“You’re not a girl, but you are girly,” said my wife. I looked up from my crossword, puzzled about what had motivated her comment. She was pointing at my legs. In accordance with our negotiated rules, I wore guy clothes in front of her, but I had absentmindedly double-crossed my legs, one foot neatly tucked behind the other ankle. They’d been freshly shaved that morning. The tone of her voice and smile told me she meant well. She has warned me in public when I have not behaved strictly as a guy would. I need to pay closer attention.
Coming out as a crossdresser would end my employment. Whatever the laws may say, the people I serve are not ready for one. And I work at the pleasure of those people. I can state that it has been a joy to witness how quickly acceptance of our community has increased—in general—but without any doubt, I cannot count on it in my own circumstance.
My wife is supportive. She prefers not to see me dressed but when by chance it happens she doesn’t complain. She has even complimented my outfits. On every birthday she gives me a new charm for my bracelet. She gets me cosmetics, cleansers, and lotions. She fears, perhaps even more than I, the repercussions for all of us if my girly side were to become public. So, we have set firm boundaries. They help to ease her concerns while keeping me safer. For both of those reasons, I am happy we had that conversation. I highly recommend the same for any sister with a significant other. I am not telling anybody they have to make the same choices, only to have the talk.
I wear panties every day. In cooler weather, when I wear sweaters over my button-downs, I add a sports bra. When my wife starts her journey home from her weekly visits to our daughter, she texts me so I may know when to go drab. We have other boundaries in place for my home life. The rules negotiated for my public crossdressing are more important—and inviolable. If I leave the house dressed, I am not to wear my wig or anything obviously feminine that anybody might see until I have gotten out of town. Only then do I pull into a country lane and finish my preparation.
I took the picture submitted with this article using a Snapchat female filter. It improves my facial appearance, but the wig is mine and from the Adam’s apple down it is how I really look. As my wife has also said, “If they don’t get a good look at your face they could watch you all day and think, That’s a tall woman.” When dressed, my mannerisms and my voice are so feminine that I’ve come to think of them as being second nature. Truthfully, I have known for years they are really part of the one, unified me.
I travel to faraway stores and parks. I’ve even worn my one-piece to a beach and sat on a towel as I read. I attract the occasional double-take, but for the most part, I just do my thing without being troubled. Last week, wearing a pretty sky-blue top over white shorts and sandals, I drove down the interstate. On the spur of the moment, I pulled into a rest area. I sat at a table in a shelter away from the main buildings and pulled my phone out of my purse. I got a little too involved in social media. A trucker came up on my blind side. I heard his footsteps. I turned my head away, stashed my phone, and got up to leave. He exclaimed, “Hey, don’t go!”
As I speed-walked away, my hips wiggling a bit more than usual, and my heart racing, I thought of what women have to deal with on a daily basis. It makes me both angry and sad; I try hard not to be one of those men. But honestly, this encounter was so affirming for me. It made my day. Alas, I had to climb in my car, stop in the lane, take off my wig, pull on a sweatshirt, and drive into the garage. The door closed on that part of me once again. This is the life my wife and I have chosen, and while it is not everything I wish, I am willing to pay the price to keep living it.