Will she be remembered?

| Mar 27, 2017

I recently received word my friend and our Trans* sister, Sarah, passed away. She was vibrant and funny, a prankster and one of the best listeners ever. She left a wife, two married sons and three grandchildren. Sarah taught Sunday school, worked as an accountant, loved the Cleveland Indians, enjoyed Johnny Walker Red on the rocks, fried bologna sandwiches and fishing. When she was presenting, she always had on matching panties and bra, three-inch heels and a dress, never pants. She is the only person, besides my mother that I knew, who always had a compact in her purse and would frequently powder her nose. Sarah was in the closet.

Him

Most of Sarah’s life, since she was about five years old, she knew she was a girl. She never wanted to be Him. Him was how she hid her true self until she passed at 72 years old from cancer. When Sarah was disguised as Him, she did it for her family, job, reputation and legacy. Her wife never knew about Sarah, or if she did, she never said anything. Her sons just thought of Him as dear old dad. Those of us in our local Tri-ESS chapter and who got to know her knew the truth. We respected and loved Sarah.

Sarah’s regret

After a Tri-ESS meeting or the occasional girls’ night out, a few of us always drifted to a bar where we were welcome and safe. Not often, but occasionally the topic of regrets came up. We all went through the usual list and Sarah always said, “I only have one. I’ve always wanted to live as who I really am.” All of us would nod in agreement, toast our true selves and change the subject to lighter topics.

Paying my respects

I went to the funeral home for the viewing. In her honor, I wore matching black panties and bra and my black dress I reserve for funerals. Sarah would have approved. I gave my regrets to Sarah’s wife who didn’t know me and asked how I knew Him. I told her I used to work at the accounting firm with Him, but left a few years earlier. A simple lie. I shook the hands of her sons and daughters-in-law and then paused at the casket.

Him

There, laid out, was a fine-looking older gentleman who I never met. His full head of gray hair was neatly cut and parted and he was wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit, white shirt and a striped tie. He looked like an accountant out of central casting. This was Him. Someone I never knew or would know. Out of the forty or fifty people whispering quietly in the funeral home that night, I might have been the only one there who knew that this was Sarah.

Good bye, Sarah

As I stood beside the casket, I remembered her jokes and sense of humor and how freely and unguardedly she laughed. I can smell Chanel No. 5, which she loved. I could look past the image laid out and see Sarah in her favorite dress, heels and pearls. Her purse always matched her shoes. I could see the lady with a big, friendly grin. I saw my friend, Sarah. I didn’t dwell long, but I did pause and said loud enough for her to hear, “Good bye, Sarah.”

Remembering Sarah

As long as those of us who knew Sarah are alive, she will be remembered. The person only a few of us knew didn’t exist to most the people in her life. They never knew how gracefully she moved or how gracious she was. They never heard her uninhibited lady laugh and how she loved to twirl around excitedly when you gave her a compliment on how fabulous she looked. They will never know that for sixty-seven years, she hid who she honestly was.  They never really knew her.  “Good bye, Sarah. I remember.”

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Category: Body & Soul

About CateOMalley: I am Cate, a mature transgender woman. I am a writer, blogger, parent, grandparent, sailor, activist and happy. I am a widow, and live with my yorkiepoo, Belle. I love music, reading, cooking, outdoors, DIY, theater, antiquing and flea markets, home brewing, and seeing what is around the bend in the road or over the horizon. I own the MatureTransgender.com website. It is an outreach, support and resource for mature trans* people and especially for those who, like me, came out after fifty.

Comments (7)

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  1. scalesman says:

    Graham and Cate
    I agree with and support Grahams points about his presentations but I wonder if he missed the undertone of Cate’s posting.
    Cate mentioned that she went to honor Sarah who “when she was presenting always had on matching panties and bra…” This was apparently part of Sarah’s femme personna along with her heels and matching purse. Cate clearly stated that “In her honor, I wore matching black panties and bra…”. I saw not mention that Cate discussed or displayed her undergarments to others at the funeral. I took these statements as an act of Cate’s to cement the connection that she felt with her friend, Sarah.

    I enjoy reading what each of you have to offer.
    Pat

    • Graham says:

      Hi Scalesman

      Thanks for you kind comments. Times have obviously changed from when I was universally condemned for going out in a dress without a wig!

      No, I didn’t miss the undertone of Cate’s report, and I do appreciate that Cate’s mention of the matching “bra and panties” was an homage – if you like – to her deceased friend. But my second comment still stands – why is it obligatory for crossdressers to compare their underwear in the first place?

      I see adverts on TV for specific types of female underwear such as Valentine’s Day lingerie, but as far as my experience runs (and it has run to some surprisingly intimate subjects with my female friends), it’s not a topic of general conversation amongst ordinary women in ordinary circumstances. Most are too busy juggling the needs of their children, the school run, the housework and / or the job, and usually preparing the evening meal to be too concerned about whether their bra matches their knickers. I venture the suggestion that it’s only in the stress-free, child-free, sheltered, and secret world of the crossdresser meeting that such topics are discussed. Indeed, the pages of the support-group magazines (which I still occasionally browse to see what’s going on) contain more articles (and photographs) specifically about female underwear, suspenders and stockings than any so-called “woman’s magazine” I can name!

      (I must just mention here a support-group meeting I attended back in 1999, when I was sitting within earshot of two conversations: one was about the problems of changing an oil filter on a Volkswagen Golf, the other was about the different styles of lace found on French knickers. Very surreal …)

      So maybe I should have aimed the question at Cate’s friend … rhetorically speaking, of course. Why did YOU, Sarah, have an obsession about wearing matching bra and panties, that Cate saw fit to not only honour it, but to specifically mention that it was part of your outfit? I’m sure – indeed, I know – that it’s not unique to Sarah or Cate, so again I ask the the question: “why is underwear such a often-visited topic amongst crossdressers who claim to emulate women?”

  2. Graham says:

    It’s not very often that I visit this site nowadays, as much of the material is pretty-much irrelevant to how I live. However, the idea of the ultimate insult – to be buried in male clothes when I’m dead – annoyed me … so I logged in to read it.

    Yes – it IS a sad indictment of our so-called civilised society that it’s still uneasy about crossdressing, even to the point where some of us feel forced to hide what we are. But I’m sorry to say that what really distracted and angered me about this article was the following: “I wore matching black panties and bra and my black dress I reserve for funerals.” Seriously? Does the colour of your underwear have some crucial bearing on the story? If not, why do we need to know this level of detail? I’m aware that underwear is a sort of bravado thing amongst crossdressers … but there’s a time and a place to talk about it. If you really feel that you needed to mention what you were wearing then “I wore a black dress in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion” would have sufficed.

    After all, it’s the funeral of a friend – it’s not about YOU. The world doesn’t revolve around crossdressers, and it isn’t interested in the colour of our knickers. Get over it.

    Crossdressers claim to emulate real women, but how many real women do you hear at a funeral talking about their underwear? Do they gather round the coffin, discussing the merits of underwired bras? Do they express their views on thongs compared to knickers? Is the problem of VPL a common topic of debate while the body’s being burned?

    And crossdressers wonder why their claims to be “real” women aren’t taken seriously …

    • CateOMalley says:

      Hello Graham,

      I wanted to thank you for logging in and reading my post. I always learn so much when my readers take a much different view of what I wrote then what I intended. I have thought a lot about what you wrote, especially your last sentence. I have been at viewing in funeral homes where discussing my knickers would have been so much more civilized. I’ve never been in one where our bras and panties were discussed. In many social settings with Trans* women our undergarments and padding were the main topic. We do, especially crossdressers, have difficulty being seen as the women we know we are. Keep the conversation going, Graham, it can only help us all.

      Cate O’Malley

      • Graham says:

        Well! I’m a bit surprised that you’ve responded, Cate … but thank you for being so civil; I shall try to be likewise!

        I think I made my point quite adequately above, but I’m happy to widen the discussion a little. As many here are aware from the twelve essays I submitted in 2013/14, I’m not afraid to say what I think, and much of it runs contrary to the accepted crossdresser philosophy of trying to pass as women. Most traditionalists don’t seem able to understand me; many condemn me, and some supposedly “crossdresser-friendly” publishers have even censored my work.

        The point is that crossdressers are automatically indoctrinated with the belief that they HAVE to pass – it’s the ultimate goal. “You like wearing women’s clothes? OK, let’s get you a wig, a decent pair of false breasts, some good beard cover … oh, and you need a female name … you won’t recognise yourself …” Etc, etc.. We all know how it goes, and it typically happens at a moment in our lives when we’re questioning who and what we are, and in that vulnerable state, we’re more likely to believe what the “experts” tell us. I bought into this for a few months in the late 1990s, but I quickly discovered that the support networks are just big versions of the closet I’d lived in for forty years, and which I now wanted to get out of. So I started asking “why?” Why do we have to masquerade as women? Why must I choose to be male OR female? Why must “he” and “she” never meet? Why can’t we wear the skirts and dresses we like as men without the pretence of being women?

        Posing these apparently-innocuous questions is tantamount to challenging the entire foundation on which the traditional crossdressing edifice is built – it’s the community’s raison d’être, and without it the very term “crossdress” is meaningless. But I view the crossdressing minority as I do any other minority – if we (and I class myself as a crossdresser for this purpose) are to stop being harassed, persecuted, condemned, and even murdered for what we are, we need to start fighting for our place in society and for our rights in law. The fact that we refuse point-blank to get political – indeed, many of us claim that we’re “happy” to be deeply closeted (are they serious???) – has led me to the conclusion that the female name and accoutrements which traditionalists adopt are a disguise to protect them from being recognised, and probably have little to do with real womanhood. After all, any man can buy a dress and a wig … can they be women too? And if you get fed up with being a woman, you can just take the clothes off, and you’re a man again. How very convenient! Obviously, that idea (even without the associated sarcasm) doesn’t go down very well amongst those crossdressers who claim that they really ARE women. But too much has to be taken on trust here … and if a one-time crossdresser like me doesn’t believe you, what chance do you have of convincing the public at large that you’re what you say you are?

        Which brings me back to my previous comment on knickers. I live in the public eye, and have featured on television, in the local papers, and in the occasional national magazine; I’m widely respected (at least outside the crossdressing community) for living my values. However, I’m sure that if I’d been in the news for constantly talking about what style and colour knickers (or “panties”) I was wearing, I’d have been written off as a weirdo or a pervert … or perhaps even been arrested. Don’t get me wrong – I like to have fun with clothes (my Facebook page will attest to this), but I stay within the bounds of what’s normally regarded as good taste and acceptability for the circumstances in which I find myself. I also don’t allow my identity to be GOVERNED by my appearance – I’m just an ordinary guy with ordinary interests who happens to prefer wearing clothes designed for women.

        Unfortunately, it’s already accepted wisdom that crossdressers are obsessed with lingerie, and the wealth of internet sites containing variations of so-called “tranny-porn” has merely added to the evidence that their motives for dressing up as women are at best dubious, and at worst illegal. Yes, I know that the wearing of lingerie is a massive part of being a crossdresser – the style of underwear we’re “supposed” to wear as men is fundamentally different to what you can buy on the women’s rails. (Actually, most women nowadays DON’T wear frilly knickers, suspenders and stockings … but let’s leave that topic for another day.) But I repeat: if crossdressers want to be accepted as women in “polite society”, then they must end and reverse their obsession – their fetish – with lingerie.

        So by all means wear nice lingerie if you wish … just keep it private where it belongs. Real women don’t advertise their underwear – especially at funerals!

  3. Tasi Zuriack says:

    It’s so sad Cate. I’ve had several friends disappear over the years and you never know if they died or went back into hiding. I need to be sure that my wife has a list of “special friends” to contact on my death

    • CateOMalley says:

      Hi Tasi,

      I, too, have seen friends disappear without know the circumstances. It’s always sad to think they may have crossed over. Your suggestion of letting your spouse or someone have a list of friends to notify is a good one.

      Cate O’Malley