Secure Beginnings


1966 Transvestia Cartoon

This morning I read a post by a transgender man I follow on another writing format. 

The number one fact I took away from his post was how accepting his grandparent was when he was growing up. In fact, the grandparent took him to get his hair cut and purchased him clothes to match his authentic gender. After I read the post I responded by saying how good it must have been to have a supporting person in their life. 

Sadly, I was never able to take advantage of having anyone even knowing about or having any inkling about my gender issues. I knew without any shadow of a doubt, I was expected to be a boy in all aspects of my life. My parents were of the "Greatest Generation" which was the WWII and Great Depression generation. As a child growing up in the 50's, I was expected to fit neatly into a square male hole and survive the best I could. in a world I did not embrace.

The entire experience of being totally alone in the world as a boy who wanted to be a girl led me quickly to extreme cases of gender dysphoria. It wasn't until many years later when I learned of Virginia Prince and her "Transvestia" publication did I discover there actually other transvestites as they called themselves back then. Thinking back, I am fairly sure the publication was mailed out every two months and I couldn't wait until the next one arrived. Thanks to "Transvestia", I was able to learn about actual mixers which were close enough for me to go meet  other cross dressers or transvestites. As I began to see others in those mixers up close and personal, I learned how many levels of difference there were in a community which I imagined to be so similar. For example, the idea of the mixer being for only heterosexual transvestites only was quickly dispelled when too many of the participants disappeared behind  their hotel room doors too quickly.

Ironically, through it all, I still didn't feel as if I had found any sort of a home with others who supposedly were supposed to feel similar to me. Looking back, I think it was because the concept of being transgender had not been widely publicized at the time. I knew I did not belong with the cross dressers trying to deny their male selves or the transsexuals in the group considering radical gender realignment surgery. In those days, anyone who went down the surgical path was recommended to move away and begin a totally new life. As severe as my gender dysphoria was at the time. I couldn't imagine myself doing all of that.

It took awhile but I eventually stopped blaming my parents for ignoring my gender issues. Part of it was my fault for never attempting to tell them what was really bothering me, so I took the traditional male approach and just bottled it all up. I hid it all so well until the night after I returned home from the Army. I came home late from drinking my share of beer and found my Mom waiting up for me. We started to talk and along the way, I tried to come out to her. She followed her instincts and offered to pay for mental health counselling and I followed mine and never brought it up to her again. She has long since passed away so the best I could do to honor her anyhow was to change my new legal middle name to hers nearly five years ago. 

I needed to realize the "Greatest Generation" was good at providing and not so good at emotional support,  at least in my family. Once I accepted the facts of my upbringing, I really needed to work hard to not repeat the cycle of my upbringing. Once I began to feel secure in my transgender life, I was able to  do it.