Peninsula Daily News
Esprit Gala returns to Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES -- Elika Sicire decided that the time was right for her to make a change.

``I've been a man for 63 years,'' the retired school teacher from Portland, Ore., said Wednesday.

``Now I get to play around.''

So when Sicire heard about the Esprit Gala, a gathering held at the Red Lion Hotel for those who want to better understand and express their true selves, she didn't hesitate to sign herself -- and her girlfriend -- up for the week.

``I said, `I'm going, I don't care what it costs, I'm going.'''

The weeklong meeting began with more than 80 on Sunday, but is expected to double by the end of the week, said Tori Phillips, an Esprit organizer from British Columbia.

Although many of the conventioneers meet up in Port Angeles to shop, socialize, make new friends and reconnect with old ones, Sicire also came for the educational seminars.

The informal classes run the gamut from information on gender reassignment surgery to self-defense.

`Basics of Style, Fashion'

On Wednesday, Sicire and more than a dozen other gala-goers attended a talk called ``The Basics of Style and Fashion'' given by Ann Grogan, a custom corset maker from San Francisco.

Grogan offered tips on not just ``passing'' in society as a woman, but some pieces of advice that every woman may hear from the time she is born -- but those born as males wouldn't necessarily get.

``Every little girl that grows up next to her mother's knee is told to stand up straight,'' Grogan said.

``Fashion begins with good posture.''

The class also offered color tips and advice on how to choose clothes that de-emphasize broad shoulders and thick necks.

It was right up Sicire's alley.

``This is what I wanted to learn,'' she said.

``My style-sense is almost nonexistent.''