Monday, August 5, 2019

A Special Trip


Friends give you strength -- which is especially valuable when facing new challenges. This weekend two close friends, Suzanne and Patti, ushered me into a new world.

It was Suzanne's idea. Understanding me better than myself, she suggested we do some novel activities during my visit to her home near Toronto. At first she started with the prospect of a mani-pedi (which I've never had despite wearing polish on my toes 24/7). Later she talked me into getting a professional makeup session (instruction and application). Finally she coaxed me into doing something I've always dreamed about but never done -- appear in public dressed as a woman. Whew!

It took some deliberation to say yes. Could I muster the courage for this? What if... what if a dozen bad things happened -- which, of course, they could. Not all members of society understand or care about transgender people. And because I can't "pass" (a TG term meaning pass unnoticed as a person of the presented gender), my breach of gender rules is manifest. Sticking out in public areas can dangerous regardless of what causes you to be noticed; add intolerance and life can be precarious for folks like me.

Then again, when else am I going to get an opportunity to live authentically? At my age I don't want to die without experiencing feelings of walking down the street in a dress, adjusting its hem, checking my makeup. I want to have common female experiences so badly that I'm inclined to throw caution to the wind at this point in my life. Even if I have to brave discomfort and opprobrium to get them.

So, yes we did it! We got our fingers and toes painted bright colors, shopped while displaying visible signs of femininity, got makeup instruction from a pro (Jamie), put on pretty clothes, visited a public park, took lots of pictures and capped festivities off with a delicious dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. Yay!

There were two reactions I got which were completely unexpected. One was from another person, the second was from myself.

We went to a nail salon (Suzanne's regular one) and ordered mani-pedis. I was dressed in normal male clothes and asked for bright purple polish. The 50-year old Asian woman getting ready to do my feet was so surprised at my request that she started giggling. She quickly looked down to suppress her laughter but that only made it worse. Soon she was laughing out loud, still avoiding my eyes, concerned about offending me. I reassured her that her reaction was fine; I wasn't upset at her response and said I understood how, from her cultural perspective my act could be considered comical. After that she calmed down and we got on with our business. Perhaps our encounter opened her mind a little.

The second unexpected reaction occurred within me. After the makeup session and putting on a dress, we went for a walk in a nearby public park. It was a beautiful Summer day and the park was crowded. We walked among other visitors. The weird thing was... I felt naked. NAKED. Outdoors. In front of other people. It was seriously disconcerting.

I examined the feeling and realized it came from my brain. I kept checking my body and confirmed there were clothes on it. Female clothing, but clothes. Finally I realized what was causing the feeling -- the absence of a physical sensation. When dressed as a man, I always have a belt holding up pants or shorts and the belt tightens around my waist. Wearing a dress that hung down from my shoulders, there was no constriction around my waist -- which communicated to my mind that I wasn't wearing clothes.

With this realization I consciously overrode my brain's conclusion and told myself I wasn't naked. But the feeling did trigger an emotion -- vulnerability. Imagine how you'd feel walking down a public street naked; that's where my mind was spinning. After an hour I calmed down and my confidence returned. All in all, a valuable learning experience -- which is exactly what I was hoping for. Doing something new and extreme, you want to learn from the experience and that usually includes unexpected insights.

I'm deeply grateful to Suzanne and Patti for encouraging me to move concretely in this direction. There's an ancient saying that "when the student is ready, a teacher will appear." Stepping out made me very happy. And enjoy a rare sense of freedom.

I have deeper thoughts which I'm developing for later but now I just want to share this momentous news with you. And thank Suzanne and Patti for assisting me in my life's journey.

That Suzanne -- she's a force of nature! Fortunately she uses her power for good, not evil. :-)























65 comments:

  1. Ally this is amazing! You looked beautiful and I'm so proud of you for stepping into new territory and yes I can imagine the vulnerability. I knew you'd have some amazing support from those ladies though and I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you process this a little bit more. But seriously - you were gorgeous in that dress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Beth. I was anxious about how good/bad I'd look. I was aiming for not-awful. The result far exceeded my expectations.

      Delete
    2. Wow! Reading this was what I needed today! I've been kinda down on my appearance, but I'm able to ride through it oftentimes by seeing joy in other girls like me.

      So glad you had support and took the plunge. I do know it's a life-changing event. And, I must say...that dress you wore is stunning on you! Congrats!

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the nice words, Shannyn!

      Delete
  2. You looked beautiful! I can see how you would feel anxious, but honestly I think you should be true to yourself, but do understand that you may want to pick the moments, time and place and feel safe. I hope you find more opportunity to do this and that you explore more. You looked fabulous lovely! Hair, make-up, dress, shoes, you looked divine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Darlene. I'm following your suggestion.

      Delete
  3. Ally, you look incredible! And seriously, this hair and make-up? You totally would pass, and did, obviously! I'm so very proud of you for doing this, and for trusting Patti and Suzanne to shepherd you along. I'm also very grateful to them for helping you get to this place.

    HUGS! to you, you gorgeous thing!

    I am looking forward to more introspection about this experience. The idea of feeling naked is interesting, and one I didn't expect (we do wear belts and waisted things!), but it makes sense. There aren't a lot of male clothes that aren't waist-contricting in some way.

    Happy week to you, my dear! I hope you float on this high for a long time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sheila. I'm still on Cloud Nine. There are dozens of thoughts flying through my brain. Lots of food to digest.

      Delete
  4. LOVE!! You look fantastic... love the coloring the makeup artist did -suits you perfectly. And such wonderful friends! Having good friends makes us more daring, I think, and unabashed to be our true selves. So happy you have these magnificent women in your life! And took the chance to have this experience with them, and hopefully more opportunities to be your amazing self!

    PS I used to hate wearing dresses through all my childhood and teens and even most of my college years. It wasn't until I started sewing that I wore and fell in love with dresses. There is a period of adjustment to the way they feel compared to pants and other types of clothing. But honestly, it's hard to go back after you get used to that free legs feeling!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right on both subjects. I never would have done this without a caring friend nudging along every step of the way. And once you get used to dresses and skirts, you really like the feeling.

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful experience, Ally! I'm so proud of your friends for their encouragement. I'm glad you were able to have that experience in good company. I think you certainly "passed" and had you been a stranger on the street I would have merely thought "what a well dressed lady!" Because truly your heart shines through in these pictures.

    I hope your wide circle of frienda helpa to continue to embrace you and give you experiences that let you embrace the whole person you are. Experience is what makes life worth living.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Megan. You are so right about friends and experiences. I crave both and hope to stuff my remaining years with them.

      Delete
    2. Many many years to come! We still hafta hang out again. ;)

      Delete
  6. Ally! This is such a beautiful post, I’m so happy for you and kudos to Suzanne for encouraging you! You’re such a beautiful woman, and I’m glad that you were able to do this. These photos are all amazing, I love the ones with you showing off your nails and the one on the bridge, that is a genuine smile!��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sara. I couldn't conceal my bubbling joy if I wanted to!

      Delete
  7. I am so proud of your courage to get past your own internal cautions. We put those in place in our own brains to "fit into" whatever the norm is. Stepping outside that can, indeed, be terrifying. So very happy for you having done this and enjoyed the heck out of the experience! Go forth and conquer and have FUN!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! We all limit ourselves and can all loosen those chains.

      Delete
  8. You look beautiful, amazing and happy! Dress is beautiful and perfect artistry on the makeup. Very flattering and I love it! What a fantastic experience and brava for trusting your inner voice and courage to be your authentic self. A great example to follow! For everyone to Honor themselves.... To be at peace is to accept all of who we are, inside and out...that truly honors ourselves and is true happiness. For we are perfect exactly as we are and are beautiful exactly as we are. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it with me and others. You're such a great writer as always! I love you and am filled with joy for your, Ally!!! Much love to you! ❤️❌⭕

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so unbelievably happy to read this! I have often wondered why you haven't been yourself (AKA Ally) when you have met fellow blog friends but this is wonderful that Suzanne and Patti encouraged you to have this wonderful experience. You look utterly beautiful in your outfit, make-up and hair and I am so glad you were able to experience these new sensations and feelings in such a positive way!!xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kezzie. My life is a high-wire act and I do the best I can.

      Delete
  10. I had to laugh seeing your closed shoes after all that effort and laughter conquering!
    I like the darker hair and the figure forming dress.
    But mostly praise to you for just letting go and jumping. Isn't ageing grand?!
    So much love, Jazzy Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. We leap into the void, not really knowing what will happen.

      Delete
  11. Firstly, you look beautiful Ally. Radiant, even. Love your hair and makeup and the dress is just perfect.

    Secondly - I am incredibly proud of you. What you've done, taking the first steps to showing the world at large your authentic self, took tremendous courage.

    Your description of feeling "naked" makes complete sense to me. You stripped away the confines of presenting yourself as a man, and said "LOOK AT ME, THIS IS WHO I AM!" I truly admire your ability to do this, to be yourself unabashedly.

    So. Proud. Of. You.

    You are inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rachael. YOU share some of the credit for this. YOU have inspired me in many ways at many times. I couldn't be here if you hadn't helped me along the way.

      Delete
  12. You looked stunning! Kudos to you and your awesome friends!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ally that’s huge! I am so happy for you! You did great! You are beautiful! I admire your courage. You should do that again. I wonder if skirt is easier to pull. Lots of love to you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm so happy for (and proud of) you! This took some serious courage- and you DID IT! Plus, you rock that dress!

    You're also so kind and open to share your story/thoughts/feelings/realness here in this space. It's a beacon for others!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ashley. I appreciate your nice words. You're an inspiration to me, too.

      Delete
  15. You look beautiful! Everthing is perfect. When I saw the first photograph, I thought: o there are three ladies with him. Slowly I realised that one of them is you!
    How great to have such friends, you were safe and protected by their love. You were very brave! Big hug from Holland! Ellen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was exactly the effect I was hoping to create with the sequence of the photos. Thanks, Ellen.

      Delete
  16. It was a real joy to have the opportunity to experience this with you.

    I'm so happy you took the plunge and went for it.

    Hugs
    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh Ally, I am absolutely thrilled for you. I applaud you for taking the plunge to appear in public dressed as a woman. That must have taken some courage! And you know what, I think you actually did pass. All I can see in that opening photo is three gorgeous ladies - girlfriends! having a good time! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for such kind words. Truthfully, in person I don't pass because of my large size and disproportionate body-shape (big shoulders, chest and arms). Which is okay as long as observers aren't hostile and willing to just leave me alone. Yes, I was happy, very happy.

      Delete
  18. What a wonderful post, and what awesome friends you have!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ally, you are so beautiful and I am so incredibly proud of you—I really am. This could not have been easy and you did it. You finally did it and you can cross it off the life bucket list and the best thing to come of this is that NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. I hope this experience continues to give you confidence. Yay for awesome girlfriends who encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone. That’s what friends are for!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Charlotte. Everything you say is perfect!

      Delete
  20. about bloody time don'tcha think Ally??? :) good on ya. I bet it felt great and you have just opened a doorway that will never close :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. passing is a mindset remember that always!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and this is a complex subject. My belief is that opinions of strangers don't count, certainly not to the point of limiting our freedom of self-expression.

      Delete
  22. I am so happy for you Ally! And I love the fact that you had such great support. I think you're an inspiration. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lorena. And you've inspired me many times.

      Delete
  23. A great post in all regards. You look wonderful and that dress is fantastic.
    Now that you have tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree how strong is the urge for repeat performances.
    We are heading to LI this afternoon for my wife's 50th HS reunion. Tonight there is a party at the Crazy Jester, now known as J.W. Dowds pub 4 W. village green Hicksville. They expect 50 of our sisters will be present. I need to call up the courage to discuss this with my wife.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a wonderful post, Ally, to commemorate a meaningful weekend! It was thrilling to be a part of it, and share some of the magical moments. The joy on your face is unmistakeable and unforgettable, xo

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patti. I appreciate your participation and support.

      Delete
  25. I am so happy you finally got to have this experience and I'm so grateful you shared it with us!! It could not have been easy but I'm thrilled you took the plunge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm willing to do hard things for big payoffs. This is an example.

      Delete
  26. You look gorgeous & I'm so happy for you to have such supportive friends that gave you the little push you needed.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good for you! You look ever so lovely. Tuck this experience away in your heart for future use.

    ReplyDelete
  28. If you ever want to live as a woman always, indoors and outdoors, but you think America isn't tolerant enough, you could always emigrate to the Netherlands, Denmark or any Scandinavian country. I won't say these countries are completely safe from stupid people who cannot understand and want to hurt you, but the majority applies: live and let live.
    Greetje

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the suggestion. A hostile social environment is reason why many of us don't live openly as ourselves.

      Delete
  29. First, you look gorgeous! Next, your smile says it all. . .Happy...Happy...Happy! May the coming days, weeks, months, and years afford you more opportunities to "be your true self" in public. Each time you venture out, it will become just a tiny bit easier. Ciao!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Good for you!! That’s awesome! :) You look gorgeous Ally!

    ReplyDelete
  31. So proud of you, thank you for being yourself! <3

    ReplyDelete