This article uses the word 'cross-dresser', a complex term which has to be used with care. Please see the editorial note at the end of the article, which offers further clarification and education on its use.
It was a month into Rosie* and Danny’s relationship that she discovered a pair of stockings.
In his cupboard.
“For some reason, I just knew they were his. I knew they didn’t belong to another woman,” Rosie, mid-50s, tells Mamamia.
She says she wasn’t shocked. Or upset. But “of course there was that initial questioning: Are you gay?”.
“I didn’t know much about cross-dressing, but I knew enough to be okay with him dressing occasionally as a female - and that’s initially how it was presented to me.”
An ideal world, according to Trans Australians. Article continues after video.
Rosie’s love towards Danny was unshaken, and they were both delighted when she fell pregnant just six months later. They went on to marry, and have another child too.
All the while, Danny continued his exploration of cross-dressing.
For years, Danny’s feminine expression consisted of just donning stockings and high heels. It then progressed to skirts - “but only at home, and only after the kids went to bed”.
And for the most part, Rosie was supportive and understanding.
When Danny joined Seahorse Victoria - a support and social organisation for the transgender community - Rosie went along to a few meetings.
She would sometimes go shopping for him too, buying women’s clothes she thought would suit him.
But always, a few days later, she felt herself pulling back.
“It was always this contradiction: I very much believe in supporting people to be their true selves, but I was also having that internal struggle.”
As years passed, Danny allowed his hair to grow long. He pierced both of his ears, and began wearing heels outside of the house - just in the car, on the drive to work.