I’m Trisha D, and I’m the husband of Pen. At the time of writing I’m 55 years old. I work in IT as an independent contractor/consultant and spend a lot of my free time tinkering with Vintage cars and pretending to be a guitar player. If you didn’t know me, you’d have no reason to believe that I was anything other than your average middle-aged, middle-class bloke and there are tens of thousands like me.
But I’m also, according to the definitions you’ll have seen on this site, a bisexual transvestite suffering from a fairly severe dose of Gender Dysphoria. That’s something that marks me as someone rather different and, to be honest, I’ve always felt that I was different to other males albeit in some rather vague sense.
I’m an only child. My parents were both born in 1926, and met each other while serving in the Royal Navy towards the end of the Second World War. They married in 1948. I was born in 1953 although my mother had previously suffered a series of miscarriages. Oddly enough, I found out a few years ago that, had I actually been born a girl, my name would have been ‘Helen’. It’s not a name I’d have chosen for myself, I have to admit. Apart from that minor lapse however, my parents were excellent parents who always had time for me (loneliness can be a problem for an only child), always encouraged me to do my best without pushing me beyond my limits, and were firm without being over-strict. While they were quite old-fashioned and believed firmly in corporal punishment for unruly children, they never once practiced what they preached. I don’t recall ever being slapped. I was however an odiously good little boy so perhaps that accounts for it. I was the recipient of unconditional love and I don’t think that anyone could ask for more. On the other hand, they never found out about my transvestism. They would have accepted it, I think, but it would have given them a great deal of heartache. My mum is still very much alive and remains the only person truly close to me who doesn’t know that I’m TV. She’s in her eighties and we won’t have the pleasure of her company for that much longer so it would seem cruel to burden her with it.
So – a very normal childhood? Yes, I think so. I did a lot of the things that very normal little boys do. I built Airfix kits (my other guilty secret is that I still do, once in a while), I played with model soldiers, and I adored my Scalextric. I wanted to be a fighter pilot or, failing that, a racing driver. On the other hand, I had no interest in sport at all, except for motor racing, and I still don’t. I was, and still am, very content with my own company. I learned to read quite early and for most of my primary school days I was a couple of years ahead of ‘normal’ reading age. So I spent a lot of my time sitting in my room, reading. I still do – it’s a haven from the ‘real’ world sometimes and it’s no coincidence that I read a lot of Fantasy. I was always considered to be a dreamy child.
It also seems that I differed from a lot of little boys in terms of my attitude to girls. I never went through the stage that most boys seem to go through – the stage where talking to girls was ‘sissy’. I didn’t go out of my way to be friends with girls particularly but I always got on with them just fine and I always have done. I’ve always been considered to be ‘friend’ material but not that often to be ‘boyfriend’ material.
Not quite normal then, but not that far removed. I therefore have absolutely no explanation for the fact that one day, at the age of nine or ten (well before puberty) I found myself looking at a pair of my mum’s old nylons and thinking ‘Wearing these would be nice’. I do remember how they felt against my skin and how much I wanted to wear them again. I also knew that wearing them was in some indefinable sense ‘wrong’ and that I’d catch hell if my mum ever found out. And that’s where the deception started. The deception that lasted until 2005 when my wife found out and I decided that I’d had enough of it. 40 years is a long time to hide.
Like many TVs, over the years I became adept at deception – the ability to conceal the evidence, as it were. I learned to hide clothes and learned to make sure that I replaced anything that I ‘borrowed’ in exactly the same place as I found it. I got so good at that that Pen now calls me the ‘Thingfinder General’ because I always remember where things are – you just develop that sort of memory. I was very successful at deceiving other people and also very successful at deceiving myself. Until I married at 38, I’d convinced myself that my transvestism and my sexuality were just fantasies made up to compensate for not being in a long term relationship and that once I was married, all of this stuff would go away and I would be “normal”. It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid.
Looking back with perfect 20-20 hindsight, my transvestism went through a number of stages. In the early, pre-puberty stages, it was quite innocent and carried no sexual overtones. I’m not even sure that at that stage it even made me feel ‘like a girl’. That changed radically during puberty. Puberty hit me like a ton of bricks as my male hormones went into overdrive. I had a moustache thick enough to have to shave when I was 14 although fortunately (under the circumstances) I never became massively hairy. My sex drive was enormous. Throughout my teens and early twenties, my transvestism was expressed purely in sexual terms. Putting it bluntly, cross-dressing aroused me enormously and just the act of putting on women’s underwear gave me an erection. My dressing sessions were very short – I couldn’t actually sustain that level of excitement for more than about an hour. And afterwards, once the euphoria faded, I felt disgusted with myself. I was a pervert and therefore worthless. In those days, I longed to give it up and went through the usual loop of disgust, denial, purging, and temptation. But I always went back to it – the need was too great.
In my late twenties, though, things started very subtly to change. In search of more sexual thrills I started to buy specialist TV publications like World of Transvestism, and through them I began to appreciate that I wasn’t unique and that there were other people like me and that was an enormous relief. I also found that as I started to dress more often, the sexual thrill started to diminish but was replaced by the feeling of contentment, the sense of ‘feeling right’ that so many transvestites report. In my darker moments, I still felt the sense of shame and disgust but it was no longer the norm. I started to dress for several hours at a time and it felt pretty wonderful.
Then I got married and, in accord with my deeply held belief that being in a loving relationship would change everything, stopped dressing. Not without a certain amount of regret, I threw all my stuff away and tried to be normal. I managed it for eight years. If I were writing this for a tabloid newspaper, no doubt I’d describe them as ‘Eight Years of Hell’. They weren’t. I was in a loving relationship with someone I loved, and still love, dearly. And that’s not Hell. But I missed it. I felt like there was a part of me missing - almost as though I’d lost an arm or a leg. Eventually I gave in and started buying clothes and wigs. I got involved in the Internet and various sites dedicated to transvestism. I formed online friendships of a sort and rather to my surprise got chatted up a few times.
This bit’s not easy to write and I’ll try to do so without excuses or self-justification. Although I’ve never been particularly attracted to other men, I have always found other transvestites to be sexually attractive. And by this time I was certainly attractive to other transvestites. So I started, very furtively, meeting other TVs for sex. And it felt wonderful. I’d never understood quite how good being treated as a woman and used as a woman sexually could feel. I’m not proud of my actions and won’t attempt to excuse them. All I will say is that I made a very conscious decision, in full knowledge of the possible consequences and I did so because it felt like fulfilling part of myself.
It was during this period of my life, which lasted between two and three years, that things started falling apart. I could no longer deceive myself about why I dressed – eight years of happy marriage had seen to that. I had to admit to myself that I was a Transvestite and that it would never ever go away. At the same time I had to face up to the fact that I was deceiving my wife and that I was committing adultery. And with another male. The few months before my wife found me out actually did feel like Hell. Not only had I burdened myself with this load of guilt and shame but I also realised that my Transvestism now meant so much more to me than sexual arousal or an hour or two of personal peace. I could see a whole world out there where people, other TVs and TSs, met with their friends, went to clubs, and lived somehow in a real world. I felt like I was in a dark closed box and that there was no escape. I felt that I’d painted myself into a corner – how could anyone accept me when I’d deceived them and cheated on them? At that point, I was all over the place. My work suffered and my marriage suffered – I became withdrawn, moody, and ill-tempered. I also became careless. So much so that I became careless about my female things, something that I’d managed not to do for 40 years. I don’t think I cared about very much at all at that stage, to be honest.
My wife’s eventual discovery and complete acceptance of my transvestism and my sexuality changed everything. It was like being given the keys to a door that had been locked all my life. And it was a door to a road that led in a totally different direction to anything that I had ever expected or ever dreamed of. Being given the right to express myself, I sort of assumed that I’d carry on in the direction that I thought I’d been going in. I assumed that the weekly dressing sessions, which by now I couldn’t do without, would continue, but this time without the dread of discovery. I assumed that I’d have wild rampant sex with all sorts of gorgeous trannies. Neither of these things happened.
What did happen however, given my track record, was very curious. About three months after Pen found me out, my obsessional weekly dressing simply stopped. I realised that I no longer had any interest in dressing at home and for a few hours. I also found that doing so no longer gave me the slightest sexual thrill. What did happen was that I started going out. I started going clubbing to ‘safe’ TV venues and I started meeting some of the people I’d chatted to online. Not as potential sexual partners, but as genuine and close friends. I did continue with sexual meets but became more interested in people as people and I found that sexual attraction wasn’t enough and that I needed to have some feeling for the people I met. And that once I met someone like that I wanted to keep seeing them rather than screwing around. I became more interested in helping and supporting other TVs and was delighted when Pen started to get involved in that. We now have a close network of very dear friends – TV, TSs, partners, and men who are attracted to transpeople.
I guess that this would be an ideal place to stop. But it isn’t the end. One of the consequences of being ‘out’ to those who are close to me (and I have confided in a number of close friends who have no connection to the transgendered world) is that I have at last started to see myself as a whole person and not as two people – Nick and Trisha. I have also started to understand that I am free to be whoever and whatever I am. That has not been a process entirely free of challenges. At the back end of 2007, I started to show signs of discomfort in myself – I was starting to have problems understanding quite where I was going. I am biologically male but need to present at least some of the time as female. I felt that there was something in me that was holding me back from that and the once familiar process of veering between contentment and self-loathing started to return. A dear friend who is herself a transsexual woman recognised that all was not well and suggested counselling. After a certain amount of dithering I started seeing Tina Livingstone, a very experienced counsellor who specialises in people with gender and sexuality issues. Between us we tackled my problems with self-worth and my problems with my sexuality. With her help and a great deal of support from Pen I have come to recognise that I am gender dysphoric – I cannot comfortably live entirely within my birth gender. I also recognise that I was terrified that I might be, not Transvestite, but Transsexual. Most importantly I have come to recognise that I cannot help what I am and that all of the guilt and lack of self worth has its root in the fact that I have that difference and that, in this society, ‘different’ equals, to most people, ‘inferior’. In recognising that, I have truly realised that I am a Person, not a Definition and that I have a balance of maleness and womanliness that is uniquely mine. I have too much of the male within my being to be a female and too much female to be entirely a male. I’m comfortable in being described as Transvestite, not Transsexual although Transgendered would probably fit better than either.
I am now free to deal with this and free to live my life the way that I wish to. Not as a Man. Not as a Woman. But as someone who is both. Native Americans called people like me ‘Twice Blessed’.
And I am. © TrishaD for Transpartners 2008