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What About the Kids…When They’re Not Kids

Our beloved Contributors, the foundation of Kandi's Land, never cease to amaze me, never cease to touch me. Kris has weighed in with her view of this.

By Kris Burton

At the recent Keystone Conference, it was my pleasure to take several of their wonderful workshops, including the one entitled “Telling Your Children and Family Members” moderated by Dr. Michelle Angello. More of a discussion than a “how to” workshop, I found it fascinating and yet at the same time brought about more questions than answers – questions that have been on my mind ever since.

When I first began to crossdress actively, I did not think this was a question I would have to address. After all, I am not a transgender person but rather what some may call a “recreational” crossdresser. My wife is aware of my proclivity. She is accepting, even participatory up to a point and it has done no harm to our relationship. Although I sometimes go out into the community en femme, I am retired and have no concerns about work colleagues finding out my “secret”.

Home free? Not quite. What about the kids?

In the workshop’s description, it is stated: “There are many factors to consider in coming out to your children or loved ones. First, do they need to know at all, if you are not publicly transitioning?” As it happens, my two “children” are 35 and 37 respectively – grown men with their own lives to lead and no longer live under this roof. I do not ask them about their private lives so they needn’t ask or be concerned about mine. It’s easy to say they fall comfortably into the category of those that do not need to know.

Perhaps too easy.

I’d like to consider myself out of the closet, but in reality perhaps my wife is in the closet with me. When it comes to my kids we’re both still sneaking around. If hear my wife say the code words “Hide the Rum” – a line from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film – it alerts me that one or both of my boys is on the way over. I begin my checklist to be sure I have left no traces of my alter ego carelessly left out. I make sure all photos I may have taken are not on the computer desktop. I make sure all entries to my CD related social media are concealed, including early drafts of this article. My dresses, skirts and shoes are not left out but are hanging in the guest room closet looking to anyone that might snoop like items that belong to my wife. We even prepared an elaborate story about my visiting an old friend from Boston to cover the days I was at Keystone in case they asked – which they did.

Have I ever been caught? No, but it’s been close a couple of times. Last fall my younger son came over unannounced and caught me looking at a ladies wear catalog. Thinking on my feet I said I was looking for a Christmas gift for his mom. I showed him a few things, and he ended up purchasing a gift for her from the same catalog. My car broke down on the way back from Keystone and my wife and I needed to concoct another story about why I was in Harrisburg rather than Boston. All of this worked so far, but if they ever get a close look at the size 10 high heels in the closet, I’m busted.

There’s got to be a better way.

The workshop also asked: “What are your goals? What do you want them to feel and to understand about this part of you?” To be honest my primary goal is selfish – get out in front of this drama and not be put in the compromising position of being “caught”. I would like to end all sneaking about and be honest to ALL the people that matter in my life. I have come to understand that the deception is the hardest part for a marriage to endure. Could it be that a similar lie of omission might have a similar deleterious effect on relationships with one’s children, even a parent/adult child relationship? Would it jeopardize our perceived close relationship? Would they never look at Dad the same way again? Putting the shoe on the other foot, would I feel badly if I were to find that they had hid similar or personal information from me fearing I could not handle it or react negatively to such a revelation?

Or am I just overthinking this?

If I were to come out, what would I want them to understand? For starters, I would head off the usual first questions by offering that I am not gay nor desire transition. I would want them to know that this revelation in no way changes who I am or how I feel about them. I am exactly the same person they have always known, not a stranger that has been hiding in the guise of their father. I would want them to know that this activity enhances a part of myself that I choose to amplify from time to time, giving me both enjoyment and psychological benefit. I would want them to know that, in spite of the dispersions sometimes cast our way by some, I hurt absolutely no one.

I recognize that I am still very much in the contemplation stage of the coming out process. It’s important to mention that I have discussed these thoughts with my wife. Although she does not favor my acting on this she is leaving the decision – as well as its after effects – on me. I certainly understand. We can go on quite comfortably with the arrangement we currently have. To be honest though, I feel the time for disclosure is looming.

Watch this space.

Editorial comment: I am a truly blessed person and you all are very fortunate to read such amazing, open and honest posts by such wonderful people. As you all know, none of this is easy. But all of this is what we are, who we are. The only way we move to a place (which will happen well after they throw dirt on me) where this is a complete nonevent to anyone, is by sharing like this. Life, the world, our whole history is literally about one single thing: evolution. We evolve. We grow, we change, we accept, we understand, all done over time. Thank you Kris for such a beautifully written post.


12 Responses

  1. Great post, Kris, and quite a few nuggets in there. I’m completely with you on the ‘need to know’ issue and I think the truth is that knowledge that dad is a CDer is very rarely going to cause them to go up in their kids’ estimation (although if they can see that they become a force for good as a result, it can) but it can do damage. In fairness, most people I know who’ve told their kids have just got a shrug of the shoulders and it’s passed without incident.

    One thing you articulated particularly well is the question of whether we’d change for the worst in our kids’ estimation if they knew. I’m particularly anxious to keep all of this well away from my kids so to preserve my image as their father but would they admire that sentiment or feel put out that I’d not be open & honest with them? There’s only really one way to find out with no guarantee that it’ll end well!

    There’s an interesting angle where the wife is openly hostile, fortunately not an issue in your case. If the kids could see the hostility and then learned that it was due to dad being a CDer but they themselves had no problem with it, would it then cause them to turn against mum for her treatment of dad?

    The only residual concern that I have in my own situation is in laying the foundations for what happens after I die when a sort through of my things may reveal rather more than they bargained for. In particular, I’d hate it to become the catalyst of division where one or both of my kids have no issues and disapprove of my wife’s stance (or even have different views themselves and it causes a rift between them). And sadly, that particular day of judgement becomes one day closer every day!

    Very well thought out and insightful post, thanks.

    1. Hi Amanda- I’m glad you liked my post. You have clarified a few things for me in your reply as well. I would be happy with a no big deal shrug of the shoulders response, but as you point out there is no guarantee. Often what you perceive a person’s reaction to such an admission might be becomes something very different when it hits home. I had not even considered what may occur on my passing but that must be added to the considerations as well. As you can see I have not reached a decision on any of this, but I do know that decision is upon me as I develop my persona further.

  2. Hi Kris,
    This is a terrific essay and it is exactly, spot on, a mirror of my own situation. I know that there are many people who have our same interests, hobby so to speak, and a great many of our lives hold strikingly similar characteristics. Onward for all of us!
    Marissa in Ohio

    1. HI Marissa – I’m glad you enjoyed my essay, and it had resonance for you. I’m quite sure many of us are wrestling with the same question, one which has no guaranteed outcomes. How have you handled the situation so far?

  3. Kris,

    A very good contribution to this ongoing topic. An honest assessment. I would add that with every disclosure I know I increase the risk of unintentional disclosure to someone not intended. We must accept that risk with every coming out. But, oh the joy of not having to hide oneself!

    In the end, a balance must be achieved that is unique to each one of us. Thankfully I am at peace with the choices I have made so far. It sounds like you are as well.

    Lisa P

  4. HI Lisa- I’m glad you enjoyed my essay, and so true when you say “… with every disclosure I know I increase the risk of unintentional disclosure to someone not intended…But, oh the joy of not having to hide oneself!” Ihope to be able to get to that point.

    In your reply you bring up the question of balance. How do we balance our femme persona with our everyday male selves when the pull or the femme persona is so pervasive, even obsessive? Mmm.. sounds like a topic for another post – unless you write it!

  5. Kris,
    I’ve read and heard these these thoughts both on an online forum and at my social groups many times before . The word that often crops is ” selfish ” , we have to accept that whatever drives our need is a powerful force , something we can never rid ourselves of , we tend to treat ourselves as a guilty party , something we should be ashamed of . When we seek professional help we are looking for an explanation , with that comes an acceptance of what we are whether we like it or not , certain labels will be used to help us deal with the situation and hopefully find a way forward with our close family .
    I have an adult son and daughter , perhaps I should emphasise ADULT because that is what they are , we no longer need to shield them from life , they will have their thoughts and make their own decisions . A good point was made suggesting they might have something they might be witholding from you , would you be hurt if they didn’t trust you as parents . The same trust applies to them , you won’t lose providing you have the right answers . Think hard about how you describe yourself , do you need to be totally honest with yourself and accept dysphoria no matter what level and the fact that the female side makes you transgender . For the sake of my family I mentally fought those issues for many years but finally accepted the inevitable and with that came happiness and contentment . You could make the mistake of insisting it’s purely recreational or even a hobby , they might be slightly insulted by that . Also it suggests it’s something you have full control of and if so you could stop doing it , so you’re back to the ” selfish ” label again .

    It’s also worth considering that you wife is living with the secret , she’s in the closet with you , is it fair on her to be on her guard all the time with her sons ? Consider what’s the worse that can happen and then consider it could possibly be a better relationship you have with your sons because you’ve been honest with them . I have no regrets , I live a normal life and see my son and daughter as much as I did before I went full time , the difference is I have nothing to hide from them .

  6. Hi Theresa – Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I am certainly glad to hear your “full disclosure” approach is working for you. Our backstories are clearly different but I am especially focused when of your children you “… emphasize ADULT because that is what they are , we no longer need to shield them from life , they will have their thoughts and make their own decisions “. I think the realization that our children are adults now is spot on and they need to be approached as such. I’ll be considering your point of view moving forward.

  7. Kris,
    Thankfully our children are still something that my ex wife will talk openly about , I’m sure she’s like most mothers in that she still considers them children rather than adults . I constantly remind her that we must take a back seat now the important point being they would survive and make their decisions without us . They know we both still love them and are still there for them . I admit I’m more isolated from my son and grandsons than my daughter and her family , that is basically from interference from my ex wife , the question that always arises out of that is , ” who is protecting who ?”

  8. Kris, an excellent well articulated and thoughtful article I am sure will result in careful reflection by many crossdressers. As in life there are no all-in-one solutions. For myself I have never thought of an overwhelming positive of telling my adult children about Danielle. I cannot see either of my children saying, gee Dad , I’m glad you told me , I really appreciate it. I have not come up with any negatives about not telling them except for when they ask for gift suggestions I could say , well, a cute dress would be nice. But to be serious it does not bother me that I have not revealed this personal secret because I consider it is just that, personal. It is no different than if my wife and I enjoyed a particular sexual activity. It would not be stressful for me not to inform them about it and I wouldn’t feel I was hiding something from them.
    If my kids did discover Danielle by accident it would be difficult but I would be honest with them about my crossdressing.

    I do not think as some have suggested we are not being honest to ourselves about being gender dysphoric. I have never considered myself as transgendered even though transgender has become an umbrella definition including crossdressers. I, as many heterosexual crossdressers, am totally comfortable with my male side where I exist 99% of the time. I do not think of my Danielle time as expressing my true self or the woman within. I simply enjoy occasionally totally immersing myself in my female persona and have absolutely no desire to be Danielle 24/7. I am not in any kind of denial about this and there is no overlap between my male and Danielle side unless you count I shave my entire body. Which nowadays is not uncommon in non-crossdressing males. My male and Danielle sides are very much compartmentalized and I think I share that with many heterosexual crossdressers. Danielle is a total escape for me for reasons I have stopped trying to analyze. In the very simplest terms I very much enjoy being a girl but only for a tiny portion of my life. Sharing my crossdressing is on a need to know basis. All my decisions about my crossdressing and anything else are made by objectively trying to weigh the pros against the cons.

    1. Hi Danielle – I am so happy you liked my article, and I’m glad to see it is generating some thought. Your point is well taken -a full reveal may work for some, but not all. As you point out and as was quite clear in the Keystone Workshop, all of our situations are different and all of us have a different story under these wigs! What may work well for one might not be desirable for another, and there are many factors which will go into making the decision of whether or not to reveal to the kids, be they adult or otherwise. I think all points of view should be considered valid, but I would like to think that being comfortable with in ones own skin – including how we choose to identify ourselves – and our individual living situation with our families is for me the deciding factor in how to proceed.
      All the best,

  9. Danielle,
    While I realise you play many of the aspects down you have the left the door open to certain possibilities that you don’t have the answer to . I know from your membership of another forum you are very much a closet dresser . Your wife knows certain things but what if the can of worms did spill out and you had to explain to her and your children about your needs . Do you feel it would be the time to be honest with yourself and your family , would it truthfully be something you could stop overnight ?
    While you joke about being given a gift of a cute dress , it reality it is something special when you are given items , my daughter always gives me makeup . It’s wonderful to be able to go shopping with her and help each other choose items .

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