Raymond: I’m a tough daddy for my six and eight year old sons. I am almost six feet tall and I work as a mechanic in a garage. The boys love cars, just like me. I do all the things a father does: I stand on the line at their football games, teach them to hammer, throw them in the air. But the moment I have to tell them that I am actually a woman is approaching.
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As a child I was not a boy who felt like a girl. Maybe I was a tomboy. I led a normal boy’s life, played outside, built huts, played football, tinkered with cars, had girlfriends.
Meanwhile, I was irresistibly drawn to my mother’s wardrobe, her tights, bras, and her dresses. When I was twelve, I secretly dressed up in one of those dresses for the first time. That gave a nice feeling. There are trans people for whom cross-dressing, as it is called when you wear clothes of the opposite sex, causes sexual arousal. That is not the case with me, it only calms me down – not only in my head, but also in my body. My heart rate even drops.
After that first time, I couldn’t wait for my parents and sisters to leave so I could put my mother’s clothes back on. When I did it I felt peaceful, but afterwards I was ashamed of it. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Internet was in its infancy, my only role model was Kelly dating Big brother. I come from a traditional, Catholic family where everything went according to the rules and where feelings were not discussed. That made you lonely. That’s why I’m giving this interview to help others who are in the same situation.
When I was nineteen, I found an information number about cross-dressing. When I called it, my father accidentally turned out to be listening through another telephone in the house. Back then you still had home telephones that were connected to each other. He asked me what I was doing, I immediately hit the phone. We never talked about it. I only learned to talk to the psychologist I have been visiting for two years.
When I was 25, I met my wife Kim through a mutual friend. It was love at first sight. She’s sparkling, straightforward, a shit, honestly, you won’t get bullshit. We fit together, we are well matched, both crazy. We could decide overnight to buy an old Ferrari and then drive across the country to get parts.
We got married and had our children. My paternal instinct has been strong since the oldest was born. Because Kim had to undergo a caesarean section, and therefore was not allowed to get out of bed for the first few weeks, I had to get to work as a dad right away. I was the one who washed our son for the first time. He looks like me. He has my eyes, face shape, and he’s tall too.
My urge to wear women’s clothes faded into the background when the kids were little, it was such a busy time. Our second was a cry baby. If you cannot sleep through the night for two years, sleep becomes an obsession, there is no room for other needs. But when it got quieter, especially since they were in elementary school, it surfaced again.
My wife’s wardrobe became as much of a magnet to me as my mother’s used to be. When she wasn’t at home, I sometimes put on a skirt or top of hers. With difficulty, because she is smaller and narrower than me. I would stand in front of the mirror or walk around the house a bit, to feel how it felt.
It was calming, but also exciting, because I was afraid that Kim would come home. That’s why I always did it only briefly, and not very often, about once every three weeks. That was not enough for me. Once I accepted a parcel while I was dressed, which I found terrifying. It also gave a kick, but I didn’t repeat it.
I had to tell someone. Two years ago I decided to see a psychologist. That became a warm bath. In tears I told him what I had been walking around with for so long. He made me cry, many conversations followed.
During those conversations we discovered that I am not a transvestite, a man who wants to wear women’s clothes every now and then, but something much more generous: a woman in a man’s body. A transsexual. It meant having surgery if I really wanted to be who I really was. In my heart I knew that I had wanted that for a long time, but had not dared to admit it to myself. Too afraid of the consequences, especially for my family.
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My psychologist advised me to take the pressure off the kettle by confiding in someone from my circle of friends. That someone became my ex-girlfriend, Laura, with whom I had always maintained a good relationship. She’s hypersensitive and she left me at the time because she felt like I was hiding something from her. That was correct.
Now I stuttered and faltered and told her what I had hidden. She said, “If you had told me, I would have stayed with you.” I was so happy about that. But also sad. So I could have lost my secret much earlier. That would have saved me a lot of pain. On the other hand, you don’t know if what she said is really true. I think my ex can say something like that more easily than my wife. This problem is much more difficult to accept within the family.
Laura suggested that I create an ‘alter ego’ for me as a woman. First we came up with a name. We eventually ended up with her grandmother’s: Maartje. Then we went to buy women’s clothing together. I live in a village where everything is quickly known, so we went shopping in a big city. We bought clip earrings, we found a blouse and skirt in my size. “You’re so beautiful,” said Laura when I came out of the fitting room.
Together we searched the internet for meeting points for trans people. We found Mariposa, an address in Badhoevedorp where you are transformed into a member of the opposite sex by appointment. They had women’s clothes in my size there, I got a wig on, they helped me make my eyes. I learned how to hide my gender in my pants. And I got breasts. Silicone breasts, which respond to body heat, move with your body. They cost three hundred euros, I would have liked that. We opted for a large D-cup, matching my build. I am sorry that I am so tall. Fortunately, women today are on average taller than they used to be. And luckily I’m not one of those trans people who want to wear high heels with all their violence, pumps are good too. When I looked in the mirror, I whimpered with joy.
Then I became a man again, because I had to go home. At home I hid my new things. My secret weighed heavily on me. I am naturally open and honest, especially towards Kim. But this is precisely what I did not dare to tell her. It would change our lives forever. I got a short fuse. Kim asked what was wrong with me. I realized that I could no longer play hide and seek for her. My secret had a bad effect on our relationship. If it continued like this, there was a chance that I was going to lose her anyway. Then I might as well tell it.
The moment came when my mother became seriously ill. That was the final blow, I became an emotional wreck. One night, while we were in bed, I yelled at Kim, “I’m a woman!” Kim asked in astonishment, “What do you mean?” Then I started talking and talking. Vibrant like a straw. She was scared to death. As much as I hated having to hurt her, it was a liberation. I don’t think I could have kept it to myself any longer.
After that, everything gained momentum. Kim wanted to tell our friends to share. We did that. There are now ten, fifteen people who know about it. There was only one who reacted negatively, who said disdainfully, “Well, have fun with it.” The rest were sweet and compassionate. I haven’t dared to tell my parents – my mother has now recovered – but my younger sister has. “Finally I have a big sister,” she said.
For a while Kim tried to see my desire as a hobby of mine. She tried to understand, to help. She took me to Hunkemöller to buy lingerie, we went to pick out bras together. That was so sweet.
In the meantime, there was more distance in our relationship. We haven’t had sex since my confession. Kim doesn’t want it anymore. “I don’t know if I’m in bed with a man or a woman,” says Kim. “And I’m not a lesbian.” Our love lasts, but we live like brother and sister. I don’t mind that myself, I have something else on my mind than sex. But I think Kim does miss it.
‘This is the year’
The urge to have surgery has grown stronger. Kim has thought a long time about whether she will leave me in that case. In the end, she decided not to. She loves me too much. And our family. She does say that it will be different when she meets someone who can be a man to her. Of course I can also meet someone. In my case that would be a woman, I see myself as a lesbian.
There are still many hurdles to overcome. So far Kim doesn’t want to see what I look like when I’m a woman. In the evening I regularly go out with a trans girlfriend I know from Mariposa. Kim asks me to come and say hello when I leave. But that is also possible from the hallway, while she is sitting on the couch in the sitting room, that couch is around the corner. Then she doesn’t have to see me. She doesn’t even dare to look at the photos I had taken at Mariposa of me as a woman.
I respect that, I don’t want to force it all. But there comes a point when she can no longer ignore it. I have decided that 2021 will be the year in which I will say goodbye to my male life. I do this under the guidance of my psychologist. I am so anxious to take this step. I’m going to do it gradually. First have my beard lasered off, then have earrings pierced in my ears, let my hair grow. Then I start taking hormones for three or four months, after which the operations follow.
‘I can’t be different than who I am’
The funny thing is, I don’t dread telling my kids. My psychologist tells me that I will be amazed at how flexible children are. But I won’t do it until the last minute. Because if I tell them the next day, the whole village will know. Kim and I have decided on one thing: they will never call me Mom. They only have one mom, that’s her. For example, they can call me Mom, or Maartje, or if they really want to, they can say Dad.
I find it all the hardest for Kim. She is now in therapy to find out how to deal with all of this. And she talks a lot about it with friends. Sometimes she is very angry, at other times she is understanding. I hate to do this to her. It feels selfish. But I can’t be more than who I am. ”
For privacy reasons, the names and ages in this interview have been changed.
This article can be found in Kek Mama 02-2021.
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