Dear Gabi, Should I Tell My Parents I’m a Crossdresser?

Dear Gabi,

I am a crossdresser and I am really anxious about my parents finding out. Should I tell them or just keep hiding it?



Gabrielle HermosaDear Anonymous,

Deciding whether to tell your parents about being a crossdresser or keeping it a secret can be a tough call. The anxiety felt in being discovered is very understandable – I was once there myself.

What is right for one, may not be for another and this is a decision that you must make for yourself. In the end, telling your parents will probably work out much better for you than being discovered or caught by them.

There are many things to consider before discussing with your parents. I suggest you give serious thought to the following:

What do you think will happen?
Have you considered how your parents may react when you explain to them you’ve been crossdressing? It’s not possible to accurately guess what will take place with any certainty, but think about the kind of people your parents are and how they might handle your coming out to them. This may be helpful in deciding how to best approach the subject with them.

Be prepared to answer questions
Most people do not understand crossdressing. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits all explanation, which often makes things that much more confusing to the uninitiated. When you explain to your parents that you are a crossdresser, they will have questions. It is important to be prepared for questions before coming out to them.

Some of the more frequently asked questions include:

  • How long have you been crossdressing?
  • Are you gay? / Do you like boys (in a romantic sense)?
  • Do you want to be a (real) girl?
  • Have you told anyone else?
  • Where did you get your female clothing? / Who’s female clothing have you been wearing?
  • Why do you want to dress like a girl?
  • Have you already or do you want to crossdress in public?
  • Do you want to crossdress all the time?
  • What’s next? /Where do we go from here?

You can’t anticipate every question that might be asked, but prepare for what you can and offer honest answers. If they ask questions that you are not quite certain how to answer, do not attempt to answer them yet. Don’t be afraid to explain that some questions require more time and thought to be properly addressed. It is best to thoroughly work out the right (truthful) answer and not to force out something that might not be very accurate. Things may get more complicated if not answered accurately/truthfully the first time around.

How confident are you?
It may not be easy to do, but it is important to display self-confidence should you decide to tell your parents. If your parents sense that you are confused and/or ashamed about your crossdressing, they might feel that professional “help” is needed and/or try to “cure” you. Although more people are beginning to understand that crossdressing is not a mental illness, condition, or disorder, many still believe it to be. Hopefully, that will not be the case with your parents, but it is a good idea to prepare for that possibility.

Keep in mind that how you deliver the news will influence how well it is received. Showing confidence and pride in yourself will go over a lot better than revealing something that you are ashamed or uncertain of.

I always explain my crossdressing as a gift. It is not something I suffer from or want to be rid of, but rather a cherished part of who I am and I am very happy to be me.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
Hopefully all will go well if/when you explain to your parents about being a crossdresser. Even if they don’t understand it, they may still accept that it is a part of who you are and choose to learn more about it with you.

If your parents do not take the news well, how do you think you will react? Will you be devastated if they punish, scold or try to shame you? When I was discovered crossdressing by my mother at the age of 12, it was a very traumatic experience with long-lasting negative emotional consequences. That was a long time ago and times have changed considerably, but not every parent will be understanding or supportive.

Their roof, their rules
So long as your parents provide for you and you live under their roof, they have a lot of say in how you can live you life. If things do not go well, you might be forced to purge (get rid of) any feminine items you may have acquired. This is absolutely the wrong way for any parent to deal with a crossdressing child, but it is their right to establish the rules and guidelines that you must adhere to. They are only trying to do what they believe is best for you, even if their choices are misguided. Remember that in time, you will be on your own and able to live your life as you choose.

Good luck
There are plenty of good resources for your parents to learn more about crossdressing. I’d like to think my website is one of them. You may want to sit down and review some of the available information with them so that they can better understand.

Best of luck to you.

Related content: Dear Gabi Advice Column

Write to Gabrielle: Dear Gabi submission page


6 thoughts on “Dear Gabi, Should I Tell My Parents I’m a Crossdresser?”

  1. Needless to say, I come at this from a somewhat different perspective, since my own life journey led me to transition fully…so take what I have to say with a grain or two of salt.

    The whole question of telling others is interesting – as a transsexual, I didn’t have the option of not telling others. Like it or not, there is a period of time in transition where one becomes very, very public – whether or not we want to.

    As I prepared myself for the inevitable conversations with those I cared about most – family, close friends and so on – I agonized over each and every one of these revelations. Each for different reasons.

    The technique I found worked the best for me was to “script” the conversation with each of these people individually – imagining the various responses I thought I might encounter, and then thinking about how I might respond in turn. (without turning it into a shouting match)

    It took me a long time, and a lot of effort, but by the time I was ready to begin telling my story to others, I was pretty well prepared for the worst possible outcomes, and I was pleasantly surprised with the basically positive responses I did encounter.

    That said, a crossdresser has an array of options available to them that I did not. Do others even need to know about your crossdressing? Not everybody’s needs for expression oblige them to be public about it. How public are you now? … and what is the likelihood of someone who knows your parents encountering you ‘en femme’?

    One last question – are you prepared to be an educator? When I transitioned fully, I found myself uniquely in the position of being just that. In my company’s history, I was the first person to transition there – and I spent a lot of my time educating my peers about what it is to be transsexual. The more public you make yourself, the more this becomes something you will do, or you will pay the price for not doing.

    (as an aside – I am keenly aware of the divide that often exists between transsexuals and crossdressers. Please accept my words in the spirit of sharing in which I offer them.)

    1. Thanks for chiming in with your advice, Michelle. :) You brought up an interesting point about how crossdressers can (and often do) keep things in the closet whereas transsexuals do not have that option. For anyone coming out, proper planning or “scripting” is a very wise decision in preparation before having the talk.

      The question posed by this visitor is short, simple, basic, and very common among young crossdressers who are still living at home with their parents. I hoped that more people might offer their stories of how they came out to their parents – either while still living at home, or after moving out. The advice offered will be helpful to “Anonymous” and many others who find their way to this post in the future.

  2. I think it depends on why you are considering telling them. As has been pointed out it opens a lot more than it closes. If you are telling your parents because you want their acceptance of the whole you, then that is a noble ends and worth the journey to get there, or the journey to try to get there. You should know your parents well enough to have maybe just an inkling of what there reaction will be.

    However if you are not planning to share that part of your life with your parents all it will solve is the getting caught part… it will not make things easier in the short term or even in cases the long term. It is possible that it is more rewarding, or at least more definitive.

    But it is more about your motives as to how things will turn out. If you are looking for the easy path not to stress over getting caught, I don’t believe that is the right direction. If you are looking to share yourself and your entire life with your parent, then you should plan how you are going to do it in the gentlest possible way.

    Good luck to you either way.

  3. Erin: You’re right. I tried to hide it from mom and she asks stupid questions about: Do you like boys? and then ends with CD is a mental disorder.

    Gabi: I think it is good to speak out for yourself when your parents are trying to convert you. For me, I was born a girl but now decided to crossdress, but my mother doesn’t approve of it because she believes sick people dress up in opposite sex’s clothing. She even discussed with my Psychiatrist and said she doesn’t approve of it either. How should I explain to my mother that I don’t want to be institutionized for being a crossdresser yet being the crossdresser at the same time? I’m 24 years old FTM CD and I can’t wait into I move into my own living space.

    1. Xeno Agape – I’m sorry to hear that you’re taking flack from your parents for being a FTM crossdresser. Their concern and disapproval is unfortunate but understandable, in context of most people tend to be naive about this kind of thing and misinterpret what it means. The good news is that there certainly isn’t anything wrong with you because you’re a FTM crossdresser. As I’ve said many times, and most mental health care professionals understand, the line of “masculine” and “feminine” traits/tendencies is not drawn down the middle based on one’s genitals, period. That is a human-invented concept that has only been popular in recent centuries.

      I am a bit surprised to hear that your psychiatrist has expressed disapproval, unless there is more to their objection than the limited information presented in your comment. I don’t believe that you can be institutionalized for simply being a crossdresser, so unless there other significant factors in facing such a possibility, I wouldn’t worry about that.

      It is probably in your best interest to start working toward your own freedom and secure your own residence, provide for yourself, etc. You need the freedom to live your life as you choose.

      Your parents may have a difficult time thinking of their daughter in a masculine light, but with patients and education (about the realities of crossdressing as opposed to the vast misunderstandings), you may be able strengthen your relationship with them and gain acceptance. It’s not always possible to open people’s minds about things that are so foreign or undesirable to them, but maybe you can at least reach a middle ground at some point.

      Generally, I encourage people to be who they feel they truly are rather than try to live by the standards of others. It’s not easy going against the grain of popular social “norms”, but your chances of being happy and content in life are much better if you allow yourself to BE yourself rather than try to live a lie just to please others.

  4. Well, after 10 years crossdressing, and getting good at it, I decided to share this with my Mother. She was always a fashion plate, I would watch her do makeup for hours every morning, all that. She was such an influence as far as making it look fun to dress up. I was always an artist and consider a lot of this to be artistic expression, but the makeup is my paint and my body, the canvas.
    The thing is, my Mom has always said how being gay or “drag queens” are no big deal, she thinks that “drag queens” are great and often look more beautiful than Women. She has no idea that there is any difference between CD/TV/TS, etc.. to her they are one and all just brash and vulgar like a foul mouthed drag queen host of a bachelorette party, which is probably her only exposure to that world at all. A few years ago she asked me if I am gay. I was in a marriage for 20 years at that point, and in my mid 40’s. So I told her the absolute truth- No, I am not gay. Not even in the slightest. SHE was the one that had started the conversation about my real Father, mentioning that she suspected him of being a CD since she caught him in her underwear once and it made him “very excited”.
    So, I get brave and want to be open with her. And her contrived view of the world comes out, she sums it up as me being ‘narsisstic enough to wear makeup and hang out in gay bars”. And she is disgusted and needs “down time for a few days”. I have been through trauma lately, healing from a badly broken leg andd only walking for a couple of months now, been out of work, about to lose my home… things one might want to take an evening to escape from.

    I Love my twin identity and will never stop letting her out to play, and will also be very open about it with possible romantic conquests. I want nothing to hide. I just never thought that the most explosive reaction of resistance would be from my Mother.

    Just throwing this out there for others to consider, or for help and direction. I feel gut punched for like the fifteenth time recently… Don’t know how much more I can take. Being honest was all a part of being the new me.

Comments are closed.