Peggy Rudd is the author of My Husband Wears My Clothes as well as other titles about crossdressing. She was the first wife to write about the experience of being married to a crossdresser, and Melanie Rudd is her crossdressing husband.
1) Melanie, it strikes me that you and Betty are rare among trannies. What’s it like to be the subject of such intense – and published – perusal by your wife?
Melanieâ€™s life has not been the same since My Husband Wears My Clothes was published in 1989. Mel/Melanieâ€™s life story was open to the world or at least anyone who read the book. This book, as well as the other three that followed, were affirmation of the support, acceptance and un-conditional love Melanie had sought for so many years. The most joy and fulfillment from Peggyâ€™s books has been the thousands of transgendered individuals and their significant others worldwide who have told Peggy and Melanie in writing, telephone calls and face to face contact how much the books have helped them in their search for answers. We are certain that Helen and Betty have experienced this joy and fulfillment because of Helenâ€™s book, My Husband Betty. Now if we could only clone Peggy and Helen!
2) What was it like publishing My Husband Wears My Clothes – 25 years ago? It’s astonishing that you two were that able to be open about your lives at that time; how did it affect you then, and how has it continued to impact your lives?
In ways that really matter, the world was not that different in 1989 when My Husband Wears My Clothes was published. People wanted to love and be loved just as they do today. Persons in our transgender community sought answers to profound questions. Society, in general, did not understand or accept the transgendered, because in their opinion we were different and out of step with society. There was, however, one major difference. In 1989 there was a lack of accurate information about transgendered persons. We found a void in the literature, and wanted to do something about it. We believed people would never understand us until we understood ourselves. So the slow and diligent process leading up to the publication of the book began as introspection and a desire on Peggyâ€™s part to find answers. She wrote pages of personal notes about how crossdressing could affect love in general and in our relationship in particular. Writing from the heart was therapy for Peggy. She was desperately searching for truth and analyzing our complete lives.
Visits to the extensive University of Texas Library validated our worst fears: professionals perceived the idea of transvestism and transsexualism as a serious mental and emotional illness. Fortunately, Peggy did not see Melanie as abnormal and set out on a mission to prove it. She knew the truth could come only from the people who had shared the desire to be transgendered, so we began a search for others like ourselves. In 1981, we joined forces with Josephine Tittsworth, and began to locate transgendered persons in the Houston area. We ran ads in the Houston paper. â€œIf you are a man who enjoys wearing womenâ€™s clothes call this number.â€ Many people called us and this was the heart of a very comprehensive study. As Peggy met our new friends, she looked into their eyes, searched their hearts and discovered some wonderful people, and a wealth of information. The fears of dysphoria faded, we had taken giant steps toward the truth, and Peggyâ€™s notes were taking the form of a book.
We were interested in sharing Peggyâ€™s draft with Virginia Prince and Carol Beecroft, two national leaders who had the first publishing company for literature related to crossdressing. We met in California, and Virginia was captivated by what she read, and saw the content as â€œmust readâ€ for both wives and crossdressers. They offered the services of Chevalier Publishers. Virginia wanted to type the manuscript into her computer and it was Virginia who produced the first computerized copy. Carol took the process one step further when she mailed a copy to every couple on the mailing list with a request for input. The comments validated the need to publish immediately, were very positive, and were used to fortify the research. So after seven years of research, My Husband Wears My Clothes was introduced at the Be All Convention in Chicago in 1989. At that time our life focus accelerated toward helping others find peace and tranquility as we have found it.
3) Is Peggy still writing? If so, what?
Peggy has a new book in our computer now, but we doubt that we will go to press. Her eyes are damaged by myopic degeneration, and the editing process is too difficult.
4) Has ‘the husband who wears her clothes’ ever wanted to strike out on his own? Betty is asked regularly why she only contributed a page or so to MHB (to which she always replies, “it wasn’t my book”) but have you ever thought about writing the My Wife Writes the Books?
Melanie has many ideas and thoughts which could be published, but will not go to press anytime soon. We have branched out into some new endeavors such as Dignity Cruises, and have found this an excellent way to bridge the gap between the mainstream and our community. Second only to Peggyâ€™s books, the cruises have been our greatest contribution to the transgender community and to those curious people out there who want to know more about the transgendered community. Since 1991 we have planned and enjoyed 25 Dignity cruises with hundreds of transgendered persons and their significant others educating over 40,000 other fellow passengers about our wonderful community.
5) Is there any singular experience that shaped you two as a couple, especially any that encouraged you to speak up about your lives?
The single experience that shaped the two of us is, without question, is our marriage. Melanie had previously experienced rejection and trauma in her first marriage. Peggy was a breath of fresh air in her life. Melanie felt a rebirth, a new beginning and the highest form of acceptance. Peggy has an intellectual curiosity second to none, and this was the force drawing her to find more and more information about who I am. Her research over the years has given the entire community a wealth of information through her five books.