March 1962, was a time when an important awakening occurred for me. Although born a boy and a very normal 14 year-old acting boy, I knew that deep inside me I was different. I loved my mother’s beautiful shoes. I preferred the company of girls at a time when most boys called them icky. I would go to bed at night thinking how wonderful it would be to wake up the next morning a girl. I loved the woman’s section of the Sears’ catalog and studied it at every opportunity. I remember, oh so well, the beautiful red dress my cousin wore one Sunday singing in the church choir. Oh, what I would have given to look like she did – maybe be her. Yes, different, but I did not know the depth or that my feeling had a name.
Why March 1962?
I ran with a little older group of boys from my neighborhood and they knew about a magazine called Sexology. It pretended to be scientific with doctors contributing scholarly articles about sex. Remember these were the dark ages of sex education so this addressed notions not talked about in polite company or any company.
As we passed Sexology around the car and read it, I had my life-informing moment. In an article Dr. Virginia Prince wrote entitled “166 Men in Dresses,” she wrote about her Transvestia magazine and transvestism, a term I had never heard of, much less associate myself. I was not even sure how to pronounce it, but saw myself there. A great weight was lifted. I was not the only one – there was this man called Virginia and me! I felt this inclination was so odd that I had to be the only person on the planet that felt this way.
There was no internet, no on-line bulletin boards, no AOL and sex was barely mentioned. Certainly, the concept of a boy/man wanting to present as a woman could not be discussed or even hinted. The magazine Sexology was sold from under the counter and how my friends knew about it, I do not know. But, wow! And double Wow!
I went about the process of growing up knowing that transvestism or as we know it now, being transgender, would need to be dealt with, but, that came later.
So we have come a long way, baby. Caitlyn Jenner is on the front cover of the mainstream publication, Vanity Fair.
Thank you Virginia for opening the door of enlightenment for me. We are yet to see how the Caitlyn Jenner reality circus will play out, but I hope this will be an awakening for many, as was my 1962 moment.
Note: This is included for historical reference not to be viewed as current scholarly thinking. Much has changed since 1962 and the term transgender is more widely accepted to include all in our community not just crossdressers (transvestites).