Tag Archive | Flying En Femme

Playing with Gender on Airplanes, Part 2

Hi again. This is Robin and I am here with part two of my playing with gender while flying. As I mentioned in part one, I took a couple of trips in sort of “semi-femme” mode in which I wore relatively androgynous clothing and a wig but no makeup, padding, or other clearly feminine “indicators.” The clothes were a simple woman’s patterned t-shirt and jeans. The shoes were ankle boots but without much a heel and little overtly feminine about it. I wore my wig in a simple manner, pretty much straight with just a little curl. My goals were to “dress” but without the associated stress of trying to “pass” and also to see how people would react to me, given a somewhat androgynous look. I tried this out on two cross country flights. I wrote about the Miami trip last time, now I will cover the Boston one.

The t-shirt I wore was a “daisy fuentes” brand bought at Kohl’s. I really like the style and colors of this brand and have bought lots of them. They are mostly patterns of one kind or another. This one was blue, black, and white in sort of an abstract pattern. It was long sleeve. The jeans were black Gloria Vanderbilt ones I bought at my other favorite fashion place, Costco. The boots were black with really no heel at all.

The trip from SFO to Boston was generally uneventful. I got one ma’am (again at a food place in SFO), a couple of “sirs”, but mostly genderless responses. The only really interesting test is when I picked up my rental car and had to present my license. My picture had short hair and I had long hair but the Avis counter person did not say anything.

The trip home was a lot more interesting. I was fortunate enough to get an exit row seat with no seats at all in front of us. I was a little late getting on the plane and so I rushed on with my suitcase and computer bag. I knelt in front of my seat and was unpacking things when a flight attendant came up to me and asked “Miss, can I help you with something?” This was a really nice surprise (especially the “miss” part). I looked up and smiled at her and responded in my best femme voice, “thanks, but I think I have everything under control” and then sat down. I figured she would discover her error shortly but I was in for another surprise. There was a woman sitting next to me and soon the same flight attendant came back to give us the “exit row” speech and ask for our agreement that we would help in an emergency. She looks at both of us and says “Are you ladies prepared to help us in an emergency by opening the emergency exit doors?”. I was really, really surprised. How could she not notice??? I could understand making the mistake when I was kneeling and looking down but to do it again while looking straight at me, unbelievable (but really, really nice). I smiled at her and said I agreed and she moved on to the next row. For the rest of the 5 our flight I made sure to demonstrate female body language and voice whenever I interacted with her. I also went in the bathroom and applied a little light foundation to hide whatever stubble might appear during the rest of flight. I did not want to embarrass the nice lady.

The experiences on the two flights really made me wonder what are the cues that people rely on to decide whether whether the person in front of them is male or female. I really thought I was presenting far more male than female. The clothes were slightly feminine, but not overtly so (i.e. no florals, neutral colors, pants not a skirt/dress, etc.). Many guys have longish hair and so that was not a definite signal. My face and body are not very feminine, although my height is within normal bounds for women. My body language was more feminine than male (partly naturally, partly by intent), in particular the way I stood, held my hands, and played with my hair. Maybe there was enough clues suggesting female for people to draw that conclusion. I am still very surprised at the reactions from the various people.

I will try again on my next flight.

Robin

Playing with gender while flying

Hi

This is Robin and I am an occasional poster to Denae’s blog. I have not posted for awhile but Denae asked to post some of my more recent adventures since she thought they might be interesting to others.

I travel a lot on business and its usually to the East Coast, either Boston or Miami. These are long, boring trips and one can only do so much work. As I have written about in the past, I have gone “en femme” on some of these flights and have had no problems with the TSA or with airlines. When I go en femme, I tend to go pretty casual (t-shirts and jeans) but with lots of female “indicators”, such as wig, makeup, breast/hip pads, purse, jewelry, etc.. I want people to take a quick look, see all sorts of things normally associated with women and assume I am one. I have found this all works and so I have no troubles with anyone.

On a couple of recent flights, I wanted to see what would happen if I went with a more androgynous look. I also wanted to have the fun of “dressing” but with a lot less work. My clothes were pretty much my normal t-shirt and jeans with ankle boots. The ankle boots don’t have much of a heel and so are not overtly women’s boots. The t-shirt had a pattern but was also not overtly feminine (e.g. not floral). I wore my normal wig which goes a little beyond the collar and is mostly straight. It has a little wave to it but not much of one. I did not wear any makeup, padding, jewelry, etc.. I carried my normal computer bag but did not have my purse. About the only overtly thing was my wig, but even that was sort of androgynous.

I tried this on two round trip flights, one from SFO to Miami and the other from SFO to Boston.

For the first flight, I went through security without any problem. My hair was longer than my picture ID, but that is probably true for lots of people (I think my picture is 15 years old anyway). I stopped at a lunch place so I could eat before getting on the flight. As I stood in line, the person at counter looked at me and said “I will be with you in a moment, ma’am.”  I was sort of surprised at her remark, so surprised that when she got to me, I ordered in my male voice. She sort of did a double take but took my order without any further ado. I got a “thank you sir”. If I wasn’t so surprised, I would have used my female voice and played along. This was my first indication that things might be more interesting that I thought.

The trip to Miami itself was pretty uneventful. I did notice that the flight attendants and others seemed to avoid using gendered references when speaking to me, but I may have been a little too sensitive about it (though I usually get “sir’ed” from them normally). When I got to Miami, I checked my rental car without incident. For the flight home, I dressed pretty much the same way. The TSA was its normal neutral self. When I ordered food, I got a “ma’am” and this time responded in my female voice. The trip home was without incident although I did get some longer than usual stares along the way.

The trip to Boston was a lot more interesting and I will write about it next time.

Robin

Flying En Femme 2012 – The trip home

Hi, this is Robin and this is the final installment of my Flying En Femme 2012 adventure. It is about the trip home from Atlanta.

One of the nice things about SCC are the large number of merchants who show up selling items ranging from clothes to books to jewelry. My favorite wig has been getting rather tired and every time I brushed it I ended up with a brush full of hair. It was clearly time for another one. I had purchased a Jacquelyn human hair wig some years ago on eBay and was saving it for such a time. I really like the human hair wigs as they feel very light and natural. They do require regular care and styling but I feel it is worth it. As I have mentioned in the past I tend toward simplicity and speed in putting together my feminine appearance but the one area I do spend time on is my hair. Another image consultant I visited for a long time said that the most important part of your feminine presentation is your hair and I really believe that. Thus the care and styling of my human hair wigs is worth it to me.

Unfortunately I could not find a wig stylist in the South Bay who would cut and style my wig and so I brought it to SCC hoping one of the merchants would do it. Fortunately I found one who would and she charged me only $50 to cut and style it. She did it just like I wanted. Unfortunately she is in Atlanta otherwise I would become a regular client.

It turned out great, how great I would discover later.

Denae’s second seminar was also at 9am on Saturday and so we got off to another early start. We were done by 10:30 and checked out of the hotel by 11:30. Our flight was at 2pm and so we had time to get to the airport without too much of a rush. The two flights had gone so well that flying en femme on the way home was the obvious thing to do. The drive to the airport did not take long since there was little traffic on a Saturday morning. We checked the rental car back in and it went fine. I assume the agent just assumed I was the wife of the guy on the rental contract. We got our luggage and headed to the terminal.

We approached the luggage check in counter and I gave the agent my boarding pass, luggage, and male id. She took one look at it and handed it back to me saying

“I am sorry but he has to be here to check in his luggage”

I got a big grin on my face and I told her “it is ME and you have just totally made my day”. She looked at me more closely and also grinned. She said she did not realize the picture on my id was me. She then checked me in without a problem. From there we went through TSA security without a hitch. Everything passed through the Xray machine without a problem. Likewise I went through the full body scanner without any further inspections. The screen flashed an “OK” on a green screen and the agent smiled and motioned me to pick up my stuff.

Denae and I made our way to our gate. We had time to get some lunch since it was a long ride home. Before boarding I stopped in the ladies restroom without a second thought. After spending 3 of 4 days en femme and passing through multiple inspection points along the way, I was feeling completely comfortable in my feminine self. Being “me” felt like me.

The trip home was also completely uneventful. I did some reading, Denae did some sleeping, and we arrived back in San Francisco late in the afternoon. We got our luggage, made our way to my car, and drove towards home. We met Denae’s ride back to Santa Cruz in San Jose and I headed home. Of course I had to change back to boy mode before doing so and that was a bit of a downer. In some ways getting back into boy mode was something that took some effort. After spending those few days as a woman, I struggled somewhat to get back to my typical male mannerisms, voice, movement.  Feminine had become new “normal”. It was sort of an odd experience.

In reflecting about it now, the trip home seems uneventful, almost boring, and in many ways it was. I have been on hundreds of plane trips in boy mode and have gone routine many times: leave hotel, drive to airport, drop off rental car, go through security, get on the plane, and fly to my destination. The only difference this time was that I did it all as a woman. It was both very familiar and oddly different. Everyone I met accepted me as such and were polite and friendly.  Overall it was a great time, if for no other reason, than it seemed so commonplace and boring.

I am ready for my next trip en femme. I just need to make sure I don’t bump into any coworkers along the way….

Flying En Femme 2012 – Outed in Atlanta

Hi Again, this is Robin with the next part of my Flying En Femme adventure

While waiting at the gate in Boston for my return trip to Atlanta, I noticed a voice mail I had received earlier in the day but had not picked up. It was from Delta letting me know they had my luggage in Atlanta and that I could pick it up. On the one hand this was very good news since it meant that Denae would have clothes for her seminoars but it was also very odd since they called me rather than Denae and used my boy name. I wondered how that could have happened. I figured I needed to stay in boy mode to pick it up and so I did not change. I arrived in back in Atlanta a few hours later and went to pickup Denae’s luggage. It turned out to be the same group that had been on duty the night before. I sort of played dumb, saying that I had gotten this call to pick up luggage but did not know how they got my name. At first they would not give me Denae’s luggage but as they tried and failed to find it they became more friendly. They invited me into the luggage area and we looked and looked for it. After a long time, probably an hour or so, we eventually found it but found it had been checked under my name, not Denae’s. We still don’t know how that happened except it could have been due the boarding pass confusion at San Francisco. In any case we finally tracked down Denae’s suitcase.

As I had the night before, I tried to stay positive and friendly throughout the process and joked with the luggage crew. We had worked together to figure out the problem and no one had gotten angry or upset. As I was leaving one of the clerks turned to me and thanked me for staying positive and optimistic, “just like you were last night”.

Ouch…outed

She he said it with a smile and without the slightest bit of negativity. At some point along in the process she had figured things out and was okay with it. I had been positive and not gotten upset nor made her job difficult and that I had been female one night and male the next made little difference. The “ouch” actually turned into something very positive, hopefully for both of us. I felt much better about it.

From there I went and got my rental car. I changed in the garage and made it to the hotel where I turned the suitcase over to Denae. It was bedtime at that point and I slept soundly. Denae’s seminar was at 9am which is 6am California time which requires getting up at 7am/4am. This is very early for California girls…

The two seminars Denae presented went well and had good attendance.

Next Post: The Trip Home

Flying En Femme 2012 – Trouble in Atlanta and Getting to Boston

Hi again, this is Robin and here is the next part of my extended “flying en femme” adventure.

While our trip from San Francisco was completely uneventful, trouble awaited us in Atlanta.

Unfortunately Denae’s luggage had failed to arrive and was not even present in the computer system. It had disappeared and Denae was without any clothes beyond those she was wearing. We ended up at the baggage counter in Atlanta trying to figure out what happened. Denae was understandably upset but I tried to remain calm as I have traveled enough to know these problems usually work out okay. The Delta baggage people were very professional and helpful and offered to buy Denae an outfit if her bag did not arrive in time for her seminars. Denae had to fill out all sorts of paperwork which took a while. During the whole time I kept looking at my watch as my Boston departure time neared. After all the paperwork was done, one of the baggage clerks thanked me for remaining calm and positive throughout the whole process. I smiled at her in response and thanked her for all her help.  I walked Denae to the shuttle area for the ride to the hotel and I headed back to the TSA inspection area. By this time, my departure time was close and given that things had gone so well at San Francisco, I decided I would stay en femme for the next leg of my trip. I was sort of rushed and that actually made the decision easier.

There was a short line at the TSA inspection area and so I had only a little wait. I kept checking my watch but still had enough time. Finally I got to the TSA id checker. I gave him my boarding pass and male id. He looked at it, at me, at it, at me, and then signed it. Again, no problem!! I repeated the whole computer, belt, 1 quart bag, etc. routine and then headed to the full body scanner. I was waved in, raised my hands over my head, and let the machine do its thing. I stepped out and this time the inspector stepped towards me. I figured I would get the full treatment this time, but the TSA agent simply touched the back of my head near the band of my wig. She quickly figured out it was just a wig and waved me past. I gathered my things and headed toward my gate. I found I had actually more time than I expected and so I stopped in a “family restroom” where I refreshed my makeup since it had been almost 10 hours since I had applied it in San Francisco and it was looking a little worn. From there I went to my gate and boarded the plane. Again, the gate agent took my ticket, scanned it, and gave it back without any noticeable reaction. The plane was only half full and so I had a full row to myself. It was late and so the plane was kept dark throughout the whole flight. The flight took a couple of hours.

As we neared Boston I thought about the next steps. I had a car reservation and hotel reservation. I knew I had to be in boy mode for the hotel check in since the hotel is the one most people in my company stay at when visiting Boston and so I was likely to bump into one of my coworkers (although it would be late when I arrived). The rental car would likely be okay to be done en femme but I was tired at that point and really was not up for another test. I really did not want to change all the way back into boy mode and so I ended up going part way. In the darkness of the plane I removed my jewelry and breast forms. As I exited the plane, I stayed femme but a little less so. Once in the terminal I found another family restroom and removed my makeup and switched to a more gender neutral top. I also put my purse inside my computer case. I kept my wig on as well as my shoes (they were also fairly gender neutral). I then proceeded to the rental car pickup area where I got my car. I pushed my wig back a little for the car checkout process and was on my way.

It was actually sort of an interesting experience moving gradually from girl to boy mode. The changes were actually fairly minor: breast size, makeup, mannerisms, voice, purse. Hair and clothing can be very gender neutral. As I discovered a long time ago, at least for me, the change between male and female does not require a lot of effort. It is more a matter of certain externals and a slight shift of mannerisms and voice.

I eventually arrived at the hotel very late and checked in without a problem. I did not encounter any co-workers.

The business part the next day went fine although it was really tight getting back to the airport. I did not have time to change but still had all my girl things in my carry on bag. My 1 quart, clear plastic bag had makeup and makeup remover in addition to my normal boy items but I doubted anyone would notice (they didn’t). The one worry I did have was my breast forms. I figured I could either leave them in my bag and hope for the best or just take them out and put them next to my shoes and clear plastic bag on the xray belt. They were in their own little cloth bag and so I decided I would just take them out. I put everything on the belt and went to the full body scanner. I passed again (without nearly as much sense of accomplishment as before) and went over to pick up my things. The breast forms had passed xray inspection without a problem. I took everything and packed it up and headed to the gate.

This was actually a very helpful experiment. I often don’t pack full femme outfits when I travel since I don’t want to check my suitcase if I don’t need to but have been hesitant about putting breast forms through the scanners. In the future I won’t worry.

The trip back to Atlanta went fine but yet another adventure awaited me there.

Next Post: Outed!!!

Flying En Femme 2012 – From San Francisco to Atlanta

Hi again

This is Robin with the next segment of my recent Flying En Femme adventure. This part covers the trip from San Francisco to Atlanta.

Denae’s and my flight was scheduled to leave on Wednesday at 11:30am and since we were coming from different directions, agreed to meet at the Delta baggage check-in counter around 10-10:15am. I arrived a little early with my suitcase, computer bag, and purse in tow. I decided to be brave and check in the luggage myself. I stood in a short line and when I reached the front I walked up to the counter and gave the man my boarding pass and  my male id and waited to see what would happen next. Just as I had found two years ago, exactly nothing happened. He typed into his computer, took my suitcase, gave me back my boarding pass and id, and wished me a good flight. It was much the same as the hundreds of other times I checked luggage. I had made it through the first test.

Denae was late arriving at the airport due to problems with her ride from Santa Cruz and did not arrive until almost 10:45. We rushed to get her luggage checked which would be the cause, as we would discover in Atlanta, of her luggage not arriving.

Once that was done, it was TSA time. We walked to the security checkpoint and after standing in a short line reached the TSA agent. We both gave him our boarding passes and ids. He stared at them a long time and I began to worry. He then flipped the boarding passes and ids and all was well. Denae and I had somehow switched boarding passes which further confused the poor agent (since Denae and I look nothing alike). Once that  was clarified, he checked the ids, wrote on each boarding pass, and indicated we could proceed to the inspection area. Once there I repeated the drill I have done hundreds of time: remove computer from its bag, remove shoes and belts, remove the 1 quart bag with your “fluids and gels”, and put them all on the belt for the xray machine. This time I added a few extra items to the belt such jewelry and my purse. I then approached the full body scanner.

The agent asked me to step inside the scanner and raise my arms above my head. It was a little scary since the scanner could see “everything” but also sort of liberating. Based on Kimberly’s report, I fully expected to get called aside to get patted down. Much to my surprise the agent simply said “thank you ma’am, you can gather your things”. No inspection, no pat down, that was it!!

I felt really good at that point, thinking the worst was over. Denae also got through inspection without any problems. Fortunately our gate is near the inspection station and so we didn’t have far to walk. While we are waiting I bought some food for the trip and visited the ladies restroom. The last step was to get on the plane. We were in the last boarding group since I don’t normally fly on Delta and so did not have the option for priority boarding. We approached the ticket agent and I gave her my ticket. She scanned it, up popped my boy name, and she handed me back my boarding pass with a smile. Everything was going very well.

The flight to Atlanta was entirely uneventful, much like almost every flight I have taken. Denae and I planned her seminars, I worked on my work presentations, and we generally rested. Four and half hours later we arrived in Atlanta and made our way to the baggage claim area. I had allocated a couple of hours between our arrival and my departure for Boston. I figured we would get our luggage and I would get Denae on a shuttle to the airport. Depending on how the boarding process had gone in San Francisco I figured I could always change back into boy mode for the flight to Boston.

Unfortunately things would not be that simple..

Next Post: Trouble in Atlanta and my trip to Boston

Flying En Femme 2012 – Getting Ready

Hi folks,

This is Robin, Denae’s assistant here at Femimage and occasional contributor to this blog.

Denae and I recently attended the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta, Georgia. For those of you who are not familiar with SCC, it is the largest gathering of transgendered people in the United States and probably the world. It is held in Atlanta every September and has been going on for at least 20 years.

Denae was presenting two seminars at the conference as well as doing private consults with interested attendees. I went along to help with the logistics of things and to keep Denae on schedule. We planned to fly to Atlanta on Wednesday which would give us a chance to rest on Thursday before the seminars on Friday and Saturday. It would also give me a opportunity for an extended time in girl mode.

While I had flown “en femme” two years ago to attend an earlier SCC conference (which I wrote about here: http://ptrobin.wordpress.com ), I had not done so since. While the earlier trip was completely uneventful, much to my surprise,  soon after the trip airport security become much tighter including the widespread use of full body pat downs and/or full body scanners at nearly every airport. It was frankly a lot more intimidating and so I had avoided doing so again since the initial trip.

Still, those few folks who did write about traveling “en femme” or “flying pretty” reported few problems with the new procedures. Kimberly Huddle recently wrote a long blog entry about doing do (http://kimberlyhuddle.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-fly-pretty.htm) and indicated she had encountered few problems, except perhaps, for regular pat downs by female TSA agents after the body scanner detected the breast forms she wore. Since Kimberly “flies pretty” on a regular basis this gave me some confidence to try it again. I figured at very worst, I would also get a pat down.

The plan was thus for Denae and I to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Atlanta on Wednesday and return on Saturday after her second seminar. We booked the flights and all seemed in place. I figured two flights during which time I have Denae for support would be okay. Unfortunately my regular job intervened with the need for me to be in Boston on Thursday for a series of meetings. Hence my two flight adventure suddenly turned into a four flight one. I would fly with Denae to Atlanta and then catch a flight Wednesday evening to Boston. I would attend my meetings on Thursday and then fly back to Atlanta Thursday evening. It would be a long trip but I could deal with it. The only issue would be that I would need to bring some boy clothes to wear for the Boston part of the trip. I would send my regular suitcase with Denae to the hotel while I took a small bag to Boston. All seemed doable.

For the trip from San Francisco, I decided to go with my typical femme outfit: patterned t-shirt like top and jeans, comfortable shoes, brown purse, wig, simple makeup, little bit of jewelry, and breast forms. I skipped the hip pads since they would clearly show up on the full body scanner and getting a pat down there could be a lot more awkward.  I added a light sweater since it was chilly at the San Francisco airport and could be on the plane as well. I was able to fit all my clothes for the trip (a second pair of jeans, a skirt, more tops, pajamas, underwear, and a couple pairs of shoes) into a small check-on bag. I even included lots of Denae’s DVDs for sale at the show. I was proud of myself that it all fit!

Next Post: From San Francisco to Atlanta