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You really should have said, y’know...

by Beatrix E. Groves

There comes a day when a transgendered person gets ‘found out’.

I suppose that little needs a bit of explanation. You see, almost all transgendered folk start
their lives firmly in the closet. And why not? ... after all, it’s hardly a condition that anyone
wants to be all that 'frank’ about (pun intended!). Prejudice and stigmatisation of anyone with
gender issues is still very rife in British society. Some have said in fact that the situation that
trans people are in today is rather like that of the gay community forty years ago: still full of
stereotyping and ridicule (and that’s at the best of times). Yes, we have our ‘tolerance zones’
and ‘safe areas’, but there are still too many incidents of hate crime, still too many news
stories of trans people being assaulted, still far too many media jokes that make us appear
like an easy target for yobs in search of a safe victim. It ain’t easy being a girl (or a bloke, for
that matter)!

So we largely stay in the closet, unless the need for gender-transition is so strong that the
only way to survive is to come out and face the consequences. After that, all other issues
become secondary and one becomes a touch-stone for the world’s ills. It’s amazing how just
being an ‘out’ transwoman can seem so very provocative. Suddenly old friends act as if
you’ve just revealed that you’re really an alien from the planet LV-246, and you know it when
you get dropped from their mobile contacts list. And at work they either treat you with kid
gloves (just in case you sue!), or try to pretend you’re not there. Of course there are up-
sides... the world isn’t all doom-'n'-gloom ... but it’s still a traumatic process for all that.

But what if you’re in the closet and quite happy to say there? Well, there’s always the chance
that you’ll get caught by your partner whilst ‘dressed’ one fateful day. By ‘dressed’ I don’t
mean just ‘wearing clothes’ of course. I mean wearing the clothes of the opposite gender
(There... I've said it. Shock-horror! Call the Daily Mail immediately!). There you are, feeling
comfy and safe. It's just an ordinary day. Your better half has gone out for the evening to
see friends, and you decide to take the opportunity to slip into something less comfortable.
There’s that new bra and high-heels that your secreted into the house a few weeks ago,
which you’ve never had the chance to properly try on. So, the temptation gets the better of
you... you abandon yourself to unreason, climb into your best clobber and slap. And it’s bliss!
It’s just fab’! This is what you were born for: the whole female ‘thing’ in all it’s glory. Yeah,
you avoid looking in the mirror (don’t want to break the spell!), but for that brief moment
you’re as glamorous as Marilyn (and with much longer legs).

But what’s this? A sound of a key in the lock?! Feet on the stairs?!! Panic-stations!! It’s too
late; that zip is too difficult to undo, that lipstick just too red to obliterate in five
seconds...and that bra catch is unreachable!

So she (or maybe he?) finds out. And if you’re really lucky there will be mutual
embarrassment, maybe a bit of scolding and a few tears. But she’ll understand. Just. You’ll
purge and promise to never do it again. All those clothes that took so long (and so much
sweat!) to accumulate will go into the incinerator, and your guilt will become your own
personal jailer and censor. But if you’re unlucky you’ll discover what anger and betrayal really
mean. She’ll savage you verbally, make you feel as small as can be, and then refuse to have
anything to do with you ever again. Is your life ruined? Hard to say. Purgatory has no time-

So should you have told your partner about your little proclivity when you first hitched-up
with one another? Wouldn’t it have been more honest? Haven’t you been a complete liar for
not telling her earlier?

Sorry. Life’s just not as simple as that.

Here’s the story as I’ve experienced it: You start dressing when young. You give up. You tell
yourself you can control it. You find you can’t. You enjoy it, but tell yourself you shouldn’t.
You get a huge sexual kick out of the clothes, the image, the persona... the whole nine-yards
of being a woman. But still you tell yourself that you’re not transgender (that’s assuming
you’ve even heard the word).

You get older. The the sex-kick abates... but still you love to dress. Or maybe you don’t love
it? Maybe it loves you? Maybe it’s just something about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’? You get
hideously confused. You want to stop, but can’t. And when you do stop, you can’t wait to
start again. You get depressed. is life really supposed to be this complex?

If you’re unlucky then you grew up in an era (or a part of the country) where the word sex
was hardly mentioned in the family, and the word ‘transsexual’ was never mentioned at all.
The closest you ever got to such a thing was Danny la Rue on TV (God bless him!), or the
Panto Dame at Xmas (though you always envied the Principle Boy much more!). You ogle
those legs... and wish it was you.

So, you lock yourself in the closet, label yourself a freak, a pervert, and seek out the love of
a good woman to just lead a ‘normal’ life. After all, it’s what everyone else has got, and it’s
what you want the most. You may be trans, but you're a human being too with all the needs
any other human being has. Then you meet someone you adore. Yes of course you should
have told her!!... But when you met her (and for a long time thereafter) thoughts of dressing
never crossed your mind. So it works.... Yay! Love solves all. You’re cured!

Until later of course.

Let’s not beat ourselves up. The story of wives finding their husbands neatly dressed in
some very tasty smalls one evening is an old one. Were all these poor saps deviously, cold-
bloodedly fooling their spouses? No. They were doing the best they could do under the
circumstances, and the sad thing is, they would have avoided getting into the situation of
they could.

Bea Groves

1095 words