Are you wearing a bra?

Are you wearing a bra?

Just how do you answer that question when you ARE wearing a bra – and you’re a man.

Just how do you answer that question? Out of the blue. Suddenly. When it makes you upset and embarrassed.

It’s a reasonable question to any woman. If you ARE wearing a bra then the answer is obviously ‘yes’. UNLESS you SHOULDN’T be wearing a bra. If, for instance, you’re a man. Then you have to answer with more, er, care.

There I was, on the phone to my wife, Caroline, and for some reason there was a pause in the conversation. I was at our cottage by the sea, more of a large shack really. But it was where I went sometimes to get work done on special projects. There really was no spare room to work in our tiny flat in London – so my Uncle’s old shack on the Kent coast was a really useful escape. And I could work on my own personal projects too.

“What’s up? You stopped for a moment.”

“I was just adjusting something, er, fixing something”

“What would you be adjusting while you were on the phone? Don’t tell me you’re wearing a bra again. You know how upset I get when you do that.”

“No. I’m not wearing a bra.”

“Well then, exactly what are you adjusting?”

I don’t think really fast when I’m embarrassed, lying, wearing a complete outfit of my favourite feminine and frilly clothes, and thereby completely in the wrong. “Adjusting my pants, they’ve got twisted.”

“Oh yeah, that’s believable. So it’s not a pair of panties then, frilly and lacy and hugging tight to you in a way that your usual BOXERS don’t. You’re useless at lying. You hardly ever wear pants do you? If you’re adjusting your so-called pants then you’re wearing panties. And that probably means you’re wearing everything else too. Don’t lie to me. It undermines everything when you lie to me.”

“But. And why would I lie to you?”

“Er, why would you lie? Because you’ve been caught out. You’ve been caught out AGAIN to be accurate. You’re wearing a bra – probably from M&S as usual - with those C-cup fillers you ordered on Amazon. You’re wearing panties – again from M&S because I know you enjoy shopping there. What you are wearing otherwise I’m not sure about.”

I was trying to work out what to say. I was trying to calculate exactly what mood Caroline was in. She was coming across as distinctly irritated but not venomously angry, not outraged beyond control – this was not the reaction I expected. I didn’t know how to react. I did think, in one corner of my mind, that whatever I did was already or going to be out of my control.

I don’t know what possessed me. I told the truth.

“Okay. As you asked. I’m wearing a short-sleeved blouse in pale peach satin and a lined knit skirt in dark blue, calf length, by the way. I am wearing a bra, and panties too – matching in white with pink roses. As for shoes, I’ve found a rather pretty open-toe pair of sandals with a three inch heel.”

“You’ve never spoken to me like that. What’s happened to you?”

“I’m suddenly tired of the whole keep-it-hidden-from-you thing. It’s something I have done for years before I met you and, as rarely as I can cope with, at times since we married. I have no real explanation. However I can tell you a few facts. And they are not opinions. They’re not guesses. They’re not excuses. These are facts. I’ll start with the ones that might worry you most. I’m not homosexual. I’m not wanting to become a woman. I’m not even wanting to live as a woman or pretend to be a woman. I’m a man. But I have an addictive element to my character in that I really enjoy the touch and feel and look of clothes which are, these days, expected to be worn only by women.”

“So you’re not gay you’re merely a pervert.”

“Oh, dear me, no. I’m not a pervert. I don’t get a sexual thrill out of this. It’s not a fetish, either. I don’t have weird dreams of dressing up and going out with you as if we were a pair of lesbians. Dear me, no. You really need some up-to-date guidance. I may do something that is seen as odd, for reasons which I am unclear about. That it to say I dress sometimes in clothing deemed suitable only – in these current times - for the opposite sex. Strangely, there seems to be no such discrimination or disapproval when a woman wears the clothes of the opposite sex. That confuses me. But as I say, you need guidance – and I’m probably too involved to give you clear advice.”

“What do I need guidance about – how to live with a pervert?”

“I repeat – I’m not a pervert. What sort of person do you think I am then? The husband of many years who you know very well and who you frequently call your lover, best friend and so much more.”

“But you’ve kept this secret from me.” It was almost a wail.

“I don’t think I’ve kept it very well hidden, do you.”

“But a secret is a secret – and there’s this whole part of you that I don’t know about.”

“Now, you did know. I told you and you told me to ‘keep it to myself, you didn’t want to know’. So that’s what I did. I kept it to myself. In addition, I worked really hard at keeping it to a minimum. So, instead of dressing up when I wanted to, I forced myself to do it much much less than I wanted, to do it only when I felt I had to.”

“Are you pretending this is some sort of stress relief?”

“No. I don’t think I’m claiming that. If I had easy answers then you can be sure I’d have worked them out for myself long ago. I’d have shared that information with you, you can have no doubt about that. But I don’t know when the need will get to me. I don’t know whether I can transfer it into something else or ignore it for a time. It’s not stress that does it, or not simply stress. Sometimes it’s when I’m feeling already relaxed. I don’t have a simple and easy explanation.”

“So, how often do you dress up as you call it. How often do you indulge in this perversion?”

“A few times a year. Not even once a month actually. And cool it with the perversion word. It’s not right.”

“Do you dress every time you ‘go to Uncle’s Shack’? And perversion seems the right word to me.”

“No, as regards the first response. Almost to my surprise, I don’t dress every time at the shack. It’s the easiest place. I could do it every time. But I don’t. To indulge like that would feel wrong too. It would be, I don’t have the words. Perhaps I think it would be unfair to you.”

“And doing it in secret like you are doing isn’t unfair to me. I never knew about this part of you. I never knew you were dressing up in secret and doing whatever you do when you’re dressed up. And how you can try to define how wrong or what parts of your behaviour are ‘not wrong’ – I’m lost for words. Well, lost for the right words.”

“Er, like I said. You told me you didn’t want to know. And I don’t do ‘whatever you’re talking about’ – I just dress up and get on with my work or pass the time or whatever. I don’t flaunt myself, parade about, go on the pickup, masturbate or anything weird. I just dress up as nicely as I can. That’s all.”

“And you don’t call any of that ‘weird’? But if it was and is that important to you, didn’t I have a right to know? Don’t you understand at all?”

“How much of my life or my behaviour can you, honestly now, say has been unfair to you. Evidently we had the cliché of ‘a failure to communicate’. Of course I would have preferred to share this with you. But I didn’t feel there was ever a good moment to ask any of the possible questions. When was the right moment to say ‘does my bottom look too large in this skirt’, eh? Or ‘can you help me get this bra to its best fit?’ Tricky really. ‘Does this shade of lipstick suit me?’ You said you didn’t want to know.”

“And you’re accusing me of a failure to communicate that I needed to know about your ugly habit.”

“Oh, no. Communication requires two people to work together, one sends a message, the other listens to it, absorbs it and reacts. Then a response is sent in the return direction; and so on until an end is reached. And, it’s rather obvious, at some point probably both of us sent a message that was poorly heard. You never heard that this was important to me but that I would keep it discrete. I never realized that you had a need to know and that you might be hurt by me keeping it secret from you. Even if I had been told – or thought I had been told that you didn’t want to be aware of the details. For my contribution or even my failure to accurately contribute – for all of that I am truly sorry.”

“Put like that, so damnably reasonably, I have to calm down and agree. But I still don’t understand this need you have. And I don’t like it either.”

“Darling, I’m fairly sure what you mean by ‘it’ but I need to be sure. Are you objecting to me keeping my dressing-up somewhat hidden from you or the dressing-up itself.”

“It’s the whole bloody thing – and don’t try to get round me with the occasional ‘darling’. That won’t work. Not right now. Both things upset me. The dressing-up because I don’t understand it and I don’t like it. The secrecy upsets me probably more but in different ways.”

“We have to find a way forward ……. don’t we? The alternative’s pretty ugly.”

“I’m taking a deep breath here. And I’m asking a big question. Since I know you adore wordplay – perhaps even as much as you enjoy dressing up, yeh, - do you dress up and look pretty or ugly or pretty ugly? I’m going to have to know. And then we need to decide where we go from there. Do I scream, panic and divorce you for unreasonable behaviour, do we separate and hope we can get back closer or do we find a way forward as a partnership. What do you want – going forward.”

“Now that my dressing is rather more out in the open – I guess I want the wonderful partnership we’ve got but without the secrecy. If I want, no, if I get the need to dress then I want to be able to do it. I’m not going to flaunt it in your face. I’m not going to parade around the house or in front of the neighbours. As regards parading and flaunting, I’d say that when I’m dressed up I want to look as near average and ordinary as I can. I don’t think I look ugly and I certainly wouldn’t claim to look pretty. I’ll go with pretty-ugly for the moment. I guess I want, need, sufficient acceptance from you. I really really need to get out of your head and your heart any of the ideas that it’s perverted, sexual, fetishist. I would love it if you could get as far as ‘not wrong just different’. I know the degree of, er, differentness is a bit much for you to get hold of right now. But I’ll work with you if you work with me. A special effort at communication about a difficult issue. But I have to tell you – dressing like I do is part of me. I’m realizing that it’s deeper and more significant than I’ve been telling myself. It’s not an addiction – I don’t think it’s that. But we need to talk. Talk deeply and openly. Maybe you have a thing or a few things that you’ve never opened up to me about. Just build on the fact, the certainty that I love you – thicker, thinner, lower, higher, ups and downs – and that we have something good shared between us.”

“Too many words, darling, too many words. Come back as soon as you can and we’ll talk. And I’ll start thinking if there’s ways ahead. No, no ‘if’ – I withdraw the ‘if’. I want there to be a way forward, okay. I’ll get myself comfortable with the idea of sometime meeting Patricia. At least, I’d guess you’d choose a name like that.”

“That sounds like one small step towards wonderful. And no, I don’t call myself Patricia. I’ve never really attached a name to my dressing up. That might be unusual but then I’ve never met anyone else who dresses up, not that I’ve ever known. But on the net, there’s groups and so on – but I’ve never fancied that level of involvement. It’s all been for me by me and only me. I have pondered the name Alys. No particular reason why. Don’t know. Let’s call this alter-ego Alys for the moment.”

“Deep breath again. Come home soon Patrick Alys, come home.” Click

----------------------------------

It took some time to get home. I did have to finish the work I was doing. As an architect in a small practice doing some private work on the side, I couldn’t work on private stuff at the office and there was no room at home. Uncle’s Shack was essential. So that took some hours. I emailed Caroline to give her a timetable. She did understand that getting the work done was important. Well, obviously, it paid the bills. But at too many moments during the day, I hesitated, trying to decide who was going home. The invitation was to Patrick Alys, wasn’t it. Did I know what Caroline expected from Patrick-Alys? Did I know how to be Patrick-Alys?

I dithered. I dallied. I wondered what to do. I nearly went on the internet to ask on one of the websites I occasionally wandered onto. Sorry, that was wrong. On the occasions I wandered the net, looking for general information or looking for dressing or, more often, looking for stories, I found a variety of sites of varying usefulness.

To be blunt, some were really unattractive. I can’t say they were actually ‘wrong’ – because what I do is wrong in the views of some. But forced stuff, dominant women with ugly agenda, sissies, bimbos – yuk. And the photographs. What persuades some of my fellow travellers that miniskirts on old legs is attractive, that exaggeration of breasts, waist, lips, hair or whatever adds to any form of appeal. They must believe it or they wouldn’t do it. But really. Like a wig on a walrus.

In the end, I just did as normal. Stripped off, had a swim (quite brief as it was cold that day), a shower and changed into some ordinary casual clothes. I had tidied up all evidence of Alys before the swim – it helps to have a routine for that sort of thing. Hiding a regular activity only really works if you’re organised. And on Alys’ behalf, I was organised. The outcome of a wandering pair of panties on even a well-balanced marriage is not worth being casual about clear-up. So Alys went back to her suitcase in the loft and Patrick set off back to south-east London.

I’m not quite six foot tall, still sporty and quite solidly built. I kept an eye on my weight and needed it to be towards 11 stone rather than 12. Otherwise my small collection of skirts and dresses looked dreadful. I kept my average brown hair long, not shoulder length but well onto the collar. I told myself that being in an arty profession made this allowable and acceptable.

I had no illusions about being able, even if I wished, to look genuine as a girl. All my dressing was on my own, in the quiet, solo. The sites I did go to which I thought were sensible and the stories I read which felt real – they all said that ‘the aim is to be comfortable’. If you want garish, brassy, brazen, overt then there were stories and examples for that too. But not me.

I’m 39 and Caroline is 36. She’s a bit shorter than me, skinnier, less sporty, longer hair and so I can’t wear anything of hers and actually wouldn’t dare.

It was getting towards evening when I decided I had done enough. I rang rather than emailed. “I’m on my way home. I’ll be about an hour and a half as usual unless traffic snarls up.”

“Will it be Patrick coming home or Alys?”

I was stunned. “Patrick of course. I wasn’t planning on anything else.”

“I’ve been on the web all day, darling. I’m not accepting or understanding all of it – but I’ve got to meet Alys sometime.”

“Okay, honey. But I don’t think it’ll be today. If you can, relax with a glass and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

I drove on through the summer evening. I couldn’t really concentrate because of the extraordinary things that were bouncing around my brain. And, no, I’d taken off the bra and inserts quite some time ago – so THEY weren’t bouncing around at all. I’d changed out of my seaside sundress and was back in shirt and trousers.

I was so used to the changeover from Patrick-boy to Patrick-girl and vice versa. But this time, with the faint promise of change, I felt different. Stressed, no doubt about that, but strangely confident too.

I got home perhaps 5 minutes later than usual and was met at the door by Caroline.

“Hi, darling. I don’t know about you but that emotional outburst this morning has me flop-down exhausted. I haven’t had a drink. I was worried that I’d either fall asleep instantly or drink the whole bottle and be pissed when you got home or even worse I’d drink the whole bottle and be stone-cold sober.” She paused. “I spent some time on the interweb. Well, not ‘some’ time, I’ve been on it almost since we finished talking. And I have to say, that some sites I left with my face scarlet and my brain spinning. Thank god, I’ve got quick reflexes and can hit the exit button fast. Some of it was ‘yukk’. And some of it was far worse. I’ve looked at either too much or too little. If I wasn’t emotionally exhausted already I’d be mentally wiped out as well. Give me of drunkenness, darling. And if you want that sweet little word, I’ll add NOW.”

“I should never have let you watch the Addams Family. Vot a mistakea to makea.”

“I know that we ought to be talking really seriously and deeply and significantly and all those big long words – but I just need my husband. Just for now, I’ve got to slow down and stop.”

“Fine by me, dear. I’m not going away and you’re not going away so whatever problems there are will still be there – ready for us to get to grips with them.”

An exhausted mumble came from beneath my arm “But we’ve got to talk and we’ve got to be nice and each take a deep breath before we say something, in case it’s silly or too much of a reaction. Promise me.”

“That I can certainly promise. We nearly made a big mistake – we can do better.”

“That’s nice.” And it might have been at what I said or at the glass of wine which she laid down carefully or at my stroking her hair. It didn’t really matter. We were going forward. How and when and where Alys would come forward for her debut, I couldn’t guess. But Alys was coming out of hiding. And somehow, I knew that things WOULD get better.

-------------

It was some ten days later that I raised the subject of Alys myself. Caroline hadn’t said anything at all. No direct comments, no indirect comments, no snide or sarky or nastiness. Nothing.

“I was going down the High Street to the bank and I saw a dress that I’d like to check out.” I hesitated and said out loud, “Take a big breath here boy and say it - Do you want to come and look with me – there might be something you’d like too? It’s a big sale.”

There was a pause while Caroline sat up and looked at me. A long minute. “Well, that’s not keeping Alys very secret is it? Going shopping in our own high street. What am I – some sort of camouflage? If that’s the idea then NO. No, no, no.”

“Honey, I am not hiding behind you. I am inviting you along because I want to. I want to show a glimpse of Alys to you. No flaunting. No showing-off. No parading in public. Just two people looking at some dresses.”

“Just two people looking at dresses?”

“That’s what I said.”

“But what exactly did you mean.”

“I don’t think I could have been clearer. I saw a dress. I saw a sale. Dress plus Sale equals more interest. Alys is not going to hide from you. Alys wants to check out this dress and invited you for two reasons – to look at the dress together and to let you look at the sale too. No baffling double-talk. No sly attempt at manipulation. Just two people looking at dresses.”

“But you’re a man and men don’t wear dresses.”

“Okay, I’m an unusual man. I sometimes like to wear a dress.”

“Hmmmm. Just your run of the mill pervert then.”

“I went through this last time. I don’t aim for a sexual thrill from this. It’s something I enjoy. It often relaxes me. Lets me unwind, perhaps. I made a genuine offer for us to go out – even if it’s a little bit different from the average.”

“Ha, you can say that again. It’s not normal is it? A man wearing a dress or even thinking about wearing a dress. It’s just not normal.” She was glaring at me now.

“It’s a little bit different, that’s for sure. And all the research I’ve done says that corss-dressing is one large factor more common than any of the transgender options. And, by golly, aren’t they getting into the papers on a regular basis pretty often. What I enjoy doing – and it’s only sometimes It’s not illegal, immoral or fattening. I could be clever and say that doing an Alys now and again actually helps keep my weight down.”

“You said ‘doing an Alys’. Don’t you mean pretending to be Alys or something about your inner-girl?”

Wow, my lady had some snap and snarl ripping out. “No. I’ve tried to make clear that I don’t want to be a woman. I don’t pretend to be a woman. I’m not gay either. I like being dressed and it seems more suitable to label this as ‘doing an Alys’. Just to try to keep things clear, y’know.”

“More suitable ………. In what way does a man putting on panties, bra and a dress fit the description ‘suitable’? But despite this f..in weird behaviour of yours, you expect me to join in?”

“For me, there’s not much choice – secrecy or not. So, I’m not hiding it when, previously, I would have hidden it.”

“I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. You do know that.”

“Yeah, but you like me keeping it quiet much worse.”

“I’m not sure I can cope with the choice between ‘very worse’ and extremely worse’. Secrecy or dressing-up. It’s all a big yuk.”

“I ask again – will you come with me. I’m not hiding, not being secretive. I’ve promised to be open …….. Come or Stay?”

“I’ll come. Not willingly. But if you’re going to continue with this – then it seems I have little choice. And don’t’ quote that oldie from Philosophy 101 – ‘There’s always a choice’.”

I have to confess I had to conceal the little smirk that meant I was about to say it. “Okay then.”

“What right now. You’re going out to look at dresses dressed as you are?”

“I’m only going out to look at the dress. If I buy it then I make sure I can take it back if it doesn’t fit or I don’t like it. Although a few shops allow one to try a dress on if it’s quiet.”

“I’m not sure which is worse – going to look at a dress as you say you intend or coming back with a likelihood of taking it back.”

My eyebrow raised in question. “What would you expect me to do then. Go to the shop with a full set of underclothes, panties, bra and all. I don’t do that. I dress for myself, by myself, in private, for my own comfort and pleasure. I don’t go out dressed. Never have. Never intend to.”

“Okay then. Your way. We go to the shop. You look at the dress and presumably whatever else you have your eye on – then I do the same if there’s anything suitable. Then we come home. You try on the dress and either keep it for later or decide to take it back. Right.”

“Yeess.” I hesitated and made it clear there was a question hanging.

“What’s the hesitation?” There was a lot of tension to deal with.

“It’s such a beautiful evening, I’d like to stay in town and go to one of the pubs on the river …. Rather than coming straight home.”

Glare. “And you won’t be doing any of this Alys stuff while we’re out.”

“No. I wasn’t even thinking that.”

“Hrumphh. Alright then. Look at the dress, maybe look at the sale. Then the pub and home. Right.”

“Caro, if the evening goes like that then we’re planning too far ahead. Let’s enjoy the evening as I suggested.”

“Hrrrrummphhh, yurrrr, alri’. I’ll go and put some evening at the pub clothes on. Be a minute or two.”

I wondered what she’d choose. And then I wondered what I would wear if Alys were going out to that pub.

An hour or so later, we’d done our shopping. I had bought the dress and some new undies too. And a sheer satin blouse. And a lined pleated skirt. And some other bits and pieces. And Caroline hadn’t stayed annoyed. In fact, she had suggested that I buy the undies and the skirt.

She had bought a couple of things too. We walked back to the pub as it was only a short walk back to the house. And parking even in the early evening was vile so we had left the car behind.

We sat outside with our bags tucked under the chairs. Suddenly we were enveloped in hugs and kisses and backslaps from a huge group of our friends. Well, it turned out to be only four of them actually. Rick, Susie, Angie and Patsie.

Patsie was the one who did the damage. She tripped over my legs and fell into my bag of shopping. It fell over and there for all to see were my purchases.

“Ooh, fashion show” cried Susie. “Let’s see.”

Caroline didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to say. There was an ugly silence.

========================

The dress which had fallen out was red. And not a red suitable for a redhead such as Caroline was. Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought it because it would clash so badly with her – but I never expected to wear it within a thousand miles of her.

Angie was the one who found some words. “I’m guessing you’ve got a costume party to go to, eh?”

“Unh.” Was all I could come up with.

“Patrick, I’m not as stupid as some blondies. You’re blushing like a blushing thing. Neither you nor Caroline are saying anything in response to ‘Fashion Show’. Typically, Caroline would say ‘just a dress I’ve picked up today – nothing special – you’ll see it soon. But it’s just wrong for her. So ….. it’s for you. Which means a costume party obviously.” But there was a sneaky glint in her eye as she said that.

“It’s okay. We all enjoy a bit of dressing up, a bit of a party. Fret not. Perhaps you might join us some evening?” There was a tone to her voice that worried me. As if she had guessed that the bag under my chair was indeed under my chair because it was my bag. And that therefore the clothes in it were for me. And, therefore that I sometimes wore ……….

I didn’t like the direction things were going. Having suddenly come out to Caroline didn;’t mean that I wanted anyone else to know. Like I said earlier – I kept myself quiet, solo, private. That is to say, I kept Alys-self very private.

I tried to not react to her. But Susie was looking at me too. A sort of expression on her face that, if I hadn’t known better, was something like ‘so you’re one of those, are you?” Sort of as if she knew something special about me that she’d only just realized. Again, I hoped that I was thinking wrong.

By now, Rick and Patsie were coming back with the drinks so they had missed the whole dress fiasco. Fortunately.

Angie sat next to me. Once everyone was busy talking, she murmured to me. “I know a lot of people who enjoy dressing-up. You ought to give me or Susie a ring.” Then she raised her voice and said “Patrick, that’s a great idea.”

There was a chorus of “What’s up? What’s a good idea?”

Angie was taking over and leading this in a direction I thought I didn’t want to know about.

“Getting some of the girls over for a party. Get back into the Big Sisters thing, y’know.”

What on earth were they talking about? Over the next few hours it became clear that, some years before, Angie had been a leading light in a local organisation called ‘BigSisters’. I had read the stories about Aunt Jane and her very selective and specialised school (by Brandy DeWinter & Joel Lawrence if you didn’t know). I had also read a lot of the Janet Stickney stories. Sadly both authors seemed to have gone into abeyance. There were others, mostly on the BCTS site. I liked the preference for ‘forced’ stories on Fictionmania much less. But we all have personal partialities.

Anyway, this BigSister group focussed on men who they felt would benefit from some training in feminine skills. They encouraged the wearing of panties as often as possible. They encouraged many of their clients to wear dresses and go out ‘en femme’ so that they could learn feminine habits and behaviours which would counteract the macho and masculine habits which were, in the BigSisters’ view’ preventing the development of the complete person.

A core belief was that a complete person would have a modicum of the personality traits of the so-called ‘opposite’ gender. They were in no way aiming at the complexity of a 50/50 masculine-feminine persona but they wanted both their male and occasional female clients to move away from the 100% extreme.

Angie said she had a few old leaflets which explained things better. She also said that the organisation had rather changed over recent years as the personal touch had been rather pushed to one side with the new web-based systems. For that reason, she was definitely not in favour of the modern approach.

It did become clear that there was a large group of men who took part in the old BigSister scheme and that Angie knew many of them very well. She said that they didn’t need much of an excuse to get together – and finding a new candidate was as good an excuse as any other.

I spoke for some time with Patsie. After a while, something she said made me wonder what was going on.

“Angie does get a little over-excited. She’s always been like this. It can be a bit wearing having a wife like that – but as her h, partner.” Patise blushed and tried to excuse her blunder as a stammer. But I had been listening hard – and it wasn’t a true stammer.

“Erm, Patsie, you said h’partner. That sounded awfully like you were going to say ‘husband’’ and then you thought I would do or say or react badly? Umm, yes?”

“Whoops. Caught out again. Like when I first met her and I was wearing stockings under my trousers. Yes, Angie’s my wife, im’ a male beneath all these lovely frills.” And she ?he giggled like any other girl I had ever met. How many exclamation marks and question marks were going through my head – like grammatical butterflies.

We talked a lot about the BigSisters operation and methods. Patsie was very much in favour. She had been a pretty good rugby player but with a penchant for the pretty things in life too. I was fascinated.

I could see Caroline talking with Susie. I asked Patsie if Susie was another dressed-up man or a real girl.

“That’s not really a question we encourage. There are a few markers and signals that our boys and girls can sometimes wear, if they want to be obvious. But the training is designed to ensure that boys look real and confident when they go out en femme and the girls look as good when they go out en macho.”

By the time we finished talking, I had a lot to think about.

By the end of the evening, Angie had got very excited and pretty much decided that she was going to get an old-style BigSister operation going in the town. As she spoke, I began to realize how many of the shops and businesses in the area already had knowledge of or, indeed, would encourage such a development.

By the end of the evening, I had been pushed, encouraged, told and expected to go to Angie’s house for some coaching a la BigSister. Caroline’s endorsement of the idea had been the final confirmation. It was not so much that she did endorse the idea – it was the way she said it. I could feel the love, the care and concern she had that it would be good for both of us. And that she was no longer as worried about existence and occasional presence of girl-me as she had been for so long.

And I was looking forward to it – as well as being, just a little, fearful. How much would I change? Would I stop being ‘me’?



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