My experience at the 2022 Keystone Conference (March 23-26, officially) in Harrisburg, PA was the single-most defining period of my life, other than my relationship with Jesus Christ, my marriage, and the birth and marriage of our daughter. This was a first for me in several ways: first overland trip en femme, first hotel stay en femme, first TG/CD conference, first time with no guy clothes as a “safety net”, first time presenting a workshop related to my faith and the LGBTQ community, and first time interacting with more than a dozen fellow trans people before.

I started preparing at the end of the 2021, getting new outfits, shoes, and jewelry. The time spent on these tasks kept me from thinking about it too much and talking myself out of going. My choice of gown arrived, and I was disappointed to find it looked too small to even bother trying on. I decided to add it to several other items I was bringing to donate at the consignment shop. I ordered two other possibilities, but they didn’t look quite as well as the original one. Oh well, I wasn’t going there to impress anyone; I was going to learn about what it means to be trans and how to manage my transition in a way that will be best for me.

I was relieved to find my Trans Theology workshop which I’d agreed to help Marcie Rose with was not until Friday morning at 9 AM. So I signed up to volunteer putting all the attendees’ packets together from 1 to 3:30 Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday morning, I was up early and got ready in a relaxed fashion. I dressed for travel – a cute top, sweater shrug, jeans, and pull-on sneakers. Of course full makeup including false eyelashes. It’s about a 4-hour drive to Harrisburg and traffic was light. I had a very pleasant drive but had to use the ladies’ room at a service plaza about 2-1/2 hours along. Again, I was fortunate the building wasn’t busy. There was a lady just finishing up drying her hands as I walked in. I smiled and went into a stall to do what I had to do. As I was leaving after I’d also washed my hands and fixed my hair, two or three women came in together and I just kind of looked down as I went around the partition to leave. No reactions, no problems.

Koala Swim

As I arrived at the hotel around noon, I started to get butterflies. I should have been terrified and not gotten out of the car, but I was excited to see everyone and immerse myself in femininity for the next several days. The staff at registration was super sweet and they had a room available early! So, I moved my stuff in before the volunteer work at 1 PM. I went to the meeting room and joined about a dozen others collating the various flyers, business cards, and the program brochure that went into a manila envelope. As these were being assembled, some of us took the ID badges and individual meal coupons and added these. Finally, we took each packet and arranged them alphabetically. It was a very fun environment, and I even spotted my own packet near the end and set it aside.

Wednesday was full, with workshops and a trip to the nail salon. I got an email from Marcie, my Friday co-presenter, that they had positive COVID at home and they couldn’t come. Now I was really beginning to feel a bit nervous! But the workshops are not a formal kind of event. It was all very laid back and casual. I met another CDH member at dinner who I wanted to see. Roberta Broussard is from Baton Rouge. My wife grew up west of there and is an LSU grad. We had a wonderful meal, but when it was time to settle the bills, Roberta was shocked to find her wallet with all her cash and credit cards missing! I paid for her dinner, we asked around, checked the bus where we sat, but came up empty. When we got back to the hotel, she was relieved to find the front desk had it. We told them what happened, and the clerks were like “aww that’s so sweet” for my paying. But that’s just how we roll, right?

Thursday was more workshop time; I tried to link up with some others I knew for lunch but didn’t locate them. I found a seat next to a nice-looking woman who I took to be an attendee. I saw her badge and realized it was Amanda Jette Knox, the Saturday lunch keynote speaker! We had a great time talking about our respective marriages and families. I hadn’t read her book nor was familiar with her story. I’m glad I wasn’t – I probably would have been too intimidated to chat! She was kind enough to share a selfie (which is on this article banner). More on Amanda later.

Koala Swim

I went to one workshop that afternoon, then back to my room to prep for my workshop Friday morning. Dinner was at the Rubicon in downtown Harrisburg. A very nice place I’d like to go back to sometime. Great atmosphere and great conversation. Just what I needed! When I got back to the hotel, I texted my daughter in Maryland. I asked if we could do brunch on Sunday before I drove home on Sunday. Not only did she want to, but she also agreed to come all the way up to Harrisburg! She knew I didn’t have “dad clothes” and it wouldn’t matter a bit.

Friday morning – my big day! I got dressed early and took my stuff down to set up for the workshop. I wore a modest dress, white with a black flower print on the bottom and solid black top half, knee length and appropriate. We had about 15 people attend and I had them pull the chairs in closer for intimacy. At least two of the attendees knew as much about the subject of trans people being cast out by the conservative Christians with the “clobber passages” many of us know by heart. It was a great meeting. The next session was about finding inner calm through meditation and visualization – perfect!

Later in the day, I was going back to my room, a man came out of his room, and we almost bumped into one another. As I stopped, he said how pretty I was, and could he buy me a drink sometime? I continued walking and pivoted around playfully saying I was very flattered, but my wife might not appreciate it much! Another first – being hit on by a guy in my hotel hallway!

Visit Transgender Heaven

I attended one more workshop that afternoon, and thought I’d try on my first-choice gown before I donated it. It had a lot more stretch than I thought and it fit! Later, I went to dinner at Carley’s Restaurant. This was my favorite spot of the week. Great food, wonderful service, and the best Manhattans in the state, I’m told. I got to chat a lot with Melanie Elizabeth (author of “24 Hours of Keystone, a First-Timers Experience” here on CDH).

Saturday was the final workshop day, then lunch where Amanda Knox spoke. She had a tough time growing up (to put it mildly) and was bullied severely. She eventually met her future husband, had three kids, and was on the way to a “normal” family life. Within the space of two years, her 11-year-old and then her spouse came out as trans. Her book “Love Lives Here” tells how they coped with two transwomen in one family. It’s inspiring, heart-rending, and one of the best books I’ve ever read! I was fortunate to get a signed copy after her talk. I think I went to one last workshop and then upstairs to rest and dress for the Gala dinner!

I never saw so much sparkle and sequins with nary a female voice in my life! Everyone was dressed to the nines. I signed up for a “studio” photoshoot by Cassandra Storm after dinner and took some of my own photos while waiting for the doors to open. I was looking forward to finally eating with Carole, Cyn, and the others, but there weren’t enough seats so I found one at another table nearby. By chance, I sat next to Savannah Hauk and we had a nice chat during the dinner. I went to my photoshoot afterwards and hung around the lobby for a bit. Then Cinderella got back into her carriage (well, elevator) and left the ball.

Sunday was bright and windy. I packed my car and got checked out in time to relax in the hotel lobby for a bit before my daughter arrived. She’d seen a few pictures of me but hadn’t met Brielle face-to-face yet. She was more nervous than I – afraid to call me “Dad” or the wrong pronoun. I told her how loose the week had been and that all the restaurants nearby were well-used to TGs and CDs. We had a lovely early lunch and talked for a couple of hours, but soon, it was time for me to point my car West and head home. I drove straight through and pulled into our garage as quietly as I’d left.

I can’t wait for the next time!

Thank you for taking the time to read my article! Now please feel free to either leave a response to my article or one or more of the three questions I’ve posed to you below:

1. Do you think you would want to go to a major event like Keystone? What are the things that would stop you?

2. If you have been or are planning to go to a major event, do you have the support of your SO? Have/will they go with you?

3. Do you have opportunities to go out in public in girl mode and if so, where do you usually go and what do you usually like to wear?

Sincerely, Brielle

 

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Dawn Judson
Ambassador
Active Member
1 month ago

Hi Brielle, Wonderful account of the week’s activities. To answer your questions: 1) I would love to attend Keystone, DCR, Esprit or some other conference (I did attend SCC, a few years ago), but I really can’t miss work. Hard to find someone to fill in for me. Besides, I have to pay the bills. 2) My wife would not, at all, be happy if I attended one. Nothing I could say would justify the expense to her. She’s gone with me to other CD/TG events & wasn’t one bit comfortable. 3) Yes, I go out at least once a… Read more »

Dawn Judson
Ambassador
Active Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Brielle Ross

I guess I didn’t realize that Roxxy was married. Roxxy never mentions her. I was under the impression that Roxxy was divorced. I like that I have other girls to hang out with in our groups, but I’d love to find a group that was more lively. Too much sitting & talking. I’d rather be doing & get my “girl” on. I live in Florida. Cyn was here for a visit, but I’m originally from the Mid-Atlantic area. Jealous that you have that relationship with your daughters. I have three daughters (all girls  ). I would love to do… Read more »

Caty Ryan
Baroness
Active Member
1 month ago

Hi Brielle, (from all the way “Down Under”) 1. Do you think you would want to go to a major event like Keystone? What are the things that would stop you? I’ve been to 3. “Fantazia Fair,” Provincetown USA early 90’s.. Combined with a business trip. Had a health fright on day 2 had to leave. 2014 Seahorse Society Ball Sydney NSW, and “Transformal 17”, (2017) at Katoomba up in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney See https://www.crossdresserheaven.com/transformal-was-great-but-i-wont-be-going-back/ 2. If you have been or are planning to go to a major event, do you have the support of your SO?… Read more »

Roberta Broussard
Baroness
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Hi Brielle, I too drove to Keystone, but it was 1400 miles for me, so it added 3 days of driving, En femme, each way. It was my first of a lot of things too. I had absolutely no issues or problems with hotels, gas stations rest rooms or eating out. That trip allowed me to just enjoy my feminine self, it was as if I was any other woman. Thanks again for coming to my rescue at dinner and paying for mine. I think I was so enveloped in the pink fog, I got a little ditsy and walked… Read more »

Roberta Broussard
Baroness
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Brielle Ross

What happens Jan 1 ?

Roberta Broussard
Baroness
Trusted Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Brielle Ross

Wow, you are sure moving along. I like the way that you are doing it. Not too fast but steady. I am so happy for you.

MissGracie
1 month ago

Hi Brielle: I was so encouraged to read your report on attending the conference. I was just as blessed by the fact that you have your priorities correct in naming Jesus Christ above all else in your life. I understand the ‘guilt’ some Christians try to burden trans persons with based on Deuteronomy 22:5 however they both misunderstand the context of it, as well as the fact that it no longer is applicable to New Testament Christians. People fail to keep scriptures within the context of the time it was written, the persons it was directed to and the original… Read more »

Emily Frances
Member
1 month ago

Believe Deuteronomy also prohibits shell fish.
As a newbie attended Southern Comfort which was very worthwhile.
At that time I also had all of the fears-using the ladies room, contact with civilians etc. Now-when I go out I do not even think about it anymore. Slip my mental transmission in to I am a woman and go from there.
I do have a strong bias about the way many now dress and refuse to conform. Usually over dressed and as a result get many compliments from women. Restrain myself from saying “so why did you give up?”

Janice Emory
Duchess
Member
1 month ago

Hi Brielle. Did I see you at the CDH meet and greet? I enjoyed the description of your experience. This was my third Keystone. I agree that it is a wonderful adventure with so many supportive girls and staff. I attended several seminars including, Transgender in Business, which was run by a friend of mine. In August the Mid-Atlantic Trans Community holds a wellness conference in Philadelphia addressing Transgender health issues and transformation. It is very informative and another chance to express your femininity. You are so lucky to have a somewhat supportive spouse. My wife would not accept me… Read more »

Janice Emory
Duchess
Member
1 month ago
Reply to  Brielle Ross

Hi Brie. I hope your medical procedures come out fine. Seems like you’re doing your best to be and appear more feminine. Good luck. I was sad to read of your marital situation. I hope you can remain friends and that she will come to realize and love the true you. Always stay the lovely person you are.
Hugs to you
Janus

Hope Roberts
Member
1 month ago

Oh Brielle,
I can only imagine your emotions during that conference girl! Way to keep your composure and meet with your daughter.
I would love to chat sometime as I am a practicing Catholic and converted from Methodism after I met my wife a cradle Catholic.
I struggle with my faith and my transition constantly. Thanks for sharing your story with us at CDH!
I also would love to go to such a conference
Hugs,
Hope

Terri
Duchess
Active Member
1 month ago

Great account of your experience at Keystone. It was so nice meeting you at dinner with Melanie. Keystone is a great event. Each time I attend it I enjoy it more.
I am so happy you had a good time.
Hugs Terri

Alison Anderson
Duchess
Active Member
1 month ago

It sounds like you had lot of fun. I was planning on going to Keystone, but when registration opened, COVID was rampant and I decided not to go. I’ll try again next year. I did go to a conference a number of years ago and had a great time. My SO was working out of town and I never told her. I’m divorced now so it’s not a concern. I get out a lot. Several days a week I take a walk through my neighborhood. But I’ve also gone shopping and picked up food from restaurants en femme. I had… Read more »

Raymond Swarmer
Member
29 days ago

Thanks for a great personal overview of the conference. I’m looking forward to Southern Comfort next year. Ive never had the chance to make a major event like Keystone, so your article gave me an idea of what to expect. My usual going out dress consists of women’s jeans or a skirt and a pretty top and of course my black pumps. A few accessories like earrings and my favorite pearl necklace and I’m off. Thanks again for the information.

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