I’m Donna (at least on-line) and I’m transgender – or genderqueer – or transsexual – or a crossdresser – I suppose it all depends on one’s point of view. All are correct, while none are wholly accurate in and of themselves. These constructs describe aspects of who I am – of my identity – but as with most people, they fail to capture the totality my identity. I have abandoned the idea that there is any one label or construct which can do justice to the complexity that is my being.
My path to self discovery and acceptance followed what is a rather typical progression. As a child, I had no real sense of being different. It wasn’t until entering puberty that I became painfully aware that there was something different about me. I had feelings of, well, I don’t know. I couldn’t describe what it was I felt, but I felt it none the less. These feelings would ultimately manifest themselves with me crossdressing as an adolescent. I didn’t understand it. All I knew was that doing it made me feel somehow ‘better’ – and at the same time, I hated myself: I felt like a freak.
By the end of high school, I was ready to commit suicide: I could see no reason to spend another sixty plus years going through the same loneliness and torment I was going through then. I purged everything (my ‘girl’ clothes) in an attempt to ‘shake it off’ – but soon discovered the fallacy of purging. Within two months, I was buying clothes again – and I hated myself for my lack of self control. The summer wore on and I ultimately came to my senses – opting to stick around a while longer. Shortly thereafter, college started – a time which I was sure was to be a new low in my life.
While pledging a fraternity (another failed attempt to ‘cure’ myself,) I met my wife. We dated all through college and I began to feel like my life just might turn out not half bad. On Valentine’s Day of our third year dating, I told her my secret – as much as I myself understood it. I told her I wore women’s underwear and I waited for her to freak out – which she didn’t. Actually, she was surprisingly calm about it and accepted it. We continued dating and eight months after graduating, we were married.
By this time, I had ‘resolved’ my inner conflict. I considered myself to be a ‘regular guy’ with a couple of kinks: no big deal. This worked well, I thought, as the feelings seemed to go away – for a while at least. Several years after getting married, the feelings started nagging at me again – right around the time I had an opportunity to work from home. Ten or more hours a day at home on my own provided me with an opportunity to ‘indulge’ these feelings more fully than before – and that’s what I did. I wound up with quite a wardrobe and would go out ‘dressed’ to do shopping and such. It felt great and one day, rather than change into my ‘boy’ clothes before my wife got home, I stayed dressed up. She was a bit taken back when she got home, but seemed to be ok with it.
I had a good deal going and should have been thankful. Unfortunately, some ‘errors in judgement’ on my part let to an ultimatum from my wife: my clothes or her. I chose her and dumped nearly everything – again. No more dress-up time and I did my best to push the ever increasing feelings as deeply down as possible. I was putting up a good front, but didn’t know for how long I could maintain it. Seems it was just long enough to prime me for a breakdown.
In December of 1997 it all came to a head. And when my wife – about five month’s pregnant with our second child – asked me (as she had in the past) “Do you want to be a woman?”, rather than answer “No” as I usually did, I told her “I don’t know.” And for the next year or so, that was the only answer I had for her: “I don’t know.”
The thing is, I didn’t know: I didn’t know who I was, what I was, what I was feeling, why I was feeling it or what to do about it. I was becoming more convinced that I needed to ‘be’ a woman and that my only option was to transition. This would mean loosing my wife, children and probably my job and everything for which I had worked – a price I was unwilling to pay. I decided that there had to be some other option – some way to remain a family. Despite everything others would tell me, I was determined to find a balance. I found a good therapist and started doing research to get a handle on all of this.
I made friends with a few people on-line who really helped me to sort through things and help to put some perspective on all of this. I worked through a lot of mixed feelings and emotions and did most of it on-line on the Usenet crossdressing newsgroups. I settled on an identity that seemed to work for me – something between man and woman. I would ultimately refine this to be neither man nor woman, but for practical purposes, the two are about the same. I even created a new newsgroup for it: alt.support.intergendered.
From about 2000 onwards, I have identified as no specific gender, pretty much abandoning the label Intergender in favor of Genderqueer. I present as openly trans and I am out at work as such. I approached HR and asked to follow the women’s dress code (no skirts or dresses as it’s not really my thing) and they were fine with it. And so from 6:00am until about 8:00pm, I’m out in the world as me: not a man or a woman – but as myself. I get the odd looks and stares from people, but that’s to be expected: a small price to pay to be true to myself.
I have recently started working with my firm’s gay & lesbian network to bring more trans-awareness to the firm. It seems with the firm’s 20,000+ employees, I’m the first to stand up and say I’m trans.
But enough about me…