Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gender Conundrum: Are Crossdressers Gender Fluid?

By Kathy Hamilton

Let me start with a well-worn cliché: there are more variations in gender than colors in a rainbow!

To my mind, this statement most certainly rings true—and always has done! Yet, sadly, throughout history, people who are different in some ways from the so-called norm have also been ostracized, persecuted and, to some extent, feared by society.

There have always been crossdressers, trans people, gay people and non-binary people; there have always been bisexuals, intersex people and others not fitting neatly into rigid gender boxes. However, for many years, the overly conservative, highly rigid societal rules and regulations which humans have self-imposed upon themselves served to effectively suppress all sorts of minorities—whether these were, amongst other things, gender or sexual preference based.

The internet and social media, with the relatively free flow of vast quantities of information and communication changed society’s outlook forever.

And, with greater awareness and knowledge, people who are different came to realize that they are not alone; indeed, the cross dresser in New York can connect with a similar person in Switzerland, or the gender fluid person in Singapore can reach out to a contemporary in London.

Partially as a consequence of this new-found freedom of expression and information flow, new words and expressions to describe gender non-conforming people have come into vogue, with one of the more recent being gender fluid. This term can be paraphrased as:

The need or desire and ability to be/present as one gender or the other at any given point in time depending on mood and other factors

It’s interesting to see how this expression relates to crossdressers and transgender people.

As a starter, let’s look at crossdressers: it is often said (in jest, but with a degree of seriousness) that the difference between a crossdresser and a transgender person is only a matter of a few years.

This probably doesn’t hold true for many heterosexual, married crossdressers who have no aspirations to become a female on a full-time basis and are content to dress in their En Femme finery once or twice a week or whenever they have the time.

Sure, they may dress in women’s underwear, skirts and tops or dresses, make-up, wigs and accessories and everything necessary to appear as a complete woman but, after a period of time, they will change back to male mode. On the other hand, the general perception is that trans people, usually, wish to stay as their true gender forever!

But do crossdressers and transgender people qualify as being gender fluid? After all, as every crossdresser knows, the urges, the desperate, all-encompassing need to dress as a woman, can be overpoweringly strong for 1 or 2 days, then fade away for a while… maybe a few days a week or, in more extreme cases, months.

Why this is so, no one is sure—maybe it’s stress or environment related or just the cycle of need associated with being a cross dresser. So, it is not unusual for some crossdressers on one day to long to appear as a woman, then go for a week or so without the need to cross dress and live as an apparently normal male.

Do the gender aspirations of crossdressers change during such times, as with those who maintain they are gender fluid?

Similarly, with some people who identify as transgender, for example, those who may have some minor cosmetic treatments such as laser hair removal on faces, arms legs or, nose or eyebrow or other facial adaptions to look more feminine but who do not have the major surgeries such as breast implants or genital surgery. They do not, necessarily, wish to have such surgeries.

Is it, therefore, that their gender may be considered fluid when they revert (however reluctantly) to male mode for work or to attend certain meetings or to go back to see their parents or families?

And what about those people who use gender fluid as their primary designation when looking for a label for themselves? You can see scores of them in videos on You Tube or other social media. Are such people really, in fact, crossdressers or, maybe, simply what we might also typically consider as transgender people?

Confusing, yes—even to those within our own community.

But the positive side of new buzz words and expressions and the higher visibility of more gender non-conforming people is that all this brings much more openness about gender diversity and helps change entrenched societal attitudes towards people who do express their gender differently.

As a result, there is still hope that, one day, the true crossdresser, in her gorgeous En Femme outfit, can sooner rather than later go out and about without the fear of prejudice, without receiving negative comments or fears for their safety.

Now that would be something worth celebrating and shouting about, wouldn’t it?

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