Friday, June 23, 2017

Best Moments Out As A Woman

By Michelle Bowles

When I was young and borrowing my mother’s clothes, I sometimes dreamed of one day spending a day out in public dressed as a female and… well, actually probably no more than just that. In that dream, nobody would pay me any particular attention, and I would just be treated as just another woman out and about doing her business.

Of course, in my heart of hearts I realised that would never happen. Except that it did, and not just for one day, but for numerous days (some of which I have written about in previous posts for Femulate). I then thought, “Can I list the best half dozen moments I have experienced en femme on these outings?”

I started a list of six moments and soon found I had gone past that number without really trying, so I thought, “How about a top 10?” I was soon past that, too – and so you can see, I ended up with a top 20. Cheating a bit, I know, but after I first suggested the “My favourite photo of…myself” feature that Stana ran a year or two back, many people found it really difficult to pick just one picture. So I am really carrying on a tradition (well that’s my excuse).

Here is my list of en femme moments anyway, and rest assured there are a few others I could have put in, too. See what you think.

1. A man opening a door for you and your cisgender female partner whilst saying “ladies.”

2. Being asked to dance by a man when at the pub disco.

3. Asking a shop assistant in a department store where the ladies clothes are and without even a double take, being asked whether I wanted the fashion or the posher clothes departments.

4. On finding the women’s department an assistant approaching me, as I am looking at some clothes, and asking me would I like her to reserve a changing cubicle for me so I can try some dresses on.

5. Being dressed up to the nines and walking into Royal Ascot on a sunny summer’s day.

6. Having a bookmaker say “Yes, Madam?” as I place a bet at Royal Ascot - and being addressed similarly when I go to collect my winnings (in fact being “Madamed” at any time would make my list).

7. When a waitress says “What can I get for you ladies?” as I am out with a TG friend for lunch.

8. Being served first when out with my cisgender female partner at an Indian restaurant, because the waiter obviously hasn’t read me, and therefore “ladies first” is irrelevant.

9. Being waved through past the roped off queue as I enter the pub on crowded Saturday evening as it has a LGBT friendly policy.

10. Being asked to wait in the roped off queue and refused entry at the other door of the same pub because they think I am cisgender female (this is many times better than moment no. 9).

11. Going up to a barman to be asked “What can I get you, Miss?”

12. Realising I’ve just spent a whole day in London, without once being aware of being “read” despite many one-to-one conversations.

13. Being accepted as just another woman by a group of female work colleagues (all of whom were unknown to me and my cisgender female partner) who were out for a Saturday evening together.

14. When in that group of females, a man outs his empty glass on our table, and one of the women leans across to me and says “I just love the way they think we’re going to wash it up for them.”

15. When talking to a woman on a night as she notices her female friend is being chatted up by a man and she interrupts her conversation with me to say “That bloke’s a real w*****.”

16. Being involved in women’s conversations in the ladies’ toilets.

17. When trying on something in the ladies’ changing rooms in a shop and a woman says how much it suits me.

18. Expecting people to look at me as I enter a crowded public area and nobody does.

19. Not noticing I’ve dropped an earring and a woman interrupts her conversation with her friend to let me know (I particularly liked this one, and I don’t know why).

20. Being asked by woman about where to pay in a multi storey car park and then getting into a conversation about how confusing they are.

As you can see these are moments when out and about and largely can be summarised by “being accepted in the female world” as I so wanted to be all those years ago.

Normally when talking about list of favourites we are asked “And which is top of your list?” Before I reveal that, I’m going to list some of my very favourites – hopefully you’ll choose which would be yours. Firstly, I really liked the bookmaker at Ascot addressing me as “Madam” because I was up to that point not entirely sure I was passing, but that proved I was and added to the experience was being dressed in a posh frock, hat and heels – what’s not to like? And of course, going back shortly after to collect my winnings and being addressed as Madam again meant I floated away afterwards, a few pounds the richer.

Being made to wait in the roped off queue at the pub because a number of door staff had not read me was particularly nice, too (no. 10). Also I think experiences that mean I’ve been accepted into the woman’s world must be up there, so examples such as numbers 4, 15, 16 and 17 (excuse me for using number references) would be near the top.

If I had to choose just one, I’d probably say the comment after a man had placed a glass on our table (no. 14) would be my favourite. I had gone on a Saturday evening with my cisgender female partner, to our regular gay (and straight) friendly haunt. When we arrived it was already crowded and there was no seat, but a group of about 6 women saw we were standing and moved up to make room for us.

We soon got into conversation with them and discovered they were work colleagues out together – they were all straight, but just liked this particular pub. This continued for the rest of the evening, and I just assumed they had read me and had accepted me as I am, which was a lovely thing in itself. Then the man put the glass on our table and walked away. The fact that one of the women leaned over to me to comment that he had just thought we, being a group of women, would wash it up for him, was wonderful. It seems, to her, I was just a woman she had met on a night out.

These are all experiences that were a largely a surprise and to do with being out en femme and If anybody has a similar list to send to Femulate I, for one, would love to read it.

Yes, I like lists (part of my male self that carries over into my female half). As they say, there are two categories of people in the world; those that put people into categories, and those that don’t.

Source: ShopBop
Wearing Marc Jacobs (Source: ShopBop)

Yasumasa Morimura
Photographer Yasumasa Morimura femulates Marlene Dietrich.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Before we leave Kingston, NY, I have one more story from Upstate New York about a missed opportunity.

Next door to the quick print shop was a woman's clothing boutique. The print shop and woman's boutique were in the same building, an old Victorian home, and the back rooms of the print shop and the boutique were separated by an unlocked door.

The boutique owner/proprietor was a woman in her mid-50's. Initially, we were just acquaintances, but we became friendlier after she forgot her keys one day and I let her get into her store via the unlocked door that separated our back rooms. After that we chatted almost once a day and became better acquainted.

Over time, I noticed a couple of gents who shopped at her store on more than one occasion, so one day I asked her about her male customers. She quickly responded that they were "transvestites" and that she had about a half dozen male customers who were so inclined.

"That's interesting," was my reply.

Then she added, "You look to be a size 16. I have some outfits in your size that would look lovely on you."

I didn't see that coming! I was very embarrassed and could only manage to squeak out, "Thanks, but no thanks."

"If you change your mind, you know where to find me."

I thought about it often, but never took her up on her offer.

Source: ShopBop
Wearing Alice + Olivia (Source: ShopBop)

Alex Mathias, Vadim Oleynik and Artem Meh
Alex Mathias, Vadim Oleynik and Artem Meh femulating on Ukraine television's version of Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All In

I mentioned in my last post that a highlight of my six-week stint working in Kingston, New York, was visiting an old-school lingerie shop in boy mode and getting fitted for an all-in-one.

After I found the store in the Yellow Pages, I checked it out one evening after work. It was located in downtown Kingston, not in a strip mall or shopping plaza, and it looked tiny and inconspicuous… the antithesis of Victoria’s Secret.

For days, I thought about the store and finally gathered up the courage to visit it during a lunch hour. I drove to the store, parked on the street and sat in my car waiting for minimum pedestrian traffic to avoid anyone seeing me entering the store. When all was clear, I exited my car and entered the store as quickly as possible.

A middle-aged lady greeted me. She probably had seen it all, so when I mentioned I needed some foundation garments for my Halloween costume, I don't know if she believed me. And when I suggested that I might need an “all-in-one,” that probably tipped my hand immediately – how many guys know what's an "all-in-one?"

Nevertheless, she was very helpful and after measuring me up, she handed me two heavy-duty all-in-ones to try on and said, "Take these to the dressing room, try them on and call me so I can see if they fit properly."

I did not expect such a hands-on sale, but was glad to have it.

I went to the dressing room, quickly stripped down to my briefs and zipped myself into the first all-in-one, but it did nothing for me. However, the second one did wonders and I summoned the proprietor to examine me wearing the second all-in-one.

"Wow, that was quick," she remarked. I assumed that her other male customers were not as fast as I when trying on their "first" foundation garment.

She checked me out and gushed about my great girlish figure. I tipped my hand again when my face turned beet red in embarrassment. I could not pay for my purchase fast enough and get out Dodge.

By the way, I loved that all-in-one. It was constructed with spring-like metal stays and it gave me a figure like no other. It was my go-to foundation garment for years. I wish I could find one like it today!

Source: New York Magazine
Wearing MISSGUIDED (Source: New York Magazine)

Source Juan's New Male Fashion
Bill suggested that this would be the tipping point (Source "A Day at the Office" from Juan's New Male Fashion)

Monday, June 19, 2017


Don't Get Out Much

As a youth, I did not know much about sex. In fact, I am still waiting for my father to tell me about the birds and the bees! And I was very naive, too. That plus being a very feminine boy was a recipe for disaster. 

Except for a lot of verbal abuse, I came away fairly unscathed. But I sure had some close calls.

First job out of college was working for a chain of quick print shops as a fill-in for co-workers during their vacations or health-related absences. Thus, I found myself in our Kingston, New York, store for a six-week stint during the fall winter of 1974.

Being near Woodstock, the Kingston store had some interesting clientele – lots of well-known artists and musicians. Most of them were very cool, but I recall having a difficult time with a musician of some note, who wanted me to make photocopies of copyrighted sheet music, which was against store policy, not to mention against the law. But I digress.

One of our regular customers was a funeral director. He showed up one day at high noon and offered to take me to lunch. Naive me agreed and we went to a nearby diner, had lunch, then headed back to the shop. On the way back, he hinted that I could thank him for lunch in a very intimate way!

I almost regurgitated lunch when I realized what he had in mind, but I played dumb until we got back to the shop and was able to escape from his black Cadillac. I never saw him again.

Kingston wasn't all bad and I did have some positive experiences. One highlight was visiting an old-school lingerie shop in boy mode and getting fitted for an all-in-one, but that's another story.

Did the Point Tip?

Source: Juan's New Male Fashion
Source: Juan's New Male Fashion

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Femulating Father's Day

Source: Madeleine
Wearing Madeleine (Source: Madeleine)

David Duchovny
David Duchovny femulating in a 2017 episode of television's Twin Peaks (Source: Aunty Marlena)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Drag in the Family

By Starla Renee Trimm, Femulate Contributing Editor

The other day, I happened to catch one of the All in the Family episodes in which Finocchio's drag queen, Lori Shannon (Don McLean), appeared as female impersonator Beverly LaSalle.

There were three episodes in which Lori appears:  "Archie the Hero" (1975), "Beverly Rides Again" (1976) and "Edith's Crisis of Faith, Part 1" (1977). The character is somewhat of a breakthrough, being the first time a drag queen is depicted in a positive and sympathetic manner on U.S. television. Beverly becomes a friend of the Bunkers, especially Edith, who becomes quite chummy with her new "girlfriend." Even Archie comes to begrudgingly tolerate LaSalle's flamboyant personality.

In the third episode, Beverly is killed in a gay bashing causing Edith to go into a deep depression and nearly lose her faith in God. This is the kind of gut-wrenching pathos brilliantly, but respectfully complimented with humor that the show was known for in its heyday. (Interestingly, it has been pointed out that LaSalle may be more trans than drag queen, as she is shown dressing en femme even when not performing.)

Sadly, Shannon was not as sympathetic as the character portrayed in All in the Family. Shannon/McLaen was said to be quite stuck-up and mean-spirited in real life and was not well-liked by many of the drag queens at Finocchio's. When McLean passed away from health issues at the young age of 45, one fellow performer was quoted as saying, "I don't care what the doctors say – that queen died of hate."

Wearing Nicholas dress, Alexander Birman sandals and Mercedes Salazar earrings (Source: Intermix)

Kerela, India
Transgender beauty pageant in Kerela, India, June 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Looking Good

Paula Gaikowski sent me this link to a BuzzFeed article titled "19 Insanely Useful Makeup Tips For Trans Women." It is interesting on two fronts.

1. It has some useful makeup tips intended for women like us. (I even learned a few things.)

2. Articles like this usually appear on trans-related blogs, websites, etc., but in this case, the article appeared on what is considered a mainstream "civilian website."

That's progress!

Source: Olivia Palermo
Wearing Banana Republic (Source: Olivia Palermo)

Brendan Jordan
Brendan Jordan, femulating womenswear model

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Is Trans Over?

Subtitled "The beginning of the end of the gender binary may have arrived," this story by activist Riki Wilchins came off the mojo wire this morning: "Is Trans Over?"

Wearing ELOQUII (Source: ELOQUII)

A reverse binary couple.
A reverse binary couple.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Passing Interest

Most transpeople have an opinion on passing and seem to be in one of two camps on the subject.

One camp feels that passing is overrated and not important, while the other camp feels that passing is a goal that they work to achieve. I am in the latter camp and along with Faith DaBrooke of Adventures of a Gender Rebel fame. Her recent podcast about passing is a must-hear on the subject.

One of my favorite passing stories occurred about ten years ago when I was doing outreach at Southern Connecticut State University. I started the day in 3-1/2-inch stilettos, but just in case, I brought a pair of flats that I left in the car.

After shopping at the mall before outreach and going to the first of two classes to do outreach, my 3-1/2-inch stilettos had to go, so I went to the car to fetch my more comfortable shoes.

As I walked through the parking lot, I saw a university dump truck parked right in front of the car. The driver was talking with another university employee standing next to the truck. Oh, damn, just what I needed: the classic trans-woman nightmare, a Transwoman Vs. Macho Guy face-off!

I was ready for the worst! Making a beeline for the car, I tried to ignore the guys, but the guy standing by the side of the truck greeted me with a very flirtatious, "Good afternoon," while the guy in the truck smiled appreciatively and drove away.

They flirted with me! Wow – that was an affirming moment!

I switched shoes and went to the student center to eat lunch, but I was unsure where it was located. I got lost fast, so I asked a couple – girl and guy students – for directions. The guy was really helpful. He dumped the girl and walked with me down a long sidewalk to a place where I could actually see the student center.

My success at passing was amazing that day especially since I thought that I didn't think I look my best! But did I really pass or were the people I encountered just being very respectful of a person showing a lot of diversity?

I have no doubt that I passed with the university workers. If they knew I was a guy, I don't think they would have flirted with me.

I probably also passed with the male student who gave me directions. He was just a little bit too solicitous dumping the young girl student to help out the older woman on campus.

Needless to say, I was very pleased.

Source Intermix
Wearing T By Alexander Wang dress, Sergio Rossi sandals and Valentino bag (Source Intermix)

Crowning the winner in the 1970 womanless beauty pageant at Southside High School in Florence, S.C. (Source: Starla)
Crowning the winner in the 1970 womanless pageant at Southside High School in Florence, S.C. (Source: Starla)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life, Look & the Saturday Evening Post

Since semi-retiring, my daily routine has no routine. This blog has suffered as a result.

When I was working, the first thing I did before starting work was to write the next post for the blog. Now that I am not working, my daily schedule is so fluid that regularly writing a new blog post each day is not happening. Hopefully, I will get better as I get used to my new life.

And so it goes.

๐Ÿ‘  ๐Ÿ‘  ๐Ÿ‘ 

My daughter and I were discussing feet yesterday after she noticed that I wasn’t wearing socks in boy mode, which has been my warm-weather routine for a few years now. 

One thing led to another and I mentioned how my footwear did not fit right lately. All my shoes seemed loose — so loose that my feet were slipping around inside my shoes when I walked causing me to walk more weirdly than usual. The only shoes that fit well were a pair I recently bought at Payless, which was a half-size smaller than my “normal” size.

My daughter suggested that since I lost weight (10 pounds), my feet lost some weight, too.

Of course — why didn’t I think of that! Which also explains why my girl shoes have felt more comfortable lately.

๐Ÿ‘  ๐Ÿ‘  ๐Ÿ‘ 

My favorite nude bag had seen better days. I bought it from Avon about five years ago and it became my go-to bag whenever I wore nude heels.

The inside of the bag was as good as new, but the outside of the bag was worn out. Cleaning it helped a little, but it had some blue worn spots that cleaning only made worse. It was time to shop for a new nude bag.

I visited all the online suspects and found just what I was looking for at Payless: their “Lianna Tote” designed by Christian Siriano. It is a classy looking bag with lots of room inside to hold all the contents girls like us need when we go out. 

Its list price was $49.99, but it was on sale for $34.99 and to sweeten the deal, I had a coupon, which knocked the price down to $27.91. So, Stana’s got a brand new bag!

Source: Intermix
Wearing Veronica Beard dress, Alexandre Birman sandals, Odette bracelet (Source: Intermix)

Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Something New

I am a big fan of Kiss Express Stick-On artificial nails. They go on fast and easy, stay on until you want them off and look good. Friday night, the first thing the girls did when I met up with them is compliment my nails!

The only problem I have with the Kiss Express Stick-On nails is that they are only available in one style. Years ago, Kiss sold other Express Stick-On styles, but not anymore. So I am stuck with one style and although they always look great, I am bored with them.

Looking for alternatives, I discovered Kiss Impress Gel Manicure nails. They are available in over 20 styles and are pre-glued stick-ons like the Express Stick-On brand, but better; Kiss claims the glue on their Impress nails is "3X stronger than other pre-glued nails."

I was intrigued, but wondered about the size of the Kiss Impress nails. I have long, thin lady-like fingers, but in the past, I have purchased artificial nails that were not large enough to cover my own natural nails. If the size of the fake thumbnail doesn't match the size of my natural thumbnail (5/8 of an inch wide), then the whole set is useless to me.

There is only one way to solve find out if the size is right: buy a set and try them on. So I purchased a set at my local Rite Aid this morning and took them home to measure them up. And I was pleased to discover that like their kissing cousins, the size of the Impress thumbnails are a perfect match for my natural thumbnails.

I did not try on the new nails because I want to save them for a nice day out as a woman. When I do, I will let you know how well they survive out in the wild!

Source: Moda Operandi
Wearing Elizabeth Kennedy (Source: Moda Operandi)

Jeremy Stockwell
Jeremy Stockwell femulating in the 1970 film Dinah East.