That was a phrase you would never hear me say. I grew up around casinos. To me, casinos equaled crowds, noise and lots of cigarette smoke. Being an introvert I hate being in crowded places. All of the “exciting sounds” (bells, screaming, etc.) were just noise to me. I have always had very sensitive eyes, so the cigarette smoke just burned my eyes. But along with so many other magical changes in my life, that might be changing too.
Quite a few months ago my wife got the opportunity to get a hotel in Las Vegas for a few days for free. When she first asked me if I was interested my immediate reaction was ‘Why would I ever want to go there?’. But then we got to talking about it. At this point, I had never presented female in public. The thought of doing so terrified me and part of that was the possibility of someone I know seeing me before I was out to them. But I didn’t know anyone in Las Vegas. And even if someone I knew happened to be visiting at the same time I was there the odds of them running into me with the millions of tourists there was so remote as to not be a concern. So I did, for me, the unimaginable, I planned a trip to Las Vegas.
However, this was not going to be your typical trip to Las Vegas. We had no intention of hanging out in the casinos or spending our days on the strip. This was more of a mission than a trip. And that mission was for me to be able to present female in public without any concern of being seen by someone I knew. The plan was to spend a couple hours walking down the strip during the day to look at some of the interesting architecture, but most of our time would be spent in other places. We were expecting to spend a lot of time at malls and various public places where I could adjust to presenting female in public and see how well I pass. The only part of that plan that worked out was spending a lot of time at malls.
As we drove into the city and got closer to the strip we realized that it had grown a lot more then we thought since the last time we drove through about 25 years ago. As we got off the freeway the magnitude of everything started to sink in. What looked like a simple city block on Google maps was actually a mega-block, everything was huge. Since we have both always enjoyed impressive architecture this was somewhat exciting. It was going to take more than a couple hours to see it all.
After we got settled into our hotel room on Wednesday afternoon, we decided to cross the street and explore the strip a bit. I’m not sure how far we expected to get but we never got past the next casino. We found the food court in the MGM Grand and had dinner. This seemed really odd to me, food courts were usually found in malls. All the casinos I had been in before never had a food court, but then the last time I was in a casino was about 25 years ago. After we got done with our dinner, we decided to wander down the strip a bit. Our wandering ended right outside the MGM Grand. They had a small shopping complex with a few interesting stores. By the time we got done with those shops, we were getting tired and headed back to our hotel.
The next day we decided it was worth spending some more time on the strip. While some casinos were just as boring as I recalled from the past, most of them were vastly different. As we explored one casino after another, we discovered a variety of architectural styles and for me one huge difference, malls. Most of the casinos have a mall attached to them somewhere. Growing up most casinos had a hand full of small shops, most of which were overpriced and boring. But these were full-on shopping malls. Even better most of them were themed as the casino was. The mall attached to Ceasars was all a Roman motif with large statues and vaulted ceilings. The mall at the Venetian was Italian complete with moats and gondolas. We never really left the strip. I was in shopping heaven.
In between going from one huge shopping mall to another, we did a number of typical Las Vegas things; we saw a show, went to a buffet, and did a few other tourist things. Between all of the shopping, the fun architecture and having my awesome wife beside me it was wonderful, I loved Las Vegas.
Along the way, mission accomplished. I spent the whole time as the authentic me. I made purchases and talked to store clerks as Jasmine without any problems. I know I still have a long way to go in my transition, but now I know in most public settings I can pass and be me.