When To Tell
Notes on Gender Role Transition
Anne Vitale Ph.D. Editor
A Significant Other View
by Julie Freeman
This article is reprinted with permission from DEVIL WOMAN, the Diablo Valley Girls newsletter. Ms Freeman is the wife of a crossdresser. She can be reached at Julie39@comcast.net
When To Tell
No matter how many meetings one may attend, no matter how many gender birthdays one may celebrate, no matter how many seminars one may frequent, no matter how many outreach activities one may participate in, it is still astounding how many individuals are STILL deep in the closet, unaware of support groups for the transgendered and their families and friends. You would have thought by now that everyone must be out - there have just been too many talk shows on gender and too many movies on crossdressing for anyone to be left in the dark.
But perhaps in the dark is where many prefer to remain. Certainly we know that society is still hostile and that openness and candor in the wrong place at the wrong time, unfortunately, leads to negative results.
But the closet may NOT be where the individual wants to be. It is where he believes he must stay in order to preserve a relationship that means much to him. It might be his family. It might be his job. It might be a close friend.
What can we tell this individual? What can we tell someone who has already lost family because of his revelations? What can we tell someone who believes that he can "cure" his behavior, that continuing to crossdress is not worth it if it means losing a loved one.
I wish we had the answers. Some have been lucky; they decided to be honest and open, knowing they were taking a risk, and it worked out; their family members were supportive and their friends did not turn their backs.
But others have not been so lucky. Divorce and broken relationships dot the gender landscape - perhaps not any more unusual than society's, but does that matter when there is hurt and pain.
I know from my own involvement with the gender community that crossdressing does not just go away, that deciding to "quit" does not work, that trying to stifle what is a natural behavior will cause more heartache and despair in the long run than being honest with oneself and incorporating the crossdressing into one's life in a positive manner.
So my heart goes out to those who retreat to their closets because they have been hurt or fear being hurt again. All of us need to work together to find ways to help individuals deal with fear and rejection and continue to work in the areas of education of those who do the rejecting. There are no easy answers to so many of our community's questions. Let us at least keep the hot lines going; let us continue to be there for support.