19 November 2007

My wife keeps saying she is happy with my cross-dressing but I am sure she is not

I’m in the UK. I hope you can give me some advice.
From my earliest years I have dressed in female clothes, this has brought me comfort, arousal, happiness and comfort.
I have been married for 16 years and my wife and I love each other very much. She tells me that she doesn’t mind my “hobby” but I always feel awkward when dressed with her.
I seem to go through a yearly cycle of repressing everything and then getting to a point where I can’t restrain my inclination to wear my clothes/make-up etc.
My wife keeps saying she is happy with my dressing but I am sure she is not. I don’t want to hurt her or do anything which will destroy our marriage but I feel as though I am living with a bursting dam behind me.
I can’t ask you whether I am transsexual or a transvestite but if you could give me some advice I’d be very grateful.
Many thanks!

Dee Gamme

Dear Magz,

Thank you for your question. First, I would like to clarify the term transvestite. Now what is commonly used instead of transvestite is cross-dresser, which refers to an individual who wears the clothing and, perhaps makeup, assigned by society to the “opposite” gender for emotional and psychological reasons.

Since many cultures strongly disapprove of cross-gender behaviour, it often results in significant problems for affected persons and those in close relationships with them (e.g. shame, guilt). In many cases, discomfort is also reported as stemming from the feeling that one’s body is “wrong” or meant to be different.

If you feel overwhelming guilt or shame, it might be helpful to contact associations / organizations where you can meet individuals in a similar situation. If you don’t feel ready for this, another option is to meet with a therapist accustomed to deal with this issue. By no means am I implying that you need this help simply because you have the impulse to cross-dress. Rather, due to your apparent great distress, not only about the status of your marriage but your own identity as a cross-gender person, the options mentioned above might help you through the process of self-acceptance.

In terms of your relationship, your wife has previously stated her own acceptance of this behavior. Of course, there are other ways (actions, body language) in which she can demonstrate her disapproval. So why do you feel that even though your wife says she is fine with your “hobby”, she truly isn’t? You say that you go through phases of repression. Could it be that since you are not 100% comfortable with your situation or inclinations, you perhaps are misinterpreting her reaction? Does she look at you disdainfully or make strange remarks?

I cannot presume I know what she is thinking, but there is a possibility that she indeed has no problem with your cross-dressing. Have you told her how good it makes you feel? If so, is she understanding of it? If not, you could try telling her, and maybe ask her what makes HER feel sexy and comfortable. A long-lasting relationship is all about sharing. For example, couples with fetishes that don’t necessarily mesh, might find it fun or arousing to dabble in each other’s fetish and share it together.

If you feel that your “hobby” is fetishistic, this can become a great source of arousal for both of you. If you feel that it is more than a simple fetish, discuss your feelings with your wife. Make sure that she knows you still really adore her, and that wearing women’s clothing and makeup is just something that makes you feel good. It is not indicative of you loving her any less.

If this is something that truly makes you comfortable in your own skin, you shouldn’t feel the need to suppress it. Couples often need to make compromises. Whether your wife is simply “tolerant” of your cross-dressing or actually enjoys it might be a question you can ponder together…

Good luck, and write to us again if you need further help with this issue or any other issue!

Dee, for AlterHéros