By Lisa P.
The best that I can remember (which seems harder with every advancing year!), I started to go out seriously as Lisa about twenty-five years ago. Before that time, I had a moustache. While I had that debonair flair with the ‘stache, it didn’t go well with my skirts (as an aside: these days I simply could have said that I was emulating Conchita Wurst, the Eurovision star! – see https://eurovision.tv/participant/conchita-wurst).
But, truth be told, I just don’t think I could pull it off. Anyway, with that moustache, all I would do is put on my feminine clothes in a hotel room and go down the hall (rushing back to my room if I heard anything in the hallway), or I would put on a dress, drive to the far edges of the city along a rural road and get out and walk around in the dark, staring up at the moon and wishing I could fly free.
Other than enjoying the beauty of the heavens, the feeling of the fabric and the swoosh of my skirts, the experience was rarely fully satisfying. So, the moustache had to go if Lisa was going to get any kind of reprieve from that self-imposed earth-bound prison.
I date the shaving of my upper lip to the Summer of 1996. Let’s just say I was celebrating my leap into the unknown and I was finally ready to let the games begin (if that sentence is too obtuse…it was a leap year and an Olympic year all rolled into one). When my young daughter saw me for the first time, she screamed. I had to smile: she saw a new person, and so did I! New possibilities abounded, especially with frequent work trips to distant locales. Lest you think I jumped at the opportunities immediately, the truth is that I worked up to my outings. Short trips down the hall could now be trips to the lobby. After a few times doing that, I felt comfortable walking around the block. Walks around the block became walks around town. Walks around town became visits to everywhere else. That whole process probably took me a year or two to complete, with perhaps one outing per month. But, once I reached that final stage in about 1999, I never looked back, because I was having way too much fun. Every opportunity to be myself was a great adventure, with new plans for new places to see and things to do. Like Kandi, I enjoyed trips to church (I was wondering if my dress on the occasion below was sufficiently “churchy” – the sermon that Sunday was appropriately titled something like “Wrinkled with Doubt – Come in and get a Faith Lift”).
As I blasted off on new adventures, I wasn’t “scared” to be out as Lisa, but I did feel uncertain about how I would be treated and whether I would be accepted. I learned over those first dozen or so times out that I was much harder on myself than I ought to have been. But, one upside of going through the process over time is that my skills with dressing and makeup increased proportionately with my time out. I now am certain that I fit in well enough not to annoy anyone too much — unless they are transphobic and/or homophobic. And, with the compliments I have received over the years, I am certain that some people think it is pretty cool to see a transwoman on the prowl under the silvery moon…..
Sadly, I have few photos from my early outings, or at least I have lost most of the copies of the small number of photos I managed to get printed. I feel quite sure the wolf in the photo above looks far more presentable anyway. At least now digital photography, together with a camera on the phone, has made it so much easier to take and share photos. Regardless of the sparce evidence, I can assure you that it was life-affirming to be out and about.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t add a word of caution here. I came very near to being assaulted because I was using the cover of darkness for an outing in Tokyo – I was only saved because a police station appeared as my pursuer closed in.
So, please please please be careful. Go out with a group or in daylight if at all possible.
But, you can go out. One small step for one woman; one giant leap for trans-kind!
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