Stepping  Out  –  Beating the Fear

By Kris Burton

Part II – From Theory to Practice/What I’ve Learned

Like so many of our persuasion, I have come to find that stepping out into the community en femme is a high point in my overall CD experience. In Part I of this totally unscientific study I applied the techniques usually associated with combating the performance anxiety that often plagues performers and public speakers to the challenge of a shy CD – myself –  going out publicly. After my brief and rather impulsive first try several weeks previously, I was anxious to see how it would go with my new attitude and approach.


As it turns out this second outing – my first real one as I now see it – was far more productive, instructive, and one that could be built upon. It was the middle of the day. I drove to the local mall and was very nervous parking the car. There were people all around! I sat in the car gathering emotional strength and then forced my skinny jeaned, suede booted, pink sweatered, long brunette wigged,  in light makeup to step into the light and walk to the entrance.  My self-consciousness was heightened. I was aware of every step. Still, it felt as if I was in a very familiar psychological territory. I was experiencing the natural “jitters” of live performance – good old-fashioned “stage fright”. I knew I could beat it. I forged ahead and eliminated all thoughts of turning back, turning those nerves into excitement of the moment at hand. As I approached the door to the mall, I glimpsed myself in the window. It was an image of a woman, and that woman was me. I was able to say to myself “You’ve got this!”

The rest was as exhilarating as any performance would be. I was able to walk through the mall freely, as I do when presenting as my male self. More experienced CD  friends had stated that the other folks at the mall would be paying little or no attention, and I found that to be the case. Still, I prepared to interact, at least on a limited basis, to do so.  I went about a woman’s business; I used the ladies’ restroom and dressing rooms without question. In using just a lighter version of my natural voice, I was able to order my lunch without attracting undue notice, even being treated to a couple of “ma’ams” by the waitress. I had the door held open for me by another male customer. It was four hours, and I must say, I never had so much fun doing such everyday activities.

What have I learned? The experience was indeed similar to preparing for a performance, at least from my point of view.  My excitement was heightened as I chose to focus on what could go right as opposed to what could go wrong, which went far into reinforcing my confidence in a way my haphazard first experience did not. The comfort in my presentation and surroundings eased my self-consciousness, and it felt more like I “fit in” as the day progressed, just as you feel more comfortable on stage once you begin. This small, first step became a building block to taking on more challenging venues and wearing the dressier attire I favored. A fine restaurant, concert, or venue, would require more elaborate interaction, all of which have been done since.

I also learned that although stepping out publicly can FEEL like overcoming stage fright, it differs in a significant way – one that is actually helpful when you realize it. Unlike a stage presentation, you are not the focus of attention. Even though it may feel like every eye is upon you, in truth, those around you are more focused on their own dealings than yours. Unless you do, or wear, something that deliberately attracts attention, you should be able to walk easily through the crowd as you might any other time, just prettier.   Finally, realizing you can drop the hyper self-consciousness and the negativity it breeds can prove to be a confidence builder in itself.

Can your initial experience be made easier still? I think so. As any performer will tell you, it is much easier to take the stage as part of a group than a solo act. I found this is the case if you go out and about with another or several of your friends as well– and perhaps even more fun. Although it is more likely that you will be noticed, it is even less likely that you will be approached. Any self-consciousness you experience will be distributed among you. If you’ve ever played in a band or sung in a choir you know what I’m talking about.  Sheer numbers can breed security and confidence, and become a wonderful, shared experience for all to remember.

However, a warning: I have found that stepping out publicly is highly addictive! If you are like me you will find that after such success,  you’ll want to do it even more, just as performing onstage ignites a fire. You may find yourself inventing the need to go to the supermarket or take some nature pictures at the park en femme. I do that sort of thing regularly now and hope to find more opportunities to connect with others who feel the same way.

I hope you find my essay helpful in breaking through the barrier that may be holding you back. If you do, so many adventures lie ahead. They are yours to enjoy!


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Active Member
18 days ago

Great story Kris, and very similar to my own experience going out for the first time. And you are right, it is addicting! Thanks for sharing.

Stevie Johnson
Active Member
10 days ago

Hi Kris, I love the fact it was a good experience, I have been doing this off and on for a long time and I still have butterflies before I step out of the house dressed up. The first few times out of the house for me was with the encouragement of my late wife, It made it way easier for me when she said if anyone says anything I’ll tell them I put you up to it. If it wasn’t for her I probably never would have left the house dressed up.

Stevie Johnson
Active Member
9 days ago
Reply to  Kris Burton

I said the word butterflies, but for me now, it’s pure excitement

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