It’s been an odd couple of weeks. No hyperbole, but my life tends to go in cycles, if cycles were like the ups and downs of a very tall roller coaster. I’ve said before that I’ve buried the feminine persona within a number of times, and for long periods of time, and I’ve felt happy when she isn’t around.
But that’s a lie. What I do is I make an assumption about how the world would see me if I was found out, and I buy into that crap. I put her away and cover myself in shame, like the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, only this time it’s a mask of masculinity and lead shielding to stop me feeling her on the inside.
I’ve done it time and time again, always getting that guilty little rush when she’s put away, telling myself I’m going to be normal from now on, putting up all the internal walls, trying to be the ‘bloke’ the world expects.
Well, not this time, sisters. This time I’m playing it a little differently. I mentioned last blog that I’m going down the ‘non-planning’ route for a bit, playing it all by ear. Well, as with all good plans, in that not planning is itself a plan of sorts that really spins my head around and makes me want to punch myself in the face for being obtuse, it kinda got scuppered pretty quickly.
She’s sat on my shoulder, hanging her heels over my chest, whispering constantly into my ears. And it’s a good noise for a change, no guilt, no feeling of emasculating shame, none of the usual bollocks that society has forced on a binary-gender population.
For the first time in my life I can stand up and say, ‘I am gender-fluid’. Well, not so much stand up and say it but whisper it to the few wonderful people that read the blog. This doesn’t mean I’ll be tying a pink bow in my hair whenever I leave the house, but more that I recognise the part of *me* that is her.
And that’s an interesting step. If you go back and read a number of the blogs you’ll start to see an interesting trend where I am subconsciously disassociating myself from her. I tend to refer to her in the third person (which I’ve just done), I talk about putting him aside and bringing her out. But that’s just a function of the screwed-up brain trying to rationalise, and protect, the two distinct parts of my personality. And it’s wrong, it reinforces the difference, it reflects my need to keep her separate from him.
So sod it. I’m writing this blog for myself principally, so it’s time to treat it as some form of free self-consultancy.
For those who have stuck through those paragraphs of internal battle, let’s have some fun.
What do I want to get out of all of this fluidity?
There’s a part of my persona that I love dearly, that is unblemished by the near-to-50 years I’ll trudged through a life that has been designed to try and get me to the grave as comfortably, and as safely, as possible. What do I want to get out of this fluidity? I want to be her more of the time. Not always, as 1: corsets hurt after a while and 2: being a woman is terribly high maintenance and I’m a lazy person. But I want more of her in my life.
What do you mean by more?
Well, let’s see. I see a wonderful community of Ts, people who have embraced their inner-girl and are living life to the full. Personally, I’m not brave enough (and I’m not being modest, my brain has a number of safety shutoffs that make me terrified to ride on planes, for example) *but* I want to be part of, at the least, the periphery. Does this mean coming out of the closet? No, but it does mean chilling, relaxing and spending more time being her, and less time planning to be her.
But where does she want to go?
Now that’s a good question. In the past I’ve always talked about little fantasies, bucket-lists, all those things. Now I am her, so my fantasies are her fantasies. There’s a list of things I want to do, and note I say ‘I’ rather than her.
I want to dance with a man. Maybe just the once. I want to feel what is it like to be held as we sway to the music, I want to feel the rhythm in my bones as I, very carefully, move my heels around. I want to feel a hand on my rear. I want to laugh at the end of the track, maybe get a hug. That’s not too much to ask is it?
I want to have a conversation in a bar that I can hear. Yeah, I’m getting older, but bloody hellfire, why do all clubs and pubs nowadays have to have music on so loud? I want to sit in my best finery, resting my chin on my hand in a delicate way, maybe tilting my head, and have a good old fashioned, no-holds-barred conversation with a man while I am Sarah. I’ve never done it. My best friend was good enough to put up with me when I went out, but the terror combined with the alcohol meant that I reverted to type. I want to have a genuine conversation with an interested partner purely as Sarah.
I want to wear a dress for long enough that it suddenly feels part of me. I’ve done that before, back in the days when I dressed at home with my first partner, spending all the hours from sunrise to sunset in a flowery day-dress. And after awhile it feels natural, it feels part of you, and you can feel yourself sliding into femininity. I haven’t done that in too long a time. Maybe it’s worth hiring an apartment rather than a hotel in London, arranging for a makeover and then spending *all* day dressed in an area with a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. I get giddy just contemplating that, so that’s on the list.
So what’s the endgame?
Sod the endgame. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the last couple of months as I’ve barrel-rolled into mainstreaming my urges it’s that we’re here once. Society and the human-condition forces us into becoming long-term planners and that defeats the point, if there is one, of being alive.
I want to enjoy all the aspects of my life, and that includes being Sarah.
So what’s the plan?
No plan! From now on if she wants out, I sort it. No ‘set up an appointment for 12 weeks time and then obsess over the outfits, what I’ll do when I’m dressed, what I need to get out of it’. Just impulsive urge, sort out the soonest appointment, femm-up!
What about being out and about?
Now that’s an interesting one. The night out wasn’t my first time out dressed, it was my *fourth* – yeah, I’ve said that I have been out before for an afternoon and evening on Brick Lane, but I’d actually been out surreptitiously twice before when I was *much* younger.
So, here’s a tale that I’ve told *no-one* in my 47 years, so grab a mug of hot chocolate and snuggle in for the ride. I was 14 years old, and my parents used to foist me and my sister on my grandmother, who lived a couple of roads over. Looking back it was because my parents were not actually that good at, you know, ‘parenting’, but it meant that we got to spend a Friday and Saturday night away from the house. I was *way* into the closet cross-dressing then, sneaking clothes out of my mother’s closet or, even better, from the loft, where there was a *tonne* of sixties and seventies stuff. I’d bought myself a wig from a costume shop, nothing fancy (this was 1983 and the internet wasn’t even a twinkle in Berners-Lee’s eye yet). I’d shop-lifted (yeah, yeah) a dark red lipstick, found an old bra and figure-form panties set in the multitude of boxes of clothes in the attic, and had myself a little ‘cross-dressing’ survival kit, tissues to pad the bra, some clip-on flower earrings, a battered old pair of tights and some white 3-inch heels in a zipped up bag with a padlock.
Whenever I stayed over at my grandmother’s I’d wait until everyone had gone to bed, leave it an hour, and then dress up as quietly as I possibly could, usually bringing one of two dresses I was obsessed with. One was a proper 1970s dress, one of the reasons I abhor the fashions and avoid those now. It was a horrible cotton mix, green and white checked pattern, with a zip up the front and a wide white collar, short sleeves and just above the knee. The other was an early 1980’s high collar Scottish dress, white frilled collar and tartan, long sleeved with white frills at the cuffs and a long, for me at the time, skirt that went almost to the ankles.
This night in question I had the green frock and I waited after all the lights had gone off for the hour or so until the house was silent. I always slept downstairs on the world’s most uncomfortable sofa, so staying awake was easy.
There was none of the worry of shaving then. My hormones had yet to kick in, I hadn’t had the growth spurt that would shoot me over 6ft 2inches so I was about 5ft 10inches at this point, still tall with heels of course. With shaking hands and in the light of a torch I stripped off my pyjamas, pulled on the figure-hugging panties and bra, pulled the tights on over the top, slipped my feet into the shoes (they had little buckles and an ankle strap which were slightly too small, always left me with almost a cut across the top of my foot), pulled on the blonde bob wig which I spent a good five minutes trying to style with my fingers, applied too much lipstick (always, love the taste of the stuff) and then, tottering around and trying to be as quiet as possible, slipped the green dress over my head, zipping it up all the way to the top.
I turned off the torch and the room plunged into darkness, lit only by the streetlight outside. It felt wonderful, the dress lying across my legs, the feel of the tights, and I suddenly had an idea that filled me with a warmth I had never experienced before.
I would go outside.
My grandmother lived in a quiet cul-de-sac that was separated from the main road that ran through the town by a dirt lane. You don’t see them nowadays, but back then most houses had a garage around the back, and shared a dirt lane that linked to the road. My idea was that I would sneak to the back door, open it as quietly as I possibly could, step out and go to the bottom of the garden, just to feel what it was like to be outside in girl’s clothing.
I was literally shaking with excitement, and it was so hard to keep myself from not hyper-ventilating. This was all new to me, and somehow I had told myself that it was utterly wrong, but I wanted to do it so badly, and this new warm feeling was like nothing I’d had before and I was really enjoying it.
So I snuck carefully from the front room, through the kitchen being utterly careful not to make any noise on the hard floor with my heels. I got to the backdoor and stood there for a couple of minutes, fiddling with my dress and fighting the urge to literally be sick.
I opened the door, slowly, dreading the sound of the click and pulled the door open slightly, about two inches, listening to the house and waiting for what seemed an age. No sound came from upstairs, so I swung the door open and stepped out gingerly onto the path.
I can remember it like it was yesterday. The sky was clear, not a cloud in sight. The moon was about half-full and the garden was lit with a dull, grey light. It was cold and I could feel the cold air between my legs and up to the panties, which gave me a delicious thrill. I still feel that thrill now whenever I put a dress on and, to be honest, it’s one of the reasons I still do it. It’s like a direct connection back to when I was a kid, when I had these feelings for the first time.
I walked slowly up the path, the wind moving the dress, and I had to suppress the urge to skip down the path. The garden wasn’t that big, and it only took me about twenty seconds to walk to the end of the garden where the gate led out onto the dark lane behind the houses.
My plan had been to step outside, walk to the end of the garden, swing my dress about a bit and then head back in, doing my normal panicked removal of the clothes and putting all of my bits safely back in the locked bag. But as I stood there, in my green 1970s dress, I felt the urge to do more.
I decided to go to the main road. This was about midnight, and back then the roads were much quieter, so the chance of being seen was pretty small, but I wanted to stand under a street-light and put myself in danger. There was something utterly exciting about it, about being effectively trapped in girl’s clothes, out in the real world, even if it was the middle of the night and no-one was about.
Before I could come to any form of senses I’d opened the back gate and stepped into the lane. The lane ran for around forty or so feet before opening out onto the main road, and I could see the glow of the white streetlight (this was before they all went orange), and I walked slowly towards it, trying to keep my steps short and petite. All the while this warm feeling was growing.
The last ten or so steps were the scariest steps I have ever taken in my life. Bar none. The light got greater and I could actually see the colour of my dress and then, in an instant, I was stood on the main road, breathing hard, feeling a rush of emotion like nothing I had ever known before. I wanted to cry out but, of course, I still wanted to be hidden so I didn’t. So I simply stood beneath the streetlight, swinging the hem of my dress, one hand at the collar, and drank in the feeling.
And then I saw the man.
Across the main road a guy was stood at his gate, smoking a cigarette. He was watching me. I had nowhere to hide. He must have seen me come out of the lane, stand under the light, and have a little dance.
It was past midnight, it was darkish, and he was a good thirty or so feet away, but I instantly went cold. He waved to me and I raised a hand, then turned and walked back into the lane, before panic took over.
I found myself literally sprinting along the lane, and as I did the warmth in my body suddenly did something I had no experience of.
Yeah. My first orgasm. No-one had told me about it, I hadn’t had the birds and the bees talk other than some whispers at school. So the first time I had an orgasm I was running full tilt down a dark lane wearing a green 1970s wide collared frock, blonde wig and too much lipstick.
It’s funny looking back, but right then I had no idea what was going on. I seriously thought that I’d wet myself, or that I was dying, because the rush, the sudden spurt, all of this was utterly new to me. When I got back to the back-gate of the house I was crying uncontrollably and had to stand in the lane to pull myself together, my legs wet, a smell I didn’t recognise and utterly terrified.
Cue an hour of silently scrubbing the panties and the dress, because ‘wow’, and not knowing what had happened.
Never told that story before to anyone. Feels good, and not a little weird, to share, and I’m not using it as a ‘this is why I am broken’, but more as a way of reminding myself that this is who I am. It didn’t stop me sneakily dressing for the next three years until I left home, nor did it stop me going out – a couple of months later on a very similar night I snuck out in the other dress and walked the quarter of a mile, all in lanes, to get to the local shops where I used the public ladies toilet at 1:00am before panic-sprinting back again.
What it did do was to reinforce the guilt a little too much, which is why it took my first real relationship to bring out the proper dresser in me, rather than the ‘sneaking a frock whenever the rest of the family were out’ that I had done since the urge woke up in me courtesy of the UK scouting organisation and the Gang Show.
Anyway, where was I?
I’m no longer the terrified, confused 14 year old. I’m now the terrified 47 year old, not confused, finally in a place where Sarah can have equal shares on decisions. And I’m as scared now as I was when I stood at the door, ready to step out into the world.
Feels good to be scared.
Stay beautiful, embrace the fear and make it yours.