By Amanda J.
After disapproving spouses, purging has to be up there as the biggest scourge of the CDing community. We do it with the best intentions, perhaps to deal with the guilt we feel about deceiving our nearest and dearest, perhaps because we struggle to come to terms with this side of ourselves, perhaps to enable us to focus on other parts of our lives without the distractions of feeding the inner woman’s ego or perhaps for one of a myriad other reasons. And by ‘purge’ I mean getting rid of every last female item we own.
Whatever the reason, we take a deep breath and start putting everything ‘she’ owns into plastic bags either to donate to the local charity shop (and perhaps bought by another CDer who we hope will cherish them as much as we did) or just to be tossed into the skip/dumpster never to be seen again. And we feel good on the drive home because we’ve dealt with that pesky transgender problem for once and for all.
Except we haven’t. Relief soon turns to grief and, before we know it, we’re looking for replacements to start the whole sorry cycle again. And sadly, as many of us realise, it is a cycle because the truth is that we never seem to learn.
I have purged several times and, perversely, it gets harder each time. In my 20s, I’d buy an outfit, wear it a few times and then get rid of it (and that outfit would represent the entirety of my feminine wardrobe). I lived on my own so there was no need for secrecy and the truth is that I just got bored – there was no connection between me and the outfit so getting rid of it was easy. When I resumed CDing in my late 40s, I quickly got into the buy-wear-purge cycle again, purging this time driven by the guilt of keeping everything under the marital radar but what I’d failed to realise was that I was starting to feel more comfortable with this side of me and so the regret would kick in far sooner.
Sometimes I’ve been lucky and the grief hasn’t set in for a few weeks. Other times, it’s been a matter of hours and I’ve even returned to the textile recycling bins to see whether I could fish the discarded items out. Sadly, because they were designed to stop people doing exactly that, I couldn’t. Even now, many years later, I still mourn the loss of some of the items that were absolutely gorgeous and I can’t even begin to imagine how much money was spent in the process.
I had my last big purge a few years ago after coming out to my wife. The confession didn’t go well and the full and final purge was the eventual price I had to pay to keep the family together. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and I’m back to my old ways, carrying on under the marital radar to avoid detection. But there has been one important change in my attitude. I no longer purge even though the guilt and stresses of deception can be debilitating.
So what’s changed?
Quite simply, I realised what purging actually meant. We’re not just putting clothes, wigs, makeup and so on into those bags, we’re actually putting a whole chunk of our personality in there too. We’re consigning the inner woman to oblivion, locking her away in the darkest recesses of our psyche so that she can never again blight our life. But like any good woman, she can’t stay quiet for long and is soon screaming to be set free from her prison once more. And we hear those cries, not least because we miss her just as we miss anyone else that we’re fond of who leaves our life. In short, she leaves a void that only she can fill.
So to anyone reading this who may be contemplating purging, I say this. Purging may seem like the easy way to full and final resolution of the issues that plague you but it isn’t. But if you feel the whole thing is getting out of control and you can’t see any option other than getting rid of ‘her’ clothes, put one outfit (including shoes, underwear and wig) to one side before you pack everything else up. Then put it in a hard to access place for safe keeping away from prying eyes and temptation. Buildings have fire alarms which the occupants hope will never need to be used and, in the same way, whilst you may hope you never need those clothes again, if you do realise that you’ve made a bad mistake, you’ll be able to retrieve them and give the inner woman the freedom she craves.
But if getting rid of every last item is the only way, when you’ve finished putting all of her things into bags, climb in yourself. Because you’ll eventually realise that you can’t survive without her and she can’t survive without you so you have to stick together. But don’t, whatever you do, seal that bag – apart from the riskthat you’ll end up in landfill, sitting inside a sealed plastic bag is a bad idea on so many levels!