It’s a question that I learned about early on as I started to really explore the possibility of transition back in 2011:
Question: What is the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual?
Answer: Two years.
I am not foolish enough to think that a timeline for transition would always follow that but the point is clear, transition may come quickly whenever the decision is made to do so. The thing about it is that two years does not even begin to tell the story of most of those who choose to swim in these treacherous waters. For me, my awareness at five was just the beginning of years of questioning.
As I look back at my life as a kid growing up in the mid 70’s and early 80’s, I can’t forget about the impact that being a latch-key kid had on me. Although I had a sister, by 1978, she was not around much at all. She had her life and she pretty much was off and doing her own thing. That left me with lots of time to be on my own, especially in the summer. Let me just say that my real babysitter from 1976 till 1982 was my TV at home. We were pretty sheltered in our Christian home and things were pretty strict about what we could even listen to. I remember that my sister had a Rolling Stones album that came out whenever mom and dad left the house. She was always playing it too! The radio was always tuned to KIIS FM and whatever the latest top 40 hits were out were playing on that station. You gotta understand, this may not be a big deal to you but at our house, it was forbidden to listen to any music that was not Christian.
So anyways, when my sis and I were able to be free from our parent’s judgment, we took advantage of it for sure. One of the liberties which I availed myself to was watching whatever I wanted to on TV. Let’s see, who remembers what was on back then? For younger readers of my blog, yes, it was color TV! My sis loved to watch all of the ABC soap operas back in the day. I remember that we would first tune in to Ryan’s Hope then All My Children, followed by One Life To Live and then General Hospital. We watched those shows every week day during the summer with my sister and on the weekends I was at the mall with my mom and sister shopping.
Where was my dad, you might ask? Well, he didn’t really show up in my life very much until after he was done with work but he was a busy man. He did toss the baseball around with me sometimes and occasionally took me to watch our local hometown team (the Angels) at the ballpark. Most of the time though, he was busy doing dad stuff. He had a full time job as a construction foreman during the week and a part time career as a real estate agent that kept him away from the house a lot of times on the weekends. Saturdays were a no go for him as he was always off to an open house or at the real estate office, hanging out with his other friends.
Saturdays were the day that we went shopping and when I say we, I mean Lilly, mom and I. We lived at the mall for much of every Saturday. Their favorite stop was at the iconic Southern California mall, South Coast Plaza. I remember it well too to this day. Early on, we would start of by parking in the Sears parking lot and then the clothes shopping would begin. Lilly was a teen, so she would have mom take her to a bunch of the more hip stores and guess who was always tagging along? Yep, me. I can’t begin to tell you how many times that I sat around in front of dressing rooms if I was not playing underneath the many racks of women’s clothing. My mom didn’t think anything of it but I honestly liked going with them.
Looking back, I know that my mom never intended for those experiences to further my lifelong interest in gender transition but it did. I imagined myself as one of them one day and getting to go with them only fed into my crazy imaginations. I know they didn’t mean to but the effects were being made in my life.
One day in the summer, my sister was away and it must have been after I had watched an episode of Love Boat or Three’s Company, I decided to go to my parent’s walk in closet. We had recently just moved into our new two story home a few months before and I just loved our new home. I was a really inquisitive kid, so I had already done some venturing into my parent’s closet before. I gotta be honest, I was a brat because I was touching things that I should have just left well enough alone. I was into looking at my dad’s things and found all kinds of pictures, coins and notes from the past but I had to be sure to put everything back EXACTLY as I had found them and I do mean EXACTLY because my dad was very meticulous and very organized. My mom on the other hand? No, not so much.
So when I made my way to their closet this time, let’s just say that it wasn’t to look at old coins, I was focused on wanting to try on my mom’s things. With a sense of trepidation I began to look through her things and I took out a few outfits to try on. It was like a feeling of adrenaline and excitement that I had never really felt before, well yes, I had felt like this before when I was five and my sister had called me over to the bathroom for a sec. I just wanted to get lost in my imagination that I could pretend to be a girl for those few moments. I was always afraid of getting caught by my sister, mom or God-forbid, my dad. I remember finding one particular dress that I felt comfortable in and going to my mom’s pictures and albums drawer and pulling out her wedding album, plopping myself on her bed and looking at it.
After I was done looking at pictures, I would carefully put everything back and hope that no one would ever find out what I was doing, it was my secret and I planned on it staying that way. Eventually, I started to play with my mom’s rollers and my sister’s curling iron but I was always careful to try and put everything back in it’s place. After I did it though, I was always overcome with this huge sense of shame and guilt for what I had just done. I mean, boys weren’t supposed to behave this way or have these kind of thoughts right? It was something that I just knew that God was not pleased with but I had no way to stop how I felt about myself. I was so confused…