That's the name I'm assigning to my life prior to transition. It refers to the fact that I not only deceived all the people of my life about who I was, I even deceived myself. (I also like the way it suggests the Great Depression.)
That time of my life was largely defined, in my own inner world, with deep feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred. I was ashamed of my selfhood. Growing up in rural Wyoming, among the last of the old-time cowboys (the folks the Marlboro man was modeled on), I had definite images of what it meant to be a man, and I was very aware I didn't fit those images. It was vital to me that I fit in, that I hide my feminine urgings, and be accepted by these people whom I liked, admired, and respected deeply – and still do, to this day. It was also important to my survival. Girls who were tomboys got plenty of respect in the little two-room elementary school I attended through sixth grade. Boys who liked girl stuff were unthinkable. I wasn't popular – I was invisible. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen, I had buried the shame of who I was so deep that I didn't know who I was, I just knew I didn't feel like a man.
I spent the next 25 years trying to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I was. I joined the Marine Corps, grew a beard, developed crude habits, chose occupations like logging and commercial fishing, and boozed myself into oblivion. I joined in perplexing, short-term liaisons with women, the role I took on understood so poorly that I was never able to carry it longer than a couple months until I was thirty years old and met Kristin.
It didn't work. I was just deceiving myself and others, most painfully all the people I love the most – and who love me the most. It came out in weird ways, like a sort of sexual perversion and a willingness to lie, cheat and steal that seem totally foreign to me now, and habitual suicidal ideation that came at times scarily close to fruition.
Hence the 'Great Deception.' Great only in personal terms, of course. It's nothing compared to the deceptions of George W. Bush, for instance, though mine was flawlessly opaque and his were and are transparent to anyone who wants to look. But that very opaqueness is what makes it 'great.'
Thank God it's over.