It was a very hot weekend.
Over those few days what I remember the most was how hot it was. It was a Friday night and after a glass or two of wine, I told my girlfriend, the girl I would marry years later, about me.
I danced around the word ‘crossdresser’ because even then I wasn’t comfortable with that word as I didn’t think it was the most accurate label for myself. But at that point most of what I wore, and what I wanted to wear, was lingerie. I underdressed and had a lot of beautiful lingerie but it would be a few years before makeup, heels, dresses and wigs worked their way into my wardrobe.
Truthfully it was more than one or two glasses of wine that helped me come out to her. It was something that consumed me the moment I started falling for her. I knew that if we dated I would eventually be at a point where I would have to tell her.
A point where I would want to tell her.
I told other girlfriends about me and had a wide range of responses. But with her, it was different. I wanted to marry her and be with her for the rest of my life. I knew I couldn’t change and she needed to know regardless of how it would go.
So, I told her.
We had the expected questions and we talked all throughout that hot weekend. Like most of our partners she had a difficult time understanding why I loved wearing bras and stockings and, truth be told, I don’t understand it either but after decades of dressing I decided there was no real reason and that I had accepted there wasn’t one.
(We say there is no reason but let’s be honest, there are millions of reasons. We feel beautiful when we dress, we love the feeling of soft clothing, we love waking up in a nightie, we love the…power that an amazing pair of stilettos gives, we love the hypnotic effect of eyeliner…)
So, yes, there are reasons we love this.
When we need to know more about something, whether it is replacing a fuse or how to contour, we turn to the internet. After my revelation sunk in, my wife did the same thing and googled ‘crossdresser’. She was met with a wide array of fetishistic images and stories and tales of secret and deceptive lives. This did nothing to ease her concerns about me.
But over time, patience and conversation, we got through that, we married and she remains my best friend and the love of my life.
After a couple of year into our marriage we stayed up late talking and the conversation drifted into my dressing. Had I ever worn makeup? Ever owned a wig? Dresses? I had tried makeup and I had no idea what I was doing. Beauty Vloggers were not yet a thing and I gave up quickly. I did purchase a wig once and it was a cheap mess of blackness. I carefully put it on and imagined I would see Elizabeth Hurley looking back at me in the mirror but… that did not happen. Into the trash it went. I did own a few dresses in the past but I not wear them much. They were harder to hide in my closet as opposed to lingerie so I didn’t own many.
My wife brought out her makeup and I remember the coolness of the liquid foundation on my skin. I remember her asking me to smile to better apply my blush. I remember the finishing touch of lipstick. Elizabeth Hurley was not in the mirror…but I was. And that was better. I never would look like her, but I could look like me.
She asked how I felt. I was happy, I told her. She smiled and said that she understood. I just wanted to be beautiful. It was startling that after decades of trying to make sense of why I dressed she summed it up better than I ever could.
Over the next few weeks she helped pick out my wig and soon dresses were tucked into the back of my closet. I had purged before we moved in with each other and panties began to appear once more in my dresser. I was…exhilarated. She taught me makeup and we had many late nights just staying up and talking.
It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like a fantasy. I know I am lucky. I know that this is not a common outcome when one comes out to their partner. I don’t do everything right in my life. I make mistakes, I do this when I should do that. I am very far from perfect. I always will be.
I get emails from girls like us asking how to introduce this side of them into their relationships. I don’t know. Every one of us is different. Introducing this side of us to a marriage can mean anything from underdressing to you and your spouse dressing up and hitting the mall together. Every partner is different and there will be many different reactions to our revelation. So, no, I don’t know how to introduce this side of you into your marriage. I don’t know how to “get her to let you do this”.
What I can tell you is this:
Tell them. Be honest with them. Tell them before you are committed. Before you are engaged. Before you move in with each other. Before the two of you buy a house or adopt a dog together.
Know yourself. You are likely going to be asked if you’re attracted to men. If you want to transition. If you were born in the wrong body. If you are unhappy. If you cannot answer these questions then perhaps you need to do more reflecting before you come out. The most frightening thing you can tell your partner is that you don’t know if you want to transition.
One more piece of advice. Don’t laugh these questions off when you are asked. Don’t dismiss them or trivialize them. Answer them patiently and truthfully. When someone is asking you a question, whether it is about gender identity or anything else, it is done in an effort to understand. Don’t make someone feel bad, or stupid, when they ask a question.
I was honest with her when I came out. I was honest with her every step of the way. I still am. I knew myself well before I came out to her. I respected her feelings, understood her concerns and listened to her fears. This much I did right. I am not perfect. I am not the perfect spouse or person. But I came out to her the best way that I could.
The nights my wife and I stay up and talking about…everything are some of my favorite moments of my life. I am more open and honest and vulnerable than I had ever been. I was living a dream that I had my entire life…my wife and I having girl talk while I was dressed. I was happy, I was confident, I was calm.
But it’s easy and normal to make wrong decisions in the early days of coming out. We are so enraptured with everything happening. Our wardrobes are expanding, we are getting better at mascara and we can strut in heels better than we could a few weeks ago. If we come out to someone and it goes well, it’s not uncommon to want to come out to someone else.
And now we enter THE PINK FOG.
As I was starting off from underdressing to where I am now, my wife, like most of our partners turned to the internet for some perspective. Is what we had normal? Am I in denial? Is she? Where is all this heading? I don’t think it’s uncommon for our partners to be asking themselves what is next for us. One day it’s high heels, one day it could be hormones.
She came across the term ‘pink fog’ which I had never heard before. It refers to someone being so…blissful of this side of them that they don’t think things through as much as they should. Like a fog, this can cloud your perspective and your thinking. It could mean that we are so in love with a pair of red stilettos that instead of doing something responsible like making a car payment we suddenly own a new pair of heels instead. Or five pairs of heels. And a new wig. And a dress.
This fog can lead to, well, let’s call them lapses of judgment. We might post a picture online, we might leave the house. If we have partners that have requested or set boundaries we may cross them. The fog can be similar to a form of drunkenness. We might make decisions that we normally would not make when sober or not in the fog. The fog, like alcohol, does not justify our decisions. We still made them.
So…don’t drink and dress?
Please know that I am not saying we need to keep this side of ourselves hidden because we should be ashamed about this side of us or that there is something wrong with who we are. What I am saying is that this is a part of us that needs to be handled and disclosed in a thoughtful, delicate way.
The pink fog can also lead to coming out to others when we haven’t thought it through. We are so happy with coming out to someone (or even to ourselves) that we want to come out to everyone. We want to be ourselves with others in our life. We are tired of keeping secrets. We want our friends, our siblings, our families to know us.
I understand that. I can relate.
But this is a BIG DEAL. You cannot put yourself back in the closet. There are too many dresses in there for one reason. You only get one chance to come out to someone and although I don’t know how to come out to someone (besides the two points I made above), I know there are countless ways to do it wrong.
We need to be able to recognize when we are in the fog. Not only can this help with our shopping and spending but it can help prevent coming out to the wrong person at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons. We need to remember when we come out to our partners they are now sharing the secret. We may want to come out our friend, brother, our mailman but our partner might not be ready for that.
I was in the fog plenty of times, and it normally ended with me adding to my wardrobe as opposed to something more serious. The fog tends to fade as time passes. Who I am and how I balance a life (and a checkbook) between genders becomes more normal and easier as the days go by.
You can find balance in life if you identify as more than one gender. Like liquid eyeliner on your waterline, it takes practice, time, and usually at the expense of many mistakes. When you are in the fog, if you feel you are acting on impulse and the voice in your head says not to do that ever you are about to do, then full stop. Exhale. Put the credit card down, don’t click ‘submit’ if you are about to post a photo online, wait a day before sending that email.
I want all of us to be happy and to have a healthy relationship with ourselves and the others in our lives. I know many of us want more than what we have, but make sure you are taking it slow and carefully.