Real Life

"I've got a man's body but I've always had this feeling in my head that I'm a woman," My life as a transgender truckie

I hid behind the curtain and when people saw me, their jaw dropped.

By John Parrish

Di Reeves, 67 from Violet Town Vic, shares her true story:

The door to my sister Fran's bedroom flew open and Dad stood there, seething.
I was five and dressed in Fran's tutu.
"Boys don't wear girl's clothes," he raged, belting the daylights out of me.
It was the 1950s and Dad's beating was a brutal lesson.
I was always different from other little boys.
While my schoolmates played footy, I hung around the girls' groups.
I liked going shopping with Mum on Thursdays because that was the day the only dress shop in our rural NSW town changed their window display.
The fashion fascinated me.
Dad thought he could beat the "homosexual" out of me but I wasn't gay.
I was attracted to girls, but I also felt like I was one.
At 14, I left school to become an apprentice butcher.
There, the young blokes bragged about who they'd scored with and what they'd done.
I hated all that macho talk.
Thankfully nobody bothered me.
They didn't dare – within a few years I was solidly-built and 196cm tall.With mates, I acted like a typical bloke – fighting, drinking, swearing and being reckless.
I had girlfriends and at 21, I tied the knot.
A big reason I married my wife was because she was tall like me and I could wear her clothes.
I never felt like a man.
She tolerated what she called my "problem" and our marriage lasted seven years.
By then I'd worked as a shearer, a tractor driver and a truckie.
Nobody ever suspected I dressed in women's clothes.
I mostly worked alone and watched what I drank, wary of having a few too many and blurting something out.
After my marriage broke down I moved to country Victoria and joined an amateur dramatics group to help with shyness.
There, I met someone and told her I thought I'd been born in the wrong body.
"You're transgender," she said.
We stayed together for two years.
After we split up, I became a lumberjack.
It meant I could be alone most of the day.
Living a secret life was absolute torture.
I hated being the way I was but I couldn't help it.
There were times I came close to suicide.
Then I met Linda, a mum-of-two and a friend of a friend.
On our second date, I decided to come clean.
"Look, although I've got a man's body I've always had this feeling in my head that I'm a woman," I confessed.
I held my breath, waiting for her to recoil but to my amazement she just shrugged.
"Yeah righto, you seem nice. It doesn't bother me," she said.
I acted like a bloke for most of my life.
Two years later we married.
During the week, I lived as a man but at home, I dressed as a woman.
Linda's kids were grown up and had moved out so they didn't know.
Linda was a gem, so understanding, but it was stressful for her.
Often, I'd be in a skirt and heels when there'd be a knock on the door.
I'd bolt for the bedroom to change and wash off make-up.
We decided to buy a farm to avoid people dropping by.
Miles from anywhere, I could truly be myself.
Sometimes I'd go three months without seeing a soul.
There were still close shaves though.
One day, dressed in a skirt and heels, I was driving a tractor towards our home.
As I came over a hill I saw the local stock and station agent parked in our drive.
I dived off the tractor and hid in the bushes until he left.
Buying women's clothes was a problem. There wasn't much choice in the country.
I had to wait until I had a trip to Melbourne and then I'd go to the department stores and tell the sales staff I was looking for something for my wife.
Eventually we sold the farm and settled in Violet Town, Vic.
Linda and me on our wedding day.
Small rural towns can be conservative, so I kept my secret life under wraps.
I put an infra-red alarm on my front gate to give me time to change if anyone came round and erected high fences so nobody could look in.
Over the years, as society became more accepting of transgender people, I relaxed.
We told Linda's kids and they were great.
"You can be our wicked stepmother," they teased affectionately.
Some friends knew my secret.
Among them were a few people from a local trike club we joined.
When the club did a procession for the Bendigo Easter Parade I decided to test the waters by dressing up as a woman.
To the crowd it looked like I was having a joke.
But to me, wearing a frock in public for the first time felt exhilarating.
Afterwards, I walked into a pub where the rest of the trike club had gathered, and got a cheer from my friends.
"I felt really accepted," I choked to Linda later.
Then Pam, a friend who knew my secret, asked me to go to a meeting at her country ladies' group.
The members would bring in things that had an interesting story.
I decided it was time to go public about my true self so I agreed.
Me and Linda today.
I hid behind a curtain as a couple of ladies did their show and tell about crockery and plants.
Then Pam got up, delivered a speech about what transgender means, and said, "I'd like to introduce you to Diane."
When I walked out, dressed to the nines, the other ladies' jaws hit the floor but everyone was very nice and welcoming.
From then on, the cat was out of the bag.
I legally changed my name from David to Diane and began living as a woman.It was a huge relief for Linda.
Neither of us had to hide anymore.
If people said to Linda that not many women could have done what she'd done, she replied, "We love each other. Nothing has changed."
Not long I after I "came out" I went to our local market.
It usually took me 20 minutes to get around it.
This time it took two-and-half-hours because so many people wanted to stop and congratulate me.
Now, if I go to the shops, I always wear a dress and heels.
Sometimes people stare and I look away but Linda stares right back to show she supports me.
Most people have been so kind and told me how brave I was.
A part of me wishes I'd done it years ago but people were nowhere near as accepting back then.
And, if I had, I'd probably have had full transition surgery and wouldn't have met my wonderful Linda.
Things have a funny way of working out.
I can finally be myself.
Nobody chooses to be born transgender.For me it was over 60 years of torment; I was born in the wrong body.
But now, at last, I can be the woman I was always supposed to be.

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