The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.
~ Albert Einstein
A crossdressing man told his wife recently that he didn’t feel any different when he dressed as a man than when he dressed as a woman. The wife scoffed and replied that she could see, absolutely, the changes that overcame him when he dressed in feminine clothing. A shift of perspective is a common occurrence for crossdressing men. In fact, I’ve faced similar questions from my own girlfriend.
Intellectually, I contend that I’m the same person regardless of whether I’m dressed as Savannah or not. I don’t suddenly change personalities when I put on make-up like a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde. I don’t “lose time” as I zip up my dress or fall under the influence of this “other” persona. There are, of course, some men whose moods differ drastically as they transition between their male and female presentations. Others use their female personas as a getaway from the stresses of their everyday masculine life. For me, while I feel that I am the same person in either identify, I will admit that I do undergo some changes when I’m dressed as Savannah.
Savannah is more comfortable getting out on the dance floor, cutting loose to almost any song. She is more obsessive about her appearance, working very hard to minimize the visible fat rolls on display even after the body shapers and corsetry have been put in place. There can be upwards of five wardrobe changes before she ever steps out the door. She presents herself more delicately, taking on the appearance of a smaller, more demure, frame. When she dresses, she feels more alive. Savannah is more apt to make physical contact with both men and women. Since Savannah’s male counterpart already lives life, he doesn’t have that sensation of being set free to enjoy a few hours at a time. Also, he is ready to leave the house in fifteen minutes for almost any event, quick to decide on one of his three dress shirts to wear. He likes to dance, but is self-conscious about how he might look while he’s out there. Together, they are both are outgoing, but tend to focus in on one or two people at a time to chat with. They would rather ask questions first before talking about themselves—but they are happy to share their successes and funny anecdotes. And, they both love a good blackened steak and wedge salad.
So, yes, there are both obvious and subtle similarities and differences between my male and female sides, but nothing that would be an utter departure from my collective core personality. When a man decides to take the time and effort to dress as a woman, there is always going to be a shift in perspective when the transformation is complete. Whether the feeling is one of calm, sensuality, or confidence, she will feel something different than when he is ‘normally’ dressed in his everyday clothes.
On the other side of the relationship, the same can be said for a crossdresser’s partner. For the most part, cis-partners haven’t entered into the relationship knowing or “fully” understanding what it meant to be a part of a duo with a crossdressing man. She thought she was dating or marrying a man, not a part-time woman. She may balk at the idea that her partner needs to dress in frilly outfits. Heck, she doesn’t even dress in anything that prissy. Her man may be under those clothes, but she had never been attracted to women in “that way”.
She certainly wasn’t anticipating having to shift her sexual preferences now. She may seem unsupportive or disinterested, but, in reality, she loves her mate very much. She worries about how he sees the world when dressed femininely. She worries that she needs to be the one to protect him from the effects of the pink fog—keeping him from to making questionable and reckless decisions. She needs to protect family and friends by hiding who he is, making sure to keep his secret locked away from children, parents, friends, or co-workers. Her knowledge of his crossdressing doesn’t necessarily allay her fears, but can heighten them. She fears his possible future transitioning into full womanhood, his possible need for validation from other “girls” or admiring men, or him being outed in an untimely way—all before she has had enough time to formulate how she herself feels about her crossdressing man.
When dressed as Savannah, my personal outlook on life and for the people in my life remains constant. I still see my girlfriend as the woman I love. I still want to hold her hand. I still want to hug and kiss her. She doesn’t see me as her boyfriend under my make-up and wig. She doesn’t recognize me—both a compliment and a disappointment. She has little physical attraction to Savannah’s feminine appearance. So, in this case, the shift in thinking comes from her. She sees Savannah, but doesn’t see me. That rejection is tough to endure sometimes, especially since I still look on her with the same love in my eyes as I’ve always had.
So, what have we learned? If we allow self-analysis, we know that there are obvious and subtle changes that occur when a man dresses as a woman. Heck, there are just as many mood changes when a crossdressing man doesn’t get a regular opportunity to express their feminine side! They may love getting dolled up and feeling sensual and pretty. They also may get frustrated and easily-angered when they are forced to keep their female side under wraps for too long—especially if the cause for having to wait falls outside their control (in these case, the crossdresser is unnaturally unhappy because of the stresses of the secret and being so deep “in the closet”). Dressing as a woman, for a crossdresser, is a moment of freedom that opens up our minds and spirits to their fullest extent. The Pink Fog exists because we want to breathe in as much as we can for as long as we can. It can be intoxicating. There is a change in mood, as simple as a general lift in happiness to a desire to strut around with the hopes of validating attention and compliments from others. Being a crossdresser, sometimes, is like being a teenage girl, each experience out of the house a brand new adventure filled with wish-fulfillment and euphoria. Once the high wears off—and it eventually will—what is left at the core is the amalgam of the feminine and masculine forms. Hopefully—with insight, patience, and understanding—a balanced individual will emerge who is happy and well-adjusted. The other side of that coin requires the crossdressing man’s partner to understand that their mates are still the person they fell in love with—just with a, sometimes, different wrapper.