The differences in the meaning of certain words should be first understood before this is read.
A transvestite is someone who wears the clothes of the opposite sex for sexual satisfaction and/or for florid display where the observer is required to understand that he is looking at a person whose physical body is different from that which it appears to be.
A transsexual is a person who is convinced that he/she is of one gender trapped in the body of the other gender. He/she has the intention of undergoing surgical re-adjustment to correct what is a conceived error.
A transgenderist is someone quite like a transsexual, i.e. he/she is certain that he/she is of one gender trapped in the body of the opposite gender but with little or no intention of undergoing re-adjustment surgery.
Sex and gender – these two words are greatly misunderstood. Sex is the physical body and is incontrovertible. Gender is what a person feels himself/herself to be mentally and sub-consiously. The feelings of gender are difficult to understand but, to the transgenderist, they are very strong.
I am a transgenderist.
My Thoughts about myself
These feelings were apparent to me at a very early age, as far back as my memory goes. I was only a very little boy, long before I went to school, when I knew without doubt that I should be a girl. I knew without doubt that I should be playing with the girls and not with the boys. I knew that I wanted to have dolls and prams and not lorries and guns etc., as my toys. I knew that I should be wearing dresses and not the clumsy, ugly clothes that boys have to wear. I could not understand it.
I had an aunt living close to us who really did not help my situation as she often remarked, in my hearing, “Teddy is too pretty to be a boy, he should have been a girl!”. It was nice to hear but no-one seemed to agree with her except me and I could not talk about it.
I could not understand these feelings but, at the same time, I was unable to talk about them as boys are all supposed to be tough and boyish, whereas I had none of those feelings and certainly did not want to be tough and boyish, No! I wanted to be frivolous and girlish.
But none of these feelings helped to make me what I felt was right, I still had a boy’s body, I still did not feel at ease with other boys, the girls did not want me to mix with them and I began the feelings of my entire life – loneliness! At times, and still to this day, I feel incredibly lonely with no-one with whom I can talk freely and who would understand my feelings.
There are times, even now after a lifetime , when I could often just sit down and weep because of my sadness and frustration at not being able to express myself openly.
And so my life fell into a sort of pattern, I could not unburden myself to my Mother or my sister; I had no common bond with other boys; I felt that I had a bond with girls, but in their eyes I was a boy and they did not accept me.
So I became indrawn. I made very little conversation with anyone because there was nothing for me to talk about with them.
As years went by I think I became known as a boy who always wanted to be clean and tidy, I never remember wanting to muck-about and get dirty as other boys seemed to do. I was probably seen as somewhat of a prig! That, of course, tended to increase my loneliness even more and I gradually became even more of a “loner”.
When I was about 5, my younger sister was born and, after a year or so, it became clear that she was not quite as normal as other children. After some research and investigation she was diagnosed as having Downe’s Syndrome. This made my mother very attentive to her to the exclusion of my older sister and myself. Our Father was a ship’s officer and was not home very often.
During my older sister’s teen age years, as she became very attractive, she acquired high heeled shoes from time to time and, as I was also growing, on a number of occasions she had me wear them about the house so as to stretch them for her. Little did she know that those occasions were delightful for me! Then came the 39-45 war years and we all lived with fear as we were in an area which was often subjected to air-raids and bombing.
We were bombed-out in 1943, when I was 12 and I, like my older sister, was farmed-out to friends with whom I lived for many months. They had three sons, two of whom were older than me and one slightly younger. The Mother was very kind to me and seemed to give me a lot of affection. That may have been because she was sorry for me living apart from my family, or it may have been that she recognised something in me that was different to her boys.
I believe that I craved affection as my Mother’s affection was, understandably, directed largely towards the younger, Downe’s Syndrome child. I know that my older sister felt the same as I as we have discussed this a few times during our grown-up years.
About this time, the husband of a friend of my Mother, abused me on a number of occasions. I have those memories etched into my mind. I can say, however, that that abuse affected me greatly and made me even more indrawn. Once again, I could talk to no-one about it, nor ever have, even to this late part of my life. When I read about young children being abused, I know what they suffer and my heart goes out to them!
The family of the aunt who, in earlier years had said I was too pretty to be a boy, included a girl, one year younger than I, and three boys, considerably younger. It seems laughable now to think about, but when I knew they were coming to visit I used to say a prayer that Mavis, my cousin, would ask to wear my clothes (she was somewhat of a tom-boy) so that I could ask to wear hers. Of course it never happened, it was just a fantasy…
So the years went by with my increasing confusion. I was so convinced that I was a girl that I even used to go to sleep at night with my arms wrapped tightly around my chest. This seemed to cause breasts to appear and I was always hoping that, on waking the following morning, I would have breasts like my older sister had but of course, it never happened, it was just another fantasy!
The time came for a career and I chose going to sea as a ship’s officer. It seemed the natural thing to do as many of my male family members were in that profession. At first I had 2 years as an RNR cadet on a Royal Naval Training ship. There was so much to do and learn that I found my fears and confusions lessened to a degree.
Perhaps they did not lessen, they were just pushed into the background by the need to concentrate on learning new things! Many years later, I was in correspondence with one of my old term on the training ship and in a telephone conversation when we were reminiscing about our training years, he commented that I had been known as “a goodie-two-shoes”. This must have been my inner feelings manifesting themselves even in that male establishment!
After those 2 years I commenced as a Cadet officer on merchant ships and travelled the world extensively. I took up a career which was essentially masculine. Perhaps I was trying to submerge my then fearful feminine feelings? In any case, for many years I worked very hard at my career and spent years in this masculine environment, fearful sometimes that my feminine side would be discovered but often laughing within myself at dealing with very macho men who accepted me as one of them and had no idea that there was a woman inside the man they were dealing with! I can look back over those years and see a successful career despite being feminine!
A couple of things stick in my mind from those early years. On returning to England between voyages, there were a number of Army Shows in various theatres in various cities and I went (on my own) to a few of these. I was amazed to find that in the show there were men dressed (convincingly) as women. I had never heard of these neither had I realised that men actually dressed that way. They excited me as I realised that men actually DID dress in skirts.
In Bombay on one early voyage, a group of four of us were befriended by two middle aged ladies. I don’t know how I was among the group as I was only about 17 and the others were more senior members of the crew. However, the ladies wanted to organise a party but that would have meant two ladies and four men, a group out of balance! They suggested that I as the youngest should attend the party as a girl to balance the figures!
The following day, I had the afternoon “off” and they asked me to go to their flat and try on some clothes. Of course I jumped at the chance as I had never, even then, worn a dress or any feminine clothes. I went there and they tried a number of dresses on me and I remember looking good and seeing the right “me” at last.
It was a wondeful first experience and the two ladies seemed to delight in having me dress in various types of pretty clothes.I remember wishing that the afternoon could go on forever! In the event, however, the party never materialised but I can still remember the few hours I spent, for the very first time in my life, as a girl!
On one later voyage, as a young 3rd Officer, I found a bar in Antwerp where all the “girls” were actually boys. It was a complete eye-opener for me. In retrospect it was probably a male brothel but I was very naive then and did not realise. I had a few drinks and spoke to one of the “girls” who told me that the owner was looking for other “girls” and wouldn’t I like to join them? I became excited as this seemed what I would wish for but, however, we were scheduled to sail during that night so I never had the opportunity to attempt to change my life! With the wisdom of hindsight it was probably that Providence was looking after me!
Much later in my life, when I was a Group Chief Executive and was travelling worldwide quite often, I visited San Francisco and during the evening went to “Finochio”s” which is an internationally known club giving regular shows containg very beautiful “girls”. I was astounded at how glamorous they all were and my eyes were opened even wider than they had been previously. I discovered that many, if not all of them lived their lives as girls and I was very envious!
One time in Paris I was on a business visit but had my wife with me. I took her to the Crazy Horse Saloon and saw the wonderful show there. Afterwards we went to Montparnasse and had dinner then visited a nightclub, “Elle et Lui” (“she and he”).
The whole show comprised beautiful “girls” and after the show, one of them came to our table and had a drink with us. My wife, who by then knew all about me, was bursting with mirth because this beautiful “girl” was flirting outrageously with me. A waste of time for her of course!
I was still very troubled in my mind. My older sister, at that time, lived in London and worked for a psychiatrist. On one leave, when I visited her I wanted to ask if I could see her Boss but I did not have the courage to ask her so I was not able to raise the issue with such a person who, I was sure, could advise me what to do. I needed help because inside of me there is a woman screaming to get out! She cries and hammers at me incessantly and is always there, every minute of the day.
I speculated one one or two occasions of actually “jumping ship” and trying to make a new life for myself, but as usual, it never happened.
Then the best thing in my life happened, I met a wonderful girl and we got married! I loved her then as I love her now, 46 years later and despite my knowledge of myself as a woman in a man’s body, I continue to love her desperately.
Later in life I actually managed to pluck up the courage to see a psychiatrist. I went to him for about 10 or 11 years and he enabled me to see myself from the inside. He prescribed, and I accepted, that I should take female hormones. He said, and was proved right by a lot of medical evidence in books on the subject, that the hormones actually make the mind believe that it is a woman. Therefore the compulsion to wear feminine clothes tends to diminish, not vanish, but certainly become less compulsive.
I told him of a dream which I have been having ever since I was a little boy. In the dream I wake up one morning and find that I am in a beautiful feminine bed-room, am quite a beautiful woman and do not know who on earth I am. I hear men’s voices beyond a door and wonder where on earth I am. I never have opened that door and have often wondered what I would find in my dream if I did!
Also later in life, my wife became more accepting of this strange feeling of her husband. She actually said that if I was to persist in this, I should do it well and not look too much like a freak! She helped me to buy and to wear, good clothes. She helped me to understand the art of make-up and how to use it to best effect. She showed me how women walk, how they talk, how they hold their hands, and many other things that men never consciously notice.
I had to learn all of them. It was a wonderful learning period, at last being more or less accepted as a person within a person. How does my wife accept me? Readers would have to ask her that and not me. I love her dearly and have always tried to treat her as a queen, in a manner in which I would like to have been treated if ever I had been a woman.
I have often said that I may not be a woman, but I try at all times to be a lady!
I plucked up enough courage to make contact with a lady in a School of Beauty. She was, and still is, wonderfully understanding and helpful with the art of make-up. She has advised me the products which I should use and to her I owe a debt of gratitude. She was not, and still is not, at all perturbed by this “man” who wants to look like a woman.
Gradually I became better at making a reasonable appearance and, to cut the story somewhat shorter, started to go out dressed as a woman. What a terrifying thing it is to do for the first time ! However, I persevered and now manage to go out on occasions in reasonably good shape and appearance. I was quoted in
“Femina” some few years ago as stating:
“The average person on the street seeing a woman walking towards them glances at her and then continues looking forward. The only time a woman gets a second, more inquisitive look from bystanders is if she is incredibly beautiful or grotesquely ugly!”
Perhaps both fortunately and unfortunately, I am neither! One very pleasant thing, which happens to me quite often, is to be addressed as “Madam”. It gives me a wonderful feeling!
In my case I wear clothes suited to my age, not dowdy but fashionable. I have a wig with white hair, to suit my age and wear medium heeled shoes, very occasionally, high heels. In short, I think I look like the average middle aged woman in society. I enjoy knitting and have become quite competent. I would like to learn dress-making and this is one of my further aims.
By this time I had dug down deep into my subconscious and had stopped fighting the feelings which I had. I came to accept that deep in my subconscious and even in my unconscious mind, there is actually a woman in there. She is called Lynne. She is the woman who at all times is crying to get out and to be herself. She is always there, as I have already said, every minute of every day she is hammering to come out.
I have accepted her as being inside me and the acceptance of her openly in my life has made life easier. I believe I am a much more placid person because I am not fighting within myself. Living as a male my whole life has been an act. Can the reader even begin to try to comprehend what it is like to act every day? To dress like, and appear to all outward purposes to be a man is a great strain as I can never, as a man, show my true self.
I must always be on my guard to show the male persona and not the woman inside. However, when dressed in skirts, wearing make-up and looking good I am enabled to be my true self without having to act. What a tremendous relief it is to be able to act as my natural self! It makes Lynne a very placid person because at last, she can be her true self!
I have been greatly indebted to my eldest niece, now 48 years of age, who, after I told her about myself, insisted on meeting Lynne and who even now, is the only person in the know (unfortunately very few!) who actually accepts and treats me as a woman.
Lynne has most of the normal feelings of a woman, she is fairly soft and very tender hearted, she loves the finer things in life and dislikes the unseemly. She is moved to tears easily and quite often. She finds men quite attractive but only as Lynne and not as her male alter ego. She is ever present to some degree and when dressed she almost completely takes over. She always wishes she is shapely and slender, but knows that this can never ever be. She often feels envious, even now, of young women who have slender, curvy bodies and she longs to look the same.
She would love to be attractive and have people notice her as a woman, but at the same time she is glad, perhaps, that no-one pays her a lot of attention. This actually means that she is blending into society. She goes out to dinner, to shows, to the theatre and does most of the things normal women do. She is not a bad housewife and does quite a lot of housework. She often goes shopping and completely blends in with all the other women in supermarkets.
If I had only myself to consider, I would live out the rest of my life as the woman I know that I am. However, there are many others who would be affected by such a decision and it would not be fair of me to consider just myself, so it cannot be done. I shall just have to continue longing!
It seems as though, at long last, I have become as much of a woman as I will ever be able to be, and I accept that thankfully.
An interesting factor in my personality is that women generally seem to accept me, in my male personna, and to confide in me. I have had a number of women pour out a lot of their innermost feelings to me. Maybe it is because they sense something in me which is akin to them and which does not threaten them as women? Even my male self still feels at ease with women and ill at ease with men with whom I have little or no conversation and nothing at all in common.
I long to be accepted by society as my true self and not as the self I appear to be outwardly. If it ever happened, and it is never likely that that would occur, people would find that I am still the person they have always known, only then, they would know me better!
On speculation, I am sure that many people would be shocked if they found out that I wear dresses and skirts and pass as a woman; but what would there to be shocked about I wonder? I do not try to “pick up” men , I do not flaunt myself as a woman, it is merely that I feel completely natural when dressed in skirts and wearing make-up, so what is shocking about it?
It can be said that I dislike my (male) body intensely and yearn to be a woman constantly.
So what sort of people are we? I say “we” because I have been privileged to meet a few, but there must be thousands of us out there! For example I know a “woman” in Capetown who had the courage to give up her male life and is now the manageress of a computer company. I also met a “woman” who was, at that time, a theatre sister in a well known private hospital in Johannesburg – another who had had the courage to take up a new life!
We are not gay!
We are not exhibitionists.
We want to blend in to society and not to be recognised as our male personnae.
We would like to be accepted by other women as one close to, if not wholy part of, female society.
We do not try to ‘pervert’ other folk to become like us.
We just want to live our lives in peace!
At the same time, in my case, out of love and devotion to my wonderful wife, I retain the male outer ego and do many of the things that husbands, fathers and grand-fathers do.
It isn’t easy and still gets me down. I would love to be fully accepted by society as the woman I know I am. For the sake of my family, however, this can never be. I count my blessings for what I have in my life.
Such are the experiences I have had as a woman that I have come to appreciate what many women have to suffer at the hands of men. One small example is that, when driving my car as a woman, I have on many occasions had fists shaken at me, had horns tooted and other examples of so-called masculine superiority, just because I may have happened to beat a man off at a set of traffic lights. Every woman will know what I am talking about.
In my opinion, men actually are subconciously afraid of women! They are mysterious creatures and men cannot understand them. Therefore they try to show their so-called masculine superiority by deriding women wherever possible.
This masculine ego problem is a root cause of violence against women, in my opinion.
Although the thought is completely unfeasible, if every youth had to live for, say, six months of his teenage life as a girl, and suffer many of the indignities which girls suffer at the hands of men, there would be a much greater understanding of women’s problems by men, and possibly much fewer attempts to show off the male ego.
Wasn’t it Dustin Hoffman who, after making the fim ‘Tootsie’, said that he became a much better man having been a woman?!