Clean Up in Aisle Me

I don’t recall the first time I went shopping for clothes in the ladies department, but it was definitely an internet transaction. My earliest acquisitions, though, were  from goodwill bags in my parents garage, particularly those recently deposited there by my slightly older sister (how lucky is that?). I mostly scavenged for feminine attire until I was 24, finding odds and ends here and there, wherever someone would leave something of value behind. In hindsight, some my finds were probably not exceedingly sanitary, but I suffered no ill health because of them, as far as I can tell.

Once I came out to my parents and went to a therapist, I was on doctor’s orders to get myself dressed as a woman as often as possible. My therapist told me early on that the best way to figure out if I was indeed a transgendered woman and not just a cross dresser or closet homosexual was to spend long periods of time in women’s things and see how it felt. I remember the first day I spent dressed; it was a Sunday and  everyone had left the house for the day. I put on jeans and a sweater top that I’d scavenged from a goodwill bag in the garage. Then I sat and waited.

I watched tv, logged onto the computer, and generally spent time trying to think and act as feminine as I could. Suddenly, memories of my early childhood came rushing back to me – I recalled how it felt to want to play in the kitchen, not roughhouse with the boys,  in kindergarten. I recalled how I felt when I snuck into my sister’s room and threw a tea party by myself. I recalled how it felt to slip into my mother’s heels. Before that moment, my earliest identification with transgendered feelings had been at 14, when it all came to me out of the blue. At that moment, though, everything crystallized and I knew then that my fancy feelings were no passing fancy.

Soon, I began shopping online for women’s things I could have sent to the house. I didn’t know much about shopping for women’s clothes, so it was a process of trial and error. I bought some pajamas from JC Penny’s. I bought some pants and tops from Newport News (how unstylish I was). I bought a cute pink henly from Urban Outfitters (ok, I had some taste). I bought a wig, I bought shoes, I bought make up. All of it came to my parents house, when I was at work or school. My mother, slyly, after I told her it would all arrive, hid the packages under my pillow, for me to find when I got home. My siblings had no idea, my dad didn’t really either – though he knew, in theory. Even my mother, I suspect, didn’t really know the contents of the packages. She did what she had to do and that was that.

Sadly, those things are all gone now. My entire collection, which comprised six file cabinets in my closet at one point, was trashed when I asked my wife to move in with me. I thought I had things figured out; I thought my brief run at transitioning the year before I met her was the only run I would make at it. Within weeks of her moving in, I knew I was licked. I knew I would have to go shopping again. I knew I would transition.

Today, I am rebuilding my wardrobe. Something is different now, though. I’m shopping in stores. Not blatantly and loudly, but I’m beating my insecurities with a little concious hypnosis, “Anxiety comes from within.” My fears are my fears and they are unfounded – few people suspect I’m buying things for me, so why should I worry. Its for my wife, I’ll say, if they ask. What do they know? It could be. Why should I care, anyway? Well, as tough as I try to be about it, I do still care. So, I walk gingerly in the lingerie department, briskly when I make a grab for a top.

I shop early or late, never mid-day and I’m still stopped dead in my tracks when I see a pretty woman shopping beside me. I can take shopping with a middle aged or older woman – they’ve seen it all and are no threat to me. But I do still like girls, very much, and shopping next to an attractive woman is usually tough for me. What will they think of me? Am I unattractive to them? Will I ever have a successful relationship with a woman if I transition?

Who knows. I sure don’t. But something else has changed in my life in the past few years: I don’t care if I can’t have that dream relationship; I’d rather be a woman.

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