Monday, February 23, 2009

Is the crossdressing community held back by the concerns of hetero marriages?

This is something I've been pondering for some time.

The standard line is that most crossdressers are 'straight'. Personally i doubt this because I think the degree of 100% heterosexuality of the whole community is I think overexaggerated.

Nevertheless much of the crossdressing world online and in organisations often revolves around MtF CDs Cis wives and girlfriends.

There are the concerns of coming out or being outed on ones future dating prospects, there are those who've kept their CDing a secret from their wives who fear to lose their marriages or to cause upset hurt and harm to their wives by coming out to them. And even those who do share their CDing with their wives make all manner of concessions to their feellings and comfort.

And organisations likewise are concerned with the comfort and feellings of wives of straight crossdressers.

Because of wives frequent concerns that their husbands CDing means they might be Gay some organisations ban or minimise the visibility of Bisexual and Gay crossdressers.

Because of wives frequent concerns their husbands may be Transsexual and transition similarly some ban or marginalise Transsexuals too.

Also the view that the public perception is that all CDs are gay has some reacting with hostility towards Gays and Drag Queens.

Now today I'm not going to discuss the validity of each of those decisions (though feel free to do so in comments), I certainly am not saying that the concerns feellings and needs of CDs wives are not important. It is firstly important to know that much of this is done under the notion of 'protecting' the wives and ensuring they 'don't get the wrong idea' by going to a CD support group meeting and seeing gay people there or hearing mention of TSs transitioning. Which in my view must be rough for those few whose CDing husbands do turn out to be Bi and/or TS!

Instead for the moment I will focus on the consequences of the actions based on these concerns.

Firstly the vast majority of CDs appear to be deeply in the closet. I've seen claims that range from 2% of the population to 10% regularly crossdress. Thats a pretty significant sized minority. It is quite comparable to estimates of the numbers of Gays and Lesbians I've seen. The most common reason for being closeted according to CD forums i've been on appears to be about impact on wives/girlfriends. Sure the rest is there that other closeted groups face: other family, career, friends etc but this one appears to have a major additional impact on the numbers of those willing to be out.

The next is the seperation of groups with otherwise common causes. Fear of being labeled as Gay or blaming Drag Queens for negative views in society of CDs means that CDs have little if anything to do with GLB groups despite similar closeting and discrimination experiences that should naturally have them working hand in hand.

Then of course there is the schism with much of the rest of Transgender. Transsexuals lose out on the larger group which as allies could help them in their many shared and unshared issues. There also ends up an emphasis on passing which tends to isolate the genderqueer. And of course some transsexuals consider themselves for a time crossdressers, often hoping that just the clothes would be enough and ful transition surgery et al would not be neccessary only to find as they gain self acceptance that this is not the case. In some CD groups these TSs get ostracised in case they may trigger wives fears and then some TS groups ostracise them for having been in the CD community.

And there is a substantial hostility amongst many groups for any form of politics.

It is a community largely paralysed by fear. One that if those numbers are correct could have a profound impact if only it could rid itself of it's own homophobia and transphobia and perhaps some of the fear of upsetting or validating the fears of the wives of a portion of the community.

There are some crossdressers who oppose the heterosexist binary-gender views when they are expressed, who try and reform the biased policies of some groups, who try and rouse others to action, who try and assist some in coming out and of course in opposing the negative stereotypes of CDs which are found in the mainstream and GLBT communities. But the crossdressing community still appears to be far behind the rest of LGBT.

But how should the community face the fears and concerns and needs of the het relationships within it?

What if any say should a wife have over a husbands degree of being out? Of how often and to what extent they can express their femininity? How should their fears and concerns be handled? How should the needs of married Het CDs be balanced against those who are Bi etc?

And what about the FtM guys? Do they have these sorts of issues? Because I only hear about this problem from the FtM community. Maybe some of the great guys who have dropped by here could give me their perspective on this?


Kyras said...

While my understanding of cross dressing is rather limited, I don't think it's held back by hetero marriage. More that its held back by its own fear. Personally I think CD has a wonderful opportunity before it self in giving men a larger choice of clothing to wear. Are women that wear pants still considered CD's? I think everyone should be free to wear whatever they want.

Battybattybats said...

Kyras, consider that most CDs who are married and out to their wives have their CDing restricted by their wives. So unless the wife is comfortable with them doing so they don't CD outside, or even near the windows. I know of one whose wife only permits them to CD one day a year!

Sure there are some wives who encourage a husbands CDing, get them out to support groups or even go clubbing with them. I know a couple who are actively encouraging their husbands to fully transition if/when the husands are ready to. But they are very much the minority (and in the case of those I know they are all also Goths).

Most though try and 'cure' their husbands or force them to 'quit' and when finally they learn that is not possible they either divorce or they force a tough compromise on the husband involving strong restrictions as to who they can be out to, when they can crossdress and where etc.

Certainly the more genderqueer folk who mix male and female clothing and accessories together will add to male clothing but most CDs just dress like women.

Male fashion is pushed more by androgyny and genderqueer accepting subcultures like Goth and Emo. Thats where you'll find guys with painted nails lipstick and a skirt who still deliberately may look somewhat like males.

Women who wear pants are not normally considered CDs anymore. But there are still limits on how much male clothing and hair a woman can have before they cease ebing so acceptable and start facing prejudice. Women have more gender expression freedom but it's far from total!

Certainly people should be free to wear whatever they want. But laws exist around the world making crossdressing illegal or allowing discrimination based on either clothing gender expression or on Goth clothing too. Not to mention the bias and discrimination many face for looking different because of the clothes they wear.