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What About The Children: Amanda J.

The first in a series.

Cali suggested we discuss our relationships with our children as it relates to who we are. I asked our Contributors for their stories. This is the first of a few, who better than to start than…

By Amanda J.

Subtitle: Keep Away From Children!

There’s a TV commercial on at the moment, I forget exactly what it’s advertising (probably for some cleaning fluid or other) but it’s noteworthy because of the advice that comes at the end – ‘keep away from children’.  It makes me laugh every time I see it because that four word instruction does not flow with the rest of the ad – it’s just a disjointed adjunct at the end, seemingly added as an afterthought.  Even so, very good advice whether for the management of cleaning fluid or life in general!

Of course, children are an occupational hazard in our sphere of activities.  It’s one thing mustering up the courage to confess to our better halves but telling the kids that we like to slip into something they may consider a little unconventional for a dad from time to time is often not an option.  In my case Mrs A, whilst giving her blessing for me to CD, was adamant that it must be kept well away from her and, in particular, our kids even though they are both now adult.  That was fine by me because the house was normally empty except for me on weekdays giving me almost unlimited opportunity to dress whenever I wanted.

But things have changed.  My son has just left school and will be at home on an almost permanent basis for at least the next four months at which point he will hopefully leave for university.  I mentioned this on a recent post and another contributor here, Cali, picked up on it and thought it would make a good post to prompt discussion within the Kandi’s Land community.

Now, as far as I am concerned, there’s a bit of a problem here as I have absolutely no experience on how to manage this other than to tough it out as best I can, something I had to do during the 2020 covid lockdowns.  However, as I have never been one let an absence in knowledge stand in the way of a post so here goes!

Apart from toughing it out, there is one obvious strategy that can be adopted to avoid surprising your unsuspecting children seeing you all tarted up for the first time and that’s to sit them down and tell them.  I have to confess that the prospect of doing this terrifies me; I want my son to look up to me as a role model and not spoil all his illusions about the ‘man’ he calls ‘Dad’.  I want my daughter to dream that one day I will walk her down the aisle, not be worried that I’ll divert attention from her on her big day or compete with her biological mother for the ‘best dressed mother of the bride’ contest.  I’m not for one moment suggesting that I’m thinking about transitioning but fathers are, by definition, male and that’s how I want them to view me.

I can already sense many of you rolling your eyes in exasperation and screaming advice at the screen as you read this.  ‘Can there be a better role model than to be honest with yourself and others?’, ‘are your kids really that bothered how you dress as long as you’re there for them?’, ‘Do you not think your kids would understand?’, ‘this is the 21st century, not the 19th!’ and so on.  And, of course, all of you are correct.  I posed this question to a group of online friends, some of whom are fully out to their children and the feedback was almost universally that their kids don’t care.  The point was also made that our kids invariably know a lot more than they let on and it’s entirely possible that both of mine are aware that I am a CDer, particularly in view of conversations about CDing in general that Mrs A had with our daughter at the time of my first confession in 2013.  Neither of them has ever said a word to me but what’s interesting is that they both have a far more tolerant view of the more controversial trans issues surfacing these days than I do.

When Mrs A asked me not to bring our kids into this, she did concede that they may be absolutely fine with it and I vehemently believe that they would be.  However, there are two reasons that I won’t be telling either of them anytime soon; the first is to honour the undertaking not to that I gave Mrs A and the second is that ‘Amanda’ is still a work in progress and if I’m going to share this side of me with them I want to feel confident that I’m at the top of this particular game.

So whilst I know that this is almost certainly a viable solution, particularly because my son rarely emerges from his bedroom so would never need to see my feminine alter ego, it’s not appropriate for me at the moment.  And so that brings us back to square one.

If I’m not going to tough it out, then the only other option is to CD away from home.  These days, I’m quite happy about being out and about en femme (that’ll be the subject of another post!) so that’s not an issue but how can this be achieved in practice?

Now, I have to confess that most of what follows is untested from my point of view so I very much want to throw the conversation to all of you, dear readers, for your thoughts both on what’s suggested and anything else I’ve not thought of.

1.  Send my son out to work.   This is attractive on many levels, not least because there’s a fighting chance that my son will stop being a financial drain on me, at least for a while.  In addition, there may be family discounts on offer (the family discount was very welcome when my daughter worked at McDonald’s!) so we’d all be winners.  And that’s before we factor in the return to almost unlimited feminine indulgence opportunities.  For me, it’s the gold standard strategy because it’s effectively business as usual as far as I am concerned.  However, getting my son to even look for a job, let alone apply for one is like pushing water uphill so I’m not holding my breath.

2.  Engineer a night away from home.  I do, from time to time, spend nights away from home when going to concerts etc. and this, of course, provides golden opportunities for safe dressing.  In fact, when I was active on Flickr, I’d frequently see photos of girls taken in one or other of the budget chain hotels so it’s evidently a tried and tested method.  That said, there is a financial overhead involved so it’s not something that can be done very often but the idea of getting dressed and applying makeup in the comfort and privacy of a hotel room is rather appealing.

3.  Get changed and made up in the car.  This, I believe, is a strategy used by many and so it is tried and tested.  I have to confess that the idea of wriggling out of one set of clothes into another doesn’t fill me with too much joy (although things like underwear can be put on at home and worn under male clothes to go out to lessen the trauma).  Then there’s the challenge of putting on makeup – I have enough difficulty sitting at the table in our well-lit kitchen so heaven only knows whether I’d manage to achieve anything vaguely acceptable from the confines of the car.

4.  Book a makeover and get changed there.  Like the hotel idea, there’s a significant financial overhead but there are trans-friendly makeup artists throughout the country and unlike doing my own makeup in the car, I’m pretty well guaranteed of looking good on my foray into the outside world.  There’s also sometimes the option of having them help you clean up at the end of the day for an extra fee so I have to say that this one’s quite an attractive proposition all round.

5.  Use a self-storage unit.  This one’s a bit left field and I don’t currently have a self-store unit but we do need to sort out all the junk in our house so that in itself is a good excuse for getting one.  I’ve heard of many activities being undertaken in these units including martial arts classes and the like so using one as a changing room seems fine.  There’s clearly a financial overhead but if the unit is being used for other purposes, then the incremental cost is nil.  It’s also a handy place to store the stash particularly if, as in my case, none of the other family members drive so there’s no chance of them going there unannounced.

6.  Confide in a friend and change at their place.  This one has crossed my mind more than once, not least as I have a friend with two flats, one of which is empty at the moment.  I know him and trust him enough to confide in him but he knows Mrs A and I don’t really want to drag him into the position of being complicit in an issue that Mrs A doesn’t find particularly acceptable even though she has agreed to tolerate it.  I’m also aware that it could change the dynamic of our friendship and so am wary of going down this particular path.

Of course, apart from the transformation itself, there are other considerations.  The first, of course, is outfit choice.  I’m very much a skirt & heels sort of girl but if I have to get changed in the car, that means getting changed out of trousers and then back into them before going home.  Wearing plain female trousers would make life a whole lot easier as I could put them on in the house before I left and also make me less conspicuous in 21st century Britain where most women wear trousers or jeans in the daytime.

There’s also the cleanup to consider.  In the absence of suitable washing facilities, it’s going to need to be done in the car.  Nothing particularly problematic about that as long as there’s a plentiful supply of makeup wipes on hand but there’s an increased risk of missing a bit (eyeliner seems to be particularly problematic to remove all traces) and giving the game away to anyone who sees me.

As I was writing this, I couldn’t help feeling that the whole thing seemed like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  This is something that makes me happy and harms no one so why should it require military grade planning just to go out wearing an outfit I want to wear?  But I also got the feeling that whilst indulging my feminine side is clearly not going to be as easy and straightforward as it was when I had the house to myself, it’s by no means impossible and, in fact, will probably not be at all difficult given the variety of options.  In addition, as my son would rather be ensconced in his bedroom playing computer games than do anything with me,  I actually believe I could get fully dressed and made up, leave the house for several hours, come back home still en femme and change back without him being any the wiser.  The problem is that even if the chance of him seeing me was one in a million, it’s the one I need to worry about, not the million so I definitely won’t be putting that theory to the test!

But before I finish, I’d like to revisit ‘toughing it out’.  As I mentioned above, this is something that was forced on me during covid and was something I did voluntarily last year only dressing once between the end of may and the end of the year.  I don’t view it as a particularly attractive or healthy option but, equally, if I don’t experience strong urges, I’m not going to push things just for the sake of.  Life is about equilibrium & compromise and I keep an open mind in all of this.

And so that’s where things stand at present.  Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments below; for my part, I am sure that the next few months will provide the inspiration for at least a couple of posts as I navigate the new waters.

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13 Responses

  1. Amanda,
    This is an excellent post, with a rational examination of an important issue.

    Unfortunately I don’t have the correct solution for you, or for anyone else. My personal situation dictates me to tough it out and to take any opportunity to dress en femme when it occurs.

    I am on the TG spectrum, so mentally I am en femme no matter what I am wearing. In my case clothes don’t make the person. So, most of the time I’m wearing trousers and on a few occasions I wear a skirt. This arrangement works for me.

    We each have to figure out what works for them.

    Thank you for a great post.

    Jocelyn

    1. Jocelyn, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s a challenging issue for sure and I think your poiint about it not mattering what you are wearing is a good one – lamenting what we don’t have only leads to frustration and I think we have to have a mindset that says ‘this is who I am’ rather than ‘this is who I become’ is key.

      On a positive (but slightly enigmatic) note, I can vouch for the efficacy of strategy number 2 above! I won’t pre-empt a future post other than to say that yesterday a small town in the south of England was treated to a touch of glamour!

      1. Amanda,
        I have used strategy number 2 myself and it was very, very successful (my Cleveland visits).

        I’m sure your recent glamour expedition in southern England was a real eye-opener to the locals. Well done. I look forward to the KL post.

        Jocelyn

        1. It certainly was an eye opener for one young boy who gave me a long stare! Luckily he didn’t ask his dad why ‘that man is dressed as a woman’ – well at least he didn’t ask him while I was still within earshot but anything’s possible after I’d gone!

  2. You have brought an interesting perspective to this question Amanda. I took a workshop at the Keystone Conference which addressed telling your loved ones about your CD of TG status. It addressed breaking the news to wives, parents, siblings and young children, and dealing with their reactions positive and negative. However, very little was mentioned in regard to one’s ADULT children. I even asked the question specifically, and the best that came out was “Do they need to know?” I guess that is a legitimate philosophy, and it is one I have employed up to this point. I guess you could say that as adults I do not question their private lives, there is no need for them to question mine. However, I know that day is coming, and the sneaking and hiding that is necessary when they visit feels wrong. I am not ashamed, I am doing nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide, so why am I acting this way?

    At present, I will continue to employ the he “needs to know” approach. But I must be ready for change, and ready to own it all when it comes – and I know it will.

    1. Kris, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I think the ‘do they need to know?’ question is a good one and pertinent to a lot of us. My own view is that they don’t and whilst I know of families where this is embraced and both personas are equally accepted, in other cases it can blow things apart.

      Taking a pessimistic view, I guess the one thing at the back of my mind is what happens when I die? The short answer, of course, is I won’t be around to find out but there are several scenarios that could play out. It could be a case of them shrugging their shoulders and thinking ‘whatever made him happy’ or they could find the whole thing a little distasteful and resent me for participating. But there’s also one where the kids turn against Mrs A for not telling them or even for not supporting me.

      I have two kids, both young adults, but there’s one thing I believe more than anything else is that there are only two options – either neither of them know or they both have to know. I could not countenance any situation where one found out by accident and was then sworn to secrecy; it basically risks their relationship with their sibling if it later comes out that they’d been hiding it.

      For now, though, I’m relatively happy with how things are. Opportunities to indulge, whilst not nearly as regular as they once were, will continue to present themselves and I will grasp them when they arise.

  3. Amanda,
    I’ll answer some points in no particular order .
    First I’ll recall something a friend said when I was talking over the problems of telling children ( adults really ) . He said , ” What makes you think your son isn’t hiding something from you ? ” That point often comes to mind when we talk about family and neighbours knowing , we my never know what goes on behind their front doors .

    I do see a basic problem here and I’ve come across it before with others , in fact it’s something I had to come to terms with . You wonder how your children would react when they discover your ( occassional ) needs , so the question is are they occassional needs or are you living with suppression ? Living with severe suppression can gradually destroy you , I know from personal experience how your body can shut down , how you cease to function which is not good for you or your family .
    The question of how much do kids care . Part of that problem is created by a never ending circle of what the wife/partner thinks about the problems of the kids knowing and what concerns they may have of how their mother might react . To answer that , of course the kids care . It creates a dilemma , they don’t want to lose respect for you but at the same time they try and respect your needs . Personally I feel I’ve made it easier for my children because we’ve all accepted I’m transgender ( which they understand ) choosing to live full time . If you’ve been a good father and done your best they will more than likely still respect you but then we never know that fact until we’ve taken the biiger steps to change your life .
    So how do you grab those precious moments ? As you point out the choices all have their pitfalls , it’s easy to look at the options and decide it isn’t worth it but then to most of us it isn’t a hobby we can take or leave , dysphoria at any level doen’t go away the need to live your feminine side is a powerful force . Kandi is lucky she has a enviable lifestyle , she’s made tough decisions to make it work and importantly she is the true person she wishes to be . I made the tough decision to separate and eventually divorce my wife , it was the right thing to do for all parties . Marriage should be an equal partnership not a prison sentence , if it isn’t working and it’s not fixable it’s a hard but necessary decision to call it a day .
    Looking back I feel the advice from my gender counsellor was correct in finding a social group , I was surprsied my wife was on board with that . Perhaps because she knew I was going out but doing it safely away from family and neighbours it made sense . Perhaps she thought it was something I would get out of my system , she always considered counselling and these meetings were a possible cure , she finds it hard to accept the notion of transgenderism .

    The bottom line is we are what we are , nothing is going to change that so we have to find ways to happily live with it , it’s inevitable someone will get hurt . The message to get across is we don’t do what we do to hurt anyone , if only they realised we are usually the ones hurting inside the most .

    1. Teresa, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Clearly there are big dilemmas here but that’s the case in all walks of life, not just those with a CD/TG relevance. What’s important to remember, and you alluded to this, is that we’re all different and, as a result, there’s no common solution. What is apparent, though, is that whereas wives have very mixed views – some will embrace it, others will see it as a marriage ender and every nuance between those will be represented too – kids tend to be far more accepting and I am absolutely certain that mine would be no exception.

      But for me, this is a part of me that I want to keep completely separate from my family and whilst I have no intention of telling my kids about this side of me, doing so would not resolve the dilemma of how to transition from total freedom to a situation where opportunities are few and far between. As I mentioned in another response above, option 2 worked particularly well at the weekend but that was a byproduct of being away from home for something else. It becomes more problematic as an option when there’s no pretext and I’m faced with the choice of either lying to my wife about my primary reason for going away or telling the truth when she’s specifically said that she doesn’t want any knowledge of my activities in this connection. It’s a near perfect solution for someone like me but is not without downsides.

  4. Kris,
    That is a very good point , do ( adult ) children need to know ?
    It’s a dilemma that we can never know the right answer , it’s also the question being asked about my young grandsons . So if it’s decided not to tell them what happens if they find out from another source , obviously the same question can be asked about adults . Some consider we are lying to them because the truth is being withheld , also there could be the possiblity of ay one of them being transgender themselves , is it better they know about you so you can offer them support .
    The question raised from this suggests that being transgender is wrong , a shameful and guilty secret . I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life , life is level and far more normal , people pick up on that which has provided me with more friends now than I ever had before .

  5. I sure enjoy reading your insight Amanda, no matter the subject, I just love to hear it. I haven’t visited this site for quite a while and now I’m just rediscovering why it is such a valuable resource for a girl like me. I’m really happy to see you still active here to some degree and see again what I’m missing out on. You are such an intellectual and deep thinker, I never get tired of hearing what you have to say. It has influenced me to a great degree. Although this post doesn’t apply that much to me in my present state, it is something I really like to consider for the future when hopefully I will have children of my own. I know by now the dressing up, wanting to be a woman will not go away. But I think I can be more prepared for it when I have places and people like you and Kandi that I can turn to. I’m still firmly in the closet as far as family is concerned so I think it could also apply to family ties, parents and siblings. I know they would all be shocked and probably repulsed if they knew Liz existed. Yet I only recently finally had the opportunity to go out publicly as a woman, shopping etc.. what a thrill that was but I’m also living in a hotel room by myself at the moment so it was a good opportunity to do so. Thank you, this was a refreshing read and I look forward to whatever else you’ll have to share on this site.

    1. Liz, thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your kind words, it’s always nice to hear from you.

      On any CD/TG related issue, you’ll get as many different opinions as there are people giving them but, on the particular point you raise, we’ll probably all ‘sing’ with one voice. Given that you already know and embrace this side of yourself, in any relationship where things are starting to get serious, tell her. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Of course, the answer is that she could end the relationship there and then but that’s actually the second best thing that can happen, the best being that she embraces it. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t disclose and it blows up the marriage after years or even decades with both emotional and financial consequences. And kids growing up knowing that their dad has two personas is much better than having to engineer all sorts of situations to keep the whole thing from them.

      It’s a very tough call to have to make of course and, to make matters even more complex, acceptance today does not imply that acceptance will still be there tomorrow but this can work within a relationship as long as each party knows exactly where the other stands and can accept things on that basis.

      Good luck!

  6. Hi Amanda,
    It’s so nice reading your posts again and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I came out to both our boys around 3 years ago. Our oldest was 33 and our youngest 25. As you know I came out to my wife before we were married. She asked me if she could tell her sisters and I said sure. My brothers all knew about Trish as did the spouses on both sides of the family. And Trish was accepted by them all but they were not supportive.

    So that left my two boys as the only ones unaware of Trish. How they found out was pretty much outlined in your post. My youngest was the first to find out about me . He came home early one day and caught me totally and completely dressed as I was coming up the stairs. It was a shock for him I’m sure. The worst part of it all was he did not know that his Mom knew so for a while he was carrying my secret inside not knowing what to do. Finally he told my wife and she let him know that she had know for a long time and I’m sure this was a big weight off his shoulders. I talked to him after that about my alter ego if you will. I asked him if he had any questions after explaining my desires to him. At the end he just said I’m ok with your crossdressing, it’s really not a big deal. The worst thing was for me to know he knew and thought he was the only one and had absolutely no one to talk to. Fortunately that did not last long and now he and I are closer than we’ve ever been.

    Of course with my youngest knowing about Trish that left only our oldest son in the dark. I told my wife that I was going to come out to him soon, it just wasn’t fair for him to be the only one who didn’t know. I knew this was going to be almost as difficult as when I came out to my wife but it had to be done. So I phoned him and asked if he had time to meet with me one night . So a date was set then he asked what it was about. I just said that I had something very personal that I had to make him aware of. I can tell you that when the big night arrived I was already an emotional wreck. The drive to his house took forever but I did arrive even though every intersection I went through was an opportunity for me to turn around and head for home but didn’t. The closer I got the more nervous and emotional I got.
    I rang the door bell with a shaking hand and he opened it and said come on in and what is this all about? We sat down and I began by telling him I had been a crossdresser my whole life, that it was a pert of me and made me who I was. I carried on until I couldn’t and about half way through I just broke down and started crying. He just looked at me, smiled, and said “is that it?” I nodded and he said “well when you phoned I thought you were going to tell me that you had some terminal decease .” Then he came over gave me a huge hug and just said “I love you dad.” At that point I’ve never felt closer to him or more relieved. Once I was done he said really Dad it’s no big deal, the only question asked was did you tell Mom? After that I don’t think I have ever been happier and a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Contrary to the drive to his house the drive home was a feeling of freedom, contentment and unbelievable happiness. I’m sure I was still smiling when I walked in our front door. But the best part was my wife and I no longer had to hide my secret. It was a secret no more.

    The other, I guess for lack of a better word, bonus to all of this deals with another part of your post Amanda and that’s going out dressed. I had done all of the things you talked about in my younger days. When business called in Vancouver I would typically leave the house at 5:00am fully dressed. When I hit Vancouver I would take everything off get the business taken care of , te dress, apply make up and head for home. Then repeat the whole procedure before I hit home. But now that Trish is out to the world we let the boys know when I’m leaving and when I’ll be back so that way if they don’t want to see Trish they don’t have to. It has been a few years since I’ve had to hide Trish . Now I am fully in girl mode when I leave as well as when I return. Life is so much simpler now.

    Cheers,
    Trish

    1. Trish, thank you – your comments are always absolute gems and worthy of being complete posts in their own right. There was one particular thing that caught my eye and that was the emotional weight that your son carried when he thought he was the only one who knew. I think you handled it faultlessly both in the way you talked to him and then talked to your other son but I’ve known other people in that position who have been quite happy for the son/daughter who caught them in the act to carry the burden of secrecy on their behalf. More than anything, it threatens the son/daughter’s relationship with other family members if it subesquently emerges that they were complicit in the deceit.

      Ultimately, though, I guess that managing the complex logistics of keeping all of this away from the family is just an occupational hazard of what we do. I’m quite happy for it to be kept well clear of home life, particularly now that I’ve started venturing out, and it’s really just a case of finding strategies that work well.

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