Thursday, February 28, 2013

Counseling and the Crossdresser

paula_at_doctor

Paula Gaikowski penned another guest post for Femulate and this time, it is something a little different for this blog: it is about counseling.

Crossdressing is about expressing who you are deep inside; it should be a positive and enjoyable experience.

Many girls I speak with have no interest in counseling or therapy and in fact, I am surprised to find some downright hostile to the idea. I can say that seeing a therapist has helped me immensely. Counseling for me wasn’t about crossdressing, but was about the pain and torment it was causing me. Mind you, it took therapy for me to realize this.

Finding the right person is the key. You don’t have to stay with the first therapist you meet with. Do your homework. Therapists with transgender experience are more common these days. Call and ask questions; make sure they are familiar with the transgender community and their issues. Ask a friend --- that’s how I found my therapist.

Another roadblock for me was admitting I was going to a counselor. I didn’t want to tell my wife that I was going because of transgender issues. So I told her it was for anxiety. As a side note, after seeing a therapist for four years, I have no problem talking to my wife about my transgender issues. The appointments are covered under my medical insurance for treatment of depression and anxiety.

So what happens when you go to “the shrink?” I’d like to take the mystery out of a visit to the psychologist.

My doctor has a small office in a professional building that is located on the campus of the Boston University Medical Center. There’s a comfortable chair to sit in and the room is nicely decorated.

The first day I went to see him, I just spilled forth my story; 50 years of struggle and it all came out. The doctor asked questions to clarify subjects and ideas.

As our sessions progressed, we discussed more current events, feelings, and issues in my life as they related to being transgender. Nothing was too personal, my thoughts and fears, even sex and sexuality. The atmosphere was relaxed, open, and confidential.

Over the years we have developed a rapport and we have even had discussions that offered insights, conclusions, and solutions. The sessions last 50 minutes and go quickly. I often look at the clock hoping there’s more time left. I look forward to the appointments and leave feeling positive and upbeat.

In 2009, I was emerging from the darkness of yet another crossdressing purge. But as any transgender person knows purging doesn’t work. My need for feminine expression had returned with a vengeance. I had once again accumulated a wardrobe and on this particular day I had the opportunity to do a complete makeover. A feeling of relief and satisfaction came over me as I dressed in front of the mirror. There she was, alive, she existed, that part of me so long hidden; I smiled and felt a slight joy inside.

Then I heard a rumble, the sound of a truck coming up the driveway. Fear rose from the pit of my stomach, my God, oh no, it’s the UPS delivery man!

In an absolute panic I tore off the clothes, wig, and make-up. Desperate to eliminate any evidence of my perceived transgression, I was soon in sweatpants and without makeup in two minutes flat. By then the UPS man had dropped off the package and was on his way down the driveway.

I had reacted as if I was doing something horribly wrong, like a thief in the night, or a murderer frantic to escape. Society had conditioned me to see this as a problem; something that was very wrong. When in fact, all I was doing was wearing clothes!

I sat there stunned and then felt my two proverbial enemies enter the room, Shame and Guilt, like two thugs in a gangster movie they worked me over. Shame used all of his weapons; instead of punches he threw words like pervert, weak, inadequate, sissy, sinner, less of a man, disgusting, and repulsive. When he was done, Guilt took over and instead of bruises and broken bones, there was self-loathing, depression, fear, anxiety, deceit, and low self-esteem. And so the lifelong cycle began again and it eventually would have destroyed me both mentally and physically.

I knew I had to do something; I had to take steps to solve my problem. If I did nothing, then nothing would change. I found the name of a psychologist who had experience with transgendered people. I remember the day I called very well. I went to a seldom used section of my office building. I attempted to dial several times and kept losing my nerve, (remember fear?)

Finally, I let the call go through expecting an answering machine or a receptionist to answer, but to my surprise, the doctor answered the phone. I stepped to the metaphorical edge and jumped.

“Hello. I ‘m tr-tr-tr-tr-ansgendered and want help.”

Non-judgmental and reassuring, he put me at ease and we talked. For the first time in my life I was open and honest with a person about these feelings. We made an appointment and I instantly felt better.

I had tried to solve my problem myself for 50 years. I tried reading all the books and websites, wrote countless emails to peers and posted on all the forums.

Finding an objective and informed person you can discuss, share and solve your issues with was a key ingredient in my journey. I’ve grown a lot over the last four years. I no longer see my crossdressing as a problem to be solved. I am not doing anything wrong. I’ve cast off society’s condemnation of being transgender and realized that I am a good person and that part of my personality and character involves being transgender. Attributes I see missing in many men, such as nurturing, kindness, compassion, and cooperation are parts of my personality that I believe come from my feminine side.

Last week I went to my appointment dressed in a navy blue Austin Reed skirt suit. I dressed at home and drove into the city. Getting there early, I went to the café at the medical center, enjoyed breakfast, and then freshened up in the ladies room before my appointment.

As I walked the campus, I was just another woman in the crowd. I could not have even dreamed of doing something like that four years ago. But please listen closely, I want to stress that my ability to get to this comfort level of presenting female had little to do with me buying the correct clothes, shoes, makeup or wig. But it had everything to do with my attitude. Yes girl, attitude!

The first step was recognizing that I am transgender and giving myself permission to be transgender; some call this self-acceptance. Next was standing up for myself and realizing that I have rights and that I am not doing anything wrong and don’t need anyone’s consent to crossdress, shop for women’s clothes, or present publically as a woman. The final step was liberating my feminine side to grow, to take pleasure in it, revel in it and be proud of it.

As I left the doctor’s office that day, I went to the reception area to have my parking ticket validated and I waited in the hallway for an elevator. When the door finally opened, there to greet me was a UPS delivery woman. I smiled to myself at the coincidence and irony of the event. I hesitated for a second only because the elevator seemed crowded with packages.

She smiled in a friendly manner and said “I got you covered, girl, c’mon in. Ground floor?”

“Ground floor please,” I muttered.

Perky and bubbly, she chimed back, “No problem, ground floor coming up.”

Then she surprised me, “I love your shoes --- they’re so cute.”

Then she added quickly, “I miss dressing up for work!”

I answered unconsciously, “Thank you and I know what you mean. I didn’t always get the opportunity to dress up either and I do appreciate it.”

I remember thinking to myself, “Honey you have no idea how much I appreciate it!”

We chatted a bit more about fashion and then parted ways. I made my way out onto the bustling street and over to the crosswalk to wait for the light to change.

A few minutes later, I heard a familiar rumble… it was a UPS truck I smiled as my new woman friend roared by. This time instead of fear and panic rising up from the pit of my stomach, I felt joy.

Thursday TBD

 

halloween-couple

Male and female Halloween Playboy bunny emulators.

 

 

Donna Morgan

Wearing Donna Morgan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crossdressing at Work

I spotted someone crossdressing at work yesterday!

A 20-something blonde, who works in Human Resources was crossdressed as a male. She wore a man's shirt (one like the field engineers here wear with the company logo on the breast pocket), black Docker's trousers, and black shoes (flats that looked like the black walkers I own). Her shirt and trousers were big and hid her feminine figure. She wore no makeup and had her shoulder-length hair pulled back so that her ears were completely revealed.

The first time I saw her, I thought it was a new male employee or a male employee visiting from another branch of our company. Only when she spoke did I recognize her.

Today, she was back in girl mode.

It must be nice to have the option to dress as a boy one day and to dress as a girl the next day!

(Originally posted March 29, 2007)

300 Days Left To Do Your Christmas Shopping


Femulator (left) after her makeover at Macy's.



Emma Stone

Wearing Andrew Gn.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Send Me Your Polaroids


As I mentioned here yesterday, I think it would be fun (as Mindy suggested) to share old Polaroids of our early femulating days. If you would like to share your old instant photos, please send them to me and I will post them here in the very near future.

Please limit your shares to clothed presentations. I sure don't want to see your private parts, so keep those photos to yourself.

Also, I am always happy to consider your femulation adventures for future blog posts. It is nice to read other girls' real world experiences like Carolyn's Ascot adventure. Write up your story and send it along with a photo or two and see your name at the top of this page real soon now!

Happy Birthday, George (of John, Paul, George and Ringo Fame)


Actor Caleb Goh femulating in the 1998 film That's the Way I Like It via Elaine Armen (thanks, Elaine).


Metrostyle

Wearing Metrostyle.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Great Purge of 1983

polaroid_8310 I started femulating regularly around the age of 12. Whenever I was home alone, I would experiment with my mother's and sister's wardrobes and cosmetics.

Soon, I began building my own female wardrobe. Initially, I collected discarded clothing or sewed my own (simple A-line miniskirts) using remnants that my mother had in her sewing nook.

The first item of female clothing that I purchased were three pairs of nylon stockings. I went to the hosiery store downtown and told the saleswoman that I was buying stockings as a gift for my tall girlfriend. The saleswoman did not bat an eye and I scored my first purchase of female finery with ease.

After that successful shopping trip, I used my tall girlfriend excuse to expand my wardrobe. And whenever Halloween was on the horizon, I could use that holiday as an excuse to try on and buy wigs, dresses, shoes, and foundation garments.

In addition to building a wardrobe, I clipped femulation-related items from newspapers and magazines. I also had a couple of books including the eye-opening A Year Among the Girls by Darryl Radnor and a couple of issues of Drag magazine. And there was also my collection of Polaroids, which documented my progress on the Good Ship Lollipop.

I stored everything in boxes hidden behind boxes containing my American Flyer train set, all stored behind the false back panel of a built-in bookcase in my bedroom.

Due to that limited storage space, I occasionally whittled down my collection - out with the old to make room for the new - but I never purged everything while I was actively femulating. I loved being a girl, so there was no desire to purge.

Fast-forward to 1983.

I had been dating my future wife for over two years and during that time, I stopped femulating. I had no desire to femulate and I bought into the old wives'/husbands' tale that when a femulator got married, he stopped femulating.

Realize that there was little information available to vent that tale. There was no Internet as we know it today and the serious literature on the topic was minimal and hard to find in my neck of the woods.

So about two weeks before our wedding, I purged everything.

One month after our wedding, we were invited to a Halloween party. I femulated for the event (see photo) and bought a new dress, wig, pantyhose, bra, girdle, high heels, etc. for the occasion. I was back on the Good Ship Lollipop and never stopped femulating again.

In retrospect, I so regret the purge. I could replace the wardrobe (which I did), but I could never replace my Polaroids.

Speaking of Polaroids...

My Friday post about Polaroids moved sister Mindy to dig out some of her old Polaroids and send them to me.

Mindy recalls that Polaroids were the only way we could keep our remembrances. She suggested that other readers might have old Polaroids that they would like to share for viewing here.

Great idea! So if you would like to share, please send me your instant photographs and I will post them here in the very near future.

On the Red Carpet


Actor Ryan Eggold femulating in the film Queen, 2011.


ShopBop

Wearing Donna Karan.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Say "Cheese"

stana_circa_1993

As headlined here, yesterday was the 66th anniversary of Edwin Land demonstrating the first instant camera - the Polaroid Land Camera - an invention that was significant in the lives of many femulators in the second half of the 20th Century.

A joke: How many femulators does it take to change a light bulb?

Punch line: Three. One to climb the ladder to change the light bulb, one to hold the ladder, and one to take photos of the event.

Before Polaroid, in order to see the photos of the changing of the light bulb, you had to take the film somewhere to be developed, such as a camera store, drug store, etc. These establishments were just middle-men and sent the film out to a photo lab to be developed, but you had to wonder, did Mr. Gower take a peek at the photos when they arrived back from the lab? Did he see you and your "girlfriends" changing that light bulb in all your feminine glory?

You never knew and that lack of knowledge dissuaded many girls from taking photos of their femulations unless they had their own darkroom. (I know of one instance where a femulator built and equipped a darkroom just so she could avoid having her "pretty photos" developed by strangers.)

The Polaroid camera changed all that.

For example, the only photos of my earliest days of femulating were from my first Halloween outing en femme. I did not dare take any photos of my deep-in-the-closet femulations until I obtained a Polaroid SX-70 camera. The camera did not have a self-timer, so I rigged up a mechanical remote control in order to take "pretty pictures" of myself.

And despite their expense, I took a lot of pretty Polaroids. But sadly, many were lost in "The Great Purge of 1983."

And so it goes.

Happy Birthday, George Washington

Femulator

jai-rodriguez---harry's-law---tv-us---2011

Actor Jai Rodriguez (left) femulating on television’s Harry’s Law, 2011.

 

Femulate_Her_web

ShopBop

Wearing Rachel Zoe.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Lovely Group of Femulators

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holmes-cc-wbp-2013

Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi recently held a womanless beauty pageant to benefit breast cancer awareness. There are photos documenting the event on Facebook here and here and here.

I am sure you will agree that the "women" competing in this event are a lovely group of femulators. A few are so good that their presentations may raise some eyebrows, if you know what I mean.  

Thanks to Aunty Marlena for the heads-up regarding this event.

66th anniversary: Land demos first Polaroid camera

Femulator

brolita-2013-02-19-1

A brolita (male goth lolita).

Femulate_Her_web

Beyond the Rack

Wearing Beyond the Rack.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

links, eyes and hairs

Femulate Links

I am in the process of updating the links in the sidebar of the blog.

What precipitated this was an e-mail I received from someone whose link had been listed here for years. She wrote that she did not like my blog, so I deleted her link.

If anyone else would like me to remove their link for any reason, I will gladly comply. Just let me know.

Also, if anyone would like me to add a link, send me your suggestion and I will queue it up.

Perfect Everyday Eye Makeup

Over at Makeup.com, Kristen Oldham Giordani highlighted Dana Fox's viral Pinterest tutorial for everyday eye makeup application.

It is not complicated and actually similar to the routine I use. I recommend it. 

Hairstyles Over 50

If you are over 50 (also known as "the new 40") and looking to try something new with your lovely locks, check out the 10 x 3 hairstyles for women over 50 in the Style section of Life Goes Strong.

There is something for everyone:

About half the celebrities modeling the hairstyles are actually over 60 (like actress Christine Lahti pictured above) and two are in their 70s, so there is even something for an old lady like me!

Happy Birthday, Calpernia Addams

Femulator

Artyom-Eduardovic-model-2013-02-19

Artyom Eduardovic. male model.

 

Femulate_Her_web

ideeli

Wearing Cefian.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Royal Ascot Adventure

ascot_2013-02-18 

Every June, I see photos of people dressed to kill attending Royal Ascot thoroughbred horse races at Ascot Racecourse in the UK.

The women are dressed to the nines and I often thought that if I lived the UK, I would make an effort to attend the event en femme.

It seems that I am not the only femulator to come up with that idea. Over the years, I have noticed an occasional femulator showing up in the photos from Ascot.

Turns out, a Femulate reader, Carolyn Stevenson of Carolyn's Classy Closet fame, is a regular attendee at Royal Ascot and she volunteered to tell her story. So without further adieu, here is Carolyn's “Royal Ascot Adventure.”

For you thrill-seeking femulators out there, nothing comes even close for the most fun, ego-massaging, glamorous event anywhere.

In the middle of flaming June (well most years) a horse race meeting takes place 30 or so miles west of London to which almost 300,000 flock over six days. Travel is easy as long as you take the train; driving is a two-hour traffic jam nightmare as are the parking fees.

Ascot Racecourse is just three miles from Windsor Castle and the Queen and her entourage drive along an avenue from the castle in horse drawn carriages, arriving every day at 2 o'clock.

I mentioned fun. Everyone who comes has been preparing carefully, some for months to get the outfit just right. So on the day, nothing is going to get in the way of a good time. The 170,000 or so bottles of champagne consumed during the week may have something to do with it!

One can pay several hundred pounds to have lunch in the tented village around the Royal enclosure, but most people bring some lovely food and wine to picnic alfresco in the usually lovely weather.

I took just a sandwich and a wine glass last year and my glass was never empty! The friendliness and generosity is simply overwhelming.

As one moves around, people beg to have their photo taken with you, to share a glass or two, or ask you to join the many groups sitting on the grass overlooking the course. Being a trannie never felt so good!

There are so few it seems, opperchancities to dress up these days, that those who have made an effort appreciate those who have too and we sit chatting and exchanging tips and mutual admiration. The ladies and some gentlemen are glad to have in their midst a "special" lady, who in most cases outshines the "real" ones.

Ladies' Day is the time to see some extravagant examples of the milliner's art, but I tend avoid that day as some of the ladies get a bit too merry and it's not a pretty sight. No matter which day you go, you will see some lovely outfits; the colours and combinations worn by young and old are sometimes breathtaking. I've never embraced so many attractive women in such short time and space.

I was asked, "Why do you dress?"

I answered, "How many men do you see around here with four ladies on their arms?"

Once lunch is over and the Queen has arrived the race program begins. Some of the best horses in the world race here, but I have to confess, such was the hectic nature the socializing, I never saw a race last year! Saved me loosing my shirt, pardon me, blouse on that occasion!

You may judge by the above that I love the glamour and general party atmosphere, so many radiant beautifully dressed people all there for a fabulous day out. The party even continues on the train where a glass or two is still being raised on the way home. Some even gather after reaching London on the Embankment next to Houses of Parliament to continue the merriment well into the evening.

I forget how many times I've been, starting about 12 years ago and on the last occasion, I went on my own after a friend dropped out and I had the best time ever.

Start looking for your big hat now and I'll see you there. It's not too long 'til June!

Femulator

carolyn_ascot

Carolyn Stevenson at Royal Ascot

 

Femulate_Her_web

ascot_en_femme

Royal Ascot attendees.