The thing women must do to rise to power is to redefine their femininity. Once, power was considered a masculine attribute. In fact, power has no sex.
Recently, I was reminded about something I had written about and exposed to on many occasions… but had forgotten about completely. I have spent much of my Savannah time away from crossdressers, interacting with the larger LGBTQ world and the general public over the last two years. I have been focusing on my personal evolution as Savannah, maturing her presentation, expression, and spirit. While I have written about different types of crossdressers—see the Types of Crossdressers section from the “Living with Crossdressing” books, such as Escape Artists, Dressing to Destress, Tactile-ticians and Weekend Warrior Princesses—I had truly forgotten about the differences between emoting masculine energy or feminine energy while crossdressing.
When I dress as Savannah, I become softer in movement and comportment. My voice, while not vocally trained to sound completely feminine, is softer than when I am presenting as a male. I instinctively make my frame smaller and less imposing. I walk differently—partially because of how the heels force a different gait in the legs and hips. I reach out to touch people’s arms and hands more. I might even actively listen more. Yeah, I know, it’s a crazy thought, right?! For me, my feminine expression is exactly that… a feminine expression. The body briefer or panties, hose, dresses and heels empower me. The exacting makeup and hair “power me up”, like Doku in ‘Dragon Ball Z’. Savannah is not a costume I wear, but an entity… an individual I express. Of course, Savannah is always a part of who I am and how I conduct myself in public and in private, but her physical manifestation brings her up to the forefront.
Many crossdressers express themselves as Savannah does. They, also, become softer and smaller, taking on a more feminine form. Others use the act of dressing as an outlet for stress relief, escapism, or the simple fact of loving how the feminine clothes feel against their bodies and makeup looks on their faces. And, I know there are so many other varied reasons why men dress up in dresses. For many, the act of dressing is more confined or concentrated to the physical act itself. Their outward personalities do not shift into a more feminine effect. They do not affect the more stereotypical softness and demeanor of the socially accepted female gender. Simply put, they are men in dresses.
To see them at a local restaurant, museum or other public space, or, even at a gun range, these men dress in flowery dresses and wear their heels, makeup and wigs, but act masculine. I know I do not try to affect a feminine voice, but many around me have said they didn’t notice my voice as sounding masculine. When you see these men in dresses in public, they may have more booming, boisterous masculine voices. It might be jarring upon second glance after seeing them as women to, then, hear them. Their comportment may or may not be feminine as they walk by or sit and chat at a neighboring table.
I was temporarily tempted to pass judgment on “men in dresses” because they don’t act like I do when I become Savannah. This is a weakness that most people have. We all judge each other… all the time… each and every day. We have a need to categorize things into simple and neat little boxes. And, when we do so, our judgements are usually not categorized in the most positive light. I do not understand the reason to wear a dress and NOT act more feminine. It is just the way I am wired to behave. For “men in dresses”, the simple act of dressing is all they need. They go about their business, go out in public, and lead normal and productive lives however they are dressed. To judge them for how they conduct themselves is to invite the same criticism for myself. Each of us has our reasons for dressing. And, just because they do not adhere to the same way I approach my feminine presentation, does not mean that their feminine expression is any less valid.
As I have written in my second book, “Living with Crossdressing: Discovering your True Identity”, we are comprised of several factors making up our core being—biology, gender identity, gender expression, gender pronouns, sexual attraction, and romantic attraction (as well as so many other nuances, of course). While the above factors are sympathetic and symbiotic to each other in many ways, they do not rely on each other to be productive or apparent. A man can have a male and female gender identity, while presenting mostly as a man. A presentation in feminine garments does not have to elicit a more feminine form of outward expression of body movement or composure. These concepts are all on a sliding scale. Even within the single concept of gender expression lies the components of potential expression (clothing and makeup) and kinetic expression (movement, demeanor and comportment).
Let us take a closer look at gender expression in its potential and kinetic modes. As we have been discussing throughout this article, there can be an associative or a dissociative connection between the visible presentation and an emotive presentation. Some are happy simply to don the clothing in order to feel more feminine through tactile sensory means. It may be the idea of wearing the feminine clothing. It may be the materials against the skin or the compressive and constrictive nature against the body. Maybe, it is even the simple fact of achieving that feminine head-to-toe look. For others, the clothing contains even more power. The clothing, to them, empowers them to truly represent the feminine spirit that is part of their dual gender identity. In this way, there is a more tightly-entwined correlation between gender identity and gender presentation. For me, I walk more feminine, I comport my frame in a smaller, more compact, way. I do not go as far as changing the octave of my voice or shaving my forearms when dressed. I have been told, on occasion, that my voice does not sound all that masculine during conversations as Savannah. I, also, have had to come to terms with the fact that shaving my forearms or wearing long French-cut press-on nails is not necessarily needed to affect the femininity I want to achieve. The image I was trying to achieve in a “potential” way is outshined by my “kinetic” feminine spirit. Each new day, I continue to better understand the facets of my specific gender presentation with each moment of self-reflection. Sometimes, reflection is more than just what you see in the mirror.
We are always being judged for our presentations, as stated before, by those around us. Crossdressers feel this, possibly, more so than others, as we worry more about passability as women and being “clocked” in a negative way. Do we fit the socially accepted masculine or feminine construct outlined for us? Do we need to fit into the neat little boxes defined for those constructs in order to be successful and content with our own gender identities? Should we care? Should we be, at least, self-aware of it? All interesting questions we need to delve into for ourselves in order to find out what works best for us.
Be your best self, regardless of the form you take!