Several years ago, when I was going through a period of not dressing and pretending like this all wasn’t really me, my wife for reasons best known to herself decided to purchase a very dark red wig in a bobbed style. I did not react well to this purchase, and didn’t want to see her in it. The thought of her pretending to be someone else made me quite uneasy. There was the additional complication that I think underneath it all I still knew it was me who really wanted to look different, a lot more different than a wig alone would achieve. I mention all this for two reasons; firstly by way of backstory for something that happens later, and secondly to illustrate how hypocritical I am in expecting my wife to accept me as a trans person when I got mildly freaked out by her just buying a wig.
Earlier this week daughter no1 received an invitation to go to a sleepover at a friend’s house on Friday. This happens reasonably regularly, every couple of months or so, as I imagine is the case for many 11-year-old girls. It was as I was driving back home after dropping her off at her friend’s on Friday evening that I realised that this was possibly an opportunity for me to at least partially dress with my wife. Yes, daughter no2 would still be at home but she is much younger and once she gets to sleep she rarely if ever wakes up during the night (I know, we’re very lucky) and even if she does wake up, she would never come downstairs by herself.
So once I had put daughter no2 to bed and my wife came and joined me on the settee I asked how she would feel about me “changing my clothes” – I despair at myself sometimes not having the gumption to just say “wearing a dress” rather than some euphemism. Still, it was obvious that she understood this euphemism, and apparently without too much hesitation she agreed. After seeing photos of me as Kirsty, my wife had said that she didn’t think she could cope with the wig and make-up, so I said it would be just the clothes.
So off I went upstairs for a quick change and came back down wearing my favourite outfit that I had planned to wear to the Butterfly Club the previous week before it got cancelled. I stopped at the living room door and peeked round the corner so she could just see my head – “Are you sure you want to do this? I don’t want you to be upset” I asked, mainly just to express my own extreme nervousness. So in I walked and stood in front of my wife fully dressed in female clothing and with breast forms in place, but still her husband from the neck up. She looked at me and said “It’s you in a dress”, not really any more reaction than that.
So then, despite what we had agreed, my wife asked if I wanted to put on a face of make-up and my wig, which of course I did, and after a quick discussion of how long it would take (she couldn’t believe how slow I was with make-up but I’m still wearing my cosmetics L-plates) off I went back upstairs to complete the job.
As I came back downstairs fully Kirsty-ised my wife saw me reflected in the mirror that hangs over the fireplace. All she could see was a lot of blonde hair, so she said to just come on in and let her see me. So I did. This time it was different, this time I looked like a different person. “Who is this stranger and why is she in my house?” she asked, which I then slightly undermined by speaking in the voice that she has known for many years and sounding entirely familiar. There was a lot of staring and nervous laughter, and then she announced that if I was going to sit in a wig, so was she. And off she went to retrieve the wig that she had bought years earlier, and to which I had reacted rather badly. I could hardly complain now!
So we sat next to each other in our wigs, hers red, mine blonde, with my wife in her pyjamas and me in a floral dress with pink shrug, black opaque tights, black Mary Jane shoes and a full face of make-up. It was, as my wife said, completely and utterly surreal.
As I said in an earlier post, I would like to be able to feminise my voice for times when I’m being Kirsty, and have found a few good resources, but for now I still sound comically bad. So in deference to my wife and to avoid embarrassing myself, I used my normal male voice all night. I also kept my gestures and mannerisms 100% masculine (or as close to that as I ever am when presenting as male, I’m not exactly Mr Macho) to try to show that it was still the same person underneath.
The conversation continued and without regurgitating everything we had said there were positives and negatives.
– I was slimmer than she expected
– I looked more female than she expected
– My make-up was “tasteful”
– Because I am tall I make a very imposing woman
– You would still know there was a man underneath (I winced when she said this, but it’s not like I really thought I was passable)
– I wasn’t very alternative as a woman. Despite having fairly unexciting and conservative careers, my wife and I both have a fondness for indie and alternative music and fashion, but my female dress sense doesn’t reflect this apparently.
The worst part was that she wouldn’t hug me and barely touched me. She said it was like Kirsty was a third person, not her husband, and she didn’t know how to react. As she said before, she isn’t a lesbian so the thought of treating someone presenting as a woman in the same manner as she would treat her husband as a man would be unthinkable. And so it appears that my relationship with my wife will be different as Kirsty than as Bob. Which I suppose was to be expected, but it still concerns me a little.
Overall I was quite pleased with how the evening went. There are many wives who wouldn’t tolerate even a hint of what I have put my wife through in the last couple of months, and I know I am very lucky to have her. When I think to my reaction to her wig, she is definitely a better person than me. I also can’t help but wonder how I would react if the position was reversed, if my wife were to tell me that she wanted to put on a fake beard and watch Match Of The Day in a suit and tie while smoking a pipe. I think I know the answer, and it’s not one that reflects well on me.
When the chatting and staring finished, we actually managed to sit back and watch an episode of “The Walking Dead” together. As the show began, the sponsor’s trail played containing the tagline “Real Men Wear Pink”. I looked down at my cerise shrug sitting over my floral dress, and wondered if I was quite what the advertisers had in mind with that slogan.