By Julie Slowinski
I suppose my journey has had many tipping points. However, one night was life changing. In the words of Jules Winnfield (of Pulp Fiction), let’s call it a moment to clarity. To which Vincent replied, “So, that’s it? You’re just gonna walk da Earth?” Jules says, “Yeah, that’s basically what I’m gonna do. Go from town to town, looking for adventures”
This moment of clarity was a few months before my first time out. It was a late night with the kids at grandma’s house, my wife sleeping in the next room, myself all Julie’ed up and maybe a little drunk. Okay, maybe a lot drunk. But, before we get into the specifics of that moment, let me share a bit of my backstory – in Marvel speak: “The Julie Origin Story.” Yes, at times I do feel like a Superhero.
“To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born….” (I’ve always wanted to use that quote). I first noticed my gender variance around 10. Cannot be sure of the exact age, but I know it was when my shoe size was the same as my mother’s. I distinctly remember the strappy green heels left in the bathroom and thinking to myself, “Wonder what those feel like?” The answer was somewhere between intriguing and intoxicating. And then, there was the time I woke up remembering a dream about wearing an orange and white striped mini dress with awful orange tights (it was the 80s). And possibly before both of those memories, I inexplicably had the notion in my head that result of puberty was for everyone to change sex – boys to women and girls to men. These are my earliest memories on the subject.
During adolescence, things moved to a more sexual stage, as I borrowed many items from my mother’s closet and drawers. Of course, just about everything about male adolescence has to do sex, so I don’t think I was atypical. I very much remember the confusion of that time: “I’m supposed to want to be with a girl, not be the girl.” Moving away to college was a challenge in terms of having no access to clothing items, but the thoughts were as persistent as ever. To be honest, I don’t think there’s been a day where I didn’t think about being a crossdresser at least once – usually it’s several dozen times a day. After college I moved to California and within a year I moved in with the girl I was dating at the time.
Within 6 months of that, I had come out to her – the very first person on the planet I told about my deep dark secret. In high school, I thought about telling the girl I lost my virginity to. Luckily, I came to my senses, cuz that would have been a teenage nightmare. The California girlfriend was quite accepting and helped me buy my first pair of heels and a few rudimentary outfits. I specifically remember having the freedom to shave my legs for the very first time. OMG!! The ecstasy. I should note that we lived in West Hollywood – the epicenter of the gay nightlife in Los Angeles. Despite that very open community, I was still very much in the closet. I was terrified of being discovered, even by my gay neighbors – such a fool I was. Although … that first Halloween after coming out to her, the precursor to Julie did show off her new wardrobe – visiting a couple straight bars along with a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – a very memorable night in a very short skirt and fabulous Mary Jane heels.
A couple years later we broke up (for unrelated reasons) and I got an apartment by myself. In addition to having virtually unlimited freedom, this was a very exploratory time for me. I remember checking out books from the library, in an effort to figure out who and what I was. I came to the conclusion that everyone has some sort of kink and this just happened to be mine. This was very much part of my slow evolution toward self acceptance. There was still guilt and shame, but it was beginning to be rationalized away.
About a year later, I met the woman who would eventually become my wife. We were getting serious and I figured that if we were gonna have a future, she needed to know. It was definitely a shock and early on it almost broke us up. We’ve been married for over 20 years now and she has said on many occasion that coming out to her before we got married and allowing her to make a conscious decision was essential and she cannot say how things would have turned out otherwise.
My wife is definitely accepting, but is probably more in the category of tolerant – she understands my need to periodically express, but prefers to have her husband around. Early in our marriage, maybe the first year, she asked me to stop dressing. Being a newlywed, I gave it a genuine effort. A few weeks later, she came to me and said, “I think you should go back to it … I’m tired of living with angry guy.” From that point on, it was not a question of ‘if I was gonna dress’, but more of a negotiation about when.
So, for about 20 years I was content with this arrangement. I had my weekends – about once a month – bolstered by times alone in the house. There were a few periods where we lived in different cities, which gave me ample opportunity to experiment with makeup and figure out my clothing style. But, again it never really occurred to me to leave the house. I guess I was perfectly happy with having my periodic freedoms. I was also pretty focused on my career and young family, which kept me plenty busy. One thing I failed to notice was my lack of friends. Old friends just kinda slipped away, because if I had free time – kids at grandmas house and/or wife away – I would rather be girly at home than hang out with the guys.
I guess the point of all this backstory is that I had slowly evolved to fair amount of self acceptance. At least that’s what I thought. The moment of clarity was actually a sudden realization that I was harboring a massive amount guilt and shame. It was after midnight, I was more than a little drunk, fully dressed and talking to myself in the mirror, “You’ve done everything right in your life – good job, dedicated to your kids, no marriage infidelities and yet here you are. So many people in this world do all sorts of irresponsible and truly awful things … and then you’re gonna be judged for THIS *waiving my hand in front of my image*. Why is THIS something for shame? Look at you!! You’re almost 50 and you’re still hiding. Cowering and hiding behind this curtain, like *THIS* is some sort of criminal act. You deserve better than this. You’ve earned the right to be whoever you wanna be!!! THIS shouldn’t be a shameful act.”
I didn’t make the decision that night (actually, I barely remember the rest of that night). But, 4 months later I found my way out of that self imposed prison. If you read the story of my first time out [please see below for the links], it wasn’t entirely planned. But, on a subconscious level, I think that night was pivotal to getting into the mindset of needing more than those 4 walls. Here’s the best part. Friends!! Since I started going out, I now have a great circle of friends. And it’s not just CDing that we have in common. We go out and do so many fun things – of course scrumptious meals and shopping excursions, but also live music, live theater, art museums and let’s not forget about dancing until all hours of the night. All of these things I could possibly enjoy in boy mode, but they are so much more vibrant as Julie. Unlike her alter ego, who is pretty much a homebody and doesn’t really like people, Julie seems to have boundless energy and loves to talk with anyone willing to listen. She most definitely is my Superhero – I cannot imagine how boring my life would be without her.
If I could be a superhero, it would be Starfire.
I’m not a comic book person. I mostly know Starfire from Teen Titans Go – a cartoon I used to watch with my kids.
Julie’s first time out posts:
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