I know many who say or who have said that "Halloween is the 'free night out' for crossdressers and transgender individuals alike. I suppose that, in one sense, it is... but in many ways it is not as well. For those who have spent countless anxiety ridden years hiding their feminine sides from the world in fear, it is a night that can bring a sense of acceptance or, at the very least, a perceived tolerance when they step out the door into the world for that one night. I beg to differ however in the entire premise of that perception. The realizations are subtle but poignantly made in my last stop of my story of that evening...
Joanne and I went out for a night on the town on Halloween Night. Neither of us were dressed for Halloween as we were not heading for a party, but rather, were heading out for an evening of shopping and dining. At the local Kohl's, no one perceived or was cognizant of any variance from the gender I was presenting as... save for one young, 18-20ish woman who picked up on my subtle and soft-spoken, yet off cue voice while conversing with Joanne. I could see that she was not sure but it set her radar in motion as she looked puzzled and unable to make a clear determination one way or the other.
Next stop was BJ's and some needed groceries. Again, I was invisible there until the register balked at my purchase of a queen-size bag of flour, spewed it back onto the scanner, and triggered the dreaded flashing light and announcement, "Please wait for assistance, someone will be with you shortly".
The cashier came by and I quipped to her as she approached, "Looks like this register doesn't want me to do any baking... and here I was planning to make a cake".
The cashier gave me a pleasant smile, one which I have come to know very well. It is that sort of look of "I know your secret, but it's cool and it's OK". I call it the "cutesy smile" and it is one which I receive mostly from the women I find, when they do notice.
Off to the Chinese Restaurant for a nice dinner over a glass of wine. Dinner was uneventful, and we were both quite sure that no one ever picked up anything other than two women out. Of course, it helps when I keep my mouth shut or busy in eating and drinking rather than talking!
After dinner, as we headed back to our car to head home, I noted to Joanne that our dessert of my left-over homemade vanilla cake would taste so much better with some lowfat ice-cream on top! As there was a Shaw's Supermarket next door, I headed in to make a quick ice-cream run. Now, interestingly, I found that I stood very much out in the store, in ways I had never seen before. Assuredly, it was not in a negative way at all... but.... I did stand out. I realize that I was dressed perfectly well for the restaurant and for Kohl's but was well above the level that most women would dress at that hour of the evening for a Shaw's Supermarket. This, of course, brought all eyes of attention onto me. With it being Halloween, it did so in a way that I had not seen when in the same store on other nights with similar mode of dress.
A passing female customer made me, but gave me a big, pleasant smile and a warm "hello". Two younger male employees walking past me together, also gave me that sort of grinning smile as well. Again, nothing negative as my appearance was pleasing to their eyes even when the variance was detected. At the register, the male cashier seemed not to notice or be aware but the young, late teenage aged cashier in the next aisle gave me a very pleasant "that's pretty cool" smile.
I am sure that being overly dressed at 9:00pm on Halloween Night in a nearly empty Shaw's was a good test for observation and reaction. The take away from this whole night was several lessons.
1) Be confident in who you are and others will be confident to be around you.
2) Dress to blend in where possible if one is not looking for undue attention.
Dressing becomes challenging in rural New Hampshire where putting on makeup generally is considered an option. And if one is going out to eat up here, being dressed up works but then one ends up being overdressed for anything else. The joy of being a woman is that there seem to be too many modes of dress that ONLY work for certain situations. Being a guy is easier in these respects and so this is why I do note that most women just "dress down" as it is the "lowest common denominator" that works in every situation. Unfortunately, I enjoy and find I have a high fashion sense and enjoy having fun with putting stylish outfits together.... I guess this means I will continue, then, to have to put up with the "cutesy smiles". :)
3) And this is the most important one... Dress and present in a respectable fashion, that, even if it is beyond what the average woman will be wearing around you in the environment you are in, that one will be perceived in a pleasing manner and not a frightening or demeaning one.
4) If one really wants to be as invisible as possible when going out.... DON'T do it on Halloween. Everyone's radar is in high gear and when you dress to pass very, very well and are only outed by the smallest variance, just be ready to get back that cute little smile that says... "Hey... I know YOUR little secret... you look TOO good to just be doing this for Halloween... but you look really good"
In conclusion, it is my personal observation and feelings that I am absolutely FINE with not passing 100% ALL THE TIME. If I pass all the time, then I blend in completely and no one ever has the opportunity to learn that there is an entire cross-section of society that identifies as transgender. I am part of a group of society that needs more visibility in having fair treatment in this world as human beings. being SEEN for who I am and presenting it in such a way that makes it a pleasant experience for those I do meet, means that they take away a positive experience themselves. Perhaps... Just perhaps... they may go home after meeting me and say to a friend... "I met this really cool transgender woman today. She looked really good, had a cool sense of humor and... you know what? She was just an average person like myself".
It may take a lot more work when one is transgender, but it is possible to make a positive and lasting impression, one person at a time.... And that can go a LONG way from a grassroots level toward humanizing us all as valid and equal members of this little blue ball hanging in space that we all call our home!