Out Shopping En Femme With My Wife

It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to get out in public as Gabrielle. My wife, the fabulous Mrs. H., recently took me shopping at one of the local malls. It marked the first time we ventured out in public together, while I was en femme (not including drives we’ve taken in which I did not exit the car).

My public outings have had mixed results in the past. To increase the potential for a more successful outing, I took some drastic measures this time, or at least drastic for me.

In order to draw less attention and increase my odds of blending in with the crowd, I did something rather undesirable. I wore pants. I hate pants. It may be crossdressing cliche, but I really do hate pants. Women have been wearing them for several decades, but I just don’t feel very feminine in pants, even women’s pants, or skin-tight jeans in this case. At least I looked good in them, according to my wife. I do admit, my legs still have a nice, feminine shape in jeans (thanks to my daily treks on the treadmill of doom), but it’s not my style and I wasn’t happy about it.

The activity was shopping, but this outing was mainly an experiment in blending in – something I’ve failed to do in past public outings. I like to dress nice. What I consider “dressing nice” and “looking good” falls under the category of dressing “sexy” in the eyes of many people. We’ll spare my gripe with how society tends to frown upon “sexy” these days, but that is my preferred style and how I feel best.

What I wore
My outfit consisted of tight bluejeans, black knee-high boots (flat, not high-heeled), a black turtleneck sweater, and an outer black button-down sweater (that fell just below my hips) over it. My only accessories were a gold crucifix necklace, and basic black purse. I toned my eye makeup down dramatically and was careful not to over-do it on my blush. Mrs. H. and I had similar looks going on, each wearing black tops, tight bluejeans, flat (non-heeled) black knee-high boots, and black purses.

I snapped a few quick photos on the way to the mall while my wife drove, one of which you see at the top of this post. You can see her long, black hair draped over her right shoulder at the right edge of the photo. Sorry about the lack of a bull-body photo of how I looked in what I refer to as “fem-drab”. I didn’t feel compelled to capture my image in this less than desirable style. Update: Scroll down and click on the thumbnail image at the end of this post to see how I looked in the pants I wore.

As much as it pained me to dress down, it did help in terms of not drawing attention. As I’ve stated before – I do not pass in person. Don’t let my pictures fool you. In two dimensional photos where I have more control over things such as lighting and the angle in which I’m viewed, it’s a lot easier to appear passable. In person, angle, depth perception, and less than ideal lighting conditions easily reveal my feminine shortcomings.

Just friends, not lovers
When in girl-mode, my wife prefers I behave like a friend, rather than romantic love interest. It’s understandable, as it should draw less attention in public that way. Even so, my arm kept finding its way around her shoulder somehow. Muscle memory, old habit, or subconscious need, it was quite difficult to keep from showing romantic affection for her while we were out. I never realized how automatic (and frequent) my spousal public shows of affection are, nor did I expect it to be so difficult to refrain.

Mrs. H. did a good job of helping me feel more comfortable out in public. She coached me on “feminine shopping behavior”, mannerisms, posture, and appropriate facial expressions. Yes, facial expression is an important point to her, and I agree. As a not so youthful genetic male, my face doesn’t look very feminine on its own – even when coated with gobs of makeup, carefully applied so as not to appear like “gobs of makeup”. I have to try to keep a “perky” look on my face, which includes a hint of smile, that does not appear to be a full-out smile. Walking around with a constant smile on my face would just be weird. It was tricky, but I did my best to pull it off.

One thing that was no different from any other shopping experience with my wife was that I ended up carrying all the clothing items picked out as we browsed. As a loving spouse, in guy-mode or en femme, I am always happy to do so.

Blending in… more or less
My attention was a bit divided. My wife kept trying to get me to behave and act “naturally” (which included browsing through clothes), but I couldn’t help but try to look at each and every face around me for signs of being “read”. Most people seemed to be completely unaware, which is exactly what I wanted. That was the point in dressing in “fem-drab”. So long as people don’t look directly at me, and there was little reason for them to, I would remain just another body in the crowd.

I did not go completely unnoticed, however. As my eyes scanned about, I did notice a handful of people who appeared to have read me. There were at least a few occasions in which people reacted directly to my presence.

Deer in the headlights
Shortly after entering the mall, in one of the main hallways, two teen boys (maybe early 20-somethings) walked in our direction while conversing with each other. Our eyes met briefly. A few yards away, their conversation stopped abruptly and I got a rather obvious look of surprise. Just after passing by them, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Their eyes open wide, almost popping out of their heads, and jaws hanging open in surprise, was rather humorous.

Nice boots
In the clothing store that we spent most of our time browsing (it had clothing styles we both enjoyed), I was approached twice. A young male sales associate came up to me and commented on how he liked my boots as he showed me his own boots… women’s boots. Footwear was his only “female” attire as far as I could tell. He read me, and we read him as well, though not as a transgender in his case. He was an effeminate, stylish, gay man. With only one or two exceptions, I’ve always clicked well socially with gay men and women. They’re pretty open-minded and cool, or at least those I’ve had the pleasure of knowing over the years.

I did not actually talk to the sales associate because Mrs. H. jumped in and began chatting with him, believing he was commenting on her boots and not mine. I stood by and smiled while they talked for a minute or two. There was some hesitancy on my part to chat with strangers on this day, which I’ll explain later. Even though I didn’t participate in the brief conversation, it was still a cool experience. He knew I was trans and was genuinely welcoming to me – perhaps more so because of it. How I wish that could be the case with everyone, or at least the majority.

Excuse me, ‘miss’…
After our shopping in this store was concluded, Mrs. H. and I quietly conversed with each other while waiting in the rather long, slow moving check out line that extended back some distance. After some time, another shopper approached me and asked me for some assistance. She was in her late 50’s, I’d guess.

“Could you tell me what the price on this is? I forgot my glasses and can’t read the tag.” “Seriously? That’s her approach?”, I thought to myself. I almost busted out laughing… again. It was a rather obvious attempt to get me to speak so she could confirm whether or not I was a “real” woman. The moment seemed like it was ripped right out of a Seinfeld episode. Smiling larger than life and trying not to laugh, I leaned over to look at the price tag. Just then, Mrs. H. intervened and “helped” the woman read the price tag. My wife’s intent was to “come to my rescue” and prevent a potentially uncomfortable moment. I love her so much for that. Had she not been there, I would have “played along” and probably gotten “probed” a bit further by this curious woman. Her polite, if obvious, approach to “reading” (or confirming) me was amusing and probably well intentioned but I knew it was best to not converse with people on this day. It might have been a great opportunity to engage in a potentially educational conversation, but I was filled with a mix of nervous energy and adrenaline and very much off my game.

An alarming reaction
Shopping bags in hand, Mrs. H. and I slowly made our way through the mall’s large hallways. As we walked and chatted, my eyes continued scanning about looking for signs of being read. Most people seemed not to notice, and that was very pleasing.

At one point, my eyes met the eyes of an oncoming man who was walking in our direction with his young daughter. He was about 5′ 6″ (noticeably shorter than I), very thin, and probably in his mid 30’s. I looked away to be polite. A moment later, I looked back to find him still starring directly at me with a rather odd look on his face. He pulled his young daughter close to him, pressing her against his body, as if to protect her from imminent danger, and quickly altered direction into the nearest store entrance. Our eyes remained locked for several seconds during his “escape”. The “odd look” on his face appeared to be that of fear, perhaps anger. I’ve gotten nasty looks from people before, but never the look of fear, if that was what he experienced.

I asked my wife if she caught his reaction, but she was looking in another direction. I explained what I saw – a worried man attempting to “protect” his young daughter from… well, me. Mrs. H. tried to convince me that I misinterpreted things because I was nervous. Well aware of my own nerves, I disagreed.

It took some time, but I think I figured out what really took place. The over-protective father probably did experience a genuine sense of fear. The fear was not of me however, but rather of his own daughter. More accurately, he likely feared having to explain what I am (as a transgender) to his daughter had she gotten a look at me.

I understand his discomfort in context with where much of society currently sits with things. Even so, his reaction was cowardly and unnecessary. Children look up to their parents for guidance. If they sense discomfort in their parents about something, they will in turn learn to become uncomfortable about it themselves. My own parents were very uncomfortable answering certain questions when I was a child. Consequently, I “learned” that these things were just “wrong” – even to simply inquire about. Looking back, there was nothing wrong with most of the things that made my parents uncomfortable. I’ve made it a point to remind and embarrass them about it in recent years, mainly in jest.

It is sad that certain realities, perfectly natural and quite harmless, are still taught to be immoral or flat-out “wrong” in the eyes of impressionable children. This is a topic best suited for another concentrated discussion… or many discussions, however.

An interesting learning experience
Our mall shopping concluded, Mrs. H. picked up a few tops and a dress. A single new miniskirt was in my bag – not exactly much of a wardrobe expansion, but finding things in my size (mainly tops), AND in styles/colors that I like, is no easy task. In addition, I was quite distracted with my “people watching”.

For the record, I quickly changed into my new miniskirt upon arriving home. I couldn’t get out of those pants fast enough. It felt so good to feel “normal” again. I am literally laughing as I share this, but it’s true. The skirt looked very nice on me, too. Again, my apologies for not having photos.

Although it was a good learning experience, I’m not pleased with many aspects of the outing – mainly how it felt (or how I felt during it). My attempt at blending in by dressing exactly how I do not like to dress did work to some extent. The cost of blending in was that I didn’t feel very feminine, even under all that makeup and completely in “women’s” clothing. I didn’t feel like myself. It almost felt like I was “playing dress-up” (“dress-down”, in this case) or wearing a costume. Have you ever felt really awkward or “not right” because you dislike what you’re wearing, regardless of gender expressed?

Feminine vocalization issues
According to Mrs. H., I was unable to produce my feminine voice properly, which she noted as we quietly talked to each other while shopping. That was, to some extent, why I was hesitant to engage in conversation with anyone. I practiced my feminine vocal exercises for about 10 minutes in the car on the way there. My wife got a big kick out of that, and even I am laughing as I reflect. Maybe the vocal exercises were not long enough, or perhaps I was simply not feeling enough like myself to properly feminize my voice. Many crossdressers do not try to hide their male voice, however as Gabrielle, I do not aim to be a “crossdresser”, but rather a trans-woman, if only part time. I’d rather not get into the “labels” and “terminology” debate right now, though. This write-up is already triple its intended target length.

Analysis, Mr. Spock
I’ve got a ways to go yet, in terms of blending, acting “naturally” and feeling comfortable out in the “wild”. A controlled environment, such as a planned gathering where I know people or have a specific purpose, is a lot easier for me right now. Life is a growth process and this part of my growth has been stunted for a long time. I’m playing catch-up, though it’s moving at a very slow pace – mainly due to lack of time and opportunity to get out and grow. My own feelings and emotions are under constant psychological self-analysis. This trip out gave me a lot of good data to sift through, odd as that may sound. It’s something we all do, although I sometimes speak about it in direct analytical terms.

What’s your story?
For those of you who are more advanced than I when it comes to public self-expression, what have you discovered in terms of successfully blending in? Those of you who have yet to venture out in public, what keeps you from doing so? Please take a moment to share experiences, thoughts and ideas.

The Metal ''Safety Dance''?Click the thumbnail to see how I look in pants. The outfit in this photo is different than when I went out shopping with my wife, but from the waste down, including the boots, that is what I wore. I’m not a fan of wearing pants, but I don’t look too bad in them. Honestly, I look a lot better in these kind of pants than a lot of genetic women half my age who squeeze into them… but of course, I have to exercise my fit little butt off to achieve it.

53 thoughts on “Out Shopping En Femme With My Wife”

  1. Hi Gabrielle,

    This so echoes my experiences of a few years ago as I started on my own transition journey.

    We all have ‘mixed’ results when we first start going about in public – it takes a long time to develop a presentation that is feminine that doesn’t draw unwanted attention.

    I always found that there were two groups of people that caused me the greatest problems when I first starting going out in public – men and teenage girls (especially!).

    Men I always found to be a threat simply because male culture in our society tends to make a lot of room for violent reactions and ‘gaybashing’ is not unheard of in my home city.

    Teenage girls, on the other hand are more of an indirect threat. They are still learning to establish their place in the world, and are extremely conscious of their appearance as well as that of others. Worse still is that they have no filter on what they say out loud in public.

    Fortunately for us, men are generally not terribly observant – so it’s relatively easy to achieve a presentation that most males will not even notice. Getting to a point where you can move through a crowd and be seen as a woman by other women takes time, practice and confidence.

    Women are more subtle than men, and will pick up cues such as body language, dress and so on. This isn’t meant to scare you – I’ve found that for the most part women are far more accommodating than men (especially of MTF transfolk) More than once, I’ve had what I would call a “knowing glance” from a woman I was interacting with, but they were always courteous; and a few would either compliment me on something I was wearing or gently suggest how I could improve my appearance a little. (my first exposure to the ‘men compete, women conspire’ socialization differences)

    Transfolk can pick each other out in a crowd without even trying. I’ve seen so many transwomen out in public spaces that it isn’t even funny. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how good our presentations are, others with similar backgrounds will always manage to pick us out. For the most part, though, we’ll just pick each other out but not say anything. In fact one I see semi-regularly at a local supermarket goes out of her way to not even be in the same checkout line as me. (meh – whatever)

    Voice … voice is so the bane of all of our existences. It took me years to develop a vocal presentation that I felt confident with – and I still have off days. Even those who have outstanding singing abilities have trouble with that one. Take your time, and give yourself the opportunity to make mistakes – it will come.

    Don’t let the odd ‘hairy eyeball’ response from someone get you down – those moments are guaranteed to happen. You’ll find that the frequency of those moments will dwindle away over time.

    I know it’s hard not to pay attention to the facial expressions of those around you, but truly, the best thing you can do is let them be – and most people will return the favour and let you be as well. I found that the grocery store was one of the best places to learn that lesson – not only are you there for a purpose, so is everybody else. Most will only pay you passing attention.

    For the longest time, I had a truly weird existence where I was going home from work, changing, and then going out to run errands like grocery shopping. It was hard for me, but at the same time, greatly rewarding in terms of results. (I was particularly flattered the first time I discovered one of the store clerks undressing me with his eyes; and another time when a very nice gentleman actually asked if I wanted to go out for coffee … although I was scared silly about it at the time!)

    Best Wishes!

    – Michelle

    1. Thanks for offering your experience and insight, Michelle. I appreciate that. :)

      I was read by several teenage girls in the one clothing store I spent most of the time. Being read by teen girls sometimes seemed to give them a sense of amusement. I understand their reaction and don’t feel threatened by it in the slightest. None of them took open jabs at me, at least none that I could hear. If they laugh to themselves, that’s fine. That’s part of being a teenage girl – laughing and giggling about things with friends. I have never felt a sense of threat or danger from any girls/women who have read me to date.

      Teenage boys, and many 20-somethings, on the other hand, are the group that I get the look of disgust, anger and hate from. I left out the whole “walking through the food court” experience because the write up was too long already, but there were a lot of young men out with their buddies. I would describe them as the “tough guy” type, – not well educated, homophobic, etc. Waking through the food court was a little eerie with so many not-happy eyes upon me. Even my wife picked up on the fact that it was best for us to not linger in that area for long. I’m not looking to be the next “freak show” on the six-o-clock news who fell prey to a bunch of thugs out to “teach a lesson” or impress their friends with a show of violence toward me.

      Location has a lot to do with it, and I am looking to relocate to a friendlier environment, but those are long term plans. For now, my best bet is to continue scoping out locations less likely to have low-brow types, and trying to find an optimal balance between today’s more accepted women’s styles and my own personal tastes. Of course, my appearance is but one element in an array of things I need to work on, but it is probably plays the biggest role. Attitude, mannerisms, and general behavior will come in time. I only wish I had more time to devote to exploring this part of my life. I need more free time (and freedom in general). The idea of deferring this aspect of my life for a few years in order to obtain that freedom (as in working on a plan to facilitate and enable it) is something I devote much thought to lately. A little pain up front may lead to more freedom, and consequently, a happier and better balanced life later on.

  2. Gabrielle,

    I’m going to gently spank you – verbally at least. We are never “freak shows” – and we do ourselves no favours by using such language as the bigots might choose. One of the things I had to learn in coming to accept my own reality is that the language I use to describe myself and my experiences has to be in a positive voice – otherwise, I’m allowing others to define who I am and my experiences.

    I’ve always preferred the phrase “define the label, don’t let it define you”.

    On appearance, believe it or not appearance has fairly little to do with how we are gendered when we encounter people for the first time – it has so much more to do with secondary cues such as body language. Yes, some physical clues help (e.g. breasts, hairstyle), but by far the majority of it comes from how we move about and occupy space.

    I used to think it had more to do with how I was dressed, but that changed when I ended up in a hardware store one day – in grubby jeans, a t-shirt and no makeup. (I was working on a garden project that day) I got ma’amed through the entire store … and that was at a time when I was still living part-time.

    From what your pictures have shown me, you’re clearly capable of a fairly decent appearance fashion-wise, and I’d put good odds that people are picking up on mixed body language signals. (don’t worry – we all do that! I had a time where my body language was all over the place, and people were getting horribly confused as a result)

    1. I appreciate your concern, Michelle, but you misinterpret my motive for using “freak show”. I wasn’t taking a jab at myself, but rather at the local media. They have needlessly pointed out transgenders in the news before, when gender nor appearance were otherwise relevant to the incident being reported on. It is almost always implied or stated in a way that seems intended to tie transgengerism to the problem end of things. It is their portrayal that I refer to as the “freak show”, not my being. If I were to be harmed or encounter troubles resulting in a call from the police, and/or ambulance, there is a good chance that at least one local station will present me as a freak show kind of story and use the transgenger aspect as the teaser for the story just prior to commercial break, but also mention it in a way that leads the audience to believe that my being so is something to watch out for as a bad thing. It certainly doesn’t hurt their ratings – giving things a “freak show” spin. ;)

      I follow what you mean about attitude and mannerisms being of high importance, and I agree on that aspect. Discovery and analysis of one’s surroundings sill begins with a visual inspection. If I can pass that initial inspection, my odds of not being read are significantly better. Proper attitude and mannerisms will come secondary to the first, immediate impression, in terms of continued inspection from others. Without the right attitude, the initial “passing” inspection may not be enough to continue being seen as female in gender. I also believe that attitude can tip the scale in your favor if initial or continued visual inspection results in questioning of your physical anatomy. It all works together, and any one weak area can lead to being read. I’m ok with being read so long as people do not treat me in a negative was because of it. I’ve never passed to anyone with whom I engaged in conversation, but more often than not, they have been polite and treated me with respect.

  3. Gabrielle,

    I must be honest I find what you and your wonderful terrific. However at the same time I find it sad.

    I find it sad that A) you felt you needed to “blend in” B)you needed to wear what is now women’s clothing….JEANS!!! LOL. That one is not so much sad as ironic.

    This past Easter my mother disliked what I had chosen to wear. I wore my black spandex disco pant, with a long tan sweater, and boots. No make up no wig (as much as I wanted to appear in my androgynous self). This outfit was not all that different from the style I wear with my leggings when out and about.

    Well she did not like what I had on, and said so by saying “I am not going any where with you dressed in those ballet tights”. When using the term ballet tights she is inferring that I am wearing a gay man’s outfit….which I find ironic seeing how most of the gay guys I know wear, all together now, JEANS!!! (are you seeing a trend here?:))

    Well I perhaps acted irrationally and told her she can go to my brother’s for Easter by herself. (Easter has never been that big a deal in my family, so it is not like Christmas got ruined, once again ironically I wore these same pants with a blue sweater, and boots, with no reaction.)

    Basically after all this we had a conversation. The results are that I cannot wear my leggings around her anymore, because they look weird. This despite the fact I gave her emails from my lady friends commenting on my various costumes and looks and how they liked them. So I cannot wear gothy stuff or even unisex stuff like leggings at my temporary home. Why? Because I don’t look like everyone else. So I have been wearing jeans for the past weak….and I loathe them.

    All of this, both what you are going through, and what I am going through is this whole blending in nonsense…to not scare the others. That is the crux of our issues, not scaring others. That father hiding his daughter from you. He is a perfect example of the kinds of non-thinking, animal brained idiots we as a culture keep bowing down to. I wonder if he would have acted that way if a guy looking like a pimp or a thug was walking toward him. Something tells me the answer would be no. This always baffles me how we are not accepted yet people looking like violent people get a pass.

    I am so happy you have your wife. From what we all have read here she is a very supportive person. I have met several women on the netthat find my look appealing….they all either live in Europe, or Japan. LOL

    I may move to one of those places, seeing how the States are becoming more and more sunk in the rise of machoism.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Pythos. :) I agree with your point of it being sad that I needed to (or felt the need to) “blend in”. To some extent, regardless of gender expression, most of us are subjected to the necessity of “blending in with the crowd”, or at least conforming to socially accepted “norms”. It is most noticeable in the work place. In fact, our ability to maintain employment and put food on the table is often dependent on our conformity to that which has been established as “acceptable appearance” by our employers AND even our coworkers. The point is that we must not stand out in a bad way at work in order to basically sustain life.

      Conforming and fitting into the general public is also very important in terms of being “allowed” to do your thing without people attempting to otherwise limit your activities, either through refusal of service (illegal as it may be, it can still take place and make for an unnecessarily difficult experience, not to mention kill precious time), ridicule, harassment, or flat out attack (threat of harm, and/or the act of harm being carried out).

      Absolutely, I should be able to just go out into public, as I am, as I would prefer to be seen, without suffering negative consequences for my actions and exercising my right as an American citizen in America, to freedom of expression. “Guaranteed” rights or not, we all know how things often go. Stand out in a crowd in a way that is unacceptable to most, or even just “enough of them”, and there can be some unpleasant and even dangerous consequences for doing so. This is not news to anyone like us, and I use “us” to describe anyone who’s personal preference and individual style is completely harmless and lawful, but does not conform to mainstream social standards and acceptance thresholds.

      Granted, dressing to “fit in”, especially by wearing jeans, really defeats the main purpose of “being myself”. That is not at all how I would choose to dress, nor do I even remotely like that particular style on others. I respect the style choices of others and would encourage them to wear whatever they feel best in, regardless of how compatible it is with my own personal tastes. By dressing in a way that I disliked, I did improve upon my ability to go mostly unnoticed in the crowd. I also did a great job of extinguishing my personal enjoyment of that experience. Like I said though, it was more am experiment in “blending in”, gauging my level of freedom (as in how freely I could move about without encountering negative forces because of my gender expression), going through and monitoring emotions associated with the experience for analysis and modification (people usually call that simply: “a personal growth or learning experience”), and discovery of specific locational tolerances based on people’s reactions.

      I mentioned in a previous comment to this article, that I am indeed planning my exit from this particular location on the globe. It is funny you mention Japan because that is a location of much interest to me, for far more than just their openly “not so macho” society. They’re also at the cutting edge of many technologies I am very fascinated with, one of which is robotics. While many Americans are busy (naively) wondering if robots will become our “evil overlords who see humans as an inferior life form and take over the planet”, the Japanese are hard at work improving upon artificial intelligence, more human-like and intelligent robots, and let’s not forget that their women and female styles are still very… well, feminine and girlie (unlike the continuing trends here). I don’t want to get too far off topic or political or anything – I certainly do not hate my country by any means, but I do think our society has some major growing troubles that need correction and it often seems more beneficial to simply go somewhere that is already closer to an environment that I might thrive in, rather than wait for things to improve in my current location (or have to give up my useful years dedicated to making the change happen, rather than enjoying my personal interests and passions in life). For the record, I am looking to relocate to another area in the United States right now, and not exit the country. I would much rather see things improve here, than have to go to a foreign country to get it… not to mention the thought of having to learn a language as complex as Japanese does not sound like fun. I have enough trouble communicating in English. lol

      Although I don’t think the trend of “macho” being the holy grail of what many people look up to as an admirable trait ending any time soon, I do believe there may be a regression of it at some point. There was a time that good manners and polite behavior were seen by much of society as good and valued traits in others, rather than bad-attitudes, rude behavior, and praise for such things (some of the very things that make “reality TV” such a big hit).

      If I cannot get out in public as I prefer to be (dressed nice) in this area, I will experiment with other styles and try to find some kind of common ground in which I do not draw too much negative attention and yet can also feel at least a little more like myself and enjoy how I look. Going out as I prefer to be is not entirely worth the negative reactions and potential harm I would face. If/when the time comes around in which I am always surrounded by my entourage, or personal body guards, you can bet on me going out exactly as I would choose to be. I would probably make it a point to be seen in public if I could ensure my safety – it would send a strong message and make a bold, POSITIVE statement. Until that time, I have to either find open-minded places/locations in which I can freely express myself as I like, or wear a certain amount of camouflage so as not to draw negative attention. It should need to be this way, but this is the state of things in my town and most nearby locations.

  4. Gabrielle, Just a note to say that I generally shop “en drabbe” at thrift stores and simply go through the racks of dresses and tops, check out the shoes, then the jewelry, try on anything I’ve selected then pay for what i want and go on my merry way, often times along with my Wife, who has been an enormous confidence builder.

    1. I’m usually in guy-mode when I go shopping, too, Gina. Guy-mode is not my preferred “mode”, but it does make moving about in society a lot easier and is more productive on the shopping end. Mrs. H. always comes with me, whether I’m shopping for men’s clothing, or women’s – she’s very helpful on both ends. Glad your wife goes along with you as well. Send her my love for being a cool and supportive spouse. :)

  5. That’s a great pic of you, you look fantastic.

    I’m very happy that the two of you got the chance to go out, even if you had to “drab it down” a bit…wish you had the pics to show though.

    Anyway, I thought I’d comment on the “public affection” thing…I too have found myself doing something similar. Though, in my case, I think it was “OK” since the venue was very open (local gay bar, great place). Still, I was suddenly conscious of it and therefore uneasy. But, my GF is a trooper and had no issue with holding hands. I need to talk to her about it though. We have not really had many conversations regarding how “we” are when we are out as such (me en-femme that is). We did agree on being “friends” once, and maybe it was OK to step over the line that night at the bar…but still, I appreciate you mentioning the topic in this post, it is something that I need to address with my GF.

    Thank you again for everything here!

    Erin K.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Erin! :) Sorry about the lack of photos. Again, pants and the whole “fem-drab” look are just not my thing. Perhaps if I got to spend more time en femme, AND in my own style, I wouldn’t mind so much, but it feels like such a waste of “the moment” to dress like that. It’s like eating food that tastes like unseasoned soggy cardboard when delicious, juicy, perfectly seasoned steak is available. Social restrictions really stink!

      Your choice of venue in getting out is a smart one. It is an environment in which people are so much more open-minded and less mainstream (and less “conform or else”). Depending on the eyes upon me and how people reacted to my presence, I’d probably be very comfortable in that kind of environment. Honestly, I felt right at home at my high school reunion last year… well, after the initial case of the nerves subsided. Getting starred and laughed at didn’t bother me a bit because of the knowledge of very minimal chance for danger and/or angry confrontation. That’s the kind of thing I consider to be a “controlled environment”, though. Out in the “wild”, I’m pretty self-conscious about my being “not well tolerated by those who read me” and often feel like people are looking at me like I’m confused, or think I’m fooling someone, or a mental case, or pervert, etc.

      I’m glad your girlfriend is supportive AND willing to hold hands in public! That’s mighty cool! :) Please send her my love and let her know that’s very commendable of her. It might be a good idea to look into how your girlfriend feels about things, in terms of public behavior between the two of you, but I wouldn’t get too far into it. If she makes it seem like no big deal, then be careful not to MAKE a big deal of it. ;) In other words, leave well enough alone. I don’t know how many times I unintentionally turned a non-issue into an issue with my own wife because I over-thought something.

  6. Hi Gabrielle,

    I must apologize to you – I overreached in my last message. I’m a little hyper sensitive to the negative messages that come in the way that the media portrays transfolk, and I misread what you wrote.

    Cross-living, and in particular adapting to the social rules that we didn’t grow up with, is perhaps the most difficult thing that any of us have to learn. Getting comfortable with those boundaries is difficult; switching between them is even harder.

    Above all, the journey we are all on is about learning to accept ourselves for who we are – in spite of the baggage that society foists upon us. Enjoy the journey – it’s worth every minute.

    1. No need to apologize, Michelle. :) I appreciate your good-willed concern. I think most of us are a bit sensitive to the negative messages sent out by the media in regard to being a transgender. It’s hard not to be. It’s bad enough that much of the public already see us (or more accurately, part-timers like myself) in a negative light. When the media, a source of information that many people look up to for guidance, enforces that negative view, it makes things that much more difficult for us to gain acceptance and understanding.

      As for enjoying my journey – you bet I am… mostly, anyway :) I don’t necessarily enjoy the negative outside forces that come into play, but I enjoy every minute I can spend exploring what it is to be me as Gabrielle.

  7. Try this…go out in drab and watch people. I discovered many people give me the same treatment. Some people, mostly older men seem to stare and frown….maybe that’s just what they do. I also notice, nobody…and I mean nobody smiles at me even if I smile at them first. but…go enfem and smile and I get smiles back. Somedays though, everyone seems to be unfriendly…I used to think it was me, but I now think it has something to do with the weather. I don’t claim to pass…sometimes I do, I have no voice and I get odd stares, but I have the most success when I convince myself I am female…I sit and walk with a string holding my head up, I smile, I own the space around me like a woman does, I drive like a woman….and it works. It is subtle, I don’t exagerate. And I have the attitude that I belong where I am no matter how I look. I’m still learning, but I’m tending to forget the fear. One day, I’m going to dress and interact with as many people as I can in one day..I’m still to shy and scared, but doing it might just cure me.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Sally. I think your outings sound pretty fantastic so far! :) And very successful, even if you are read. Even if you’ve got a ways to go yet, carrying yourself with the right attitude is absolutely the right idea. Once you nail that, everything else should fall into place… or so I hear. I have yet to nail the attitude myself. I’ll get there though, and I know you will, too. :)

  8. I would not say I hate pants. I hate being limited to them for the most part for sure.

    Those “women’s” pants would have been considered mens wear in the 70s.


    1. That is an interesting point you bring up, Pythos. Yes, those styles would have indeed been considered fashionable MEN’S wear in the 70’s. Another great illustration of how differently things get looked at depending where on the time line they are being looked at.

      About hating pants. In guy-mode, it just seems to work. I mean, that’s part of the “looking like a guy” thing and it works with my male persona. In girl-mode, I absolutely do hate pants, period. When I’m trying to feel feminine, nothing kills that feeling faster than wearing pants. It doesn’t matter the style or cut of the pants, I just don’t like them. It’s simply my personal preference. We’ve all got our personal preferences. :)

  9. What is funny is even though I dislike pants, I LOVE leggings, which are nothing less than tight pants, but they move with me opposed to drag along my legs, I think that is one of the main things about them I like.

    When skirted I am almost always wearing a form of pants, though they are not called such. They are bifibricated Ie, have two legs and a torso. They are called pantyhose, or tights.

    But once again they move with me, and they fit like a second skin.

    I think it is the fact pants drag on my legs that makes me not like them, not to mention they hide one’s shape and build, which leggings do not.

    I forget Gabrielle, do you usually have hose on when skirted? For me, they are the perfect all in one, (socks, and undies combined), and if fitting right I forget they are on.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Pythos. It’s always interesting to hear why people prefer certain items over others.

      My legs do look better in nylons than bare, although I do sometimes just go bare-legged around the house in a skirt. I think the popular choice for many is pantyhose, but I much prefer stockings. I love how my legs look in stockings and they are very comfortable to wear. I usually wear “nude” stockings, but also love my fishnets. How I wish fishnets weren’t so associated with “cheap” looks by much of society these days, but that’s an entirely difference subject all together.

  10. Dear Gabrielle,

    I wanted to share a note with you thatI wrote to our local Nordstrom store to compliment them on how they dealt with me. Whenever I get excellent treatment I am compelled to let people know just how much we appreciate it:

    My name is Suzy *****. I am writing to compliment your store on an absolutely wonderful salesperson named Dena *****. She has made my experiences at Nordstrom extremely pleasant, and also a little expensive ;).

    Here is why I have singled out Ms. *****. I am a transgendered male. I came into Encore at Nordstrom at the beginning of August to shop. I always try to be very discreet, but I still never know how I am going to be received. Ms. ***** greeted me warmly and immediately made someone who was obviously a bit nervous feel comfortable with her demeanor (this was my first time out shopping as Suzy, ever). When she saw that I had picked up a couple of things, she immediately offered me a dressing room, which I must say was a wonderful feeling. She helped me open up a Nordstrom account and again, this wouldn’t ordinarily be a pleasant experience because it means producing my driver’s license. But she remained warm and professional throughout.

    Saturday I purchased the Halogen flying v skirt and jacket ensemble from Dena. She special ordered a different size skirt that I thought would be more my size than what was in the store. When I checked the Nordstrom web site I realized that what I really needed was a regular sized skirt. So when I went in on Sunday, as Pete, I was dreading having to tell a salesperson that when I was in the day before that I had ordered the wrong sized skirt! Fortunately, Dena was there and once again greeted me warmly and with a disarming smile and manner immediately put my nervousness and awkward feelings to rest. She found what I needed in another department and brought it over, and helped me with yet another suit (she’s a great saleslady as well!). I was also impressed that she remembered me from a month ago and even remembered opening my account (well, perhaps I stand out a LITTLE bit).

    As I read these comments, I realize that if I was talking about how Dena deals with any lady it might not seem all that remarkable, but that’s just the point. I’m NOT just any other lady. Many in society have impressed upon the tg community just how different we are. No matter how good we may feel about ourselves, we’re sometimes judged, ridiculed, laughed at, or scorned. This even happens in retail stores from time to time. So when Dena ***** treats me like any other lady, as a paying customer worthy of respect and deferential treatment, I think it’s my duty to call that to people’s attention. I have shopped at many stores and had a variety of experiences, and while most of them have been pleasant, the way Dena catered to me and treated me convinced me to write my first letter of this type to a department store. Whenever I have dealt with her I have always sincerely thanked her for her kindness, and she always says the same thing: “It’s no problem.” I know it’s no problem for dealing with regular ladies; for ladies like me, it means the world. I assume Dena has had experience dealing with tg clients, and that is why she is so good at it.

    I have recommended the Encore department to my friends based upon my experiences, and Nordstrom is now pretty much the only place I shop for ladies’ clothes. Our money is very green, and we in the tg community are a loyal bunch when we’re treated with respect and kindness (and when it’s a good product like Nordstrom usually carries). I hope you know what a gem you have in Dena *****.

    Warm regards,


    …and here was the response:

    Dear Ms. *****,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your wonderful shopping experience with me.

    I have shared your letter and experience with the store as a perfect example of great customer service! Nordstrom believes that every customer deserves to be treated with the highest level of customer service. It makes me ever so happy to know Dena makes no exception to that overriding goal. Thank you as well for passing your experience along to your friends. I am proud that Dena’s service has enhanced our company’s reputation.

    Thank you for shopping with us at Nordstrom Oakbrook. We look forward to assisting you again in the near future.



    I can’t begin to tell you how moved I was that this manager shared my experience with the whole store! One strike for progress!

    1. Suzy, that is such a beautiful and inspiring story! :) Thank you for sharing that. I have to give the good folks at Nordstrom Oakbrook (and Dena, specifically) high praise for their devotion to a positive customer experience and being open minded and respectful to the customer, period. Wouldn’t it be nice if all businesses treated people, regardless of their adherence to “social norms”, with as much respect and courtesy.

      Progress *is* happening and I’m hopeful toward the future. It’s going rather slow, but at least it’s happening. :)

  11. Hi Gabrielle, I am writing this to share my crossdressing esperiences. I am a 46 yr old male that has dabbled in dressing up as a woman since I was in my 20`s. I too hate pants when enfemme. Just seems to miss the point of dressing as a woman to begin with. I guess if you are going for a business womans look then pants would be ok, but still you don`t feel like a woman in pants, at least I know I don`t. At the very least I would wear pantyhose underneath the pants so that extra “feeling” would be there to remind me constantly that I am enfemme, like I could forget it..lol. Anywho, some of my best memories is going out in male mode, with a very large “tool box” in the back of my vehicle. Inside there contained everything I needed to transform myself. This box had a place for a padlock and it did stay locked. So anyway I`d venture out and drive across town to the large mall area and scope out the place and decide then where to do the transformation. Usually I`d go find a large parking lot with plenty of cars and pull in between some where no one was around. The hardest part was getting the bra on fast and then whatever top or dress I was wearing at the time. Next I`d hurry and get my wig on and adjusted and add any claw clips then so as to just look like a woman sitting there doing her makeup routine. Then thats when the makeup kit came out. At that point I didn`t care if I was seen applying makeup. In fact many times, the cars I was parked between, usually while I was applying the makeup, here would come someone directly to the car right next to me..lol. Whats the odds? Anyway turns out most times it was a woman. Imagine that, a woman coming out of a mall. Well anyway I`d just keep on applying my makeup and lipstick, adjusting my hair, all the feminine things that make us feel good. On several occasions I`d get a look from a woman, sometimes she`d give me a longer glaring look, I didn`t know if she knew or was intrigued by my beauty..lol. Anyway, for me, it was and is an extreme level of excitement to be seen as a woman by a woman, especially when you are in a car applying fresh lipstick. Many times I have been driving around while dressed up and I will go out of my way to be seen by as many women as possible. A lot of times I`d spot a woman or women in a car and see where they were going to park, and I`d hurry and go all the way around the isle and park right in front of them and immediatley start doing my lipstick touch-up. So many times, what did they do? They started touching up their own lipstick. Its a woman thing I know. They are always in competition with each other, whether they admit it or not. But when they see another woman primping and prettying herself up, then it compels her to do the same. I`ve seen it time and time again. One two different occasions I was parked in front of a womans makeup store, name isn`t important, and I would just be sitting there watching people going in and out of the other surrounding stores. Well one time I saw these women walking towards my way and I was sitting there smoking a Virginia Slims 120 cigarette, as I was sitting there looking beautiful..lol. The one lady said that cigarette sure does smell good…to me she said that, and my window was about half way down, I just smiled and kept looking forward, but that wasn`t the end of it, she then asked my could she have one..lol. So I gave her one,as she took the cigarette from my red nail tipped fingers, I noticed her even prettier red nail tipped fingers. It was exciting to say the least to see those nice nails on the woman that was borrowing a feminine cigarette from me..lol. She said thank you and I managed to say a somewhat feminine your welcome. Maybe she knew or maybe she was just thinking I was another woman about to go in shopping. Either way I didn`t care and I was excited to be there at that moment and be seen as a woman.
    On yet another occasion I was dressed all up and had been driving around the areas where women frequent for a good while when I found myself at a redlight right next to and about 3 feet back from this pretty young woman, maybe in her early 20`s. She was in a position to look over her right shoulder and through her seats to see directly into my car, which she did, she turned the first time and then turned back and continued smoking her cigarette, then almost immediately she turned around moreso and looked a little longer, then the biggest smile, not laugh, but smile came on her face and she gave me the biggest thumbs up I have ever seen, especially from a woman. I smiled back at her and she continued to look at me and smile, at which time the light changed and we both pulled off, I let her gain more ground then me and I still noticed her looking at me in her rear view mirror. That was a great moment in crossdressing for me. That was back in 2000 or so, and I have only done public dressing a few times since then. I have purged many times, more than I care to remember. I currently have quite a few things for my female role, ie: wigs, intimates, bras, pantyhose, one dress, lots and lots of lipstick. I kind of feel as I get older that I need to reel in the going out dressed as a woman gig. I still have that desire to go out dressed, but I don`t want to take unnecessary chances on getting caught while doing so. So for now at least I limit my dressing to at home, usually while I`m on the computer. My daily thing is to come home from work and almost immediately change clothes, and a lot of times all I will put on is a bra, the silicone breasts, and a womans gown and then some lipstick and wig, and I`ll sit here doing some computer stuff like Ebay or reading CD websites like this one.
    Well thats all I have for now..hope to come back and join in some great conversations soon with you girls on here. Bye for now..Kisses:)

  12. Hi Gabrielle,
    I just found your website and love it! I’m a life long crossdresser and attend many TG/Crossdresser conferences each year such as SCC in Atlanta. The seminars at conferences have helped me greatly in passing in public,especially at malls.One important change I made, which has helped me to pass, is hip/butt padding. I too have a small,tight butt, like yourself and it is too small in proportion to my shoulder width. Thats a dead give away, and my wife and I can spot a CD from a distance when the ratio of hip width to shoulder width is different. True, there are a few genetic women with “no-ass-a-tol” but very few. Most of my observations is a wider hip than the shoulder width. You are less likely to be clocked in public with proper hip padding as it makes us look more “normal”.
    By the way, i think you are gorgeous and very passable, but I would check you out closely to see if you are a CD because of the small hips.
    You are so lucky to have such a great wife to share your CD life with, especially one that will shop with you. That is my life-long dream! My wife has been tolerant, but non-participating, for 37 yrs. She says that I am in disguise, but she is not, and would probably run into someone she knows and they would figure me out. Any advise for her from you or your wife? Thanks for all you do for all of us in this lifestyle.

    1. Hi Michelle. Thanks for the compliment and sharing some of your personal findings and advice for passing in public. :) I agree fully about the shoulders to hips ratio thing. That is one of the reasons I look more passible in my photos than in person – I can obscure my wide shoulders quite a bit in a 2D photo, but there’s no hiding it in person. I’ve considered padding before as many others use it with great results, but I’ve always thought it would make me feel more fakey and less like “me”. I have a really great shape from the stomach down… but those wide shoulders and man-muscles mess it up. Maybe I should just get some padding and start experimenting.

      I regard to going out shopping with my wife, she, too, is concerned about being recognized by someone she knows. She is accepting of me as I am, but the social stigma of having a feminine husband would be hard for her to have to deal with, and that’s understandable. There are people who would give her a really hard time about it. She’s one tough cookie and more than capable of taking care of herself when under the fire of insult from others (really, really very good), but the constant bs of it that she might end up with is just something she doesn’t need in her life, nor do I want her to be subjected to such treatment from her family and friends. The way we’ve done it is to choose a place in which the likelyhood of running into someone she knows is very small. We went out shopping in a nearby town, to a mall that no one in her family goes to. With some planning and choosing a location that your wife will most likely not run into anyone she knows, the two of you might enjoy some quality time out together, too. One more thing, be sure your wife is comfortable with such an outing. If she feels under pressure to go out with you like this, it may significantly dampen the experience and potentially even cause some friction between the two of you in various ways. Your wife will need to be fully comfortable and at ease during any outing for there there to be any chance of mutual enjoyment. Done right, such an outing just might bring the two of you closer. I hope you’re able go out comfortably with your wife sometime! :) Please chime in again if you do – I’d love to hear how it went.

  13. I hate the idea of dressing down. I want to look my best or how I envision a well dressed woman should look. The thought has crossed my mind that I would attract too much attention if well dressed.
    My dream is to get out shopping with my wife if she’ll ever loosen up. Now I do all my shopping in drab.

    I’ve posted your link on the 2 CD sites I belong to. Laura’s Playground and Crossdresser Forum.

    1. Hi Wendae.  It seems we pretty much think alike on the the whole dressing down thing.

      I remember you saying in a previous post that your wife has been more openminded and accepting of your crossressing lately.  I hope she continues down that path so that maybe the two of you can go out shopping together.  Depending on where she’s at with everything, it might be a good idea to open up a dialogue on it with her.  Find out how she feels about it.  If she has reservations (which is understandable if she does), ask her what might put her more at ease.  Like my wife and I have done, maybe if the two of you plan a shopping outing at a location far enough away so as to minimize the potential of running into familiar people, she may be more open to the idea.  Just be sure not to put any pressure on her about it if she doesn’t seem comfortable.  Allow her the time she needs to open up to the idea, if she does at all.

      Thanks for posting links to my site, too, btw. :)  I appreciate it!

  14. You look fabulous. From the photos it seems it would be very hard to “read” you. Great outfit. I wish I had your body and your understanding SO.

    1. Thanks for the compliments, sweetmelody! That’s music to my ears! :)

      I can pull off a pretty feminine appearance in photos, but in person, I’m pretty easily read. :(

      If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, may you find a loving, accepting significant other. If you are in a relationship, I hope your significant other is loving enough to keep an open mind and chooses to love you for the person you are. But not all women will be, and they’re entitled to that… but that gets into a whole other discussion.

      In regard to having an attractive body, that is entirely up to your genes and how hard you’re willing to work at it. I didn’t exactly win the gene lottery, so I have to exercise DAILY, between 1 and 3 hours each and EVERY day. I also have to limit my food intake and stay away from junk foods, which is much easier said than done! It’s a lot of work and a lot of self control, but the benefits are many – not only does one look better for it, but the health benefits are many, too. :)

  15. I applaud your confidence going out in public. You look great and I’m glad you have fun despite the nerves. I’m new to the Expressing myself part of things but I feel like I dont want people to accept me as a woman. I want them to accept me as a crossdresser. It might just be a fear of fully embracing femininity but for me I don’t like the idea of having to have two personas- one recognisably masculine and one recognisably feminine. I’m interested in exploring how far I can go being both at the same time. I doubt it’s very acceptable in society.
    Yesterday I was shopping for lingerie and some girls sniggered at me. The shop assistants could tell I’m sure that I was buying for myself but were polite. I realised recently that my biggest fear is that people will “think I’m a crossdresser” but I am a crossdresser: it’s part of my very being. Let them think that. They’re right.
    Friends and strangers alike come and go through life and agree and disagree vehemently with even the silliest of things. I’m discovering nowthat the most important thing is that I accept who I am and can be proud of that.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jessica. :) I understand your point in wanting to be accepted by others as a “crossdresser” rather than a woman. It gets worded in many ways, but I think the underlying message is generally the same: people just wanted to be accepted as who they are, period. That goes for non-trans folk and pretty much everyone. We all just want the world to accept us as we are, whatever that may be.

      Isn’t it ironic – the point you made about your biggest fear is that people might think you’re, essentially, exactly who you are – a crossdresser! I think all crossdressers fear that same thing, at least for a time. No one wants to be seen as the “weird-o” or “freak” in the eyes of others, and unfortunately “crossdressing” equates to just that to much of the public.

      You’re absolutely correct in your assessment of “the most important thing” of accepting yourself. You really do need to truly accept yourself as the beautiful person you are if you ever want others to accept and respect you as well. The social taboo of being trans won’t go away any time soon, but things can be helped along in a strong show of confidence and pride in who we are to the world.

  16. I just stumbled across this post and felt the need to comment. Being an out of the closet cross dresser myself, I can understand where you are coming from. At the same time, you seem to be making the same mistake that many girls make when they first start to venture out. Your mental image of what it is to be a “woman” is out of sync with society’s image of a “woman”.

    I’m not trying to say that you are wrong for wanting to look as feminine as possible, but at the same time we all seem to make the mistake of not dressing for the occasion when we venture out in public initially. We tend to over-dress and this only draws attention. It is not only possible to look very feminine while wearing jeans, but can actually be fun to do if you do it right. When I first started to venture out in public, I got stares and reactions like you describe all the time. Over time, as I realized that the cause was I wasn’t dressing like a GG would in the same situation, I began to adjust how I dressed. Now if I hit the mall, it’s in a pair of stretch jeans or leggings, a layered t-shirt or tight fitting top, and usually heeled sandals or boots. By doing this, not only do I look very feminine but I have actually been hit on quite a few times by men.

    More than anything it is about attitude. If you believe that you look good and pass, you will naturally change your behavior to draw less attention to yourself and actually begin to pass as a woman. From your pictures, I can say that not only can you pass, but you do much more readily than you think you do. Learning things like feminine body language takes time to master. Once you learn to not only walk like a woman, but to stand, lean, and even talk like one (their use of vocabulary is quite different), you will find yourself passing far more readily.

    I remember what it was like when I felt just as you do. Now that I have been out in public literally hundreds of times in broad daylight and almost anywhere you can imagine, I can pass easily even after an hour long conversation with people (and no, my voice is not particularly feminine either).

    When my wife and I are out (usually with the kids in tow), she likes to be just “friends” and I can respect that. I’m her best girlfriend and we spend many hours shopping together as 2 girls. Sometimes she hangs back and watches reactions of the people we pass. In the beginning I got read quite a bit. Over time as I learned to be a woman and not a guy in a dress, the reactions changed. Now, it is rare that anyone reads me at all and usually I get guys staring at me because they are attracted to me. Passing really is all about how you carry yourself.

    1. Hi Heather. Thanks for your very well thought out advice on going out in public en femme and making it work. I appreciate that. :)

      Congratulations on your very successful time spent en femme out in public and with your family! :) I think that’s outstanding! I really enjoy hearing stories like yours. It’s inspiring and sends a very positive message to all.

      I’ve heard it many times, from many crossdressers who regularly venture out in public en femme with much success, that it’s all about attitude. It makes sense, and on a much broader scale than just passing in public. Attitude/body language can say a lot about everyone in general, and play a significant role in how people react to and treat you. My body language, mannerisms, and attitude could definitely use some fine tuning.

      In regard to my mental image of what it is to be a “woman” being out of sync with society’s image of a “woman” – that’s not really the case with me. Trying to look “too sexy” or “ultra-feminine” is a common phase many crossdressers go through early on, but there’s more to the picture with me. I’m familiar with society’s ever changing image of a “woman”. It differs from region to region, from one culture to the next, and point on the timeline (year). I understand that how I *want* to look is very different than how most genetic women would ever venture out looking. My goal in being “Gabrielle” isn’t to present what I think a woman is or should be, but rather who I am. Of course, going out into public as I *want* to look draws a lot of unwanted attention, as it would for any genetic woman presenting a similar look. Before I get too long-winded on this part, it might be best to make a comparison to Gothic culture. For people who live a “Gothic lifestyle”, it’s not “playing dress-up” or “costume time” or “role playing”, but rather how they want to be/look, period. The Gothic folks that I knew years ago looked this way 24/7 – at home, at work, on the street, etc. They looked and lived how they wanted to, regardless of popular “mainstream” trends and fashion.

      Regardless of how I want to look and why, I know that trying to subtlety “blend in” will offer much better success out in public. That, and the right attitude. On this particular shopping trip with my wife, I was very much toned down, from makeup to my very modest and plain clothes. The only skin showing was on my hands and face. It may be that my attitude really needs a lot of work yet, but I think my disproportionate (for a woman) body and man-shaped face gave me away to the people who read me. Passing in a 2D photo where I can control the lighting and angle of view is something I’ve gotten fairly good at. Passing in 3D real life where I cannot adequately hide or minimize my more masculine features is something I have a long way yet to go. I’m sure the right attitude might help a lot, but there are some angles I just can’t see anyone buying me as anything other than a “man in makeup”. :( I guess that’s just something I need to work at and figure out.

  17. Hi Gabrielle,
    From my well over 30 years experience Heathers advice is absolutely correct.
    Put simply: Remember that if you are a six foot male with well defined facial features, broad shoulders and slim hips. You will stand out as an unusual female on that basis alone. Now dial in a rather flamboyant fashion sense, a ‘tad’ too much make up, and a (probably) slightly furtive self consciousness and it’s hardly surprising that you are often given more than a second look!

    To minimize the above may I offer some practical suggestions.
    Look carefully at how women today generally present themselves when out and about.
    This means noting how they dress, particularly, also how they carry their handbags (purses in the US I believe) how they stand, the speed at which they walk, how they walk (less purposeful than men with shorter steps from the hips mainly – but not with an exaggerated action).
    If current trends in the US are anything like those in the UK (mainly trousers/jeans, zero fashion sense and no style) this will probably not chime well with your view of how you wish to portray yourself – it certainly doesn’t with me!
    However you must take on board the fact that, if you stand out significantly from the norm you will be stared at even if you are a genetic female.

    On the subject of smiles, as your wife suggested, I have found that a slight hint of one softens male features and projects a much less aggressive image to the world. With practice you will be able to instantly adopt your chosen ‘pleasant face’ at will and without long term ‘face ache’!
    Now voice, it’s the tone which is crucial not the pitch!
    This is very difficult to get across in print but here goes. Try to stay broadly within your normal register but raise the base tones to produce a slightly higher yet husky sound. I find that using a rather more ‘up market’ accent coupled with a brisker, brighter sound can help the illusion. Be very careful not to ascend into the ‘castrated cat’ area.

    Makeup – the golden rule is ‘less is more’ if you see what I mean. It is a given that the older you are, the less you can get away with – whether you are genetically male OR female!
    Men tend to try too hard by using makeup to overemphasize their ‘femininity’ in an effort to convince but the result can be a sort of ‘pantomime dame’ effect.
    Experiment with much less colour a discrete bronze blusher for instance, a base shade which is matches your skin tone and go very lightly on the eyes. Teenage girls can use a trowel and still look gorgeous – but we are neither teenagers nor girls!

    You will have a certain image of your feminine self which YOU feel good with and which you think is appropriate and it’s quite possible that it IS your best image. It is also quite possible that in the greater public’s view it borders on ‘tarty’ due to your choice of styles, colours and fit and your inner desire to appear feminine (which is an understandable facet of our past time)!
    The ‘trick’ is to temper your view with some hard commonsense.
    Suggestions: A full cut (slightly flared) skirt with a proper snug fitting waist band will flair out from the waist creating the illusion of much fuller hips.
    If this is cut to below the knee and teamed with low heeled boots and a suitable top with possibly a matching/contrasting scarf you have a great winter outfit. It may sound a trifle dull but with the appropriate make up you will be able to go anywhere in confidence and that is what you need to build up before you emerge as ‘your’ Gabrielle.
    A tight belt on high cut jeans will give a similar effect but to a lesser degree (as will a long line bra or waspie corset but most uncomfortably in the latter case).
    Current fashions for Waterfall front cardigans (which fall to mid thigh) worn over tops (tight or otherwise) help conceal the hips.
    If you have good legs, leggings with flat Egyptian/Gladiator style sandals, to reduce height, also look great with cardigan layers.
    It’s a vast subject with many facets and this was meant as a short distillation of my experiences to hopefully assist you and others. It took much longer than I anticipated so my apologies Gabrielle
    Best wishes on your future forays,

    1. Hi Georgina. Thanks for all your thoughtful advice! :) I appreciate it!

      I know – less is more, with makeup and style (or sexy style, anyway). I’m an eyeliner junkie and love to lay it on nice and thick. Not because that’s how I see other women or think other women should be, but rather because I’ve always liked the look, personally. Just as the glamorous, gothic-ish model I fashion my eye makeup after cannot go out into public without drawing a lot of attention for it (among her other amazing features), I know I can’t either. I tone it down considerably when I go out. I hate wearing pants, but I pretty much only consider going out in pants these days, anyway. My face and upper-body might give away my masculine features, but my well-toned and very feminine legs will indeed draw attention, which will only end up getting me read that much faster. Even my straight friends who know me as both Gabe and Gabrielle have told me, and I quote, “Dude – you’ve got awesome legs when you dress up!” lol Part of my exercise routine includes targeted leg and glutes exercises specifically designed to increase the shape of my thighs, hips (glutes, really, but same area), and butt. Combined with my smaller-than-average (for a man) waist, it really does help offer a feminine shape… at least from the stomach down. I can’t exactly change the size of my rib cage, but there are some styles that help minimize it in appearance.

      With a relative casual style, not showing much skin, less makeup, and the right attitude (probably the area I need the most work), I’ll probably fair better. My walk is pretty good, according to my wife, as is my posture. Mannerisms probably need work (focused practice) and my voice is hit and miss. I do vocal exercises several times a week to strengthen my vocal chords and be able to talk at a higher pitch, but some times I can carry my feminine voice fairly decently, and other times it just doesn’t happen. I’m not positive, but I’m guessing my nerves have something to do with my ability to speak as Gabrielle convincingly. During this particular shopping trip, I tried hard, but my wife kept telling me my voice just sounded like a slightly higher, softer version of my man-voice. Bummer.

      When it comes to public presentation and just being Gabrielle when I’m out and about, I’ve got a long way to go. It is, unfortunately, an area that doesn’t offer as many opportunities for real-world practice… at least not within the constraints of my hectic life. :( With the advice I’m getting here, feedback from my wife, and continued outings, I’m sure I’ll look AND feel more natural and comfortable when I go out over time – slowly, but surely! :)

  18. Hi Gabrielle,
    only just found your website tonight and love your style. Only recently out to my wife, who is very supportive, your experiences on here are both informative and if you’ll excuse, amusing. I love your self confidence, borne of much work I’m sure, but I’m so glad I found you.
    Looking forward to reading more of your life experiences, as I felt I was walking in your heels during your Mall enfemme outing. Gorgeous black attire too, keep it going girl x

    1. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for commenting and sharing. :) I’m so happy to hear that you’re wife is supportive! Maybe soon it will be you out with your wife, shopping en femme. When you’re ready, of course. I do recommend going out with our wife or a friend rather than solo. There is safety in numbers and it’s just a lot more enjoyable with a life partner or friend. Best of luck to you! :)

  19. hi gabrielle i just now found your site and have read your “stories” tales of your life ? not really sure how to phrase it without offending you. i recently came out to my fiance’ about my crossdressing and she has been very supportive of me although she isn’t ready to see me dressed yet you give me hope that she will get there. looking forward to reading more from you!


    1. Hi Natalia. Contradulations on coming out to you fiance. So happy to hear she’s been supportive! :) Give her some time when it comes to her seeing you en femme. The good news is that she’s supportive, and that’s a good sign. Take things with your fiance at a pace she’s comfortable with. Don’t try to speed things along or bring up the topic with her too often – let *her* bring it up with you. Be patient and keep her feelings in mind. It may be a big step for her to fully take in this aspect of your life, so allow her to do so at a pace she’s comfortable with. Most of all, always let her know how much you lover her and how much she means to you. Make sure she knows how much it means to you that she loves and supports you as you are.

      For the record – you absolutely did the right thing in telling her *before* you got married. Good on you for doing that, and the same for your fiance for being so supportive and openminded. Best wishes to you both for a happy marriage and life together!! :)

  20. Hi. Loved the story. Thinking back to my fi rst dressing experiences about 20 years ago. I knew a woman and one day we arranged to have lunch together. I went to pick her up at the store she owned and it turned out to be an upscale womens clothes and lingerie boutique. While I was waiting I started looking at… things… out the corner of my eye. She grabbed a few things and told me to go put them on. I laughed at first, but she talked me into it. In a while she had me dressed and parading out into the store in front of a few of her other shoppers. I was hooked for life. Over the years I have been pretty much closeted at home with my activities. But, I live fem in doors. I have a few nice sales associates around town that let me try on whatever I like in the store, and are very helpful. Only went out to a drag show at a gay club one time half dressed. Too nervous, I left. So, now I have this girl friend, not girlfriend, who keeps telling me I need to find someone like Mrs. H, or another crossdresser to get me dolled up and out the door to be myself. Been thinking about it. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Ben. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps your girl friend might be a good choice to go out shopping with en femme? If she suggested you do so (or find someone like Mrs. H.), then maybe she’s hinting at being interesting in helping? Just something to think about. :) Talk with her about it. What have you got to loose?

  21. Funny you should say that. My “friend” visits me a lot at home when I am being my alter ego. She is always trying to get me to go out places with her, so I suppose you are very right. I’m not the cd who sits around the house in a pair of panties getting excited, I really transform completely and don’t break identities. So, ya, she knows. I am reading sites like yours for some inspiration and to see how others deal with the situation. I do have many “feelings” about wanting to go out and just be who I like to be… but alas.. We’ll see. Before I forget, you look terrific. A funny story (trying not to be kinky here), my girl friend bought me a very nice thinly laced bra and panty set as kind of a fun thing last year… had to explain to her sometimes a girl needs just a bit more support on the bottom and on top… maybe you had to be there. I am making plans to go out this weekend to an alternative club… so we’ll see. Take care.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, “Kendra”. :) You know, I think your girl friend is ready and willing to give you the kind of “support” you need most right now, and I hope you’ll allow her to be the good friend she’s trying to be and go for it! If you want to get out as Kendra, and you’ve got a friend by your side, what else do you need to get out and live a little? Don’t let opportunity pass you by. Don’t die with regrets. Don’t do anything you’re not ready to do, but don’t let some jitters or nerves keep you from some potentially beautiful experiences!

      I hope your weekend plans go well. Please send my regards to your friend, too. She sounds mega-awesome! :)

  22. HI Gabrielle…I just today saw your Flickr site, browsed through it, and have moved here to your website. I’ve been reading for some time. What a great read!! Yes, your pictures are great, but reading your thoughts and experiences is wonderful. Yes, you are so blessed to have a supportive wife. Mine supports me, and allows me feminine freedom at home, but would never make the shopping trips and other outings I’ve been reading about here.
    I’d encourage you to work on that hatred of pants…lol. A good-fitting pair of jeans can be very feminine, even sexy. I prefer skinny jeans, tucked into boots, but there is something very alluring about a nice stiletto heel peeking out from under a boot cut jean. The problem is just finding jeans long enough. Also, you gotta try a tunic sweater, leggings, and boots in cooler weather. I love that outfit.
    I am a fan now, and will be back regularly to catch up on all of the reading I’ve been missing….
    Stop by for a visit sometime.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannontownes/

    1. Hi Shanon. Thanks for sharing. :) So happy to hear you enjoyed my photos and written offerings!

      Thanks for your fashion suggestions. :) I’ll probably never be a fan of pants, but I have a pair of skinny jeans – the ones I wore when I went out shopping (the day this post is about). It’s just a personal preference. I’m a big fan of people just wearing what they like, though, be it pants, skirts, lederhosen or whatever. :)

  23. i would do anything in the world to go out dressed up en fem with my wife and shop til i drop with her.shop for her and me,getting all types of clothing and nylons and perfume and jewelry and heels, skirts and dresses,make up. i would be in my glory. lucky you, wish my wife was more supportive

    1. I’m sorry your wife isn’t very supportive, Lucinda. Perhaps in time, she will be a little more openminded, or maybe you will find other people you can go shopping with. Try to remain optimistic about the future. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself and you can stretch your femme wings and fly a little. :)

  24. I am guessing that I am in the minority on this issue but I like looking like a man. I just think that I look better in women’s shoes and with a French manicure. This website feels like the right place for me but I can’t help feeling like I’m still the odd man out. Will other cross dressers shun me because I only have two specific women’s items that I feel better in?

    Your story about shopping with your wife was interesting. My favorite part was when you were complimented on your boots. I would like to wear some of my shoes in public but have only done so once -at a gay bar. I also felt odd there because I am not gay and there were no women in the place. I’m married so it is not like I would be hitting on them or anything – but there weren’t any other people in women’s clothes to hang around.

    I don’t mean to sound flippant but some times I think life would be easier if I had been born a lesbian. In this age it sometimes feels like there is less stigma about sexual orientation than about cross-dressing.

    1. We’re all different, Stephen. Trans or not – everyone is unique in who they are, and why they do the things they do. Don’t worry about being the “odd man out”, just be yourself. There aren’t any “crossdressing or transgender conformity rules” to adhere to – it’s all about doing what feels right for you, not what you think others expect of you. Be yourself and make no apologies for it! :)

      You’re right about the social acceptance of gays being well ahead of social acceptance of trans folk. We’ll get there eventually. I’m already finding that there is much less taboo factor in being trans among younger people, who are growing up more open-minded from the start.

  25. Gabrielle,
    In shopping enfeme with your wife:
    (Cherish and love her. To be accepted as a cross dresser by your wife is a blessing, she’s the soul and joyful tears that make cross dressing a gift or curse in this unforgiving society.) You can’t do enough, say enough, thank God enough as a transvestite, for the gift of an accepting wife.
    Your feelings about wearing pants and not feeling feminine are well spoken however, there is hardly a place you can fit in dressed in the feminine way that we most desire. For me think it comes from the way that my femininity was first internalized, soft, silky, accepted and loved.
    My thoughts are that reality should temper desires when trying to educate yourself. After you are really comfortable with your skills you may be surprised that you have reached your desire.
    Several months ago she/I (“she” was a startling Freudian slip) was agonizing about once again purging many good outfits and very close to tossing out “her” last holdings on feminine reality, (panties bras and breast forms.)
    During a web surf the site of (lisagirl.net) popped up. If youv’e not met her you must, she is devoted to a very clean site with photos and conversation on her goals. She should be your babe of the week as was her friend Heide Phox

    Thank you for listening. You bring some peace to a troubled mind.

    Love Karen

    1. Thanks for sharing, Karen. :) I hope you’re done purging. Nothing good comes of that viscous cycle. You need to purge yourself of guilt, not that which helps you get in touch with your feminine side.

      As for me, I still don’t like wearing pants, but it is what I usually wear when I go out. My apologies for the gaping holes in my recent activities, but I’ve been getting out quite a bit lately and it’s been going very well. I’m discovering new places that are trans-friendly, and have a lot of new transgender friends (both trans-women and trans-men) that I meet up with almost weekly.

      I am grateful for my accepting wife – very much so. Even she has her limits, though, and I understand. As I slowly work toward my desire to be Gabrielle full-time, Mrs. H. has been a little resistant. It’s ok, though. All things in their time. One day at a time. :)

  26. What a wonderful tale. And the comments, I look forward to reading later. Your picture at the end is simple and wonderful, you look so pretty, your “fem-drab” look, is far from drab. I also have a very supportive partner and we love shopping together for clothes. I dress in “fem-drab” let me tell you, but I feel very pretty under the drab (hehe). I like to feel comfortable in public and I think that’s very important. I will shop in ANY store, as some stores are better than others. All the best, Evie :)

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Evie. :) I’m so happy to hear you have a supportive partner! That’s fantastic!

      A lot’s changed in the 5 years since I posted this. I’m out in public quite frequently as my *true* self, shopping, running errands, attending social events, etc. Since 2013, I’ve been speaking publicly in outreach programs about transgender issues and realities. Most of the time I wear pants out in public because it draws less attention. Depending on the nature of the event and location, I’ll wear a skirt when there seems less potential for negative attention or to dress up a little more, but most of my “out and about” time is spent in pants.

      I always feel more feminine in a skirt, but I’ve learned to still “find my femininity” even when wearing pants.

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