To purge or not to purge? That is the question.


Over at the Chameleons web site, we have a forum so we can keep in touch, share ideas & tips, plus discuss things between meetings. Just recently Diane asked: Have you ever purged?

Now for those who don’t know that bit of trans slang, a purge is – perhaps somewhat obviously – when you chuck everything. Not just a ruthless clearout, but anything and everything related to *ahem* crossing over is disposed of. While there are various reasons why someone might do this – guilt, shame, clean break, etc – I think the idea is to get rid of any temptation and make a clean start of it.

There is, IMHO, no shame in trying it, but I would recommend not throwing things, but putting them away instead. If you do find you don’t need everything, it’s all good, recycle later. But…. should you find that you’re not ready to walk away yet; no harm, no foul.

So, did I purge? Yes, just once and you can see how it helped me stay on the ‘straight & narrow’ 😀

It was back in my 20s (so just after the glaciers receded from mainland Europe), and I’d left home to move to Nottingham. I thought it would be a new start, and not having much in the way of female clothes, I thought it would be easy to put it all behind me and move on.

Ah, you’ve got to laugh at yourself, eh? 🙂

Chucking things, or rather, donating what little I had to charity was easy enough. I felt empowered by doing so, and having been outed that year back home, felt confident that I’d not get myself in that situation again. Thing was, I was enjoying have hair-free legs, so maybe one step at a time, eh? 🙂

The thing is, just because I didn’t have the clothes, it didn’t mean the feelings of who I was went away. Sure, their was the distraction of college, social stuff, and course work. But, those trigger points remained. Those oh-so-helpful mental nudges that remind you that what’s outside, doesn’t always reflect what’s going on inside. I was still pretty new to the whole trans shindig, and much as I’m still learning now, I think that in a time before forums, social media, and a trans support group; I was pretty much just having to wing it from day to day.

Truth is, at least for me, that the feelings of being somewhere in the middle never went away. Sure, they might draw out like the tide, slipping far into the distance, even. But, eventually, I’d find myself paddling and lying to myself, even when I had wet feet. 🙂  Long hair (and well kept, so a few people would tell me), smooth legs, clean shaven (I never could grow a beard), etc. All signs, if I look back with 20/20 hindsight, that it was only the clothes I’d ditched, and I was still looking for something that made me feel okay about who I was.

I managed it for a few years, and having met the future Ever Lovely Mrs J, I doubled down on my efforts to stay in just one gender. Not that I could have known that word then. I told her dressing up was something I had done (true), and that it wasn’t something I wanted to do (also true). Ah, but had I know the power of the dark side… 😉

I fell off the wagon, as it were, when Mrs J had a chuck out of her own. There in the corner of our rented flat was a bag destined for the charity shop. A few jumpers and some jeans, but also a fitted black top, some shoes, and a cute red skirt. “I’m off to see my Mum, see you about 11.” Well, I guess Darth was right. I didn’t fight, and I embraced my destiny. I spent about 3 hours reading, tidying up, and then getting changed at the end.

Much as I felt the relief of being me, I was wracked with guilt and fear. I didn’t want to lose Mrs J, but this wasn’t how boyfriends behaved, was it? Ah, we’re back on that old wheel: hiding and lying. Not exactly the best approach, but we do what we’ve got to do to survive, no?

Skip on 20+ years and while it’s not been an easy ride, it sure as hell beats fighting against who I was. I’m certainly a lot happier. No more lying, being able to be open with Mrs J, and having the friendship from those at the group. All of that, perhaps, is well worth fighting for.

Take care,


  1. I’ve purged several times but never will again. Now, it’s finally time for me to purge my masculine clothes to make room for my real wardrobe. I’m going to donate them to a local FTM group to give those guys a hand. I hope one day I’ll see one of my shirts or suits on someone for whom they are better suited.

  2. Yes, I purged once many years ago (after a romantic break-up). The crucial life lesson I learnt from this was…. It's expensive buying similar things back again later 😉

    1. Yes, it is, isn't it. I know it's easier to type that some things are only material items. But… it's the memories associated with them. That and some stuff both suits and makes you feel more you and less 'it'. IMHO. 🙂

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