Labels are one thing we as a society use to recognize and identify each other and ourselves, and this community is no different. For me the issue is that we tend to shoe horn ourselves into these labels and so I am going to take a brief look at Crossdressing and Transgendered.
First a label should not define you, although that is what labels do once a label is assigned the people have a tendency to keep that label up. Second in order to accurately represent all possible variations we would need to create thousands of varying of labels. That said labels are a convenient way for people to identify other people or groups. Remember when Queer was a bad word? Now queer is the term we use to not have to say lgbttcaqzve or whatever the Alphabet soup of the day is. The problem is that when I identify as Queer I am labeling myself in a way that places me with gay, lesbian, bi sexual, asexual, questioning and whomever else. I’m not gay, lesbian, bi, or transsexual to name a few which is important as each of us faces slightly different challenges and have different interests. Think of it this way Fire fighters and Police Officers are both in the emergency services category and have a certain bond through commonality but they each face very different challenges on the job and do very different types of work. All of us who fall into the queer category have some commonalities, the social acceptance of non-traditional sex and gender values, we may have very different challenges such as heterosexual crossdressers and lesbian women both wear bras and are attracted to women but have very different goals and challenges. So labels matter even though they shouldn’t and we do it to ourselves and if we are going to be labelled we might as well at least choose that label.
So my definition of crossdresser is one who is compelled to wear the clothing of the gender not associated with their sex and the primary motivation is not sexual. Of course we find it erotic and when younger sexual without a doubt but at that age just about everything is sexually stimulating (oh that stiff breeze). We as crossdressers like to be feminine for reasons we may not fully understand but it is manifested through our dressing. This does not mean that we wish to be women (most of the time) but we do wish to be feminine and clothing is the uniform of gender. Stop and think about the activities you tend to do when you are dressed, I doubt bras and panties motivate you to renovate a room or work on your car. These are masculine gender activities and as such even those of us who like think we blur that line are still enacting those roles and not blurring at all but in some ways reinforcing them through our actions.
How does crossdresser differ from transgendered? Basically a crossdresser is transgendered as we are taking on gender roles that are not assigned to us through our sex. However the line can be drawn at the amount you spend living as one gender; there are many gender identity tests online that you can do but I have a simpler (and perhaps more accurate) way. Do you wish to live as a woman or is being seen as a woman a part time thing? If you wish to live primarily as a woman your likely transgendered if you live primarily as a man and spend some time as a woman then you are likely a crossdresser. This may not be the clearest definition ever but gender isn’t that clear either. I can use myself as an example. I wear panties regularly, shave my body hair and at home wear a bras with breast forms maybe half the time and the associated women’s clothing about the same and I love to cook so obviously I’m very much a feminine sissy boy who is just itching to get hormones into me. But I have a neatly trimmed beard, love cars, motorbikes, fishing, building things, cooking with my awesome knives and women well that defiantly isn’t an estrogen fueled feminine pretty boy. Well I’m pretty masculine and feminine aren’t I (cooking is in both but that is for a later post)? My girlfriend loves cooking, fishing, building things, cars, bikes, wears panties, bras and shaves body hair with the main differences being (from these lists) she has breasts so no need for breast forms and has no beard. She isn’t considered transgendered and if she wears men’s clothes such as men’s jeans it’s not crossdressing nor does any of this violate current gender roles, I however do. Ok so there is a lot of overlap so how do we decide if I’m a crossdresser or transgendered? Well now it’s time for introspection and ask the very simple question “Do I want to live as a woman? Am I ready to toss all my male clothes in the bin, laser off the beard, pierce my ears, change my name to Jessica to live and work as a woman?” Nope not appealing, well occasionally perhaps, but on the whole nope I’m quite content to primarily live as a man. Well I’m not a pure transgendered person for sure, I am transgendered to a point but wanting to maintain my male gender roles while also engaging with the feminine roles primarily manifested through clothing would be a classic crossdresser.
What about all those other terms I see around the net? As I said there are many different labels and if you find that another label suits you better then go for it, though expect a few questions about what it means. Whatever label you use don’t try to live up the label live up to yourself.