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unbecoming a gender sterotype

I began to understand very early in my life that I was going to be different.

I remember wanting to wear my mother’s shoes when I was no older than 5 years old and being chastised for it. I had been playing with my younger sisters and for me this was a natural thing to do. I simply wanted to play the role of the mother.

Around the age of 9 I remember having a friend that I felt I could share this part of myself with and we indulged in occasional role play where we were both girls instead of boys. Less than a year later my family moved away and that friend disappeared from my life.

By the age of 10 I was very regularly using my mother’s closet as a source of clothing, shoes and makeup. She even owned a wig at that time which I was always very careful to return to its proper position on its white Styrofoam dummy head perch.

I had become an expert at subterfuge and camouflage and if my mother suspected she never directly pointed at me as the culprit. It would be one of my sisters who might be blamed for disrupting the immaculate order of the contents in her dresser drawers. It could not possibly be her son. This was confirmed to me when, at the age of 45 and sitting in a hospital bed after my stroke, I confessed everything to her. She honestly had no idea and I realized then that I may have done myself a disservice in being a little too good at covering it all up.

In retrospect, it might have done me some good to come clean much earlier in my life but it never happened.

My father who died in 1995 from lung cancer never knew about this part of myself either. He was a stoic and composed academic man who had lost his own father at the age of seven. As much as I loved my father, we were never emotionally close and yet I understood with the passage of time just how devoted he was to us. Having my own children made me realize even more how much you can love them and even more so unconditionally.

I remember my first experiment in going out in public like it was yesterday. I was 17 and I was alone at home. It was dark outside and dressing in my mother’s clothes and heels I ventured out into the crisp air of an autumn evening for a few blocks. It was very exciting at the time and it would only continue to develop from there.

Getting my first used car would open up other opportunities to dress and to buy my own stash of clothes.

When I got married in my early thirties I promised to stop crossdressing for good and I made a go of it for a time. But the levy had to break a few times a year in order to remain sane.

The rest of the story is told in this blog over many entries.

Something has clicked into place that gives me great comfort which is that I no longer see myself as a gender stereotype. This is a very liberating thing as I move forward with my life.

I don’t need to conform to anyone else’s expectation of gender behaviour and I am now revelling in the wonderful experience of being Joanna when I need to express her. It’s what I always wanted all along but was too afraid to admit to others and mostly to myself.

So many of us wear masks in order to comply with society’s rules but we end up losing ourselves in the process and it is unfortunate that we often learn these lessons later in life rather than sooner. Perhaps there is a reason that this needs to happen but I am hard pressed to understand it at the moment; I feel that the old expression of “no pain, no gain” need not apply here.

Removing all of the burdens of expectation takes time however and each person has their own mission of self discovery. The idea is to embark upon that mission as soon as you can because the sooner you understand what makes you tick the happier you will be in life.


  1. It is funny that we do not impose strict definitional standards on our male presentation. I am a guy, a husband, a father, a worker, a car driver, a golfer, a skier, an eater, an occasional cook and an all around decent guy.

    When we don a dress it seems like we feel that we have to be a narrowly defined guy in a dress whether it be as a CD, TG, TS, DQ or any other assortment of other denominations. We should realize that we can have a similar breath of roles while presenting as a woman. While Joanna may not be a wife she is still a parent, she is still someone with a meaningful other. Shen Joanna shops she is a store patron. When she goes out to eat she is a diner. Joanna drives a car and walks the streets of her village meeting and interacting with various people from multiple walks of life.
    Not only is it not possible to stick Joanna into a single tightly defined catagory somewhere on the gender spectrum it is wrong to even try.
    I understand that there is a need for the occasional shorthand explanation our why we do what we do and for those purposes I try to discuss the activity rather than defining a catagory of person that may be pursuing that activity.
    If I am out at a bar having a beer and a bite to eat I am "Pat", dressed in a dress and heels or a skirt and top, whatever, out at a bar having a beer and a bite. I will talk fashion, politics, religion, etc. I find that there is a certain freedom in being out as Pat in that I can remove a filter or two that has to stay in place when I am in guy mode.

  2. Absolutely Pat. You are the same person regardless of how you are dressed and that does not require a complicated definition if it represents a portion of who you are inside. You don't require complex and strict definitions because they serve no purpose.


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