By The Numbers …

| May 12, 2014
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dulwichYesterday, I received a 90-page glossy yearbook from my high school — Dulwich College in London, which I left in 1977 to go to University. This followed some lesser publications received over the past year, which in turn were preceded by a telephone call out of the blue from a one-time pupil engaged in fundraising. I don’t know how the school managed to find me after so long, but I’m guessing my name was given to them by someone I knew all that time ago.

Forty years after I was a pupil there, the yearbook shows a school I barely recognize. Gone is the Edwardian ethic, where the masters wore robes, the desks had inkwells, and corporal punishment was an accepted part of life for the habitual ne’er-do-wells; in its stead has appeared an updated, more casual — even trendy — establishment. Several of the tired-looking red-brick buildings have been given a facelift, and some appear to have been replaced completely. However, some things apparently never change: rugby, cricket, and rowing feature just as strongly amongst the numerous clubs as they did when I was a pupil . . .  but never having been the sporty type, they’re as uninteresting to me now as they were then. As I flick further through the yearbook, I pass an interminable list of personal news items submitted by Old Alleynians (former pupils), followed by an equally long list of benefactors. Then my interest is piqued by an invitation to attend the 132nd post-AGM Alleyn Club Dinner scheduled for October 2014 . . .  not because I ever went — or would necessarily wish to go — to such a stuffy and pompous function, but because I’m amused by the perceived need to specify a dress code, namely “dinner jacket”. There are also photographs — presumably taken at the 131st Alleyn Club Dinner — of predominantly old, white, balding men, every single one wearing a white shirt, a black jacket, and a black bow tie, seated in groups of ten around more than a dozen large tables in what I recognize as the Great Hall; the crimson curtains in the background provide the only indication that the prints are actually in colour. It’s also evident that there are no women in any of the photographs; Dulwich College has always been a single-sex school, but the AGM and Annual Dinner would seem to be events from which even wives are excluded.

Throughout my schooldays, I was very ashamed of being a crossdresser. The family battle-of-wills over my “perverted” and “dirty” habit was raging, and I buried myself in maths, science, and music as a distraction. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve recently got to know a handful of people who went to Dulwich College at the same time as me, but the majority of my classmates would probably not remember me . . .  except, perhaps, as the only boy in my entire sixth form who didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge University. This was a deliberate decision on my part because neither offered an electronics degree . . .  nevertheless, I remember the pressure and the subsequent disappointment from certain quarters, and one notable comment about “failure.” I wonder what the reaction would have been in such an intolerant environment if news of my crossdressing exploits had become public?

130th Alleyn Club Dinner

130th Alleyn Club Dinner

Indeed, what would be the reaction amongst Alleyn Club members in 2014 were I to sashay with an air of confident indifference into their 132nd Annual Dinner wearing a red evening dress? Would there be insults? Would there be compliments? Or would everyone be terribly “English,” and pretend that they hadn’t noticed the elephant in the room? I start to speculate about how many of the men at last year’s event might be wishing that they were wearing a brightly-coloured frock instead of a dull penguin suit . . . .

It’s not often that one sees a gathering of well over 100 men wearing identical DJs . . .  so, being a mathematician, I decided to try to estimate the probability that at least one of the attendees at the 131st Alleyn Club Dinner was sporting Victoria’s Secrets lingerie under his trousers. The calculation requires the percentage of men in the general population who crossdress, a quantity which isn’t accurately known; my view is that it’s around 2%, but some sources claim that it’s in excess of 10%. No matter — I can allow it to take a range of hypothetical values. I can also experiment with the size of the gathering, and investigate how this affects the probability of finding a hidden pair of frillies somewhere in the Great Hall.

chartI’ve attached a graph of the result. For those who need a bit of help interpreting it, the probability is on the vertical axis as a function of a range of possible crossdressing prevalences in the general population from 0 to 10% on the horizontal axis. The calculation has been performed for four different group sizes from 25 to 200 men. As expected, the probability increases with both the estimated prevalence of crossdressing, and the size of the group. The photographs of the 131st Alleyn Club Dinner suggest that there are perhaps 150 men in attendance; even with a conservative estimate of 1% crossdressing in the general population, this predicts an 80% probability that at least one crossdresser was present at the event. For my preferred figure of 2%, this becomes a virtual certainty.

In other words, there’s a very good chance that at least one set of lingerie is being worn in the photograph, albeit carefully hidden from view. But where? Experience has shown me that my most vocal critics tend to be other crossdressers, so the one guaranteed way to identify the owner(s) of any such covert apparel would be for me to make an appearance at the forthcoming 132nd Alleyn Club Dinner in the aforementioned red evening dress — those who huff, puff, and grumble about how “this sort of thing shouldn’t be allowed” are the ones I’m looking for. I’m almost tempted to book a place . . . purely in the interests of science, you understand.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

Graham is an Englishman who proudly wears women's clothing with no attempt to pass as a female. His hobbies include winemaking, music and leading on telephone scammers making them think they can get his personal information, then telling them to sod off.

Comments (3)

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  1. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    I don’t think you need to be worried about the color of the dress, Graham. I suspect everyone in the room will know within 5 minutes (or less). So if you’re going to shock those stuffy old alumni, might as well wear red 🙂

  2. Graham Graham says:

    Ha-ha! Thank you JackieRay!

    I’m thinking of something like the Oscars ceremonies, or (being a Brit and a musician) the Last Night of the Proms orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall … all the men in penguin suits, many of the ladies in bright colours. But you’re right – if I were the only one in a bright colour (regardless of the “gender” of the outfit), it might look incongruous, even out of place … a few more people doing the same would be needed to soften the starkness.

    The primary aim of this hypothetical experiment is to flush out the other crossdresser(s), and to be true to the mathematics, I’d need to be seen by 100% of the other guests. A black gown in a sea of black probably wouldn’t be sufficient; even an LBD might not get me seen by everyone. But if bright red is a little TOO obvious, I’d be willing to go to electric blue or bright purple.

    Yeah, I know – that’s a really feeble excuse. But the secondary aim is personal, and maybe I should have “come clean” earlier. It’s been one of my life-long ambitions to legitimately crash a black-tie do specifically wearing a red dress …

  3. JackieRay JackieRay says:

    I think the bright red might be a bit much but see nu reason a black frock with a red kersage would be out of order