Reprint from www.Chicagotransgender.com
This is a site to check out, especially if you are going to Chicago.
Here are some helpful hints from yours truly on shopping. I wrote this, so take it with a grain of salt. Most of my transgendered experience has been spent shopping, so I've made a few observations. Please note: everybody is different, and what works for me may not work for you. I hope you can get some useful information from my tips.
Where to shop - I like to shop far away from home to limit the chance that I'll bump into somebody I know. If I don't know a person, I really don't care what they think of me - but I'd hate to bump into one of my co-workers as I was walking into Victoria's Secret. I enjoy shopping in both small boutique style shops, as well as large retail chains. Both have their merits. Either way, sometimes you will find people who are friendly, sometimes you will find people who are indifferent, and sometimes you will find people who think you are nuts. If you want to enjoy the shopping experience you just have to bite the bullet and hope for friendly people (or at the very least - indifferent.)
When to shop - As I said, I usually don't pay heed to what people think of me, so I'll shop at virtually any time - busy or slow. However, if you want to limit the number of people you are exposed to - going right after the store opens is a good time to go. Right before the store closes is also good, but I tend to think there are less people at the store right when they open.
Dresssing Rooms - It's a good idea to scope out the dressing room situation when you get to the store. Their policy on men in the dressing room often has to do with the layout of the dressing room. If the dressing rooms are very separate, with closing doors, and no way to see the people in the other dressing rooms (i.e. Express), the store will be more likely to allow men into the dressing rooms. If there is only a thin curtain separating the dressing rooms, it's less likely they'd want a man in there (unless it's a slow time of the day and no Genuine Girls (G.G.) are in the dressing rooms already.) Also, dressing room policies will have to do with the nature of the clothing sold. If people are getting naked in the dressing room (i.e. trying on lingerie) versus just stripping down to undies (i.e. trying on a dress), the store will be more hesitant to allow men inside, unless there are no other G.G.'s in there already. If you are in a store that has both men and women dressing rooms, if you are en femme - use the woman's dressing room, if you are in your Male persona, use the male dressing room.
He vs. She - Should you go shopping as "Him" or as "Her"? Well, that's really a personal question. If you are en femme, you are much less likely to be looked at funny when asking to use a dressing room or when asking a clerk if they think a dress would fit you. Most likely, if you are dressed, nobody will think that you don't belong. If you go in your Male persona, you can always use the "I'm buying a gift" line, but then you can't try the clothes on, and you won't get any real useful help from the clerks. I find it's best to be honest. Nothing ventured - nothing gained. I personally go into stores both as male and as female. When I go as a male, and somebody asks me if I'm buying this as a gift, I tell them "No, it's for me." After the initial shock wears off, usually the clerks are very helpful. This way, they'll help me figure out what size shoe to wear, or what color foundation to use, etc.
Appointments - Most stores will take appointments. If you are unable to go shopping en femme, but want to avoid the "Shock factor" (see above), yet still want to be open about who you're purchasing for, so you can get some useful help from the store clerks try calling ahead. You can explain your situation over the phone, tell them when you want to come in, and see the person you talked to on the phone. This way, they've already gotten over the shock and are ready to help you make a purchase at their store.
Making the Purchase - If I'm en femme, usually I take cash with me (sometimes just to see the look on their face, I'll use a credit card with my male name while en femme - I have yet to see a sales clerk flinch.) That way I don't have to explain why my credit card or drivers license have a guy's name on them. If I'm in male mode, I'll pay by credit card (or by cash if I don't want a paper trail.)
I hope this helped!
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