It wasn’t my first time going into a store by myself to shop for women’s clothes—I had done it a number of time over the years—but it was the first time doing so since transitioning.
As a guy in the women’s section, I always felt conspicuous. Even so, I acted like I belonged there. When asked if I needed help, I confidently said, “I’m okay, thanks.” If asked, “Do you know the size you need?” I might say, “Yes. I’ve bought clothes for her, before.” And, at the counter, should the clerk comment about my purchase—as the woman did in 2013, when I bought the blue dress that remains my favorite: “I wish my husband would buy clothes for me. This dress is beautiful. You have good taste”—I easily produced a reply: “Thank you. I enjoy shopping for nice things.”
I was able to come up with conversation in which I could remain vague and yet be truthful. I sure am glad those days are past.
Now, I am able to shop for women’s things as a woman.
Now, I am able to walk in and, when asked if I need any help, I don’t feel like I need to remain by myself for fear that a clerk might figure me out.
Now, I am able to do exactly what I did last Friday, when I visited the Lane Bryant store in Carmel after my third voice therapy session.
Before I was halfway into the store, the older of the two sales women asked, “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Yes,” I said, with no hesitation. “I am in need of a dress. I am going to a birthday party, and it is going to be quite the affair, and I don’t own anything that does the job.”
Julie and I were going to go dress-shopping, but she’s been working such long hours, including every Saturday, so her time is precious. This had been weighing on me since we received the invitation from her co-worker to attend her April 7 party. I knew that I needed to do this thing, to break the ice and go clothes shopping by myself for the first time since I’ve transitioned.
I needed to take this marvelous confidence I have, and this ever-deepening feminine sense of myself, and put it to work.
Besides, I wanted to do something for Julie—a tiny thing, to be sure, but a way to show that I am thinking of her. She works so hard for us. When I retired, she took over the role of earning our family income. She did it without a word of complaint. She works hard, and long hours, and always walks into the house at night ready to give me a kiss and a warm hello, and sit down with the supper I made with the two of us filling in each other on our day. She rises in the morning and heads to work with a smile on her face, and we always part—every single time—with a kiss and words of our love for each other. And when in the evening I once again hear the garage door begin to open, I am so pleased that she has arrived home safe, and I say a prayer of thanks to the Lord.
Back at the Lane Bryant store, the sales woman quickly found on the sale rack a lovely black dress in my size. She then went to the back and soon came out with another. As the younger gal unlocked the changing room door, I told her that I would come out for her to see, wanting her advice.
The first one, off the sale rack, fit perfectly! And looked wonderful! And providing shape where I have none! And I loved that it was marked down from $69.95 to $34.98!
Feeling perfectly giddy and girly—forgive any sexist-sounding-ness to that, but truly I was gushing in a most stereotypical way—I exited the changing room.
Before the sales woman could speak, a shopper was walking by, looked at me, and said with a big smile, “You look beautiful!” And oh-me-oh-my but did I smile and gush out a big “Thank you, so much!”
The sales woman confirmed that it fit properly, and I re-entered to try on the other dress. I was almost happy that it was too small. I would not have to decide between the two.
I triumphantly took the dresses to check-out. Waiting for a customer’s purchase to be completed, I walked over to the woman who had commented. Her friend joined in. We had a fun chat. I felt like one of the girls. It was exhilarating.
My turn to check out, the younger sales woman announced the price she was entering. “That’s $14.98, plus tax.” “$14.98? The tag says $34.98.” “That was the sale price. It’s on clearance.”
Well, shut my mouth! My day just kept getting better! All the guilt that I was having, buying a dress for a party, vanished as I swiped my credit card.
Huge smile plastered on my face, I thanked everyone for the lovely experience and chat, and positively floated to my car.
When Julie got home from work, it was great fun to tell her what I had done. And then the price I paid. And then to model the dress for her. And she loved it! And she was impressed that I went shopping by myself!
Bring on the party, which will provide another first. When I tell you what it is, please know that it is no small thing for me.
I will get to dance. For the first time, I will get to dance as Gina.
I love dancing so much. To now have the ability to feel the music as I feel about myself—when I dance around the house, I already know the feeling.
It is a wonderful feeling. And it is tremendously affirming. Just as was shopping for my new dress.
My new dress! As I typed those three words, if only you could see the gleam in my eye and the smile on my face!