THIS PAGE IS INCOMPLETE AS IT REQUIRES EDITING AND REVISION
There follows a number of Frequently Asked Questions, which will be added to as more come to mind, or if readers ask specifically for answers to their questions to be included.
At what age does cross-dressing normally start?
Most studies show that it starts in early childhood, then the desire tends to become less apparent and to remain dormant until puberty, when it reasserts itself. However, some other studies have shown that it can apparently start in middle age, though professional opinions are that the seeds were sown much earlier, and simply completely repressed for as long as possible.
Why do cross-dressers do it?
The theories which attempt to explain cross-dressing are as varied as they are unsatisfactory, as a visitor to my Theories page will discover.
Essentially, however, the psychoanalytical explanations for cross-dressing (see my Psychological page, here) are primarily, if not exclusively, sexual, even in very young children, but subsequently the motives frequently become something else entirely, often being used as a simple but effective escape from stress, and a means whereby the otherwise “manly” cross-dresser can legitimately express his feminine side. Basically the psychoanalytical theories all claim that cross-dressing is auto-erotic, whether consciously or unconsciously, but naturally cross-dressers prefer to play this aspect down, though many of them see themselves when dressed en femme as something like this - or this (I know I do).
The physiological theories have different aetiology, as one would expect, and which can be determined from a visit to my Physiological page, though the sexual aspect is still emphasised as an active component in cross-dressing..
How common is it?
Some authorities have claimed that as many as 50% of men have, at some time or another, dressed partly or completely in women’s clothes. More conservative estimates put the number of occasional or regular transvestites at around 10% of the male population in most developed countries, whilst I have seen it suggested that it is as low as 0.5-1.0% of the male population. The fact is, no-one knows, but one thing is clear; there is a large number of cross-dressers, many of whom need some kind of advice, support, and information. Furthermore, as most cross-dressers are heterosexual, their female partners also share their need for advice, support, and information - albeit from a different perspective.
Are cross-dressers really just homosexuals, but in denial?
Some male homosexuals do cross-dress, but that is generally referred to as being in “drag”, and is done for completely different reasons to those behind heterosexual cross-dressing. As such, being in drag is not considered to be the same as being cross-dressed, though literally it is. Most cross-dressers, however, are exclusively heterosexual, and have no doubts about their sexual orientation.
Is a cross-dresser or transvestite the same as a transsexual?
No. Transsexualism is a complex issue that is not gone into here, but suffice to say that cross-dressers do not seek sexual realignment surgery whilst transsexuals do.
Can cross-dressing be cured?
That all depends on what one means by the word “cured” which in turn depends on whether one considers that cross-dressing is something that needs to be cured in the first place. Furthermore, the psychiatric world is not agreed that transvestism is an illness or personality disorder at all, see, for example, here. Whilst the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-Text Revised refers to it as a paraphilia (see my Definitions page, here), it is only considered to be a problem when it causes the cross-dresser distress or impaired functioning. On the other hand, there are those like Charles Moser, Professor of Sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, who maintains, "There is no empirical evidence that Transvestic Fetishism is problematic, let alone a mental disorder. Even if it does qualify as a disorder, the interpretation and application of the diagnostic criteria lack consistency and clarity; that is the reliability and validity of the diagnosis remain dubious."
I would also refer anyone else who feels that cross-dressing is a pathological condition which must be cured or eradicated to the substantial volume of professional literature which indicates otherwise, some of which is specifically referred to on this web site, but a structured trawl through the the US National Institutes of Health digital archives, academic libraries and reputable sources elsewhere will produce many more authoritative articles convincing all but the most intransigent.
See also my page entitled Treatment for more on this issue.
What further help for cross-dressers is available?
First, have a thorough read through all the pages on this web site, for there is a plethora of serious information here which I hope to continue adding to it as time and space allow.
Second, try to find a cross-dressers’ support group, virtual or in the real world, which matches your interests, for there is sound evidence that participating in such a group or forum decreases any ego-dystonic effects that trouble many cross-dressers (see in particular Agner Fog’s comments from his Paraphilias and Therapy paper regarding “isolated minority syndrome”, which is quoted extensively on my Theories page).
Third, remember that whilst there is a great number of sites on the web purporting to treat the subject of cross-dressing, many of those are simply a cover for promoters of other aspects of sexual expression which may involve cross-dressing but are primarily to do with those other interests per se. Now, whilst that’s fine if your real interest is in becoming someone’s “sissy-boy”, or would like to be a “forced cross-dresser”, or whatever other aspect of sexuality you are really interested in, you must recognise that your real interest is not cross-dressing per se, but something else entirely. Remember, also, that those other sort of activities upset and confuse many people, since they think that those other activities are an inherent part of, or inevitable conclusion to cross-dressing. They are not, but if those areas are where your real interests lie, fine - just don’t confuse the issue with cross-dressing per se. There is already enough misinformation in circulation on that subject.
Incidentally, for those who are genuinely interested in cross-dressing per se, there are many decent and helpful sites, of which it is hoped that this is one. More information can be found on my Resources page.
Presentational tips and advice for cross-dressers
There is a lot of advice on make-up, wigs, clothing etc., available on the web, many of which can be found on the Resources page.
Should I tell my spouse/partner/family about my cross-dressing
That’s entirely up to you, but I would suggest that you ask yourself the following questions before deciding to “come out”, as it were:-
1. What exactly do you hope to achieve by telling them about your cross-dressing?
2. Do you think that they are likely to react in the way that you would like them to?
3. How will you feel if they react unfavourably and perhaps even reject you?
As the eminent sexologist Harry Benjamin said in his book The Transsexual Phenonmenon (1966):-
“The transvestite’s marriage is frequently endangered as only relatively few wives can tolerate seeing their husbands in female attire. The average heterosexual woman wants a man for a husband, not someone who looks like a woman; but mutual concessions have often enough preserved such marriages, mostly for the sake of children.”
If what Benjamin claims is true, then it supports my own contention. Namely, that it is better to be honest with one’s partner from the beginning, before becoming so deeply involved with each another, so that should the relationship be terminated because of the cross-dressing, it will minimise the grief to either party. Apart from that, I think Benjamin was being unduly pessimistic with his sweeping assertions, though I would not advise anyone who has an otherwise fragile relationship with their partner to expect anything but an unwelcoming response, to say the least, to the news that, heretofore, they have been a closet cross-dresser.
Nevertheless, Magnus Hirschfeld, as far back as the start of the 20th century when he first coined the word “transvestite” also appreciated the importance of disclosure and instructing the cross-dressers he saw to inform their wives of their cross-dressing. activities.
The issue of whether to tell one’s partner is also explored on my Spouses & Partners page.
Information for partners of cross-dressers
There is a number of other sites which provide information for partners of cross-dressers, and a list of them can be found on the Resources page.
Any further questions?
If you have any further questions that are not answered here, why don’t you e-mail me for a response?