Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Becoming Jen (Part 2)

Anyone for Tennis ?

Q. What do you do if you are a teenager, and confused by your gender?
A. In my case, keep your head down, dress in secret, never let anyone find out, and hence become ever so slightly screwed up!

Growing up with such confusions was fraught to say the least. There was no Internet back then, so I always felt alone and freakish. I never realised that anyone else felt like me. Every waking moment was filled with thoughts and dreams of dressing and living as a girl, but I knew that would never happen (If only I could have seen the future). I used to have this vivid, reoccurring dream where I was walking down the high street dressed in a red skirt and noone took any notice. It was so frustrating that I thought this was impossible.
I managed my compulsion to cross dress by snatching any moment the house was deserted. I was in a perpetual state of worry, that my dark secret would come out. I used to retrace my steps in my head, over and over again, terrified that my mum would find something out of place. This state of affairs continued thoughout my teenage years.
Mind you, I also learned to improvise. I remember on Blue Peter once, they made a miniskirt and legwarmers from an old T-shirt (This was the 80's after all), mine was powder blue . Think I'm bit old for the Fame look now!
When I was about 16 I decided I needed to buy some girls clothes of my own. I could say that it was due to the guilt of steeling mum's, but it was probably due to me wanting styles to suit my age. My shop of choice was the sadly missed C&A store in Hanley. I remember walking up and down and up and down the aisles, trying to pluck up courage to buy something. In the end I settled for a white cotton minidress with pastel stripes across the bust. learned later that it was actually tennis dress. I tried to look cool and nonchalant as I approached the till and mumbled something about the dress being for a girlfriend. All the time I felt like there was a big sign saying "Freak" above my head. I hated this feeling and so wanted to be normal. I managed to leave the shop, stifling the urge to run. I was sure a siren would go off, or some man in a uniform would put a hand on my shoulder saying "Where do you think your going sonny". None of this happened. I had got out alive! I had done it! My heart was racing, it was such a buzz. I headed to the nearest public toilet to try the dress on in a cubicle. The buzz didn't last long sadly. Pretty quickly I started to feel those pangs of worry and guilt again that always grew to overwhelm me. I am sure these highs and lows are so not much different in function than those felt by drug users.

.......That dress never did fit!

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