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Section: depression, sexuality, gender, marriage

Dear Ann Landers,
I want to respond to your column on cross-dressing. My dear husband of many years passed away suddenly. We had a good marriage, and I loved him with all my heart. After he died, I cleaned out his workshop, which was piled to the ceiling with projects he hadn't finished and stuff he had accumulated over the years. I seldom went in there unless I needed a hammer or screwdriver. While cleaning, I found evidence that my devoted, loving husband was a secret transvestite. There were dozens of boxes of women's clothing, underwear, shoes and wigs, and magazines about cross-dressing in the closet and on the shelves. Apparently, he had been engaging in this activity for a very long time. Our sex life was good, and I thought our marriage was solid, but now, I'm depressed and upset because I feel I was married to a man I didn't really know. It also makes me wonder if he had any gay friends and if he went beyond just dressing up. All the precious memories I had of my husband have been besmirched. I cannot talk to anyone about this because he was prominent in our community, and I don't want to tarnish his good name. I am just thankful our son and daughter didn't insist on helping me clean out their father's things. I refuse to let anyone give me a hand with his closets and bureau drawers because I would rather die than have it known he had this weird side to him. Please, Ann, warn your readers who have secrets like my husband to come clean with their families or make sure they don't leave any evidence behind. I am -- Devastated in Texas

Dear Texas,
I hope you will change your mind and talk to a professional about your distress so you can come to terms with your husband's secret. Since my recent letter on cross-dressing appeared, I have received a ton of responses. Keep reading for more: From Mansfield, Ohio: I am a 33-year-old cross-dresser, and I definitely am not gay. I am engaged to be married to a lovely young woman who knows all about my "hobby" and shares my pleasure in it. She helps comb my wigs and puts red polish on my nails when I get dressed for "strutting." It is too bad more people don't understand that this is a harmless outlet for sexual tension. St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: Women have been wearing slacks, tuxedos, fedoras and men's shirts for years, and nobody seems to think it's strange. So why all the hubbub about men who want to wear feminine clothes? I don't get it. Chicago: I am a woman who wears men's clothing because it is much more comfortable than frills and lace. I can't understand why a man would want to wear nylons and high heels if he didn't have to. Buffalo, N.Y.: People who think cross-dressing is simply "dressing up" are fooling themselves. This activity is sexually satisfying, and those who deny it are not being honest. Bloomington, Ind.: Why all the flap about cross-dressing? In Scotland, those hearty fellows have been wearing skirts for centuries (they are called kilts), and nobody would dare question their virility. Raleigh, N.C.: I know from reading your column that there are women who can adjust to a cross-dressing husband and it is fine with them, but when such behavior causes anguish for a wife, it can destroy the marriage. I know because it happened to mine. Montreal, Quebec: The line between what is masculine and what is feminine has become noticeably blurred. Michael Jordan, an American icon, wears an earring, and no person in his right mind would ever question his masculinity.

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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies."
-Ann Landers