How is it that I do not know the date for what is just possibly the most important day of my life? The most on-point answer I could give is that at the time I did not know it would become the most important day of my life. There is however another question that attempting to resolve this question raises. Was it the most important day of my life? What I do know is that at some point in my childhood, mostly likely in the spring month of my fifth grade year when i was ten years old and just weeks from turning eleven, I found the courage and the opportunity to visit my sister’s bedroom and try on some of her clothes. Looking back on that day from over fifty years later it was unquestionably a very impactful day. However was it a day that changed the direction of my life or was it a day that put be on the path of the life more aligned with my gender identity?
Finding The Courage To Explore My Desires
I did not enter her room that day on a whim or as an act of curiosity. I had been resisting the urge to visit her room for weeks, maybe even months. The idea of dressing up in her clothes had been planted several week previous when Bruce shared a secret. I have no way of knowing the truthfulness of that shared secret. Whether or not it was true is totally inconsequential to my story. He told me on that day that our older brother had gotten a scolding after he was caught wearing some of Cheri’s clothes. To a certain extent, all I heard were the words ‘wearing Cheri’s clothes.’ I knew instantly I had to find a way myself to try on some of her clothes. I did hear one other word however. Scolding. As quickly as I formed the idea of dressing up in her clothes, I accepted the necessity of doing so in a way that I did not get caught.
Opportunity was one of the hurdles I had to overcome. We were a family of seven living in a relatively small house. I shared a bedroom with my two younger brothers. As Dad was a teacher, his work schedule was also my school schedule. There simply were not many opportunties for me to follow my impulses and visit her room. However, there were times I found to do so and I can even recall standing at her door at time knowing all I had to do was open the door. But I lacked the courage to do so. Why courage? I was not simply curious. I did not want to try on her dresses as an act of curiosity which I suspect is a fairly common curiosity of boys my age who try on girl’s clothes. I knew I would love wearing her clothes. Deep down I knew that one time would not be enough. And I knew that as soon as I tried on a first dress I would finally have proof that there was something really wrong with me.
For ten years I have been told by my parents and every other person I knew that I was a boy. As Mom and Dad wanted me to be a girl, as it seems unlikely that as a young child I did not ask my parents why I was a boy and not a girl, I am inclined to feel that my parents often found it necessary to stress in no uncertain terms to me that I was a boy and could never be a girl. And yet during the weeks that passed from when the seed of the idea was planted and when he finally acted on my urges, I knew — KNEW!! — that as soon as I slipped into a dress I would be destined for Hell. I cannot say that I knew myself to truly be a girl. It also is most likely that I did not feel a strong desire to be a girl during this time. However, boys do not wear dresses. So I knew as soon as I tried on a dress, I would no longer be a boy. Or at the very least I would be a very defective boy.
When Would It End?
On June 15, 1974, I stood at the altar and took the hand of Ann Gower in marriage. Six day before I had turned 21 years of age. By every understanding of the word, I was now a man. I was also now a husband and in time I would hopefully be a father. I truly loved Ann. It would even be fair to say that I still love her. On that day I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with her and build a life and a family together. I was working a full time job with KMart and attending college, just one year away from graduation and a teaching certificate. There was a deep desire in me to finally rid myself of my crossdressing desires by being the man I was born to be, the husband I needed to be and the father I wanted to be. It would be inaccurate to say that I saw marriage as a cure as I wanted to marry Ann with all of my heart, independently of my secrets. I did however make one big error before I stood at that altar. I did not tell Ann my secret. Keeping my secrets was my fallback plan.
While I did not see my marriage to Ann as a ‘cure,’ I had since ‘the most important day of my life’ been looking for a way out. I must have told myself one hundred times, nevermore. One tactic common to crossdressers is called ‘purging,’ essentially the act of discarding your wardrobe and crossdressing accessories in the hope of finding escape from the indulgence. I may have purged as many as a dozen times. More importantly to the question of marriage, I always saw some point in the future when I would be able to shed myself of this pleasure. When I started dating, when I finally got laid,, when I was simply older, when I got married, were all seen by me as my salvation as some future date. However every milestone passed and my urges remained.
With a short time into our marriage, I was buying Ann new clothes for here wardrobe. I always bought a size too large so it would fit me and she always insisted that even being the wrong size she could make it work. She was going to college and at times working two jobs so I often found myself at home alone. When I did, her side of the closet held the same allure for me that I had once felt for Cheri’s then Mom’s closets. Within five years Ann and I were divorced. It was not so much my secret that drove us apart and the lies I had to tell in order to protect those secrets.
After our divorce, I entered a time in my life when I worked the hardest to suppress my desires. Unfortuately I used alcohol as my ‘cure.’ For close to thirty years of my life, alcohol actually had a larger control over my life than did my crossdressing. And then I night just before my 49th birthday I got a DUI a few miles from the Hood Canal bridge. I went into treatment as a result of the DUI and I found sobreity. However I was not able to find sobriety until I became totally honest with my support group. Telling them that I am transgender was just possibly the hardest words I ever spoke. Maybe the most important day of my life was the day I got that DUI or maybe it was the day I told my group that I am transgender.