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Savannah man, family embraces his crossdressing as a woman




Jane Fishman is a lifestyle columnist for the Savannah Morning News.

It’s not often that you see two photographs, one of a man, the other of a woman, in the same obituary. But this is how William Bill Davidson IV, aka Barbara Marie Davidson, who died on March 13 at the age of 77, wanted it.

The retired lieutenant commander spent 26 years in the military in Vietnam and Grenada, followed by 19 years as a registered nurse. The Savannah and Citadel High School graduate didn’t want there to be any confusion. He wanted to make sure everything was as easy as possible.

The obituary lists Bills a long career in the military and Barbara Maries’ lifetime membership in a number of organizations. He was a bagpiper for over 55 years and currently a receptionist at Luxury Nails and Spa in Statesboro, read a sentence.

This is how he was, said his eldest son, William M. Davidson V, better known as Bo. He didn’t want to leave anything on the table. Pop wrote most of the obituary himself.

As Bo and his two siblings grew up in the Savannah area, their father, who died of congestive heart failure, introduced himself as a man, although looking back there were clues, Bo said. You look around and see all these wigs except mom never wears wigs. Then, six months before retiring from the military, Davidson stopped cutting his hair and started grooming his nails. My mom would say, Bill, you have to cut your nails, but he didn’t.


Davidson used to say how unfair it was that women could dress like men, but men couldn’t dress like women.

At the time, I thought he was talking about wearing kilts, referring to our Scottish heritage, Bo said.

When they were teenagers, Bos’s younger brother had come across his father dressing as a woman. Davidson, assuming he was alone in the house, asked his son to keep it a secret. He did it for a while before finally telling Bo.

For a long time, Bos’s relationship with his father was quite difficult, he said. But at 37, when he started to get sober, Bo said his father contacted him and said he could live in his house. That’s when Davidson came clean.

William M. Davidson V aka Bo Davidson shares his father Bill's life story as a transvestite.

Just before, Bos’s mother and grandmother had passed away the same year, when Davidson started dating full time as a woman. Before that, he had kept it low because he wanted to honor his wife. They had been married for 39 years.

He said: My son, you can stay here, but you have to understand one thing, Bo remembered. I live life as a woman. The two made a deal. Bo wouldn’t get mad when her father went out at night dressed as a woman and her father didn’t want to hurt Bo for his sobriety. Bo thanks his father for helping him get sober.

It was when they were living together, Bo realized that they also had something in common.

One day I heard this racket, it started. I thought, I know that noise. It looked like when I got tattoos. It turns out that Pop was getting eyeliner and lipstick tattoos. By this time, Davidson had started taking hormones, had breast augmentation procedures, legally changed her name to Barbara Marie, and joined a support group in Atlanta for straight crossdressers, Tri-Ess (Society for the Second Self).

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