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Ask Jane, Column 7

Dear Jane,

When I go to my favorite lingerie shop today, I am going to purposely hold the panties up to my body, so everyone in the store knows that I really am a woman. They have a large panty section with my favorite types: string thongs, g-strings, string bikinis and very erotically cut thongs. I'm going to look for a pink silk g-string.

I think, maybe, it's starting to be okay with me that I'm really a woman deep inside. I need your reassurance that this IS okay, though. That's why I keep e-mailing you.

I was brainwashed as a young boy by my family, church, friends, and anyone else in the world that transsexuals are bad, lesbians are bad, and that boys wearing panties is bad (I started wearing women's undies when I was 16 and have been wearing lingerie and dressing up more and more since then). I'm 25 now and feel you're the only one who understands me.

Michelle


Dear Jane,

To follow up on Alyssa's letter, my wife of almost 19 years filed for divorce in August. I never saw it coming and in all that time, she could never muster the courage to tell me she hated my cross-dressing. She refused counseling and outted me to all her family. I have been left with no job, no family and no life. I've begged her to take me back, telling her that she is far more important to me than being transgendered, but she refuses. She says that she does not have a boyfriend. She knows how much this is killing me... I'm so alone and lonely. I wish I never came out.

Cherl

Dear Michelle and Cherl,

Michelle, you ache to "come out" as Cherl regrets having done so for the painful price she's paying today. Your letters arrived at the same moment and they speak of two lives 20 years apart and in wildly different places: One expresses the excitement of exploration and working towards self-acceptance while the other, deep regret that she ever opened the Pandora's box of her desires.

Knowing that your young life, Michelle, could, 20 years down the road, include deep heartache and profound loss, would I best serve you by warning you to stay away from lingerie shops? Should I not instead instruct you to get into some sensible men's BVDs and go chop some wood until the girly-urge passes?

I just can't ... even though it's vital that we understand that negative reactions will possibly (or even likely) occur in response to our self-expression. Transgenderism is enormously misunderstood, often feared (especially by those who love us), and very often harshly judged, as you both know. We have to be aware when we venture out that we may be putting ourselves in "harm's way."

Still, what's the alternative? There's no safe harbor in life. We all face heartache in life, even the most conventional among us.

Scott Peck (author of The Road Less Traveled) writes that in a life that's "alive, meaningful and significant" we must accept that "pain as well as joy will be [our] reward. A full life will be full of pain. But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all." To me, this means living life acknowledging who we are and honoring what we need ... even when it seems that no one else understands and our actions occasionally cause ourselves and others pain.

How do you reconcile who you are, Cherl, and who you are meant to be with the judgments of someone you love? Another in your shoes might have repressed this part of herself and lived life in a prison; I know many who do just this ... and pay the price of isolation, loneliness, and self-doubt. We must each choose our own best path. I have mine ... as one who herself is judged by my choice of work and been denied other opportunities in life because of it, I know there's a cost to having courage of self-expression.

In your darkest moments, Cherl, please have faith that there is a life of joy awaiting you ... you've begun the process already by reaching out to others here at URNA who understand both your pain and your journey. Michelle, you young-un, understand the perils of living large while you indulge your fancies at the lingerie store, and keep connecting with kindred spirits. For each of us is a soul like you who is trudging the road less traveled.

Jane

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