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A Beginner’s Guide to Crossdressing

A Beginner's Guide to Crossdressing

A Beginner's Guide to Crossdressing

By Tatyana Dyachenko

Cross-dressing is more than sexual fetish: for many, it’s a lifestyle choice that extends far beyond the boundaries of the bedroom into something more profound that has an impact on other areas of life too.

Cross-dressing involves donning the clothes of the opposite gender, usually towards the end of looking as much like a member of the opposite sex as possible. This is more than a woman wearing baggy jeans or a gigolo sporting a thong, cross-dressers seek to ideally be mistaken for the gender they're dressing as.

In addition, cross-dressers typically adjust their behaviour to better suit their appearance, with male cross-dressers (who are statistically more common than women dressing as men) acting in a distinctly feminine fashion. Wearing the clothes sees the dresser suspend their "normal" personality and gender behaviour and adopting a new one, made easier by the fact that their appearance confirms the transformation. Much like role-playing, getting into the experience is all about dressing up and adopting a new personality – be it a nurse, a dominatrix, or a cross dresser.

The fact that cross-dressing in a very overt sense forces the wearer into the role of the opposite gender has obviously fed into other sexual fetishes, with BDSM being a notable example of this. "Forced fem" fantasies see a dominatrix feminizing their submissive male so as to better dominate or humiliate them. This transformation is generally constrained by time, with even prolonged periods of "forced" dressing up eventually ending, and the players returning to their original gender roles.

Many men find this satisfying and cathartic in giving expression to their submissive, bi-curious traits. The same can be said for women who might actively dress as men so as to adopt a more dominant role. But this temporary transformation, revolving largely around fantasies of ultimate submission facilitated by being "forced" to reflect it in one's dress, is not the only feature of cross-dressing.

This idea of a "normal" personality is obviously problematic here, as cross-dressing (like most fetishes which revolve around donning a certain appearance) is fuelled by some psychological appeal which the fetishist finds in what they're doing. For many, this is not a simple matter of seeing how the other half lives, or giving in to one's feminine or masculine side respectively, but rather the revealing of some repressed aspect of the individual's nature. It is an expression of their true nature as they perceive it, a personality from which embarrassing elements may have been omitted, hidden from the public eye out of shame. Cross-dressing allows a temporary reprieve from this self-control, allowing breathing space for the dresser to be how they want to be.

For those who cross-dress as a lifestyle choice rather than a temporary indulgence in kink, cross-dressing isn't about submission or sexual arousal (though these often feature) so much as it is about self-actualization. Many transgender people begin their transformation into their desired gender by first cross-dressing. They want to be the opposite gender, and their cross-dressing expresses a desire to be thought of in those terms.

This is not to say that cross-dressing can't be kinky, and fun for it – it is – but many cross-dressers believe that it can't be thought of as a fetish or deviant sexual practice, but it is certainly a fixation that informs the individual's understanding of their gender role, of which sex is only a small part.