Friday, September 22, 2017

It takes an effort to look effortless

By Paula Gaikowski

I just want to say I agree with Stana’s comments over the last few days.

There seems to be a vain of sanctimonious smugness that runs through our sorority, a political correctness that surrounds passing, sexuality and crossdressers in the transgender community. Let’s remember that together we are sisters supporting each other.

Transgender women just want the human race to know that we are women!

The hair, makeup, clothes, lingerie, voice lessons and of course, shoes are all gestures to the world that we are women.

Just like the cowboy who wears his hat, jeans and boots in the airport, he is saying to the world, "These clothes reflect who I am, a culture that I belong to, a philosophy that I adhere to and a vocation that I perform."

The banker, the rocker and the professor – they all send a message with their clothes.

That is the reason we do this – we want people to know who we are. That deep down, under the five o'clock shadow and receding hairline, we all have to some varying extent the hearts and souls of feminine beings.

That’s why we so often ask about passing, presenting or how do I look? It is the reason why we in the transgender community take more pictures than most tourists. Ever notice that you are the only person at the family reunion that knows exactly how to work the self-timer on the camera! We want acknowledgement, we are sending radio waves out into the Universe and listening, searching, longing to know if we are being heard.

I always dreamed of going out in public as a woman. When I turned 50, middle age crazy took over and I began working on it.

First, I began losing weight. Nothing makes you feel or look better, than being physically fit. I went from a size 26W to a 16 Misses. (How you lose the weight is another issue all together.)

I began buying makeup from a very helpful sales associate at the NARS counter. Every couple of weeks I’d buy another piece of cosmetic and she would tutor me. Kasey was the first person who taught me not to be ashamed of being transgender.

I would practice at home. Even if I wasn’t getting dressed, I would apply my makeup, getting better each time. I’d watch YouTube tutorials when I couldn’t practice.

I saved up and bought a good wig. Wig stores are all transgender friendly! If you don’t believe me call one, be polite and honest, tell them you are a transgender person looking for a wig and would like to come in. I guarantee you are not the first.

Once you have the hair, learn how to style it. Ask you your wig lady for lessons. I have had several classes where she taught me how to style and comb out my wig. After the classes practice, practice, practice.

I found a gender therapist and for the first time in my life spoke openly and face-to-face with someone about this. Speak with any girl and she will tell you this is a big part of self-acceptance. Because of this I was able to shed the guilt and shame I struggled with for years. I was also able to understand where I wanted to go with this. That’s when I set my goal of being able to go out in public as a woman on a regular schedule.

Get a big sister. Connect with another girl online or in person, even if you meet in drab as friends. Having someone like yourself to support each other is important.

Practice your voice with a smart phones recording app. Use your feminine voice every day.  I recite a memorized speech each day during my drive to and from work. After several months, my femme voice started to really sound natural.

Become a student of fashion, find a transgender mentor and study other women. Which one are you? Find your style and not your fantasy.

So much of my presentation has become second nature to me now. I walk out the hotel room door, smile at the maid and stop at the front desk without trepidation or anxiety. This self-assurance is contagious to everyone around you – it validates your appearance to them.

When I visit cosmetic counters in girl mode, I am always open about being transgender. When you get this close to a person they can tell I am transgender  The sale associates seem to love the diversion of having a transgender customer. We always have great conversations and I always ask them about my appearance. Most often, the words I hear are, poised, natural and classic.

They say 90% of presentation is attitude and confidence. This takes effort and work. That confidence and attitude comes from the steps I outlined above. My point is that it takes an effort to look effortless. This effort is all part of being a woman.

Please remember to enjoy the journey, the practice, the friendships, the accomplishments and even the failures.

Source: Tory Burch
Wearing Tory Burch (Source: Tory Burch)

Gabe Belyeu
Gabe Belyeu femulating on stage in La Cage Aux Folles.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Getting Good Enough

Yesterday's post, Not Good Enough, caused a bit of a firestorm.

Some readers commented that they were very offended by my post, that it stunk of passing privilege and was transphobic. One anonymous commenter even claimed that I was in the closet, which kind of contradicts my stinking of passing privilege.

A common thread running through the comments was that I was lucky to be blessed with good looks that facilitated my ability to femulate and even pass.

Luck had nothing to do with it, but hard work did!

When I started out of the closet, I was big guy – 6 feet 2, big-boned and overweight (I refer you to my before, not so overweight photo). My makeup skills were poor, my wigs were a mess and I had no fashion sense. And I walked around with my head down avoiding eye contact. No surprise that whenever I went out, I got clocked.

After a handful of humiliating outings, I did not complain, I did not whine. Instead, I decided to improve my presentation. There was not much I could do about being tall and big-boned, but I could lose weight. And lose weight, I did. Tipping the scales at 249 back then, I am 203 today and still working on losing weight.

To improve my makeup skills, I bought books and videos and studied them closely. Even better, I had a number of makeovers to see how the pros did my face. And I practiced, practiced and practiced some more.

I stopped buying $39 wigs and invested in hair that looked realistic and did not become a rats' nest after one wearing.

I studied fashion magazines to improve my fashion sense. I also discovered that with the right clothing I could even disguise being tall and big-boned. And I constantly checked out other women to see what worked and what failed, to see what I liked and what I did not like. I also studied how they walked and how they moved.

Surprisingly, my fashion sense "improved" just by losing weight. When I was overweight, I was buying outfits that looked good on someone less weighty. So when I lost the weight, my tastes in fashion now matched my weight.

Getting good enough became an obsession and was always on my mind. After a lot of work, I eventually I got there and these days, I receive comments like "You are a tall woman" rather than "You are a guy."

If I can do it, anyone can do it, but I am not saying everyone has to do it. Trans dress as you like, but be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of civilian goons who are close-minded and can't help letting everyone know how close-minded they really are.

Source: Boston Proper
Wearing Boston Proper (Source: Boston Proper)

Peter Sramek
Peter Sramek femulates on Hungarian television's version of Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Not Good Enough

Seems like everyday I see another headline like this: Transgender woman claims petrol station worker 'laughed and sniggered' at her appearance.

If people are laughing at your appearance, your appearance is not good enough.

I put a lot of time and effort into my appearance and I try to pass. My results indicate that my appearance is good enough. Either I pass or look convincing enough that civilians are not sure. The civilians who recognize me as transgender, respect that or don't care. In any case, no one makes an issue about my appearance... at least, not to my face.

There are trans folks who say passing is not important and they may not put much effort into trying to pass. Fine – that is their choice, but they should not complain when someone reacts negatively to their lackadaisical appearance.

They can't have your cake and eat it, too. If they want to go out looking like men in a dresses o skinny jeans, go ahead, but they are making themselves targets for the goons and ignoramuses out there and they should be prepared.

And don't whine about it when it happens

Source: Boston Proper
Wearing Boston Proper (Source: Boston Proper)

Héctor Medina
Héctor Medina femulating in the 2015 Cuban film Viva.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dressing to Impress

Source: Intermix
Wearing Faith Connexion top and Brandon Maxwell pants (Source: Intermix)

Christian Clavier
Christian Clavier femulating in the 1982 French film Le père noël est une ordure.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Not So Ho Hum

"Ho hum. I guess what we have been aiming for...a non-reactive reaction...may finally be arriving" was Pat's comment regarding the lack of reaction and general acceptance I experienced among the civilians at the ham radio convention I attended as a woman.

wrote that "the civilians I dealt with treated me like a lady," but I did not mention how they treated me as a lady. It was ho hum, but in an affirming my femininity way!

The civilians attending the convention last weekend were predominantly male – I estimate that 80% to 90% of the attendees were male and probably half were in their mid-40's or older. Females were in the minority. As a result, my male ham radio peers were interested in my appearance. Guys were checking me out everywhere I went.

Whenever I had to deal with a male one-on-one, for example, while making a purchase or asking a question about something in the flea market or in an exhibitor's booth, the male interfaced with me as males usually interface with females. They speak differently (dare I say "sweetly") when they talk to a woman rather than another guy. And when doing so, they called me "Ma'am," "Miss," "Honey," "Sweety," "Young Lady" – never "Buddy," "Old Man" or "Sir."

And how do you respond when a male stranger passing by says to you, "Wow – you're a tall woman!"

Like I said before, it was all good.

Source: Simply Be
Wearing AX (Source: Simply Be)

Justin Vivian Bond
Justin Vivian Bond performs "My Model | MySelf: I'll Stand by You" for the New Museum exhibition "Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon" (Source: Nathan Bajar for The New York Times)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

45 Days Until Halloween!

(Source: The Meaning of Lila)

Source: Intermix
Wearing Emilio Pucci sweater, Ellery skirt and Bendetta Bruziches shoes (Source: Intermix)

José Pescina
José Pescina femulating in the 2014 Mexican film Carmin Tropical.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Number 3

Femulate was just selected as Number 3 of the Top 75 Crossdressing Blogs, as rated by Feedspot.

Previously, Femulate was rated Number 4 of the Top 50 Trans Woman Blogs and Number 20 of the Top 100 Transgender Blogs.

Wow! Again, Wow!

Source: Schutz Shoes
Wearing Schutz Shoes (Source: Schutz Shoes)

Gareth Potter
Gareth Potter femulates on the Canadian stage in Hosanna (2011).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My size doesn’t make me genderless

Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie says she still loves wearing heels despite being 6'3". Christie hopes her stature breaks the mold of traditional beauty standards in Hollywood.

“I hope it helps change people’s perceptions of what beauty is,” she tells People in this week’s issue. “I think my size, or the roles that I’ve been lucky enough to play, have helped people see a broader definition of femininity. It’s important that all kinds of people are represented onscreen.”

Height is “not something I think too much about” and says she loves wearing heels and embracing her femininity. “My size doesn’t make me genderless.”


I am over six feet tall, so I am a tall woman.

About the time I started femulating in my early teens, I became interested in tall women because they affirmed my existence as a tall woman, i.e., I was not the only tall woman out and about in society. Few were as tall as me, but maybe there were enough out there so that I could blend in more easily as just another tall woman.

In the past, tall women tried to blend in with their shorter sisters, so they dressed down (pun intended); instead of celebrating their height, they tried to hide it (to appear less intimidating to men).

Also, tall women did not have a lot to choose from clothes-wise. Few clothiers catered to tall women, so tall women had to make do with what was available, which typically did not celebrate tall women's height.

Today, tall women are out and proud and celebrate their height. They have more clothing to choose from now that more clothiers recognize their potential as customers. They no longer dress down to hide their height. They wear high heels and leg baring skirts and dresses. They don't care if
they are intimidating. They've come a long way!

It is a great time to be a tall woman, or a tall femulator.

(Visit my list of Famous Females of Height to see who else is tall.)

Source: ShopBop
Wearing Diane von Furstenberg (Source: ShopBop)

Grzegorz Wilk
Grzegorz Wilk femulates Amanda Lear on Polish television's Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Boxboro Daze

Last weekend, I attended a ham radio convention in Boxboro, Massachusetts. Continuing from where I left off in my previous post, after breakfast I returned to my room to freshen up, finish a cup of coffee and wait for the show to start at 9 AM.

I have attended the Hamvention in Ohio seven times as a woman, whereas Boxboro was the first "local" ham radio event I have attended as a woman. As a result, I was likely to meet more local hams in Boxboro than I meet in Ohio.

In the past, I was very active in ham radio on the local level as a man, so most of the locals know me as Stan, not Stana. So I was a little nervous about meeting up with folks who knew Stan and might react negatively to meeting Stana.

Saturday, I had numerous encounters with those folks and had no reaction, good or bad, discovering that Stan was now Stana. It was very weird and totally unexpected.

For example, I was in the flea market looking at used radio equipment when somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hi Stan." It was a fellow and his wife who I had not seen in over 35 years. They both worked with me at the headquarters of the national ham radio organization (ARRL) circa 1978. We chatted about old times and new times. My gender change did not come up in the conversation and did not phase them in the least.

That encounter was typical. It was as if I had always presented as a woman. Perhaps the word about Stana was out among some of the locals, so they were not surprised. Or gender change has become old hat – everyone knows one, so it is no big deal. In either case, I was relieved.

There is not much more to say about Boxboro except that the civilians I dealt with treated me like a lady. That included the hotel staff, the dealers in the showroom, the folks selling in the flea market and the various hams I encountered, who did not know me from Eve.

It was all good.

Source: MyHabit
Wearing Cashmere Addiction (Source: MyHabit)

Mariusz Ostrowski
Mariusz Ostrowski femulates on Polish television's Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Boxboro Days

After reading the email, I went to bed at 11 PM hoping to get seven hours of sleep before the big day on Saturday. Usually, I don't have a problem sleeping in beds that are not mine, but Friday, I was tossing and turning all night. I probably got two or three hours of sleep. I blame the pillows; they were too soft.

I reluctantly got out of bed at 6 AM, shaved, showered, did my makeup and hair, then checked the weather to help me decide how to dress. The forecast was sunny with temps in the low 70's – a perfect late summer New England day – so I decided to wear shorts (JCPenney), short-sleeve top (Dress Barn), a new pair of wedges (Payless) and silver earrings and watch.

The show opened at 9 AM, so I had plenty of time to breakfast and go over the show itinerary to decide which presentations or workshops to take in. I grabbed my bag and walked down to the atrium where there was a spread of breakfast food. I chose yogurt, bagel and coffee, sat down at a table and read the convention program while I had my breakfast.

As I was finishing, I noticed an old friend sitting down at a table at the opposite end of the breakfast area. We became friends when we both worked in the same department at the headquarters of the national ham radio organization (ARRL) circa 1978. He went on to become a director of the ARRL, while I became one of its most prolific writers, so we have crossed paths at other ham events and he is familiar with Stana.

After depositing my breakfast crumbs in a garbage bin, I sat down with him to chat for awhile. We caught up with each other's lives and the lives of our mutual friends. Then I excused myself to go back to my room to freshen up. As I departed, he remarked that I had gotten thin since the last time we had met and I thanked him for noticing.

That was a nice way to start the day!

Source: Intermix
Wearing Victoria Beckham skirt, Tibi skirt, A.L.C. bag and Giuseppe Zenetti shoes (Source: Intermix)

Mariusz Ostrowski
Mariusz Ostrowski femulates on Polish television's Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Boxboro Nights

I attended a ham radio convention in Boxboro, Massachusetts, this past weekend. It is the "New England Division" convention of the ARRL, so it is well-attended and is the "big" ham radio show in this area.

After two hours on the interstates early Friday afternoon, I was at the host hotel checking into my room at 3 PM.

I had nothing to do until 6 PM, so I took my time doing my hair and makeup and trying on different outfits. I finally chose my last purchase from Dress Barn, a belted cold-shoulder geometric knit dress. I accessorized with my nude high heel pumps from Payless, nude satchel bag from Christian Siriano via Payless, silver earrings, necklace and watch. I also wore my ham radio callsign badge, which in addition to my callsign includes my legal male name and a line stating that I am "Contributing Editor" for the leading ham radio magazine.

I would be lying if I did not admit I was a little scared about leaving my room and mixing with the civilians, who are like neighbors and more likely to know me than the Midwest civilians I usually mix with at Hamvention. After hemming and hawing for 10 minutes, I kicked my dupa into gear and went downstairs to the pre-dinner cocktail party.

As I expected, the room was full of guys. I could count the women on one hand. And I did not recognize anyone. So I walked up to the bar, ordered a drink and took it all in.

I noticed a 50-something woman giving me the once-over and she was not smiling. I paid her no mind and after about five minutes, I was bored, exited the bar and found a comfy armchair in the hallway outside the bar hoping to see someone I knew.

In the chair next to me was a 50-something gent, who seemed to be solo like me. After awhile, I asked him to take an iPhone photo of me. He happily agreed and the result is above. We exchanged small talk and while doing so, I saw an old ham radio friend enter the bar. I excused myself to meet up with my friend.

As I was walking to the bar, the woman who had given me the once-over was exiting the bar and heading my way. As she got closer, she smiled and said, "I love your dress!"

"Thank-you," I replied.

I found my friend, who is blind, so I had to tell her who I was and she was happy to meet up with me. We go back a long time and worked together when I was Section Manager of Connecticut and she was one of my appointees. After a few war stories, I said I had a surprise for her and mentioned that I was wearing a dress instead of trousers. She was very surprised, but she got it and we continued chatting.

The doors opened to the dining room and I hoped to sit with my friend. But she already had four people in tow and the tables were set up to seat five, so I was even girl out. The next table was empty except for one older gent named Ed. So I asked if I could join him and he welcomed me. A few minutes later, the fellow who took my photo joined us (his name was Mike) and we three got to know each other ham radio-wise.

Ed noticed my callsign badge and realized who I was (a "ham radio legend" as someone once called me). Mike realized he knew me, too. And the discussion switched gears to my personal ham radio wars as a professional writer in the hobby. The time flew by, the food was incidental and then we sat through an interesting, but too long after dinner speech about one ham's adventure operating ham radio in Yemen.

The dinner broke up after the prize drawing (I won nothing) and as I said goodbye to my dinner guests, Ed commented that it was nice to put a face to all my writings that he had read over the years and Mike agreed.

I thanked them for the kind words and turned in for the night and a busy day to follow.

Source: Eloquii
Wearing Eloquii (Source: Eloquii)

Danial Deco
Danial DeCo femulating on Italian television's Forte Forte Forte.