This past week, the Los Angeles Times ran a long feature on Sissy Goodwin, a heterosexual, 67-year-old, college science instructor and cross-dresser in Wyoming with two grown children, one of whom says that he has only seen him dressed in men’s clothing twice, including once at his sister’s wedding. “You could see him squirming to get out of that dress shirt,” Travis said, “and get back into his dress.”
Goodwin’s cross-dressing has been lifelong. His career as an Air Force crew chief in the Vietnam War was cut short when an officer caught him wearing a pink nightgown. When he was a rodeo cowboy who rode bulls bareback, he worried about being injured and the doctors discovering he wore women’s panties under his cowboy chaps.
His experiences being transgender in rural Wyoming have been both good and bad. When he was arrested in a department store in 1979 for wearing a dress, Casper police offered to drop the charges if he’d quit cross-dressing in public. Goodwin refused, saying no laws forbid the practice. Police backed down and later offered officers diversity training.
He has certainly experienced violence and abuse. A stranger once drove up to his house and kicked out his front teeth. At the state fair this year, five men in cowboy boots kicked him in the rear. Recently, he was punched by his neighbor when the man mocked him and Sissy responded by asking if he was a coward as well as a bigot. He’s learned law enforcement isn’t always his friend; beat up by a gang of men outside a pizza shop in Salt Lake City in 2004, he refused to call police, figuring they would arrest him instead of his attackers. But the worst, he says, hasn’t been the violence. “The physical wounds from a beating eventually heal,” he says. “But the pain of being shunned by people you know lasts a lifetime. It’s worse than getting kicked in the kidney.”
Over the years he has learned to be strong. Although he and his wife put their house up for sale after one incident, he had second thoughts. “When someone doesn’t meet their expectations of what a man should be like, [people in Wyoming] run him out of town. I wasn’t going to go.” He adopted the name “Sissy” after a woman called him that. His son says of him, “He’s the most brilliant man I know. He’s not just strong physically, but mentally as well. He really is my hero.”
It hasn’t all been painful. A stranger once saluted him in public for “having the guts not to be a cookie-cutter cowboy.” Another apologized for driving by his home years ago and shouting a slur. Perhaps most amazingly, one time a classroom of his students arrived in hoodies, removing them to reveal pink hair ribbons and matching pink shirts in a gesture of solidarity. He says he nearly wept at the sight.
The full article and more pictures are available at http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-wyoming-cross-dresser-20131003-dto,0,2001829.htmlstory