How to Feel Empowered as Gender Non-Conforming

Own It

I received the best advice I’ve ever received in an elevator in the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 2003. I had signed up for a BDSM event called BondCon and I was dressed in my newbie fetish best for the event.

In 2003, I’d already been out in girl mode a few times, but I could tell this was going to be very different. For instance, when I first started going out in Southern California, I used to secure a cheap motel room on the first floor. And then I’d secure a parking place directly in front of that room. My goal was to be able to slip out of my motel room and into my car in as little time as possible. I didn’t want to be seen. And I hated it when I had to hurry down stairs, or scurry across a parking lot. When I first started going out as CiCi, I was like Gary Numan. I felt safe in my car. The safest of all.

Not long after arriving in Vegas I realized that any hurrying or scurrying would be futile.

You see, the casinos have cleverly placed the elevators leading to the guests’ rooms as far as possible from the main door. This forces their guests to walk past as many craps tables, poker rooms, and slot machines as possible. The hope is that the temptation will be too much for any guest and they’ll have to stop and play a hand or two.

I wasn’t planning on doing any gambling, but the long walk from the elevator to the front door (and the taxi stand) was a pretty daunting walk. For someone who had avoided any face-to-face contact with the vanillas of the world, this was going to be quite a challenge. As I walked through the casino, I knew I was going to be on display in front of literally hundreds of Vegas tourists. And whenever you’re out in the mainstream public, you just never know how anyone is going to react. Disgust? Ridicule? Bemusement? Acceptance? Applause? Now, nearly 10 years later, I can honestly say that I’ve experienced all of those reactions. But back then, I had no idea what to expect.

That night, I dressed and did my makeup. I was pretty excited about attending the fetish event. But I was not looking forward to the walk across the casino. Fortunately, I made it from my room to the elevator without seeing a soul. And no one stopped our elevator on its way down to the casino level. The elevator car stopped. The doors hesitated. And in that moment, my friend gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. And it only took two words.

“Own it.”

It wasn’t the most original advice. It wasn’t the most brilliant or mind-blowing. It was pretty common advice actually, and – like a lot of good advice – it was precisely the advice I would have given to myself if I hadn’t been stressed and terrified and already sore from the ankles down thanks to my high heels.

“Own it.”

Strangely enough, my friend and I hadn’t discussed the long walk across the casino or my trepidations regarding that impending walk. I had spent the day trying to appear calm. Confident. Unflustered. So I kept my fears to myself. But obviously my friend could read my mind. Or my anxious gestures. Or my nervous laughter. I was petrified and she knew it.

She could have given me a lot of different kinds of advice that day. The elevator ride was long enough to deliver an entire football-style halftime pep talk. But she didn’t. She waited ‘til the last second, and hit me just as I was about to take the field. Just as I was about to enter battle and engage the enemy. And, as is often the case in such situations, the enemy was me.

I don’t remember much about that walk. I remember that I didn’t trip in my heels. I remember that I didn’t get any memorably positive or negative looks or comments. And I particularly remember looking straight ahead so as not see or hear potentially insulting looks or comments. Before I knew it I was outside in the warm Vegas night air waiting for the next cab to come. I don’t recall feeling particularly victorious. I don’t remember any sense of accomplishment. I do remember feeling relief. A lot of relief.

But I did accomplish something. I faced the fear.

And the public. And the sore feet. And I did something that just a few months before I would have thought impossible… I went out for a night on the town in Las Vegas dressed head to toe in girl’s clothes.

I owned it.

I still think of that advice in times of stress or trouble. Whether I’m in girl mode or not. And I particularly think about the “it” in “own it.” What is that “it” any way”? And how does one go about “owning” it?

For me, the “it” is a bit of a moving target. If the idea is to own what you truly are, then I must confess that what I truly am seems to change from moment to moment. There are times when I’m a guy. A husband. A stepdad. A brother. A son. An employee. A breadwinner. A weekend athlete. An aspiring writer. An incurable daydreamer. In girl mode I seem to have even more identities. Glam girl. Goth girl. Rocker chick. Submissive. Fetish doll. Latex model. Shy girl. Quiet girl. Girl who won’t shut up. Newbie. Old-timer. Party girl. Thoughtful girl. Oh… and still… aspiring writer.

And yes somehow, if I really focus, if I really concentrate, I can own them all. As long as I don’t try to be all of them at once. And to me that’s the big key. To own – to accept, to embrace – exactly what you are at that moment. No worries about what (or who) you were previously. Or what you hope to be in the future. There is only one reality. There is only one present. And they are one in the same.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re about to enter a club. Perhaps you’re somewhat of a newbie. Still getting used to the idea (and the feel and the sights and the sounds) of being out in girl mode. Your hand is on the door to the bar and you’re about to swing it open. That to me is the moment. The sad moment. The moment of wishes that cannot come true. Because in that moment, doubts creep in. And you begin to wish you were something else.

You wish you were prettier. Or thinner. Or taller. Or shorter. Or more confident. Or more relaxed. Or wearing a different outfit. Something classier. Something sluttier. You wish you’d worn taller heels and smaller lashes. Or bigger lashes and shorter heels. You wish your dress was tighter and your boobs were bigger. You wish you’d worn the blonde wig. Or the red one. Or the blue one. You’re thinking that maybe the bare midriff wasn’t such a good idea, the makeup is much too heavy and more than anything, you wish you hadn’t worn that stupid pink furry hat.

Okay, that last one has probably only happened to me. But my point is this. You’re already there. You’re at the club. Your hand is on the door handle. And the truth of the matter is -- it’s too late to change now. The other outfit, the other boobs, the other boots, and the other wig are just going to have to wait until next time. You are, in that moment, exactly what and who you are… dressed and appearing exactly as you are. And so, your choices are two:


1. Bow your head in shame and spend the whole night worrying about bad decisions that you made three hours before.


2. Own it.

I suppose there’s a third option. You could let go of the door, climb back in your car, and head back home until such time as you achieve the perfect body, perfect makeup, perfect outfit and perfect hair. Or, in other words, never.

Own it.

It’s taken me a long time to “own” the fact that I am a crossdresser. Nearly 50 years or so. I still haven’t told everyone in my life. (As a good friend once told me – more good advice here – “everyone doesn’t have to know.”) So I haven’t told everyone. I haven’t decided exactly where this fits in with my guy life. And I haven’t made any big decisions on what I intend to do with all of this in the future. Hormones? Transition? Go 24/7? Give it all up and rejoin the vanilla life?

Anything is possible in today’s world. I’ve watched dear friends of mine do all four of the options above, so I know that I can too. I can do anything I choose. And so can you. But until you make that decision, you are what you are. Prettier than some, and not as pretty as others. Taller than some, and not as tall as others. Thinner than some, but not as thin as others. More stylish than some, much less stylish than others. Further along in your feminine development than some, and not nearly as far along as others.

In other words, you are just like all of the rest of us. And yet totally unique. Tomorrow is full of possibilities. But for right now, you’re you. And, in this moment, that’s all you can be. But let me tell you this, there’s a lot of fun and fulfillment waiting on the other side of whatever door handle you happen to be hanging on to. So swing it open. Be you. Right now. Accept it. Enjoy it. Embrace it.

Own it.

Take care out there.

Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.




  • M. J.

    Hi CiCi honey its been a while since I wrote you OMG I'm not sure but I don't think I had begun my transition the last time I wrote butvi have now I'm fact I'm fulltime now goodness it's just awesome girlfriend being myself 24/7 oh and I guess I'm TG now too nowvtoomoved beyond crisscrossing now I'm loving as the woman thevwomani know I am my breasts are growing I'm like a B cup now that is so cool no more breast forms for me on estrogens oh it's wonderful becoming my true self I'm so very much happier my music is better than ever and so am I sweetie I just Love it life is so much better as a woman in Love your blogs you are so funny honey you crack me up I try to be funny but looks aren't everything unless your beautiful I'm trying to deal with being called beautiful by my new girlfriends then I have one girlfriend who really is in love with me and I get she loves me just as I am she only knows my femme side she is very special and she is awesomeness itself dormant times I though this lose her telling her about myself but I was just honest with her the rest is history any way I love you all Love MJ ❤

  • M. J.

    CiCi honey your so wonderful sweetie you know how it is oops there's that word again "it" wasn't that a character on TV oh yel Addam's family cousin it nothing but hair I wonder if that was a shot at our type back then my cursor going nuts all by itself the batteries are low I'll bet love ya CiCi Love M.J.

  • M. J.

    Hi CiCi as soon as I get back to having a style I do own it right now I'm stuck in male mode whether I like it or not soon hopefully that will change I've read this article before as my previous comment suggests CiCi you and Kathy Hamilton are my favs here Love M.J.

  • Roberta

    Dear Ci Ci , your article was wonderful, You are so right girl, About owning it, You are one of the reasons I started my transition from male to female, I have been on hormones for five months and loving every minute of it, If you have any questions about HRT I'll be glad to answer them, I always try to help girls who would like my Advice, Stay cool, Stay sexy, Hugs and kisses, Roberta In Florida

  • Patricia Kay

    OMG! How timely an article or at least my reading it!

    Three days ago I had a day free to do whatever I wanted. I definitely wanted to dress and get my makeup on, but what did I want to do? Did I want to stay at home and do paperwork and stuff around the house? No. Did I want to go out? Yes. Did I want to go to out for lunch, or maybe just a drink, or did I want to go shopping? I wanted all of the above, but being time limited I could do only a few of those, but what?

    Owning the moment, I made arrangements to go to my LGBT friendly salon attired as Patricia for a makeover before heading out on my adventure. Wearing a nice casual outfit and nothing but my wig and lipstick I headed out to start my day. This was the first time Patricia had ever been out alone, much less to my salon en femme. I reveled in how excited I was a finally being out on my own with no specific plans. To steal from you, I owned it!

    Arriving at the salon they welcomed me and complimented me on how feminine and nice I looked before taking me in and giving me a full makeover. I felt fabulous and looked pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

    Running low on time, I opted for lunch at a local LGBT friendly restaurant. Arriving alone, they greeted me with a warm welcome and offered me any seat in the restaurant or bar. Being a lady, I let them choose and they directed me to a nice table in the restaurant near a window. I proceeded to settle in for a nice meal and wonderful treatment from the staff who made me feel comfortable, very much welcomed, and also treated me every bit like a lady.

    Finishing my lunch I headed home warm in the feeling that if I tried, I could do whatever I desired as a woman. To use your phrase, as long as I owned it, I could be anything and go anywhere I wanted.

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