To Tell or Not to Tell: That is the Question

| Dec 12, 2016
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How much is the right level of self-disclosure? Linda has recently talked with three girls who each have come to different decisions on how much they tell and who they tell about their lifestyle. This week she reports on Jan. Of all those who know her male self only Jan’s wife and three others know about Jan.

Among the toughest decisions a crossdresser ever has to make is whether or not to tell anyone about her penchant for wearing women’s clothes, who to tell, what to tell, when and how much to tell. That pretty well covers four of the five W’s.

The ‘where’ to tell? That can be pretty well anywhere but I personally do not recommend telling your wife when the two of you are making love and she is about to climax.

Okay, so now that I have your attention let me remind you that in the next three articles I will be telling you the stories of three crossdressers (persons who crossdress, if you prefer) who have each handled the self-revelation issue in very different ways. The aim is to show that there are different strategies and each can work for the individual. However let me warn you that what might have worked for Jan, Lucillle or Amanda may not necessarily work for you. There are a lot of variables to consider.

This week: Jan.

The fem personality known as Jan Brown has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. She is a joiner, a doer and a helper. When there wasn’t a TG support group to join in her area she helped to form one. She is one the regulars at Provincetown’s Fantasia Fair. I first came across Jan when I was looking for advice on clubs to visit in her area when a work trip would take me there and ‘Linda’ would be along for some nights out. I looked up and sent requests for information to a number of local TG contacts through the web site URNA (U R Not Alone). Jan was the only one who responded. Then when I was looking for TG friends to be golfing buddies in Florida, again it was Jan who came through. Jan and Linda have golfed together about twice a year in the past few years. One game in Florida and the other up north.

Jan plays a pretty good game of golf. I play a pretty bad game, a game made worse I swear by trying to swing my arms around those DD cups I like to have. It’s nice that Jan tolerates my game and gives me some good advice. When we get together Jan usually pays for the golf and I cover our restaurant dinner afterwards. And, oh yes, when we are in Florida, I usually get a hotel room in the Orlando area near where we will be playing and Jan comes to the room to change in to being Jan. Apparently none of her neighbors up north or in Florida know about Jan and she prefers to keep it that way. So naturally I am curious about why and how she is able to keep the secret. It is during the dinners that I gain some insight in to what makes Jan tick.

When I asked Jan about how her fem personality came to be, I found myself nodding my head in agreement, ‘yes, me too.’ It was all there from the childhood interest in what mom wore and her make-up, to watching men as women on television, to that Hallowe’en dress up to an encounter with a real female mimic to trying on our wives’ bathing suits. Our paths were very similar.

“So how did the full Jan come to be?” I asked.

“It was the emergence of the Internet. I was on Prodigy, CompuServe, AOL and I explored. My kids were computer savvy so I knew I needed a special account for my femme persona. I figured that “Jan” was a name which applied either to male or female so “Jan” was christened and the “Brown” was tacked on since it wasn’t close to my actual male name.

“I ambled along until the mid- late ‘90s when I got seriously interested in dressing. I had never really dressed before so I arranged to go to a T-Girl in Albany for a makeover. It was a special time being made up and I got goose bumps when she put mascara on me, I was thrilled and Jan emerged.”

“I know what that was like,” I agreed, “but how did your wife like it when you started dressing?”

“I didn’t tell her, not a first anyway. I was too afraid to tell. I would tell her I was going out to a support group meeting and she always assumed it was part of the men’s faith group I belong to. I didn’t tell her differently. I just let her assume that is what I was doing but really I was taking my wardrobe and joining a few other girls at a transgender support meeting we had formed.

“Over the years I started to do other activities as Jan, usually with other girls but never with my wife. She still didn’t know.” Besides the group meetings, I was going shopping a little but mostly out for dinner with other members of our group. I went away to TG Conferences like IFGE, Fantasia Fair, First Event and Lake Erie Gala and then when I was out of town I could be a bit more open.”

“And all that time your wife didn’t know? Most wives would think you were having an affair. Yours must have had great faith in your faith?” I quipped but it was a lousy joke.

“I came to feel very guilty about keeping her in the dark,” Jan replied, “I never tried to correct her assumptions but I try to be honest in my dealings with her. I guess I felt an internal pressure to be open about this and after several years, needed to set things right.”

“What did you do to prepare to tell?” I know from others’ experiences that this disclosure can go well or go horribly wrong. Sometimes the set up can make a big difference.

“I checked online to see what others did and tried to learn how they did it. I wish I could say I mapped it all out but didn’t,” Jan added, “I just know I was uncomfortable keeping this secret because I have tried to be honest with her always.”

“What did you think her reaction would be?”

“I really was nervous about this. I didn’t know what her reaction would be. I hoped for the best but didn’t want her to reject me which is what I feared. However, as I said, I felt for a while that I needed to be honest with her as it bugged me. How do I talk and where do we go from here. I thought she’d ask the big questions about our marriage vows, my sexuality and where do we go next.”

“You wanted to come clean with your wife no matter what the consequences might be?” I asked. “How nervous were you?”

“I was extremely nervous, needles and pins.”

Jan became silent. I decided to slow down. “What is she like?”

Jan and her new best friend.

A smile came to Jan’s face. I could see she wanted to say the right words as she spoke slowly.

“My spouse is very thoughtful . . . somewhat shy at times . . . not very explosive . . . usually takes her time to respond to things . . . fun to be with and very genuine”

“So how did you tell her? It must have gone well. You are still together.”

Jan said, “I told her ‘you know about the support group I attend. I haven’t been completely honest because it’s really not a faith based group but a group for crossdressers and others. I actually co-founded the group and I dress in woman’s clothes’.”

“Wow. You certainly didn’t beat around the bush,” I interjected.

Jan continued, “I talked a little about how I was interested in this since childhood and never acted upon it once I went away to college, got a job and got married and had kids. It wasn’t a priority then but it became more incessant in my thoughts as I grew older.”

“This must have been one of the most dramatic moments in your life. How did it play out?” I prompted.

Jan opened up. “She was very quiet and we had our talk about our marriage and things. After some time to digest it, she said ‘I understand it’s important to you’ and that was about it. Afterwards she remained laid back and not talking about it. I got her to attend our support group when we had 3 couples talk about how they handle transgender in their marriage. I couldn’t dress and she was very attentive. A short time after the meeting, a couple of the wives took her out to talk about things from their perspective. I don’t know what was shared. She came back and said ‘I got it . . . that’s your thing’. It was implied that she wasn’t interested. I would say ‘I’ve got a group meeting’ and she’d acknowledge it but we never really talked about it. I kept asking if she’d like to meet Jan or see a picture. I was going only the way I know to work through it . . . slowly and wait.”

“You didn’t push,” I commented.

“Pushing it only would make things worse. I worried some but tried to be cautious. I tried to let her know about the meetings and slowly after several years we started to talk about the meeting content.”

“Several years? That’s a long time. Did it feel as if you were waiting for a shoe to drop?

Jan continued, “One thing which helped break the ice jam was I attended a TG event called “Fantasia Fair” alone. One of the presentations was for couples about gratitude and the couples were encouraged to write a note to their spouse about the things they were grateful for about their spouse. I tried to write the letter but broke down crying because my spouse wasn’t with me and I was consoled by one of the leaders. What I did was write the letter to her about my being grateful for allowing me to attend the event and gave it to her when I got back home. She was blown away in good terms. We slowly started more dialog about Jan and what she was involved in.”

“So she is all good for Jan now? Has it been difficult for your wife and you to keep the Jan secret just between you? Does she cover for you?”

“We have told one person outside of two of our three kids, the two who live in our house. The other son doesn’t live with us so we don’t see the need to share that information. She’s worried about being seen out with me so we have tended to travel out of local area when we go out together. There is also the fact that if people know my spouse and I’m with her as Jan, people may associate Jan with my guy self. When we went out to a group meeting recently, she asked ‘what are you going to tell people about where we were if friends ask?’ to which I said ‘I’d say we met other friends.’ People aren’t going to go into more detail and neither are we.

“One final question,” I asked, “Once you had told did you have a harder or easier time getting away to be Jan?”

Jan reflected a moment then said, “It probably has been easier after telling but I usually say I’m going to do this and she’ll comment if there’s a problem. I do try to listen so there aren’t any arguments. It’s gotten much easier after finally she joined me at Fantasia Fair five or six years ago.

“Final question: have you had to compromise to fit your wife’s wishes?”

“I have not had my ears pierced which I would dearly love to do.”

Next time: Lucille whose wife and all of their friends know nothing about her CD life even after ‘all these years.’

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

Linda Jensen

About the Author ()

Canadian writer Linda Jensen is a long time contributor to TGForum. Before the days of the Internet Linda started her writing with the Transvestian newspaper. Her writing ranges from factual accounts of her adventures to fiction although frankly sometimes her real life adventures are stranger than the fiction. Linda is married to a loving partner who upon learning about Linda said, "she was part of you before I met you. Although I didn't know it she was part of the package I fell in love with. I don't want to mess up that package." "Does it get any better than that?" asks Linda.

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