The Transgender Experience: Darlene Furness
Dream to Reality
Darlene Furness, TransAction FL Advisory Council Member
In August 2013 I retired and slowly began the process of “coming out” to give my neighbors and others who knew me the chance to adapt to the change of seeing me as a female. In November I went full time, basically because I went to a hair salon for the first time and had my hair styled.
In June of 2014 I saw a doctor and began hormone replacement therapy and on July 28, 2015 went to court to change my name. I took time between each step in my transition because after living the vast majority of my life as a male and believing that is what I was supposed to be. Even though internally I knew there was more to me than that, I wanted to make sure there would be no doubts I could not handle.
I give that little background to a story I told during my “name change” ceremony in December 2015 at the FEM Transgender Support Group in Orlando.
“During the summer of my 15 year I had taken to “borrowing” my sisters clothes and going onto the area on top of the hill near my home. This area was farm land (sheep and milk cows) with small country roads and a few abandoned homes, which I made use of. While exploring for areas I could “dress” (in female clothes) without being seen, I came across a small vale. The vale was gotten to by a footpath from the paved road at the top of the hill alongside a farm house. From the farmhouse the footpath was so steep steps had been cut in the hillside using logs. Halfway down this path to the right was a small wood. The path flattened at the bottom of the vale, crossing over a small stream before disappearing over a slight rise and dipping down to the main road which ran through the main valley my home town (and other towns) sat in. The small vale and stream ran at right angles to the footpath eventually rising about half a mile away going back to the paved road (which was about four feet lower than the hilltop).
At first I would go into the wood and change because I could hide in the trees and bushes if anybody came. I went a few times and got “braver” stepping onto the path and eventually going all the way to the stream at the bottom. During these times of sporadic dressings, I would feel so free. After changing back into my clothes I would walk back up the vale following the stream to the road, on top of the vale just before the road I found a small hidden hollow that overlooked the vale so I would sit or lie there (after changing) and just take in the scenery and dream.
One warm day I went to the vale, I changed into my sister’s clothes (I always put on the underclothes before leaving the house) I had brought a purplish, pink and blue acrylic dress of my older sister and her flat shoes. I put my clothes in a bag and hid them under a bush. I then walked slowly onto the footpath and down towards the vale bottom. I don’t know why but I decided I was going to walk up the vale to the hollow. As I followed the stream I felt so light hearted that I started to skip and dance over and along the stream. I began to see myself as a teenage girl and my heart began to soar. I got to the hollow and sat looking down the vale I had just traversed, I was feeling so wonderful and I didn’t want it to stop. At one point I was going to go straight home as I was and tell my parents I was a teenage girl. I was even believing that if I did that somehow my body would change and I would be the teenage girl I now saw myself has. I’m not sure how long I sat in that hollow but I had never experienced such a wonderful feeling of contentment and bliss before.
Eventually my logical mind started working again telling me my body wouldn’t change, I’d just cause embarrassment and worse for me. I rose went to the wood, now looking fearfully around, changed and went home. The memory of how I felt I had pushed down and forgotten, I had the memories of going to that vale but that was all. I was back in the “real” world where I was a boy and man and had to behave and be one. Even though I would continue to dress in secret through my adult years and feel more relaxed and right during those moments. I had “conditioned” myself to believe it was wrong mainly through my own ignorance of why.
As mentioned earlier I went to court in July 2015 to change my name, I had gone through the procedure as part of the process of my transition, a logical step. The judge called me to the front so we could talk low and other people in the court couldn’t hear. I didn’t mind who heard or not but appreciated his consideration and thoughtfulness. I answered his questions, then was asked to go and sit while the clerk stamped the order. The next case was in progress when the bailiff came over and give me the court order. I walked out of the court and as I was walking through the building this overwhelming feeling hit me and tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. I hadn’t realized how much this step had meant to me. I sat in my car in the parking lot to compose myself and texted a couple of friends while trying not to get my cellphone wet.
Eventually I was able to drive home but a nagging thought kept pricking me that I had experienced a similar wonderful euphoric feeling once before. For days afterward that nagging thought kept pricking at me until eventually it surfaced.
I remembered that teenage girl dancing and skipping along that vale and realized 50 years later her dream had blossomed into a real reality.