Christine-Jane Wilson, crossdresser and Cartoonist

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #097, Spring 2002.

Christine-Jane Wilson?s TV-themed cartoons have appeared for years in crossdressing magazines in the U.S. and U.K., and in the pages of this publication as well. Christine was good enough to send us the following and a sampling of cartoons, some of which she drew up especially for us?Ed.

I don?t know at what age I started to crossdress, but it was before my 10th birthday, years before I became sexually aware (we were slow starters then). Later, crossdressing became a big turn-on. I had a couple of slips my mother had discarded and a pair of silky French knickers with a button-waist fastening. I would play in them when I was alone in the house, and often wore them to bed.
This was during World War II, when men were expected to be not only men, but brave fighting men. Consequently, I grew up with the usual feelings of guilt. I went through all the normal school and work traumas: examinations, an engineering apprenticeship, two years in the army, design and planning offices, technical journalism, printing, good and lousy jobs?and also the ordinary life traumas of family, friends, and unrequited love. By age 15 I had bought several pairs of panties. Later, as a grownup, I kept a hoard of undies and wore them (and still do) under my male clothes. Many of my colleagues would have been astonished had they known of the lacy confections lurking under my suits.

Every so often I would grow ashamed of myself and discard my undies, swearing never to dress up again?but like most crossdressers, as soon as I became depressed or uptight, I would find myself shopping for replacement stock.

The one thing I thought I would never ever be able to laugh about was my transvestism. Fearing ridicule and rejection, I was terrified less someone even suspect?let alone know about?my secret. For the better part of 40 years I lived with this constant underlying tension.

In 1993 I called the London Gay Switchboard?not that I was gay, but it was a start. To my surprise, they gave me another number to call?and that is when I first made contact with Yvonne Sinclair and the London TV/TS Support Group.

The group did wonderful work. It was a registered charity, and to the best of my knowledge the only transgender group in the UK to own its own building. It?s a shame it?s now closed, but there are now many other venues in London which welcome crossdressers.

I began attending support group meetings. To my relief, I found I was not alone, not perverted, not a nut. I discovered ?we? are all types of people, from dukes to dustmen, from intelligent to thick-as-two-planks. Before long I found myself the editor of the group?s journal, The Glad Rad?this happened because I owned a small printing shop and had experience as an editor of engineering journals.

I found myself in a complicated situation. I was going to group meetings, had discovered I would be able to get away with crossdressing in public, but my wife knew nothing of my activities. Certain she would never accept my transvestism, I feared for the future of an otherwise happy marriage. Eventually, during a row with Helene, certain we had reached the end of the road, I told her I was a crossdresser.

To my surprise, I wasn?t met with an explosion, but with dead silence. She told me later my revelation made sense of all sorts of little unexplained happenings. She came with me to a group meeting, became involved, and soon we had the partner?s help line in our house. She would talk to wives and girlfriends who rang in with their troubles.

I eventually became one of the directors of the TV/TS Support Group. For several years, Helene and I were in charge on Sunday evenings, opening up the center and making it available for members to visit. I would spend hours on the hotline while Helene was at the reception desk. We met some wonderful people and troubled people, and we made a lot of friends.

During 1984 I sat the MENSA test?as Christine-Jane?and passed it. I?ve since been a member of UK MENSA as Christine-Jane Wilson. I?ve had two articles published in The UK MENSA Magazine, both of which resulted in large numbers of letters from other members. Most were supportive.

Over the past four or five years I?ve often spent Saturdays at work dressed. Many of my customers have met me in both male and female presentations. I?ve been surprised and pleased that there has never been an adverse reaction; most people seem to be prepared to accept it. If they?re interested and ask questions, that?s good, because hopefully they?ll go away knowing more about the subject.

I?m known as a crossdresser at local shops and in several restaurants. Most of our friends know, although not all have actually met me as Christine-Jane. My crossdressing has caused no problems at all. Crazy, isn?t it? You spend half your life in a state of terror that people might find out, and when they do, it doesn?t bother them at all!

I?ve only one small regret about coming out?and that is that had I but known at an earlier time, I could have dressed young and looked pretty! Instead, I have to dress my age. Although clothing for women my age is prettier than male clothing, isn?t as nice as it might have been. Mind you, I?ve some beautiful undies and wear them most of the time. I know it?s ridiculous, but I?m sure many of us do it?and isn?t it nice just to know they?re there?

Why do I keep on crossdressing? At first it was an almost manic compulsion, but now I do it regularly and openly, it?s become a relaxation and a pleasure. It?s become part of my everyday life. It has become fun!

I?m always conscious of my 40 years of mental turmoil. I know there are still thousands out there in the closet, chewing their fingernails to the knuckles. That?s why I?m always anxious to educate. I?m pleased to say I?ve been able to help many people over the years and hope to continue to do so, although I?m no longer actively involved in the scene.

All my life, the main savior of my sanity has been my sense of humor. When I grew depressed, if I feared ridicule or rejection, eventually the funny side would hit me and I?d be able to laugh and climb out of the depression. Now, at last, I was able to find humor in being a transvestite. I?ve produced several books of cartoons on the subject. It?s not that I regard crossdressing as an entirely humorous activity?I spent long enough in the closet to appreciate the worry, tension, and terror?but my crossdressing has now become enjoyable, and I?ve learned crossdressing can be very funny once you?ve accepted who and what you really are. While I realize it?s a sensitive and serious subject, I think we can sometimes be a little too serious about it. Surely there?s room for a few laughs.

I hope my cartoons do a little to brighten things up; if we can laugh at ourselves, it can only be good for us. If I give others a laugh about something they thought they would never be able to laugh at, perhaps I will have achieved something after all!