THE STORY starts when I was about five. In the nursery school, all the boys' dancing shoes were black, ugly canvas plimsolls, but the girls had pink shoes with straps on them, and I thought, why can't I wear those?

It wasn't until the age of 14 that I started to take a greater interest in the contents of my mother's wardrobe . . . which led to the first steps in becoming a transvestite. Standing naked in front of a mirror, I'd start off with one garment, and then it wasn't long before I'd actually put on every single item of female clothing available.

Getting dressed was fun, the texture and feel of female clothing is infinitely more attractive than the feel of male clothing.

I dressed whenever the opportunity arose, when nobody was in, father had gone to work, mother was out shopping, and brother and sisters were elsewhere.

The next step was obtaining clothes of my own. I couldn't keep on using mother's clothes, and I was growing up and beginning to change in size anyway.

When I had my own lodgings I was able to go to shops and buy clothes, and that was the real start to becoming a dedicated TV.

I like skirts and dresses, and lingerie - classic items but with a sensuous overtone. For example, what they used to call teddies or cami-knickers are increasingly available in shops, and the cuts are getting better and better. Lycra has changed the entire scene of female clothing.

Every TV will be able to tell you the precise detail of going out for the very first time dressed from head to toe as a female. I quite simply went out in the city during the day, and walked around.

I hired a room in a hotel and changed there. I was wearing a blue dress, heels, dark wig, and I had a shoulder handbag, and a raincoat, because it was raining.

That was the longest I had been in high heels. It was a three-inch heel, which was not difficult to manage - I was young enough then - and the ankles were flexible. Anything higher than that and you have got problems.

Once that had taken place, I didn't feel the need to do it again immediately, but I planned to do it again, and I worked out what I would alter. For example, I wanted to see if I could have a meal quietly by myself, and try and do things that any other female would do. That was the plan, but it never worked out because I then met my future wife and the act of falling in love obliterated the transvestite desires.

For nearly three years.

But once it is there, it is always there, and it is something you had better acknowledge, because if you don't, it becomes a cancer which eats away at you.

The marriage had been going fairly well until one night my wife and the children were away with their grandparents, and I took the opportunity to look at some clothing I had stored in the attic. I dressed up in them, and borrowed one of my wife's kaftans, and had a nice quiet evening on my own.

I thought no more about it until two days later. My wife held up a pair of silk panties.

'Whose are these?'

I recognised them immediately, and my mouth went dry, and I sagged against the kitchen sink.

She said: 'I found them in the washing machine.'

I thought, how utterly stupid, the smallest thing finds you out.

'Whose are they?'

And I said: 'They are mine.' She replied: 'I don't believe you.'

I said: 'They are mine, there is nobody else involved, I have never been unfaithful to you.' And I then had to explain to her what a transvestite was.

A year or two prior to that, on one occasion I had encouraged her to switch roles; she put on my clothes and I put on her clothes. She said it was an interesting game, but once was enough, thank you very much. And I didn't feel too happy about it either, because I knew there was much more to it for me than there ever would be for her. And so the shutters came down . . . and we had not talked about my transvestism until this confrontation.

She was shaking, she was crying. She was desperately trying to understand what on earth was going on. To give her credit she never said, 'Are you gay?', but she kept saying 'Why?' and 'Why me?'

We moved: it was the age-old thing: you think a new beginning is going to change things. But it didn't change anything at all. I was travelling a lot, and taking clothes with me, the compulsion hadn't disappeared. When she asked me about it, I said: 'I'm sorry, but the feelings are still there,' which from her point of view was a terrible criticism of the marriage.

After the divorce, the first thing I did was to go out with my Access card and shop for a full day in and around Kensington - because I had burnt all my clothes in an effort to please my wife. I got myself a complete outfit and went to a hotel in Earls Court where many TVs meet of a Saturday evening.

Initially, it was wonderful, all the things that had been going wrong seemed suddenly released through this conduit, and I enjoyed myself. But as the evening went on I thought what am I doing here? I'm not sure I want to talk with all these men who are dressed in female clothing. And I realised that scene wasn't for me.

Then I met Monica. Oh God, take a deep breath. The hardest thing is making up your mind to tell, telling is not that difficult.

Her concerns were of comprehension, she wanted to understand. She said: 'What does this all mean, do you put on lipstick, put on a dress and that's it?'

I said: 'No, it's more complicated than that.'

I don't simply throw on a dress. There is a routine: slowly putting on clothes and make-up, and finally putting on the wig and earrings. It is a process of completely leaving one body and moving into another, changing from being Gerald to being Geraldine. And it is a process that is worthy of savouring as you watch the transformation before your very eyes.

Once Monica felt more relaxed with Geraldine, the character of Geraldine developed. I could then spend a longer time as Geraldine, which was what I needed to do, I wanted to see how far it was going to take me over.

Before meeting Monica, I don't suppose I would have stayed in the Geraldine mode for longer than five or six hours at the most, because there was nobody to share it with, and Monica didn't stop that development, she encouraged it.

But it frightened me very much indeed. I didn't really want to spend the rest of my life being a slave to a compulsion.

Although she had no lesbian tendencies, Monica had a very strong relationship with Geraldine. Geraldine was somebody she could relate to, Gerald was the person she loved very much.

And the relationship, which was very happy, lasted about one year.

I now have a new girlfriend, I love her very much. She knows about everything, and she understands. She is sad that she doesn't want to participate, because she thinks she ought to. But our relationship is something that doesn't need that aspect at all. She knows I have a female wardrobe, she has seen pictures, but she has never seen me as Geraldine.

I am doing a lot of things today that I want to do, that fulfil me greatly. I have my own business, which is doing well, and Geraldine very seldom makes an appearance, she's becoming less a part of me. But Geraldine will always be a part of me, a part I will never let go of.

(Photograph omitted)

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