I was reminded of something I probably don’t say often enough recently, while chatting with one of my lovely members. Those of us who occupy the middle ground of the gender space, whether we consider ourselves trans, gender fluid or crossdressers, have to learn some unusual disciplines, and our ability to do so radically influences how well we will exist in society.
We are different. Some people get it, while others never will. This forces us to sometimes hide who we are, and it also results in strong feelings when we can speak our truth. However, our tool kit of disciplines can help us as we grapple with the challenges of life. Chief among these, in my experience is the ability to suspend our judgement of others, and equally to move past the judgement they put on us.
So many of my friends privately confide in me that they’ve always wanted to crossdress, but just never really knew where to start. It’s not the clothes that were the problem, it was how to think about gender.
I generally suggest they listen to this talk to help get their heads in the right place. After all, crossdressing is more about what’s between your ears than what’s between your legs.
Like many of us, I never got to talk to my parents about things like sexuality and transgender topics. Both of my parents would have been mortified to have the subject raised over the Sunday roast. And then they died.
To be fair, I don’t think either of them were quite ready to talk about such topics. They were born in the 1930’s and these are subjects that simply weren’t on the agenda during their lifetime. That is not to say that they don’t have a contribution to make on the subject of ‘Pronouns’.
My mother, a girdle wearing statuesque woman of conservative English values, held one thing above all others. Politeness to others. Had I told her that a guest in our house identified as a punk rock hamster, then out of deference to the wishes of a guest we would have had to refer to the hamster at the table with unquestionable politeness and respect. I suspect that had Stalin or Mao showed up in our English parlour for tea, we would be expected to hold out the chair, sit after they had taken their place and make polite conversation about the intemperate weather and the promising outlook for the turnip crop this year.
Raising the subject of genocide, persecution of minorities or (God forbid) the forced labor camp deaths of homosexual prisoners would have been considered bad form and may have resulted in a reluctance to return for tea another time. Admittedly this exact scenario never played out in our home counties home, but I think you can see where I am going with this.
Equally, it can come as no surprise that when my father watched a documentary about German prisoners of war – a small number of which escaped from a prison camp in Northern England in 1944 – he stared at the television screen with visible disdain. For the Waffen SS officers to have dug a tunnel out of the confines of a prison with a desert spoon merited their being sentenced to hang immediately, if for no better reason than to do so using a desert spoon, before the use of main course cutlery, was practically a crime against humanity. Well, English humanity, at least.
So, I can say with absolute certainty that had someone come to the house and mentioned that their chosen pronoun was ‘they’, then the matter was settled. They would be a ‘they’ from that moment on.
As archaic as it may seem, this concept holds true as well today as it did in their lives. Whether straight, gay or any shade between, their principal object was to be polite and treat people with respect. To date I have yet to come across a system that improves on this simple behaviour. After all, when we do behave in this manner people do generally treat us with respect in return.
Now, I have to put the tea on. I’m expecting Kim Jong-un any moment. The supreme leader wouldn’t like it if I failed to warm the pot before he arrives.
When I started My Little Black Book four years ago I was surprised by how many of my members immediately joined the system. It’s a very simple method of connecting with other crossdressers and admirers, and to be honest it’s a pretty bare bones type of tool.
I help many people get in touch with their feminine side, and many of them want to reach out to others, both for support and friendship. I often hear that people struggle to connect with crossdressers, and that crossdressers struggle to meet admirers – both male and female. It seems to me this is a problem in search of a simple solution. So I built one.
I was a little concerned that the simplicity of the system would not appeal to people used to online dating apps that are pretty sophisticated. My intention was to keep costs minimal, but more importantly put the members in control. The idea was that people set up an email that they felt safely put all correspondence in one place, and then list themselves in My Little Black Book. Members could then use that email to reach out to others, and to have others connect with them.
Very soon it turned out that people loved the fact that it was so very simple, which has become the single most important part of the system. Now we have members from all over the world talking to each other, and enjoying correspondence from near and far. It’s proved a great success. People were even connecting and sharing group holidays.
What happens when someone is outed? Lenni and Jules discuss the challenges of being ‘outed’ as a crossdresser, or transgender – intentionally or otherwise. Be sure to participate with the continuing discussion via Whatsapp here: https://fionadobson.com/join-our-elit…
I was remarking to Bernard, my photographer, recently that
there seems to be a curious link between crossdressing, divorce and death. We
were returning from a photoshoot for a client with a well known fashion
business, having photographed the new Spring Collection in anticipation of next
“I’ve never been divorced,” said Bernard. “Marriage is one
institution I have not had the pleasure of enjoying.”
I glanced at him as we moved slowly through the city
traffic. I tried to see if he was being sarcastic.
“Well, the term ‘enjoyed’ is not the first that springs to mind,”
“Is your wife back from her trip yet? Where was it, again?”
“Kalamazoo. Or Katmandu. One of those places.” I replied a
little testily. “There really are a remarkable number of my members who seem to
return to their love of crossdressing following divorce. I wonder why that is,” I said.
“Well,” said Bernard, “I suppose following divorce in middle age one is forced to re-evaluate things. You know, be a little introspective.”
When one first realises that there’s a little more to
crossdressing than simply putting on a pair of panties, most of us start a
journey without a compass. Almost inevitably we do so alone.
For many of us finding out that there is a world of gender fluidity is a revelation in itself. As we explore it further, either through online discovery or tentatively exploring alternative lifestyle in our community the first steps are laden with challenges. When something is as simple as a fetish it is easily contained and managed. The suppression of a side of ourselves that has been trying to find expression throughout our life is likely the cause of unhappiness and probably depression. As it begins to grow stronger and we move to a point where it is no longer suppressed we start to find joy and fulfillment. However, for many of us there is no yardstick and no guideline to follow that steers us in the right direction.
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. We were
discussing how hard it is to take those first few steps outside as a crossdresser.
The circumstances of these first few steps are always daunting. Regardless of whether these are taken in the confines of a drag club or stepping out into an unfamiliar environment they are likely to be a few steps that are never forgotten. But is there any way we can make it easier? And should we?
I was recently asked this question by one of my members. So many of us just adore putting on a negligee and yet lead quite masculine lives.
It’s not unusual at all for my members to indulge their love of crossdressing in a quiet and appropriate way, while still maintaining a leadership role in society generally. One of my members, a pilot with a national airline, told me just the other day, that they feel the fun of crossdressing and the freedom of allowing that more sensitive feminine way of thinking, has greatly added to their ability to manage the tough decisions of leadership.