A New Chapter in My Life
Who and what are the River City Gems? From my point of view, the Gems are simply my home place. My place where I can be myself, enjoy life, be happy, and be accepted for who I am. Sometimes I’m not completely sure that “who I am” is a question with a single answer, but that’s okay. Everyone that I have met and interacted with in the Gems seems to understand that what is important about a person is their character, and not their appearance.
From the first moment that I stepped through the door at my first River City Gems event, a complete stranger, I was made to feel welcome, indeed loved, by this group of people, and I was accepted as a family member. For the River City Gems is a family in every sense of the word that matters. Families take care of and nurture each other, and that’s certainly what the Gems are about. To emphasize how amazing this is, that first event that I attended, the Gems’ Holiday Hangover party, was actually the very first time that I ever was “out”, meaning dressed en femme in public. The Gems at that party were so welcoming, I felt not even a single moment of awkwardness, and I have never been a very “social” person.
The Gems are also about freedom to simply be who you are, without many restrictions being placed on how you are expected to travel your path through life, or what destination you should be arriving at. The Gems include members from every segment of the MTF-TG community, from casual part-time cross dressers, to trans-women who are fully transitioned.
Having been widowed in 2013, I was struggling with severe depression. Finding the River City Gems has opened a new chapter in my life that leads to a future of hope and joy, instead of sorrow and despair, and the possibility of having at least a few days every month to socialize with friends who really care about each other.
Suddenly I Had Sisters
I grew up at a time when crossdressing was something not to be spoken about. I went from thinking I was crazy or defective to accepting the fact, and telling no one….ever! Well, you get the idea.
When I found The River City Gems by internet search five years ago, and attended my first event, it was like coming out of the woods to stand by a fire. I quickly felt at home. Suddenly I had sisters.
Coming to the Gems changed my life. I am now confident in my femininity, and go out in public en femme when I wish. The Gems gave me a meeting place, a circle of good friends, a family. I am forever grateful.
So few events in my life do I consider truly life-changing. Joining the Gems is clearly one of them. Through this loving community, I learned to not only accept but to embrace and celebrate my true self. By welcoming new members at the Drab Gabs each month, I feel privileged to give others this same opportunity. I am so thankful for having the Gems in my life.
I Now Feel Whole, Fulfilled, and Complete
Without the Gems, I would be yet another one-in-a-million–or millions–struggling for answers, examples, role models, and justification for this newly discovered part of me that I consider a blessing.
At the Gems events, I always find the atmosphere and the ambiance to be inviting. The camaraderie I find at the events, and its concomitant extension of support, always touches me. My SO, Valerie, now attends most events with me, and each time she has been warmly and genuinely welcomed!
Without the Gems, I truly wonder what I would have done or what direction I might have taken after I “discovered” this other side of me that I had not known was missing or lost.
I now feel whole, fulfilled, and complete, while knowing I have much to learn. After my first Gems event at which I “dressed,” in January 2015, I now (July 2015) dress 90-95% of the time and with confidence, wearing “drab” only when still absolutely necessary. When I return home, I immediately change into “something more comfortable,” and true to my real self.
A Major Stepping Stone
I have never felt that there was any kind of hierarchy in this group. I started out as a part-time girl and am now full-time with a legal new name and gender, driver’s license, social security card and birth certificate. I am very happy that the River City Gems have been all-inclusive and make everybody feel welcome! The River City Gems have been a major stepping stone on my path to womanhood.
A Place to Be Myself
fromthe Central Valley
I’ve been a member of the River City Gems since day one. This group has provided me with a place to be myself without any judgement. It was my honor to emcee our first two Sparkle events, and over the years I have been involved in other events as well. I can’t overstate how much this group means to my spouse and I. We’ve met people that have become very good friends and we have been able to mix with other couples who share our little secret. I never thought I’d be able to go somewhere as my femme self and feel that joy, or see a new girl, out dressed for the first time and remember the feelings I had. This is a very safe place to land for those of us who, for the most part, have spent too much of our lives feeling like we’re “all dressed up with no place to go.” Well, the River City Gems provide “that place to go”. Thank you so much to the Gems.
Opportunities to Meet Other Couples Like Us
After my long-time love shared with me this past year that he felt happier and more complete dressing en femme, I was dumbfounded. I wanted to understand what he was doing (from here on, I will say she) and to figure out how it would affect me and our relationship together. I searched for and devoured articles and books that seemed like they might hold the answers, such as My Husband Wears My Clothes and My Husband Betty. I also watched documentaries, movies, and TV series (Trans, Normal, Transparent, Becoming Us), looking for similarities and for guidance. I learned a lot, but since no two relationships are alike, I didn’t find all of my own answers. Apparently, each person has to find his or her own answers. But this doesn’t have to be alone.
During the first months of this phase, Vanessa and I attended a Gems event. I was tentative about going, but I did want to better understand what she was experiencing. Before I even entered the hotel meeting room, I was introduced to some Gems in the hallway. They smiled and greeted me with sincere kindness and warmth. Upon entering the room, there were more introductions–at the registration table, around the room as we mingled, and at our dinner table. Two subsequent events I attended went similarly. Some people were outgoing, some more withdrawn, but everyone was welcoming, warm, and friendly! Events with the Gems are valuable opportunities to meet and get to know other couples like us, to have a place to be ourselves, and to support each other. I look forward to more of these in the future!
A Great Place to Meet Friends
fromthe Bay Area
I am one who pretty much goes everywhere in public. But that said, when you come to a River City Gems event you get to meet so many like yourself that are all at one place at one time. Everyone in the River City Gems is wonderful and they all make you feel so welcome. My favorite event is Sparkle. It is opportunity to wear your favorite gown and look your best for the evening where you can dance your heart away with friends and enjoy a wonderful dinner.
I have been attending the Sparkle event since 2009 and I have always made a point to reserve that time of the year to attend the Sparkle Gala. Unfortunately my family is not supportive of me being transgender, and because of my circumstances, I am not able to attend as many events as I would like to. If I could, I would attend all the events and even volunteer my time to help put these events together. That is how serious I feel about this wonderful organization.
Like a Dream Come True
I went to Sparkle last year and joined for the first time after that event. It has been all upwards since then. I love the group and the events are the best. I have made new friends and we meet up in downtown Sacramento. Everyone in the group is friendly and lots of fun. I am 67 and only started going out a few years ago. The Gems is like a dream come true. It is nice to know you are not alone out there. The thank you letter I received when I joined was just another great example of how caring the Gems are.
A Safe Haven
The Gems has been the beginning for me as Rita. I have found friends and support from the girls. I was full of trepidation when I attended my first event! Now being en femme feels so natural, so right for me. I have found a safe haven with the Gems.
I have the support and understanding of my spouse who has become a rock for the other GGs (genetic females) who attend Gems events. I hope if you read this you too will find a place for your beginning.