New York, New York


     Don't go to New York if you want to live to a ripe old age.  If you like to get out and party, the pace can be a killer!

   Sharon and Lisa in front of police station  Several months ago, Lisa said she was going to New York on business and wondered if I wanted to go along.  It had been over a year since I had been out of town; it was about time for a transgender vacation.  Until this came up, I hadn't realized that sometimes things get a bit stale in town.  I had not been back to New York since I was a teenager, so this opportunity was just the ticket to add a bit of excitement to Sharon's life. 

     Anticipation mounted as the day of departure drew near.  I decided to fly en fem (Lisa could not because she might run into an associate), so I did not pack any guy clothes.  I had flown en fem before, once right after 9/11 coming back from Southern Comfort, and once to LA in 2002.  I haven't been in the air since, not that I have been afraid to fly or that anything happened, I just have not had much desire to leave St. louis.  Why go somewhere else when everything is working where you are?

     Over the last few years, I have heard some horror stories, like the one about Homeland Security issuing an alert to stop men dressed as women, but they were always second- or third-hand accounts.  It was time to check it out first hand!  I had no problems going to LA in 2002--why should 2005 to New York be any different?  

     One of my main concerns, the night before the flight, was that my luggage was overweight, because there is an additional charge if it runs over 50 pounds.  Once I realized I probably couldn't lift 50 pounds, I decided not to worry.  Though I did wonder if it is fair to limit the weight of my luggage to the same as that of everyone else.  After all, half the passengers had 50% more in body weight.  How about a total body-weight-plus-luggage-weight limit?  Oh well, we all know life isn't fair. 

     Upon arriving in a shuttle from long-term parking,  I checked in my luggage, which by the way looked like a pregnant guppy, at the curb and had to show my driver license ID there.  No problem, I just tipped the porter and was on my way.  Of course I did notice that little smile from him and the other porters.  You know, that smile that says, "Look at that."  Next stop was security at the gates.  I placed my watch in my purse and made sure not to have any metal on except a small pair of diamond earrings.  The security guard at the gate looked at me, then took my boarding pass and my ID.  He looked at both items, then back at me, and said, "Go to that line right there."  I just followed what other passengers were doing, putting coat, purse, carry on and shoes in a basket and then walked through the metal detector.  It was that simple.  Amazing!

     When I boarded, no one seemed to notice me as everyone was busy getting their luggage stowed.  I had the aisle seat.  The couple next to me was very pleasant; during the flight, the man even offered me his chips.  The flight attendant was very nice and even brought me an additional bottle of vodka.  I must have looked nervous.  Not a real eventful flight, but that's a good thing, so much for the naysayers. 

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     If you're going to New York, be sure to take your credit cards and lots of money.  Nothing is cheap there, especially hotels.  Ours was reasonably priced, if you don't mind walking up two flights of stairs (no elevator),  an 80+ degree room, a sink the size of a sheet of copy paper, and a stall shower that had hot or cold water, but not much in between.   Not to mention the lighting.  Did you ever try to put on eyelashes with nothing but a 60-watt bulb to illuminate your way--from behind??  Obviously we didn't spend much time there.   Just a place to pass out, uh, get some sleep.  Lisa Grant in Subway

     We started out taking cabs to get around.  Realizing that was going to get expensive, we then opted for the subway.  Not only was it exciting, it was very fast and convenient.  I actually felt quite safe on it.  Between the subways and the buses, I was able to get pretty close to anywhere I wanted to go.  Most everyone minded their own business; we only had a few looks.  New Yorkers seemed indifferent to how we were dressed. 



                Sharon DeWitt in Central Park


     Friday through Wednesday, we had no trouble finding a place to go in the evenings for dancing and entertainment.  Most were straight clubs, but Saturday we went to the Silver Swan, which is a German Restaurant that turns into a TG night club after 11.  They just pushed all the tables back against the wall and put on some DJ music.  The evening was like going to one of Bill's Parties, but imagine it being held at Nino's Restaurant in West Port or some other fine restaurant.  Most all the transgendered appeared much as they do here.  The main difference is there were many more transgender admirers.  I don't know how long the party went; when we cut out around 2:30, it was still going strong.



Sharon DeWitt in Times Square             


     I spent my week days solo, sightseeing and shopping.   I didn't buy much on this trip; my suitcase was already full, and I didn't bring a spare, so I just browsed the stores.  There were some good buys I passed up, but prices and selection were very similar to that in St. Louis.  I am sure some of the sales help and security spotted me as a transgender.  One travel hint: if you're going to New York for several days, buy a week pass for the transit system (subways and buses).  The cost is $24, with no limit to the amount of rides.  At the regular $2 per ride, cost can add up fast.  The last morning, in less than two hours while picking up some gifts, I rode the subway from East Village to Chinatown, then to Midtown and back to East Village. 



     The only place I was concerned about was the United Nations.  The security was pretty tight there.  They didn't ask for identification, but there were at least three check points and one set of metal detectors to go through.  Yes, I set off the detectors, probably due to a jeans jacket with metal buttons. 



     I did have a moment of panic the morning I was to leave.  I could not find my driver's license.  Thoughts keep going through my head as to how I was going to explain how I was John Doe (XX) to match my  airline ticket and yet I was dressed as Jane Doe (Sharon DeWitt), and had conviently lost my ID.  After sweating off half my makeup, I found my ID and breathed a sigh of relief.  Going through airport security in New York was very similar to St. Louis.  They did run my purse through the x-ray machine twice.  Must have been something interesting in there.


    There is always something to do in New York.   So if you go, take a lot of money, lots of energy, and lots of clothes--or bettter yet, take an empty suitcase and buy all your clothes up there.  I don't think I could have kept up the pace any longer than five nights and six days.  It was nice to get back to St. Louis.

     Additional travel hints:   

     Don't rely on the internet or travel books for clubs to go to.  Call ahead and make sure they are still in business and have the same hours.  Some clubs come and go rather quickly.

     Take some walking shoes and maybe a bag to carry your heels for going out in the evening.

     If you have presbyopia be sure to take along a 5X mirror.

     Take extra hangers for your clothes.

     On the day you fly, don't wear anything metal (jewelry, watches, buttons, etc.), unless you want additional screening at the airport. 

    Packing for a trip - I pack too many shoes and dresses.  Pick out two or three pairs of favorite shoes for day and evening and work the rest of the clothing around that.  A simple black dress can be extended into several outfits with scarves and jackets as accessories.  Take clothing that doesn't show wrinkles.  Select only one or two favorite wigs.  Minimize the makeup by taking only what is necessary for one night look and one day look.  Leave all the extra items at home.



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