As my body turns 73 years old in October, I have been struggling this past year to keep up with the physical efforts of my dressing. Don’t get me wrong, I Love putting outfits together and going out with friends for shopping and dining. As I spend time in public, I’m meeting younger folks where in the past I might have been the only crossdresser in a crowd of gays and lesbians. I was going out with those in their mid 20’s and 30’s.
Having started dressing as a child, out in public since the 1960’s, I didn’t have any hesitation at being with others who seemed marginalized by society. Being a Government employed surgeon for most of my 50-year career, I faced a tremendous fear of losing my professional life if I happened to be depicted poorly in the press. It might have ended the financial stability for my family. Those in my family were depending on me as I worked in private practice and Government positions. Being outed would have been a life-changing situation.
As a young crossdresser, I was very careful in my outings; it was a strong urge to dress and go out. The 1960’s were not as LGBTQ + accepting as they are today. Venturing out was exciting but extremely risky. There were many thousands of others like me, who did what our generation could do to reasonably progress our cause. Now the burden of taking it forward is being passed on to the next generation of advocacy.
As I look in the rearview mirror, I maintain a sense of pride at the progress of perceptions that our efforts have produced. There’s so much more to do in many areas, more tolerance. Discrimination will always be lurking around every corner. For example, the recent intimidation projected into the Department of Defense policy upon LGBTQ service in the military services. As a retired Army Veteran (1971-1996,) I am disappointed by the lack of intelligence on guidance in this arena. It’s also infuriating to be thrown out with the bath water. We can only hope that these discriminatory policies will be overturned in the near future.
I remain proud of the freedoms I have been granted, the ability to be able to dress and go out and about with my friends and family whenever I wish, and not just in the dark of night. I’m proud of my service to fellow transgender Veterans in the VA hospitals around the country (1984- 2017.) Over the decades in civilian practice, military and VA practices, I had the opportunity to witness the progress in acceptance, care, and empathy for crossdressers and the LGBTQ community.
So after 60 years of crossdressing, it takes me much longer to get ready to go, and I have to be careful and watch how I step in my beautiful heels, but I will continue to look as good as can when I leave home. I want the next generation to follow their own path from the closet to the front door, and do it with pride and dedication in their need to dress as they venture out into the light.
Thank you to CDH for providing us a platform that allows us to express ourselves and connect to each other. As those of us in our 70’s are passing on the baton to the younger, more energetic group of crossdressers to continue taking us forward, know that my arm is graciously outstretched to you.