Friday, August 31, 2012

How’s Your Swing?

2012-08-31_paula-g_200 Today, I am happy to present another guest post by Paula Gaijkowski, who earlier this month contributed "Frequent Flier" to this blog.

How’s your swing?

If you’re a golfer, you recognized this as familiar greeting between other golfers. Golf is a remarkably simple game to the casual observer; hit the ball into the hole. Not unlike being a transgender woman, which in realty is astonishingly complex and multifaceted.

For years, I was a casual golfer. I’d take my clubs out of the basement, dust them off, and hit the course two or three times a year. It’s no surprise my game stunk and I was getting no better. I searched for the quick fix, new driver, new balls, a book, and maybe a couple of nights at the range. Nothing changed.

Years ago, I got a new job and made friends with a golfer in the office. We started going to an indoor range nearby and took lessons during the winter. The instructor taught me one thing that I have carried forward into many things in life. Most of golf was played in my head. It’s a mental game, especially your swing. The mechanics and the physicality of your swing has to be learned and stored in your mind and pulled out without thought or effort. It needs to become a natural part of you.

Hopefully, I haven’t lost you yet; here’s where I tie the two together: it needs to be natural and instinctive, just like a being woman.

A few months ago, I had a great trip to Chicago and enjoyed several days out en femme. The last day there, I was too exhausted to spend the time getting dressed and ready, so I was outside enjoying the day at the Oakbrook Mall.

In front of the bookstore I saw the prettiest girl. I watched her with envy as she walked through the courtyard and perched on a bench. Everything about her was feminine, fashionable, smart, and beautiful. I looked her over as another woman would and made a mental list of all the effort it took to look this good: the hair, makeup, matching jewelry, eyebrows, her lashes, manicure, and pedicure, shaved smoothed and tan legs, designer shoes, and purse. It all looked so natural, graceful, and effortless.

Yes, effortless, just like the perfect golf swing.

So I ask you? Are you pulling your clothes and makeup out of storage like I did with my clubs and expecting magical things to happen when you dress en femme?

My friend and I took a few lessons, but continued to go to the range twice a week for a year; it became habit. On our lunch break Tuesday and Thursday we were there. If I was bored or idle somewhere, I’d practice my stance, swing and follow through without a club. I practiced putting in the basement instead of watching TV after dinner. That September I shot 78 in a tournament. The year before I never broke 100!

I don’t golf anymore, but I do present as a woman. The last two years have been very rewarding. I have improved my image and have done things I have dreamed about for years. Just like the example I gave using golf, it takes effort to appear effortless just like that pretty girl in Oakbrook. If you look around our community online, you will notice the girls who look good, really work at it. It takes time. This is a lifestyle. You need to set goals and work toward them.

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 and 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 my wig lady 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: 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. Smart phones have recording apps. Use your feminine voice every day. I recite a memorized speech each day during my drive to and from work. After several months, my 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.

Movement is my goal for this year: walking, posture, and body language. I am hoping to find a coach or modeling school to help and then practice. In the meantime, when I shop the mall at lunch, I put my body into girl mode. Nobody notices and even if they did, so what??

So much of my presentation has become second nature to me now. I walk out the hotel room door, smile, at the maid, 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 you are transgender. The sales women 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 it takes 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. Then when you walk through that door dressed for a day of activities, you won’t even think about your swing --- it will be perfect.


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  2. This is an excellent article by a very attractive and articulate TG person and so very true. I hope many TG people who struggle will read this and take note. Slipping into a dress does not make one a female, it takes practice and more practice especially with hair and make-up. I know from experience how difficult it is at first. Thank you Stana for publishing it.

  3. What great advice Paula! Just like with all worthwhile things it takes practice, practice, practice. I am pretty much where you are now and loving it!!!

  4. I have already cut-and-paste this to my permanent files; it will be a pleasant reminder that rather than give in to my anxieties, I need to get better at honing my makeup work, be less self-critical and just enjoy being the woman I want to be.
    A wonderfully-worded tutorial!!!

  5. Great post. Thank you both.

    I believe these two quotes are from Yogi Berra.

    "Golf is 90% mental and 10% mental".
    "98% of putts that are short do not go in."

    Presenting in femme mode is 90% preparation and 10% execution. There have been times when I have dressed but not been able to go out the front door. More recently there have been times where I have dressed and gone to a destination only to get cold feet and not be able to exit the car.

    Paula and Stana have it right. Like the putt that is short you need to have confidence and get out. As FDR said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.


  6. I agree, practice makes the woman natural! Well said! Stana, my thanks to you and Paula.

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  8. ***** That's five stars for you Paula! You nailed it perfectly! Thank you Stana for again sharing insightful words of wisdom for a great femulator!

  9. Just so true, Thank you so much!