I'm about 7 years old, riding the subway with my grandmother on our way to the Natural History Museum when I notice them for the first time and it makes no sense to my adolescent mind. Skin doesn't look like that, so soft and silky, but it's also definitely not pants, which are so hard and rough looking. What kind of magical fabric is that? And why have I never seen them before… why have I never worn them before? I can't help but staring at this woman's legs, crossed smoothly next to me. I have to... no; I NEED to know what that feels like.
I'm 10 years old, my best friend John and I are playing what we have come to refer to strictly as "the game." We pretend that we're older, and we're boyfriend and girlfriend. We sit on the couch in my basement watching movies, his arm stretched out around my shoulders. Sometimes we sit in front of my father's workbench and pretend that we are meeting for the first time at some dive bar and he's picking me up. There's never any type of physical interaction… we're far too young to even consider such a thing, or to even realize how abnormal the game is. We never speak of the game to our other friends or our parents. Once we grow out of the game, we never discuss it again… for all I know he never even thinks of it again… but I think about it almost every day for the rest of my life.
I'm 12 years old; my parents have let me stay home alone for the first time. I only have about 20 minutes at most until they are back from the store. I know that I need to pass this test, show that I can be trusted by myself, that I won't do something ridiculous. But this idea slowly builds in my mind and I realize that now is my chance to finally answer a question that has lingered for something like five years. I run up the stairs and into their room. I pull open the dresser drawer with caution and find my treasure. I quickly run to the window and make sure there are still no cars in the driveway as I pull my socks off and get ready to finally feel that magical feeling I have been dreaming of.
I'm 16 years old; I don't remember the last time that I was home alone and stayed dressed in my boy clothes. I have a drawer in my room with a couple pairs of pantyhose that I stole from the Waldbaums near my house and a bra that I stole from my mom's underwear drawer. I put them on then pick something from mom's closet. I then hang out, usually staying in my parent's room so that I can see out the window if somebody comes home early. These are some of the best times of my teenage years.
I'm 19 years old; I'm just getting home from the Post Office where I just opened my first PO Box. I am a ball of energy and excitement as I head to my computer so I can order clothes for the first time. I quickly max out my credit card with purchases from every website that I can find whose clothes might fit me. I hope these things fit because I don't know a single thing about sizes.
I'm 20 years old and having a panic attack. After 20 minutes of staring at my computer, I had just hit send on an email to my mother, telling her that I think I may be transgender. I hear the familiar "you've got mail," in the distance and I know that the email has been received. There's no turning back now. Mom will eventually tell me that she will love me no matter what I do, no matter who I am.
I'm 21 years old, I've gone to a few meetings of a support group in Bay Shore, but I feel extremely uncomfortable. I think I was the only person there under the age of 50. I've been reading everything I can find about dysphoria and transgenderism. There aren't a whole lot of resources, but what I can find, I don't identify with any story that I've read. All of these people talk about how they hate every single bit of their bodies, that they despise their genitalia, that sex isn't enjoyable to them. I start to consider that maybe I'm not Trans after all. I no longer dress up every time I'm home alone and I no longer love all of the clothes that I have collected.
I'm 23 years old; I haven't dressed in almost 2 years. I do miss it from time to time, but I don't need it. I've gotten rid of most of my clothes, but still have a few little things, mostly pantyhose that I only occasionally touch.
I'm 26 years old and I've all but forgotten about the time I used to spend alone dressed up. The memory is so distant; it could have all been a dream. My parents don't ever ask me about it, the two friends who I had told are no longer in my life. John moved to Florida when we were 13 and I haven’t even talked to him in about 10 years. I don’t even remember "the game" that we used to play so often. Something feels like its missing deep down inside of me, but I don't ever think about it.
I'm 33 years old, and I start a job where I will have to wear a suit and tie to work every single day and sometimes, I kind of enjoy it. Nevertheless, something is definitely missing in my life. I try to ignore it because what could I possibly need? I'm happily married, this new job seems like it's going to be a great change for me. The only thing that could be better would be if we weren't forced to move back in to my parent's basement.