I had the privilege of attending a very formal gala celebration this past weekend, for a very prestigious organization. As past chair of the board of governors, the invitation was pretty much automatic. I also served out the last two years of my board duties as past chair which ends this month, post transition. Long story short, there were no issues, not a one. (That may be a more detailed post for another day.)
Back to our story. This was another first for me. I have never, ever attended a gala black tie event. Even in my previous life. Back then, I couldn’t stand the thought of wearing a tuxedo…why feed my dyphoria, right? I also didn’t want to be seen by groups of people, or just about anybody for that matter, in what was at the time a very unattractive body to say the least, and the completely wrong gender, to but it mildly.
However, that all changed. With the support of one of my very best BFFs, I went on the hunt for a ball gown! Oh my gosh…that whole experience was electrifying! As she is in the fashion industry, she linked us up with a stylist who we chatted with for some time to get our thoughts on what we wanted to accomplish. For me, that was to be feminine, with classic style, while making a quiet statement. There were going to be eyes on me and I didn’t want to disappoint. The very first gown I tried on was an instant hit. Right off the rack, famous designer dress. Perfect fit, perfect cut, perfect style. Floor length that work well him skin tone and hair colour etc. ! So excited!!
Four weeks past from the time I tried on the dress to the actual gala and I was hoping the entire time that I was going to fit into it. And I did. Perfectly!! Phew. Next was hair and makeup, which I did myself, using a few tips from a friend of mine who is a makeup artist. Shoes, jewelry and purse all coordinated with a light wrap for the cooler weather and we’re good to go.
The entire experience, for me, was magical. I have never experienced anything like this…ever! I mean think about it. There I was, with about 120 very respected people in the community (how they sneaked me in is still a mystery !! Ha ha), with men in tuxedos and women all in stunning ball gowns. Red Carpet like process, official photos, as well as candid ones by professional photographers. I was scared to death! My BFF was with me the entire time, and gave the pep talk I needed and every now and again, just gave me a look that said “you’re doing fine, it’s all great, just relax and have fun!”. So I did.
And it worked. Oh my, what a time. I didn’t know some of the people at my assigned table, but they were all lovely and conversation flowed easily. I even managed to hit the dance floor, in 3 inch stiletto’s with no problems. And did we dance. We all managed to make a bit of a fool of ourselves, but all in good fun and so much laughter! Again, it was the women around me who encouraged me and made me feel super comfortable. It was amazing. I tried to take breaks but they would track me down! We had so much fun!!! This was like every little girl’s dream. I just took me 57 years to get there! What was even more interesting is that more than 3/4 of the people there did not know about me at all. But there were no issues. It would appear that I passed the “test”.
I returned home, totally exhausted, but was one very happy girl. If nothing else, I have been fortunate enough to at least have had my “princess” experience. More than I could have hoped for only a short year or more ago.
This may not be a big issue or event for other women, but it certainly was for me. An experience of my life that I will never, ever forget!!!