Crossdressing in Public Can Be a Real Drag

Big Wigs - Cher and Tina Turner (Aggy Dune and Kasha Davis)

Where can one find a safe, inviting environment to crossdress in public, enjoy a good dinner and be treated to some top notch entertainment all in one? At a Big Wigs show, of course!

My wife, and I attended a performance by the Big Wigs themselves, drag queens Aggy Dune and Kasha Davis. It was our first time out to a drag show. In a nutshell, we both became instant fans of Big Wigs Aggy and Kasha! Check out their website for upcoming performances. You won’t be disappointed!

What was it like being the only part time tgirl at the party house for dinner and during the show? Did I get read? How did people react to me? What was my wardrobe malfunction? Which bathroom did I use? Is it really safe to crossdress in public, even at a drag show?

The lone tgirl at the drag show
I’ve read countless online stories about transgender groups and/or solo crossdressers attending drag shows. Although I did not find any evidence online that there would be other tgirls at this particular show prior to going, it seemed likely there may be other (non-drag queen) crossdressers at the event. There were not. If there were, I missed them, or they were simply passable and I couldn’t identify them.

Truth be told, I didn’t mind being the only tgirl in the party house. I can’t say I was the truly only crossdresser in attendance, though. There were a number of very butch looking lesbians there, many of whom looked more manly than a lot of men. For the record, my use of the words “butch looking lesbains” is intended to be descriptive, and not in any way condescending or offensive. Words are clumsy and I try to choose mine carefully, and sometimes people still find offense in them. Very masculine looking lesbians don’t often get much attention or flack form people out in the wild these days. At least not to my knowledge, and I do happen across at least one or two whenever shopping. No one stares – they’re not generally considered to be “crossdressing”… because there really isn’t any such thing as a “crossdressing female” these days. Women (and trans-men) truly have made a lot of progress in regard to societal acceptance of individuality (on the whole).

My wardrobe
Black & Silver Miniskirt 2Unfortunately I only ended up with a few quickly taken self-portraits that night, so I can’t offer any “this is how I looked” full-body photos. I wore a form-fitting long-sleeve black blouse, choker, a form-fitting, but not skin tight black miniskirt, and black knee-high, high-heel boots. The photo to the left (click it to enlarge) was taken a couple months ago and shows the same top, choker and boots that I wore. My skirt was a couple inches longer than what I was wearing in the photo, and all black. Unlike in the photo, I was not wearing my “gauntlets” (the silver-studded items on my forearms that cover part of my hands – they blend into the sleeves in the photo). On my left wrist I wore a black leather bracelet with 1/4 inch silver spikes all the way around. On my right, I wore a metal skull bracelet. As usual, my nails were painted black. Yeah – I really like black! :) Even my wife, the fabulous Mrs. H., dressed all in black on this evening. She looked mighty fine, too!

It’s for me, not them
I realize that my look may have been considered somewhat “sexy” and more likely to draw attention from others. However people were going to perceive (or judge) my appearance, I simply wanted to look good – really good. Looking “really good” is an opinion that differs greatly from one person to the next. If I think I look good in the mirror, then I look good, period. My appearance isn’t intended to please others – just myself. If others find it pleasing, too, that’s icing on the cake. For the record, there were plenty of very nicely dressed (as in wearing revealing, sexy outfits) genetic women present, my wife among them.

Gabrielle in public May 10, 2013The eyes were upon me
As I’ve said before, contrary to my very carefully chosen, publicly shared photos, I do not pass in public. I look like a man in makeup, dressed like a woman… who happens to have amazing legs! :) The photo to the right (click to enlarge) was taken before dinner and offers an idea of how I look out and about, when I can’t control the lighting and my hair has gotten a little messy. It’s definitely not my most flattering self-portrait, but it is the best of the few I took that evening. It’s not always so apparent in a limited 2D photo, but in full 3D, there are things that give me away as genetically male. I’m easily read by anyone within about 10 meters who happens to look directly at me.

The walk from our car to the entrance was about 40 meters or so. The first group of people we passed offered the usual response. About 5 or 6 meters away, they all abruptly stopped talking, stared right at me, without blinking, and remained silent until a couple meters passed us. This kind of response isn’t a problem – not in the slightest. I get it. Seeing people like me isn’t a “regular thing” in this region. There was no sense of malice, and if they shared a laugh at my expense, I was unaware, and frankly didn’t care.

It pretty much went like that for most of the night, for those who were close enough to get a look at me. Most people looked away when I made eye contact. When my eyes meet with someone’s, I usually smile. Many people seemed to try not to look at me or acknowledge my presence at all. If I had to guess, this treatment is probably meant with “good intent” – not wanting to stare at the nearby “different person” so as not to be rude.

An opportunity missed
At the table next to ours sat the family of one of the drag performers. One of the women at the table made eye contact with me several times throughout the evening. I smiled back, or at least think I did. I felt as if she wanted to say something or initiate a conversation. It’s hard to say what’s on someone’s mind when all you have to go by is a look on their face, that may or may not have been interpreted with any accuracy. I can be pretty shy out in public (regardless of gender being expressed). If this woman did want to initiate a conversation with me, it is conceivable that she picked up on my “shy vibe”. Did my perceived shyness prevent her conversing with me? If so, what kind of conversation did I miss out on? In the unlikely event you (nearby frequent eye-contact woman) have found your way to my writing here, please make contact with me and share! You may identify yourself by describing who you were with, your appearance, and a general description of our tables (location, table numbers, whatever).

“Hey, look – there’s one of those…”
After the show, people formed a line from the main performance area to the building’s front entrance/exit. The line was moving very slow. A young woman (mid 20’s?) seated at the bar read me at a distance of about 3 or 4 meters. She started thumping on the arm of her female friend, sitting to her left (my right, facing them). “Hey, there’s one of those…”, she started to say, not so discretely, just as she glanced over to see that I was looking directly at her. She abruptly looked away and stopped thumping on her friend’s arm. I continued looking at her for a few moments. Her reaction wasn’t upsetting to me, nor did I look upon her with disgust or resentment for what she was about to do. If she was going to point me out like that, she was going to have to do it while I watched. Perhaps in that brief moment, she realized that I was human, too, which is all I wanted. If I was a little quicker thinking, I would have smiled and waved my finger back and forth, as if to say, “No, no.”, attempting to bring humor into it. A touch of humor can be a very effective way of winning people over.

My wife and I were both aware of the many eyes upon me. Nothing negative was spoken, or at least nothing that either of us could hear. Neither one of us caught anyone giving me a look of disgust or disapproval or anything of that sort. I was simply a unique presence, and not something most of these people has ever seen out in the wild before.

A slight wardrobe malfunction
As a precautionary measure, I was wearing black, skin-tight shorts under my skirt. During the drag show I was basically dancing while seated. My head, shoulders, upper-torso, arms, and legs were all in motion, but I remained seated (most of the time, anyway). When the show was over and I stood up to leave, I realized that my shorts had rolled up a little under my skirt as a result of all that motion-while-seated. A noticeable line/bump was visible just a few inches above my skirt’s hem. Without much thought, I raised my skirt enough to correct the problem and smoothed them out. Then it dawned on me – probably not a lot of women would do such a thing in public, especially in a crowd like that. Doh! My immediate thought was “I’m wearing shorts and nothing ‘indecent’ is showing.”, but who is to say how others may have viewed it. I kind of didn’t care what anyone thought, had they caught me fixing the issue. I’ll try to be more subtle if something similar happens in the future.

Mrs. H. had no such problem. She looked amazing from head to toe, and didn’t even have a hint of panty-lines! About half way through the show, she revealed her secret to not having any visible panty-lines. She told me she wasn’t wearing any. When I asked, “Seriously?”, she smiled and showed me behind the table. Nope. No underwear! lol There I was in multiple layers trying to play it safe, and there she was being… well, her fearless self. I love her so much! After almost 20 years of marriage, she still surprises me!

Which bathroom did I use?
This question gets asked in online transgender/crossdressing communities almost as frequently as new members join. There’s usually some debate over what is “appropriate” and why, along with plenty of people who express that they use whatever bathroom is gender-appropriate to “how they are dressed” at the time. So which bathroom did I use?

I didn’t.

I certainly wasn’t about to use the men’s bathroom as Gabrielle. Not wanting to risk any potential friction for attempting to use the women’s bathroom at the party house, I planned for not being able to use any bathroom for the 4 hours we would be there. To accomplish this, I stopped consuming any liquids about two hours before we expected to arrive at the party house, emptying my bladder often as possible prior to leaving. To keep my mouth from getting dry, I chewed sugarless gum. Dinner was buffet style, and I chose foods that were less likely to dry out my mouth or require the consumption of liquid to wash down. I made it through the evening without a single sip of liquid, and without the need to go to the bathroom. With some planning and a little mental conditioning, it is possible to avoid the need to go to the bathroom, for a few hours at a time, without much discomfort. Before you go trying this yourself, be advised that it can be dangerous to prevent yourself from urinating for long durations. I’m sharing how I was able to get through the evening without the need for “choosing a bathroom”. I’m not recommending that anyone go trying to “hold your pee”. Use my method at your own risk, and understand that if not done very carefully, serious health complications may occur.

A very safe environment to crossdress in public
Everyone made reservations, and paid a premium for dinner and a drag show. It is unlikely that someone interested in seeing a live drag show is going to be too upset by, or have an issue seeing a crossdresser at such an event. Although many non-trans folk may not be entirely familiar with the differences between a drag queen and a crossdresser/tgirl, I think there is a general understanding that they are different. For the record, yes, a crossdresser can also be a drag queen, too. I had a pleasant email conversation with a crossdresser who performed as a drag queen. And no, I don’t want to get into a discussion about what the differences are – not in this post.

Carpe diem
If you’re a crossdresser looking for a safe, trans-friendly place to be out en femme, attending a drag show is a good choice in my opinion. Did I mention I just happen to know of a great live drag show? Big Wigs! Can’t find any drag shows in your area to attend en femme? Ask yourself how far is too far. There was a group of people from New Mexico in attendance, just to see the Big Wigs show. That’s about 1800 miles away. You probably won’t need to travel as far – at least not for whatever drag performances may be available in your general location.

Please don’t ask me asking if I know of any good places to dress or where the nearest drag show in your area may be. You can find a drag show the same way I did – just ask your search engine of choice and do a little homework. :) People sometimes write to me asking for information about trans-friendly groups and locations in their region. As much as I’d like to offer some help, I don’t maintain, or know of any all-inclusive trans-friendly place by location database. If you know of such a resource (that is all-inclusive or listed by region), please let me know or just post it in a comment.

MAKE public crossdressing “normal”
Ever see a mixed couple out in public and think, “Wow – that’s strange. An inter-racial couple. Yes, very strange. Let me call attention to it so my friends are aware, too.” Probably not. Why? Because there are inter-racial couples everywhere and we’re all used to it. It’s “normal”. But it wasn’t that way 30 years ago. It was still kind of a big deal to see an inter-racial couple in public when I was a kid. The main reason is because it simply wasn’t something people were as used to. Additionally there was a greater naivety and distrust for “minority” races (among the majority white folk of the time).

What changed? Visibility and time. People got used to seeing mixed races out and about, including inter-racial couples. People (most of them) realized how very stupid it was to think poorly of a different race just for being a different race, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with inter-racial dating/marriage.

Getting out in public en femme increases transgender visibility. In some regions (NYC, for example), seeing trans folk in the wild is already something that people have become used to and consider “normal”. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, and we can all help bring it about.

Countless people have written to me about their own public crossdressing experiences, which have been overwhelmingly very positive reports. There is often a mention of someone pointing and laughing and/or being stared at, but so what? There’s nothing dangerous about that and people point and laugh at other people for a variety of reasons all the time. Some people just love the false sense of superiority they derive from making fun of others. It’s a common ego boost tactic used by insecure people (in an effort to hide their insecurity from others). So be it. That’s their problem. Don’t let it become yours, too. Ignore it, and it passes right though you, allowing you to have a great time.

Jerks are like mirages – all show, no substance, and they just don’t matter
Jerks only have power over you if you give it up to them (if you believe they have power over you). If you happen across jerks while out and about (en femme, or not), just ignore their taunts & teases. They may laugh, etc., but you’ll maintain control by not giving them the desired reaction. It’s nothing personal – many jerks are not entirely conscious of the fact they’re being jerks. They’re just small, petty, insignificant, insecure jerks running on automatic, much like a car on cruise control, and just about as smart. The best way to gain the upper hand on a jerk who taunts you, is to ignore them. They may try to hide it on the outside, but it really bothers them when they fail to get a negative reaction and create drama. Their failure is your success. That’s the truth!

It’s better with friends
Don’t push yourself if you’re not ready. There’s safety in numbers, so crossdressing in public is going to be a lot less scary and a lot more enjoyable if you’re with a friend or group.

Where do you go when you’re all dressed up?
There are a number of transgender/crossdressing support group meet-ups, but I’m more interested in learning about simply being out “in the wild” en femme, not necessarily just to meet up with other trans folk as a trans-only thing. Please feel free to share whichever, though. Additionally, if you’ve been to a Big Wigs show, or another notable drag show (preferably en femme), leave a comment about your experience.

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15 thoughts on “Crossdressing in Public Can Be a Real Drag”

  1. Hi,

    Welcome back… and with a bang too. :-) Sounds like you (and Mrs H) had a good time out.

    Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, and we can all help bring it about.

    I think with more and more of us venturing into (traditionally) straight venues / day time, the more we become just part of the every day.

    I do not pass in public. I look like a man in makeup, dressed like a woman… who happens to have amazing legs! :)

    Hot legs indeed! :-) Passing? Meh. A rare few of us do (IMO), the rest? I hope we manage to be happy with how we look. Looking good’s a bonus.

    1. Thanks for the warm welcome back, Lynn! :) Just for the record (for anyone wondering), I often take long breaks from writing/blogging, but not from exploring life as Gabrielle. Lack the time. Felt so good to write about an experience again, though!

      You nailed it, Lynn. The more we collectively get out into public, in “straight venues”, the more “normal” it becomes in society on the whole. The more people get used to seeing us, crossingdressing in public becomes less of a “thing” and more like anything, as in anything anyone might do, such as being oneself out and about.

      Passing. Yeah, I know only the lucky few usually pass in public, and the rest of us don’t, which is more the “norm” when it comes to crossdressing. I still wish I could be one of the lucky few. Not so much to avoid being starred at, but just to be closer to that desired appearance and feeling of actually being female. It’s something to shoot for. Maybe one day. And if not, so be it. I’m very happy as I am already. Even if I don’t pass, I still look pretty good, and more importantly, I feel amazing! The first person who figures out how to capture the amazing feeling of being en femme and bottling it in a pill will become instantly rich! lol Naa – you can’t capture *this* in a pill. Even if it were possible, I’d still rather get all dolled up! :)

      Here’s to all the part time tgirls who pass, and to the rest of us that don’t. Aren’t we ALL amazingly lucky to have been blessed with the gift of femininity?!! Gifts are meant to be shared. Here’s to sharing with the world, bringing about much needed positive change, and rocking some stunning looks in the process! :D

  2. I am a big fan of the concept that every time one of us gets out and about it is a good thing for all of us. I do not pass and I remaim fairly closeted so there are a limited number of ‘safe’ places that I go. Most of my outings are to places that are welcoming to TG people such as LGBT bars. While outreach to the population as a whole is important I do feel that I do my part whenever I go out regardless of who I meet.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Pat. :) Every person you meet and leave a good impression with is another opportunity to raise awareness, open minds, and help bring about positive change. Even if it’s only one person/mind at a time. It all helps. Thank you for getting out there and contributing the positive trans-vibe pool of social opinion. We’re all in this together. A rising tide lifts all boats and *every* drop counts!

  3. So very glad to have you back. We’ve been really missing you. I am so glad that you had a good time going out. I would love to do that some day.

    Does anyone else find it ironic that people going to a drag show would have the gall to “point out” a cross-dresser in the audience? They didn’t hit their friend on the arm and say, “Look on stage, there is one of those…” Anyway, my complements to you Gabrielle for being able to attend a drag show and be able to up-stage the performers.

    January 18 was my first time out. Definitely a man in a dress with sunglasses event. It took a lot of courage for me to step out of the car and go into a store. I also walked through the crowded food court of the mall at lunch time. Probably the most courageous thing that I have ever done, and it was one of the most beneficial. I was really surprised at how well I was treated overall.

    This gave me the courage to get all fancied up and seek professional help. I put on a fun feminine outfit, added the sunglasses, and courageously walked into a makeup studio for a makeover. The girl who helped me spent years doing makeup for the theater at her college. She was wonderful. I left fully made up without the sunglasses, but still no hair.

    Then I was off to the wig store. Another wonderful experience. She said that it was good that I got makeup first so that we could see the total look. It is amazing that even with the same face, it looks different depending on the hair. Seeing the total package was amazing. I never even dreamed that I might even get on the same planet as passing, and seeing what I looked like was amazing as well as shocking. One of the wigs was a blond wig, and when I looked at my reflection, I was shocked to see my mother! It kind of made me cry a little as I had not seen her in about 16 years, rest her sole.

    Anyway I now have a complete look that I am happy with and because of the help that I got, I believe that I am rather passable, or I am just around a bunch of people who don’t seem to notice a thing. However, one day when I was entering the mall, the security guard went out of his way to wait for me so that he could open the door for me. What a gentlemen.

    So I am in complete agreement that every time that we go out, we are raising the awareness of those around us. But my dilemma is this: if we pass well enough to blend in, are we really doing any good?

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Darien. :)

      I wasn’t happy about being pointed out as “one of those…” by the young woman, but I understood why it happened. I think that people tend to think of drag performers as “performers”, which is why someone might not think anything strange of drag queens on stage, and then point me out as the “weird-o”. It’s wasn’t a big deal and I don’t have any negative feelings about this woman at all.

      In regard to “doing any good” if we pass, I don’t see that as either a positive or negative in that context. I’d like to raise awareness and help make being trans accepted as “normal” in society. At the same time, I’d really like to pass as a female for mostly vanity reasons… and admittedly, it would be nice to simply be out in public without all the judgement because of what I’m “expected” to be. Even if I was female or passable as one, I’d still get stared at to some extent. My “style” isn’t exactly “in style”, and I prefer to dress sexy, wear a lot of black, accessorize with spikes and skulls, and wear way more eye makeup than most women would ever wear. I guess I’d draw attention, regardless, and with it, judgement. So be it. I don’t look the way I do for attention, I do it because I LIKE it. I do it for me. So I’d like to help bring about positive change in the world. If ever I am magically able to pass somehow, I don’t see it as a negative in any way, shape or form. I’m not going to try and not-pass to make a statement. That, in my opinion, would be a negative. Remove the trans element, and most women are already doing plenty to make themselves look better in public. Most women over 35 dye their hair regularly. Most women wear makeup. Most women try to conceal blemishes, bags under their eyes, and other skin imperfections. Is that a negative because it hides their “true appearance”? Aren’t they just perpetuating the notion of “having to look perfect”, blah, blah, blah? Some people may find that to be true, and they’re allowed that. I don’t find it true. I’m all about being who you feel you are, and if that includes some visual enhancements, go for it! :)

      If you really want to do good, Darien, I suggest you just do your thing as you would choose to do for you, NOT for anyone else. That is what will do the most good because that is natural, organic and most true to your essence.

      You’ve clearly had some good experiences out there in public. Whether you’re a “man in a dress” or something more passable, just be sure to enjoy yourself and put forth a positive message to others with who you are (something everyone should do regardless of trans-status). Here’s to many more positive public experiences, and looking forward to a time when “there’s one of those…” is a distant memory of an archaic, backward mentality! :)

  4. Another wonderful column, filled with your usual candid, brutal honesty. I think I pass around 50% of the time, but it’s probably less. I try very hard to look good and have my makeup professionally done if possible. I imagine a lot of the people I see in public ignore me because even if they read me, I look fairly good and fairly confident, and people will react to that with a certain amount of indifference.

    I very much like your point that we have to be the ones who make society change. Tomorrow night I am going to a restaurant/bar where I have been a couple of times as Suzy, alone, to have dinner and to see a friend’s band perform. It’s a little scary, but I always approach these situations with confidence. I’ve been read there before-a server complimented me on my dress the last time I was there, which I doubt she would have done if I was a gg. I feel that if I look good and don’t make a show on my own, people will treat me with the respect I deserve (my friend, on the other hand, has never seen Suzy, and has only recently found out about me).

    I also agree with Darien’s comment about the irony of a trans person being so conspicuous at a drag show, but I’m glad you took the step to blaze your own trail!


    1. Hi Suzy, thanks for sharing. :) I always enjoy hearing about positive experiences others have while out en femme. I hope your upcoming experience (tonight night, as I write this) is another good one! It sounds like you recently came out to your musician friend, who will soon see you for the first time en femme. Cool, supportive friends are priceless!!

      You’re absolutely right about confidence and being treated with respect. When people see that you’re comfortable and confident about yourself, that vibe is reflected and they show respect. Kudos to you for getting out there and putting forth a positive image for trans folk! We’re all in this together, and we ALL have the power to make a difference and bring about positive change. :)

  5. Take this as a compliment, but at least where I live, I think you would “pass”.
    Carry on this way anyway <3.
    Btw in Victor Victoria and the later Pink panthers movies, there are quite many crossdressing scenes, especially in The revenge of Pink Panther, Clouseau gets fully dressed, lol.

  6. I’m finding that I want more and more for people I know to see me as I feel I am. I still haven’t worked up the courage to tell my wife, but I did meet a close friend of mine the other night and was able to wear my nails and heels. We didn’t venture out in public but relaxed at the house. We had a great evening. My friend was very accepting and also gave me some encouragement to tell my wife. Baby-steps I know but, I have to start somewhere. Thank you also for the advice about joining a group. I found one in my town and have made contact with them. You are awesome.

    1. Stephen, baby steps are good. :) Take things at a pace you’re comfortable with. Have the talk with your wife when you’re feeling a little more prepared. You may never feel truly “ready” for explaining things to your wife, but you should reach a point where you do feel prepared to explain, answer questions, and feel confident in understanding yourself enough to do so. Congrats on finding a local group, too! I think you’ll find meeting with others to be very helpful and encouraging.

  7. I am a very part time semi passable CD. I have been able to catch a drag show twice , 2 different clubs both times by complete accident. First time was at a club called the brass rail in new London ct. It was one of my first times out at a bar I was pretty nervous and kind of kept to myself. It was a week night and a little slow but the girls put on a good show. Second time was at the bunk house Ny
    Again week night kind of dead . I must have been looking my best cuz early on I got hit on by a lesbian , who was very disappoint when I opened my mouth and she realized I wasn’t a GG. we hit it off and ended up hanging out all night . She was a regular there and introduced me to every one including the performers , who where are drop dead passable in my book. She kept going on about how passable I was. And every one agreed. But I tend to think she was drunk and her friend were being polite but who knows maybe I was having a really good night.
    In any event I had a great time never felt so accepted and at home while dressed before it is a night ill never forget. I with I got that girls email or something I will likly never see her again and wish I could thank her ! Any advice I could offer about going out in public is , go to the gay bar even if your not gay ( which I am not ) they are very acepting of us girls in my limited experience. And when dressed at the gay bar use the ladies room no one will mind in fact I think the would be surprised to see you in the men’s room . I haven’t been able to dress for a long time , I miss it , TTFN Lexi

  8. I truly enjoyed reading that sounds like you had a good time. I do agree that if we go out in public its a good thing but its difficult to do. I dont pass close up and certainly not if I speak but have have been to the mall twice and on second trip even interacted with a shop assistant in a dress shop and nothing bad happened , ok 2 guys did nudge each other and look in my direction at one point but nothing was said.
    I do potter around in my front & back gardens
    so Im fairly sure my neighbours are aware of my dressing and I havent had any problems.

    Im not ashamed of of my female side but no one likes to be the the object of fun , Im going to try to Girl up and get out more

  9. Hi Gabrielle!

    You really look amazing, u have legs to die for!

    Yes, restroom use is very difficult for us girls.
    May I ask, for how long you can be out and about without, in the way you are preparing?

    Best regards


  10. Hi Gabrielle!

    I postet this question a few days ago, but i cant see it here – so I repeat it.

    Restrooms are also a problem for me, so I try to avoid it. For how long can you stay outdoors if you are drinking nearly nothing?

    Sorry for my bad English, its not my mother language!

    Best regards


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