The public image of cross dressing is changing, and it’s progressive. We are heading in the right direction and many battles have been won, the war is not over. So the prospect for any cross dresser coming out of their lingerie drawer and establishing their own image of cross dressing is daunting to say the least.
Going into a department store, choosing a bra and panties, hoping they are the right size for their image of cross dressing, shyly moving towards the counter to pay, handing the garments to the assistant, praying that the transaction will go unnoticed: all of this can be a nerve-wracking experience for the new girl’s image of cross dressing. Is everyone looking at you? Are they thinking ‘I know what he is doing and he’s not shopping for his partner’ – are they sniggering with the wrong kind of image of cross dressing in their mind? And that lingerie shop where you know you will have to speak to the girl who is already heading towards you; fearing that someone you know will enter whilst you are explaining just what type of image of cross dressing you are looking for.
One of our many stunning girls Suzanne at the Crossdressing Service
‘What size is she?’ You are desperate to talk about your own image of cross dressing tell her that it is for you and you need to be measured properly but with crimson-faced embarrassment and grasping at straws and hoping for the best you mumble 38C. Hoping that it will fit your image of cross dressing. Or the Internet shopping packages which are supposed to arrive discretely at your office – you can’t risk your home address with this image of cross dressing: but you always worry that they might be opened inadvertently and your secret image of cross dressing revealed to all and sundry by gossipy colleagues. Panic, anxiety and fear become central to your cross-dressing life. So coming out of your lingerie drawer to establish your self-image of cross dressing is almost unthinkable for many.
Emily and Florence, played by David Walliams and Matt Lucas in the BBC show Little Britain, provide us with a parody of transvestite behaviour and in doing so show us how far we still have to go to win the war of acceptance for the image of cross dressing and transgender community. Dressed in the frilliest of clothes and sporting lace parasols they appear to confront prejudice regarding the image of cross dressing through comedy. Florence’s resplendent moustache adds a definite piquancy to Lucas’ transgender role. Their image of cross dressing is meant to be inauthentic because it is meant to be funny. There is little or no subtlety about these two ladies, with deliberate similarities to some drag queens who revel in the exaggeration of aspects of femininity. Attention-seeking as performance art. But none the worse for that. Yet not quite the image of cross dressing that we all seek for ourselves.
One of our younger girls at the Crossdressing Service
Dustin Hoffman’s in Tootsie may have been a comedy role resenting another image of cross dressing, but it was also a sensitive portrayal of a woman. In an interview given in 2012, Hoffman described his reaction to being made up as a woman: “I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive. I said, ‘Now you have me looking like a woman, now make me a beautiful woman.’ Because I thought I should be beautiful. … And they said to me, ‘That’s as good as it gets.'” Yet in the film two male characters fall for Hoffman’s character Dorothy Michaels, not stereotypically beautiful in the Miss America sense but nevertheless a most attractive image of cross dressing. Hoffman is a perfectionist in his acting but he had not fully understand that perfection may be achieved in many ways and that beauty comes in many guises. Those who saw Tootsie realised they were seeing an exemplary image of cross dressing but certainly not the only form of femininity.
The BBC Reith Lectures were first broadcast in 1948 with the celebrated philosopher Bertrand Russell delivering a typically eloquent talk on the nature of authority. Grayson Perry, winner of the prestigious Turner 2003 Art Prize, was introduced by Sue Lawley before giving the even more prestigious Reith Lectures in 2013, as being the first cross-dresser to deliver the lectures. Quick as a flash, he responded to laughter and applause: “As far as we know.” When Grayson was awarded the CBE at Buckingham Palace. He wore what he described as his ‘Italian mother-of-the-bride’ outfit. Glamorously presenting the image of cross dressing to royalty and certainly not outrageous, his dress was a gorgeous silk midnight-blue with a matching jacket, and was judged by a Palace spokesman as being entirely appropriate. Most commentators said that he looked terrific as Claire, his femme image of cross dressing alter ego. Attention-seeking in precisely the natural feminine way: wanting to look and feel fabulous. And presenting an image of cross dressing which demands admiration.
When a Bohemian and extremely talented artist demonstrates to the world that Claire is definitely not willing to remain hidden in the wardrobe and is determined to make public her image of cross dressing, emerging fully cross-dressed from her lingerie drawer, there is little shock at this image of cross dressing. The ‘eccentricity’ associated with the image of cross dressing is seen as complementing that of the artist who is expected to challenge the norms of society. Yet when a more conventional personality reveals his femininity moving beyond the image of cross dressing, there can be rather more of a surprise. But, in the hands of the press, what should be a simple ‘surprise’ becomes a bombshell, a bolt from the blue, in fact truly staggering news.
Miss Kitty is an Image of Cross Dressing
A sports correspondent for the BBC claimed that it was appropriate to be shocked that Frank Maloney, boxing promoter, is now Kellie, released from the image of cross dressing to a new reality as she lives her life as a woman. His justification turned on the supposed ‘macho’ character of the world of boxing. An often brutal world made famous by a Heavyweight World Champion who flaunted his handsome, pretty face and floated like a butterfly. The combination of Muhammad Ali’s poetic character, the physical toughness and exuberant femininity of Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams and perhaps even the studied elegance of World Middleweight Champion Chris Eubank should be enough to persuade us to think twice about that exclusively macho characterization seemingly at odds with the image of cross dressing. Whatever view we take, there is no doubt that this is the arena which nurtured Kellie and her image of cross dressing.
The glorious truth is that there is no typical cross-dresser and no standard image of cross dressing. There are cross-dressing men in all walks of life. It is hard to believe that any profession, any career, any institution is immune to the temptations of cross-dressing and the development of that precious image of cross dressing: judges, beefy welders, teachers, boxing promoters, IT consultants, politicians of all parties, top sportsmen, Yorkie munching truck drivers … the list goes on and on. Each separate image of cross dressing an incredible delight.
There is an undercurrent here which deserves some thought as we think about the image of cross dressing. Estimates of the percentage of men who have cross-dressed at some point in their lives vary, with 20% being quoted most frequently. When it comes to regular cross-dressing that figure falls to around 5 to 10%. Opinion polls typically rely on the truthfulness of the respondent. And, where there are connotations of guilt or shame associated with the image of cross dressing, surveys notoriously under-estimate percentages. So we may confidently say that at the very least one in ten men cross dress with some regularity. Consequently the shock expressed in society may have less to do with the fact that a man cross-dresses and rather more to do with the suspicion that this revelation may be, as Grayson Perry wittily intimated as he reflected upon the image of cross dressing, merely the tip of a giant lace and satin iceberg.
Jane dressed in 50’s style another Image of Cross Dressing
It is certainly true that for many who cross-dress there is often an attendant sexual frisson. However, it would be wrong to believe that the motivation for cross-dressing is entirely sexual as opposed to gender-based. Most cross-dressers describe their desire to wear women’s clothes as something deep within them: a need that does not and will not go away. However the image of cross dressing is played out in their lives, and there is no one way of being a cross-dresser, they speak of the need to express a femininity which seems to be an intrinsic part of them and in many cases of the transgender identity they inhabit. It may be stronger when there is tension in their lives, but it is always present even if only in the background at times. And, for very many cross-dressers, this is something which has been a central part of their lives and part of their self-image of cross dressing since childhood. Many of the testimonials on the Dress Me Up website illustrate and support these reflections.
Consider just these three of the many T-girls who have written to JJ thanking her for her incredible help and expertise as she has explored with them their own image of cross dressing. Carolyn who in Crossdressing for Dad describes how feeling rejected as a boy he was drawn to wearing his sister’s clothes and despite the discouragement he experienced came to understand that femininity is an essential part of the person that Carolyn has become. Then there is Hannah who had a different experience, told in Feminization Service, because she was encouraged by her mother and her sister to dress as a girl, experiences which helped to shape her lifelong attitudes to dressing. Or Wendy who in Dressing Service UK, explains how her journey to femininity began in her teens. There are many, many other similarly delightful and heart-warming stories as each girls tells her tale of reconciliation with her own image of cross dressing.
But some of the testimonials also reveal a problem, and one that is directly linked to the question of coming out of the lingerie drawer and bringing that private image of cross dressing into the full light of day. The nature of the relationship between the cross-dresser and his family can be and often is deeply problematic. And it is true that many relationships have been shipwrecked by the rocks close to the surface of these troublesome waters. Because of this, many cross-dressers choose to keep their cross-dressing secret, fearful at best of misunderstanding or at worst of rejection. Marilyn was such a girl as she tells in Cross-dressing Panties, confessing that she was for many years in the ‘married with a suitcase in the loft’ stage of cross-dressing. A secret image of cross dressing.
Or Cassie, who tells us in Crossdressing Transvestite that she has a wife and two kids, is desperate to share her secret but feels unable to do so; and so relies on being able to use JJ’s dressing service to reveal her own special image of cross dressing as she expresses her femininity. Others live in an uneasy truce, with partners reluctantly accepting but not fully embracing their needs, especially if their partner appears to be self-obsessed and selfish in their cross-dressing, forgetting that it takes two to make a relationship work. To share to the full that image of cross dressing. Some however do find complete and unequivocal acceptance by their partners and families, as Caroline appears to have done in Crossdressing Service in Scotland. They find in their partners not just the spouse but also the girlfriend they want so much to build and develop that image of cross dressing. Sadly there are no easy answers here: there is no ‘right’ way ahead: every situation is different and personal judgements must be made.
Yet it is one thing to dress in the private space of one’s home: and of course very many who cross-dress have no desire to break out of this safe haven. It is quite another to venture out fully dressed into the big bad world albeit incognito, with the public image of cross dressing tested to the full. But many cross-dressers yearn for such experiences. It is a further and altogether daunting step which is taken when secrecy is abandoned and not just family but colleagues at work are made aware that they have a new woman in their midst: and one cannot underestimate some of the difficulties which will arise. Living and dressing full-time as a woman, as Kellie Maloney has done for a year, is yet another bold step forward, essential perhaps if one is considering transforming surgery.
If you are a complete novice in the world of cars, you seek professional guidance before buying that second-hand motor. If you need dental treatment, you go to a qualified and experienced dentist. If you are considering buying an expensive antique, you make sure of its provenance by consulting an independent expert. So why would you proceed any differently when trying to understand how to act, how to feel, how to behave as a woman? And, in searching for the right person as your guide to finding just the right image of cross dressing for you, please be aware that, just as there are cowboys in the building trade, there are unscrupulous people in every professional arena.
Those who have discovered wonderful JJ and her crossdressing service come to understand very quickly that they have found a pure golden image of cross dressing. They may be an occasional and private cross-dresser, or looking to build their self-confidence, or to improve their feminine style, or to discuss their femininity with a sympathetic listener. JJ is guide, teacher, make-up artist, therapist in every sense, critical friend, hypnotist – as well as an aspirational model of femininity. If you are to come out of the lingerie drawer then do not shrug off the need for delicate handling: your self-image of cross dressing may be fragile. JJ will cherish you and your developing femininity. And lead you delicately and with just the right kind of gentle firmness along the path you know you must follow to achieve the image of cross dressing which is perfect for you. And this is a path along which you will need to walk before you start to run.