I think the first time I openly hated my body I was around 12 or 13. It was hair and it was on my legs. That’s the first time I HATED being a boy. Thinking back on it now I can recall at least two times in my life before then I’d seen a naked girl about my age. I actually have no memory of seeking their genitals, but I’d been assured by the girls I had in fact seen them. Maybe there’s a lot to be said for having no recall of those moments.

Though having said all that I have to admit it wasn’t like a light bulb suddenly came on, as if I’d had a normal boy’s life before that. About the same time I’d seen my first naked girl, I had friend that had convinced me to take several articles of clothing from my mom. Mac moved away when I was about 5 or 6 so it was sometime around then. I don’t know what Mac’s own motivations for doing the same were, but I think I remember him showing me his “stash”. As he did, so did I. That’s how it all started for me. Was that when I knew I wanted to be a girl, I don’t think so. As I can remember, now my “stash” resided safely in my closet for maybe a year before I ever got curious about what it might be like to actually wear them. If anything, I think I’d actually forgotten about them at times.

Do I remember “the first time” like it was some magical life changing moment in my life. Actually no. But I do remember the first time I got caught, I’d made the mistake of wearing a bra in front of my mom, who promptly saw the outline of it under my clothes and called me into her room to tell me as much. Confronted, I admitted to my “stash” and tearfully returned all of it, except for the underwear she didn’t know I had on. There had been one time before that my brother had caught me, though I’d stashed the clothes in my parents’ laundry before they caught me in the act. My brother had been babysitting me that night and first thing the next morning my parents sat us both down and wanted to know which one of us had left my mom’s pantyhose in the laundry. The code of silence kept me out of trouble.

I don’t recall keeping any of my “borrowed” clothes after that and for a long time I had myself convinced that I had a dry spell from then until about 11. Never mind the fact I have disorganized memories of getting a doll one Christmas (complete with stroller), or looking forward to swimming with my cousins since if I played my cards right I could quickly try on a pair of my female cousins discarded underwear (never mind the fact that I was insanely jealous of her Wonder Woman Underroos) before anyone thought I might be taking just too long to get changed. I had to have been about 8 or 9 when I had probably forgotten my pajamas at my own house, somehow I managed to convince not just her but my aunt to let me sleep in one of her nightgowns. I recall another time that I had been sleeping in her room, I had to be young for the two of us to be sleeping in the same room, but that’s beside the point. I woke up early and I don’t know what motivated me, but I crept quietly towards her closet, silently sliding it open, I crept inside and slid it closed behind me. My target was her ballet tutu; I slipped it off as quickly as I’d slipped it on and crawled back in to bed. Only later would my aunt, though none the wiser, point out my pajama bottoms were on backwards. So yeah, big time dry spell I guess.

Oh I should have mentioned the second incident of seeing a naked girl was during this time period, and no it wasn’t my cousin. I was staying with a friend of mine; well actually her mom was my mom’s friend. Anyhow, and believe me I don’t know how it ever came about, but somehow I’d either talked her into it or been talked into it, which is just as likely knowing this girl, to wear a pair of her tights, they were yellow. Not that it matters, just that I had to make sure my socks were pulled up high (I was wearing jeans) so her mom wouldn’t notice when she woke up from her nap. I’ll take credit for, I think, suggesting it would be better for me to wear her underwear as long as I already had her tights on and that’s when it happened. Apparently in the process of taking my underwear off and putting her’s on she saw my genitals, later declaring that it wasn’t fair that I didn’t get to see hers and promptly pulling her underwear aside to show me.

So those were the major highlights, but of course there was the preference for playing with my female cousin over my male cousin the same age (they were twins) and of course I always went home with a fresh coat of nail polish, scraped off before I went back to school of course – I wasn’t stupid! Or how often I’d look at a naked Barbie doll and wonder what was wrong with me.

Middle school was horrific and accelerated my cross-dressing. How I’d kept it a secret for at least two of the three years I still don’t know, but at least that’s the way I remember it. Then came the leg hair. I think that’s what finally did me in. My body was following its biological destiny and I was maturing as male, I hated it. It was probably sometime between 12 and 13 I’d decided I wanted to be a girl. At least as much as I understood it, without the benefit of the internet (this was the 80s after all).

Makeup, or my curiosity towards it, blew the doors off my cross dressing. It was towards the end of 8th grade that I expanded my secret life into trying on makeup. My parents were out for the evening, I was sure I’d covered my tracks. I hadn’t. The next morning my mom could tell “someone” had been in her makeup. There was only one person it could be, it was me.

Over the course of several conversations I’d finally worked up the courage. I told my mom about my desires to be a girl. I somehow had figured out the word pairs and knew what I was asking for was a “sex change”. Somehow the words came out of my mouth that I feared having a sex change. Do I blame my parents no? There weren’t the resources then that there are for parents now to deal with what their son had just told them.

I was promptly shipped off to a new therapist, since obviously the last one wasn’t “working”. Though I’d been seeing him for unrelated issues, that he missed what my parents felt was so obvious was enough for them to take me elsewhere. I’d already been accepted to an all-male high school, my parents in the years since have said they were thrilled that it was a chance for me to be exposed to more male role models then just my father – since obviously I was rejecting his influence.

What really could I have done at that point? I was nothing short of terrorized throughout middle school. I couldn’t have gone to the public high school, not and stayed sane. There a ton more stories from the next four years, but that’s for another day. What would have convinced my parents of my gender identity? I’ve since thought I could have threatened suicide to get my way, but that would have gotten me a one way ticket out of my private high school and I’m sure it would have followed me back to the public high school, only worse. “He wants to be a girl!” I’m sure the bad news would have traveled fast. It would have only made the beatings worse, the social isolation worse. I could at least hide out in my private high school, surrounded by all males and given the strict nature of a Catholic high school I could be “not quite right” and at least not be tormented for it, openly at least. Maybe the key to survival, to not be thrown to the wolves, was to hide among them as best I could. Besides I’m sure I wasn’t the only boy that ever wore girls’ underwear most of his junior year.

Ladies' underwear advertisement, 1913