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Thread: Did you have any personal experience being TG during the 1980's or 90's?

  1. #1
    Rotten 80's child Nicole Erin's Avatar
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    Did you have any personal experience being TG during the 1980's or 90's?

    I think the phrase is, "20% of life is what happens to you and 80% is how you react to it". Even so for a TG back then?
    The further back the better, even 70's. I guess the 80's is what I am most interested in since that was my decade of childhood.
    So today there is a lot of stuff about TG rights. I am guessing not so much back then?

    Here is the thing - being able to go out in the world as a TG person and functioning depends on a couple things -
    How well you pass (as no one would know you are TG).
    How confident you are (as people do not tend to razz the confident ones).

    If you have one or the other, you will be fine. It helps if you are not all "loud and proud" about it also. I know some TG who have a lot of problems and they happen to be the same ones who are "in your face" about it. Or they are the nervous ones who are fairly new.

    My own case is this, and what i am really curious about -

    I do not pass all that great. My typical presentation is made up, skirt blouse, just trying to look decent. I am not some "dude in a dress", I present best I can.
    Almost no one gives me a hard time. Most do not even seem to notice me. I have a normal yet humble job where I go as "Erin" and no one bothers me. A few of the women seem interested in the "TG person" and most everyone pretends I am a real person.
    Reason no one bothers me at work nor in public is because I do not act nervous or whatever. I am so used to doing this that I do not notice nor care if someone is staring. It is like, "Oh how cute, they have never seen a tranny in real life".

    But what was it like for non-passing TG during the 80's or even close to it? Anything like today where if you at least conducted yourself in a proper social manner, stayed away from bad places (like drunkard venues or rough neighborhoods) and at least made an honest effort to be presentable, you would be fine?

    One reason I am wondering this is because more often than not when a TG reports a lot of problems, they are either nut cases to begin with or they just look really horrible. Even today.
    Also because though historically the GLB sectors have had problems, the T part has been and is fairly small so we don't have as many stereotypes.

    So for any given TG out there, if they were set back to the 80's, what would their lives be like VS what it is today?

    I hope this all makes sense.
    It takes a true Erin to be a pain in the assatar.

  2. #2
    Diamond Member Persephone's Avatar
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    I wasTG even before the 1980's. But even in the 80's I was still pretty closeted and only out to a few people. I did do a few things though.

    One, I took a temp job during a two week vacation, working as a secretary in the engineering department of a tech company. I was the only woman in the department but I did meet some of the other secretaries from other departments , got advice on which men had wandering hands to avoid, and a couple of the women urged me to stay on. And the temp asgency got calls from other departments asking for me by name, an honor in the temp world.

    Two, my spouse and I began to take our first road trips with me travelling en femme for days at a time. From California we drove to places like St. Louis, camping, exploring, and having fun.

    Three, I did sit for a professional portrait shoot, had a great time, and got some great pictures. Would love to post one but don't think the section rules allow.

    Those are a few of my memories of the 1980's.
    "If you are living the life you want to live you've successfully transitioned to being the person you want to be." - Eryn.

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    -.-. --.-/-.-. --.-/-.-. -../ Persephoneô and Persephoneô are trademarks of Persephone herself, accept no substitutes. The terms "en femme" and "en drab" originated with Marcia Sampson/Staylace (OBM).

  3. #3
    Transgender Person Pat's Avatar
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    Could you go back to the 80's and be who you are today? -- I don't think so. Today's environment is largely made possible by both the fact that the public perceptions have changed and cultural tolerance of ad-hoc violence has changed. When I was a kid (50's/60's) the public perception was that all transvestites (the term then) were drug addicts and child molesters. Society basically allowed, if not encouraged, an attack-on-sight culture. It was that culture that had to change to allow us the freedom we have today -- these days people generally give us the benefit of the doubt as long as we seem non-threatening. Lots of culturally formative things had to happen to get here and I think they were close, but don't think they were done happening in the 80's.

    The 80's environment had been shaped by events in the 70's. The end of Viet Nam left the country kind of wrung out and less tolerant of "official violence" -- authority figures treating citizens with violence. The perception had swung from "they must have had a good reason" to requiring justification. Gay rights had gained traction (and remember in public perception all crossdressers were gay and all gay guys were crossdressers.) Influential magazines, like Playboy, had started to push tolerance of the LGB community. The popular TV show MASH gave us our first mass market cross-dressing character who was human. Glam Rock had influenced a younger generation that was questioning gendered clothing and so on. By the 80's these young people would still have been too young to take over but their influence was rising. My recollection of the 80's is that it probably still wasn't safe to walk into McDonalds, but we were past the point where transgenderism could be treated with involuntary commitment.
    I am not a woman; I don't want to be a woman; I don't want to be mistaken for a woman.
    I am not a man; I don't want to be a man; I don't want to be mistaken for a man.
    I am a transgender person. And I'm still figuring out what that means.

  4. #4
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    I'm not a TS but I started going out in public dressed in the mid-late 1990s. I didn't pass very well to be honest, but I never got much outright hostility. I got double takes, a few stares, a few giggles as people walked by... but nothing directly hostile. Even though I was "overdressed" when I went out I presented a rather... how do I say... "nonthreatening" woman. Usually in some kind of office attire, a dress or a skirt suit, hosiery pumps etc. nothing too short or too sexy (to others anyway, I rather enjoyed my presentation.)

    Only thing I remember was really unpleasant was I has a US customs guy harass my friend and I a bit when crossing back to the USA from Canada (pre-911) for being dressed. He was bothered about why we looked different on our IDs and asked us why we would be dressed like that etc. He let us go after we said point blank "WE'RE CROSSDRESSERS!". He got flustered and just waved us on.

  5. #5
    Madam Ambassador Heidi Stevens's Avatar
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    Hey Erin, I was dressing in the late 70ís and 80ís when I could. I didnít know it at the time I was TG, I didnít know what I was. It was hard coming upon information about us. I would scour college libraries for any info: articles, magazines, books, graduate papers. I thought I was just a guy who liked girl things and canít find answers. Moving a bunch while in high school didnít help either. I would develope a relationship and boom, gotta move. My parents knew of my dressing, but as soon as my size kept me out of momís clothes, I had to go cold turkey until I moved out. That would be college in Ď74.

    In college I started dressing again, but did it in private mostly. I also was exclusive in liking women sexually. Still do. So thereís another factor I couldnít find answers to in the 70ís. As media started picking up on LGBT folks, I got more answers in movies, TV and magazines. Things really became clear enough to call myself a cross dresser. I kept everything buried, even from the woman I would marry, because I was a young engineer with a new wife, in a Southern town and still not sure of myself.

    As time went on and technology progressed, I started putting pieces of this puzzle that was me together. I got braver, I got more and more dysphoric and all this didnít get put together until 2014 when I realized who I was.

    So you could say I was like a lot us back 40 years ago: hiding in plain sight, but afraid to come out because of ignorance.
    Hope that helps! P.S. here is an early photo of me, one of the few that survived the purges.

    6094FC3D-5904-4BFF-98BA-528B24D96711.jpg
    Be yourself. Everyone else is taken!

  6. #6
    Member jack-ie's Avatar
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    Although I had experimented w/lingerie, I began to seriously dress in the very late '70s and early 80s. We lived in the Ft. Lauderdale are and my (very understanding) wife and I began taking drives, short walks, window shopping etc. We then graduated to the gay/lez bar/club scene and never had any problems. That's as far as it went while fully dressed but we would sometimes go out to dinner with my nails painted or maybe a little eye shadow, mascara. I only remember one really nasty moment when buying makeup at a Merle Norman's and a GG customer made a scene. I went back later and the same SA was very apologetic even though it was in no way her fault.

  7. #7
    Rotten 80's child Nicole Erin's Avatar
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    I wonder if one thing that might have helped TG be out and about back then is because a lot less people were ever aware it existed and may not have been expecting it much.
    Today we have a few TG figures in the media and plenty of every day folks know about them. Back in the 80's I remember only Boy George.
    I guess though once a TG has been "out" for a while, it is easy to forget what it was like to struggle, be nervous, etc.

    I do not remember ever hearing anything back then about TG being child molesters and drug addicts. Of course I was a kid and wasn't really keeping up with GLBT. I was more into BMX and trying not to kill myself with whatever dangerous stunts me and the other kids thought were entertaining.
    It takes a true Erin to be a pain in the assatar.

  8. #8
    Aspiring Member Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole Erin View Post
    I think the phrase is, "20% of life is what happens to you and 80% is how you react to it". Even so for a TG back then?
    The further back the better, even 70's. I guess the 80's is what I am most interested in since that was my decade of childhood.
    So today there is a lot of stuff about TG rights. I am guessing not so much back then?
    The quote is from Charles Swindoll and he said, ďThe longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church....a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.Ē
    ― Charles R. Swindoll

    And so, for what it's worth, here's one of my vintage photos. This one is from the summer of 1980. I think photography had just been invented. LOL I had been presenting fully for at least ten years at this point.

    1980.jpg

  9. #9
    Aspiring Member Georgette_USA's Avatar
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    As being a TS back in the 70s, I think my success was the fact that few people knew any or even that few even knew what a TS was.

    I was found out when in the military in 72-73, And the military had no history if it didn't involve homosexuality.

    After the military in 74, I started my journey with some others. We mainly stayed to the Lesbian clubs on the weekends. But I then had to go out mainly by myself in the daytime to all kinds of venues. And yes I do remember those early times. Getting stares and finger pointing. But I was very determined to progress.

    I DEC of 76 I came out to work and they were very supportive of me. I was able to finish my RLE at the same workplace in APR 77 and then SRS in SEP 77. After that I was treated as any other woman in my field.

    I never thought of myself as very good looking but just any other plain woman. Here is a pic of my Company ID card and a pic of myself and my partner about a year or so later. And yes we were lucky to have our own hair.

    me_img_id_card.jpg me_img_gpc_bss.jpg
    Last edited by Georgette_USA; 11-01-2017 at 11:37 PM. Reason: add pics

  10. #10
    Senior Member Aunt Kelly's Avatar
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    I wasn't out much in the 90's, but it was about what you'd expect for the time, in a city that has always been more progressive than most. Then there was Las Vegas. That's a whole different kind of out, but still not especially challenging.
    I count myself lucky. What little of myself I did expose might have made for a far different experience in many places.

  11. #11
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    omg...GREAT PICS

    I gotta get my scanner out LOL
    I am real

  12. #12
    Aspiring Member Sabrina133's Avatar
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    I was born in the mid 70s. Grew up in the late 80s and 90s living in Europe. It was during that era that i realized i was not only gay, but a CD as well. Germany was much more liberal about those things than the US so i got to explore both aspects of me. It was in college, late 90s, that I realized i was actually bi. It wasnt until the latter part of this last decade realized i was trans. I didn't start to transition until this decade. Its been a long road.

  13. #13
    Platinum Member kimdl93's Avatar
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    When I came into the world, Truman would still be president for a couple months. My first inkling of being different arrived somewhere towards the end of Ikeís first term, but I truly knew what I enjoyed and knew how Ďweí were regarded during the last months of the Johnson administration. I learned to hide, avoided a few close calls in the Nixon Era, and a stint in the Army lead me to believe Iíd outgrown the condition.

    That lasted until I had daily private access to my wifeís things, and began to surreptitiously acquire my own. The first time I dressed completely and saw a female face in the Mirror was late in the Ford years. I was actually frightened by how much I liked the way I looked, and didnít repeat that exercise for almost 35 years. I underdressed all that time, but never ventured outside the bedroom en femme, for fear of irreversibly becoming this thing I so enjoyed.

    the major deterrent to exploring and expressing myself was the fact that during each of the decades prior to the millennium, I was buying into the societal prejudices and engaged in a steady cycle of indulgence followed by remorse. Something Iím sure most of us over 50 can relate to.

    I was in my mid 50s when I finally began shaking free of those beliefs and constraints. I could never have escaped if the culture had not become vastly more open and tolerant.
    You're a daisy if you do!

  14. #14
    Member Jen60's Avatar
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    Kim, my own moment occurred around the same time as yours, during the Ford years. I had acquired a small bag of makeup, and when I saw myself in the mirro, I was so amazed and freaked out, that I immediately threw the bag and all my secretly acquired clothing into the apartment building's dumpster. I was haunted for years by what I saw in the mrror...today, I think I would be reassured and happy if I could see "her" again, looking youthful and wrinkle-free... It has only been in the past few years that . I have come to accept this side of me.

    Jennifer

  15. #15
    Platinum Member kimdl93's Avatar
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    Ooh, to have the skin of a 23 year old!
    You're a daisy if you do!

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    Senior Member Bria's Avatar
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    Oh to have the skin of a 33 year old, or even a 43 year old. All of my five daughters are over 43 and still have wrinkle free skin, wish I could say the same!!

    Hugs, Bria

  17. #17
    Rusholme Ruffian DIANEF's Avatar
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    In the 80s I experienced much confusion about my gender identity. There were times when I really thought that transition could be a possibility, especially when I had some extended time to dress and realised the depression I felt when that time ended. My first son was very young at the time and as I had grown up without a father I didn't want the same thing happening to him. I do believe if I hadn't fathered a child my life would be very different now, and then a second son came along a few years later. I love them totally so any feelings I had had to take a back seat to ensure they had a happy and successful life. Time has passed, I get the time to present as female and that seems to fill the need, but the thought of transition has never completely disappeared. And as 'vintage ' photos are popular on this thread, this is me around 1988ish (if only I could look like that now..)

    earl (2).jpg
    All men have secrets and here is mine, so let it be known (What difference does it make?- The Smiths)
    I can't help the way I feel (Is it really so strange? - The Smiths)
    He's not strange, he just wants to live his life this way (Vicar in a tutu - The Smiths)

  18. #18
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    oh my gosh diane...i had that look going right during that time!! that wig brings back memories..

    world of wigs...

    i have some old poloroids i should scan them!!!
    I am real

  19. #19
    Call me Pam pamela7's Avatar
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    Hi Erin,

    I think Pat makes excellent points. I was closet bi and public straight from mid-70's to mid-80's, then I buried it all well deep until the 00's. I did wear mum's tops in the 70's, but I'd asked her and she gave me two, and they were fairly andro i guess. I wore them out, and, it sounds strange, but i don't think anyone said anything, even though the local village lout types would've taken apart anyone presenting gay. Together with the AIDS fear that spread fast, I decided to shut it down.

    The glam rock made a huge impression on me. I was attracted to the male in female clothing at the time, but would i have told anyone? - "not on your nelly". MASH, Dame Edna, drag acts were there. Films like Victor-Victoria, La Cage Aux Folles; they showed things, but at the time all I thought was, like most films/tv - "it's not real, it is only made-up". Now I know whatever we do see on tv or film probably really is happening somewhere; it is real, but then, i don't think it was safe to even think it, let alone voice it, for me, anyway.

    If I could go back, with what I know now? I'd still have shut down the gay side for the aids fear was so strong back then. Dressing? In private, oh yes that is something I would wish to have changed. That would have led to a whole different life path. And then when I met my first transwoman circa late 90's, she might have inspired me to change then. And then I'd not be where I am now, and so, I guess I'd change nothing, and accept the path I'm on gladly.

    xxx Pam
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJFyz73MRcg
    I used to believe this, now I'm in the company of many tiggers. A tigger does not wonder why she is a tigger, she just is a tigger.

    thanks to krististeph: tigger = TG'er .. T-I-GG-er

  20. #20
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    There is a book by Renee Richards about her transitioning in the 70s called Second Serve. She had some pretty rough times. Before that I think you would have been beat or killed. We were pretty closeted. I got all my clothes by catalog order with men's shirts so I could hide it from the family. Thatvor you stole your clothes. That could invite some pretty violent defensive moves in the community. I say community but you never knew anyone else outside of big cities. In the 80s and 90s we would be openly ridiculed if found out and probably abused. If I was desparate to dress in public I did it at night in closed parks and such. I carried male clothes in a bag. One's I saw who didn't you would see returning home in the morning all tore up. Plus hormones were a nightmare to get even if they existed. There were no laser treatments, electrolysis (where), it was wax or shave. It was much harder to pass. ery

  21. #21
    happy to be her Sarah Charles's Avatar
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    I just started getting out in the late 1990's and can't speak personally to that time frame other than I was frightened to death, probably from the widespread misunderstanding of what CD's and T.S. people were all about.

    A local transwoman I know transitioned in the 1990's after years of being out and about. I trust that she is telling me the truth when she talks about the time in the late 1970's when she was arrested for being crossdressed and presenting as a woman in public. This happened in a smaller city and was considered a public disturbance. She was charged with a misdemeanor that ended up in jail time. As bad as things are now, it has been worse.
    Sarah
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    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001872677630

  22. #22
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randi49 View Post
    There is a book by Renee Richards about her transitioning in the 70s called Second Serve. She had some pretty rough times. Before that I think you would have been beat or killed. We were pretty closeted. I got all my clothes by catalog order with men's shirts so I could hide it from the family. Thatvor you stole your clothes. That could invite some pretty violent defensive moves in the community. I say community but you never knew anyone else outside of big cities. In the 80s and 90s we would be openly ridiculed if found out and probably abused. If I was desparate to dress in public I did it at night in closed parks and such. I carried male clothes in a bag. One's I saw who didn't you would see returning home in the morning all tore up. Plus hormones were a nightmare to get even if they existed. There were no laser treatments, electrolysis (where), it was wax or shave. It was much harder to pass. ery
    Back in the day there was alot of medical consensus that your appearance was a factor in whether you were "allowed" to transition.
    I am real

  23. #23
    Aspiring Member ~Emma D~'s Avatar
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    Itís been a good while since I posted.

    In many ways, I can relate, to "20% of life is what happens to you and 80% is how you react to itĒ.

    Itís not a term I would use back then in 1978, but, I Ďcame outí to my parents when I was 17, telling them I wanted to be a girl. I had a job and bought myself clothes, letting my hair grow, convinced I would be fine. My older sister knew how I was, being supportive, whilst my mother seemed to be. I went to see my GP the next day, she listened, and arranged an appointment with a Counsellor. My father came home a couple of days later and everything changed when he didnít take kindly to me wanting to be their daughter. I suffered a fractured nose and other injuries. I just remember crying as he ripped my clothes apart.

    Whether it was someone specializing in Gender issues, Iíll never know, as the appointment was missed. My parents never mentioned the subject again.

    Wanting to be female never went away, and by the end of my teens and in the early 80ís I was dressing regularly and going out in public, once I got a driving license and a car, being a Ramones fan and having long hair helped, and coupled with the New Romantic scene of the 80ís it was easier to fit in.

    During the summer of í83, it all went wrong again, when I was followed one night by a couple of guys. They thought I was a girl, but when they realised I wasnít, I was badly beaten up. Being transgender, probably saved me from something else. My reaction was to go to my sisters and basically destroy myself. I couldnít deal with what had happened. I buried ĎEmmaí and tried to live the life of a man, eventually marrying a few years later.

    I was probably naÔve expecting too much of my family, I donít really know if society was intolerant at the time, and I was just unlucky. Perhaps, I gave up too quickly, but, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    It was only four years ago that I eventfully talked to a psychologist about it.

    My feelings are still the same today, as they were as that 17 year old, and no further forward.

  24. #24
    Rotten 80's child Nicole Erin's Avatar
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    Some interesting posts here. In a lot of ways it doesn't sound like the individual experiences were too much different than today.
    I just imagined that getting any kind of 9 to 5 grind would have been exceedingly hard unless someone had all their papers in order and passed really well.
    At my humble "9 to 5 grind" so to speak, people know I am TG but no one really cares. When I hired in, it wasn't a big deal either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitlyn Michele View Post
    Back in the day there was alot of medical consensus that your appearance was a factor in whether you were "allowed" to transition.
    Are we talking about the ones who looked naturally femme or maybe androgynous or was it more about those who at least tried to present as a woman as opposed to a male (and presenting as such) who merely spoke of wanting to live as a woman?
    It takes a true Erin to be a pain in the assatar.

  25. #25
    Aspiring Member Georgette_USA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitlyn Michele View Post
    Back in the day there was alot of medical consensus that your appearance was a factor in whether you were "allowed" to transition.
    I never thought of myself as very attractive, but was at least passable and blended in well.

    I have heard of this from the UK people. Plus one was required to study appropriate Female jobs. Plus they made married TS to divorce, they did not want to make any Lesbians.

    I had not heard of any of this in the USA. But I was prior to any WPATH SOC, I had heard that the "Gatekeepers" made a lot of unpopular decisions.

    I have always felt fortunate that mine went so well in the mid 70s. In fact my history seems to be very uncommon for that era, from what others have told me.

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