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Vanity Fair

Alex continues to make us think...

By Alexandra

Those who know me know that I am a pretty reserved person, regardless of what I wear. I am not one to seek the stage and I always avoid being the center of attention, except on those occasions when I lecture or deliver presentations. I dabbled in politics once and it became clear that was not my cup of tea, despite being extremely motivated to participate directly in government. I’m also very fearful of embarrassment, because I consider loss of dignity among the greatest of human flaws.

So it interests me, in terms of self-reflection, that I periodically seek opportunities to wander into the public domain dressed as a woman. Why would I do such a thing if I risk becoming the source of attention? Why would I place myself in a situation that could lead to a humiliating scene? In a word: Escalation.

For me, crossdressing has been a story of refinement and escalation. The first stage, in my teen years, involved very discrete, haphazard opportunities to partially dress, using whatever items I could find. The second stage, after many years living as a single adult, really started in 2006. During that year, I dressed fully for the first time, refining my look down to the type of perfume, but confined to my apartment. The third stage was inaugurated with adventures in my car, driving around en femme, sometimes parking and admiring myself in the mirrors. On some occasions, I would park in a secluded area, get out of the car, and walk about. The fourth stage was a biggie, going out into public. I did this in a safe manner; that is, I ventured into the wild via the 2006 Southern Comfort Conference. It was a panicky sort of day, beginning with waking up bloody early to get ready, driving to the venue, parking in the hotel garage, sitting in the car for 45 minutes, then getting out. Little did I appreciate how much noise my clicking heels would produce in a cavernous parking garage, but I was committed. Once I arrived at the conference, I felt safe yet exhilarated. I was among like-minded souls, a sort of “safety net.”

I suppose a fifth and final stage (for me, anyway) was venturing into public without a safety net. In other words, going to mainstream establishments by myself en femme. This remains a bit scary for me, perhaps because I rarely do it, but also because I am constantly second guessing myself.

The second guessing stems from a fear of humiliation. This fear is strong with me even when not dressed as a woman, and I suppose that cannot be mitigated easily. I am reserved by nature, but also because I don’t like to put myself into situations that may cascade into a Hollywood-style debacle of epic proportions. Of course, the odds of this are slim to none, but the fear nevertheless exists. This fear is not paralyzing, as it is obvious from my photo stream that I not only post gobs of photos but also do, in fact, go out daily often.

It’s worth noting that a complicating factor is my obsession with detail. I get really anxious when I lose a nail or my hair is all mucked up or my makeup is not right. Those minor events can enhance the fear of humiliation, but these are not enough to fully derail opportunities to dress.

These days, I have learned to admire the apparent courage I display when putting myself out there in a manner society would consider contrarian. I am bringing up this subject not just to share a vulnerable part of myself, but mainly to celebrate the quiet, unreported moments of courage that so many people undertake in their lives. Many crossdressers know there is a risk associated when publicly displaying a feminine persona. Many transgender people take much greater leaps of courage as they navigate rigid, backward social norms. So many more people take risks in the name of religion, political ideology, and other weighty things. Some fear flying but still brave a flight in order to conduct business or visit family and friends. Still others carry on bravely despite low self esteem, poor body image, and other things.

I do not want a medal or congratulations, to be sure. This post is about the thoughts I have relating to why I crossdress and, by extension, how my crossdressing inspires me to think of those anonymous profiles in courage that take place every day, everywhere.

  • Dress: Bar III
  • Shoes: INC International Concepts
  • Hosiery: Cecilia de Rafael


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