This myth is fairly common among (unaccepting) loved ones of crossdressers and subsequently many crossdressers themselves. In online transgendered communities, countless times crossdressers have expressed guilt about being themselves sighting this exact myth as the source of their guilty feelings.
Myth: Crossdressing is a purely selfish act and the time spent crossdressing could be better spent doing more productive things. Fact: Crossdressig is no more selfish than time spent reading a good book, watching TV/movies, exploring a personal hobby, or any other activity of personal interest.
We’ll start out by examining the meaning of the word “selfish” and then get into why there is little merit to this myth.
(1) concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
(2) arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others: a selfish act
(1) devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
(2) characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.
As these definitions indicate, being selfish involves a certain level of disregard for the welfare of others. How exactly does crossdressing interfere with or show disregard for the welfare of others? The short answer is: it does not.
Crossdressing requires an investment of time and money. It varies from one person to the next depending on personal style, depth, and duration of time spent crossdressed. Some crossdressers do so openly in the company of their spouses and/or families, and sometimes out in public. Some choose to only crossdress in private.
Now I’m going to repeat the same general paragraph, substituting crossdressing for a model train enthusiast. The point I’m making should become clear.
Building a model train set requires an investment of time and money. It varies from one person to the next depending on personal interest, depth, and duration of time spent with the model train set. Some model train enthusiasts do so openly in the company of their spouses and/or families, and sometimes at public at shows/events. Some choose to only indulge in private.
The father of one of my childhood friends was a very serious model train enthusiast. He had quite an elaborate set up in his basement, complete with a miniature town, buildings that had working lights, moving railway road-block arms, detailed geography, grass and trees, and the train even blew smoke out of its stack. The model trains themselves were rather impressive chugging by with their intricate wheel mechanisms, functional train-whistle, and passenger cars that also had working lights. The whole set up was enormous and filled up about a third of the entire basement (in a closed off room). This was 30 years ago, mind you. Some pretty serious electronic technology of the time was being utilized. I can only imagine how many hours were spent assembling everything and time necessary to maintain the the small, intricate moving parts, let alone the cost of it all. It must have been very expensive because he protected the set up with a vengeance. We weren’t allowed near it without him in the room… and he reminded us of that every time we went in the basement to play Atari (old school gaming, for you younger folks).
I was just a kid at the time, but I think it’s safe to say that no one questioned this man’s love and enthusiasm for his amazing model train set and collection. The time devoted to his hobby was probably not considered a “selfish act” by his family or friends. I wonder if his wife ever had a problem with the amount of money spent on it.
The rules are very different for crossdressers though. The time spent crossdressing is often considered a “selfish act”. Why is that? Money spent on acquiring female clothing, makeup, and accessories is often seen as part of the selfish act because it might have been “spent more wisely on other things”. Does this same logic apply to the purchase of expensive model train components?
The general reason one is considered “a selfish act”, and the other not, is because many people are uncomfortable with the idea of a man crossdressing in female clothing. People are taught to be uncomfortable about this from a young age because it does not conform to currently acceptable social norms. It’s a bit like sex – most parents are embarrassed to discuss the subject of sex with their young children. Kids are taught not to ask about or even mention it, often in a punishing tone. This embarrassment was taught to them by their own parents (and other grownups) when they were kids, because their parents were embarrassed by the subject as well. It works much the same with crossdressing – the discomfort and detest is taught and passed down from generation to generation. Unlike the subject of sex, with crossdressing there is often no “acceptable age” at which time it becomes ok to discuss or acknowledge as a normal human trait. Instead, it remains a problem with many people. The reason has a lot to do with the lack of knowledge about and social stigma attached to crossdressing. It’s a lot easier to perpetuate the negative stigma than it is to acknowledge the truth and reality.
Truth be told, some crossdressers are in fact selfish – at least in some aspects of their lives. It has little to do with their crossdressing however, but rather the kind of person the are. The same can be said about many non-crossdressers as well. The world is full of people who do selfish things. Some happen to be crossdressers. Some happen to be model train enthusiasts.
If you think it’s ridiculous to compare crossdressing with being a model train enthusiast (in this context), please enlighten me as to why by leaving a comment below. I think it is ridiculous how society treats and vilifies such harmless and perfectly normal activities as crossdressing.
I know, most people do not consider crossdressing “normal”. There was also a time when most people did not consider being left-handed “normal”, or blacks drinking out of the same drinking fountain as whites “normal”. Luckily, most people have realized how idiotic those notions are. Society has, in many ways, become more enlightened and grown up. There is a long way yet to go, however. How much more growing up do you need to do?
I’ve often thought about the unaccepting families and loved one’s of crossdressers as being selfish when they ask their loved ones to stop crossdressing. It is selfish to ask someone to change who they are for you own personal benefit – in this case to ease your discomfort and/or embarrassment about their crossdressing. It displays disregard for the welfare of the crossdresser’s personal happiness. We are all entitled to the pursuit of happiness in life. There’s nothing selfish about that.
Related content: Crossdressing Myths