My LadyLike Magazine Interview

This essay was originally written for my feature in LadyLike Magazine #39.

I grew up in the mid-west. My family seemed to me to be pretty average. We were, I guess what you'd call middle class. Nothing fancy, but my sister and I never wanted for anything growing up. My father was always there for us. He traveled a lot during the day as a salesman. Every evening he'd be home though. When my cub-scout troop needed volunteers he was there. When our school needed help with a program, he was always there. He's still there for me today.

My mother gave up her job when she married my dad and stayed at home with us throughout our childhood. She was a very lovely woman. Strawberry blonde hair, great legs and a very pretty face. She was a typical American mom of the 60's and 70's. Each day she'd get us off to school and have a nice hot lunch waiting for us. We only lived 2 blocks from school and always came home to eat. After school there would always be a snack and a smiling face waiting for us.

My grades and test scores were always high. I was fairly good in sports, never really athletic though. In elementary school my smart mouth and quick temper always got me into fights with the other boys. I wasn't effeminate in any way, at least I don't remember being so, but I did find myself running home to mom fairly often. If a bully was looking for someone to bait into a fight, I was the one they would come looking for. Even through all of this though, I did have a pretty good group of friends. We lived in a small neighborhood with lots of large families, mine being the exception. We always traveled in a swarm. I remember always having about 10 or 12 kids around to play with.

I have no memories of a desire to dress in girl's or women's clothing until I was about 13 or 14 years old. I came home early from school one day. The house was deserted. My father was still at work, and my mother and sister were out for some reason. I passed my sister's room and the door was open. The clothes she had worn the previous day were strewn on the end of her bed. For some reason I had a sudden curious urge to see how they felt. I tried on her panty hose first. The feeling is still etched in my memory today. I was nervous of course, but oh what a fabulous sensation. I paraded around the room in them for a few minutes and then hurriedly took them off.

I soon began including my mother's wardrobe in my little sessions. It was the 60's and she had some of the cutest little dresses and skirts. She also had developed a fondness for wigs. A little t-girls dream come true! I would put on one of the outfits and then slip into one of her wigs. I even began experimenting with cosmetics at that age. I can remember spending what seemed like hours in front of the bathroom mirror playing with eye shadow and lipstick. I can also vividly remember the waves of panic that would overtake me when I heard someone coming home. I learned to undress and clean up in what seem like unbelievably short amounts of time. I can remember going to my room even when everyone was in the house and trying on some of mother's clothes that were stored in my large closet. It's absolutely amazing that I was never caught.

While in high school I remember having a conversation with my girlfriend at the time trying to come out to her. I went round and round trying to drop hints everywhere. She just never got the message.

When I went to college I thought that my dressing days were over. I thought that somehow the change of scene and lack of clothing availability would end my activities for good. I couldn't have been more wrong! I pledged a fraternity as a freshman. My first year there was relatively uneventful.

During my sophomore year things took a curious turn of fate. As part of the "hell-week" initiation rites, it was tradition for the active chapter of the fraternity to hold a nice sit-down steak dinner for the new pledges. This was done at the end of the week as a reward for all the hard work and embarrassment they had endured. It was called the "redhead" dinner.

The pledges were instructed to put on their best suits, and told that some of the hottest looking girls on campus had been invited over to be their dates for dinner. They were sequestered upstairs while the girls arrived. After a long period of anticipation each young man was brought down and introduced to his date for the evening. It was true, some of the most enticing ladies on campus waited there in the living room of the fraternity house. There was also one surprise. Seated with her back to the new initiates was one vision of loveliness with auburn locks. Me!

The tradition included one special girl with a little something extra. The active brothers had arranged for several of the girls to come over early and do a complete makeover on me. They brought clothes, makeup, undergarments, hair curlers, for my long red hair, the works! I got to spend two hours having these gorgeous sorority girls apply makeup for me, and help me get dressed. It was quite a thrill, especially since none of them knew just how much I was really enjoying it. I had the pleasure of reprising my role during my junior year as well. I know this sounds like something I stole from one of those TV novels, but I swear it's the truth.

After college I moved out on my own and began dressing "in the closet" on a fairly regular basis. Eventually I found myself living with two female roommates. This seemed to me then and now to be another very curious turn of fate. Neither of them knew of my little hobby. We were all about the same size so, naturally couldn't resist the opportunity to borrow an outfit once in a while for some dressing up. The girls would often travel on the weekends to visit out of town friends or relatives. I would have the entire house and both their wardrobes to myself! I would spend hours trying on clothes and makeup.

It was during this time that I ventured out on my own for the first time. They were just walks around the block, but it was a start. One night after going out to listen to a local band, I came out to one of my roommates. She was the first person I ever told about all of this. She was very accepting. She asked only that I not use her clothes any more. We are still great friends today. Eventually a work transfer took me away from my "Three's Company" arrangement.

During all of these years I was dating pretty regularly. I just never could seem to find the right woman. I was engaged to a woman at one point. I came out to her about my dressing. She tried, but eventually it broke us apart. She just couldn't deal with it. It was rough at first, but we smoothed things over and are still friends.

I had nearly given up on love when fate took another wonderful turn. A mutual friend introduced me to her roommate after a softball game one evening. I was immediately attracted to her and we went on our first date a short time later. We had been going out for a month or two when I realized that marriage was definitely on my mind. I had kept my secret from all but two people in my life up to that time. I felt the need to be honest with her if marriage really was a possibility.

One night on the way home from a movie I decided that the time had come. I started out by telling her that this was probably the last time we'd ever go out together. I was not expecting a positive result. I told her that there was something about me that she needed to know. After having said that, I just couldn't get the words out of my mouth. We drove home and later in the evening it was decided that she should try and guess what the secret was. After we got through axe murderer, prison record, and all that she hit the nail on the head. She guessed the truth.

She handled it so well. She asked for a couple of weeks to get used to the idea so I let it be. Eventually, I showed her some pictures I had taken, and then we moved on to having me dress for her. She has been my confidant, photographer and number one fan. We dated for a while longer and about one year later, we were married. It's been ten years now. We have a son who is the center of our universe.

It was my wife who encouraged me to get out to a support group meeting for the first time. We contacted the local chapter of Tri-S. She accompanied me to the first and several subsequent meetings. I'm a very lucky man. My wife has taught Amanda to love herself, and to be courageous. She has given me the strength to be where I am today.

My wife is understanding and supportive. By that I mean that she realizes that this is not something that will go away in time. She allows me to express myself as Amanda providing that it doesn't interfere to drastically with our home life. We have our ups and downs. We go out to friends houses (other couples with t-girls) and to support meetings sometimes. On occasion we go out to clubs afterwards. We've never gone shopping together when I'm dressed. We do shop while I'm in drab quite often. It's fun sharing our opinions on clothes and makeup. She usually buys Amanda a little gift of some sort at Christmas time.

I know she worries that some day I'll decide to transition, seek HRT and SRS. It's not something I've ever seriously considered, but it's difficult to convince her of that. Sometimes she needs a "break" from Amanda. She asks basically just not to have to deal with her.. see pics go out talk about it whatever... she feels a bit threatened by Amanda and the time that it takes away from our relationship.

My best advice is to tell your loved one about your dressing as soon as possible. Maybe not on the first date, but certainly if you feel that the relationship is starting to go anywhere serious. Once and if you tell her... be sure to do the necessary things to keep your relationship alive.. Be attentive to your wife... show her and often.. that you love her. It's very easy to be pulled into this little obsession and you have to be aware of that. Your wife deserves your love and attention too. That's the same advice I'd give any guy with a "hobby" that pulls a lot of time. Also be aware that your femininity is in some ways threatening to her. It's tough to compete with the glamorous side of us.

Like all things in a marriage it's give and take... sometimes more give than take...It's not all roses for us. There are definitely times when my wife resents my feminine side. This little hobby of mine takes a lot of time, money and mental energy. We have a young son and for now we've decided he is not to know about Amanda. He's a very bright little guy and keeping such a secret from him is not going to be easy. We also have my wife's mother living with us.

Over the past couple of years, my universe has expanded greatly. I am much more active as Amanda and have made a nice group of friends in the area. We get together both as girls and on nights out with the guys. A nice development for Gigi and me has been social gatherings with my TG friends and their SO's. Some of these are dressing opportunities and others are just great dinner parties. While this is great for Amanda, it does put extra stress and strain on our home life. It's difficult to balance my very strong desire to let Amanda get out in the world with my equally strong desire to be with my family. We have achieved a balance of sorts. Amanda's adventures are limited to two or three times a month. Our life with Amanda is an evolutionary process, we're taking it one day at a time.

The Garden Path

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