Friday, January 31, 2014

Trigger

boy_make-up

I received an interesting and thought-provoking e-mail from Beverly commenting on my Sons post last Friday.

Regarding the nature versus nurture argument, Beverly falls on the nature side... that our gender gifts are a natural part of our persona and not the result of nurturing by our environment. However, Beverly added that "there has to be a 'trigger' somewhere to bring out whatever it is nature has gifted us with."

I wondered about my trigger. On Wednesday, I wrote here that discovering the world of female impersonators moved me to try female impersonation myself at the age of 12. However, I had been exploring my gender gifts years before that, so female impersonation was not necessarily my trigger. But it was so long ago, that I am not actually sure what was my trigger.

Digging way down deep in my memory, I can only recall one event that may have started it all.

I was probably between the ages of 6 and 9 and for a day or two, I wanted to be a circus clown when grew up. I remember I was home alone with my mother (my father and sister were out) and I covered my face with my mother's cold cream to simulate a clown's white face. What a mess!

I showed my handiwork to my mother and she volunteered to do a better job. She removed the cold cream and started anew applying various cosmetics to my face.

When she was done, I looked in the mirror and was shocked. Instead of looking like a clown, I looked like a girl. I still remember the bright red lipstick on my lips.

In retrospect, I am not sure if she realized what I was trying to do. I do not recall if I was clear about trying to be a clown. She may have thought I was trying to be a girl and acted accordingly.

Anyway, I was so embarrassed that I insisted that she remove the makeup before my father and sister returned home. She complied.

And I no longer wanted to be a circus clown when I grew up. I wanted to be a woman.

 

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Source: Female Mimics

Professional femulator Windy Starr in 1965.

 

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Source: La-Redoute

Wearing Cedric Charlier.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Second Time

Source: Formfit After donning my mother's nylon stockings and high heel shoes and discovering that I was able to emulate the shapely legs of a woman just like the female impersonators of the 82 Club in New York City, I just had to push the envelope further.

The next time I was home free to explore my mother's wardrobe, I repeated my first time, that is, I slipped on a pair of her nylon stockings and high heel shoes.

I was well aware of the options available to women of the early 1960s to keep their nylons up and their seams straight. In my mother's case, she used the garters that were attached to a girdle.

I found her stash of girdles in a drawer of her bureau and had to choose from a variety of styles: open bottom, panty brief, long leg panty, high-waisted panty and high-waisted long-leg panty. I figured I needed all the help I could get, so I selected a high-waisted long-leg panty model.

I unzipped and unclasped the girdle, stepped into it and tugged it up over my legs, hips and waist. When I was finished squeezing into it, I closed its clasps and zipper with some difficulty. When I was done it felt like half of my torso was in the grips of a rubber vise.

After I attended to the nylons - straightening their seams and attaching them to the garters of the girdle - I swung open the closet door, viewed myself in the full-length mirror and concluded that the picture was incomplete.

The girdle had redistributed my "baby fat." As a result, my waist was narrower and my hips were wider, but above the waistband of the girdle, a ring of displaced fat encircled my body and ruined the picture.

I was sure I knew how to fix it --- it was time for my first bra!

My mother had a small selection of bras to choose from and they were all similar in style and size, so I randomly grabbed one and tried to figure out how to put it on.

I struggled unsuccessfully to close the bra's clasps while wearing the bra with its cups in front. So, I slipped the straps off my shoulders, twisted the bra around with the clasps in front of me, closed the clasps, twisted the bra back around, and slipped the straps over my shoulders --- and that’s the way I have been putting on a bra ever since.

After adjusting the straps of the bra, I was astonished that my breasts nearly filled the cups of the bra! My "boy boobs," which were the object of ridicule by my peers, now had a safe place to call "home."

And when I revisited the full-length mirror, the picture was now complete; there was the body of a shapely woman in the mirror's reflection.

 

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Source: Female Mimics

Femulator in 1965 street style.

 

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Source: Romwe

Wearing Romwe.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Time

nylons-and-heels When I was 12-years-old, I became fascinated with female impersonation when I noticed weekly thumbnail-sized ads in the New York Daily News for 82 Club. Each ad depicting  a glamorous showgirl accompanied by the caption "Who's No Lady?"

The 82 Club showgirls were female impersonators and I was amazed that a male could emulate a glamorous female! I was so impressed that I began clipping the 82 Club ads out of the newspaper each week and hiding them behind the Washington Senators in the box containing my baseball card collection.

One thing led to another and one afternoon when I was home alone, I went into my parent's bedroom and opened the drawer of my mother's bureau where she stored her nylon stockings. (This was in the days before pantyhose and seamless stockings, so her nylons had seams.)

I carefully slipped a stocking up each of my hairless legs (those were the days!) and straightened the seams. When I was done, I opened my mother's closet door to admire myself in the full-length mirror on the inside of the door.

I liked what I saw: a pair of legs that looked just like a pair of woman's legs! Then I realized that I could do even better.

Inside the closet were stacks of shoeboxes containing my mother's shoes. I carefully looked through the boxes for a pair of high heel pumps. When I found a pair (with a three-inch heel), I slipped them on and revisited the full-length mirror.

Not only did I see a pair of woman's legs in the mirror, but they were now a shapely pair of woman's legs! I proved to myself that that a male really could emulate a female.

I quickly, but carefully removed the shoes and stockings and returned them to their proper place before my family returned home. And I assure you that would not be the last time I would visit my mother's bureau, closet and full-length mirror.

 

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82 Club ads 1966

Two 1966 advertisements for the 82 Club.

 

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Source: MyHabit

Wearing Leota.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Help Make A Film

pupa1

My name is Daniela. I am a student from Sussex University in the UK. I am writing and directing my own first short film that will be my graduation film and portfolio for future projects.

This film is about Marjorie, a male-to-female transgender, and about how she deals with the prejudice from society and how she revenges the men that attacked and bullied her. The film hopes to raise awareness about transgender prejudice and by being entered in film festivals, we hope to reach an even wider audience.

We are raising funds for the film as we are all students and can't afford much; and we are so close to reach the goal! There are still few days to go to hopefully reach it!

All contributions so far have been mostly from friends and family. I think the readers of your blog might be interested in donating because of the good cause it is for.

The link for donations is http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pupa-short-film

The website accepts Paypal and credit cards and there are perks to be selected depending on the amount of the donation such as DVDs, posters and etc.

Thank you.

 

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robert-and-cole-2013-12

Robert and Cole femulating for Christmas.

 

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Source: Vogue

Wearing Giambattista Valli.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pronouns

pronoun

It hit me like a ton of bricks while I was reading Gabrielle's account about coming out to her parents and reminding them to use female pronouns when she was in female form.

Family members who are closest to me (my wife, daughter and sister) already use female pronouns when they refer to me even when I am in boy mode. This has been going on for years and I always assumed that they had misspoken.

But then came the ton of bricks and I realized that they did not mispeak. This is not an occasional or rare slip of the tongue; they refer to me using female pronouns almost all the time.

My family considers me to be one of the girls and refers to me as such even when I am disguised as a boy!

 

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John Carroll Lynch - The Drew Carey Show - tv USA - 1997

John Carroll Lynch femulating on television’s The Drew Carey Show in 1997.

 

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Source: Madeleine

Wearing Madeleine.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grayson Perry Femulates To Receive CBE From Prince Charles

I love this story. It illustrates why Grayson Perry is one of my idols.

The story is all over the Internet; here are a few from the UK:

Daily MailGrayson Perry wears 'mother of bride' outfit to receive CBE from Prince Charles

The TelegraphGrayson Perry collects CBE in 'Italian mother of the bride' outfit

Belfast Telegraph: Video: Grayson Perry collects CBE in 'mother of the bride' outfit










Not-So-Vintage SX-70 Selfies

me_polaroid_2013-03-22

I bought a Polaroid SX-70 camera in 1974. The film was expensive: $7 for each film pack of ten pictures, which calculates to $35 in 2014 dollars! But I was young and single and could afford a film pack once in awhile.

I built my own remote control so I could take "SX-70 selfies" to document my dressing skills. Most of the SX-70 selfies were lost in the great purge of 1983 and I only have a handful of selfies that I took post-purge.

The camera bit the dust in 1985 and so ended my SX-70 photography.

A Christmas gift, a collection of postcards depicting vintage SX-70  photos, sparked my interest in the art of vintage SX-70 photography and I began perusing the Internet for samples. As a result, I discovered that a lot of people were way ahead of me and I found lots of vintage SX-70 photos online.

I wondered if anyone had tried using Photoshop to make current photos look like vintage SX-70 photos. Again, I discovered that a lot of people were ahead of me.

After checking out a number of online Photoshop tutorials, I chose one that  looked promising (Photoshop tutorial: Create the Polaroid effect for images by Ryan Boudreaux) and tried it with a recent photo of me taken in a hotel room. (How kitschy can I get?)

I was happy with the results and decided to share the final product with you (above).

 

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Source: Corbis

Femulators being arrested for “masquerading and indecent exposure”
while attending a 1962 Halloween ball in New York City.

 

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Source: ShopBop

Wearing Nicholas (gown), Marc by Marc Jacobs (earrings) and Schutz (pumps).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Living Transgender Live Chat Today

Jennifer L. Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD, will participate in a live chat today. Joining healthcare practitioner Dr. Cecile Unger, advocate Bianca Moreau and host Martha Bebinger, the live chat will discuss some of the healthcare, legal, and other issues of concern to transgender and gender queer people.

The chat begins at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time at www.commonhealth.wbur.org.

Sons

sissy When we were pregnant, I hoped our child would be female because I thought that since I was a very feminine male, I would be a poor role model if our child was male.

As it turned out, our child was female, which was a big relief. (She also turned out to be my biggest supporter. She told me that if I ever decided to transition that she would support my decision wholeheartedly.)

If our child was male, I am sure that having a feminine father would have some effect on his life. How much of an effect, I'll never know.

Would having a father who had feminine mannerisms cause the boy to have feminine mannerisms?

Are (my) feminine mannerisms natural or nurtured?

My father was not feminine, but he was not around much during my early years.  However, my mother was very present during those years and if I was going to take after anyone, it seems that I would take after the parent who was present, not absent.

My theoretical son would have a double whammy --- both his parents were feminine, so if nurturing was the source of femininity, then my son would potentially be even more feminine than I am.

Feminine mannerisms are one thing, but what would be the effect of having a father who was feminine and who also presented as a woman at the drop of a chapeau?

Goddess only knows.

And if my son turned out to be feminine --- like father, like son --- would it be the end of the world?

You girls out there who have sons are better able to answer these questions than I. So please have at it by leaving Comments to this post.

 

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Bryan-Schmiderer---southern-baptist-sissies---stage-usa---2013

Actor Bryan Schmiderer femulating in the 2013
stage production of Southern Baptist Sissies.

 

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Wearing Madeleine.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Femulating Mom

Fortunato Castro femulating his mother
A lot of us femulate our mothers to some degree. I, for one, wear styles that my mother would wear. And growing up under her tutelage, I act like the lady she was.

A 27-year-old artist named Fortunato Castro femulated his mother for his senior thesis at Cooper Union. He "turned his lens on himself, for a series of powerful self-portraits. But, unlike most self-portraits, he posed in an unusual way: as his mother.”

You can read all about it and see a slideshow at The Cut.

Anti-Aging

On Tuesday, Daily Makeover had some excellent advice about makeup mistakes that make you look older. I don't know about you, but at my age, I want to look younger, not older, so I am taking their advice to heart.

Daily Makeover is a good source for good advice on hair and makeup. I subscribe to their daily e-mails and I recommend a free subscription to any girl who wants to improve her femulating skills.

Nailing It

I am a big fan of the Kiss brand of pre-glued press-on nails. They go on quick, stray on forever and are large enough to cover my Amazonian finger nails. But lately, they have been scarce.

I usually purchase my Kiss pre-glued press-on nails at CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreen, but for the past month or so, they have been missing from the racks of those stores. They have other Kiss brand nail products on their racks, but not the pre-glued press-ons that I know and love.

The Kiss website stills show them, so either my stores are no longer carrying them or there was a big run on them during the holidays.

My personal stock of nails is running low, so I wanted to find out what was going on. I went online to check the stores' websites and bingo! I struck paydirt at the first website I visited. Walgreen has them in stock and they are on sale: $3.17 per set.

I cannot recall them ever being that cheap, so I ordered enough sets to qualify for free shipping ($25 minimum) and await their delivery in 3 to 5 days.

Stop Me If You Heard This One Before

Meanwhile, here is a story about me buying Kiss nails at Rite Aid last year. (This is a rerun, but some of you might have missed it.)

The cashier was a middle-aged woman like myself and as she rang up my purchase, she joked,

"Doing your nails?"

Although I knew she was joking, I responded, "Yes, they're for me. I do drag."

"You do?"

"Yes, I do. I wish I had a photo to show you."

I don't know if she believed me or not, but since then i made sure that I have a photo of me en femme handy on my iPhone.






Professional femulator Billy Bigwood in 1921.



Source: Rent the Runway

Wearing Nha Khanh.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Road Less Traveled - Part 2

By Michelle

Before telling my girlfriend, of course, I was dressing secretly at home fearing her sudden return, but eventually I took the courage and went to a “closed” meeting of our sisterhood. This was a step up again and I was very nervous. 

What was I scared of? I guess I was worried that somebody I knew would see me there. Although the obvious reply is that I would also see them, therefore, we’d both be in the same situation. Anyway, I got there, changed in the room allocated for doing so and went to meet the others. I found it a little uncomfortable and to be honest, a bit of a let-down. 

My immediate reaction was to leave (can you imagine that after all the build-up?), but I stuck it out and stayed for most of the evening. In those days, those meetings were the only meeting anywhere closer than London (a two-hour drive each way for me). So despite it being very low key and only held monthly (and not at all in December), I became a regular, gradually meeting friends there.

The next stage were “closed” weekends away, although on my first visit, I only went for the Saturday, coming home in the late afternoon. It was during these events that I left the hotel and for the first time walked out in the general public, first under the cover of darkness and then in broad daylight. What a site I must have been – although I have always not gone too over the top, my skirt was probably a bit too short and my wig was of a poor quality. However, once I was out I walked around for three hours and although I’m sure I was, I was not aware of being read. I walked back into the hotel elated and wanted to tell everyone about it. But that isn’t so easy because everyone else also wanted to talk about their adventures of the day.

These weekends (and they became full weekends as I got there on Friday evening and stayed until Sunday morning) became regulars for me and I became more confident and I hope more presentable. I had various steps up and little victories. The first one I really remember was when a man held a door open for me and smiled sweetly (a man’s never smiled at me in that way when I’ve been in male mode). A second was when I went with my wife and another man held a door for us and said “there you are, ladies” – priceless! 

On another day I went with my wife for a girls’ day out clothes shopping and we also went into a pub for lunch. I had never done this before and as always, I was very nervous. I followed my wife into a crowded bar where she was told there were tables available in the next room. Before I knew it she had disappeared into this room leaving me to follow her to a dining area with about 20 tables most of which were full. My heart was in my mouth as I expected everyone to stop and look at me in astonishment. When they didn’t my heartbeat went down to a steady “incredibly fast” and I gathered myself as a waitress, without a hesitation, took us to a table. We had a wonderful spot and I remember looking out at the winter sun as swans swam in the river that flowed past the window. Life just didn’t get better than this. What a long way from guiltily dressing in my mother’s bedroom some 35 years earlier.

In more recent years, I regularly go  out shopping on my own and rarely get a second glance (although I usually half expect the world is going to stop and I take a big breath inwards when I get out of my car). If necessary, I even start conversations with others. A few years ago I was walking around the shops when a woman came up to me to ask me directions and she did not hesitate for a second as my none too feminine voice replied. In fact, we continued in a normal conversation as she asked further questions. I have been asked for directions on more than one occasion when en femme.

Considering how little I spend of my life out en femme, this is a high proportion of the time compared with when I am in male mode. It seems that not only do men not ask for directions, they do not get asked for them much either! I guess it’s because a woman you don’t know is very unlikely to give you trouble – a man may be an unknown quantity when approached in this way. 

One thing that I do enjoy, although this again can be a very nerve-racking place to be, are conversations that women have whilst waiting in the ladies for a cubicle to become free, and afterwards, whilst waiting for a wash basin or a mirror. If a man spoke to another in this way in the gents room, he may get some funny looks and would definitely be assumed to have the “gay” gene! Often the conversations are on the same subject – how there is such a queue for the women whilst the men don’t have to wait? Partly because they often don’t wash their hands, I would suggest (ugh!)

More recently, I have gone up to another level again and go to a pub on Saturday evenings to enjoy a drink and a dance to the DJ. Admittedly, it is a partly gay pub and there are other sisters there, but it is very liberating to be able to dance without feeling a little inhibited as I might if in male mode. Once again, women start conversations with you, sometimes because they have obviously read you, but occasionally they haven’t, or at least are prepared to treat you as another woman. 

On one occasion, I was speaking to a woman whilst her friend (who incidentally was in a wonderful Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s style LBD) was being chatted up a by a male. The first woman was watching this with a look of contempt for him, leant closer to me and whispered, “That bloke’s a w*****.” I don’t approve of this language, but if ever a situation made me feel accepted by womankind, it was this. Insulting a man by a woman who is expecting my agreement – I thoroughly enjoyable moment. It’s a situation like that, though, that also helps me partly understand some of the difficulties women can experience with men “on the pull” on a Saturday evening. When the two women left later, we hugged and passed compliments to each other.

Being out in a pub on a Saturday night is always a “heart in my mouth” moment as I first enter the door to the bar and there have been occasions when I’ve been a little concerned by someone’s behaviour. Generally though, these nights have been great fun and despite being a very shy person, I have spoken to many women in a “girls together” way, which has been uplifting

As others have said here, in recent times there does seem to be a gradual increase in acceptance of us and provided we are reasonably convincing and don’t dress inappropriately, we will minimise the risks involved.

Apart from the experiences I have described, I’ve also attended balls, been taken out to lunch by a male friend (both on my “bucket list”) and even attempted karaoke (see photo) – well we all make mistakes! Although there are still things I haven’t done en femme such as travelling on public transport, going to a wedding or on a night out with a group of RGs/GGs (and who knows if I ever will), the adventures I have had have been wonderful. 

Like so many others, I started on my journey en femme too late, but now being in my mid-50s, I am aware of my mortality and aim to make up for lost time. I advise you to do the same – but always be sensitive of not imposing your "hobby" too much on others, which is a difficult path to keep to.



Source: Femulate Archive

Femulators in the United Kingdom, circa 1975.


Source: ShopBop

Wearing Alice + Olivia.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Road Less Traveled - Part 1

By Michelle

After reading Paula’s mid-January account of her few days away, it brought to mind how I have also journeyed further and further into the feminine world over time.

My earliest recollections are putting on my mum’s apron and lipstick in a bungalow we moved from just before my 6th birthday (so I must have been young) and being excited when seeing my then comedy heroes Morcambe and Wise femulating in wigs, makeup, evening dresses and matching long gloves (when I must have been a similar age). 

In the former instance my mother saw the lipstick and took me immediately to the bathroom and washed it off, making it quite clear that this was not the thing for me to do. 

As I grew, my mother’s clothes and shoes went from being too big, to being the right size (for an all too brief period) to being too small. I never got the chance to leave the house dressed whilst of school age and took some stupid risks when dressing upstairs whilst my parents were downstairs, always telling myself I could change quickly enough if I heard them coming (of course, that was completely unrealistic – had they decided to come upstairs, I would have no time to revert to my male self).

My first venture out en femme was when I was about 17 or 18 when my parents had gone out and under the cover of darkness I drove my car around the block and back into the garage.  A great thrill, but then I admonished myself for being so foolhardy and never did anything like that again while I lived at home, limiting myself to dressing within our four walls. 

Eventually my luck ran out when my parents went out to buy something from the shops. Assuming they would be gone for at least half an hour I dressed and was in my mother’s bedroom when I heard somebody coming up the stairs. I tried to run back to my room, but as I passed the top of the stairs I saw it was my mother, who had returned early as the shop had been shut, and she saw me. 

For those of you that have suffered this, you may have experienced the embarrassment I endured as I went downstairs later to talk to my parents – my worst nightmare had been realized. My parents, however, despite always previously showing complete disgust for any man who “dressed up as a woman” on television, were surprisingly supportive. I had feared they might disown me, but they didn’t. My dad said if I had those feelings again, I should go for a walk until they went away (my dad was very British – and I love him for it) and my mum offered me psychiatric help. 

Now you may feel these are rather negative reactions and I guess they are, but my parents experienced the war and the austerity of the post-war period and basically came from a very much less permissive era. They were also very introverted and shy and this was an experience that was new to them (as far as I’m aware). They were trying to help as best they could.

Partly as a result of the shock of being discovered by my parents that day and then meeting my first girlfriend a few weeks later, my desire to dress disappeared completely and I didn’t do so for 18 months! That was until I went to stay with her for a long weekend whilst she was at college. She had to work one morning and while she was out I noticed some gorgeous shoes on the floor of her bedroom – well that was that! 

Before I knew it I was dressed again, this time not in the rather boring clothes that my mother had, but in fashionable flowing skirts, flowery blouses and a full range of makeup – bought by a female of my own age. This was a much more exciting experience. I was hooked once again.

My girlfriend was not aware of my other self when three years later we were married. It was 7 years after that when I told her of my crossdressing. There followed a difficult time as she came to terms with the situation, but gradually she accepted the full me. Although given the choice, she would rather I stopped, she accompanies me on my outings whenever it is convenient for her to do so and generally is very positive about them.

Part 2 of Michelle's "A Road Less Traveled" will be here tomorrow.



Source: Femulate Archive

Femulators in the United Kingdom, circa 1970.



Source: ShopBop

Wearing Alice + Olivia.