Why have I started to write a blog now? There is a line running through all our lives, one that has divided humanity since before it was human. And I think I am crossing it. I have always looked across longingly but now I am crossing it. I don’t want this to be permanent and I’m coming back in between trips but I want to spend time on the other side. I can tell this is one of the most important journeys in my life and I want to chart it. That is why I’m starting this blog.
How did I set out? I remember as a child pouring over the women’s fashion section in catalogues, fascinated by all those confident, beautiful women smiling out at me. They were saying “look at this skirt and this blouse, they’re gorgeous!” And I did, and they were! The lingerie section held the most fascination for me because everything was so technical and pretty at the same time and it was the only place I ever saw such things. I guess it is no surprise that when I grew up my fascination in women became manifested in their clothing. These were the outward signs of their feminity, the things they might leave behind on the back of a chair, that you could touch, you could smell.
It was perhaps ten years ago, when I was already into my forties that I moved from looking and occasionally touching to trying on. I was in a charity shop looking at books when my eyes fell on a purple skirt on a rail nearby. It was short and elasticated and I was overcome with a desire to wear it. I looked around me. The shop was quiet. The old lady on the till looked kindly. I quickly chose two pairs of mens’ trousers and then, like a spy picking up a package at a drop I quickly but calmly slipped the skirt and hanger off the rail and held it underneath the trousers. My heart was pounding. At the till the volunteer folded each item up neatly without a word and handed them over to me in a bag. I had done it! As soon as I got home I dropped all my other shopping in the hall and raced upstairs with the skirt. Even the act of stepping into it felt amazing. Pulling the elastic waist-band up felt gorgeous. Instead of the loose fabric of a pair of trousers hanging from a belt the stretchy fabric of the skirt hugged my tummy and bum tightly. Whenever I took a step or bent over the tight stretches moved over of my skin constantly reminding me of what I was wearing. The feeling of being so tightly enclosed around the outside with nothing but fresh air between my legs was glorious. And all of this sensuality was underlining the fact that I was doing something, wearing something that I was not supposed to.
This became the first of many times when I would ‘dress up’ in clothes. I would never dress up in a full outfit or think about my hair or shoes. It would always be a case of trying on one or two items and enjoying the feel and look. I would strike poses in bra and panties in front of a long mirror or stride up and down the landing in a swinging pleated skirt as if I was on a catwalk. I was a man enjoying feeling what women felt. I was attracted to women’s clothing in the same way that I was attracted to women themselves. I think it was a way of feeling I was close to women. Ofcourse the fact that I was doing it in a closeted, secret way meant that that was anything but the case.
Just a few months ago things began to change. For the first time ever I began to experiment with makeup. I began to see that I could look not just like a man wearing ladies clothes but could look more or less like a whole woman. I started to think about other parts of my wardrobe. I bought shoes for the first time and went to a party shop and bought a wig. Now, standing in front of the mirror, I started to feel more complete. Here, standing on the carpet was me, a man, and there in the mirror looking back at me was me, a woman. I smiled at myself. I was very pleased to meet myself! I started to have a thought. What if I were to go out dressed as a woman? Could I ever do it? Would I ever have the courage? One thing I knew was that I would have to work on my wardrobe! Unless I intended to go out as a tart! All I had was fishnet stockings, short ra-ra skirts and crop tops. I realised I was at a junction. Up until now I had been a fantasy woman. Now I wanted to try to be a real woman. I started to look at what women were wearing in the street or on the bus. I thought about hem lengths, fabrics and textures, colours. I needed a whole outfit for the first time. Something that would look as if it had been put together with care and that would accentuate femininity by hiding my masculinity. I wanted to both avoid and, I suppose, attract attention and I had to bear that in mind with every item I chose. I practised my makeup – not enough I worried. The finishing touch was a large necklace of red and brown tortoise shell. I had never tried on jewelry before and it made all the difference. At last, after a few weeks of secret shopping, I was ready. I was standing on that line and ready to cross.