Personal Account: Downsizing: It Can Be Win, Win, Win

| Dec 8, 2008
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A few weeks ago I ran into a former TGF writer, Linda Jensen, at one of my TG parties in suburban Philly. She had stopped contributing to TGF a few years back and asked me if I needed submissions. Being the kind of girl I am I told her I always need submission. Then we went back to talking about writing. (It’s a joke! I don’t even own a whip. Well, just the one.) Anyway, one thing led to another and Linda is rejoining the fold starting today with her personal account of her efforts to downsize her accumulated femme paraphernalia. It’s called Downsizing: It Can Be Win, Win, Win.

Linda JensenDownsizing? Before the 1990s I don’t think many of us had heard of that word. Today there are not many of us who in one way or another who have not been caught up in the phenomenon. Companies and departments have ‘downsized’ many of us out of our jobs. We have ‘downsized’ our housing from suburban homes to urban condos. With rising fuel prices many are ‘downsizing’ our vehicles from SUVs to compact cars.

Recently I tried a different sort of downsizing effort. Physically, financially and emotionally it was not an easy effort but it led to some pleasant results.

Like many crossdressers I store my femme paraphernalia in a rented locker. Over the many years of collecting and not discarding my locker had become jammed with dresses, skirts, blouses, lingerie, wigs, books, videos and most everything else you could imagine. I had all the letters I had received in response to my pre-Internet ads in transgender magazines including a letter welcoming me to membership in Gateway Gender Alliance. It was dated 1983!

Sometime after I got the locker I moved to a different town. That made trips to the locker few and far between. I kept it as it was convenient to pass by on my ‘dressing trips’ out of town. Also I knew it was going to be a task worthy of Wonder Woman just to empty the locker, let alone move and re-establish everything.

For several years I vacillated. Should I keep the locker, move everything or just purge the lot and start over? There were very few of the hundreds of outfits that I was actually wearing with any regularity. Many of the dresses had been bought just as part of the thrill of shopping; they still had their tags.

Then there was the problem of shrinking clothes. There were dozens of skirts – lovely skirts all of them – where over the years the waist band must have contracted as I had a lot of trouble getting the two parts of the clasp close enough to fasten. Some zippers were not moving up past half-way. They worked but just not on my body!

While I could never have thrown away everything I decided it was time to ‘downsize’ and move. My plan was to go to the locker in Gatineau, Quebec, spend the better part of a weekend sorting through the material, take most of the articles to a local charity shop, some to the dump and move the better articles with me to my new town.

That would have been end of story except for a few last minute events. First I happened to get an e-mail from a good friend (in Gatineau) telling me that she had sold her apartment and was moving to Ottawa. She also mentioned that the new owners weren’t to take possession until the end of February. She was a former girlfriend and one of the few people who knew about ‘Linda.’ I admit it was brazen of me to ask but she agreed that I could use her place to sort and pack my stored clothes.

Then I decided to let fellow members of the Gender Mosaic e-list know what I was going to be doing. (Gender Mosaic is a transgender support group in Ottawa. I thought members might be interested in buying some of the better outfits and accessories. My message to Gender Mosaic members elicited a few responses, certainly not as much as I had hoped but enough to go ahead with the ‘sale’ part of my trip.

Linda and FriendWhat a job it was packing and transporting over twenty years worth of accumulated clothes shoes, jewelry and literature from a locker to an apartment! However it got done. As I got to the back corners of the locker I found long forgotten items, like a digitized photo of the ‘boy me’ talking with the ‘girl me’, a battery operated, latex coated penis and some of the first year newsletters of Gender Mosaic which was then called New Ottawa Women. I also dug out a surprising number of dresses with fairly large shoulder pads. “What is the chance of that style coming back?” I thought to myself.

“Or those really big hair wigs?”

“Nah. They can all go.”

Come the first night of the sale the list of possible attendees dwindled from four to two. One very nice young GM member, who could have barely been born when I started going out as Linda came by to pick up old copies of the club newsletter, Notes from the Underground. As she was getting ready to leave, Danielle dropped by.

Danielle, even in male mode looked like the perfect candidate to take over much of my wardrobe. Tall and slim ‘he’ looked a lot like I did when I was younger and doing a lot of distance running and playing sports.

But, even at these ridiculously low prices, would Danielle be in a mood to buy?

We exchanged pleasantries. Danielle explained how she was a relatively new member in Gender Mosaic. I told how I came to be in an otherwise empty apartment in downtown Gatineau. We talked about our recent relationships.

Then Danielle said, “Well, lets get to it.”

I had arranged my shoes and boots two deep along one wall of one bedroom. My dresses were on hangers in the closet, skirts and blouses on a left-behind box spring. Danielle headed for the dresses. She had a great eye for the better pieces. She loved trying on the more glamorous gowns and, even without wig and makeup, she looked great in them.

“Try them with a pair of heels,” I suggested. The heels accented her lovely legs and derriere.

“Try this bra and these breast forms.” More feminine curves appeared.

“How about this wig?” I asked. The transformation was near complete and she looked marvelous.

It was really fun watching Danielle get new enjoyment out of timeless dresses I hadn’t been able to wear in several years.

That evening Danielle spent $180. At $10 for each wig and dress and $5 for each of the rest quite an armful of clothing went out the door that evening. While I ‘thought’ my goodbyes to some of my favorite outfits I knew that would be much less I would have to take with me to the new storage locker.

Danielle 2008In the following days Danielle sent photos of herself in some of my former outfits. I felt proud and not a bit jealous (really), of how good she looked in my former outfits! It was close to two weeks before I was able to get back to cleaning out my Gatineau locker and offering another ‘tag sale’. There was a new urgency as the apartment closing date had been moved up to three days away! Again more said they would like to come than actually showed up. But there was Danielle who again loaded up her arms, followed by Sophia and her wife, Debbie.

Debbie looked great in two of my better blonde wigs. I had not intended to sell them but what the heck, there are lots more where they came from and she looked so good! It still left me with five blonde wigs and perhaps an equal number of wigs in other colours.

Sophia found a few dresses that suited her as well as a colourful suede skirt for Debbie.

It was another successful evening, sales wise. However the real value of my venture in to the world of re-sale was the chance to meet others who share my love of wearing women’s clothing and who know they feel good and try to look good when they are doing so.

It was also an unusual pleasure to meet Debbie as a very supportive partner. Sophia is clearly one lucky girl who nevertheless does not take his partner for granted nor seem to put Sophia’s needs ahead of Debbie’s.

Sophia and Debbie will be coming my way in early May when Sophia helps put on a getaway weekend for Gender Mosaic and related groups. I hope Danielle and at least a few of my old outfits will come along. I will try to join them this year. It would be fun.

What happened to the items that didn’t sell? A lot of them came to my new locker which I am proud to say is presently very neat and well organized.

However, ten very large size heavy duty garbage bags filled with lingerie, shoes, dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters and even wigs were deposited at the St Vincent de Paul store in Gatineau. A large number of bargains especially in suede skirts and larger size shoes may soon be on their racks.

Shortly after our meeting Danielle she sent me a nice thank you note along with photos of her in many of the new outfits. Talk about mixed feelings! I was pleased that she was happy with the purchases but somewhat jealous that Danielle looked a lot better in these outfits than I ever had. I told her so and she was nice enough to say that couldn’t be.

We arranged to meet to have a photo session to compare the two of us in outfits that once were mine and now are hers. Here are the results. What do you think? My opinion? I think we are both gorgeous!

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

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