My story

So I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s in a semi-detached house on a cul-de-sac, like a million others, in a former pit village in Staffordshire.  I lived there and went to the local schools from aged 5 until I was 18.

I was very shy, introverted and an only child. The phrase “sensitive” would come to plague me, true though it was. I didn’t get on with my Dad, though he was only really there at weekends as he worked very long hours but my Mom is ace.  I played with boys toys, I read books, I rode my bike and I “borrowed” my Moms clothes to wear whenever I could.

I first dressed when I was at primary school but it wasn’t until I went to secondary (high) school and my mom took on longer hours that I could do so regularly. By mid teens I was buying clothes off catalogue companies & newspaper mail order and racing my parents to the door to collect the various parcels & deliveries. Early tutelage in the art of secrets and hiding :-(

All through my school life (and indeed, to this day) I got on better with girls than boys from my first best friend Samantha aged 9/10 ish up to sixth form – by which time I was of course “with” the group rather than “of” the group, which made me sad sometimes.  I only ever had one male best friend though in truth I was no more “best” than his other friends.  I did used to get teased for hanging round with the girls & developed a fine range of ripostes and subject change techniques. I also got bullied in 4th & 5th years, though this was more to do with being shy & quiet than “gay” – I think.

Puberty was a funny time. By now I knew that I wished I’d been born a girl – I didn’t know it was ever possible to change though. No internet, just 4 mainstream TV channels and the Daily Mail/The Sun to guide me … what chance?  But puberty dealt me a wildcard – I started to develop breast buds, as sometimes happens in teenage boys, and I have a clear memory of a doctor trying to explain it was OK, they’d go away naturally and wouldnt be noticeable … when I was simply *thrilled*.  I just wanted them to get bigger & bigger, my body was going to change itself to match what I wanted!

But the doctor was right and within a year or two, no trace was left. I think this led into my first depresssion circa 15 years old, though I didn’t know I was depressed at the time and neither did my parents. Though if my daughter says she doesn’t want *any* birthday presents, depression would come to *my* mind :-/  At the time I just put it down to another facet of my perceived weirdness.

The absolute best moment of my school life, aged 17, was a trip out to see Rocky Horror Picture Show. We all dressed up and my friends were amazed to see me go from shy introvert to someone striding down the road in a basque & stockings blowing kisses to strangers :-)   A week or two after that, my best friends (all girls) bought a dress each for me from a charity shop and invited me to one of their houses to try them on; so there I was aged 17 wearing dresses in front of them but somehow I didn’t realise I was trans!

I’ve long berated myself for not living the life I could have if I’d decided at that point to transition but it was 1986 and I was a shy 17 year old, desperate to fit in *somewhere*. Clearly going round wearing a big flowery dress, like the exposés I’d read about in my parents copies of the Daily Mail and The Sun, was not the way to fit in. It just didn’t occur to me that I was anything other than male, albeit one who didn’t fit in and had this really freaky secret & shameful habit.

A year later I was at University, secretly dressing, but for longer now that I had a lock on my door! It was also the time of Glam Metal with Guns ‘n’ Roses, Faster Pussycat, Cinderella, Motley Crue et al …. which I loved, not least beacuse of the chance to dress out & about in a feminine way without it being seen as such :-)

However, all too soon, Grunge came and spoilt my party (though the music was good!). The leggings & blouses went back into the closet :-(

After university, I moved down south with my girlfriend, got a job, got married, got another job … all the time secretly dressing. Relishing every chance to be alone in the house or away on a course.  I also settled on the name “Lisa” being influenced by the girl I’d most wanted to be at school and Lisa Simpson!  I was still strictly “in the closet”, safe behind my locked door.  I started to feel the clash between what I *was* and what I was *seen as* and ended up properly depressed through much of  1996/97. Didn’t think to go to a doctor. Eventually the stress on my marriage was too much and we split, me moving to Sheffield, her staying in our old house with a new boyfriend :-/

After we split, my ex told me that she thought I was gay. I wasn’t, the idea of two men having sex doesn’t appeal at all, but the idea of me being a woman who had sex with a man … that was different, *that* I could and can imagine.

It was now 1998, I was renting in Sheffield, before buying a house to myself the following year. For the first time I had complete privacy and made use of it, keeping my female clothes properly for the first time – I already had quite a lot of them. In fact I think from this point in my life onwards, I’ve always had way more female clothes than male!

After a fairly rough first year in Sheffield, I got a girlfriend but it didn’t last long. Then I had a haircut and immediately met someone else!  I should have said that all my adult life I’d had long hair, ostensibly as a “rocker” but very handy for the closet crossdresser :)   That someone else eventually became my second wife. I was determined to tell her about my crossdressing before she moved in but that is *not* an easy conversation to start. I did eventually tell her, but only a few days before she moved when she felt she had no choice … She said it would be ok, whilst I, embarrassed, downplayed how much it meant to me. We agreed I would be allowed to dress whenever she wasn’t there, my clothes remaining in the cupboard.

However over time, she became more opposed to my dressing and I had a purge of clothes, throwing most out (though secretly keeping a few things). Back to my secrets & hidings after only a year or so of semi-openness.

Within another couple of years we married and had a daughter a year later. I tried to keep things together – in truth having a baby/toddler takes up so much time, I probably didn’t have time to do much else.  My wife also succumbed to depression which is a tough thing when I myself was pretty down (nobody asks about the father though).  At least my job meant I got to be a hands on parent, doing the night feeds, and sharing the care to some degree.

As my daughter has got older though, she has helped me realise that I might not just be a crossdresser who passively wants a womans body but actually a transsexual woman.  Why?  Her toys :-)

Since my mid twenties I’ve been coming up with reasons as to why I’m not a transsexual. Initially it was simply not wanting to be like the portrayals I’d read about in the tabloids, which I realise now are likely to have been horrible manipulations of the truth for salacious circulation boosting reasons, but they really affected me at the time. From 35-ish onwards I tried to think that I’d missed my chance and was too old to have a succesful transition.  However, for all of my twenties and thirties, I’d decided I couldn’t be a transsexual because I’d never played with girls toys or asserted as a young child that I was a girl not a boy. Ok, I was so shy I wouldn’t likely have asserted anything, but the toys?

And then it was 2007 and my daughter has *absolutely no interest in girls toys*. She still doesn’t.  She plays with cars & trains & tanks & robots. Her wendy house & doll have always been ignored (though the wendy house was home to dinosaurs briefly). She does play in a girly way and fierce dinosaurs tend to form families (before ripping the herbivores apart) … :-)

I’m not sure if I played in a girly way … though my matchbox model ships all had friendships :)  … but I was certainly never into the rough & tumble kind of play I see a lot of boys do when I’m taking my daughter to school. In fact until computers, my favourite toys were lego and model kits & trains – but these are things my daughter now enjoys too :-)   The thing was, seeing my daughter play with supposedly boys toys (I don’t think toys *should* be gender specific by the way) knocked down the barrier in my mind. If she can, why couldn’t I have but still be transsexual?

This was 2007-8 and a time I nearly came out – its the origin of my chosen surname (I used to be Lisa Seven) – but I didn’t.  I stuck to “the deal” with my wife, almost a “don’t ask, don’t tell” but started to explore the internet for proper information. By now, we’d moved and my clothes were held in storage from where I could retrieve them as needed – it felt seedy and sad.  The next few years though were much the same, me buying clothes etc. in secret and wearing them whilst away on courses – working in IT gives lots of chances to get training and I tended to only be available when courses were far enough away to warrant a hotel :-)   I started buying female but androgenous clothes and wearing them in public whilst away, getting more and more daring (not caring?) over the years.  I also went out at night a few times but either not with wig & makeup or safely in the car.

In 2010/1 though, the strain of the two lives started to get to me and I decided it had to stop. In 2011, I would not do *any* crossdressing. It was a fetish and I could choose not to do it.  I lasted 6 or 7 months, by the end of which I was utterly depressed to the point of crossing roads with my eyes closed to see what fate would do (Being a coward though, I chose roads that weren’t very busy). It was one day driving to work, idly looking for places where a car crash might be fatal yet look accidental, that it occurred to me that if I didn’t start being me again, I’d be dead.  I resurrected my dormant online identities and joined twitter.

That November, My Transsexual Summer was shown on TV.  Its difficult to put into words the feelings that there were people just like me and they were transsexual. It was absolutely amazing.

Quickly following that, I belatedly found Juliet Jaques’ Guardian blog and suddenly I had the perfect storm with like minded people on twitter, on MTS and in the paper. I had to see this through, I had to find out, properly, just what I was.  A couple of weeks later I started this blog and *my* journey.

 

[2012 update]

In the last year, as you can read in my blog, I’ve been out a lot more, become open with my wife and started the process towards a transition to living full time as a woman.  The year was all about “testing” myself to see if I *really* wanted to do this. I was expecting some wobbles but apart from an anxious hour in a Nottingham hotel room one morning, I’ve been fine.  This is what I want and I want to do it all the time, not in an addictive do-MORE-each-time way but more of a compulsion to just be free of a disguise I’ve carried for so long.

 

One Response to My story

  1. Pippa John says:

    Hi Lisa, just read your blog and I only want to wish you all the best for the future. You express eliquently what so many of us feel and want but cannot realise because of our own personal circumstances and weaker characters. There are many of us who are constantly battling against all the trials and emotional aspects of being TG and with a loving partner who has to live with the ‘other woman’. For many the closet door is never opened, and for some if it is opened, the gap in the door only gives a glimpse of what a true life may be like. Thank you for your honest life story and I look forward to reading about your future, hopefully the rollercoaster may have done with the corkscrew and is gently rolling to a safer place.
    All the best for the future,
    Pippa

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