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Friday, December 10, 2010

Crossdressing Thoughts & Reflections - Sally

A few months, ago, I put out a request for guest posts on the subject of crossdressing.  Sally Sapphire replied right away and, when I read her email, I immediately knew that we had an excellent guest post in the making. 

Sally has a couple of blogs and you need to check both of them out.  TGirl Revelations is her main blog and is well worth your time to visit.  

Her other blog really intrigues me because I'm a book nut, when it comes to transgender reading material.  This site goes well beyond the transgender theme, however, and includes book reviews and recommendations for anything that qualifies under the LGBTQ umbrella.  The title?  Bilibrary Bookslut.  Unique!  Be sure to check out Sally's Gender Identity & Expression Challenge 2011.

So, now read on and see just what Sally has on her mind.
 - Calie

Am I really a crossdresser? It’s the first question I asked myself when I saw Calie’s call for guest bloggers, and I admit it made me pause. It’s just a word, but it’s amazing how much power words can have over how we define ourselves. We live in a society that loves to label people, and which is never satisfied with one word when a dozen others can be used to eliminate all ambiguity.

What, I ask you, is wrong with a little ambiguity? Ambiguity is all about diversity – it allows room for variety, for those little quirks of expression and identity that define us as individuals, while still allowing us to share a sense of community.

Like so many of us, I’m most comfortable with labelling myself as transgender. It’s a safe, all-inclusive word that embodies complete and total freedom of expression.  Ironically, it’s also a word that was originally coined to label cross-dressers who were not pursuing sexual reassignment surgery. What I find I’m less comfortable with, and what seems to prompt so much debate, are the labels that fall under the transgender umbrella – Transsexual, Crossdresser, Transvestite , Drag queen, Genderqueer , Androgynous, etc.

Why, I ask you, do we allow words to make us so uncomfortable? It shouldn’t matter how, when, where, or why we choose to express ourselves. The fact that we are all expressing a gender identity different from the norm is what makes us special and unique, even while making us part of a broader community.

Personally, I am proud to label myself as transgendered. Beyond that . . . well, I really don’t see a need to define myself beyond that. Yes, I indentify very strongly with the woman inside me, and I am absolutely more comfortable in expressing her identity than in putting on my day-to-day drab façade.  In an ideal world, her expression would be a 24/7 reality. Does that make me more transsexual than transvestite? Does it really matter?

At this point in my life I simply don’t have the opportunity or the freedom to pursue medical and surgical modifications to express the woman inside me. Yes, I’ve thought about it, considered it, and I’ve even made an appointment for laser hair removal, but I’m not ready for the rest of it . . . and may never be. It’s not a lack of desire or commitment, just an acknowledgement of the restrictions of life. Does that make me more transvestite than transsexual? Again, does it really matter?

Coming out to my wife earlier this year was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it has also been the single most rewarding experience of my life. During that momentous discussion, it made me uncomfortable when she asked if I was just a crossdresser, and it made her equally uncomfortable when she asked if I was a transsexual instead. One term implied limitations or restrictions to my expression, while the other implied a permanent change in our relationship. Since then, we’ve talked a lot about how I express myself, and what it means to each of us, but we’ve deliberately chosen not to put any labels on it.

Is that, I ask you, really such a bad thing? Some people might see it as avoiding the issue, or as an act of cowardice on both our parts. At the end of the day, however, it’s that very lack of a label that provides us with free reign to have open and honest discussions about my identity, and to enjoy the expression of that identity, without putting arbitrary expectations around it.

There are nights where we each dress in our naughtiest lingerie, get elaborate with our makeup, and enjoy ourselves in the bedroom. I won’t deny that there’s a strong element of sexual fetish to the experience, but that doesn’t take away from the expression of femininity itself. There are also nights where I’ll slip into one of my favourite nightgowns, touch up the polish on my toenails, and curl up alone with a good book. It’s almost an unconscious mode of expression, as natural as taking off my tie at the end of a hard day at the office.

There are days where the wife and I will both do our hair and makeup, put on a skirt and a blouse, slip into our heels, and go out shopping as two BFFs. Sure, there’s an element of exhibitionism involved in wanting to ‘pass’ convincingly, but there’s also a wonderfully wholesome sense of satisfaction in comfortably expressing myself.  There are also days where we’ll go out in day-to-day drab, as husband and wife, yet still share our thoughts and feelings as if I were visibly expressing the woman inside. Again, it’s almost an unconscious mode of expression, and I love that it’s become so natural for us both.

I know that I’m happiest when fully expressing my femininity, and that I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of revealing the woman inside of me. I love the feel of my most feminine clothes, the taste of my lipstick, and the smell of wet nail polish. Being called ma’am gives me a giddy little thrill, and finding a perfect pair of heels in my size is almost an orgasmic delight. The feel of stockings rubbing together beneath my skirt is absolutely divine, and the simple act of adjusting a bra strap is a pleasure. At home, I avoid the mirror like the plague, afraid of the disconnect between identity and expression. When I’m out and about, though, I simply cannot pass up a chance to admire the woman in the mirror when I pass by.

So, I ask you, what does that make me? Am I a transsexual who can’t commit? A transvestite with delusions of grandeur? An ill-adjusted crossdresser? A drag queen without a stage? Am I just genderqueer or, perhaps, androgynous? Depending on who you ask, I may be none of the above, all of the above, or something completely different. Guess what . . . I’m OK with that.

Ultimately, we are who are, and we are what we make of ourselves. It’s taken me the better part of 20 years to accept that – and far too many drafts of this post to stop worrying about it. Personally, I don’t need to label myself to understand myself, and my wife doesn’t need to label me to appreciate who I am. That works for us, and that’s great. However, reading through the blogs featured here, I’ve also seen that labels can help friends to better identify and relate to each other. If labelling myself a crossdresser helps to make a connection with even one new friend, then that’s great too.

So, with all that said, please consider these my personal Crossdressing Thoughts & Reflections. Should they reflect your own [insert label here] Thoughts & Reflections as well, then I guess we’ve made a connection . . . one that I hope you’ll share with us all. J



  1. Thanks so much for having me, Calie! You do such wonderful work here with T-Central, and I'm absolutely delighted to be able to contribute.

  2. Thanks for sharing Sally. The words are all loaded of course, and they all confine, limit and unfairly freeze the person they are referring to in an instant that does not give the full person full credit.

    We must use words though, with all the limitations they have.

    We must hope, I suppose, that the words are employed by the people who hear them and read them generously and inclusively, rather than spitefully and exclusively.

    Nice words here today. I hope that everyone takes them in a generous, inclusive way. Thanks again.

    Best - Petra

  3. Sally,

    That is a fantastic post :) Thanks so much for sharing. I especially can relate to your description of the mutual discomfort between your SO and you in discussing labels. Thanks for putting those thoughts so clearly. P.S. I'll have to see if I am up to the reading challenge!


    Thanks for the great site and for this series on CD'ing. I have enjoyed both posts a great deal, and I look forward to reading what comes.

    Mel :)

  4. It is not a question of spite or exclusion. It is simply of understanding that unless different words MEAN different things, then how are we to understand and recognize DIFFERENCES? Is Blue better than Red? No. They are simply different

    Imagine the chaos if a red light meant the same as a green light

  5. I appreciate the sentiment that "we are who we are" but words are all we have to communicate what it is that we are. I do agree that the labels that are floating around have been ill-defined, and can be loaded with extraneous connotation. Labels are necessary to understand ourselves and describe ourselves, but what we need are better labels, labels that draw meaningful, non-judgmental lines and which can then be focused with well-chosen adjectives to communicate our state of being and of mind to others, within our community and to outsiders.

  6. I don't find words confining. We use words to communicate. Sometimes, we call those words "labels." They're just words. I don't see why cross-dresser would confine someone in any way. It simply says something about how a person goes through life.

    I can't see that a person who self-defines as cross-dresser or even transvestite would be limited in anyway. Unless they let a word limit them.

    I was never uncomfortable with calling myself transsexual before I transitioned. It described what I was, quite accurately as it turned out.

    I will say, however, and not for the first time (and probably not for the last time), that transsexuals aren't under any umbrellas except those that keep off the rain. I don't express a gender identity different than the norm. I'm terribly normal. :)

  7. Hi Sally

    I'm very pleased to have re-found T-central and through it you. I shall promptly put a link on my own blog.

    I understand a wife needing to ask questions and to determine the extent her life is to be affected/ threatened. My own wife has supported to a great extent my cross-dressing but has said she would have been off in a flash if she thought I wanted to be fulltime or transition.

    Your wife appears to 'allow' a great deal and that is fine; each has to find their own limits.

    Labels can sometimes be useful in helping 'other' people understand where or what we are, but first we have to understand it ourselves.

    I am fairly resolved on the matter. I am happy to be under the transgendered banner, or to be called a t-girl, but consider myself a cross-dresser (=same as transvestite in UK English).

    In the end though, it is not what you are called but how you feel and how you act. We all have to find a level at which we feel totally at ease with ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Maybe we will stay in touch.

    Tina xx



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