You may wonder how I could ever have been attracted to, or attractive to, women in the first place. After all I grew up with the idea of having girlfriends and one day a wife. I joined my boy friends in childhood talking about girls and trying to catch a peek of their underwear; later furtively skimming through pages of Playboy with them and talking and dreaming about breasts and buttocks and long legs.
I was not a bad-looking boy or young man, except for having the bad habit of overeating and letting myself become heavy. Eventually fat. But I did have females interested in me. And my interests in girls and women, both sexual and romantic, certainly continued into my adult life.
But, there was a problem. A giant fly in the ointment, to use an old expression. Something that had been a part of me for as long ago as I could remember. Something that chafed at my existence and sapped my self-confidence and undermined every date and every relationship I ever had with a female.
I was transgender.
From the time I was 3 or 4 years old, something inside me felt more female than male. You might attribute it to growing up in a household with three older sisters and an overprotective mother, as well as a somewhat-absent father. Absent merely due to his hard and long work hours. And yes, at that age I did share a bedroom with my sisters - I think - or was at least right next door.
I don't know what made me get up in the middle of the night while they slept and open their underwear drawers and pull out and slip on their silk or tricot panties and slips. I put these on over my boy's pjs, as I didn't want to get caught naked getting into or out of them. I even tried on a dress and had difficulty zipping it up in back. But despite my caution, my mother found me, and told me to stop doing this or she'd send me to school (kindergarten) in a dress. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I did stop my cross-dressing but only for a few years.
All through grade school and junior high and high school, whenever I could do so (especially by faking being sick and staying home alone) I'd dress myself to the nines in the clothes, especially the intimate things, of my sisters and mother.
By my first year of high school I knew that I wasn't "normal" in my gender identification. Not even after meeting my first love; not even after having sex with her; not even after possibly fathering a child. But despite my cleverness my younger sister caught me dressed in her undies and reported me to our parents.
Then came a long period of private sessions with a psychiatrist, and sessions with my folks; as well as a brief stay in a private mental institution. None of which changed me or my desires. And this gender dissociation, this dysphoria, tore me up inside. I found myself acting feminine when I was supposed to be masculine.
I shied away from conflict, from fighting, and almost completely from socialization. At the same time there burned within me an anger; not just anger, really, but rage. White-hot and choking black rage at the world: a world in which I couldn't be like other "boys" or "men"; where I had to suffer the torments of teasing and name-calling in school; a world where my quiet reserve and studiousness was not encouraged; a world where violence occurred - violence by men, against my girlfriend; against my sisters; even against my mother. And with me feeling impotent to do anything about it.