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Cross-dressing

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way
Irving Berlin's "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones", performed by cross-dressed U.S. Army soldiers (1942)[1]
Irving Berlin's "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones", performed by cross-dressed U.S. Army soldiers (1942)[1]

Cross-dressing is the act of wearing clothes usually worn by a different gender.[2] Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, comedy, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history.

Almost every human society throughout history has had expected norms for each gender relating to style, color, or type of clothing they are expected to wear, and likewise most societies have had a set of guidelines, views or even laws defining what type of clothing is appropriate for each gender.

The term "cross-dressing" refers to an action or a behavior, without attributing or implying any specific causes or motives for that behavior. Cross-dressing is not synonymous with being transgender.

Terminology

The phenomenon of cross-dressing is seen throughout recorded history, being referred to as far back as the Hebrew Bible.[3] The terms to describe it have changed throughout history; the Anglo-Saxon-rooted term "cross-dresser" has largely superseded the Latin-origin term "transvestite", which has come to be seen as outdated and derogatory.[4][5][6] This is because the latter was historically used to diagnose psychiatric disorders (e.g. transvestic fetishism), but the former was coined by the transgender community.[4][7] The Oxford English Dictionary gives 1911 as the earliest citation of the term "cross-dressing", by Edward Carpenter: "Cross-dressing must be taken as a general indication of, and a cognate phenomenon to, homosexuality". In 1928, Havelock Ellis used the two terms "cross-dressing" and "transvestism" interchangeably. The earliest citations for "cross-dress" and "cross-dresser" are 1966 and 1976 respectively.[8]

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Hebrew Bible

Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, also known in Hebrew as Miqra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. Different branches of Judaism and Samaritanism have maintained different versions of the canon, including the 3rd-century Septuagint text used by Second-Temple Judaism, the Syriac language Peshitta, the Samaritan Torah, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and most recently the 10th century medieval Masoretic text created by the Masoretes currently used in modern Rabbinic Judaism. The terms "Hebrew Bible" or "Hebrew Canon" are frequently confused with the Masoretic text, however, this is a medieval version and one of several texts considered authoritative by different types of Judaism throughout history. The modern Masoretic text is mostly in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages in Biblical Aramaic.

Latin

Latin

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area around present-day Rome, but through the power of the Roman Republic it became the dominant language in the Italian region and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire. Even after the fall of Western Rome, Latin remained the common language of international communication, science, scholarship and academia in Europe until well into the 18th century, when other regional vernaculars supplanted it in common academic and political usage, and it eventually became a dead language in the modern linguistic definition.

Transvestic fetishism

Transvestic fetishism

Transvestic fetishism is a psychiatric diagnosis applied to men who are thought to have an excessive sexual or erotic interest in cross-dressing; this interest is often expressed in autoerotic behavior. It differs from cross-dressing for entertainment or other purposes that do not involve sexual arousal. Under the name transvestic disorder, it is categorized as a paraphilia in the DSM-5.

Transgender

Transgender

A transgender person is someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. Many transgender people experience dysphoria, which they seek to alleviate through transitioning, often adopting a different name and set of pronouns in the process. Additionally, they may undergo sex reassignment therapies such as hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery to more closely align their primary and secondary sex characteristics with their gender identity. Not all transgender people desire these treatments, however, and others may be unable to access them for financial or medical reasons. Those who do desire to medically transition to another sex may identify as transsexual.

Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world.

Edward Carpenter

Edward Carpenter

Edward Carpenter was an English utopian socialist, poet, philosopher, anthologist, an early activist for gay rights and prison reform whilst advocating vegetarianism and taking a stance against vivisection. As a philosopher he was particularly known for his publication of Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure. Here he described civilisation as a form of disease through which human societies pass.

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

Henry Havelock Ellis was an English physician, eugenicist, writer, progressive intellectual and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He co-wrote the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897, and also published works on a variety of sexual practices and inclinations, as well as on transgender psychology. He is credited with introducing the notions of narcissism and autoeroticism, later adopted by psychoanalysis.

History

Frances Benjamin Johnston (right) poses with two cross-dressing friends; the "lady" is identified by Johnston as the illustrator Mills Thompson c. 1890.
Frances Benjamin Johnston (right) poses with two cross-dressing friends; the "lady" is identified by Johnston as the illustrator Mills Thompson c. 1890.

Cross-dressing has been practiced throughout much of recorded history, in many societies, and for many reasons. Examples exist in Greek, Norse, and Hindu mythology. Cross-dressing can be found in theater and religion, such as kabuki, Noh, and Korean shamanism, as well as in folklore, literature, and music. In the British and European context, theatrical troupes ("playing companies") were all-male, with the female parts undertaken by boy players.

Depiction of Welsh labourers dressed in women's clothing within the Rebecca Riots, Illustrated London News 1843
Depiction of Welsh labourers dressed in women's clothing within the Rebecca Riots, Illustrated London News 1843

The Rebecca Riots took place between 1839 and 1843 in West and Mid Wales.[9] They were a series of protests undertaken by local farmers and agricultural workers in response to unfair taxation. The rioters, often men dressed as women, took their actions against toll-gates, as they were tangible representations of high taxes and tolls. The riots ceased prior to 1844 due to several factors, including increased troop levels, a desire by the protestors to avoid violence and the appearance of criminal groups using the guise of the biblical character Rebecca for their own purposes.[10] In 1844 an Act of Parliament to consolidate and amend the laws relating to turnpike trusts in Wales was passed.

A variety of historical figures are known to have cross-dressed to varying degrees. Many women found they had to disguise themselves as men in order to participate in the wider world. For example, Margaret King cross-dressed in the early 19th century to attend medical school, as none would accept female students. A century later, Vita Sackville-West dressed as a young soldier in order to "walk out" with her girlfriend Violet Keppel, to avoid the street harassment that two women would have faced. The prohibition on women wearing male garb, once strictly applied, still has echoes today in some Western societies which require girls and women to wear skirts, for example as part of school uniform or office dress codes.[11] In some countries, even in casual settings, women are still prohibited from wearing traditionally male clothing. Sometimes all trousers, no matter how loose and long, are automatically considered "indecent", which may render their wearer subject to severe punishment, as in the case of Lubna al-Hussein in Sudan in 2009.

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History of cross-dressing

History of cross-dressing

This article details the history of cross-dressing, the act of wearing the clothes of the sex or gender one does not identify with.

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston was an early American photographer and photojournalist whose career lasted for almost half a century. She is most known for her portraits, images of southern architecture, and various photographic series featuring African Americans and Native Americans at the turn of the twentieth century.

Greek mythology

Greek mythology

A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece, and to better understand the nature of myth-making itself.

Norse mythology

Norse mythology

Norse, Nordic, or Scandinavian mythology is the body of myths belonging to the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Old Norse religion and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Nordic folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology and stemming from Proto-Germanic folklore, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.

Hindu mythology

Hindu mythology

Hindu mythology is the body of myths and literature attributed to, and espoused by, the adherents of the Hindu religion, found in Hindu texts such as the Vedic literature, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Puranas, and regional literature like the Tamil Periya Puranam and Divya Prabandham, and the Mangal Kavya of Bengal. Hindu myths are also found in widely translated popular texts such as the fables of the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha, as well as in Southeast Asian texts.

Kabuki

Kabuki

Kabuki is a classical form of Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for its heavily-stylised performances, the often-glamorous costumes worn by performers, and for the elaborate kumadori make-up worn by some of its performers.

Noh

Noh

Noh is a major form of classical Japanese dance-drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Developed by Kan'ami and his son Zeami, it is the oldest major theatre art that is still regularly performed today. Although the terms Noh and nōgaku are sometimes used interchangeably, nōgaku encompasses both Noh and kyōgen. Traditionally, a full nōgaku program included several Noh plays with comedic kyōgen plays in between; an abbreviated program of two Noh plays with one kyōgen piece has become common today. Optionally, the ritual performance Okina may be presented in the very beginning of nōgaku presentation.

Playing company

Playing company

In Renaissance-era London, playing company was the usual term for a company of actors. These companies were organised around a group of ten or so shareholders, who performed in the plays but were also responsible for management. The sharers employed "hired men" – that is, the minor actors and the workers behind the scenes. The major companies were based at specific theatres in London; the most successful of them, William Shakespeare's company the King's Men, had the open-air Globe Theatre for summer seasons and the enclosed Blackfriars Theatre in the winters. The Admiral's Men occupied the Rose Theatre in the 1590s, and the Fortune Theatre in the early 17th century.

Boy player

Boy player

Boy player refers to children who performed in Medieval and English Renaissance playing companies. Some boy players worked for the adult companies and performed the female roles as women did not perform on the English stage in this period. Others worked for children's companies in which all roles, not just the female ones, were played by boys. 

Mid Wales

Mid Wales

Mid Wales or Central Wales refers to a region of Wales, encompassing its midlands, in-between North Wales and South Wales. The Mid Wales Regional Committee of the Senedd covered the unitary authority areas of Ceredigion and Powys and the area of Gwynedd that had previously been the district of Meirionnydd. A similar definition is used by the BBC. The Wales Spatial Plan defines a region known as "Central Wales" which covers Ceredigion and Powys.

Protest

Protest

A protest is a public expression of objection, disapproval or dissent towards an idea or action, typically a political one. Protests can be thought of as acts of cooperation in which numerous people cooperate by attending, and share the potential costs and risks of doing so. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to enact desired changes themselves. Where protests are part of a systematic and peaceful nonviolent campaign to achieve a particular objective, and involve the use of pressure as well as persuasion, they go beyond mere protest and may be better described as a type of protest called civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.

Margaret King

Margaret King

Margaret King (1773–1835), also known as Margaret King Moore, Lady Mount Cashell and Mrs Mason, was an Anglo-Irish hostess, and a writer of female-emancipatory fiction and health advice. Despite her wealthy aristocratic background, she had republican sympathies and advanced views on education and women's rights, shaped in part by having been a favoured pupil of Mary Wollstonecraft. Settling in Italy in later life, she reciprocated her governess's care by offering maternal aid and advice to Wollstonecraft's daughter Mary Shelley and her travelling companions, husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and stepsister Claire Clairmont. In Pisa she continued the study of medicine which she had begun in Germany and published her widely read Advice to Young Mothers, as well as a novel, The Sisters of Nansfield: A Tale for Young Women.

Legal issues

In many countries, cross-dressing was illegal under laws that identified it as indecent or immoral. Many such laws were challenged in the late 1900s giving people the right to freedom of gender expression with regard to their clothing.[12]

Varieties

Drag queens Lady Bunny (left) and RuPaul (right) in 2008. Drag is a form of cross-dressing as performance art.
Drag queens Lady Bunny (left) and RuPaul (right) in 2008. Drag is a form of cross-dressing as performance art.

There are many different kinds of cross-dressing and many different reasons why an individual might engage in cross-dressing behavior.[13] Some people cross-dress as a matter of comfort or style, a personal preference for clothing associated with the opposite gender. Some people cross-dress to shock others or challenge social norms; others will limit their cross-dressing to underwear, so that it is not apparent. Some people attempt to pass as a member of the opposite gender in order to gain access to places or resources they would not otherwise be able to reach.

Gender disguise

Gender disguise has been used by women and girls to pass as male, and by men and boys to pass as female. Gender disguise has also been used as a plot device in storytelling, particularly in narrative ballads,[14] and is a recurring motif in literature, theater, and film. Historically, some women have cross-dressed to take up male-dominated or male-exclusive professions, such as military service. Conversely, some men have cross-dressed to escape from mandatory military service[a] or as a disguise to assist in political or social protest, as men in Wales did in the Rebecca Riots and when conducting Ceffyl Pren as a form of mob justice.

Undercover journalism may require cross-dressing, as with Norah Vincent's project Self-Made Man.

One famous case of gender disguise was when Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat, was caught in a honeypot trap (seducing him to participate in Chinese espionage) by Shi Pei Pu, a male Peking opera singer who performed female roles, whom Boursicot believed to be female. This espionage case became something of a cause célèbre in France in 1986, as Boursicot and Shi were brought to trial, owing to the nature of the unusual sexual subterfuge alleged.[15]

Some girls in Afghanistan, even after the fall of the Taliban, were still disguised by their families as boys. This is known as bacha posh.[16]

Theater and performance

Single-sex theatrical troupes often have some performers who cross-dress to play roles written for members of the opposite sex (travesti and trouser roles). Cross-dressing, particularly the depiction of males wearing dresses, is often used for comic effect onstage and on-screen.

Boy player refers to children who performed in Medieval and English Renaissance playing companies. Some boy players worked for the adult companies and performed the female roles as women did not perform on the English stage in this period. Others worked for children's companies in which all roles, not just the female ones, were played by boys.[17](pp 1–76)[18]

In an effort to clamp down on kabuki’s popularity, women's kabuki, known as onna-kabuki, was banned in 1629 in Japan for being too erotic.[19] Following this ban, young boys began performing in wakashū-kabuki, which was also soon banned.[19] Thus adult men play female roles in kabuki.

Dan is the general name for female roles in Chinese opera, often referring to leading roles. They may be played by male or female actors. In the early years of Peking opera, all dan roles were played by men, but this practice is no longer common in any Chinese opera genre.

Women have often been excluded from Noh, and men often play female characters in it.[20]

Drag is a special form of performance art based on the act of cross-dressing. A drag queen is usually a male-assigned person who performs as an exaggeratedly feminine character, in heightened costuming sometimes consisting of a showy dress, high-heeled shoes, obvious make-up, and wig. A drag queen may imitate famous female film or pop-music stars. A faux queen is a female-assigned person employing the same techniques. A drag king is a counterpart of the drag queen - a female-assigned person who adopts a masculine persona in performance or imitates a male film or pop-music star. Some female-assigned people undergoing gender reassignment therapy also self-identify as 'drag kings'.

The modern activity of battle reenactments has raised the question of women passing as male soldiers. In 1989, Lauren Burgess dressed as a male soldier in a U.S. National Park Service reenactment of the Battle of Antietam, and was ejected after she was discovered to be a woman. Burgess sued the Park Service for sexual discrimination.[21] The case spurred spirited debate among Civil War buffs. In 1993, a federal judge ruled in Burgess's favor.[22]

"Wigging" refers to the practice of male stunt doubles taking the place of an actress, parallel to "paint downs", where white stunt doubles are made up to resemble black actors.[23] Female stunt doubles have begun to protest this norm of "historical sexism", saying that it restricts their already limited job possibilities.[24][25]

British pantomime, television and comedy

Comedian Dan Leno as Widow Twankey in the 1896 pantomime Aladdin at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
Comedian Dan Leno as Widow Twankey in the 1896 pantomime Aladdin at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London

Cross-dressing is a traditional popular trope in British comedy.[26] The pantomime dame in British pantomime dates from the 19th century, which is part of the theatrical tradition of female characters portrayed by male actors in drag. Widow Twankey (Aladdin's mother) is a popular pantomime dame: in 2004 Ian McKellen played the role.

The Monty Python comedy troupe donned frocks and makeup, playing female roles while speaking in falsetto.[27] Character comics such as Benny Hill and Dick Emery drew upon several female identities. In the BBC's long-running sketch show The Dick Emery Show (broadcast from 1963 to 1981), Emery played Mandy, a busty peroxide blonde whose catchphrase, "Ooh, you are awful ... but I like you!", was given in response to a seemingly innocent remark made by her interviewer, but perceived by her as ribald double entendre.[28] The popular tradition of cross dressing in British comedy extended to the 1984 music video for Queen's "I Want to Break Free" where the band parody several female characters from the soap opera Coronation Street.[29]

Sexual fetishes

A transvestic fetishist wearing latex clothes
A transvestic fetishist wearing latex clothes

A transvestic fetishist is a person who cross-dresses as part of a sexual fetish. According to the fourth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this fetishism was limited to heterosexual men; however, DSM-5 does not have this restriction, and opens it to women and men, regardless of their sexual orientation.[30]

Sometimes either member of a heterosexual couple will cross-dress in order to arouse the other. For example, the male might wear skirts or lingerie and/or the female will wear boxers or other male clothing. (See also forced feminization)

Passing

Some people who cross-dress may endeavor to project a complete impression of belonging to another gender, including mannerisms, speech patterns, and emulation of sexual characteristics. This is referred to as passing or "trying to pass," depending how successful the person is. An observer who sees through the cross-dresser's attempt to pass is said to have "read" or "clocked" them. There are videos, books, and magazines on how a man may look more like a woman.[31]

Others may choose to take a mixed approach, adopting some feminine traits and some masculine traits in their appearance. For instance, a man might wear both a dress and a beard. This is sometimes known as "genderfuck". In a broader context, cross-dressing may also refer to other actions undertaken to pass as a particular sex, such as packing (accentuating the male crotch bulge) or, the opposite, tucking (concealing the male crotch bulge).[32]

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Drag queen

Drag queen

A drag queen is a person, usually male, who uses drag clothing and makeup to imitate and often exaggerate female gender signifiers and gender roles for entertainment purposes. In modern times, drag queens are associated with gay men and gay culture, but people of other genders and sexual identities also perform as drag queens.

Lady Bunny

Lady Bunny

Lady Bunny, originally known as "Bunny Hickory Dickory Dock", is an American drag queen, nightclub DJ, actor, comedian, and event organizer. She is the founder of the annual Wigstock event, as well as an occasional television and radio personality. She has released disco singles such as "Shame, Shame, Shame!" and "The Pussycat Song", and has hosted two one-woman comedy shows, 'That Ain't No Lady!' and 'Clowns Syndrome'.

Performance art

Performance art

Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be witnessed live or through documentation, spontaneously developed or written, and is traditionally presented to a public in a fine art context in an interdisciplinary mode. Also known as artistic action, it has been developed through the years as a genre of its own in which art is presented live. It had an important and fundamental role in 20th century avant-garde art.

Passing (gender)

Passing (gender)

In the context of gender, passing is when someone is perceived as a gender or sex other than the sex they were assigned at birth. Historically, this was common among women who served in occupations where women were prohibited, such as in combat roles in the military. For transgender people, it is when the person is perceived as cisgender instead of the sex they were assigned at birth. The person may, for example, be a transgender man who is perceived as a cisgender man.

Plot device

Plot device

A plot device or plot mechanism is any technique in a narrative used to move the plot forward. A clichéd plot device may annoy the reader and a contrived or arbitrary device may confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However, a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience.

Rebecca Riots

Rebecca Riots

The Rebecca Riots took place between 1839 and 1843 in West and Mid Wales. They were a series of protests undertaken by local farmers and agricultural workers in response to levels of taxation. The rioters, often men dressed as women, took their actions against toll-gates, as they were tangible representations of taxes and tolls. The rioters went by the name of 'Merched Beca' which translates directly from Cymraeg as Rebecca's Daughters. The riots ceased prior to 1844 due to several factors, including increased troop levels, a desire by the protestors to avoid violence and the appearance of criminal groups using the guise of the biblical character Rebecca for their own purposes. In 1844 an Act of Parliament to consolidate and amend the laws relating to turnpike trusts in Wales was passed.

Ceffyl Pren

Ceffyl Pren

The Ceffyl Pren was a traditional Welsh form of mob justice. It was a form of ritual humiliation in which offenders would be paraded around the village tied to a wooden frame. The custom was similar to practices known in England as "rough music" or in Scotland as "riding the stang". It seems to have persisted until the mid 19th century. In later times, an effigy was sometimes burned instead. The justice of the Ceffyl Pren was administered by a jury led by a foreman, with all of the men involved seeking anonymity through the use of blackened faces and female garb. This bizarre tradition led to the adoption of "female impersonation" as one of the key features of the Rebecca Riots which swept across South and West Wales in the period 1839–1844 in protest against tollgate charges and the corruption of the Turnpike Trusts.Adulterers, harsh landlords, the fathers of bastard children who hid behind the hated provisions of the 19th century Poor Law making the mother entirely responsible for her own predicament, all faced the frightening, embarrassing effects of these riotous affairs .

Norah Vincent

Norah Vincent

Norah Mary Vincent was an American writer. She was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist on politics and culture for the national gay and lesbian news magazine The Advocate. She was a columnist for The Village Voice and Salon.com. Her writing appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, New York Post, The Washington Post and other periodicals. She gained particular attention in 2006 for her book, Self-Made Man, detailing her experiences when she lived as a man for eighteen months.

Bernard Boursicot

Bernard Boursicot

Bernard Boursicot is a French diplomat who was caught in a honeypot trap by Shi Pei Pu, a male Peking opera singer who performed female roles, whom Boursicot believed to be female. This espionage case became something of a cause célèbre in France in 1986, as Boursicot and Shi were brought to trial, owing to the nature of the unusual sexual subterfuge alleged.

Peking opera

Peking opera

Peking opera, or Beijing opera, is the most dominant form of Chinese opera, which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It arose in Beijing in the mid-Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and became fully developed and recognized by the mid-19th century. The form was extremely popular in the Qing court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance troupes are based in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. The art form is also preserved in Taiwan, where it is also known as Guójù. It has also spread to other regions such as the United States and Japan.

Cause célèbre

Cause célèbre

A cause célèbre is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning, and heated public debate. The term continues in the media in all senses. It is sometimes used positively for celebrated legal cases for their precedent value and more often negatively for infamous ones, whether for scale, outrage, scandal, or conspiracy theories. The term is a French phrase in common usage in English. Since it has been fully adopted into English and is included unitalicized in English dictionaries, it is not normally italicized despite its French origin.

Bacha posh

Bacha posh

Bacha posh is a practice in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan in which some families without sons will pick a daughter to live and behave as a boy. This enables the child to behave more freely: attending school, escorting her sisters in public, and working.

Clothes

Some male crossdressers seek a more subtle feminine image.
Some male crossdressers seek a more subtle feminine image.

The actual determination of cross-dressing is largely socially constructed. For example, in Western society, trousers have long been adopted for usage by women, and it is no longer regarded as cross-dressing. In cultures where men have traditionally worn skirt-like garments such as the kilt or sarong, these are not seen as women's clothing, and wearing them is not seen as cross-dressing for men. As societies are becoming more global in nature, both men's and women's clothing are adopting styles of dress associated with other cultures.

Cosplaying may also involve cross-dressing, for some females may wish to dress as a male, and vice versa (see Crossplay (cosplay)). Breast binding (for females) is not uncommon and is one of the things likely needed to cosplay a male character.

In most parts of the world it remains socially disapproved for men to wear clothes traditionally associated with women. Attempts are occasionally made, e.g. by fashion designers, to promote the acceptance of skirts as everyday wear for men. Cross-dressers have complained that society permits women to wear pants or jeans and other masculine clothing, while condemning any man who wants to wear clothing sold for women.

While creating a more feminine figure, male cross-dressers will often utilize different types and styles of breast forms, which are silicone prostheses traditionally used by women who have undergone mastectomies to recreate the visual appearance of a breast.

While most male cross-dressers utilize clothing associated with modern women, some are involved in subcultures that involve dressing as little girls or in vintage clothing. Some such men have written that they enjoy dressing as femininely as possible, so they wear frilly dresses with lace and ribbons, bridal gowns complete with veils, as well as multiple petticoats, corsets, girdles and/or garter belts with nylon stockings.

The term underdressing is used by male cross-dressers to describe wearing female undergarments such as panties under their male clothes. The famous low-budget film-maker Edward D. Wood, Jr. (who also went out in public dressed in drag as "Shirley", his female alter ego[33]) said he often wore women's underwear under his military uniform as a Marine during World War II.[34] Female masking is a form of cross-dressing in which men wear masks that present them as female.[35]

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Men's skirts

Men's skirts

Outside Western cultures, men's clothing commonly includes skirts and skirt-like garments; however, in North America and much of Europe, skirts are usually seen as feminine clothing, and are not always considered acceptable for men and boys to wear. While there are exceptions, most notably the cassock and the kilt, these are not really considered 'skirts' in the typical sense of fashion wear; rather they are worn as cultural and vocational garments. People have variously attempted to promote the fashionable wearing of skirts by men in Western culture and to do away with this gender distinction.

Kilt

Kilt

A kilt is a garment resembling a wrap-around knee-length skirt, made of twill woven worsted wool with heavy pleats at the sides and back and traditionally a tartan pattern. Originating in the Scottish Highland dress for men, it is first recorded in 16th century as the great kilt, a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak. The small kilt or modern kilt emerged in the 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt. Since the 19th century, it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland, and more broadly with Gaelic or Celtic heritage.

Sarong

Sarong

A sarong or sarung is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist, worn in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, Northern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, and on many Pacific islands. The fabric often has woven plaid or checkered patterns, or may be brightly colored by means of batik or ikat dyeing. Many modern sarongs have printed designs, often depicting animals or plants. Different types of sarongs are worn in different places in the world, notably the lungi in the Indian subcontinent and the izaar in the Arabian Peninsula.

Crossplay (cosplay)

Crossplay (cosplay)

Crossplay is a type of cosplay in which the person dresses up as a character of a different gender. Crossplay's origins lie in the anime convention circuit, though, like cosplay, it has not remained exclusive to the genre. While it is similar to Rule 63 (gender-bending) cosplay, it can be differentiated by the performer becoming completely immersed in the codes of another gender, rather than picking and choosing what behavior enhances the performance.

Vintage clothing

Vintage clothing

Vintage clothing is a generic term for garments originating from a previous era, as recent as the 1990s. The term can also be applied in reference to second hand retail outlets, e.g. in vintage clothing store. While the concept originated during World War I as a response to textile shortages, vintage dressing encompasses choosing accessories, mixing vintage garments with new, as well as creating an ensemble of various styles and periods. Vintage clothes typically sell at low prices for high end name brands.

Petticoat

Petticoat

A petticoat or underskirt is an article of clothing, a type of undergarment worn under a skirt or a dress. Its precise meaning varies over centuries and between countries.

Corset

Corset

A corset is a support garment commonly worn to hold and train the torso into a desired shape, traditionally a smaller waist or larger bottom, for aesthetic or medical purposes, or support the breasts. Both men and women are known to wear corsets, though this item was for many years an integral part of women's wardrobes.

Girdle

Girdle

A belt, especially if a cord or rope, is called a girdle if it is worn as part of Christian liturgical vestments, or in certain historical, literary or sports contexts.

World War II

World War II

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. World War II was a total war that directly involved more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries.

Social issues

Satire on cross-dressing, around 1780 Britain
Satire on cross-dressing, around 1780 Britain

Cross-dressers may begin wearing clothing associated with the opposite sex in childhood, using the clothes of a sibling, parent, or friend. Some parents have said they allowed their children to cross-dress and, in many cases, the child stopped when they became older. The same pattern often continues into adulthood, where there may be confrontations with a spouse, partner, family member or friend. Married cross-dressers can experience considerable anxiety and guilt if their spouse objects to their behavior.

Sometimes because of guilt or other reasons cross-dressers dispose of all their clothing, a practice called "purging", only to start collecting the other gender's clothing again.[13]

Festivals

Celebrations of cross-dressing occur in widespread cultures. The Abissa festival in Côte d'Ivoire,[36] Ofudamaki in Japan,[37] and Kottankulangara Festival in India[38] are all examples of this.

Analysis

Advocacy for social change has done much to relax the constrictions of gender roles on men and women, but they are still subject to prejudice from some people.[39][40][41] It is noticeable that as being transgender becomes more socially accepted as a normal human condition, the prejudices against cross-dressing are changing quite quickly, just as the similar prejudices against homosexuals have changed rapidly in recent decades.[42]

The reason it is so hard to have statistics for female cross-dressers is that the line where cross-dressing stops and cross-dressing begins has become blurred, whereas the same line for men is as well defined as ever. This is one of the many issues being addressed by third wave feminism as well as the modern-day masculist movement.

The general culture has very mixed views about cross-dressing. A woman who wears her husband's shirt to bed is considered attractive, while a man who wears his wife's nightgown to bed may be considered transgressive. Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo was considered very erotic; Jack Lemmon in a dress was considered ridiculous.[43] All this may result from an overall gender role rigidity for males; that is, because of the prevalent gender dynamic throughout the world, men frequently encounter discrimination when deviating from masculine gender norms, particularly violations of heteronormativity.[44] A man's adoption of feminine clothing is often considered a going down in the gendered social order whereas a woman's adoption of what are traditionally men's clothing (at least in the English-speaking world) has less of an impact because women have been traditionally subordinate to men, unable to affect serious change through style of dress. Thus when a male cross-dresser puts on his clothes, he transforms into the quasi-female and thereby becomes an embodiment of the conflicted gender dynamic. Following the work of Judith Butler, gender proceeds along through ritualized performances, but in male cross-dressing it becomes a performative "breaking" of the masculine and a "subversive repetition" of the feminine.[45]

Psychoanalysts today do not regard cross-dressing by itself as a psychological problem, unless it interferes with a person's life. "For instance," said Dr. Joseph Merlino, senior editor of Freud at 150: 21st Century Essays on a Man of Genius, "[suppose that]...I'm a cross-dresser and I don't want to keep it confined to my circle of friends, or my party circle, and I want to take that to my wife and I don't understand why she doesn't accept it, or I take it to my office and I don't understand why they don't accept it, then it's become a problem because it's interfering with my relationships and environment."[46]

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Masculism

Masculism

Masculism or masculinism may variously refer to ideologies and socio-political movements that seek to eliminate sexism against men, equalize their rights with women, and increase adherence to or promotion of attributes regarded as typical of men and boys. The terms may also refer to the men's rights movement or men's movement, as well as a type of antifeminism.

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich

Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer whose career spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s.

Jack Lemmon

Jack Lemmon

John Uhler Lemmon III was an American actor. Considered equally proficient in both dramatic and comic roles, Lemmon was known for his anxious, middle-class everyman screen persona in dramedy pictures, leading The Guardian to coin him "the most successful tragi-comedian of his age."

Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity is the concept that heterosexuality is the preferred or normal mode of sexual orientation. It assumes the gender binary and that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex. A heteronormative view therefore involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia. The effects of societal heteronormativity on lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals can be examined as heterosexual or "straight" privilege.

Judith Butler

Judith Butler

Judith Pamela Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminism, queer theory, and literary theory. In 1993, Butler began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where they have served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. They are also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.

Literature

Women dressed as men, and less often men dressed as women, is a common trope in fiction[47] and folklore. For example, in Norse myth, Thor disguised himself as Freya.[47] These disguises were also popular in Gothic fiction, such as in works by Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, père, and Eugène Sue,[47] and in a number of Shakespeare's plays, such as Twelfth Night. In The Wind in the Willows, Toad dresses as a washerwoman, and in The Lord of the Rings, Éowyn pretends to be a man.

In science fiction, fantasy and women's literature, this literary motif is occasionally taken further, with literal transformation of a character from male to female or vice versa. Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography focuses on a man who becomes a woman, as does a warrior in Peter S. Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song;[48] while in Geoff Ryman's The Warrior Who Carried Life, Cara magically transforms herself into a man.[48]

Other popular examples of gender disguise include Madame Doubtfire (published as Alias Madame Doubtfire in the United States) and its movie adaptation Mrs. Doubtfire, featuring a man disguised as a woman.[49] Similarly, the movie Tootsie features Dustin Hoffman disguised as a woman, while the movie The Associate features Whoopi Goldberg disguised as a man.

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Thor

Thor

Thor is a prominent god in Germanic paganism. In Norse mythology, he is a hammer-wielding god associated with lightning, thunder, storms, sacred groves and trees, strength, the protection of humankind, hallowing, and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, the deity occurs in Old English as Þunor, in Old Frisian as Thuner, in Old Saxon as Thunar, and in Old High German as Donar, all ultimately stemming from the Proto-Germanic theonym *Þun(a)raz, meaning 'Thunder'.

Disguise

Disguise

A disguise can be anything which conceals or changes a person's physical appearance, including a wig, glasses, makeup, fake moustache, costume or other items. Camouflage is a type of disguise for people, animals and objects. Hats, glasses, changes in hair style or wigs, plastic surgery, and make-up are also used.

Gothic fiction

Gothic fiction

Gothic fiction, sometimes called Gothic horror in the 20th century, is a loose literary aesthetic of hating and fear. The name is a reference to Gothic architecture of the European Middle Ages, which was characteristic of the settings of early Gothic novels.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime and, by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are widely read today.

Eugène Sue

Eugène Sue

Marie-Joseph "Eugène" Sue was a French novelist. He was one of several authors who popularized the genre of the serial novel in France with his very popular and widely imitated The Mysteries of Paris, which was published in a newspaper from 1842 to 1843.

The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows is a children's novel by the British novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. It details the story of Mole, Ratty, and Badger as they try to help Mr. Toad, after he becomes obsessed with a motorcar and gets into trouble. It also details short stories about them that are disconnected from the main narrative. The novel was based on bedtime stories Grahame told his son Alastair. It has been adapted numerous times for both stage and screen.

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some time in the distant past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's book The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling books ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

Science fiction

Science fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, extraterrestrial life, sentient artificial intelligence, cybernetics, certain forms of immortality, and the singularity. Science fiction predicted several existing inventions, such as the atomic bomb, robots, and borazon, whose names entirely match their fictional predecessors. In addition, science fiction might serve as an outlet to facilitate future scientific and technological innovations.

Fantasy

Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and drama. From the twentieth century, it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels, manga, animations and video games.

Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography is a novel by Virginia Woolf, first published on 11 October 1928. Inspired by the tumultuous family history of the aristocratic poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West, Woolf's lover and close friend, it is arguably one of her most popular novels; Orlando is a history of English literature in satiric form. The book describes the adventures of a poet who changes sex from man to woman and lives for centuries, meeting the key figures of English literary history. Considered a feminist classic, the book has been written about extensively by scholars of women's writing and gender and transgender studies.

Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle

Peter Soyer Beagle is an American novelist and screenwriter, especially of fantasy fiction. His best-known work is The Last Unicorn (1968), a fantasy novel he wrote in his twenties, which Locus subscribers voted the number five "All-Time Best Fantasy Novel" in 1987. During the last twenty-five years he has won several literary awards, including a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2011. He was named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by SFWA in 2018.

Geoff Ryman

Geoff Ryman

Geoffrey Charles Ryman is a Canadian writer of science fiction, fantasy, slipstream and historical fiction.

Medical views

The 10th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems lists dual-role transvestism (non-sexual cross-dressing)[50] and fetishistic transvestism (cross-dressing for sexual pleasure) as disorders.[51] Both listings were removed for the 11th edition.[52] Transvestic fetishism is a paraphilia and a psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-5 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[53]

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Dual-role transvestism

Dual-role transvestism

Dual-role transvestism is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe people who wear clothes of the opposite sex to experience being the opposite sex temporarily, but don't have a sexual motive or want gender reassignment surgery. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) list three diagnostic criteria for "Dual-role transvestism" (F64.1).

Transvestic fetishism

Transvestic fetishism

Transvestic fetishism is a psychiatric diagnosis applied to men who are thought to have an excessive sexual or erotic interest in cross-dressing; this interest is often expressed in autoerotic behavior. It differs from cross-dressing for entertainment or other purposes that do not involve sexual arousal. Under the name transvestic disorder, it is categorized as a paraphilia in the DSM-5.

Paraphilia

Paraphilia

Paraphilia is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals. It has also been defined as sexual interest in anything other than a consenting human partner.

DSM-5

DSM-5

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In the United States, the DSM serves as the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses. Treatment recommendations, as well as payment by health care providers, are often determined by DSM classifications, so the appearance of a new version has practical importance. The DSM-5 is the only DSM to use an Arabic numeral instead of a Roman numeral in its title, as well as the only living document version of a DSM.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a publication by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for the classification of mental disorders using a common language and standard criteria and is the main book for the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in the United States and is considered one of the "Bibles" of psychiatry along with the ICD, CCMD and the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual.

Source: "Cross-dressing", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-dressing.

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See also
Notes
  1. ^ See the television series M*A*S*H for an example of a cross-dresser who did not want to serve in the military (Max Klinger). Although the character was played for laughs, his situation was based on military regulations prohibiting cross-dressing.
References
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Further reading
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