Every Friday I work from home and get to spend a few hours en femme. While I do enjoy these quiet times nothing beats some real quality girl time out and about. So after several weeks of not traveling, I was overjoyed to hear that I was going to San Diego for a class.
Monday was my travel day and I debated flying en femme. The only reason I didn’t was because of the distance. I had a layover in Houston and the whole trip would take about eight hours. The first time I do fly en femme, I want it to be a short trip. However, I am at a point now where I feel confident enough to fly without any misgivings or fears.
I landed in San Diego at 12 PM and arrived at the hotel by 1 PM. I opened my suitcase and pulled back a thin layer of male clothes and then drew out a dancer’s garment bag that held Paula’s wardrobe for the next week.
I decided to wear my houndstooth skirt and black turtleneck. I made my way down to the lobby to get a bottle of water. As the door to the elevator opened, I was hit by a stench of smoke. I stood there perplexed for a moment and then noticed the place was crawling with smokejumpers from the U.S. Forest Service. They were staying at the hotel for training classes and were on a break. So forward I marched into a crowd of about 30 macho guys, confident and secure in my womanhood. I picked a bottle of water from the cooler and smiled to the young woman at the desk
“Please put this on room 312”
“Sure no problem,” she smiled back at me while busy with a 100 other tasks.
I collected my purse, swung it over my shoulder and made my way to the exit. The room was loud and the crowd was bustling and hectic. Then to my delight, one of the firefighters standing near the door reached over and politely held it open.
I remember the first time I got a ma’am’d; it was incredibly validating, but to receive this social courtesy typically afforded women truly made my day.
I smiled and waved demurely and chimed out, “Thank you, sir.”
In a clear west Texas accent I heard a baritone, “Welcome, Ma’am.”
I guess what was all so exhilarating and exciting is that for most of my life I never thought I would ever leave the house dressed as a woman. I lived with such fear and shame that the thought of being accepted and treated respectfully as a women seemed foreign and unattainable.
Only a few short years ago (in 2009), I was afraid even to buy makeup. I truly treasure exchanges like this and it is with heartfelt sincerity that I say that I treasure and feel privileged to be addressed as a woman.
The day was off to a great start and couldn’t get any better. I decided to take a ride to the University of San Diego and pick up a sweatshirt for a friend at the bookstore. The store closed at 6 PM, so I hurried on my way.
The university is huge and beautiful. The campus has acres of manicured lawns and pristine walkways. I spent about 30 minutes walking and taking it all in the architecture, the landscaping and all of the young people filled with such optimism and hope. After surrendering to the reality that I wasn’t going to stumble upon the bookstore, I stopped and asked a young woman for help. She started to give me directions, but then gave up and invited me to walk along with her. We had a pleasant chat as we walked along together,
“This is a beautiful campus,” I offered in hopes of initiating a conversation.
“It’s 182 acres and designed in 16th century Spanish Renaissance architecture. San Diego was first discovered in 1542 by the Spanish, years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth,” she offered.
“Wow,” I thought to myself, “Not your typical zoned-out college kid.”
“You must be either an architecture or history major?” I suggested.
“Neither” she responded, “I’m in Elementary Education.”
My eyes lit up and before I could get the words back into my mouth, they were out there.
“Oh, my wife teaches 1st grade,” I laughed inside for outing myself, nevertheless I kept going.
“You’re going to make a wonderful teacher,” I finished.
I could see on her face that I had answered any doubt and filled in any blanks she had about this tall blond. With that, however, her smile seemed to grow a little brighter and her conversations a bit more animated as she asked me about my wife’s school, class and career. We arrived in front of the bookstore and parted ways with cordial pleasantries.
I’m sure she realized I was transgender and it encourages me to see that the next generation is supportive and accepting of transgender people.
I headed over to the Fashion Valley Mall and decided on the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. There was a queue for tables, so I sat and waited amongst dozens of dinners. I busied myself with my phone and sat there with my legs demurely crossed.
As I was sitting there, I remembered reading the webpages of a girl named Gabrielle Romani back in the 90’s. She always went to Cheesecake Factory en femme. I remember thinking, “There’s no way I could ever, ever do that!” But here I was proving there is hope for everyone.