It’s always fascinating to hear someone else’s story and my friend Amelia was kind enough to share. I recently met with Amelia (in boy mode) at a quiet table at Starbucks. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
JUDI: Thanks for being willing to meet with me today.
AMELIA: I’m humbled that you want to hear my story. I’ll admit that I’m quite nervous too.
JUDI: Well, I’ll try to put you at ease – we’ll just chat as friends, and if I ask anything that you’re not comfortable answering, just say so and we’ll move on. I’ll let you do most of the talking, if you’re okay with that.
AMELIA: Perfect. Thank you.
JUDI: So tell me a bit about Amelia and the journey that has brought you to this day.
AMELIA: Hm – where to begin? I guess at around 12-year-old-me… It was the first time my parents had allowed me to stay home alone without a sitter. They had just left for the evening for a fancy dinner or something. My mom was all done up, wearing a pretty dress and heels, wearing a sweet-smelling perfume. I always loved the lingering fragrance of her perfume combined with the fresh smell that remained after they had just showered. I’m describing smells, but it was more than that – it was a feeling that I loved. It felt warm and safe.
I think it was because I was both excited and nervous about being trusted home alone, that I went to hang out in their room soon after my parents left – I think I wanted that warmth and comfort and sense that they were “there” even though they weren’t. The bed had a jumble of Mom’s discarded outfits and pantyhose. Some necklaces and rings were lying on her night stand, and a few pairs of her shoes were lying haphazardly on the floor.
Don’t ask me where it came from, because I have no idea to this day, but I ended up trying on everything that she had left lying around and looking at myself in their full-length mirror. I remember being terrified and excited at the same time – studying the exact position of how she’d left every single item so that I could return it to the way I found it so that they wouldn’t notice it had been touched. It was a crazy feeling. It was an incredible rush, and at the same time a feeling of being completely and utterly messed up in the head, not understanding my own actions, and being entirely unable to stop.
JUDI: Were you afraid that your parents would come home and catch you?
AMELIA: Absolutely! I had locked their bedroom door from the inside, but I didn’t want to have to explain that either! In the end my brain got the better of me, and I changed back into my clothes and left everything as I’d found it.
The days and weeks following that were extremely anxiety-ridden for me. I felt like somehow everyone knew my “dirty little secret”. My dreams were filled with soft, pretty, fabrics, sweet smells, and high heels, but I’d often wake up in a guilt-induced sweat and try to will myself to think of anything else but that. As much as it enticed me, I also wanted it to go away – and to not be a freak.
In middle school and high school I threw myself head first into sports. I was involved in every single sport I could be – and the more masculine, the more I immersed myself. Believe it or not, I ended up being captain of the football team. I didn’t realize at the time but of course I was trying to compensate, to get away from this thing that I’d stumbled across and experimented with. And it mostly worked, by the way. I didn’t even think about this side of myselft until into college when I had moved into my own apartment, and then I started up again with a vengeance. Of course, it was there all the time – just latent and waiting for an opportunity to be able to express itself. This was before the internet was such a commonly used tool, and I had no idea that I wasn’t the only one.
JUDI: When did you find out and what did that change for you?
AMELIA: Geez – it wasn’t until after college, well into adulthood. I was already dating my now wife, so I must have been around 24 or so. Upon finding out that I wasn’t unique, I tried to find out what the answer was to the question that had been bugging me for many, many years… why? I was certain that someone would have researched it and found the answer, but you know – I still haven’t found the answer. Nobody seems to really know. Knowing I’m not the only one didn’t really do much for me. I still felt that I wasn’t normal.
JUDI: So, what about the future? Do you see yourself ever growing beyond the current situation? You know – you started at 12, at 24 you found out you weren’t alone… does 36 hold another turning point for you?
AMELIA: I used to say “never”, but now I’m not so sure any more. Society seems to be changing and becoming a little more accepting, and I would love to be able to be the “real me” one day. I had my forearm shaved for some minor surgery, and ever since I’ve kept my arms shaved. I know it’s just a small thing, but it connects me to Amelia every day. I never thought I’d do something like that, so maybe I’ll be brave in other ways too. My legs? We’ll see.
JUDI: Do you have any advice for anyone who will read this interview?
AMELIA: I don’t have any answers. I just know what has worked for me, which is basically to stop fighting with the part of me that always needed to understand why, and just accept that this is who I am. And as far as I can tell, it’s not going away today, tomorrow, or ever. When I accepted it, and stopped questioning it 24/7, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
JUDI: Thank you, Amelia. I’m hopeful that your story will resound with some other girls who may be in situations not all too different from your own. I appreciate your taking the risk to meet with me and open up to me today. I’d love to stay in touch and hear how you’re coming along with your future.
AMELIA: Absolutely. You know – I haven’t told my story to anyone until now. You’re the first person I’ve ever talked to about it, and I feel great! So thank you for being willing to listen. I’ll definitely stay in touch. By the way, I think you and Diana are doing a really wonderful thing for the community with DressTech, and I’m honored to be a small part of that.
JUDI: We are both so happy that we have are able to bring some peace of mind to some people. We’ve been told by some of our customers that instead of gender “dysphoria”, they feel gender “euphoria” when they see their image in the mirror match their image in their minds, so yeah – we feel like we’re doing something right. Thank you for the compliment.
AMELIA: Yeah – that makes total sense to me. What a perfect way to phrase that feeling. Thank you for your wonderful work, and please keep it up and keep innovating. We need you!
JUDI: That’s the plan! Thank you again, Amelia!