LIFE BEGINS AT SEVENTY
This article was first published 18 years ago in the FXG Bulletin produced by Mary Johnston.
I “came out” in a small way, about a year ago. It was a heady feeling, very thrilling and exciting. I thought I would like to tell everyone about it. However, as I read more about the TV world and met more girls, I realised that I didn’t have much to tell that hadn’t already been told, many times before! My great adventure would probably be met with a big yawn and “been there, done that, got the tee-shirt”. The more I learned about the TV world the more I realised that, as a TV, I am perfectly “normal”. In a way this was quite a relief as I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and am quite happy to be “normal”.
But there is one chapter in my story which may be of interest, and this is the way adults can unwittingly implant the concept of cross-dressing in the mind of a child. When I was in my infant school the teacher planned, rather ambitiously, to put on a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shakespeare buffs will recall there is a play within a play put on by a group of rustics in honour of the Duke’s wedding and my class of eight year olds was to perform that part of the play. One of the rustics, Flute the bellows-mender, was cast to play the romantic heroine, Thisbe, in the playlet and I was cast to play Flute and therefore also to be Thisbe! My sister, three years older than me, had recently been a bridesmaid at the wedding of an older cousin and it was decided, by whom I don’t know, that in my sub-role as Thisbe, I was to wear my sister’s bridesmaid ‘s dress. One day she brought the dress into my class to show my teacher and I can still remember the titter which went around the class of eight year olds at the thought of me putting it on. It was a long, frilly, candyfloss affair, typical of the 1940s. In the event, the production did not go ahead (I can’t remember why) so I never did appear on stage before the public wearing the dress. However, it must have been quite shortly after that episode that I started to experiment with feminine clothes, anything I could find, whenever I was alone in the house.
Thus began sixty and more years of secrecy and fantasising about cross-dressing, ebbing and flowing as it does, but never going away. Early last year, I discovered the Beaumont Society and FXG web sites and I became desperate to be “real”. It was now or never – and I hoped it would not be never. How to tell my wife of 41 years? I spent many weeks trying to work out what to say and two days after my seventieth birthday I asked her if she knew what a transvestite was – and told her that I was one! She was utterly astonished, matched only by my astonishment, and intense relief, that she did not react adversely. She does not understand, any more than I do, why I need to dress in feminine clothes but has accepted the fact and is supportive and helpful. In gratitude for her attitude I aim to be as discreet as possible in my comings and goings and make every effort not to betray her trust.
On joining the Beaumont Society, I was able to contact the Norwich Oasis and after a preliminary meeting with Barbara and Allison, have attended all their meetings. I have greatly benefited from the support and, encouragement, advice and friendship of the Oasis girls, help and advice, on make-up from Alice and hair from Anne in Wisbech. Do I “pass”? I don’t know but I draw some comfort from the fact that, having been invited to join the Oasis Ladies Luncheon Club, which meets periodically at a local restaurant, perhaps I don’t look too ridiculous.
Am I “read”? I don’t know. Does it matter? Perhaps not. Perhaps we don’t all share with equal passion Robbie Burns’ desire for “the gift to see ourselves as others see us”. It must be said however that, from where I stand, i.e. dressed, in front of a full-length mirror, no right-minded, clear-thinking, objective observer could possibly come to any other conclusion than that I am a well-dressed, well-groomed, elegant (attractive even), woman of seventy.
AAAAAAAAAAAAH IF ONLY – IF ONLY – IF ONLY!