Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private.
~ Joyce Meyer
“Why do you have to go outside?” my girlfriend has asked me. “Why can’t you be happy crossdressing at home? You know, here at home where it’s safe.” Her question is a very valid one. Why must I go outside the safety of my home in order to feel complete as my feminine self? The answer is not an easy one to explain. I know I have fumbled over the words just trying to find the right ones… the right words that would magically allow my girlfriend to understand why many crossdressers are driven to explore the outside world.
In a single word, validation. As human beings, we have an instinctual need to feel accepted. Sure, we can dress up to our hearts content behind locked doors and drawn curtains. But parading around in the home without any greater acceptance of who we are beyond ourselves is, in itself, an isolated and lonely affair. Many love to dress up simply to admire themselves in the mirror. For them, that is enough. For others, like myself, dressing at home can only validate our existence so far.
That our partner may accept and encourage the act of dressing within the home is a double-edged sword. There is gratitude in the level of their support for who we are. There is an excitement in the fact that we have permission or latitude to fulfill our needs to dress. But, with that support and permission, there is the fact that we may feel trapped in our home. In my case, I feel the practicality of staying indoors acts as a constant reminder that my crossdressing is still considered shameful—even if I don’t agree with that assessment. The fact of being relegated to the home means that I am not accepted out in the world. There is, indeed, the worry of safety when excursing outside the home, but there is a bigger worry of suffocation as the walls seem to close in around me.
I spend ninety minutes getting ready. To sit on the couch and watch television while dressed in a little black dress seems a waste. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Well, I have places to go. Using a level head and common sense, there are TG-friendly bars and venues that accept us for who we are. There are also more mainstream venues (restaurants, Starbucks, public parks, walking or driving around the neighborhood, etc.) that will also accept us. And, what I mean by accepting us is, 1) being ignored by others as normal, 2) get a smile from a barista, hostess, or wait staff, without a smirk of annoyance or distaste, and, 3) simply take in the feeling of being out in the world without being accosted or laughed at. Validation helps to build your identity. Whether as a crossdresser or not, the human animal is a social animal. We are psychologically triggered to pursue human engagement by interacting with others. Validation of who we are, how we feel, and who or what we represent is an important facet for the raising of self-esteem and self-worth.
Now, it seems absurd to believe that we won’t get chased out of town by villagers with torches and pitchforks. Sometimes, the longer you choose to stay within the confides of your four walls, the more real that assumption becomes. Fear of the unknown is fanned by the avoidance of facing it. In reality, as long as you present yourself in a manner that is appropriate for where you are going, most people in mainstream venues will not care about you. They have their own lives to live. They have their own drama unfolding. Sure, they may ‘see’ you, but if you disarm them with a smile or kindness, they will return to thinking about their own lives. We can be a curiosity or a novelty. Many may have not seen someone like us before. Own your identity with grace and confidence. The rest will take care of itself. If you’re mindful of your surroundings and keep your eyes open, you will be able to avoid potential pockets of stress and have a positive experience out in the world.