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This page is not so much about me, it is more about my theory on why I crossdress
I recently stumbled across the following website
that has some fascinating discussion on the causes of crossdressing. Part of one article in particular struck such a chord with me, that I have decided to expand on the theory and apply it to myself. I have pasted the whole passage at the end of this page but only part of the passage rings true for me. It originates from Freud and this has been a really great help for me in coming to terms with my crossdressing. I have pasted the passage below:

Ambivalence towards women
For many reasons, the boy may also harbour negative feelings towards the mother or other women. This may make him reluctant to accept women as the object of his sexual feelings. He may resent the fact that he is attracted to someone he feels is untrustworthy, threatening, or bad in some way. Or, if he feels the mother is overcontrolling, he may be especially cautious of his sexual feelings, which tend to increase the potential power of women over him.

I have often read crossdressers say that they dress because they admire women so much and love the way they look, walk, smell etc. and they then take this to the next level by trying to emulate them by dressing as them. Now I agree with the first part of that sentence, but I have never really been able to figure out how or why that translates into the second part. Most non-crossdressing heterosexual men adore femininity, but only in real women and are content to limit their exposure to femininity to dating and being attracted to women. What is going on to make some of us need to have that femininity for ourselves?

I have always had a very strong affinity and attraction to women. I don't particularly like men, and have always been happier to have a female best friend than a male one. However, dating and sex were frequently very tricky for me, certainly until I was mature enough to consciously improve my confidence in those areas. I always struggled to chat up women in bars and was 22 when I lost my virginity. My first sexual relationships were fraught with anxiety and consequently I suffered performance issues (don't say the 'I' word - if you say it you think it, you think it you've got it!!) and these issues were only really dealt with during my first lengthy sexual relationship thanks to an understanding partner.

So I have established that I worship women, and have had also feelings of anxiety and inadequacy associated with intimacy with them. This brings me to Freud's comment:

'He may resent the fact that he is attracted to someone he feels is untrustworthy, threatening, or bad in some way. Or, if he feels the mother is overcontrolling, he may be especially cautious of his sexual feelings, which tend to increase the potential power of women over him.'

Now, I would not call my mother overcontrolling, but there is no doubt she is a strong willed woman and since I had a fairly absent father, she had a large influence on me when I was growing up, so I'm not sure how much can be attributed to her. Notice I used the words 'attributed to' and not 'blamed on'. I have always been a particularly sensitive person (my wife will testify to that), and I know at a young age this was a problem as I was very shy (research now incidentally is attributing shyness and over-sensitivity to nature (ie. genetics) rather than nurture), so I'm sure that the blame lies squarely with me.

Freud's key line for me is 'potential power of women over him.' It is quite obvious to me that I have held women on a high pedestal and therefore given them power.

So how does this translate into crossdressing? Well, this is where the rest of Freud's theory comes in. The crux of the theory is that sexual feelings and the love of femininity a male would ordinarily seek direct from women, are, in the crossdresser, sometimes diverted for one reason or another. They can become directed towards female clothing, or towards the crossdresser himself as an imagined female displaying the attractive features of women, rather than to enjoy these features as present in an actual women.

This is the point at which a light switched on in my head! My crossdressing is a way of experiencing femininity in a controlled environment, which is non-threatening to me. This explains why I am exclusively attracted to women. It explains why, for me, crossdressing is sensual and sexual, and why I have no desire to socialise with other crossdressers, and would feel uncomfortable being out in public while dressed. It explains why I can be attracted to women sexually whilst also being attracted to dressing like one and the two can be either independent of one another (I can be turned on by my wife without the need for crossdressing stimulation, and I can be turned on by crossdressing without the need for female stimulation), or they can be combined (I can be turned on dressed whilst being intimate with my wife). It explains why, as a single man I would meet someone that I was attracted to and was attracted to their clothes at the same time (The phrase "I'd like to get into her knickers" brings on new meaning!!!). It explains why my dressing habits and desires haven't changed in the 27 years of dressing. It is of great comfort to me to finally know why I do this, what I get out of it and I am more than happy knowing that these are my reasons for dressing. I'm sure many other people have their own opinions on this matter, but I have found Frued's theory to be by far the most applicable to me. There is more to the theory, and there are other reasons for this 'inversion', so I have posted the whole article below.


Freud's Sexual Inversion Hypothesis and Crossdressing

Freud used the inversion hypothesis to explain male homosexuality. His argument is complex (some might even call it convoluted), as it associates male homosexuality with a strong maternal attachment. Inversion seems far more relevant to crossdressing than to homosexuality (see Refs. 2 and 3). In fact, it would not surprise me if the term "inversion" was originally applied to explain male effeminacy and Freud merely adopted (and expanded) it.

With respect to crossdressing, the idea is that the sexual feelings a male would ordinarily direct towards women, are, in the crossdresser, diverted. They become instead directed towards female clothing, or towards the crossdresser himself as an imagined female.

Sexual feelings must be understood to encompass a variety of distinct sensations and emotions, including:

  • the giddiness or high that a man feels when attracted to a woman

  • soft, tactile gratifications of holding and touching

  • sexual arousal

  • stimulation of erogenous zones

  • release of sexual tension with orgasm

In the "normal" male, these sensations and feelings are elicited in various phases of courtship and mating with a female, and to some degree also in other relationships with women.

Inversion implies that for some reason, the normal process is not followed, such that the man chooses to experience some or all of these types of pleasurable feelings by himself.

As evidence that something like this is going on, consider the prominence that mirrors have in the life of the crossdresser. Indeed, one wonders whether, if there were no mirrors or cameras, there would even be crossdressing.

The crossdresser sees in the mirror a reasonable facsimile of a woman. Many of the same cues that a man finds sexually attractive in a woman are in that image--the clothes, makeup, hair, nuances of expression, etc. It seems fairly clear that a crossdresser obtains sexual enjoyment (by the broad definition of 'sexual' above) from his own image.

The basic concept of inversion is thus simple enough--the man chooses to display the attractive features of women, and to enjoy those, rather than to enjoy these features as present in an actual women.

What might cause this to happen for some males and not others? We can distinguish three broad classes of things that might promote inversion.

Class 1: Drive Factors

The first class are things that make a given boy's sexual feelings stronger than others, such that he must resort to unusual activities to satisfy them.

Genetic disposition

Some males may have a genetic tendency such that they have more interest in sexual feelings. There's not much to say about this really, except to note it as a possibility.

Availability and closeness to mother

One of the few firm statistical findings in the area is that first sons (i.e., first born children, first male child, or only child) are over-represented among crossdressers. It is easy to imagine mothers showing a lot of affection to first sons. Her first children are perhaps a source of greater enjoyment. A girl could potentially be viewed as a competitor to the mother, but not so with the male. So the first son may, as an infant, may receive some of the mother's closest emotional involvement. It is easy to imagine a boy infant, experiencing this loving maternal contact, developing a strong impression of the mother, and women generally, as nice things--an idea that femininity is pleasurable.

(As an aside, the interest of many crossdressers in fantasy themes like domination by a strong woman and infantilization supports the idea of maternal relationship in the genesis of crossdressing.)

Class 2: Barriers to Normal Expression

The second class of things that might promote inversion are obstacles towards the usual pattern of a man seeking to gratify his sexual feelings with women. This class includes a rather long list of things. Some are:

Oedipal fear

We begin by supposing (and it isn't far-fetched) that a boy's initial object for his developing sexual feelings (again, defined in a very broad way) is his mother. The boy may fear that this will make his father jealous and angry. If so, the boy would tend to avoid making his mother the object of the feelings. A compromise, which gratifies the feelings, while avoiding the anxiety, is to focus them instead on female clothing, or on himself as a female.

The incest taboo

A perhaps more basic problem is a boy's own reluctance to admit that his mother is an object of such feelings. Clearly such quasi-incestuous feelings are socially disapproved of. But it may go deeper than that. As incest is genetically unfavorable, perhaps nature has endowed humans with a basic, instinctive aversion to it. Once again attraction to female clothing, crossdressing, or feminine identification allows the boy to gratify the feelings, but in a way that avoids the superego and the incest taboo.

Ambivalence of mother

A mother may give mixed emotional messages. She may alternate between love and indifference. Also, she may be very nice while the son is a helpless infant, but have more negative feelings once his male behavior develops.

Once the boy is "hooked" on her expressions of positive feelings it may be hard for him to deal with their absence. He may miss the tender, affectionate touches of the mother. If she becomes cold, indifferent, or hostile, the boy may learn to meet his emotional cravings on his own. He may literally "become the mother" in order to gain the same soothing feelings associated with his earlier, happier interactions with her. This would help explain the almost universal association of crossdressing with anxiety-reduction and soothing feelings.

Ambivalence towards women

For many reasons, the boy may also harbor negative feelings towards the mother or other women. This may make him reluntant to accept women as the object of his sexual feelings. He may resent the fact that he is attracted to someone he feels is untrustworthy, threatening, or bad in some way. Or, if he feels the mother is overcontrolling, he may be especially cautious of his sexual feelings, which tend to increase the potential power of women over him.

Feelings of unlovability

As a child the crossdresser may have developed the idea that he is not attractive to women, lowering his expectation of success in fulfilling sexual desires with women.

Class 3: Facilitating Experiences

The third class of things that may promote crossdressing are circumstances that may make it easier for the boy to discover crossdressing as a way to gratify his sexual feelings. Clearly the presence of many women in the household--sisters, aunts--will stimulate his curiosity about feminine things. Availability of female clothing will likely increase the probability of crossdressing experiments. And, of course, any experience in which sisters or other women playfully crossdress the boy may leave a lasting impression.

In this category we might also place genetic tendencies that predispose the male to respond to the factors listed above by crossdressing.

So there are variety of factors, many combinations of which could produce inversion and crossdressing. Once the crossdressing is established, of course, it is on its own trajectory--it develops and becomes ingrained with continued practice.

Implications for the Adult Crossdresser

A main implication is that crossdressing of this kind is not an ideal state (note: all comments here only apply to inversion-caused crossdressing). It is a misdirection of sexual energies from their original purpose. It might be too strong to call it "pathological." But the theory does imply that crossdressing impairs self-actualization. Crossdressing risks violating the organic integrity of the male. It affects the unity of his essence. Part of him is still committed to women and to finding higher levels of fulfillment through his love of women. But the crossdressing diverts energy from this. By not adequately investing his sexual urges in women, his relationships with women potentially do not become as deep and fulfilling as they might otherwise become.

Like all neurotic or defensive behavior, there is an inherent paradox with such crossdressing. It is a "good" strategy short-term, but not long-term. For any given day or week, crossdressing provides pleasure and escape from anxiety. But what are the consequences, what opportunities lost by following the strategy for 10 years, 20 years or more?

The crossdresser basically experiences a highly refined version of infantile sexuality. It is highly fantasy laden, and extremely narcissistic. Some would argue that the very purpose of erotic pleasure is to tie us more deeply to other people. Yet in the crossdresser the pursuit of sexual pleasure tends to have the opposite effect of driving him away from people and into himself.

Psychoanalysis distinguishes between "phallic love" and "genital love." Phallic love is narcissistic and overly concerned with ones own pleasure. In contrast is the more mature genital love, which combines the self pleasure with the deeper emotional connection and commitment to another. Phallic love deals with fantasy, whereas genital love is involved in reality. Crossdressing, then, seems more associated with the former.

Getting beyond crossdressing

If the theory is correct, what does it suggest for how the adult crossdresser should approach crossdressing?

The main implication is that he should revisit the psychological compromise that crossdressing represents. As a child, he made what amounts to a cost-benefit comparison, and selected the course which seemed to maximize self-interest. The problem is that this decision was based on false perceptions and generalizations from inadequate data. Now, as an adult, the crossdresser needs to re-assess things, and form a new cost-benefit analysis. Presumably he will see that his interests are maximized by re-investing his sexual energies more fully in women.

Here we confront that peculiar characteristic of human nature--that (1) ones behavior, outlook, and indeed, ones thoughts are strongly affected by unconscious issues, yet (2) because we understand this, we can apply our conscious mind and reason to correct mistakes of unconscious thinking.