“I’m a crossdresser.”
“No, you’re not.”
It was several years ago, it was a Tuesday in the spring, and my therapist and I were in a dialogue that would change my life. “Michelle,” she began. I giggled. She continued. “I don’t mean that you don’t wear women’s clothing, I mean that I think that you might be transsexual.”
“Michelle, I think we need to look at this.”
I crossed my arms in front of my chest, conscious of not wearing a bra.
I’d been a crossdresser since seventh grade or so, envying the woman in the Playboy magazine my friend had secretly showed me. What? No, no, no! But I crossdressed. At first it was only on laundry day, when I sorted the clean laundry when the house was empty. When I was not much older, I nervously bought a pink bra for myself, and I had been given a pair of pantyhose by a woman who reassured me that I was not a freak. But I didn’t believe her: I threw away the bra, the pantyhose, and what little else I had accumulated anyway. It was my first purge: I was obviously a freak. I was also a crossdresser, and reaccumulated what I’d thrown away, only to purge again a few years later. I crossdressed in shame at the erotic pleasure it gave me, trying to convince myself that that is all it was about. I envied the girls at school, and then the women at work, but that had implications I didn’t want to deal with. In college I subscribed to both Glamour and Playboy magazines, both inspiring a jealousy that confused me and caused me to cancel both subscriptions after only one year. In and after college, my crossdressing waxed and waned, never too far from the surface.
Eventually I discovered CDI in the late 1990s. A member kindly gave me a shirt that read, “Princess”, I’d recently chosen the name “Michelle,” and I became “Princess Michelle.” Another member gave me a women’s wristwatch. I loved them both, and lost them both in my next purge. I cried.
A few years later, dressing as a man, someone mistook me for a woman: “Miss, oh, I’m sorry, Sir” she said when she saw my mustache. Wait! The ‘Miss’ felt better than the ‘Sir.’ But, no, not me. No. No! But I shaved the mustache and began crossdressing more, even wearing a discreet bra secretly at work, and a dress at home. Okay, I do feel better, I admitted to myself. Okay, crossdressing is okay.
But I purged one last time. I lost a great pair of shoes, a nice dress. Ouch.
One day I had taken off my blouse (in shame?) before going to see my therapist. It was a Tuesday. “Michelle, your eyes light up when I call you by that name, do you see that?” I grudgingly agreed. “Why don’t we try this: call yourself Michelle in private. Use ‘she’ and ‘her’ to refer to yourself when you are alone. Can you try that as an experiment?” I tried to scowl, but it became a smile. Soon session was over and I wandered home. When I passed a women’s clothing store, I took a step back, stopped, gazed, imagined myself in the blouses, skirts, and dresses., fantasizing myself wearing them in my daily life. “My name is Michelle…” I smiled. Over the next few weeks I realized I was daydreaming of transitioning, of being transsexual. But I couldn’t do that, it was just a fantasy.
Calling myself “Michelle” and “girl” was crucial to my understanding myself. For example, not long after that I wanted to go jogging but was having trouble getting myself out the door, so I told myself: “Girl, put on a sports bra and go jogging.” I did! Another time I was depressed and simply calling myself a girl made me smile. It happened again and again: call myself ‘she’, ‘her’, ‘miss’ and ‘girl’ and I felt better! Okay, transitioning, being transsexual, is a nice fantasy, my favorite fantasy: I spend hours a day for months, riveted to Youtube diaries of transsexuals talking about their name changes and their bodily changes. Okay, so I like wearing women’s clothing, I like being referred to with female pronouns, and my obsesssion with the video blogs makes me realize that transitioning has become a passionate dream.
Time passed, and then, on a Tuesday: “Michelle, I think you do need to consider transitioning to living full-time as a woman” my therapist said calmly.
“It’s not realistic.”
“It’s not possible.”
“Don’t people do it?” she asked.
“You think I should transition?”
“Do you think you can be happy otherwise?”
I asked my therapist if she was serious. She asked if I wanted to answer the question. (Therapists!) She was right, of course: it had become clear that although it would be challenging, I not only wanted to transition, but needed to.
So I’ve transitioned. Crossdressers, at CDI and elsewhere, and even female friends, gave me clothes and even jewelry. Thank you! I have legally changed my name to “Michelle”, and estrogen has given me gender appropriate puberty a few decades late. The relief I feel is profound. People tell me I seem much happier. They’re right. And I giggle.