The Secret Wardrobe
THE DERBY TV/TS GROUP First published in 1988
The Secret Wardrobe is now out of print and has been included here for archive purposes. However, I am still asked for it from time to time, so, never being one to waste anything, it may be useful to someone. Acknowledgments are due to those who gave permission for their work to be included for which they retain copyright on their own account.
It is about losing the fear of discovery, whatever your circumstances; about discovering the tolerance of people around you, and its limits, and about losing the guilt. It is about not upsetting other people, yet realising that they probably don't take it as seriously as you may do.
It is about finding help, if you feel the need for it, from professionals who are good enough not to have to advertise.
For transvestism and transexualism is just about the loneliest business in the world.
All over the country, week after week, help line operators talk to TV's like us, many of whom, at the last minute, lose their nerve.
They can hold out a helping hand, but you have to grasp it. That is what this book is about, for you and, perhaps, your partner, to read in peace and quiet and find out what it's all about.
It takes a lot of courage to 'come out', but when you've done it you wonder what all the fuss was about.
How is transvestism, often, different from any other erotic pastime and why? Whole libraries have been written about it, but the usual way of explaining it, is to say gender issues are involved as well as sexual ones.
"Great" you say, "That's as clear as mud!"
Transvestism means simply wearing the clothes of the other sex for whatever reason. Most TV's get a sexual kick out it to some extent. For some it is totally a sexual thing but, for some others, there is something more. There is the urge to be female or feminine. The contradiction of being heterosexual, and the guilt of not being a macho man makes the conflict all the worse.
The popular view of a TV is that he is either gay, or camp, or kinky and probably all three. In fact, most TV's are perfectly manly men. But we hide away, frightened to death that someone will find out.
Most of us are quite clear about our sexual preference. Someone may be gay, but that is a completely different thing.
Gender is not so much to do with sex, but personality and behaviour. The theory is that Society's view of man and woman is relatively restricted and that someone who doesn't fit comfortably into the accepted pattern prescribed for his or her body shape, finds him or herself forced to break out from time to time.
The driving force behind all this, our personality, is formed once and for all in childhood, and may even be the self-image we develop in babyhood.
This book is mainly about gender motivation, sometimes called "Dressing for Pleasure". Obviously every TV is different, just as every person in the world is different. The mixture of different aspects of the situation varies from one to another and, in the end, only he can decide what is best for him.
A word of warning; once you start this book, read it carefully from cover to cover. Don't just pick out the bits you like.
The following account was written by Zoe of the Leicester Chameleon Group:
In the United Kingdom there are an estimated 200,000 transvestites (self-admitted). There are many more suppressed or minor TV tendencies. Although the term transvestite is generally accepted as meaning male to female, there do exist a number of female to male TV's. For reasons no one seems to be able to explain satisfactorily they are in a minority.
Transvestites are many and varied in the drives that make them TV. The only common factor is a powerful, apparently unreasoning desire to wear clothing of the opposite sex. These desires can range from wearing various items of female underwear to being fully dressed and passing in public as a female. The wearing of underwear has an obvious fetish element, but it would be unfair to say that this is the only reason for wearing such items. What is not understood is why an apparently fetish based desire for items of clothing can develop into a desire to mimic female appearance and mannerisms. The fetish element seems to diminish as the TV develops a female identity. The extent to which this identity develops varies greatly from person to person and also depends on circumstances and opportunity.
There are also a group of people whose desire to emulate the female are deep rooted and not necessarily connected with a desire to cross-dress. These are Transexuals. The transexuals identity with the female is so strong that life as a male is almost intolerable. The only answer in some cases is surgery to bring the male body into line with the individual's mental outlook. While there appears to be a big difference between TV's and TS's, there is a lot of blurring between the two. This can cause a great deal of confusion to the individual concerned.
The medical profession seems to now accept that there is no cure for TVism. The more enlightened attempt to help the TV to come to terms with a condition that is both stressful to themselves and those around them. Probably the worst situation for TV's to find themselves in, is to be married with children. If they are a "closet TV", that is one who dresses alone and in secret, the worry and anguish caused by fear of being branded deviant or peculiar by those closest to them for something they have little control over, can be unbearable.
Transvestism cannot be cured, but it can be suppressed. The problem with suppression is that it causes stress and stress can cause distorted behaviour which may at times seem deviant. Such behaviour is nearly always connected in some way with the TVism. It is probably this behaviour which the media latch on to, to give us our distorted stereotypes of TV's. This stereotyping is also reinforced by the fact that there are some TV's who are gay. This image is so strong that many TV's initially think they must be gay because they are TV's. The truth is, the sexuality of TV's is no different from any other group of ordinary people. Some are heterosexual, some are bisexual, and some are homosexual.
Because of the worry experienced by many TV's the vast majority dress in secret. This secrecy must also reinforce people's preconceived ideas of TV's. Secrecy breeds suspicion, and suspicion breeds fear and misunderstanding. This can lead to antagonism especially from young people. Thus the TV is trapped in a vicious circle of fear of discovery and fear in others if they are discovered. This sort of burden is stressful enough, but if additional pressures are experienced from some other source, domestic, financial, work etc. it can bring on a crisis or breakdown. This can take the form of anything from a confession to a loved one, to seeking a sexual partner to prove their own sexuality. It could even mean walking the streets at night dressed as a female to relieve the tension, with all the attendant risks.
A high number of relationships, where one partner is a TV, end in separation or divorce, or a sullen acceptance of the situation, probably tied to an unrealistic hope that it will 'go away'. There are a minority of women who have the compassion, love or understanding, to try to understand their partner's problems. This is no mean feat in a world that is set against them both, but it can be done and, in a lot of cases, can enrich the relationship.
In nearly all the situations mentioned, the root cause of most of the problems lie in ignorance. This ignorance is experienced by all concerned, including the TV. What is the answer? There probably is no one answer. A way of easing some of the suffering is to help transvestites to come to terms with their situation, by allowing them to learn from the experiences of others in similar situations, or at least allow them some relief from the constant pressure a lot of them suffer. Another way is to create a situation where ordinary genuinely interested people can come into contact with TV's, and find out some of the myths surrounding the subject. With a little effort on both sides, we would be on the way to a saner, and more reasonable society.
Sexual Expression and Fetishism
Even if you are confused about your erotic and gender motives, it helps to try and sort them out separately.
Most TV's get a sexual kick out it to some extent, especially in their teenage years. Female clothing, particularly underwear, in any case, has sexual connotations for men. This can combine with the urge for personal adornment and the experiencing of strange fabrics and apparel, to enhance the sexual experience, with the involvement of all the senses. This is often extended into the bondage, CP or french maid scenarios.
Fetishism is enjoyed by many women too, but not usually with cross-gender connotations, unless one includes the feminine domination scenario. Sometimes the fantasy scenario becomes mixed up with the expression of other needs, often quite deep ones. Sometimes the wish that something might happen can turn to the belief that it can happen. People often appear in Court, having been arrested for exhibitionism, for instance, or they may have fantasies of being a tart or a prostitute. Risk taking is often exciting, as it is in other expressions of sex. It has to be said that there are some who enjoy the attention of being arrested and going to Court.
The society we live in teaches many of us negative feelings about sex which is, after all, a natural function. On one hand we have the salacious attitude of much of the media, on the other, for those who over-step the mark, Society is punitive rather than supportive. There are not many people who don't have sexual fantasies and they may be an important part of life for both men and women. For some, fetishism is a practical realisation of them.
Perhaps the one important rule is that there should not be any physical or psychological harm to anyone else, nor emotional distress.
The trick, perhaps, is to use fantasies, instead of just having them, and it is important to keep clear the boundary between fantasy and reality. Where problems occur, is if such fantasies or fetishes become the only way someone can get "turned on", or if they become an obsession. You should feel no shame in going to see a counsellor, if you feel things are getting out of hand.
Instead of remaining simply a sexual expression, sometimes leading to the more advanced rituals, for some TV's there arises the need to experience an enactment of the everyday woman's role. Often, their cross-dressing began in childhood, but some people do not start until much later in life. There are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes sexual fetishism and the need for social dressing are combined. On the other hand, some people are completely fulfilled in a straightforward sex life, yet still feel the need to cross dress.
Which Way Next?
Of course, you may feel better after reading this. Perhaps you'll be happy to stay as you are, with the knowledge that there are people you can talk to if you need. Most people are quite happy to go on dressing at home, in private, as and when the fancy takes them, but beware of denial - pretending a problem doesn't exist. Only if you acknowledge your feelings, without guilt, but with conscience, can you deal with them in a logical manner.
Does this ring any bells?
It is often the gender aspect of cross dressing that gives the most trouble in terms of guilt, secrecy and confusion. Many such cross-dressers, when they finally find out about other people, are amazed to find how similar their life stories have been. This piece, by Amanda Jayne in the Beaumont Society'sChitChat is an example of how so many follow the same path, with the same fears and the same problems. . .
"I was talking the other night to Christine, telling her about all of the places I had found to hide clothes during my years of living with my parents. I decided once again to burst forth into print, so here goes:
The first place I remember hiding clothes I had "borrowed" from my mother was between the divan and mattress of my bed, this had the disadvantage that because we re-tidied the beds every day, she always found them very quickly.
The next place I tried was amongst my toys in my toy cupboard, but that soon came to grief when, whilst playing with a lighted candle, I set fire to the contents of the cupboard and burnt it down!
My next hiding place was short lived as well, my mother had thrown out a beautiful 50's style net petticoat which I promptly grabbed and hid in a disused coke stove from the kitchen, this was O.K. until my father had a rubbish burning session, using the stove, and burnt it.
The next hiding place was in the space between the hot water tank and the wall of the airing cupboard in my room. This was fairly successful except that, when the clothes slid down to the bottom of the cupboard, I had to use a pin attached to a cane to get them back.
When I had a stereo system, the speaker cabinets were home-made and I fitted dummy screw heads to all but two screw holes. This was a very successful hiding place, the clothes acted as excellent acoustic padding and improved the sound of the speakers greatly, the only drawback was having to unscrew the backs of the speakers to get at my clothes.
My next bedroom was the converted loft space. I had by this time amassed more clothes than would fit in the speakers, so I cut the lining under the divan of my bed, and hid clothes in there, by this time, the only times my clothes were being found was when I forgot to put them back after wearing them.
I then made a hidden cupboard in my room into which I put all of the clothes, but these were found when I had to go into hospital for a week.
I eventually got to cleaning my own room and making my own bed, so I kept clothes in drawers etc., but when I was moved back down to my original room when both of my sisters had got married, I knew it would be hard to keep my mum out of the room completely.
I fitted steel pins to the small wardrobe I had now got and was able to invisibly lock the drawers and door in this manner.
This worked until, in 1986, I finally bought a house. Now, looking back, I wonder how I ever managed . . . . . .
All over the country, there are telephone helplines. These are expensive to operate and, being manned by volunteers, are only open for limited hours. The value for you, is that you will be, at last, talking to another TV.
This is the crunch time, the point of no return, when you finally admit the truth, when you finally talk about something that you've kept to yourself as a secret for so long. Each week the log book records one 'silent call' after another.
The first hurdle to overcome is to be able to express all the emotions you've been hiding for so long. The easiest way, initially, is to clarify your thoughts by writing them down in a private diary. In fact, the Beaumont Society encourages you to do so, when you first apply for membership, or you can write to the Beaumont Trust.
The TV who came in from the cold.
There are a number of caring societies, listed at the back of this book. They all have to assume that, if you are married, that your partner agrees that you should approach them and, if you are under eighteen, that you are contacting them with the permission of your parents or guardians.
All the groups, that I have listed, have a strict code of security. To other members you will only be known by your "femme name" and your membership number, unless you choose otherwise. Any correspondence will be completely confidential. Similarly, any one you meet will have the same regard for your security, and will expect you to have the same regard for his.
Your first full meeting.
Here, I let other TV's take over. First, Amanda Jayne, again, in the Beaumont Society's ChitChat:
" . . . I have been to as many meetings as I have been able to, the first one being at Regine's on the 11th of May, when I went along in my male clothes to see what it was all about. It took me about half an hour to pluck up the courage to get out of the car and go into the meeting! I was very nervous, not knowing what to expect, I was made to feel very welcome and spent quite a long time chatting to Helen about myself and the Society. By the end of the evening I felt really out of place and vowed that I would dress next meeting for certain.
I couldn't wait for the next meeting to come round but it soon did and the week before the meeting I was alone in my parents' house, and I asked one of my friends who is in on the secret to come round, and give me an opinion on the clothes I was planning to wear for the next meeting. Strangely enough I didn't feel at all bothered when I walked into the room in front of him, he was suitably impressed, he said that he didn't expect me to be dressed so well and that he expected me to be completely over the top.
Anyway, I went to the next meeting, changed there and appeared as Amanda for the first time in front of other people. The people who were there that night gave me some useful advice and I really enjoyed myself . . . . . I really enjoy myself after so many years of hiding my true feelings, . . . . . . . . the younger of my two sisters . . . said "If you want me to act all outraged, you are going to be very disappointed."
Everybody arriving at their first meeting, wonders what they are going to find on the other side of the door; perhaps rows of pouting, powdered, camp 'females', like pantomime dames. They wonder if they'll find themselves in a strange underworld of esoteric sexual practices. They make a dozen false approaches, hang around outside for an hour working up their nerve. Then they take a deep breath, and metaphorically shutting their eyes, plunge in through the door.
Before I describe what it's really like, let Jenny Baker, of the Northern Concord, writing in Crosstalk, take over:
"The First Time."
Remember your first visit to a group meeting? The fear,
the terror, the panic . . .
"Somebody might see me, that I know!"
"What should I say?"
"Are these people alright?"
"Will the world cave in on me?"
"It's not worth it. I'll try again next week!"
Recognise any of these? The realisation that you are not the only person in the world that cross-dresses.
And yet, because of the guilt people are made to feel, the uncertainty . . .
"If all these other people are doing it, are they guilty as well. Should I really be mixing with them, let alone socialising?"
And then you are inside . . .
"Have I done the right thing?"
"Think of an excuse to leave."
"Take deep breaths. Don't panic!"
"What's wrong with these people. They act as though it were perfectly normal to walk about in women's clothes. Perhaps they don't have as much to lose as me?"
Then gradually, as the adrenalin dissipates itself,
the slow dawning that . . .
"Well, perhaps this wasn't such a bad idea after all."
"It's quite exciting really."
"What, time to go already?"
"Are we here again next week?"
"Great, see you then."
"I've done it! Unbelievable. Who would have thought somebody like me, in my personal circumstances, would end up doing something like this, with a bunch of complete strangers."
"Must get down earlier next week. What a nice gang of people."
Like Amanda, you can go in your male clothes, for the first few times.
TV meetings are strictly social affairs and nothing more. The one thing that distinguishes them is that nobody is left out. The welcome is usually warm and friendly.
What I found is a tremendous friendship and sympathy, and humanity. No-one is putting up a 'front', everyone is able be their real selves; and I was able to relax and express a part of myself that I'd kept subdued for so long.
You will have noticed that the people mentioned here all have women's names. You should choose a 'femme name' for yourself. Apart from anything else, by using it when you meet others, no-one will know your real name, and no-one need know anything about your everyday life. You are completely anonymous. Even if you did meet someone you know, as I did, you have to remember that they have just as much to hide as you do.
As you attend more and more meetings, you will discover yourself and you will gain a new viewpoint on Society. You will be able to polish up your act in safe surroundings and, by being able to talk and listen, you will be able to decide whether you want to go any further and in which direction. But you have to consider those around you.
Wives and girlfriends.
It may well amaze you how tolerant many women are, especially older women. That is, unless they are emotionally involved. It is one thing to think of cross-dressing as a concept, quite another when someone close to you is involved. But it is certain that your wife will find out one day, and for her to find out by accident means instant disaster. The trouble is, only you can try to predict the outcome. You may well be surprised by her agreement. On the other hand, even a gentle hint, may show you that your wife cannot accept it in you at any price. The reaction varies with every couple involved.
If you have a girlfriend, the urge may well have gone away, and you may think it has gone for ever. Countless couples have found out the hard way that this is not so.
Some couples try to pretend the problem doesn't exist, only to be reminded of it by little everyday things that happen, and it lies between them like a cancer in their marriage.
Do not tell your wife by just leaving this book around. Be honest and open. Come to terms with yourself first. Remember that your wife has rights in the marriage, just as you have. Understand yourself, and how it affects your daily behaviour.
Do you, for instance, follow a session of being a girl with a bout of being over-bearingly masculine, especially with your family?
Above all, don't let your frustration at not being to explain yourself explode into physical violence.
Do we tell the children?
When, and if you tell must be a personal decision. Small children may not understand that there are some things that you don't talk about, outside of the family. Older children often, nowadays, treat it much more casually then we did, but you have to remember that teenagers have little experience of real people and think in terms of a set of stereotypes, father, mother, teacher and so on. A teenage son, who is struggling to find his own manhood, may find it hard to discover that his father is not the person he'd always known.
If you are under eighteen, then your parents or guardians have to agree with an approach to any reputable group.
Out of the Closet.
Once out of the closet, you may be full of the joys of Spring, and itching to experience your new feelings to the full. But, please don't do anything drastic, like going out in public in a dress, without some sort of guidance. Like most things, there is a right way and a wrong way. People who get themselves into the newspapers only make things more awkward for other TV's.
If you have a wife who is willing to help, don't forget her and leave her behind. Don't bore her to death with your new hobby, don't spend money that should go to the family. Give her your time and attention. With the best will in the world, it takes time and mutual under-standing and honesty to incorporate this new member into the family.
There a number of shops specialising in TV's. Be careful not to lose your normal 'Shopper's Common Sense'. You probably have travelled some distance, and gone to considerable trouble. Suddenly, you are in an Alladin's Cave, where you can browse and buy without embarrassment. Have a clear idea of what you want when you enter, and resist impulse purchases. Always try clothes on. Is a skirt that is straight up and down, and not even overlocked, really worth £25? On the other hand, I once fell in love with one that turned out to be priced at £108. I couldn't afford it, but it was a genuine model. It is better to go away empty-handed than to be less than satisfied with your purchases, or regretting the amount you have spent.
Most specialist shop clothes tend towards the exotic. If you feel you cannot patronise high street shops, but are looking for something more everyday, there are the mail order catalogues. Most go up to size 18 in clothes and 8 in shoes, and one produces beautiful clothes in outsizes up to size 30, with shoes to size 10, width EE.
Be sceptical about preparations that are claimed to produce physiological changes, such as the prevention of beard growth. To be strong enough to have any effect, they would almost certainly be controlled drugs, that is, you would need a doctor's prescription. In any case, you would have to continue using them, at anything up to £100 a month, for as long as you wanted to be a TV.
Where to then?
Many TV's remain happy to stay at home, but with the knowledge that there are friends around to talk to. Some go to local meetings, or make friends with other TV couples. There are several weekend events held, during the year, which are usually great fun. Many TV's take their wives, who thoroughly enjoy themselves, not least because they can relax and not be on guard for 'macho men'.
Most TV's find a suitable compromise. Many families set a definite period in the week for Dad to dress in peace and quiet, or go to a meeting. Wives and older children are also welcome at these meetings.
Here I include a transcript from a newspaper interview with Dr. Russell Reid, now with the London Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality:
"One person in a hundred is a transvestite, according to a consultant psychiatrist who has worked in the fields of transvestism and transsexualism for twelve years at St. Bernards and Charing Cross hospitals in London.
He said between one in six and one in eight people are gay, roughly one percent are transvestite and only one in 20,000 are transexual.
There are lots of different varieties of transvestism. It comes and goes in phases for many. A lot of them try to get the 'cure' by getting married and having children, but of course it doesn't work.
It's regarded as a psychological syndrome. To be honest, the medical profession doesn't know as much about it as the patients themselves, particularly in these days of self-help groups.
What I say to them is what they are doing is not particularly dangerous, and they should work at feeling a bit happier about what they are doing."
Can a couple treat it as a hobby? All I can say, is that some manage it. I know one couple who manage to be man and wife sometimes and sisters sometimes, as the fancy takes them. It has to be said that sometimes, tragically, it means the end of a marriage, whether or not the TV 'comes out'. Without a partner to consider, one can go as far as one needs, but one is heading into a life of loneliness.
I repeat that meetings are strictly social and tend to be quiet affairs. You may enjoy them, or you may feel that they don't offer what you, personally are looking for.
Many TV's go to gay night clubs, or to events such as the exotic balls that are held around the country. In general, nobody will impose themselves on you. It would seem that sexual harassment is mainly an occupation of "straight" men. Others go shopping in groups, or tour the country, or even travel abroad. In such circumstances, if the TV's look presentable, and are open about themselves, in everyday circumstances, they are non-threatening and people join in the fun.
The golden rule is not to go where a woman would not go, such as a lonely street at night. Nor can you use public lavatories in safety. You should be absolutely clear about the law. Most court cases occur as a result of sexual behaviour, but it is still possible to be charged with a common law offence, simply for being dressed as a woman. Some disquiet has been voiced by TV's themselves about trying to "pass", accepting that it is practically impossible to do so totally. Many TV's are suggesting that it is better to find ways, as described above, of simply going out and enjoying oneself.
A Final Note on Sexuality and Fetishism.
This book is mainly about people who dress for pleasure, rather than for sexual reasons. However, there are cross-dressers who look for companionship in their dressing, sometimes with a wish for mutual masturbation, or more. If you feel this way, contact magazines would be best avoided until you have gained some self-confidence and are absolutely sure about how far you want to go. Sometimes, a TV carries the fantasy so far that he has a full sexual relationship with another man, and is distraught the following day, when he is himself again.
Sometimes TV's are so convincing that they attract favourable comment from men. Remember that a woman can be admired in a way that a man rarely is. She also exercises a kind of power. You may be delighted and flattered but, if a man, who was attracted to you, found out the truth, he would be less than pleased, to say the least.
Remember that fantasies, by definition, can ignore real issues that don't fit in with them. What you fantasise might, in real life, cause a great deal of distress to yourself and others.
You may, of course, feel that you could have a loving, rather than a sexual relationship with a man. If you believe Kinsey, heterosexuality is not a once and for all thing, but a question of thresholds. You might, at a meeting or a club, make friends with someone, male or female, who likes you. This is surely better than a one night stand. Whatever you do, never go into a sexual relationship without preparing yourself.
This means emotionally, as described above; it also means carrying a condom. AIDS is no respecter of persons. However small you consider the risk, the consequences are too awful, both for yourself and for any future partner and, possibly, children.
Is it wrong? Every reader must make his, or her, mind up about the moral issues. As far as cross-dressing is concerned, I feel that the only way it can be wrong is to put out the wrong sexual signals if you don't mean them, and if you do mean them, to be sure the person who receives them knows the truth about you.
There are lots of reasons for cross-dressing, from the Drag Queen through to the transexual. People try to classify them, but, really, every TV is different and each is his own mix of all the types. I am not going to pronounce on the rights and wrongs of the situation, and you would be less than honest if you did not acknowledge every aspect of your transvestism.
Suffice it to say that you may decide to go on or go back. Basically, you are asking yourself, "Who am I?"
What is a transexual? The easy definition is someone who is going through, or has had, the "sex-change operation". But what really constitutes a transexual is beyond the scope of this little book.
I will suggest that there are so many wild and inaccurate stories in the popular press about the subject, that a glamorous picture is painted for someone still in the closet.
Don't expect the "sex change" or, as it is properly known, gender reassignment, to change you as a person, neither your appearance, nor your personality, nor your problems. There are those who, finding little value in their life as a man, have suppressed their 'male side' as effectively as their 'female side' once was, only to have it surface again once the fuss of the operation was over. If, for instance, you are shy now, you will be shy as a woman. If you are attracted to men, you may just be bisexual, although being a transexual may seem more socially acceptable. Do expect to go through a lot of pain and hard work, and spend a great deal of money for about ten years. Find out what it is really like to be a woman, try and see through the stereotype. Don't forget that, during your sessions of dressing, you have dropped all your everyday worries, which will return as a woman.
Self help groups offer friendship and facilities. They do not, or should not, offer advice that should come from a professional counsellor.
'Coming Out' is not a once and for all, overnight process. For many people, it involves a long period of soul-searching and self-analysis. If you need someone to talk to, you can either see a counsellor, or go to a Gender Identity Clinic. Don't expect a "cure", or an instant answer, there probably won't be one. There are logical explanations, but they are as complex as the sum of one's life experience, and are different for every TV.
This is the essence of counselling, in that the conditions are provided for you to find your own answers, on the basis that only you are an expert on your own life. This philosophy finds a place in the good helpline's listening skills, and in the techniques used by many professional psycho-analysts.
Counsellors are increasingly being invited to work with general practitioners. Others are employed by such groups as RELATE and MIND, but there are many in private practice, who should be accredited by a recognised organisation. Their charges are reasonable, around £30 an hour, scaled down accordingly to your ability to pay, and you will usually be expected to contract for about six sessions initially.
Many TV's and TS's have had a rough ride through childhood, often with stories of rejection, one way or another. The result is emotional binds that are not directly to do with gender. Often, fantasies are a pychological defence against emotional pain, or a way of confronting past or present feelings, expressed through sexuality or, sometimes, by a rejection of the male life.
If you undertake counselling, you will find it heavy going at first, possibly touching your deepest emotions. The counselling relationship is founded on absolute trust. It will only work if you really want it to but, if you are prepared to release your deepest feelings and fears, you may have a completely new outlook on life, with the confidence to solve some, if not all of your problems. It may, of course, produce new ones, or give unexpected results, but you should get a feeling of empowerment, the feeling that your life is on the right track, and that you are in control of it.
Many TS's, especially, complain about unhelpfulness from their consultant, but I feel that if they had spent some time taking in-depth general counselling, and confronted the issues, they would find the consultant more helpful. Ethically, any approach to a consultant must be through your doctor, although you may be granted a preliminary interview. However, your GP is the person with primary responsibility for your welfare, and is the only one who knows your past medical history. The clinic you choose should have clear links with the caring societies and with the major hospitals in the country.
Transvestism is not considered to be a medical condition, so the problem is to find a sympathetic, or knowledgable GP. Some are openly prejudiced. It may be necessary to find a clinic, and then tell your GP you want an appointment. Even then, if periodic medical checks are required from your GP, you may have to insist on them.
Usually, attendance at a private clinic will cost you £30-50 for an hour's consultation. If medication is prescribed, it will be possible to obtain it from a high street chemist.
No clinic should give medication or surgery, of any kind, without involving your GP. If you deal with a clinic that does not insist on this, you are probably asking for trouble, and, if medication costs any more than £40 for three month's supply, you are probably being 'ripped off'.
It must be repeated that less than 1 in 20,000 people are diagnosed as truly transexual, but, at least, you will get some peace of mind.
In offering you this book, I hope I have done something to set your mind at rest. With all my heart, I wish you all the luck in the world.
Bland. J., (1992 2nd. ed)The Secret Wardrobe. http://www.gender.org.uk/derby/secret.htm
Web page copyright Derby TV/TS Group. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 08.04.98