It set me back. I will never know how close it came to killing me. That was not how it felt at the time, but that is what is clear now; it made self-acceptance close to impossible. Better put, it was a revelation that made me sick to think about myself, and it drove me into psychic hell for a long time.
"It" was a revelation by my younger brother of a pivotal event in his young life.
I did not grow up with my brother, but I did see him regularly. That part of my family had a 'family friend' who was (he is long deceased) homosexual. It is that long ago that the word 'gay' had not started to be used for anything but 'happy'. This man was also a crossdresser, and we liked him a lot. He was intelligent and well-read and told many good stories that had nothing to do with being homosexual or crossdressing.
What I did not find out until somewhat later, as a result of my brother's revelation of his own devastating experience, is that this same person was a pediphile and rapist.
Things I believe now: When we prejudge people it is just plain wrong. When we broadly characterize people as a result of some particular quality they have, it is dangerous. Of course, I know that gay people don't usually crossdress. I know crossdressers are not usually gay. I know pediphiles are just that, and whatever other characteristics they have, gay, straight… oh whatever! When the person we prejudge is ourselves, what then?
Oh, how I hated this man once this came to light. I thought back on how we had all been taken in by this monster and it made me sick and determined that nobody like this would ever have a chance to do this sort of thing ever to my children. What was worse than hating a dead pervert, was the hatred it generated for myself, because I really did not understand what it was that drove me to my own personal 'perversion'; I was a closet crossdresser. Everything I had experienced in my life told me that this was wrong. Wanting to be a woman was perverted and wrong and I was secretly an evil and damaged person.
Sure, I sometimes crossdressed, but I would never do harm to a child. Heck, I would never have had sex at all without the encouragement of that wonderful woman who I married. Forcing anyone into sex was inconceivable to me. Sex is supposed to be the culmination of the most intimate getting to know and love someone experience that two people can have, not some violent hatred act forced onto a victim. Still, I lived in a private hell, wondering if somehow my mind was going to snap, and I was going to become what I hated most in the world.
The full extent of the damage that one revelation brought I will never know fully, because it is a long time ago, but there is not a bit of doubt that my longings to be a woman were buried even deeper by the profound shame I felt and the fears that it generated.