voice.” I will have to agree with the last part of this statement because the CD who uses this excuse has already closed his mind to being able to do it. However, in most cases, the outcome can be quite different if development of a feminine voice is approached with an open mind and the determination to succeed. Start by learning from experts. Two valuable sources of information on the Internet can be found at http://heartcorps.com/journeys/voice.htm andhttp://www.looking-glass.greenend.org.uk/voice.htm . Study both sites and practice what you learn. As you work on developing your voice, get critiques from others who can help you. I have found that one valuable way of developing my voice was to make information requests and motel reservations over the telephone using my feminine voice. If the person to whom I was talking used ma’am when talking to me, it was an indication that my voice was working the way that I wanted. This is an especially effective test for evaluating how you are doing because it is more difficult to have a convincing voice on the telephone than when talking face to face. One word of caution when developing a feminine voice, use a pitch near the top of your normal range so that you won’t strain your vocal chords.

I agree with cross-dressers who proclaim emphatically that there is no way they can pass. Of course, there is no way that they can pass because they have closed their minds to trying. However, I am convinced that most of us can pass if we apply ourselves. It may take a very long time, but after all, being a cross-dresser lasts a lifetime.

Why Passing is Important to Me

Since the first time I went out cross-dressed, twenty four years ago, I have always wanted to pass.  Now, I expect to pass.  But why is passing so important to me?  Is it as some have suggested, the only reason that a CD wants to pass is because she either does not enjoy her masculine side, wants to be a girl or has a secret desire to engage in liaisons with other males?  For me, the answer is an emphatic none of the above.  Ever since I discovered the difference between boys and girls, I have always enjoyed being a heterosexual male with a feminine side.

Being able to pass in public is important to me because it gives me far greater freedom to go forth cross-dressed in public. Others are more at ease because nothing appears out of the ordinary, and I am at ease because I know I am being perceived as the lady, who is the personification of my feminine self.   And while I am very much aware of my increased vulnerability when I am dressed as a woman, it is somewhat comforting to know that my vulnerability is  the same as my wife's and not increased by the potential for being attacked because I appear to be a man in a dress.

Like all CDs, I very much enjoy wearing women's clothing, but my opportunities to dress are limited.  However, as my capability to pass has developed, the amount of time that I have been able to dress has increased.  While not my wife's favorite way for me to accompany her, she has gotten more comfortable as my emulation has gotten better.  Ask her  what she thinks about Lucy, and she is always quick to point out that she and Lucy have had, and continue to have, many fun times together..

Of course, being able to pass is far from being the only factor that determines the frequency with which each of us can dress.  Occupational vulnerability, workload, wife's degree of acceptance, children or other unwitting family members and family crises are but a few of the determinant factors.  However, many times, it is a CD's limited capability to pass that ultimately is the constraining factor.  Now that I am retired,  and have no unwitting family members in the home, the number of other complicating factors is greatly reduced.  How awful it would be, at this time in my life, if my enjoyment of cross-dressing was  severely limited because I had listened to our sisters who say that passing is an impossible illusion; or I had been dissuaded from trying for any number of other reasons; or I had been too lazy to apply myself.

I am not saying that everyone wants to pass or should want to pass, and I am very much aware that it much easier for some of us to pass than for others.  Rather, I am saying don't let our naysaying sisters convince you that no matter what  you do you will always be a "man in a dress", and you can never appear to others as anything else .  While it is true,that when we are cross-dressed each of us are still males, there is nothing to prevent us from developing a convincing emulation of a woman unless we are incapable of closely observing genetic females and adapting what we learn.  

If you have a ways to go to become truly passable but have the desire to develop a passable presentation, go for it.   But don't be discouraged if it takes you a long time.  Every CD starts out with a huge disadvantage over genetic females.  They have grown up learning their female roles, while most of our focus and coaching has been on dressing and functioning as men.  However, if you have a long-term commitment to developing a passable you,  you can over time  develop the capability to convincingly personify your feminine self.  For me it took a very long time, but every time I go some place cross-dressed I am very glad that I made the effort. 

Helpful Hints on Passing

We all have heard CDs stating there is no way they could pass because they are too tall or too fat or any number of other reasons. Yet afterward, we often have seen someone else on the street in feminine dress who is at least as tall or fat or whatever, and said something like, “that woman is so feminine it obvious she is a genetic female.” So what are the traits that distinguishes someone who is perceived as being a genetic female from someone who is always “read”.

First of all, it is attitude. Most women appear confident and at-ease. They show by their attitude that everything is all right and they are doing what they should be doing. As a result they call far less attention to themselves than someone who appears to be insecure and feeling out of place does. For, it is human nature to question what is wrong, and look more closely to find out what it is.

Next comes appearance. Women start with characteristic shapes that most CDs do pretty well imitating. Important here is taking care to choose breast forms, waist cinchers and hip pads that produce believable proportions. Most of us also get pretty good at getting women (SOs, retailers, hair stylists and cosmetologists) to assist us in choosing wigs, developing makeup techniques and learning color coordination.

If we have learned our lessons well up to this point, and go no further, we may blend in, but we certainly will not pass. For though we may appear feminine at first glance, our movements and our voices still give us away. This being the case, what must we still do to pass?

First we must learn to walk and move like the women we are emulating. Start by observing the people around you and pay close attention to the way women walk and gesture compared to men. Not only must you develop an awareness of the movements and gestures of the ladies, but also you must become especially sensitive to your unmodified actions that, should they randomly reemerge while you are dressed enfemme, will at the least cast doubt. You will observe that the differences are the bigger when women and men are dressed up, and they tend to be less distinct as dress becomes more casual and unisex. The differences in shoes and clothing make men and women walk differently. However, even when men and women are wearing similar shoes and virtually unisex casual clothing, there are marked differences. Women roll their hips and step more on the inside of their feet. They keep their elbows close to their bodies. They allow their arms to swing fairly freely from the elbow, and the palms of their hands are turned inward. As they walk and gesture, their movements are more fluid and tend to flow gracefully.

The most common deficiency that ultimately keeps CDs from passing is not having a voice. Probably the most commonly used argument is, “my voice is too low, and there is no way I can develop a believable feminine voice.” I will have to agree with the last part of this statement because the CD who uses this excuse has already closed his mind to being able to do it. However, in most cases, the outcome can be quite different if development of a feminine voice is approached with an open mind and the determination to succeed. Start by learning from experts. Two valuable sources of information on the Internet can be found at http://heartcorps.com/journeys/voice.htm and http://www.looking-glass.greenend.org.uk/voice.htm.  Study both sites and practice what you learn. As you work on developing your voice, get critiques from others who can help you. I have found that one valuable way of developing my voice was to make information requests and motel reservations over the telephone using my feminine voice. If the person to whom I was talking used ma’am when talking to me, it was an indication that my voice was working the way that I wanted. This is an especially effective test for evaluating how you are doing because it is more difficult to have a convincing voice on the telephone than when talking face to face. One word of caution when developing a feminine voice, use a pitch near the top of your normal range so that you won’t strain your vocal chords.

I agree with cross-dressers who proclaim emphatically that there is no way they can pass. Of course, there is no way that they can pass because they have closed their minds to trying. However, I am convinced that most of us can pass if we apply ourselves. It may take a very long time, but after all, being a cross-dresser lasts a lifetime.

Contingency Planning Before Going Out Cross-Dressed

A major concern of every cross-dresser and her spouse or significant other is the potential damage that would be done if our "secret" was learned inadvertently by a neighbor, relative or a coworker. This concern often deters us from going out in public, and even when we determine the potential for being unexpectedly "outed" is sufficiently low, it is a concern that never totally goes away. But what can we expect if something unforeseen happens, or we meet someone that we know when we are out cross-dressed? While this is always a lingering concern, I don¹t believe that it has to stop anyone from going out. However, it is a major reason, along with personal safety, for prior planning to minimize the opportunity for your worst fear to be fulfilled, and at the same time be prepared to deal with a difficult situation should it occur.Each time before going out, I believe each of us should think through what we plan to do from the time we step out the door until the time we return.

I always try to consider the following:Times and places where I am not likely to meet anyone that I know. Think of situations where you¹ve never met anyone you know when you¹ve been there dressed drab in the past. The following questions:Am I going where women my age would normally feel safe at the time of day that I plan to go?  Is what I plan to wear likely to be similar to what other women my age will be wearing there?Objectively, how well do I blend in? Anticipated routes that I am going to take, as well as alternate routes that I could take in case of an emergency. This is particularly important at night. Remember when you are dressed, as a woman you are just as vulnerable and you must take the same precautions.Precautions for leaving and returning to my house undetected by neighbors.

My wife usually accompanies me. Not only is she my best friend whose company I enjoy very much, but she helps me avoid situations that might be unpleasant. While having Joan with me has many advantages, there is also a potential problem that must be considered. Though my appearance may be sufficiently altered that I am not likely to be detected by myself my wife¹s appearance is not disguised and having her with me increases my potential for discovery.

So what is the likelihood that you are going to have problems? While the probability varies for each one of us depending on how well we plan and then carry out that plan, my experience has been that potential problems occur infrequently. I started going out cross-dressed when I was about forty, and I am now sixty-five. I have been out dressed in public literally hundreds of times, and the number of incidents that have occurred is less than a dozen. Of those, there have only been three where I was in serious jeopardy of being discovered by friends or neighbors. In each case, Joan was with me, and to the best of our knowledge our "secret" was not discovered. This is not to say that I will never be "outed", but it does indicate that the probability of suffering serious consequences can be kept low. The important thing to remember is to always plan ahead for as many contingencies as possible.

Telling A Teenage Son

Recently, friends of ours, the mother and father of a seventeen year-old boy asked my wife, Joan, and me to assist them in telling their son that his father is a cross-dresser. They had decided that it was essential to tell him because of several of the son's recent remarks, though made in a kidding manner, led them to believe that he was already suspicious. They were concerned that failure to tell him could have serious repercussions on their relationship with him. They said they had considered the possibility that their son could react negatively and impair their relationship with him. However, the boy's mother felt strongly that she knew her son well enough to predict that his response would be positive if he was adequately prepared for this news.

Because I had met their son, Steven, over dinner when I was dressed as Don, and he had remarked to them that he thought I was "pretty cool", Joan and I (Lucy) were asked to meet them for dinner at a local restaurant. We would have dinner, and then I would reveal to him that Don and Lucy really are the same person. I cautioned that even though he might accept me, it was possible that he would have a harder time accepting his father, because he considers him to be his role model.

When we met for dinner, the father looked extremely tense. (He later told me that he was so uptight that he thought he would surely throw up.) Dinner started out extremely well. Both Joan and I visited with Steven. He was very polite, and each time he spoke to either of us, he addressed us as ma'am -- so far, so good. When the time came to reveal my secret, I asked him if he remembered meeting an older fellow named Don. He responded that he had recently met one of his folks' friends by that name. Then I told him that Don and I (Lucy) are the same person. What followed was an exchange that I never would have predicted. He exclaimed, "No way!" Then after several further exchanges where he steadfastly refused to accept what I was telling him, he said he was certain that his parents and I had conspired to play a practical joke on him. Several minutes of futile exchanges followed, where each of us tried to convince him that both Don and Lucy are me, depending on how I am dressed. Next, I produced my Transgender ID. It shows pictures of me both en homme and en femme. However, their son dismissed it as a "computer trick." In desperation, I finally resorted to lowering the pitch of my voice, but he still had doubts about whether to believe me. After several further exchanges, where I explained that I am a cross-dresser, he finally accepted what I was telling him.

Now, it was the mother's turn. She explained that Steven's father also cross-dresses, and he replied, "So?" His mother then asked him if he was "OK" with this, and he said he was. Steven also assured his parents that it was all right for his dad to dress when he was home. Steven's only condition was that his father refrain from doing so while his friends are at their house. Then, he turned to his father, and reminded him that he had promised to help him with his homework when they got home.

The following day, I talked with both parents. They both said their son's response had been entirely positive after they got home. In fact, Steven had said that he now had more respect for his father for having told him. He further said that he had always considered his father a "geek", and he was glad to discover that his father was a more real person who actually had problems. His only reservation was that his parents should have told him sooner. Steven also told them that before they told him last night, he didn't have the slightest suspicion that his father might be a cross-dresser.

If you and your spouse are parents thinking about telling your child that one of you is a cross-dresser, assess his/her maturity to handle such a revelation. You are the ones who know your child best, and you are the ones who are going to be affected by the outcome. Carefully consider the consequences of your intentions. Then if you both feel that your child has sufficient maturity to accept this news and feel that not telling him/her would produce more serious consequences, by all means tell him/her. You will need to consider and be prepared for the whole range of possible reactions of your child to this potentially startling news. Therefore, do your homework first. You will want to take advantage of the experiences of other parents faced with the same situation. Research the subject on the Internet, talk with other parents and you may also want to seek the council of a competent gender therapist.

Being Cross-Dressed on an Ocean Cruise

Sometime during the winter every year, Joan and I find ourselves wishing that we could escape the cold weather and head south for at least a week or two. This winter was no exception. When we received a brochure for a Caribbean cruise in early January, our longing to go south became strong. This year, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that both an unexpected financial windfall and the “reduced price” for the brochure’s return-customer cruise bookings were compatible. So we quickly booked our cruise, and began the process of getting ready.


I made a strong pitch to Joan to cross-dress every evening for dinner. She said that it worked well on the Dignity cruise, but she had her doubts concerning whether it would be workable on a two-week cruise where no Tri-Ess group was present. We discussed potential problems, and found two for which we didn’t have the answer:
How did the cruise line feel about having passengers cross-dress? Would there be any problem going ashore cross-dressed at any of our ten port calls to southern Caribbean islands? I called the cruise line and was put through to a lady whose job it was to answer customer inquiries. She told me the cruise line did not have any policy on cross-dressing one way or the other. She said the only “problem” that she could see was that I would have to wear a formal gown to dinner on formal evenings. (I should have more problems like this.)  Concerning the matter of going ashore cross-dressed, she said that was not a problem.

After much discussion, we came up with a plan. Because neither of us knew what situations we would encounter, we agreed that it would be best to pack both for Don and Lucy for everything except formal evenings where I would take two formal dresses. We were unfamiliar with our cruise line’s check-in procedures, so I decided that I would play it safe by boarding the ship enhomme (I was concerned about other passengers learning my secret while I was checking in.). Once in our cabin, I would cross-dress before the evening meal. I planned to dress every evening for dinner. Further, we expected the ship to be large enough that it would be possible for me to dress enhomme to go dancing, to have time as a couple or when Joan just got tired of Lucy.


When we checked in, we discovered that boarding cross-dressed could have been accomplished discreetly. I changed before dinner as planned, and everything went well at dinner where we met the two couples with whom we would be dining. Throughout the remainder of the evening, I became convinced that switching back and forth between Lucy and Don could be done with no one the wiser. However, my conclusion evaporated when we discovered that one of the couples with whom we would be dining every evening had an inside stateroom almost directly across the hall from us. As a result it was going to be very difficult to come and go without raising suspicions if I were to switch back and forth.
Since they had met Lucy that evening at dinner, Joan and I concluded that I was going to have to remain cross-dressed for the entire two-week cruise or else risk creating an awkward situation in the dining room. (At that moment, the prospect of me cross-dressing for an extended period appealed to me, but I was concerned about how Joan was going to react.)

From that first evening until the cruise was over, two weeks later, I cross-dressed all of the time, and when the cruise was over, I left the ship and flew home without ever getting any of my male wardrobe out of the suitcase. The entire cruise was without incident, except for being coerced into dancing with one of the paid escorts who thought I was an unaccompanied oledr woman. For the most part the cruise was a lot of fun for both of us, and I learned some important things, which I summarize below:  It is possible for a CD to totally cross-dress for an extended period of time without anybody becoming the wiser, if she has developed the capability to pass for shorter periods of time and has confidence in herself.  However, I am certain that it would have been far more difficult, if not impossible, for me without a wonderful supportive wife to let me know if something wasn’t just right and to help build and maintain our cover story.  It was very strange to find myself in a situation where I could go about freely as a female but found it impractical to dress as a male. Being precluded from dressing enhomme made it impractical for Joan and me to go dancing or even hold hands, and we both very much missed this.

Being coerced into dancing with a man was an extremely scary situation. Although his attraction to the identity I had assumed was in itself validation that I appeared to be the woman that I was emulating. Fortunately, he didn’t suspect a thing. However, I intend to be careful to avoid being put into a similar situation in the future. Do I plan to cross-dress on future cruises, and more importantly will Joan be receptive to me doing so? We both are as enthusiastic as ever about going on the Tri-Ess Dignity Cruises, and we feel certain that we will be very much aware of the lessons learned on this cruise when deciding what level of activity will work best for both of us on all future cruises.

Get Over It!

Have you ever attended a chapter meeting and found yourself wishing that you could do something to help another member to gain insight into herself? Perhaps it was:

Everyone reading this article probably can add to this list. I am not talking about the sister who realizes her problem, asks for help, and gets on with her life. I am referring to the member who seems to be stuck in time and recites the complaint as if it were a mantra month after month. How do you get such a person's attention? It gets very frustrating trying to help people who seem to be listening but never change.

One wonderful Tri Ess sister has come up with an idea for delivering a forceful message to such a person. She says that she gets so frustrated she feels like shouting, "Get over it!" every time a member of her chapter begins to repeat a never-changing list of problems. Later, she said that while she was shopping, she found a pillow with "Get over it" embroidered on it and wished that she had bought it. Then, she could take it to meetings where she would hold it ready to react by hitting the offending member with it.

This reminds me of the approach a friend of mine uses to get the attention of his old mule. When other methods fail, he takes a two by four and hits the mule over the head with it. He says he doesn't have to use it very often, but when he needs it, it is invaluable. Our Tri Ess sister's idea has merit, and perhaps it would work except in the most extreme cases, but what could be done then?

While most of us have experienced someone who fits the type of person described here, fewer of us would admit to having ever been guilty of such behavior. Unfortunately, the very members who would benefit from either the pillow or the two by four between the ears, probably consider themselves in the latter category and are totally unaware of how much distress they cause. Nevertheless, they are the very ones who need help most. We all need the strength to be patient and never give up looking for the means to help each of them to "get over it".

My New Ring

How wonderful it is now that I have stopped beating myself up for not fitting the popular stereotype for a man. As with every other CD, cross-dressing is a part of my basic fabric. I finally have relaxed and begun having fun. For me that means going places and doing things while always working to improve the image that I project while cross-dressed.

As a part of improving my image, I recently purchased a beautiful lady's topaz ring from Columbia Emeralds while my wife, Joan, and I were on a cruise. However, they did not have the capability to size it for me. So, when we returned home, I went to see John, a local jeweler with whom we deal regularly. Because I didn't want to have to tell him why I was having it altered to fit, I went to see him dressed as Lucy. I figured the worse that could happen was that John would recognize me.

The next morning, I went to the jewelry store. One of John's sales clerks, a woman about 40, initially waited on me, but John soon came out, took over the process of establishing my ring size, giving me a price for increasing the size of the ring from 6 to 8.  He told me that I could have the ring on Saturday, but I was distressed as I replied that I was going to Baltimore for the weekend and would be unable to pick it up. I added that I had so hoped that I could get it before I left because I was going to a party where I had hoped to wear it. (I didn't tell him it was actually the monthly meeting of Chi Epsilon Sigma). He became very sympathetic and said, "Dear, don't fret. We will have it for you by Friday at 4 PM." I smiled and thanked him, and he replied, "Dear, We'll make sure you have your ring so that you can enjoy it over the week end. Now, don't worry about it, and go have a wonderful day." (Gee, he has never been that accommodating for Don, I thought as I left the store.)

When Friday came, I discovered that I had scheduled myself too tightly. Joan and I were supposed to meet another couple at 5 PM. This did not leave much time for picking up my ring en femme assuming it was ready on time, and then drive home and change clothes. I decided to call the Jewelry store and see if they would give it to me early. At 10 AM, I made my call, and in my Lucy voice asked the woman that answered if my ring might be done earlier in the afternoon. She summarily dismissed me, saying that the order form stated that it would be ready after four, and I could pick it up then. However, I no more than hung up the phone when it began to ring. Joan answered it, and it was John asking for Lucy. When I answered as Lucy, he said he had talked to their jeweler and told him that I needed the ring earlier, and his jeweler agreed to have it by noon. I thanked him sweetly, and he reassured me that my ring would be ready, adding that he always liked to help a lady. Since I was going to have to pick up my ring right after lunch, I went ahead and got dressed and went out to lunch with Joan and her mother. (I am not only blessed with a wonderful supportive wife, but also a supportive mother-in-law.)

After lunch, I returned to the jewelry store while Joan and her mother went to a nearby shop. I gave my claim check to the sales lady who waited on me, and she quickly retrieved my ring. I put it on, and expressed my delight with the results. Then, while the sales clerk was using my "Lucy" credit card to put a credit against my account, John emerged from the back room and asked me if the size was right. I gave him a big smile, held up my hand with fingers extended to show him how lovely it looked on my hand, and thanked him profusely for helping me. He reached out and took my hand to look at the ring. Then, he continued to hold my hand and began patting it, while he said, "Dear, it makes me so happy to be able to get this ring done for you so that you will have it for the party tomorrow. Now you go and have a wonderful weekend." All the while he was talking to me he continued to hold my hand and pat it. While I could have done without the hand patting, I'll have to admit that it was very gratifying to have been perceived as the senior lady that is my second self.


Transgender ID Smoothes The Way

While travelling cross-dressed, I have had the opportunity since September 1999 to carry a prototypeof the Transgender ID that Rho Tau and Tri Ess are jointly offering to all Tri-Ess Members.  During that time, I have used the ID as an adjunct to my driver's license on three different airlines, when checking in for flights and once with my passport to board the Norwegian Sea for Dignity Cruise 11. My experience has convinced me of its value. The Transgender ID is not an official identification card, rather it is a means of reconciling the discrepancy of your appearance cross-dressed with your picture as it appears on your drivers license or other means of official identification such as your passport. It contains pictures of you both as you appear when not cross-dressed and as you appear when you are cross-dressed along with your driver's license number and Tri-Ess member number.

My first experience was at the airport in Richmond, VA as Joan and I were checking in for our trip to the Femme Holiday in Houston. When Joan and I presented our driver licenses at the American Airlines check-in desk, the agent quickly verified Joan's identity, but she asked me what I was trying to pull and sternly admonished me for trying to use a man's driver's license. I countered by pulling my Transgender ID from my purse and placing it along side my driver's license. She examined it, compared the information on my Transgender ID and my license and compared the pictures. Then, she looked up at me and smiled, and I had no further difficulty. Since that time, when I am crossed dressed, I have always presented my Transgender ID along with my license, and I have had no further problems.

When we checked in to board the cruise ship, I placed my Transgender ID next to my passport, and it was processed without incident. While this is a positive indication that the Transgender ID may have some usefulness when travelling internationally, it is by no means conclusive.

While I got along all right going out dressed for 23 years before I used the Transgender ID. I feel that the few times that it has come in handy makes having it in my purse well worth while. It certainly has given me more confidence when checking in at the airport while dressed en femme

Lending a Helping Hand

Remember how difficult it was when you thought that you were either the only cross-dresser or wife/SO of a cross-dresser in the whole world? How isolated you felt. Then, you reached out, and found others like yourself. How great it was to learn that you were not alone and others had trod similar paths. Then, you joined Tri-Ess and your local Tri-Ess chapter. Suddenly you had many friends in the cross-dressing community and you had the resources of an international organization to help you. But did you ever stop to think where you would be if pioneers like Virginia Prince and Carol Beecroft hadn't laid the groundwork that made Tri-Ess possible today. Over the years, it has taken many others working tirelessly year after year to make our organization what it is today. How fortunate it is for us there are people in this world who took the initiative to start Tri-Ess, and how fortunate we are there are others, who spend long hours year after year to keep our organization going and growing.

Each of us is aware of how good it is to be alive at this time. At no other time in history would we have had so many resources at our disposal to provide each of us, along with our partners, support. Isn't it great that Jane and Mary Fairfax devote long hours to making our organization a success. But why aren't there more members who are willing to give so freely of their time? You are probably thinking something like, they probably have a lot more free time than I do, after all have to work for a living. Well, let's examine the facts. Jane is a well established in her profession and has a large private practice. Mary is a homemaker, the mother of two sons, one in college and one still in high school. In addition to their busy private lives both find time to work many hours, year in and year out, for Tri-Ess. Jane serves as the very active Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Tri-Ess, and in addition to editing The Mirror, Mary very capably assists Jane with all the many Tri-Ess activities with which she is involved.

We all join Tri-Ess and our local chapter because we need the support and social contact with others like ourselves. Over time, most of us become more confidant, and many of us eventually decide we have gotten what we need and stop coming to meetings. Fortunately for those coming behind us there are a few who never forget how difficult their struggle was and feel an obligation to help others. In Joan's and my case, we will never forget how difficult it was to struggle by ourselves for many years to understand and fully come to terms with my need to cross-dress. Not only do we want to help others get through this process more quickly and easily than we did, but we feel that continuing to be active in Tri-Ess is a way that we can demonstrate our appreciation for the many blessings that have come to us over the years. Besides, our blessings continue to accrue as the result of many wonderful friends we continue to make.

I hope each of you will seriously reflect upon what Tri-Ess and your local chapter mean to you. Then I hope you will be motivated to contribute your time and talent to ensure that our chapter is there for others just as it was there for you. If you do, I am sure that you will get back more than you give just as Joan and I do.

My Experience at S.P.I.C.E. IX

When Joan and I headed for Houston to attend S.P.I.C.E. IX in July, 2000, we were hopeful that we could help others, but we were confident that any issues between us concerning cross-dressing had been worked out a long time ago. We had decided to attend after conversations with Peggy Rudd, Jane Ellen Fairfax and several others during the Dignity Cruise last fall. Peggy asked us to make ourselves available to help others who were having difficulty with cross-dressing issues.

I was not particularly looking forward to attending the lectures on communications and self esteem building because I have been through such lectures under the guise of management development several times in my career, but I knew it was a necessary part of the process. Similarly, Joan also had been subjected to communications and esteem building activities over the years, and she too was not greatly enthusiastic about attending the workshops. However, once the conference began we both realized how wrong we had been.

It was a wonderful conference. Even senior citizens like us found that we could benefit. And would you believe it, we found an unresolved issue. My discomfort surfaced during one of the early men’s workshop sessions when the subject of buying en homme clothes came up. There was general agreement that this is something that none of us was enthusiastic about doing. The president of the Orlando chapter of Tri-Es said that she had found the best way to shop for her drab clothing was to do it en femme. It gave her an excuse to go shopping en femme, something many of us like to do, and at the same time, she could accomplish an otherwise uninspiring task. Besides she has the best appreciation for the right sizes, preferred colors and fabrics and budget limitations. The clincher came when the session moderator pointed out that when we dress en femme we are dressing for ourselves, but when we dress en homme we are dressing primarily for our wives.

That evening, Joan and I were comparing notes, and she mentioned that one of the common complaints in the women’s sessions was that none of their significant others liked to shop for their every day clothing, and she added this was also something that bothered her. She pointed out that the primary reason we never discussed the issue is that I had built up an elaborate set of subterfuges for avoiding it. Then, she provided me a few examples, and I had to concede she was definitely right. And I was definitely vulnerable because the memory of what our session moderator had said earlier in the day pushed my guilt button. At that moment, I was very glad that my colleague from Florida had provided me a strategy for handling a task that I always avoided as long as possible. I am certain that the Florida solution to the buying drab clothing will work for me. But even if you don't think shopping en femme in a men's clothing department is for you, you'll have to agree it is one way of discouraging the over eager salesman working on commission who otherwise might be trying to sell you a new suit.

So how do I feel about S.P.I.C.E. now? I think it is a conference for everyone. Even smug old hands like us, should attend at least once. And I am convinced that CDs benefit as much as wives and significant others. For a wife or SO to fully benefit, particularly in critical areas such as communications skills and relationship building, it appears to me that it would be helpful if, at the same time, her partner also improved his capability in these critical areas.

Trying to Make a Difference

This past month was a month of great sadness for all Americans, and the result of the horrific events of September 11 is that much has changed. Hopefully, the ensuing tightening of security checks will be permanent but accomplished without trampling our civil liberties. As most of you know from my articles, I am fond of travelling en femme, and my concern was aroused. So instead of wringing my hands in despair or throwing my hands up while bemoaning my perception that I could no longer fly en femme, I decided to try to do something about it. I set about determining how security changes really are going to affect us, and then do what I could to preserve our right to fly en femme.

From the start, I have been determined to observe Jane Fairfax's admonition to avoid confrontation. My approach has been to understand and inform. In the final analysis, safe travel is by far the overriding concern. If the only way to achieve it is to cause all of us to do things that we would prefer not to do, then so be it. I for one will salute and toe the line. However, my concern is that people will use the need for better security practices as a license to inject their own prejudices, and it is my hope that my effort will contribute at least in a small measure to keeping this from happening.

First, I called five airlines, US Airways, Northwest, Southwest, American and United. Except for United and American, I was told that as long as the picture on my official ID matched my mode of dress I would have no problems. The ticket agent at US Airways even suggested that I go to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and get an ID while dressed en femme. On the other hand, both American and United were strictly in knee-jerk mode. American said that cross-dressing would be considered concealment and not be permitted, and United said that if the ticket was made out to a male name, the bearer had better look like a male.

I shared my research with Jane Fairfax. Jane said that she is going to write the Department of Transportation and provide information on our behalf. She told me that she plans to provide background about cross-dressers and point out the value of using the Tri Ess Transgender ID with an official state ID to remove any doubt about identity. It would appear to be an ideal time for her to provide such input because the government is currently in the process of developing national airport security procedures. I for one am very pleased that our international director is doing this for all of us.

Next, I decided to check the feasibility of getting an ID from the Virginia DMV. I was aware that they had tightened their process for issuing IDs as a result of the bad publicity they received from relying on falsified documents to issue IDs to two of the hijackers. Nevertheless, I went to our local DMV office and applied for an official ID while dressed en femme. I immediately declared that I was a cross-dressed male and asked for an ID containing my picture as presently dressed and bearing the same information as my driver's license. (Other CD's have done this successfully before September 11.)

My request was courteously processed, but when I went up to the counter after my name was called, my five dollars was returned and I was told the state would not issue me a state ID because my appearance was different from my natural state. So, I have just finished writing and posting a letter of protest to the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles with copies to my state senator and member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Certainly, it would have been much easier to do nothing more than complain about the current situation, but instead, I decided to do what I could. After all, nothing worthwhile can ever be accomplished without somebody doing something. Perhaps nothing will come of my efforts, but I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that at least I have tried to make a difference.

Phenotypes and Fashion Shows

In March 2003, the Richmond/Tidewater support group held a fashion show.  We invited members of our sister support group in Baltimore, Chi Epsilon Sigma, and 10 members of CES drove to southern Virignia to participate.  As a result, a wonderful time was had by all, and the article subsequently written by their roving reporter gently teased me for introducing the word "phenotype" into the festivities.  In response, I decided to join the teasing, and the following article resulted.

I certainly enjoyed the visit of our sisters from Chi Epsilon Sigma at Rho Tau's March meeting, but I am afraid it's true that I introduced the little used term, "phenotype" into a conversation that was apparently overheard by CES's roving reporter. You are probably wondering why I -- seemingly being of sound mind -- would do such a thing within earshot of a roving reporter. After all, she was in town to cover the Rho Tau fashion show, and the use of a term that one would expect to be uttered during the deliberations of a high school biology class certainly seemed inappropriate in such a setting.

You can imagine my concern when I heard it rumored that my unfortunate use of such an obscure term on the evening prior to the Rho Tau fashion show had shocked this sensitive Baltimore lady of considerable refinement. Several ladies told me that it had taken her several hours afterward to recover her sense of propriety. Further, it was rumored that the stress of the evening caused her to oversleep, and she ran behind all day Saturday. As a result she almost missed the first runway appearance of her editrix, Rachel.

While I don't know if the rumors that I cited were at all true, I certainly hope they are not for I would not like to get the reputation for carelessly inflicting harm on other ladies of refinement. In my defense, I would like to remind everyone that it was the very nature of this occasion that brought this bit of obscure scientific jargon to mind. For the word "phenotype" refers to the appearance of an organism in a given environment. And I could not help reflecting on how often many of us whose phenotype in public expresses our sex will don clothing that is more in harmony with our feminine side when we are in an environment where we feel less threatened. And certainly a fashion show is the best of environments for satisfying the need of each of us for a friendly environment where our suppressed gender can blossom forth.

I cannot help but feel there was some truth to the rumors that circulated concerning my unfortunate choice of words. For it is evident that the trauma from the experience had a lingering affect on the good lady from The Wild Rose. This is apparent from her choice of title for her fashion show article, "Phenotypes in Williamsburg." However, I am relieved that she was sufficiently recovered by the time she wrote her article for the April issue of The Wild Rose of The Chesapeake to demonstrate her usual literary excellence. How wonderful it was to see all of the ladies of both sexes from Chi Epsilon Sigma come together with the Rho Tau ladies of both sexes. Everyone looked so wonderful dressed in their feminine finery that no one, other than those of us present, would have suspected that the sex of many of us was opposite our presented gender.

Thank You CES Sisters and Thank You Grace

It was so good to return to Chi Epsilon Sigma and see so many friends at the June meeting. The food and program were great, and we, the Rho Tau sisters, Shirley, Joan and me, enjoyed the evening very much. The invitation from CES to Rho Tau members provided a wonderful opportunity to see old friends, meet sisters who have joined the chapter since Joan and I were active in CES, and renew friendships made in Williamsburg when members have visited us here.

For Joan and me, one of the highlights of the evening was seeing Grace. For it was Grace Gardener, whose vision and leadership lead to the formation of Chi Epsilon Sigma in Baltimore, and later provided assistance and encouragement to those of us living in the Richmond Tidewater area to form Rho Tau. In fact, we believe it was the membership criteria developed by Grace, and her insistence upon a strong program for wives and significant others that led to the formation of two chapters of truly wonderful ladies one in the Baltimore/Washington area and the other in the Richmond/Tidewater area.

For Shirley, the presence of a wig stylist was an added benefit. She had a wig that she wanted styled in a very special manner. Donna, the wig stylist did a wonderful job, and Shirley looked fabulous.

It was unfortunate that more of our Rho Tau sisters could not come, but meeting attendance during the summer tends to be lower for us, and the fates appeared to have conspired against us. For example, our president, Anna and her spouse, Barbara, very much wanted to attend, but a schedule slippage for a major product delivery for their company forced Anna and Barbara to be elsewhere. And the wedding of Tina's sister forced Tina, and spouse, Catherine (our secretary) to remain in Newport News.

Thank you dear sisters in Chi Epsilon Sigma for your wonderful hospitality, and thank you Grace for your vision and leadership to bring your vision to fruition. When Joan and I went to Baltimore for the first time a little more than six years ago, we were a bit apprehensive about what to expect. We did not begin to imagine what wonderful experiences were ahead for us and the exceptionally fantastic people that would become our friends.