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Ann Garvald

I’ve never blogged before, and maybe what I’m about to write –a brief bio of Ann –is not strictly blog material, in which case my apologies. What follows will seem very me-me-me — narcissistic I guess — but that has to be when one is introducing oneself.

I like writing. A lot of my working life has been involved with writing — technical writing — for forty years. It never ocurred that I might try anything resembling fiction until a couple of years ago when I realized that Cornbury might be a forum for that. And Stephanie kindly included my first attempt “Circumstances –A Fantasy” in “Recommended Reading” on the Cornbury site. “Circumstances” is rather long but through Jean, between ages five and thirteen, I am me dreaming of what might have been. Semi-autobiographical I guess.

I am strictly closet. Not something I’m proud of, but in my circumstances, and those involving my somewhat fragile, but very precious, wife — I firmly believe that’s the way it has to be, even if it robs me of much of what I’d like to be. Every person has to weigh things and make those decisions for himself/herself.

So if I cannot dress as Ann (meaning 95% of my life), at least I am finding I can live vicariously — writing in the first person — through my stories.

Jean in “Circumstances” was first. Then Andy in “Haircut”, which first appeared in a Cornbury Newsletter (the moved to “Recommended Reading”. “Haircut” was shorter and I tried the classic short story form.

My third attempt is “Gender Confusion” which I am going to add here under the “Recommended Reading” category afforded by the new site. If you don’t find it, that’s because I haven’t yet got around to adding it. Being closet I have to do things secretly, on the fly, when I can be by myself at the computer.

So how did I become Ann? I honestly believe that I am a product of nurture, not nature. In other words my gender dysphoria is the result of circumstances in my upbringing — like Jean’s — rather than something genetic. That’s not to say that I don’t believe that many — maybe most — of transgendered people, or would-be transgendered people, have had something inside them since conception or birth. It’s just not the case for me.

So what did it? I was the first boy after several girls. We lived in an little village with no other playmates, and with a father who was somewhat isolated from us, so I lived in an almost totally feminine world. And that for me was normal. I have a memory of deciding — it cannot be later than when I was four — that when I was grown up I would be a lady in a white dress and I would be called Betty. (Instead I’ve ended up as Ann!).

Compounding the problem (?) was that when I reached school age I was sent to the convent school that my sisters attended. It took boys up to age eight — but there were only three boys in the three years I was there. So I was in a society of girls, taught by women, and by that time I reached eight, and got thrown into the rough-and-tumble world of boys I firmly believed inside me — although realized I wasn’t allowed to say it out loud — that girls had it best. Not helped by the nursery rhyme that told me — often repeated by one of my sisters — that girls were made of “sugar and spice and other things nice” whereas boys were made of “slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails”.

Until my late teenage years I did not think of cross- dressing except once when I was about ten and I invented a little theatrical role for myself, and enjoyed it very much, wearing a dress and a “wig” — made from wool by my sisters for some other family theatrical venture –with long blonde braids.

It’s no secret that for most of us (m-to-f) cross-dressing starts with what is, and probably remains, a fetishistic element. For the majority it seems to be female undergarments. That wasn’t the case for me (although it did develop some importance for me later, as did nice dresses and suits). No, for me, in the early days, it was long hair, and only that. There was no such thing as a man with long hair when I was a child in the ‘forties and ‘fifties. For me long hair was the one major differing characteristic that separated girls from boys. And as I reached puberty it was (and still is) something very beautiful that girls were allowed to have but I wasn’t. So little closet forays into cross-dressing in my later teens revolved around having beautiful long hair (not my own) and when I accepted, in my late twenties, (with no real guilt crisis) that cross- dressing was for me, hair — long wigs — played a major part in my secret life and longings. Still does, even although I know that, at 60-plus, waist-length hair is a little silly. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t stop me from still feeling it’s an essential, wonderful part of Ann.

So if you read any of my stories don’t be too surprised to find that beautiful, usually long, hair plays a prominent part.

How closet? Very. For quite a while my employment took me on business trips and the first thing I’d do, when I’d locked the hotel room door, was become Ann. My wigs, small things like pantyhose and blouse, a light dress and a nightie were easy to conceal in my luggage; when I arrived at my destination I’d sometimes go to Value Village and buy another dress or jacket and skirt, then on departure hide them in the hotel room, under the ever-present spare blanket or pillows, so they probably wouldn’t be discovered for weeks.

Has anyone else seen Ann? Very few. Once when I had a “transformation” at Wildside in Toronto and sat around the “club” feeling rather sexy in a little black dress and way-too-high heels for a delicious half day. A favourite hotel, on business trips, was the Holiday Inn in Peterborough, Ontario. It has a very nice setting on the edge of the Trent River. I’d get a second floor room, river-side, and Ann would sit on a summer evening out on the balcony just enjoying being out there, in sight, but not too close for scrutiny or recognition.

But the two best times, I owe to Cornbury. The first time I was in Vancouver on business and Stephanie and Linda came over to my hotel room for an evening. That was the first time I had ever met true sisters and was able to be Ann and talk openly. It was one of the most wonderful evenings of my life. The second was a year later, again in Vancouver. this time I met with Stephanie, Linda and Joy. As Joy wrote later in Newsletter, it truly was “Ann’s First Night Out”. We met for dinner at Stefano’s in New Westminster, so I was really “out” that night, plus I had to drive there from my hotel and back after. A great thrill. And I’m grateful to those three ladies for kindly spending the time with me. It has meant so much.

My travelling days are gone now so, back in Ontario, I take my closet opportunities when they occur, which is not often enough, and treasure the link I have with with my Cornbury sisters, even if I cannot ever be with them.

Thanks for hearing me out. Maybe some of what I’ve written here, or in my stories, may be helpful to others. If you are closet, be brave and break out if you can. But if, for whatever reason, you cannot, don’t feel guilty and don’t give up. Even if you are closeted, you’re entitled to become the femme person you want to be, even if only for fleeting moments at a time. It’s you. You deserve it. And you’re worth it!

Ann Garvald

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