By Terri Lee Ryan
Cross-dressing can be traced back to the Greek, Norse and Hindu societies, yet there is no agreement as to the reason that some men have a need to cross-dress and others would not even consider it. Cross-dressing has been around for centuries, yet is largely been in the secrecy of ones home rather than in public.
It has been an intensely private and often lonely experience for men who in many cases had never told their wives about this act, until they were finally accidentally caught in the act or chose to be discovered after many years of marriage. Tired of living in secrecy as their cross-dressing needs intensify, their spouse is often devastated and the marriage seldom lasts after the secret is let out.
The wives of cross-dressers are angered by the fact this habit was never addressed before they were married and have a difficult time seeing their husband dressed in panty hose or a pink night gown. It is only clothes, right? Well, it is more than that. This gender reversal for the moment can be frightening to a spouse leaving her confused, feeling betrayed and fearful that her husband wants to be a woman.
The fact is that in the past many cross-dressers have not been able to come out and level with their wives about their cross-dressing. They often attempt to purge (toss out their feminine clothes) when they get married, hoping their desire would go away. It doesn’t and their need to dress haunts them like a ghost from their past and often resurfaces as they feel they are not being their authentic self.
With more people identifying as being Transgender our society is beginning to accept the sex change of individuals who believe they were born the wrong gender and to change to reflect who they are, the cross-dressers have also been attached to the Transgender community. Yet, in my opinion, I believe it is making it even more confusing for a cross-dresser who is happy being a man, yet needs to indulge in his feminine side. He still identifies with his male identity and is attracted sexually to women, yet can’t ignore his cross-dressing ways and the she in him.
Herein is the major difference between a cross-dresser and a Transsexual. Most cross-dressers would like to remain a man rather than live their life as a woman, even if given the opportunity. They appear to like their dual roles and some have found partners who not only accept, but embrace their dual gender life.
It appears that sharing this life-defining secret of being a cross-dresser at the beginning of a new relationship saves much angst for the parties involved and helps remove the fear and the shock-value of cross-dressing. This new mate has a chance to fall in love with the total person, not just the cross-dressing one. After all, cross-dressers are people just like you and me. They are bank presidents, construction workers, firearms instructors, policeman and athletes.
There is much to know about cross-dressing and I’m here to flush it all out for the cross-dressers themselves as to have a voice and for the rest of us who are biased to this group mostly because we just don’t have any experience or understanding of this community. Cross-dressers are parents, friends, golfers, and rock climbers. Cross-dressing is only part of who they are and to label them as if they were a deviant, is just wrong.
Read more of Terri Lee’s writings at ChicagoNow Shades of Gender