By Kris Burton
When you dress, how deeply do you immerse yourself in fantasy? Do you, like me, enjoy the illusion of duplicity and escape into scenarios where your alter ego might emerge? To some, this notion might sound a bit scary –almost like a multiple personality disorder – but I don’t find it so. I’m confident my real world self is in control of this delicate balancing act.
However, have you ever given the keys to your “psychological bus” over to your feminine persona, and let her drive for an extended period of time? I did at the recent – and wonderful – Keystone Conference, and here’s what I discovered.
First, a little background: When I began to crossdress actively I found my alter ego emerged very quickly. She was a creation of my imagination, embodying both the physical and personality characteristics I admired as well as femininity. She was youthful, attractive and stylish (some might say vain with all the picture taking, but that’s a subject for another post), confident, at ease with others in both small and large groups, all things that I am not. She existed in the moment, unencumbered by my own personal baggage and regrets. In my fantasy, she had all the qualities I look for in a woman, and when “she” looked back at “me” from the mirror, that is who I saw, and who I desired to portray.
To heighten the illusion I affected certain feminine mannerisms, often practicing them even while in male mode. I wonder if anyone noticed. I adjusted my posture (more erect, more confident), walk (one foot in front of the other in more of a gliding motion), speech (lighter, gentler, less aggressive in tone yet assertive) and paid MUCH more attention to my appearance than I ever did as my male self. In my mind I was always Kris when communicating with my virtual online friends, even while in male mode. Eventually I ventured out into the wild – to Starbucks, the garden center, the mall. I attracted no undue attention nor did I frighten small children. Success! As I gained confidence in my presentation it was as if at these moments my amplified, feminine side – now personified as Kris Burton – was the primary entity in charge of my psyche. These moments were brief, and I always returned, albeit sometimes reluctantly, to my real world male self.
However, upon registering to attend the Keystone Conference in January of 2023, I began to feel Kris’ presence more persistently. I checked back to the site daily to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. I pondered what I would wear during the conference, to which events and on which days. I bought a few new items of clothing to best present myself as Kris. My online conversations were dominated with discussions of the upcoming Keystone, consumed as I was in a cloud of pink fog.
Finally, the big day arrived. I drove the three or so hours from my home to Harrisburg, in drab perhaps but in my feminine state of mind. When I arrived, I unpacked with the excitement of a musician preparing for a big performance. I got dressed, applied my makeup, checked myself in the mirror as any self-respecting diva might, confidently stepped into the hallway, and into an alternate reality.
Kris Burton was in the house, and she had the wheel of the bus!
As I reflect on events of the weekend, there were at least three times when it was obvious to me which persona was in charge. The first evening I attended a trip to a local restaurant. I knew no one on this trip. My guarded male self would have been intimidated, uncomfortable at best. Not so this night – Kris mingled easily with these new ladies making for a fun evening. The next night I had dinner with a few friends in Harrisburg. Together we walked to the restaurant where we had great dinner and conversation. Significantly, walking publicly on the streets of Harrisburg in a skirt proved to be an exhilarating experience in itself. Although I have been out and about a few times, I doubt if I would have been so bold on my own – but as Kris, no problem. Later that evening at the dance party, and again at the gala, I mingled easily and did something that my reserved self would never even have dreamed of – I danced! My shyness and emotional baggage were checked at the door, and I – with Kris’ help – enjoyed this experience as never before.
Beyond all this though was the blending of my virtual world with the real one. Within a short time after stepping off the elevator at the Harrisburg Hilton, I would meet many of my virtual online friends. Kandi was first, who welcomed me with open arms and affirmation that I indeed belonged. As it turned out that was just the beginning. Soon would meet Alex K, Elaine, Kelly, Valerie, Marianne, Melanie and so many others from my online world, but now in person with real personalities and voices. Conversation flowed throughout the weekend as we shared and connected with each other on a deeper level. My virtual friendships were morphing into real friendships, and my fantasy scenario was now becoming part of my reality. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’ve been home about a week now, and my male self is back in charge, balance restored. However, I have noticed some significant changes, ways in which Kris’ presence and influence is still felt. When I visit with my online friends I now see their faces and hear their voices as I read their words – these virtual friends are now friends in real life! We have shared with each other and I’ve learned so much, and am applying these influences and improvements to all aspects of my persona. Arrangements are being made to meet up again, and I’m looking forward to that. I did miss some things at this year’s Keystone. I wish I had taken more photos, but my mental pictures are vivid, and there is always next year. I’m looking forward to it already; my dress for the gala is already in my Amazon cart. When it is time to return, Kris will get the keys to the bus again.
As it turns out, she’s a very good driver.
Editorial Comment: See that picture that starts this post? A fantastic photo as it captures her joy and Kris is so pretty in it. Makes me happy!