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FAQs

Crossdressing topics

Much has been written about crossdressing and the resources on the Web are extensive. You've probably got lots of questions of your own, but if you're looking to us as part of your support system it's helpful to know how we feel about things, isn't it? So - here's what we usually get asked. You may find that some of these answers don't fit with what you know about yourself. That's okay; this is not a cookbook. Remember, this is your own life and your own pathway. Keep exploring, studying and questioning to make it truly your own. You wouldn't want anyone to judge you - make sure you return the favour.

Why do we do it?

There are a vast number of reasons, although of course everyone will have their own individual ones. Here are a very few we’ve heard of; some may strike a chord with you or someone you know:

  • Some crossdressers are fetishists who are sexually stimulated by certain clothing or objects.
  • Some people attribute their crossdressing to their parents dressing them as the opposite sex at an early age.
  • Some men have a strong sense of the feminine aspects of their personality and enjoy expressing it through dress and behaviour.
  • Female impersonators dress mainly to perform and most rarely crossdress offstage.
  • Drag queens often crossdress outrageously, usually to amuse or offend or to make a statement.
  • Cross-dressing prostitutes meet the desires of certain customers.
  • Genderbenders” and the more extreme “genderfuckers” enjoy the shock value of mixing male and female identities such as a beard and a miniskirt or evening makeup and a three-piece suit.
  • Some simply prefer the comfort, style, feel or variety of the clothes of the opposite sex; many women wear men’s clothes quite openly for these reasons.
  • Some enjoy the hobby and the craft of passing as the opposite sex.
  • Some religious ceremonies also have a symbolic crossdressing component.
Where’d you get the weird name?

cornburyHarrrummph! Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury (1661-1723) probably didn’t think it was weird! Although a great many of his contemporaries certainly thought he was! Born in England, he was appointed by Queen Anne as Governor of New York and New Jersey in 1701 for the British. The father of many children, Cornbury often dressed as a woman, once opened the government assembly “fully” representing Queen Anne, had his portrait painted in a low-cut gown and even attended his wife’s funeral dressed as a widow in mourning. He was a bit too much for the colonists to take, though, because they shipped him home in disgrace in 1708.

Some scholars are beginning to question whether the high gossip value and scandal potential of Cornbury’s habits may have overshadowed some of his very valuable leadership and legal innovations. The Lord Cornbury Scandal, by Patricia U. Bonomi, makes interesting reading.

Okay, so maybe he is and maybe he isn’t the greatest role model, but certainly had no qualms about dressing as he chose to!

Besides, it’s a cool name.

Isn’t crossdressing illegal?

Not in Canada per se. However, there are the usual laws against disguising yourself or impersonating other individuals for criminal purposes, regardless of whether they’re the same sex as you. Be aware, though that if you live elsewhere, your mileage may vary.

Cross-dressing is still a social taboo, especially for men. However, there are many safe, accepting places to go dressed and there are social clubs and support groups for crossdressers in most major cities.

You used to require that members be heterosexual males. Why the change?
The short answer: times change 🙂
So not all crossdressers are gay?

No. Regardless of popular assumptions, there is absolutely no established connection between homosexuality and crossdressing. While some crossdressers are gay, the majority like dressing as women for very different reasons than wanting to “catch a man”.

To be fair, in some homosexual relationships the roles are divided along stereotypical gender boundaries and clothing choices may enhance or underscore that – but your clothing preferences do not make you gay, nor do they indicate your sexual preference.

Turn it around: putting a gay man in a suit will not make him prefer women any more than putting a straight man in a dress will make him want men. Similarly, you can’t assume a man is straight just because he’s wearing a suit!

Is crossdressing harmful?

Trick question! Yes and no. The current social taboos against crossdressing can cause intense feelings of guilt and can harm or even destroy personal and family relationships. Cross-dressing can also become an obsession, and like any other obsession can grow to leave no energy or room for anyone else. A crossdresser’s partner may come to feel sexually threatened or inadequate.

However, many crossdressers who have come to accept their habit and who are in relationships with understanding, accepting partners find that their crossdressing can be a rewarding, enjoyable aspect of their lives. Many partners enjoy the company of their mate’s feminine side and don’t see it as a challenge.

What causes it?

The short answer: we don’t know.

The long answer: it depends on what crossdressing is for you. If it’s a fetish (you’re hooked on the clothes, the thrill of doing something illicit, the purely sexual charge etc.) then like any other fetish, we don’t know. You probably have a good idea about what turns you on and why, though.

If you feel there’s something else to it, like acknowledging your feminine side, expressing your real self and so on, then perhaps it’s an innate part of your personality wanting some uptime.

Either way, we believe it’s healthier to recognise and accept all of who you are and what you like, and express yourself in whatever ways that don’t hurt or exploit others.

How can I live with it?

This depends very much on your situation and personal beliefs. Even though crossdressing is not illegal in Canada, it may cut straight across the sexual values of your family and friends. On the other hand, it’s perhaps one of the least harmful or exploitative of all sexual unconventionalities.

Serious crossdressing can cost lots of time, energy and money. Whether you view it as a hobby or a lifestyle, make sure you budget for it. Respecting your family’s needs as well as your own goes a long way to maintaining trust, understanding and acceptance. The Cornbury Society’s “Significant Others” group offers support and a place to talk for spouses of and those involved with crossdressers.

Coming to terms with your (or your spouse’s) crossdressing can be an intense emotional experience. That can be a profound source of strength for you.

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