The All-New Ralph In A Dress 2.0

Can you believe I started this site 10 years ago? It originally came about because I’d get into discussions with crossdressers and when I described my nonconventional style choices they’d want to see examples. So I threw together a gallery of photos of my favorite dresses, skirts, and nightgowns. I also wanted a forum where I could rant all I wanted to about issues related to crossdressing, genderfluid, gender-nonconforming, and transgender (some of those terms didn’t even exist in common use when I started!)

Looking back on it, I’m embarrassed by what a narcissist I was. Who really wants to see a 50-year-old bearded man in a satin ballgown? Most of what I prefer to wear serves to feed some dark kink I can’t even begin to understand.

So on our 10th anniversary, I’ve decided to rip it all out and start over from scratch. I’ve removed the galleries, and when I have time I’ll go through the old posts and remove anything that’s not relevant to the direction I want to take this.

What direction is that, you ask? I want a home for men who like to wear skirts and dresses. I keep going out in search of a community where I can talk about what it’s like to keep pantyhose from ripping to shreds on unshaved legs, or fit into a dress that reveals a cleavage a guy with a flat hairy chest doesn’t have. With the exception of Skirt Cafe, there really isn’t such a place. All the crossdressing-friendly sites are geared towards either men who want to temporarily pass and feel “femme” while they are dressed (complete with female name and realistic artifical breasts) or transfolk who are at some stage in the process of permanently transforming into a woman.

Let me stress, I’m not being ironic or sarcastic when I say “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But that’s not what this site is all about. There’s also nothing wrong with being happy with your masculinity and wanting to be a guy whose clothing choices include stuff that is conventionally intended for women to wear. There just aren’t any sites for guys like us, and that’s what I want to create here.

So knock the old newspapers off my cluttered sofa, grab a beer, smooth out your skirt, and let’s talk about how hard it is to find ballerina flats in size 12-extra-wide or nightgowns with sleeves that go past your elbows. Tell me about some great places you’ve found to shop selling feminine styles that fit a husky dude. Talk about how our wives deal with our weirdness, or (if you’re younger) your parents.

As soon as I can figure out how to set up discussion forums, we’ll have us a fine old man-cave. Just don’t be surprised if the cheap walmart furniture includes pink throw pillows with beer spilled on ’em. Hey, I’m not your maid.

 

Posted in 10th anniversary, crossdressing, it's a guy thing | Leave a comment

For young crossdressers who are confused and scared

I started to write this as a private response to a young person expressing concern about why he likes to dress this way and how it affects his social life, but then I figured maybe there are others who stumble across this site in search of answers.

First, the quick summary: You aren’t alone, and there’s nothing dangerous about your compulsions (depending on how you act on them). There’s a good chance that you are neither gay nor transgender. Maybe you are, and that’s fine too, but don’t just *assume* you are transgender just because you don’t act like what society tells you a man should be like. You could very well just be a man who happens to like doing and wearing things that historically have been reserved for girls, but that doesn’t in and of itself make you a girl.

Now, my own story: A family friend who was often my babysitter had to leave suddenly while I was very young, and it was a huge trauma for me. Up to that point, she doted on me constantly, made me feel safe and loved, and losing her left me broken for years afterwards. We moved to a distant city, and life went on… until I happened to run across a box of her things that somehow stayed with us when we moved. It included some tights and a fur-lined satin winter coat. By then I was 7 or 8, still smaller than she was, but they fit me OK if a bit loosely. I have no idea what compelled me to put them on!

That moment changed me forever. It was like bringing a piece of her back to me, or perhaps it seemed like if I couldn’t have her with me, I could transform into her for a moment by wearing her clothes.

I was what they called a “latchkey” kid in the 70s – both parents working, my older sibings with jobs and on the cusp of moving away from home, so I had the house to myself for hours every day and a relentless curiosity. I discovered my mother’s lingerie drawer and found that her girdle was pleasantly snug at its smallest fastening, like having a satiny hug all over my body. Sometimes I would wear it under my t-shirt and jeans when I went out to play, and one day while I was doing this a friend stopped by on his bicycle to chat. That’s when I learned the dark side of what I was doing: If my friend knew what I was wearing, usnpeakable horrors would ensue, I just knew it. I would be mocked and ridiculed and likely beaten to a pulp by every bully in the city. So I made my excuses and hurried back inside, and over the years learned to be more careful about when and where I experimented.

I spent a lot of time watching TV in those days, and girls looked different back then. Rarely any trousers for them, always long dresses and pleated skirts. And wow, the prairie dresses on Little House on the Prairie rocked my world! I so wanted a calico dress from neck to toe with ribbons and ruffles on it like Laura Ingalls wore. I still do, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find one with a 46 inch waist.

All the while I explored and experimented in secret, I also obsessed over my sanity. What was wrong with me? Was I gay? Was I insane? Was I meant to be a girl trapped in a boy’s body like Renée Richards who was in the news at the time? We didn’t have the internet for quick research, nor was there any easy way for me to find others like myself. I didn’t even know there were others like myself. I had to find books on abnormal psychology in the library that defined “transvestic fetishism” as a disorder best treated by shock aversion therapy.

It wasn’t just the dressing; I just didn’t act like a boy in many ways. I was physically inept, no strength or agility or stamina. So I was excluded from sports, unable and unwilling to defend myself in a fight, socially awkward because I used juvenile humor as a defense against my physical inferiority, afraid of confrontation, prone to crying easily for no apparent reason… all of which added up to also not having any kind of female companionship or romantic interest as I got into my college years. I was a virgin until age 22.

By that time I had learned to mask some of my more eccentric characteristics. I came across as funny but sweet, and latched onto a girlfriend who found that attractive. I even came out to her a bit – I wore her leotard as a joke (or so she thought), and sometimes an old-fashioned dress… always as a joke, just kidding around, ha ha.  We broke up soon after, and I drifted deeper into a confused world of crossdressing and sexual confusion… until I got married.

I somehow once again managed to present myself as a more or less normal man long enough to convince a young woman who was also a bit flaky to marry me. We are still married and have some wonderful children, and it was only after we were engaged that I was finally convinced that I am fully male, inside and out. This, my anonymous young friend, is the part I wanted to tell you.

Sex was great! I never wanted anything else but to be a man having wild, ecstatic sex with a woman, and now more than 20 years later I still feel that way. What’s more, she accepts me for who I am, weird clothes and all. Before we married, I told her something I had never told anyone else in my life: I can’t stop wearing dresses. I made it clear that I very much identify as a man, I had no interest in becoming a woman, but I couldn’t stand to wear trousers. She finds it a little weird and perhaps a bit unsettling, but she accepts that we both have some quirks that we put up with in each other because that’s how love works.

A few parting thoughts for you:
First, don’t despair of finding the perfect match. Look for unattached people who share your interests, join an online dating service, whatever. Because our personality type is a bit off-center, it may very likely take you much longer to find someone who can handle you. That’s fine.

Second, don’t hide who you are from the person who will spend the rest of your lives together. You may not be comfortable letting the public, or even your parents and best friends, know about the crossdressing. Bringing it up on a first date may be more than she’s ready to handle. But once you’re sure she is “the one”, once your mate has every reason to know that you care about her and want to make her happy, don’t go into marriage with such a huge secret. I pretty much followed my proposal with my confession in the same conversation, leading up to it gently: “Before you say yes, there’s something else you should know about me… that time I dressed up for Halloween isn’t the only time I do that stuff. It’s a part of me that I have lived with for my entire life, and I don’t want it to be a secret between us. If that bothers you, I understand… but know that I love you with all my heart and I want to do anything I can to make you happy.” Something along those lines, anyway.

Third, don’t obsess too much over analyzing yourself. I know there’s something deeper than “I feel more comfortable in a dress than in trousers”, because I don’t just wear any random thing off the women’s side of the store and call it good. I am attracted to specific types of dresses, mainly overly-feminine, old-fashioned styles (remember Laura Ingalls!). That scratches some psychological itch I don’t understand, and after 50 years I just don’t care enough to explore it any further. If you want to see a shrink about it go for it, but I doubt you’ll get any answers that satisfy you.

Finally, never ever let your compulsion control you to the point that it harms your relationships, or job, etc. It’s like alcohol: A little bit once in a while to help you relax is one thing, but if you get to the point that you can’t stop thinking about your next drink, you miss work or social/family obligations, you lie to cover up your activities, you even commit crimes to get more of what you desire… then it’s a major problem that will leave you alone, unwanted, dead, or in jail. So if you find yourself lying to your wife, stealing her clothes and wearing them without her permission, shoplifting, avoiding time you could spend with family and friends, missing work, etc. just to satisfy your need to wear that special something… that’s when it’s time to get help.

If you still have questions or concerns and you don’t want to discuss them here in the comments, feel free to email me on the Contact Me tab at the top of this page. Of course any private communications are your property and I will never share them with anyone else.
Ralph!

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Confronting the Kink

I have had six decades to get to know myself, and in that time I have explored, rejected, and re-evaluated a number of self-diagnoses regarding what I do and why I do it.

In my teen years, I just assumed I was the stereotypical “woman trapped in a man’s body”. There seemed to be no other explanation for the fact that I was drawn to wearing dresses, my complete lack of physically aggressive traits or skills (e.g., terrible at any and all sports), my submissive nature that fears confrontation, my submissive nature in relationships, etc. But an active sexual relationship with my girlfriend drove away any doubts on that part: I discovered that I really liked being a man, having sex with a woman. So labels like “crossdresser” don’t really work to well: That usually (but not always) implies an attempt to look like the opposite sex. With my beard, hairy arms, and strong jawline that’s not going to happen, nor do I want it to. As noted above, I’m also most definitely not transgender or transsexual. “Nonbinary” comes closer, except it seems to suggest more a rejection of any traditional gender identity. Again, I’m perfectly happy identifying as a man so that’s not it either. Lately I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of “gender nonconforming”: Yes, I’m a man but I have some characteristics that society has traditionally associated with women. It’s not so much a spectrum (“On a line from 0 at fully male to 100 at fully female, you’re 33% female”). More like a lá carte, where I just randomly got traits from all over the map.

20 years later, settled into a comfortable married life with a wife who, while not especially enamored of my odd clothing choices is at least tolerant without complaining or crtiticizing, I look for other explanations. If I’m not meant to be a woman, then why do I do this?

I rejected the idea of a fetish early on. For one thing, there is little or no sexual element to either my choice of clothing or my response to wearing it. Sure, back in my teens I’d get an erection… but boys are wired to get excited at pretty much anything, so there wasn’t necessarily a direct cause-and-effect correlation between wearing a dress and getting aroused. Nowadays, that doesn’t happen at all.

And yet… it’s not as simple as wanting to wear dresses. If that’s all I cared about, I could be like my friends at Skirt Café who wear skirts and dresses which, while obviously designed for women, are more or less mainstream in contemporary society. Lose the beard and they’d blend in with thousands of women all around them.

But that’s not what I prefer to wear. I’m drawn to the excessively feminine styles of bygone eras – Victorian or even Elizabethan gowns with layers and puffy sleeves and high collars and gigantic skirts; the modest full dresses of the Mennonites and pioneer women; satins and velvets and ruffles; Peter Pan collars on blouses that button in the back; skirts so long you have to lift them up to walk down stairs. And sometimes, in the hidden secret shadows of my mind, there’s an attraction to Lolita-style fashion that I push back against and reject every time the thought pops into my head, because that’s kinky and I’m not a kinky person. Or so I keep telling myself.

Am I? I have a few random theories as to why I’m attracted to the old-fashioned feminine dresses. You don’t have to stay around for all of this. I’m mostly writing it out for my own benefit to (yet again) try to get a better understanding of who and what I am.

One possibility is that I’m trying to return to the era of my childhood. In the 1960s, girls wore those full, frilly dresses. Women, not so much – they had their miniskirts and all, but the girls my age still dressed like Laura Ingalls. In fact, I loved watching Little House on the Prairie because I totally loved those pioneer dresses. I was jealous of the idyllic life those girls led. I was constantly mocked and berated by my peers for my weaknesses. I couldn’t defend myself in a fight; I couldn’t kick or throw or hit a ball in a straight line; I cried easily. But the girls! The girls just had to look pretty and read books and play make-believe games, and I wanted more than anything to be a part of their world. Of course I could not, but I fantasized about it.

Another possibility is my submissive nature. The clothes I like to wear come from a time when women were expected to be docile, and the clothing somewhat enforced that: A girl wearing a big billowy dress with skirts down to the ground can’t be expected to run or climb or fight, so (in my mind) if I dress like that I also can’t be expected to do those things.

The pressure of expectation to be a strong man has always scared the daylights out of me. When the world was too much for me, when I was frightened or sad, I just wanted to be coddled and protected (over the years in my fantasy life, my protector became a strong, dominant woman). Wearing pretty clothes could be my way of retreating into my fantasy world where I can be weak and protected, while someone else makes everything all right.

One last thought relates to a beloved relative who took care of me when I was so small I don’t even remember much about her. She thought I hung the moon, and she brought so much sunshine and happiness to my life (I mostly know this from descriptions that my mother gave me years later). We had to move away and I never saw her again, but sometimes I wonder if in some forgotten corner of my memory I’m trying to dress like her to be closer to her.

The end result is, the things I choose to wear scratch some deep psychological itch that I can’t explain. Maybe one of those ideas above, maybe all of them combined, maybe something else I don’t know about because it’s buried where my subconscious can’t reach it.

Posted in crossdressing, psychology | 3 Comments

Transgenderism Encourages Rigid Gender Stereotypes

This is what I’m always on about. The problem with gender identity is that it’s largely based on a social construct of what it means to be “male” or “female”.  If I am biologically male but I believe my gender is female, what is it about me that makes me feel female on the inside? What defines the difference between feeling male and feeling female?

Much of it, I am convinced, relies on what society tells us are the requirements to be male or female. Look at those gender identity tests such as COGIATI and SAGE, which ask you a series of questions about your personality traits and abilities to score how masculine or feminine you are. Answer with too many “girly” answers, and you’ll be told that you are a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with or without sex reassignment surgery (SRS).

So these tests, and others like them, assume that if you are good at math you have the mind of a boy; if you are good at reading facial expressions you have the mind of a girl. I have battled this for years, almost believing it when I was younger and let other people tell me what to think. I like to wear dresses; I tend to be more nurturing and sympathetic than my male friends; I cry more easily; I prefer games and leisure activities that involve the mind more than the physical body (i.e. roleplaying games and puzzles). I even enjoy singing show tunes. To this day people in the transgender community tell me I’m just denying the truth that I am transgender, that I must have a strong inner desire to be a woman, that I’d be so much happier if I’d admit that I’m really a girl and go all the way with surgery.

To them I say, poppycock. I love being a man. There is nothing about my nonstandard traits that says by law I must be a woman. What kind of backward century do we live in where men and women are forced into rigidly defined rules for how they must behave?

So I can fully sympathize (another “females only” trait) with this young lady who is perfectly happy being the girl she was born as, who happens to choose doing things that society insists are activities for boys. You go, girl!

Lisa Selin Davis: My Daughter Is Not Transgender, She’s A Tomboy

Posted in psychology, transgender | 3 Comments

Crossdressing Under the Sea

An unexpected place to find crossdressing humour is Jim Toomey’s excellent comic strip Sherman’s Lagoon.


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If I Were a Toy

A user on Skirt Cafe mentioned a TV commercial running in the UK about a boy fantasizing what he could do if he were a toy. Among other toys, in a brief scene he finds himself wearing a pink dress for “queen of the land” and waving at adoring subjects before moving on to more traditional boy activities.
ifiwereatoy
I love the perplexed look on his face, as though he’s thinking “Why on earth am I in a dress? Oh well, might as well make a go of it and see what happens!”

Posted in comics, crossdressing, humor | 1 Comment

Her Boyfriend’s Hemline

You know your blog is getting stale when it’s over a year between new posts.

Anyhow, I recently discovered the hilarious new(ish) comic strip by Norm Feuti about life in retail sales. Today’s strip hit rather close to home for me:
retail-20160928-hemline

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I’m looking for a comfortable dress and everything is knee length or shorter. Of course just finding something in my gargantuan size in the first place is a struggle, so beggars can’t be choosers.

Posted in comics, crossdressing, humor | 2 Comments