|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!
|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.
|Just me scanning the horizon and looking for other lands to explore...|
You can also check out my whole exciting trip!
Day Four (And Final Thoughts)