By Cristy Garcia
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Before I begin let me make two clarifications that explain the context in which I will be using two terms hereinafter:
- I will use the word “hobby” loosely even though it is clear that even though we could consider cross-dressing a hobby, it was not by choice that we practice it but rather as a necessity.
- From now on, I will use the term “cross-dresser” to refer to a genetic male that, through a birth predisposition, needs and enjoys wearing women’s clothes and assumes the mannerisms of a woman.
In the previous topic I assumed that, as a heterosexual CD, I could only talk from my point of view but after a long discussion with dear friend, who is gay and also CD, we came to the conclusion that there is no difference in the way we approach our dressing. I am attracted to women and he is attracted to men but neither of us dresses to attract men or women. We do it for the sensations and excitement it produces in us and has no sexual connotations except for the sexual arousal, discussed earlier, that I argue is caused by the transformation of a man into a woman. What I am trying to say and hope you understand, after talking to my friend, is that a CD could be heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual but cross-dressing has nothing to do with his sexuality. In this context, a “Drag Queen” is not a CD but rather a performer since true gay CDs dress as common women and do not look flashy or exaggerated in any aspect. For non-CD people it is difficult to understand this behavior given that clothing and deportment have much to do with a person’s gender but we all know that gender and sex are not the same. This is an interesting topic for a forum and I might go back to it in time.
Let’s move on now to CDing as a pastime or hobby versus CDing as a vice…
I have never agreed nor liked the statement that part as a joke and part as a belief some people cite when asked about the difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual. The response that I am sure most of you have heard is “5 years”, pretending to imply that if you are a cross-dresser will inevitably end up physically changing your gender after a period of time. Even though it is argued that both transsexuals and cross-dresses are born as such, I am sure that one is not the initial stage in a path to the other. Granted that there are similarities, especially with regards to wearing feminine clothes, there are substantial differences that a confirmed cross-dresser, like me, and a true male to female transsexual can easily describe and identify. This is not the topic I want to discuss this time but I felt I should start with this distinction because many cross-dressers get so absorbed by the feelings and sensations of wearing feminine clothes that they tend to believe that their lives would be better if they stayed like that permanently and go to extremes that they, eventually, may regret. I feel I have the right to make that affirmation because I was there at one point in my life.
When I left my home for college in the US and lived there for 3 years on my own, I saw the perfect opportunity to dress as much as I could in a place where nobody new me. I was 26 years old, 5’6” and weighed 125 lb. As soon as I found a place to live, I shaved my legs for the first time in my life and went shopping for all I needed to become Cristy with no restrictions or fears. For a year I would go out each chance I had and had no problem passing. I did not know any other TG people so I mostly went out on my own. I was so thrilled and confident with my success passing for a woman that it lead me to think that my life would be happier if I stayed that way and began searching for information in the psychology library at the university. It was 1986-87 and the Internet was used merely for text communication, much like chat applications today. I sometimes wonder if the path I took then would have been different if the Internet had been in the state it is today but, looking in retrospective, I have never regretted how my life turned out.
All the information I was able to find in books about gender identity dealt with transsexuality so I was led to believe that I was transsexual. I wondered why I was not attracted to men and why during my childhood I loved sports and boy games and toys. I had a normal childhood and adolescence as a boy except for the fact that I liked trying on my mother’s clothes. So as you can imagine, with all the freedom I had in my late twenties, I was confused between my reality and the amazing sensations I felt while dressed out there in the real world and being perceived and accepted as a woman. For about a year, I continued going out often regardless of time of the day and continued reading on the topic. However, I would feel lonely interacting only with store clerks and small talk with people I ran into and not being able to share my excitement with anyone. I felt the need to reveal my secret to someone but had nobody I could trust until I met this girl from my country. We became friends and would meet with other friends for partying and dinner, me in boy mode. After some time I was so anxious and confused with regards to my gender identity that I came out to her asking if she could go out with me dressed as a girl. I showed her photos and she said that she needed to see me dressed in real life before responding to my request. We planned for me to dress in front of her one night and her reaction after she saw the result is still vivid in my mind, as she said, “you are a babe!” You can imagine how great I felt after someone who knew me in male mode complimented me in such a way! After making sure that I was able to look the part, she then agreed to go out with me, dressed, the following weekend. For those of you who know my story, this girl would then become my girlfriend and has now been my wife for almost 26 years. Being the amazing woman she has always been, the first thing she did, before our first girls-day-out came, was to visit a psychologist at the university health department to ask him if she would cause any harm to me by doing what I had asked of her. The psychologist replied that not only there would be no harm but that, on the contrary, she would help me a great deal. He also asked if he could see me to find out more about my situation. She had me call and set an appointment but before I saw him, we went out for the first time and I felt on cloud nine. I finally had someone with whom I could share my feminine persona and who would accept me as Cristy.
The day of my appointment with the psychologist came and for the first time, after seeing many therapists who were clueless on gender identity, back at home, I was with someone who knew about the issues and made a lot of sense. I was in boy mode and told him that I loved being Cristy and that I thought I wanted to become a woman. He said that to be certain I would need to see someone who specialized in gender identity to get diagnosed and then go through all the requirements needed, which he vaguely explained. He also mentioned that in his opinion I was a heterosexual cross-dresser in which case all I could do was to learn to live with it because there was no cure and that, as was the case with transsexuals, we were born that way. Being influenced by all I had read, in my mind I was not a CD and made an appointment with the gender identity specialist. In the meantime I continued going out with my girlfriend as girls. We got along so well that even planned that when she got married I would probably already be a woman and that I would be her maid of honor.
The day for my first appointment with Dr. Meral Crane, already a renowned specialist in Gender Identity back then, came and she asked me to come in boy mode and I did. Once there I showed her s few photos of me dressed and she asked several questions about how I felt while dressed and why I thought I was transsexual. She explained the transition process, which is basically the same as it is today, and said that I could start right away. She made it look so easy and simple and confronted me with an imminent reality. Looking back, I think she saw through me and immediately diagnosed me as a cross-dresser but wanted me to realize it on my own. She then asked me to come, as Cristy, to a group therapy meeting for transsexuals that met at her clinic every week. I agreed and asked if I could come with my girlfriend to which she replied affirmatively. When the day of the group therapy meeting arrived, I dressed to the nines and came with my girlfriend. There were several TS girls there in different stages of transition including a very large and masculine man who was certain that she was a woman trapped in a male body. The girls who were already in transition were dressed very casual and relaxed which made me look out of place. You should have seen how the girls inspected my girlfriend, form top to bottom, trying to find a sign of masculinity in her! Dr. Crane had to explain later that she was a genetic girl and I am sure they felt much better. It was at that group meeting, after talking to the girls and comparing experiences, when I realized that I did not belong there; I was not a male to female transsexual. To this date, I am extremely thankful to Dr. Crane because in a short period of time she spared me from making a huge mistake. I have often thought what would have happened if I had had SRS and think that I might had been able to lead a fulfilling life as a woman but I would not change that for the life I have lived as a happily married man with a loving wife, two amazing children and a successful career.
After having my situation clear, my girlfriend and I continued going out both as girls and also as friends with me in boy mode. As the boy and the girl began learning more about each other, they fell in love and she found it difficult to go out with her boyfriend playing the role of a girl. Thus, I was back to going out on my own but there was no confusion about my gender identity anymore. However, there was a period, while going out with her that I would want to spend so much time as Cristy that she found it distressing and almost made us break up. Fortunately I came to my senses and the rest is ancient history.
So, why have I told you this part of my life? Well, because due to confusion and that sense of well being and belonging that cross-dressing produced in me, there was a time in which I wanted to do it every single chance I got; it had become a vice. I was having trouble focusing on the more important aspects of my life and my studies. I could have lost the love of my life and put my future career in jeopardy!
Let me now make an analogy between cross-dressing for a CD and consuming alcohol for people in general. The majority of people are able to become less inhibited and more relaxed after having a few drinks at a party or any other social context. Some drink every now and then or as often as every week and can even get over the limit on occasions, without becoming dependent on alcohol to reach a state of relaxation. This is the type of people who either have control over themselves when it comes to consuming alcohol or are not predisposed to addictions. On the other hand, we have those who can’t control themselves and become dependent on alcohol to forget about their troubles and escape reality because they can only feel good when they are drunk. This type of people will seek refuge in alcohol and will get drunk not only socially but also for the sole purpose of escaping a reality that they don’t find pleasing or fulfilling for whatever circumstances. Without necessarily being diagnosed as alcoholics, they become addicted to alcohol and are afraid that if they are not drunk they will not feel fine. Let me pause now to say that I am not an expert in addictions and have no close experiences with alcoholism but have lived long enough to learn and witness how it has an effect on people. I don’t know if all alcoholics have an innate predisposition, as suggested by its being considered an illness, or if some can become alcoholic by addiction, but I don’t think it is relevant for my analogy.
Let us compare that state of inhibition produced by alcohol, on people who drink, with the state of relaxation produced by cross-dressing on CDs. In both cases being in such conditions allows the alcoholic and the CD to be removed from reality for the duration of the episode. By now you already know where I am going but let me elaborate. A social drinker can get so used to enjoying that inhibition from reality compared to the dullness of day-to-day life that he or she might seek being drunk more often until, eventually, may become addicted to alcohol. For some it might be easy to escape addiction but for others it can very difficult or impossible to the point that they can even destroy their lives. In some cases the damage caused is such that even if they are able to stop they are never able to go back to where they originally were before. Some alcoholics might even defend their lifestyle arguing that drinking makes them happy and that they are free to do with their lives as they please. If they are alone in the world I would say that they are allowed to do with their lives as they please and if they don’t mind being less productive and focused on just being drunk then good for them. However, most people have families and have commitments and responsibilities with the other members of the family and society. In such cases, escaping reality in alcohol can be considered a selfish way of dealing with life’s challenges.
Shall I go on?
Ok, let me move on to the distinction between a “recreational cross-dresser” and an “addicted cross-dresser”. I concluded my previous post with labeling myself as a recreational CD and as such, I dare to compare myself to the social drinker who has a few drinks on parties or other social gatherings. I dress when the opportunity presents itself and if I am in the mood for it, and enjoy it more than any other thing I get to do on my own; it is my favorite hobby. But, as described in the fist couple of paragraphs, that was not always the case. I was very close to becoming addicted to cross-dressing when I found myself free to dress as much as I pleased with a few restrictions (i.e. attending classes and get good grades). I did not have many friends at first and all my free time was spent as Crsity. I bought mostly feminine clothes and shoes and spent very little money on male clothes. The feeling was so thrilling and exciting that I was ready to become a full time woman or at least had convinced myself of that. I went shopping, to restaurants, discotheques, bars, you name it. I was able to pass quite well and that thrilled me and gave me a sense of ultimate ecstasy that lead me to believe that I needed to be a full time woman to feel like that all the time. When my future wife came into the picture as a friend willing to go out with me dressed, I felt even more inclined to spending as much time as possible as Cristy. Even before we got romantically involved, she would get fed up with Cristy’s shallowness and selfishness and would turn me down more and more. Once we started dating, she was even less tolerant to Cristy’s attitude. After all, who wants a friend or boyfriend who spends most of his time wishing to “be” a girl? Having read from the top, you already know how I was brought down to earth and was spared from making what, in my case, would have been a big mistake. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who loved me too much and a therapist who knew what I was to prevent me from becoming addicted to cross-dressing and maybe a lot more.
From my online exchanges, I have ran into many well grounded CDs who I would label as recreational cross-dressers but have met my share of those who are so mesmerized by the sensations of “being” a girl, that have no time for anything else. Being dressed and “feeling” girly is all they want to do and think about. In my group of close friends we have coined a term to describe this state of mind and we call it being under “The Pink Fog”. The Pink Fog clogs your mind and isolates you from the real world. You become very selfish and can only think about how miserable you are for not being able to stay as a girl all the time. Much like alcohol, it can absorb you to the point that you are no longer able to perform in all other aspects of life. It can get even worse if you surround yourself by others who are also trapped in the Pink Fog. I am aware of the fact that I am opening Pandora’s box but felt the need to warn those of you who are there, to step back and think twice before you make a huge mistake; this coming from someone who almost got trapped in the fog. I realize that this might not be the case of all CDs who think they should spend their lives as women. However, if my experience spares one of you from being lured into the Pink Fog, writing this will be totally worth the effort. Don’t be selfish and think about all you have to offer the world and those around you if you focus on other ways to fulfill your life. Don’t let a “hobby” become your life unless you have nothing to loose and really feel this is what will make you and those you love happy. Remember that often that what we desperately seek, turns out to be quite different once we achieve it. The thrill of dressing every now and then and all the excitement we get from it can easily disappear or become unnoticeable once we make it common practice or even permanent.
Please be aware that I am not discouraging anyone from enjoying cross-dressing; I would be the first to oppose such suggestion. I am only advocating for a judicious practice of this hobby we love so much and that brings such peace of mind and well being to those of us who don’t let it dominate our lives. I was born a cross-dresser and will die a cross-dresser and would not want to be any different. I do thank God for having been able to enjoy it with measure and prudence and not having let it become the only way of feeling good about myself.
I apologize if I have hurt anyone’s feelings or been too rude but, as I mentioned, it had to be said.
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