Plenty of (non-crossdressing) people seem to believe that crossdressing is nothing more than a personal choice. They think that for whatever reason, some guys just decide to go against the grain of society and wear women’s clothing and makeup. Maybe they also believe that we enjoy the ridicule and rejection we often face as a result of our “choice”.
Myth: A crossdresser chooses to dress in women’s clothes, doesn’t need to, and can also choose to stop. Fact: Crossdressing is a very necessary outlet for feminine self-expression in some men. It is no more a choice than choosing to be left-handed or right-handed.
It’s difficult to find a good analogy that will properly illustrate the inaccuracy of this crossdressing myth. There are many comparisons that can be made, but few carry enough weight to suitably convey the reality. Because most (non-crossdressing) people are accepted in society as they are, it is nearly impossible to explain the fundamental need for self-expression and the devastating negative emotional and psychological consequences one can suffer when deprived of their ability to do so.
There is some truth to this myth, though only in the unintended literal translation. For most people, clothing, style and outward appearance involves a lot of personal choice. In that respect, what people wear is by their own choice. It is, with few exceptions, true across the board, regardless of gender or gender identity. I’m addressing the myth of crossdressing (as in any crossdressing, ever), being a personal choice and not the fact that most do not crossdress 24/7.
Society and self-expression
Everyone has a basic need for self-expression. How a person chooses to present themselves to the world often plays an important role. Some go to great lengths to make themselves appear and feel more attractive, whereas others simply aim to be comfortable rather than do anything extra for appearance sake. Whether dressing to impress or just for comfort, the freedom to do so as one desires is very important, and usually taken for granted. What would happen if that freedom was somehow diminished or taken away all together? I’ll explore that to some extent later in this article.
Legally, we’re free to dress as we choose. Socially, there can be a heavy price to pay for going against widely accepted forms of self-presentation. The social consequences of crossdressing vary heavily from one place to the next. In some places, people actually recognize the fact that we’re fellow human beings, we’re shown respect and even welcomed. In most places, we’re seen as deviant freaks – sub-human creatures not worthy of respect or even the “right” to be out in public.
Taboo personal traits
Generally speaking, crossdressing men have a strong feminine side. Much like artists have a need to express their creativity through art, crossdressers have the need to express their feminine side through crossdressing. Not many people have a problem with artists expressing their creativity in their artwork. Of course, it’s a very different story when a man expresses his feminine side in the form of crossdressing.
Does an artist choose to be creative and create art? Yes, and no. There is often a choice made in when to create art, but with few exceptions, most artists simply need to explore their creative ideas by creating art (in whatever form). A very talented friend of mine has little control over his need to explore artistic ideas. He’ll literally sketch drawings on pretty much anything: school papers, notepads, book covers, napkins, walls, tables, his hand, etc. No one ever questions his need to create art or thinks of him poorly for doing so. He’s gotten in trouble for drawing on papers in school and at work, but that’s an entirely different matter of misplaced attention and has nothing to do with the activity of creating art itself.
Does a left-handed person choose to write with his/her left hand? Again, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. A left-handed person is born that way, as is an artistic type, and transgender. They can choose (or be forced) not to use or write with their left-hand, but it is unnatural to write with their other. Writing skills suffer when not allowed to write with the hand that was genetically encoded as the favored/predominant one. The point is that their true potential will never be reached if not allowed to develop as nature intended. As ridiculous as it may sound, there was once a social stigma to being left-handed, and it still exists in some places. Do a little research for yourself. There has been plenty written on this subject. Although conceptually similar, the consequences for not allowing a crossdresser to express his feminine side are a significantly more profound than a lefty being forced to be a righty.
By choice or by necessity
In most cases, crossdressers can and do stop crossdressing for short durations in time. Perhaps this is where some people mistake crossdressing as a personal choice, because it is usually not exercised all of the time. For many, the need to be crossdressed and explore feminine self-expression is effectively satisfied in the occasional indulgence, be it every few days, weekly, monthly, etc. Most crossdressers live and carry out their day-to-day lives as men, looking like men. Because of the social stigma and related complications, the opportunity to crossdress isn’t always available, so more often than not, breaks from it become necessary. It’s part of the price we (crossdressers) pay for living in a society that is so very strict in its “all masculine, all the time” imposition upon men.
Social peer pressure
Crossdressing is no more a choice than being left or right-handed. A lefty can be taught to write with his/her right hand, but there’s nothing natural about it and there are consequences. Crossdressers can also be “taught”, or more accurately put, shamed, conditioned, and even brainwashed into not crossdressing. If you’re surrounded by people who repeatedly tell you that you’re an “ass”, you will start to believe it yourself.
Consequences of choice
What exactly are the consequences of choosing not to crossdress? What could possibly go wrong if someone were to simply stop? As stated, crossdressing is the main outlet for feminine self-expression in men that have a strong feminine side. Also as stated, everyone has a very real need to express themselves – including personal traits that are (senselessly) frowned upon by society. Self-expression is not always tied to one’s personal appearance or attire, but take away the ability for someone to exercise the form of self-expression that is most meaningful to them and rest assured, there will be negative consequences as a result. A diminished sense of happiness and not feeling like oneself is just the beginning. Throw in time and prolonged restriction from self-expression, and it will come out in a variety of negative ways, including but not limited, to anger management difficulties, confusion, discontentment, frustration, changes in appetite/weight, and depression.
Caving under pressure
Most crossdressers at some time or another do try to stop crossdressing. The perceived need to stop is caused by the overwhelming reinforcement by society that crossdressing is wrong, immoral, sick, silly and a number of other negative (and incorrect) assessments. Out of frustration and usually a sense of feeling “crazy” a crossdresser may discard or purge all of their feminine clothes, makeup, and accessories. For a time, there may be some satisfaction felt in purging – a false sense of resolve in conforming to “normality”. After a while, sometimes almost immediately following a purge, many crossdressing men feel a great sense of loss. In online transgender communities, many crossdressers have expressed feeling “naked” and not like themselves after purging.
Consequences of my own choices
I spent most of my life trying to rid myself of the demon I considered crossdressing to be. My mother caught me crossdressing in my youth. I was scolded, taught it was “wrong”, and began to truly hate myself because it wasn’t only something I felt the need to do, but also something I really enjoyed. Convinced I was crazy and worthless, I suffered from low self-esteem, constant guilt, debilitating depression and wanted to die. I attempted suicide a number of times, and subsequently ended up in a psychiatric hospital after literally having my life saved in the emergency room. It took many years for me to really figure out what this “crazy” crossdressing thing was all about. I realized that the demon within me was really just a misunderstood blessing; a gift if you will. Rather than hating myself for being this way, I decided to embrace this aspect of my life and found a great sense of happiness and relief in doing so. In allowing myself to truly be myself, I finally achieved a sense of peace and calmness where there was once only confusion, self-loathing, and pain. The personal price I paid for trying to conform to society’s “gender rules” is substantial. Years of my life were needlessly wasted in confusion and depression – time I can never have back. I can’t help but wonder how many other crossdressers and transgender people are still running from their phantom demon – in other words, running from themselves.
Opinion and belief vs. reality
In reality, there is nothing wrong with a man’s need for feminine self-expression and therefore nothing wrong with crossdressing. Popular social opinion greatly differs, but it does not change the reality anymore than believing the world is flat can actually cause it to be true. Centuries ago, to suggest the world was not flat was considered blasphemous. Popular opinion can influence how people think and feel about realities, but it does not change reality itself.
The herd mentality that crossdressing is wrong or abnormal is absolutely ridiculous… yet sadly widely accepted by cattle… or rather by people. When people choose to exhibit lack of intelligence consistent with that of a herd of cattle, then the comparison works, does it not?
‘Choosing’ to be naive
Crossdressers and transgender people in general take a lot of heat from society for being ourselves. People often don’t understand us, having been misinformed or perhaps not informed at all. Many people do not want to understand us – they grew up “learning” that we’re just a bunch of “deviant freaks” and sleep better at night clinging to and believing the same garbage they’ve been fed all their lives.
This form of being naive is a choice. Maybe not at first, but when one chooses to remain comfortably in the dark about certain realities in life, even after being presented with the truth, their intelligence level is consistent with that of the bovine meat I consume for dinner.
Needs and choices
Crossdressing is not a choice, but instead a simple need – one that society has chosen to make a big deal about. Everyone has needs in their life. Most needs fall within socially accepted “norms” and therefore do not end up under the magnifying glass of social scrutiny. When needs conflict with social taboos, people come up with all kinds of ways of demonizing them. Trying to belittle crossdressing as a simple “choice” is but one of many naive ways people try to shame us out of being who we are.
In my life, it’s not about crossdressing being a choice, it’s about choosing to be who I am. I like who I am. There’s nothing wrong with me, nor any crossdresser/transgender for that matter – at least not because of this aspect.
When it comes to choices, choosing to be oneself is the most intelligent and rewarding. Choosing to renounce oneself and live a lie simply to conform to social standards and pressures only leads to unhappiness and discontentment. As for me, I choose to be myself. There’s your “choice” explained.
Related content: Crossdressing Myths