Cross-dressing

Hi Readers! 

This week’s article is about cross-dressing. This is a topic that society doesn’t tend to discuss about very often. This article is a response to a request from one of my readers. And since the aim of this website is education and discovery, why not discover cross-dressing and what it is. 

So, what is cross-dressing exactly? Does it mean a person is trans* if they cross-dress? Does it change your sexual orientation? Is it a fetish? Is it a disorder? So many questions!

If you haven’t read my articles about sexual orientation and gender identity, I suggest you do so before reading this article. The articles will allow you to get a better understanding of these terms before learning about cross-dressing. 

Cross-dressing is the act of wearing items of clothing that are not associated with the person’s gender. There is a history of cross-dressing; it was used as a disguise, for self-expression, comfort, etc. Back in the day, women authors would dress up as men so they could get their book published. Some women used to dress up as men just so that they could get an education. Cross-dressing exists in Greek, Norse and Hindu mythology. It is found in lots of literature and art. Ways that people choose to express gender may change over time, so some may notice that what they find in cross-dressing now may not apply to them in x months or years. 

Playing devil’s advocate here… I want you to think about something for a second. Society made the rules and created norms for each gender, what a “woman” is supposed to wear, what a “man” is suppose to wear. Yes, now fashion says it is sexy and in style for woman to wear an oversized jacket and heels or “boyfriend jeans”. But if a “man” decides to wear something feminine then it’s “not okay” or he is trans* and so on. 

Cross-dressers may experience social backlash as they are resisting social norms and expectations. 

Cross-dressing is more common in men than in woman. It is not a synonym of transgender. Most cross-dressers are heterosexual and no, cross-dressing does not change your sexual orientation. A person who cross-dresses can 100% identify with the sex and gender they are from birth but they have a want to dress-up with the opposite sex’s clothes because they like how it feels, how the fabric feels, how they look, etc. Cross-dressing often begins in childhood or adolescence. 

There are many different kinds of cross-dressing and different reasons why someone wants to cross-dress. Some cross-dress full time, some occasionally and some only cross-dress in private. 

Cross-dressing itself is NOT a disorder. To be diagnosed with transvestic disorder, according to the DSM-5, a person must experience persistent and intense sexual arousal from fantasising about, or acting on, urges to wear one or more pieces of clothing normally worn by the opposite gender. The fantasies and behaviours must have been present for at least 6 months and cause severe distress to the individual or dysfunction in social, professional or other significant areas of day-to-day life. The feelings of distress over cross-dressing that characterise transvestic disorder are separate and distinct from gender dysphoria. 

Since cross-dressing itself is not a disorder it does not generally require treatment. Cross-dressers may be brought to therapy by a third party (parent, partner, etc.). Some individuals who cross-dress seek therapy for themselves because of other issues that may come to the surface such as substance abuse, depression and distress. It is the distress and urges that impair day-to-day life that can be an issue for the individual not the act of cross-dressing. 

I hope this article has helped you to better understand cross-dressing. 

If you have any questions or would like to book a counselling session please contact me. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

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Gender Identity

Hi Readers!

Happy Monday! It’s great to be back on this platform. Today we are learning about gender identity! Let’s begin!

Gender Identity is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male or female. This feeling may not be the same as one’s biological sex. To understand gender identity, you need to understand the difference between the terms sex and gender.

Gender is what you feel you belong to and may differ from the one you were assigned to at birth, based on your genitals.

Sex is about the genital and reproductive organs (penis, vagina, uterus, testicles, etc.), it is about the secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, beard, hips, etc., it is the distinction between female and male.

By contrast, gender is the pronoun you use to speak to a person (him/her, he/she), it is the different social codes like the appearance, clothes, makeup, etc., it is the distinction between feminine and masculine.

Unfortunately, these terms are very rigid and binary. To be able to include and represent all of the diversity of gender identities, sexes and gender expression, we need to look at this in a more fluid way. Think of it as a horizontal ladder that represents diversity and so much more than just two options. Below we will look at gender identity, sex and gender expression. The words below are used to facilitate the reading. You can be anywhere on any of the ladders simultaneously as these 3 terms are mutually exclusive. If you do the exercise now and put a dot on every line where you are situated today, it may not be the same answer in a few days or months. Some individuals have a different response every day.

Gender identity

Woman                                                 Gender fluid                                           Man

Sex

Female                                                    Intersex                                             Male

Gender expression

Feminine                                               Non-binary                                  Masculine

There is an entire vocabulary to describe gender identity – let’s look at a few:

  • Bigender: Someone who identifies with two genders i.e.: male and female.
  • Cisgender or cis: When your gender matches the sex you were assigned at birth.
  • Gender fluid: when your identity moves around on the gender spectrum
  • Gender neutral: someone who doesn’t identify with any gender
  • Gender non-binary: Someone who doesn’t fit into the binary gender (male/female)
  • Gender fluid: When your identity moves around the gender spectrum. 
  • Gender expression: The way in which a person’s expresses their gender identity, typically through appearance, dress, and behaviour. 
  • Intersex: People whose biology doesn’t easily fit into male or female. This can include genitals, chromosomes or hormones. 
  • Polygender: describes people who have multiple genders at once. 
  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression and/or anatomy does not fit into conventional expectations of male or female. 
  • Transsexual: An old fashioned term for someone who goes through, or wants to go through, gender realignment. This is why we use the word Trans* as it an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity doesn’t line up with their assigned sex at birth. Also, if someone tells you they are a woman and would like you to use the pronoun she/her and her preferred name is ____. Respect that please. That person will really appreciate the fact that you are respecting their wish and you are not judging them.
  • Two-spirit: some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two-spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgender. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures, two-spirit persons were respected leaders and medicine people. Before colonization, two-spirit persons were often accorded special status based upon their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspective (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011). 

I hope this has helped you understand some of the different terms that are out there and helped your mind to grow a little …. If you have any questions please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

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