Six or seven years of letting my emotions hang out, expressing my not so masculine nature, made it hard to curb. I cried a lot, much to the displeasure of my father. My brother took it upon himself, with my father’s tacit approval, to toughen me up. He was allowed to pick on me. Mind you, I don’t think that either of them intended to be cruel. I’m sure that both of them thought it was good for me. The crying lessened and I managed to keep from crying in public. The last time I remember crying was in the seventh grade when I was publicly humiliated by a teacher in class. The look on my friends face let me know that if I wanted to get along I had to go along.
It was some time before that that I began to explore that which was feminine about me. At age nine, we had moved for a second time since dad came back. It turned out that my bedroom had an extra large closet. Much bigger then I would ever need at that age. As a result, many boxes of things that probably should have been thrown out were stored in there. I was a latch key kid, that is I would have been had we locked our door. I didn’t need a key, but because of our age differences, all of my siblings were in high school or beyond while I was still in grade school. The high school was across town, requiring an hour or more bus ride on public transportation for them to get home. Add to that that they were all active in after school activities, that meant I had plenty of time to myself at home after school. During one of those days, I began to explore the boxes in my closet.
One of them contained a smattering my sister’s old clothes. A couple of swimsuits and one lone pair of panties with a torn seam. I don’t know what possessed me, but one of the swimsuits was my size and I just had to try it on. Without a second thought, I stripped and put it on. I immediately went to my sister’s room to see how I looked in her full-length mirror. My head didn’t agree with the body, so back to the box where I found a swim cap. With the swim cap on, I now looked complete. Some how, I felt complete.
If crying like a girl was unacceptable, then dressing like a girl was certainly unacceptable. Silence is golden. I would tell no one about this. The little girl in the mirror became my friend, my closest friend. After the swimsuit, I pinned up the seam in the panties and tried them on. They were so much better then the boy’s underwear that I had worn up until then. But I couldn’t wear them except for a few minutes at a time. Many days after school, I’d be home alone, wearing that swimsuit, feeling alive, more alive then I ever had before.
Then came the day when my father decided to go through all that old stuff in my closet to see what could be thrown out. He talked to me about the pinned up seam in the panties. Heart racing, I admitted that it was me that had pinned them. When asked why, I also admitted that I had tried them on. Well, my father, bless his heart, decided to let that pass without punishment, but the boxes disappeared. It was about this time my brother began to “toughen me up.”