are neither drag queens nor transsexual. They do not desire
to wear women's clothing and make a living up on a stage, nor do
they want to become physically female.
Transvestites feel the
desire and need to dress as women and that's the primary pleasure.
It may or may not be sexual. Usually, it's a solitary pursuit.
If the man is married, and his wife is willing, he may dress as
a woman in the privacy of their home in the evenings and on weekends.
Some cross-dressers like to make love to their wives while in women's
clothing. In every other way, they live normal lives and hold
down jobs, and so on, without their friends, neighbours or colleagues
ever suspecting their proclivity.
Single men, and those
who cross-dress in secrecy, enjoy their hobby when they're alone.
It may start out as simple curiosity, borrowing Mum's or sisters'
clothes to try on. Later, the cross-dresser graduates to wearing
women's underwear under his male clothing most of the time and then
purchasing his own petticoats and bras, until he eventually builds
up a whole wardrobe of female attire.
For some, the feel of
various materials, for instance, satin, is a turn-on in itself.
Others masturbate while dressed up yet others just enjoy
the illusion of being feminine.
Why would a man want
to dress as a woman if he's not gay or doing it for a living?
Let me answer that by giving you two case studies.
One guy only wore women's
underwear. That was his kick. He was a married man with
children and his wife found out by accident and was very shocked.
He didn't understand his need to buy and wear women's knickers and
so he came in for counselling. The urge was traced back to
age seven. His mother had a group of women friends visiting
in the lounge-room. My client went in to join them, lying
on the carpeted floor, as small children tend to do. From
his position, he could look right up the skirt of one of the women,
who was wearing frilly knickers. He became aroused and locked
into his little mind was the association knickers = sexual
arousal. You might very well ask why wear them instead of
simply finding them exciting on women, the way men usually do? That,
of course, is one of the mysteries of psychology. I do know
that early arousal accounts for a lot of so-called fetishes and
kinks. If a boy becomes sexually excited while handling rubber,
or having his feet massaged, or looking at a certain colour, these
things stay in his mind into adulthood as cues for arousal.
The second case involved
a man who had been brought up by a very dominant mother. He
was expected to 'do the right thing' at all cost and grew up to
be a model citizen. He never married and had started crossdressing
at a young age. In his case, it was a personality/identity
need rather than sexual pleasure. When dressed as a woman,
he was able to be all the things his mother had never let him be
as a boy flamboyant, outrageous, flirtatious, reckless, outgoing.
The man was very quiet, shy, retiring, passive, but the woman
he dressed up to be was the exact opposite. So, my task was
to help him to incorporate his 'inner woman' into everyday life
so that he didn't need two extreme personalities, and the dressing
up would gradually become redundant.
Cross-dressers are not
mentally disturbed and not all of them want to break the habit.
'Normal' is anything that feels right for the individual and
doesn't harm anyone else. However, those who do want to stop
have to isolate the origins of the urge and then change the behaviour.
It appears to be mainly about gender identification, what it means
to be a man and what it means to be a woman. The lines are
not as clearly drawn for some people as for others.