The Stages of Trans Life: Are all our Journeys the Same?

Are all our Trans Journeys the Same?

“Repeat/rewind” – are our T journeys all essentially the same?

How many times have you met someone from the T community, either on-line, in person or at a function or party, and the conversation has turned around to: “How I started dressing”, or “Why we dress”, or a potted history of each other’s life-story as far T matters go?

Let’s be honest: being T is absolutely the “tie that binds” us all within our community. Being T does not discriminate between social status, profession or even race. Being T gives us all empathy, a bond with others in our community that many other minorities don’t seem to possess. Why? Hmm… maybe it’s because we still see ourselves as being overly and overtly discriminated against or, as far as basic rights go, a seriously underprivileged minority… I really don’t know. In any event, it’s agreed then—we are all in this together!

So, it’s not surprising then that one thing which is abundantly clear is that many of our stories are eerily similar, follow up a repetitive pattern—no matter where we come from, how old we are, what job we do and so on. From the many T people I know and/or have met along the way, the typical story goes something like that shown below… an “open and shut” case of “repeat” or maybe I should say “rewind” if I’ve ever heard one.

But before I begin, mmm…, what did they used to say in the disclaimer to old movies: The story is real but the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent…

Owing to differences in ages and generations, in some parts of the following “story”, I am, by necessity, being very general; still, here we go:

  1. You knew there was something different/wrong/not quite the same as other boys from age 6, 8, 10, 12… whatever young age it was
  2. By comparison, as a young boy you were gentler, milder than some of the “rough and tumble” boys and their games; maybe preferred reading, or painting, or helping mother around the house… or being alone in your own little world
  3. One day out of the blue, for no discernible reason, you picked up an article of female clothing from around your house and put it on. “Ding!” a light went on in the recesses of your brain
  4. Thereafter, you continued to try on one or two items of female clothing on an ad hoc basis; not really sure what it was all about or why you were doing it!
  5. Time went by and, still not sure why, but you knew really liked wearing girl’s clothes; it just felt “right”—so you did it again… and again; one time you tried on a collection of clothing items at the same time, admiring the change in body shape, the appearance of femininity you were presenting (although you probably didn’t know this at the time)
  6. “Dressing” became more planned; you began to look forward to it, creating the opportunity to dress, instead of waiting for the chance to arise; you evolved from wearing just, say, a bra or panties (almost a “fetish stage”) to wearing several, specific items repetitively, maybe basic underwear with tights or suspenders and stockings and a slip or petticoat; possibly tried on your first pair of shoes (and, oh…, if they were high heels, you were hooked for life)
  7. You spent a lot of time in front of a mirror admiring this “new” person, enraptured by the developing persona; wanting to look “sexy”, evocative. Yet, at the same time, you tried to rationalize what you were doing
  8. Somewhere amidst all this you got caught dressing by your mother/father or grandmother or other relative; a row/argument ensued, and you were, probably, told never to do it again: “Boys don’t do this!”
  9. Still you ignored the warning and the risks and continued dressing (how on earth could you/can we stop?) opportunistically
  10. One day, you had the chance to “fully” cross dress (ie underwear, tights, skirt and top or dress, maybe some accessories) but no make-up, wearing only items that were accessible; you had no real style or co-ordination of clothing but the exhilaration of your “transformations” was immense; the thrills indescribable
  11. Now you more frequently fully cross dressed, making excuses to be alone and taking more time in preparation—dressing is now maybe with some self-purchased items, the beginning of further defining the character and style of your femme self
  12. You continued “full” cross dressing (it was no longer enough, no longer satisfactory to only wear the “basics”) with regular, yet early, attempts at make-up, probably just eye shadow and lipstick; you have continued concerns about whether you are the only one in this world of ours who was doing this
  13. Again, out of the blue, one day you picked a femme name—although you were not really sure where this name or the thought to have such a name came from!
  14. Your make-up skills were improving and you became adept at applying foundation, blush, eyeliner, mascara and so on; if you were lucky, you were able to acquire a wig from somewhere or someone
  15. Now it’s always “full” cross dressing, no half measures—using make up and wig and accessories; developing further the art of make-up, styling and how to manage your “hair”; you have more confidence in the self-purchase of female items not thinking twice about openly buying female items in shops
  16. Perhaps in your early/mid teens you were left alone in the house for a week when your parents and brothers/sisters went on holiday… what can I say? Heaven, absolute heaven on earth… all that time spent en-femme!
  17. For the older generation: you still didn’t know what was “wrong”, hardly any way to contact others (no internet or WhatsApp, Line etc), little informative literature available; believed you were all alone, that there was no-one else like you in this world
  18. For the younger generation: knew there were others like you out there, but the variety of people in the T world was almost overwhelming. Maybe you were too shy to reach out to others for fear of your secret being revealed (but still, much more opportunity to find others than the pre-internet generation…)
  19. Went to College or University where the general environment was more relaxed, liberal and you were able to go to parties, events or even participate in theater plays as a girl (as a “joke” of course!); met lots of other people in the “Rainbow” world of LGBT
  20. Perhaps you began to overcompensate for being (unknowingly) T by doing extreme sports, taking major risks, over studying or even over-dating (girls)
  21. Maybe by now in a (more serious) relationship…, but the need to dress was still there; stronger than ever. Unknowing your relationship was, and would always be, secondary to your dressing
  22. Maybe your thought pattern was: if I maintain a steady relationship or even get married these feelings of needing to dress will go away (oh… the naivety of us all!)
  23. Possible experimentation with a “transformation” or “makeover” service; immense delight at the difference professional make-up made to your “look” and also serious joy with the resulting pictures
  24. You undertook extensive research on the internet about T issues and, probably, contact with other T’s, discreetly and anonymously (or using your femme name), through email
  25. As ever, always fully cross dressing with make-up and wig and accessories, but you now own outer wear garments such as jackets and scarves, maybe boots; ready to go out and about but, yet…, you don’t (quite) dare
  26. If you hadn’t bought them already, you made your first purchase of breast forms—usually through an internet site; serious excitement waiting for them—and complete ecstasy when they finally arrived and you tried them on
  27. By now you stay dressed for extended periods of time; finding it harder and harder to change back to “drab”—perhaps if you had still not yet ventured outside of your “prison”, you really were dressed up with nowhere to go!
  28. At last…, after many, many false starts and nervous and tense moments, you finally get to cross the threshold of the home that has imprisoned you for so long and take your first, apprehensive, steps out into the big, wide world
  29. You begin to attend “secret” meetings or get-togethers with other T’s, usually indoors—possibly carrying your female clothes in a bag or suitcase to the meeting and changing there; greater and greater reluctance to change back to male mode
  30. You contemplate some form of feminization, whether it be general body hair removal, pierced ears or electrolysis on the beard “shaving line” etc
  31. Either, following the aforementioned meetings or, independently, you furtively sneaked around outside whilst fully dressed—in quiet dark areas, avoiding all contact with others, highly tensed and sincerely worried in case someone saw or recognized you
  32. Your confidence grew and you were often prepared to be seen from a distance by other non-T’s, and, occasionally (accidentally on purpose!) pass close by other people—if a car owner, you are happy to go out driving whilst dressed, nowhere in particular, but the need to be out and about was overpowering, irresistible
  33. By now you were going out in a group of 3-4 other T’s, gaining confidence from being out and about with others, yet still ever so self conscious about your hair, your make up, your clothes; probably, by now, you have undertaken one or more of the items of “basic” feminization mentioned above
  34. The need to go out and about increased exponentially and you were no longer can stay indoors alone once dressed—no matter what the weather, what the risk, (what the hell)! Often you started asking others to go out and about with you outside of the usual meeting times
  35. You finally got the “look” right and were prepared to go out alone to coffee shops, shopping malls or restaurants—confidence at an all time high
  36. At last, realization of the fact that you own more female clothes than male clothes!
  37. You were consumed by the need to dress and came to the realization that there are only several ways forward to better achieve the look that you desire, maybe some form of “advanced” cosmetic surgery—possibly a nose alteration, eyebrow lift, face lift… or even daily hormones
  38. By now the issue of aging was creeping into your brain and you were facing new challenges: maybe you were an “empty nester” or maybe you and your spouse were no longer together. More time to dress, more time to think. That awful word “mortality” became more frequently used; your testosterone levels had dropped and you are no longer as manly as before (even if you were not that manly before…); you were financially or reasonably financially secure. The desire to be female for more time or full time was overwhelming; the desire to be a woman is all you were thinking about…

I think I’d better stop there… except to say: at this stage all rationality seemed to be snowballing out of control. But hey, phew… quite a journey… and just to think you’ve lived your life like this, maybe even without realizing it.

So, does it all sound familiar? Is it all too close to home? Well, for many, or dare I say, most, of us it is—feel free to admit it to yourself, I don’t mind. The big questions still outstanding, though, are: “What’s the end game? Where/how do I end up?” Sorry… but I haven’t got an answer for these questions. You’ll have to tell me… ☺


  • Michelle

    Loved what you wrote, Kathy, but there is a 39th step you forgot, well there is for us T-girls, not so much for the CD girls :) it's actually taking the steps to transition. I hid for 40 years (yes, reading this was like reading my life story) but I finally came out a few months ago and will be starting HRT after the 1st of the year.

  • Michelle

    Your stages were so spot on for me it was scary, or, there are scores of girls out there just like me. Every week presents another stage of my journey. Just about every fear I had has been shown to be non-existent, I do live in MA . Thank you for your help

  • Angela

    Wow Kathy, most of this sounds like you wrote about me (except for going out in public, not passable enough yet).
    I don't know why we all feel exactly the same, but we do. Sisters forever because the feelings and need to go en-femme never go away.
    Thanks for such wonderful articles.
    Hugs and kisses, Angela

  • Lindsey

    This article is so accurate….it's spooky.

  • Jessica Lynn

    This article really hit home with me, as I think it all started out pretty much the same with me as others. The first girls item I ever put on were my Moms high heel boots. Since then I have a boot fetish and own many pairs of boots, more than high heel shoes. I've been dressing since I was about 9 or 10, (been a long time ago), I'm now 60 years old. I have gone out to a club a few times, with another t-girl, but I have a style that's not ordinary, and not what other women my age would wear out, I like wearing Latex clothes, I go for the Business Style of latex clothing, ie:, pencil skirts, ruffled blouses, sometimes latex stockings, high heels or boots. I am considered attractive for my age, ( probably the latex), but not all that pretty, but I don't care, I dress for my excitement and enjoyment. I don't have to wear a wig, I grew my hair out, it's to the middle of my back, long black hair, (dyed to cover the silver). I do wear silicone breast forms, 38B, a corset sometimes, ears are pierced, long nails (real). I do like being a man sometimes, I don't want to be a full-time woman, I'm just a PTW, Part Time Woman, don't like the label CD. I thought I'd write so other girls can see that there are others in this world just like them also, I love your articles, and keep up the great art of writing your honest opinions going. Stay safe, have fun, XOXO Jessica

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