Men Who Are Cross-Dressers

Men Who Are Cross-Dressers Well, we did it. Three of us men who identify as cross-dressers got together for a weekend of Co-Counseling. It broke through my sense of isolation, and, by all appearances, the others' as well.

My goal is to see to it that no one else has to go through what I did growing up: the shame, confusion, isolation, self-hatred, loneliness, and lack of confidence. This weekend was a good step toward that goal.

Probably most valuable for me was being able to see in the others what is more difficult to see in myself: how some early experiences connected to lack of touch, or being touched in a particular way, are at the heart of our yearning to wear women's clothes.

What happened to each of us growing up varied widely. One of us had an early experience of being starved for touch and caring, during which a female touched him lovingly and her soft garment brushed against his skin. Early isolation in a hospital was common to two of us. Abusive touch was a factor, too.

We started with life stories and goals. Then we went on to share our earliest memories of gender conditioning, what we would have to face if we assumed cross-dressing was entirely based in distress, what was great about being a cross-dresser, and what was hard about it. At the end we said what we had learned from our time together and what we appreciated about each other.

I grew up resisting the urge to cross-dress. Consequently, the times I actually did it were few. At those times I felt like I was tasting forbidden fruit. This was a delicious and intriguing feeling, and also scary. It has since attached itself to other things (candy, for example) and is part of the pull to cross-dress.

When I got into Co-Counseling, my urge to cross-dress was what I most dreaded talking about. There was a lot of shame wrapped around even having these urges, much less acting on them. When I did start talking about it, I realized that not everyone had the same feelings as I did about women's clothes. In my isolation, I had assumed that no one felt like I did, but in another way I had thought that everyone did.

After seven years of leading an "early sexual memories" group, I decided to see what would happen if I stopped resisting the urge to cross-dress. It was freeing. I felt exuberant and alive in a new way. After a while I also felt like I was on a runaway express train. More and more of my time and life became absorbed by cross-dressing, and the pull was getting stronger. I felt increasingly obsessed with buying and having certain types of clothes.

From talking to men in the groups I joined for transgendered people, I discovered that some men were pulled to specific articles of clothing that did not attract me. I suspect this was because of the particular early experiences we each had with the specific types of clothing that attracted us, whether we remembered those experiences or not.

I also noticed that after an episode of cross-dressing, I had a harder time seeing women for who they really were. I could be attracted to their clothes and behaviors and hardly notice them as people.

There is nothing distressed about wanting to exercise intelligent free choice about what kinds of clothing we wear. However, any rigid pull in the direction of wanting or needing to wear certain kinds of clothes is a sign that distress, not intelligence, is governing our choices. When this distress pulls us in a direction that leads to our being scapegoated and oppressed, that oppression will tend to grind in deeper the distresses that led to the behavior in the first place, and coat them with layers of secrecy and shame that make them difficult to heal from.

"Juan Maria O'Shaughnessy"
Information Coordinator for Men Who Are Cross-Dressers
with assistance from "David Nijinsky"

Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07