This is the third of my autobiographical articles about my life as a cross-dresser.
Since I came back out of the closet in 2007 at the age of 58, I found myself often thinking about the advantages of being a mature-age cross-dresser, and compared this to my younger days (early 20's to early 30's).
I decided to approach the subject looking at both the physical and psychological aspects of being an older cross-dresser and how they compared to one's young adult life.
The physical aspects.
My original thought when I came out five years ago was that I would be much less passable as a woman in public. In those early months back then I did not look very good at all. I had gained more than 40kilos since I was 22 years old and was unhappy with that, so I ripped 15 kilos off in the first six months after I came out, with healthy eating and regular exercise. It was like training for the Olympics!
I had also noticed that my once-dark beard was quite grey and I had little in the way of beard shadow. My arms and legs were less muscular and less hairy. These changes, I then realised, actually aided my passability.
I was many years out of practice with my makeup skills that I had had as a younger person, but I was surprised how quick I learnt them again despite my much poorer vision. A big magnifying mirror really helped, as did help from female family members and professional make-up artists.
Whereas men had pestered me when I was a young cross-dresser (some thinking I was a real girl and some knowing I was not), I found that people (especially men) ignore middle-aged and older women. As I again walked about in public, people were now not gawking at me (well, not that I was noticing). Very soon my previous self-consciousness of "Will people pick me?" was not there any more.
Clothes and accessories
As I was no longer a struggling student, I now had the funds to buy a lot more female clothes and accessories. Cheap imports had dropped the prices of clothes and my wardrobe rapidly expanded. I learnt quickly about what would go with what and what looked good on me. When I was in my late twenties, I had just two or three dresses and one pair of shoes, and no jewelry. Now I had countless skirts, blouses, dresses, coats, shoes, plus lots of bras and undies. Within a few months, my female wardrobe was much bigger than my male wardrobe.
I bought jewelry, handbags and any other female accessory that caught my fancy. I had my ears pierced, bought femme glasses, and waxed, epilated, or lasered every bit of visible body and limb hair I could.
There was now new technology, such as silicon breast-forms, instead of rolled up socks stuffed in a bra. These felt amazing, like real breasts. There were also padded girdles to give me hips and a bum, and corsets to give me a waist. I was now shaped like a woman!
The psychological aspects
The new physical woman now came into being and I was realising that I was passing much better - never 100% and I would still get the occasional disdainful sneer, but it was no longer worrying me. This is where the psychological and attitudinal changes began to become apparent to me.
With age, you worry less about what people think of you. We do not know how long that each of us will be in this world, so as you get older you realise that you can no longer put off what is important to you. This is who I am and your opinion of me does not worry me, as long as I am not doing anything to deliberately offend you. I have every right to dress as I wish as long as it is appropriate for the circumstances. I will behave appropriately and respectfully like a lady and I expect the same in return. And I found that this is what happened.
I found that I could now walk with my head held high. I no longer stooped to minimise my height. I no longer looked furtive and anxious. I was not afraid to speak to people, even knowing my voice was still a give-away.
Over the first months, I became increasingly more comfortable about going into situations as a woman that I had only ever fantasised as a young cross-dresser - restaurants, movies, live theatre, pubs, balls, and visiting my own hairdresser, and getting a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax. The highlight has been a three-day ocean cruise in 2010, which was part of a full week as a woman.
I now had a supportive wife and two teenage daughters who knew about my cross-dressing and were very comfortable with going out shopping with me dressed as a woman. I told my brothers, and all three of them and their partners were accepting of having a big sister. I told my long-standing secretary. It was so good not to have to hide this important part of me from others with whom I was close. I hate secrets and I had now rid myself of the most closely guarded secret of my youth.
One of the other important things for me as a mature cross-dresser, was becoming part of the trans-community, especially becoming a member of Seahorse, an organisation that I had first heard of back in the early 1970's and one that I had always wanted to join. I quickly felt at home in Seahorse, and soon I felt liked and respected by many fellow members, in the same way I liked and respected many of them. I was happy to bring my skills as a webmistress to the Society and to soon become part of the Committee. I had never expected to become President of Seahorse and I feel honoured to have taken on this role for the year, which runs out soon (just after my 64th birthday), much to my wife's relief!