When I was very young Tony, a next-door neighbour of ours, adult male and the “son” in the family, used to make dresses for his niece. As I was about the same age and size as her I would often go round there to “model” them so that the fit could be checked; sometimes with my parents present, sometimes alone. I’m reminded now of those pins sticking into me as I walked around in the dresses and scratching sometimes as the dresses were put on and taken off. eep!
I loved putting those dresses on. I loved the feel of the material, the styles, the hang of them, the lovely little puffy sleeves … they felt wonderful!
But what I also remember very vividly, and have always remembered, is when I would walk into the living room and his parents, and mine if they were there, would say things like “Oh, doesn’t he look pretty!”, or “He looks so beautiful in that!”, “Gorgeous!”.
Sometimes I would go round next door to put on a “finished” version and toddle (metaphorically speaking) back round to ours to show Mum how “beautiful” I looked in it, and when I stepped out into the summer sunlight wearing those sweet little dresses I felt absolutely fabulous!
At that age I had quite thick hair which was dark and very curly and, given the hairstyles that girls and women wore in those days of the late 50’s, I would probably have passed as female to any stranger without so much as a thought on their part while I was dressed like that.
As a young child, especially one whose parents were very particular about “appearance”, one often received compliments and sort of got used to it. In fact they became quite boring!
I wasn’t always happy about them though, I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to be “smart”, “good looking”, “a real little gent” …. I wanted to be “pretty” or “beautiful” … those were the words that resonated with me, the words I would hear from my parents and next-door neighbours.
When puberty struck my parents and I went through our fair share of problems, exacerbated both by my “rebellion” at having been adopted, even though it was something I had always known, and my being at an all boys school (although back then I couldn’t quite put a finger on why that upset me so).
I distinctly remember one occasion when I was having some form of tantrum about my appearance and Mum said to me “Well Mrs —— (a lady from our church) says you’re a really handsome young man”. Poor Mum very soon realised saying that was like pouring water onto a burning frying pan, even though I couldn’t explain why.
Now at last, all these years later, I know the truth and I’m getting my chance to dress the way I’ve always wanted to dress; to appear, at least in some way, as “beautiful” as I had been all those years ago and, even if there is a lot of “softening and rounding” of my appearance still to be achieved, (hormones please!), I can slowly allow that pretty little girl inside me to bloom and take her rightful place.
Thank you, Tony, for being the first person to show me who I really am.
(I may just print this out and hand it, as is, to the Doc at the Gender Clinic on Wednesday …)