Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.
~ Japanese Proverb
Fear is a great motivator. Fear is a great deterrent. It causes us to run, or to remain rooted to one spot in paralysis. Fear makes quick decisions, or makes no decisions at all. Fear stems from the unknown, from ignorance, from past experience, from one’s own perception of their own limitations, from the perceptions and perspectives of others. Fear is one of the most primal emotional forces that we have at our disposal… an instinct that is part of our genetic makeup in our ancient reptilian brain. But the fear of jumping back from a curvy stick in the tall grass that was mistaken for a venomous snake is a far different reaction than jumping back from a crossdressing man of which whom you mistook for a genetic woman (or a normal man).
What drives people to fear the crossdressing male? Are people so ingrained with the indoctrination of their faith, their upbringing, or generally accepted social constructs, that they forget about how their faith tells them to love each other, their upbringing tells them to be kind and good people, and the idea of society is to be social and accepting in order to build a better community? The guiding principles of religion, environment, and society that are successful are those that bring people together—not tear individuals down or segregate sects of communities apart. Addition makes things bigger; division makes things smaller. It’s simple math.
I have met many crossdressers who continue to live in fear from their own identifies because of a myriad of fearful reasons. I am not here to tell your that there is no validity to fear. Regardless of the truth of the magnitude of any fear, there is still a reason for it to exist. Many crossdressers fear that if they share themselves to their family or spouses, then they will be abandoned and looked at with disdain. Many crossdressers have their own shame in who they are because of the social pressures that dictates that they are “to be shunned”. So, they keep who they are a secret from those they love—to protect themselves and their own emotions, protect the sanctity of their relationships and networks, protect their jobs and financial futures, protect those they love from having to bear the brunt of this shameful knowledge.
So, for whatever reason, the truth is eventually revealed. It could take the form of an accidental discovery or a purposeful admission. It could take place weeks into a relationship or after several decades of marriage. The circumstance could be carefully planned out in a supportive and earnest environment or wrought with flared tempers and defensive posturing. However the truth is told, fear will typically play its part like a cloaked, scythe-carrying figure waiting for the final death-knell. The crossdresser fears reprisals, shaming, abandonment, and the dynamic of a relationship forever changed by the words, “I have to tell you something… I am a crossdresser.” But fear is multi-faceted and not relegated to only one party of any dialogue or argument. The spouse or family member being told of this—or receiving the confirmation of their suspicions—are filled with their own fears. Worries abound! The spouse or partner believes that to crossdress is to want to be become a woman. If a man dresses as a woman, they must have within them an attraction to the opposite gender—namely men.
I won’t tell you that all crossdressing men are the same in their reasons and wants for dressing. Some do it as a sexual fetish. Some are using crossdressing as a comfortable and confidence-building gateway to better understand that they may wish to transition in the future. Others have a psychological need for a form to escape to under extreme stress. All these reasons are valid. But there are always more facets out there for the reasons why a man desires to dress as a woman.
Most crossdressers are heterosexual men who need to express themselves as women. While there is a sexual or sensual component, most simply desire to present themselves as women in order to fulfill a need for feminine expression. This phenomenon has been described as dual genderism. Crossdressers are still labeled under the transgender banner, but most do not consider themselves transsexuals or transitioning men. Dual gender individuals have also been labeled as bigender (bi-gender), a gender identity that includes any two gender identities and behaviors. While transsexuals are becoming more accepted as more information is available and more high-profile individuals are telling their own stories on the topic, crossdressers and other dual-gender individuals are still misunderstood as to their reasoning and motivations. It’s easier in the new millennium to understand a black & white concept of a woman trapped in a man’s body (therefore needing to match their “brain” with the appropriate “body”) and the straightforward idea of sexual orientation (where a man can love another man, or a woman can love another woman). People are still dealing with misinformation and ignorance as it applies to a man who enjoyed both being a man and being a woman (on occasion), not willing or desiring a permanence in the gender opposite of their birth biology.
Fear is always around. Fear is an ingrained reactionary emotion designed in our biology when there is a fight or flight response. In less physically damaging events, fear is based on not understanding the situation at hand, being ill-equipped to process the situation, having misconceptions about what the situation represents, or bringing to the situation a pre-existing prejudice. Fear, in many cases, will only dissipate when there is full accountability of ourselves and the other person (taking stock) from both sides of the dialogue. A comedian once said that, “if you can’t argue the opposite side of a debate, you have no right to your own position.” [paraphrase]. You must understand the opposite opinion and position to truly be open to engaged and fruitful dialogue. The crossdressing man and their spouse fear the same things—loss of their world as they know it.
Loss of love – The CD wants to be loved by his wife as the woman he presents himself as, just like he receives love as a man from his wife. He wants to be accepted in his feminine presentation by the wife he loves. The wife needs to have her CD husband understand that she is not inherently attracted to his female persona, and that he should not expect the same level of intimacy.
Loss of life – The CD loses his family because the wife can’t accept his overt feminine presentation. The wife loses her family because the CD had lied to her about his feminine side. There is mistrust now as this revelation hangs over the relationship. Can the relationship survive this new knowledge? What about the kids? What if others found out? How can a wife defend her husband’s behaviors if she cannot rationalize it in her own mind? How can a CD husband explain something that he doesn’t even fully understand? What will others think (at the office, family, neighbors)?
Can love conquer fear? Can love conquer all? Is it fair that the crossdressing man’s wife is forced to accept the notion that her husband’s feminine endeavors are okay or normal? Is it so difficult for a wife to understand that gender is no longer strictly defined as male vs female? Can a man become a woman for a few hours at a time without being branded as wanting to transition fulltime? How long can a man present as a woman before they realize they want to become a woman? I don’t claim to know the universal truths, striving only to continue to ask the introspective questions and find the most honest answers as they apply to me. But asking the questions and seeking the answers doesn’t stop at my own mind’s threshold. You need to ask the questions as if you are your partner. As you expect her to understand why you want to walk a mile in her heels, you have to understand why she doesn’t understand why you would want the crushed toes and calluses that comes with wearing those heels in the first place.
See Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions for contrasting emotion sets.