Do you ever feel misunderstood?
Sadly, there’s a lot of ignorance out there. That’s why I decided to put together a post debunking some of the most common myths about crossdressers and transgender women.
Let’s start with one of the BIGGEST myths of all:
Transgender women, crossdressers, and drag queens are all the same.
I created this site to be a welcoming place for transgender women, crossdressers, and those on all sides of the gender spectrum. But as you know, these are distinct groups and the terms aren’t interchangeable.
Here’s how the GLAAD Media Reference Guide defines some common transgender terms:
- Transgender women – People who were assigned male at birth but who identify as women. Many transgender women are prescribed hormones or undergo surgery, but transgender identity is not dependent upon medical procedures.
- Crossdressers – Men, typically heterosexual men, who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories associated with women. This activity is a form of gender expression and is not done for entertainment purposes. Crossdressers do not wish to permanently change their sex or live full-time as women.
- Drag queens – Men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment.
- Gender non-conforming – A term used to describe some people whose gender expression is different from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as gender non-conforming
- Non-binary and/or genderqueer – Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer.
Now that the record has been set straight, let’s look at some of the most common myths about crossdressers and transgender women.
7 Myths About Transgender Women
- Being transgender is a choice.
- Transgender people are gay.
- Transgender women aren’t “real” women.
- Your sex is defined by your chromosomes and/or hormones.
- You have to have surgery to be a “real” transgender person.
- You aren’t transgender until you start HRT.
- Kids and teens are too young to know if they’re really transgender.
7 Myths About Crossdressers
- Crossdressers are gay.
- Crossdressers are perverts.
- Crossdressing is a psychological problem.
- Crossdressing can be cured.
- Crossdressers want to change their sex.
- Crossdressing is a destructive addiction.
- Crossdressers can’t be good husbands or fathers.
Have you heard any of these myths before? They’re frustrating and hurtful, aren’t they?
It’s time for the world to wake up and realize this truth:
Your gender is who you are on the inside. There are infinite gender expressions and all are valid!
GLAAD has some excellent resources to spread awareness of transgender issues. I highly recommend checking them out.
Recommended Resources from GLAAD
- Transgender FAQ
- Tips for Allies
- GLAAD’s Work on Transgender Issues
- Report Defamation
- Transgender Resources
Now let’s hear from you…
What’s the truth that YOU’D like to set straight? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!
One thing that really bothers me is when ignorant people see me and they’re out with their kids, they shoo their kids behind them like I’m going to do something to them. And I see that a lot. I don’t know what you think I’m going to do, but I don’t want to touch your kids. Transsexuality/transgenderism is not a perversion. I like grown, adult women. I’m in college at the age of 30 and I wouldn’t mess with a girl who was any younger than a junior. I just wouldn’t do it.
That’s one that I was going to bring up, the old addage that crossdressers and t transgender people are child molesters. 7No evidence of it whatsoever, but idiots really do believe it to be true. Whatever, ignorant people are afraid of people that are different.
Another myth deals with crossdressers and TG people are perverts. One of the big lies I have heard against being able to use the bathroom that suits them is female victimization. Some commentator truly believes that some sexual predator is going to drres like a woman , lay in wait in a stall, and then either peep at other women or will sexually assault some woman. Idiots like that make life difficult for gurls like us. It will improve, I believe, but it may take another 15 or 20 years to reach better understanding and less bigotry. Let’s remember to stay strong and do what we do.
It really irks me and grinds my gears when I’m in my local women’s store shopping for myself, and the other patrons are staring me up and down like I’m doing something wrong. I’m a transgender female, I have been since I was little child. My earliest memory was wanting to wear frilly dresses like other little girls and I was dressed as a boy. I’m not a deviant, a pervert, or anything else of the sort. I think it’s about time that transgender women stop being persecuted for who we are!
Ignorance and a lack of humanity is rampant in this world now days. I just tell myself they are awe struck with my beauty.
Being intersexed, it becomes difficult to say when one is cross dressing. I would guess that when you pick your gender, and dress opposite to that, then it might be defined as cross dressing. However, now that I’m femme 24/7, I am completely accepted as I am, and comfortable.
We all try to fit in, one way or another. If I were male, then I would be dressing as male. If I were female, then it would be dressing as female. But with mostly female “equipment”, dressing as a male (ace bandage and sock in the pants) allowed me to see the other gender with different eyes. I saw how hollow things were, and lonely. When I would get together with my women friends, they said I had a female vibe, and tried to get me to do a makeover. I guess it was out of fear that I didn’t do that, but when I finally did, I was accepted by the women here, and that was such a change that I will never venture to the other side of the fence again. Does that make me transgender? Perhaps, and perhaps not considering my biology. Here is my conclusion:
If the lifestyle fits, wear it!
Back in the days of Harry Benjamin’s work and the development of his version of Standards of Care it was initially thought that transgenderism was a psychological disorder. Today it is now recognized as a birth defect and we are born this way and no amount of pharmaceuticals and psych therapy will change this. Science still doesn’t have a solid grasp on what causes it, but the theory is as a person develops in the womb there are stages throughout the gestation period in which gender markers are developed/instilled in the fetus. Some believe there are three gender markers and there is even a white paper with a hypothesis that says there can be as many as 5 gender markers to define a persons gender. One gender marker determines the brain sex and eventually the physical sex is established via chromosomes that were all familiar with. Some scientists believe there are 3 chromosomes and not just two and that may be cause for the condition. If not all the markers fall into alignment then you get persons with a mixed gender. Too often were just assigned a gender by the physical aspect as that is what can be seen. Society today, and the medical community, is slowly realizing that the brains gender cannot be established until the baby has matured somewhat and we are perhaps being too quick to establish a persons gender at the moment of birth. Inter-sexed persons become even more diverse with being born with both genitalia, but the brains gender remains unknown until later in life. I’m sure you all can surmise the implications in that area. Once it was established that transgender is a medical condition and not psychological governments then began to offer medical assistance with surgery. That’s my understanding from the thousands of hours of research i have done to understand who i am and why. Will this hypothesis change in the future, perhaps.
There is something with the ‘crossdresser’ myths that, unfortunately, is sometimes true, and I have written (elsewhere) quite a lot about it.
It’s the ‘crossdressers are gay/perverts’ issue. The major problem is that while a lot of crossdressers are not gay (or, more precisely: a lot of crossdressers want female sexual partners), and many are not ‘perverts’ (in the usual sense of the word), the statistical majority of crossdressers are (at least) bi-curious and crossdress as a way to have more and better sex, using crossdressing as a powerful fantasy/fetish (which is different from labeling it as a ‘perversion’ — everybody has sexual fantasies!).
Anyone reading the above paragraph will immediately disagree: any of you who subscribe to this blog will claim, without a shadow of doubt, that all crossdressers they know are not gay and no perverts, and just crossdress as a manifestation of their inner female image. And you all would be correct.
When I started reading about crossdressing on the Internet, I felt an instant connection with what people wrote about crossdressing. Like all of you, I don’t dress for ‘sexual fantasies’ and I’m not interested in exploring sex with males. The vast majority of sites, blogs, and forums about crossdressing will explain over and over again that crossdressing has nothing to do with that. And for more than a decade I thought that to be the truth.
But it’s actually a myth! You see, what happens is that there is a vast majority of crossdressers who only dress up for lust — their sole purpose in crossdressing is to have fulfilling sexual relationships, almost always exclusively with males (sometimes with other crossdressers), and they see little point in high-brow explanations about ‘manifesting one’s inner female self-image’. In fact, they find it very baffling when someone tells them that they are not crossdressing for sex. They find that we are somehow mentally unstable — they consider that every crossdresser is just dressing to get better sex, and cannot understand the point of crossdressing if it’s not about more and better sex (again, especially with male partners).
The whole point is that those people don’t write blogs. They don’t care about discussing the subject at all, and they don’t even bother to read anything about it. They might not even come across the word ‘transgendered’, or the philosophical, psychological, and sociological aspects of gender identity. They find all that hopelessly boring. In fact, they really just have one single purpose in life: to get dressed as well as they can — perfecting their female image as much as possible — so that they can attract more male partners.
Please, don’t get me wrong: I’m not moralizing at all. Billions of people make sex their single most important things in their lives — even if externally they might claim otherwise. Among those billions, many millions are actually quite open about it and have no qualms in explaining that they love to crossdress in order to get laid. In a sense, they are much less hypocritical than the majority of people out there — who will have the strangest fantasies but pretend otherwise.
These so-called ‘libidinous crossdressers’ (an old designation, but the label fits well) are the vast majority. But you won’t see them here. They won’t be posting answers to this blog. They won’t be seen anywhere — except on the hard-core Triple-X webcam sex sites. They will be on dating sites everywhere, and have Facebook pages with pictures of themselves in all kinds of erotic/pornographic poses (until they get invariably deleted), with only a single purpose: attract willing sex partners.
Unfortunately, because their number is so overwhelmingly huge, it’s not unnatural that the public at large takes their example as representative of all crossdressers, and, by extension, all transgendered people. A more conservative (or hypocritical) person will look at them and say ‘crossdressers are gay perverts’ because they a) are clearly looking for male partners and b) dress up as women just for sex. The connection between that kind of behaviour and ‘gay perverts’ is therefore easy to make.
Where they get it wrong is in believing that all crossdressers are like that. They’re not. And while we are a very small minority, we’re — by far — the more vocal one. From activists to thinkers in our community, almost all of us, with very few exceptions, come from the other kind of crossdressers — the ones for which crossdressing is our form of gender expression. Sex might be a part of it — and why not? Sex is one of the most natural things for us humans! — but it’s not the driving force that pushes us to crossdressing. The difference, for the average mainstream person, is too slight to be understood.
And here lies the problem. The myths are ‘not true’ for a minority of crossdressers — but we are the ones that suffer most from our crossdressing. We get discriminated because of that. A typical example: crossdressers are welcome on most swinger/BDSM bars, where the sexual component is the major reason for going to those places, but we are not allowed to go dressed as women to watch opera (or a movie). Why? Because the majority of crossdressers dress to get sexual partners, and attending cultural events are supposed not to be for that, we are shunned at that kind of events — but welcome on all events which are, indeed, made to get new sexual partners.
So the problem is that the ‘myth’ is actually true for most crossdressers! It’s not true for all — namely, for the millions who constantly get together on crossdresser societies, parties, or online, on uncountable websites and blogs — but we are just a tiny minority among the vast number of crossdressers. And that will be a really hard mentality thing to change — explaining to the public at large that not all crossdressers are sex-driven.
An analogy which might be shocking but which is probably very similar to our case: among all Muslims living under ISIS, not all are fundamentalist terrorists. But the vast majority will be. Our prejudice will go towards that vast majority. It would be very hard, from the outside, to point out the very few who live under the ISIS regime who abhor terrorism and are peaceful, friendly, loving individuals. But they exist. The difference between them and us is that the mainstream ISIS members are also quite vocal about their propaganda, while in the crossdresser community, the dress-as-a-woman-for-sex group is completely silent about their fantasies, and do not bother to participate in discussions at all.
Transgendered individuals are quite different; in many countries, for example, if the only reason given for transition is ‘get a better sex life’, transition can be ruled out (people still go to Thailand or Brazil to get SRS, of course, ‘outside the system’). So here we have the opposite issue: transgendered individuals are, by far, not fetishists or ‘sex maniacs’ (the technical term is ‘hypersexuality’ or ‘high libido’), but rather the reverse. However, for the mainstream audience, the difference is not clear at all. Because they see that most crossdressers dress for sex, they assume that if they want to change their physical gender, it’s just to get even better sex. Looking from the outside I can perfectly understand why they might be driven to think like that.
That’s why I had so much trouble understanding why so many transgendered people (especially after they got diagnosed and started transition) shun crossdressers. I found that very tough, since many crossdressers are just ‘part-time women’ because their situation (family, friends, job, etc.) does not allow them a full transition — or because they really prefer to enjoy gender fluidity. It seemed harsh to be so judgemental about them! The real reason, however, is that many transgendered people know very well that the majority of crossdressers are just after fulfillment of their sex fantasies, and they believe — sadly, very correctly, in most cases — that they get even more discrimination if they associate with them. And, in fact, they are correct in most cases.
So… while I’m obviously fine in helping to debunk the Seven Myths, and, in fact, I do it online at all times — and often in public, too, without revealing my inner self-image — I’m also aware that we crossdressers have a very difficult task ahead of us. We cannot simply wave a magical wand and push all those crossdressers who only dress for sex under the rug. After all, they have precisely the same entitlement to their sexual fantasies as we do. They’re not doing anything wrong or illegal. They just want to have some great fun! They are not even aware that they might be spreading a terrible image about crossdressing — because, in truth, they are ‘spreading’ the image of the majority of crossdressers, so how could they be ‘hurting’ anyone? In fact, thanks to the Internet, they have been more open in showing that there are alternative lifestyles and sexual fantasies that are much more fun, and making them more ‘acceptable’ (in the sense that more people view crossdressing as a sexual fantasy as something interesting and worth exploring).
But clearly that’s not what we think that crossdressing is. And our view is not incorrect, either. Presenting a vision of crossdressing that encompasses both opposing views to the mainstream is not easy. We can reach experts, sure — doctors and sociologists are aware of the difference — but it’s hard to explain that to the common public. Especially the public that hides their own sexual fantasies very well and refuses to discuss them publicly — or even admitting that they have any. For them, crossdressing will always be a lifestyle associated with an unusual sex fantasy — no matter what we say. And, unfortunately, they will be right in about 90% of the cases.
What is surprising is that the Internet gives the complete opposite picture of crossdressing. And, as said, for over a decade I also thought that we were the majority, and ‘crossdressing as a lifestyle’ was just a minor fantasy, an edge case, not worthy to mention — because that’s what we see on the Internet. It turns out that the exact opposite is the reality!
Polemic? Oh yes. Even if each of you has a hundred friends, none of them engaged in ‘crossdressing-as-a-sexual-lifestyle’, and use that as an argument to ‘prove’ that most crossdressers think and behave like we do, just remember: for those hundred friends you have, there are a thousand crossdressers out there who are just spending their time online waiting for the next sexual partner.
Think about it.
The only-sensuous exist also, sexe for me means a simple intercourse, there are seeing, smelling and sensing why this person wears a skirt and a white coton shirt most of the time, his or her continuous erotism.
There are definitely more kinds of crossdressers — and transgendered people — than definitions 🙂 Ultimately, we’re all individuals…
However, my point is that, in spite of so many differences, and from a more strict perspective, there are those crossdressers who ‘dress for sexual pleasure only’ (and mostly in order to get intercourse), and these are a rather consistent group sharing common characteristics, which are well-defined. They are, by far, the vast majority (one or two studies I read admitted that this group would include 80-90% of all crossdressers, but take all those statistics with a pinch of salt: a characteristic of this vast group is that usually they do not answer surveys, so all that academics can work with is ‘estimates’…).
In some cases, in this group are listed those that practice sissification (i.e. when crossdressing is involuntary and usually role-played) and most forms of BDSM that include some kind of crossdressing.
Then there is ‘everybody else’. This group is not only relatively small but it is also incredibly fragmented. From partial crossdressing, through drag queens and performers/entertainers (who might just crossdress for a show), from those who reject gender or, by contrast, wish to belong to both genders simultaneously, or are gender-fluid, and so forth, until we come to the more ‘classical’ type of crossdresser (who merely manifests their inner female self-image via clothing and behaviour), which, however, can appear in many different forms… all that vast variety of possibilities are actually ‘edge cases’, comprising a comparatively very small number of people.
WoW! Sandra.. YOU ROCK ! awesome article that you have written… and I have to agree with you on this one….Very well thought out and presented.., I honor you…
Thanks, Casey! I’m aware that this topic is polemic, though…
What Sandra is saying to me and which I agree with is that the minority crossdressers are really seen by the vast majority as “gender terrorists” and that appellation is SO hard to change because the perceptions of alternative lifestyles are still in the prurient stigmata of the last 3 or 4 centuries and it will take a lot of time to change this.
… ironically, I think, the few reports of crossdressers we have from those 3-4 centuries were of people like us: merely manifestations of our inner selves as females. Of course, HRT and SRS did not exist back then, so we cannot say if they were merely crossdressers or actual transexuals who simply had no way to reassign their physical gender…
I agree with Anika, I know what I am inside since I was 9 years old. Living day in and day out wondering why is this happening to me. If it wasn’t for Lucille I probably would not be hear today. Thank Lucille for giving me hope. I can only hope and pray that one day people will wake up.
As a trans person identifying as bi gender, I do not consider myself a crossdresser. I am a gifted person with two distinct souls who take turns identifying or expressing themselves. However if allowed myself as Lise would be the more predominate expressed self
People seem not to understand is it isn’t your genitalia, nor your hormones, nor your appearance that define who you are. Also, you don’t have to wear heels or a dress and put makeup on to be a trans women. There are trans women who are more tomboyish. Honestly, people don’t get that the gender you’re assigned at birth, gender identity, genitalia, appearance, sexual preferences and personality don’t come in a single package! They may have such unusual matches that it is impossible to still try to fit people into groups like they’re all the same.
Very true, I know I am a bisexual woman and I was packaged in a man’s body….go figure! Thanks for sharing.
I think that another myth to be debunked is that ‘gender is bipolar’. It isn’t.
Thank you for this. I do very little to look female (health issues). Where I am female is in my head. And no one gets that – or seems to anyway. Makes me want to scream.