[Deep breath] [Heavy sigh]
Most crossdressers will relate immediately to my beginning with pause. Anyone who has lived as a heterosexual crossdresser for 20 years, been a devout Christian for 10 years, and been only recently married (and only afterward having revealed this struggle) will PROFOUNDLY appreciate the pause. It is not a sigh of longing or regret. It is not a sigh of fantasy or resignation. It is a sigh of a soul that has fought for a long time- warred with God, self, and reality itself. It is a sigh of saddness that so little help, so few resources, such lack of agreement and testimony is out there after so much searching. The most helpful thing I’ve found in my whole journey has been reflection on the “why” question- both personally and through the new and growing forums online for such reflection.
The question has been very difficult for me to answer, partly because I had been dressing steadily since I was about 10 years old (like a large number of crossdressers report). Anything done at that young of an age and for that long becomes so buried under layers of events and experience that it is hard to clearly remember the facts of history, let alone principlize the situation today. It is easy to get sidetracked trying to answer the question of why it started rather than asking why it is done now, though they have been mutually important investigations. In addition it has been very difficult to sort out this issue due to it’s stigma. Having forums to read and a wife to talk to has been a huge help in this regard. Sometimes we just need a sounding board to help figure out the complex things of this world. The nature of this activity being so sexual, it is also difficult to detach and think rather than simply become seduced in fantasy (strong connections in this area make it difficult not be sexually arroused even while writing this post!). Likewise, the “drive” to dress, which has been so intense as to defy all sense of cultural, personal, and spiritual shame and guilt and persist in the face of serious threat (such as the destruction and loss of relationships- even a marriage) has similarly taken mysterious precedence in the past over the will power needed for such stern reflection- making it seem like an impossible quest. Having said all that, I want to lay out a couple of pages that are my structured response to the question “why?”. I hope and pray that it helps me, my wife, and anyone else reading.
Probably the most difficult thing to understand about crossdressing for me has been the fact that my reasons are frought with paradoxes. Was I doing it to identify with weakness or to feel the rush of power? Was I avoiding love or intensely obssessed with intimacy? Was I wanting to tear down the walls of gender division or hold affirm and correct them? Was it an act of sexual indulgence or the result of sexual suppression? Sometimes it seems the answers are in direct opposition to each other, but I believe I there is a way to understand them so that they are complimentary rather than contradictory.
I want to start by mentioning that my discussions of the reasons why will also be geared toward helping people understand reasons that are NOT my reasons (or, from my research others’ either). For one thing, it absolutely has nothing to do with homosexuality. It is, in fact, the very heart of the whole enterprise to be not just attracted, but more like infatuated (more like deeply obsessed, for many) with all things related to feminie beauty/sexuality. I always dressed while deeply longing for the affirmation and peace that comes from the reassurance of a beautiful woman (and at times I have been quite taken by the thought and action of dressing with a woman happily and intimately, maybe teasingly, playing along). Relatedly, it was utter distaste for maleness to an extreme that fed into me first being interested in putting on my sister’s clothes and exploring the association with the other side. So let me say again, as has been said over and over in almost every article on the subject- crossdressers and homosexuals are not AT ALL to be correlated (though, admittedly, rarely, someone can be both). I want to remind the reader as well that even this drive towards womanhood does not replace the basic manhood (or boyhood) that exists and is aroused at the sight of woman’s clothing, almost regardless of who is wearing it (and this just points to the fact that woman’s clothes create an arousing response in men- the way they were designed to).
The second point to lay down as a foundational part of my confession is that it has always, indeed, been an obsession with the expressly female persona (manifested through clothing). If clothing in our culture were not so rigidly divided (with so much being “off limits” for men because they are “women’s clothes”) then I don’t think I would really have been interested in wearing the womens’ stuff as much as I was. I do imagine that a lot more men would be wearing things that we now would consider feminine, but that’s kinda beside the point of why I used to crossdress. I wanted to wear women’s clothes, not neutral ones. It is true that, on the whole, women’s clothes are made with far more attention to beauty, design, texture, color, fabric, and feeling. In short- they are wonderful to wear… on the whole… as compared to men’s clothes… generally speaking. But the issue of clothing divide is not the heart of the issue.
The heart is the longing to be close to, inside of, to share the benefits of sexy, womanhood- but the “sharing” would be bracetted by the stronger and firmer intention to be a man (probably the main source of pain and struggle here is the damage this all does to one’s personal sense of manhood as well as to one’s manhood in the mind of the onlooker, obviously). In fact, dressing up comes inately with an end to the “incident” and one takes off the girls’ clothes and puts back on the guys’ clothes. For me this was always immediate and intense as I quickly stripped off what was bringing momentary pleasure and hastened to feel normal and happy again in my male clothing. Now, I’ll confess, this is the area that can get out of control for the crossdresser, in my opinion. In order to continue drawing nearer many progressively (though I don’t deny that someone can come to such a conclusion immediately from the beginning rather than through the process I’m suggesting) desire to be more and more dressed up (head to toe), wanting to go out dressed, and eventually, for those who don’t have a firm committment to their manhood, wanting to actually get medical procedures. Thankfully my desire to be a man was always strongly intact and this had no part in my crossdressing activity. It is a researched fact that the vast majority of the millions of men in the US who regularly crossdress do NOT want to ever stop being men. In later stages, the satisfaction I gained by dressing up was only possible because I had no doubts about my manhood and was trying to have the benefits of BOTH! In the moments when I was crossdressing in order to “share” the womanhood I wanted, I wanted to be only temporarily looking like a female (and, for sexual reasons, was very glad that I was male at the same time).
Having stated this as the heart, I think one can see why many like me sorta half expect (and strongly hope) that the issue would go away once married and having profound intimacy with a woman. Of course, I also think that most people can see the huge gapping hole in this logic (which, I am surprised that I did not see)- namely that marriage to a woman by no means equals profound intimacy with a woman in the real world. Such is only attained through much diligent effort put into many years of the relationship. Marriage doesn’t even necessarily equal regular sex, let alone, regular affirmation and intimacy in it! (not to mention that having sex in order to gain something from your spouse is defeating to good and healthy sex anyway…) And coming to a marriage with a deep need for this in order to stay away from the closet only adds a whole new pressure to the relationship which is totally unhealthy and counter-productive! I believe that many married crossdressers eventually cave in because of the dissatisfaction of this false expectation/hope. Even if the marriage seems relatively happy and good, a deep insecurity ends up not being met. I’m not saying the wives are failing them- these men need to learn to love and live healthy lives that aren’t swallowed in deception and self-pleasure. Very few marriages will be able to replace the desire to crossdress without the man being willing to fight it. But I will say that with open and honest communication by both partners, healing is profoundly and perfectly possible! I’m a living testimony!
What I share in “why I began”, “why I continued”, and “why I don’t anymore” on the menu bar to the right stands alone as an honest and transparent confession. It is one person’s experience and inner struggle, painstakingly recorded and articulated as carefully as a little time here and there would permit. I’ve attempted to hit the main points, picking up side ones if they weren’t too far to the side, and ignore the overly tangential or obscure facts. However, the following items have significant enough connection to the issue to deserve overall guiding mention:
1. My life of being and becoming a man has been very difficult to achieve. I still feel like I have the shadow of the bad traits of “machismo” working in me along with the inclination to seek after certain affirmation in order to maintain and build the good traits that are known to many as feminine, but which are truly universal human virtues that men should have. This affirmation comes from God.
2. I am still growing stronger in love– casting aside personal pleasure and power in order to serve and bless others. My past has left me afraid that I will be left in the dust, but I know that this is not true- just a figment of past pains. I will live with an open heart to others in a vulnerable way, and already feel so incredibly empowered by the freedom of sharing all this and growing through it openly with my wife.
3. The life I lived as a closet crossdresser was one of fragmentation. I look forward to a long life of wholeness in all aspects of my being- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual as they overlap in one true human being. Fragmentation requires a certain logic and practice in order for reconstruction to take place. I welcome the challenge.
4. One of the biggest problems with my old behavior which has only recently come to my attention is that I must take into account the feelings of my spouse. I cannot simply say “this is my history- deal with it”. I must realize that she dislikes the image of a “girly” husband as much as the rest of the world does and I must be careful to support her as I would hope she will support me.
5. Lastly, as a Christian man, I must point out that any issue as messy and entailing such potential bondage as this is one that must be evaluated and guarded against spiritual attack and stronghold. I pray regularly against this while also being careful not to throw all of the good in my heart (even sexual attraction to my wife in her clothes is good so long as it is secondary to my sexual attraction to her without them, which is itself secondary to loving her and pleasing her) into the pile of condemnation that I have for selfish power-seeking, selfish pleasure-seeking, warped sexual fantasy, fearful escapism, or any other sin that could be part of this. I have always believed that God was firmly on the side of men loving women and growing to become more nurturing, more beautiful at the same time. Not wimpy, but gentle. Not passive, but servants. Not vain, but still pretty.