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What Is Crossdressing, Really?

Guest Leigh T

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I find the previous entries very interesting. I will add my perspective to the pot -

I must admit that from a quick look my behaviour would be one of a crossdresser as I tend to wear very feminine clothing at times but must admit that clothing to me is only part of the story. I love to do feminine things - shopping (especially clothes), sewing and other craft type things, makeup etc. I cannot really seperate one thing from the rest - as example I modify and adapt clothing to fit - sewing is useful. Clothing wise I love to mix and match (often male and female) to get the look I desire. This is perhaps why I think I'm androgyne as I have no desire to change (at least not permanently).

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I am a little cross-gendered although I don't really think about it - just like being myself as far as society accepts. I think that is what everyone wants - just to be themselves.

Tracy x

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest KatyDesire

There has been some very interesting research in this field in the last few years - although not nearly enough.

There is NO evidence that parents, up-bringing, or any social factor is at all associated with CD. There is some evidence that these are NOT related in any way to CD.

Twin studies have indicated that there is, in fact, a genetic factor, but that this plays probably not more than 60% of the role.

Additional factors seem to be important, probably occurring before birth. In the 60s and 70s a chemical called stilbestrol was given to pregnant women to prevent going into early labor. It seems that a significant proportion of those children had a gender identity problem, including CD, later on. So it appears that "toxic" factors before birth are probably important, but precisely what these factors might be remains uncertain.

So we can all stop blaming our parents, and we can be completely sure that we ourselves have not done anything "wrong" to have caused it!

Hugs all round.


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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Eve Caillard

I'm probably an oddity here a bit. I am a female to male crossdresser. For me, well, it's as much about society as it is for me. I grew up in a very conservative environment. One where I was constantly being told, you can't do this, girls don't do that, it's not proper for you to act like this. It didn't really make sense to me, any more than being told I couldn't do something because I had brown hair would.

For me it's as much about exploring a different role in society. Not having to deal with the expectations of being a good girl.

I love this. I agree totally!


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  • 4 months later...
Guest chargrl1

Interesting reading, I saw this and wondered the same things myself. Perhaps just to resolve things in myself from my past, I'm not sure.

I reached a point in my life that I just started bulldozing anything that was male, and rebuilding as female. that's the best description of it. So I sometimes wonder why someone would want to dress as the opposite gender just for fun. that never worked for me, it left me feeling so dirty, deceptive and dissatisfied with my life that I just had to change it. that couped with an inner hatred of anyone expecting me to be male.

Understand that I'm intersexed, and there are internal hormones that drive me physically as well as mentally to be a woman.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest KatyDesire

Just read a couple of interesting books which might give a different perspective. Brene Brown has been researching shame for about a dozen years.

She started off looking at what causes shame in women, and found it was things like body image, not being a good enough parent, and so on.

However, when she looked at men, she found only one major factor causing shame, and that is weakness. This starts being hammered ( literally) into boys from, if they're lucky, the age of 5, or often younger.

Now, let's suppose you are genetically male. From an early age you are taught in no uncertain terms that you dress only in a certain way, you fight physically, and if you don't win that's bad, it's bad to be weak, and so on.

A few years later you realise that you are actually much more comfortable in many of the female roles - dressing, play, and so on. But you can't do that because of the incredibly powerful social pressures. You can't just slip on a dress because it feels right, or play with dolls because you enjoy it.

As you now get older, your choices become ever more limited. You can suppress the whole feeling - and probably become horribly depressed. You can transition - but not everyone can or wants to. You can dress up from time to time, either in private, or else in public, but then you have to "pass" to avoid the huge shame we have been taught to experience. Or else some variation on the above.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just slip on a dress or skirt, be obviously male, but also obviously feminine, without the weight of shame on us all the time?

Just a thought.

Hugs all round.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Rachel2/6/65

I am brand new to this site. I am going out into the public for the first time as a lady, tomorrow. I am so excited that I am shaking. It's all I can think about.

To me, it is exciting and electrifying to put on panties, shave my legs, wear lipstick and just be a woman. I'm married, and my wife totally accepts my pleasure in expressing my feminine side. She will be driving , and I will be painting my nails, straightening my bra, rubbing my smooth legs, and so many things tomorrow, and for two days, I will be a lady.

To me, cross-dressing is fulfilling a part of me that I have ignored my entire life. I am not very pretty, but my wife says I am, and having support like this is wonderful.

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Guest Rachel2/6/65

Oh my God, you dolls have to go to Province Town, Ma. I love P-town!

The shops, wonderful people, and the most picturesque setting, contribute to the awesome atmosphere of friendliness and civility. I found the best wig , ever, at Bazaar, saw a Cabaret show, mingled with A family of visitors from Connecticut, and wore the cutest dresses up and down the Wharfs,

My wife is the best ever! She and I can't wait until Fantasia Week in October!

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  • 1 month later...

I've spent my lifetime trying to answer the question stated in the original post. Hell, I've had to try to explain it to my wife and it's very tough. Is it tough because we don't want to understand it or is it tough because you just don't know why?

What I do know is that I feel wonderful when dressed. These days, the only time I wear men's underwear is when I have to see the doctor or something. I feel more complete and at peace when dressed. I won't bother going into fine detail since there are so many previous explanations in which I agree.

I hadn't really thought about how far this will really go for me; I'm generally happy being a guy; would I like to be an actual woman? Part of me does, but I simply don't think that enough of me feels strongly enough to 'go there'. Some posts here make the point of MTF not acting until after they are alone. Would I do it then? I still don't know. At this point, I'm happy to be me...

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  • 1 month later...
Guest sweetcharlene41

Please don't get defensive by my question. I am trying to understand the dynamics of crossdressing for men as women. Could someone please explain this to me so I can understand why a heterosexual male who is happy being a male would want to dress in the clothing of the opposite sex. Again, please don't take offense of my question. I am just trying to learn about this.

Thank you,


I think, when your born, the dominant gene decides what sex you will be, as you get older the other gene,(yes there are two, I think) starts to surface, and becomes a little more powerful, (the female gene), so you start wearing women's cloth's. The more powerful the female gene get's the more expressive it become's, hence the operation, to become a women. Now I'm NOT a doctor of any kind and this is my own opinion, and to me it makes sense, actually I worked in a sewer plant, (DON'T LAUGH, MADE GOOD MONEY). THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

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Guest KatyDesire

OK. So there are 2 sex chromosomes. A chromosome is a whole bunch of genes strung together. If you get 2 Xes, you end up looking female. If you get an X and a Y, you look male.

However, the story doesn't end there, because the development of the body is affected by all sorts of other things. For example, if the water isn't properly purified, it can affect the baby's development, so that the child can end up looking somewhere in between.

As we age, the amounts of the male sex hormone (tetosterone) and the female hormone (estrogen) start dropping, so that by late middle age men tend to become a bit calmer and less aggressive, and women a bit more assertive - in other words, to a certain extent they start to resemble each other. But this is a quite a lot later than most of us have experienced our first "trans" feelings.

recently, another member asked me what it felt like to be a woman. that got me thinking. The first question, if you are born male, is not as dumb as it sounds - what does it feel like to be a man? I know that I have some difficulty answering that one.

What clothes we wear is determined by the culture. So when we wear clothes of the other sex, we are somehow identifying with that sex, rather than our birth sex.

If we look at what it means to be a man, it is things like tough, stiff upper lip, solid, unemotional, prepared to fight, not interested in gentler things, beer-swilling, etc.

If one rejects that, for whatever reason, and you feel incomplete because you can't express yourself, then one of the answers is to adopt some of the features of the other sex. Some of us may do that by using the symbols that society uses to identify the sexes - clothes mainly.

Does that make any sense?

Hugs all round.

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  • Forum Moderator

Just a few thoughts Katy

I wonder a lot about what it feels like to be a woman as one thing I note is that as a man I find it impossible to know what it feels like to be the man or woman beside me. We are individuals so I think you can never feel like the person beside you!

On culture, I was amused when I looked back at my holiday photos. One day I wore women's clothes intentionally in a masculine style but on looking later I thought I had a very asian (although female look) with a long (mid thigh) straight plain dress over jeggings (both in bright green colour). On looking around I noticed much similarity. Personally I like some asian looks but it was not the intention and maybe explains some of the strange looks I was experiencing. Obviously they may well be because I am male as well but I think not altogether.

I think what you are saying makes sense but is a little oversimplified. You describe the stereotypical man who in real life, in my opinion, is maybe not as common as literature may suggest.


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Guest KatyDesire

You're absolutely right - they are very uncommon, because everyone is on a spectrum. So most people squeeze themselves into the stereotype, even if they don't fit, because they are too scared to break out of it - or don't know that there is an option.

As a genetic male, i'm still not sure how I would describe to someone else how I feel as a male. How would you? If you can do that, maybe ask some genetic female friends if they can describe to you how it feels to be a woman. For me, the defining thing is describing by comparison. You really know it is hot if you have experienced something colder. Since I have never experienced something other than who I am, I can't imagine what it would be like to be someone else. And so I can't describe how I feel to be who I am.

In other words, I can only BE who I am. And if society doesn't like it, is that really my problem or theirs? If others choose to live according to some romanticized ideal of who they are supposed to be, then I actually feel sorry for them - they are missing out on being who they really are.

A bit too philosophical for me, an non-philosopher. But that's what I am starting to formulate in my own mind. Needs work, though.

PS: I think it is SO cool that you dressed like that on a beach. Would love to see a dozen or so CDs walking down a beach together like that, just to see the reactions. Could start a new fashion!


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Guest (S)hE-W0lf

Hahahaha Agreed Katy! Vive la revolution!!

Let's arrange a get together in Mauritius and do things together dressed up for a week or so.

The idea that we describe things only by comparing them to something we know makes sense. One would have to experience both hot and cold in order to describe the temperature somewhere, because you would do so by comparison. We experience others around us from the outside so understanding how they feel, what it is like to be John, or a woman or something to that affect would require that you experience both Being John and not being john, being a man and being a woman, so you can relate or compare the two, which to my knowledge is impossible. We can walk a mile in the shoes of another, attempt doing their job or living with their family but because we think differently, we dream differently, we interoperate differently, I think we also FEEL differently.

What does it feel like to be a woman? I guess it depends on who you ask, what sort of woman you'd see yourself as when dressed or some other factors. Who is to say that which you are feeling now, you were taught everything you are is male, but actually what you feel, that could very well be a woman's feelings. We know what we feel, but are we sure of the label of our feelings? To what do we compare those? What does "Masculine" feel like?

What is cross-dressing? Defying society, self-expression, rebellion on a personal scale... and maybe just satisfyingly fun.

I am terrible at philosophy but like hell am I not having my say too. :P:lol:

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  • Forum Moderator

I don't think I could answer the question - 'What does it feel like to be a man?' - because I don't regard myself as totally male and never have. I have at times done predominantly male things and other times very much female. As implied - this is only a contrast against the stereotypical male or female and not real people plus is only behaviour and not feelings! I suppose (for instance) anyone could state 'I am a man!' and describe their feelings but Laura's is perhaps not the place to find solid evidence. The question is - Can anyone anywhere!

If I were to say the one thing that I have found really different to me - I have recently experienced both online and when out and about that it is at times far more scary being a woman. They are very vulnerable to male agression (mainly sexual). I have felt that and have on occasion felt almost nauseous when in a heavily male dominated area, even though I knew I was safe.

If you want a laugh (and some serious items as well) put 'what is it like to be a woman' (or man) in Google. I just did that. Avoiding the pure sex items some interesting things come up


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  • 3 months later...
Guest Ellyssa

Hey, newbie here. I'm trying to figure all this out myself and my answer changes depending on my mood. I do know that I get instantly more feminine, even if just wearing a bra and panties underneath my male costume. Male clothes are easy but drab, women's clothes are exciting in so many ways, design, style, fabric, feel, fit. I feel incredibly special while dressed to any degree. I envy the choices women have. But women's clothes can be a hassle, I don't know if I'd want to do a full day dressed, even if I could. My dream would be to pass as a woman in a simple tee shirt and jeans. My wife confirms my objections when she strips off her business clothes for comfy clothes the second she gets home. She has found me out and disapproves, and I've been deeply closeted since but I keep going back to it.

I'm looking at transformation salons, especially ones that have socials with groups of girls. If anyone has any ideas, I'm open. I'm in St. Louis, MO but will make the trip for a special place.

Thanks to all.

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  • Forum Moderator

Womens clothes can be a hassle Ellyssa but can also be very simple. Just put on a pair of panties and drop a dress over your head. Fully dressed for lounging around the house in less than thirty seconds. Male wear would take a bit longer than that!

I have found nothing better than their layering techniques. Very cosy and comfortable. Much more so than most male wear and does not have to be too girly either. Maybe you and your wife can come to some kind of compromise.


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Guest Ellyssa

Thanks Tracy. Maybe it's a hassle that's worth it but I'd have to try it on for a full day. I might get that chance with a salon trip in January. I'm traveling for business today and am keeping it simple with a yoga type outfit, yoga pants, sports bra and a thong for sitting around the hotel room after dinner. If I get motivated, I'll do some yoga. Otherwise I'll hit the hotel gym in the morning but not in anything interesting.

She Wolf asked what does it mean to be a woman? I think a woman wants to bring beauty into the world, through herself and by nurturing it within others. The masculine side wants to wield power and strength. That's what I feel, and despite not having such a great look, I feel the world is a little brighter, my step is a little lighter, and life is a little kinder if we could all bring more femininity onto this earth.

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Guest KatyDesire

What i always find interesting is the word we tend to use for male clothes: "drab".

In Africa, the light is different - as a painter, I am very aware of this. Pastels, as used in the Northern hemisphere, just look washed out in this light. Bright colours look wonderful.

for this and other reasons - especially the habit of our late lamented president Mandela, who always wore brightly coloured and patterned shirts, not tucked in (I can't remember ever seeing a photo of him in a suit and tie, except the day he was released from prison) - bright colours and patterns have become totally acceptable for men.

A lot of men's clothes stores have bright orange jackets, bright trousers, etc, and people are not afraid to wear them - although those of European descent still tend to be a bit more conservative.

However, this creates a question - since men's clothes here are anything but drab, and since women tend more and more to pull on a pair of denims and nondescript T-shirt - often men's clothes are the bright ones, and women's more drab! Admittedly, though, the women's styles and material choices are so much more exciting, and I have not seen anyone with a beard wearing a dress.

Nevertheless, it does pose some questions about what need is dressing actually fulfilling? I think it goes a lot deeper than colours and materials - there is a whole psyche that just is a better fit when one identifies with women.

Any thoughts, or am I just talking a load of my usual nonsense?!!



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I agree Katy.

Certainly there is a lot more to our chosen garb than colours and material.

I am however at a loss, as to how to describe this in words.

Is it to fit-in, to what society deems, to be Gender appropriate clothing?

Huggs, :wub:


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  • Forum Moderator

One thing to notice Katy is that gender wise almost all male presentation in the animal kingdom is brighter and more colourful than female. It is probably social convention that has changed things to the reverse in most human culture.

Noteable as well is that dresses of sorts and skirts were acceptable male dress in earlier times. Female dress has differed but probably mainly for social convention. The different role of women made a difference in the past but as roles (work, childcare etc) are now being equalised then the reasons for difference are going. I think to some extent this is showing as many women and men wear similar clothing just with styling modified for their gender.


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Guest Ellyssa

Very true Tracy. The peacock being one of the best of many examples. Females are distinctive birds but obviously don't approach the plumage of the male. The thinking is that the animal courtship rituals involve males demonstrating the most plumage, coloration, largest mane, best courtship dance, alpha superiority, etc. have the best genes for continuation of the species. The female preferentially selects the male based on that sole criteria.

The only study which seems to prove similar behavior in humans is the recent revelation that female breast sizes have substantially increased in the last century. I believe they used average cup sizes of manufacturered bras. While breast implants, obviously a non-natural event, should be excluded from the data set, natural selection seems to be creating a more top heavy female population. I don't know if any studies have been conducted for human males. Self-reporting of sizes would probably skew the data drastically!

I'll digress further, for humor's sake, what will the facial plumage of the male hipster population lead to?

A.) Hairier males, the hipster is a wise and learned person, respectful and considerate. The human female wishes to pass those genes on to the next generation.

B.) Less hairy males, the hipster is not perceived as having the most desirable genetic profile. Hanging in bookstores and sipping lattes does not make for a great provider. Plus they can't fix anything.

C.) No effect, the hipster is not part of the breeding population due to multitudes of unresolved personal issues and incessant philosophizing on irrelevant and obscure subjects. By the time the subject is exhaustively discussed, it's 2 am and the mood has dissipated, leading to more unresolved personal issues.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest sandra6sandy9sand

For me cross dressing is a feeling of being "right' when I am dressed. I have addresses this question over the past two or three years in deepth to really figure out who I am. Fortunately I found Laura's.

I was in the closet for many years, more than 60, being afraid that someone would find out the real truth of who I am and that I prefer being feminine. I have been wearing girl's and womenn's clothes off and on for more than 65 years. Today I dress in women's clothes all the time except when I have to wear a "male uniform" for a particular event or I don't have a female substitute.

Without trying in my younger years, I was mistaken many time as female. These days it happens regularly because I have fairly long naturally curly hair; I wear pink a lot and other more "feminine" colors; I have a collection of feminine jewelry; and I think I have a younger "pretty" face.

I had the privilege of going out to lunch with my wife and two daughters at a "chick' restaurant in town a year or so ago, and the waitress refered to all of us as "ladies." She continued for the entire lunch even though I spoke in my masculine voice. I was wearing a pink sweat shirt, girly jeans, a neckless and of course panties, which no one could see. I was thrilled but apparently my youngest daughter was not and later asked my wife why the waitress continued to call "dad" a lady.

A couple of days later my wife said to me that she had discovered woman's underware in my drawer while she was looking for a magnifying glass. She also told me that she knew that I wore woman's clothes all the time. I did not deny it or say anything except that I would try to dress in a more masculine way. That lasted a few days because I can't stand to wear men's underware. Most of he clothes that I ware on Daily basis are women's, but women's clothes that are styled after men's ware. I do have several skirts, dressed, tops and other girly stuff that I wear when no one is home.

From my experience, dressing in woman's clothes is a way to express my feminine side and how I want to treat the people I know and love and the people I meet. I'm not out of the closet yet but I have opened the door. I'm not afraid any more.


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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Truly Scrumptious

I have struggled many years to come to grips that I am a cross dresser. Friends and family have always made comments that I am too effeminate and gay. I am a straight person and happily married but I feel like I have to be in the closet about this. I told my therapist and she seemed freaked out that I told her and that I wear nail polish. Has anyone ever dealt with this and any suggestions on coming to grips? I don't want this to be this secret anymore. I love the feeling of wearing makeup and women's clothes.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Lynnette Rae

I am disabled and get to stay at home with the kids, my wife works. I hid my desire for many years I am 48 years old. I recently told my wife about my love for cross dressing and she told me to be me. she bought me some very pretty things. I am able to wear panties now instead of boxers. I wear very lovely bras. it is winter so I can put a jacket on when I venture outside. I have no desire to change my sexual orientation I am very happy being a male with all the working parts of one. I dress in women's jeans and tops most of the time and sometimes in gender neutral bottoms. I love my nighties that she bought for me. I am looking forward to having a girls night out. I love to wear dresses and skirts. My wife bought me my very own makeup last night I can't wait to learn how to put it on. The only way I can describe my feelings and why I dress the way I do is that it makes me feel complete. when I was dressing in all male clothing I had anger issues, I didn't feel good about myself. Now that my wife has told me to be myself I am at peace, I still yell at the kids for not cleaning or when they are acting out but that is a part of being a parent. What I no longer do is yell at them for no reason. I am more attentive to my wife and her needs. I do feel girly at times at other times I feel manly, but most of the time I just feel like everything has finally come together to make me a whole person " I am Me ". And I am Lucky enough to have found the perfect Soul Mate that accepts me for who I am and does not want to change me.

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      I'm with you, @Timi!  Happy I could share this with those that haven't seen it before (as somebody else did for me).     And ... I am totally with you too, @Vidanjali!  I couldn't have said it better myself 🙏😊
    • KayC
      "The bill also would force health plans that cover gender-affirming care to cover “detransition” procedures."   I don't think they're going to get many 'takers' on this part ...
    • Betty K
      That is so great to hear, Vicky. Much respect to you and Carolyn Marie.     Awesome! Again, so great to hear. And thanks for giving me some ideas.
    • Betty K
      I apologise, I should not have used the word "synonym", since it can mean both a word that means the same as another word and a word that means something similar. (Eg, "night" is supposedly a synonym for "dark", but I doubt many people would claim they meant the same thing. If it's daylight outside and I turn off the light in a windowless room, am I now in the dark or in the night?) What I should have said is that logic, rationality and common sense are not all interchangeable; they do not mean the same thing. But I take your point, people do often use them interchangeably. I find this worrying, because many people also seem unable to reason logically. For eg, recently one of my teenage clients told me that all people with brightly coloured hair are trans; when I related this comment to some people at a trans support group one of them said, "But that means I can't be trans, because I don't have brightly coloured hair." That is a thoroughly illogical argument, and the type of misunderstanding that is the source of so many disagreements.   But I am going way in the weeds here. Again, sorry everyone. I will try not to go down any more language rabbit-holes.   As to what "activist" means in your neck of the woods, luckily I don't think that meaning has become accepted common usage just yet. Of course that is a grey area, but there are still certainly people in many countries who use the word in the sense I used it above.     I understand that this is your view as you have expressed it many times elsewhere, and tbh I think many people on the left would fundamentally agree with you, though they would slightly favour the Democrats over the Republicans. But I still find it very strange how you framed your lack of safety as if it were more the fault of the Democrats than the Republicans.
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