By Cristy Garcia
I know that there is no definitive answer since there are so many intermediate states ranging from the occasional cross-dresser (CD) to a transsexual who has already undergone SRS. Hence, as is usually the case in my writings, I will change the question to…
… As a heterosexual CD, do I feel I am transgender?
For so many years, and long befor discovering that I was born with this strange and uncontrollable urge to wear women’s clothes and emulate one to the best of my ability, I thought that I was messed up and that most likely, deep inside, I would rather be a woman. Back then, the answer to the question in the title would have definitely been affirmative. Why? You ask. In my early years I paid no attention to my occasional journeys into my mother’s closet to try on some of her things that, obviously, were too big to fit me. During adolescence, the sexual component associated with cross-dressing (at least for heterosexual CDs) appeared and along with it, the sense of guilt and remorse that, as we all know, was not strong enough to make me stop. It was around the end of adolescence that, given the sense of well being and pleasure I derived from dressing, I started thinking about the possibility that I had been born in the wrong body. However, I was behaving as any other boy my age in every other aspect of life; without a conscious effort to compensate for this unusual and secret behavior. I loved playing and watching sports; I liked hanging out with the guys and was very much into liking and being attracted to girls and never boys. Why, then, did I like so much dressing as a girl?
As I went away from home to graduate school, I finally had the chance to fully explore this need and managed to accumulate a fairly big girl’s wardrobe and all the things I could get to make me look like a girl. I shaved my legs for the first time in my life and since I was living in a town where nobody knew me, I was free to go out as Cristy as much as I could. To my surprise, I was able to pass almost every time. I went shopping, to restaurants, discos, you name it. My success in passing and the great time I had each time I was out as a girl increased my thoughts about actually wanting to become a full time woman. I read the few books on gender dysphoria (as they called it back then) that I was able to find at the library of the School of Psychology. All of the books I found dealt with transsexuals and there was no other feasible explanation I could find to my need to dress as a girl. Given the reputable sources of my research, I convinced myself that I was a transsexual and that I needed to transition and have SRS. I was still very confused but at least I had an answer to my condition and also a solution. Would I have the guts to fix the problem and become a woman?
The books, written by professionals and experts in the field of gender identity, had given me the answer and I had problems focusing on my studies or anything else for that matter. I wanted to spend more and more time as Cristy and needed a shoulder to cry on and with whom I could share my secret. I also needed someone to go out with me in case something happened to me while dressed as a girl. This is how I confided in a female friend, showed her some photos of me dressed and asked her to be my confident and companion as we ventured out as two girls. Being the amazing person she was and still is, she asked to first see me in person to judge if I could pass. I dressed for her that night and she was impressed. She accepted my request but, without asking me, she contacted a shrink at the university’s Health Center. Her intention was not to see if I could be cured but rather to find out if she would harm me in any way by giving in to my plead. The psychiatrist that she saw told her that, on the contrary, she would be helping me a lot and asked her to set an appointment to see me, if I agreed. It was at that first appointment that I learned the following, which make all the sense to me:
- I was born like that
- There was no cure and I needed to learn to find ways to express it without guilt or remorse
- I was not gay or transsexual
- There were thousands if not millions of other men like me in the world
- There were support groups, which I choose not to join at the time
However, the sex change bug was still bothering me and just to be sure, the therapist arranged for me to see a specialist in the field. After one appointment in private and one group therapy session with this therapist (today an authority in the field), I realized that I did not identify with the other girls there. I was not a male to female transsexual and would have to live my life as a male who had this oddity that needed to be expressed on a regular basis to keep my sanity.
I am sorry for the long prelude, if you have already read it in some other of my writings, but I felt the need to establish the fact that I am a diagnosed textbook-example of a heterosexual cross-dresser. As such, I do not consider myself a woman trapped in a man’s body, a female brain functioning in a male body or anything different than a man with a strange and difficult to understand, yet exciting, need to appear female on occasions. It took me years to come to terms with this and once I was able to understand and accept my cross-dressing as an integral part of my being, I finally found inner peace.
When I dress as a girl I assume a role that I play as part of this oddity but do not consider myself a woman nor do I believe that I think or feel like a woman. I feel and think like a man who, knowing he is dressed as a woman, has to adopt the mannerisms and deportment associated with that role. The role needs to be played and managed by the male brain based on observation and practice. What I am trying to say is that, even though once I see myself transformed it is second nature to act as a woman, I have to force my male brain to do so and it is not a magical consequence of being dressed as a girl. As I have mentioned several times before, I am a male actor trying his best to play a feminine role with all the respect and dignity that women deserve. I am not nor will I ever be a woman regardless of how convincingly I am able to look and act like one.
If I don’t perceive myself as a woman and accept myself as a man who would not change his life as a family man and a professional for being the most beautiful and exciting woman in the world, how could I fit in the transgender scope?
The British Dictionary defines trans as follows: trans-prefix
- Across, beyond, crossing, on the other side: transoceanic, trans-Siberian, transatlantic
- Changing thoroughly: transliterate
- Transcending: transubstantiation
And in our context, Dictionary.com mentions:
A prefix meaning “on the other side of,” referring to the misalignment of one’s gender identity with one’s biological sex assigned at birth: transgender; transsexual.
Therefore, transgender should only apply to people who identify with a gender opposite to that assigned at birth. I am certain that I am not a female trapped in a male body. Yes, I like to dress as a woman and try to act like a woman, but am always aware that I am a man and, even when in my best appearance and deportment as a female, I do not want to become one permanently. I will argue that for a heterosexual CD or at least those like me who are comfortable with that label, it is not becoming a woman what we seek but rather being able to pass for one while knowing we are men. Let me elaborate on this idea.
When I have been able to pass in public, what excites me is the fact that I, a man, has successfully been perceived and treated by others as a woman. In some circumstances when I have had to disclose my true gender, it is the expression of surprise in the other person what I value the most because it means that I have done a good job in my feminine illusion. The same applies when a man shows signs that he finds me worthy of his attention even though I will ignore rather than encourage him. I do not dress to attract men or to maliciously mislead people about my true gender. As a matter of fact, if I get in a compromising situation, I immediately explain what I am and why I do it. I guess that I can be called a recreational as opposed to a professional gender illusionist.
What we, heterosexual CDs find exiting is the fact that a man can convincingly be perceived as a woman. However, there is always a need to be praised in our art and coming out to others plays a key role in that. We need a pat in the back for a work well done and even better if it comes from unsuspecting people. The expression of my wife when she first saw me transformed when we were just friends, or my mother’s, when she saw a video, saying that she could walk by me anywhere and never suspect that I was a man and even less so her son, are some of the most rewarding memories that I have in this regard.
For me cross-dressing is all about the successful transformation and back rather than and expression of a hidden or suppressed true self. When I see Cristy in the mirror, I see the feminine illusion performed by the male me. Cristy is a character I play and not my true self. This is why you will never catch me saying phrases like “I was myself yesterday” but rather “I took Cristy out of her boxes yesterday”. I admit that there are stages in the life of a heterosexual CD in which the need to dress is stronger and more frequent but that does not mean that he wants to permanently become a woman as some tend to misinterpret.
I am sorry for the rambling and for taking so long to come to the foreseeable conclusion but it is always helpful to set the grounds for further elaboration. Do I need to state the conclusion? Ok, here I go…
I describe myself as a textbook example of a heterosexual cross-dresser and as such, I do not consider myself transgender. If I am something that needs to be preceded by the prefix trans-, then I am a “transclother” or a “transdresser”. “Transvestite” used to be a very fitting term but it was generalized to cover everyone who dresses as the opposite gender for whichever reason so I think that you will agree with me in that nothing would describe me better than the label “heterosexual cross-dresser”.
The photos included with this post are the three most popular of Cristy’s photos on Flickr.
Also, please allow me to state publicly that Cristy is one of the most giving “ladies” I know in our little universe. And I am proud to call her “friend”!