This post could easily stretch out into multi posts but I am going to try not to. For no specific reason.
Similar to so many other transgender folk in my age bracket (70 ish), I grew up in a very isolated world where I felt my gender issues were mine alone. In my patriarchal family it did not take me long to build a very dark closet.
My closet had rooms though where I stashed my feminine articles which became so dear to me. I was able to purchase my own select feminization items through meager earnings from a paper route and allowance for completing household chores. Successfully, I managed to summon my courage to find my way to a couple of the long gone "five and dime" stores. I bought my own makeup and even found a pair of shoes I found which fit. Plus I could buy my own hose and quit running my Mom's.
Once I managed to buy my items, I had to find a place to put them which no one else in the family would find. One of my places was in an old box above the cars in the garage. To my knowledge, my Dad never found my "treasures", or never mentioned it.
My second space was way more inventive. We lived in a very rural area and the property next to our house was a fairly dense uninhabited woods which we explored all the time. One of my favorite things to do was to go down into the woods, uncover my stash hidden in protective plastic in an hollowed out tree, and get dressed up in a dress, hose and shoes I had purchased.
Between the garage and the woods I was able to learn the basics of dressing like a girl and at least for a while, relieving my gender duress. It would take years for the term transgender to even be invented and for me to understand how well it fit me and my gender dysphoria.
As I look back on my formative cross dressing days, I wonder how successful I was at hiding my behavior from my close knit family and friends. Outside of a couple times I tried to involve a neighbor guy friend in my cross dressing, my big experiments involved in taking the long walk to our mailbox while dressed in my not so fashionable mini skirt, hose, makeup and blouse.
I suppose at the least, growing up transgender enabled me to become more creative and resilient.