By Teresa H.
It was a cold wet February morning some four years ago when the removal van eased out of the drive of my old house with my furniture and possessions. It was a bitter sweet moment, I was leaving the house that had been a family home for 30 years and it also marked the end of a 45 year old marriage BUT it also offered the start of a new life, a new adventure, I was about to truly find ME!
While this is only loosely connected to the rest of the story I’ve mentioned it to allow others to consider exactly what it means to make a very difficult decision, to take that leap into the unknown. The loose connection is I kept the dog , a lovely Labrador called Lucy (sadly now passed on).
To go from closet crossdressing with monthly trans social evenings to full time was daunting, I had to dig deep and find that inner strength and belief. I’ll never forget my first full day, I hadn’t met any of my neighbors and I had a long list of jobs to do to set up my new home. In that one day I visited, a DIY store, a car parts store, I did my first supermarket and others and I registered at my new GP’s surgery as Terri. I was exhausted when I returned home but felt over the moon for how well the day had gone, Teresa was alive and well .
Now to my possible mistake, some may not see it as I do so I would appreciate your comments and how differently you would have handled it.
From the start I found it easier to walk my dog in the morning in male mode and on my return I would dress and apply makeup, I met many walkers and formed good friendships. I did this for several months but it made less and less sense, I had returned to living a double life. There was no easy way, one morning I just applied my makeup and dressed suitably for the weather conditions. I was amazed how they took to me as Teresa, it wasn’t a total surprise to them because I always wore nail varnish even in male mode. As my life has progressed I’ve joined a new art group and other associations so the problem I’ve now encountered is that despite the majority of people only knowing me as Teresa, the small number who knew me in male mode have friends who they could possibly spill the beans to. I do realise that some of you may be asking the question of ” Passing “, all I can say to that is I truthfully don’t have a problem with being outed as a guy, in four years no one has asked the question, I know I’m I’m treated as a female rather than ” a guy in a dress “.
I have to admit I’m not sure how I would handle someone pointing a finger saying, “You’re a man !”. In hindsight I feel I made a mistake I should have dressed totally from the start. I don’t do labels anymore, I do have GD, appearing in male mode is painful but at my age hormones and surgery make less sense, I believe my life is as good as it gets. I’m truly happy for once in my life .
A bonus story: This morning I had to do some shopping in town, on my return the water company was dealing with a leak two houses down from me. I approached one of the guys digging a hole in the pavement to ask if my water would be turned off, he assured me it wouldn’t. As I turned to walk home a new neighbor pulled in his drive so I introduced myself, he replied with his name and then started to chat about his new home. He had married his new partner last year and was looking forward to setting up the new home with his husband . Then he looked at me and said, ” You look great “. I didn’t reply for a moment so he repeated, ” You really do look great “. I quietly thanked him. Some might be over the moon with this compliment but I was unsure if he should have said it. My thoughts were he probably wouldn’t say that to a woman he met for the first time so he’d read me as something different. Our conversation continued by him inviting me in for coffee anytime and I returned the offer, then his partner came out of the house and I was introduced to him. Basically they appear to be two nice guys enjoying a new life together, if they are happy I don’t have a problem .
I’m no expert here but everything I’ve ever read here confirms my theory that acceptance comes more easily to those who set out to earn it rather than those who demand it and you’ve once again proved this.
And as for the ‘you look great’ comment, I think it was amazing, particularly as it was then repeated and emphasised. I’m sure each of us can come up with several different explanations as to why he decided to say it but whatever his motives were, given his own LGBT status and his new relationship, there could be no other subtext to the compliment than…you looked great!
Hi Amanda ,
Many thanks for your reply .
I did have a very rough patch when I separated from my wife , I couldn’t believe how someone I thought loved me could be so vindictive and cruel . She accused me of “Inflicting ” my situation on people . It kicked off with heated argumenst with my daughter when she decided I could openly see her daughter . Other things happened with mutual friends , it tore me apart for a while until the penny dropped , she was a total control freak , in a very heated phone call I pointed out that the dressing wasn’t the problem but she had lost her control over me , at that she said how right I was and slammed the phone down on me .
I’ve mentioned this to make your point about acceptance , for a while I did question if I was earning it or demanding it , it’s a tough call , I had to make a new life as Teresa . At some point you have to break the ice with people , I set out to do that very quickly with my new neighbours , I was determined to stop tittle tattle and have them peeping behind their curtains . I’m so glad I did , after four years most of the estate know me , they all wave when they pass in their cars , we’ve had street parties for VE day and the Queen’s jubliee . I admit I’m really pushing the envelope in October as I’m going on holiday with the National Trust , it’s the first time I will have been in that situation for more than a day out .
As for the comment ” really looking great !” , perhaps you’re right , take the compliment where you can , it could have been a whole lot worse !!
All the best , Teresa .
I totally understand both your desire to live “stealth” and your internal disquiet at your neighbor’s comment. I have no doubt his internal radar had gone off (it isn’t too surprising to me that a gay man would have good trans radar), but I felt the same way when passing by a transwoman on the street London who met my eye and gave a “hallo” sort of small wave. I didn’t want to be “outed” at all! For that reason, I respect other’s privacy and wish to be seen only as another woman out and about to accomplish her daily chores and when I see other transwoman I treat them the same way
Thank you for sharing.
Hi Lisa ,
Many thanks for your reply ,
I have a good TS friend who made the same comment , we possibly share that hightened awareness , could it be a slightly defensive situation ? Perhaps I should be totally honest with myself and just accept I have been read but I can also be honest in saying my acceptance is more than I ever expected . I have a very good GG friend who really gets annoyed with me when I question my situation with the public . One day I was driving my daughter and granddaughter to a special riding school ( my granddaughter is mildly autistic ) when I turned to my daughter and said , ” you really don’t care do you ?” Her reply was , ” If I didn’t feel totally comfortable I wouldn’t do it and the same goes for my husband and his mother “. That was a good reply and something I take with me now , don’t quetsion them , they will soon let you know if they don’t feel OK with you .
All the best , Teresa .
I should add that I agree with Amanda — I am sure you did look great!
Teresa as you are well aware you know I totally understand what you went through, while my ex was not mean or vindictive it still hurt me when it was over.
I really thought despite my gender variant that we could work it out.
I know in my neighborhood I guess I’m out I don’t always fully dress being that I’m more fluid but I would think if the neighbors are being nosy they have noticed my attire from time to time
To be honest I’m not super outgoing to I have very little if any interaction with them but like you I’m going to be me.
A great perspective on those of us here who are of the older transgender set
I have to admit being gender fluid wouldn’t work for me , I feel I have made a clear statement to everyone , fluidity would not only confuse my life but also the lives of others . Living alone has enabled me to open up to people and be honest with them , I’know I’ve proved some people wrong ( my ex-wife , son ) I’m not the lonely person they expected me to be , I’ve found my feet and love interacting . I’m not only doing it for me but the rest of the transgender community .
I try not to let age come into the equation , I’m lucky I have good health so I must use this time and make the most of it .
How fascinating. I don’t think you made a ‘mistake’ Teresa – you did what you thought best at the time based on what you had to make decisions with. And, honestly, it sounds like it’s worked out.
Comparable anecdote time: In a slightly similar (but apparently less harrowing) situation I moved into my place fully presenting as masculine. Because I didn’t know yet. One of the people on my street would regularly catch me dressed, and eventually I knew about going full time too, but I didn’t confirm it with them until relatively recently. She was immediately supportive and accommodating. My next door neighbour found out soon after and was similar. In fact, everyone in my (quite deprived) area has been absolutely lovely – no one makes a deal out of it, it’s just normal interaction. Do they know? Would they ‘out’ me? I have no idea. They’re not bothered, why should I be? Do I ‘pass’? I very much doubt it, but I am full time now and am getting more and more used to that.
I agree with Amanda that your new neighbour really thought you looked great and probably twigged there was a kindred spirit in the LGBTQIA+ mafia, but wanted to communicate that in a supportive manner, so told you that you looked great. I think that’s fair. You more than likely looked great.
Anyway, I was here just to say I thought your story very interesting, so thank you.
For some considerable time I was a member of an online forum , one particualr member was very critical of me for making my house move in male mode . I tried to point out how impossible that would have been . As I mentioned on the morning of the move when the removal van drove down the drive of my old home it was also the end of a 45 year marriage , I left my wife , her sister and a friend in tears . Skipping the details it was an horrendous day , being dressed as Teresa would have been impossible . Soon after through odd coincidences I was able to meet the neighbours on either side of me and the one opposite , I informed them that when they see a blond it will be me and gave them a brief explanation why . I also told them I was intending to run a painting group if they were interested . So I left them in no doubt , there was no fear of being outed , I had nipped any tittle tattle in the bud .
As most of us are aware gay people don’t always see eye to eye with transgender folk , so whether the neighbour saw me as a kindred spirit I can’t say , maybe we should set that aside and accept he was just being a good neighbour .
Yikes to your online forum experience! that sounds like a horrible thing to have had to read. The ends of marriages, and moving out, are never fun. In which case, even moreso, you had it under control from the get-go – and with a level of bravery I can only marvel at!
I guess I am lucky in that I have yet to meet the kind of gay person who doesn’t see eye to eye with trans people. But, then, my own acceptance of being trans myself is quite young, so that would follow. Or it’s generational. Or both. It sounds like you have been through a lot and come out on top though, so that’s worth something, I hope.
I personally haven’t had a problem with gay people , my comment was based more on comments made on the online forum .
I’m not sure if bravery is the right word , it was being faced with some difficult decisions and hope that you’ve made the right choices . I know my wife expected me or was hoping I would go back after a few months with my tail between my legs , but then she also knew she was fighting the stubborn streak in me .
Wonderful stories Terri, thanks for sharing them.
I am sure the compliment to you was genuine, because you do look great.
I like getting compliments no matter what the motive; but I suspect people are just being nice and honest.