Caitlyn Jenner’s gender dysphoria began long before she was rich and famous, says Nancy Owen of Bay Ridge, an authority on women born in men’s bodies.
The pre-operative transgender woman, who did not want her real name used, is acutely familiar with the personal struggle of the world’s most famous male Olympian — until recently called Bruce — to present himself as a female.
“Caitlyn has said she had these feelings since she was 8 years old,” says the attractive 39-year-old brunette, a divorced dad with a two-year jump on the gold medalist’s transition. “At 6 I recall being in the playground and seeing a girl in a skirt and thinking how lucky she was because of that.”
In first grade, Nancy came across a Mad Magazine cartoon showing a man inserting a dollar bill into a coin machine and changing into a woman.
“Most boys would’ve thought switching to a woman would be icky,” she says. “But I remember thinking how cool it was.”
At 9 years old, in a life-altering encounter, she saw a boy dressed as a girl for Halloween.
“I knew then I wanted to dress as a girl,” she says.
Two years later, alone in the family den, Nancy impulsively tried on her older sister’s panties.
“I thought I looked cute,” she says. “It felt to normal to me, but I had to change back before anyone got home.”
Soon she began a weekly ritual of dressing in her sister’s skirts, dresses, and underwear.
“It felt right,” she says.
Outwardly Nancy seemed like a typical schoolboy, occupied with studies, sports, friends, and chores, but her private moments were consumed by a burning desire.
“When I was alone, I knew I wanted to be female, and fantasized that I was,” she says.
Nancy’s mother, now deceased, busted her at 13, hiding her lingerie.
“She asked me if I wanted to be a girl,” she says. “I said ‘no,’ knowing I was lying.”
Today, Nancy takes female hormones, rocks head scarves, and presents herself as a woman — to mixed reviews.
“Pretty much everyone is supportive, except my father and my sister,” she says, adding that confronting herself has been the toughest hurdle.
Next week: Part 2, adulthood, marriage, and kids.
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