I remember the first pair of panties I had. When I wasn’t wearing them I kept them hidden in a drawer. I was fifteen. I was terrified someone would find them.
Paranoia is often crippling but it can save our lives. It holds us back from stepping out en femme. What if someone sees us? What if we run into someone we know? We replay these scenarios over and over and over to the point where we become so frightened that it becomes easier to deny this side of us than to live with the anxiety that the endless “what ifs” bring.
For some, the anxiety of living a denied life becomes greater than any risk that this side of us brings. We accept that whatever happens, happens. We dress, we drive to the mall, and… no one cares. It is this moment that the next part of our lives begin.
Of course, the paranoia we had becomes useful, in a way. We likely replayed scenario after scenario of what we would do if we saw someone we knew. Although we have stepped out of the house, we don’t let go of the thoughts that held us back for so long. We look around everywhere we go, we avoid places that our friends, families, coworkers shop, we scan every store to see who is in there as we wander around in it.
We’re still living a secret life, but it’s also as public as it gets.
The more we do, the more we venture out, the more possible scenarios play out in our heads. Despite how long and how often I’ve been going out, I still think about the “what ifs”. Last summer I did a photo shoot where I stood on top of a narrow ledge next to a building. I couldn’t help but think that were I to tumble to the ground… well, what then? I pictured an ambulance, I wondered how I would explain to my friends that I fell because it’s hard to balance in stilettos on top of a wall. Luckily I lived (and captured a few great pictures) and my worrying, my paranoia, was for nothing.
When I was fifteen and when I wore my panties I was as nervous as I could be that someone would see the lacy detail poking out of the top of my jeans. When I wasn’t wearing them I was scared to death my mom would find them. Basically I was a wreck all the time. But this is a good example of choosing to live with the fear of being caught as opposed to the stress that denying who I am brings.
When I was nineteen I had my first apartment. The panties tucked away in my dresser continued to multiply… but so did my anxiety. My girlfriend had a key to my apartment so I traded the fear of my mom finding out with the fear of my girlfriend finding out.
Eventually we broke up but panties, bras, stockings, continued to have a place in my dresser. Of course, my lingerie soon took up more room than my boy clothes and I soon had to get a storage bin. And a second one. When I was in my twenties I rented a room in my friend’s house. I had my storage bins in my closet, behind other boxes. It was unlikely he would find my collection, but still, the paranoia was there.
I had spent so much money over the years buying lingerie, purging, and then buying new lingerie. I was tired of that. I was tired of tossing out beautiful bras and panties. I was tired of pretending that I could stop. Acceptance leads to more “what ifs”, however. Just as our thought process starts with “what if I see someone I know” to “what if they see me and tells everyone about me” to “what if everyone in my life thinks I’m a freak”, my thought process started to turn to “what will happen were I to die and my family found my lingerie and heels while they were attending to my belongings?”.
It’s not a comfortable topic and it sounds a little morbid but many of us think about what our family will think were they to find out about this side of us after we die.
On one hand (and I don’t mean to be glib or talk lightly of something so serious) some of us likely aren’t concerned about what people think of us now or what they may think of us after we have left this world. I feel that way to a certain extent when it comes to some people in my life. But for others I feel a little guilt that such an important part of me is a secret from some of the people I care about the most. I would feel…. a lot of things were I to find out about something along these lines about one of my best friends and how they felt they couldn’t tell me about it.
As I let the “what ifs” play in my head, I usually wondered how I would explain something that really couldn’t be explained. It can’t be summarized quickly, every t-girl and crossdresser is different when it comes to this side of us. It can take countless conversations over the course of years for someone else to “get it” or at least come to terms with it. Having an opportunity to answer questions, to talk about our feelings, our lives, can help someone, well maybe not understand this part of us, but perhaps helps make it a little easier to ease someone’s mind.
But when we pass on, our family may find a beautiful wardrobe… and a lot of unanswered questions.
If I am going to come out to some, I want to do it on my terms. I want to portray who I am HOW I am. If you come out as a crossdresser to someone and they google that same word… well, they may get the wrong idea about who we are. At least when I am alive I likely have an opportunity to talk about what crossdressing means to me. But when I am gone unless Ouija boards work, then people will make assumptions without knowing this side of me.
When someone finds out about this part of us, it will impact them, to put it lightly. They may feel hurt that we kept a secret, they may be confused, they may be angry., they may feel obligated to continue to keep our secret. When we come out to someone, it turns their world inside out. When our world does this, regardless of why, we usually need to talk to someone, and it’s easiest to talk to someone that understands, someone who went through what we are going through. But finding out our husband/son/brother/friend is a crossdresser isn’t something that most people don’t talk about. With no one to talk to, we become lonely, frustrated, confused.
I knew this could happen were I to pass away. As complicated as my relationship is with my family (both before and after I came out to them), there is, and has always been, love there. I didn’t want them to feel alone. I wanted to, as best as I could, explain who I am… FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. Again, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I am trying to keep this as light as I can. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I wrote a letter.
Perched atop panties, bras, garter belts, stockings, was an envelope. Inside was a note where I acknowledged that finding these clothes was likely a shock. I apologized for adding to what was likely already a stressful and emotional time. Dealing with a family member’s passing is difficult (to put it lightly) but discovering a secret just adds to it. I wrote, as best as I was able, about this side of me. I provided a few websites where my family could turn to, such as PFLAG, if they needed someone to talk to. I did this as sincerely as possible. It wasn’t an easy letter to write, but I knew I had to do it. I didn’t want them to feel I was keeping a secret from them, but really, that’s exactly what I was doing. I didn’t want them to think I was lying about who I was, either. Even on death, I wanted to come out on my own terms.
I tossed the letter, along with my lingerie, on my next, and what would be my final purge.
I still think about the “what ifs”. But that’s just who I am, even outside of this side of me. As I get older I think more about the future and making plans. Plans for retirement, plans for my passing.
I have quite a collection of books. I also have a friend who shares the same passion for reading and books as I do. I told him that when I pass, I need him to take care of my book collection. It’s a huge collection and it’s not something I want to burden my wife with after I die. I have similar requests of others in my life, such as my finances.
I can have all the contingency plans (if you will) that you can imagine, but if I die suddenly I know my wife is going to inherit a huge wardrobe. My wife and I have very few similar tastes when it comes to clothes and she’s going to need an evening gown or a PVC dress so it’s not like her wardrobe is going to expand in a way that she’ll necessarily benefit from. I do wonder what will happen to… everything. I suppose the easiest thing would be for her to simply donate what could be donated. I’m sure some nonprofit charity would be thrilled to receive a leather minidress.
As old as I feel these days (mentally, that is) I am not ready to make any decisions of course. But again, we can’t stop thinking about the “what ifs”.