By Paula Gaikowski
I just want to say I agree with Stana’s comments over the last few days.
There seems to be a vain of sanctimonious smugness that runs through our sorority, a political correctness that surrounds passing, sexuality and crossdressers in the transgender community. Let’s remember that together we are sisters supporting each other.
Transgender women just want the human race to know that we are women!
The hair, makeup, clothes, lingerie, voice lessons and of course, shoes are all gestures to the world that we are women.
Just like the cowboy who wears his hat, jeans and boots in the airport, he is saying to the world, "These clothes reflect who I am, a culture that I belong to, a philosophy that I adhere to and a vocation that I perform."
The banker, the rocker and the professor – they all send a message with their clothes.
That is the reason we do this – we want people to know who we are. That deep down, under the five o'clock shadow and receding hairline, we all have to some varying extent the hearts and souls of feminine beings.
That’s why we so often ask about passing, presenting or how do I look? It is the reason why we in the transgender community take more pictures than most tourists. Ever notice that you are the only person at the family reunion that knows exactly how to work the self-timer on the camera! We want acknowledgement, we are sending radio waves out into the Universe and listening, searching, longing to know if we are being heard.
I always dreamed of going out in public as a woman. When I turned 50, middle age crazy took over and I began working on it.
First, I began losing weight. Nothing makes you feel or look better, than being physically fit. I went from a size 26W to a 16 Misses. (How you lose the weight is another issue all together.)
I began buying makeup from a very helpful sales associate at the NARS counter. Every couple of weeks I’d buy another piece of cosmetic and she would tutor me. Kasey was the first person who taught me not to be ashamed of being transgender.
I would practice at home. Even if I wasn’t getting dressed, I would apply my makeup, getting better each time. I’d watch YouTube tutorials when I couldn’t practice.
I saved up and bought a good wig. Wig stores are all transgender friendly! If you don’t believe me call one, be polite and honest, tell them you are a transgender person looking for a wig and would like to come in. I guarantee you are not the first.
Once you have the hair, learn how to style it. Ask you your wig lady for lessons. I have had several classes where she taught me how to style and comb out my wig. After the classes practice, practice, practice.
I found a gender therapist and for the first time in my life spoke openly and face-to-face with someone about this. Speak with any girl and she will tell you this is a big part of self-acceptance. Because of this I was able to shed the guilt and shame I struggled with for years. I was also able to understand where I wanted to go with this. That’s when I set my goal of being able to go out in public as a woman on a regular schedule.
Get a big sister. Connect with another girl online or in person, even if you meet in drab as friends. Having someone like yourself to support each other is important.
Practice your voice with a smart phones recording app. Use your feminine voice every day. I recite a memorized speech each day during my drive to and from work. After several months, my femme voice started to really sound natural.
Become a student of fashion, find a transgender mentor and study other women. Which one are you? Find your style and not your fantasy.
So much of my presentation has become second nature to me now. I walk out the hotel room door, smile at the maid and stop at the front desk without trepidation or anxiety. This self-assurance is contagious to everyone around you – it validates your appearance to them.
When I visit cosmetic counters in girl mode, I am always open about being transgender. When you get this close to a person they can tell I am transgender The sale associates seem to love the diversion of having a transgender customer. We always have great conversations and I always ask them about my appearance. Most often, the words I hear are, poised, natural and classic.
They say 90% of presentation is attitude and confidence. This takes effort and work. That confidence and attitude comes from the steps I outlined above. My point is that it takes an effort to look effortless. This effort is all part of being a woman.
Please remember to enjoy the journey, the practice, the friendships, the accomplishments and even the failures.
|Wearing Tory Burch (Source: Tory Burch)
|Gabe Belyeu femulating on stage in La Cage Aux Folles.