The image that I try to recreate in the mirror is of myself as a girl at age eight, when I first felt compelled to dress in women's clothing. The fantasy was intensely arousing and utterly unavoidable, and soon led to my first orgasms and a lifelong association of dressing up and sexuality. I knew that this was not acceptable. So I tried to keep it a secret. I did not succeed.
With only that early image of femaleness as a guide, I never learned how to dress, to move, sound, or behave as a girl, and all my life I've cross dressed with a child's cartoon image of femininity and female sexuality. Betty Boop, or Veronica Rabbit. Never Marge Simpson.
Only my last wife accepted and even encouraged my cross dressing; so, only in 2010 , at age seventy, did I have the courage to come out of the closet and even to occasionally dress in public. The picture below is how I looked then, after my wife dressed and wigged me, and did my makeup. It's pretty age-appropriate. but I can’t reproduce it on my own.
Because my Beth died shortly thereafter, I still don't know how to dress myself as an adult woman, or to move or sound like a woman of my years. Had she lived I might have
continued to learn under her guidance. And at 76 I lack the motivation to attempt it. I am simply no longer that obsessed. I'm content to keep my dressing to the privacy of my room.
Had my family been more sex-positive and accepting when I was growing up I might have transitioned socially or even physically long ago. I might have gone through puberty and adolescence free to be publicly feminine. I might have learned how to be a woman in the same way that all girls do, by growing into the role. But it's far too late for me now, and I’m not that good an actor. I envy the children in today’s accepting families who can grow up to embody and live out their dreams of who they really are.
So yes, it's a phase. But a phase exclusive to cross dressers of my generation and to anyone since then who grew up in a similarly typical, sexually conservative American family. It's a phase we can’t escape because we didn't learn how to be our truer selves. We were not allowed to grow, to experiment, make mistakes, and become the men or women we knew ourselves to be. Instead, we learned to live out the labels assigned us. And if we were found crossdressed we were punished or ridiculed, and we became less than we might have been.
Few of us, as adults, are good enough actors, attentive and observant enough to now learn how all by ourselves, to play the role of a person of the opposite sex to, or other than that which we were assigned at birth, to be socially acceptable females in public. So we male crossdressers hide and dress only in private, gathering women’s clothing to relieve the our mental and sexual tensions. And in periodic fits of shame, we purge our secret wardrobes. And still, because it is an undeniable, non-deniable compulsion, we shamefully gathered more clothing, only to purge and gather, again and again. We became traditional cross dressers, filled with both shame and an unquenchable obsession for seeing and feeling ourselves to be the girl we should have been.
Is it any wonder that, when dressed, many of us cannot “pass?” Is it any wonder that some of us become replicas of “Baby Jane,” an aged crone who cannot see the truth of herself in the mirror, and dresses, quite horribly and inappropriately, as a little girl? Is it a surprise that some of us gather together secretly in groups to dress and swim in a “Pink Fog” of mutual fantasy because the reality is unobtainable?
In the second section of her book, “Normal: Transexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude,” Amy Bloom describes the crossdressers at a Tri-Ess annual gathering as conservative Christian men wearing conservative dresses, accessorized by their conservative Christian wives, bound to each other by their faith’s requirement of loyalty to each other, no matter how embarrassing to their wives that might be. The frocked men were oblivious to their wives discomfort and to their own inability to actually be perceived as women by others. Pink Cloud, indeed.
Somehow I avoided that, and them, because they made me uncomfortable. The self- image I longed to create was of a beautiful eight-year-old girl, not a “Baby Jane,” and I could not delude myself about how I looked. My en-femme photo (above) was not of a “Baby Jane.” And though she might pass for an older woman, she was not the person I wanted to be seen as by others. I had not grown into that image, and if I can’t be the image I want to be seen as, I’d rather be seen as I am, and as the man I am.
Okay, so I have this weird little, and I think harmless, kink.
It’s been a secret almost all my life. I’d like to share that secret with you now.
It doesn’t hurt anyone. I always back off if I think I’m making anyone uncomfortable. And you can simply walk away, or not, or just say “Hello” if you want to.
This is probably not TMI (too much information), even if you’re new to me or my writing. But it’s not a very common or a very popular kink. And it’s not very well understood, if at all, even by acclaimed or self-acclaimed experts. Even the people who share my kink don’t understand it, and often disagree about what it is, or what it means, or where it comes from. Me too.
It also has nothing to do with potted plants. But like Louie C.K’s kink (asking people to watch him masturbate) it has the ugly aura that it may be attached to weirder or more dangerous forms of kink, like farm-machine sex, or asphixiation sex. It’s none of those things, or anything like them. (And neither is Louie’s.) It is a solid member of the ‘the Q’ branch of the LGBTQ+ set (though some just assume we haven’t made up our minds yet, which may even be true.)
I’m a life-long cross-dresser, from age eight to my present age of 79. A bit weird, I know, but not really a big deal. And as Eddie Izard says, “They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes, I bought them.”
What I am What I am not is a child molester, nor am I a trap – a guy in disguise, hoping to fool another guy into having sex with them. (My preference and orientation is toward women. Always has been.) And I am not a Drag Queen. Drag Queens and Drag Kings are professional actors, and may or may not dress so when off stage.
I don’t think I’m offensive in the eyes of your or anyone else’s God. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out now, please!
There. That covers it, I think.
We still friends? I hope so.
You probably won’t see me dressed as a woman in public. My version of crossdressing is a very private kink. I’ve told friends and family, and talked about it on Facebook, and in a few other places on the Internet, but mostly to keep parents from freaking out and putting their crossdressing kids through hell. (Love your kids for who they are, and who they say they say they are. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be a parent.) They want to play dress-up? Let them, and defend them for doing so.
I did tell each of my three wives beforeasking them to marry me. Being in the closet and proposing marriage is not like coming out of your closet. It’s like asking I did tell each of my three wives beforeasking them to marry me. Being in the closet and proposing marriage is not like coming out of your closet. It’s like asking her if she’d join you in that closet, for life! (And why in the world would she ever want to do that if she doesn’t have the same kink, or wasn’t raised with the same sense of shame?) Only my last wife was OK with it, and she soon encouraged and convinced me to finally come out of my closet. Still, I rarely dress so in public, only at some parties or gatherings, or if I’m asked to be a bridesmaid.
If you do see me dressed, I’ll try to be age appropriate, and not call attention to myself by being shocking or swish, and not like an over-the-top drag queen on stage. I’ll just a guy in a dress. And I’ll probably have shaved the beard, too, but maybe not.
Wash your hands, clean the things you touch, avoid people (and the things people touch).
That’s it. Do it habitually, frequently, and thoroughly.
Waking, I decide to leave the black slip on,
tuck the extra length between my thighs.
Swing my legs out and into black Wranglers.
Hide my toes in black canvas flats,
and stand, braced against the bed,
pulling it all snug: slip, button, zipper, belt.
Then a black, slightly sheer, short-sleeve polo.
Two steps to the chair, sit and unplug it.
Negotiate the doors, and roll out into my city.
Under-dressed but warm in this
unseasonably cold January,
and more than a little excited
To be out, though secretly, in plain view.
in my trans-mobile. Maybe next time
the pleated black skirt. Maybe not.
Santa Cruz California
It’s quite difficult to observe and note changes to your brain processing while recovering from trauma. In my case, the death of two wives, one long expected; the other completely unexpected, and a physically and mentally debilitating blockage of spinal fluid circulation causing a mild form of hydrocephally, which caused some dementia and loss of control of my gait.
After five years of grief/shock, several sessions with psychologists and psychiatrists, and then seven sessions of EMDR I am finally processing and assimilating the loss of my wives of forty and five years. After a year of having to use a powered chair in most of my daily life, I am now beginning to walk for short distances, daily. Not far, and not well, but it’s a start.
The long pauses in my speech are less frequent and caused not so much by the inability to find the word I need, but by the difficulty of choosing from among the rush of multiple thoughts that occur to me as I speak.
This parallels the degradation of precision from relearning to moderate my small motor movement in the control of my chair: re-learning has some of the same issues as first learning a new level of motor skill: old skills get crappy for a bit as the new skills are assimilated. It’s weird, but welcome.
I don’t expect 100% recovery. Altaira estimated 60% recovery when I first had the brain drained, and I’d guess 70 to 75% now. I don’t expect full recovery. (I did just turn eighty.) But some flying knots and some rope magic has returned, mostly through motor memory. With luck I’ll be able to recreate some of the simple routines and false knots that I taught myself or (unlikely, but possible) invented.
The recognition of all this is the second nicest birthday present I’ve received. The nicest was a framed, folio-sized reproduction of an old New Yorker cartoon showing two young women in bikinis, romping through the ocean surf, one saying “I never thought eighty would be so much fun!” Thank you, Jeremy!
I just installed a room air filter in my SRO studio apartment. It has made an incredible difference in my life.
For many years I’ve woken up with stuffed sinuses and gritty eyes. This has been particularly bad with the smoke from recent fires, even though I was close, but never in an evacuation zone.
When I asked my son what measures they had taken in Oakland, with its air pollution rated worst in the world during this period, he said they were using small air cleaners in nearly every room. Levoit, (model: core 300). They cost about $60 each from Amazon, with a replacement filter, and are delivered within a week. I think they got seven of them.
He ordered one for me, and even with all the crap in the air here, it’s made an incredible difference for me. My morning eye irritation (including an annoying stye) has stopped. The usual morning blasts into several kleenexes was reduced to a single one, and that one almost clear. I’ve been taking Claretin almost every day for almost 20 years now. It wasn’t necessary this morning.
I don’t know if this level of well-being will continue, but for the moment it is a true blessing. If you live anywhere near the West Coast please consider getting one for yourself and putting it in your bedroom. It may allow you eight hours of sound sleep and a clear head the next morning.
I have one too and the air is so crisp and clean.