1964: I remember finding the word ‘transvestite’ in the dictionary. I didn’t much care for the sound of it, but at least I knew there was a name for people like me, and that there had to be others like me, or else why come up with a word for it? I also remember hearing and reading about Christine Jorgenson and this stuff called ‘hormones’—the pill that could make me a girl! I could be that girl in the bathing suit! Yes, I still had that image in my head; me as that girl in the bathing suit. And invariably every night I would fall asleep dreaming of what it would be like to be a girl; what I would do; how I would look.
My Shakespeare days now behind me, I continued in 7th and 8th grades raiding moms things whenever she would leave the house, even if she just left for a few minutes. Sadly, mom’s things started to be getting too small for me. By the time I entered high school, 1966, I was down to just a few items I could wear. So, in a huge, enormous leap of faith, I decided to do some shopping for myself. One day after school, I ventured downtown to Woolworths. I browsed around the women’s clothing area, as nervous as one could possibly be. I saw many things of great interest, but panic soon set in and I was out the door. I spent the next week cursing myself for not buying something and trying to summon up the courage to go back—and I did.
So many things to choose from! Garterbelts and girdles, bras and panties, stockings and nighties. But what size do I get? Oh no! The trial and error syndrome! I picked out a pair of stockings. With hands trembling, knees knocking, and my face burning hot, I forced myself to the checkout counter. I don’t remember if I volunteered anything stupid like ‘these are for my sister’ or the like. All I know is that once I was out the door with my small package, I was so relieved! This scenario repeated many times over the course of high school and college. And of course, as with many, the purging of my things with the thought in mind that I had to stop this ‘dressing thing’; it was ridiculous, silly. It’s time to stop. And a week later I’d be back in the store buying new things. When does this go away?
1972: Started tending bar in Red Bank NJ. I was 21. I had to play a bit of a hard ass as it was a tough place, but every night, at least once every night, I would think to myself why can’t I do this in a skirt? It would be so cool to be a barmaid, not a bartender. I was also getting a bit more adept at buying things for myself; no great wardrobe or anything, but enough items to keep me content. But always that thought, why can’t I be this, do this, as a female?
1975: I am introduced to a very attractive young woman. We date. On our very first date she is wearing stockings and garters. (Most women had switched to pantyhose at this time) I confess to her that I like to wear those too. She didn’t bat an eye and said “then we’ll have to get you some”. HOLY COW! I HIT THE MOTHERLOAD! She does the Halloween thing with me, lots of role playing; ‘dress up’ at home almost every night, even does some shopping for me. Six months later, we get married. We continue to have a great time with my ‘femme side’ until one night I was talking about what I’d like to wear, and then….. “I don’t want you to do this anymore. Before was ok, but now you’re my husband”.
(The sound of brakes screeching loudly; two giant freight trains colliding; the Hindenburg burning)!
And thus began a period of a pretty serious depression, with lots of alcohol and drug use, and a divorce. Now to be honest, the divorce had lots of other factors and wasn’t directly related to my dressing.
1982: Enter my second wife. And again, on our first date I confess my big secret. Having been raised in NYC she was not surprised or shocked by this announcement, and together we had a blast exploring this crossdressing/role playing thing. Talk about getting your freak on! Unfortunately, her son was growing up (kids do that) and we put the whole thing on hold. I understood, frustrated, but understood.
1996: We move to NYC as empty nesters. We are enjoying life as Manhattanites. Things are good. I start to rebuild and expand my wardrobe. With the exception of my wife, I was still living a closeted life however.
1997: The internet enters my life. I sign up for AOL and the very first search I do is for ‘transvestite’, which takes me to ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’. I am hooked! Look at all these people like me! Look at all these people living the dream! I have to live MY dream, too.