Going Outside

When I stand up, this dress makes me look pregnant! Seriously.

Over the past month and a half, I have had a few more opportunities to go out en femme. After an unusually cold spring, the weather has finally warmed up a lot in Toronto, and that meant all my summer clothes now have a chance to see the light of day. For example, this nice dress on the right was purchased online from Beyond the Rack. It’s comfortable (albeit the fabric was a bit flimsy), flirty (not that I am flirting with anyone), and I feel young wearing it. But the most surprising part is that—as one online friend pointed out—the dress makes me look pregnant! Of course, I as a transwoman I can’t possibly be pregnant, unless I have been utterly unaware of advancements in the state-of-the-art in medical science. But anything less than implanting an uterus inside of me, Kate will never be pregnant. The reason that it made me look pregnant is becaue the dress is a bit tighter just below the bust, and just below the bust is, well, my gut. I felt somewhat self-conscious with this “preggo look”, and hoped that no one approached me with questions about my “due date.”

Another dress that I bought from Beyond the Rack on the same purchase made me look even younger. So young I am not even sure if I should wear it in public. After all, I am not a teenage girl anymore. Alas, come to think of it, I had never been a teenage girl. Anyway, I only wore it to walk to the nearby Winners clothing store so I could try out some more age-appropriate attire for myself. Of course, like 99.9% of the time I try out clothes, I didn’t buy anything. The joy of seeing myself in neat clothes is often enough. (That, and having a picture of me in those clothes.)

Just two weeks ago, I spent five days in Vancouver. The purpose of the trip was (unfortunately) not for a vacation. I was clearing a lot of stuff from my family home in preparation to renting out the entire house. For 4½ days straight, I was practically left alone in the house (no one in my family was in Vancouver at the time) cleaning up. In between everything I did get some time to let the inner-girl out, and I went out to a few places around town to take some pictures. As you can see, some of them turned out quite nicely!

One of the highlights (if you can call it that) was when I took a bunch of obsolete 25-year-old electronic equipment to the other side of town for recycling (en femme of course; otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it on this blog). It took me 20 minutes to load my old 25″ CRT TV from my living room into the trunk of my rental, but once I got there, the man who worked there—he did not appear to be particularly strong or masculine—just lifted that hunk of junk from my car with almost no effort. Holy molly. May be he saw that I was a woman and wanted to impress me. Either way, I was indeed very impressed by his abilities. During this trip, I also found out where you can donate old books and where to recycle large amounts of paper products; it’s the same recycling depot as the electronics! But most importantly, I got a closer look at the ever-expanding system of bike lanes in the city. As some of you already know, I am quite an avid cyclist. The next time I am in town, I hope to bring my road bike over, and do some riding everywhere…

Oh, before I close, there is this one picture that I just absolutely have to show:

This picture is done by stitching 5 photos together. I took the first one with my camera mounted on a tripod, and with a timer and a remote control. Actually, I took a few different pictures. After that, I ran back to my camera (still on the tripod), set the exposure and auto-focus to manual, then rotated the camera left and right to get the rest of the picture. When I got home, I used “Hugin” (a free software for Linux) to stitch them into a panorama. The only imperfection is that in the few minutes that has lapsed after I took the picture with myself in it, the lighting condition changed on the beach, so there is a strip of odd coloured sand around me. I haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet. Otherwise, I am quite happy with how this turned out. To be honest, even on a cloudy day like this, the beach is just absolutely beautiful; the photo really doesn’t do it justice. Also, what you don’t see in the picture is the crisp scent of the ocean and clean air.

If you want to see this properly, maximize the browser window, and then click on the photo. It’ll bring you to my online gallery. Once there, click on it again.

Back from Vancouver!

I just came back from my trip to Vancouver last weekend. There were a number of things that I needed to take care of while I was there, the most important being that I was attending a friend’s wedding. We have been friends for more than 14 years, since she was 15 and I was 16. It was nice to see that she finally found someone to share her life with, and I was very happy for her. The wedding went without a hitch: the ceremony was moving, and the food was fantastic! (Italians sure know how to throw a party!) In case you’re wondering, I did not attend as Kate, even though the bride is one of very few people in my life who knows about her.

I also rented out the basement suite of my family home to new tenants. The nice things about renting it out are the additional income from the rent, and the ability to write off expenses (taxes, hydro, gas, cable, Internet, repairs) that I have to pay anyway. The new tenants are both young men from Toronto.

Ballgown
My new blue-green ball gown.  What this picture doesn’t show is that the dress has no back.

Then I was also supposed to have dinner last Friday night with my newly-out-of-the-closet gay friend named Paul. As it turns out, Paul wasn’t available on Friday night, but he was free all day, so he offered to accompany me to wherever I had to go, so that we had more time to chat. Well, my plan was run errands around the city, and take pictures of myself when I had free time. Being interested in photography himself, Paul went along happily. He took most of the photographs, although most of them didn’t quite work out (interest doesn’t mean skills), a few did turn out nicely after some editing. We went out again on Sunday morning for another “photo shoot”, and had even better pictures taken.  Paul was very smart, and he learned a lot about photography (and how to operate a DSLR camera) in a very short time.  There is a lot more to say about my get-together with Paul, but I’ll leave that for a future post.

Purple Sweater
My favourite outfit, even though it’s not the least bit sexy.  But I think it is nevertheless feminine.

Perhaps the most unexpected turn of event in Vancouver was me telling two married friends that I was transgender. I had not planned for this, but after spending a day with Paul, and then a long discussion with my godparents on “how Christians should confront the troubles in our own lives”, I blurted out that I had been struggling with not being able to be the woman that I always wanted to be. My friends came from very conservative fundamentalist Christian families, so they were naturally quite shocked and uncomfortable at first.  But after talking with them over dinner for another hour, and answering (at least acknowledging) many of their concerns, their lights were switched on, and they (quite instantly) became very supportive of me. The night before returning to Toronto, they called me up and asked if Kate could join them for dinner. I reluctantly agreed. I hadn’t expected them to be so…enthusiastic, but I was also glad that there are two more very thoughtful people in this world to be my sounding board.  Anyway, for dinner, I wore my favourite outfit that has appeared in many of my pictures before.

Yup. My favourite purple sweater and my favourite brown pants. I wanted to reaffirm to them that while being transgender, I am still a modest woman. I arrived at the restaurant first, and when my friends arrived, they looked around the entire restaurant for a few minutes before realizing that I was right in front of them. The wife said—and this made my day, “I never thought you would grow up to be such a beautiful woman…you look so much more confident this way.” We had a lovely chat and I went home, and back to Toronto, feeling much more confident about myself.

Meeting With a Gay Friend This Week

I am going to Vancouver later this week to attend a friend’s wedding.  While I am there, I will also meet up with another high-school friend whom I have not seen for over a decade.  He had just recently (i.e. last month) announced to me that he is gay.  And over the last few days we have been e-mailing each other back and forth to catch up on the going-ons in life.  But e-mail never beats meeting face to face, so I will be having dinner with him on Friday night, at a restaurant on Davie Street in downtown Vancouver.

And I will be going as Kate.

Yup. I told him about me being transgender too.  It didn’t seem fair that he spills his deepest struggles with me, and then pretend that everything is perfect in mine.  So wish us luck; it’s going to be an interesting evening.

Wandering Mind

A picture of a woman that I don’t know making love to a man that I don’t know. I download this picture somewhere on the Internet.

Travelling by myself is lonely.  I feel that loneliness every time a go to a conference, or even when I travel alone to friends’ weddings. As I have pretty much expected, this trip to Hawaii was no exception. Aside from the first night in Honolulu, when I was just completely exhausted from all the travelling, every night was a lonely night.

And so, on the second night—after the first full day of the conference, and after giving my own presentation earlier in the day—as I prepared myself to go to bed alone, I occurred to me about how depressing it was that I couldn’t share the excitements of the day with those closest to me. It was very lonely indeed. May be there was something on TV at that time, or may be I was already thinking about something, but my subconscious mind began wandering, and started a little fantasy all on its own. This fantasy of mine was quite simple, actually. Without going into any details, it went like this:

I imagine myself to be a young, beautiful, sexy woman, alone (and lonely) in a hotel room. No longer as a trans woman, I fantasize that I have always been a girl. And I wanted someone in bed with me. So, I imagine myself naked with a tall, handsome, athletic and powerful man. This imaginary man could be my husband, or a boyfriend, or even just a casual lover. He caresses every inch of my body, while kissing my lips, my neck and my shoulder and tummy, and gently teases my breasts with his fingers. And then he pins me down in bed, and I spread my legs open and wrap them around his waist. And we begin making love. From that, I imagine myself fucking wildly with him…

As these thoughts went along, my imagination became more vivid, more explicit and more detailed. I have, of course, left out most of those explicit details. Afterall, this isn’t a pornographic blog! Anyway, I was on the verge of an orgasm when suddenly I realize how completely absurd this is. Here I am, a trans-woman, thinking of myself as another woman that I am not, having an imaginary intercourse with a man that I don’t know, doing things that are physically impossible. Nevermind that there isn’t a single man on earth that I’d actually want to have sex with. It was alarming that all this started merely because I wasn’t patient enough to wait a few hours before calling my wife in Toronto, and all this crazy stuff in my mind snowballed all in a matter of minutes.

I went to the bathroom, and took a cold shower.

I guess this is why the Gideons put Bibles in hotel rooms. I reckon these crazy fantasies happen to more people than just me. Anyway, I was able to pull myself out of thinking about these…things, and it really didn’t take me long to fall asleep. I called home to share the good news of my successful presentation; the time difference made it impossible for me to be asleep after 5am.

Mahalo for the Memories

I am now safely back in the comforts of my own home in Toronto, although I don’t believe my home can ever be as “comfortable” as my super-luxurious room at the Sheraton Waikiki (albeit the decor was a bit dated).  But while coming home means coming back to all my responsibilities here, it’s good to be back to my routine.  So Home sweet home indeed.  It was a successful trip afterall.  I gave a great ½-hour talk, and it was very well attended by some of the most famous researchers in my area.  I even made an all-day appearance as Kate at the conference, quite inconspicuously too.

Anyway, my day spent as “Kaitlyn Young from the University of British Columbia” at the conference was more exhausting than I anticipated. Luckily, there were no relevant talks in the morning on the following day, and I spent some time relaxing on the beach…as Kate of course.  It also gave me some time to have my pictures taken.  That morning, I got up and and went to Waikiki Beach, and spent the morning watching the waves rolling in, and of course, the gorgeously athletic guys and gals surfing on the waves.  The nice thing about going there in the morning is that the bulk of the crowd has yet to arrive, and it is actually possible to have some quiet time.

Not that I did…

A man came up to me not long after I sat down, and started chatting up with me.  This used to happen more often when I was younger, but now that I am a married (trans-)woman, I have been quite shy about letting people flirt with me.  Anyway, he clearly knew that I was transgender—he started the conversation by saying, “you must be the most gorgeous trans lady I have seen all morning!”—but we managed to have a reasonably good chat.  He offered to take some pictures for me with my camera, and while most of them turned out poorly—I was always out of focus—a few did turn out well. Continue reading “Mahalo for the Memories”

With Love From Hawai’i. Aloha!

Exactly 2 months after going to the research conference in Montréal, here I am again, on the road, presenting another paper of the same research topic, this time in the very pretty city of Honolulu.  Of course, like all the conference I go to, Kate comes along too.  During the Montréal conference, I had this crazy idea of showing up to the seminars as Kate.  At the end, I didn’t go through with it, because there were only ~100 conference attendees, and any woman showing up would have drawn too much attention.  (It is an engineering conference, afterall.)  The Hawaii conference, on the other hand, has more than 1200 attendees.  Suddenly, the idea seems much more do-able, and last night, I decided to give it a try.

And it was much easier than I thought.

As I have said before, modifying my name tag to have the name “Kaitlyn Young” is trivial.  It only took me a few minutes at the hotel’s business centre.  I purposely changed the name of my affiliation to my alma mater, just for the fun of it.  So since 8 o’clock this morning, I had been hopping from one half-hour talk to another; the last one just finished a few hours ago.  I didn’t have any problems getting up early this morning to make myself presentable either: Hawaii is 6 hours behind Toronto, and of course I haven’t adjusted to the new time zone yet, so waking at 5am is like waking up at 11am in Toronto…

My modified badge.

Speaking of the conference, it is much better than in Montréal: the talks are better, the research done is of higher quality, and all the well-known names in my area of research all came.  In Montréal, a few small companies presented their “technical papers” that are really glorified advertisements of their products, and that was annoying.  No such thing at this big-bad-American conference; the technical committee had done a great job filtering all those things out.  As for my own presentation on Monday (given in boy mode, of course), I had some technical difficulties with my laptop: my VGA port for the computer would reset after every slide.  At the end though, I stayed calm and everything worked out. I think I’d give myself an A- for the research work, B- for the presentation.

For now, I haven’t had any pictures of myself taken yet, as I have spent the whole day learning, and there is a lot to digest.  I’ll be working late into the night reviewing the papers that were presented today.  If I get around to take some pictures though, I’ll post them on my blog, eventually.

Montréal: Day 4.5

Whispers
Sitting by the sculpture Les chuchoteuses (“Whispers”) by Rose-Aimée Belanger at the intersection of Rue Saint Paul and Rue Saint Dizier.

So the conference is over…and not a minute too soon. In fact, the last keynote lecture ended a full 30 minutes behind schedule. It seemed to be the theme of the whole conference that most people aren’t very keen on keeping track of time properly. Nevertheless, I’m glad that it’s all over now, and that I’m back safely in Toronto.

Kate Ruins
Picture taken at the remnants of the old Montreal General Hospital on Rue Saint Pierre.

Finally a bit of good news too: as the conference ended, the sky also cleared, which gave me a chance to change into some nice (i.e. more feminine!) clothes and roam around Vieux Montréal (that’s “Old Montreal” for those who do not speak French).  Vieux Montréal is, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of town, and I always enjoy walking along the quay.  I also had pictures of myself taken while I was there too.  Since I have never been to Montréal en femme before, I thought I’d keep it low key, and go around town with my purple sweater that I’ve worn so many times before.  I managed to get a few nice pictures taken, but in the afternoon, the temperature got up to a balmy 23°C, and after awhile, the sweater was too warm.  I made it back to my car at the hotel, and got a nice flower dress out of my suitcase instead.

Continue reading “Montréal: Day 4.5”

Montréal: Day 4

Yesterday all thoughts of being a girl had to be put aside. I had to give a presentation (obviously not giving the presentation as a girl) of my work. It went quite well, although my session was in the biggest room and the microphone I had to used made me nervous. I was also in discussion with some people from a few companies who are hiring. I spent the evening watching one hockey game (Montréal vs. Boston) with my colleagues, and then another game (Vancouver vs. Chicago) with another group of potential colleagues, and there was no time to be a girl.  By the way, Vancouver won, but Montréal lost.

Which brings me to this morning. I had planned to go out for a morning jog around town–I even had my tank top and sports bra and running pants ready, but as it turned out, it was still pouring rain all morning. So the plan was scrapped, and I still haven’t had the chance to walk outside. Fortunately, the weather forecast for the afternoon is much more favourable… Continue reading “Montréal: Day 4”

Montréal: Day 2

The elevator lobby of the 26th floor of the hotel.
From the 26th floor of L’hôtel Delta centre-ville in downtown Montreal. This blue dress is actually very very comfortable, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites!
From the convention level of L’Hotel Delta centre-ville.

My second day in Montréal (the first full day really) is also the first day of the conference. I’m glad that I haven’t tried to attend the conference en femme, and to alter my name tag, because out of the more than 200 conference attendees, there were no more than 15 women. Everyone would have noticed if one more woman showed up, especially if “she looks a lot like that guy from that university, and how come they’re never seen them together? Oh.” So I dispensed with the whole notion of boy-mode trading place with Kate at the conference, and was happy with just stay being a boy until my free time in the evening. The talks at the conference on the first day had very little to do with my own research and interests, so it was rather boring being there.

Just before I left Toronto, I stopped by the post office to pick up a package: two dresses I bought from eBay. So amidst the heavy rain in Montreal in the evening–no chance to go outside, I tried on the dresses in the comfort of my hotel room. The dresses were of the party/prom/formal/bridesmaid variety by Alfred Sung, and they’re really beautiful. It’s also nice to know that I can wear them without alterations. I got some pictures taken, and also roamed around the hotel with them, taking more pictures. Again, when I have some time to edit the pictures, I’ll post them here. After spending some time editing them, here they are!

In Montréal

I’m in Montréal right now. Today is the first day of a conference that I am attending.  As I was getting ready for this trip, I realized that Katie has never been to Montréal before! Okay, so I have been to Montréal many times, just not as Katie. It’s time to take her there!

I had been stopped on Highway 401 for 15 minutes before I took this picture.

The original plan was for me to drive to Montréal mid-afternoon, and stopping occasionally to shop for clothes and shoes, and to take pictures along the route. Reality, on the other hand, deviated far from the plan. First, there was the rain…lots and lots of it too, which made stopping for pictures nearly impossible. Then there was the heavy traffic, first from Pickering to Oshawa, then through Brockville, which made shopping shops also impossible—I didn’t want to arrive in Montréal too late.

The water tower in Iroquois, Ontario, near the border with the province of Quebec.

I did (or at least my car did) finally managed to outrun the rain when I passed through the township of Iroquois, Ontario, at which point I was able to have my pictures taken. By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was very late already, and I went to Schwartz’s for their famed smoked meat sandwich and promptly went to bed.  All in all, it took me a very long 7 1/2 hours to drive to Montréal. (I’ve never had to spend more than 5 hours before…)

Beautiful sunset east of Iroquois, ON

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can sneak into one of the sessions as a smartly dressed woman attending the conference.  Daring, I know, and manipulating my credentials to say “Kaitlyn Young” isn’t even remotely difficult…but this is probably too weird even for me to do.  Today I will definitely try my best to go stroll around town, and if the weather stays dry, have pictures taken.  Of the pictures that I have taken along the way, I’ll post them after doing some minor edits. some of them are now posted with this post and on my Web Gallery and Flickr after some major digital editing…