By Monica M
In 2011, having decided that the traditional transgender conventions did not hold a lot for me, don't get me wrong, they are very interesting… just not really my thing. I felt I needed to get more out of my comfort zone. Also, I felt I needed something that would really hone my deportment and movement.
I searched around for something like a classic Swiss finishing school which would teach young ladies all manner of feminine skills and strategies. Instead I came across something called the Yin project which was designed to help women get back in touch with their feminine/Yin side!
This was a home study program with teaching calls and tutorial calls. Hmmm! Seemed ideal to me! I asked if I could join the course even though I was transgender and they readily accepted me. They never made me feel like an outsider or somebody who should not be there. Through a number of Skype calls, Rachael Jane (the energy behind the project) got to know me.
After about a year, the Yin Project morphed into the art of feminine presence. In November 2012, there was an intensive weekend and a teacher training in Portland, Oregon. With much trepidation I decided to go.
About three weeks before the course, I had a massive panic attack and decided I could not possibly take a course with about a dozen other women and cancelled. I was going to go to San Francisco first to spend some time en femme.
I find that going to cultural events in San Francisco is about the easiest thing you can do to build up your confidence en femme. Nobody bothers you and even if they notice you, they still do not bother you. People are too dignified and wrapped up in the experience of the occasion to bother. Nonetheless, it still took me a long time to get the confidence to use the ladies’ room even at a cultural event. Now, I don't even give it a second thought.
Anyway, I had decided to spend a few days getting a facial and doing some personal shopping with Rachel Fauman at Ensemble. I cancelled everything. The very thought of what I had planned to do nearly made me sick with fright.
Gradually, I talked myself around and fortunately for me, found my courage again about a week before my departure for San Francisco. It was all on again. I think it was at this personal shopping expedition with Rachel Fauman that she declared my personal clothes style to be “Synagogue Mom.” My wife got a good kick out of that when I told her.
While in San Francisco, I met somebody who has become a good friend of mine: Bella Cho. Bella own and operates a jewelry store on O'Farrell Street in San Francisco.
She has a shop close to the Hilton and her husband makes most of the jewelry. She is a very knowledgeable and wonderful woman. She enjoys bargaining, but is very fair. I wanted a wedding ring and an engagement ring. I had already bought some imitations from the Internet, but they discolored my finger and did not look authentic.
I have this idea that things that you wear all the time should be as authentic as possible. Then you can afford to be less fussy about casual things. So, my hair is real hair, my rings are real gold (though the stones are zirconium) and my boobs are proper prosthetics. Having said all that, I was a bit shocked at having to pay more for my own rings than I had paid for my wife's rings, but I comforted myself by noting that I did buy them for her nearly 30 years ago!
Above is a picture of me taken by Bella in her shop in April 2014. Notice the big hands! Yikes! If you go see Bella, be sure you tell her I sent you… she may even give you a bigger discount.
I left San Francisco en homme and headed to Portland by plane. I got to the hotel the night before the scheduled start of the course. The course was to start at 9:30 AM. I was up at 7:30 to prep and prime myself.
About 9:15, I nervously left my room and headed for the elevator. I stepped out of the elevator and found the registration desk right in front of me. Laurie Silver and Sally were on duty. I told them who I was and they welcomed me warmly and told me how pleased and happy they were that I was there. They gave me my badge and I opened the door and stepped into the room.
There were at least 30 to 40 people there. I was expecting 10 at the most. I very nearly turned and fled. It is one thing to face 8 to 10 women because that is almost close and intimate and not likely to lead to trouble. But to have to face what eventually turned out to be 50 was like facing a mob. None had been forewarned (and that is only right) about the presence of an alien, so some were as shocked as I was. But there was never any animosity or nastiness.
I am proud to say that I was the first transgender person to take the intensive weekend course and do teacher training level 1. I went on later to take teacher training level 2 and am still (as far as I am aware) the only transgender person in the organization.
I made some very good and lasting friends at that course in Portland. Can you spot me in this picture of some of my friends in Portland?
(Part 18 of One Person’s Journey to Womanhood appeared here.)
Kyle Rehling dressed for the prom in 2011.