Julie’s Story Continues

| Aug 15, 2016
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Julie’s story continues:

From “borrowing” my mother’s clothes – for some it was their sister’s — the next phase, so common, was keeping lingerie and stockings in various hiding places, including under the mattress. For school I wore my jockey shorts, as gym class would mean discovery, but at the roller skating rink and even on my few dates I wore some of mother’s undergarments.

One night when I was seventeen I reached under my bed — ? — nothing was there! I had been discovered! I expected a violent reaction (This was 1942 don’t forget.) Not physically, as neither mother nor father had ever hit my brother or me, but something unpleasant was bound to happen. My father habitually came home late to our country home and I would pretend to be asleep when he stopped at my room. During these years my father had squandered whatever considerable income he had been making as a successful attorney and was constantly demanding that my mother contribute some of the profits she had made, and saved, as a couturier and store owner before she had contracted TB. Almost nightly I could hear Dad’s strident voice and mother’s    at a hysterical pitch arguing over money. Sounds I couldn’t block out even with a pillow over my head to muffle them.

So, soon after the discovery of my stash, my father came in and sat on the edge of my bed. Then he bent over, felt my fingernails and whispered: “I won’t let my son become a sissy.” I remained quiet sure that he thought I was still sleeping. Why did he feel my fingernails? Did he think he would find a clue whether I was becoming effeminate by letting my nails grow? Typical of most of his generation he knew nothing concerning the transgender world. He never did pursue this incident. Perhaps he thought it was a passing phase. Then again, in his life time I don’t recall any heart-to-heart conversations on any subject that might have affected either of us. Reaction from my mother? Nothing. Maybe the rumors were true that she did want a daughter. At least I’d like to believe that. If they were concerned I would have thought that their first impulse would be to send me to a psychiatrist but that didn’t happen. In those early days professionals still believed such inclinations were curable. Electric shock treatment wasn’t uncommon for so-called mental maladjustments. Horrible as it seems today but lobotomies turned some otherwise bright people into vegetables. Thoughts of running away crossed my mind. Instead I decided to wait it out. Turned out to be the right decision as my parents had more pressing matters on their minds ? their son was not one of them.

My relationships with girls were a bit strange, to say the least. I was attracted to some and perhaps it was analogous to being attracted to butterflies    I was afraid to touch them — possibly due to lack of experience but more likely due to my diverted sexual drives. One girl in particular liked art, classical music and theater — considerably more intellectually mature than I. We spent hours sitting in a car just talking. Never touched or kissed her though she gave me more than enough opportunities. The fact that I was usually wearing one of my mother’s corsets and bras must have been the “Iron Maiden” (See Dumas’s Man in the Iron Mask novel.) that kept my emotions encased. Later research for the “Myths” chapter in my memoir revealed that only about half of juvenile CDs experienced similar delayed blooming    afraid to kiss a girl as an example. The other half varied from very active to so-called normal socialization.

Reflecting back to high school days I realize that I had no particular incentive to strive for excellence, due, I suppose to lack of career goals at the time other than the brief attempt in my senior year to enter West Point. My transvestite desires constantly diverted my attention from school studies. In fact I graduated in the bottom third of my class. Strangely, later at Wharton I was getting great grades even though my closet was full of feminine clothes and my heterosexual sexual life was very active. Go figure.

Once joining the military I had neither the opportunity to wear women’s clothes nor the inclination to do so    the Army’s physical regimen and flight school were so demanding that there was no room in my mind for diversion. My sexual needs were satisfied, to a degree, after taps, by masturbating into handkerchiefs under cover of my blanket, certain the laundry washed hundreds, or more, from other recruits as well.

Once at college, alone in a dormitory room, I began to dwell on my teenage crossdressing    the impulses seethed for release. Decided to go out for eight-man sculls in the hope that between rowing and the demands of studies I would keep from straying. Didn’t work.

But it was only during my second year that we were permitted to live off campus. For the first few months it was with a roommate who was a border-line manic depressive exacerbated by bagging body parts in French fields during World War II (His family came to get him). Also lost my virginity! Widow, twenty years older than I, lived in the apartment above. But once I found that I was now alone in the apartment the Sears catalog helped fill one closet with goodies. Kept the closet locked though as feared my newly-acquired younger GF might be curious.

Further I hit upon a scheme to be able to walk into a department store without trembling in fright    served me well for years to come. Before starting out on a shopping spree I would list on a pad the best description out of the JC Penney, Wards or Sears catalog. Then I would show the handwritten list to the sales clerks to “fill for my girlfriend.” While they were ringing up the sale I always asked, “May I return them if any doesn’t fit her?” Whether they believed me or not it worked for me as I was more easily able to control my composure.

Would like to share with you my first substantial purge. One winter day the Philadelphia snow covering the ground had turned black with city soot, the house in which my apartment was a part looked dirtier and older than usual, the rickety porch creaked a little louder in the cold, the posts supporting the porch roof seemed even more cracked and jig-sawed by age than I had noticed before, the hissing radiators in my apartment were shedding chips of gray paint, all about me the squalor seemed more perceptible than I had ever noticed before.

Padlocking my door I proceeded to pull out female clothes, as my routine, preparing to don them. Then I stopped. I don’t know whether it was an awakening awareness that everything ages, withers away into dust  –  all things, all humans; or whether the sordidness of my actions revealed itself through the tangled mesh of my cravings. There was no “burning bush” that made me fall to my knees, look up to the ceiling and cry out loud, “Dear God, please help me.” I remained kneeling for minutes, did I expect an acknowledgement from God, some sign? My mind was empty of thought, yet, like the activate button on a robot, I gathered my collection of feminine garments and stuffed them into laundry bags, out the door to the burn-barrel standing in the little yard between a school and my building. I stood there in the cold watching the clothes going up in flames, stirring the ashes until all were consumed. Behind the closed windows I could hear the monotone, “Hail Mary full of Grace” being recited by a hundred small voices. I picked out the metal clasps and buttons from the ashes and returned to my apartment feeling assured and strong that I had made a decision before the inevitable letdown after ejaculation. I was master of my body! Victorious ? for now.

It wasn’t until the Internet, some twenty years later, did I learn that what I did on this day was called “purging”; something I would repeat many times and experienced in their own way by many thousands of others fighting the same demons. Apparently most eventually accepted their so-called “deviance” and learned to enjoy those feelings without shame or guilt    as I finally did.

Julie’s tale will continue.

Learn more about her book and read her extensive blog on Julie’s website.


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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

Julie Gaum

About the Author ()

Born to successful parents – both amassed fortunes during Great Depression with little time for their two sons. Flew with Air Force in England during WWII and with N. Y. Air National Guard for twelve more years; Graduated University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; then motion picture production in Mexico, Hollywood and New York; climbed retail corporate ladder from coast to coast; bred and showed Boxers for thirty-five years and became a scratch golfer. Encountered many world-famous personages along the way. Awards-winning memoir includes a chapter -- Myths, Fallacies and Most Therapists Without a Clue that addresses all aspects of the CD spectrum. Now at 91 -- when health permits --able to be en femme most of time as family and friends have all passed.

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