What is the Future for the Cross-dressing Community?

bi-gendered or dual-gendered cross-dressingThe Cross-dressing community may be taking a backseat in the public dialogue on transgender women. With the reveal of Caitlyn Jenner as a transgender woman, the media coverage and the large number of trans shows on TV, there has been a breakthrough for the transgender community in creating awareness. Supported by government legislation in recent months, it appears that the trend for acceptance and equal rights will continue, even if there are bumps along the way that may slow down the process.

Yet, why is it that many of the cross-dressers who affiliate with the transgender community feel as if they are left out of the “party” and compelled to fend for themselves? They are seeking the same acceptance and rights as the “full-time” girls, but often find themselves in a difficult situation because of their bi-gender status. For them, being a full time woman is either not possible based on their life circumstance or may be that they are comfortable being in both their male and fem roles; not everyone needs to transition.

So what is the future for the cross-dressing community who are fortunately coming out more often in public presenting as their fem self, while sharing their long-held secret with their loved ones? How do they garner the same acceptance as their transgender friends who are living life full-time as a woman and who for many it has been a life-long dream?

sissy cross-dresser cross-dressing

Sissy Cross-dresser

I certainly don’t have the answers, yet I do believe the term cross-dresser needs to be tossed away since it confuses most people who are not educated on what a cross-dresser really is. This term has included the fetish/sissy cross-dressers who, in my opinion, are sexually motivated by their fem side. Look on the Internet and there are umpteen photos of close-ups of crotches in panties. This image doesn’t help the cause for cross-dressers, as it only confuses the public as to what a cross-dresser really is.

I like the term bi-gender, as it more accurately describes most of the cross-dressers I know who are comfortable with their dual-gendered life. When they are presenting as a woman, they are a woman and expect the same respect and rights as the full-time girls who self-identify as a trans woman. And it appears, for the unsuspecting public that “passing” is more important for both groups.

Even with the new term bi-gender, the workplace is a slippery slope, not to mention traveling with an ID that represents one gender that may be not the one they are presenting as. Our society wants us to be one gender. Being bi-gender has its challenges, as you well know. Yet, what the cross-dressing community needs is to do first is unite under a new name and brand identity as a community. Only then can they receive the acceptance, understanding, respect and rights that they well deserve.

You can find a more extensive explanation of transgender and cross-dressing on Sister House here and here.

10 thoughts on “What is the Future for the Cross-dressing Community?

  1. I am with you Jeff.Oh..I remember when I used to wear panties and nylons under my regular male clothes. It gave me such a thrill. Those were the days when Rita was still in the closet. Now she wears them all the time under her dresses and skirts. At bed time is long and short nightgowns or satin pajamas. Is such a joy to be able to be my very feminine self 24/7

  2. As for myself, I enjoy wearing silky soft Ladies Lingerie 24/7 when I’m at home and when I’m ‘out in public’ I will wear lovely Women’s Underwear Underneath my ‘Men’s Clothing’, because “What one wears under their ‘Street Clothes” is of no one’s business. And it should be Totally Irreverent since NO ONE QUESTIONS A WOMAN ABOUT WHAT SHE IS WEARING UNDERNEATH HER DRESS or SKIRT!! So, what a man chooses to wear under his shirt and slacks shouldn’t be questioned. PERIOD!!!

  3. Thanks, Valerie for your comment, I agree, I like the term bi-gender. The term transgender was meant to include both the transsexuals and cross-dressers but unfortunately the public perception of the term transgender is a transsexual.

  4. Thanks for the article, Terri. I have read all you posts in Shades of Gender.
    I also don’t like the term “transvestite” and “cross dresser” doesn’t really cover how I am. I do feel I fit under the “transgender” umbrella, but as for going all the way with surgery, that’s not me. The term “bi-gender” actually does sound nice. In my occupation, I could be Valerie, but it is easier to be my male self. Other than that, I would be comfortable being Valerie away from work.
    It’s just to bad that we have to put a label on ourselves. I think everyone is different in their own way. Why don’t we all just be happy and not judge others?

  5. Thank you for posting that detailed information on Title VII rules and protection. Also, thank you for drawing such a clear distinction between Gender Presentation and Gender Identity. It appears that crossdressers in the narrowest sense of presentation do not have the same protection as transgender individuals due to their identity component. For those still working through the question of identity, discretion and common sense appear to be the best form of protection.

  6. Bobbi,

    This explanation was written by Molly Thomas, an attorney in Illinois, for the TG Woman Yahoo group. She is also full time.

    I will try one more time to draw the distinctions in the law. First you have to draw a distinction between (i) Federal law (primarily Title VII) and (ii) state law or municipal ordinances. Next you have to accept that there is a legal distinction between gender presentation and gender identity.

    Gender presentation is shared by transsexuals, dual genders and crossdressers of all stripes. For transsexuals it is the way they announce their gender identity to the world. For others the reasons are as varied as the individuals. For some it is to announce that they have some level of female gender identity while for others it is just about wearing female clothes, emulating female normative behavior or some fetish (sexual or otherwise).

    Gender identity is the province of transexuals and some who identify as dual gender. Almost by definition a crossdresser who is comfortable in their maleness does not have a female gender identity. Everyone else falls somewhere in between.

    So here are the Rules. I didn’t write them, and I don’t necessarily agree with them but it is the state of the law.

    RULE #1. Title VII protects sex which has been interpreted by the courts and the EEOC to include a gender identity that is different from birth sex.
    RULE #2. Title VII does not protect gender presentation in the absence of a female gender identity.
    RULE #3. Title VII primarily focuses on discrimination in employment (including access to restroom facilities at work).
    RULE #4. The term transgender is not part of the language of discrimination under Title VII. Transgender does not imply a birth sex which is at odds with gender identity.
    RULE #5. State laws and municipal ordinances frequently provide protection from discrimination based on gender presentation as well as gender identity. This is the major difference between comprehensive state law and the more limited Federal law.
    RULE #6. Labels count. Don’t call yourself a crossdresser if you aren’t one (because you have a meaningful female gender identity). The current Federal anti discrimination law under Title VII will not afford you any protection if you don’t claim your female gender identity.

    If you want protection under Title VII AND you have a significant female gender identity (even if you are not a self identified transsexual) then stop calling yourself a crossdresser. Cross dressing is about presentation and is not protected. And no Tasi, it doesn’t matter that you think you are transgender (not a term used in gender discrimination law) or what someone might think about you when you are dressed. It only matters how you consistently describe and assert your gender identity. Talkin the talk and walkin the walk are what count if you want protection under Federal law. The religion metaphor used in the Schorer case wasn’t about being Catholic or Jewish, it was about being discriminated against because you were converting. In our society you can be a man or you can be a woman but if you are discriminated against because you are changing/transitioning then that is actionable under title VII.

    If you don’t care about Title VII but are covered by a state law that includes gender presentation, then by all means use whatever label works for you.

    If you don’t have a meaningful female gender identity (or if you persist in mislabeling yourself as a crossdresser even if you do), you live in a state that doesn’t protect gender presentation and you want protection from discrimination, then get out of the closet and organize or shut up. It is that simple.

    Gays and lesbians got laws to protect some of their rights by being out of the closet and making friends and contacts as gay men or lesbians with neighbors, work associates and complete strangers. They didn’t hide. They were patient and persistent. They had setbacks, they had conflict and they had work hard. But they ultimately prevailed on many important issues at the state and Federal levels. But their fight isn’t over because in over 30 states their employment can be terminated simply for being gay or lesbian.

    Doing seminars or going on TV is all well and good but making friends and demystifying what it means to be transgender to the public as a whole will ultimately lead to victory. It is working for kids in high school and millennials. And in 20 years being any kind of transgender won’t be an issue. But until then the law is narrow and limited and discrimination based on gender presentation is the rule in most states. Sad but true.

    I understand it sounds complex and some don’t want to hear the hard truth. Cross dressing without a female gender identity is not protected by Title VII but may be under state law.

  7. I’m also not happy with the term “crossdresser” nor was I with “transvestite.” To me, the former makes it sound like a chosen lifestyle and the latter like some sort of disease. Bi-gender sounds pretty good to me! But overall, I consider myself transgender, somewhere on the spectrum toward the middle where I know what I am and at least for now have no desires or plans for dressing in public let alone HRT or surgeries.

    I’d like to add that I think these labels are important: they communicate a lot. That said, I’d love it if we had something like “pride” that is unique to TG’s because, after all, that is what we need, to be proud of ourselves as the wonderful people that we are.


  8. Terry, thank you for writing this thoughtful article. As a “bi-gender” individual, the question of our rights and access to facilities has been on my mind a lot recently. I am in the closet as I have told no one about my desire to present periodically en femme. Occasionally I do so in public and I work very hard with makeup and choice of clothing to blend in. Sometimes I blend in well and other times, well I’m a work in progress.

    When out en femme I will use the ladies room if so inclined. So back to my question, is this something we have a protected right to do as bi-gender?

  9. Thank Terry Lee for that very informative and balanced article about the transgender in the modern world. I am a transgender myself, however, as I live about 90% of the time as as woman I like to be perceived as a real woman in public. I gues I am not worried about those people who are beginning to understand and accept us as maybe the “third gender”, I am really scared to death of those who see us as freaks and may became a victim of hate crime. Therefor I do not go out broadcasting the message: “look, I am a guy dressed as a woman”, either by saying it or by (with all my respects) dressing conspicuously as a drag queen.

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