Being a transvestite is a complex cocktail of motivations. It’s different for everyone, but there’s often a strong sexual component to cross-dressing, although trannies sometimes find it hard to admit this. I feel it’s like the elephant in the room. I feel it’s really there, but nobody’s talking about it.
Maybe it’s this erotic dimension which is the hardest part for others to accept.
That’s what artist and cross-dresser, Grayson Perry thinks.
All I want to do is to be able to be myself every day.
That’s from “Vivienne,” a man who cross-dresses in part to get in touch with his feminine side and feel whole.
Wearing a dress helps in the same way that actors use costume to get into a part.
But it’s unsatisfactory, he says. Read the rest of this entry
Musing on the enchantments of the cross-dressing “Miss Rose Beauty Pageant,” artist and transvestite, Grayson Perry opines,
That’s when the fantasies take flight… (but also) I thought: ooh, there’s a lot of pain in this room…They were doing their best to meet their own very emotional needs…
I slightly cringe when people say “Oh, it’s just a bit of fun,” because these guys are risking often their marriages, their careers, their relationship with their children and their neighbors — not to mention their bank balance sometimes, with the size of their wardrobes.
I think it’s quite hard for men today, because there’s an increasingly narrow bandwidth of behaviors which are seen as exclusively masculine. As women have quite rightly encroached on what used to be seen as male territory, all that’s left is the negative things. There’s less scope for a sensitive man to feel at home. What kind of men do we actually want boys to become?
That’s British artist and cross-dresser, Grayson Perry. We met him earlier in a discussion on “Men Who Wear Frocks.” He wears dresses, he says, because they help him get in touch with the feminine side of his humanity, which is blocked by a culture that suppresses male emotion.
Here’s how Perry explains that process of female “encroachment” into (so-called) male territory:
Until the later part of the 19th century, cross-dressing in ordinary life was an overwhelmingly female to male activity. Typically it tended to be a woman just trying to get on in a man’s world. But in the Victorian age, the traffic started to switch direction. Since then transvestism has become an overwhelmingly male to female behavior.
As the Victorians increasingly corralled all the softer emotions, vulnerability, innocence, gentleness, beauty into an exclusively feminine realm, men were cast as stoical, butch, practical providers, and dressed accordingly. Is it any wonder that some men started to want to cross over? For me, what the Victorians wore is the most striking example of how clothes can come to symbolize complex emotions.
So women started out more apt to mimic men in order to grasp greater opportunity and self-expression. Not to mention, gaining the status and privilege of the masculine world.
These days, women commonly express a whole range of so-called masculine traits and activities without being seen as crossing gender boundaries. They’re just doing “people-stuff.”
But men have not taken on feminine traits and activities to the same degree. Not because they can’t, but because they mostly won’t.