Chi Upsilon Iota Tri-Ess

Growing Up Transgendered

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Imagine living life at only half your potential, many of your emotions throttled, your dreams and desires locked in secrecy. Imagine for a moment a deep longing with your every breath, thought and emotion to simply be free to be who you are inside. Imagine having to "prove" yourself to others by denying the more sensitive aspects of your personality, to prove to those around you that you are "normal" and not an oddity. Now, imagine these feelings at age 5, or at age 7, or age 12. Of course at these ages, you are not thinking this insightfully, but the feelings and emotions are there.

Picture yourself looking at girls. Instead of "checking them out," you are longing to wear their pretty dresses and shoes or to have your hair put up with ribbons and to wear makeup. How do you tell your prom date that you really "love" her dress and you want to know where she got it and if it comes in a size 18, or that what really attracted you to your current girlfriend was that great looking denim mini-skirt and pumps and than her smile.

Now think of the girls you remember growing up who wanted to wear jeans and boots, climb trees, join Boy Scouts and play baseball or football. They could do that. In fact, they were often encouraged to, but as a male, you could not cross gender lines. Think of the inner turmoil this causes! Whom do you tell? "Mom, I want to wear dresses like Mary down the street." "Dad, I don’t want to learn to play football, I want to learn to sew." Try and join Girl Scouts as a male and see how far you get. Many transgendered have been literally beaten by an angry father, or humiliated by a distressed mother over these sorts of revelations or experiments with crossdressing.

Why is it that a female can wear, without raising an eyebrow: masculine jeans, footwear, shirts, and hairstyles? They can take "masculine" jobs and society embraces them wholeheartedly. Yet if a male wears a blouse with lace trim or a skirt, he is a "sissy" to be picked on, ridiculed, or worse, physically harmed. Females can crossdress with impunity. Of course, the reason is not the same one that drives the transgendered; however, society does seem to have differing standards.

The first thing to realize is most transgendered people start feeling this emotion and desire at a very young age. Often the first desire to dress or the feeling that there is something different starts in elementary school and sometimes younger. Most transgendered are heterosexual by nature. The rate of homosexual or bisexual behavior in the transgendered community is about that of the general population.

My childhood as a crossdresser:

As a young boy, I first knew I was different when I was in perhaps first grade. I remember reading books (Dick and Jane were great, and how I wanted to dress like Jane!), and watching television programs in my childhood and wishing I could be wearing what the girls wore. I longed for an "easy bake oven." I would play with my friend growing up, and secretly desire to play with his sister and her Barbie Dream House rather than our GI-Joe’s with Kung-Fu grips.

I grew up in a home on the east coast with four other boys, mom and dad, but no sisters. Although I had this burning desire to wear dresses and other feminine finery, I never did until perhaps I was nine or ten. I remember my mom had a friend and her daughters staying with us for a few days while their house was being renovated. The girls both had skirts or dresses, and I knew my moment had come. One morning, before anyone else was up, I went into the spare room where the clothes were and tried on what I thought would fit. It was a sleeveless jumper in a plaid material with a white blouse. It did not fit, but I experienced the joy dressing in girls’ clothes. From that point, I dreamed about being able to dress in feminine mode, but I did not have opportunity to do so until my high school years. I remember looking forward to graduating from High School so I could have closets full of skirts and blouses. I have to say that I never acted feminine or "sissy." By all outward accounts, I was just your run of the mill average boy, who was not all that interested in sports or overly aggressive activities.

A strange thing happened to me during this stage of my life. Living in the "country" back east, I was waiting for the school bus with my brothers and some other kids when I found on the side of the road a book about female impersonation. I can hardly remember it now, except for a few specific things. They talked about making false breasts and using red balls cut in half to make them more realistic. Somehow this book was shown to an adult, who took it. I never saw it again.

Attack of the teenage transvestite:

In Junior High School I "discovered" religion, and to this day, still attend the same denomination. This further confused me, as now I was trying to reconcile my preteen years with God, and my desire to crossdress created guilt, which I figured must be God telling me to stop thinking such stuff. I found myself praying that God would transform me overnight into a girl with all the clothes to go with it. I was not unhappy with my male self as many transsexuals are, but rather, I just felt so confused as to why I had this urge. God never did transform me, but later in life He did answer my prayer, although not as I thought He should at the time. I had many dreams related to crossdressing during those years that I still remember to this day. I was still unable to dress at home, but occasionally found myself babysitting (a non masculine job if there ever was one for a teenage male, but I was very good at it and in demand). Sometimes I would sneak into the laundry and wear some of the mom’s clothes after the kids went to bed.

High school and crossdressing:

Going on to High School the desire to crossdress was growing with every passing day. I had periods of time, sometimes months, where I hardly dwelt on it. Then something would trigger the thoughts, and I’d be off again.

It was during these years that I heard about a new book called "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex *but were afraid to ask." I read the whole book, found out I was a transvestite, and I was not alone. I read with fascination about transvestites and transsexuals. I knew I was not a transsexual at that time, as I did not feel like I was trapped in the wrong body. I still do not feel that way. I had given this book to a girl I was dating at the time, who was my first real girlfriend. Her name was Rebecca.

I still had not told a soul about my crossdressing until my senior year of high school. The fear that I was doing something wrong was very intense. I hid my dressing and much of my "softer" side from people, afraid that if they saw a sensitive guy, they’d know. For some reason, I told Rebecca that I liked wearing panties and asked was that ok with her. She did not mind, and I was thrilled. We eventually parted ways, which had nothing to do with my choice of underwear.

Bible College and crossdressing don’t mix:

In high school, I felt like I wanted to help people like myself understand who they were and why. Maybe I was looking for my own solution, but in any event, I went to a Bible College and lasted a year before I realized I just did not fit in. My desire to dress was there in full force. I had lingerie I would find in the community laundry room. I never stole them, nor took dirty things, only clean undergarments, which I would wear whenever possible.

During my second semester, I had a Psychology class. The teacher talked about transvestites and gave statistics I have long since forgotten, that X percent of males do this, and there are probably "Y" number in this room. I felt like he was looking right at me. He was not, of course. We had to write a paper on ourselves, and I revealed to him my crossdressing. I got a marginal grade and I was devastated, as I had thought that such an honest revelation was worth much more. I decided to not let on anymore about it to him.

Seeking a partner for the long haul:

Fear of rejection is a big thing for the transgendered. Who on earth would ever understand my desire to dress, walk and act like a girl, yet not be one, and have no desire to actually become one? So I hid my passion from pretty much everyone. Everyone but an occasional girlfriend, who I thought would not mind.

After college I told an occasional female about it, but never a guy. I have had mixed reactions and occasionally lost a friend, because she could not deal with it. When this happened, I would further hide and try to protect my emotions and the feminine side of me even more. Of course that included also hiding my sensitive side even more. I could not let myself get hurt again. I did typically approach the subject whenever I thought my current partner was possibly the "right one" for me. She had to be ok with my dressing.

While in college I met my future wife. We dated, and I never told her about my desires to dress. We eventually got married. Before we did, I did tell her "I like wearing panties." Pretty shallow revelation, isn’t it? She seemed not to mind, and I was thrilled. After being married awhile, she became less accepting, as she saw it was more than just an underwear fetish. I had joined a TG support group, which was an eye opening experience for me as a young male. It actually spooked me a bit, as the group was a diverse one covering all aspects of the gender world and seemed to dwell on transsexuals. They had asked me for my "name", and being the naïve person I was, I gave my name (Ray) and the person asking quipped "Oh, with an ‘e’?" It was the first time I had ever had a name for "her".

At this point also, my wife had determined that the best course of action was to go into denial. This is not uncommon in many relationships between a transgendered person and a spouse/SO. So I concealed Rae's existence for years.

Who’s that girl?:

Another problem the transgendered face is lack of self acceptance. Many of us seem to think that marriage will "cure" us, or we can "beat this" and will "purge it all" . I had purged my wardrobe a few times during my marriage, only to find myself purchasing new clothes. The hiding continued, with occasional dressing for short periods of time for a number of years, but the desire and need never left.

The fall of 2002 I told my wife that I could no longer continue living this way. The desire to be free to express all my emotions was too great to continue to suppress them. I knew that it was causing issues with my health and relationships. I started slowly to leave that closet. I would wear lingerie and such and dress when I could be alone at home.

In the spring of 2003, I joined Tri-Ess, and as they say, the rest is history. I had found a group of people who fully understood me and my needs. I found a group of people who did not condemn my choice of clothing, or my desire to express myself. Tri-Ess once again asked for my name and I automatically replied "Rae" with the "e".

Becoming one:

For me, the moment where it all came together was in church on Sunday morning in Chicago. I had gone en femme with a sister from Wisconsin. This simple act suddenly brought it all together for me as a person. It was as if God had been waiting for me to come to Him en femme for years. I sat in church and wept for most of the service that morning. Worshiping as Rae Louise, all my pent up fears and desires were released. The prayer I had prayed as a young man was answered that morning. God spoke to me and called me His daughter and His son. I finally knew who I was. I was one with myself and one with my God.

It has been just over a year now since I joined Tri-Ess. In that time I have learned a lot about myself, who I am, and perhaps more importantly, who I am not. I have learned that I am not a freak, I am not a pervert or an outcast. I am a unique individual with unique emotions and needs. In some ways, I have the best of both worlds, and I would not change it for anything.

Wrapping it all up:

My journey is not unusual. Many crossdressers and transgendered fight their entire lives with how to deal with this intense emotion and need to express a side of themselves that flies in the face of conventional modes of expression in today’s society. Some crossdressers and transgendered never come to terms with who they are, and that is so sad. We are all special and unique. The transgendered community longs for acceptance more than anything else. To us, the drive to be feminine is almost as natural as breathing. It often times makes no sense that someone would not understand this. We seek those who will work with us, to help express this side of our lives. Finding those types of friends is often hard, but the rewards are unending.

Thank you for having me here today. I hope I have given you a glimpse into what is it like to be transgendered. I would now be happy to answer questions you might have.