Chi Upsilon Iota Tri-Ess

Rae's journey to self-acceptance

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I joined TRI-ESS and the CDTRIESS list in the early 2000's. I also had my wife join and helped her to sign up for the CDSO list which is support for the SO'S in a relationship. When I joined, I was what we lovingly refer to as a "bearded lady," and at the time I had (so I told myself) no problems whatsoever with this aspect of my persona.

I had not been out of the house as Rae for close to 17 years, beyond dressing in various hotel rooms and wandering the deserted halls where I had been staying for one business trip or another over the years.

Prior to joining TRI-ESS, I had been planning on removing the beard, mostly because I simply grew tired of it. Shortly after joining TRI-ESS and the forum I realized that if I wanted to dress and make a presentable image, not only to myself, but also to others, the beard had to go without a doubt.


Some of the sisters here have seen my first pictures as the bearded wonder and we had more than one joke about how much Derma-blend we would need to cover that growth.

During the next month, my wife and I worked out a series of compromises and boundaries for Rae that we both felt would work for us. I believe that her participation in the CDSO list at that time was the key to her being able to take that step. That was a big step for her as for our entire 20-year marriage, she has never been accepting or tolerant of Rae at all.

Anyhow, fast forward to late June 2003. The beard is now gone, and I am still petrified to go out as Rae in anything but the light of the silvery moon, and even then, it was with nerves all aflutter.

Living in Illinois (about 2.5 - 3 hours from the TRI-ESS chapter meeting hall), I had resigned myself to never being able to attend meetings with any frequency.

I happened to hit the Chicago TRI-ESS site and saw they were hosting a "Garden Party" in July and I had to go. I told my wife I wanted to go, and she reluctantly "allowed it." She has always been afraid that if allowed to dress and do more, I will, and that worries her, and I can fully understand that emotion.

I decided to go shopping for a dress for the party, and on a whim, went to a retail chain called "Avenue" here in town, and was browsing the racks of sale stuff (I am a notorious bargain shopper) when the sales lady asked if I needed help. Remember, I have been petrified my whole life about going out as Rae and such; it was my lunch break, and I was in drab. I said, (surprising myself) "I was looking for a skirt and blouse to wear to a party where all the guys would be dressed like girls." She had no problems with that at all, and after we found a lovely skirt/blouse, she asked if I wanted to try it on.

I must have looked at her with "Deer in the headlight eyes" and did not hesitate a moment and said, "Sure!" I did, and I never turned back. Since then, I have been to a few stores, during lunch, and have tried on many things in the store prior to buying.

Anyhow, I made it to the party and had a wonderful time. This was my first daylong event as Rae and I was apprehensive. I needed to get gas for the car so I pulled off the interstate in a town far from home, and with great fear and trembling, got out to fuel up. I got back in as soon as I could and headed off.

At the party, I was greeted by many pretty gals, most of whom I can't even remember their names. There must have been close to 75 sisters there and a handful of spouses. I bonded quickly with a few sisters and made instant lifelong friendships. Within a short period of time, I no longer saw myself as Ray at "a party where all the guys will be in dresses," as I told the clerk, but as Rae, and very comfortable being with my sisters. I met so many wonderful sisters and spouses, and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.


It is now August and I decided it was time to go to my first TRI-ESS meeting. This decision came from the Garden Party experience, plus the realization that my agreement with my wife regarding my CD'ing was not working out time wise, and I needed Rae time for my own sanity.

Since the Garden Party, I had been in contact with another sister; also named Rae, who is a TRI-ESS member, who also was attending her first meeting with the Chicago chapter. We were going to share a room and cost of the hotel, which again I was surprised that my wife (although reluctantly), consented to letting me have the weekend away.

Living in a home with a wife and four teenage children as well as an attack cat, packing, and leaving for an overnight trip with all the required clothing changes (what self respecting CD/TG wears the same outfit for more than four hours?), makeup, breast forms, wigs, etc… is a daunting task at best. I had most of my stuff packed early in the week and I told my wife I would be leaving Saturday morning.

I planned to leave the house Saturday morning while she was taking my oldest son on his paper route so I could slip out as Rae (I did my makeup in the car to save time) and not cause any problems. I decided to wear a blue denim, knee length, skirt with a white blouse covered in small blue floral print, suntan pantyhose, and a pair of very comfy flats.


I left the house at 7:30 or so and stopped off to do my makeup and finishing touches.

I started off to Chicago, and as usual, had to stop and gas up. The last time I did this as Rae, I was mortified to get out of the car, and I sat there, shaking for a minute or two, then realized it is better to get gas, than to stall and wait, so I got my credit card, opened the door, and got out in my most demure manner (the skirt then was much longer) and realized that the earth did not suddenly stop, and I was not being flung to the nether regions of outer space. This time, I slid my legs out and confidently went back, gassed up, and actually entered the store attached to the gas station and bought a bottle of soda for the trip. Now realize, this is possibly the first time ever that I have been in what I call a "Main stream store" as Rae. This was not Sally Anne's TG friendly Corset shop, or "Transformations by Rori" where hardly a trip there goes by without at least one sister there as well, but this was a grocery store, and I was Rae, and I was totally comfortable and self-assured. Did I pass? Did she think, "She looks like a guy in a skirt." I did not care what she thought, and I was as good looking as I could present myself. She did not say anything however and my confidence bumped a notch.

I arrived at the hotel with time to spare; in fact, I had at least 45 minutes before "the other Rae" arrived, so I took advantage of the time to walk the grounds of the hotel and sit out by a river (not the prettiest one, but it was nice none the less), that flowed behind the hotel. I felt so natural at this point that I could have taken on the world.

My sister arrived in drab, and we went to check in. I waited while Rae transformed and we got to chat and share so much. She looked great, after. We left the hotel, walking through the front lobby enfemme, out to the car to head out for my first makeover at Rori's in Oak Park. Rori's is a "Transformation studio" that has a huge CD/TG/TS clientele base. They also cater to GG'S, but the service provided to the TG community is beyond compare in the Chicago area. Of course when we arrived, there was a huge sidewalk arts and crafts thing going on and we had to park a few blocks away and walk to the store. I still felt totally natural, and we chatted and joked as we walked past people and children, mindful to keep the discussion softer when passing the children to not "create an issue" when one was not needed. We entered Rori's only a few minutes late (thanks to Chicago's horrible traffic), and I sat for my makeover while my sister took some pictures and browsed.


For an extra fee, Rori's will video tape your makeover and provide detailed verbal instruction as to what they are doing as you transform. The makeover took about an hour, and being "legally blind" without my prescription "girl glasses" (and boy glasses for that matter), I could not see what was happening for most of it. Rori's son Soto, (Also known as Lisa, a beautiful TG), did my makeup and applied false eyelashes as well. That was fun. After the makeover, I looked at myself and I was in awe. I could hardly tell that it was the same person looking back. My sister had her makeup "touched" up, so to speak, and we had more pictures (of course, a CD/TG can't breath without documenting it on film).


We left the shop and the streets were full of people all going to and fro. We headed across the street to a lovely intimate restaurant that is very TG friendly and enjoyed a light snack. It was so fun to walk in as Rae (another dream) and be called "ladies" and such. Our server was great, even though at the end, she "messed up" and called my sister "sir, um, I mean miss". We all laughed and understood.

After lunch we still had time to kill before the TRI-ESS meeting, so what do sisters do when there is time to kill? We shop, what else.
We decided to check out the stores near the hotel and went in to Neiman Marcus. That was another first for me as Rae. We stopped at a cosmetic counter and I contemplated buying a new tube of lipstick until I realized I would have to mortgage my house for it. The sales ladies were great, and very helpful. We looked around, realized that we were really Wal-Mart type gals, and left, after chatting with another sales lady who struck up a conversation with us.

After the shopping extravaganza, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, as the heat was oppressive and my '93 Escort had long since decided that cold air in the summer was not a good idea, much to my chagrin. We both changed into clean clothes, and I wore one of my "bargain outfits ($4.00 at Salvation Army!!!) which was a lovely floral print dress, with a small pleated type skirt, just below the knee, with short sleeves, and a purple jacket, and my "good wig". My sister wore a floral skirt, pink blouse, and matching jacket.

We still had enough time before the meeting and I was famished. I had only eaten a bowl of soup and some bread at the other restaurant, so we stopped in at the "sports bar and grill" in the hotel for a sandwich. The server was a nice guy, but I know he felt a little funny, as we were never referred to as "ladies or miss", but at the same time he was simply polite. We ate and headed to the meeting.


The meetings for the Chicago chapter are in a wonderful room in the hotel with lots of space, and very private. Rae and I arrived and were early. Go figure, right? Once some of the other members started arriving, I started to notice familiar faces from the Garden Party and immediately did not feel so alone. Of course, my sister was there. We went to the "newcomers" meeting hosted by "Dee Dee." Now you must understand that we had another "newcomer" that night named Dee. So we had Rae, Rae, Dee, Dee Dee. Everyone thought we were stuttering. After the new member meeting, where they discuss history and all those sorts of things, we joined the rest of the group. I got to say hello to more than one sister I remembered from the party as well as Nancy whom I know from the CDTRIESS email forum.

The meeting was fun. We had some instruction on how to walk and stand in a more graceful manner as well as how to sit and getup from chairs, as well as the ever difficult slide in and out of the car in a miniskirt maneuver. After that, we had some silly time with a high heel shoe walking contest with all sorts of categories and prizes. If I had known, I would have brought my 5" pumps. Oh well, live and learn!


After the meeting (which ended at about 11:30 PM), a bunch of the girls were heading over to a new gay bar that is very T friendly near by. We decided to go, and if it was too smoky (it was not), we'd leave. We went back to the room to change (of course), and this time, I deciding to be a bit more daring than usual, I wore a brown wool, pleated, wrap skirt that was well above my knee, with a gold blouse, and my other straight hair wig. The bar was lots of fun, and we all sat around for a few hours snacking on things, chatting, and telling war stories of run -ins with the local constabulary while enfemme. I have never had that issue so I just enjoyed the stories as we could all laugh at them after the fact.

We ot back to the hotel at 2:00 AM. I had been up since 5:30 AM the previous day, and I was getting tired for sure, but we still had time to get silly and try on swimsuits for the pool in the morning. I had been in touch with Rae's wife (a supportive spouse) and told her I had a surprise for Rae and had bought matching bikini's at Wal-Mart, and she said she had to have a picture of us in them, so we did. I had also brought along a pile of lingerie and swimsuits that I had amassed over the last year that would fit her, and I gave them to her (Rae) as a gift.

We finally got to sleep at 3:00 AM, and, of course, I was up at 5:30 ready and rearing to hit the pool before the kids since it was officially open at 5:00. Rae had decided to not do the pool, so I put on my black one piece with floral embroidery on the bust, with a strapless bra, cincher (I have to squeeze my boy belly in somehow), forms, and the straight hair wig, and headed off to the pool. It was empty, and I was happy about that as I did not do makeup since it would just get messed up in the water. I, of course, brought my camera and trusty tri-pod to take a bunch of pictures as this was one more thing I have wanted to do for oh, so long. I spent about 30 to 45 minutes in the pool and hot tub, then went back to the room to find Rae had decided to get up, make coffee(she is so domestic), and was getting ready for the final adventure of our weekend, attending church enfemme.


I showered, shaved, and applied my makeup, trying to remember all Soto had explained the day before. Rae wore the same outfit she had for the TRI-ESS meeting, and I wore the outfit I had bought for the Garden Party which was a brown print, almost ankle length, sheer skirt with built in black slip, and a camisole type blouse with sheer blouse. It was very pretty church wear. We were ready for church by 8:30 AM and headed out.

I must say that the church I chose is a "Metropolitan Community Church" which is dedicated to the GLBT community and is very accepting of all life styles. I did email the pastor a few times first to confirm that we could attend enfemme with no problems, and he replied that it was fine. We arrived at church about 10 minutes early and were greeted very warmly by many different church attendees. We sat near the front, and once the service started, I knew I was home.

As a CDER and a life long Christian, one of my biggest dreams has been to go to church as Rae, and be able to openly worship my Lord and give him thanks for all he has done. Well, I have to say, I did not get five minutes into the service when the tears started flowing down my cheeks. In fact, each time I think back to the service and my emotions, and the sense of wholeness I felt, singing and worshiping as Rae, I would start crying. I spent the remainder of the church service weeping for joy, and knowing in a deep way that God brought me this far for a reason. It was obvious, I am sure, that something was happening to me and my life that morning. I knew I would never be the same again. Eventually, one of the parishioners brought me some tissues, and I cried even more. That simple gesture, not judging who I was or how I looked, but showing me the love of God, was more than I had ever felt in all my years of attending church. Sitting there, I reached over and held Rae's hand. Something as a guy, I would never have done unless it was part of the service, but as Rae, it seemed natural.

At the end of the service, they serve communion and Rae and I went up and we were served. I could hardly walk, the feeling of it all was so deep in my soul that my legs were week. We hugged many people that morning and met a lot of new friends.

We finally had to leave the church and head back to the hotel to check out and come "back to earth." Every time I tried to talk to Rae about church, I'd choke up and fight back the tears.

We did finally change, and I decided to go home in what I refer to as "semi-dressed," wearing fem slacks, a blouse with roses embroidered on the sleeves and neckline, flats, and fem style glasses. Everything else was boy mode.

The trip back home was filled with smiles and tears of joy and happiness, knowing that for perhaps the first time in my life, I have merged my mind, body, and soul into one. I am no longer a guy who dresses up like a girl. I am no longer a "weirdo" or a "freak." I am Ray, and I am Rae; I am one, and I am exactly the way God has created me, and I am happier now than I have ever been in my life.

Hugs and prayers