A Boy (?) born Into a Sect: A True Story – Part 1

Some time ago, Hazel put pen to paper to tell us about the things trans people do. After reading the post Ultra-Orthodox and trans she wanted to tell us about being born into a Sect.  This was first published in the Beaumont magazine.

This is a story I have long wanted to write but had no idea where to start, so I suppose the best place to start is the beginning.

I was born in January 1947, the third male child to a family that were part of a religious sect. My grandfather was bought into it during the first world war. Quite why or how, I never managed to find out because his family were all publicans, and my grandmothers family were never part of it, but it happened. During my early years  I was not aware that my father was strongly involved. At that time he was one of nine children, and only one of his brothers and two of his sisters had joined and became part of the sect.

I suppose at this point I should mention that I learnt many years later that my mother was convinced I was going to be a girl, everything about me was apparently different, but I will talk about that later.

When I was four, it would appear that father was asked by the Brethren”to move to a town in Essex to help sort out a problem in a meeting” there. I will not go any further with that as it will appear far-fetched. But there it was; we went and my father became, with another brother, the elders responsible to clean things up. Looking back I can see how my father came under the spell of the other person; he was a domineering character who rose to be a leading light within the sect while my father was content to play second fiddle. I only mention this to give some idea how things were.

My sister would have been born before we moved, so Mother had the girl she wanted. Several years later my baby sister was born, so I was now the middle child of five. This is probably the time to mention my birth. I am convinced my mother wanted a girl so badly that, until the arrival of my sister, I was that girl. I can remember being given a doll with a china head, when at the same time my two brothers were given cars, this dolly was my constant companion until I was about six. I loved her. When I wasn’t playing with her she stayed tucked up in my bed. This was until I was about six, when my mother asked me to hand her over and she was put in the dustbin because “boys do not play with dolls”. Needless to say as soon as Mother’s back was turned I rescued her and hid her under the bed. But, of course, mothers find everything, and once again dolly ended up in the bin, only this time I was told to get a hammer and her head was smashed. I can only think that she took such drastic action because she wanted to exorcise some inner guilt feeling she had about the way I was bought up at the very beginning because, lets face it, she could have insisted I give the doll to my sister. In those days children had only a few toys and I am sure my sister would have been delighted.

So I grew up and arrived at the age when I would be expected to become interested in becoming a “Brother”, learning about the bible and listening to my elders, because I needed to be saved* so I could become a fully fledged member of the meeting. I could give at this point a history of what this sect was about but that would be for another time and place, as this article is about how I coped with it but, suffice to say, it was full on. This is how a week would go:

Monday 7.30 pm: prayer meeting.

Tuesday  – 7.30 pm: ministry meeting (once a month “Care” meeting to discuss  the running of things).

Wednesday – 7.30 pm: mid week reading meeting at the main meeting room.

Thursday  – 7.30 pm: reading meeting where we would visit nearby gatherings.

Friday  – 7. 30 pm: same as above.

Saturday – 9.00 / 10.00 am: Fellowship meeting in nearby towns. Usually they would hire a school and brethren from surrounding areas would meet up and invite a“Ministering brother” to conduct the proceedings. This would have three main meeting with intervals where food would be served, and would finish at 3 or 4 pm. These gatherings would have 100 or more members. They hired Westminster Central Hall / Alexandra Palace for special occasions and these would be filled.

Going back in time here, I was beginning to feel different to others. At around the age of 6 or 7,  I was aware of my mothers stockings hanging up in the bathroom and, after a lot of longing, I had to touch them and then I plucked up courage and tried them on. The exhilaration I experienced was soon followed by a fear of what was happening. I was also aware of the girls in the gathering who wore wonderful full skirts with layered petticoats or, alternatively, short skirts. I would keep looking and longing to be one of them. The attraction was not sexual as I had no idea what sex was, I just wanted to be a girl and sit with them. I wanted to join in with them and talk with them. But no, I was a brother and had to pretend to be different and spiritual. I had also found a corset that had belonged to an aunt who used to live with us. I wore that a lot, hidden away in the bathroom, on the odd occasion I managed to find an excuse to stay behind in the evening looking after my sisters.

I started to have feelings of disgust with myself. We were constantly told about evil thoughts and feelings and I knew how God would punish me. One day all my family would be taken up to heaven with all the brethren, and I would be left behind with everybody else and end up in Hell. But I could not stop; I so wanted to be a girl.

I thought one of the girls, Rachel was special, really beautiful. When I was seven she slipped a note in my pocket that read, “I love you and I am going to marry you.“ I was taken aback and so happy. I put it in my pocket but my mother found it a few days later when she was checking my “go to the meeting best suit”.  She informed me she had talked to Rachel’s mother to make sure no more notes were sent, because I was not to think about such things for years.

This girl was special. As I grew older I worshipped her, but I was too shy and embarrassed to talk to her. I had this terrible secret which I was carrying. I knew I was not worthy of her. I was struggling to be a good member of the sect. I tried hard to be good and function as a brother, but all the while I was longing to be one of the girls or  sisters as they were known. I did manage to cope and passed muster. I asked to be accepted into “fellowship” at about the age of twelve, which meant I had to try really hard to participate, which for the most part I did. looking back now, did I understand what I was saying? Did it make sense? I doubt it, but I wanted to put behind me all those wicked evil thoughts. I did not want to go to hell. I also wanted to be worthy of Rachel. She was also attracting the attention of other boys. I was very jealous, but I thought they were better for her than I could be. One of these boy’s family was later excommunicated and became “worldly” and she was stopped  from having anything to do with them.

All this time I was at school, which was difficult because at home we did not have television or radio. We were not allowed to go to the cinema. I no idea about any of these things, and hated it when I was questioned by teachers and pupils. I did not know what to say. We would be asked to write about programmes or films that other children had seen. I had to admit I did not have such worldly things. I had to reply with the answer that the brethren told us to give: “We love Jesus and he says these things are not good.”

During my secondary school we had to be asked to be excused from school weekly assembly and religious instruction lessons because in these activities we were being taught things that the sect did not agree with. This made me personally feel isolated and different. I tried to get involved in other things at school, and I was so proud to be asked to play for the school rugby team as the master felt I was a natural “hooker” in the scrum, but when I got home late from school, because I stayed for practise, I was in deep trouble. It was explained in no uncertain terms that all my spare time was to be spent at the meetings, so there would be no time on Saturdays or after school. I was told to tell the master the “I love Jesus” line.  A similar thing happened with the cricket and athletics teams. I was told I was a good bowler but I made sure I bowled overs of wides  and no-balls, and when it came to the semi-final of the hurdles, where I was told I was going to be asked to represent my house at sports day,  I made sure I knocked half of them down. Otherwise I would have had to explain why I could not take part on Saturdays and after school. At the same time as having to deal with this, I was still agonising with my inner feelings. I wanted to be a girl, I longed to wear pretty things, and I was struggling so hard to be the opposite. I did not want to pray out loud and make comments about any passage of the bible we would happen to be studying.

To be continued….

Hazel x

Glossary of terms

Brethren:- Was the name they went by and also referred to each group as.

Meeting :- Was a gathering of Brethren they did not use the term church, also it referred to service i.e. prayer meeting etc.

In Fellowship:- you had to be “in fellowship” to be able to partake and participate

Saved:- you had to be saved and ask to be taken into fellowship before you could participate, believe you me they gave you no rest until you got there.

Julie’s story

Julie contacted me early June interested in coming to Oasis.  I do hope we will be able to meet her on the “other side” of Covid-19.  She wanted to tell her story as an introduction to coming to Oasis.

Lovely to have found you and made contact, my name is Julie, I have been travelling my road now for the best part of fifty years, so I am no spring chicken!, from very early on I knew I didn’t fit in, it was and still is to an extent very difficult to come to terms with, and I am sure all of us can tell a similar story…

I am to all practical intents and purposes an ordinary, fairly well balanced guy, single but with a secure full time job and a home of my own, I have a range of hobbies including singing and playing music, though not that well, I’m a much better and more confident singer than musician, I have even done several open mic nights and been well received, sadly at the moment of course all of that is cancelled, and I am really missing it, but with the extra time I am getting on with other stuff which is demanding my attention at home including fitting out my kitchen

My biggest problem I feel was the conflict within myself, I was only six when I first tried anything on from my sisters old clothes which were in the attic at the time, I could say I resisted the temptation for a long while, but that wouldn’t be true, I seized it with both hands!, it was still just my little secret though,  later in school life I had to suppress it, and more so when I found myself at a boys only boarding school!, I discovered then I am not Gay, I won’t go in to detail, he was older, and fortunately for me a nice guy who took no for an answer, we did become friends, and he stuck up for me against some very cruel people, I really missed him when he left, as he had seen something in me other’s didn’t see…

When I left school it was a traumatic time for me for all sorts of reasons I won’t share right now and my real self became submerged again for some time, in my later teen’s and with my own money I ventured over the forbidden threshold once more, I think buying my first pair of panties was one of the most terrifying experiences I had had at the time, now I am very casual about clothes shopping generally, in fact after my first admittedly bad experience, I had no trouble really,  no internet options back then but I managed, I live in a village, and my local market town is not very big but I still shopped there, even in the small privately owned lingerie shop we had at the time!

While I’m on that subject, It has come to my notice and I am sure many more of us would agree that the “buying a present gambit” doesn’t fool experienced lady shop assistants, regardless of their age, but if your nice, polite and approach them properly the girls are very happy to help as I am sure they meet a lot like us, and they appear to be very understanding in my experience, or perhaps I have just been lucky!

I think the major turning point for me was when I properly acknowledged my true self, she has a lot more confidence than I did, and I wouldn’t be the person I now am without her, she used to be entirely in the background, but now she has come to the fore I am now much happier, more confident,comfortable and generally a much nicer person to be around, I regret not accepting her sooner, she’s lovely and has opened up my world, I used to really struggle with meeting new people especially socially, I didn’t join clubs or really go out much, now I’m with her I don’t feel so alone, I love meeting people, and take a genuine interest in them, I’m a proper chatterbox, and I belong to three different clubs mainly connected with music, I find work easier to cope with, I am nowhere near as stressed as I used to be, I was like a coiled spring some days!, but now I just sail through most of the time, and I wouldn’t put my genie back in her bottle if I could, the only question remaining is do I live with her, or become her full time, I’m still not sure on that one, but I do know one thing, she’s here to stay and I love her with all my heart….

I am not completely “out” but I’m not in either!, I have not told family or most friends yet, as you don’t want to spoil a long standing friendship, or alienate yourself from your relatives, it’s a difficult choice, and one big reason I am making contact with you all is to gain some perspective from others who are on this difficult journey as well, I am not totally out but it’s not the secret it once was, as one day when out off duty in my usual smarter than average well fitted outfit I happened to run in to three of my younger female colleagues from my  current work, I wasn’t sure where to put myself, but decided to brazen it out, smiled and acknowledged the three of them by name and explained I couldn’t stop to chat as I had an appointment with my opticians!, which was actually true I was walking there from my car.

A couple of day’s later I met one of them at work, she gave me a lovely smile and didn’t even mention it, I still work with her, we get on well and often chat, but we haven’t talked about and  I have heard nothing more about it from anyone at work,   and I’m not the talk of the town either as far as I know!, the only other comment from one of the other lasses I had seen that day was when my rather commodious work trousers were slipping down as I bent over to pick something up, and she suggested without a hint of humour that a ladies cut might suit me better…

I said are you saying I’m curvy?, she said well your not typically male, a truer word never spoken, so at least some of my co-workers know, and possibly more than I realize!

I said above that I am not completely in either, so a few words of explanation are due, although I haven’t been out and about fully made up and in a skirt or dress in public yet, I have been wearing a range of ladies clothes now for years, sometimes with stealth, but in more recent years openly, I think it’s a confidence thing which comes with age and experience, I find I just don’t care that much about what the world thinks about me anymore, also you probably pass with less notice when your over 21!

So I wear ladies trousers, skinny jeans and jegging’s, pretty blouses often in deep colours or with floral prints and embroidery together with a range of  smart well fitted jackets or a ladies pullover and appropriate shoes, often ankle boots when out shopping just in my little town, the only comments I generally hear are either positive, I get a lot of smiles, or just politely puzzled, on one occasion in a supermarket a young woman was walking behind me and noticed my boots, she said to her boyfriend he’s wearing ladies boots!, his reply was a classic, he said so, probably just one of those gender benders! I had to smile! and I am laughing till I cry just thinking about it, and it’s at least three years ago now, suffice to say I am a lot more relaxed in the shop nowadays and I haven’t had an off hand comment recently…

Love and hugs Julie 

Lana’s Story

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!

Lana

Hazel’s story – the things trans women do

Here is my current project. She’s a 52’ Bruce Roberts Spray, she is a sad story, involving famous people, drugs and altercations.  She was abandoned after having all her windows smashed, hatches opened, resulting in her being half full of water, unloved for several years. Her last owner a famous actor gave it to his son, sadly an addict.

So why did I, a trans woman, struggling to come to terms with life and all the doubts and concerns of being transgender, take her on? I asked this question of one of the staff at the London Transgender Clinic. “Simple” she said “you were both abandoned and left alone. Who better than you to sort her out!”

So that’s what I’m doing. With help I’ve spent the last 12 months pumping her out, removed 3 skips of rubbish from her, (people saw fit to dump their rubbish on her) replaced windows and hatches, and re-modelled her interior.

All the while like my boat, my family abandoned me with the exception of my children and grandchildren.  I’m coming to terms with being a trans woman, getting rid of clutter, letting people around me, friends and neighbours see the person inside.

My boat one day will be beautiful. I, well I’ll do my best, I don’t expect to aspire to great beauty but I’ll be me.

We both will change our names she will be “Colne Spray”, I will be Hazel Jane Samways.

As to our ongoing journey, I plan eventually to sail her around the UK. However due to the lockdown, the work on Colne Spray has halted, but the work on Hazel is ongoing, I’ve had time to reflect, to look at who I really am, accepting I’m a trans woman, and yes, how to paint and improve her appearance. Don’t you love shopping!

I’ve written a more detailed article about “Colne Spray”, which will be entered on the JRA website (Junk Rig Association) under my proper name.  I asked for this to be done as I intend to be honest with myself and others from now on.

I asked if this would be a problem, the editors replied “I think the members will be more interested how a 73 year-old person has taken on such a massive daunting project to rescue a well respected designed boat, that they will, if you are trans woman”.

Rest assured I won’t do it on my own. I’ve made too many friends on this journey. My two eldest grandchildren 12 and 13 have booked passage to do the leg through the Caledonian canal.

So girls and boys, next year or sometime soon, I’ll see you around the UK!!

Point of Information – Joshua Slocum, was the first person to circumnavigate single handed the globe in a Bruce Roberts in 1895. (The proper way not popping up to the pole and back as they do nowadays) See his book “Sailing alone around the world” Sanford’s Travel Classics.

Hazel Samways

hazelsamways@gmail.com

Hazel has only visited us at Oasis a few times including one of our Christmas meals and is very friendly with Joanna, It is lovely to catch up and read her story.

Do you have a story to tell in the new normal times we are in?

Lilly’s Story

Here is my story, Lilly’s tale, as told through the medium of my desert island disc selections. ‘DID’ can be heard on BBC Radio 4, nine o’clock each Friday morning, it’s a long running and always interesting show.

I rarely stray too far from the radio or my Spotify account. Music is the sound track of my life; here are eight records that express my feelings and my outlook on the world. I hope you this little bit of self indulgence. Mine is a happy, joyful story.

 

‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA – dedicated to Serena, my inspiration, my mentor, my confidant, my shopping partner in crime, my friend. Why this song? Well last year Serena, the beautiful Rachel (will you stop getting compliments please) and I went to see La Voix in Norwich. Oh what an evening, what fun; we were just three women having a wonderful time. The place was packed with a cross section of people. ‘Dancing Queen’ finished the show and everyone was up and dancing, all inhibition were well and truly gone. Serena lives in the real world and helps me do the same, she keeps me grounded. ‘Anybody could be that girl……. ‘ but this time it was we three.

‘Girls Just Want Have Fun’ by Cindy Lauper – dedicated to Dee and all the girls living full time. Dee and girls like Dee, Petra and Petra for example, walk the walk and talk the talk. Living full time is Dee’s dream and she has made that dream come true. Suffering the slings and arrows, she remains strong and determined to make her new life work. Every day during the lock down, Dee and I exchange a song for the day. This is one of her favourites; expressing how we feel and valuing what we what we are currently missing. We are certainly intend to have lots of fun when we all meet again. Oasis meetings will not be taken for granted, ever.

‘We are Family’ – Sister Sledge dedicated to Oasis. It’s two years since my first meeting, which is now such a treasured memory. I was made to feel so welcome, so special. Oasis has created a wonderful safe space where we can meet new friends and catch up with old ones. A place where we can experiment with our look, live out some of our dreams and discover we are no longer alone and oh, have a wonderful time. We are all custodians of Oasis, but I cannot give enough thanks to those who created, nurtured and developed Oasis. There are too many people to thank but nevertheless I insist on saying thank you to the brilliant Beccie, for that she has done and continues to do. Beccie always has a wonderful ability to make me smile. Thanks to all our partners, our friends, our Phyllis and Barry, our delicious Vicki, our Joanna, our Geri and Michelle (how much washing-up do you do? A thankless task). Thanks to Barbara Ross and the founding members, I’m sorry I don’t know you all but I’m thinking of Jenny, Rachel R, LTS, Carole, Alison… I’m thinking of the wonderful Lana, such an inspiration. ‘I’ve got all my Sisters with Me’, have I? Oh yes I have!

‘Rebel Girl’ – Bikini Kill dedicated to Angela, Anne (with an ‘e’) and all the girls out there, that don’t quite fit in. On our travels, I’ve been lucky to meet so many interesting and stimulating people, some Trans, some not. I guess we all know what is like to be an outsider; me, happily I did find a little home in the Punk scene. Though it may appear so, Punk wasn’t all about boys and there were also many amazing women too. Later, after Goths and Grunge, along came the Riot Girl movement and some brilliant girl bands. I choose this track simply because A & A will like it. Girls can’t play guitars. Oh I beg to differ!

‘Shame’ Evelyn Champagne King dedicated to all Trans Girls everywhere. Einstein said that he had stood on the shoulders of giants, one of whom was the brilliant female mathematician Emmy Nether, who helped him construct the mathematics required to express the 4D universe necessary for the theory of relativity. We Trans women are also using the shoulders of giants, those who have pushed back the boundaries that allow us the freedom to express ourselves in relative safely, here in the UK. Thank you to our predecessors, those brave Trans activists, those who have risked their health and their personal safety fighting for our rights. We in our turn, we must try to make this a better world for those who follow us. Small steps, little acts of kindness, and a generosity of spirit. ‘Shame’ is one of the greatest dance recolds ever, let’s dance around our handbags ladies.

‘This is Love’ – P.J. Harvey dedicated to all the women in the media who are helping us to get us through this current crisis. My favourite is Lauren Lavern, who presents on BBC Radio 6 and more recently Desert Island Discs. Lauren’s infectious enthusiasm for life shines through and always puts a smile on my face. I think of the wonderful pioneering DJ, Anne Nightingale. When Anne started in the 60’s, the male DJ’s made her life very difficult; she was subjected to a great deal of sexist abuse and belittling behaviour. Anne is strong, and she is still pushing back musical boundaries 50 years later. If you don’t know P.J. Harvey, she is a brilliant song writer, poet and musician. I love this song, I absolutely love Polly Harvey.

‘I’m every women’ by Chaka Khan, dedicated to the Feminist cause, dedicated to The UEA’s Feminist Book Club, dedicated to Women’s Hour, dedicated to all the female scientists, astromeners, mathematics, physicist, artists and authors written out of history. History is written by the winning side, it is certainly written by men! Take the case of Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Jocelyn discovered radio pulsars in 1967 but later when the Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery, she was not included as a recipient, instead the prize was awarded to three men. The western world is slowly changing but if you have any doubts there is a long way to go, look up Laura Bates’ Every Day Sexism Project. The world needs to change for every woman, equal but different.

‘Like a Prayer’ by Madonna dedicated to all members of the LQBTQI+ community. We are a community, though some times not always in complete harmony. On my way to my first Norwich Pride, on the radio I heard a story of a gay man, and how Madonna and her songs, helped him through the sadness and isolation he felt growing up. Later as we paraded through the streets, I found myself walking with and talking to, a young gay man in a Madonna T-shirt. I wonder if he was the same boy?

I hope you have enjoyed my little selection. If you would like, please send me your choices. Stay safe, lots of love to you and your families.

‘Jeepster’ by T-Rex next to Mum’s Eighties style record player.

Side note:

I was amazed to find the first record I ever bought with my own money. No not ‘We’ll Meet Again’ but, from WH Smiths in Margate High Street, sometime in 1972.

Stay Safe

Lilly x 

Geri’s Story

I started cross dressing when I was very young. I can’t be certain when, but I was still at junior school, so, was probably about ten; around 1956.

My family shared a three-storey, Victorian, terraced house in North London with my maternal grandmother. The first items of clothing I tried on were stockings and suspenders. My Nan always called her suspenders her “stays” and my mother referred to hers as her “belt.”

In later life I attended some dog training classes and in answer to my question, the trainer said that if an animal stole food, they would always be a food thief as the rewards was too great. That was how I felt in female clothing- the reward was huge.

To this day, I can shut my eyes and be transported back to those times when I was ten and recall the sights, sounds and smells. The reward was so great that I can have instant recall to this day.

As time passed I continued to flirt with female clothing and wanted a female form. I never felt that I was trapped inside the wrong body, just that I would have preferred to be female. This seemed especially strong when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I was married at eighteen and divorced at thirty-six.

I continued to cross dress on and off throughout this married period of my life, mainly by wearing female underclothes. So, I would present as a professional person in a suit and tie, but only I knew what was underneath.

After I separated from my wife, whilst staying in the marital home with both children, the urge to dress completely as a female was very strong. I could not wait to get home from work on a Friday night, when the children would be absent visiting their mother over the weekend, in order that I could become female and under cover of darkness would often go out. I would drive to a secluded location taking my dog with me, and use her as a pretext for a walk. I suspect neighbours knew I was behaving oddly but they never challenged me over my behaviour.

When I was forty I met someone and got married again. During the years we were together I kept my feminine side largely suppressed, without a lot of pain.

Following the breakdown of that marriage I re-located to my current address and the old desire grew strong again. I was cross dressing in the seclusion of my home until a neighbour called unexpectedly one day. I put a bath robe on but in my haste, forgot about the earrings! From then on I was “out” and leading a largely female life.

I consulted with my GP on what was happening to me to try and understand why. He recommended some counselling which was not particularly helpful but that led me to Gender Agenda and Oasis.

I had a long telephone consultation with the former and became a fairly regular attendee at Oasis gatherings.

In 2017 I told both my children of my circumstance. My daughter, who I had not been close to for nearly thirty years was upset and has taken time to adapt. My son accepted things but made the request that when we met, I be in “Dad clothes.” I accepted that but soon learnt it was a mistake and advised him I could not continue on that basis. He has accepted that and I am very relieved.

In the meantime, I had seen my GP again, by which time I was living virtually full time as a female and he referred me to the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at Charing Cross Hospital (CX), where I was accepted as a patient. However, the lead time for appointments was eighteen months plus.

Knowing that time was not on my side I looked on line at the consultants in the GIC. I selected one and following an internet search discovered she had a private practice. I made an appointment and have seen her three times. She diagnosed Gender Dysphoria and put me in touch with a voice coach and endocrinologist, as well as dispensing some sound advice and guidance.

The voice coach only required a single consultation but a lot of exercises and practice. I am now overdue a follow up appointment with the endocrinologist, due to Covid-19, but have been taking female hormones for about eight months.

My first ex has learned of my cross dressing in the last few years, our children advising her after I “came out” to them. However, I don’t think the second ex knows and she now lives on the Isle of Mann so is unlikely to find out. I am not bothered about who knows. I take the view that if I was concerned, I probably should not have done it in the first place.

I have been asked if have any regrets and the answer is “Yes, I do.”  But that is only because I have wasted years and should have publicly acknowledged my dysphoria years ago.

Geri Gibbs

Vicky’s Story

Covid-19 and me

Since the lockdown, which now seems such a long time ago, I have been on furlough as I work in a coffee shop. During this time, I have found it surprising easy to adopt new routines. It’s good for the soul to eat fresh baking bread (though sourcing ingredients are difficult). Cooking the family meals, different styles whether they like it or not, whiles away my time. Also my girls clothing has all been sorted, some destined for the charity shop or more likely the bin (knowing my style). My shoes all cleaned and sorted out in to different styles.

Oasis and me

I have been a member for 11 years and it has given me pleasure and pain. Happy times are sorting out my outfit for the evening and arranging the catering. Bad times are sometimes feeling totally out of place. I have always struggled with talking with people, I know, in large or small groups. So sometimes going to Oasis or related events can fill me with dread. However, I cope by finding things to do, cooking or outside for a cigarette. But, hey we all have a cross to bear! On the plus side I have meet some lovely people at Oasis, truly warm-hearted and gorgeous looking.

Dressing and me

I love dressing. It took me a long while to get a style and make up that I felt happy about. It’s probably a bit of the “drag” in me, that makes me want to stick out! Dressing for me is always a light at the end of the tunnel, when I am down and hating myself, dressing always makes me happy to be alive. Not really concerned with trying to pass only concerned with looking like a very stylish bloke in a dress! I feel, we as trans bods, bring a bit of colour to a somewhat dreary world!

Shoes and me

Why do I love my shoes so much? Why do I find a reason to buy yet another pair of black high heeled shiny shoes, that are so impractical to wander around in? Well because, of course, it makes me so happy.

Beccie and me

Been friends with her for 9 years, it took 2 years before she realised that I could cook. Oasis you are welcome! Do so admire her for her tireless efforts at Oasis and here God given ability to talk to anyone at great lengths. She has another great skill of totally believing in her ability to be mistaken for a real life woman any time she walks out her door dressed. I love her for that! I totally love Beccie’s wife, Annie for putting up with her, and still loving each other. Thank you both for being my friend x

The future and me

Looking so forward to doing some my favourite things …

Shopping, drinking coffee at Costa and wearing totally inappropriate clothes.

And of course going back to work … Sort off!

Be safe everybody

all my love. Vicky x

Denise’s Story

Who am I, the person within?

I was born and no one noticed the person within.

I looked out on the world through shared eyes at games of war and cowboys and Indians, I wanted to play the Squaw but no one noticed the person within.

My will was not strong enough to break out I was a passenger with no name, the person within.

Time passed and I still looked out at this outer persons world and the games he played with his friends. I wanted to play Cindy dolls with his friends sisters. But they didn’t see me the person within.

The world turned and time moved on. I wanted pretty clothes and my will got a little stronger! I could push my way out temporarily from this Male cocoon and wear female relatives clothes forcing confusion on the outer shell, who didn’t understand the situation anymore than I did because I was still the person within.

I had no name the person within. But through my windows to the world I saw a little girl who lived a few doors up. A sister of the outer shells friend. Her name was Denise! And I thought it such a pretty name that I would become Denise within.

Confusion reigned as my will got stronger little by little and I could exist for short periods of time outside of the Male. But my world remained hidden to the outside world. Still Denise within.

As we grew older I found I could exert my will and command the outer person to buy me clothes but confusion continued and I still remained Denise within.

Societies expectations, girlfriends, wives and children would diminish my will. I would watch helplessly as my cocoon destroyed my things! I was imprisoned forever. Denise within.

Trapped inside I thought I must be the only person in the world who is trapped within, surely now there would be no escape for Denise within.

As time went on three things would change my inner world for ever! The internet, Barbara Ross OBE and Oasis.

I was no longer the only person within! I could emerge and talk with other people like me and have real friends for the first time.

Confusion would still abound, but for the first time I could find a happy life balance with the outer person. He and I could exist together. Like sharing a car and taking turns to do the driving!

A fellow emerging person once told me I was her inspiration! I’m really not sure how? But if these words help inspire others then I’m glad that I am Denise that’s out and the journey has been a struggle but it was worth every step!

Denise xx

Do you have a story to tell?  How did Oasis help you? What is your gender journey?