Transvestism

Transvestism involves recurrent, intense sexual arousal from cross-dressing.

Transvestic disorder is transvestism that causes significant distress or substantially interferes with daily functioning.

  • Most cross-dressers do not have transvestic disorder.
  • Medical professionals diagnose transvestic disorder when individuals are greatly distressed by or cannot function well because of their desire to cross-dress.
  • No drugs are reliably effective, but psychotherapy, when needed, may help individuals accept themselves and control behaviours that could cause problems in their life.

Transvestism is a form of fetishism (the clothing is the fetish), which is a type of paraphilia.

In transvestism (cross-dressing), men prefer to wear women’s clothing, or, far less commonly, women prefer to wear men’s clothing.

However, they do not wish to change their sex, as transsexuals do. Also, most of them do not have an inner sense of belonging to the opposite sex as people with gender dysphoria do.

However, men who cross-dress may have feelings of gender dysphoria when they are under stress or experience a loss.

The term cross-dressers is usually used to refer to people with transvestism. Transvestite is a less acceptable term.

Heterosexual males who dress in women’s clothing typically begin such behaviour in late childhood. This behaviour is associated, at least initially, with intense sexual arousal.

Cross-dressers may cross-dress for reasons other than sexual stimulation – for example, to reduce anxiety, to relax, or, in the case of male cross-dressers, to experiment with the feminine side of their otherwise male personalities.

Later in life (sometimes in their 50s or 60s), some men who were cross-dressers only in their teens and twenties develop gender dysphoria. They may seek to change their body through hormones and genital (sex-reassignment) surgery.

When a partner is cooperative, cross-dressing may not hurt a couple’s sexual relationship. In such cases, cross-dressing men may engage in sexual activity in partial or full feminine attire.

When a partner is not cooperative, cross-dressers may feel anxious, depressed, guilty, and ashamed about their desire to cross-dress. In response to these feelings, these men often purge their wardrobe of female clothing. This purging may be followed by additional cycles of accumulating female clothes, wigs, and makeup, with more feelings of guilt and shame, followed by more purges.

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