“Do you want to go out?” Miss Vera asked me on the phone.
“You mean as in outside?”
I sat there in silence, struggling with the question. I had never gone out. So I said, “I don’t think so. I just want to have the experience in your school and maybe I will go out next time.”
“Okay,” Miss Vera said, adding something very gentle about me maybe changing my mind.
I struggled sleeping the night before my day. I did not feel fear, or shame, but pure excitement. Somehow, this had all just opened up in me, and I found myself ready for the experience. Some part of me felt that I was about to get some answers for questions that had bothered me my whole life, especially the one that goes like this: what the hell am I?
Arriving at Miss Vera’s building, the doorman greeted me, and I told him I was there to see Veronica Vera. He sent me up, and as I got on the elevator the mirrors were all draped with thick clothes, which I found odd, but when I got off on her floor there were mirrors, and I saw myself looking bright and excited in my boy form. The hall was dark and brown and tan, but as soon as Miss Vera let me into her school I found myself in a world of pinks with opera music playing lightly in the background, Miss Vera greeting me with a smile, calling me by my femme name, Taylor.
Miss Vera has a calm and accepting spiritual essence that invites trust, and once we performed the commitment ceremony, I immediately got en femme, with gaff, bra, panties and a breast forms, plus a dressing gown and slippers. I walked out nervously to the room where Miss Vera and her deans, Miss Bridie, dean of cosmetology, and Miss Veronica, Dean of High Heels waited.
This was probably the most nervous I felt the whole day, as I felt chubby and old– and hairy. But the women were all super nice and supportive, and they got me right into the make-up chair where Dean Bridie went to work, explaining some of the techniques she used as she went along, while Miss Veronica worked on my nails. I got a few glimpses of myself as we went along, watching nervously as we progressed thinking, I hope I don’t look ugly!
Okay. There. I did have some fear before heading in, but not the fear I had lived with my whole life of doing what I was about to do, but the fear that I would look terrible. Once she was finished– and it took a while– I got a good look at myself, and I was– surprised and relieved.
“You did an amazing job!” I said to Miss Bridie. “I can’t even believe it.” The ladies all complimented me, and I admitted my big fear about looking terrible, to which I heard a response which would be common throughout the day. “A lot of the girls who come here feel that way.”
One thing I learned from this experience: I am not alone in my feelings and interests and fears when it comes to gender.
The make-up was awesome, and then came the wigs. First they put me in a wig I brought, and then the girls started to pick out different wigs, and I got to see myself with different looks and hair colors and styles. It was a lot of fun– the whole day was fun– and we talked about who I looked like and what types– country singer! Miss Bridie would call out, and then the next wig, “Suburban Housewife” and then the next, “someone sophisticated, a politician running for office.” Each time we took pictures and I got up and looked at myself from different angles, and we talked about the personas and I enjoyed seeing and imagining different aspects of myself.
I ended up sticking with a dark brunette-red wig, in part because they all seemed to love it, but also because something about the look resonated with me.
Then came dresses and posing, and training in heels. Miss Veronica called me Miss Taylor the whole time, and proved herself a nurturing, patient and skilled teacher. We worked on posture and the walk, arm swinging, turning and sitting– and both she and Miss Vera gushed with praise for how quickly I picked it up and how well I walked. “Have you been practicing?” Miss Vera asked.
I had walked around for only a brief time in heels at my place because I was worried I would practice wrong, so it seemed I was a natural, but my insecurities ate at me and I finally asked, “Do you say this to everyone?”
They assured me their praise was sincere, and I am sure it was, just as I feel all their praise was sincere. Why? Because one of the things Miss Vera mentioned to me when I told her I felt fat was that we should all work on accepting ourselves as we are, which I believe she truly believes, and therefore she can of course see any person as their beautiful self because she is not judging them against any external ideal. I had worked for years to accept myself, and I just now realized hearing her repeat the phrase that I had a long way to go in terms of accepting my female self.
Finally, after some changes and photo shoots and an adventure where one of the hooks on my corset got stuck and I had to lay on the couch while Miss Veronica knelt on me and tried to pry it open, Miss Vera asked if maybe I wanted to go out.
“Yes,” I said, because it felt right, and I knew if I didn’t I would regret it. And so Miss Veronica, Miss Vera, and Miss Taylor walked out into a gorgeous summer evening in New York City, and we went to a little bakery and shared a piece of amazing chocolate cake, and chatted and then we walked back, and I took several selfies because I was so sad to wash off that face!
After the bra and breast forms, the panties and the dressing down, the make-up and the wigs, the high heel and voice training, after all that, what one word best captures the emotional essence of the experience I had at Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls?
I think that word captures the experience best. I went to Miss Vera’s with a certain sense that the experience might answer a lot of questions for me. It did, but not in the way I expected. My first visit to Miss Vera’s was not the end of a journey as I thought it might be, but the beginning because while Miss Vera and her amazing deans did clarify some things for me, they also just got me ready to put one heel in front of the other and strut on out the door to keep growing and learning and becoming.
Thanks to Miss Vera, Miss Bridie, Miss Veronica and Miss Judy! You are all amazing! Total love and thanks!