ANDY PLUMB KNEW he was different when, at age 9, he plucked his mother’s clothes out of the laundry basket and put them on. It felt good, but he didn’t know why.

On Christmas Eve the year he was 16, his mother discovered his secret. But it wasn’t until he was studying English at Sonoma State University in the ’70s that the longtime Greenbrae resident embraced being transgendered. He calls himself Selena Rose when he dresses in drag.

Recently, Plumb published “Bootleg Poems,” a slim volume of his poetry and photographs that explore his feelings and the reactions of others to his world. “I don’t think anyone honestly understands transgenders unless they’re transgender themselves,” he says.

Plumb, 60, is an avid contra dancer and works as a writing consultant.

Q: What inspired you to write a book of poetry?

A: I’ve been writing poetry for about 20 years and thought about doing it years ago but never quite had it together. Then I started meeting people and I got a whole bunch of good responses from people who aren’t transgendered.

Q: Was it hard coming out to your parents?

A: My mother and I, we really didn’t talk for about six months. My dad didn’t know what to do. But my mother did want to know what was going on so she’d gotten some books from the library on human sexuality and she was underlining stuff and left them

out for me to see. She had to go through the period of trauma and grief and denial: “Who is this kid of mine?” Now, she’s my biggest fan when it comes to my writing.

Q: In one poem, you seem to enjoy challenging people who want to box you into a gender; is that how you really feel, or do you seek understanding?

A: There was definitely a big anger stage and a lot of resentment that I had been given this gift — I call it a gift on some levels — and yet not knowing what to do with it and people not understanding it. But I do like having fun testing people’s ideas on gender, challenging them. I find it amazing how much energy goes into identifying someone as male or female.

Q: What’s it like to be transgender in Marin?

A: I feel like a novelty item. I don’t really go out a lot in Marin. But it’s OK to do pretty much what you want, up to a point. If I were to go to restaurants and clubs in full drag, it would be different. … It does amaze me how many men in Marin, and I have no numbers, who cross-dress at different levels, whether it’s just wearing pantyhose every once in a while to actually going out to the city in drag and how much they’re pretty much in the closet. That’s one of my biggest things; I wish more cross-dressers would be more out there.