If you are a crossdresser like me, or are at the very least familiar with the transgender community, you are probably familiar with, or at least heard a little bit about, the name I included in this post’s title:
Yep, Miss Vera. As in Miss Vera’s Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls, which bills itself as “the world’s first crossdressing academy.” Since the early 1990s, Miss Vera (and, yes, she does have a first name, Veronica, though the title “Miss Vera” gives her so much class) has opened the doors of her New York City apartment to any man who wants to become better at being a female. Whether someone just wants to look a little more feminine or wants to be all-out perfect, Miss Vera and her faculty have been there to instruct and guide any student who’s a crossdresser, transgender, or even cis-gender female into being the best woman they can be through instructions on makeup, hair, clothing, voice, mannerisms, and general feminine comportment. And, yes, it’s all done in a supportive, compassionate environment.
Needless to say, people like Miss Vera and organizations such as her school have fascinated me for the longest time. The first I heard of Miss Vera was in a 1994 episode of HBO’s Real Sex that profiled Miss Vera, her background, and her Finishing School It goes without saying that I watched that feature attentively when it aired and re-aired and re-re-aired (it’s premium cable, after all *LOL*); it was enlightening, for sure, and also well produced and nicely lensed. As well, I watched the show in the privacy of my own room. You see, it was during the time in the mid-90s when I lived with my sister, and there was no way I would let her (or anyone else in our family, for that matter) have any hint that their brother was even interested in men dressing up as women, let alone privately dressing up in women’s clothing. The only shame I felt in watching that Real Sex episode was that I never taped it for posterity; hopefully, I’ll find it some day on YouTube (I’m still looking).
As I mentioned above, that was only the first time I had heard of Miss Vera and her Finishing School. About eight years later, I came across a Boston Phoenix article (which lives on at this link) in which a Phoenix reporter shared his day of being a student at Miss Vera’s (he looked beautiful, as accompanying photos attest). And seven years before that, and one year after that Real Sex episode, I caught an Entertainment Tonight profile of an actor on Guiding Light whose character posed as a woman to seek revenge on an ex. While that Guiding Light storyline was pretty controversial, even for daytime drama (so much so that I won’t get into the tawdry details here), the actor put in a great performance as a woman — thanks to his training at Miss Vera’s Finishing School, some of which was captured by Entertainment Tonight‘s cameras, along with his venturing out into public in a feminine persona. (And… hey! Here’s some of that report! Thank you, denizens of YouTube!)
As the above video attests, the internet, as well as the television and print & radio feature links on Miss Vera’s website, has countless other profiles on Miss Vera’s Finishing School. One of those radio features, from New York’s WFUV, aired this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition. The report (the original 6-minute version can be found here; NPR’s condensed version of it can be found here) profiles one student of Miss Vera’s, a father of two from Philadelphia who has been dressing up in women’s clothing for about 5 years. At Miss Vera’s, he will transform from some guy in a baseball cap and sneakers into, as the WFUV reporter puts it, “Bianca, a sassy strawberry blonde in a form-fitting black dress and high-heeled boots.” The deans can be heard instructing Bianca on such things as walking in heels and presenting themselves in a feminine manner; one example heard is dragging out the vowels on descriptive terms (i.e. “It’s a-mayyy-zing”).
(Before I continue, a side thought: There are times when I thought it would have been perfect for the school to have been called Miss Vera’s Finishing Academy. Just as the name “Miss Vera” generates an aura of class, so does “academy”; you know, it’s that air of higher education. But when you think of it, the school name does include a word that creates even more class and importance — Finishing. As in “finishing school.” As in “Your female side has been within you all this while; let’s polish and refine her so that she can shine beautifully in the world.”)
One aspect of the Miss Vera’s enrollment process that I was previously unaware of and the WFUV report highlights is the pre-class application process. In said process, students must give not only their femme name (of course) but also a brief description of their feminine personas, the better to have them think about why they’re attending. This is a nice challenge, in my opinion, in that it emphasizes that this is more than getting all dolled up. After all, it is a finishing school, where an importance is placed on developing your true femme self. That’s something that will certainly lead to your becoming a well-rounded human being when you’re in or out of women’s clothing.
The story also touches on Miss Vera’s background. She went from the investment world into a life working in the fields of pornography and sex journalism. She would become an advocate on sexuality and gender identity issues, become a published author on said subjects, and eventually becoming the founder and “Dean of Students” at Miss Vera’s Finishing School. As Miss Vera puts it in the report, her school is a place where men can get in touch with their “femmeselves.”
I really like how Miss Vera and her school helps build personal strength into the feminine personas of their students. In a world where there is still a stigma about anything transgender in nature, the guidance Miss Vera’s Finishing School provides is a nice way to give a student confidence in being feminine and presenting themselves as such without shame or trepidation. It also makes me think… damn, I wish I wasn’t living so far away from New York City. Seriously, with an atmosphere as supporting as Miss Vera’s, what crossdresser wouldn’t want to become a student, even if only for a few hours.
But if the opportunity to be in the Big Apple never arrives for me, at least I can learn tips from Miss Vera’s books about crossdressing. I can also hope for a place closer to home where one can learn about being feminine, or at least have a day feeling feminine. I am aware of at least one business here in Wisconsin where one can receive a makeover and pose pretty for the camera. (For the record, it’s this business, where I hope to one day arrange a session.) Sure, just getting dolled up and posing isn’t exactly the same as learning how to be feminine at Miss Vera’s, but just the same, it helps serve the purpose of showing one’s feminine self in a truly supportive and accepting environment.
If you know of a service such as Miss Vera’s where a man can learn to become a better woman, feel free to add the information to the comments section below. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for the information. 🙂