Tranny of the bride!

Dad wore a dress to walk me down the aisle...

Published by: Laura Hinton and Laura Barton
Published on: 26 January 2012

My mouth was opening, yet no words would come out... I was flummoxed as to why my dad David was lying on our sofa wearing a blonde wig and tight black dress.
His huge feet were wedged into stilettos. With his beard and hairy legs, he looked ridiculous!
Finally, I managed to speak. ‘Dad, what the hell are you doing?' I spluttered. I thought he was going to jump up and yell ‘gotcha'. Dad loved a joke.
But he couldn't have known my lesson would be cancelled and I'd be home early from college.
Now he quickly got up and tottered out of the room without so much as looking me in the eye. What had just happened?!
Then my mum Jonni came into the room. ‘Your father isn't gay,' she blushed. ‘He just likes to dress up in women's clothes.'
‘All right,' I mumbled, too stunned to say anything else.
This just didn't make sense. Dad was a major in the army, and a real hands-on kind of bloke. Mum was the devoted stay-at-home parent.
They'd had the perfect marriage, been the perfect role models and now, at 21, I was discovering they had a kinky side to their sex lives. Eurgh, I just didn't want to know...
So I didn't ask any questions, and they never offered any more explanations. Life carried on much the same. Dad and me cheered on our favourite baseball team, the Dodgers, enjoyed a beer together. It wasn't until I moved away a year later to study for my psychology degree that I saw a programme on TV about transsexuals, transvestites and cross-dressers.
‘My God,' I whispered. ‘That's Dad!' I'd been so naive!
Now I needed to know what - or who - my dad was. Except I couldn't handle asking him face-to-face. So I sent him an email. My hands shook as I typed.
I've never been brave enough to ask about that day I saw you in a dress, I wrote. I'd just like to know either way why you did it.
I was so nervous that I barely slept that night. Next morning, I was up early and saw he'd replied. ‘What the hell!' I gasped, reading his message. I'm having a sex change. I really hope this won't affect the way you feel about me, he wrote. At the moment I'm in between a cross-dresser and a transvestite, but I want to become a woman. At the bottom he'd signed off Dad/Angela.
Heart beating fast, it took a few seconds for the news to sink in. Apparently, he'd already changed his name by deed poll.
The dad who'd taken me sledging in the snow as a kid, who'd carved the turkey at Christmas, who I'd always thought so brave for working in the military...was he gone forever?!
My hands shook as I typed a reply. I'm glad you've told me, but it's a lot to take in. We'll talk when I'm home.
So for the next two months, our emails were just full of general chatter. But when I returned home, my heart was hammering.
Dad was wearing a blonde wig and black dress. His beard was gone and seeing his smooth cheeks for the first time in years was almost the most shocking thing...almost. ‘Hi, love,' he smiled, all squeaky. I winced.
‘My voice is like this because of the hormones I'm taking ready for the sex change,' he explained.
‘Are you okay?' Mum asked. ‘We understand it's a shock.'
‘How can you cope with this?!' I cried.
‘What makes your dad - or Angela - happy, makes me happy,' she smiled, reassuringly.
I suddenly realised she was different, more relaxed. I'd always thought they couldn't be more in love, but I'd been wrong. This was them at their happiest.
‘She's a new person, but still the same,' Mum continued. ‘I love him or her, whatever. If anything, it's saved our marriage because Angela is who she's always wanted to be.'
For a moment, I wasn't sure what to say, but then it hit me.
If Mum was strong enough to deal with this, then so was I. Maybe they did have the perfect relationship I'd always thought they had - just a different one.
‘I'll try and be happy for you both,' I smiled.
That night, Dad and me sat chatting and he painted his toenails. ‘This red would suit you,' he smiled. I cringed, but he was right - he had better taste than me!
Going out at first was strange. I was scared we'd be heckled.
But Dad held his head high - so I did, too. I'm still looking up to you, I thought.
His reassignment surgery went well and, by the time I was 30, I'd got used to having two mums. I was nervous when I fell for Daniel, 34, and told him about my parents, but he was very accepting.
We wed in a simple civil ceremony. But a year later, we decided to hold a bigger ceremony in my parents' garden.
‘Who's going to give me away?' I fretted. ‘I always dreamed of Dad wearing a tuxedo as he walked me up the aisle. Now, it's like I have to choose one mum over the other - I just can't do it.'
‘Well, ask them both!' Daniel suggested.
‘We'd love to!' Angela, now 67, grinned. On the big day, she zipped me into my white gown. ‘You look beautiful,' she smiled.
‘You don't scrub up too badly either,' I laughed, checking out her pale pink top and flowery skirt. It was different from the tuxedo, but it was still perfect.
And as both my mums walked me down the garden path, our makeshift aisle, I grinned proudly.
Since my wedding seven years ago, we've got even closer. Angela's great with my girls, Brooke, four, and Bree, two, and loves painting their nails!
It was my parents' 45th wedding anniversary recently, too. Angela held a surprise party for Mum because it coincided with her 65th birthday. ‘I even got a replica of our wedding cake,' Angela smiled.
‘Oh my!' Mum gasped. The cake had the same five tiers, blue icing and happy couple on top. Afterwards, they posed for photos again, just like their wedding day, only this time as wife and wife. I was so proud of them. They're still the best parents I could've asked for.

• Jonni has kept a blog about her experience of living with a transsexual:

Audra Springer, 40, Fresno, California