This last weekend March 9th and 10th I spent two days in what can only be described as a life affirming experience. I went to the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. It all came about in a very sudden manner. I was unaware of what this conference actually is and unaware of its existence. My good friend Julie put me in touch with another girl Jess who has become a dear friend of mine. We made the arrangements for me to stay and the rest is as they say history.
I had no expectations walking in other than I wanted to look fab at all times. I spent the weeks leading into this event shopping for the perfect outfits to make a debut. After finding the most magnificent silver body hugging dress at Macy’s I was ready to go. What I knew of Keystone beforehand. Every girl there dresses to the nines at almost all times. There are informational seminars and speeches. Such as finding a surgeon for affirmation or various other procedures. Help with makeup and voice. How to walk, how to talk. Basically covering all the bases a fledgling fresh out of the closet trans girl would need to help ease her transition a bit.
After work on Thursday evening I was all packed and ready to go. I was able to sleep about 3 hours. Upon waking I discovered the roads were a nightmarish mix of ice and snow. The perfect conditions for a five hour drive at 2 am. Pushing on through immense fatigue and hours of white out conditions I made it to the Sheraton hotel. In the parking lot I was filled with a mix of elation and terror. I realized I really had no clue what I was walking into. Covered in road grit I made my way into the hotel. I wanted to slip away to the room unseen in this condition. Running into my dear friend Janelle in the elevator really eased my tension down quite a bit.
I was greeted at the door by my friend Julie whom I had never met before and being trans on facebook is a gamble as it is. I was finally able to catch my breath so to speak. I was exhausted and full of apprehension. Despite being out for months now. Despite having all of my identification changed over. Despite living this every single day at home and at work there was something missing inside of me. Something that still gave me that awkwardness. I now understand fully how I triggered all the clocking. I wear my unease on my face. In my stiffness. My lack of comfort shows. It’s not that I don’t believe in myself or what I’m doing I just allow all this self doubt to dominate and cause that very unease. I allow my perceptions of how I think I’m viewed to get under my skin.
Julie knew just how to calm me down. She was just perfectly poised and her vibe allowed me to take that much needed breath of air. It’s going to be ok. You live by the mantra just get through the door and breathe. Well you’re through the door girly so start breathing. Julie helped ease me into things by taking me around to meet other girls and get my makeover which helped exponentially. Somewhere in my first few hours the Keystone effect happened. I dropped my guardedness and allowed myself to enjoy everything going on around me.
Keystone is a hive of activity. It's alive and pulsing with beautiful souls expressing themselves in a way that many do not get to do anywhere else. I learned so much about the differences in how so many of us live. I also became aware of a social hierarchy as well. Because of course there is a social hierarchy. One thing that really struck me is the amount of crossdressers there. The community I am in here in Erie is small. All the girls I know are some variant of Trans. I don’t know any crossdressers. I spend a good amount of time on facebook and there is a rift with some trans girls towards crossdressers. I wasn't really sure how this was going to go. All my fears were assuaged quickly. There is no division that I picked up on. Trans and crossdressers coexist in harmony there. I did not encounter one negative interaction in two days. No yelling or drama. No fighting. No backstabbing or shit talking.
My roommate arrived and Jess is one of these girls that are larger than life. She has a personality that radiates like the sun itself. There was not a dull moment with her from jump. One thing that really struck me. She was able to transform from male mode to female effortlessly. The differences in her mannerisms and everything about her changed. I was literally dumbfounded by her ability to do this. What really struck me is where the differences between Keith and Keira is about the length of an ocean. Jess is a natural extension of her male personality. Completely feminized in every aspect. I have toiled trying to get rid of male behaviors and mannerisms. She drops it off like dry cleaning. Jess was able to coach me in a way that was simple fun and easy to pick up. I now walk like the woman I am with no stilted weirdness. I get it. I am eternally grateful for this magnificent woman who two days later went back to her male life somehow.
I don’t understand the online hostility towards crossdressers. There is a part of me that wishes I didn't have to get life threatening surgery to become who I really am but unfortunately in my case I have to have a vagina. I am unable to do this part time. I find masculinity to be suffocating. There are so many rules and laws one must abide by. Don’t show emotion or compassion. No interest in anything feminine other than they are objects to be used. Rated like you would a movie. Oh she’s a 6, she’s a 5. I can’t live in that world. Men have this uncanny knack and I've never met one that doesn't do this. They create a reality with all these segregated boxes and impose their view of the world onto the world as if their reality is what everyone else’s reality is. It’s so arrogant and ridiculous. And I might add completely inaccurate in every detail. Projection to the nth degree.
Somehow crossdressers can exist in the male world and don’t need surgery in some cases. That is impressive to me. Because no thanks. Meeting Jess and Julie alone was worth the trip. They are two incredible ladies that were an honor to share time with. As the day moved on. I dressed up in a pretty blue floral dress with a sparkly wrap and bejeweled fishnets. In every picture taken you can read it on my face. I've never been happier. We went into downtown Harrisburg and had a wonderful dinner at Stocks. A farm to table restaurant. I had bacon wrapped meatloaf with smoked provolone mashed potatoes with barbecue sauce. It was heavenly. I met Stephanie and Lynda who are amazingly beautiful ladies and started up more friendships. And that is what this really is about. Making those connections. We are all different but all of us are living out our lifelong dreams in a few short nights and it’s magnificently beautiful.
Once we returned to the hotel we ended up at “The dog and pony” bar and shut it down. The next morning I was really feeling it. I wanted to take in some seminars and workshops. So with an achy head I went to a couple surgical presentations which were really nice. I became much more aware of what goes into the surgeries and it was nice to see the differences in the doctors end product vagina's. Some were far nicer than others. I have a way better understanding of specifically what I’m looking for which will help exponentially as I start having consults here in the next month or so.
As the day continued I ended up in a social situation. I have to say I’m not sure what to divulge honestly. So I’ll keep it non specific. I ended up in the midst of the social hierarchy I alluded to earlier. Now here’s the rub. As Keith he was a social outcast. Both by choice and by actions. He was crippled by low self esteem and a life of bad choices sprinkled with blatant stupidity as a garnish. Sounds delightful doesn't it? So for 40 some years that person had really bad or awkward interactions with everyone. Keira is a whole other animal. There can be no question how distinctly different I am now comparatively. So in addition to fully transitioning in under 10 months now Ms. Keira is in there mingling with the elite of the trans community. Talk about dream fulfillment. If that is all it was and nothing more than I have to feel proud of myself for bursting onto the scene and making enough of a splash to even be recognized. However I think someone significantly helped out in that regard. Ok cryptic enough.
Now it’s Gala time. I put on this slinky gorgeous sparkly silver gown. It was heaven to wear, fit like a glove. I felt like a princess. Belle of the ball. My brain was on overload. Getting complimented by people stopping me and saying you look so beautiful. I cannot articulate into words how that feels. I ate it all up. I was able to wrap my night up with my dearest friends. I ended up at an after party and I was given a “Pink Fog” which was a shit load of vodka in a cup. Fortunately they had no idea the extent of my alcoholism. I was able to drink it down just fine. The story was after Keystone we go into a pink fog of melancholy. Missing our time there. These girls related how sad it was to go back to being a man and in that moment I was so grateful to be trans and to never have to put my male costume on again. I really felt for them.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In the past I would have been so down after having to leave. Knowing there would be an intense amount of time before my next fun event. I live in the moment now. Every day is fun. There was no sadness. I will miss Julie and Jess and everyone I met finally in real life but I know I will see them again. Sooner than later. That fills me with joy and happiness. This ride is just starting. I came home and started soliciting the Lake Erie gala. Trying to amass a trans girl army to take Erie by storm. I just love my life now.
So the missing piece. What is it and how did I find it? Being at Keystone allowed me to be fully free. No holding back. I was in the moment talking to all these beautiful ladies and learning about all of them and myself at the same time. I had held on to Keith for too long. He disappeared for good at Keystone. I found myself. I know who I am. I know what I want. I know how to get the things I want. It clicks. Everything is congruent now. I don’t feel less than or I have to prove I’m trans or prove I’m a woman. I just am. I found comfort in my skin. Comfort in my socialization. I don’t feel outside anymore. My low self esteem is gone. No more self flagellation. I feel at ease and I feel I have fully transitioned to Keira within. Just a minor appendage to be removed and I will have everything I've ever wanted.
If you haven’t been to Keystone or a gender conference I urge you to take the plunge. I have never in my life experienced anything like this ever. I want to list all the ladies I met there but you know who you are and you know I love you. Keystone was pure validation for me and it has changed my life permanently and forever. This storm is about to get a hell of a lot louder!