Alexandra was conceived almost 17 years ago. I remember the month of April 2006 very well, and often miss the sensations I felt. On the other hand, I find that thinking about these early days has an inspirational quality.
I started crossdressing in 1978 or 1979, when I was around 10 years old. I tried on a pair of my cousin’s opaque black tights. She is a year younger than me, and, interestingly enough because I just made the connection as I write this, her name is Alexandra. It fascinates me to wonder why I tried on those tights in the first place. It wasn’t because I wanted to be a girl. It was probably a proxy for sexual exploration. Needless to say, it gave me a thrill. Perhaps because the act was done in secret and had an element of danger about it, I felt a buzz. In that act, I had ventured into a strange and wondrous place. My life would never be the same. In many ways, I suppose, Alex began to stir on that day four decades ago.
Throughout my teen years, I would secretly try on various clothes belonging to my mother since she was the only female around (I rarely saw my cousin, and when I did there was no opportunity to try on her stuff). I never had the chance to dress “full up,” only parts at a time and I did not have access to a wig. My mom also wore very little makeup and her wardrobe was boring, especially for a European woman in the 1980s. One day, I think it was in 1985 or so, my stash was found. I was deeply ashamed and humiliated, and I can only imagine what my parents thought. Indeed, they were not pleased, and I received the silent treatment for a long time. I shudder when I think of that time. It was the worst period of my life; which is to say I have a good life because if that’s the worst of it thus far I should consider myself fortunate.
I eventually resumed dressing, of course, but it was very sporadic. In 1987, I found myself alone in the house for a few hours, so I dressed as “full up” as I could, which means everything but a wig. I tried to style my longish hair, and I wore my mom’s yellow dress. Wow. I felt awesome. And that was it. A few months later I left for the military. I never dressed in the military.
As the years ticked by, the seed that would become Alex grew a bit. Girlfriends came and went, college came and went, and jobs would come and go as I moved along in my career. In 2005, I lost about 50 pounds due to food poisoning. What a nightmare. On the other hand, I discovered I could wear a size 8 or even a size 6! So, in 2006, after I moved to a new location, I decided to go “full up.” I went all out and purchased all manner of girly goodness. I spent perhaps $1,000 online (thank goodness for the Internet). I bought several wigs, as I had not done that before and had no idea what would look good. I also bought breast forms. The combination of wigs and breast forms, for me the quintessential elements of femininity at the time, was almost too much for my heart to handle. I dressed up in some kind of skirt suit, because as my friends already know I have a penchant for the corporate look. With clothes and makeup on, I put on my first wig. I was a redhead for the first time, kind of shoulder length with a slight wave. I thought I looked hot. So, I looked at myself in the mirror and wandered about the apartment. I practiced walking around in heels. The swishing sound created by my nyloned legs rubbing against each other was divine. I could even detect a slight bounce in my silicone bosom. But then, I got bored. A bored crossdresser is a dangerous crossdresser. I decided to go for a drive, and thankfully I had an attached garage at the time, meaning the chances of being exposed to neighbors was low. What a thrill! I could not believe what I was doing.
But the red hair didn’t feel right. I felt “off” somehow. I tried on the other wigs until I settled on the bob you see above. And there she was. Alex was born. Except at the time, I had no name for this startling new creature in my life. That would come later. I realized I had a digital camera, and that with a tripod I could take photos of myself in an effort to evaluate my appearance and manner. At first, the photos were disappointing. I looked really idiotic. But the photos served their purpose because I now had references to help polish my look. Finally, I took a series of successful photos with me wearing a pink outfit (the first photo in my Flickr stream, for example). I was very happy. I didn’t look idiotic any more. I looked like a girl. Now, as far as walking and talking, forget about it!
I went online to see if other people did similar things, and to find out more. I was worried I had a mental illness, and my initial search revealed all manner of horrid fetishy crap that didn’t help. Finally, I found several crossdressers who really knew what they were doing. They were elegantly dressed, and their makeup and hair were perfect. At this point, a competitive quality to the crossdressing emerged, and the idea that this thing I did was a hobby or craft became real. Whereas as a kid I dressed for sexual reasons, now I dressed for artistic pleasure. It was challenging and creative and fun and a faux pas. All the things an artist likes to play with. By going online, I discovered Yahoo and Flickr. The first folks I found were Laura Lenley, Cristy Garcia, KC Tyler, and Steph Yeats. There were others, of course, but I remember those four in particular, and they are my friends to this day. I recall being so impressed and intimidated by them, but they were gracious and kind to me. I was so happy to have found such people. I wanted to reach out to them for advice and acceptance. In order to do so, I needed a name so I could get an account and email address. Andrea Michelle Forbes came out of my head rather quickly (Andrea was my first girlfriend in high school). I later changed my name to Alex, since I’ve always liked that name.
Later in 2006, I even went to the Southern Comfort Conference down the street from my home (imagine the fortune). It was during that conference that I decided to go out in public for the first time (not counting buzzing around in my getaway car earlier in the year). Damn, that was exhilarating! I sat in my car in the hotel parking lot for 45 minutes before mustering the courage to get out and walk through the hotel to the conference rooms. I remember being slightly panicked because once in the hotel I didn’t see any obvious signage or directions for SCC. I kept walking, and found the signs pointing to the escalators. On the way down, I looked down at my gray skirt, smooth legs, gray pumps, and the grating of the escalator step. I remember thinking, “If my mom could see me now…” What a happy, unreal day that was.
The rest, as they say, is history. Sometimes, I comb through my archives and remember those earlier, sweetly naive times. But I am very happy with how far I’ve come, not just in terms of my Alex persona, but more importantly how it has become an interwoven part of myself, a thing golden thread in a complex tapestry. True, if you pull on it, the tapestry wouldn’t really change all that much. But the golden accent would be missed, a deceptively minor ingredient that makes things, and life, a touch more interesting.
Blazer: Calvin Klein
Belt: Rebecca Minkoff
Hosiery: Cecilia de Rafael
I don’t generally go out of my way to make anyone jealous of the things I get away with, but I am making an exception today. On Thursday, March 5, I will be seated at quite the dinner table. I won’t go into too many details, but a few of the ladies you have come to know and love here will be there, including the amazing lady who you just read about today. We’ll all be at the Keystone Conference but will be “off campus” at a fabulous local hotel. The fact that I will be seated at that table is an amazing gift. Setting aside all the trans/CD/nonbinary aspects of who we are, the human beings at this table are some of the most awesome people I know.
I have lifelong (literally) friends, many of them. I see them. I play pickleball with them. I run with them. I text and email with them. I drink with them (obviously). I have been to the weddings of their children. Baptisms. I work with them (more than one and in more than one enterprise) to this day. I attend concerts with them. I drink with them…oh I already said that. We went to high school together. We went to college together. We lived together. We played football together. I would take a bullet for them, without thought.
But all of that great fortune doesn’t trump the connections I have with the ladies I will see, the ladies I will laugh with, the ladies I will dine with at Keystone because we all share an inexplicable connection. We are all blessed and cursed with more than one gender or one which doesn’t agree with our birth certificates. My time with Jocelyn really brought that all home for me. To my readers, I love each and every one of you! BE YOU! Alex shows you the way to grow comfortable in your skin. Thank you my beautiful (in more ways than one) friend!