An Epiphany

I experienced probably the most important epiphany in my life a few nights back. I’d spent all day running around on a hot, 90+ degree day, running errands, and checking in on a couple of sick friends. When I got home, it was late; I was beat, tired, and hurting.

There is a full-length mirror in my living room, and as I happened to notice myself in the mirror, I saw an old lady in a short leather skirt, a top that had gotten stained, whose hair was an absolute mess, and was obviously tired because she was slumped over instead of in her usual straight, shoulders back posture.

I smiled and then became happy and elated. I could have been the poster girl for swamp witch of the Month. It didn’t matter, because what I saw in the mirror and felt inside was that of a tired old lady, not a poorly dressed, crossdressing dude. I know who and what I am. I am thrilled and secure in my belief in myself. It was the first time in 70 years I’ve ever looked at myself in a mirror and liked of what I saw. The fact that I have a mirror in my house for the first time (ignoring the one that is always in the bathroom) says a lot about my mindset just by its presence.

En Femme Style

It has taken me literally decades to get here. I’ve known that I differed from all the other little boys as far back as 1st grade, which was 1959. Thirty-plus years of confusion, along with failed relationships, and another four in therapy, plus four more just doing research on my own has convinced me I didn’t belong in a male body.

I’ve been a gamer most of my life and always prefer to play a female character when I have the choice, which should have told me something had I been paying more attention. I eventually came out to myself and started buying women’s clothes and wearing them at home. After almost a decade, I started getting brave enough to wear women’s jeans and the occasional V-neck “girly” colored t-shirts in public. I spent 45 years in Colorado and moved to Indiana two years ago, coming out completely when I got there.

It’s scary sometimes without the support I would have had from my friends back in Boulder but having served as a vet and been a firefighter for 20 years, I’m used to dealing with scary. It’s being alone that is tough. I am so thankful for groups like ours where I can feel safe.

While I know I still have a long way to go, the simple fact is that I could look at myself in the mirror and love who I saw for the first time ever. It still elates me after all this time!

En Femme Style


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    1. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
      Stacia Ranville 4 weeks ago

      At 74 I came out to my wife about a year ago and I am now in a period of arrested transition, hoping to save our 55 year marriage. No dressing, no make up, etc. I do wear lipstick and a little jewelry to my therapists office. But the inner transition continues apace; I look in the mirror at my improving complexion and longer hair, compose myself and see myself as who and what I am. My therapist, a man of very long experience with people like us assures me that once I was out, the psychological and spiritual process will go on, with only grief and pain resulting from trying to arrest it. When the day comes that it is no longer perceived as a threat to our relationship, I am hoping that Girl’s nights out, game nights, special dinners and breakfasts will be the new motif. It is better to travel hopefully, which I can and am doing.

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        Elli Snow 4 weeks ago

        Hi Stacia. Congratulations on taking your first steps. I hope you can work things out with your wife and she can accept the changes, and if not that you can still be close friends. The longest relationship I was ever in, my marriage, lasted a little over 3 years and I honestly cannot comprehend being with the same person for 55 years. I very much admire it, but I will never understand it.

        I agree with your therapist. Not only will the growth continue once you are fully out, but it will accelerate because of both the joy you will have and the peace that comes from not having to hide anything. I am curious if you have started HRT yet, since you mention seeing changes in the mirror. If not, expect a lot more changes, but understand it’s a slow process. Mostly very pleasant as far as the body changes. I don’t notice most of them, and since I avoided cameras like the plague for most of my life I don’t have anything to compare against, but several of my friends have mentioned noticing changes in my face, and I have noticed what little belly fat I had has relocated to my butt, something I really love. My father told me over half a century ago to always expect the worse and hope for the best and you’ll never be disappointed and will often be pleasantly surprised, so yes, I am always hopeful. Since I started this journey in public I have often been surprised about the support I’ve gotten. I’ve been in this area about 2 years, and still don’t have any girlfriends for nights out or gaming, and I would dearly love to find some that like to dance as much as I do. However, I am in the heart of Pence country and I won’t be going dancing until I can find some women to join me. Not interested in going out solo here in MAGA country.

        I agree, it’s always better to travel with hope. I would also add to always believe in yourself. Self doubt will cause you more harm than anything negative someone else could ever say.

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      Stephanie Y 1 month ago

      Nice post! I relate totally. I wish we met (maybe we did) in Boulder. I was there ’85 to ’90. Currently I am reading your post at a bar in small-town Central MN by myself … which is common. There are the days I go home and pass a mirror and say to myself…”Jesus what were you thinking going out looking like that?” Then I shrug my shoulders knowing no one pointed me out or said anything (that I heard) and the staff treated me very respectfully.
      Therefore….a success!
      I am like many of us where as soon as I speak, my voice gives me away but I try anyway. I know I am ” clocked” but most places don’t make a fuss. Many times I wish to be more feminine but I was dealt the cards I have so I must play them to my best of my ability.

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        Elli Snow 1 month ago

        I moved to Boulder in 1977. spent one winter in Grandby when I worked at Winter Park, and a couple years in Nederland and Longmont before I ended up in Jamestown in 1997, but all the rest was in Boulder. I mostly worked at hi-tech startups during the ’80s, so if you ever hung out at one of the microbrew bars in the nerdy section of town, it’s very likely we may have crossed paths.

        Regarding your voice issues, I recently talked to a trans female voice coach who told me that how you phrase things and how and where you form certain sounds in your mouth and throat are more important than pitch. Even though she had a definate baritone voice like me, there was a difference in her voice that I noticed. I’ve been and off and on a performing musician and singer since I was 14, and I’ve learned some of this from learning to make foreign language vocal sounds that aren’t made in the English speaking world. I have an appointment coming up with the Indiana University Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences to discuss vocal training, and I will be asking about this.

        One thing that can help is expand your vocabulary. Women use about 4000 different words a day, men less than 2000. I’ve done crosswork puzzles all my life, and if you do it old school with a dictionary, a thesaurus and an atlas instead of using a computer, you’ll pick up a lot of new words, different ways to say the same thing as well as picking up some tidbits of history and geography.

        My philosophy for years has been expect the worse and hope for the best. I’m pleased when someone is polite and or empathetic enough to not misgender me but I’m indirrent to the rest. Someone’s negative opinion of me is my reality about who I am.

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          Stephanie Y 3 weeks ago

          Strangely similar backgrounds!!
          I lived near Boulder Brewery but did not really care for their flavors. I had a friend in Longmont and we would drive up to Nederland every now and then just to go to the Assays Office bar and have a couple Paulaner dark lagers and maybe catch a decent musician.
          I worked at a high tech computer company until I found a job at NIST. I was there for most of my 5 years in Boulder.
          Prior to that, I was at CU. Within my study groups, I ended up being the proofreader/editor for everyone’s papers. So my vocabulary range is ok but I could always get better.
          Before all that, I was a firefighter (Hotshot) out of Wyoming for a couple years.
          Like I stated….eerily similar backgrounds.

          • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' /> Author
            Elli Snow 2 weeks ago

            Again, lots of interesting similarities in backgrounds. I was never a fan of the Boulder Brewery products. I liked Lefthand a lot more and I knew 4 or 5 of their first employees. My go-to beer when I can find it is O’Dells 90 Schilling Ale. A bunch of us had a brewer’s guild in Jamestown for about 10 years and we took home 4 medals one year in an international taste testing, one gold, two silver and a bronze. The master brewer in the guild was also Lefthand’s first brewmaster. Did you ever meet a guy named Mark Mihalic when you were at NIST? Interesting fellow. Spent most of his time at the Solar Energy research facility in Golden, and did 2 tours at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. I have great respect for anyone that was on a hotshot crew. Over the years I worked with a few on fires in Boulder county, and I learned something new every time. You folks did things that were way beyond my abilities.

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      Rebecca Lay 1 month ago

      Oh my goodness. I felt like I was reading my own story. I especially get the mirror issue. I have hated looking in mirrors for so long. The person I would see was not me. Now, though, when I am in makeup and my favorite outfit, I see whom I have always thought myself to be when I look in the mirror. Thanks for sharing your story.

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        Elli Snow 1 month ago

        I used to need to have on a frilly dress or skirt and top to be acceptable to myself, but I still had issues. After lots of time and work on accepting myself, it doesn’t matter any more if I’m in work jeans and shirt and I’ve spent the day cutting weeks or raking up yesterday’s cutting. I can finally look at myself after hours of work in the hot sun, hair a mess and covered in dirt or grass from whacking weeds, and 100% love myself for who and what I am. Full acceptance of myself wasn’t something I expected this early, but I certainly do love it.

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      Toni Floria 1 month ago

      Thank you for the wise words sometimes I question why I’m on this road. But I didn’t choose it. It chose me

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      Toni Floria 1 month ago

      Thank you for the wise words sometimes I question why am I on this road but I didn’t choose it it chose me

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      Charlene K 1 month ago

      Elli, I love your personal story, because I can so relate. At this point in my life (68) I still cannot present en femme regularly because of life obligations I entered into long ago; long before I understood myself as I do today. I will not violate those vows nor take away from so many the man that need me to be for them. So I silently endure the inner pain.
      Yet, in the midst of that, which no doubt many of us are so familiar with, I had my own epiphany one day in front of a mirror. I was wearing but my favorite lipstick, looking in the mirror to get it just right. I smiled and suddenly was flooded with the deep realization that looking back at me was not a man wearing lipstick, but rather a masculine looking woman attempting to express her own sense of being the best she could with what she was dealt.
      Surely, no one else could see this truth based on the outward show, but I, at that moment was flooded with the deep understanding that all my inclinations toward the feminine is because I am a woman just wanting to be.
      And as such the reality is that glamorous, sexy, sensual, exquisitely beautiful, superbly made up, whatever is not the 24/7 experience of the cis-woman. The oft frazzled, “a bit worse for the wear” look, the *plain jane” personna is where the average “woman-next-door” more often then not finds herself. To be found such is not a bad place to be, but rather a privilege. Privileged because as just an “average woman” one has all the foundation necessary with a bit of effort and skill to be as glamorous as she wants to be.
      Thank you for reminding us of the wonderful privilege our own unique womanhood affords us. True beauty is not glamorous; true beauty is being ourselves authentically as the women we know ourselves to be.

      • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' /> Author
        Elli Snow 1 month ago

        Good morning Charlene and thank you. I agree, it seems we had very similar triggers that finally cemented into place that we are indeed women, in spite of what I consider to be a genetic coding error. Yes, it is such a wonderful feeling when you finally accept that you are living as who you were meant to be. I never aspired to be a runway model or celebrity, and I know that there is no way I could ever completely pass. I sing bass in barbershop quartets and do-wop groups, and my shoulders are about 2 inches wider than the average male’s at age 70 and 3 to 4 inches wider than the average 70 year old woman and I know that neither will be possible to change successfully in my lifetime. The only benefit of being morbidly obese is it’s easier to get nice clothing sets, but about 6 years ago I started losing weight and went from 225 to 135 today. I’m very happy to have lost the weight but while I still wear size 16 tops and dresses, I wear a size 10 bottom. (9 actually, because junior’s pants aren’t cut as curvy as women’s pants) But to be able to look at myself and feel elated in spite of the fact that I looked horrible and unkept gave me a feeling of elation and satisfaction that is still with me a week later.

        I cannot imagine the pain you must deal with by not being able to live as the person you want to be. Myself, I would probably be dead. Unfortunately, I also cannot understand what would prevent you from continuing to care for people that rely on you, nor can I understand how transitioning could cause you to break an oath. In my mind you’d still be the same person.

        I do agree that true beauty comes from what’s inside, not the outward apearance you present. To me, true beauty is how you present yourself, do you stand tall and proud, or are you slumped over like you’ve let life defeat you, how honest you are with yourself as well as the outside world, and do you have the empathy to care for not only yourself but people you’ll never meet. You can’t get these things from a Dior gown and Tiffany earrings.

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      Toni Floria 1 month ago

      Love your story I’m trying to get where you’re at

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        Elli Snow 1 month ago

        Thank you. Believe in yourself and never let anyone else’s opinion of you alter your belief. You know who you are better than any one else ever could.

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      Kim Dahlenbergen 1 month ago

      Interesting perspective. There is something oddly satisfying about seeing oneself as a woman, albeit an older woman. I’m so glad that you have reached this point.

      I had seen glimpses of the woman in me over the years. Early one, I was frightened by her…not because she was hideous, but because I was afraid that if I embraced the young woman in the mirror, I might not be able to let her go. I was afraid of becoming the woman I felt lurking inside me.

      Now, all these decades later when I see the (much) more mature woman in the mirror, I feel that sense of satisfaction in knowing I am becoming the woman I had feared for so long.

      • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' /> Author
        Elli Snow 1 month ago

        It was a lot more than just seeing myself, it was being happy no matter how I look. I know and now accept the fact that I will never really pass. It doesn’t matter that my normal voice is a low baritone to high bass, and no amount of vocal training will ever change that. It doesn’t matter that my should width is 3 to 4 inches wider than the average woman my age. It doesn’t matter that if I had started this journey 40 years ago I would still have a head of hair that rivaled Farrah Fawcett’s in her iconic poster while I now only have about half a head of hair because of male pattern balding. What matters is that I am finally happy with what and where I am. I still have a lot to learn. I couldn’t do makeup if my life depended on it. Doesn’t matter because I will eventually learn, and makeup is just gilding a lilly.

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