This picture is from last year when I was on a business trip to San Diego. I had a whole day to spend as Paula. It was a wonderful day that filled me with so much joy. The outfit I was wearing came together perfectly. I was a size 16 and felt so pretty wearing a houndstooth skirt and sweater.
Everywhere I went that day I was called “Ma’am.” I just felt so pretty and female. In this picture, I was at the M·A·C store at the Fashion Valley Mall. I was surrounded by other women and felt so accepted and a part of their world. I spent about an hour with a young woman working on a winter look for my eyes. She had never met a transgender person before and I spent the time telling her my story. She asked me a ton of questions. “Are you gay?” “What does your wife think?” “How old were you when you started?” And, of course, the well-known, “Are going to get the operation?” She was a sweetheart and we hugged when parting.
Afterwards, I headed over to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. There was a queue for tables so I sat and waited amongst dozens of diners. I busied myself with my phone and sat there with my legs demurely crossed.
As I was sitting there, I remembered reading the Geocities pages of a girl back in the 90’s who 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.
“Ms. Gaikowski, your table is ready.”
I was seated at a table and in front of me was a huge mirror that gave me a view of the restaurant. I’m always curious what others think of my presentation, so I kept scanning the room looking for the stares or whispers. Happily, I didn’t notice anything like that. Finally, I relaxed and I sat there gazing with wonder into the mirror at the woman across from me.
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 woman 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.
In response to my open invitation to send your favorite photo along with the story behind it and the reason it is your favorite photo, I received a lot of photos and stories that I am posting in the the order I received them. My invitation still stands, so don't be shy, send me your photos! And by the way, there are currently 20 girls' photos in the queue.
Actor and professional femulator Christopher Morley.