“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~ Unknown
Why do crossdressing men seek out other crossdressing men? A spouse or girlfriend may say that, “it’s bad enough to have to deal with one man in a dress. Now, you expect me to be with you dressed as a woman in a sea of guys dressed as women?” Yikes! Partners, please understand that if your crossdressing partner has enough confidence and courage to step outside the closest and venture outside the home, they may want to seek out others like them. The desire to find acceptance in any social setting is an inherent human trait, not just relegated to crossdressing men.
Sports lovers commiserate with complete strangers in a pub over their favorite team’s win, loss, or great play. They have the love for their team as common ground—something to bond over. From sporting events to bowling alleys to knitting circles (yes, knitting circles), we all gravitate to people and events where we find comradery and acceptance. And, why wouldn’t we? Acceptance for our interests and for who we are is definitely something the human psyche would be drawn to.
Can you imagine it? A room full (probably a bar, am I right?) of men in varying degrees of dresses, blouses and skirts, gowns, stilettos, garters… it’s almost too much for the casual observing passerby to accept! So, instead of dealing with one crossdressing man, you are overwhelmed by a gaggle of gurls chatting and fawning over each other’s hair, makeup and outfits. I am including an outsider’s perspective as it helps to illustrate how many cis-people would see this turn of events.
Is there an issue with crossdressing men gathering in a public place to express themselves? Unfortunately, society (and the fears of reprisals by others) keeps many men from having an honest relationship with their partners. The secret of their crossdressing from their loved ones keep them in the closet (ugh—not a fan of that phrase) and allow them only specific outlets outside the home to express their femininity in a safe environment. I have heard tales of girls walking in their subdivisions, but only after dark. Other stories include taking their feminine identities with them on the road when traveling for work, or extending hours away from home in order to have an hour or two to feminize themselves. Or, if the partner is away, time can be allotted at home to simply relax in feminine attire.
As with anything, people tend to flock to others who share a passion for what they do. The meet-up apps are very popular in bringing people and their interests together. Banding together with other crossdressers serves a couple purposes. First, the crossdressing man finds a safe space to express his feminine presentation or identity. He is mostly free from gawking or judgmental onlookers, instead surrounded by like-minded individuals and admirers. And, because he is in the midst of his beautiful people, he feels appreciated and brings us to the second reason why crossdressing men flock to the frocks. It is one thing to feel safe to express oneself. It is an altogether different need to be validated in that presentation.
Validation of the feminine self takes many forms. Many enjoy being complimented about their presentation; soaking in praise for their flawless make-up, dress, heels, or jewelry. Others look for validation by physical contact. In a world where a man is loved and has intimate contact with their loved ones, it is an odd experience to not have that same level of contact as their female counterpart. There is a vacuum of appreciation, emotional fulfillment, and support that usually comes with the fissure of defining oneself as both a man and a woman. Why would any person subject themselves to an environment where they are unloved or where they feel outward disdain? We all typically gravitate to surroundings where there is appreciation and approval. Sure, some of us like confrontation and debates, but usually in an arena where there is shared respect.
If a crossdresser doesn’t or can’t have appreciation at home for their female identities (either because it is still secret, or the partner doesn’t want to interact with that identity), they may seek that kindness elsewhere. Partners or loved ones, imagine a relationship where you love your “man” with all your heart. You see him and hold a respect and passion in your heart for him. Now, imagine that you see him dressed as a woman (assuming you have discussed his female persona previously instead of this time being a discovery or admission). What do you feel for “her”? You don’t see “her” in the same way. You don’t love “her” like you love “him”. In fact, you may shy away from any interactions because you feel you can’t wrap your brain around why there is a “her” in the first place. From your point of view, you see two separate halves, distinctly separated by gender. From your crossdressing man’s point of view, he is the same person (in cases where there isn’t a psychological notion of separate personas) staring back at you, whether from behind “his” glasses or from behind “her” mascara and eyeliner. The crossdresser sees his partner with the same attraction and love as always, regardless of how “he” dresses. The partner sometimes can’t see beyond the makeup and clothing and fails to understand that they are cleaving their partner in half emotionally. They love the man… but tolerate the woman. The crossdresser wants to be loved the same, regardless of outward dress. To be scorned for part of him is disheartening and a perceived rejection for the complete person they are. It is a rejection of the female part of who he is, in spite of the fact that, for the majority of crossdressing men, the sensitivity and care they bring to the relationship as a man in, in part, influenced by their feminine sensibilities.
So, to bring the conversation back to the second reason why crossdressing men flock to the frock is because, in that environment, they can find the emotional support that they feel they are lacking in their personal lives. There was one story from an adolescent woman who said that her only way to find that solace and acceptance as a woman was to seek the affections of men as an escort. This was an extreme measure taken by a transgender individual to find the acceptance and emotional fulfillment they felt they needed to validate their existence. Not all crossdressers require that level of validation, but it’s an extreme example of the psychological underpinnings of the human condition. Most men and women are accepted and loved for the person they present to the world. Imagine being accepted for only half the person you are, while being ostracized for the other half.
One last point on the subject of seeking others for acceptance. The opinion of acceptance should start at oneself. Finding validation from others, while sometimes important, should not be the only way a positive outlook on life is obtained. Transgender people struggle with gender dysphoria, sometimes loving and sometimes hating who they see in the mirror. They struggle in their contentment of their body and wonder if they will ever be happy with their gender presentation. When they struggle, they reach out to others who can commiserate with their mental plight. Unconditional love (with better understanding) can go a long way in the search for a balance that works for the crossdresser and their loved ones. We hold people we admire and love in high regard and esteem… sometimes not realizing that even the highest of self-esteem can be derailed by a constant barrage of apathy, indifference, and hate.
I would love to hear your thoughts on coping with gender dysphoria, your level of need for outside acceptance and validation, and any stories or anecdotes that could help other crossdressing men or cis-partners better understand how we see the world–and ourselves.