Friday, September 10, 2021

My Costume

By Lisa

I am wearing a costume today and I am not pretending to be my friend Kandi (the actress!) either! I am telling the truth, however, because I have been wearing a costume almost every day of my life. It is wonderful on those extended hours, days and weeks where I don’t have to put it on, but most of the time it is required for the “role” I play of being husband, father, grandfather, colleague and all around “good guy.” How about you? Are you wearing a costume today?

The problem with my costume is that it doesn’t enliven my senses. There is a reason our community has nicknamed this type of costume “drab” – compared to who we are, it is dull and boring and it robs us of choice. Even the choice to be drab is denied to us (thank you, Ralph Lauren for your attempt to be boring).

So what drab thing will you wear today: the black, brown or blue pants? What else: the blue shirt with black stripes, the blue shirt with red stripes or the blue shirt with no stripes? How about your shoes: brown loafers, gray tennis shoes or black oxfords? Will you have a tie with that order: maybe a red one with blue stripes or a blue one with red stripes or the solid red one? Are you looking for variety in your underwear today: you can change from boxers to briefs as long as they are dark colored or white and have a pouch at the front to give your mechanical gear extra room. Maybe top it all off with a dark hat and dark belt. Pretty boring stuff unless you cock your hat just right!

One of my theories is that I realized I was transgender at eight years old because that is when I understood just how boring my “whitey-tighty” world had become in terms of clothing (see drab examples above), emotions (best to have none), activities (relating to sports, technology or cars only, please), etc. I internalized a lot of my unhappiness with that box, but I also tentatively pushed back when I thought it was safe to do so by asking for more: more colors, more hand and facial expressions, more interests (including art, music and dance), more feelings and more intuition.

One way I have gotten more is to come up with some actual Halloween-style costumes (although I created them for myself just for fun and not for a specific event). In one, I decided I wanted to recreate a 1950’s “sock hop” theme; in the other, the look and feel of a flight attendant. The latter was fun because folks seemed to accept me as a recently arriving flight attendant!

Today, I push back big time. I want it all because being feminine makes me feel so gloriously and fully alive (like sunlight hitting water droplets after a rainfall and separating me into a brilliant display of color...)  

I must face certain facts, however, when it comes to wanting it all.  Even if I transitioned, I wouldn’t actually have it all. I would still need to be costumed in some ways. 

For example, I was blessed (or cursed, depending on one’s perspective) with a deep bass voice. Lisa doesn’t want that voice, so I must consciously employ my Lisa voice every time I speak as Lisa. Occasionally, I will slip up (especially when I need to shout, clear my voice or cough involuntarily); and when that happens, it feels (and sounds) ugly. There is a surgery to change one’s vocal cords, but I love to sing, and I just couldn’t bear to risk having to give that up. Doing that would make “me” a lesser me, not more.

Another example is my flat chest and built-in plumbing. I could have surgery to take care of both of those things and simulate the look that I crave, but my breasts still largely would be made of silicone – inside instead of outside (a hidden part of the costume wardrobe, but part of the costume nonetheless) and my plumbing would look, but not work like it should. Not to mention the fact that I only want to make love to one person: my wife, who doesn’t want to deal with any plumbing other than the type she is attracted to and fits with her plumbing (i.e., she is a straight cis-gender woman).

I hope I am not stepping on anyone else’s toes here or giving “too much information.” Please take the above comments as my own feelings – this stuff is pretty darn personal and many will feel differently. On the other hand, you may have some examples of your own of costumes or parts of costumes that must continue to be worn by those who have transitioned. 

I don’t want to belabor the point, however, as everyone wears some sort of mask every day, even cisgender folks. The sort of mask I am talking about is not the sort we have all been required to wear recently to keep each other safe, like the one I wore for my dress fitting...

No, I am talking about the part of themselves that every human being hides from view.

The conclusion for me is that there is no way for me to avoid being costumed for the rest of my life. Born to be an actor, I was made for this drama. At least, as Mr. Shakespeare reminds us, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

I plan to continue to revel in the smell of my stage makeup, even if I never experience total acceptance by my audience. I will be the best me I can be in whatever role I play, whether on stage or off stage. Someday the curtain will come down and my roleplaying will cease for good. At that point, the costume won’t matter to anyone, including me.

Source: New York & Company
Wearing New York & Company

Curt Bois
Curt Bois (left) femulating in the 1928 German film The Masked Mannequin. 


  1. Lisa, Hitting the big time, I love it!! You always make me think about all of this from a different angle and I love you for that.

    1. Thank you Kandi. If we want to see about a real actor, we have to go to Kandi's Land and hear about your adventures! Lisa

  2. Thanks for sharing so much with all of us. No matter the costume you are in, you are a very special person.
    You look fabulous in those dresses and skirts.
    Be safe.

  3. Thank you for your honesty. This took a lot of courage to write, and I applaud you for it.

    I am a cisgender female. The costume I don most often is that of office receptionist. I pretend to enjoy answering the telephone (I hate, loathe, and despise to talk on the telephone). Handling phone calls is the price I willingly pay for the joy of editing other people's documents (I love, adore, and am quite happy to edit the written word).

  4. Lin, your comment made me laugh because I absolutely hate having to call someone on the phone! I get that from my mother, and it can be a pain, but I also get my love of the stage from her, which is wonderful.

  5. You're absolutely right about costumes, Lisa. Back when I was a working stiff I always referred to my clothes as, "office drag". I also had my formal costume and, of course I have my "Mikki" costumes. The late, great John Prine said, "Age is a costume". And all this is a recognition of all those parts we play in our lives. I only wish that when I'm in one of my "Mikki" costumes I looked half as good as you -- OK, I'd settle for 1/3, 1/4????

    One little thing, Hon' I was a witness to the 1950's. I was there! Pull up a crinoline under your dress and make yourself look like an authentic 1950's rockabilly girl with her poofed-out skirt! (not sure poofed is a real word).

    1. Mikki, you can be my wardrobe consultant any day! The crinoline shows better under another dress have. I just adore that rockabilly look. Sort of big girl colthes with a little girl's joy.

  6. Wow!..thank you for sharing that. The last paragraph brought tears

  7. Curt Bois is the femulator on the left -- who is the femulator on the right??


  8. * If you want to change your voice, a few months with a voice coach and you will notice a remarkable difference. No need for surgery there. After a few months of practice, it will just become your voice.. you will actually find it hard to hit the low levels again.

    * Similarly, a few months on proper hormones and you will have breasts... most girls don't even need implants (unless they want them!)

    * "Plumbing not work"... not even sure what that means? Are you talking about giving birth? Is a woman who has a hysterectomy no longer a woman? Are you talking about pleasure? There is such a low risk to not feeling pleasure after GRS that most people don't even consider it an actual risk anymore.

    Part of the sadness of staying in the closet is that you hold onto these misperceptions to justify staying in the closet... I hope you find peace and if your decision is to stay in the closet and be married to a straight woman that you accept it for what it is. No need to hold (or spread!) these awful stereotypes to justify your life.

  9. Oh, Lisa, envy is not a strong enough word. That last picture, wedding or ball gown, so beautiful, so feminine. Yes "All the world's a stage" but few get to act on it , even with a bit part in the chorus. Lucky woman!

    An amateur theatre company did Macbeth and I remember saying to the lady, a friend who played Lady Macbeth, that I would have loved to be one of the witches, but only if I could be an over-the-top witch. She laughed and said why not, but remarked that their costume budget wouldn't go to the top end witch outfit.


    1. Lily, thank you for commenting on my gown. I bought that dress at Goodwill, with the tags still on it. Due to Covid, I couldn't try it on, and it was a size too small, but I just loved it, so I took it home. As expected, it didn't fit -- I couldn't even zip it up! But, I didn't give up and took it to a local seamstress. She not only did a beautiful job taking it out, but she also was nice enough to take my photo. Cinderalla still needs her ball to go with her gown.

    2. Lisa, You are a lucky woman. I hope that you get to the ball! Every so often I have a desire to have an "occasion" dress. A friend recently was a guest at a chic wedding and had a very elegant dress made; she is going to let me try it on next time we meet, but I know that it will just make me want to fins that "perfect" long frock.

      In out Turkish quarter there are a number of very glitzy shops full of evening/wedding dresses with surprisingly reasonable prices, but all rather OTT for an elderly western woman. The thrift shops have nothing (so far) and the classy second hand dress shop nearby seems only to have designer names and all in small sizes. However there is a store closing down with bridal and occasion frocks, but do I want to spend €300 on a dress that will just occupy space in a wardrobe? My €100 saree just sits folded up in its bag and only worn a couple of times.
      But you've inspired me to do the store rounds again.

      Best wishes, Lily

  10. Thank You for this post, I think we are a lot of girls that share these feelings about our male drab.

  11. Thanks Lisa for your very thoughtful reflections. It's so true that we all wear costumes, and often, those that are intended to fit with what's expected of the particular roles or circumstances we are in, don't inspire. My usual male wardrobe is actually quite colourful - bright trousers and flowery shirts often feature - but in my mind, these are still a male costume. Even if the colours and textures may be similar to those in my femme wardrobe (which includes slacks and fairly plain tops), I know how I'm presenting. Clothes seem to be so much an extension of who we wish to project as, and it seems to me that when it comes to allowing our feminine sides to have expression, only an outfit that fits with what suits their personalities will do.