Hi Jamie & Alesha,
Most of your story resonates with me too. I spent a lot of time dressing as a girl, but for me, I never really had the opportunity to experience more than some lipstick here and a dress there. I always longed to dress up all day as a woman, but it never happened. I’m currently in a trans peer support counselling program and trying to get closer to my own image of myself without raising too much suspicion.
The problem, as I’ve come to realise, is my own opinion of myself. I’ve developed a very very strong paranoia around being found out. It became so bad that I put on this act to the world, mostly my own family because it’s their judgement against me being trans that I fear. This act was the opposite of how I feel. He was grumpy, didn’t care about anything, didn’t laugh at anything. I’ve wasted YEARS in this act, and in between having some small rays of sunlight when I dress as Chloë (Chloë is a name I’m testing out to see how I feel, so far I’ve used Sarah).
So lately, I’ve decided to bring that act back to being more authentic slowly. My daughter painted my nails during lockdown which allowed me to go from “Oh ok if you have to I hope no one sees” to “I think I’m going to get acrylics because I’d like them a little longer”. My wife was weird about that at the start, but now she understands. Next on the list was proper care of my skin, maintaining my awful eyebrows, losing 15kg, and shaving off my beard. That produced a huge boost to my confidence, and I recently was fortunate to have a whole week living as Chloë with the family away. This was when I decided to come out to my best friend.
She’s been amazing, and last weekend suggested to my daughter that she shave a heart in my chest hair. My daughter is very mischievous, and my friend just knew that she would not shave a small heart but instead shave a stripe down my front and arm. This meant I had to shave off all my upper body hair, and I decided to exclaim to my wife. I wanted to be fuzz-free. Today we bought an at-home IPL machine, and I’m totally excited to get rid of this hair.
Sorry for the rant, I’d love to chat over zoom sometime as that’s a lot easier than typing. I’m trying to be more open, less paranoid because I think that when I change my opinion of myself, I will be able to come out to my family without feeling the shame I’ve felt for the last 40yrs.