It was great when it all began…

Anyone who’s ever seen Rocky Horror – either on stage or screen – will know that line, sung by the gorgeous Little Nell as Columbia.

And every transgender person has a whole life story and can probably remember their “first time”.

Little Nell as Columbia
Little Nell as Columbia

For me, I was a kid growing up in the 1970s. I have a younger sister – about three years younger – and she was the one who got the cute dresses. I was mainly dressed in brown corduroy trousers and pullovers. This was the 1970s – the decade that style forgot – after all.

It was a Sunday morning and I was up really early. I used to get up while my parents slept, creep downstairs and watch cartoons on TV. This was in an age before flat, wide screens, before remote controls, even. We’d only just moved out of the black and white era and the television was probably rented.

Anyway, I reckon I’d be about seven years old, meaning my sister would have been about four. I spotted one of her cute dresses hanging up and I knew I wanted to wear it. I felt like I was missing out. Why did I have to wear drab brown when she got such beautiful clothes?

A dress on Etsy - similar to the one I first tried on.
A dress on Etsy – similar to the one I first tried on.

I still remember that dress. It was black cotton with a large white lace collar. On the black fabric were hundreds of tiny flowers – maybe roses – picked out in red, green and white. So I picked it up, took it off the hanger and put it on.

It fit perfectly. I was a tiny creature back then – very slight for my age and really skinny despite having a ferocious appetite. Back then, there were no computers, so all the kids played in the garden for hours on end, day after day. Everyone was skinny – but I was particularly so.

So the dress fit beautifully and I loved how it felt on me. I can still remember looking down at my body and thinking how pretty it looked in a dress instead of jeans or cords. I think I gave a little twirl.

I only wore it for a minute or so, and then took it off. I didn’t want to get caught by my parents as I knew they would not understand. Even I didn’t understand. They’d ask me: why? And I couldn’t tell them why. I just knew that it felt good and that I needed to put the dress on.

I couldn’t face the disapproval – maybe even anger – and so I took it off, placed it back on its hanger and that was that. I don’t remember cross-dressing again for a good few years – but that’s a blog entry for another time.

I do know that I always felt “different”. Even as a kid of three or four. I was the shy one. I had close friends but was rubbish in a large group – like school – and I’m still not amazing in one today. I knew there was something different about me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. On that Sunday morning, I took my first step to finding out what that difference was.

Andie x


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