I have always scoffed at men who wear women’s clothing and deny the label “crossdresser”. “That doesn’t apply to me,” they say, “because I only wear panties” or “I don’t dress to look like a woman” or “I only play at being a woman, but do not want to live like that full time” or “I’m really a woman on the inside, so when I wear a dress I’m wearing the correct clothing for my gender.” No, I tell them, you are a biological male who wears clothes intended for a female. Don’t run from the label; embrace it!
Now… I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly aware that what I do is crossdressing and I’m happy with that (whether it’s a destructive behavior and/or out of God’s plan for my life is a totally different issue I struggle with separately). But two conversations have made me more aware of labels and how they affect our lives, our behavior, and our relationships.
The first was from a church pastor who asked me if I like to dance, and I said yes. He then asked me if I’m a dancer, and I laughed hysterically. Not a chance! I dance very poorly; I’m no more a dancer than I am a brain surgeon.
The second was a conversation with a friend I know only through email and online gaming, who was a bit annoyed that it seemed like our crossdressing was the only subject we ever talked about. “That’s not all I am,” he said with some annoyance. And he’s right… it’s not even CLOSE to all I am. The point the church pastor was making was that the label that defines you tends to define your behaviors and the focus of your life. I am a Christian; I am a father; I am a husband; I am a computer programmer. All of those things are intrinsic parts of my daily behavior and personality, 24 hours a day. When I introduce myself, I’m likely to use one of those four labels depending on the social circumstances. Most of my conversations with people I meet are about those topics.
But would I introduce myself as a crossdresser, even among people who accept that lifestyle as natural? No. It’s not really an intrinsic part of me, and it’s not what I focus on or think about or care about day in and day out. Oh yes, I like the soft clothes and whenever we are not out in public or have visitors over I’ll have those jeans off and a nice dress or skirt on before you can say “Some Like It Hot”, but if circumstances forced me to stop dressing forever I’d live. I wouldn’t be real happy about it, but it wouldn’t ruin me as much as losing my children, or being cut off from God, or losing my wife, or losing my ability to work on computers would wreak terrible havoc on my life and my happiness. It’s not even the thing I talk about most when I’m in chat with other people who crossdress.
And the first step to changing your behavior, as that church guy said, is to change how you think about yourself.
So hi, I’m Ralph. Nice to meet you! I’m a computer programmer, married, father of grown children. On the side I also like to read, and sing, and dance, and watch movies, play computer games, and study the Bible… and oh yes, sometimes I also crossdress.