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an important distinction

This post is prompted by the recent featured post on T-Central from the blog of someone who identifies as a healing crossdresser. It is not about making judgments or trying to separate us into groups but there are differences in our respective histories that bear pointing out and one of them is the age at which we first realized that there was something not quite right with our gender identity; or perhaps more appropriately: how it clashed with expectation.

I remember being 3 or 4 years old and having my mother scold me about wearing her shoes and up until then not realizing that I was supposed to be a boy. That incident marked me for life and will forever be forged in my memory. Henceforth my dressing went underground and was relegated to times when I would not be seen.

I have always had gender dysphoria and don’t know what it is like to exist without it. Had I not been dysphoric I would have had little interest in seeking out crossdressing as a coping mechanism and I did my utmost to discard my feelings over the years all to no avail. Dressing is now the main management technique for my dysphoria without which I would be despondent and dysfunctional.

There are others who began dressing post puberty who may have done so strictly as a sexual interest. There is nothing wrong with this and if they can stop because they desire to perhaps they should try. It is possible to have sexual addictions that can be treated.

Most of the blogs I read belong to gender dysphoric people who have a long history of dealing with their situation. They live in varying stages of transition from no medicinal intervention to full GRS because there is no perfect formula and because we are all constrained by our life decisions, family situations and economic realities.

I just never want to see another person confuse crossdressing interests with gender dysphoria because they don’t belong in the same sphere. Those who are gender dysphoric have known since earliest memory and it is up to them to deal with it in their own manner. Ultimately, however, it cannot be ignored because failure to do so could result in a perfect storm which will completely ravage your life when you least expect it.

When I was young I would go to curing crossdressing websites thinking that this is who I was. I had been a practicing Catholic and still am today and hoped for a solution for my affliction. Well it turns out that you can't pray the trans away anymore than you can the gay. We are born this way and must deal with it I which ever manner we are best able.

But I swear I am going to bitch slap (very kindly of course) the next religious fundamentalist that gets these two subjects mixed up.

Comments

  1. Sorry that I just do not see the bright line distinction between being gender dysphoric and crossdressing. I recognize that there are many aspects of my personna as being gender dysphoric but my identity seems to be that of a simple crossdresser. I am a guy most of the time but I need my time and my space and my wardrobe to feel complete. Dressing, in whole or even in part with underdressing or partial dressing, relieves stress and makes me feel at peace.

    Can I put away the heels and lace, makeup and lingerie? That just is not going to happen. It is more than a like for me, it is a need.

    What I do not need is a rigid box to put myself in. I seem to like the freedom of gender fluidity.


    Just my two cents.

    Pax
    Pat

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    1. Like I said Pat this is not about divide and conquer. My point was that some people start crossdressing after puberty with no detectable history of dysphoria to speak of and there is a difference. If you read Benjamin this is essentially how he ended up putting people into types ostensibly graded according to intensity of dysphoria. I would never have started crossdressing on my own minus dysphoria. It's not about judging your life or what you like to do...

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    2. Also don't put yourself in a box but be happy. My point was more about people who take up crossdressing and see it as addiction as compared to the dressing of a transgender person that does it for identity..pax indeed

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  2. @Pat: I've also heard about plenty of folks whose gender dysphoria emerges later, and of course that's perfectly fine and normal for them. And, good on you for using whatever means you need to help you manage (and enjoy?) it.

    @Joanna: like you, I became aware of my GD at about 4 or so, and it was my mother who instilled such overwhelming shame in me for it. Still, I secretly raided her Goodwill donation bags for clothes, sewed my own out of rags, and while biking around I was continually looking for clothes that might have been dropped or lost. I did find some over the years!

    These days I have such relief at losing my shame as I came to the understanding that I was born this way, I'm perfectly okay being this way, and bask in the occasional joy of just being myself.

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    1. I am so glad for you Emma you seem to have things sorted out and are happy....

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  3. I have many, many friends who identify as crossdressers, so I don't want this comment taken as "me-against-them".

    You are quite correct in making the distinction. It's a fuzzy picture for many, who grow up thinking they're crossdressers but eventually succumb to the dysphoria and transition.

    Most of my crossdressing friends did not begin crossdressing until they were in their teens, and some much later in life. I do believe there could be a biological connection between what drives crossdressers and those with gender dysphoria who feel the need to transition, but there is a distinct difference between the two.

    I'll never forget the comment from a friend who I will refer to as a "career crossdresser". His comment regarding the thrill of crossdressing in public was to compare that with how it felt to land a jet on an aircraft carrier. Such is the case (although the analogies may be different) with many of my crossdressing friends.

    I've also known those who thought they were crossdressers but eventually transitioned. Their stories were always quite different and generally involved dressing in Mom's clothes at a very early age.

    I co-host the DRAB lunches for our local TG group, which is something like 700 strong. At almost every lunch a newbie shows up and I try to spend some quality time with that person. Generally, in a matter of minutes, I can form a correct conclusion as to whether or not that person will eventually transition. Almost always, the conclusion is based on the reason for crossdressing and the date the person first began crossdressing.

    I am someone who has suffered from gender dysphoria for as far back as I can remember and someone who never stops thinking of transitioning. I have an almost unbearable desire to have my body and mind in congruence. I also have very strong will power and my own ways of dealing with the dysphoria (which I have addressed on my own blog several times). My crossdessing friends just can't get it. They ask me why I don't (actually rarely) crossdress and my answer is always that I get absolutely nothing out of it. It I transitioned, the clothes would be part of the transition. I suppose the clothes I wear every day, presenting as male, could be considered crossdressing. My mind is female. The clothes come with the full package and, as of today, I lack that package (perhaps not the best term).

    Nice post, Joanna.

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    1. I completely relate to you Calie and I am fortunate perhaps that I was blessed with fine features that permitted to use this method to help curb my dysphoria. Were I to lose this tool the pressure to transition would become too great. Thanks for the amazing feedback. ...

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