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The Letter – Facing The Inevitable

You can all thank me now for having Amanda post here, she generates comments, thoughts and conversations. Here she goes again!

By Amanda J.

My last post, The Letter, was a fictional tale about a wife’s discovery that her husband, despite promising to quit CDing, had been carrying on behind her back.  If you haven’t read it and want to, now’s the time because the rest of this post will be a plot spoiler.

This post is based on two basic premises – the first is that, at some time in the future, we’re going to die and the second is that, no matter how hard we work to control this side of us, we lose that control once that day comes.  We can argue that once we’ve departed this mortal coil, the opinions of others can’t harm us but do we really want to leave others with questions or with the opportunity to form negative opinions of us?

And negative opinions may well be formed.  What is a wife supposed to think if, having been widowed, she finds a collection of clothing, shoes, makeup and wigs that could only have belonged to her husband?  Would she immediately understand his struggles to be the husband she wanted him to be whilst trying to live the life that he wanted?  Or would she jump to the conclusion that he was a fetishist, leading a double life behind her back, perhaps dressing in the elegant clothes she found in order to attract men?  And then she may start questioning her own validity as a wife.  Not an ideal legacy to unwittingly leave.

Of course, some of you reading this will think ‘not a problem in my case, everyone who needs to know already knows’.  And on the one hand, I admire you for your openness with your loved ones but, on the other, I would ask the question as to how much they already know.  Mrs. A knows that I CD and she knows that it brings me emotional relief & it is not a sexual fetish.  But would she be so understanding if she realised I have a complete feminine persona known as Amanda or if she saw the photo that accompanies my bio on the Contributors’ page here or realised that I had left the house fully dressed and made up and mingled with other shoppers in the outside world on several occasions?  I can try to reassure myself that she’ll never find out but google searches can reveal a lot from even the tiniest clue, as can scuff marks on the soles of shoes.  And given that my stash is stored in a spider colony, otherwise known as our attic, it’s more likely that one of our kids will find two mysterious looking black plastic sacks with cable ties sealing them shut and wonder what’s inside.  And when they do find them, it’s almost a certainty that they will open them and, for them, the contents (which given that they include wigs & breast forms, will be unambiguous in their purpose) will be a surprise as Mrs. A has asked that they not be told about my feminine proclivities.

What I’m hoping is that if those two bin bags are unsealed and the contents spread out after my demise, there’ll be a general consensus amongst the assembled masses that I had at least some sense of style; an accusation that would never be levelled at male me!  And then, after Mrs. A has explained all, there’s just a lot of shoulder shrugging and mutterings of ‘so he was a crossdresser, so what?’.

‘The Letter’ had a happy ending with resolution, at least in certain aspects; an explanation was given and an apology posthumously offered & accepted.  It would be nice to think that real life will always deliver that ending but is that really a realistic hope?  Suppose my daughter is upset that I never shared this side of me with her.  Or suppose that my son feels let down by the person he (hopefully) looked up to as a male role model?  And what if my son & daughter have wildly different attitudes and it causes a rift between them?  Or they both turn against Mrs. A because they realise that her palpable hostility to me following my confession in 2013 which my daughter certainly noticed and commented on was directly related to my CDing?  I’m probably overthinking this but, without going into details, I have personal experience of attitudes to a family member deteriorating as various adverse details emerged after their death.

I have to confess that, as I’m sitting down and writing this, I have no foolproof answer.  But there are a couple of things that I have realised.

The first is the idea that I tried to convey in ‘The Letter’ in that despite all of the negative thoughts that ‘Anna’ had about her husband’s activities, ‘Sue’ was an intrinsic part of the ‘Robert’ she fell in love with, she just didn’t realise it at the time.  Equally, I know that ‘Amanda’ makes me a better person and brings out the better parts of my personality which are often lost under the male façade of my normal life.

The second is that, if we’re going to have any chance of posthumously controlling the narrative, we need to have a good explanation for what we do.  And that’s not just the CDing itself but also why we’ve deliberately kept it from those close to us.  That’s a particularly pertinent point if wives are either unaware or we’ve broken a promise to quit.  There’s much less imperative to disclose to children, after all we don’t expect them to tell us everything they get up to but this isn’t a level playing field and there is an argument to say that the nature of parenthood is that parents have more of a duty of openness than children do, regardless of their age.

The easy answer is undoubtedly to ensure that there will be no surprises after our demise.  I can honestly say that both times I have sat down with Mrs. A to confess my ‘sins’ have been terrifying but, certainly in our case, the worries I had that prompted me to write ‘The Letter’ are no longer an issue.  But do I really want my kids to learn about this side of me?  In all honesty, I’d rather that they never get know – it’s a very personal side of me and regardless of whether I’m alive or dead, I’d prefer it to stay that way.  And much though I love Mrs. A, I don’t really want to leave her in sole charge of the explanation given her well-articulated views about husbands who wear dresses, heels and makeup which, shall we say, are not entirely positive!

My thinking at the time I wrote ‘The Letter’ was to put a letter inside one of my stash bags as ‘Robert’ did.  That’s fine in theory but it does have a couple of disadvantages.  Firstly, it relies on the bags being opened and, until that happens, no one has any idea what the mysterious bags are or perhaps that they even exist.  That’s fine if it’s Mrs. A who eventually finds & opens them but not so fine if they lie undisturbed and the house is sold to unsuspecting buyers who find them by accident and then hand deliver them back to one of my survivors barely disguising their smirks as they pronounce ‘I think you left these behind’!  Or to put it another way, if my kids are going to find out about this, I’d rather it was from either Mrs. A or me, not from someone who happens to buy our house in the future!

So, simple though it is to execute, that’s a solution I’ve moved on from.

On a more general level, I think it’s important to remember that a bit of forward planning for the day that the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking doesn’t go amiss in all aspects of our life.   Information about who needs to be told, specific wishes regarding funeral content and even where to sell hobby items all helps and I’m now of a mind to start preparing a pack to help Mrs. A out when the time comes.  My thinking now is to include a sealed letter in that pack directing her to the stash and asking that it be disposed of in its sealed state without being opened.  It’s not a perfect solution but it does confront the issue head on without relying on chance.

As I draw this piece to a close, it dawns on me that the stash is only one of a number of issues.  I am no longer active on social media  but what if I still had hundreds of photos on public view on Flickr?  Or what about Facebook where many of us (but not me) have a feminine presence?  Nowadays, Kandi’s Land is the only place where I’m on public view and I’m happy for my ramblings to remain here in perpetuity because there are only a handful of photos which I’m not identifiable from but in my days on Flickr, I had photos taken in my house on public view which I would not have wanted to come to the notice of my family either before my death or after it.

And what about photos?  Some of mine are stored on a password protected USB stick in my stash; in ‘The Letter’ Robert deliberately directs his wife to the photos but, on reflection, that’s not something I would want to do.  But having said that, would Mrs. A be repulsed by them as I suspect or would she see them as an intrinsic part of me that she could finally get to know?  Would she see them as revealing the complete me or of someone she thought she knew but actually never knew at all?

And let’s not forget friends.  Our real world friends will get to know about our death through the grapevine but what about our online friends?  We can leave instructions that people like Kandi are to be told but when she receives an email announcing the sad departure of ‘Johnny Brit’ will she make the connection with his alter ego, Amanda J?  The alternative is to either leave no instructions leaving our online friends to draw their own conclusions when messages go unanswered etc. or reveal our feminine identities in our instructions which, as I’ve already discussed, would be greatly problematic as far as I’m concerned.

I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.  It’s a multi-faceted challenge and, like everything else in this side of our lives, there’s no single solution or right answer that will work in every case – we may have a degree of commonality in our own outlooks but I can guarantee that our wives and other loved ones definitely don’t.  I often half-jokingly refer to my posts here as ramblings but this post really has been a ramble because it just feels like clutching at straws not least because the overriding issue is that, whatever strategy I finally decide on, I won’t be around to see if it’s worked or not.

I’ve also breezed through this in a light hearted way but it is a serious business not least because of its inevitability and the impact it can have.  In particular, my heart goes out to anyone reading this who has been prematurely forced to face the inevitable.  But inevitable it is for all of us and, unless we’re going to bite the bullet and do a full & final purge, I do believe that we owe it to those we leave behind to soften the blow of discovery of this side of us as far as we can.

I would be very interested to hear the thoughts of others so please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below.

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11 Responses

  1. Amanda,
    What a topic! One I have been avoiding, and will continue to avoid for quite a while.

    We usually have absolutely no idea when the final end will happen. For me it will probably be sometime between tomorrow and 2040. My plan is to do a full and final purge before my faculties seriously decline. Of course a premature accidental death will ruin that plan.

    So, with my fingers tightly crossed, I will carry on for a few more years. Then the final purge and a sad farewell to all my wonderful TG/CD friends.


  2. Amanda,
    The obvious answer to all this is not having any secrets ! If only it was as easy as that . Living or dead close family and friends will more than likely know your secret eventually .
    So much of is conjecture , the ” what ifs !”

    The picture is never a clear one even for many of those who fully transition , family and friends will react the same no matter what your anatomy or medication , they are either on board with the transgender question or they’re not .

    Most of your questions are possibly what the majority go through especially if they are married with children . many throw back the statement , ” they didn’t sign up for this !” . As a husband , father and grandfather my answer to that is , ” neither did I !” BUT we cannot deny those inner feelings , that powerful driving force , all we can do is our best with our male commitments and obligations but also find the courage to reveal the committments and needs of the female traits we are struggling to live with . We talk about the harm we could be doing to others but often it’s overlooked how much harm and hurt we are mentally going through . Of course we would hope our wives and children will understand that , that is an interesting point . I’ve talked to many in the trans community and I realised the split is 50-50 in that wives know but the children are unaware and others the children know and are fully onboard and wife either doesn’t know or chooses not to know .
    Sometimes I feel we fall into the trap of treating ourselves as the only ones going through this situation , everyone will be horrified but may never know what goes on behind closed doors even our own children’s front doors or indeed our close friends .
    I have to smile in the irony of discovering our stash , my wardrobes are open for all to see but stashed away are male clothes which may have to used on occasions in the future .
    Does it remain a fetish ? In a conversation with a lovely friend who ran a bridal shop she said that when we dress we revert to a girl in her puberty , thinking carefully about that I believe she’s right . Do we grow out of it ? No I don’t think we do because women don’t 100% . Women get a high over a new outfit , on the whole men don’t , a woman likes being attractive , possibly glamourous , even sexy . She can dress for her mood or lift herself by dressing up , she can be the perfect hostess or the stunning mother of the bride , whatever drives her these feelings we are fortunate or unfortunate to be be blessed with them . I attended a church organ concert last night , getting my look right was important to me , in drab mode it wouldn’t have mattered , I have to say I made the right choices and felt good in what I wore .

    1. Teresa, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Clearly, death is a turning point in a CDer’s life and I say that without any intent of irony. As I put in the reply to Jocelyn above, it marks the point where knowledge of our second identity by others can no longer hurt us but has the potential to cause hurt to those we leave behind. Certainly, prior to January this year when I was still operating under the marital radar, I could conjure up any number of ‘reasons’ (i.e. excuses) why it would be unkind to disclose what I was doing to Mrs A but, at the time, the primary driver was, of course, self preservation. Self-preservation is irrelevant after death but all of those ‘reasons’ take on a significance at the same time but without anyone to manage them.

      In the end, I think we have to look at this counterintuitively and ask how we manage our feminine life across our death. For those who transition, there’s not a lot outside the normal arrangements that we need to consider and by definition, the former identity is not a secret. But where there is a dual identity and particularly where one of the identities is either unknown or only partially known, the easy route – ‘not my problem, I won’t be here’ – can cause devastation and if we’re not going to deal with it before death, we need to give our survivors what they need to manage the situation after we’ve gone.

  3. Jocelyn thanks and I promise my next post will cover something somewhat lighter!

    The full and final purge is a good strategy in that it effectively makes the issue disappear without trace for once and for all but, having been a serial purger myself at one time, it’s far from easy. Equally, though, I think it marks a significant change in our priorities from secrecy for the sake of self-preservation to secrecy for the protection of those we love and I think that if we are able to make that change in mindset, then it perhaps becomes an easier proposition for us. Even so, letting go of the physical manifestation of the woman within will never be straightforward.

    I’m still veering towards the letter strategy but I think that’s more because I fear yet another purge rather than seeing the letter as a better approach (which, in reality it isn’t because even if it’s done in a sympathetic way, the letter effectively dumps the issue onto one’s survivors). But I am open minded and perhaps when the day comes that I look in the mirror and, even with my dodgy eyesight, see a hideous hag gurning back, I’ll realise that the game is up and go down the purge route!

    And you’re need to last until at least 2060 if you want to join my 100th birthday celebrations! And I shall expect you in your full finery so no purging before then please!

    1. If I make it to 2060 I guarantee I will come to your 100th birthday.
      This topic is good. We all need to do some planning before death. Of course it would be much easier if we knew the actual day of decease. Therefore the previous day would be “final purge day”.
      When I decide to do my final purge you will be one of the first to know. Of course for me that would be one dress, one top, one skirt, two pairs of shoes and a larger number of undergarments and pantyhose. Easy-peasy!

      1. Funnily enough – my final purge will be ‘easy peasy’ too given that my stash is already stored in plastic dustbin sacks!

  4. Amanda,

    My friend, you have done a more complete job addressing this topic for the broader community than my personal “public service announcement” in my post about coming out to my children. I am so relieved that my daughter agreed to be Lisa’s executor, because she is a sensitive and sensible woman who will figure out what to say to third parties. But, I know that isn’t everyone’s solution.

    A couple things to consider with your letter idea (in the “best laid plans” category). What happens if you and your wife go virtually simultaneously? Also, a stroke could wipe any of us out instantly (that is, our ability to be active agents of our own lives). Not to be morose, but things happen as we finish our time on earth. Also, I do think we need to reconsider this notion that we are hurting others. Two things drive potential hurt: failure to disclose and embarrassment about what is disclosed. We can fix the first, although believe me I am well aware of the challenges of that, as my prior posts should make clear (see my post on lying, for example). But, embarrassment? As my father would have said, who needs to own that problem? The person who feels embarrassed, of course. Maybe my age is making me crotchety (forgive me that, if it is so), but I care about others feelings too much and I am getting to the point where I am beginning to realize that if those feelings are misplaced (as in, being prejudiced against our community), is it wrong to simply say, “that is your problem — please resolve it within yourself?” I guess if I can’t be out to the world during my lifetime, I would sure like to be out and proud in my death. Frankly, I think that will make me sound like an even more interesting person (how in the world did he/she manage all that?)

    You are an amazingly thoughtful woman and I am confident your solutions will work for you. May it be so for our sisters here as well.


    1. Lisa, thanks for your support and friendship.

      Your comments really made me think (for all the right reasons!). So much of what we do is compromise – the mere act of balancing two distinct identities is a compromise in itself and that’s before we factor in all of the collateral stuff that we do to protect what we’ve worked for, be the person our loved ones want/expect us to be and so on. The problem is that compromises are, by their very nature, imperfect and your well-thought questions really hit that home.

      So what happens if Mrs A and I go virtually simultaneously? Errrr, good point, perhaps I need two letters – one in the death pack just asking for the sealed bags to be disposed of without opening and one explaining more inside one of said bags in case my kids disobey (it wouldn’t be the first time!). Already, the imperfections of the previously ‘perfect’ compromise are starting to show! I could decide that the full and final purge is the best solution and vow that on such-and-such a day, ‘Amanda’ will officially cease to exist. That’s fine if I die the next day but what if I last another 10 years? Or what happens, as you highlighted, if I’m incapacitated the day before and cannot complete the purge?

      I am of course being over melodramatic because the truth is that this particular compromise is so imperfect that no amount of tinkering is ever going to sort it out!

      I have to confess that I do like your ‘Lisa’s executor’ plan both on a practical level and because it lays bare the basis of the best possible approach to all of this – confronting it head on. It’s a tough call to confront it, of course, but if it’s done right (as I think you have done), the whole issue more or less goes away.

      There’s an interesting extrapolation to your point about embarrassment and that’s the question as to whether others should be embarrassed on our behalf? You, I and many others here go to great lengths to keep this side of ourselves remote from our loved ones out of respect for their preferences. If someone approached Mrs A at my funeral and said ‘so, your husband was a CDer!’, Mrs A would almost certainly curl up into a ball and will the ground to open up and swallow her. And yet the alternative answer – ‘yes, he was, and I’m incredibly proud of him for both being true to himself and in respecting my wishes to keep this apart from our marriage’ – in no way diminishes her status as a woman and a wife; in fact it enhances it. And if she was to add ‘yes, and he looked pretty good too!’ I wouldn’t complain!

      All in all, it’s far too easy to overthink this as I think I have well and truly proved! Clearing away all the unnecessary clutter, it quite simply boils down to the simple desire to ensure that there are no unpleasant suprises for my wife, daughter or son after I’ve gone while maintaining the ability to live my life while I’m still here. There may come a time when, in my heart, I know that it’s time to say goodbye to Amanda’s physical form in an orderly manner but I can’t see that time even on the horizon, let alone hurtling towards me. More likely, I think, will be the time when intelligent conversations are to be had – as you have done – so that it’s one less thing to diminish the joy of setting my inner self free.

    2. Lisa,
      Is it wrong to say , ” that is your problem , please resolve it within yourself “. It does raise the point at what age we stop trying to be that problem and hope they can resolve it for themselves , BUT ! I’ve always made it clear I’m still here if you wish to discuss it with me , if not then surely that is your problem . I like your father’s thinking but I find it hard not to own those problems , I often appear to be the one looking for apologies even if I haven’t caused the problem , I’m so aware of too many peolple not prepared to apologise for their actions , someone has to be a conciliator .

      The whole question of being infirmed or dying is something I’m avoiding , I know I need to make plans and ask some important questions but as usual there’s another day for all that , I have to wake and realise the days are beginning to run out , I fear I’m going to leave an awful mess . On the plus side most of my situation is out in the open , as I commented to Amanda , the problem arises when there are so many secrets . A councillor once said to me in your situation no secrets means no problems , well he was almost right .

  5. I have thought about this for decades. I had this conversation with an on-line friend, Samantha, back in 2007-8. She was feeling his/her end was near. She was thinking of leaving a letter for her son, but suddenly all communication ceased, so I don’t know. Then there was my on-line friend NancyBoy, who suddenly disappeared. Many months later appeared with the sad new that she had developed cancer shortly after retiring. She got help for her brother, so the secret was out to her family. Many will remember that she identified her real-life identity on another website before her death. Another mutual friend sent me her obituary.
    I don’t have bags hidden in an attic, basement, or storage locker; I have a full walk-in closet which is more than 50% feminine. My family knows that my outfits are gender fluid. I always have exquisite nails, always in heels, colorful clothing. What they may or may not be surprised about is my make-up, bras, and the few dresses I have. But I don’t think I will need to leave a letter now.
    I communicate several times a week with a few friends directly via email. They know my real name and my location. So, if I cease to communicate with them, I hope they would look up obituaries in my area and post my death on several sites. Something, I did when NancyBoy first disappeared.
    Hell, I’m planning the 71st anniversary of my 29th birthday in the 2050’s, you are all invited!

    1. Cali, thanks for sharing this. Sadly, the day of reckoning will arrive for each and every one of us and the reality for those of us who operate dual identities is that we will disappear suddenly and without trace without a bit of forethought. As things stand at present, no one is able to link my male and female identities but I do anticipate that that may change over the coming years. But even if it doesn’t, I’m of a mind to include a couple of email addresses of Amanda’s friends in amongst the others I want notified and hopefully, the link between ‘Johnny Brit’ and Amanda J will be made by at least one of them (albeit even I don’t recognise myself on many of the pics I’ve posted online!).

      Whatever I decide in the end, though, this whole conversation has been a fascinating insight into the different ways that we’re all approaching an issue which is fairly unique to us.

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