Monday, July 7, 2014

Paula Goes Abroad – Part 1

By Paula Gaikowski

paula---uk-0 I have been to the United Kingdom before and always was inhibited about going out en femme.

Those of you who know me and have read about my adventures understand that I’ve overcome that initial trepidation of going out in public as a woman. However I was reluctant to doing so in an unfamiliar country.

After receiving assurances from my dear sister Jenny Turner that the UK was safe and a most pleasant place to go out en femme. It was probably years ahead in acceptance of transgender people.

With all that taken into account I accepted an invitation to dinner with Jenny. I’ll have to admit I also could not resist the thought of using the witty title “Going (A)broad.”

I arrived in the UK early morning with no problem. Some have asked about customs, and bringing in clothes, makeup, breast forms and wigs. There were no problems and nor would there ever be since half of all the suitcases had women’s accessories like mine. Besides its 2014, not 1914 and being transgender is not a crime. In fact, it’s kind of cool.

I took a quick nap and when I woke couldn’t resist the idea of a shopping trip en femme. Three cheers for the cool English weather as I wore a long print skirt and dark blazer.

In an effort to weigh my surroundings, I decided to walk two blocks to The Oracle shopping center in downtown Reading. I’ve always felt comfortable in shopping malls and this was no exception. However I first had to navigate the cobblestones streets of this charming English city, passing by bus stops busy with people and sidewalk cafés filled with afternoon patrons.

By the time I got to the mall, my butterflies had flown away and I had slipped comfortably into my natural role as a woman. I did need new eyeliner so I made my way over to MAC and spent some time being treated magnificently by two young and beautiful makeup artists. I received an excellent lesson on applying eye liner.

These two young cuties seemed inquisitive and happy by the diversion I provided on this quiet afternoon. I asked them if they had many other transgender customers and they typically had a few each week. Not all were dressed and “not all look as good as you” (blush).

Thank you girls.

I enjoyed hearing the story about one of their customers who they guided through transition. “It was beautiful to see a person come alive, for them to finally be as nature intended.”

I think I started to tear up a bit when she said this. It was cathartic and liberating to share my trans story with them. They were surprised and didn’t realize that when I was their age, transition wasn’t an option.

Transgender people have become part of the landscape with the younger generation. Thankfully this generation has options. In a way I’m sad I missed having those choices, but I’m glad I am here to see them and also benefit from them.

Encouraged by their support I decided to stop at the market to buy groceries for my small apartment. I made my way to Sainsbury’s, grabbed a trolley (that’s a shopping cart, my American sisters) and proceeded to shop my way around the store asking for help twice looking for coffee filters and yogurt.

I checked out and walked home several blocks with groceries and purse blending into the crowd with other women. The groceries started getting heavy, the purse became bothersome, the wind messed up my hair, the pantyhose and bra were beginning to overheat, and those cute pumps were pinching my aching feet. I thought to myself “Why does our society subject woman to such an absurd standard of fashion and beauty! How impractical this all is!”

I was experiencing to a small degree what it was like to be a working woman. There wasn’t any glamour, allure or mystique to this. Would I want to do this every day? Is this who I really was?

Right about then I turned the corner and passed a government building that was emptying out for the day. A few women leaving work joined in behind me. Like me, they were loaded down with purses and bags and they looked tired. The walkway snaked through a cavernous section of office buildings; as we passed each one, more women joined in as we headed toward the train station. There I was in the middle of it all – I was one of them. A wonderful feeling of compatibility, assimilation, integration, solidarity, and togetherness came over me.

Would I want to do this every day? Is this who I really was?






Source: Vogue





Actor Clark Gregg femulating in the 1998 film The Adventures of Sebastian Cole.


  1. In reading forums online and Trans living magazine, London sounds like a great city for Trans* /CD's. Its on my bucket lists to visit. Love your blog and stories about your adventurers.

  2. We do have quite a little trans community here in London, and I do now that there are several girls who like to stay apart - on their own. I have never had any unfavourable reactions and feel pretty comfortable going out and about. That having been said it is always wise to exercise caution there are places that I will not go on my own, and some I feel uncomfortable in even when accompanied, just like any other woman!!

  3. Last time I was in a Knightsbridge Sainsbury's, another lady shopper greeted me with, "My, you ARE tall, aren't you, dear?" (We were in the liquor aisle.) Incidentally, here in South Carolina a shopping cart is a "buggy".