David - Could you spend some time telling us your life story - what happened to you and what the Lord did to rescue you from your sexual sin and confusion?
Former TSS - Well that's a big bite! My life story in a nutshell is: I was a boy who by the age of three or three and a half years decided that being a boy was not necessarily the most wonderful thing in the world, and in fact the idea became more deplorable as life went on.
I didn't have sufficient masculine role models around to draw me into manhood. That isn't blame shifting on my part, that was just a fact. I'm not blaming my dad - he was just wrapped up in his own work-a-day world, making a living, and there were a lot of false perceptions on my part as a kid. You can't always think concretely as a little one, and a lot of things that I thought, which became core beliefs, focused around my dad not being there for me. And of course as little kid I didn't realize he was working long hard hours at night, trying to catch some sleep during the day, and then working kind of a second job during the evening. But to me, he just wasn't there. He was emotionally distant a lot of the time and just wasn't there for me when I thought I needed him, although he was providing well for us. And because of that core belief that I had about my dad, bonding really never occurred between my dad and myself.
I opted for the feminine, which was more comfortable. I got a lot of attention from girls in the neighborhood, and a great deal of attention from my mom, so my mom and myself were very close while my younger brother was very close to my dad. I learned to identify with mom very early on. By the age of three and a half or so I was cross-dressing with little neighborhood girls and enjoying their clean world of lace and dollies. It was a safe environment as opposed to the masculine world that I saw as kind of threatening, dirty, slutty, and which involved a lot of stuff that just wasn't appealing to me. I just decided by the age of three and a half that it would be safer and better to be a girl.
David - Do you have any idea what it was about you that made you more attracted to the safer, more put together world of your mother?
Former TSS - I don't know. I think that basically I didn't have a male role model who was strong enough to draw me into the masculine, and you know, there is a lot of "pop-psychology" out there and a lot of theories surrounding this issue. But we're working with a lot of people right now who are coming out of this lifestyle and there are a lot of common threads that run in stories. One of them is the desire to be like mommy. I think if there is any one strong thing that runs through the lives of most of us, it is that we just didn't bond sufficiently with dad and we were trying to bond with mom - and that was even on shaky ground. For many of us we had a lot of anxiousness about leaving mom's side. I like what Gordon Dalbey wrote in his book, Healing the Masculine Soul, and also his book, Father and Son. It is how the boy just isn't sufficiently drawn into manhood by an appealing enough role model. Although we were close, something happened early on to my relationship with mom - and I think it had to do with her having to go back to work shortly after my birth. A psychologist would call that "anxiety separation". I don't know what all goes into that except that I think that a lot of the clothing that represented mom was the very clothing that became my "drug of choice" - to find closeness to mom through articles of her clothing early on and in articles of clothing that symbolized mom in later years.
David - As you grew into your adolescent years, did things evolve into perverse behavior or did it remain at a certain level?
Former TSS - In my own life it started with simply cross-dressing into mommy's dresses like all the girls did in the neighborhood - having tea parties and playing with dolls and so forth, and I just enjoyed that world. I just enjoyed the frills, the dresses, the feel of it. I enjoyed being in a girl's world.
One significant thing that happened to me, and I am finding this is very characteristic among those of us who have been involved in this lifestyle, is that I received affirmation and attention from my dad when I would cross-dress. He would be passing by and would say, "My you sure make a cuter girl than you do a boy". That kind of comment, you know, really hurt, but it also set up within my thinking that I was more loved and accepted as a girl by my dad. And I think at the very root of it is the great desire, of course, for the boy to be accepted and loved and affirmed by his dad.
I didn't really sense in all my growing up years that I could really measure up to dad's expectations. This is not an attempt to portray him as a bad or wicked or a non-loving individual. He loved his family dearly, but he just said some careless things from time to time that really hurt me. And some of the things that he would say . . . . . . I was a breech baby, and in those days it was a very difficult thing, and almost took mom's life in the process. He reminded me on many occasions that I almost killed mom. And there were a lot of comments that he really wanted a girl , really preferred a girl, and in fact they had a girl's name picked out for me. You know a lot of people do that , and I saw that information as a child, not thinking that it was going to have the effect that it did. It is very dangerous to say stuff like that to your child. So I grew up believing that a girl's world was safer, that life would be better, and that I would be more acceptable to my dad and to my mom as a girl. My mom was a hairdresser, you know, and she always wanted a daughter. She had two sons, and she wanted a daughter to pass on the business to, and I was left with the core belief that life would be sweeter as a girl.
David - The drive must have been pretty strong to keep you engaging in bizarre behavior in the face of ridicule by your peers?
Former TSS - Well, it was a shameful thing. I mean I was very much aware that homosexuality was taboo, and that it wasn't acceptable at all. It wasn't acceptable to me personally either! I was not turned on by that lifestyle at all.
You know, I was born in 1941. During that era such things as transsexuality or transvestism - you had to go to the dictionary to look them up, you know? People just didn't know much about it back in those days, and for me to even talk about it was unthinkable. The only person that knew about it as far as I knew when I was growing up was my mom. She knew that I cross-dressed regularly, and I think that produced a lot of guilt in her and a great deal of frustration from not knowing what to do with her son who was using her clothing. She knew that I was getting into her clothing on a regular basis and she would find stuff in my closet or my drawers, you know. It was very disappointing and very shocking and she didn't know what to do with that information.
My dad didn't find out that I was involved in that kind of stuff actively until I was about sixteen or seventeen years of age, at which point he beat the living tar out of me and called me all kinds of names - one of which was homosexual. I knew I wasn't homosexual. I was not attracted to men, and in fact if anything, I hated men. I didn't want to be with men. I wanted to associate with women. I found it so much more comfortable to be with women, to date women. I could understand where they were coming from, though I myself always had a very masculine build and frame - low voice, heavy beard, all that kind of stuff. I just felt more and more and more that I was really a girl on the inside. But I know now that I grew up thinking that it would be more comfortable being a girl, and then I opted for the line, or should I say the lie that our society puts out there, that you are really just expressing your feminine side, which is dominant. That's nothing but a lie and I've seen the error of that.
David - One thing that I want to get back to is the secrecy in which you had to live. This must have had a damaging effect on your self-image and your psychological health?
Former TSS - Undoubtedly! I mean, I was scared half of my life, you know? I was afraid of being discovered. I would often stay away from many activities - sports activities or whatever where I would have to go into a shower room with the other guys, because my legs were shaved, my body was shaved from hair, and ninety percent of the time I had nail polish on my toes - that kind of stuff. All the time while going to school I would be wearing girl's undergarments. So it was a very fearful thing I had going on, you know. How am I not going to be discovered by teachers or friends or whatever? It was an awful life to live, with a lot of shame-based thinking. I am an awful, wicked pervert, you know, a person that God has even forsaken! Even as a kid, I would pray to wake up in the morning as a girl, you know, and that wouldn't happen, so my little mind would conclude that God had forsaken me - that God had screwed this thing up called my creation - my gender role. I didn't know what to call it back then but He had screwed it up and He had even left me alone to wrestle with it. So there was an incredible anger at God and a frustration with God, and yet there was another side of me that really loved God. It was very confusing.
David - You had such deep hatred for so many things. You had a hatred for males, you had a hatred for God. You had a love for women though, or was there a kind of hatred there, too?
Former TSS - No, I didn't have any of what they call "misogyny", or hatred of women. I wanted to be a woman. I wanted to emulate a woman's life. It wasn't like most men watching a woman coming down the street and saying, "Wow, look at that!" you know, "There's a chick." I would look at a woman and not just want to be like her, but would have, (and this is true of so many of us), this deep gut envy. I didn't want to be like her, I wanted to be her. I wanted to somehow, through taking in the image of her, lusting after her, not to have sex with her, but to be her in my own mind - a figment of my own imagination. I wanted to carry that out to the fullest, and believe me I tried. I cross-dressed regularly, and more so all the time.
That's the way lust is. Lust is never satisfied. The transvestite is an individual who starts out cross-dressing for momentary sexual gratification by using articles of clothing as a form of fetish to gain satisfaction personally for the moment. But many of us progress on into more full-blown activities: cross-dressing in public, cross-dressing in the privacy of our own homes, practicing women's gestures - how to walk in high heels, how to apply make-up correctly. Most transsexuals that I've talked to - we have over 150 around the nation right now we are ministering to - most of them just simply want to be a woman. They don't want to be in the gay bars with heavy makeup, making a parody of women. They want to be women in a very simple sense . What I have found in my own life and in the life of one of the others we're ministering to - is that what we're trying to do is be mommy - we're trying to be that close to mommy, we're wanting to emulate her.
David - When you entered into adulthood, did you live a Dr. Jekyll life - I mean, two different and separate worlds that were hidden from each other?
Former TSS - Yes, I was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde unquestionably. The double life was the model of the day. I had gone into the Navy, figuring maybe that would cure me. I was fresh out of high school and a lot of my buddies in the neighborhood were going into the armed services. I didn't want to go on to college and then be drafted, so I thought, "Well, I'll go into the Navy and that will take care of my problem." Well it only exacerbated it, and in a very short time after I got out of boot camp, I went to the base psychiatrist and said listen, I've got this problem - I want to cross-dress so bad. But I knew if I did that on the base or got caught I would have a dishonorable discharge facing me, because they would equate that with homosexuality and all the ramifications of that. Back in those days, you were out.
David - Was he the first person you had ever confessed this to? Had you never told a pastor or someone else before then?
Former TSS - No, I had never opened up except to my mom.
David - What was her reaction?
Former TSS - Dismay. She had suspected it all the time, but she hadn't known the depth of it. I'll never forget sitting across the table from her, cross-dressed. I had let her find me that way so that I could tell her that I needed help, and that I wanted to be a woman like her. There was total dismay on her face. She said, "I just don't know why you would want to do that, and I don't understand." She asked me to get out of those clothes and go to the beauty shop to help her clean up. The next day it was like nothing had happened. We didn't talk about it from that point on. So when I went to the base psychiatrist just totally torn up because I could no longer cross-dress and live out that imaginary dream world of the woman, it was really a frustrating thing for me. That was the first person I ever told, and what did I get? Rejection. What else could he do? Two weeks later I was home. They just said, "We can't deal with this. We'll give you an honorable discharge because you've not done anything dishonorable, but you need to go home and get some help." When I got home, nothing was done, nothing was talked about. I went on to college, and met a girl in college that I fell tremendously in love with and asked her to marry me and we later married, thinking marriage would cure my problems. Of course it did not.
David - So, your wife knew before you married what you had been doing?
Former TSS - Yeah. I told her on a date that I wrestled with a condition called transvestism or transsexualism. Those were brand new words to her. She had no idea what they meant. She went home to look them up. She didn't have any idea what it involved. But she and I both believed, naively, that normal sexual relations would take care of it. But transsexualism, transvestism, at the very core is like homosexuality. It is not a sexual matter or issue at all. It is an identity issue. And I was still trying to identify with mom. And the only way I knew to do that was through articles of her clothing, or articles of clothing like hers - still trying to bond with her. But that bond would not satisfy. I was spending my life trying to be like her as best I could.
David - So what happened in your marriage?
Former TSS - It is spelled with four letters - HELL - it was awful. Somehow, by God's grace, I don't know how to say it, by the intervention of God she stayed with me, although we were separated for a year at one point toward the end of our misery. We knew that we had to be separated to work our own issues through. But we just celebrated our 32nd anniversary, thanks to God! We have both been to hell and back 60-70 times in our marriage. We didn't have anybody to turn to, you know. I was pasturing a church. From college, I went on into seminary because I just really wanted to help people. I have always loved people, and I've always enjoyed being around people, and helping people. So, I went into a secular nursing job along with pastoring churches, while inside I was dying. I could believe God to heal and to help others and to minister to other people through me, and through my wife, but for Him to do that TO me? No. I felt forsaken. It was very very frustrating.
David - It is very intriguing that you would become a pastor even though you hated God?
Former TSS - Well, I wouldn't call it hatred for God then. I didn't realize it, and it is even harder for me to say it now, but I think that was a lot of what was going on. I felt disappointment and animosity towards God, and I think later on in life as I saw that my dreams were never going to be fulfilled as a Christian, I developed a hatred for God. But, as I said, I cared for people. I wanted to serve God. But I really think that the main reason for going into pastoral ministry was to provide a sufficient enough cover-up. I knew I was in trouble personally, but I was so afraid of being discovered. Yet I wanted to serve people and I really wanted to live for God, and felt that it was my destiny to serve God. And God wanted me to serve Him, but with this kind of identity confusion it was very difficult to do that - preaching on Sunday and cross-dressing on Monday. And a lot of times I would be in the pulpit preaching really a fine sermon - one that I'd worked hard on, while having women's undergarments under my suit. You can imagine the hell that is.
David - That sounds like a real unconscious attempt to get back at God. Do you see what I'm saying?
Former TSS - Sure, sure - I believe there's a lot of things going on. But a transsexual who then opts later on for the sex-change surgery or sexual re-definement surgery in a very real sense is shaking his or her fist at God and saying, "You screwed up God, and I'm going to fix this. I'm going to take care of it. It is in my hands obviously to correct this birth defect. And I'm going to go to the surgeon, get on hormones, and get this thing corrected once and for all." It's a rebellion against God's intent. I mean it's obvious what we're supposed to be. I mean, just look between your legs, and you can tell. There's no question when you're born what you are. The doctor immediately when you come out of the womb says, "It's a boy", or "It's a girl" - there's no question about that. But through so many different events in one's upbringing, confusion sets in. But yes, you're right, and there's just a lot of abject rebellion against God and taking matters into one's own hands.
David - So at the same time you were pastoring you entered into a pursuit of a sex change?
Former TSS - That was the dream. I'd read about Christine Jorgenson and different others that had had the sex-change surgery - how successful they were - and I really wanted that. There was one major problem - I had a beautiful wife and two great kids. I had family that I didn't want to hurt. And I knew by having the sex-change surgery and opting for that lifestyle that they would consider me dead and I would have to forsake everything that I cared about so very very dearly, and had worked so hard to build. They would be out of my life, and I would be alone. That was scary. A lot of people do that. I understand that. A lot of people are willing to take that kind of risk and pain. I was not. I think very realistically, when I came to the Lord at the age of sixteen, the spirit of Christ living within me would not leave me alone, and kept letting me know, one way or another that I was loved by Him. He would just work things out in my life. I've gone through a lot of pain, but I now see that the pain has been allowed in my life so that I can understand and have great compassion for others who are going through similar kinds of trauma. My wife and I are working with married couples all the time coming out of this kind of lifestyle.
David - So you finally - God finally - brought someone into your life that you loved more than yourself, and that put a roadblock in the path of doing a transsexual operation?
Former TSS - I'd have to say very realistically that's the sum total of it. I loved my wife more than I loved God. I'm ashamed to say that, but that's the reality of it. I loved my family more than I loved God. Because if God had been enough, just the very fact of what He said in the scriptures - in Deuteronomy 22:5 where He very clearly lays out that if a man dresses as a woman or a woman dresses as a man that's an abomination to God - that should have been enough to have turned me away from that kind of activity, but it was not.
David - I'd like to find out exactly what happened to woo you back to the Lord and to bring some light into your mind and your heart about your condition? What was the kick-off event in your life that started the turnaround?