First flight ever? Well, not quite.
I now know that I have definitely flown for the last time ever in mens’ clothes. I live in Hungary and in Germany and am therefore a regular customer on the Budapest-Frankfurt route. Up until now, I have always travelled as a man, mainly because of the constant need to prove my identity at airports. However, last week I decided it was time to travel as the real me, so I went out and bought a fresh suit for the occasion. A lightweight, summer suit in navy blue, no doubt wonderful for business use, although I generally prefer something a little more colourful. Anyhow, I felt it better to err on the demure side, even at the expense of being thought dull, especially as I didn’t have my wig with me and couldn’t find anything pleasing in the shops locally. So I decided to wear a head scarf or hat and leave it at that. I did, though, treat myself to a new handbag, a lovely thing in turquoise and the shop gave me a neck scarf to match. Turquoise on navy blue actually goes rather well, even though I would have preferred things the other way round.
So, yesterday I put on by new suit and was just finishing my make-up, when a neighbour called in to see if I needed anything at the last minute. I didn’t, but she feeds my cats when I’m away, so I let her in for a cup of coffee and a chat. Nothing wildly important, except that she told me how pretty I was! After that, I didn’t care what else happened. I knew I had made the right choice. After all, I’m over seventy and how often can a seventy-year-old woman expect to receive that sort of compliment from a younger lady? Anyhow, the taxi came and off I went to the airport. Once there, I went to the check-in desk and showed them my online boarding pass printout. The girl on the desk was friendly, gave no indication of noticing anything unusual and told me, as usual, to take a seat until the wheelchair service arrived.
The wheelchair man came, took one look at my boarding pass and addressed me as “sir.” I tutted, smiled, and asked to be addressed as a woman. He apologized, rather too profusely, I thought, so I told him not to worry. Then came the security check. I’m always searched because the scanner picks up the metal on my body from my leg braces. A security agency was responsible for the search, but under the eye of a fierce-looking policewoman. She was not huge, but did seem to be all muscle. Fortunately, she had clearly decided after one look that I was harmless and relaxed to enjoy a discussion between the security checkers as whether a man or a woman should search me. I didn’t help by volunteering unasked the information that I was mentally and emotionally female, although on paper a male, albeit a transitioning one. However, the reference to “on paper” seemed to settle the argument and I was duly searched by a male. The policewoman gave me a broad grin and I replied with what I hope was a sweet smile. Certainly, we seemed to share the same sense of humour and were both enjoying the search.
The flight, itself was an anti-climactic. The stewardesses smiled their greetings, served me without comment and generally behaved as though they had seen nothing untoward. Nobody else said anything either, although I did notice one or two ladies giving me a second glance as they left the plane (I get off last because of my disabilities). But perhaps they were only admiring my new handbag. Or was it my scarf? It could hardly have been my suit. The Frankfurt airport wheelchair service appeared in the form of a pleasant young woman who asked me somewhat hesitantly if I were Mr. Miles. I said yes but would prefer to be addressed as a woman. She smiled and relaxed as though something about me had been bothering her. She then surprised me by asking whether I was Mrs. or Miss. At seventy and with a wedding ring on my finger the question seemed slightly unlikely, but sine she had asked it, I took the plunge and said “Miss, please.” Her reply was, “I thought so.” Now it was my turn to be mystified. However, she took me to the taxi stand without further ado and we parted all smiles and exchanged best wishes for the weekend.
So, flying as one’s true self is no big deal, it seems. I felt much better than when flying as a man, a policewoman had her amusement, and nobody else seemed to mind either way. For my next flight, though, I shall wear something a little more inspiring than boring business blue.