Saturday, June 30, 2007

FAQ - Dec, 1998

I did this FAQ back in December, 1998, which was less then a year after going out en femme for the first time. I will try to do a rewrite of sorts in the near future, but this still should prove interesting.

Why do you crossdress?

I dress because it is a tremendous amount of fun! I have no other real explanation. I just know when I make myself into Stephanie (which is more than putting on a skirt and bra, btw!), I am completely happy. I love doing even normal things en femme such as shopping, dining out, cleaning the house, etc. Most of all, I enjoy being with the ladies of Kappa Beta and all the other beautiful girls I've met. As I mentioned in the opening, I am on a journey of sorts. I am not sure where this journey will take me as I suspect there may be more to my crossdressing than meets the eye. If that is the case, then I will deal with it as it comes along. Right now though, it is a fun *and* relaxing thing to do.

Where did you get your femme name?

Wil Rogers once said he never met a man he didn't like. Well, I have never met a Stephanie I didn't like. Really! I have known many Stephanie's in my life, and they are all wonderful, beautiful ladies. The name also indicates an attitude of fun and lightheartedness. That doesn't mean Stephanie can't be serious, but as I said above, I crossdress because its fun. I was just Stephanie from early 1996 to December, 1997. I asked a girl name Stephanie Lynn where she got her middle name. She said she just picked it from a list of runner-up names. I picked Marie because it is a very pretty name and combined with Stephanie, I believe it fits beautifully. My big sis, Beverly Barnes, says it makes me special. I tend to agree.

Where did you get fe-mail address?

I have received many compliments on my fe-male address, (*edited from old Hotmail address*). Many have asked where it came from. Before there was Stephanie, there were the dreams of being a prom queen. I remember how I envied the outfits the girls wore to the senior prom, and here I was stuck in a monkey suit! I really wanted to be dressed as the girl at a prom. Ever since, I have had a weakness for prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and wedding gowns. I bought several at yard sales before a major purge. I never got to wear any of them out. Finally, after joining Kappa Beta, I bought my most special of prom dresses: a royal blue blue puffy sleeve number that was 3/4 length and showed just a hint of cleavage. It only cost $7 at a Good Will store, but it is special because I wore it to the Kappa Beta Magnolia Ball. I was finally a prom queen! So now, the fe-mail name takes on new meaning. It is no longer a dream waiting to be lived. It is a symbol of dreams fulfilled and more yet to come.

Do you think you are transsexual?

Not at all! I enjoy being a man and all the things that are part of being masculine. However, I realize I have a repressed feminine side that comes out fully when I am Stephanie. Sure, it shows through on the male side, but I am not an overly effeminate person. I guess I'm a bit more sensitive than the average man, but that's about it. I do notice other women's clothes, hairstyles, and other traits more than before, but I obviously do not let on to others. All of the above means that I do not believe I was born in the wrong body, but that my brain and soul has other needs that must be fulfilled. Crossdressing is my way of meeting those needs.

How often do you go out en femme?

Since I came out in February, 1998, it works to about twice a month, but that could increase to about three or four times a month in the near future. I have not missed a Kappa Beta meeting except one since February, and I usually end up doing something else with a chat friend as well. However, as I meet more tg girls, I expect that number to increase. Also, I went shopping solo en femme for the first time in October, 1998, and I want to do more of that. The upshot is, like many crossdressers, I live my life the vast majority of the time as a male.

Why do you call the your web site "Stephanie Marie's Dance Floor?"

It's a bit of a play on the prom queen name, but the truth is I feel like dancing whenever I'm en femme! Dancing is a very creative and personal art form, and this is my chance in life to be really creative. So what you see here is the result of all that dancing (en femme, of course).

You mentioned your religious beliefs in your bio. Don't you think this is sinful and perverted?

If you had asked me this back in 1997, then I would have said yes. I was familiar with the Deuteronomy passage and thought that I was going to hell in a hand basket. However, I knew in my heart of hearts that this was not going to go away no matter how many times I threw away my wardrobe. I finally came to peace sometime in the fall of 1997 with this. It was ok for me to pursue this further. I learned that the Old Testament passage does not apply to us today as it is the Old Law. There are others who have written more eloquently on this subject. Needless to say, it made a lot of sense to me. I have also made a contract with myself: if my crossdressing ever interferes with my family, job, or finances to the point of causing damage, I will quit it in a heartbeat! So far, this has not happened. In fact, since I started gong out, my family life and career have grown immeasurably. I believe this is in no small part due to me being happier then ever before in my life. I can't always tell people why I am so happy, but I know they see it.

As far as being perverted, that is for society to determine. The only thing I can offer is how does this affect others - i.e. am I hurting anyone by doing this? I believe not. Child molesters and rapists are the real perverts. They are the ones doing true harm to society. To throw crossdressers in with that group both hurts the transgendered community and somehow lessens the impact of the real criminals mentioned above. Also, society confuses being different with being perverted. When we vary from the norm society has placed on us (i.e. the gender roles), then society naturally sees us as perverted. It is almost a knee-jerk reaction. Very few think very deeply about it. Those that choose to think about it in a non-biased manner usually discover that we are quite normal. Crossdressers just present themselves in a different, and yes, unusual way from time to time. It is different, a little strange, maybe even a bit eccentric, but certainly not perverted.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Story Behind the Dress #4

The series continues with my first "real" dress. I bought a few formal dresses before this one. However I purged all of them (sad but true) prior to going out en femme for the first time in February 1998. That is a story for another time, but the good news is that I have not purged in all the time I've been going out. I wore this royal blue dress to the Kappa Beta Magnolia Ball in May 1998. As such, it is very special since this is the first formal dress I actually wore in public.

The dress itself is a royal blue polyester satin with puffy short sleeves, longer in back than in fromt, and a little bow on the derrire. The dress is accessorized in white with the short heels, short gloves, and pearl necklace. It is not a style I would go for now, but I still love the dress and the pic.

I had been thinking about getting a dress for the Magnolia Ball (which used to be Kappa Beta's annual formal outing). I wasn't sure how I was going to shop for one since I was nowhere near comfortable shopping en femme at the time. I stopped at a Goodwill in Wilkesboro, NC on a trip back from the mountains. On a whim, I walked over innocently enough to the women's formal section where a few dresses were hanging. There I spotted this size 16 number for only $7. It was more of an 80's style prom dress, but I fell in love with it instantly. I knew my size pretty well so I went ahead and bought it. I tried it on at home, and the fit was near perfect.

Then comes the day of the of the Magnolia Ball, and I still needed some shoes. I went with my good friend Leilla McKenna to Hecht's at South Park Mall in Charlotte. I walked by myself to the shoes section where an older gentlemen found the size I needed. He treated me like a lady the entire time putting on and taking off the shoes for me. This is what I consider my first true feminine shopping experience. Leilla gave me numerous pointers along the way and encouraged me the whole time.

The Magnolia Ball itself was wonderful. Beforehand putting on the dress, I can't say I had a mirror moment. I still wasn't particularly good with my makeup. As such, I still saw a man in a dress. My first real mirror moment would come a few months later. That night it didn't matter. I was Cinderella going to her first ball/prom. I had agreed to be part of a lip-sync act that night. I also did much of the music. I also remember a very nice woman named Theresa helping me with some makeup tips afterward. That is something I still enjoy no matter how long I do this... beauty tips!

The whole night was like living a dream. This was something I had fantasized about since seeing my grandparents at their ballroom dances. I was a young woman wearing a beautiful dress along with many other women. It didn't seem possible. Only a few months earlier, I was still in the closet. Now I was really out.

I wore the dress a few more times over the next year. I gave it away to a chat friend in Portland. The royal blue dress still holds a special place in my heart. Everytime I put on a formal dress for a ball or gala, I think back to this dress and this night. This dress made the prom queen come to life. For that, I will be forever grateful. Pretty good for $7!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Magical Night

The following was originally posted in SCCLounge following the 2006 Southern Comfort Conference in September.

Let me add my thanks to all those who made SCC 2006 a possibility. It had been five years since my last SCC, but I hear I picked a good one to come to. It was wonderful seeing some familiar faces and making some new friends.

I put magical night in the heading because Saturday was just that for me (yes, pun intended). In August, I had the chance of visiting the home of performer, Robert Baxt, the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. I was visiting with my parents who do not know about Stephanie. The Magic Castle is a private club for magicians. You get in only if you're a member or an invited guest. There is also a dress code: coat and tie for men and dresses or nice pant suit for women. My parents and I had a great time as we rarely get a chance to live it up. However I knew the night would have been perfect if I could have been able to dress by the women's dress code. One group came in very well dressed... men in tuxedoes and women in long formal gowns. I was definitely jealous.

Fast forward to Saturday night at SCC. Those who know me well know I love the formal look. I wore a strapless dress for the first time Saturday night. I was already enjoying the evening particularly after Kristen's speech. Then the performer came on introducing himself as a magician from Hollywood. A light bulb clicked on. He couldn't be? No way he was from the same place. When Robert Baxt said he performed at the Magic Castle, I knew someone upstairs must like me. My wish had come true, and in that instant I was transported back to the Magic Castle. Only this time, it was done right, and the show was perfect.

I told the story to Robert Baxt after the show, and he was very kind in his remarks. It was truly a perfect ending to a great SCC.

I look forward to helping in 2007. Much like when I first started going out, I want to give back. SCC is a great place to give back.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Story Behind the Dress #3

Will the madness never stop? How many dresses does she really have? And does she wear these poofy concoctions to the mall? The answers to these questions and many more, dear readers, coming up... but not today!

The above dress has become my favorite dress by far. I consider it dress perfection on many levels. First, it is my favorite color, pink. Second, the corset strapless bodice keeps all the extra stuff in. Third, the skirt is to die for... four layers, floor length, and plenty of "poof." The swish factor of the skirt is off the scale! Finally, all that room on the neck and arms leaves plenty of room for accessorizing.

The story behind the buying of the dress is almost as lengthy as the times I've worn the dress, and this may be the only one I can show you an actual catalogue picture. The color is slightly different, but it is the same dress:

I saw this dress listed at several online stores in the $250-$300 dollar range. When I saw the pic, I knew I wanted it. However, in thinking about my wardrobe for Southern Comfort, I knew I had plenty of choices in formal wear (as you've already seen). So I reluctantly waited. I then saw the same dress on sale at a place called Sydney's Closet which sold plus sizes at discount rates. With shipping, the cost was $96. You didn't have to ask me twice.

I knew I was taking a chance with this dress as I had never worn a strapless gown before. But for the price, I had to give it a shot. When I got the dress, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was. However, the length was a little long, and the corset bodice needed some adjusting. I waited too long to get to my usual seamstress in Charlotte so I had to go in cold to someone in Atlanta. I ended up finding a wonderful and accepting place under a mile from the hotel operated by a lady named Gizzelle. She treated me so nicely, and she had my dress fitted perfectly the night before the SCC Gala. I very much enjoyed looking at the mirror and seeing me in that dress. Call that my first mirror moment.

The SCC Gala night was so fantastic as I love seeing everyone in their fanciest dresses. Particularly for us special girls, nothing beats a night of being dressed to the nines. The crew at Transformations did my makeup again, and I am never disappointed by them. They even put on some false eyelashes, a first for me! I got a ton of compliments on the dress. During dinner, I was sitting with my skirt all spread out before me. One of the waitresses walked by, smiled, and did a little sweeping motion with her hands. She didn't say a word, but it was a wonderful gesture. The only thing I hated was that I wasn't smiling in the pic. Something to work on...

I have worn this dress two more times. First was at the Kappa Beta Christmas party in December. Ok, maybe this is a little fancy for a Christmas party, but I wanted to wear the dress out again! When I left my hotel for the short ride to Hartigans in Charlotte, two young black ladies walking in complimented me on the dress. I love these encounters as it gives me more confidence in just being me. Returning to the hotel, the lobby had been invaded by Pittsburgh Steeler fans for the Panthers/Steelers game the next day. Clearly I was the best dressed woman in the hotel that night!

The most recent wearing was at the HRC Gala in February at the Charlotte Convention Center. This is by far the most mainstream formal event I've attended with over 1500 in attendance. It was also the first time the transgendered community had official representation at the event. We were very warmly welcomed and greeted everywhere we went. I had several people (men and women both) just walk up and compliment me on my dress. It was then I looked around at what everyone else was wearing. All the women wore dark colors, mostly black and chocolate with a few silver outfits. I was the only one in pink! But there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, I believe I was being commended for being myself. I dared to be different, and it was ok.

I may be making a bit much of one dress, but you can see why it is so special to me. I wonder if other women get the same kind of memories when going through their closet and looking at their outfits. I know I do, and that makes the dress more than just material and stitching. It becomes part of you and therefore part of your story.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Here Comes the Bride!

Had another nice outing today... this time I found four nice tops at Cornelius (the one in Huntersville that always has some nice clothes) and two shoes at Payless. When I returned, I decided to put on something a little more white and expensive. The above is the result. Never fear though. I'll be looking really good in this white frock before too long with a real photographer!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Kids are Alright

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. When you put yourself out there, things are going to happen. It's just that when I'm dressed as my true self, those things are much more interesting. I had been wanting to get back down to Happy Nails in Charlotte to have my favorite manicurist, pedicurist, all around incredible person Holly do my nails. On a whim, I had a free afternoon and drove on down to the big city. Oh yes... as usual, that involved the usual hour of preperation (makeup, shaving, clothes, etc.). I've gotten my prep time down to half an hour if I don't have any shaving to do. Today it took 45 minutes, and I was ready to go.

When I arrived at Happy Nails, Holly was already working with some customers. So Cindy took care of my nails. It was enjoyable as always, and the gang always treats me very nicely. I went to the drying area across from a couple of ladies. Soon a young blonde who I guessed was in middle school sat down next to me. She looked at the other ladies nails and admired them. Then she looked at mine (now polished in a very feminine fuschia) and said they looked pretty. I looked at hers now in an equally pretty French manicure and complimented her as well.

What ensued was a very light hearted girl talk. She asked me my name, and I found out hers was Cinder, short for Cinderella. We talked about school, nails, her mom (who was sitting nearby having her nails done and didn't seem to mind). I learned she had just finished sixth grade, and yes she looked older than she really was. I brought up my ensuing brow wax once my nails were done drying and how a little pain goes a long ways towards beauty. I then did about as feminine a thing as I can recall doing. I looked at her brows, these beautiful blonde wisps above her eyes, and told her, "You don't need to have your brows waxed. They're really beautiful." That brought a big smile to her face.

Holly was ready to wax my brows. As she was waxing down my second brow, Cinder and her mom walked by. Cinder says to her mom, "Look how pretty her nails are." I hold out my left hand so mom can see, and she agrees wholeheartedly. We chat for a while as well before Holly rips more hair from my brows. Ouch! Mom still had to get her nails finished, and I wished Cinder good luck in school. They both wished me a happy weekend and smiled as I left.

In writing this now that I'm back safe at home away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte, I am taken back by how normal and nice the conversation was. Was I passing that well? I doubt it. However, Cinder in particular was willing to treat me as a young woman. It didn't matter to her whether I was male or female. She thought my nails were pretty, and that started a beautiful conversation. I think she'll do alright in this world.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Crossing of Worlds

From time to time, I will post some older articles. The following was written for the March 2006 issue of Kappa Beta's newsletter, the Pink Slip. It was written following a meeting in Columbia, SC.

February's meeting was a wonderful time for all who attended. The Columbia ladies really know how to show the rest of us a good time, and we owe them a world of thanks. Another interesting thing occurred though for me as I had a near crossing of paths with a not so fortunate incident from Stephanie's past. Just two blocks away was a church seminar at the Columbia Convention Center. This was a church that I had been part of during my college years in Chapel Hill, NC. It was also the only time I had been caught dressed in women's clothing from someone outside the TG world.

For those that don't know the story, this occurred before Christmas 1992. I was just finishing college and was rooming with some men from the church in an apartment. We were all good friends and got along well. Little did they know that I had started exploring my cross-dressing tendencies. I had gone to yard sales and bought a couple of formal dresses. While everyone was away, I would dress up. I had no makeup, wig, shoes, panties, or a femme name... just two beautiful dresses. They even fit perfectly. I knew this would be frowned on by the church members as it was a fundamentalist church. I always tried to be careful.

One day, one of my roommates walked on me while I was dressed in one of them. I had hoped he had not seen me as I rushed back into my room and changed quickly back into my male clothes. He had though, and several of the church men confronted me that evening. We did not even open a Bible as I just assumed it was a sin. I threw away the dresses that night. Six months later, I left the church as I felt it had become too controlling in my life. Obviously, the cross-dressing weighed heavily on me as I still did not know if it was right or wrong.

After many purges of guilt, I finally started to feel at peace with the female side of me. As I discussed in the previous article, I became brave enough to chat online and even name myself. In February 1998, I went out with the Kappa Beta girls for the first time, and the rest is history. And yes, I bought some more formal dresses!

Dana assured me before the meeting that there would be no way for any convention goers to wander over to the Alley Cafe. There were simply too many restaurant choices nearby. Still I felt certain some of my old friends would be there. There may even be some who knew of my incident. What would they think? Would it even be worth arguing? Knowing my past experience, any sort of confrontation would be worthless. My mischievous side wanted to "accidentally" wander that way, but my practical side quickly dismissed that thought. Even the Bible talks about looking forward, not back. I understood that night I was exactly where I needed to be.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Story Behind the Dress #2

I ordered the above wine red dress from an online store called eGowns which has since changed ownership although it still has some lovely dresses. I bought it prior to the 1999 Magnolia Ball which used to be put on every year by Kappa Beta in the spring. It was meant to be our formal outing or prom for the year. This dress became my dress of choice between 1999 and 2001 including three Southern Comforts. The above pic was taken by Cassie from TG Chat at the 2001 SCC. The makeup and hair were done by the Transformations crew from Austin, TX. They are fantastic!

I love this dress because it was my first true floor length dress. The v-neckline leaves plenty of room for a nice necklace, and I even got to play a little with my fake cleavage at the bottom! The dress has a nice satiny feel. The bows on the sleeves are a little too cutsey in retrospect. I'm amazed I even found some short matching gloves. Oh I do love my gloves! The skirt has a nice sway to it and felt wonderful against my shaved usually nyloned legs.

This dress was made to order for me from eGowns. A lady even called me directly the week before it shipped to let me know it was ready. That was the first time I think I outed myself a little bit as I was very straight forward that the dress was for me. The lady who called didn't seem fazed at all and thanked me for my business. I gave this dress a couple years ago to Good Will as I'm now a size too big for it. It remains one of my favorites to this day.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Story Behind the Dress #1

Since I do call myself the Prom Queen, I think it's only fitting that I show off some of my dresses and the story behind the pictures. The above is a Loralie bridesmaid's dress that I bought right as the company stopped making bridesmaid dresses (around 2003 I think). I liked the Loralie's bridesmaid designs as they had beautiful classic ballgown lines particular in the skirt. They feel wonderful too. I am sad that they only do the prom dresses now. The teal green color is also one of my darker colors.

The above picture was from the Vanity Club Thursday night glam dinner at Southern Comfort last September in Atlanta. I have worn the dress several times before, but this is by far the best picture of it. That is thanks to Amanda Richards who runs a makeover shop in Pennsylvania. If you are at SCC this year, you should try one of her makeovers. In this pic, I am also wearing a half slip under the skirt for a little poofiness. The white opera gloves, emerald necklace, and dark highlighted wig complete the look. Thanks to VC sisters Angela and Keri for taking this pic!