Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Ten Years Gone By

I've written a LOT about "rediscovering myself."  In fact, the entire "MySpace blogs" is a record of those times as they happened.  (shameless plug.)  I've written about how I was "named" at Femme Fever.   Karen, the proprietor, did the makeup and asked what name I was using.  I told her but said it was not set in stone.  She stepped back and looked at me, as the makeup was finished, but I hadn't seen myself yet.  She looked at me and said "I have a strong feeling your name is Sophie."  She then turned the chair around so I faced the mirror and said "Say hello to Sophie!" I usually don't ignore strong feelings, so I kept the name.

The Second Picture of Sophie  "Reasonably Feminine?"

I went to that makeover with the thought that if I could look reasonably feminine, I'd continue exploring this side of me, and see how deep it ran inside of me.  I drove all the way up to Long Island, and found the place.  (I told Wife I was going to State College.)  I was scared out of my mind!  What was I doing? 

Karen was very welcoming, and she knew I was nervous.  I'd explained to her in our emails to each other that this would be my first time getting a makeover.  She'd seen this many times.  Her solution?  Before we would even really get talking, she took some measurements, and then handed me a bra and breast forms and said "Put these on."  I did as I was told, and so there I sat wearing a bra with fake boobs.  And she was right- it put me at ease.  It was like jumping into the deep end of a pool to get used to the cold water.  KER-SPLASH! 

In the first pictures, maybe the first dozen, I can see the fear in my eyes, then that fear subsiding.  (Most of the pictures from this session are at the very beginning of my Flickr page.)


We talked about what I wanted to do, etc.  I wanted to do "girl next door," "Bond Girl," "businesswoman," and "bombshell."  The orange dress was the Bond girl attempt.  Not very Bond-like, but oh well.  The next look was the businesswoman.  That was a change of clothes and a slight shift in makeup. 

Would you sit with the Girl Next Door?

We then did "girl next door."  That was back to the red wig.  I wore a turtleneck sweater and skirt.  All three outfits were with the same stockings,boots, corset, etc. so changing was fast.  The last outfit was very different.  I wore pantyhose, strappy shoes...and no bra.  The dress was holding up the forms... sort of.  It had the effect of making my boobs look either enormous or saggy. 

My attempt at "come hither"

Of all the outfits, I think the red one was the most fun.  By then, I'd been there four hours, and felt so alive! 

Before leaving, I bought the red wig (Karen said I seemed to "come alive" in it) and the bra.  I would later buy the red shoes.  I haven't worn them in forever because, um, I can't figure out how to put them on.

The date of that photo session?  December 8, 2008. 

It's been over ten years. 

After that session, I ordered a couple of items on ebay.  Within a few months, I opened a PO Box a few towns over- in Oaks, Pa.  That way, I could receive items, catalogues, etc. without fear of discovery.  I paid cash for that.

I continued doing research online.  I discovered that there was a Transgender support group near me- VERY near me.  They met (and still meet) the third Saturday of every month: Southeast Pennsylvania Renaissance.  I resolved to go.  I signed off of work and borrowed Wife's car (mine was in the shop.)  I stopped at a parking lot in Valley Forge Park where I attempted to dress.  All I succeeded in doing was breaking my cheap Fredericks of Hollywood corset I'd worn for Halloween. 

I arrived, but I wasn't sure if I was in the right place.  I saw a woman walking in the parking lot.  I rolled down my window, and asked her if this was Renaissance.  She was Rebecca Lohr, president of Ren at that time.  She is still a dear friend (and a gifted author.)  She told me I could go inside and change in the restrooms, as many people did.  I grabbed my things:  corset, bra and wig from Femme Fever, shoes, blouse, skirt... and the "breasts" I'd made for Halloween out of bird seed and pantyhose.  Once inside, a GG welcomed me, and directed me to the right place.  She was the wife of one of the officers, and is a wonderful person.  (I won't name her, as her husband is still closeted.)

And so there I was- badly dressed with no makeup.  The meeting was informative, and I met MANY people who are dear friends to this day (my "original gangsters" to be 90s about it.)  After the group went into session, I was taken aside to a room for newcomers, where that one officer and I talked about who Sophie was, and what I wanted her to be.  She gave me an analogy of a train, which I still use to this day.  This is being like a train.  Some people get off at a certain stop, and that's where they are comfortable.  That's their home.  Very few take the train to the end of the line- transition.

The Only Photo of me that night that I'm aware of

I found out that there would be a Christmas party that night at Shangri La.  I was invited, and I went.  The restaurant was RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO WHERE I WORKED!  I was so incredibly nervous.  Directly following the gathering was Angela's Laptop Lounge.  I didn't know that it was $10 to attend.  My dear friend Jone paid for me, as I had no cash.  Jone took me under her wing that night, as did so many others.  In any case, I made sure no one took pictures of me.  I wanted no evidence of my being there.  (I paid Jone back with drinks the next time I went.)

Still, pictures of me wearing that outfit exist.  I wore it again in March 2009 to Renaissance and Laptop.  I did my own makeup as well (for only the second time.)  So, Aside from the different wig (and different hose, and corset), this was my look that night.

March 2009.  I've gotten better at makeup since

My dear friend Jen Lehman (she called herself Jennifer Johns back then) told me when I mentioned it was my first time out ever "Pandora's box has opened!"  And she was so right.  It had opened.

Jen the night I met her.  She's gonna kill me for posting this!  :) 

That night was December 21, 2008.

Ten Years.

A whole decade passed since that night.  I've met so many since then.  I've lost some as well.  I've never forgotten the kindness shown to me on that first night out.  Those ladies are among my closest friends. I honor them by paying it forward.  I try to help "new" girls when I can.  As I don't go out often now, that tends to happen at the Keystone Conference.

I hid my Truth from myself, and my Wife.  I told her about Sophie in May 2012.  I started HRT on December 10. 2012.  Wife's mother threw me out of the house in August 2013.  A few weeks later, my dearest friend, Lisa, killed herself.  We were going to transition together.

After making plans and preparations for months, I started living my Truth full time on March 25, 2014.

First Day Full Time

Since then, people have come and gone in my life.  I planned suicide in September 2016, but I was too cowardly to carry it out.

And now here I am.  It's mid-December, and past 1 AM.  Insomnia strikes again!  I'm wearing my "PJs"- shorts and a tank top.  No bra. I'm drinking water and listening to the Grateful Dead on headphones.  I never thought I'd live this long.  I never thought that Sophie would ever be anything except a monthly occurrence- a monthly night out.  However, I didn't understand how deep she was rooted.  I didn't want to admit my Truth- even to myself. 

Last night.  "Reasonably Feminine?"

My Truth.  I am a Woman Named Sophie (roll credits.)  That's who I've always been, even if I didn't want to acknowledge it.

Ten years ago, I took those first steps. The journey never ends.

Be well.


  1. <3 You had the courage to start without being fully convinced who you were <3 ... I stayed in the shadow of my own life until it was reasonably safe to come out.

    1. I guess that's the point- is it EVER safe to come out?

    2. We live in a world of degrees. Never completely safe, but mileage varies depending on location.

    3. Shades of grey, tending toward the dark

  2. Happy holidays, Sophie, you continue to be a gift to many!