I would like to recommend the book, Transvestites and Transsexuals: Toward a Theory of Cross-Gender Behavior, written by Richard F. Docter, published in 1988. Before I talk about the book, let me give a warning. Don’t read this book without getting into a healthy state of mind first, and in a spirit of prayer. Because the book is so detailed and specific about crossdressers and crossdressing, there is definitely the possibility that you will be triggered to fantasize or crossdress. So I suggest that you read the book, but read it carefully.
This was an extremely informative book, definitely the most detailed book covering transvestism that I have ever read. The author, Docter, is not only a good researcher but he is extremely well read. There were hundreds of citations from all kinds of articles and books about crossdressing. Looking at the bibliography gave me the sense that he had read everything that could be read on the subject, and the bibliography gave me a lot to add to my future reading list. Docter analyzes just about every theory psychologists have had about what causes some heterosexual men to crossdress. He outlines different types of transvestites and transsexuals. He also has a extensive section about crossdressers and marriage, and how wives respond in various ways to the crossdressing addiction of their husbands. This part may be helpful to the wives in our community here.
Overall, his tone was very neutral. He seemed to be seeking for the truth rather than to try to reinforce any agenda. He stated how things really are with crossdressers from his own research and from other studies. Yet he never condemned crossdressers for doing what they do. While I obviously think crossdressing is more harmful and also sinful, perhaps unlike the author, I think the book is very helpful. This book can help you to understand yourself more deeply, which is at least interesting, but also potentially helpful as we look for ways to heal from these conditions we find ourselves in. What I found was that his book confirmed many of the posts I’ve already written. So I won’t say much more now, except to recommend that you read it.
I will conclude by sharing with you some of the very interesting quotes from the book. I’ll give my own comments about some of them:
1. In the words of a crossdresser: “For a lot of TVs the dressing and masturbation is a lot more enjoyable than heterosexuality … you have only yourself to think about and you can do the whole thing exactly the way you want to.” John sees JoAnn as a “playgirl without real-life worries … just enjoying the fun and pleasure … while John has to worry about relationships with people. But the biggest problem is that cross dressing has been the reason behind my breaking up all my relationships with people I’ve cared about. Girls want togetherness and I don’t. Mostly, I want to go out as JoAnn.”
I’ve written so much about this. Crossdressing, the fake woman, becomes an easy replacement to your wife, or to finding a real relationship with a real woman.
2. Through cross dressing and adoption of the woman’s role, there is the experience of role-relief and reduced anxiety. In place of the earlier fetishism, this behavior becomes a stress management tactic. This is highly reinforcing. Hence, cross dressing and crossgender living become resistant to extinction. 4. For unknown reasons, cross dressing and female role playing generate intense feelings of pleasure and delight unmatched by other sources of satisfaction. They come to occupy a uniquely powerful and persistent set of expectations. 5. There is a gradual “erosion” of masculine identity, perhaps a weakening of the self-system, as cross-gender behavior is rehearsed and reinforced for many years. This process of self-destruction of the masculine identity is especially worthy of more intensive study.
Crossdressing, by it’s very nature is a self-destructive process of your male identity and body.
3. He noted four motivational factors in heterosexual cross dressing: (p. 23) 1. Relaxation. The TV is motivated and reinforced by being able to break from his daily role routines and role demands. In his femi48 Chapter 3 nine role he is more able to express” … emotionality, sensitivity, playfulness, gracefulness and similar qualities …. ” 2. Role-playing. “A transvestite who goes out in public and passes as a woman gains a huge sense of achievement in enacting the role.” 3. Eroticism. Sexual pleasure is derived from cross dressing and they” … feel sexy and attracted to themselves.” 4. Adornment. Women’s clothes are said to be more attractive than men’s and to fulfill a ” … need for adornment.”
One of the things Docter does well in the book is on the one hand to show that crossdressing is primarily erotic, especially in the beginning, but on the other hand, that there is a lot more going on than simply eroticism. Even for me, I know that role playing, the need for adornment, and masculine role-relief also were factors.
4. The sexual acting out which defines the paraphilic pattern is seen as a defensive struggle representing an attempt to overcome the humiliation of this threatened masculinity and an attempt to convert the trauma of the past into an expression of erotically tinged mastery (Stoller, 1968a, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1985b, 1985c). Stoller places great emphasis on the high intensity of the mother-infant symbiosis in the months immediately following birth said to be observed in individuals with gender disorders who later manifest some additional form of paraphilic behavior. Stoller reasons that this intense emotional linkage may result in a later conflict between the urge to return to the peace of the symbiosis and the opposing urge to separate out as an individual, as a male, as masculi.ne” (1985c, p. 18). Such a person must struggle against showing any feminine attributes, thereby showing masculinity-even hypermasculinity-to oneself and others. Transvestism, and other paraphilic behavior, then, stem from feeling pressure from envy and anger toward women” (p. 18) who have contributed to this damaged sense of masculinity. Stoller (1968a) makes an excellent point about transvestism and masculine sexuality. The transvestite, he argues, cross dresses as a kind detour” maneuver in an effort to express his sexual feelings which are based on a masculine gender identity. We should not be misled, according to Stoller, just because the TV enacts the feminine role as a device to feel himself a more masculine person-that is, a more sexually fulfilled person.
The most interesting part of this quote is what he says about envy and anger. In talking to so many crossdressers, I have noticed that some of them (not all of them) alternate between envying women and hating them. I confess I don’t fully understand this dynamic yet, but this quote might be a start.
5. Much greater dependency is both tolerated and encouraged in girls than in boys. The process of growing up as a boy may be very stressful and demanding. Some boys appear to deal with this by developing very strong envy of girls who are seen as having it much easier, and as being more attractive and loveable. Envious feelings and subsequent identification with girls are frequently cited by transvestites as a reason for their initial experimentation with the wearing of women’s clothing, usually those of the mother or an older sister. For the boy who comes to believe that girls have it better and are more attractive and who therefore feels intense envy of girls, it may be a short step to actually try on clothing or makeup and thereby be a temporary “girl.” Betelheim (1962) has written of the “wounds” suffered by men who develop fear and envy of the femaleness of women. Women’s Clothing as “Forbidden Fruit” Young boys are typically given strong messages about clothing and gender conformity. Despite the contemporary acceptance of unisex clothes, most male youth are strongly socialized so as to wear only gender-appropriate clothing. For boys, this avoidance of cross-gender appearance is far more strenuously demanded than for girls. In our culture the undergarments of women have sometimes been referred to as “untouchables” -at the least, they are intimate clothing.
The subtle rules that govern the privacy of women’s underwear may be viewed by some young boys as barriers that guard these “un-touchables” thereby giving them a special fascination. This possible fascination with the forbidden may set the stage for attributing to this clothing a special significance with erotic coloration.
Similar to quote #4 about envy and anger, there is also a dynamic between envy and fear. For myself, I don’t remember being angry at women. But I definitely had fear of femininity and makeup. I’ve written about this before. I was afraid of feminine things, and maybe especially afraid of them inhibiting my masculinity in some way, and yet I was incredibly drawn to them as well, perhaps as forbidden fruit.
6. Some TVs report that they have risked possible detection while cross dressed only to wonder in quieter moments how they could possibly have shown such poor judgment and such a lack of restraint. For some, there seems to be a weakening of reality testing associated with being cross dressed. Perhaps the experience of heightened arousal and excitement which seems to accompany the transvestic experiences of some also involves a “suspension of judgment” as one TV put it. However, it appears very apparent that the ability to test reality is not lost, as it would be in a psychotic episode or in drug intoxication. Rather, there seems to be a temporary pushing aside of caution, restraints, and clear thinking about the consequences of actions. The hindsight, reflective evaluation of some cross dressers is often expressed as something like, “I don’t know how I could possibly have taken such a risk …. ” Unusual risk taking seems to be most common in the early years of venturing out in public while dressed. For example, one TV said: “When I first started going out as Irma I felt I had to do things I would never do today, such as going to the same coffee shop ‘dressed’ where I have lunch every day.”
If you spend any time reading forums about crossdressing or reading the blogs of crossdressers, you know that this issue of taking risks is real. In fact, just look at the stupid things you have done yourself. I know I have taken insane risks in the past against all my common sense and better judgment. The quotation doesn’t say this, but for myself I think part of it is what I would call a “sexual frenzy.” The sexual excitement is so intense that you are willing to do almost anything. And people can and do get caught, and they will experience the consequences of their actions. Let that be a warning to us.
7. These selected statements from wives point up the diversity of their reactions. The most frequent themes reported in our survey were feelings of surprise, distaste, uncertainty, confusion, and a fear that cross dressing must somehow relate to homosexuality. The point of this discussion, therefore, is that the sexually conventional or reserved wife is ill-suited to be transformed into a wife who can participate in the TV’s games of erotic cross dressing. The idea of having sex with a man dressed (to any extent) as a women probably will be very distant from her own ideal sexual script. But after the TV husband has emerged from his closet, shared his secret, expressed his feelings, and has pled for understanding, his next aim is to invite his wife to participate in some kind of cross dressing-related sexual activity. If we are correct about her attitudes, her conventionality, her needs, and her sexual script-the husband’s plan is doomed to failure. The end result of this mismatch may be his withdrawal of sexual energies from within the marriage; his other pseudowoman self will come to be preferred as a sexually exciting “partner,” always available, with everchanging variety and erotic enticements in harmony with his sexual script.
I didn’t share the quote, but Docter thinks that most men who crossdress seek out partners who are more stable and sexually conservative. This makes for a disastrous marriage as these are the very wives who would be less likely to find crossdressing an exciting deviation from an otherwise normal sexual routine. The result is that the crossdresser replaces his conservative wife with his crossdressed self, first through choosing himself over his wife for sexual pleasure, and finally through divorce and living as a false woman.
8. The importance of the mirror as a desired, even necessary, device deserves comment. As Buckner (1970) has noted, it is through the reflected image of the pseudowoman that the young transvestite develops his “partner.” Nothing more clearly provides a clue into the experience of the transvestite than does the mirror. The cross dresser never wants to perceive himself as his male self in the mirror; he wants to see images, stimuli, and many variations of his dream girl. The mirror offers him endless reflections of his ideal pin-up; the one “girl” who will never reject or disappoint; a predictable, reliable partner in the adventures of sex.
As I’ve written about before, the necessity of a mirror for crossdressers should get rid of any illusions or rationalizations that crossdressing is not sexual or not narcissistic.