30 years ago … a group of boys were looking through a box of hand-me-downs and dared one boy to try on one of the skirts. He wasn’t the first boy to learn how Permission is the Narnian wardrobe into Possibility.

15 years ago … a man got married and inherited a closet full of woman’s clothes that weren’t his. He wasn’t the first husband without Permission. Nor the first to carefully hang his Shame on the hanger with each dress.

One year, that man’s journey wept into this poem.

En Femme Discover Woman Within


Wanting to look like all the women,
the ones from the ads,
I shave off
all the stress.
I shimmy into the red and black skirt
that tugs a bit around my hips
and zip me up inside.
Snapping the bra in front of me
and spinning it around into place,
I insert my arms into the straps
and look myself up and down in the mirror.

Getting there.

I button the top,
tight-pressed against the two sides
of my spirit
that I make larger after I’m done buttoning.
‘What if I had surgery?’
I suck in my gut and
turn sideways to view my profile.
I’ve missed the exercise lately.


My face is smooth but blemished,
a light flesh.
I apply changes, improvements, to my femininity,
foundation, new skin, colored lips, shaded eyes
Maybe it will hide what I don’t want seen
but set free what I want to see.
I think I am close
to feeling
what I’ve wanted
to feel.


I only have a few more minutes.
Time is so short.
It’s shameful of me
to be in a hurry,
to want to look like all the other women,
to feel like them,
to feel like me, like them.
Like me.
It’s more than I think.

Downstairs, the garage door grinds open.
I need to un-Cinderella
and put all her clothes away
just as I found them
and wash my face.
If only this me had
a place
to be.
My wife can never
see me
like this.


Because sometimes I’ve gotta get outside myself to see myself. Artistic therapy.

I realized that initially, Hope was all about the clothes and the process. But recently, as I’ve been exploring what my femininity means in me, it has become the magical wardrobe into the other side of myself, the timeless world beside my world that has been there all along.

Zero years ago … I took mysel(ves) into the world to meet each other’s war(drobes), to learn each other, to feel each other, teach each other … kiss each other. My male and female are learning to hug, to freshen their lipstick before throwing the axe. Dancing within and dancing without.

And those famous words “It is not good that man be alone” are never more true than when I don a dress and heels. I no longer want to keep myself to myself by myself for myself. I need them as much as I need me. I see death knocking at the door of life and need my friends there. My wife there. My life there. Because my whole is not whole without them without me.

Now the clothes are “…tight-pressed against the two sides of my spirit that I make larger…” The double meanings and the allusion to the Native American idea of two-spirit help me soar toward embracing both sides of my same self … of squeezing together instead of squeezing out … the tight squeeze on my soul.

The same soul that longs to grow larger.

Into itself.

And more.

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Hope Clark

Married man trying to figure out how to make sense of his feminine self with a loving wife that doesn't want to mess up our lives. Since I was 8 or 9, I've always felt very solidly like a boy, but there's also been a feminine layer to my soul that I was shamed into hiding. But I've always been some kind of mix of male and female ... I just haven't shown you all the feminine layer. I've done a lot of soul searching on it, reading, learning, diving really deep, and my soul doesn't need to transition to be female like many transgender folks, but for my psyche and soul to feel right, it seemed spending a few days a month living as my female self helped a lot. It's like a poison layer builds up inside me when she doesn't get to live, and I am a more vibrant, whole human when she does get to live. I love both gendered expressions of my soul and wouldn't want to lose either one. Lately, merging my masculine and feminine wardrobes in regular life has helped this all even more.

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Sarah Stepford
2 years ago

Hope, this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing something so intimate! I can truly relate to it and love how you’ve given voice to it!!!

2 years ago

Beautifully written Hope, I recognize so much. Thank you for sharing! hugs, Liv

Active Member
Leonara (@leonara)
2 years ago

Hope, nicely done… There is a little bit of alll of us in your story & poem …thank you

skippy1965 Cynthia
Trusted Member
skippy1965 Cynthia (@skippy1965)
2 years ago

Hope-thank you for sharing,,both your story and (metaphorically) your namesake with each of us here!

Bill Johnson
2 years ago

Nice stories I can relate to

Rhesa Williams
Rhesa Williams (@legseleven)
2 years ago

This a story many of us recognise, but you have crafted it beautifully. It is probably the best written piece on the topic I have ever read. Still emotional about it, ages later!

Paula Pantyhose
Active Member
Paula Pantyhose (@paulapantyhose)
2 years ago

Well done, Hope. Thanks.

Active Member
Paula1 (@paula1)
2 years ago

thankyou Hope for a fantastic story I can totally relate to your story, it gives me so confidence within my self when I read these stories

Stef Smith
Active Member
Stef Smith (@stefaniemaybe)
2 years ago

I loved your poem
Its not easy being us
But this site sure helps

Stef Smith
Active Member
Stef Smith (@stefaniemaybe)
2 years ago
Reply to  Hope Clark

It’s liberating knowing youre not alone and that there is nothing wrong with you

Dana Stiletto
2 years ago

Hope, thank you so much for your beautiful, encouraging, and articulate words.
You given me great insight with this wonderfully crafted poem, and I look forward to reading more of your work…Bravo!
Sincerely, Dana

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