Labels and Identities

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.


About Ralph

Male. Straight. Married.
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7 Responses to Labels and Identities

  1. Ralph says:

    Thorin, thanks for visiting. I have enjoyed computer games since I played a text-only version of Lunar Lander on a massive teletype terminal to the university mainframe at a scout jamoboree in the 1970s. From there I went to classic strategy adventure games — the original Colossal Caves which eventually became Zork, and all the other Infocom games, as well as the Scott Adams series. I’ll play combat games if there is a personal connection, such as shooting up my son (more often getting shot up by him) in Call Of Duty, but I still prefer the strategy games — Civilization and Age Of Empires never get old! I tried Gettysburg, and it’s the kind of thing I *should* enjoy… but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. (EDIT: Oh, you were talking about the movie, not the game) And as I have written elsewhere, I spend too much time with Second Life — but that’s not so much a game for me as a social outlet, allowing me to meet and talk to interesting people from all over the world behind the safety of an anonymous computer interface, and allowing me to spend time dancing and playing with my wife unrestricted by her physical handicaps.

    My taste in movies runs all over the map, depending on my mood — more of that weird blend of male and female traits, eh? One day I’ll be laughing it up at some stupid, lowbrow comedy with my son, next day I’ll be sobbing at a Tom Hanks romantic comedy with my wife. Historical stuff doesn’t hold my attention unless it’s *extremely* well done and powerful — I just re-watched Gandhi for the first time in 20 years, and was blown away by the dedication of the man and his followers. If I had to pick a specific type of movie that can be guaranteed to hold my interest and get my applause, it would be anything from Pixar. I have loved Pixar’s work from the very first “Luxo, Jr.” short experimental film they did, back when it was unheard of for *computers* to be involved in the animation process.

  2. Pat Scales says:

    I just found your blog today. So far I like what I have seen. I think we are kindred spirits. I am a crossdresser. I basically present myself as a guy in a dress. I do not live in fools paradise and think that I can get out and pass so when I do get out I try to go to ‘T’ friendly places.

    I often use the ‘many hats’ analogy. I first used that concept when I had to eulogize my father 35 years ago. He was a great man, a father, husband, son, craftsman, little league coach, scout leader, card player, friend, etc. I have always seen myself as wearing many hats…father, husband son, for sure. i tend to try to move away from labels and towards activities. Today I may golf or ski or walk or crossdress. While engaged in those activities I may be considered a golfer (you can stop laughing at that any time you want) or a skiier or walker or cross dresser. No one thing that I do can possibly define the whole of the person that I may be.

  3. Ralph says:

    It’s great to meet you, Pat. I don’t know if you picked up on it from my other writing, but I actually belong to a conservative Baptist church and one of the subjects that comes up frequently is our identity as it reflects our actions (and vice-versa). By way of example the teacher says “Just because you like to sing, doesn’t make you a singer.” Applying the label suggests that {whatever} activity is more than just something we like to do, it’s a central part of our being. Is there a difference between a crossdresser and a man who likes to crossdress? To the same extent that there’s a difference between a singer and an accountant who also happens to enjoy singing, yes.

  4. polaris9885 says:

    First post on this wordpress so if it is messed up its operator error. If dancing or singing badly does not make you a singer or dancer then how can crossdressing badly by only wearing panties make you a crossdresser?

  5. DAChecker says:

    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!

    Nope, I kick it in the nads and say, “go away,” to it. 😉 If you accept the notion of gendered clothing, it is hard to reject the term “crossdressing,” otherwise it simply doesn’t apply to reality. If there is no women’s clothing, there is no crossdressing. I accept a style being called feminine, but that has no normative connotation.

  6. Ralph says:

    Ha! Sure, *we* can say “it’s neither male nor female, just clothes” just as we can say “that’s not a chair, it’s a phligznik”. But ignoring the definitions used by the vast majority of the population is just skirting the issue (pun intended).

    When I’m leafing through the Woman Within catalog and see a nice silk dress I like in a soft pastel with a floral pattern and full skirts, rejecting the notion of gendered clothing sounds like a long trip down de Nile. I don’t agree at all with society’s definitions of what is masculine and what is feminine, but fighting obsolete terminology is more work than I’m willing to do so I just communicate within the existing framework and all its limitations.

    Now having said all *that*, I stand by my original post that although I crossdress (badly, as someone else noted) I am not a crossdresser in the sense that crossdressing is my life’s focus.

  7. Grok says:

    Check out A very limited selection of styles that may be considered androgynous. Society tries to gender clothing, but some styles may be described as gender neutral-because they lack a distinctiveness.

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