By Amanda J.
I recently drove to a supermarket around six miles from where I live. After parking the car, I went in, had a quick look round and seeing that they didn’t have what I needed, left the store and drove back home. I can already hear the cries of ‘so what, I do that every week?’ but please stick with me.
I contribute to Kandi’s Land for two reasons. The first is because I find writing the posts to be a great way of talking about this side of me in the absence of people to confide with in the real world. For a closeted CDer, it provides much needed contact with others and deals with much of the isolation I would otherwise feel. The second reason is because I find my co-contributors inspirational and it’s a ‘club’ I enjoy being a part of.
Kandi is just a force of nature and, even though I could never do even a tenth of what she does (even in my ‘drab’ life) she just proves that life is there to be lived and acceptance is there for the taking. Jocelyn & Tina prove that lack of opportunity does not mean that when that opportunity comes, we can’t grab it with both hands and enjoy every second. Lisa’s posts are often like a ‘How to be a CDer’ encyclopedia but, like posts from Dee, Gwen, Trish and all of the other contributors, amazing accounts of acceptance in the outside world.
And then there’s me. Stuck in the closet looking wistfully at the others’ adventures with more than a tinge of envy. And if you, dear reader, strongly identify with that last sentence, read on because things are going to start getting interesting. Which brings me back to my trip to the supermarket. Over a six decade lifetime, I must have visited supermarkets thousands of times but I can say with 100% certainty that that particular trip was the first I’ve ever made wearing a skirt, high heels and full makeup! In fact, with the exception of a couple of short walks in my neighbourhood, it was the first time I’ve been anywhere outside the safety of my house dressed in anything other than conventional male clothing.
And I lived to tell the tale!
Going properly into the outside world is something I’ve wanted to do for some time as I’ve realised that all the barriers that were preventing me were of my own making. When I went out on the aforementioned short walks, I took full advantage of covid conventions to wear a mask and deliberately avoided people, even crossing the road at one point to avoid people who almost certainly could not have cared less if I’d walked right past them. This time, though, I wanted to mingle!
I was also well aware that time was limited for me as my son would soon leave school and take up residence in his bedroom until he (hopefully) goes to university in the autumn and was starting to feel a mix of the time being right and it being now or never. Even so, when I got up that particular morning, whilst I’d decided to celebrate my son’s return to school after the Easter break with a bit of she-time, I’d more or less shelved the idea of an outing. But when I’d got dressed and done my makeup, I realised that I looked as good as I was ever going to without professional help and the decision was made.
I quickly packed a ‘bug out’ bag consisting of male jeans, sweater, shoes and makeup wipes in case of emergency (the guy shoes actually came in very handy when I realised that driving in heels is not easy!), put a few essentials into a handbag, took a deep breath, opened the front door, left the house and got into the car to drive 7 miles to a supermarket – sufficiently far away to make the chance of bumping into someone I knew negligible but near enough not to be out of the house too long if there was some crisis at work I needed to attend to.
I was probably overdressed for a trip to what used to be the UK arm of Wal Mart – black skirt & top, pink blazer, black tights and pumps/courts with a heel of about three inches – but I felt that if I was going to do it, I had to go all in. The drive was uneventful and I parked in a less crowded part of the car park, got out and straightened my clothing. Almost straight away, I felt the cool breeze penetrate my tights – a very different feeling to the breeze on bare legs when I’ve worn shorts on holiday but a delicious reminder that this was now for real, not just the fantasy of old.
I walked to the entrance and went in; it’s a big store with a large clothing section so I stopped for a browse without any of the usual concerns I have about going through the rails in my normal male garb. Then onto the makeup section – I wanted to get mascara but the one I wanted had a security tag and, for a first proper outing, I wasn’t ready to interact with others to get the tag removed. After a quick wander round, I decided that that was enough excitement for one day so made my way back to the car for another uneventful drive home.
Strange emotions when I got home, bearing in mind that this was my first proper trip out where I have voluntarily mingled with people rather than actively avoided them. My immediate reaction was that I probably shouldn’t have done it. Mrs A would be horrified if she knew and because she’s given me such an amazing concession to dress without guilt, I do want to respect her point of view as much as I can. But over the ensuing hours and days, that got supplanted by a feeling of euphoria and the realisation of how far I’ve come since nervously posting a heavily processed FaceApp image on Flickr four years ago. What had seemed like an impossible dream was now an uneventful reality.
What I do know with 100% certainty is there are people like me desperate to break free in the world but petrified of the prospect of being out in the big wide world and mingling amongst other people. I know that with certainty because until recently, I was one of those people. Now, any one of my co-contributors could give a far better account of being in the big wide world than I ever could but one advantage I have over those ‘old hands’ is that my memories of my first time are much fresher. So if what I’ve just written on the one hand resonates but on the other evokes a reaction of ‘I could never do that’, let me reassure you that if I could do it, you most definitely can.
The big fear that we all need to come before taking our first steps into the real world is ‘what if someone realises I’m a guy?’. We obsess about ‘passing’ – being indistinguishable from a genetic female – and here, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that in all probability, someone will realise that you are CD/TG and the more people you encounter, the higher the probability. Apart from the ravages of testosterone on bodies and faces, your gait, your height, your voice, the size of your hands and so on all conspire against you.
The good news, though, is you can stop worrying about it because it doesn’t actually matter! The worst case scenario is you’ll ‘pass’ as a trans person – this is the 21st century and you only have to read the posts here on Kandi’s Land to see the amount of acceptance there is in the world. So be proud to be trans – no one who sees you knows whether you’re transitioning to female or just a CDer having an isolated day out en femme. And quite frankly, they’ve almost certainly got bigger things to worry about in their own lives than trying to decode you!
But let’s face it, it’s going to be a lot easier if we ’newbies’ don’t draw undue attention to ourselves on our first trip out. The fundamental thing to remember is that we’re moving from fantasy to reality. We can live out whatever fantasies we like in the privacy of our own home but we need to be a little more realistic if we want to avoid attention. I will say at this point that, if you like attention, go for it! What follows is advice for people like me who are happier not being the centre of attention so here are a few strategies that may help.
1. Makeup. You’re definitely going to need some makeup but the general rule is ‘less is more’. Women who wear a lot of makeup get noticed, particularly if it’s excessive or not applied very well. Foundation, a little bit of eyeshadow & eyeliner and lipstick goes an awfully long way and application of each of those is relatively easy to master. Contouring, false eyelashes, winged eyeliner and drawn brows, whilst they can look sensational, take a lot more practice and are easy to screw up so forget them for your first outing.
2. Outfit. Dress appropriately for where you’re planning to go. When selecting your outfit, ask yourself whether you’d expect to see others dressed in the same way at the place you’re planning on going. I’ve already disclosed what I wore for my outing and I can categorically state that I didn’t see any other woman dressed nearly as smartly. Does that mean I was overdressed or just a busy businesswoman popping to the shops during her break? I’ll leave it to you to form your own opinion!
3. Shoes. OK, most of us love our heels but let’s face it, there’s a reason why most women save them for special occasions! Just remember that if you decide to go out in heels and vow that as soon as your feet start to hurt you’ll turn back, your return to base won’t be pain free unless you’ve walked in a circle! As with outfits, there are many feminine styles for shoes that are flat or have just a low heel but if you absolutely must wear higher heels, make sure you can walk demurely in them for more than a few paces! And also remember that pavements/sidewalks aren’t as level as your floors at home and many an ankle has come a cropper thanks to the heel supporting it coming out worse from an encounter with uneven ground!
4. Deportment. The simple thing to remember is that women tend to take smaller steps with one foot directly in front of the other and with a straight back (not least to counteract the weight of their boobs) so try to do the same. No matter how good you may look, if there’s one thing that’s going to give the game away if you walk like a workman, policeman or, heaven forbid, a gorilla!
5. Stay in your comfort zone. This may sound strange given that I’m advocating taking your first en femme steps in the outside world but you have almost certainly stepped way outside your comfort zone by the mere act of leaving the house in your feminine persona. That’s plenty to be getting on with! There’s no rule book that says you have to interact with people, try on clothing, use the ladies’ room, buy a coffee or anything else while you’re out. Once you’re out and about, just enjoy the experience and do what you feel comfortable doing for as long as you feel comfortable doing it – the more challenging stuff can wait for next time.
6. Don’t worry about anyone else. In an area where lots of people are milling around, you will get stared at, particularly if you’re dressed in a more traditionally feminine way than most of the other women in the area. Of course, someone who looks at you may be wondering ‘is that a man?’ but they may also be thinking ‘she’s attractive’, ‘I like her outfit’ or ‘I wonder where she bought those shoes’. And as all of us well know, men look at attractively dressed women! In your day to day life, you will walk past hundreds, if not thousands, of women some of whom will dress in a more masculine way. Do you examine each one to try to decide what their biological sex is? Presumably not so it’s a reasonable assumption that most of the people who walk past you won’t either. But if someone does look your way, you don’t have to look back but, if you do, you can just smile as you walk past.
7. Be confident. Yes, stepping into the outside world for the first time can be a scary proposition but it doesn’t have to be. You have as much right to be there as anyone else and as much right as anyone else to select the outfit you wear & present yourself in a particular way. Hold your head high as you walk, be proud of who you are and what you are doing and ‘own’ it – you’ve well and truly earned that right.
Above all, be prepared for the whole thing to be a huge anticlimax! In the build up, you’ll experience all sorts of emotions, your body’s adrenaline pumps will be working overtime, your heart will be thumping like it’s trying to fight its way out and you may well swing between ‘today’s the day’ and ‘no, I can’t go through with it’ several times before you finally take that step over the threshold into the outside world. But when you do finally pluck up the courage, there’ll be no choirs singing ‘hallelujah’, no round of applause from crowds of adoring fans and no TV crews waiting to interview you about your achievement for the evening news. It’ll just be a normal day with you wondering why you left it so long and trying to remember what you were worried about. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll already be thinking about doing it all over again.
But make no bones about it, our first trip into the outside world is a huge achievement. For me, finally stepping properly into the outside world was probably as big an achievement as Neil Armstrong’s utterance of ‘it’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ was for him. But, of course, if rumours are to be believed, the words didn’t come out quite as intended as he was supposed to say ‘it’s one small step for A man,….’
Well that’s the official version anyway but I have it on very good authority that what he was really supposed to say was ‘it’s going to be one small step for a man, one giant leap for A man da’! Our Neil was quite the prophet back in ’69!