Oct 14

Growing Up Alone by Micki Finn

Growing up alone. It sounds sad doesn’t it?

It was but, I wasn’t raised by wolves in the wild just in Los Angeles in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Movies and television had morality censors approving content before it was released. You never saw couples in bed together or even a king size bed. Instead there were twin beds with a table in the middle separating them.

There were no cell phones, laptop computers, iPads, CD ROMS, VHS tapes, e-mail, internet, cable TV, color Televisions. The all-male television news in black and white was broadcast 2 hours in the morning and 3 in the evening and was over by 7:00PM.

Sex was not discussed openly in public and only hinted at in the movies.

So how does a little boy with a fascination for women’s clothes, nylons, and high heels figure it all out? He doesn’t at least for decades until by accident he stumbles upon a men’s magazine with a fascinating article in it.

I was 21 by then and elated to find out there was a name for what I did, and there were others like me someplace. I was a TRANSVESTITE yeah!

I read on the internet today people taking issue with some of us using the term crossdresser to describe ourselves. After being caught several times by my mother and brother dressed in women’s clothes my label was “Little Sicko”. They did not give me that name it was just the way I felt about myself. Transvestite seemed pretty good compared to Little Sicko.

I had nobody to talk to growing up. I felt tremendous guilt and shame when I continued to do it because I was the only one on earth doing it.

My life other than that was great with plenty of friends to play sports with, hike in the mountains, ride horses, go to the beach etc. Everything went well until I started to get the urge to dress again and would suppress it as long as I could. It did not dominate my thoughts until I continued to suppress it then it increased the longer I held out. I would eventually give in and indulge my passion followed by guilt and thinking way to go SICKO! You caved in again.

In my teen years girls became a more and more important to me and each time I fell in love I swore off dressing and each time I caved in and dressed. In high school girls could wear high heels and pantyhose did not exist so they wore garters that sometime were visible. It made it hard to concentrate on school with all of that going on around me. Gays were terribly ostracized in those days and the only ones I saw were effeminate. I feared being discovered or sharing my secret with my girlfriend would result in my being labeled as Gay, so I said nothing. My secret became more important to keep than ever.

growing up, half male, half femaleThen there was that fateful day when I had a chance encounter with an intriguing magazine cover in the bathroom of a friend’s house. The page had a drawing of someone with the left half made up as a woman with earrings and makeup. The other half as a man complete with beard stubble. I can still see it today. The article was not very long, and I don’t recall most of the content other than the term Transvestite.

Within months of that discovery a group of friends and I attended a DRAG show at the Queen Mary show lounge in Studio City California. Wow now I got to see actual Transvestites fully dressed elegantly as women. I did not dare reach out to them because none of my friends new my secret. I was now in my early twenties and had never spoken to anyone about my being a Transvestite.

A few months later I managed a trip to the Queen Mary by myself on a weeknight. Now I added the term DRAG Queen to my vocabulary. I learned the difference between the DRAG Queen who was typically Gay and a Transvestite like me who is heterosexual. I was still alone and did disclose my secret to anyone I met in the bar.

Around this same time, I discovered a place called Uba’s TV Fashions in Venice California that advertised in the Hollywood Free Press. I called to find out if the TV stood for television being that Hollywood was just over the hill from me. Uba told me it stood for Transvestite and she had everything I would need to dress as a woman.

growing up in victorian homeGetting to Uba’s became not just a priority but an obsession and I accomplished the mission within a couple of weeks. It was in an old Victorian home a few blocks from the beach. I went in the front door and met UBA all 300 pounds of her. The living room was full of clothing racks jammed full of clothing. She had French Maid uniforms and educated me what that was all about. She asked me if I was a TV and I played dumb asking for clarification (like she has never met someone like me). She then asked me if I like to wear women’s clothes and I through caution to the wind and said yes. We talked for a while and she asked me what I liked to wear. I told her nylons and heels because that is all I had ever worn. I bought a copy of Tapestry a magazine published by Doctor Virginia Prince a famous pioneer in the transvestite world at the time. It was full of information and stories about crossdressing. I learned a great deal about the subject which was not referred to as crossdressing and there was absolutely nothing about Transgender or Transsexual. I would not here those terms for another 20 years.

I visited Uba about once a month until she moved her shop to Hollywood Boulevard which was a little closer. I don’t recall ever buying any clothing from her because most of it was fetish and what wasn’t was blah. I took her up one day on an offer to have her friend do my makeup for $10.00. I was so excited to sit there with this real woman making me beautiful and could not wait to see the finished product. Images of the beautiful movie stars of the day ran through my mind. Finally, it was showtime and she handed me a mirror where I looked at a hideous image resembling the Joker in Batman. I thanked her washed it off and left devastated.

I now have two people that don’t know me personally but know my secret. I am still alone because I have not met any transvestites yet. I continued to buy Tapestry until Uba passed away and the shop closed.

Over the next two decades I accumulated a few items that I hid in the garage and took with me on sales trips until about age 40 but still alone.

In the early 1990’s I saw a television show where they had a  store in Orange County California called Versatile Fashions. The owner Mistress Antionette was and attractive grandmother and part time dominatrix. I checked out the store but again it was all fetish stuff which did not interest me however they did have a magazine selection. A couple of them were Transvestite magazines and I started stopping in and buying a copy of TV Epic when I was in the area. It was always uncomfortable for me and I would usually linger by the rack with money already counted out then when the cashier was alone I would walk over and hand them the money before someone got to close and saw what I was buying.

On one occasion I noticed some cards on the counter for Yolanda’s Wigs by Nancy. I asked what the story was and was told she did wigs for TV’s. I took a card and called Nancy arranging an appointment. Nancy told me that I should attend one of their local crossdresser meetings at a local hotel. She told me that it would be great for me and they had anywhere from 50 to 75 crossdresser’s attending and it was available to anyone, just show up. I shared it with my wife who did not like any of it, so I just stopped by and chatted with Nancy from time to time.

I did not give up on my wife who is also my best friend and brought the subject up periodically explaining how lonely is was without TV friends. Over time we reached a compromise and she agreed to let me go to a meeting provided I get a room at the hotel where the meeting was held. She was terrified of my driving dressed in women’s clothes. I took a tour of the hotel where PPOC held their meetings with the manager telling him I was planning a family reunion and needed accommodations for family. After he showed me the only meeting room I made a note of the rooms in the immediate area to minimize my walking distance.

PPOC Powder Puffs of Orange County.

The day came, and I picked up my reservation at the hotel around 3PM and started getting ready in a room close by the meeting room. My skills were very limited in those days, so I was late getting ready. This was further complicated by people arriving at the hotel from the nearby interstate at all hour’s day & night. I must have made 20 attempts to leave the room only to jump back inside after hearing a door slam or somebody talking. I soon figured out that eventually the voices from the TV’s at the meeting saying goodnight would be what I was hearing and had to make my move or go to bed.

I threw caution to the wind and opened the door stepped out after checking to make sure I had my key at least 50 times. I pointed my toes walked to the meeting room door which was left ajar, so people could come right in without knocking. I stepped through it was greeted by crossdressers at a table taking $10.00 for pizza and soft drinks. There were about 20 crossdressers in the room chatting in groups of 3 or 4 each. I approached one and joined in the conversation when appropriate.

I was almost 40 and met my first crossdressers face to face after all those years. I continued to attend PPOC meetings for a few years sporadically but was unable to make any lasting friendships because everyone else attended the same way. PPOC sponsored an event each spring in San Francisco called California Dreaming and I attended a few of those also. Most everyone left the hotel to go shopping but I did not have the courage to go out in public yet, so I went to the vendor areas to shop and hung out in the bar watching TV with some of the other cowards in DRAG.

Texas T PartyIt was somewhere around that time when I heard about an event held every February in San Antonio Texas called “The Texas “T” Party”. They said it was made up of crossdresser’s and wives / S. O’s and totaled about 500 attendees. Because it was out of state my wife who had mellowed over time agreed to accompany me. We arrived on Friday night and left on Sunday afternoon. We had a great time and enjoyed meeting everyone for breakfast on Sunday and figuring out who was the red head in the green dress the night before. We met many couples and found their stories not much different from ours. My wife agreed we should go again the next year and all I had to do was live and shop for 11 ½ months.

ALL GROWN UP AND NO LONGER ALONE

It was at that second “T” Party that fate intervened and I met Ashley and wife who lived about 35 miles from us in California. She was a member of a club called C.H.I.C. that met every month usually at different members houses. It was a private club with strict security and an extensive membership screening. The club idea sounded great, but I heard things about CHIC and did not think it was workable for me. Ashley dispelled the rumors I had heard and recommended I consider joining providing me with an application.

Ashley talked me into joining and I submitted the application for membership in CHIC. I won’t go into the whole process, but I was accepted and have been a member 26 years now. Members have come and gone over the years, but the new ones are applying all the time. Younger members join the older ones and gain knowledge and experience improving their presentation all the time. It is great having crossdresser friends and wives that you can socialize with each month.

Sadly, crossdresser clubs are on the decline along with the conventions we once enjoyed. There are only a handful of conventions each year and they are as well attended as in the past. Clubs have faded from popularity also as society becomes more accepting of crossdressing in public. I understand internet groups are popular and I do belong to one, but it is not the same as a local group and I don’t participate.

LOL is not the same as hearing people laugh. Hugs in an e-mail is not the same as feeling someone hug you.

So, to those on the internet who are offended by the term crossdresser I recommend that you hike up your Big Girl panties and deal with it! The term goes back to 1975 and possibly before that even and most likely predates your birth and possibly your parents. It sure beats Little Sicko!

About the Author

Micki FinnMicki Finn is a married heterosexual crossdresser ln Long Beach California.  Crossdressing is something she has done  most of her life although the early years were in the closet. She’s been making up for it ever since. Micki is a long term member of CHIC (Crossdresser’s Heterosexual Intersocial Club). You can read her full bio here. But more than that, you’ll want to explore her personal site as her makeup tips are wonderful.

Thank you Micki for this wonderful story

You can read more stories of heterosexual crossdressers in our Out and About section of the Lounge

May 16

Should Crossdressers Be Part of the Q in LGBTQ?

Rachel Rollins as Q in LGBTQ

Rachel Rollins

Should cross-dressers be part of the “Q” in LGBTQ instead of the “T”. It’s getting complicated in our society in the world of gender identification and sexual identity. LGBT is no longer the shortened version as it now is common to add in the acronym “Q” to the mix. To me it makes sense, since the Q is often defined as gender questioning.  I know there are many more acronyms to describe alternative communities, but generally now the accepted descriptive is LGBTQ.

I am delighted the “Q” has been added in, as I believe there are far more “Q’s” out there now than “T’s”. Of course, every one of these groups is important to our society. Yet, most of the cross-dressers I know are a “Q” rather than a “T”. Will they become a “T” as they become more open in their ability to come out in as their femme self? Maybe.

Yet, it is just the beginning of the journey of “discovery” for the cross-dressers who, up to the past few years, have struggled with acceptance and desperate isolation, often only allowing their wife to know about their desire to present as a woman. And in many cases, even their wife was not aware of their desires. No wonder cross-dressing has been misunderstood. Few have spoken out about it and have come to grips with who they are. Some cross-dressers, when they do accept their femme side, become trans women as they find this an easier path in catering to their femme side.

With “Q” earning its spot of the LGBTQ rainbow, I think it is going to be easier for some of the cross-dressers to become who they are, which may be bi-gender rather than transgender and still find a place in society. The adding of this acronym is bigger than anticipated, at least in my view, because it allows the cross-dressers and gender-fluid community to be part of society and to be accepted. It’s a start of a major shift in our culture that truly allows those that want to keep a bi-gender status to be able to do so and not have to be hiding in the shadows, without an affiliation.

It is time to celebrate. Let’s raise a glass of bubbly! For the non-drinkers, green iced tea. Finally, I see freedom for the cross-dressing community.

Added by Tasi: But it’s even more complicated than this as we see in this article “Trans-formations” recently published in Slate.com. There has always been a gray area between gender identity and gender expression and now even the commonly understood terms MTF and FTM are coming under fire as we seek to move from a biological understanding to a more generalist gender understanding of who we are. This shifting vocabulary and constantly changing terminology leaves it all a bit fuzzy for me but at least I’m seeing that gender expression, although different from gender identity, is recognized as being on par validating our experience as cross-dressers. I still think the best explanation ever given of our community however is the 11 different types of cross-dressers (Table of Transvestism) in J.J. Allen’s book, The Man in the Red Velvet Dress, still available on Amazon.

Rachel Rollins is a crossdresser and strong advocate for our community. You can watch her You Tune video channel here

Originally posted on Terri’s blog, Shades of Gender on Chicago Now

Nov 19

The Feminist Crossdresser

We are now seeing the emergence of the feminist crossdresser. The face of cross dressing has been changing quite a bit over the last twenty years, and especially over the last ten. Younger CDs seem to have a finer sensibility of what the feminine is about, and a more realistic sense of being a woman. Still, there are a large number of us who don’t take the time or maybe simply haven’t had the opportunity to reflect on some basic issues surrounding the idea of being a woman – even part time. So, I’m going to take a couple of columns to discuss the issue of feminism and cross dressing.

All of what I’m about to say is relevant to cross dressers; some of that is relevant to transsexualism, but much less so to the FtM situation. But no matter who you are, I hope you will find the discussion of these issues interesting. First, a caveat for this column. Since this is a column and not a book, I have to take some shortcuts and use some generalizations that are, I confess, too broad. Nothing holds true of all CDs, and making generalizations about feminism is not merely difficult, it can be downright dangerous. Nonetheless, I will do both and proceed forthwith.

Obviously, the first question is, what is feminism? That is at the same time, a simple and a complex question. On the one hand, the basic tenets that are largely common to all flavors of feminism are pretty straightforward. On the other hand, there are different theories of feminism that compete with each other and have, in some instances, dramatically different approaches. Nonetheless, it’s possible to come up with a minimum idea that most feminist theories would embrace. So, here it goes.

what does feminism mean

Feminism, at the minimum is the belief that sexism is wrong, and that there are no good reasons for men, simply because of the sex they are, to have advantages, power, or rights not available to women. This means, at the last, that women and men should have equal access to education and employment, respect for their minds, and a full choice of roles in life. It means there is no natural or religious or social justification for women to be relegated articular roles, to be denied opportunities available to men, or to assume an inferior or subservient position to men.

Now most cross dressers embrace these values, and will readily agree that sexism is wrong. Why is it, then, that so many feminists (or, for that matter, so many women,) have issues concerning CDs? Well, these objections come from a variety of sources. The first issue has to do with the idea of caricature.

While I honestly believe that this occurs much less than it used to, a significant number of CDs tend to overdo and hyperbolize those aspects of womanhood that exemplify, for example, the idea of woman as object. So the CD with oversize breasts, super high heels, spatula-applied makeup and a micro-mini exhibits just those aspects of being “feminine” that feminists most decry. The fact that there are genetic women, born and raised women, who present in precisely that caricature-like way does not ameliorate the felt slight.

The issue underlying this reaction is, what sort of femininity is one going to embrace? Is being feminine about being an object of display, or is it about being a certain kind of person? When I say that a women who is exhibited or exhibits herself in an objectifying way is not examplifying a modern and feminist idea of woman-ness, I’m not saying anything mysterious. In our and similar cultures, women are to be looked at, to be evaluated first and primarily on the basis of their appearance and degree to when they cause sexual arousal and stimulation. And, yes, we (almost) all want to be sexy and attractive, and there’s nothing wrong with that – unless it becomes the only salient fact about the person. Then things like what she says, what she accomplishes, what she does, what she feels, what she wants, needs and envisions become irrelevant or, at best, secondary.

This is not the case for men.As a man you are important and your wishes and goals are paramount, they are the most important things about you. Power and choice does not only accrue to studly guys, but to those of us who are overweight and not fabulously handsome. Why? Because our existence as objects, most especially post-adolescence, is not the most important way we exist.

When cross dressers present themselves as women whose only reason for existence is to be looked at, to garner attention, rather than to be an involved and complete person, then the reaction is often negative. That is not the portrayal most women favor. Sure, almost everyone, male or female, likes to get all dolled up sometimes, but when you appear at breakfast with four inch heels and a tiara, then you’re saying that there’s nothing else interesting about you.

Many cross dressers have a female identity that is based more on their mothers than most women. I believe that one reason that younger CDs are less likely to appear at breakfast as if the Queen were joining them is that their mothers were around for the feminist revolution, and they are more likely to have been exposed to both feminist thought and its impact on presentation and attire.

Still, there is no question but that CDs have not had the training, conditioning, and day to day experience that all women go through. Girls learn about style, clothing, makeup and carriage from each other. Certainly, their mothers play a significant role, (often less than mother would like,) but friends and the exemplars of popular icons and their styles are even more important.

Boys also go through this, but the regimen regarding what to wear and when to wear it are not nearly so stringent. Boys are lucky if they come out of adolescence knowing what matches, let alone being able to identify taupe and fuchsia. The CD, in some cases, comes out a bit better than his non-TG brothers. Perhaps he was paying attention to the girls, their style and what they wear while carefully not bringing attention to himself. But even in a best case scenario, that everyday, constant, unrelenting feedback is just not there. The closest we come to that sort of training is when we attend TG events and get to observe how others dress and how others look at us. There is also a change coming down as CDing becomes more well known and even more public.

feminist crossdresserThese days I see less outrageous presentation than I did 20 years ago. With the exception of the “live for fun” outrageous fetishist set, many cross dressers now exhibit a more mature sense of style and place. Another thorny issue that arises for feminists is that men who CD have the privilege of being able to pick it up and put it down. In other words, we can be our woman selves when we want to, but easily drop it when it is not convenient or liable to be costly.

Every cross dresser fantasizes about dressing en femme to work, of hearing his heels click on the linoleum as he walks down the corridor, of carefully smoothing his skirt out as he sits down by his desk, legs crossed a the ankles, manicured nails picking up his pink flowered tea cup. Oh, sigh. It’s funny, but when cross dressers fantasize about working as a woman, they don’t fantasize about being paid less than he is because he’s a woman. He doesn’t dream of being in a meeting while his ideas are ignored, or of being expected to take on menial or “nurturing” roles. He doesn’t dream about struggling to choose between career and child rearing, or about changing jobs because his husband got a promotion.

No. When we take off our wigs and bras, we put on our male privilege. It’s just there,
whether we want it to be or not. Not surprisingly, this rankles some women. We don’t even have to think about fancy feminist theory here, all we have to do is think about the CD who comes home from a night out and leaves a makeup stained bathroom for his wife to clean up. Rankle? You bet. Can you look at your life, and see that your women-self is declaring her sisterhood? Is your femme persona an ally of your wife or girlfriend?

Does your inner woman support your partner’s needs and aspirations?

In the next section I’ll talk about how being a CD gives us the opportunity to become more
aware of women’s issues, and so make us better feminists. So, here’s a request. If you’re
a CD and have experienced sexism while dressed, whether it was negative or positive, please drop me a line. (One of my favorite stories is sexism, for example, involves my getting helped.) If we collect enough of them we’ll have an accompanying feature.

How can a cross dresser be a feminist?

Well, on the one hand that’s a silly question. He can be a feminist in the same way that any other man can. But, if he has the will, the CD can go even further. The CD who is willing to reflect on the realities as well as the fantasies of womanhood can have insights that are not available to many men. These insights range from an intimate awareness of the discomfort of high heels to a shared sense of vulnerability, fear and danger when out alone at night.

waitress in heelsLet’s begin with the simple. Every cross dresser especially when young, loves high heels. There’s something sexy, erotic, about wearing shoes that are so obviously female and that form your body into a definitely female poise. Many of us also have good legs, and the compliments you receive are certainly welcome. But, as you know, there’s another side to high heels: after a while, they hurt. What must it be like to have to wear high heels all the time? Many women have jobs, for example in a corporate milieu, where it is expected that you’ll wear heels, and in some instances, for example a dining room hostess, it is required. How sexy is it to have to wear heels? To have to stand around in three inch heels no matter how much your feet hurt? The CD has the chance to think about this, to know from experience just how uncomfortable it can be.

What makes the CD a feminist is when he begins to think about the compulsion aspect of women’s clothing. “ Wearing heels ” to quote myself, “ and having to wear heels are very different things.”
The same sort of reasoning holds for many articles of female clothing. You may find the feel of a brassiere exciting; I know it is to me. It may be your favorite trigger for feeling womanly, but you don’t have to wear one all the time. In our culture it is considered slutty or provocative or gauche for a woman not to wear a bra. It is even argued that it is unhealthy, (which is strange given how many women in the world don’t own one.) The average CD doesn’t think about the reality of this, doesn’t consider how it feels having those straps biting into your shoulders all the time you’re out in public, or what it means to have your breasts pushed forward the better to display them.

These coercive aspects of women’s clothing have important social and political implications. The feminist cross dresser will think about them, will consider the realities as well as enjoy the charge. Clothing differences between men and women have profound significance for feminist thinking. Much of women’s clothing, and especially that sort of clothing embraced by many CDs, is oriented to display. If you’re read me before, you know my favorite examples are award shows like the Oscars. At those shows every man is covered from neck to toe, and virtually every woman is displaying a large amount of flesh including décolletage, legs, neck and arms. Exceptions to this are allowed for age and some idiosyncratic personalities e.g., Diane Keaton, but the vast majority put themselves, and are expected to put themselves, on display. OK, so the average cross dresser watches the Oscars and experiences not feminist rage, but envy. I understand.

The Fashion Show at Fantasia Fair always has a good number of gals eager to participate and be on display, and yours truly is the perennial emcee. But the feminist cross dresser considers the significance of having no choice, of having to be sexy and on display or risk being condemned and even ridiculed. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but it does mean that you ought to reflect on the underside of those activities you enjoy so much.

Fantasia Fair Fashion_Show

Fantasia Fair Fashion_Show

At this point you may be thinking about the women you know who are clear that they enjoy getting all dolled up and looking hot; they find male attention welcome in those situations, and would feel bad if they were not noticed at all. That’s true. I would venture that the majority of women in western cultures at least sometimes enjoy the experience of feeling and appearing attractive.

But wait. First of all, look at the common and ordinary expression I chose: “all dolled up.” Men don’t get dolled up, women do. And what are dolls? They are objects, play things, toys, and most definitely in the world of children, specifically, little girls. Women, also, are judged much more frequently and much more harshly on their appearance than men. This means that getting it right, looking good, is a pressure that most men don’t have to bear. I know, and likely you do as well, that getting dressed and ready to go out when I am en femme takes far longer than when just guy.

I am involved at work with a GBLT awareness program, and several times a year attend work dressed en femme to participate in a presentation. On those mornings I must get up an extra hour earlier, and not have time to spend reading the newspaper. And that’s just to dress in lady professor style which does not call for a great deal of makeup and so on. When you are at a CD event and take your time in the morning you might be late for the first 10 am workshop. Consider doing that when you have to be at work at 8 am every morning.

The feminist cross dresser takes the time to think about that. So one huge thing has to do with the difference between playing at something when you want to, and having to do that same thing day in and day out. I know that during Fantasia Fair I am en femme 24/7 for about eight days. Unlike some, I don’t “take a break” precisely because part of my experience is the sense of obligation, of not having a choice. When the time is up, and the week ends, there is as much relief at getting back into guy clothes and not having to fuss, as there is disappointment that the fantasy has ended. Being able to rub and scratch my face, sit any way I choose, and get dressed in four minutes is a welcome relief to following the rules women live with all the time.

There is another arena of self consciousness that is open to the CD, and in this case the TS as well, that is very profound. This concerns the ideas of

Marginalization and vulnerability

Let’s start with marginalization, the fact of not being considered, of being left on the side without a voice, without respect, and without the ability to make a difference. This has been the reality for the transgender world for a very long time. Only recently have we begun to be considered as people who are worthy and needful of concern. Our needs have forever been ignored, displaced and designated low priority, not only by mainstream heterosexist society, but often by gay and lesbian society as well. We have been misunderstood and misinterpreted by the likes of Janice Raymond, and dismissed by Bernice Hausman. Our rights have long been put on a back burner because adding TG rights to gay and lesbian rights might slow down the gay rights movement.

Forget that the “official” beginning of the gay rights movement, Stonewall, was a transgender uprising, or that the first same sex marriages were between a genetic woman and a transwoman, forget also that trans people are regularly beaten, humiliated and murdered. Dealing with us is hard and makes people uncomfortable, so we are pushed aside.

Better yet, don’t forget any of that. Better yet realize that it is exactly what women have gone through for centuries. For women the acquisition of status and rights has been a slow and arduous process that has not yet been completed even in the most advanced societies. In the less advanced women are no more than chattel whose rights and needs need not be considered at all.

The cross dresser needs to understand that his own sense of frustration at having to hide and be ashamed is similar to the aspirations of millions of women who also must suppress their desires, hide their true nature, and follow a multitude of rules not of their own making. The cross dresser who bemoans his inability to dress as he pleases is echoing the plaint of a multitude of women forced to wear veils, burqas, head dresses, or, for that matter, micro mini cocktail waitress outfits.

You know as a CD that going out dressed means you are risking a beating at the hands of intolerant men because you are not following the rules of the dress code. Then think about the women who must go out following a dress code or risk being beaten by religious zealots. Then think about the women who are raped, and still today their violators are excused because these women were dressed provocatively.”

woman-cryingWhich brings us to the sense of vulnerability. The feeling when you are sitting at home alone, all dressed up and minding your own business, when there is a sudden sound outside, or a knock at the door. Your stomach lurches as the shot of adrenaline races throughout your system because suddenly you may not be safe, suddenly your carefully guarded sanctuary might be invaded. Or think about the times when you are walking on your own, perhaps from your car to a meeting or an event at a restaurant, and you see a couple of guys coming your way. You try to act natural, confident. You avoid eye contact and hope they will ignore you. Maybe you surreptitiously look around for help or an escape. If they make a comment you keep walking carefully at the same pace, not wanting to signal fear or enrage them. You know that feeling because it has happened to every cross dresser who has ventured out of his house. And it happens to every woman all the time.

The feminist cross dresser is a man who takes his own experience and uses it to open a window into life on the other side. He enjoys himself as a cross dresser, (and hopefully as a man,) but he also works at taking a mature and serious look the reality of being a woman as well as the fantasy he enjoys playing out.

Most of us have, or had, a “grass is greener” attitude to women. That part of us that embraces things feminine is often very selective and chooses those bits that we experience as fun or interesting or sexy. When we stop to think, when we take a look at the realities, then the difficulties, issues, responsibilities and burdens of womanhood play their role in our psyches as well. That’s when you can become a feminist cross dresser.

Mikki GilbertAbout the author.  Miqqi Alicia Gilbert is a life-long cross dresser and an activist in the international transgender community. S/he is the book review editor and regular columnist for Transgender Tapestry, the magazine of the IFGE, The International Foundation for Gender Education. Miqqi is recipient, in 2007, of an IFGE Trinity Award. His articles can be found on numerous websites and scholarly journals. Miqqi Alicia is a founding member of the Toronto transgender group Xpressions, and is currently Director of Fantasia Fair. Your feedback is important to me. I need to know you’re out there. Please drop a line to miqqi@gilbert1.net.

Nov 10

How Your Crossdressing Changes Your Wife’s Opinion of You

From time to time I’ve heard crossdressers express confusion and frustration over their wives or SOs using the term “male image” when explaining their feelings about crossdressing.   “What does that mean?” they ask.  “What exactly is ‘male image’?”

Not too long ago I bumped into a passage in a book that reminded me of this question hanging  over so many anguished discussions.   What is this thing that women all seem to understand as “male image” that leaves genetic males looking puzzled?

Shaving crossdressing“He was slim and appeared to be in good shape, as if he bicycled to keep that way.   Without being able to help it, she imagined him shaving his legs.   Once she had gone out with a cyclist who did that because he said it cut down the wind friction . . . .    The date had been a very short one.  Chessie couldn’t get the image out of her mind of him in the bathtub running a razor over his legs.”   (translated from p. 57, Los planes de la novia, by Kasey Michaels)

Chessie’s current date wasn’t even the one who had told her he shaved his legs, but the image she had of someone similar to him having done it was enough to ruin him in her eyes.

Women internalize things in a way that most men don’t, and all those internalized experiences and impressions have a strong impact on how women feel about any given situation.    Something that may seem insignificant or like past history to men is very real to women.    Their impressions are more cumulative than men’s.    Think about a couple who’s been arguing for much of the day.    If bedtime comes and the husband sees his wife in a sexy negligee, the afternoon’s argument is the farthest thing from his mind.   Any advance on his part, though, is likely to be met by a look that clearly asks, “What planet are you from?”   The woman still acutely feels the distance that was there during the day and so doesn’t feel intimate.   Women don’t compartmentalize things as well as men do, so the whole day’s story comes along for the ride.

Knight-2 crossdrerssingNow think about what this “whole picture” way of dealing with life can mean for a crossdresser and his wife.     Even if the husband is willing to keep his crossdressing out of sight, little awarenesses are going to creep into the wife’s internal image of him.   Women can swear that they’re modern and aren’t attracted to “macho”, but there’s a reason why 55% of paperback books sold are romance novels.   Our brains tell us to move on and embrace a changing world, but our hard-wiring makes us weak-kneed in the face of the “all-male” image, the white-knight and fair-maiden tale, if you will.    Publicly we eschew it, but privately we still swoon.

Nor is it just romanticism.   Both men and women react physically and emotionally to the stimuli of the opposite gender, but there’s a difference in what it is that impacts us.   For a man it’s heavily visual.   Hot babe at 3 o’clock and the chances are he’s “feeling”.     While women can also enjoy looking at a sexy guy, a pug-ugly one can also make us feel very feminine if he’s strongly masculine in his behavior.   For us it’s about how we feel inside.    For those old enough to remember Henry Kissinger, did you ever wonder how he managed to surround himself with tall beautiful women?     He was short and homely, but he gave off an aura of masculine strength through control and power.  His “male image” was fully intact.

Divided Couple crossdressingSo what happens when we know that our husband’s assortment of cosmetics is bigger than our own or that he has more dresses than we do?     Crossdressers contend that they’re still the same person and they don’t understand why their wives can’t see that.    Well, in a way they can see it.   Of course it’s still the same face, same body with the same joint recollections and the same love of family, and the important-person-in-my-life love is probably still there.   The problem is that the cosmetic bag and dress collection information is firmly entrenched in the “whole image” she has of you, and it may well keep her from experiencing fully the “you man, me woman” feeling that she needs.

Notice I said “may.”    Women are adept at accepting all kinds of things or even “settling”, and there are even women for whom, because of their own backgrounds,  a man with an openly female side feels safer or more reassuring for her.   Every couple is different, but for those whose wife or SO says that her male image of him has changed, she’s absolutely right.   The massive collection of tiny impressions and experiences that she carries around inside her and that represents how she sees you now includes information that radically changes the sum.    It’s a concept that’s very difficult for men to understand, but it’s the reality for the women in their lives.    We’re whole-package people.

Optometrist2 crossdressingIt’s like being at the optometrist’s office when the doctor flips through different lenses and asks which is better.   For women, new information changes the lens.   When the woman in your life talks about a changed male image, even if she can’t define it, the change is very real and she can feel it.   New information has changed the “whole image” she has of you, and that changed image has changed the lens through which she looks at you and the feelings that she brings to the relationship.

Internal images are not something that can be intentionally controlled.   Once they’re changed, there’s no going back.    If you’re to survive as a couple with a crossdressing husband, a new relationship will have to be forged that incorporates this changed image she has of you.    As many of you know, that’s a very difficult task and not even always possible, but that’s a whole different subject for another time.

 For now, just know that your wife or SO isn’t “talking crazy” when she refers to your “male image.”   She really does have such a thing, and it’s hugely important in how she sees you.    If she tells you it’s changed, take her seriously.    Your future together may depend on it.

Other reading suggestions:

The Other Woman in Your Marriage

10 Reasons Crossdressers’ Wives Divorce Them.

 Private Anguish of Wives with a Spouse in Transition in our section on the Wives Speak Out.