Flying solo in Las Vegas – Part I

I have had a great last 10 days. I have been on  three wonderful outings in which I did things that I have wanted to for a long time but never either the courage or opportunity (or both) to do. In the matter of just 10 days I was able to do them. In the next couple of blogs I will describe my outings.

The first one  I want to describe is trip I took to Las Vegas in which I stayed as Robin from start to finish and did it all by myself. I have gone on other trips as Robin but always went accompanied by someone else who could handle any difficult situations that might arise. My goal this time was to go alone and deal with any problems without help.

About 2 months ago I noticed that one of my favorite rock groups was performing in Vegas and I really wanted to see them. They are all getting older and I had no idea how long they would continue to perform and so try to see them whenever I can. My BFF who accompanied me on the last Vegas trip, was unable to go and so the choice was skip the trip or go on my own. I decided it was time to fly solo (literally and figuratively). I booked the trip on Southwest and then bought the ticket. Unfortunately the theater at the Wynn only does “Will Call” tickets with government approved ID. That would make things difficult but I figured that if all else failed I could do a quick switch to boy mode and get the ticket.

The other issue was the hotel. Everytime I have checked into a hotel in Vegas (or anywhere these days) I have to show ID + credit card. However I found that many hotels  in Vegas now have checkin “kiosks” by which you can bypass the people at the front desk. You need to join their “total rewards” club ahead of time and give them other information but once you do, you can check in (and out) using the Kiosk. They did say something about getting your keys separately but again I figured, worst case, I do a quick boy mode switch.

Having everything booked, there was nothing to do but wait a few months. Finally the day drew near. I decided to pack lightly, unlike the last trip, and so packed only three outfits (for two days). I took a tunic and some leggings, a skirt and a top, and some jeans and a top. I took a sweater in case it was cold and some PJs. All girl clothes for the trip. It all fit in a small roller bag. I put my purse and computer in a shoulder bag so I could meet the two items carryon rules.

I had booked a 10:20 flight and so I had to be there by about 9am. I dropped my grandson off at school and headed to the airport. I changed on the way (in my car as I usually do) and arrived at the San Francisco airport a little after 9am. I had hoped to get there in time to use the less expensive long term lot but ended up in the daily lots ($35/day !) since I was a little later than I wanted. I got on the airtrain to the terminal only to find out it was running in some special mode and took the long way to my terminal. It was getting to be about 9:20 and I was still on my way to the terminal. As I began to panic, I got a text saying my flight had been delayed until 11:10 and so I now had lots of time. I relaxed and got off at Terminal 2. I left the train, and walked to security checkin. I have done TSA security in girl mode about 10 times now and never had any troubles and so I was not too worried. I did have a nightmare the night before in which Trump had changed the TSA rules regarding TGs as part of his plan to treat all LGBT people as second class citizens. I even got up to make sure the TG page on the TSA web site was still there (it was). Still I figured at worst I might get questioned.

Fortunately I have “precheck” which means no full body scanners. Just a quick ID check and a walk through the metal detector. The process was completely normal and the TSA agent did not look or say anything unusual. I was through in 30 seconds. At that point I visited the restroom, got some nuts and a soda for the trip, and sat down to wait. It was only 10:10 and so I figured I had an hour.

At that point my phone beeped again with a new text. My flight had been rescheduled back to its orginal time (10:20) and was boarding. I thought I was fine and looked at the board to see what my gate was. I then discovered I was in the wrong terminal. Southwest is in terminal 1 and I was in terminal 2. Fortunately the two terminals are connected and so I just had to run to the other terminal, a quick 5 minute run. Trying to run ladylike through an airport can be a trial but I made it to terminal 1 at 10:15. Unfortunately due to construction, terminal 1 is divided into two parts that are not connected and I was in the wrong part. Time to exit security and go through it again.

I still had some hope of making my flight as the line as the other TSA security checkpoint was short. Unfortunately the woman in front of me had all sorts of issues and took a while to get through security.  Once I got to the agent, he waved me through without any delay (twice in one day!!).

I finally got to my gate only to find my plane had left. I told the agent I got a message saying the flight was delayed and so took my time. He said not worry and they would reschedule me. I would now get a new “girl mode” experience… I went to the ticket counter and explained my problem. The Southwest agent could not have been nicer and had no evident reaction to this woman standing in front of him with a ticket in a man’s name. We chatted normally as he rebooked me on the next flight. He finally handed me my new ticket with the words “Have a nice flight Ms B..”. He totally made my day!!

I waited 90 minutes for the next flight, had lunch in the meantime, and just rested from all the running around. Eventually it was time to board and so I got in line. The ticket agent took my ticket without a hitch and soon I was on the plane. Takeoff was delayed a bit but we eventually left.

I arrived in Las Vegas an hour or so later, feeling really confident about things. I had dealt with a big mess the airport and everything turned out great. I was a little late but feeling really good about my ability to deal with problems. I was ready for anything. My first task was to get to the Wynn ticket office to get my ticket. I thought about catching a cab or a shuttle but that would have been expensive or take a long time. I thought it was time to try something else new: Uber. I had signed up for Uber a long time before but had never used it. It was easy to use and I quickly met the driver at the ride share pickup area. He helpfully loaded my bag in the trunk and we left the airport. We chatted normally on the trip over and he gave no indication his passenger was anything but what she appeared to be. He dropped me off at the Wynn and I looked for the ticket office.

Since I was feeling so brave, I decided to stay in girl mode and show the agent my boy mode ID to pick up the ticket. She greeted me, asked me for my ID, and walked away to get my ticket. She came back, gave me my ID and ticket, and said she hoped I enjoyed the show. I have no idea what she was thinking but our interaction was completely normal and pleasant. I was feeling really good now and was totally prepared for the hotel. I stayed at the LinQ hotel ($27/night + $30 resort fee) which is  about half a mile from the Wynn.

At the hotel I found the Kiosk and inserted my credit card to find my reservation. It asked me to insert my driver’s license and a credit card for expenses. I clicked a few icons and out popped my room key cards (!). I was registered and did so without leaving girl mode for a second. A few minutes later I was in my room where I collasped on the bed, feeling totally wonderful, tired, and safe all at the same time!! I had made in from San Francisco to my hotel in Vegas, overcome all sort of problems,  and had done it all as Robin.  The trip was off to a great start.

(to be continued)

 

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

Exploring Gender Perceptions on Airplanes, Part 2

Hi again.

As I mentioned in part one, I took a couple of trips in sort of “semi-femme” mode in which I wore relatively androgynous clothing and a wig but no makeup, padding, or other clearly feminine “indicators.” The clothes were a simple woman’s patterned t-shirt and jeans. The shoes were ankle boots but without much a heel and little overtly feminine about it. I wore my wig in a simple manner, pretty much straight with just a little curl. My goals were to “dress” but without the associated stress of trying to “pass” and also to see how people would react to me, given a somewhat androgynous look. I tried this out on two cross country flights. I wrote about the Miami trip last time, now I will cover the Boston one.

The t-shirt I wore was a “daisy fuentes” brand bought at Kohl’s. I really like the style and colors of this brand and have bought lots of them. They are mostly patterns of one kind or another. This one was blue, black, and white in sort of an abstract pattern. It was long sleeve. The jeans were black Gloria Vanderbilt ones I bought at my other favorite fashion place, Costco. The boots were black with really no heel at all.

The trip from SFO to Boston was generally uneventful. I got one ma’am (again at a food place in SFO), a couple of “sirs”, but mostly genderless responses. The only really interesting test is when I picked up my rental car and had to present my license. My picture had short hair and I had long hair but the Avis counter person did not say anything.

The trip home was a lot more interesting. I was fortunate enough to get an exit row seat with no seats at all in front of us. I was a little late getting on the plane and so I rushed on with my suitcase and computer bag. I knelt in front of my seat and was unpacking things when a flight attendant came up to me and asked “Miss, can I help you with something?” This was a really nice surprise (especially the “miss” part). I looked up and smiled at her and responded in my best femme voice, “thanks, but I think I have everything under control” and then sat down. I figured she would discover her error shortly but I was in for another surprise. There was a woman sitting next to me and soon the same flight attendant came back to give us the “exit row” speech and ask for our agreement that we would help in an emergency. She looks at both of us and says “Are you ladies prepared to help us in an emergency by opening the emergency exit doors?”. I was really, really surprised. How could she not notice??? I could understand making the mistake when I was kneeling and looking down but to do it again while looking straight at me, unbelievable (but really, really nice). I smiled at her and said I agreed and she moved on to the next row. For the rest of the 5 our flight I made sure to demonstrate female body language and voice whenever I interacted with her. I also went in the bathroom and applied a little light foundation to hide whatever stubble might appear during the rest of flight. I did not want to embarrass the nice lady.

The experiences on the two flights really made me wonder what are the cues that people rely on to decide whether whether the person in front of them is male or female. I really thought I was presenting far more male than female. The clothes were slightly feminine, but not overtly so (i.e. no florals, neutral colors, pants not a skirt/dress, etc.). Many guys have longish hair and so that was not a definite signal. My face and body are not very feminine, although my height is within normal bounds for women. My body language was more feminine than male (partly naturally, partly by intent), in particular the way I stood, held my hands, and played with my hair. Maybe there was enough clues suggesting female for people to draw that conclusion. I am still very surprised at the reactions from the various people.

I will try again on my next flight.

Robin

Playing with gender while flying

Hi

This is Robin and I am an occasional poster to Denae’s blog. I have not posted for awhile but Denae asked to post some of my more recent adventures since she thought they might be interesting to others.

I travel a lot on business and its usually to the East Coast, either Boston or Miami. These are long, boring trips and one can only do so much work. As I have written about in the past, I have gone “en femme” on some of these flights and have had no problems with the TSA or with airlines. When I go en femme, I tend to go pretty casual (t-shirts and jeans) but with lots of female “indicators”, such as wig, makeup, breast/hip pads, purse, jewelry, etc.. I want people to take a quick look, see all sorts of things normally associated with women and assume I am one. I have found this all works and so I have no troubles with anyone.

On a couple of recent flights, I wanted to see what would happen if I went with a more androgynous look. I also wanted to have the fun of “dressing” but with a lot less work. My clothes were pretty much my normal t-shirt and jeans with ankle boots. The ankle boots don’t have much of a heel and so are not overtly women’s boots. The t-shirt had a pattern but was also not overtly feminine (e.g. not floral). I wore my normal wig which goes a little beyond the collar and is mostly straight. It has a little wave to it but not much of one. I did not wear any makeup, padding, jewelry, etc.. I carried my normal computer bag but did not have my purse. About the only overtly thing was my wig, but even that was sort of androgynous.

I tried this on two round trip flights, one from SFO to Miami and the other from SFO to Boston.

For the first flight, I went through security without any problem. My hair was longer than my picture ID, but that is probably true for lots of people (I think my picture is 15 years old anyway). I stopped at a lunch place so I could eat before getting on the flight. As I stood in line, the person at counter looked at me and said “I will be with you in a moment, ma’am.”  I was sort of surprised at her remark, so surprised that when she got to me, I ordered in my male voice. She sort of did a double take but took my order without any further ado. I got a “thank you sir”. If I wasn’t so surprised, I would have used my female voice and played along. This was my first indication that things might be more interesting that I thought.

The trip to Miami itself was pretty uneventful. I did notice that the flight attendants and others seemed to avoid using gendered references when speaking to me, but I may have been a little too sensitive about it (though I usually get “sir’ed” from them normally). When I got to Miami, I checked my rental car without incident. For the flight home, I dressed pretty much the same way. The TSA was its normal neutral self. When I ordered food, I got a “ma’am” and this time responded in my female voice. The trip home was without incident although I did get some longer than usual stares along the way.

The trip to Boston was a lot more interesting and I will write about it next time.

Robin

Exploring Gender Perceptions on Airplanes – Part 1

Hi

I travel a lot on business and its usually to the East Coast, either Boston or Miami. These are long, boring trips and one can only do so much work. As I have written about in the past, I have gone “en femme” on some of these flights and have had no problems with the TSA or with airlines. When I go en femme, I tend to go pretty casual (t-shirts and jeans) but with lots of female “indicators”, such as wig, makeup, breast/hip pads, purse, jewelry, etc.. I want people to take a quick look, see all sorts of things normally associated with women and assume I am one. I have found this all works and so I have no troubles with anyone.

On a couple of recent flights, I wanted to see what would happen if I went with a more androgynous look. I also wanted to have the fun of “dressing” but with a lot less work. My clothes were pretty much my normal t-shirt and jeans with ankle boots. The ankle boots don’t have much of a heel and so are not overtly women’s boots. The t-shirt had a pattern but was also not overtly feminine (e.g. not floral). I wore my normal wig which goes a little beyond the collar and is mostly straight. It has a little wave to it but not much of one. I did not wear any makeup, padding, jewelry, etc.. I carried my normal computer bag but did not have my purse. About the only overtly thing was my wig, but even that was sort of androgynous.

I tried this on two round trip flights, one from SFO to Miami and the other from SFO to Boston.

For the first flight, I went through security without any problem. My hair was longer than my picture ID, but that is probably true for lots of people (I think my picture is 15 years old anyway). I stopped at a lunch place so I could eat before getting on the flight. As I stood in line, the person at counter looked at me and said “I will be with you in a moment, ma’am.”  I was sort of surprised at her remark, so surprised that when she got to me, I ordered in my male voice. She sort of did a double take but took my order without any further ado. I got a “thank you sir”. If I wasn’t so surprised, I would have used my female voice and played along. This was my first indication that things might be more interesting that I thought.

The trip to Miami itself was pretty uneventful. I did notice that the flight attendants and others seemed to avoid using gendered references when speaking to me, but I may have been a little too sensitive about it (though I usually get “sir’ed” from them normally). When I got to Miami, I checked my rental car without incident. For the flight home, I dressed pretty much the same way. The TSA was its normal neutral self. When I ordered food, I got a “ma’am” and this time responded in my female voice. The trip home was without incident although I did get some longer than usual stares along the way.

The trip to Boston was a lot more interesting and I will write about it next time.

Robin

Flying En Femme 2012 – Trouble in Atlanta and Getting to Boston

Hi again, this is Robin and here is the next part of my extended “flying en femme” adventure.

While our trip from San Francisco was completely uneventful, trouble awaited us in Atlanta.

Unfortunately Denae’s luggage had failed to arrive and was not even present in the computer system. It had disappeared and Denae was without any clothes beyond those she was wearing. We ended up at the baggage counter in Atlanta trying to figure out what happened. Denae was understandably upset but I tried to remain calm as I have traveled enough to know these problems usually work out okay. The Delta baggage people were very professional and helpful and offered to buy Denae an outfit if her bag did not arrive in time for her seminars. Denae had to fill out all sorts of paperwork which took a while. During the whole time I kept looking at my watch as my Boston departure time neared. After all the paperwork was done, one of the baggage clerks thanked me for remaining calm and positive throughout the whole process. I smiled at her in response and thanked her for all her help.  I walked Denae to the shuttle area for the ride to the hotel and I headed back to the TSA inspection area. By this time, my departure time was close and given that things had gone so well at San Francisco, I decided I would stay en femme for the next leg of my trip. I was sort of rushed and that actually made the decision easier.

There was a short line at the TSA inspection area and so I had only a little wait. I kept checking my watch but still had enough time. Finally I got to the TSA id checker. I gave him my boarding pass and male id. He looked at it, at me, at it, at me, and then signed it. Again, no problem!! I repeated the whole computer, belt, 1 quart bag, etc. routine and then headed to the full body scanner. I was waved in, raised my hands over my head, and let the machine do its thing. I stepped out and this time the inspector stepped towards me. I figured I would get the full treatment this time, but the TSA agent simply touched the back of my head near the band of my wig. She quickly figured out it was just a wig and waved me past. I gathered my things and headed toward my gate. I found I had actually more time than I expected and so I stopped in a “family restroom” where I refreshed my makeup since it had been almost 10 hours since I had applied it in San Francisco and it was looking a little worn. From there I went to my gate and boarded the plane. Again, the gate agent took my ticket, scanned it, and gave it back without any noticeable reaction. The plane was only half full and so I had a full row to myself. It was late and so the plane was kept dark throughout the whole flight. The flight took a couple of hours.

As we neared Boston I thought about the next steps. I had a car reservation and hotel reservation. I knew I had to be in boy mode for the hotel check in since the hotel is the one most people in my company stay at when visiting Boston and so I was likely to bump into one of my coworkers (although it would be late when I arrived). The rental car would likely be okay to be done en femme but I was tired at that point and really was not up for another test. I really did not want to change all the way back into boy mode and so I ended up going part way. In the darkness of the plane I removed my jewelry and breast forms. As I exited the plane, I stayed femme but a little less so. Once in the terminal I found another family restroom and removed my makeup and switched to a more gender neutral top. I also put my purse inside my computer case. I kept my wig on as well as my shoes (they were also fairly gender neutral). I then proceeded to the rental car pickup area where I got my car. I pushed my wig back a little for the car checkout process and was on my way.

It was actually sort of an interesting experience moving gradually from girl to boy mode. The changes were actually fairly minor: breast size, makeup, mannerisms, voice, purse. Hair and clothing can be very gender neutral. As I discovered a long time ago, at least for me, the change between male and female does not require a lot of effort. It is more a matter of certain externals and a slight shift of mannerisms and voice.

I eventually arrived at the hotel very late and checked in without a problem. I did not encounter any co-workers.

The business part the next day went fine although it was really tight getting back to the airport. I did not have time to change but still had all my girl things in my carry on bag. My 1 quart, clear plastic bag had makeup and makeup remover in addition to my normal boy items but I doubted anyone would notice (they didn’t). The one worry I did have was my breast forms. I figured I could either leave them in my bag and hope for the best or just take them out and put them next to my shoes and clear plastic bag on the xray belt. They were in their own little cloth bag and so I decided I would just take them out. I put everything on the belt and went to the full body scanner. I passed again (without nearly as much sense of accomplishment as before) and went over to pick up my things. The breast forms had passed xray inspection without a problem. I took everything and packed it up and headed to the gate.

This was actually a very helpful experiment. I often don’t pack full femme outfits when I travel since I don’t want to check my suitcase if I don’t need to but have been hesitant about putting breast forms through the scanners. In the future I won’t worry.

The trip back to Atlanta went fine but yet another adventure awaited me there.

Next Post: Outed!!!

Flying En Femme 2012 – From San Francisco to Atlanta

Hi again

This is Robin with the next segment of my recent Flying En Femme adventure. This part covers the trip from San Francisco to Atlanta.

Denae’s and my flight was scheduled to leave on Wednesday at 11:30am and since we were coming from different directions, agreed to meet at the Delta baggage check-in counter around 10-10:15am. I arrived a little early with my suitcase, computer bag, and purse in tow. I decided to be brave and check in the luggage myself. I stood in a short line and when I reached the front I walked up to the counter and gave the man my boarding pass and  my male id and waited to see what would happen next. Just as I had found two years ago, exactly nothing happened. He typed into his computer, took my suitcase, gave me back my boarding pass and id, and wished me a good flight. It was much the same as the hundreds of other times I checked luggage. I had made it through the first test.

Denae was late arriving at the airport due to problems with her ride from Santa Cruz and did not arrive until almost 10:45. We rushed to get her luggage checked which would be the cause, as we would discover in Atlanta, of her luggage not arriving.

Once that was done, it was TSA time. We walked to the security checkpoint and after standing in a short line reached the TSA agent. We both gave him our boarding passes and ids. He stared at them a long time and I began to worry. He then flipped the boarding passes and ids and all was well. Denae and I had somehow switched boarding passes which further confused the poor agent (since Denae and I look nothing alike). Once that  was clarified, he checked the ids, wrote on each boarding pass, and indicated we could proceed to the inspection area. Once there I repeated the drill I have done hundreds of time: remove computer from its bag, remove shoes and belts, remove the 1 quart bag with your “fluids and gels”, and put them all on the belt for the xray machine. This time I added a few extra items to the belt such jewelry and my purse. I then approached the full body scanner.

The agent asked me to step inside the scanner and raise my arms above my head. It was a little scary since the scanner could see “everything” but also sort of liberating. Based on Kimberly’s report, I fully expected to get called aside to get patted down. Much to my surprise the agent simply said “thank you ma’am, you can gather your things”. No inspection, no pat down, that was it!!

I felt really good at that point, thinking the worst was over. Denae also got through inspection without any problems. Fortunately our gate is near the inspection station and so we didn’t have far to walk. While we are waiting I bought some food for the trip and visited the ladies restroom. The last step was to get on the plane. We were in the last boarding group since I don’t normally fly on Delta and so did not have the option for priority boarding. We approached the ticket agent and I gave her my ticket. She scanned it, up popped my boy name, and she handed me back my boarding pass with a smile. Everything was going very well.

The flight to Atlanta was entirely uneventful, much like almost every flight I have taken. Denae and I planned her seminars, I worked on my work presentations, and we generally rested. Four and half hours later we arrived in Atlanta and made our way to the baggage claim area. I had allocated a couple of hours between our arrival and my departure for Boston. I figured we would get our luggage and I would get Denae on a shuttle to the airport. Depending on how the boarding process had gone in San Francisco I figured I could always change back into boy mode for the flight to Boston.

Unfortunately things would not be that simple..

Next Post: Trouble in Atlanta and my trip to Boston

Flying En Femme 2012 – Getting Ready

Hi folks,

This is Robin, Denae’s assistant here at Femimage and occasional contributor to this blog.

Denae and I recently attended the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta, Georgia. For those of you who are not familiar with SCC, it is the largest gathering of transgendered people in the United States and probably the world. It is held in Atlanta every September and has been going on for at least 20 years.

Denae was presenting two seminars at the conference as well as doing private consults with interested attendees. I went along to help with the logistics of things and to keep Denae on schedule. We planned to fly to Atlanta on Wednesday which would give us a chance to rest on Thursday before the seminars on Friday and Saturday. It would also give me a opportunity for an extended time in girl mode.

While I had flown “en femme” two years ago to attend an earlier SCC conference (which I wrote about here: https://ptrobin.wordpress.com ), I had not done so since. While the earlier trip was completely uneventful, much to my surprise,  soon after the trip airport security become much tighter including the widespread use of full body pat downs and/or full body scanners at nearly every airport. It was frankly a lot more intimidating and so I had avoided doing so again since the initial trip.

Still, those few folks who did write about traveling “en femme” or “flying pretty” reported few problems with the new procedures. Kimberly Huddle recently wrote a long blog entry about doing do (http://kimberlyhuddle.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-fly-pretty.htm) and indicated she had encountered few problems, except perhaps, for regular pat downs by female TSA agents after the body scanner detected the breast forms she wore. Since Kimberly “flies pretty” on a regular basis this gave me some confidence to try it again. I figured at very worst, I would also get a pat down.

The plan was thus for Denae and I to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Atlanta on Wednesday and return on Saturday after her second seminar. We booked the flights and all seemed in place. I figured two flights during which time I have Denae for support would be okay. Unfortunately my regular job intervened with the need for me to be in Boston on Thursday for a series of meetings. Hence my two flight adventure suddenly turned into a four flight one. I would fly with Denae to Atlanta and then catch a flight Wednesday evening to Boston. I would attend my meetings on Thursday and then fly back to Atlanta Thursday evening. It would be a long trip but I could deal with it. The only issue would be that I would need to bring some boy clothes to wear for the Boston part of the trip. I would send my regular suitcase with Denae to the hotel while I took a small bag to Boston. All seemed doable.

For the trip from San Francisco, I decided to go with my typical femme outfit: patterned t-shirt like top and jeans, comfortable shoes, brown purse, wig, simple makeup, little bit of jewelry, and breast forms. I skipped the hip pads since they would clearly show up on the full body scanner and getting a pat down there could be a lot more awkward.  I added a light sweater since it was chilly at the San Francisco airport and could be on the plane as well. I was able to fit all my clothes for the trip (a second pair of jeans, a skirt, more tops, pajamas, underwear, and a couple pairs of shoes) into a small check-on bag. I even included lots of Denae’s DVDs for sale at the show. I was proud of myself that it all fit!

Next Post: From San Francisco to Atlanta

Flying En Femme – Arrival and Rental Car Fun

This is the last installment of my flying en femme journey to Atlanta. I will have one more post about my trip home.

After I arrived in Atlanta I retrieved my luggage and headed for the Avis rental counter. I fly often on business and am a member of Avis “Preferred” service which means they have all your information on file and hence there is often no need to stand in any line. You go to a special area and find your name on the display with a parking place location next to it. You can go to the car where your paperwork and key are waiting. You just need to show it to the guard at the gate and you are off. It saves hours at the airport.

That is how it is supposed to work and how I was hoping it would work. I had planned that my only human contact would be 20 seconds at the gate with me sitting in the car and the guard doing his normal quick check on things. Given how well things had gone in San Francisco I thought this would a piece of cake.

It was not to be.

I headed over to the Preferred area and was met with a virtually blank display, 20 people in line, one clerk, and virtually empty parking area (i.e. almost no cars available). It was not going to be as easy as I planned. Still I remained calm in my new found confidence. It was a little daunting though.

For the next 40 minutes I stood in a long line of mostly impatient businesspeople (mostly men) as we inched forward. The only thing that made it enjoyable was the handsome gentleman behind me with whom I talked for much of the time. We bemoaned the line, especially how we “frequent travelers” did not need this kind of delay. We swapped travel stories and were both amused by the very large man (at least 6’6” and 250 pounds) in front of us who was wearing size 16+ neon yellow sneakers and by his equally large (male) friend who was carrying a very small matching neon yellow purse!! The combination of matching shoes and purse on two very macho looking guys was really very funny. I still wonder what was going with the purse…

Eventually I reached the gate and handed my male ID to the agent and told her I had a reservation. She took my ID without a word, did some typing, printed out my contract, and handed both back to me with the words:

 “Thank you for selecting Avis and we apologize for the delay, MA’AM!!

 Thank YOU Avis !!

 Once again I was pleasantly surprised but less than before with the airline and TSA. I was finding that nobody really cared, just like I had been told. I had learned this lesson previously when I first out in public and every time after that. Most people are either unaware or simply do not care how you look. They either look briefly and conclude “female” or look more carefully and figure something is not right but don’t care (beyond idle curiosity). They have their own lives and worries and are not spending their time wondering if you are a boy or girl.

 I headed to my car, loaded my luggage, and drove to exit gate. This should be the easy part, I thought. I reached the exit, handed my contract and ID to the gate guard and waited. He looked at it, verified it was the right car, matched my ID to the contract, gave them both back to me, and said:

“thank you for selecting Avis”

It was the easiest thing I did all day.

I drove off feeling wonderful. I had made it all the way from San Francisco to Atlanta en femme and absolutely nothing bad had happened. Everyone had been very polite and professional.

The next stop was the Southern Comfort Conference hotel. I did not expect it to be a big deal as the hotel staff was already dealing with hundreds of TG people in a wide variety of looks. I do recall seeing a rather large person in a pink frilly dress checking in and the desk staff being completely cool and professional. After that I was a complete nonissue for them and checked in without a problem.

Flying En Femme – Getting on the Plane

After getting through TSA security, I was feeling really good and added few more feminine touches: a little more makeup and some earrings. I made a stop at the ladies room and used the mirror to brush my hair into a much more feminine style. I felt things were going really well, far better than I had dreamed.

It was going to be a long flight to Atlanta and so I decided to get some food before getting on the plane.  I stopped up at a little sandwich shop and after picking out a sandwich headed for the checkout stand where I was met by a middle aged female clerk who as nicely as possible said:

“Will there be anything else SIR?”

Ouch…..So much for the good feelings…

I smiled at her, asked for a diet Coke, paid her, walked away toward the gate. I was determined not to let myself get rattled. I told myself “one cannot pass all the time, everyone gets read at times”. I sort of believed it and it made me feel better. After a short wait, my zone was called and I got in line. One last test remained.

I handed my ticket to the agent, she scanned it into the machine, gave it back to me, and said “have a nice flight”. The machine displayed my guy name but it seemed a total nonissue (except, perhaps, for the guy behind me in line as my name was clearly evident!).

Once again a big nothing. I was really wondering what I was so concerned about. Why exactly had I not slept the night before? 

I sat down in my seat and finally started to relax a little. I had done it. Here I was on the flight as Robin. Everything had gone better than I could have possibly hoped but my stomach was still in knots. I suspected it was mostly leftover anxiety and lack of sleep but I found it hard to fully relax. The person sitting next to me fell asleep soon after takeoff and so I was mostly left alone in my thoughts. I took a short nap and felt better.

What really got me relaxed was something that occurred a few hours into the flight soon after the flight attendants had finished with meal service. They had, for some odd reason, skipped the entire row I was in. I went back to let them know and was greeted with:

“hello ma’am, can we help you?”  

 I could have kissed them, right then and there.

 Instead I smiled and  told them they had skipped our row and they immediately apologized. I returned to my seat and they appeared shortly there after to provide drinks and snacks. I was felt much better the rest of the flight. I read some, talked to the passenger next to me, and generally enjoyed myself.

Everything had gone so well. Only one test remained.

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