Why Is There A Negative Perception

By Heidi Phox
Why is there a negative perception of cross-dressing?

From my observations and interactions with other cross dressers, via the web and in person, I find that the vast majority of men that have a compulsion to wear women’s clothing are mostly normal, considerate, hard working people. Most are heterosexual, educated, and respectful of others. Still, cross dressers continue to be looked down upon and considered acceptable fare for jokes and disdain. And in this day and age of political correctness and acceptance, that seems out of order.

I’ve seen some very masculine appearing women that have very short cropped hair, wear what appears to be men’s clothing routinely live their lives without anyone even blinking an eye. Yet if I were to be seen in my neighborhood in a skirt and heels, the gossip would spread like wildfire. I’ve heard from lots of gurls that have been shut out by members of their families or divorced when they revealed their desire to dress enfemm.

To be honest, the times that I go out in public I do get some double-takes but don’t experience much negativity. I guess it’s different if it is a stranger rather than a family member, friend, or acquaintance.

So what’s the difference between a woman wearing men’s clothing and a man wearing women’s clothing? I think the there are 2 societal norms that explain the difference.

The first is that men have traditionally been the more powerful sex of our species. They have made the most money, held the majority of public offices; lead the military powers, etc. And women have been submissive to this role and secondary in stature. For a man to eschew the naturally born advantage of his male-ness and seek to emulate a “lesser” component of society is not considered admirable generally. When a woman seeks to emulate a man’s role, there may be some resistance but more respect for her desire for the greater stature that she seeks.

Secondly, there is the effort and expense involved. For a woman to appear masculine it is more a matter of lack of effort to look feminine. One may not find it appealing but can understand that a short hair cut, no makeup, and simple, utilitarian clothing is a lot easier to maintain for a woman whose priorities or finances do not allow for the luxury of femininity. It is not difficult to imagine that the resources saved by not looking feminine are being used in way that is more productive for that person. However, for a man to look feminine it takes a great amount of effort. And the value of that extra effort and expense is less understandable.

Additionally, people naturally are distrustful of other people whose basic perceptions of reality are dramatically different. Many people think of gender as a black and white, set in stone constant. And when someone doesn’t adhere to that ideology they are suspicious that other basic “constants” such as morality and concepts of right and wrong may also not be shared. But that is true when any group is singled out and discriminated against. Eventually, when there is enough personal interactions between the two groups of people they find out they are not that different and the discrimination subsides. Unfortunately, the majority of crossdressers partake in their hobby in secret and there never is the chance for the misconceptions to be disavowed.

Finally, the concerns people, especially wives, have about crossdressers abandoning their responsibilities and commitments are not without some basis. Although the primary source of exposure to the idea of crossdressing comes from television, I have also witnessed acquaintances via the internet allow their progression of crossdressing to cause major disturbances in their lives and those around them. I don’t judge them for making the decisions they feel is necessary but I can see why others feel a level of discomfort towards cross-dressers. Admittedly, for some men that wear women's clothing there is an element of sexuality involved and people frequently have less than perfect judgement in such situations. Unfortunately, the negative stories are the ones that get heard. Most crossdressers cause so few issues that they are completely off the radar of the general public. Through my contacts with other transgendered individuals I believe there is a great silent and mostly invisible population of CD’s who are as upstanding, if not more, as most people.

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