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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crossdressing Thoughts & Reflections - Petra

I have many, many friends who proudly proclaim themselves as crossdressers.  Nothing more, nothing less, and I very much respect that. 

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be featuring guest posts on the subject of crossdressing.  Our authors are excellent writers and you will probably recognize most of them.

Our first post is from Petra Bellejambes.  Crossdressers like to....well....dress, and Petra knows her fashion.  She has graciously allowed us to display some of her favorite pictures with this post.  I'm sure you will agree that this girl looks just fab!  And, her writing ain't bad either!

Petra's blog is Voyages en Rose.

 - Calie

I am not a psychiatrist, but If I played one on TV, my character would wear a smart lab coat, belt looped at the back, and a sleek pencil skirt. The shoes would click of course, only borderline office appropriate.  Sexy/brainy eyeglasses and savage tousled dark hair recently set free from pony tail frame my face. My bright young complexion, only lightly made up, somehow unlined by the thorny problems I wrestle with daily. I would, of course, effortlessly and unknowingly drive male colleagues to distraction and female ones to smoldering furies of envy …

Rather flip and fanciful, yes. And precisely the attitude that exposes a fault line that for many exists between the Cross Dresser and much of the rest of the TG spectrum.

I am trying, today, to picture the (periodic) Cross Dresser through the eyes of the Transitioned, the Transitioning, and the resignedly troubled Non-Transitioner. There goes the Cross Dresser, seemingly happy to set sail en femme and explore new shores. A nice lark for them. And then the wind turns, and blows them timely back home. While you, the committed, with your ships burnt on distant rocky shoals are marooned, severed wholly or in part from your pasts, from family, former friends, perhaps even from the greatest loves in your lives, and god yes, even your children. Free yes to discover a new world, but lost to the old one. What prices you have paid.

I suspect that these are some of the sentiments that flash and flicker in the minds of those you who feel a genuine incongruity between your assigned gender and every thing you feel when you consider the relatively flighty plight of the Cross Dresser.

I suspect that these sentiments contribute in part to a label that I have heard applied to me, and others of my kind. Cross Dresser may not be a perfect label, but it is a label I wear. I wear it with pride too. I hear it cheapened sometimes with the application of a simple prefix.


Just a Cross Dresser.

The connotations of “just” trouble me just a little. “Just” connotes a state of incompletion, of inauthenticity, of partial apprehension of a bigger undiscovered whole. “Just” connotes that we Cross Dressers may have some nice feathers, but we haven’t earned our wings.

I am not the sensitive type, really. One can’t embrace honest discovery of their own gender complexion with very thin skin after all. And I do not mean to suggest that “just” is a majority sympathy or entirely dismissive sentiment. Perhaps it is just an accident of language, a convention of conversation. And to be fair, my female personae has been warmly met by strangers and well embraced by the very select handful of people intimate with the rest of my life. Without this embrace, my own embrace would be weaker, more episodic, less complete. And to be honest, perhaps a little more adolescent, fetishy and, O dear, maybe just a little icky.
But “just” does lurk. In point of fact, I used the prefix “just” myself once over a cocktail with a M2F acquaintance well en route. So I wanted to address “just” here today.

Well, earned or not, I do have wings, and they help me soar. My periodic adventures en Femme in the big wide open are a source of exhilaration. I achieve a heightened state of attenuation and receptivity to the world around me. And then yes, the clothes, the hair, the accessories come off. The makeup is scrubbed away and the nails are pried off. There I stand with all the surfaces re-arranged and congruent with my assigned gender. Beneath the surfaces though, something important has been touched, cultivated and nurtured. Something that lasts long after the tidy up and fold away. Something that gets expressed in the rest of my “male” life, and changes for the better all of my interactions with the world around me.

These periodic privileges, to use a shopworn phrase, complete me.

And perhaps here lies the essential difference between those who will not transition, by preference, and those who have, who will or, with a different hand dealt to them, would.

I do not feel any incongruence with my biology, my appearance, my bodily inheritances, or the most of the expectations that the world has of me as a result of my evidently masculine presentation. I do feel however that my inheritances are inadequate. Inadequate to the opportunities of experience and sensation that are available to us all, if we are but willing to shake things up a little.

I must share as well in all honesty that I am relieved. Any chap who slides into a pair of panties the second time and is ensnared by curiosity and a need that cannot be easily explained knows right deep down, in the oldest most instinctive, primitive, reflexive precincts of our brains that big, big questions are being posed: Why do I feel this way? Am I male? Have I been wrong all along? Where does this end?

And this we all have in common. Whether our explorations of self and of gender come from feelings of incongruence deep within, or from curiosity about things worn without, these questions we all asked of ourselves.

And so, to my well feathered sisters of the Cross Dressing variety, I tender encouragement here today. Encouragement to join me in forsaking use of this common prefix, “just”, when thinking of yourselves. If had kept these doors of exploration closed, well, you would be “just”. Just another guy. But in opening the doors, you made yourself bigger, better and more whole. Brave you. I hope that happiness is your dividend.

And finally to my brave friends, the reborn, the Transitioned, the Transitioning and especially those of you who at last measure will not, who cannot, and will yet find a way to live with your inheritances, I say thank you. You really inspire.

We, all of us, have an opportunity to make life beautiful. None of us, in this regard are “just” anything.


  1. Very well said, Petra. Calie was kind enough to allow me to do an upcoming post, and it stems from my wife asking if I was 'just' a crossdresser. For such a small little word, it really has a lot of power to restrict and confine us, doesn't it?

  2. Amen Ms. Sapphire. Words are indeed powerful.

    Looking forward to yours, and delighted to meet you here! Thanks for the encouragement on this post.

    Best - Petra

  3. I am always left somewhat in awe wondering how Petra manages her magic, creating clarity from fog, and music from noise - just by arranging regular words on the screen.

    This post deals beautifully with the differences between those who don't want to transition and those who have, will or would. But, I would add that there has been some muddling at the opposite end of the spectrum as well, between crossdressers who fetishize femininity and those who embrace it, with the result that the latter group is often mistaken for, or lumped in with the former.

  4. Brilliant! Clarity at last. Bravo!

  5. I wonder... I know a few cross dressers and they, like you, always skirt a fundamental issue (pun intended). There is no delicate way to ask this question so I'll just be crass and ask what you get out of wearing women's clothing? Does it excite you? Or maybe you feel feminine but can't quite grapple with the concept? I am not asking to be insulting but rather to get your open and straightforward opinion. Can you tell me in simple terms that even a ditz like me can grasp? Why?

  6. Since that is a just argument, can I call you a just crossdresser?

  7. @ Janie, @ Anne. Sincere thanks.

    @Deena - Simple terms? I have tried long and hard to find simple terms. Epic fail. I have a 3,000 word essay in 2 parts up on Voyages en Rose that comes as close as I have yet been able to. Link to Part 1 here:

    What do I get? A pretty intoxicating mix of things, and yes, excitement is part of the cocktail, but the excitement is not of a sexual variety. As an adolescent, yes it was, but here approaching entry into my 6th decade, well, not so much. Mostly I get a very heightened sense of being alive, very still, and very much in the moment. Does this help?

    Why is the best question, because it never gets fully solved. Thanks sincerely for asking.

    @Jenny, by all means. I think as far as labels go, in this part of my life, there is no better label. Happy, proud in fact, to answer to it.

  8. @Jenny - I see now that I read your comment far too quickly to pick up your nicely turned words. I am far too quick to assume a posture of dignified high-horsedness.

    A Just Cross Dresser. I like it.

    And, hey, everybody else, go read Jenny's superb blog.

  9. Glad to see someone tackle the idea of "just" being a crossdresser. It's an unfortunate term that happens all to regularly.

    I have to wonder if it sets one up for a bit of competitive one-ups-manship. You know, the I'm not just a crossdresser because I do this or that?

    It's unfortunate that crossdressers are shamed into hiding. Good to see folks like Eddie Izzard out there.

  10. Petra, here's another take on "just." It came from my partner when I first realized that I probably needed to transition, and it probably comes from many other partners in similar situations: "Maybe you're just a cross-dresser."

    In that case, "just" doesn't diminish "cross-dresser." Rather, it's the hope that you can be a cross-dresser rather than having to transition -- that what you need is to express your feminine side rather than to be female. My partner would have been happy if that had been the case. She rather liked my femininity. It was my need to be female that was much more difficult for her.

    Thanks for a glimpse into your world!

  11. @Ariel

    Fine point, well taken. It is a good instinct to allow the most generous interpretation of anything we hear said about us, and "just" in the context you raise here is moored in a hope for good, simple, happy outcomes. I get that.

    Thanks for bringing the thought, and for your work here with TC.

    Love your Avatar by the way. I am mad about shawls....

  12. Everything that widens our outlook and makes us more open to others should be valued by society.

    If only the experiences you describe, and their broadening effect could be repeated in some measure by everyone. What a fine world it could be; a world where understanding and caring about both sides of the gender experience is the norm.

    Thank you for writing so well. You are 'just' an amazing inspiring human being!

  13. Petra, I'll confess to using the term, "Just a crossdresser" more than once. I believe I even used it in a blog post. But, I didn't use it, and don't use the term, in a bad kind of way. More like an envious kind of way. When your mind is constantly flooded with thoughts of transition, you simply cannot turn it off. My many CD friends have described their feelings to me and they can turn it on and off. So, would I like to be "just a crossdresser"? Yes I would, because then I could turn it off.

  14. @Calie,

    Both you and Ariel in your comments displayed the words "just" in a kinder light than I had conjured up, and your view makes a lot of sense.

    Stirred my brain a little in fact. I think I may even get a blog post out it.

    Thanks so much.

    And thanks too for the opportunity to write for your audience. This has been a privilege.

    Fondly, Petra


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