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                                                                            Tri-Ess Dignity Crossdressing Cruise 2021

                                                    by Jane Ellen Fairfax, M.D. - Chairlady, Tri-Ess Board of Governance

Although I had committed months ago to going on the 2021 Tri-Ess Dignity Crossdress Cruise, my decision was not without apprehension. We were going on the Carnival Horizon, the largest ship in their fleet. This was my 14th cruise, and my second on the Carnival cruise line. Unfortunately, my first experience long ago with Carnival had not been a good one.

Being somewhat disabled, I wondered whether I'd be able to withstand the rigors of the cruise. Walking distances can be challenging, especially when disembarking at our ports of call. I looked forward to having lots of "Jane time", and I just love being around Tri-Ess people, whom I believe to be the nicest folks in the world. It turns out that I needn’t have worried. This cruise was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever been on!

On Friday evening (the night before the cruise), we gathered at the Embassy suites and socialized. Later the next morning, we took the shuttle to the ship. Cathy, our cruise mistress, was very efficient in bringing a wheelchair for me. I quickly went through the health check, and then smoothly through registration. Later, on the 10th deck, a lunch buffet was served. There was no crowd scene at the mandatory lifeboat drill, and we were was able to complete it in the comfort of the 4th deck lounge.

The majority of our group ate dinner 'en femme' that evening, but some were 'en homme'. It turns out that it did not matter, as the waiters memorized both names for all of us during that first evening. The service was impeccable throughout the cruise. When 'en femme', we were always addressed as ”ma’am”, and treated at all times like the ladies we are. The food was excellent throughout the trip! There was always something exotic on the menu, and I enjoyed rabbit, alligator and other delicacies.

This cruise was unusual in that there were four in-port days in a row, without a single intervening sea day. On Tuesday, some of our group explored Aruba. On Wednesday, Lee and I had a fun time on Curacao, touring the liqueur factory and experiencing the famous pontoon bridge. Thursday was highlighted with shopping at La Romana, where I bought a light, black and white dress in a rain pattern. I also purchased a flat silver purse with which to accompany it. The following day, Friday, we opted for the amazingly inexpensive Ocean World tour on Amber Cay. We saw dolphin, macaw, and sea lion shows, but my favorite were the little lovebirds. When the attendant put birdseed in our palms, swarms of little green, peach and apricot fellows swarmed over our hands, hair, and even over our eyes, tickling our hands as they made short work of the seed. Back on board, there were an abundance of revue, magic, karaoke, and comedy shows.

The lyrics of a quietly beautiful song start with:

"When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to flicker in the sky”…

One of the traveling wives had a soft purple dress that reminded me of that song. Little rhinestone stars peeped out singly at the middle and cascaded into a variable nebula at the hem. If you know what it is to wear a dress that “is you”, this one was a perfect example of a Janian outfit. Sisters sharing!

And, of course, the loveliest aspect of all were the Tri-Ess people. They came from Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Colorado to name a few. As with all Tri-Ess gatherings, there were many GWs (girlfriends/wives) aboard, and all were supportive and active. These people comprised about 8 of the 20 in our group.

In my 37 years as a Tri-Ess sister, I have learned that Tri-Ess folks are kind, generous, helpful and friendly. They are a true pleasure to be around. Seeing my current state of disability, Cathy was able to secure me a wheelchair for the duration of the trip. Lee was also very helpful, pushing me in my chair over cobbles and inclines in the ports. For many, it was an "old home" week, but I still made lots of new friends.

The cruise included substantial accomplishments in the revival of Tri-Ess. We were able to fill three new leadership positions, including two Department Headships. Lee hosted several meetings to teach us how to use the new website. This has already borne fruit, as can be seen in the increased activity on the forums.

The femme experience could not have been more pleasant. When we first came aboard, we were noticed by others and got a few curious, but not hostile, looks. The whole experience was positive. The waitstaff learned the two names for each crossdresser, and never missed a beat when addressing us. Other passengers stopped to talk with us and treated us as ladies. At Del Sol, which is on Curacao, the salesladies insisted on taking pictures with me, as did the ladies doing the Meringue dance on Amber Cay. Some crossdressers put emphasis on "passing", which refers to trying to fool people into thinking the crossdresser has two X chromosomes. How much better it is to be accepted as people who have a Y chromosome, but are ladies all the same! For the crossdresser who wants to go out in public for the first time, I could not imagine a more propitious venue than a Tri-Ess Dignity Crossdressing Cruise!

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