Cold Feet!

By Jane Ellen Fairfax

In all my 30 years of working in Tri-Ess, the saddest thing I have ever had to witness is the plight of sisters, desperately longing to meet others like themselves, who choose to lock themselves back in dark isolation. Some of them gather the courage to make contact, but when it comes to meeting another sister, they just become paralyzed. Others go all the way to joining. They do the interview, submit their membership fees, and then cannot open the meeting room door.

I sympathize with these sisters, having gone through the same process myself. Joining Tri-Ess is a big step. Many chimeras rear their ugly heads. What will the neighbors think if they see me leave the house in a dress? Will someone from my work recognize me and put my career in jeopardy? What if I get stopped by the police? Will a friend or relative recognize me and start tongues wagging?

When I joined Tri-Ess I went through all this. I was so afraid, I joined under an assumed male name and took out a post office box for my Tri-Ess mail. When it came time to attend a meeting, I must have driven around the meeting place ten times. All the bugaboos swirled about me, whipping up dire scenarios that would beset me if I opened that door. At the time society was much more ignorant and less accepting of crossdressing than it is now. I could just hear the mockery if I got exposed.

But I had heard such wonderful things about Tri-Ess! Security was respected to the max. And how I longed for sisterhood and friendship that seemed to be a hallmark of the organization! It was so lonely there in secrecy. No! I would endure that no longer, so I opened the door and went in.

And found myself among some of the nicest people I've ever met! Immediately, I felt part of the group. How wonderful to be called by my femme name! I am an introvert, but my sisters would not allow me to retire to the nearest corner. My feminine presentation was not the best, but that didn't matter. I was sister Jane. The program that day was makeovers, and the sisters invited me to be a model. Wow! I never knew I could look so attractive!

And that's the way it has been ever since. At one time I needed support, but now it is my turn to give it to new sisters. I marvel at the bonding I have experienced through the years. When my lovely wife passed away, the chapter sent flowers, attended the funeral and contributed to her Garden of Memories. One couple even sent a little silver angel. I always look forward to Tri-Ess weekend, whether it be Sweetheart Appreciation Month, the Candlelight Ceremony, educational presentations, or the Murder Mystery.

The fears I mentioned above are merely illusions. What will the neighbors think if they see me leave home in a dress? Chances are, they won't even care. After all, times have changed, and society is more knowledgeable about crossdressing than it used to be. But you need not leave for a meeting in a dress. You can turn into a butterfly at a sister's home. What about being recognized by a friend, relative or colleague? The chances of this happening are small. Getting stopped by the police? It is not illegal to appear cross dressed in Houston. In fact, the police have even given a program at our chapter, addressing our issues. If you are violating the law, you may be ticketed for the violation, but that should be all.

So there is nothing to fear, as Franklin Roosevelt said, but fear itself. Now fear can be a powerful adversary, but it has little basis in fact. In the light of the beckoning friendship and sisterhood, the decision between dark isolation and enlightening sisterhood seems clear. I can discuss issues, support, reassure, and do everything in my power to show you the way into the light. But I cannot carry you across that threshold. That you must do for yourself.