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

Southern Comfort Conference – a little background

Having written at length about the process of getting to the Southern Comfort Conference, it is now time to write about what actually happened once I got there. In some sense, nothing much “happened” to me at the conference but it was still very memorable time for me.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Southern Comfort Conference, I thought a bit of explanation would be helpful. If you are familar with SCC or other gender conferences, feel free to skip this posting.

SCC, as the conference is generally known, is perhaps the largest “gender” conference in the world. It is held once a year, usually in September, in Atlanta. It usually runs from Tuesday to Saturday. It has been going on for 20 years and has attracted up to 1000 or more attendees. In many ways it is typical of any type of conference, it is held at a nice hotel and has seminars, social events, and vendors selling their wares. The conference attendees usually does not take every room in the hotel and so there are typically many people at the hotel who are not associated with the conference and so the environment is very “mixed”.

What makes gender conferences interesting is the wide variety of TG people who show up. One really gets the whole spectrum at the conference. Most of the attendees are male to female crossdressers or transsexuals but there are an increasing number of “transmen” (female to male transsexuals). Some typical attendees include:

Crossdressers who pretty much never go out in public and for which the conference is their one chance to dress up in public. Some of these folks are pretty extreme in what they wear while others are conservative and dress in a very ordinary way. Many of these folks would never “pass” in public either because of body shape, choice in clothing, simply a general lack of interest in passing. For the conference is mostly an extension of their “closet.”

“Newbies” for which the conference is the first time they have appeared in public dressed as woman. They can be crossdressers venturing out the closet for the first time or early stage transsexuals trying to understand their situation (or both).

There are Crossdressers who are comfortable being in public situations and/or belong to support groups. They range from very passable to not passable at all. Most have worked to some extent on their appearance and feminine image. These folks often come just for the socials and to meet old friends although they may attend the seminars out of general interest or simply as a way of doing something en femme.

There are pre-op transsexuals in various phases of their transition. Some may already be living as women (or men for Female to Male) or thinking about it. They come, among other reasons, to meet with doctors who may perform some type of surgery on them such as Facial Feminization Surgery or Genital Reassignment Surgery. These folks are collecting information about life changing processes.

There are post-op transsexuals who may be there for to help run things, provide support, or simply to meet up with friends. They are also often politically active and involved with lobbying efforts to address discrimination against transgendered people.

There are spouses and significant others of attendees. These are most often genetic women who have some association with a TG woman. Some may be partners of transmen. The conference usually has special events just for them.

Finally, these days there are increasing numbers young people for whom their current and alternative gender is somewhat uncertain. For them gender is a much more of a fluid concept and for which the notion of “transitioning” is increasingly meaningless. This year I met a number of young people whose gender I could simply not determine.

There are also lots of people that don’t fit into one of these categories. You meet very large women who have fully transitioned but will never pass as a woman. These brave folks may have lost everything in their transition.

There are also part time crossdressers with faces and bodies that would be the envy of many generic women. Many have no interest in transitioning but are just having fun.

As I noted above, the format of the conference is much like any other conference. There are seminars, organized social events, vendors, and lots of free time for unstructured socializing. The seminars cover a range of topics including :

• Help to develop a more “feminine” style which includes movement, voice, fashion, makeup, etc.
• Lifestyle issues including how to transition, how to deal with work or family issues, TG sexuality, etc.
• Medical issues including surgery options, hormones, general health
• Political issues, including legislation, discrimination issues, etc.

The seminars occur during the day. In the evening there are a number of social events that allow people who may have never gone to a theater or restaurant “en femme” to do so. They pick places that are safe and accepting.

There are also special events such as the “pool party” which allows people to gather around the hotel’s pool wearing while wearing women’s swimsuits, pajama parties (all “girl” sleepovers), etc.. These are mostly intended to allow crossdressers who would never do these things in public to do so in a safe environment.

Finally there are formal dinners and dances which again allow attendees to get really dressed up in formal dresses or cocktail wear. Again, this provides an opportunity for attendees to do things in a “relative” public setting that they would never otherwise do.

In many ways the conference is just an excuse to provide that safe haven for crossdressers to escape (or expand) their closets. It may be once a year escape or a simply the first (or second) escape that leads to a life outside the closet. A lot depends on what the individual is looking for.

Gender conferences can be very entertaining, very helpful, or very strange depending on you viewpoint.

For me, gender conferences have usually been the cause of great emotional stress and I tend to avoid them like the plague.

Flying En Femme – The Trip Home

A lot happened at the SCC that I will cover in future posts but what I want to cover next is my trip home. Despite having a great trip en femme to Atlanta I decided not to fly back home in girl mode, at least not obviously so. I was tired and wanted less stress for the trip home. Besides I wanted to try another look.

I picked the third look I described previously: the ambiguous gender look. I still wore my wig and female/unisex clothes (jeans, top, and boots with a little heel) but that was it. No makeup, jewelry, or padding. I had my feminine styled notebook case but my purse was inside.  I used mannerisms and voice that were also in the middle between male and female. I was curious what the reactions of other people would be. Would I be read as male or female.?

My first reaction was when I returned by rental car to Avis. I drove into the return area, removed my suitcase, and waited for the agent to do the return paperworkk. The car was clearly in my male name, but the woman who checked my car in said:

“thank you for using Avis, Ms Jones”

Now that was unexpected and a pleasant surprise! I just love Avis agents.

The luggage check-in and security screening went smoothly. No extra inspections or questions this time but also no more “ma am”s. I purchased some dinner and noted that the pronouns were generally not used, just the generic “can I help you?” I boarded  the plane without incident. As I was sitting on the plane for the long ride home, I wondered what had triggered the extra inspections in SF? Was it the padding, the makeup, what? Was it the definite feminine appearance and male ID mismatch? Perhaps the agents picked up my nervousness when going through security? Was I just unlucky (but luckier than the woman behind me in line)? One can never know (sort of like whether you are passing or not) but it was interesting to think about.

I arrived back late into San Francisco and changed before heading home. All and all, it was a great trip that I never would have thought I could do. I am already planning another en femme trip soon, probably to Las Vegas as the airfare these days is really inexpensive. Its also close so that I don’t spend all the time on the plane. I will probably wear the same general outfit as I did for this trip. I will eventually go  really femme but not quite yet.

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.

A Brief Diversion – Going to the Symphony En Femme

I was going to post the next installment of my flying en femme trip but decided instead to post about going to the San Francisco Symphony last week. Going to the symphony en femme is one of my favorite things to do. A big part of it is that I like classical music and enjoy hearing it performed live. Another part is that the symphony (or opera or ballet) is one of the places that encourages getting dressed up. While lots of people wear casual clothes to the symphony, most people get dressed up to some degree. One finds few evening gowns or tuxes (except on certain nights) but there are many men and women who are dressed much nicer than usual. Thus its a great opportunity for escaping from the jeans and cords that I usually wear when I am out.  Another  reason I like the symphony is that it tends to attract more educated and tolerant people. Its unlikely you are going to run into rednecks or bigots at the symphony. More likely you will find folks who have refined taste, good manners, and relative sophistication, just my kind of people.

The SF Symphony occasionally performs at 2pm on Thursdays which makes it much easier to go than an evening performance. Fortunately I have a job with flexible hours and so taking off an afternoon to go to the symphony is  not a big deal. I can leave work at noon and be dressed and there by 2pm.

As I said, the symphony presents an opportunity for getting dressed up, although for afternoon performances more folks tend to be casual or at least in career-wear rather than evening-wear. I tend to wear a skirt suit when I go the symphony although I sometimes where a very nice dress. For evening performances most people wear black or perhaps dark blue (although there is always someone in jeans or in a brightly colored outfit). An afternoon performance allows a bit more color and so I wore my pumpkin blazer over a brown skirt and blouse. Its very “fall” and browns are good colors on me. I added some brown sandals with a moderate heel since I had some walking to do. It was a very “career” outfit and fit right in for an afternoon performance.

I actually arrived a little later than I wanted and so parked in a nearby parking garage. I did not have a ticket and so had to stop at the box office and buy one. I have done this enough times that I am very comfortable with the process. Sometimes I have will call ticket but most of the time I just buy it there. One of the first times I went to the symphony, maybe ten years ago,   a very nice gentleman came up to be and offered me his wife’s ticket! He told me his wife was ill and could not make it and I guess I felt safe offering it to me. I was thrilled both because the ticket was in a great location and it was sitting next to him! It was both a wonderful and awkward experience. I found myself sitting with a bunch of couples as his companion. He obviously knew all of them but was okay with me sitting there next to him. I kept waiting for him to make a pass at me or something like that but he was the perfect gentleman the whole time.  At intermission I got really nervous standing next to him trying to make small talk. Today it would be great fun but back then I was not so confident and just wanted to get away. I excused myself to go the ladies room and did not make it back until right before the performance started again. At the end of the performance I thanked him and left.  It was a great confidence boost in any case.

This time I was on my own to buy my own ticket. I asked the box office person for something in the second tier, which is very high up but relatively inexpensive. For the symphony it matters less where you sit since in Davies Hall one can hear the music very well almost anyplace. In addition all the musical pieces were unknown to me and so I did not want to spend lots of money listening to music I may  not like. I ended up with a $40 ticket on an aisle. I bought the ticket and presented it to the usher and went in. I was late and the performance had already started and so I made a stop in the ladies room to make sure everything was in place and then bought a bottle of water at the refreshment center.

When the first piece was finished I was allowed in and found my seat with the help of an usher.  I soon found myself sitting among almost a hundred little old ladies! I then remembered that the afternoon performances were popular with seniors since it was both in the daytime and less expensive than evening performances. There were rows and rows of them with nearly a man in sight. It was quite amusing. My brown hair really stood out amid all the gray/white hair.  I felt very young!

The rest of the performance, however, was less than thrilling . Like many performances these days, the SF Symphony conductor picked a number of more modern works to play first with older piece(s) being played after the intermission. You must sit through the tedious “modern”
 work in order to get the “good stuff” (your opionion, may of course, differ). The first piece which I missed was something that had been written in 1995. I don’t know what it sounded like but my experience with other such pieces leads me to believe I did not miss much.

The second piece was by Aaron Copeland and called the Organ Symphony. I had not heard it before but I was looking forward to it since I like other works by him such as the Grand Canyon Suite and Fanfare for the Common Man. Unfortunately I was not impressed by this particular piece. It seemed all sound and fury without much significance or melody. I was very disappointed. The audience seemed to agree as the applause was very tepid.

The intermission was after that the Copeland piece and I was ready for a break. The Davies Symphony Hall has multiple levels on which  one can wander about and since I was at the second teir, I went outside on a balconey-like structure that overlooks the streets. It  hold maybe 20-30 people. At night its really very beautiful as you can see the lights of the city and especially the dome of the City Hall. During the day it is less impressive. I went out there for awhile and sipped my water. Lots of people just stand there looking out and so I fit right in. Like most situations, it hard to say what people are thinking when they glance at you. For the most part, I received no reactions whatsoever and so felt just fine.

After the intermission the orchestra played Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. I have always liked his works but I have recently become a real fan of this symphonies. My favorites are the Third and Fifth but I also like the Sixth. His ballet works are moving beyond words. I had not heard the Fourth and was looking forward to it. After the tedium of the Copeland piece, I was looking forward to something wildly romantic. I moved seats to a better location, closer to the orchestra and a little less crowded. I found a mostly empty box and sat down in a row with only one another person, a woman about the same age as I. She acknowledged me as I sat down but that was about it since the music started almost immediately after I sat down. There were 4-5 people in the row behind me but they were mostly wrapped up in their own conversation and generally ignored me.

The music itself was okay. The Fourth Symphony is not likely to become a favorite but it was mostly pleasant to listen to.  It had enough romantic elements to brighten my spirits and make the trip worthwhile.

Once the music was over I headed out. I made the mistake of taking the stairs and by the time I reached the street the balls of my feet were hurting from the heels. They were mostly comfortable, especially in the arch, but the ball of one foot was really sore. I walked back to the parking garage and got my car. I headed out and soon got stuck in traffic. I stopped on the way home and did some shopping at Marshall’s and Ross but did not find anything I really liked enough to try on. I am looking for a new purse but did not find what I was looking for. From there I stopped at a 7-11 to get a sandwich since I it had been a long time since lunch.  I was wildly overdressed for the place but the clerk twice refered to me as “ma’am” which was nice to hear.

Overall, it was nice afternoon. It was fun to get out and do something I enjoy and doing it in girl mode made it even more pleasant. The music was mostly to my liking. All my encounters with people were good and I appeared to generate no unusual responses from anyone. Life does not get any better.

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.

Flying En Femme – Deciding to do it

I fly a lot on business, sometimes as much as 3-4 times a month. While I often explore my destination as Robin, getting there is always a boy mode experience. I have often thought it would be fun to fly as Robin but its always seemed  like a crazy idea to actually do it given all the security hoops we have to jump through. Before 9/11, when all we had to do was pass through a metal detector and get on the plane it would have been a lot easier (but I did not do it then either).

Earlier this year I got close to as Robin but backed out at the last minute, settling for wearing a woman’s sweater, pants, and boots but otherwise being in boy mode.  However for the trip to SCC this year, I decided it was time to get more adventurous and fly there “en femme” as the expression goes. For most part time TG people, this is really a big scary thing to think about doing. For me, it was both scary and not so scary. Let me explain why, starting with why would was not so scary.

 The simple answer is that I have already gone pretty much everyone in girl mode. As I said above I do a lot of traveling on business and often spend free time at my destination in girl mode. I have been to dozens of cities without incident. I have gone to shopping centers, museums, concerts, trade shows, and gas stations without a single negative experience. Closer to home I regularly go shopping, to the symphony, to Renaissance faires, to dinner, to Church, etc without a second thought and without anything bad every happening. I am pretty much “out” to the world (though not to my family). About the only place I don’t go is to clubs (especially TG clubs) and bars (my reasons are will be a topic for another day). I can truthfully say that I have never had a bad experience while out as Robin. I have found people all over the country to be either completely clueless (usually men) or accepting (usually women). While I would like to attribute this to my wonderful ability to “pass”, a lot of it is more likely a combination of cluelessness and graciousness on the part of others.

 Thus the notion of moving through the airport, interacting with airport personal, even sitting on the plane for hours was pretty much of a nonissue for me. Been there, done that (more or less).

 What made it scary is doing all this while showing my guy ID. I figured I would have to show it (or the ticket with my guy name on it) to at least 3 people: the ticket agent, the TSA security personnel, and the airline boarding agent. Since I needed a car to get to the SCC hotel, there would be the 1-2 people associated with the car rental company. Given that there are probably several people at the security check, there would now be at least 6 people who could connect my boy and girl selves.

 Six people turns out to be about double the number of people in the entire world who can connect my boy self and girl selves. I have been out in the world for decades and only 3 people know both my selves.  All of a sudden, a lot more people would know including some in a very legal capacity. Simply speaking, that is what made it so scary.

 I had all sorts of dreadful fantasies about what would happen when I presented by guy ID to some agent. I had fears of outright laughter, snickering, shock, hostility, etc. I worried about getting strip searched by TSA or perhaps somebody yelling “I got a crossdresser here” across the room (remember the scene in the old Woody Allen movie?). I had even darker fears of somebody getting my name and address and secretly blackmailing me.

 Rationally I figured the very worse they could do was to refuse me access to the plane, but it took lots of effort to be rational.

 At the same time, I felt that it was time to do something “new”. Frankly I have been stuck in a rut for years in terms of my girl mode activities. Its funny, when I was first thinking about going out in girl mode, my grandest fantasy was simply to walk down the street in daylight. If I could just do this, I thought, all would be grand. Years later, getting dressed, going to the symphony, and sitting among hundreds of people for hours are things I can do without a second thought. It has been years since I did anything I considered to be “risky” and clearly flying in girl mode qualified as “risky.”

 So have decided to go, the next step was getting ready to go.