So, how do you choose who to tell about your cross-dressing?
Well, it depends how well you know them.
When I was a student, there were some people I just had to take a chance on – I figured some of the girls I knew would be more open to the idea (it was from them I borrowed dresses, and to their parties I went cross-dressed). Being involved with my university’s theatre group provided a certain amount of cover too. Even so, I cross-dressed under the excuse of ‘just doing it for a laugh’. It’s only recently that some of my male friends from university have learnt about it.
Fast forward a few years; I hadn’t cross-dressed for a long time and just felt like it would add a bit more colour and interest to life. The first person I had to tell was my girlfriend. We’d been living together for a few years, and she was very open-minded and accommodating when I showed her a couple of pictures of my post-adolescent self in a skirt, and asked her how she felt about the idea of me doing it again.
If it wasn’t for her laid-back response, Twist would not exist.
Looking for clothes, wigs and trying out makeup – none of that would have been possible if she was against it. If I couldn’t pursue this interest with her knowledge and acceptance, I don’t think I could pursue it at all.
Next up, friends. It’s one thing to cross-dress in private, but I didn’t want to keep it private. If you keep things bottled up, it creates tension. Far better to remove the tension and let people know who you are.
I told a few people in a local writing group I’m involved in, and came out properly – joining them for a meal out as ‘Twist’. I then came out to friends in Edinburgh Skeptics, and became part of their advertising campaign for their first Edinburgh Festival Fringe show. Not bad going – a poster girl already!
So, friends past and present knew I cross-dressed. I supposed I had to tell my parents, whilst knowing that they were… let’s just say ‘products of the time they grew up in’. I think they were happy to see it as a jokey thing, but not as anything serious. Even now, I can tell that raising the subject makes them uncomfortable. As far as I’m concerned, they know about it; they’re not comfortable talking about it; therefore I won’t. (shrugs)
As I started to go out in public and be seen more frequently, I figured it might be an idea to inform my line manager, one or two colleagues and one member of senior management at work. Fortunately, I chose wisely, and they all took it in their stride. I had no idea if word would spread on the gossip mill (and only a couple of others there have asked me about it), but if it has, it appears to have had precisely no impact at all. (A good deal of the people I work with are -thankfully!- quite broad-minded.)
A few years on, I’m far more relaxed about people finding out (or just telling ’em) about my alter-ego. I still maintain two separate Facebook profiles, though. I’ve also yet to tell absolutely all my friends about it.
These days, I’m seeing fewer and fewer reasons not to just come out to everyone. As the saying goes, “The people who matter won’t mind; the people who mind don’t matter.”