Three days in Vegas, part 2

At the end of part 1 of my Las Vegas trip I had just cleared TSA security with no problems. To me that was the second hardest part of the trip (the first being going through security in Las Vegas for the return trip). Once I got past security, I felt  I could relax and really start enjoying myself. This turned out to be entirely true as over the next several days I interacted with many  people and got only completely normal reactions from them. I kept waiting for something bad to happen (or even something mildly unpleasant) but absolutely nothing did. It was a completely uneventful, in terms of TGness, three days. It was great.

To return to the story, we had gotten to the airport really early and so had almost 90 minutes before our flight. Given the rushed schedule we were both hungry and so had lunch in one of the overpriced airport eating establishment. We were greeted by a helpful waiter who addressed us as “ladies” and showed us to our table. He soon came back to take our order and eventually our meal. The lunch was pleasant and relaxed. I had been a little tense about TSA security but no longer.

Eventually our flight time arrived and so we lined up in our Southwest boarding group. When my time came I handed my boarding pass to the agent who had a brief “oh” moment as she scanned my boarding pass with my boy name on it.  She recovered quickly and said “thank you” and I boarded the plane without incident. Once on board we found open seats, put our luggage in the overhead bins, and sat down. It was a familiar ritual that I have done on hundreds of other flights but it seemed special this time. As we took off I thought to myself, “I am really doing this” and felt great.

Landing in Vegas was without incident and we caught a cab to our hotel. The Venetian is a really nice hotel and we had a spacious suite. We unpacked, rested a little, then walked around the Venice themed mall. We were going to a Cirque du Soleil show later that night but had some  time to explore the place. I did not get any reactions from either other visitors or shop assistants. We were just two women exploring a mall while on vacation.

The Cirque du Soleil show we saw was “Zumanity” which is billed as the “Sensual side of Cirque du Soleil”. I have seen lots of other Cirque du Soleil shows but never this one and so I was intrigued. The show was at 9:30 at the New York, New York hotel which is reasonably near our hotel. We planned to walk to  the Planet Hollywood buffet for dinner and then continue walking to the show. Although my tunic and leggings would have been fine for the show, I decided to dress things up a little. I changed into a red 3/4 length sleeve top, black JNY cotton skirt, and black Mary Janes. It was not very dressy but was a nice change.

The buffet at Planet Hollywood was very nice with more choices than I could sample. We stood in line for about 10 minutes before being seated. Our waitress was very nice and quickly brought us our drinks. I visited multiple stations until I could hold no more. In the process I came across dozens of people who seemed oblivious to my presence.

On the way out of Planet Hollywood I stopped at the ladies restroom which was mostly unoccupied. I encountered a few women there but we pretty much ignored one another. A few had boyfriends/husbands waiting for them which gave me pause but they barely looked up from their smartphones as I walked by.

From Planet Hollywood, NY NY is a moderate walk. We left plenty of time and so arrived at the Zumanity show almost 20 minutes early. We gave them our tickets and were shown to our seats. Since we were so early, I went to the bar and bought some wine. I was really curious about what the show would be like. I really like Cirque shows and am always amazed by the artists and what they can do.

Unfortuantely Zumanity quickly became my least favorite Cirque du Soleil show. The things I liked most about Cirque shows (acrobatics, dance, music, etc) were of much lower quality in Zumanity than in the other shows. While most of the performers were topless most of the time, I found the whole experience to be very “unsensual”. It was like they were trying too hard to be sensual and risque and so the result felt very forced and artificial. I found myself checking my watch after 20 minutes. About the only interesting thing about the whole show was the TG Mistress of Ceremonies, all 6’6″ of her. She had a wonderful feminine/drag queen presence (my friend did not recognize she was TG until we talked after the show) and  some amusing remarks and jokes. Still many of her remarks seemed forced but compared to the rest of the show she was great.

After the show we took a cab back to our hotel having determined it was too far to walk. We quickly fell asleep as it had been a very long day.

We sort of slept in the next day (it was a vacation) but eventually got up, got dressed, and headed out to find some breakfast. Our room was on the 11th floor and so we took the elevator down to the casino floor. Elevators can be a little scary since I never know who and how many will be in the elevator when the door opens. During our stay we made lots of elevator trips and experiened everythign  from an empty elevator, to a family, to several couples, to one virtually full that required some close crowding but in every case I found people friendly and pleasant. By the end of trip, I was not longer worryng about elevator rides.

We ate breakfast at small place off the casino floor. It is semi-self service in that you stand in line, order your food, and then pick up when they call your name. I stood in line and ordered my food without any issues. To the clerk I was just another customer.

After breakfast we walked over to see the gardens at the Bellagio and then to the shops at Caesars Palace. It was fun to stop at various high end shops and look  at $1000 dresses, $400 shoes,  and $600 handbags. My friend is a fan of Coach handbags and so we spent lots of time in the Coach shop while she discussed various bags with the sales lady. I must admit some of  the bags were really nice (and some were really odd) but I could not bring myself to spend that kind of money on a handbag. Mine is real leather and I bought it at Costco for $49 and I am quite happy with it. Still it was fun to be the target of an aggressive sales lady.

From there we visited other shops where I eventually bought something at a H&M store, someplace more in my budget. It was a long cardigan sweater that was colorblocked in brown, green, and ivory. It was only $19.95 and I love it.

We finished the shops, ate lunch and,  caught the bus to Fremont Street.

I will cover our Fremont Street “experience”, the music concert, and the trip home in part 3.

 

 

Disappointing myself

A few days after I posted part 1 of my Vegas trip, I had the “opportunity” to fly to the East Coast on a one day business trip.  These trips are not fun as I spend much of a day getting there (typically a Sunday), then most of the next day in a meeting, and then fly home the same day. By the time I get home on the second day, I have been up 21 hours or more and my body has no idea of what time it is.

After my confident Las Vegas trip I thought that it would be great to make the flight in girl mode. It would make the long trip a little more enjoyable and is something I have always wanted to do.  It seemed like a safe thing to do. The odds of running into someone I know are relatively small since my destination was not one where my business associates typically go. I felt I could get past TSA security without problems. I even got an aisle seat which meant I only had to sit next to one person. It all seemed good.

I selected casual girl clothes for the trip as virtually no woman dresses up for a long, Sunday flight. I picked a T-shirt, jeans, and low heel boots. I used a smaller purse that would fit into my computer case. I got my wig, padding, and makeup already to go. I allocated enough time to change at the airport. I was all set to go.

I arrived at the airport, parked in the parking garage, changed clothes, and sat there. I couldn’t do the full girl mode. I left my wig, forms, purse,etc in my suit case and walked to the terminal. My one concession was to wear the tshirt/jeans/boots I had picked for the trips as they were relatively androgynous. I went through security without a problem but felt really disappointed in myself for chickening out.

I tried to convince myself that I had a good reason for skipping full girl mode.

  • My computer bag is not very feminine and it would be strange for a woman to use it.
  • I would be sitting next to the same people for 6 hours and they might  react badly to me.
  • How would I get my rental car at my destination?
  • What if the flight was delayed hours and I needed to shave?
  • I might run into someone I knew
  • Why waste an opportunity to get through TSA security easily.

You get the idea..mostly pretty bad rationalizations. The reality is that I was fearful that someone would react badly to me (or even just say something)  and I let that fear control my actions.  I really disappointed myself.

On the way home I had the same debate with myself with the same result and the same sense of disappointment with myself. However on the trip back the universe decided to punish me for giving into my  fears. Since I was not wearing my breast forms, they were packed in my carryon suitcase that went through the TSA X-ray machine. I have done this many times and never had a problem. This time some observant X-ray technician decided that they looked suspicious and called out my bag for closer inspection. A young male TSA agent took my bag to the inspection area while I waited in front of him. He unzipped my bag, poked around until he found the suspicious items, and took them out. I keep my forms in a soft blue bag to protect them and so it was easy to see when he found them. He took the forms out and inspected them with a slight look of puzzlement on his face. He wiped them down with the explosive pad and fed it into  a machine for analysis. During this time I stood there trying to look bored and nonchalant while making up stories in my head to explain to him what they were doing in my bag (“they are extra ones for my wife”, “I am carrying samples”, etc..). Fortuantely the machine did not find explosive residue on them and so I was cleared to go. He packed them back into my suitcase and handed it back to me with a “thank you sir”. I slowly walked away and never looked back.

It occurred to me that going through TSA security in girl mode would probably have been less embarrassing. Still I did not change into full girl mode, although I still wore the same Tshirt, jeans, and boots outfit for the flight home (though I did change my shirt!!)

In thinking this over I realized that for many of us “part time” girls,  these fears are something that we must continually deal with. Everytime we go out in girl mode, we must face the fears and get past them. Just because we went out yesterday and everything went okay does not mean today will be the same. Even though I have been out hundreds, or even thousands of time, I still worry a little when I open the door to go out or when I encounter the first person. Once out, I am okay and everything goes well but there is always the little voice of fear. Hence there is always the temptation to just stay in our comfort zone of places, activities, people, etc. rather than push to have a full life,  albeit part time.  I tell myself I want to have that full life even if it involves overcoming some fears. I just get disappointed in myself when I give in to those fears.

PS

For those of you waiting to read part 2 of my Vegas trip, I will post it later this week. Sorry for the delay.

 

 

 

 

 

Three days in Vegas, part 1

While I usally get out as Robin at least once a week, my girl time seldom exceeds a few hours. Occaionally I get a  6-8 hour adventure, such as I described  in my last posting and even less frequently a  full day out. While these are okay nothing beats spending  multiple days being “full time”. The last time I did it was more than 4 years ago when I accompanied Denae Doyle of Femimage to the Southern Comfort  Conference where I helped her with the classes she was teaching. I wrote about this in a couple of blogs in 2013 (or was it 2012??).

I have really been wanting to have another multiple day adventure but things never worked out for one reason or another. However this last year the opportunity finally presented itself. One of my favorite rock groups was performing in Las Vegas at a time when I could get away. It was far enough in advance that I could get low cost airfare and a big discount on a room. I proposed to my BFF that we fly down for the concert which would probably mean we would have to stay overnight. She countered with a proposal to also see a Cirque Du  Soleil show that she had been wanting to see which meant we would have to stay three days and two nights in Vegas. That sounded okay to me as it meant even more girl time. It would also provide an opportunity to fly in girl mode, something I had also not done since my trip to Southern Comfort.

Since the concert was 4 months away, we were able to book $59 flights to Vegas and $120/night rooms at the Venetian, which for those of you not familiar with Vegas, is a really nice all suites hotel. Rooms there are normally $300/night. We got tickets for the concert and show and were all set. All we had to do was wait 4 months!

During that time, my thoughts were occupied with two topics: a silly one and a more serious one. The silly one was what clothes I should bring. The more serious one was flying as Robin.

Actually I spent more time worry about what to wear as there was little I could do about the flying part.  Vegas is a pretty casual place with very long walks  to get almost anywhere. We did have two concerts/shows to attend and so we could be a little dressy but not too much. We were going in October which means the weather was still pretty warm (85 or so) but not crazy hot (110+). I also wanted to limit myself to one suitcase so that I could carry on and not have to check luggage. Finally I wanted to bring only women’s clothing and leave all the boy stuff behind (just to make things interesting).

After making and revising endless lists, I decided on:

  • Two tunic/legging sets
  • two skirt/top sets
  • one pair of jeans with a tshirt
  • one long skirt
  • 3 pairs of shoes (all  flats that were suitable for walking)
  • PJs and robe

I could wear the jeans and leggings outfits for the days and the skirt outfits for the evening shows.The long skirt was backup but I never wore it.  It would all fit into one carryon suitcase although it was a little tight when other items like toiletries and curling iron were added.

The one extra thing I realized  I needed was a shoulder bag of some kind to hold my purse and computer. My regular computer case is decidedly unfemimine plus there is no place in it for a purse ( per airline rules, only TWO carryons). I ended up buying a black shoulder bag into which my computer and purse  fit quite nicely.

The flying in girl mode part was a more serious topic but I found myself oddly not too worried about it. The  TSA had a whole page dedicated to transgendered passengers which was very reassuring. I was also flying out of San Francisco (and Vegas) whose TSA agents had probably seen everything. Maybe if I was in Texas (or North Carolina) I may have been more concerend. In any case I had done it before without any problems. Besides,  what is the worse that could happen?? Maybe a grin or two from the TSA agent?? Even an “pat down”, while potentially embarrassing, was not likely to be a big deal. The key is all of such situations is to stay calm and respectful.

After much delay, our departure day eventually rolled around. We had a 12:25pm flight and so I picked up my friend around 10:30am. I had changed clothes in my car on the way to her house and so was girl mode when I arrived at her house. I wore a green tunic, black leggings, and some black Sketchers I had found at a Ross store the day before.   We drove  to the airport where we parked in long term parking and then rode a bus the terminal. I had printed out our boarding passes and so there was little to do when we arrived  except to go through security. We both had TSA precheck when means simplified security check (and NO whole body scanner) and so that made everything easier. I got out my passport (with my boy name/picture) and boarding pass and got into the security line. Eventually I reached the agent. handed him the passport and boarding pass, and waited. I was actually very calm, almost excessively so.

After a few moments, he wrote on my boarding pass, and said have a nice flight. My friend was watching him  and said his face did not change expression in any way (beyond normal changes). I was just another passenger to him. I put my bags on the xray machine and walked through the metal detector. The agent nodded as I walked through and that was it. I was through security and on my way to Las Vegas!!

 

 

 

 

 

An evening at the symphony

I have not posted anything for a couple of weeks now but it was not for lack of trying. I have been trying to write something meaningful about mess that Donald Trump is making of the country (after only two weeks) but others have been doing such a good job that my contribution seemed redundant. Hopefuly I will get more inspired  in the future since I fear we may have endure years of him.

So instead of a political post,  I thought I would write about something pleasant. One of the activities I really enjoy is going to the symphony, especially the San Francisco Symphony. I try to go several times a year when they are performing something that I  really enjoy. It also provides the opportunity to get a little dressed up which is a nice change from my usual tunic and leggings outfits that I normally live in these days. Of course I don’t get too dressed up as  the person sitting next to your is more than likely  wearing torn blue jeans but I always try to wear a nice  dress or at least a skirt and top.  I suppose the best look is what is normally termed  “business casual”.

Anyway, this last week they performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (the “choral symphony”) and I just had to go.  I attended another performance of the Ninth years ago and really enjoyed it. When the schedule for the year came out last summer, I knew I had to be there. I asked my BFF if she would like to attend and she did and so I bought two tickets. Since she works in SF, we agreed that I would catch the train into the City and she would meet me at the train station.

I ended up wearing a dark green dress with black boots and a knee length wool coat. The weather was cool and rainy and so it seemed a suitable outfit. The dress is one I bought on Zulily (where I have a shopping addiction) but I had not had a chance to wear it before.  I drove part way to San Francisco and then caught Caltrain (the local commuter train). I have caught the train to the City several times in girl mode and it is always a combination of the ordinary and slightly exciting. It is ordinary in that absolutely nothing unusual ever happens. I buy my ticket, wait for the train, board the train, sit down, show my ticket to the conductor,  enjoy the trip, and arrive at my destination. I am just another woman taking the train. At the same time it is a little exciting since I am fully committed to being in girl mode and am pretty much on my own. Unlike when I am driving someplace, there is not a pile of boy clothes in the trunk that I can always switch into if something unexpected happens. There is also no one who knows me around to help if I need it.  When I am on the train in girl mode  (or an airplane as I written about in the past and will do again in the near future), there is no easy way back to boy mode. For better or worse (and odd thoughts of earthquakes, train crashes, attacks by crazy people do occur to me) I am committed to being a woman on her own.  It does make the ordinary a bit more exciting.

But at least for this trip, everything went fine and  was entirely uneventful. There was some light rain when I arrived which was sort of fun to stand around  in while I waited for my friend to pick me up. She met me near the train station and we drove across town to Davis Symphony Hall. Traffic was a complete mess and it took us almost an hour to get the parking lot. At that point we had about 90 minutes before the symphony was to start and so we found a nice place to have a quick dinner. It was a good time with a very attentive waiter who greeted us as “ladies” and quickly served us our dinner. We were sitting around in a roomful of people also having dinner. Again, it was completely ordinary (and wonderful).  We ate quickly and walked to Davies.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the start of the performance and quickly found our seats. I had purchased tickets in the middle of the second tier since the music there sounds as good as anywhere in the hall and they are not too expensive.  There were a surprising number of empty seats in the hall but those around us were all occupied.  It is always fun to people watch since all types come to the symphony. The average age of the attendees do seem older than either the ballet or opera but their were lots of younger people present.

The performance itself was very pleasing although I was a little disappointed by the soloists. Their voices did not seem to carry well and some were drowned out by the chorus. The orchestra and chorus performed very well and I enjoyed the performance as a whole. After the performance we walked back to the parking garage and drove back to the train station to get my car and then I drove home.

Overall it was a very nice evening and completely “ordinary”.  I ended up spending almost 8 hours in girl mode and was a little sad at having to return to boy mode at the end of the evening  Given the opportunity I would really prefer to be full time but that is unlikely to happen and so I really enjoy the girl time  that I do have.

 

 

Going the pharmacy

I have a  good friend, let’s call her Mary, that I have known for a long time. She is a genetic woman and is one of the few people who knows all about my TGness. I met her at a conference years ago and we became good friends. I usually see her in girl mode which is really nice since she treats me simply as another woman (Once when I did  show up in boy mode she made a comment about how Robin was crossdressing as a boy). We get together on a semi regular basis, mostly for lunch or maybe  shopping.

Over the past few years Mary has developed some serious health problems that limit her ability to get around and sometimes to even run routine errands. I have stepped in to help her with errands and shopping. Sometimes I accompany her and sometimes I just run the errand for her but almost always am in girl mode when I do it.

Doing these routine errands has been a wonderful experience for me. I have always sought to spend my girl time doing as many routine life activities as possible. Going to the grocery store as Robin and  talking to the checkout clerk has always been  more satisfying than attending some TG event.

I have done her grocery shopping, picked her dog up at the vet, and helped pick out a backyard umbrella at the local hardware store. We have returned her cable box at the local Comcast office and bought smoke detectors at Home Depot.  I have talked with her insurance agent, visited her in the hospital, and chatted with her neighbors. One day I encountered some paramedics in her front room after she had fallen in her home while getting ready for a planned lunch with me.

You have no idea how satisfying such things (well maybe not the paramedic part) can be and I would not trade these experiences  for anything. All of my interactions have been positive and oddly (and wonderfully) completely “normal”.

At the same time such situation have really, really stretched my girl mode comfort zone and especially my  girl mode “social skills”.  Having a long chat with Mary’s condo association business manager about some electrical problems in her condo and not reverting to boy mode “know it all-ness” was a real struggle.

The result of the all the various errands was an incredible increase in my girl mode confidence and willingness to venture into almost any situation without concern.

There are still surprises that do happen to me and hence the title of this blog (I am sure you were wondering what all of this had to do with going to the pharmacy). Mary has significant pain issues which require some pretty strong medicine. One day she had gotten a new prescription from her doctor but had forgotten to stop at  the local pharmacy.  I had dropped off some groceries at her place and was on my way out the door when she asked if I could drop off the presciption at the pharmacy and that she would pick it up later.  I said sure,  thinking it would be easy and quick to do. How hard can dropping off a prescription be??

As it turns out for certain kinds of pain medication, just dropping off the prescription is a big deal. I drove to the pharmacy and went in. I am in total girl mode wearing my current favorite clothing style: leggings and a long tunic top (my fashion evolution will be the topic of a future blog).

I stand in line for a while and it is eventually my turn. I hand the prescription to the pharmacy clerk and tell him that Mary will pick it up later. At that point he says that I must present my ID and the information on it will be entered into a state database.

That was unexpected.

At that point I had two choices. I could take the prescription back to Mary and tell her she had to handle it or I could give my boy mode ID to some low level pharmacy clerk. Now I had presented my ID to a CHP officer and to various TSA officers when I had flown “en-femme” years ago. Doing that was stressful but they were at least government officials acting in an official capacity. This was some clerk at the local CVS.

After a brief pause, I handed him my ID and waited. Nothing special happened. He scanned my ID, typed some things into his computer, handed back my ID to me, and said the prescription would be ready in an hour and asked if I wanted to wait for it.

That was it. No weird looks, no giggles, no comments.  Nothing out of the ordinary. It was oddly anti-climatic. A few hours later Mary picked up the prescription without incident.

And I am in some California data base of prescription drug buyers. At least they did not take my picture….

My encounter with the police

For my first “real” post, I thought I would write about my experience with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). For those of you not in California, the CHP is primarily responsible for law enforcement on the state’s freeways and major highways. They are statewide group and is the closest thing we have to “state police”.

I suspect that an encounter with the police is one of the most frightening situations that most TGs can imagine. Part of the concern is real as one does hear stories of TGs who have been insulted, harrased, arrested, or even injured by police, especially TGs of color. The biggest part of the fear is simply that someone in a position of authority will discover the “real you” and you will be officially “outed”.  I know I always had such a fear and so made sure that I obey every traffic rule when out in girl mode.

Until that day about a year ago.

I was on my way to the home of my BFF who had graciously allowed me to work at her home during the day. I am fortunate in having a job that can be done almost anywhere and so I spent several days a week working at her home while in girl mode. It was a really great time that I will write about another day.

Anyway, I was on the freeway and approaching the exit to her home. There was some stopped traffic up ahead and so I moved to the right in order to get to the exit. There was a solid white line on the right side of the road that I crossed in order to get around a stopped car. I had done such things in the past without a second thought. I noticed a CHP officer standing by his car but did not think much about it (afterall I was not speeding).

As soon as I crossed the line, his flashing lights went on and he waved me to pull over. At that point I was in full casual girl mode (jeans and tshirt) . I thought about a quick change (removing wig, wiping off makeup, removing some padding, etc) but given how close he was it did not seem like a good idea.

He walked up to my car and asked for driver’s license, registration, proof of insurance, etc.. He was very nice about it all. I was also very nice and pleasant. At the time, I had no idea what I had done wrong.

Now just to make things even more interesting, it turns out that I did not have my driver’s license with me. I had lost it about 6 weeks earlier while on a business trip (I think I left it in a rental car). I had made an appt for get a new one but the delay to get an appt was about 8 weeks.

So here I am in girl mode, stopped by a CHP officer for a traffic offense, and I have no driver’s license. I am oddly calm. I feel like I should panic but I sort of figure what is the worse that can happen and so I don’t.

I do have an old expired driver’s license and so hand that to him along with registration and proof of insurance. I make a brief comment about how its an old license and how today I don’t look like the picture.  He takes everything and walks back to his car. He had been totally polite the whole time.

After a few minutes he comes back and explains the nature of my offense and wants me to understand that crossing the white line for any reason, except for car breakdown, is against the law. He also explains that I need to get to the DMV ASAP to get a new license.

At that point, three wonderful things happen.

The first is that he lets me off with a warning about crossing the white line. He says to be careful not to do it again.

The second is that gives me a citation for not having a valid driver’s license. If I get license with 60 days, the fine is only $25.

The third (and best part) is that in the “Gender” field on the citation, he has placed an ‘F’ !!! I have been officially recognized as a woman by a CHP officer (despite having my boy name on the rest of citation) .  This alone was worth the $25 fine. I had to turn in the original when I paid the fine, but made a copy of it. It is one of my prized possessions!

I assume that he thought I had transitioned and that my comment about not looking like I did on the license confirmed that to him.

Overall it turned out to be a good experience. The officer treated me with complete respect the entire time as I did him. Getting stopped by the police is often a stressful situation but in this case, it went much better than expected. It was a great confidence boost.

Of course, it probably helped that it occured in Northern California, about 20 miles south of San Francisco,  and on some back road in Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knock, knock, is anyone there??

It has been about 3 years since I posted anything to this blog, even longer since I did a lot of posting. There are several reasons why I stopped posting.

I got busy at work and at home and did not have a lot of time to post. .

I ran out of things to say. It turns out to be hard to keep coming up with new material. When one starts blogging it seems like there are too many things to say but eventually one runs out of new thoughts. I seemed to be repeating myself.

It all seemed sort of unnecessary and dull. There are lots of interesting YouTube TG posters with videos that are way more accessible than a written blog. There are thousands of TGs on Facebook posting everyday. TGs are now out in public without apology. They even get their own TV shows and appear on the cover of major magazines. I doubted whether  the thoughts and experiences of one semi “out” TG added anything to the conversation.

I was also sort of disappointed with the lack of comments to my postings. I wrote and wrote and seldom got any feedback. I have come to realize that lack of comments means almost nothing. I follow several really great TG (and other) blogs that also seem to get virtually no comments. I also realized that I seldom comment on other blogs, even those I follow daily, and so comments (or the lack thereof) mean almost nothing.

Finally, sloth…I just got lazy

So why do I want to start blogging again?

First, Donald Trump was elected President and his follows want LGBT folks to disappear from public view. By writing this blog I am refusing to disappear. I will be one more voice  that will not go away. I know I am just one person but presenting my thoughts and activities will add to all the LGBT voices and make sure we don’t just go away like they want us to.

Second, it will be a way I can record all the activities and adventures I have experienced as a part-time TG girl. The last 3-4 years have been a wonderful time for me. I have gone out as Robin more than ever before and done things I could have never dreamed of doing (and some I may have  had nightmares about,  such getting stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer for a traffic offense) . I have also gotten much more comfortable in my “femme skin” than ever before. Given my life situation, I am unlikely ever to transition to full time but at this point I am as comfortable in girl mode as I am in boy mode. For a long time I felt oddly limited when in girl mode. I enjoyed it but lacked a certain confidence in being out. I went to lots of places but also avoided others.   I just want to write down what I have been doing and hopefully others will find it interesting and maybe a bit encouraging.

Writing things down will also help me to remember all the wonderful times I have had, both alone as well as with good friends.

Third, it will be a place where I can write about TG (and nonTG) things that interest me. I changed the title of my blog from “part time robin” to just “Robin Elaine’s blog”. In the past I wrote about just TG things but now I want to write about more than that. our new president, the next few years will be challenging for everyone and I want a place where I can write about it. Even if no one reads it, it will feel good to get my thoughts out.

I hope to write something a couple of times a week but we will see how things go. I have lots of “adventures” from the last 3 years that I want to get down in writing and so I may be living in the past for a while but I hope to mix both new and old adventures to keep things interesting.

–Robin

 

 

 

 

Exploring Gender Perceptions on Airplanes, Part 3

Hi

About 6 months ago I took a couple of plane flights in what I called “Semi-femme” mode in order to see what reactions I received from people. By “semi-femme” I mean wearing female but mostly gender neutral clothing and a wig but without any makeup, padding, or other female indicating items. In the case of this trip I wore a long sleeve patterned tshirt from Kohls, dark blue Gloria Vanderbilt jeans from Costco, and black ankle boots that had a very low heel. I also wore a zip up sweatshirt/hoodie that actually came from my boy closet. I wore my normal medium length wig but brushed out so that there was only a hint of a curl to it. My belt also came from my boy closet. I carried my regular work brief case and small suit case.

The flight was from Atlanta to San Francisco. I had previously flown to Atlanta wearing essentially the same outfit(I did change my tshirt) but without the wig. I knew of some coworkers who would be at the airport about the same time as I would and so did not want to risk running into them (I did encounter one and so my caution paid off). On the way back there was no such worry. It was an interesting test case because on that flight all I received was “sirs”.

I went through security at Atlanta wearing everything but the wig. I was feeling a little wary and so felt safer leaving it off for that part. Later I slipped into a “family” restroom, put on the wig, and brushed it out. After a short time, I left. I had quit a wait since my flight was delayed and so wandered around the terminal a bit. I received some odd looks but was mostly ignored. I ordered some food and it was clear the person who took my order was uncertain how to respond especially when I ordered in sort of an inbetween voice (a little higher than my normal male voice but lower than my normal female voice). It was sort of fun to explore gender boundaries without the worry of “am I passing or not”. I was just dressing as me and not trying to be overtly female.

I did not get my upgrade on the way to Dallas and so sat anonymously in coach. The fun began when I got to Dallas.

Due to weather my flight departure was delayed almost 3 hours and so I had lots of time in Dallas. Eventually I got hungry again and so went to one of the many fast food eateries there. Again I ordered in my neutral voice and got my first “ma’am. I just smiled and paid the bill.

I had put into for an upgrade and so eventually went to the gate to check on it. When I got the counter the agent asked if she could see my ticket “ma’am”. When she got the ticket with my male name, she really did not react but also did not respond with either a “sir” or a “ma’am”.

While we were boarding the plan, the agent taking my ticket (a different agent than at the counter) also gave me “thank you ma’am” when I gave her my ticket. I just smiled and went down the ramp to board the plane.

I did not get my upgrade and so I was sitting in coach again. Right before takeoff the agent who took my ticket came up to me to tell me that my upgrade had come through and I could move up to first class. There was some confusion among the the various agents/flight attendants as they alternatively referred to me as “he” or “she”. I ended up in a seat actually assigned to another passenger (he had moved to sit with his girlfriend) and so the flight attendant ended up really confused. She was very friendly and touched me on the arm/hand/shoulder several times during the flight (something that never happens when I am clearly in boy mode).

I eventually arrived at SFO without further incident.

The experience made me feel very good about my feminine presentation. Afterall, if I could get repeatly referred to as “ma’am” without really trying too hard, I should not worry much about it when I add the “extras” (makeup, padding, jewelry, purse, etc). Normally “passing” is not difficult for me but this gives me even more confidence. It is also interesting to think about what are the real female cues that people rely upon. In my case a wig was enough to push me from a clearly male to an ambiguous/female gender presentation.

In some ways doing semi-femme is more fun than full femme since I am not worrying about “passing” (since I am really not trying to pass as anything but me). I get the wear the clothes I like without the worry!!

robin

My Boudoir Photoshoot – Lights, Camera, Action!

Hi,

This is Robin and this is the latest update on my boudoir photo shoot.

After over two months of thinking, planning, worrying, excitement, fear, it was finally time for the photo shoot. I had driven like mad from San Francisco to the Concord Hilton Hotel where Denise was waiting. I carried my garment bag and pulled my suitcase into the lobby where I met Denise and her young (~3 years) son, Billy. I had a momentary sense of panic since the thought of doing the boudoir shoot with a young boy being in the room was really uncomfortable for me.  I quickly relaxed when Denise said that her husband was going to come by the hotel and pick up Billy.

Between Denise with all her photo gear and me with my dress bag and suitcase, we had a lot of things to get to the room. Fortunately a bellman with a cart was there to help and we were quickly in the room. I unpacked my dress bag and showed Denise the different outfits. She agreed to go with the blue skirt suit and silver/blue formal. I hung them up in the closet and sat down to wait for the hair stylist and makeup artist to arrive. The stylist, Cassandra, was the first to arrive and so we started with the hair.  I had worn a slightly longer wig than I normally wear since she could do more with a longer wig. Before starting to work Cassandra asked me about my wig since she was concerned that if it was made with synthetic hair then styling with her curling iron could damage it. I assured her it was all human hair and so she could do anything she wanted with it. She put wrap around me and went to work on my hair. She mostly curled it and fluffed it out a lot. It was fuller than I normally wear but quite suitable for the occasion.

The makeup artist, Natalia, arrived soon and they were both working on me at once. It was quite  a nice experience, Denise has a picture of it on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/capuredmomentsbydenise, scroll down to “lucky lady”).  I wanted my makeup to be relatively natural and so Natalia’s  job was easier. I was already wearing my own makeup and so she mostly touched up the foundation to even things out. The eye makeup was likewise pretty simple, just a little color. The new thing (at least to me) was the false eyelashes. In all my years of dressing in the closet and in public, I had never used false eye lashes (I rarely even use mascara!). They mostly seemed like too much work and so hence violate my “20 minutes to get dressed” rule. I was also slightly worried that they would not come off.. (I know it is a silly thing to worry about). Anyway Natalia trimmed them, glued them on, and then applied the mascara. I was surprised how good they looked. I may even try them again sometime.

During this whole process Billy was lying on the bed watching the TV (you can see him on Denise’s Facebook page). At one point he asked his mother what was going on. Denise told him that girls liked to get pretty and Cassandra and Natalia were helping Robin get pretty. He was satisfied with that and returned to the TV. It was really cute. Soon after that Denise’s husband arrived and picked up Billy.

My hair and makeup were nearly complete when I remembered I was wearing a t-shirt that needed to come off before I could put any of my other clothes on. Cassandra said to just take it off and then she would touch up my hair. “Boudoir time” was about to start and after a moment’s hesitation, my t-shirt came off and I was standing there in my bra in the presence of 3 young women, two of which I had just met. To my pleasant surprise none of them missed a beat and continued on as if it was the most natural thing in the world. They were soon touching up my makeup and hair as Denise continued to setup her photo lights and other things.

It was now time to get ready for the first scene. I picked up the skirt suit, underwear, and shoes and went into the bathroom to change. Somehow it seemed safer to change in private even though I was about to take most of it off again. Don’t ask me to explain… I quickly changed into the suit, checked in the mirror that everything looked good, and was ready to go.

I had asked Natalia and Cassandra to leave while the photo shoot went on and so they soon left. I thought I would have a hard enough time relaxing with just Denise without adding two more people I had just met. Denise said they often like to watch the shoot so they can fix up hair and makeup as thing progress. In retrospect it was a silly thing to worry about but at the time it seemed important.

Denise says on her web site that she will not leave you standing around waiting and she is right. From the time I stepped out of the bathroom, there was constant movement and posing. She poses each shot and you have to “hold” it while she positions herself and takes the picture. We started with a picture of me entering through the door, then another of the same scene, then I sat on the table while she snapped a couple more pictures, then to the closet holding up the formal for another shot, then  remove jacket, click, then unbutton blouse, click, then unzip skirt, click, click, click, click until finally I am lying on the bed in my bra, panties, and garter belt trying to look my sexy best. No time to think, to worry, or to be embarrassed. Before I knew it the first scene was over and it was time for the formal dress. I realized I had just undressed in front the camera and nothing bad had happened!! In fact I was feeling rather good about the whole situation.

I gathered up the skirt suit and set it aside and got the formal from the closet. The bra and panties were exchanged for the blue “merry widow” and the formal went over it. I had Denise help me zip the dress up and then the next sequence started. Stand by the closet, click, sit on the sofa, click, click, turn sideways, click, unzip dress click, drop dress to floor,  click, lay on sofa, click, move to bed, click, click, click. Before I knew it that scene was over. By this point I was much more relaxed about the whole process. It was lots of work but also lots of fun. I started to feel a little sad that it would all soon be over.

The Rene Faire scene took the longest to get ready, mostly because there was more to put on:  camisole, chemise, pantaloons, full skirt, and  lace up bodice (with lots of ribbon to lace up). There was also the rough fabric to lay on the bed to make it more “rustic” plus the candles plus some other props like a purse and flowers for my hair (very peasant looking)…

The scene went by quickly as well with Denise posing me for every shot. Sit here, click, lift skirt, click, unlace bodice, click, click, click (it takes a while), lift chemise over my head, click, click,… Before I knew it that scene was done. Only one scene left 😦

The construction worker scene was intended to start out as a very masculine image and then gradually become more feminine with the hard hat, work shirt, and jeans being left behind to reveal a red bra and panties, sort of the “woman within”. In talking about the scene later with Denae, I realized it was sort of a TG metaphor but I was not coImagensciously thinking about it that way. It just seemed like a really different kind of boudoir photo shoot.

I entered the door wearing my hard hat, tool belt, and work clothes, click, click. Then I sat down on the sofa and took off my boots, click, click. Then I laid back and “watched tv”, click, then opened my shirt, click, then I moved to bed with my shirt more open, revealing the red bra, click, click. Then ….the hotel room door opened…

It was Denise’s next appointment, my two hour photo time was nearly over! Cassandra and Natalia walked in the room along with young woman who was to shoot after me. In a typical hotel room, there is not a lot of room for 5 people, including one who is partially undressed! I briefly glanced at her and I suddenly felt very old and ugly. She was young, trim, beautiful, and had long brown hair. She was made for boudoir photos… She was doing the shoot as a gift to her husband on their first wedding anniversary. She and the stylists slipped into the bathroom to start work on her hair and makeup while Denise finished with me. We clicked a few more pictures but my time was done and so I had to pack up and leave. We sort of left the scene unfinished which was okay since I really wanted to get out of there. I  stuffed everything in my suitcase and garment bag  as quickly as I could. I put my shirt back on from the construction worker outfit.  I was ready to go in no time at all.

As I was packing Denise mentioned she had taken over 250 pictures in the 2 hours we were shooting. That works out to a picture nearly every 30 seconds or so and that does not count time spent changing outfits. No wonder I was tired. It is hard work being a model!!

I thanked Denise and slipped out of the room, down the elevator, and headed to my car. I spent the next 15 minutes in the parking lot repacking my clothes into a more orderly arrangement. Despite my rushed exit, I felt really good about the whole time. It was fun, it was relaxed, and I wondered what exactly I had been worried about. I was treated wonderfully by Denise, Natalia and Cassandra. All my fears and worries turned out to be completely groundless.

Next time, getting the pictures and some  final thoughts on the whole experience.

I have included a few more pictures from the shoot.

robinImage

My Boudoir Photoshoot – Getting ready for the shoot and getting there (with pictures)

Hi,

This is Robin with the third installment about my boudoir photoshoot session. When I finished the last installment I thought I would describe the events leading right up to the photoshoot itself (which will be in part four), but since I wrote it it occurred to me that there were a couple of things I wanted to mention first.

The biggest of these was may face to face pre-meeting with Denise Linley, the photographer. Part of the package I bought with the Groupon was a pre-shoot consultation in which I would meet with Denise to see some examples of her work, plan our session, and generally get to know one another before the shoot. I was looking forward to meeting Denise in person since by that point we had exchanged lots of emails and I had grown to really like her. I also wanted to see more of her work although she had posted a lot of it on her website. At the same time I was a little nervous about it since she had little experience with TG people and so I did not know what her reaction to me would be. Its one thing to be pleasant when exchange emails with someone and quite another to meet them in person. Again,  I asked myself what is the worst that could happen and  I realized it was not very bad (she decides not to do the shoot and gives me my money back).

Since I would be doing the photoshoot in femme, it was a forgone conclusion that I would meet her the same way. We planned to meet in a Starbucks near her home in Walnut Creed around 6pm. I was coming from San Jose and given the traffic I allocated a couple of hours to drive up and get settled. I dressed in my “usual” outfit consisting of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and a patterned t-shirt (usually from Kohls). I picked my purple jeans with a purple and black long sleeve top. I added my favorite black ankle boots. I thought the outfit was suitably casual. I left work early, changed, and drove up to Walnut Creek. I arrived much earlier than I expected and so had over an hour to kill. I did some shopping (at Kohl’s – I know I am in rut) and got some food at a local gas station mini-mart. I arrived at the Starbucks about 10 minutes early, bought some water, and waited. Nobody there paid me much attention but I still sat there a little nervously waiting for Denise. A little sm28after 6, she walked in the front door and I waved at her.  She was easy to spot as she has beautiful long red hair and bright blue eyes. Her glasses were also quite distinctive. She greeted me warmly and we sat down to talk.

She had brought a book of containing photos of previous clients to show me more examples of her work. I really liked all the pictures. She asked me why I was doing it and I responded that it was mostly that I wanted some nice pictures of me. We talked about the shoot and how I wanted it to unfold. All my fears vanished.  She treated me just like any other client. The TG issue never came up. For someone who had never dealt with TGs, she was absolutely fantastic. I left our meeting trying to figure out what I had been worried about.  I had realized that Denise was someone I could trust in such an intimate setting and thus I could really do the photoshoot. I was feeling really good about it now.

At the meeting we had set a date in early May for the photoshoot and I was really starting to look forward to it. I put together a list of all the clothes I would need as well as some props we would need. For the Rene Faire scene, we agreed that the hotel bedspread would not look suitable and so I tracked down some really course  brown fabric (made from recycled soft drink bottles!!) that we could use to cover the bed. I found some candles that would give it some “mood”. For the construction worker I bought a tool belt and brought my “hard hat” that I had acquired years before. I arranged all the clothes in a garment bag and big suitcase. I ended up bringing way too much extra stuff (“is 3 extra sets of stockings too many?  How about 4 robes?” , you get the idea).

I also watched Denae’s video on “Photo Posing” to get ideas on posing (Denae is a former fashion model and so had lots of experience posing for the camera). The video gave me lots  of ideas.

Soon the date drew near, Friday May 5th. I often find that it takes me a little while to get my movement and voice into full “femme” mode and for the shoot I did not want to rush the transition.  I had some business travel that week and decided to the “extend” the trip so that I could spend at least 24 hours prior to the shoot in femme. When I returned from the trip I checked into a hotel near San Francisco airport and unpacked everything. It turned out there was a performance of the SF Symphony that night and, as readers of this blog know, going to the symphony and ballet are some of  my favorite things to do. They were performing pieces from “Early Beethoven” and given I like his work, I thought it was a great way to spend the evening. I had brought both a black and a blue skirt suit for the photo shoot and since I had already decided to wear the blue one for the photoshoot, I wore the black one for the Symphony. I added a cream silk blouse and some dressy sandals and was ready to go. I did not have time to buy a ticket on-line and so had to get one at the ticket window at Davis Hall. I stopped at the bar for a bottle of water and found my seat.

Overall I found the performance disappointing and was relieved when it was over. Evidently Beethoven’s skills developed a great deal over his career and his early works were simply not very inspiring to me. I left feeling like I should have just gone to a movie (it would have been cheaper).  I went back to my hotel and went to bed.

I awoke after a restless night and felt sort of tired. I was still sort of nervous about the shoot. I kept asking myself if I was really going to let Denise take pictures of me in my underwear but figured I was committed at this point. I also felt that it would really go okay and I had nothing to worry about.

The photoshoot was scheduled for 3pm and so I had much of the day free. I had wanted to wear a skirt that day and so brought along a nice brown corduroy one. I added another Kohl’s top and some flats. I checked out of the hotel and spent the morning shopping and having lunch. I needed to be in Walnut Creek (actually Concord since Denise changed hotels) by 3pm. I wanted a chance to shower before the shoot, change into fresh clothes, and redo my makeup . Unfortunately I could not use my hotel since it was after checkout time. I knew there was a shower facility at SF Airport and decided to try it out (in femme of course). I had a small suitcase and so looked like a typical weary traveler looking for a quick cleanup. The young woman at the shower greeted me warmly and showed me to my

private shower/changing area. It was only $15, a great deal for 30 minutes. I took a quick shower, put on clean clothes (crop pants with yet another Kohl’s top – I am truly in a rut), and was out the door. I decided that I was going to become a regular at that place, especially when going to SF for an evening event. It is much nice than changing in my car!!

I got on the freeway towards the Bay Bridge with an hour to spare. It was only 2pm and so I figured traffic would not be too bad….wrong.

I reached the bridge and stopped. I barely moved for 15 minutes. It was now 2:15, then 2:20 with little progress. We started moving a little faster and then stopped again. It was approaching 2:30 and I was barely on the bridge. I was starting to panic and felt all my femme composure slipping away. I figured it would take me at least 30 minutes to get to hotel from the bridge. I was almost ready to call Denise to let her know I would be late when things suddenly opened up and I got across the bridge. Driving slightly crazy I reached the hotel by about 2:55pm. I found a parking place, unloaded my stuff, and headed to the lobby to meet Denise. There was no turning back now…sm13

I have included a couple of pictures from the shoot. More will come in future posts.

Next time: the photoshoot.

robin

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