May 24, 2006
Today marks the one year anniversary of my surgery. Wow. What a great year it's been! I had some health problems immediately after arriving home from surgery and I had some dilating problems (which magically went away when I just gave up on dilating!), but otherwise I could not be happier with my, um, "innie". I know this sounds like an odd thing to publicly celebrate/announce, but well, it has been a pretty freakin' awesome year!
Oct 08, 2005
An Open Letter to my Children -- 1998
Today is a melancholy day. It is gray outside, windy, and cold. It is the one year anniversary of The Girl's partner's death from breast cancer. We will go to the cemetary in a little bit. I am supposed to now be studying, but I cannot. Instead, my mind wanders. I think of relationships I've had, loves I've lost. They are as gone from my life as surely as her former partner is gone from The Girl's. I think of The Girl and her attempts to protect me from her own pain and natural sorrow. In an effort to distract me, I began surfing my own computer. I came across the letter, below, that I had written to my children 7 1/2 years ago, when I first fully transitioned. I'm not sure why I am compelled to share this here now. Still, I just now stumbled across it, so here it is. I've placed it also into the Transistion Stories category.
April 18, 1998
My dear sweet children,
I know there are many questions and many fears you have about the changes in me. I want to take a few minutes to speak to you about them. These are thoughts from my heart, from my soul, directed to you, my children.
I will not now speak of the whys and wherefores of my transgenderism. I have come to terms with it and am comfortable in my skin. I want instead to speak to you about you and about us.
I have told you countless times throughout your lives that “I love you.” I have worked hard to show you, in practical ways, the application of those words. I want you now to take the time to repeat them to yourself. Get into the depth of their meaning. I am now, I have always have been, and I always will be, your father. No force on earth or elsewhere can change that fact. Nothing I do, nothing I say, nothing you do, nothing you say will ever alter that relationship. The same is true of my love. It is eternal and it is unconditional.
There may come a time in your life, nearer now than you may believe, when you will not want me to be a part of some or all of your life and its activities. Regardless of your motives, or even my perception of your motives, I promise to honor and respect your wishes in this regard. Some of that desire for distance will be the normal, healthy growing pains of children learning to be independent of their parents. I suspect those times are never easy for either parent or for child. Our time of this will be more difficult. We will get through it, with love and with compassion.
There may also come a time when you are embarrassed by me or ashamed of me. I want you to know now that I understand that and that it will, in no way, diminish my love or my respect for you. But I ask something of you, I ask something of your intellect and of your humanity. I ask you to recognize now, with that intellect and before that time comes, that those feelings are nothing more than the reflection of your own acceptance of society’s fear and suspicion of the unknown. I helped to cause that in you; I am a part of your societal training. You have nothing to be ashamed of in that feeling. But in its recognition, you are challenged to rise above it. You are challenged to be better than society at large. The price may seem high. The rewards are immeasurable. Lots of people can “talk the talk”, you will be asked to “walk the walk.”
Finally, I must say to you that none of these changes in me are directed outward of myself. It is not done to cause you upset or harm. It was not done to end my marriage and relationship to your mother. It is done for my internal sense of balance. There is no change in who I am. Our relationship as parent/child will not alter unless you wish it. My relationship with your mother ended because of her own personal reasons that she judged good and valid. I cannot question her motives; like all of us, she made a choice for her life. You will be asked to make the same choice. Make the choice for your life, my loves, and not for someone else’s—especially not for society’s.
I love you forever.
Jul 29, 2005
An Article - Part 3 of 3
Note: This is the final installment of the original article that I wrote a dozen years ago.
Out of Control
I had just spent from Thursday noon to Monday morning completely en femme. I felt fantastic! However, household chores needed to be done, including mowing the lawn. I certainly couldn’t do that in full makeup, wig and a dress. I changed back to boy clothes (I left my toenails painted for two weeks) and did my household chores. Afterward I discovered that I was tired. I resolved not to dress that night and to simply stay home and watch television (a movie “Just one of the girls” was on).
Then, Stacy called. She, her fiancée, and several other friends (including two CD wannabe’s) were planning a late night trek to a newly discovered gay bar that was featuring a female impersonator show that night. Did I want to come along? Well, sure. It took me only an hour and a half to get ready - maybe I’m getting too practiced at this? Stacy and her fiancée stopped by to pick me up and we were off. On the way down Stacy and I had one of our good talks. She is a good friend; one in which I placed such confidence I let her re-finance my home mortgage. We got to the bar and everyone kept wanting to buy me drinks. I restrained myself so I had only had two when the emcee of the show approached me to see if I was planning to be in the show. “No.” Did I want to be? “No.” Would I please? “No.” “Please? We need you.” “Well, OK, but I’ve never done it before, and I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing.”
Stacy went out to my car to pick up a tape of a song I’ve fallen in love with: Whitney Houston’s “Run to You.” Naturally, I did not have on stage (read “drag”) make-up, so I borrowed the makeshift dressing room to add a little emphasis to my eyes, lips and cheeks. Going on stage in front of people is quite an interesting adventure. Even though all you do is lip-sync the song, you do have to know the words in order to make it believable. Also, you can’t simply stand in one place and move your lips. Fortunately, I had this song memorized and it meant so much to me that I was able to do a fair job of acting out the emotions it holds for me. I came in second place. Of course, the selection process is slightly rigged. They choose based on applause and since I had so many friends with me, it would have been impossible for me to come in any lower! Still, it was a lot of fun and an experience I’m glad I tried.
I was oh-so-tired for work the next day (Tuesday). I had just spent 4-½ days en femme with only a short break for yard work. I didn’t dress at all Tuesday or Wednesday. I just didn’t have the energy! I went home, made myself dinner, watched a little TV and headed to bed early. After all, the weekend was approaching and I needed to rest up.
My work began to suffer. My thoughts were constantly on dressing and what I would do that evening, where I would go, who I would meet. I logged onto the computer every day, just to be able to be with other cross dressers, if only electronically. I found myself in stores more often, looking for new clothes, jewelry, make-up, and shoes. I was clearly on a binge and I didn’t know how to stop. I told myself I didn’t want to stop. I did another show at a different bar. I found that I liked being out amongst people and I enjoyed the caricature represented by the drag queens. I avoided any heavy contact with them, because I sensed they were not a happy lot and I’d heard that many of them are into drugs, not a scene I have any interest in. But, I also recognized that I was losing control of myself, and my grip on reality. I knew I needed help; I was unable or unwilling to rein myself in. And I was becoming unhappy; I felt something was missing.
I was smart enough to know that I missed my “real” life. It is a life I’ve worked hard to have. Yet, I was afraid of losing the “life” I’d found amongst my cross-dressing friends. I sank into a bit of depression as I contemplated the loss of one or the other. My fondest dreams had them integrated, but my conscious mind could not work out the details. Even now, I’m not sure it can be wholly resolved. I knew that whatever was to happen would begin as soon as my wife arrived home from her vacation.
She came home a day early. I had received a letter from her that day (Saturday) that put them at least 3 days drive from home and they said they were going to make one more stop before heading this way. That worked out to being at least Sunday night or Monday before they arrived. Therefore, that night after I finished dressing, I left everything out, including my makeup, jewelry, an extra wig, and even some lingerie. I left the house about 9 PM, certain that it was late enough that they were sure not to arrive that night. They got home about 11 PM. My kids discovered all my stuff in the master bathroom and called in my wife and mother-in-law in to check it out. I was found out.
I was out that night with Cindy. Cindy is a delightful CD who is almost always fun to be with. She’s a bit more “drag queen” than I am sometimes comfortable with, but she has a good sense of humor and enjoys having a good time. I like to bar hop with her, despite the fact that she will sometimes take chances that I think are too much. She is tall and very passable and will almost always get tons of compliments when we’re out. This night we were off to explore two “new” bars. Neither of us had ever been to Bedrox or to Murph’s, both well known gay bars in Pinellas County. That night, Murph’s was having an FI show, but we’ve seen enough of them (and participated in a couple!) that we weren’t necessarily trying to get there for the show; we just wanted to see the bar and find out if it was a place we would be comfortable with as part of our repertoire. We started off at BJ’s (natch!) then headed across the bay to Bedrox. We were somewhat disappointed with it; we’d heard much about it, but it didn’t live up to its reputation that night. Perhaps it was simply because their a/c was broken and it was warm. Nevertheless, we left there just past midnight and headed over to Murph’s. We got there about the time the last act was on stage. We stayed there until the bar closed, chatting with the performers and some of the other patrons. I took Cindy back to BJ’s to get her car and I headed home.
I opened the garage door as I turned onto our street and, even before I was in the driveway, I saw her car in the garage. My stomach lurched. I panicked. I immediately shut the garage door and turned my car around. Almost heedless of traffic laws, lights, etc., I raced to the only place I knew I could go and be safe. Stacy is Denise’s best girl friend. She had once offered that if I needed a place to go, if I needed a shower, whatever, I could come to her house. Her fiancée is a cross-dresser (in the closet for more than a year now, though) and she is extremely open and accepting of the whole concept and its implications. It was to their house I was headed. They were not home. Again, I was devastated. I cursed myself, my stupidity, and my lack of care. Now what was I to do?
Why, oh why, hadn’t I cleaned everything up before I left? I KNEW there was a possibility they could arrive that night. After all, I had taken almost all my clothes out of the closet that day and put them in my car trunk in anticipation of returning them to the storage locker; I had packed all my shoes (I have more than my wife). In fact, I had put away everything except what I needed to get dressed that night and the next so that I could easily pack things away in a single suitcase to be hidden in my closet - just in case they should come home while I was out. But I had convinced myself they couldn’t be home that night. Some have suggested that I wanted to be found out. Although, I cannot deny the evidence, I don’t think that is the case. I DID want to talk with Susan about this, but I DID NOT want her to be shocked into discovery like this. Now, what was I to do?
I stood in Stacy’s private driveway and changed into the boy clothes I always carry in my trunk. I fairly ripped off my blouse, skirt, lingerie, wig and accessories and indiscriminately tossed them into the trunk, cursing myself all along. I had no makeup remover, it was after 3 in the morning and there were no secluded restrooms nearby where I could borrow soap and water and paper towels. I made do with a paper napkin and the remnants of a cup of ice to “wash” my face. There was, of course, no way to remove my nail polish. I would have to go home like that.
During the three mile drive back to my house, I entertained all sorts of panic-induced thoughts, ranging from the rational to the totally irrational and bizarre. Maybe I should never go home. Maybe I should just run away. No, that way my wife and kids would be penniless; they needed me too much for that. OK, then I should just drive my car into the bay; the insurance money would set them for life. ANYTHING was better than having to face my family and admit I sometimes want to be a girl and that, in fact, I was out tonight, in public, dressed as a girl. But, no. I was determined to face Susan, to come clean with her and give us a chance to deal with this as a couple. Still, I was very frightened by my perceptions of her possible responses. In retrospect, I handled the initial contact with her very poorly.
I parked in the driveway so as to not have to walk through the house to get to our bedroom. My mother-in-law had gone on the trip with them and I didn’t want to risk running into her. I went in the front door and found our bedroom door locked! No sneaking now. I knocked. What could I tell her? What could I say? I was torn between the anticipation of finally having this out in the open and the fear of her possible negative reaction. When she opened the door my first words were: “Hi, can we talk about this or do you just want to kill me?”
To her, those words confirmed her worst fears. She had concluded that I was out somewhere (she assumed a Halloween party) dressed as a woman, but the discovery of an unpadded bra and non-prescription sunglasses had also convinced her that I was with another woman. That was her biggest fear. She didn’t know that both items belonged to me. I had just purchased contacts two weeks earlier and had only bought the sunglasses the day before, and I use breast prostheses so I don’t need a padded bra. She turned away from me without a word. I followed her into the bedroom and she asked where I had been. At that point we began a discussion that would last the next several hours.
Her immediate concern was that I had been with someone else. I don’t believe she ever really entertained the idea that I had been with another man, but I allayed those fears nevertheless. Once convinced that all the paraphernalia in the bathroom was my own, we were able to discuss the fact of cross-dressing. She immediately began to question me as to my whereabouts. When I told her I had been at a bar, she wanted to know what KIND of a bar. I evaded the question and she repeated it. When I confessed I was at a gay bar, I explained that it was one of the few places we (CDs) could go and be accepted as people without lengthy explanations or discussions. Still, this mortified her. The thought that I had been in public was almost more than she could stand the thought of.
I am tempted to relay as much of the actual discussions and conversations as I can recall so that each of you may draw your own conclusions and learn from my mistakes as well as the instances that worked in my favor. However, I think I would be unable to eliminate my bias from that recounting and the space required would be prohibitive. So, I will give you MY version of what has transpired over these days (now almost two weeks as of the time of this writing). Additionally, I will write periodic updates as my wife and I together begin a new voyage of discovery into this gender world. I have benefited from your experiences; I hope someone can benefit from mine.
[My wife] experienced the full range of emotions, in gatling-gun fashion. It was almost more that I initially could handle. She was frightened, angry, confused, hurt, concerned, and finally, compassionate. Although I have not yet revealed all to her (like the extent of my public forays, or the fact that I use a girl’s name, or the actual amount of money I’ve spent on this endeavor), I have also not lied to her. I’ve told her the truth as I know it. I described my need to cross-dress from a “feelings” and “needs” perspective rather than trying to label it. We spent the balance of that night crying and talking and talking and crying. I told her how I had longed to reveal this to her for many months. I reminded her how I had tried to tell her on several occasions over the past 3 months. I told her I wasn’t sorry that I was a CD and that I believed my gender enhancement was one of the reasons I am the kind of a person I am - caring, sensitive, loving. I also told her about how troubled I was about my lying to her and how insecure I initially was. I told her about Tri-Ess and Starburst and the BBS in Atlanta. I told her of the number of people I’ve met and how these organizations and people helped me to understand better what was happening and to deal with it in a rational manner. I told her about my single trip to a psychiatrist and how it confirmed in my mind her own observation that most of them are sicker than the patients they purport to treat! (We both got a good chuckle at that). Despite the “seriousness” of the entire issue, I also tried to interject some levity and not let it get too deep.
As I’ve said, her initial concerns were that I was with another woman. Once past that she began to focus on “how this is going to change our lives.”
Jul 23, 2005
An Article - Part 2
Part 1 - The Journey, Recent History, The Voyage Begins - is here.
The Atlanta Trip
Although I knew we were heading for Atlanta the next day, I couldn’t resist going out. It seems I had so much “going out” built up in me that I just had to get some of it released. Naturally, I headed over to BJ’s (a popular womyn’s bar). There was nothing particularly unusual about the evening except that the bar was kind of slow and it afforded me the chance to sit and talk at length with, and get to know Rose, one of the bartenders. One of the ladies in the bar bought me a drink and asked me to join her, but it was getting late and I *am* happily married. I headed for home about 2 in the morning, stopping in to see John at his store before heading for bed.
John was scheduled to show up at my house around 7 when he would transform into Sarah and we would begin our journey to Atlanta and the Sigma Epsilon meeting. I set my alarm for 6:30 and began my own packing and transformation. I took more time packing than I expected so I was happy when John didn’t arrive until almost 8. By the time we were both ready and out the door, it was well past 9. It certainly appeared that we wouldn’t have much chance of arriving there by 4 as we had hoped.
As it turns out, the trip was uneventful. It took us a solid 9 hours as the hotel is all the way on the north end of Atlanta and I refused to drive faster than the speed limit. I am not yet ready for my first “encounter” with a traffic cop! Sarah had worked all night the previous night, so she slept most of the way, waking up just for gas, food and necessary stops. We arrived just past 6, and had some difficulty getting a room, but good fortune smiled upon us and we were able to get a room with 2 double beds and we made everyone only slightly late for dinner as I insisted on changing clothes after the long drive.
We went to a very nice Russian restaurant for dinner. We had two carloads of people, about 9 in all. The valet seemed just a bit surprised when we all arrived, but he maintained his composure and treated us very nicely. The dinner was nice, although I wound up sitting at the smokers’ table! The only consternation came about when (what else?) we needed to use the restroom. As it turned out, they had two, neither designated by sex so it became a non-issue. One of the ladies at dinner with us that evening was Linda Peacock, the outgoing president of SigEp. I’m not certain, but I believe she is the first genetic woman to head a chapter of Tri-Ess. She is also on the board of directors for Tri-Ess and one of the driving forces for the SPICE conventions. Although her husband is a cross- dresser, and I am certainly envious of his spouse’s obvious acceptance, I am sure he is pleased that she has relinquished at least some duties this year. I am continually amazed at some of the truly remarkable people that become involved in our “community” or “para-culture.” While there are those who would bury it, hide it, or be shamed by it (and those for whom there is no other choice), there are also people like Linda who work hard to see that the world at large knows we are ok and that we each also know that we are ok.
Back at the hotel, I headed for bed. Sarah headed for the bar to watch the game and chat with the other ladies, but I was in serious need of sleep. The next day we had breakfast in the hotel dining room and after eating, the cashier commented on what nice nails I had. I knew Amelia would be proud! We had our meeting that morning and the number of new members surprised me. Counting Sarah and myself there were at least 10 people that had attended fewer than 3 meetings. They have a large and growing group in Atlanta. I think it is one of the oldest Tri-Ess chapters in the country. It was originally established as the chapter for the southeast United States and was based in Tennessee, I believe. In any event, they still have members from all over the Southeast and some that drive long distances to attend. Sarah and I, of course, had driven up from Tampa, but there were original members from as far away as Chattanooga, TN that try and make every meeting.
Following the meeting (which was held concurrently with the spouses’ meeting) we broke up to allow each of us to do our own thing. Several of us wanted to go to the infamous “Perimeter Mall.” I got a run in my nylons on the way to the mall so the first thing I needed to do was replace them. I bought a replacement pair at J.C. Penney and used the fitting room to change. I also picked up a couple of “cocktail rings” from their costume jewelry selection. Although I have a weakness for jewelry, it is one of the few areas I have managed a little restraint. This weekend was no time for restraint!
The trip to the mall was interesting from several perspectives. We had two gals with us that had never been to a mall dressed before (Sarah being one), myself - who had been a couple of times, and Michelle who was a regular. There was also another group of five from the SigEp meeting at the mall, but we never ran into them. I seemed to progress through several stages of “comfort” during the excursion. Initially, I was excited and a little apprehensive. As soon as we entered the mall and came face to face with other patrons, I immediately switched to panic. I dealt with that by directing my attention to the clothing racks. As soon as the panic left me, I turned my attention to the two who had never been before. If I was this nervous, they must be beside themselves. They handled themselves beautifully. After a short while (and after having replaced my nylons) I discovered that I was becoming more comfortable. No one was gawking at us; indeed no one seemed to mind us at all (that is not to say we went unnoticed!). I soon discovered that actually being in a store was much easier than being in the mall itself. In the store, you have only to deal with a sales clerk (almost ALL of whom are eager to help you) and a limited number of other shoppers, each of whom has their own agenda, which rarely includes noticing you. In the mall, on the other hand, there are no helpful sales clerks and most of the people are on a sightseeing mission and I felt like one of the sights! However, here again, I learned to deal with it. A direct look, a smile and an air of confidence worked wonders. I progressed to the point where I actually enjoyed observing the reactions of the other shoppers as they passed us. At one point, while I was stopped looking at some jewelry, I overhead two ladies as they approached my direction, having just passed my companions: “Did you see that? That was a guy!” “No! Really?!” “Yes, I’m serious.” They laughed good-naturedly and continued with their shopping, never even noticing me standing there, eavesdropping on their conversation. I learned at that point that, as long as someone didn’t approach me directly and tell me I was repulsive or ugly or offensive, I could handle this. Later that night I would learn that I could handle the direct confrontation as well.
I ended up spending more money than common sense would dictate, including buying a pretty black hat with a large feather that Sarah was sure would perfectly set off the little red cocktail dress I was going to wear that night. In any event, we all had a good time shopping, but I fear that one of our first timers got a little uptight the longer we stayed so we left a bit earlier than we might have otherwise. Nevertheless, it was a fun and enlightening experience for all of us.
We returned to the hotel in time to shower, take a short nap and change for the evening’s activities. I had purchased (from the Body Shop in Tampa) a slightly-too-small red cocktail dress, with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a gorgeous neckline that I had been dying to wear for some time. This evening seemed the perfect opportunity. By the way, the hat DID perfectly set off the dress and it was a success (the dress? Well, I thought it was nice; it MAY have been a bit short - it certainly was too tight! It actually gave me cleavage because it was so tight). Plans were made by several of us to attend a comedy show. Sarah opted to stay with the group that remained at the hotel; I opted for the show. In retrospect, I would rather have remained at the hotel. The show was enjoyable and I liked being out and about, but I got only a limited chance to chat with people and get to know some of the faces that I had identified on the BBS. I did have one noteworthy experience during our excursion to the Comedy Club, however.
After we had purchased our tickets, we were standing around outside, chatting. The earlier show let out and the patrons began to walk past us as they left. Most paid no attention to us, some looked at us and smiled and some studiously looked away. One young woman, however, made a point to come up to us and find out what we were up to. She had been drinking rather heavily and was a bit unsteady on her feet (and she wasn’t even wearing heels!) so she quickly bought the line that we were part of the show. After some quiet laughter at that we ‘fessed up that we weren’t really part of the show. She pointed to us with her beer bottle and said “As a girl, I know that girls always care about what other girls are thinking about them, so I just have to tell you all: ‘You’re ugly! I mean UGLY!’” We were a bit startled at the suddenness and directness of her comments, but given her state, we found it easy to laugh off. And, surprisingly, I discovered that she hurt none of us. I found, that I could consider the source and ignore such comments from small-minded people. I realized later that, among the whole group, she was the only one there that was truly ugly. Not one of us would have ever considered trying to hurt someone else’s feelings so directly. As they say: “Beauty is only skin deep.”
We got back to the hotel about midnight. I had to get out of that dress and into something less constricting. After I changed clothes, into a simple black skirt and a pretty red and black blouse, I headed back down to the bar to join everyone else. On the way, I encountered two men. They entered the hallway from the opposite end and spotted me walking their way. One gave a wolf whistle and the other an appreciative “Hello!” I smiled and continued to walk. They had obviously just come from the lounge and so were well aware of the number of CDs in the hotel and one of the guys turned to the other and said “That IS a woman, isn’t it?” “I sure hope so” the other replied. Again, I smiled, said nothing, and kept walking. They entered the elevator just as I arrived; I looked at them, winked and walked past just as the elevator doors shut.
In the lounge, I again got to meet some wonderful people with whom I had earlier “chatted” electronically. During one of these conversations, Sarah approached me to inform me that she and several others, including the wife of the BBS’s system operator, were headed next door to Denny’s for breakfast. They invited me to join them, so off I went. As I was exiting the lounge, however, a man reached out from the bar and grabbed my arm and gently pulled me over. Naturally, I was quite startled and I looked at him quizzically. “I don’t mean to frighten or embarrass you,” he started, “but - are you male?” I smiled at him and replied that I was neither frightened nor embarrassed and that, tonight, I also was not male. He smiled at that and asked me if I was a crossdresser with this group and I answered in the affirmative. He confided in me that he had a “friend” that was a cross-dresser and he found it fascinating. When I failed to respond to that he smiled again and said, “Well, I just wanted to tell you that you look stunning.” I smiled once again, thanked him, pulled my arm away and left to catch up with everyone at Denny’s.
We slept in late the next morning and then had to pack. Still, we made it down to the hotel dining room just in time for breakfast. Most of the attendees, that still remained, were now in their male personas, excepting Sarah and myself. After breakfast and much hugging and promises to keep in touch, we set off. I pulled into the Chevron next door to the hotel to fill up first and, by the time we actually hit the road, it was straight up noon. We didn’t get home until 9:10 that evening. A message from my wife was on the recorder. I immediately called her back and learned that I had only just missed her call. I pretended that I had been out of earshot of the telephone and didn’t even know she had called; I was simply calling to see how they were doing. My God! I hate to lie to her!
Next week: Out of Control, The Discovery, Learning Together
Jul 15, 2005
An Article - Part 1
This is 3 part article (and each part is fairly long, I fear) that I wrote a long time ago for publication in the local support group's newsletter, Butterflies. I, again, remind the reader that these early writings are written from the perspective of a beginning cross-dresser who pushed all thoughts of transsexualism aside. Indeed, at about this time a friend made a comment that while I protested that I was "nothing but an average cross-dresser" she wouldn't be surprised one day to learn that my transmission had slipped a gear into transsexualism. I scoffed.
I wrote this at the request of the group, in an attempt to share with people another life story. It post dates some of the later letters (I wrote this around October/November, 1993).
My voyage of gender discovery has been somewhat intense, as I know many of you are aware. I have written several articles regarding isolated incidents that occurred during that voyage. Some have concerned themselves with my inner conflict regarding telling my spouse, but most have been about public excursions while en femme: shopping, my trip to the Be All in Chicago, “First Friday” clubbing, etc. In this article, I should like to combine both perspectives as the events are so intertwined. Paula’s recent article in Butterflies reminded me again of how important it is that we share with each other our journeys so that we may each learn. This article will certainly be longer than most and I hereby give permission to edit, condense, or separate into multiple publication as required.
After my very recent discovery of the joy that cross-dressing can bring (9 months), I found myself becoming more and more caught up in what some have called the “pink fog.” I entertained all the usual thoughts: How can I do this more often? Do I want to do this full-time? Is there something wrong with me? I began to think about dressing to the detriment of my male life and my job. I became somewhat obsessed with perfecting the presentation. I wanted to PASS!!! However, I was somewhat constrained in searching for answers in that my dearest friend and confidant, my spouse, was unaware of all that was going on. I found the time that I could dress was severely restricted, sometimes to only once per month.
I found myself doing the one thing that is a sure-fire recipe for disaster in any marriage. I began to lie to her. I violated her trust in me. This began to gnaw at me like nothing else. I HAD to tell her what was happening to me. Now, I’m not sure that telling your spouse is a MUST for everyone. We are all unique and in unique situations, but for me, it was an imperative. For a while, I believed that I could “spare her” by not telling. I, alone, could and would bear this “burden.” However, I realized that wasn’t the case; I NEEDED her help and understanding. To attempt to bear it alone was a typical macho reaction, which is not a response I’ve ever been very comfortable with.
I believed, however, that I needed a baseline of understanding of my own. I set myself an objective to tell her within 6 months from the time I started. I thought that wouldn’t be so long of a time that she would think I had hidden anything from her and, at the same time, it would be long enough for me to discover some basic truths about myself, gender dsyphoria, others like me, etc.
The Voyage Begins
Under the license and justification of education, I began to let myself fall into the trap, into the fog. I was willing to try anything, go anywhere. When I initially experienced no ill side effects, I began to throw caution to the wind. I let more and more people in on my little secret. I became convinced there were a huge number of like-minded males that had similar desires with no opportunity for outlet. I created a “club” concept (which I called La Femme) and advertised it in a local entertainment newspaper (Creative Loafing). Through that ad and through joining Starburst, I met a lot of cross-dressers. I discovered a computer bulletin board, owned and operated by a long-time cross-dresser, in Atlanta. I logged on and met many, many more “electronic” friends. In retrospect, the result was predictable. I began not only to learn that I wasn’t a schizophrenic freak, but that the "typical" cross-dresser was of above average intelligence and social standing (however relevant or important that may be).[I later learned that this was hogwash; it was what I wanted to believe. Ed.] Thus, I reasoned, since I was “normal” and among a peer group that displayed such admirable characteristics and constantly reinforced the “you’re ok” mindset, there was need only for limited caution, concern only where my job was involved. Being in public became a primary objective for me. I began to seek out extended opportunities for public appearances of my femme persona. I went to Chicago on a supposed business trip so that I could spend 3 full days en femme, meet more people and become further educated.
Still, I couldn’t tell my wife. The 6-month mark came and I made a half-hearted attempt to tell her. I commented on a desire to wear her nylons during lovemaking and later I suggested to her that I might enjoy wearing make-up. She shut me down rather quickly and I failed to pursue the topic, as I should have. After 17 years of an excellent marriage, I should never have let such an important subject go without pressing it and making its importance known. Regardless of what I should have done, I continued to hide it from her and to find opportunities to dress when I could. I took a day off work and went shopping en femme with a new found friend, I pretended to work late on a Saturday night so I could attend a meeting of Starburst, I had a make-over and photo shoot at Glamour Shots in one of the major malls, [This, by the way, is the photo that got picked up in that other blog some time back. -Ed.] and I “played poker” the first Friday of each month. I began to resent her not letting me do as I wanted and the fear of consequences of telling her began to build unreasonably in my mind. What I needed, I finally concluded, was TIME. Time to explore more fully this whole gender conflict, time to allow myself to dress whenever I wanted to, time to meet more people, time to have fun without fear of recrimination.
Suddenly one day, my wife announced to me that she, her mom and our 3 girls were going to take an extended vacation to our nation’s capitol toward the end of summer. Knowing that this was an especially busy time for me at work, she had no trouble with my excuses for why I would be unable to accompany them. I had my opportunity! I would explore, I would allow myself to go unchecked, I would determine what, if any, my own limits were. And, I said to myself, when my wife returned I would have a serious discussion with her - I would tell her everything.
During the entire month prior to my family’s departure, I had but a single opportunity to dress: my usual first Friday “poker night.” I was terribly anxious for them to leave. I was so anxious, in fact, that I never even felt guilty for the fact. I just knew these weeks would provide all the answers I sought, or so I thought.
The morning they were scheduled to leave, I awoke early. For months now, I had fantasized about having shaved legs, about how my legs would look and especially how they would feel while wearing only one pair of nylons. While my wife slept, I got in the shower and did the deed. I half believed that the hair would grow back to such a length that, upon her return, my wife would not notice. And even if she did, I reasoned, it would provide the catalyst for our much needed discussion. I shaved.
I have to confess that the sensation was fantastic. I never dreamed my legs were that sensitive. I wore nylons constantly from that moment, regardless of my outerwear. I’ve always believed I have nice legs anyway and I thought that having just one pair of nylons on would tend to show them off even better. [Thankfully, other people apparently think so, too -- even now, years later!]
That week is a blur. I worked every day except Friday and I went out every night. On Wednesday, I went to Dillards where a friend (a friendship that has developed just recently) gave me a facial and waxed my eyebrows and hands. The next day I took off work early, went home and dressed and headed over to Beauty Express where I treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure. Darlene had several clients come through the shop during my visit including one man who sat in the chair next to me during my entire pedicure. She said to me later that not a single individual noticed anything unusual about me and that the man was a long-time customer and friend of hers and she’s certain that he would have commented had he noticed that I was a cross-dresser. By the time my treatments were over, I was feeling heavenly. I had been letting my nails grow for the prior couple of weeks and they were at a good length. Amelia and I selected a color that went with several of my outfits and she painted my nails - fingers and toes! She gave me the bottle as a gift before I left for the day. I had also purchased a new wig from Darlene - one that was just a shade darker than my other wig and therefore closer to the color of my naturally blonde hair. She styled it for me and I left - ready to head to Atlanta for 4 days en femme!
Getting dressed in the comfort of my own home was a wonderful pleasure all in its own. I had spent months trying to get dressed by the light of a battery operated lantern in a 5X5 storage locker and then, after a scare, had to rent a motel room to dress. Now, I was wild about the opportunity to be able to dress, leave my makeup out, hang up clothes in my closet, etc. all in the comfort and privacy of my own home. The experience, in this case, was as good as the anticipation.
Upcoming - The Atlanta Trip; Out of Control; The Discovery
Jul 07, 2005
Birthed in a storage locker
[Note: This is the second installment in my transition stories category. These early stories are about a time when I first came out as transgendered and I identified exclusively as a cross-dresser. Each of these next several entries were written about the time that I began cross-dressing as an adult. I will add comments inside brackets where I find it relevant or I will delete text where I find it necessary and appropriate (and bracket the deletions); otherwise these are as they were written then. When I first started cross dressing, I rented a storage locker (5x5x10) where I kept all my stuff (make-up, clothing, etc.). This is a letter I wrote to my wife at the time (January 1993).]
My Dearest Love,
I am writing this letter to you in the event that something happens to me before I have a chance to discuss this with you in person. If you are reading this, I am surely dead or seriously injured - for I intend you to not see this unless you somehow find my “cache”.
You are obviously reading this through the discovery of my rented storage facility. That means you’ve discovered Denise. I have meant to tell you of her for a long time. She is as much a part of me as any trait or characteristic I have. Part of what makes me who I am is Denise. More than anything in the world, I beg your understanding and, more than that, your forgiveness for not sharing this with you earlier. You cannot know how much I wanted to.
I will not try here to explain what compelled me to cross-dress. I truly have no idea. I did seek the advice of a psychiatrist at one time (to the tune of $250 for an hour session!). She told me the “condition” was curable and related to my relationship with my mother (Mothers are always to blame! HaHa!). She wanted $6,000 - $7,000 for therapy sessions to “cure” me (over a 6-7 month period, minimum). [I later saw this same psychiatrist as part of my transition and reminded her of this; she flatly denied it ever took place - she claims she never said it was curable nor that it was related to my relationship with my mother. I must have just made that up. Yeah, right. Personally, I think she just changed her tune as she, herself, learned more about transgenderism.] Since I clearly could not afford that, and, like you, I have an innate distaste for them and their profession, I looked elsewhere for answers. I did much reading, and those books, for the vast majority, argued that the condition is not curable. Furthermore, frankly, I didn’t want it cured. I enjoyed being Denise. I hurt no one. I will leave it to you, if you desire, to read about it. I wish you simply to know that the “condition” - to me - is harmless and is not caused by anyone external to me - especially you. It is a desire in me that I have had for a very long time. Remember, I told you about my dressing up in my Mother’s clothes when I was young?
The urge to wear women’s clothing never left me. I suppressed it for many years. Finally, about the time I moved back here by myself, I succumbed to the urge and began to wear women’s undergarments. I even wore pantyhose to work. I kept that up for almost two years while I simply dreamed of being able to completely dress. Finally, I got up the courage, shaved off my mustache (remember that trauma?!) and donned make-up and a dress. I can’t tell you how free that made me feel! That is, of course, the real reason I never let you talk me into growing it back.
Now, months later, I feel trapped again. Trapped because, while I accept who I am and what I am, I don’t know how to ask you to. I truly don’t want to subject you to the pain and social stigma associated with my cross-dressing. This is not your fault; ergo, why should you suffer? And, yet it forces me to lie to you. My monthly “poker” games are really meetings of Starburst, a cross-dressers’ support group. Their phone number is xxx-xxxx if you ever have any desire to talk to someone else about all this. I feel trapped because I feel so alone. Starburst is a great organization and their help has been terrific, but I need more than 1 time a month (I never wanted to give up a Saturday evening to attend their second monthly get-togethers). I need you. But, how can I tell you???
I never felt less a good Father or Husband because of my need to cross-dress. I always tried hard to be the best I could be. It was not always enough, I know. But my love for you and for my children is undying. I wanted to shelter you from a side of me that is clearly not socially acceptable. I know that if the situation could somehow be reversed I would want you to share all with me. And I also know, in my heart, that you would want the same thing. Still, I can’t bring myself to interject something into our perfect life that would, in any way, make it less perfect in your eyes. 
My God, I love you. Beyond anything else I’ve done in my life, my marriage to you and the birth of our 3 wonderful daughters are the highlights of my life! Watching them grow has been 97% pure pleasure (the other 3% is just so you know to appreciate the balance!). I leave it entirely up to your wonderful judgment and keen instincts to decide how much, if any, of this you share with them.
Remember me however you feel most comfortable with. I encourage you to burn all evidence of Denise and wipe her existence from your mind, if that will help you. You never knew her, so she cannot be important to you. Your happiness is all I care about. I would not have even told you about this at this juncture except that I couldn’t figure out what else to do in the event of an untimely death. Surely, the self-storage people would be in touch with you eventually and you would be forced to investigate why I had a storage room.
Good-bye my Love!
Jun 23, 2005
I can't call you David anymore
As I mentioned here, I have added a new category, called "Transition Stories" to the blog. In these posts, I intend to talk candidly about my transition, to share writings that I've retained during those years, to add fresh commentary where appropriate, etc. Any comments, or questions or feedback is appreciated.
This first entry is the result of a question that one of my readers asked me in a private e-mail. She wanted to know how I came about my name and if I had a middle name. As with most of my stories, I can't just cut to the chase; I have to "go 'round my ass to get to my elbow", or "build a watch to tell you the time".
When I was a young man, I had a moustache (you can see it in my "transition" photo album). In 20 years, I shaved it off twice. Once was because my eldest daughter complained about it and refused to kiss me because of it (she was about 5 at the time). The next time was on December 22, 1992.
For some years leading up to that date I cross-dressed in secret (this ignores all the childhood stuff). No one knew. Well, except for one store clerk -- the person who finally told me that I wasn't the only person like me in the world and introduced me to a transgender support group. By the time late '92 rolled around I was convinced that I needed to see how I would look as a woman. But, I truly had no idea of how to go about it.
I called a "finishing school" for professional women out of the yellow pages and asked if I could get private lessons. They agreed, pending the results of a personal interview first (I learned later that the reason for the interview was to assess whether or not they (the owner and the makeup artist/stylist) thought I could pass. If, in their judgment I would not be able to pass they would not take me on as a client). At that initial interview, they agreed to accept me and we selected a date when I could begin - December 22, 1992. They were going to teach me how to put on make-up, they were going to teach me how to walk (I'd never worn heels before), how to style a wig, how to dress, how to sit, etc.
On the morning of, I awoke early. I was so excited that I simply could not sleep. While my wife remained sleeping, I went into the bathroom, showered, and then shaved it off. My appointment was for 6 PM that evening, so I told my wife that I had to work late (never before a liar, I became quite proficient at it during this period of my life). That night, the make-up artist began my instruction. This first night, he did all of the application (with my observing in a mirror); later, he would do one side and I would do the other and finally he would just observe and correct as I did it myself.
After the makeup application was completed, he took a step back to observe his work and exclaimed "Well, I can't call you David anymore; I'll just have to call you Denise". And, that's the name I've kept all this time.
When I was born, my mother - out of deep respect and affection for her older brother - gave me the middle name of Eugene. Because of the history of my name I did not want to let it go. So, I simply altered it slightly to Eugenia.
And, that's the story of my name.
Jun 05, 2005
I want to write this entry to thank three generations of women in my life. Each of them have been loving and supportive in such a material and profound way that it has enabled me to get through these past three weeks.
First, of course, is my mother. My mom is and always has been my biggest supporter and fan. For her, I can do no wrong. That is a tremendous source of support when things seem to be falling all around your ears. Despite her own infirmaries (congestive heart failure, emphysema, O2 24/7, wheelchair bound, etc) she insisted on accompanying me to Trinidad for surgery. It gave us the opportunity to spend some real time together as we drove hundreds of miles together. We even listened to a book together on our drive up. She was there as they wheeled me away for surgery and she was there when I awoke from the anesthesia. I could not have done this without her. That became even more apparent to me after she left and I was alone. Thank you my mother, you are truly the best. Along with my mom, I must also acknowledge the tireless efforts of my fabulous step-dad, and her husband for the past 32 years, Augie. She would not have been able to make the trip if not for him and his absolute commitment to her.
Next is my sister, Debbie. She opened her home and her arms to me. I stayed with her prior to going to surgery. She came and visited me while I was in the hospital, she picked up my daughter, Melody, from Denver's airport and drove her to Trinidad to stay with me, and she opened her home back to the both of us these three nights, despite the extra burden we represent. Her total acceptance and love of me has helped me immeasurably. She never wavers in her support. When someone else (even a relative) attacks me she stands in support. I am blessed beyond words to have such a wonderful sibling. And, again, I cannot thank Debbie without also acknowledging her family. From her husband to her kids, they have all been loving and supportive and made us feel welcome and wanted and as if we were no burden to them.
And, finally, Melody. My middle daughter has taken nearly a month out of her summer schedule to come stay with and care for me. She is my legs when I'm too tired to go get something, she nags me appropriately to do the things I am supposed to do to ensure my healing, she is my chauffeur - from Trinidad to Denver, from Denver to Chicago and from Chicago to Ann Arbor; she pushes my wheelchair at the zoo and worries that she's somehow hurting me when we hit a bump. She hugs me and kisses me and reassures me constantly of her devotion and love for me.
Thank you, lovely ladies, for all that you do for me. This adventure would not have been as easy as it has been were it not for each of you. I love you all.
Tomorrow, we head for Chicago. It will probably take us a couple of days to get there. Don't expect any entries in the meantime. For your reading pleasure, may I offer Amanda's blog as she recounts her trip to Israel.
Jun 02, 2005
Like Melody, I've written this blog entry more than once since I accidentally hit the "back" button before saving it the first time. Damn, I hate doing stupid things! :)
She has been with me since Tuesday and it's been wonderful. We've always known that she was a lot like me, but she just took the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test that she found on my blog and discovered that she is even more like me than we knew; she and I have the same personality profile - iNFp. I knew there was something about the kid that I liked. ;)
Yesterday, I attempted to make good on my earlier threat to her, but she proved me wrong by whuppin' my ass. Now, I am more determined than ever to beat her! (I claim a drug-induced handicap!) ::grin:: I'm so proud of this young woman.
We also stopped by the hospital yesterday and picked up my mail. I was delighted to find another half-dozen cards, my gift from Katherine of Not For Sheep, and a bouquet of lilies from the LGBT Affairs office of the University of Michigan. You guys rock my world. [UPDATE: Added photo of me wearing the hat Katherine made me]
Today is another rest and recuperation day. I am feeling still weak and am easily tired, but better and better. Tomorrow, we head for Denver and my sister's house where we'll visit for a day or two and then head back to A2. Enroute, we will spend a night or two with my best friend, Michelle, in Chi-town. Unfortunately, it will probably be during the week while she's off defending the rights of the public and we'll only be able to see her at night, but that will be better than nothing.
May 30, 2005
Out of Hospital
I am safely, happily back at my hotel (actually a bed-n-breakfast). I am tempted to describe the details of the past couple of days, but at the end of the day, I don't think it matters. Suffice it to say that there were times when I actually said to the nurses: "Is it too late to change my mind?" But, the deed is done. It is odd for me, having lived my life so long with that particular bodily configuration. I am not yet comfortable with my new parts and I'm still having to take regular doses of pain medication, and I've been repeatedly warned of a post surgical depression that usually strikes within 2-4 weeks of surgery. Nevertheless, for now, I am happy with where I am (I would be lying if I didn't at least own the sense of loss that I have at a past I can never again revisit).
My middle daughter arrives early tomorrow afternoon. My sister is picking her up at the airport and driving her down. I can hardly wait to see them. I needed out of that hospital room; I needed some serious alone time (I keep telling you all that I am an Introvert and therefore am drained not energized by constantly being around others), but I am anxious to see them. Everyone in the hospital was good to me and friendly and compassionate and caring. But, I knew none of them; I had no connection to anyone. I feel the need to be grounded again to my life.
Someone just posted a comment to the previous post. I can't tell you what awesome timing it was to get that. Thank you for posting it. Thank you all who expressed your support for me over the past days and weeks -- in the form of e-mail, comments, cards, flowers, and knit caps. You guys are the very best.
May 29, 2005
Suffer in silence? Not me!
Yesterday and now into this morning I've been in constant pain. I took a sleeping pill in addition to the pain meds to help me get through the night but when I awoke I was really hurting. In an odd twist I find that I am the most lonely during times like these, but also that I least want to talk on the phone.
So, since no one likes a complainer (I mean really - who does?) I try to not complain overmuch. Today is an exception and you, faithful blog readers, are the lucky targets.
I am tired of being in pain. I am tired of not being able to have a bowel movement (yes, I've taken everything they've given me to help -- prune juice, stool softeners, mineral oil, etc). I'm tired of this catheter. I'm tired of my roommate. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I want to feel better and get the hell out of this hospital!!!!
OK, I feel better. Thank you. Later today, I will try to put up my initial "Transition" entry (blogging is really helpful to me, but it uses the phone line and therefore takes the phone away from anyone trying to call either me or my roomie). I wish my last two grades would be posted. I got the exact grade I predicted in my other two classes, but the two remaining are Critical Race Theory and Enterprise Organization. It is in one of those that I hope to get an 'A'.
May 27, 2005
Another hospital update
I will be out of the hospital on Monday. Every hour I feel better. Today, I walked around the entire wing of the hospital (tucked the Foley catheter bag up under my robe). I am wearing a pretty new robe that my sister and mom bought me the day before I checked in. It felt so wonderful to be liberated! No IVs, no drain tubes (the removal of that was somewhat painful, but I lived through it) no oxygen tubes, etc. I've been off morphine since early today and am, instead, now on oral pain meds.
I took a shower this afternoon and nearly passed out from pain. I hurt very badly and got very nauseous, but I did manage to get through it. Then, I rested the remainder of the afternoon (and watched a movie on my laptop) and ventured out again for a walk this evening and was delighted to find that I felt wonderful, if a bit weak.
Tomorrow, I plan to blog read. I am so far behind on my blog reading! I've no idea what people are up to.
Speaking of blogs, I was thinking of adding a category to my blog, depending upon what y'all think. I've had several questions asked of me about my early days of transition and coming out (how I got my name, how I learned to "behave" like a woman since I'd been trained as a man, the impact on my family, etc.). If there is enough demand, I think I may add a "transition" category in which I re-publish some of the things I had written back then as well as write new thoughts based up today's reflection of those events. You guys think that's a good idea?
OK, well, obviously this blog entry is somewhat rambling -- an outgrowth, I suspect, of the pain meds and my naturally illogical thought processes -- so I'll say good-night, Gracie.
[Update]: Today was a bad day. I had pain most of the day and slept a lot of it. I didn't even take some of the calls that I received; I just didn't want to talk to anyone. I feel better now. I've been walking three times today and all my vitals look good. I'm going to watch a movie and then go back to sleep. Tomorrow is the last day on the catheter and I have to re-train my bladder how to work. Should be interesting.
Walking can be bigger challege than you might expect. First, I've been lying down with my legs spread for two solid days. Add to that the fact that i have an ice pack on my groin in attempt to keep th swelling to a minimum and actully putting your legs together and then putting your weight upon them is somewhat problematic. Add to that the fact that I also had breast augementation done and thus find using my arms challenging as well makes for an interesting combination.
And, the pain meds still have me somewhat groggy. I just re-read that previous paragraph three times trying to decide if it said anything or not. I've given up. It ssays wyateve the f it says!
We took off the dressing for the first time yesterday and I finally go to see myself. Awesome! Once the swelling goes down and the hair regrows I think I will look perfectly natal. This makes me very happy.
OK, I need to rest now. This blog entry has already caused me minutes of considerable stress. Oh, and once again, thank you for all the cards and flowers that continue to arrive! I love it. I LOVE IT! I got two more lovely boquets yesterday. The thoughts underlying those cards, letters and flowers mean a great deal to me.
May 25, 2005
In the hospital
I went into surgery at 7 AM yesterday morning and was out at 1:30 PM. They tell me that the first words out of my mouth were "I'm so happy." The first hour after waking up was one of the most miserable of my life. My mom said that tears were just rolling down my cheeks. They took me off the on-demand morphine and put me on continuous and it eventually had the desired effect. I slept fitfully from that point to this. But, all in all, I feel pretty good.
How about that ability to upload a photo from my camera phone? I know the photos aren't spectacular, but I'm just impressed that I could even do it!
OK, back to sleep.
May 21, 2005
Summer Travel Update
I finally have access to the Internet again! Yay! I can get my fix. I am so addicted. What is going on in the world? How are all my blog readers? How are all my blogging friends? Ack! I've missed you. :)
It was a long three day drive from Tampa to Denver. I'm sure Carey would have enjoyed the trip through America's heartland, agrarian that he is. I love to drive but even I got tired of sitting in that car; every time we stopped I still felt as if we were moving. My mom's wheel chair quit working on the third day and required manual pushing. This really frustrated my mother. She already feels like she is nothing but a burden on people and this really exacerbated that for her. Consequently, she would refuse to allow us to get the chair out and insisted on trying to walk. Then, of course, she would be in serious distress and have trouble breathing. At one point, I just told her that I didn't want to bury her in the middle of Kansas and she was, by God, going to get in the frickin' chair! I think she's spent so much of her life looking out for everyone else that she doesn't know how to let us repay her, even in these small ways that we have available.
We got to my sister's house the day before yesterday (after midnight). It is so very good to see her. She has such a wonderful family. I can't begin to tell you how much I love them. Today, our youngest sister and her son are coming over to visit and we're all going to dinner. It will be the first time that we've all been together in many years. I'm really looking forward to it, as I know my mom is.
Tomorrow, I head for Trinidad. I check into the hospital on Monday afternoon, with surgery scheduled for Tuesday morning. I really want to thank all you readers who sent me e-mail messages wishing me well. What a lovely outpouring that was!
I'm told that I'll have Internet access in the hospital, although only via dial-up. I will post at least once more before surgery and then you can probably expect a day or two break. OK, time for me to go re-join my family. I hope you all are enjoying the beginnings of your summer!