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Is a CD Necessarily Transgender?

Originally posted on Flickr August 15, 2017, viewed so far by 43,839!

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 

  1. Across, beyond, crossing, on the other side: transoceanic, trans-Siberian, transatlantic
  2. Changing thoroughly: transliterate
  3. Transcending: transubstantiation

And in our context, 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”!


37 Responses

  1. Great explanation Cristy . I’m not sure exactly where I fit in but your post has me leaning towards the same as you see yourself. My wife has always had concerns that I would prefer to be a woman, however I have reassured her that is not the case. I appreciate your insight. I have so I much still to learn however being able to read stories like this and other great stories here in Kandis land is a massive help . 🙂

    1. Dear Chris,

      Despite assurances, my wife has that same fear. Not that I have the answer, I both give her the space and grace to have that fear and realize it is true to her. I assure her that is not in my and yet allow that I am still learning. Just a few days ago she asked me to continue my honesty, and tell her if I feel any changes.

      As I tell her, the only way I can make good on my promise that I don’t have those feelings, I also tell her only time will prove me right. She is willing to give me that time,.

      Grace to both of us!


  2. Cristy, that was a great post and an interesting take on the whole issue. In the end, I think there are two variables at play here; firstly how we wish to interpret the dictionary definition of the word ‘transgender’ – using the definition you quote, does ‘misalignment’ imply alignment with the opposite gender or just some form of discomfort with the one we’ve got? – and secondly whether we, as individuals, wish to be included in that umbrella term. I would assert that there are as many possibilities here as there are people who participate in CDing!

    And, as if that wasn’t enough, we then have to throw the opinions and judgement of others into the mix. I’m sure that there will be a range of opinions amongst those who read your post and see your photos – ‘how can someone who looks that good not be TG?’, ‘she’s in denial’, ‘wow, his transformation is amazing’, ‘I wish my wife looked as good as he does (!)’ and so on.

    Even the link between gender dysphoria and transgenderism can be tenuous – does a burning desire to live the life of a woman automatically mean dissatisfaction with life as a man? And to further confuse things, I think the answer here is ‘not necessarily’. Your point about observation and practice is bang on. We can never know how it feels to be female in the same way that we can never know how it feels to be our father, brother, son or the next door neighbour. But I would go further and say that I would have a comparable difficulty in articulating what it’s like being male because, when all is said and done, I can only really say what it’s like being me.

    I love getting dressed up & putting on makeup and then looking in the mirror and seeing someone I far prefer to the image that normally confronts me. And now that I’ve started to spread my wings and step out into the big wide world, doors that once seemed resolutely closed and locked are now open and, in some cases, seem to be inviting me to walk through. But, as you rightly say, it’s not that straightforward and whilst I am sure that I could function perfectly well as a transwoman, it’s not the right answer or way forward for me.

    In the end, though, the only thing that matters is how we ourselves feel. I don’t stop being me when I put on a pair of heels or become me when I apply lipstick. I just am me all the time and that’s really the only label I need. Others are welcome to form their own opinion but that opinion by definition will be from their point of reference, not mine. Maybe if we stripped away the things about being male that are important to us – family, career, friends, etc. – then living a life with a much higher emphasis on the things that societal norms define as female would be more attractive but that would neither affect the definition of transgender, nor change who we are.

    Life will always be a compromise and as long as we’re happy being who we are, things like labels become unimportant.

    1. I agree with you in that every experience is different for each individual, Amanda. In the end, each of us could come with a particular definition or label and, as long as we are happy with it and stop being confused and accept our reality, then we will have peace.

    2. Great comment Amanda!

      My gender therapist recommended I read a book, which I won’t share here, because it is awful. So much of the book was stuck on “labels” and it made my head spin trying to figure out which one fit me. I came to the conclusion that no one term explains, or labels me.

      And this very issue is one of the discussion points my loving wife raises, such as “Are you __ or __?” I explain that I truly don’t feel any one label or combination fits me as well as just wearing women’s clothing and looking good.

      She also points out that most of the available “psychological” research doesn’t address the full spectrum along gender. While I wish we had more research, I realize that is a tall task, given how hidden most of us are, I learn more from sharing ideas here!


  3. Cristy
    What a very informative post , I have successfully been impersonating women out and about for many years , I enjoy both sides of my life , it’s just part of who I am , accepting who you are is so important

  4. HI Cristy – and thank you so much for this post. You have stated in words that which i have found difficult to articulate. I can relate to so much of what you have experienced. Like you, I know I am not a transgender person but rather one that revels in creating the female image. I recognize “Kris” as a creation of my imagination and I am attempting to develop that character to the best of my ability. I hope one day to be able to do it as effectively as you, but in the meantime each small success in an outing or compliment I may receive fills me with great joy and benefits me so much psychologically. To me, where I fit on the transgender spectrum is not important, but I am quite proud and fortunate to be included among so many others for whom I have such admiration and respect.

    1. I am sure that you will take the Kris character where you want her to be but, what matters the most is that you enjoy every step of the road. Confidence is the key ingredient in achieving our goal!

    2. I admire and respect you Kris! Thanks for sharing in this important dialogue and life experiences.

  5. Hello Cristy,
    This essay is delightful and an excellent presentation of your understanding of this aspect of your life. It is also a spot on, absolutely perfect, description of how I see this aspect of my life. Many of us, I am sure, are the same peas in the same pods. Thank you for posting this affirming and cheerful essay. Best to you, Marissa in Ohio.

    1. Glad you identify with my thoughts, Marissa. I think I did not disclose it here but those three years of freedom and discovery I mention, during graduate school, took place in Columbus, OH. Yes, I am a Buckeye 🙂

  6. Thank you Cristy, you really nailed it !!! I don’t think i could put it into words any better the way I feel about my dressing. Hugs …..

    1. Although not everyone would agree with my views, I had a feeling that many would identify with them and this is why I shared them, Samantha. 🙂

  7. Cristy,
    Sometimes we face the problem of trying to answer the question , ” What am I ?” For years I fought the battle of guilt knowing I was born a man BUT !
    What does drive that need ? Why does the act of dressing in female clothes have such an affect on us ? I personally believe we all have degrees of dysphoria , for some it waxes and wanes , for others like me it’s a gut feeling 24/7 that needed to be satisfied . The usage of terms has gradually changed , at one time it appeared to be more balck and white , either you want to be a woman or you don’t , if the need is strong then the only way forward was hormones leading to surgery .
    I came to the conclusion that crossdressing for many is a window to the World attempting to explain how we feel inside , the problem is these feelings vary from person to person . Some may admit to being transgender and others leave it as an open door until they discover more about themselves .
    At times it’s hard to make the transfomation , I risked a great deal by going down that road but deep down I knew it was the only road .
    People often confuse issues with sexuality , the early term of calling SRS a sex change didn’t help . Many of us question our dressing needs because they don’t always conform with our sexual needs . I performed my duties as a man which I have no regrets about , having children and grandchildren is special , I have no interest in men even if I attarct some attention , I remain attracted to women and feel I would continue to feel that way even if I’d took further steps in transition . So this raises the question , what am I and what would I become ?

    Today the gender and sexuality lines are so blurred , perhaps some might say they have become more confused , personally it’s possibly helped me to define my life , I live less like a man and far more like a woman but I’m in a position to enjoy what both have to offer . Of the two I much prefer the female lifestyle , it’s far more flexible , the choices are far greater aside from the clothes we can enjoy wearing .

    So to return to your question , the simple answer is do what you enjoy doing if it makes you happier without causing too much distress to people around you . Crossdressing is a desciption of the way you choose to live that life , do the other labels really matter ?
    I no longer consider the term crossdressing to describe my life now , to me the odd occasion I have to revert is described as such .

    1. “Love your window to the World attempting to explain (understand?) how we feel inside”, is a wonderful and apt way to state at least one reason that many of us dress, Teresa,

      Also your thoughts on sexuality resonate, as an area my wife struggles with about me.

      For those trying to love and understand us, there is little research that applies, and almost no societal understanding or acceptance.

      Like you, I hope, it feels like a quest worth pursuing to learn more about ourselves and live healthier.


  8. Definitions and groupings are among the bugaboos of life as a person who enjoys and often wears women’s clothing. Its important to distinguish one group from the many…that is the “transsexual”, (although I understand that term may be falling from favor). To my understanding, a transsexual can be the individual whose gender is indeed the opposite of their biological sex, literally a female gender identity in a male body, or a male gender identity in a female body. That’s very black and white and very gender binary. If viewed as a spectrum or a bi-polar scheme, transsexual individuals find their identity on one end and their physiology at the other.

    But gender identities, the way one sees themselves or feels about themselves may just as likely occur at any point along that gender spectrum. Some people may feel that their gender identity is fluid… fluctuating along that spectrum depending on the circumstances, their mood, fluctuating hormonal levels, or forces we can’t identify. Science may give us some clues about people’s gender identity, but unfortunately doesn’t offer hard and fast rules or even testable hypotheses to what gender identity is, nor why how one perceives their gender might vary from individual to individual.In the abscesses of solid science, transgender seems a term of convenience for people who kinda feel unsure about their gender.

    I would view cross dressing as a behavior. It is something one does. Its an observable phenomenon. Engaging in cross dressing does not, by default, make anyone transgender. That is a term that an individual may feel work for them, or helps them understand their gender identity. Another individual may feel that it doesn’t reflect their gender identity, and may attribute their interest in cross dressing to any number of other influences and motivations.

    Ultimately, there is no right or wrong. We wouldn’t be able to tell one way or the other.

    In my case, my desire to present as a woman comes from someplace lost in the deep mists of time. It has been part of me since my very earliest fragmentary recollections. I have often resisted and at other times given in wholly to that desire. I have an unshakable uncertainty about my gender identity…I look and act in a masculine manner, but don’t feel confident that its a perfect fit. when I am presenting as a woman, I feel about the same. A nice fit, but not perfect.

    1. Interesting insights, Kim. We all seem to agree in the fact that being at peace with oneself is what matters the most as long as we respect others and, in doing so, earn their respect.

    2. Tongue in cheek, Kim, its that black and white world that I want to change to a world of color and options – women’s wear! And you are right, who we are and what we do, is seldom black and white. And complicating that is those who don’t understand us, only see black and white. And you are right, there is an absence of “solid science” or “research”, which wpould be more important to our loving spouses, trying to understand, than to us. Great insights – thank you!


  9. Cristy, I have evolved my thinking several times in the last decade, which is when I finally started going out dressed after many years of staying inside my house. I am a man who loves dressing as a woman and always know that I am acting the part.

    On the other hand, I find it much easier when talking with people when out and about to refer to myself as transgender. And I am finding that I like the term “bigender”, as I am either expressing as fully male or fully female, not anywhere in between.

    But my point is that every person needs to be comfortable with their own approach to this life. No one can say for sure what anyone else is thinking or feeling. The constant struggle to label ourselves is exhausting and, probably, less important than simply being ourselves.

    But if I could pass as well as you do, Cristy, I would be far more likely to consider seriously if I wanted to transition or live as a woman. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    1. Agin, being happy and comfortable in our own skin is what is important, Tina. I appreciate your compliments on my transformation, however, I always say that, if I had decided to transition, when I was confused, I would have regretted it, sooner or later. I would not trade the family and life I have as a man for being a beautiful and successful woman; especially since I get to dress up every now and then 😉

      1. I would certainly regret losing the life and family I have now as well, I was only saying I’d have considered a different path when I was younger. For many of us, if we had had the information and support that the youth and young adults have today, our lives might have been more open and honest, rather than hidden and secretive. This is a great topic of discussion!

        1. Indeed, Tina. By the same token, having it so easily available to young people, presents the risk of transitioning just for the pleasure and sensations, with the risk of regretting it. We had it harder, but there was a reason for it, I think; at least in my case.

    2. Great points, Tina. Especially about, “if we could all pass as well as Christy.”

      Having worked for years in the world of branding, I have explained that, to me, we can’t brand ourselves. It is how others see us that creates the branding (labeling). Unfortunately in our world I, for one, don’t want to be labeled. If I hope to be understood, my wife (and others, someday?) need to understand the complex and complete person that is me/you. And that takes more time and effort that most are willing to invest.

      Maybe just like we love various outfits, ensembles, women’s fashions, we are a variety of “things” and “looks” and “feelings” is just as various.

      Thanks for helping expand on Christy’s amazing blog and helping me better understand myself and those around me.


  10. Ana,
    I sound repetitive but what a thought provoking post. I’ve been battling myself for the last three or so years trying to figure out where I land on the spectrum. I blocked it out for forty years and only recently remembering my adolescent desires to dress female. My desire is very strong. I’m 62 and I feel my life is over as a male. I really don’t want to be male any longer. But does that mean I should transition? I’m also battling family harmony. My wife has been terrific and I’m blessed in that regard. I feel so happy and comfortable as Gwen. My wife tells me she sees it all the time but prefers her husband.

    I just love posts such as yours that causes me to think and challenge my thoughts.

    I’m so glad to have met you a few times as well.

    Thank you.


    1. Gwen,
      I am 62, myself, and, unlike you, I think it is too much effort to do it every day or even regularly. I believe that the longer I wait the more I enjoy the time I get to spend as Cristy. Meeting you a couple of times has been a pleasure and I hope that the next time we get to chat a bit more and discuss the topic.


    2. Brilliant addition, Gwen.

      My wife seems to be working to more acceptance and is wonderful so far, though full of doubts. Happily, we spend blessed hours discussing it in thoughtful ways.

      One particular comment realty resonates and with your permission (or not?) I will use it. “My wife tells me she sees it all the time (accepting) but prefers her husband. Being a communications fiend with an improv attitude I hope my wife changes that “but” to an “and”.


    3. Gwen,
      It depends what you mean by ” transition ” . It has become a far looser term , it has made it easier to make changes to your lifestyle .I found life as a male could only happen for me when I separated but I now know my ex-wife regrets how she handled the situation , she didn’t realise what she was losing until it was too late .
      At 62 you have the right to make those decisons , like me you have played the male role and earned the respect . I know I was trying to prove something and possibly bury my female needs but we can’t subdue it forever . You never know your wife might prefer Gwen once she gets to know her better .

  11. Cristy,

    I live virtually full time as a woman. For a good explanation as to why, I will just use Gwen’s phrase – I really did not want to be male any longer. I am not a female trapped in a man’s body, have no desire to take hormones or undergo surgery and am attracted to women. I love presenting as a woman and feel confident, comfortable and happy when doing so. I delight in being perceived and treated as a woman by others. Many people in today’s social environment would label me as trans and place me somewhere on the trans spectrum which is fine with me. However, I tend to avoid labels when describing myself because my situation is unique, as is everyone’s dressing situation. I do not think of myself as a woman but as someone who needs to express their femininity and is best able to do so when looking and acting like a woman. It has proven to be a very pleasant way to lead my life.

    All the best,


    1. Finding a comfortable place in our lives is what is important, Fiona. You seem to have done it, as have many of us, regardless of how different or similar our places are. Some dislike labels and others, like me, are comfortable with them. I guess labels work mostly for others to understand why we need to do what we do.

  12. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Christy!

    Since my “reveal” to my wonderful wife about my dressing, my feminine side, if you will, she has struggled to understand it and me and why it is what I like.

    You explain it so artfully and with such caring insight that I hope to share your blog with her soon, or at least when the time is right.

    In fact, your thoughtful (re) blog (I missed the first time) has also given me real insight into the “why” for me. While I understand that I am heterosexual, not gay, and not born in the wrong body with the need to transition, I have been unable to express, beyond the feeling of dressing, why it is occasionally satisfying to go out and pass, or try to. This section is now burned into me and helps me further understand myself.

    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

    Now, if I can “trans”cend that self understanding into words and feelings my Dear Wife will understand, your work will be (nearly) done here!

    With heartfelt appreciation, including admiration for your transformation elegances

    1. I am thrilled that my thoughts and experiences have resonated in you, Crystal. One of the key factors that I have identified as a characteristic of a “heterosexual CD” (I like the label) is that thrill we feel for the fact that a man can pass for a female while being a regular male. This applies not only for when we are able to do it, but also for when other men do it successfully. However, the fact that we are, otherwise ‘normal” men is what make it difficult for others, including our wives, to understand. This is why the traditional label of heterosexual crossdresser suits me best and I am happy to use it to explain, those who need to know, what or who I am.

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