Friday, August 25, 2023

Eight Years A Woman: Part One

By Ciara Cremin

Thank you for reading my first piece and the lovely feedback I received. It’s spurred and encouraged me to write another. Whether this becomes a regular thing, I don’t know. For one thing, I’m trying to finish my third book in a transgender trilogy that started with Man-Made Woman¹ in 2017.

The first book under my feminine name is scattered with anecdotes of lifelong desires to dress as a woman and the pleasures, which I’m quite explicit about, in wearing women’s clothes. Amongst dense theoretical exposition that’ll likely put off the casual reader, it charts, in a non-chronological order, reflections on living as a woman. Through a chronology of photos taken at the hairdresser at each of my visits since coming out in July 2015, I reflect in this brief series of essays how my style has changed over time, the challenges of presenting as a woman and the maturation of my thoughts and feelings between then and now. 

Before charting that chronology, however, I want to start with a few preliminary remarks, proclamations and for some, provocations.

I never considered writing on this topic or developing a public profile as a trans woman before coming out. Nor frankly, did I consider myself a woman or have any intention of dressing permanently in women’s clothes. Like I said in the previous piece, I considered myself a transvestite, a word that in the US is largely abandoned. 

Associated with a sexual proclivity, it is understandable to see why. Yet, we are sexual beings and derive pleasure in many things: the pleasure of wearing women’s clothes being one of the more banal, harmless and ordinary amongst them – a pleasure even of many ciswomen. You only need go into a makeup store to see that. 

With Man-Made Woman, I wanted to challenge the taboo of men wearing women’s clothes for pleasure and do my bit to normalize that pleasure. Being something of a transgender warrior who identifies many of the ills that blight the individual and society with masculinization and regarding this as symptomatic of a fear and revulsion towards anything held as feminine, if men I wagered, could overcome their fears and repudiations by openly embracing femininity, the world would be a better, kinder place. The absence of any signifier whatsoever associated with femininity on a vast majority of male bodies is the surest indication that men have problems with femininity and so too do women. 

For all the critiques of patriarchy, for many women the idea of a feminine man or that the socially designated male can be a woman, is not only a complete turnoff, it is anathema. If men are pressured to “man-up,” it is not only men putting on that pressure. 

So I do have an agenda for writing this. My lyrical descriptions of the pleasures of dressing daily as a woman are to provoke and encourage. Rather than the well-documented negative effects of being a woman under patriarchy and trans in a society invested in cultural binaries, it is the joys and healing effects of femininity that I like to stress and document. I want to encourage rather than discourage those who can (although excuses can always be found if you need them) to cross the line by fully embracing the feminine. In doing so, rejecting the labels “crossdresser” and of course, “transvestite,” labels I would now find insulting if used to describe me. 

If you think about it, for even those who are not living as women, the self-description “crossdresser” is a problematic one. Not only does it reinforce the idea that clothing possesses a gender, but that a label is needed for what ought to be of no significance to others: a misplaced, guilty pleasure that must be excused and rationalized despite the fact there is little that is rational about human behavior, proclivities and attitudes. 

We seek justifications to justify ourselves to others. Ask yourself who in fact you are justifying yourself to, why those justifications are demanded and on whose terms. The language in which our justifications are formed and articulated is a foreign one impossible ever to have command of – with so much is lost in translation – that the language itself ought to be questioned. 

It disavows and quietens a disturbing thought that we may in fact be women or at least be a happier, better person if we did identify and live as women. It constructs, in other words, a barrier in the psyche that men, whatever fantasies they harbor, draw comfort and security from. 

People fear change; they like predictability, a predictability draining of life and vitality. You see that in a regressive politics that harks to a past that exists only in the imagination and would be horrendous if realized. Identities are preserved, the advantages afforded to men in a patriarchal society maintained and, because they never experience what it is to live as a woman, the damage done to them and to others in their barely registered masculine performances are never ameliorated. 

There’s change afoot and we need to get with it and align lives, politics and attitudes with those of the rising generation. Not only on blogs or at special conventions, but in everyday life. We need to take our bodies resplendent in women’s clothes, our thoughts and proclivities to the very places many of us dare not go. At the supermarket, the regular bar, the shopping mall and, yes, the workplace. To start a conversation with colleagues, friends and loved ones. Even to agitate for change by joining those fighting for their rights to identify and live as women, most of all to be recognized and respected as women. And if like Stana and I you’re fortunate enough to have a platform and audience, to make these declarations to the broadest of all possible audiences. 

I write this now sitting in my favorite café. It’s winter here in New Zealand, which is reflected in what I’m wearing: a thick, woolen, A-line patterned skirt that comes down to below the knees, but with a split in the middle rising to above the knee through which, as I look down, reveals my black, silky petticoat. My legs are sheathed in fine nylon hosiery. The color of my pantyhose is cinnamon, which, slightly darker than my skin tone, are clearly visible. They’re shiny too, which, when caught in the light, produces a wonderful visual effect. My legs feel so smooth and slippery when crossed and with the silky black panties I’m wearing, my pantyhose help keep me firmly tucked in. 

I’m wearing brown, patent leather shoes with a two-inch heel. They provide a feminine shape to my posture and profile. They beautifully complement my sensuous pantyhose and bring out the browns in my patterned skirt (at another café, before a lecture, the same shoes and pantyhose that I have on in the photo taken a year ago). Beneath my zip up black jumper, I’m wearing a tight-fitting plain black silky top. Beneath that I have silky shapewear on. It keeps me warm and flattens my figure. Further adding to my feminine appearance, I’m wearing a Wonderbra which, because it is padded, doesn’t require those ugly fillers. 

I have full makeup on. A full-coverage foundation, powder, bronzer, rose-coloured blusher and highlighter. I’m wearing a creamy Lancome lipstick – my favorite brand – in a rusty bronze-reddish color that picks out colors in my skirt. My eyeshadow is in three shades of brown. I’m wearing eyeliner, top and bottom, and mascara. My perfume is Chanel N°5. I’m wearing hooped earrings, a woman’s gold watch and a simple golden band around my finger. My nails are professionally done, acrylic and red. They cannot be taken off, nor do they fall off. 

I walked to the café wearing my stylish and expensive – quality is worth the price if you can afford it – pink and black speckled women’s winter coat, which strangers have even complemented me on. Hands kept warm by a pair of soft leather women’s gloves. My purse, makeup bag – containing my lipstick, compact and mascara, which I’ll reapply before leaving the café – and laptop are carried in my pretty maroon handbag. 

More soon…

Note: ¹ Hyperlink to

Source: Ann Taylor
Wearing Ann Taylor

Paula Gawkowski
Paula Gawkowski, przed i po (before and after)


  1. "From drab to fab! 💃 Who knew I could rock two looks in one day? Dziekuja for capturing my style transformation, Stana!I guess I'll have to start practicing my runway walk now. 😄👠

    Paula G

  2. For what it’s worth

    This is a an article from the day that picture was taken

    Paula G

  3. Hello Ciara, This essay is outstanding! It is an inspirational 'call to arms' and a lovely explication of our interests and our condition. I greatly look forward to more from you here at Stana's Way. Best to you, Marissa in Ohio

  4. Leslie LangfordAugust 25, 2023

    Na Zdrowie, Paula!

    I have always been impressed by your femulations in the past, but seeing this transformation takes it to a whole new level!

    1. And I have always been impressed by your femulation‘s, always depicting a classic pretty and feminine woman Glad to hear you’re doing well all the best Paula G

  5. I think part of the transform is Paula almost always has that little smile... the male version looks a little grumpy.... Paula just looks brighter

    1. Fiona I will correct you are the male version is a little grumpy, there’s something called gender eurphoria and that’s what you’re seeing in the second picture

      Paula G

    2. Dera Ciara, you said -
      "I want to encourage rather than discourage those who can (although excuses can always be found if you need them) to cross the line by Fully Embracing The Feminine. "💞
      Yes Yes Yes !
      Thank you,
      𝓥𝓮𝓻𝓪 𝓢𝓮𝓪𝓼

  6. Ciara 1) you look amazing by the way 2) thank you so much for this touches on so many feelings I have had for 50+ years.3) & great to see there is at least one of "us" out & proud in Auckland.