Monday, September 28, 2015

The Fine Art of Tucking (NSFW)

For me, tucking has always been an obsession. Well, not an obsession like I think about it all day, but rather a priority - an important priority when I’m attempting to look like a girl. To the uninitiated tucking is the term for when a guy tucks his genitals back between his legs so he can wear women’s clothing without any telltale bulge that would reveal to the world that he does not in fact have a vagina, or rather an smooth mons pubis if you want to get technical.  Any time I get dressed up I want to look like I have a vagina, more than that, I want to feel like I have a vagina. The more securely I’m tucked, the more comfortable I am and the more fun I can have. 

When they first hear about, people seem to think that tucking would be uncomfortable or painful, but it’s not at all if you do it right. A good tuck feels comfortable and secure. In general, it involves pushing the testes back up into the body, which, once you get the hang of it, is a quick and simple procedure. Once they’re in place, it’s a simple matter of securing the empty scrotum and penis back between the legs as tightly as humanly possible. You definitely want to make sure that no little piece is hanging out or coming loose, because that actually can tug or pull or be uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to do it right. 

When I first seriously started dressing and going out things were a little tricky because I was sixteen, lived with my parents and the internet wasn’t quite yet a thing. There was no option back then to go online and buy a product or watch a how-to video. Improvising was the only way to figure things out back then, luckily when to came to crossdressing I was a regular MacGuyver, and so I improvised my very first tucking method, and I understand other people, in similar situations, have done the same. 

So for me, it started with a shoelace and a twenty-five  inch piece of cotton cloth that I cut from an old pillow case. First I’d stand there, naked as the day I was born, and tie the shoelace tightly around my waist. Then, I’d fold the cloth into a strip about four inches wide, then fold it over the string lengthwise, much like a loin cloth. With my right hand, I’d maneuver my testes up inside me, grab the rest, bring it back and then pull back as tightly as I could on the cloth. Then, when it couldn’t get any tighter, I’d tie the cloth in the back. Thinking about it years later, this must have left a small lump of a knot in the back, but I guess as I couldn’t see it, it never really bothered me. 

This system worked for me for years because it’s pretty comfortable and does produce quite the tight tuck. Unfortunately, it does have its drawbacks; mainly that it tends to be kind of bulky and is quite complicated to take off or put back on again. It worked for a while, but wasn’t perfect, so over the years I kept working on new methods.  

Moving to New York in my early twenties helped me to simplify things greatly, mostly because I found myself much more comfortable being out shopping for things like women’s underwear. In suburban Georgia, where I’d grown up, I knew people who knew my parents, and well, I was always super nervous. In fact, the only thing I could really do to shop without nerves, was to go to Wal-Mart at 3am - and if you’ve ever seen a Wal-Mart at 3am, then you know that a teenage boy buying lingerie is hardly the strangest site to be seen. 

Years before gentrification brought organic coffee, farm-to-table meals and trendy boutiques, Astoria, Queens was a humble working class neighborhood which suited me and my then-budget just fine. Every working class neighborhood in New York City has the same basic stores, including cheap, slutty women’s clothing outlets. It was in these that I discovered the wonder that is the two-sizes-too-small super cheap cotton thong. It has to be cotton, because fabrics like lycra or spandex have too much give and tend to stretch. No, they have to be tight if you want a proper tuck. Using basically the same method as my cobbled-together loincloth, you put on the thong, hold your junk back, then carefully make sure you’re grabbing everything as you pull the underwear back and tight. You definitely don’t want a bit of skin sticking out the side. That’ll bother you all night. Sometimes this can take two or three tries to get it just right, but once you’re set you’re good, smooth and secure with no additional hardware required. It’s a good method, especially when combined with my homemade hip-padding system, which is all contained within pair of pantyhose with the legs cut off.  

Over the years, I’d heard of people using duct-tape and like many people I cringed at the idea of sticking duct tape not only to my skin, but something as sensitive and delicate as my boys. So, the first time I tried it, I first cut off the toe of a pair of pantyhose and put my penis and scrotal skin into then wrapped that with a strip of black duct tape, to make a little tube. This tube, I stuck back between my legs, then I grabbed a six-inch strip of tape and taped the tube down. Looking in the mirror, it appeared to work with minimal fuss. At least for a few seconds, before the strip of tape came loose and the tube flopped back into place. It turned out duct tape is a little more complicated. 

For my next attempt, I held the tube back, then ran a line of tape from just a few inches above where my penis would have been, all the way back, carefully keeping my buttocks apart, then secured it up to the small of my back. Luckily, it held, but sadly, there was still a bit of bulge, because it wasn’t holding my testes up inside my body. They were threatening to come loose and fall. So, I did one more long strip to the right of the first, then another one to the left. For good measure I added another down the center, then finally finished it off a couple of three inch strips; one across my shiny new mons pubis and one across the small of my back, just to make sure the other four long strips stayed on. This time it worked and everything held. 

Duct tape actually works quite well and you can wear it quite comfortably for an extended period of time. The tuck is so secure that you actually wear a bathing suit or lingerie without even the slightest hint of boy parts. It’s even fairly waterproof if you want to take a swim (though I never actually have). For a while, they even made a clear duct tape, which provide not only a super-secure tuck, but also managed to be quite discrete even if you wore nothing at all. Unfortunately, the clear tape had one drawback, which was that it left a gluey, sticky residue that I couldn’t wash off for at least a week. Luckily, at the time I was single, so it wasn’t too embarrassing. 


It’s not just clear duct tape that has its drawbacks. While it’s good for long-term wear, it’s not so good if you need to pee, what with the above-mentioned waterproof qualities. It can be done, but I wouldn’t recommend it. On days when I’ve worn it I’ve just tried to consume as few liquids as possible, which is good for a photoshoot, but not so great at say, a bar. Secondly, duct tape tends to be a little inflexible and it can fight you when you move. Sometimes you can even hear it squeaking when you walk. But the real deal-killer on duct tape has to be the awfulness of trying to get it off.  It can be painful, to say the least. It helps if you’ve shaved everything, but even then there are times it just doesn’t want to come off. There have been times I’ve been in pain, pulling the tape a centimeter from my skin, then working a pair of scissors into the gap so I can painlessly cut each hair that’s being ripped out but refusing to give up its roots. Needless to say, taking off all that tape is quite the process and one I certainly wouldn’t want to do in company of anyone at all. It’s a painful, awkward solo mission, and one where sometimes you stop for a breather, have a drink and check your email, naked but for the long random scraps of duct tape still clinging tightly to your nethers.  

Now that we have the internet, it’s easy to share knowledge of what works and what different people, all using just their wits and basic household materials, have invented. There are other methods I’ve heard of people using, but have either never really tried or have never worked for me. Some people recommend medical tape instead of duct tape, but I’ve never found it to be strong enough. It just slips right off. Maybe they have stickier skin than I do? Who knows, but it just wouldn’t work for me, even though I’ve tried a few different brands. Once I read that early transgender pioneer Renee Richards used fishing line to tie everything up and back, in a manner that I think must have been similar to my shoestring and pillowcase method. Of course, it sounds quite painful, and I’ve never heard of anyone else trying it, not even in the fetish community. 

There’s one infamous method, always discussed in hushed and fearful tones. It shows up every so often on crossdresser message boards in the form of an how-to guide. The text is in Japanese, but there are helpful photos illustrating each step. What one does is push the testes up then push the penis back between the legs, then pulling the scrotal skin up on either side. Surgical tape is applied to hold the penis in place, and then the scrotal skin is folded back on top of it to create pseudo-labia. One then applies superglue to the seam between the lips and is left with a faux vagina that, at least in the photos, quite surprising realistic. Supposedly this method is used by all those fabulously petite and impossibly beautiful Asian performers, but I’ve never heard of anyone actually attempting it. 

Well, at least until I did. Sure, it’s super glue and you wonder if it will come off or burn or something else even more horrible and best left to the imagination. But, maybe a small price to pay to make people think you have a vagina. Plus you could wear it all day, perform all your necessary bodily functions without having to undo it and you could definitely pass in a string bikini. You could probably even swim too. But, at the time, I was rather impressively single, so I figured if it got stuck that way until the glue wore off, no one would see anyway. And maybe I could go to the beach. 

Laying down on the bed seemed the best way to do this so I set myself down with a tube
of superglue and a roll of one and half inch duct tape and set to work. Ball up inside. Okay. Penis taped down. Good thus far. Next, I carefully sculpted my sack into the best version of labia majora that I could. Looking down, it seemed to be working. Everything was fine and the area between my legs actually looked like I had a pretty decent pussy. Starting with the front, where my clitoral hood would have been, if my genes had shuffled differently, I ever so carefully applied the glue, stopping every centimeter or so to hold the two halves together for a second to let it dry. A finger or two got stuck but I was able to pull them away and then a few moments later I was done. Not only was it fairly easy, it was also pretty quick. The whole operation had taken less than five minutes.

Getting up, I walked over to the mirror to examine my handiwork and was honestly surprised by how good it looked. Before hand I’d even shaved my pubic hair into a small stripe and it looked perfect. Now, as long as I could get the glue off, it seemed as though I had found the perfect tucking method. Why hadn’t everyone been doing this? Staring at the perfect gap between my legs, I started imagining what outfits to wear. Some leggings definitely. I’d have to try some bikini bottoms. Yoga pants would be a must. There were so many possibilities going through my head as I walked over to the closet. Just a few steps, but after the third or fourth, I definitely felt something. A tug, a shift. With each movement, my illusion was falling apart as the glue sloughed off. Within a few minutes all I had was a mess of half-taped boy junk and a nasty glue residue that also took a week to finally scrub away completely.  Sadly it just didn’t hold. Then of course the instructions on the tube say you’re supposed to sand the surface before you glue, so I guess it’s my own fault for not following instructions. 

Later, I would discover KT Pro Tape, a brand of athletic tape. And by “discover,” I mean someone else discovered it and made a YouTube video that I watched. In this video a young transgender girl extolled the virtues of the tape and explained how she needed only a single piece of tape to do a tuck that would last multiple days, allow the full range of excretory functions and even wear things like leggings and even do squats comfortably. Not being athletic myself, not only had I never heard of the stuff, nor did I know where to buy it. Also, I didn’t know what squats were. But, I was able to find some KT Pro Tape on eBay to try it out.

These days, I burn through rolls of it, despite how expensive it is. It’s around 75 cents a strip and there are twenty strips in a roll. Each piece is about one and a half by ten inches, and I use the same method as with duct tape, only KT Pro Tape has a few major advantages. Firstly , it’s flexible so it moves and breathes with you. It feels natural, like it’s a part of you. You can pee with it and it won’t come off. In fact, if you’re wearing it, you have to sit down to pee, which makes me feel rather feminine and confident. I’ve actually worn it out swimming and it’s managed to hold. Plus, it comes off easily with no pain or residue. It’s perfect, though a little pricey at $3-4 each time you dress up. It gives a smooth, comfortable and flawless tuck, that looks good even in bikini bottoms. Plus if your drunk ex-girlfriend lifts up your dress and starts feeling around between your legs, she’ll be suitably impressed, and in the end, isn’t that what matters

Good tucking!

And also, for those who may be interested, I also recorded a podcast about this very topic. Check it out!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Girl Trip: Day Four (and Final Thoughts)

My fourth day was a Monday and as my hosts weren't able to take off work, I had to leave the house the same time as them; 7am. That meant getting up at 6am. Now, I know some people are insane and like to get up at while it's still dark outside, I am the kind of person who enjoys my beauty sleep. It takes me at least three snoozes to get up on a regular day. 6am is like an alien time for me.  

Luckily, one thing that I had started getting used to was my makeup. Normally it's about 45 minutes to an hour for me to get ready, but doing makeup every day let me get my routine down to around 25 to 30 minutes. Maybe if I were doing this every single day I could get it down to 20 minutes. And if I got some laser hair removal, probably down to more like 10. So, that just proves that I could be a girl and still sleep in on weekdays. Maybe I could pull it off! Or maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Thirty minutes of work - for now.

Having pre-packed the night before, I was able to get myself up out of bed, get myself dressed and then do my hair and makeup in time to get out the door. Bidding my friends goodbye, I hopped in the car and got ready for my drive to Charlotte.

Coming down from Charlotte took about two hours, so I figured it would be two hours to get back up, maybe even more since it was rush hour. I had left Columbia at 7am and my flight was at 2pm. Usually, I plan to get to an airport two hours before a flight, so ideally that meant I wanted to arrive at the airport at noon. 

Okay, I had some extra time, at least three hours worth and I considered trying to find somewhere cool to go in Charlotte. Maybe I could find a good spot and take a ton more photographs to share with the internet. But, then the smarter (and less vain) side of me figured it would be better to be at the airport early and be bored, then to miss my flight and end up with way more time at the airport bored. So I headed straight to the airport.

I got to Charlotte at like 8:45am. Even after I gassed up and took care of dropping off the rental car it was only 9:15 when I checked in at the flight. Four and a half hours till my flight. Ugh.

Figuring, what the hell, I went up to the counter to see if there were an earlier flight I could get on. The Delta guy looked at my guy ID and boarding pass and didn't seem the least bit phased. After a few quick keystrokes, he looked up and said "For $50 I can get you a guaranteed spot on the 10:30am flight."

Yes, please! I would happily $50 for four hours of my life! I wouldn't have to waste four hours in an airport, I could get home faster! Yay, yay, yay! Of course, that meant my flight was boarding in half and hour and that I would have to book it to get there. So, I headed off to security and the TSA. 

Okay, I should remind you that I need glasses to drive. Actually, I can see clearly, but I have an issue where I need glasses to have depth perception. And no, I don't see everything as flat or anything like that. It's hard to explain. I can do fine without glasses in everyday life, but they help with driving. Point being, after dropping off the car, I was still wearing my glasses. 

Charlotte Airport security would not be quite as easy as LaGuardia. 

Firstly, there were two lines to have your boarding pass and ID checked. I chose the one with a woman TSA agent, because generally I feel more comfortable with a woman in these situations. I prefer female doctors for the same reason. Probably also why all my friends are female. Anyway, I went in this lady's line. 

This TSA agent seemed a nice, friendly Southern woman, probably in her early fifties. I handed her my ID and boarding pass and she literally holds up the ID to my face and starts squinting. Then she asks me to take off my glasses and brush my hair out of my face, which I do. At this point, another agent comes over, and he's a big bruiser with a cop mustache and marine hair cut. He just watches as the lady squints and then finally lets me through. 

Then I put my bag, my purse and shoes in one of those plastic trays and set it going on the conveyor belt through the x-ray machine. Another agent says "Miss" and waives me through the back scatter machine. As I step out, I see they pull my backpack off the belt and a guy calls out "inspection." Another agent very subtly pulls a little rope cord across the exit and asks me to wait a moment. 

Okay, at this point, I just try and remind myself that there is nothing illegal or dangerous in my bag. I'm not a criminal nor am I planning anything criminal. But, what if one of my hosts snuck drugs in my bag while I was sleeping?! There have been many horror stories about transgender people having a tough time with the TSA and I was really hoping my experience wouldn't become one of those. Just remember, you're not carrying anything dangerous or illegal. You're following all the rules. You'll be fine. But, what if they try to seize my breast forms or my makeup? That stuff would be really expensive to replace. Just stay calm and be polite...

Honestly, the search took around 45 seconds. But, when you're standing there with TSA agents blocking your path while another TSA agent looks through your bag, 45 seconds is a long time. Trust me. But, they thanked me and handed me my bag and let me go on way to my gate.

So yeah, more harrowing than LaGuardia, but still not too bad. 

And the TSA agent who took a long time to check out my ID...what does that mean for passing? I'm not sure, but it might just mean that I'm able to make myself look so female that I'm not recognizable at all. I'll take it. 

A few minutes later, and I was on the plane on my way back home!

Airplane selfie! 

My flight was uneventful and short, though I did take a few airplane selfies, which prompted the person sitting next to me, an elderly Asian woman, to take a few of herself as well. It was a fun moment.  

In the cab line at LaGuardia. Back in NYC and almost home!

So, I had just taken a whole trip out in the world as a woman. How'd it feel? Pretty darn good actually. I'm glad I did it.

Granted, the idea of leaving my house and travelling on a plane to another state with only girl stuff in my bag was terrifying. But, I've done other terrifying things before. I've jumped out of an airplane. I did the highest zip line in North American. I did the Alley Pond Adventure Course where I took a leap off a forty foot drop. And in each of these cases doing something terrifying turned out to be amazing. It's too bad I already went to college, because this could make for an awesome personal essay about overcoming my difficulties and achieving my goal.

Long ago, back in 2002, when I was still a poor boy living in Georgia, there was this indie, no budget film called "Britney Baby, One More Time," about a Britney Spears impersonator who has to travel across the country for some reason. I never saw it. I don't think anyone actually did. But, I read an article about it. Imagine getting to dressed up as a girl and go on a trip? A real girl trip? People get to do that! It was something that definitely excited me. I loved the idea of it. And it only took me 13 years to realize the dream!

What are my thoughts on my trip? Well, I've had a few:

  • Firstly, my main problem with living as a woman is that I have too much hair in some places and too little in others. Okay, by that I mean wearing wigs won't work long term. It certainly won't work every day. Wigs tangle and get nasty and are expensive. Plus with a wig you have to be super careful about messing it up like when putting on clothes or being in a windy area. You can't just put it up in a pony tail or a bun and forget about for a while. No, I would need real hair to live as a woman and that means figuring out something with my hairline. Yep, that's too little hair in some places. 
  • Also for too much hair in some places, I was actually having to redo my makeup around 3 or 4pm every day. Literally having to stop, shave and then reapply foundation and blend it with the other foundation so I could look normal again. What a pain in the butt! This is a serious problem when you're out and about all day and there aren't any single-person restrooms. While I've gotten much more used to using the ladies room and much more comfortable being there, I certainly wouldn't head up to the mirror to start shaving. Some laser hair removal is a must. Luckily I did just get a big raise at work, which makes something like laser much more of a possibility. 
  • Don't bring new shoes on vacation. By the time I got home I had three nasty blisters on my feet, and this was after putting on preventative Band-Aids before I even put my new shoes on. Definitely stick with a super comfy pair and just wear those. 
  • Over the course of my trip I got oddly comfortable with sitting down to pee. Even I was surprised at how quickly I got used to the habit. It was only four days, but when I finally got back into guy mode and went to pee it felt really strange. Like, I felt like I was really far from the toilet and it felt unnatural to stand. So weird. 
  • Dresses are super comfortable and while I've always preferred them to pants, I can see why cis women don't wear them every day. There are certain things you just can't quite do while wearing a dress. Like, lounging in bed and playing on your phone. Getting in and out of cars can be tricky too, but I did figure that one out pretty quickly. 
  • Bras are a pain the ass for every day wear. 
  • There is something I love about female pronouns. Every time I got a her, hers, she, miss, ma'am, or ladies my belly goes warm and my heart sings a little bit. I just love it! It makes me so happy to hear people using female pronouns when talking about me. 
  • The most important thing I learned was that I can exist in the world. I can actually be out in world, in public places, and be accepted. People treat me nicely and accept me as a woman. While maybe I don't pass for a cis woman, I definitely at least fill the female role well enough that I could, if I wanted, live my life as a woman without any major problems. Sure, there would be difficulties and sacrifices, but I could. That option is open to me. 
  • But, I also learned, that after four days as a girl, it can be a little nice to be a guy again. So, maybe I'm bigender or gender fluid or enjoy being able to switch back and forth. I don't know. Stay tuned. 

One thing I definitely learned is that I totally need to take another trip! Maybe a town with a nice hotel in a cool part of town where you can walk around and find cool shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars. That'd be fun. Any suggestions?

Just me scanning the horizon and looking for other lands to explore...

You can also check out my whole exciting trip!
Trip Planning 
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four (And Final Thoughts)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Girl Trip: The Third Day

My third day living as a woman in South Carolina was a Sunday, but luckily I managed to avoid going to church. Bethany, with whom I was staying is a Christian church-goer, but she's a good, liberal Christian and her faith is pretty far from the intolerant, crazy evangelicals I grew with (yes, I was taught Creationism until 10th grade). Luckily Bethany let me skip church, though a part of me thought it would be fun to attend a sermon just to gauge people's reactions. But, that would only work in a crazy evangelical church, not a liberal Methodist one. Also, I'd have to sit through church, so we'll skip that one.

Instead we got lunch at Fazoli's, yes, I chose a fast-food Italian chain. They have good bread sticks and you can't screw up baked ziti. And unlike me, Bethany didn't want two barbeque meals in a weekend. On the other hand, I'd be okay to eat it four or five times, but I guess that's just me.

Having shopped the heck out of Columbia the previous day, Sunday began with just some errands. Yes, just some errands. 

Yes, just some errands.

Bethany had just worked a six day week (someone get them some unions down in South Carolina), so I was happy to oblige her. It can be so frustrating having things you need doing but can't get to with a guest in town. Plus it gave me a good excuse to just go out and do normal things as a girl.

Our first stop is Sam's Club the place for people who love Wal-Mart but wish they carried ketchup by the gallon. Then we hit some other spots as well:

Pictured: The South
Back at TJ Max. Yes, they do sell canoes there in the South.

Hanging out with Chewbacca

*Spoiler Alert* This is a screen shot from Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens
Okay, by day three, being a woman was just totally normal for me. There was literally nothing weird about it at all. Seriously, I reached a point where it was just totally natural and normal for me to be a girl out in the world. I had stopped being self-conscious or nervous and was just totally one with everthing. I was a girl. I was a girl and it felt right. And I fit into the world as a girl too! It was such an amazing great feeling!

Seriously. How cute am I?
To be honest though, there were two things that were starting to bug me about life as a female.

Firstly, my wig was not happy. Due to wind and wear it was starting to get tangled. While I tried to brush it as best I could , all that did was rip out some hair that couldn't be replaced. I did my best, the wig definitely wasn't looking as nice as day one. By day three it was starting to look a little more worn than I would have liked. But, I had not choice but to try and rock it as best I could, tangled up ends or not.

Secondly, my new sandals decided that I had too much skin on my feet and started the process of removing it from my big toe and right by lateral malleus (you know that bony bump on the outside) on my ankle. Of course, with my other sandals, my more comfy sandals, broken, I had no choice but to Band-Aid up (plasters for you British readers). Thus after four of her errands, I made my friend stop at the grocery so I could get a box of Band-Aids (adhesive strips for my generic-product buying readers).

Also I needed wine. To help me dull the pain of uncomfy footwear.

Okay, after that we  headed to the South Carolina Statehouse, which has recently been in the news when the Confederate flag was finally taken down after decades of government racism. It was a great moment for the South and for the country as a whole. 

While I grew up in the South (in Alabama, Georgia and Virginia) my family is solidly Union, from Connecticut and New York actually. In my family we had abolitionist writers and even a Union general in the Civil War. The Confederacy is definitely not part of my heritage. And even if they were, I wouldn't promote the Confederate States of America as a symbol of Southern pride. I mean, could you come up with a worse example of a country. Slavery notwithstanding the, CSA was a terrible country. I mean, as soon as they existed, they immediately declared war on their much more powerful neighbor and then proceeded to lose that war in an amazingly spectacular fashion, destroying their economy in the process. Good job, guys! Seriously, why would a Southerner be proud of that? You think they'd be deeply ashamed. Ah well.

This is the site of the original South Carolina Statehouse that was burned to the ground by Sherman. Here I stand gloating.
Actually, I had never been to a state capitol before so it was cool that my first time ever visiting one I got to rock a cool new LOFT dress! The grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse are actually quite beautiful, with well manicured lawns, beautiful flower beds, shaded areas with many different species of tree and winding paths that led through many different monuments. 

Yep, wearing a dress on a state capitol of a Southern state. That's worth 3000 points. 

Behind me in that picture above is the infamous Confederate Memorial. The story is that in response to the Supreme Court's ruling against segregation (gasp - black and white people would have to be considered equally human under the law!) some racist South Carolina legislators made a law that the Confederate flag would be flown above the dome of the State House. Later, when people were like "that's racist," they passed another law to take it down. Then the racists passed a new law, stipulating that it would fly above the Confederate Memorial and it would be locked onto that flagpole so that it would never be cut down.

Yeah, then a racist asshole shot some nice, friendly, innocent people in a church in South Carolina. Ugh.

And in response, many South Carolinians, and Americans, and the world, realized it was damn well time for the racist rag to come down from any flagpole on the Statehouse grounds. And a bunch of old, racist white men in the legislature refused. So one awesome, courageous African American woman scaled the pole and cut it down!

America wins. 

So here I am at the spot where not only did the flag come down, the entire flag pole was removed! How great is that! This is the spot where it once stood! And me (a Northerner) gloating some more!
Suck it, Confederate States of America! In the paraphrased words of Darth Vader "Now your failure is complete!"
So here I am at the spot where not only did the flag come down, the entire flag pole was removed! How great is that! It was also nice to learn that most people in South Carolina aren't racist or jerks and celebrated the flag coming down.

Well, in South Carolina they are still flying their most important flag; that of the local college football team.

Insert "Cock" joke here. 
Well, my third day was at an end. Being a woman in public felt 100% normal and real, like I was just a girl and nothing else. All the people I met in the South were treating me like a woman, being polite and friendly, which only reinforced my comfort in the female role. Holy crap, I was a real girl at this point! Practically.

And on my trip, I had gotten to see some more of the South and even some places important to national history. The next day would mean flying out of Charlotte and heading back home.

Plus I had the sexiest nails ever. Look at them! 

You can also check out my whole exciting trip!
Trip Planning 
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four (And Final Thoughts)

Transgender Rights & the TSA

So, today I was planning on posting up about day three of my recent trip, travelling as a woman. In writing about that trip on reddit, I wrote the following:

"Everyone at the TSA I dealt with was polite and professional. Crazy? I know, right?"

I was lucky is all.

Today, I read the story about 
Shadi Petosky, a transgender woman detained by TSA because of who she is. Luckily, she tweeted the entire story as it was happening so there's a record. 

Apparently, the TSA has certain scanners with a pink and a blue button. A TSA employee decides if a passenger is male or female and hits the blue button if they decide the passenger is male and the pink button if they decide the passenger is female. Then if they see anything on the scanner that doesn't match what they decided the person's gender to be, then they report an anomaly and the person is pulled aside for more invasive screening. 

It's 2015, TSA! Why are there only two buttons?! Maybe some of us aren't pink or blue, or as pink or blue as you want us to be! 

This story really saddened me, and I feel so bad for Shadi Petosky because before my recent trip, my stomach was tied in knots. I couldn't sleep the night before because I kept worrying about getting through the TSA security checkpoint as a woman. I wasn't doing anything illegal, I wasn't carrying anything dangerous, but I was worried and scared, deeply frightened that I would be subject to the same sort of harassment that Shadi Petosky received.

Shadi Petosky is a law abiding citizen, who had done nothing wrong, and was not carrying anything illegal or dangerous. The only reason she was pulled aside, treated as a suspect, humiliated and insulted, is because she is transgender. This should never happen to any person.

Please, everyone, write to the TSA here and let them know that this sort of treatment is unacceptable. You can also write to your congress-person here

This should never happen to any person! Please, please, please write and let's get this changed!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Girl Trip: The Second Day

Saturday was the second day of my girl trip. After waking up early, I did my makeup and got ready. Our plan for the day was to go out shopping at a number of places around Columbia, SC, including all the boutiques around Five Points. Then we'd grab some Southern food for lunch (maybe that famous South Carolina mustard-based barbecue sauce), then we would meet some of my hosts girlfriends at a cool bar in Columbia and do a girls' night out. A good plan. But, you know what they about plans.

I wore my favorite dress, a black waitress dress I got at H&M. For my hair, I had brought an older, more beat up version of the wig I would wear out. This one was kept in a pony tail and used when I slept. So, my very first thing in the morning, before I could let anyone see me, was to duck in the bathroom and do my makeup and hair. Then, duck back into the bedroom and get dressed. Then, after all of that, I could have coffee. The nice thing is that I have my whole prep down to about thirty minutes or less at this point. 

Even I don't know how I'm managing to smile pre-coffee. 
But then I did have some coffee and was ready to go out!

Our first stop was not Nordstrom or Macy's or even Wal-Mart. No, it was some random yard sale. This was to be my first real experience with the denizens of Columbia, South Carolina. Now in NYC, I've been out a thousand times and am quite comfortable just walking around in public. But, I was unsure exactly how people in the South would react. Would they give me weird looks, make fun of me, rip my wig off and punch me? I had no idea.

Well, it turns out they didn't react at all. At least as far as I could tell. I walked around the yard sale, full of some salt-of-the-earth Southerners, looked through someone's unwanted household crap and got no reaction at all from anyone. And my first thought was "Weird." It was the same reaction I get in NYC, i.e., no reaction at all. Does that mean I pass? Does that mean I could pass in the South as well?

My yard sale find: beloved childhood book The Tawny Scrawny Lion for only fifty cents!

The next stop was Columbia's Five Points area, which isn't the downtown, but just an area of shops, restaurants and bars near the University of South Carolina campus. Now, I had been warned not to go there by people online. But, I had a local with me, so we headed down there. Five Points has a lot of nice little boutiques and the kind of bar/restaurants you find in college towns, and it seemed totally nice. Of course, we were there during the day time. Apparently at night you can get shot, beaten, robbed, etc. down there. Thankfully the sun was out.

We hit a bunch of little boutiques and shops and checked out a lot of clothes. Behold!

My regular look. 
Trying out some workout gear. Coincidentally this would be the only time I wore pants for five whole days!

This store sells seven shirts. Nothing else. 

Boutique shopping. 

Trying on silly sunglasses. (There really should be a montage set to Tone Loc).
Okay so maybe I'm a little regionist, because I figured that while I could go out in public in New York okay, the South would be, well, a shit show. I imagined sales clerks giving me angry looks or threatening to call the cops if I dared to go near the ladies' fitting rooms. Instead, I got helpful sales clerks offering to find me alternate sizes, offering to set me up with fitting rooms and lovely sales clerks complimenting me on my taste, my nails and clothes. It was great. 

Our last stop for shopping was actually LOFT, which is funny, because while I do love LOFT, there's also a shop like two blocks from my house with all the same clothes. But, they had a sale with 40% off everything in the store! Woo hoo!

On sale 40% off? Yes, please! 

And I got a dress that I'd had my eyes on for a bit and was waiting for it to go on sale. The sales staff at LOFT were super nice as well. Of course, they had a deal where if you spent $50, you got a $25 gift card and my dress came out to $47.00. Erg. They had clearly planned it that way, since most of their dresses are $80 and $40 off comes to less than $50. For a little bit I looked around the store for something else to buy, but a $6 pair of socks was the cheapest I could find. And at that point, I was like "LOFT, I love your clothes, but I clearly see what you're doing here. You're trying to trick me into buying more so that I can come back in a month with my $25 gift card to buy when most of the stuff in the store is over $25." No thanks. So I just got my dress. Though it is one I really liked.

We had lunch at a local place that had hundreds of TVs all covering college sports. Oh, I forgot to mention, the South is super religious. Oh, you knew that? Well, no. Their religion is not Christianity. Sure, they like Jesus and all, but their real religion is sports. And of all the sports in the South, the most holy is apparently college football.

Seriously. It's weird.

When my friend Bethany was getting dressed, she had to be sure to put on the correct colors. She thought it was funny that I compared it to gang colors, but seriously? It's really like gang colors. She was literally afraid that people would judge her poorly for wearing the wrong colors. You can't wear blue if the local team is playing Kentucky, you can't wear read if Clemson is playing Georgia. I don't know. It's insane and I'm happy that in Brooklyn, I can ignore sports entirely. I think Amy Schumer said it best in Trainwreck:

No offense. I just think that sports are stupid and anyone who likes them is just a lesser person.

Couldn't have said it better.

Even the little boutiques, the ones full of dresses, scarves, tops, high heels, skirts, earrings and bracelets, had little displays set up for the different sport team colors.
All I wear are little black dresses...can you point me to the LA Raiders display?  

While I had grown up in the South, I had blocked this particular part of its culture out of my memory. But here it was again. Ah well. I left the South for a reason, didn't I?

We had lunch at one of those restaurants that all college towns have, you know, the place with beer, a deep fryer and no fewer than fifty three televisions showing sports. The waitress was nice and greeted us with a "hello, ladies." That always makes my day. I love female pronouns. I love it her and she and hers and ma'am and miss. That just sends dopamine straight to my pleasure center.

Now, the waitress did card me, but luckily I had my NYC ID on me. It's great because I went and got it in girl-mode, so it has my picture as Faith and lists my gender as F. Unfortunately, it has my guy name on it because they wouldn't let me change it, but it was still a pretty good thing to have.

The best part about the restaurant we ate at, (Pawley's Front Porch now that I Google it) was that for the first time in two days, I found a single-use restroom!

Now, I've used ladies' rooms many times, but on this trip, I had yet to encounter a single person restroom. At the airports in NYC and Charlotte I had used the huge restrooms and had no issues (I even had the Charlotte restroom attendant greet me nicely and wish me a good day). Between Charlotte and Columbia I stopped at a Chick-fil-A in Rock Hill South Carolina, where I had also had no issues, but it was nice to just have the relaxation of a single-use restroom. I could relax, take my time, and really make sure my makeup and hair were perfect.

The food was okay. Nothing too great. For the trip, as long as I had local BBQ and Chick-fil-A, I was fine.

But, as we headed into the evening of my second day, I think I was starting to be get really good at being a woman in South and was really looking forward to the girls' night out at a cool bar in Columbia.


This was actually the low point of my trip.

I had been really, really, really looking forward to a girls' night out. I had wanted to meet my friend Bethany's friends. I had wanted to chat, and get drinks and have a great night out.

That did not happen. Yeah, it pissed me off.

One of Bethany's friends ended up cancelling. Another gave her a "maybe," and she declared that she was tired and didn't want to go out anyway. Besides, she reasoned, we'd have to figure out a ride to the bar and a ride home and that would cost money, and she was happy to just stay in.


This is why I live in NYC. Because I can walk out my door and within a few blocks I can find several different bars and restaurants. We can have drinks, food a good time, and still walk home. It's no big deal.

But in suburban South Carolina, when you're home for the night, you're home for the night. There's no going back out .

So we went to Publix, got food and some local craft brews and headed back to her place to stay in for the night. And at Publix, the strap on my comfy sandals broke, leaving me to sort of shuffle on back to the car as best I could with one sandal half-off. Fun!

In the water aisle at Publix. Faking happy. If you look closely you can see the deadness in my eyes.

Instead of a night out on the town with some girlfriends, Bethany went to bed early and I sat in the guest room playing on my phone until I got tired enough to sleep.

So yeah, day two of my trip was kind of a let down. But, in a way it was pretty good. I got to spend the day as a girl. I went out all day and interacted with many people and everyone was super nice and polite. No one harassed me, no one was rude, no one misgendered me and I got to be a girl for the entire day.

And a pretty girl at that!

Let's see what Day Three has to offer...

You can also check out my whole exciting trip!
Trip Planning 
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four (And Final Thoughts)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Girl Trip: The First Day

So, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I was planning to take a trip in 24 hour girl mode. Well, those of you who have been paying attention might have noticed it's been five or six days since I've put up a new post and there's a good reason for that. You can't write on a phone. At least I can't. My texts are 80% gibberish if I'm not paying attention. Anyway, yes, the reason I haven't been posting is that I've been without my computer because I was taking my Girl Trip!

That's right! I just spent the last four days in girl mode 24/7 (except not the 7 because it was only 4 days). And I had fun, learned a lot, and came to a good realization about myself and my gender and my future. As there were four days, I'm breaking these posts up into four parts, one for each day.

Here we go....

Well, the plan was take a flight from New York to Charlotte, NC where I'd pick up a rental car and then drive down to Columbia, SC where one of my good friends from high school and college lives. And my plan was to do this entirely in girl-mode. That's right, I'd bring nothing with me but dresses and live the entire time as a woman.

My flight was Friday and on Wednesday I was ready to cancel everything because of how terrified I was. The South? I grew up in the South and I left it for a reason. That reason was that it is kind of full of well, Republicans and Christians and rednecks. This is true. There area also nice people and cool people and good food. So, why not head down there. I screwed up my courage as best I could and planned to return to the South from whence I had come, only this time to rock the South as Faith.

Recently, I came out to my friend Bethany from high school. We were good friends in high school and hung out in college, but since have really only been Facebook friends. But I was able to share my gender confusion with her and we reconnected, with me giving her makeup and fashion advice to boot. We planned a whole weekend of shopping, food and girls' nights.

For my first step, the day before my flight I went and got a mani-pedi. For the past few months I've been growing my nails out and got them to about 5mm past my fingertips. Typing has been annoying, but my nails have never looked better. And while I looked through all the colors of polish, I went Honestly, I just like red. It's classic. I had thought about going with pink for a change, but just couldn't do it. But, I did go for a bright, fire engine red.

Manicure with a suitable Brooklyn background. 

The pedi segment of the mani-pedi. 

Also I got a new pair of sandals. These sandals would become the bane of my existence. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday morning, I got up and got ready. Put on my bra and boyshorts (I refuse to type the word "p*nties." I hate that word. That and "plump."). Put on my dark green LOFT dress, did my makeup and busted out a brand new wig, fresh from the package.

Please. No pictures. Ah, who am I kidding. 

Now that I was ready, it was time to hop in a cab or call and Uber and that's when the butterflies in my stomach started doing that thing where a butterfly flaps its wings and climates change. I didn't want to leave the door. I certainly didn't want to leave the door, lock it behind me, hop in a cab to the airport and fly to friggin' South Carolina. I was all nerves. It wasn't too late to cancel the trip. Sure, I'd be out the money for the flight, but the flight was cheap. Oh my god.

But, almost on autopilot, forcing my frontal lobe to override the fear-generating amygdala, I did leave the house.

Pictured: Leaving the house. 

Within only a few blocks, I managed to hail a cab and get in, headed toward LaGuardia Airport (LGA as they call it).

In the back of the cab, terrified as hell. 

In the back of the cab, my first thought was "What the hell am I doing!?" Am I really doing this? Am I going to take a trip to the South while dressed as a girl? Am I doing this for four whole days? This is the South that used to beat me up and call me a faggot. The South where people hunt and go muddin' (that being driving a truck through the mud for the fun of it). Am I really doing this? What the the hell am I doing? Should I go just ask the cabbie to turn around? Should I head home again? I could have a whole weekend to just relax in NYC.

But no, I got to the airport, paid the cabbie and checked in for my flight. Then, I prepared myself for security. What's funny is that I literally had a nightmare the night before about going through the TSA. Then I awoke from that nightmare and just lied there in bed for an hour before going back to sleep, nervously worried about getting through the TSA. Would they take me away to a little room and strip search me? Would they open my bag and pull out my breast forms in front of everyone? Would they ridicule me for going through and showing them my male ID?

I made a sort of deal with my fear-inducing amygdala. If the TSA gave me a hard time, I could back out of this crazy, insane idea for a trip and head back home to safety, comfort and security.

So, I checked in on the little computer, printed out my boarding pass, got my boy ID ready and then got in the security line.

The first TSA agent was the one checking IDs and boarding passes. She was a pretty African American lady in her early thirties. She looked at my boy ID, looked at me, smiled and said "I think you look much prettier now," then let me through. I smiled back and then head up to the x-ray scanners and the backscatter machine.

I put my purse and my backpack in the little plastic bins. I had decided not to check a bag, but rather do all carry-ons. In my backpack was my makeup, which I wasn't worried about because it's mostly powder. Sure, my foundation is a cream and my mascara is liquid, but mostly it's just powders. Also, I had my padding, which consists of foam and silicon gel. Actually, I had put all my padding in one pocket of the backpack, just to make any would-be search easier.

The TSA agent did say "Miss, step forward" and I steppped into the back-scatter machine, put my feet on the yellow feet stickers and held up my hands as directed. As I stepped out, a female agent felt my back by my bra, I guess the metal bra clasps showed up, and then let me move alone.

But, no search of my bags was needed. My Kate Spade purse, backpack and shoes went right through the screening process with no issues. I picked them up off the conveyor belt, put my shoes back on and headed into toward my gate and found a spot to sit and hang out.

Me at the airport.

Oh, Fiorello La Guardia, thanks for defeating Tammany once and for all. What a nice airport they named after you. 

I settled down in the waiting area and took the opportunity for a few selfies, but then after a little bit, headed to the bar for a beer. For years, a beer before a flight was a tradition of mine. Once, I even went to the airport, checked in, got through security, then went straight to the bar for a beer. As I was about to down it, I realized it was 10:30am. I drank it anyway. It's tradition.

This time it was 12:15pm and my flight started boarding at 12:30pm. And I was Zone 2. Whatever zone boards first, I know I'm not in that zone. My zone has always boarded last. That's just how it is an an air-peasant in 2015 America. I don't even know how to get in Zone 1. I think you have to save the President's life or something.

So, I sat down at the bar, ordered an $8 pint, which you had to purchase via an iPad, and texted my friend Christin.
Liquid courage gets me through the day. 

We had the following conversation:

Faith: Hey babe! I'm at the airport now. Flight in one hour.

Christin: Yipee! So what's your travel itinerary, plans, etc?

Faith: I'm headed to South Carolina. This is my trip where I'm going as Faith the entire time. In the cab ride over I as like "Am I crazy? What the hell do I think I'm doing?"

Christin: No, you're not crazy at all. You are being your authentic self. You are living freely. It's beautiful.

Faith: I hope so. It didn't help that the screen in the cab was showing makeup and clothing ads full of beautiful women. Real confidence booster there, cab!

Christin: Well those kind of ads suck ass for all of us women.

Faith: I am super terrified about this trip! Almost asked the cab to turn around. Now I'm thinking that I don't have to get on the plane.

Christin: You are getting on that plane LOL! And you will send me a selfie of yourself sitting in the plane seat!

Yes, Christin, this is me on the airplane. 

"What is up with airline peanuts?" - from my 1991 standup routine. 

Just happy to not be in an Emergency Exit Row. That's too much responsibility for me. 
Yes, I got on the plane. I tried to take a few selfies, but there was a 20s-ish guy next to me and I didn't quite want to draw attention to myself. 

Luckily, the flight attendant also called me "Miss," which made me happy. And an hour and a half later we were in Charlotte, North Carolina. Once the doors were closed, I just settled in and relaxed as best I could. I was travelling as a woman and it was working!

I got off the plane and the first thing I did was hit the ladies' room in the airport. I had to pee! After I had done my business, washed my hands and checked my makeup, the Charlotte bathroom attendant (yes, they have bathroom attendants) wished me a good day. Okay the bathroom was okay. I had managed okay in the South thus far.

Let me just say one thing real quickly...some Conservatives and assholes think that transgender women are just using women's restrooms for a sexual thrill or just for the fun of it. Fuck them. Fuck them with a chainsaw up their bum. Fuck them. For me it's terrifying to use a busy women' s restroom like that. I just want to get in, pee, wash my hands and get out without any trouble. That's it. I'd love a single use restroom. But luckily I didn't have any trouble in the bathrooms at LGA or Charlotte.

Well, I do like selfies, so I took a few:

Me in the Charlotte Airport (with the flight status thingy to prove it!)

From there I headed over to get my rental car. I was so happy that I wasn't getting weird looks in the airport. As far as I could tell no one was paying any real attention to me. I wasn't getting that "Why's this dude wearing a dress in the airport" looks or anything.

So, then I headed up to the rental car counter. The rental car lady from Alamo was super nice and even got me a higher quality car for the same price (just her being nice). She looked at my boy ID and boy credit card and didn't make any comments and treated me super politely. It was nice. I knew heading in that there were a few times I would have to present female but show my boy ID to people and I worried about that. But the lady at Alamo didn't react at all and was super polite and professional. Remind me to write a letter to her superiors to commend her.

Faith DaBrooke: Motorist 

Yes, I do need glasses to drive .It's safer that way. Would you rather me be less nerdy or pedestrians die?

It's about a two hour drive from Charlotte to Columbia in the late afternoon, but it was mostly fine. No real traffic. I even managed to stop for a Chick-fil-A sandwich (yes, they are so delicious that I will forgive hate). 

It wasn't long before I got to Columbia and found my friend Bethany's house. I parked the car, headed up to the front door and met my high school friend, for the first time as a woman. She was totally awesome as was her husband. There was no issue, I was just their guest.

That first night we just chilled out, opened a bottle of wine and got caught up.

Enjoying the spare bed room (a thing we don't have in NYC) 
They have wine in the South? I might just be able to make it four days!

Perfect bathroom lighting for selfies. 

So, a couple bottles of vino verde and I was ready to hit the sack. What were my thoughts on my first day travelling in the South as a woman? Well, for the most part it was just entirely normal, like how being in NYC is as a woman. Everyone treated me politely, no one gave me any shit, no one was rude to me, no one gave me weird looks or anything. Does that mean I pass for a genetic woman in the South? It might just.

Either way, I'm 700 miles from home, I've got nothing but dresses in my bag, and no matter what I'm spending the next three days as a girl

Day one seemed to have gonna pretty okay. I got through the TSA security with no trouble, I navigated Charlotte's airport with no issues, I rented a car with no problems. I think I'm doing okay. Let's see what day two has in store.  

You can also check out my whole exciting trip!