Pushing past the fear: Dress shopping for Stephanie

I write all types of articles. I mostly cover topics of things I did or liked from my childhood or whatever Nintendo is up to these days. Sometimes I share a personal story. This is one of those times.

As my life has evolved recently to be more open and direct I decided to spend more time exploring the world around me. One aspect I have been getting braver is not only telling people about Stephanie, especially her interests and feelings, but also talking about items I have been purchasing to make her happy. Yet there is something I left out, the fear that is underneath everything we do together. That fear is what makes it hard for me to live my life. Yet here I am pushing past the fear and telling a story that needs to be told.

Over the years I would pick up new dresses in one of two manners. I would either snatch something from a donation bag one of my sisters or cousins were donating to a thrift store, which okay is technically stealing, or I would purchase things online from Amazon.

Sneaking things out of the donation bag was always a challenge. I had to first identify the item I wanted. Then wait for someone to put it into the bag and then form some sort of distraction to get their attention off the bag while nobody was looking then quickly recover the item and hide it away somewhere in my closet. Talking to my sisters after the fact I learned if I had just shared my desires they might have helped me out more openly, at least to some extent. Oh well you live, you learn.

It was just over two years ago I finally told someone I might be trans gender. Before that I had only confided in two people about my secret “cross dressing” habits. The first was my youngest sister who I was, at the time, very close to. They other was a former family member I don’t know how, or why, the conversation came up. Needless to say I was very defensive about it as well as super secretive. I’m getting more open but it’s taken time.

I told a co-worker and friend of mine I was trans and probably going to begin transitioning soon. At the time I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to explore Stephanie but I want to make sure she existed. I was fortunate in that she worked in a dress shop so she helped me pick out items from time to time that would work on me. Then there was the day I went into the women’s aisle at Walmart to grab some underwear. I needed panties and bras to go along with the items she helped me obtain.

I must have walked around the store entirely twelve times circling the women’s area before I pushed my cart in and quickly grabbed the items I was after, went to the self check out and left the store as fast as I could.

I no longer let the eyes of strangers keep me from getting panties. They are a necessity and it’s nothing to walk in casually snatch a bag and be on my merry way. This has gotten much easier over time.

Recently I had two different occasions I felt the overwhelming need to buy a dress. The first was this last summer. I needed something to replace my most recent purge. A purge is when you panic and throw away everything feminine in an attempt to force yourself to be more masculine for whatever reason. This most recent purge was the hardest for me because I ended up getting rid of my wig among other things. But it happened and I recovered.

I did the same as always. Circle the stores at least a dozen times each casually browsing for the item I wanted out of the corner of my eye while keeping a close eye on the other shoppers to ensure nobody was noticing what I was putting into my cart. The fear of being discovered, found out, noticed or called out was over whelming. It was almost paralyzing. It ended up being a 3-hour ordeal.

This past weekend I was in a desperate need for a different dress. I have yet to fully stock Stephanie’s wardrobe at this time, but I felt I needed something to wear around the house on weekends that was more fitting of the style I was picturing in my head. It was a very specific style of dress. Needless to say the very first store I walked into had it. The right style. Right color. Right material. Even the price was right. Why didn’t I get it? The size was all wrong. I didn’t want to stand there and verify it was going to fit nor did I want to continue thumbing through the rack trying to find one that would, instead I quickly left the store and proceeded towards my usual practice of circling. Finally it hit me. I have as much of a right to shop as anyone else in there. Second, I’ve started telling more people about my secret which is quickly becoming the norm rather than a secret. As such I figured out that, to hell with the people who might judge me it’s not like any of them will ever see me again or recognize me anyways. Based on that I pushed myself straight into the dress aisle at JCPenny, flipping through the clearance rack until I found not one but two dresses that were not only the right fit but perfect style and look for what I was going for.

It has all been an informative experience. Each time I seek out to buy a new article of clothing it gets a little easier. Now that I am not longer worried about being found out, since I am telling people about Stephanie, it’s getting easier to not let that voice in my head talk me out of getting the items I am there to buy.

I understand not everyone is going to relate to this struggle. I also know my audience expects more from me than stories about Barbie dolls and dress shopping. Fair enough but this is my website where I share my life. It’s always been about me. The person living in the darkness, hiding from the society that shames them. Scares them. Threatens them. This is why I write these articles. I want to do my part to show that society is changing. People like me, others out there with similar fears, need to know how to overcome those fears. It’s important for me, it’s important for Stephanie to be heard. Now all I want to do is get glammed up in my pretty new dress and share lots of cute photos to my social media followers. As the fear erodes the chances of public exposure increases. Stay cool.