As the word implies, crossdressing is wearing clothes (dressing: the act of donning clothing and wearing it). The "cross" comes in when a person goes against the prevailing socially defined stereotype, dons, and wears clothing society says is exclusively for members of the sex opposite to the sex of the person involved. Virtually all people crossdress on occasion. Many people crossdress with regularity. Both sexes cross dress.
Females crossdress with relative impunity. No one seems to be particularly upset and many think it is really "classy" or just plain "cute" for a female to wear "men's" clothing. Conversely, unless the crossdressing individual is sufficiently talented to look convincing, a male who crossdresses is in for social disapproval which can vary from minor to massive. People cross dress for a wide variety of reasons.
Many "reasons" are given for crossdressing. Some are simplistic. Some are superficial. Some are simply wrong. In general, the most valid reasons seen have to do with the expression of a personal preference on the part of the crossdresser. Those who crossdress are almost all male, and most are married or have been married. Many have families.
These crossdressers dress also for a variety of reasons. The reasons they give vary with the depth of insight and understanding held by the individual concerned. For the most part, at the core of the motivation for most heterosexual crossdressers is an outward expressive manifestation of an inward feeling set. Something innate, natural to the person concerned seeks to find overt expression in the external behavior of the individual.
This inner feeling set/external manifestation takes the form of cross dressing. Such individuals feel a natural preference for feminine clothing in the same manner the typical female feels the need to express her femininity in the choices of clothing she makes.
At the core, then, is the fundamental element of the who, what, and how the person is by virtue of their nature and the resulting attraction to things feminine. This is an innate attraction, a natural reaching out of the inner person to find visible means of self expression compatible with how, who, and what the person feels self to be inside. It is not generally a sexual thing, or all such individuals would be same sex attracted.
Since a majority of cross dressers are not same sex attracted, then it is evident the innate attraction to external symbols of femininity are not sexual in nature, rather they rise from the most basic centers of who, what, and how the person really is by virtue of nature.
No! Crossdressing is something quite apart from a sexual activity for most crossdressers.
The motivations lie at an equally deep and natural level in the person as does sexual attraction, motivation and preference, yet they are different. These two confusing elements of the total person (sex and gender)are indeed closely linked in most people.
Our language does not even have an appropriate verbal differentiation. Our language wrongly uses the terms "gender" and "sex" interchangeably. It uses sexual terms which refer to anatomical features as their basis interchangeably with terms which in reality are most accurately reserved for things which are not sexual in being at all. It uses "woman" when it means: "female". It uses "man" when it means: "male". It fails us when it comes to accuracy and this inaccuracy does lead to a lot of confusion.
Nevertheless, crossdressing as practiced by the heterosexual crossdresser is something quite apart from sex and sexual expression. People are born male or female. The distinction in gender traits are best described as feminine or masculine.
Again, the answer is a resounding NO. In fact the NO cannot be made sufficiently emphatic.
Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or "sex change surgery" as it is sometimes called, is quite another thing. This is a sexual thing at the very core. Diagnostically, it is a sexual identity dysphoric condition in which the person from the very earliest ages, many even before the onset of puberty, is aware of a feeling most commonly said to be: "trapped in the wrong body". Such people are diagnosed as "transsexuals" for their fundamental feeling set has equally deep roots which are quite apart from clothing and are in essence directed to their anatomical structures and many times to the sexual anatomy of those to whom they are attracted sexually.
This condition is recognized as a medical condition which is commonly treated by long term psychotherapy, long term hormonal therapy and finally by surgical acorrectiom of the person's external genitalia so that the sex and the gender match. This condition is found in both those born female and those born male. The predominance is among males.
A terribly distressing situation has arisen in conjunction with the proliferation in recent years of the so-called "Gender Clinics" (a terribly misnomer, as it were) and the relative ease with which many individuals have been admitted to the surgical suites. This has led to a phenomenon in which borderline individuals have sought to bolster their own decision to assume the identity and goals of the true transsexual by "recruiting" and otherwise influencing other insecure, confused, and often gullible individuals to set forth on the same course of action. This has been encouraged it seems, by some individuals in the "Gender Clinic" business for obvious reasons. SRS is not inexpensive.
The issue of children of the crossdresser is an emotionally burdensome one. There is no formula answer. What is the best for one family in which crossdressing is a natural part of the father's being human could be suitable for another family and yet for a third family, it could be totally wrong. In general, taking into consideration the psychological formative years of the child being essentially from birth to age five as being those years in which the child learns the most and most personal patterns are well formed, if the parent discovers cross dressing and comes to terms with it during those times, it is generally held, telling the children is appropriate.
During these younger years, the child can grow up knowing "dad" as both a "man" and as a "woman" with no problems. This is not going to "mark" the child in any way. The child will be inclined to femininity or masculinity according to the "luck of the draw" when the influences of the genetically inherited nature is laid down at conception. The critical thing in parenting in this situation is to be honest and to provide the child with positive reinforcement for the inclinations the child begins to exhibit early on. As the child's nature matures and begins to manifest itself, in terms of femininity and masculinity, the wise parent will observe and will be supportive of the child becoming who, what, and how he/she is by nature.
In the case the parent discovers and comes to terms with multi-general inclinations and begins to manifest the long repressed gender side of self after the children have passed about the age of twelve or thirteen, it is not advisable for the parent to make an issue of crossdressing. If the children discover it, honesty is the one positive thing to practice. Children in the teen years are in much chaos already. The awakening of their own sexuality and the powerful influence of their peer group have to be taken into consideration.
So there is no "formula" to be given. Each situation, each family, each cross dresser, each spouse, and each child makes a huge difference. What is right for one, may be right or wrong for another. Each must make the best choice they can and work out the negatives if any develop as a result of the decision made.
Some do. Some don't.
The issue of spousal accommodation to crossdressing is as varied as are the couples in whose lives crossdressing becomes an issue. There are no formulae. Each person involved has to search self and consider much more than the prejudices and emotional flaring which commonly accompany disclosure of crossdressing. Fundamentally, the acquisition of knowledge and the enrichment of attitude are essential. Remember spouses grow up subject to the same sociological conditioning interims of socially approved stereotypes as do the crossdressers for whom this is a major problem.
Crossdressing introduced into a marriage invariably requires rapid growth in terms of knowledge, self esteem, and security of the relationship, or the relationship is in dire threat of falling apart. It is a case of "grow or go" most of the time. Therefore, it is wise for the crossdresser who discovers and comes to terms with crossdressing before marriage to be honest and risk loss of the intended rather than go through the trauma of disillusionment which so often happens later on. "Tell your intended first, then work out the relationship before you get into a legally binding situation" is our advice.
A good policy to follow is for a crossdresser to share crossdressing with a lady no later than the third or fourth date. Being rejected early never has hurt so badly as being rejected later on when a relationship has begun to mature. Further this gives the lady due respect and freedom to stay or go away as she chooses and there is no "inducement under false pretense". It is just the honest and honorable thing to do.
Yes there are!
There are helping organizations both of the self help variety and of the "social" variety. For the heterosexual crossdressers and those who love them (families) there is: Tri-Ess - The International Society for the Second Self.For those who are not so sure they are exclusively heterosexual or who want a "non-family" oriented structure, there are multiple "open" groups around the country. Contact IFGE, P.O. Box 540229, Waltham, MA. 02454 for referral to various groups.
There also is, for the crossdresser and those who are effected by cross dressing the 12 step self help group modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. This group is called: Helping Transgenders Anonymous (HCTG). Local groups are forming all around the country. Contact with the founding group in Houston, TX will give you information.