I received the best advice I’ve ever received in an elevator in the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 2003. I had signed up for a BDSM event called BondCon and I was dressed in my newbie fetish best for the event.
In 2003, I’d already been out in girl mode a few times, but I could tell this was going to be very different. For instance, when I first started going out in Southern California, I used to secure a cheap motel room on the first floor. And then I’d secure a parking place directly in front of that room. My goal was to be able to slip out of my motel room and into my car in as little time as possible. I didn’t want to be seen. And I hated it when I had to hurry down stairs, or scurry across a parking lot. When I first started going out as CiCi, I was like Gary Numan. I felt safe in my car. The safest of all.
Not long after arriving in Vegas I realized that any hurrying or scurrying would be futile.
You see, the casinos have cleverly placed the elevators leading to the guests’ rooms as far as possible from the main door. This forces their guests to walk past as many craps tables, poker rooms, and slot machines as possible. The hope is that the temptation will be too much for any guest and they’ll have to stop and play a hand or two.
I wasn’t planning on doing any gambling, but the long walk from the elevator to the front door (and the taxi stand) was a pretty daunting walk. For someone who had avoided any face-to-face contact with the vanillas of the world, this was going to be quite a challenge. As I walked through the casino, I knew I was going to be on display in front of literally hundreds of Vegas tourists. And whenever you’re out in the mainstream public, you just never know how anyone is going to react. Disgust? Ridicule? Bemusement? Acceptance? Applause? Now, nearly 10 years later, I can honestly say that I’ve experienced all of those reactions. But back then, I had no idea what to expect.
That night, I dressed and did my makeup. I was pretty excited about attending the fetish event. But I was not looking forward to the walk across the casino. Fortunately, I made it from my room to the elevator without seeing a soul. And no one stopped our elevator on its way down to the casino level. The elevator car stopped. The doors hesitated. And in that moment, my friend gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. And it only took two words.
It wasn’t the most original advice. It wasn’t the most brilliant or mind-blowing. It was pretty common advice actually, and – like a lot of good advice – it was precisely the advice I would have given to myself if I hadn’t been stressed and terrified and already sore from the ankles down thanks to my high heels.
Strangely enough, my friend and I hadn’t discussed the long walk across the casino or my trepidations regarding that impending walk. I had spent the day trying to appear calm. Confident. Unflustered. So I kept my fears to myself. But obviously my friend could read my mind. Or my anxious gestures. Or my nervous laughter. I was petrified and she knew it.
She could have given me a lot of different kinds of advice that day. The elevator ride was long enough to deliver an entire football-style halftime pep talk. But she didn’t. She waited ‘til the last second, and hit me just as I was about to take the field. Just as I was about to enter battle and engage the enemy. And, as is often the case in such situations, the enemy was me.
I don’t remember much about that walk. I remember that I didn’t trip in my heels. I remember that I didn’t get any memorably positive or negative looks or comments. And I particularly remember looking straight ahead so as not see or hear potentially insulting looks or comments. Before I knew it I was outside in the warm Vegas night air waiting for the next cab to come. I don’t recall feeling particularly victorious. I don’t remember any sense of accomplishment. I do remember feeling relief. A lot of relief.
But I did accomplish something. I faced the fear.
And the public. And the sore feet. And I did something that just a few months before I would have thought impossible… I went out for a night on the town in Las Vegas dressed head to toe in girl’s clothes.
I owned it.
I still think of that advice in times of stress or trouble. Whether I’m in girl mode or not. And I particularly think about the “it” in “own it.” What is that “it” any way”? And how does one go about “owning” it?
For me, the “it” is a bit of a moving target. If the idea is to own what you truly are, then I must confess that what I truly am seems to change from moment to moment. There are times when I’m a guy. A husband. A stepdad. A brother. A son. An employee. A breadwinner. A weekend athlete. An aspiring writer. An incurable daydreamer. In girl mode I seem to have even more identities. Glam girl. Goth girl. Rocker chick. Submissive. Fetish doll. Latex model. Shy girl. Quiet girl. Girl who won’t shut up. Newbie. Old-timer. Party girl. Thoughtful girl. Oh… and still… aspiring writer.
And yes somehow, if I really focus, if I really concentrate, I can own them all. As long as I don’t try to be all of them at once. And to me that’s the big key. To own – to accept, to embrace – exactly what you are at that moment. No worries about what (or who) you were previously. Or what you hope to be in the future. There is only one reality. There is only one present. And they are one in the same.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re about to enter a club. Perhaps you’re somewhat of a newbie. Still getting used to the idea (and the feel and the sights and the sounds) of being out in girl mode. Your hand is on the door to the bar and you’re about to swing it open. That to me is the moment. The sad moment. The moment of wishes that cannot come true. Because in that moment, doubts creep in. And you begin to wish you were something else.
You wish you were prettier. Or thinner. Or taller. Or shorter. Or more confident. Or more relaxed. Or wearing a different outfit. Something classier. Something sluttier. You wish you’d worn taller heels and smaller lashes. Or bigger lashes and shorter heels. You wish your dress was tighter and your boobs were bigger. You wish you’d worn the blonde wig. Or the red one. Or the blue one. You’re thinking that maybe the bare midriff wasn’t such a good idea, the makeup is much too heavy and more than anything, you wish you hadn’t worn that stupid pink furry hat.
Okay, that last one has probably only happened to me. But my point is this. You’re already there. You’re at the club. Your hand is on the door handle. And the truth of the matter is -- it’s too late to change now. The other outfit, the other boobs, the other boots, and the other wig are just going to have to wait until next time. You are, in that moment, exactly what and who you are… dressed and appearing exactly as you are. And so, your choices are two:
1. Bow your head in shame and spend the whole night worrying about bad decisions that you made three hours before.Or…
2. Own it.
I suppose there’s a third option. You could let go of the door, climb back in your car, and head back home until such time as you achieve the perfect body, perfect makeup, perfect outfit and perfect hair. Or, in other words, never.
It’s taken me a long time to “own” the fact that I am a crossdresser. Nearly 50 years or so. I still haven’t told everyone in my life. (As a good friend once told me – more good advice here – “everyone doesn’t have to know.”) So I haven’t told everyone. I haven’t decided exactly where this fits in with my guy life. And I haven’t made any big decisions on what I intend to do with all of this in the future. Hormones? Transition? Go 24/7? Give it all up and rejoin the vanilla life?
Anything is possible in today’s world. I’ve watched dear friends of mine do all four of the options above, so I know that I can too. I can do anything I choose. And so can you. But until you make that decision, you are what you are. Prettier than some, and not as pretty as others. Taller than some, and not as tall as others. Thinner than some, but not as thin as others. More stylish than some, much less stylish than others. Further along in your feminine development than some, and not nearly as far along as others.
In other words, you are just like all of the rest of us. And yet totally unique. Tomorrow is full of possibilities. But for right now, you’re you. And, in this moment, that’s all you can be. But let me tell you this, there’s a lot of fun and fulfillment waiting on the other side of whatever door handle you happen to be hanging on to. So swing it open. Be you. Right now. Accept it. Enjoy it. Embrace it.
Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.