Male Cross-Dressing and Relationships
For a male cross-dresser, the desire to wear women’s clothes and take on a female persona often brings forth a mixed set of emotions. On one hand, it can be deeply refreshing and relaxing to escape into the feminine side of oneself, which may include female clothes, make-up, or other taking on any perceived feminine activity or identity. Yet, this sometimes comes with a price of feeling shamed or guilty since it is contrary to society’s stereotypical view of what a male should be. For some men, crossdressing or the desire to crossdress, has been a long held secret struggle, resulting in symptoms such as shame, depression and frustration. If married to an unknowing or unapproving spouse or partner, things can be even more stressful. There can be a fear of unwillingly hurting one’s spouse by being honest about one’s crossdressing feelings, and there is the fear of being abandoned if she disapproves. Yet, at the same time, crossdressing can feel very natural, bring feelings of comfort, relaxation and peace. A potentially confusing dilemma!
Spouses and partners of crossdressers may have their own challenges in dealing with crossdressing. For a partners suddenly faced with this issue for the first time, cross-dressing is potentially a Pandora’s box for confusing and troubling issues. Shock, fear, denial, anger, and questioning the viability of the relationship are often initial responses. Spouses often question the partners sexuality and question, “What else is he not telling me?” They may wonder if their partner is gay or if he “wants to be a woman full-time”. (The facts are that crossdressers are predominantly heterosexual men, and they don’t want to be “in fem” full-time.) It can be difficult for the spouse who feels she has no one to talk to for fear they both will be criticized and judged by others. In addition, there can be resentment of the time, money and energy that goes into crossdressing. Spouses can feel a wide range of emotions, feeling confused and overwhelmed, not knowing the effect it will have on their relationship and where to turn for information and support.
How I Can Help
Psychotherapy will not make the desire to wear women’s clothes and adopt a female persona go away, but it can help crossdressers work through any issues that may sabotage positive self-esteem and resolve issues affected by crossdressing. The goal is to reach a positive sense of self with acceptance, approval, self-respect and the ability to thrive. Therapy provides a confidential place for partners to be heard and validated by each other, set guidelines for the relationship, and to promote respect and a deeper appreciation for each others wants, needs, concerns and boundaries. Crossdressing is workable in a relationship or marriage when both people are willing to compromise and there is a mutual desire to make things work. Couples that make decisions on working and learning to cope together, often strengthen the relationship with a greater capacity for intimacy and passion.
Houston Chronicle Newspaper – “Male Cross Dressers Admit Self-Expression Can be Risky”, Allan Turner Editorial
“Ask Denise”– Questions and Answers Column. The Mirror– Summer edition 2006
Houston Tau Chi Chapter – Support and Social Group for Crossdressers & Spouses/Partners.
Tau Chi provides monthly meetings, dinners, various social events, activities and outings for crossdressers. Monthly dinner meetings include presentations by make-up artists, hair specialists, psychotherapists, etc. See newsletter for events and calendar.
For a list of the current Transgender Support Groups in Houston, Texas go to: