Steps for Giving up and Stopping Crossdressing
I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of good beginning steps for those who want to give up crossdressing for good. This is just a starting point for those who wish to stop crossdressing completely. Stopping crossdressing altogether is a long process, and there is much more that could be said and be done, besides the brief steps I’ve outlined here. But for those that want to finally overcome crossdressing in their lives, this is a good place to begin.
I’m going to only briefly lay out these points. For some of them I will link to other blog posts, (some of them not my own), that explain further these points. For most of these points, I plan to write about them in a more deep way, each individually, in the future in other detailed posts. Also, I’m sure this list could be improved, edited, added to, so if you have any suggestions please let me know. The goal is to help people, not make myself look like an expert (which I’m not), so if you have any helpful criticisms, please comment.
These steps are in an order. The order is just my own opinion on what I think would be most helpful. Obviously many people will disagree with these steps, or the order, or that crossdressing even needs to be stopped. But for those that do want to stop crossdressing, I hope this can be somewhat helpful for you.
It can take a long time to stop. For myself, I was doing almost all of these things for about 10 years and it still took until last year for me to stop completely. For me, I think primarily I was missing the belief that it was really possible to stop (Step #2). I knew logically that it was possible, but it just seemed too unlikely until I found others online who had already given up crossdressing. Then I was like, “hey if they can stop for good, I can too.” It was like a light bulb turned on and stopping finally was attainable and I finally stopped crossdressing for good.
1. Desire to stop crossdressing.
The first step obviously is that you have to actually want to stop crossdressing. Maybe you think crossdressing is sinful and so you want to stop. Maybe you think its destructive in your life and so you want to stop. Maybe its harming your marriage and so you want to stop. Maybe you are just afraid of the reality of getting caught. But whatever the case may be, the first step has to be some desire to stop. If you aren’t to that point yet, consider reading these posts.
Summary of why crossdressing is sinful/harmful
Crossdressing is like Pornography.
Crossdressing is about Envy.
Article about Sexual Sin.
How do we know what is true? Is crossdressing sinful?
But I was born with these desires.
You can also read some of my “progress report” posts to see why I stopped crossdressing and how much better I feel now. Just go to my category selection and click on “progress reports.” Here a couple posts by a friend about why he stopped.
Why I don’t anymore
Ironing it out
2. Believe that it is possible to stop crossdressing.
Make yourself inundated with the truth about crossdressing and the ability to stop it by reading through the posts on my website, as well as the posts on the fellow fighters’ websites that I have links to on my homepage. Spend some hours reading. Read and watch testimonies on my links page. Most crossdressers are stuck in the belief that it is impossible to stop crossdressing and are stuck in the self-deception of crossdressing. Read some new perspectives from these websites.
3. Decide to stop crossdressing.
Following this desire to stop crossdressing and the belief that it is possible, make a firm decision for yourself that you are going to fight to stop crossdressing and get it out of your life. Make this a clear firm moment in your life and maybe even write down the date. Here is a friend’s post about making that first decision – The Battlefield. We always have the freewill to make such a decision. See my post – You have a choice! After you make the decision, make a plan of attack for yourself. Don’t leave things up to chance. Change your old habits. Make a detailed strategy and plan to fight crossdressing.
If you are not a Christian, I think figuring out what you believe about the meaning of life, what you believe about God, is far more important than anything to do with crossdressing. It’s more important that you think about life and death and why we exist than to read my website. But for help in thinking this through, you could read – My Perspective.
For those who already have a relationship with Jesus, prayer is vital. There are few components to this. 1. Prayer of confession and repentance and asking God’s forgiveness for past crossdressing and related sins. 2. Prayers of thanksgiving for forgiveness, salvation, and God’s love. 3. Prayer to ask God for help to overcome the crossdressing addiction. 4. Prayer as just talking to God, growing in your relationship with him. Praise him, thank him, worship him, talk to him. Become more intimate and purposeful in your relationship with God. Continue with this step until you die
5. Read, study, and memorize Scripture.
Delve into Scripture, the Bible, God’s Word. Fill your mind with truth. Fill your mind with God’s promises of forgiveness and grace. Fill your mind with God’s promises of him giving us the power to resist sin. Learn about God. Read about Jesus’ life. Grow in your relationship with him. Follow the Bible’s instruction about how to life a full, joyful, fulfilling, fruitful life as God intended. Continue with this step until you die as well. It would be helpful to read some of the “Helpful Bible Verses” posts I have done. These posts explain some good passages for you to begin with. I also have some posts on specific Bible passages. On my sidebar go to the “Bible” category to find all of these posts.
6. Get rid of temptations.
Giving up crossdressing will be extremely difficult at first. To help ourselves as much as possible we need to try to lessen the amount of triggers and temptations in our lives. One obvious first step is getting rid of any secret stash of clothing right away. Take it to Goodwill and be done with it. There is no reason for you to keep it. If you think you might go back to crossdressing someday and therefore it would be a waste to get rid of the clothes, then, (in my opinion), you really haven’t committed to stopping yet. You need to go back to some of the first few steps again.
If the internet is a problem for you, consider getting an internet filter. If your wife’s clothing being left out is a problem for you, consider telling her what she can to help you better. Don’t do things that are technically “okay” if they will trigger your addiction. For me that meant little things like not wearing an apron – I Won’t Put on that Apron.
Be wise about how you take trips - Ideas for Successful trips.
Grow a beard so that crossdressing will be less satisfying and easy. (Plus this also might help you to feel more like a man again) - Virtues of a beard.
Be careful about being alone so much of the time. Get around other people. Spend more time with friends or outside hobbies. See this friend’s post – Home Alone.
I think it is important to stop crossdressing cold turkey rather than through gradual lessening of crossdressing in the attempt to lessen the desires and temptations. See my post - unconditioning. However, there are other forms of conditioning/unconditioning, mostly done with counselors, that could be helpful in stopping crossdressing. My friend’s post here briefly talks about this and has many links for further information about these techniques - The rejection cycle.
7. Dealing with temptations that come
It’s one thing to get rid of as many temptations as we can. But what do we do when temptations do make it through to us? What can we do when we suddenly have a strong desire to put on our wife’s sexy black high heels or really want to read the latest crossdressing fiction story online? We have to be ready to deal with the temptations and desires we will inevitably still experience. Here are a few ideas.
First of all, stick to your commitment not to give in to crossdressing at all. And I would add, do not to let yourself fantasize about crossdressing at all. You don’t need to kick yourself for having a crossdressing thought come into your mind. But don’t let yourself dwell in pleasurable crossdressing fantasies. If you want to really successfully stop crossdressing and find healing from it, you have to fight these fantasies as well. Fantasizing about it only adds more power to it, and you’ll probably eventually manifest the fantasies through concrete actions of crossdressing. (Not to mention God cares about what goes on in our hearts and minds beyond just what we do).
But this is not to say we should suppress our crossdressing desires. When they come we should acknowledge them and deal with them. Trying to ignore them or bury them will probably either just cause them to bubble forth like a volcano at some later point, or cause you mental anguish. It’s important we be honest with ourselves about the thoughts that come into our minds, but then deal with them without burying them. See a friend’s post about suppression here – Suppression.
Something I’ve found most helpful is telling myself affirmations of truth during times of temptation. I break through the crossdressing rationalizations and lies by reminding myself, “I don’t really want to crossdress.” “I don’t want to sin because I love God and am thankful for his forgiveness.” “I always feel stupid after crossdressing.” See a more full description of this here – Importance of Affirmations.
I also have found distractions to be helpful during times of temptations. The sexual power of crossdressing temptations often makes me lose my head. But if I do something else briefly, rational thinking returns and the strong temptation subsides. For me playing an engaging video game helps a lot. For others it could be playing an instrument, taking a walk, working out, etc. See my post – Video games are helpful. See also this post – Get a Hobby.
It also helps to have some way to get rid of sexual build up and tension. For those of us who are married, finding ways to have more sexual or just physical time with our wife can be very helpful. And if you’ve opened up to her about your fight against your crossdressing addiction, she may be more willing to help you out with more sexual time together. Another way to release the sexual tension is to use masturbation as a crutch. But you have to be careful with this one. For many crossdressers it might be nearly impossible to masturbate while thinking about anything other than crossdressing. If this is the case, you may have to avoid masturbation altogether. But for me, I found it very helpful to give up crossdressing and increase my desire for my wife by thinking about her while masturbating. It took discipline. But releasing that sexual tension at times was very helpful when tempted. I’ll write more on this another time.
You might also find some help from a friend mine in this post – Mindfulness for crossdressers.
8. Get some accountability.
Realize that you probably are not going to be successful doing this alone. Find others in your life to support you, some for indirect support, and some people for direct support who know about your crossdressing struggle. Part of this support could be going to church. It could be finding a specific church small group to admit your struggle to. It could be joining a sex addicts anonymous group. – Sex Addicts Anonymous’s Twelve Steps
It could include telling a couple close friends about your addiction and getting their encouragement and accountability. It could involve telling your wife. Telling close friends and my wife was immensely helpful to me. We all need people to confess our sins to because when we confess to someone, temptations lose their power over us. We need people to ask us regularly how we are doing. We need people who will stick by us through thick and thin. We need people who will encourage us. We need people who will celebrate with us when we are successful at beating crossdressing, and people who will help pick us back up and remind us of God’s grace at times that we fail. We need to commit to telling the truth if we are going to be successful. See my post on telling the truth about our crossdressing to others – Telling the truth.
Also, see my friend’s post about this – Truth and Honesty.
I’d highly encourage you to tell your wife about your crossdressing struggle. Being a woman, and being in such an intimate relationship with you puts her in a unique position. Just telling her will help you, even though it could be very painful for both of you at first. But the truth may just set you both free. Having your wife know brings a reality check to your actions that is hard to match. She can help you realize the foolishness of what you were doing and encourage you in your new fight against it. She can help you think through your own personality and struggle with crossdressing. I also think this kind of honesty is terribly vital for such an important and intimate relationship like marriage. Crossdressing is something that has shaped your entire life, and it would help her to understand you better to know about it.
You also might want to consider confessing sins of crossdressing to your wife, sister, mother, or others in your life that you might have confused or hurt by your crossdressing, as well as asking them for forgiveness. Last, I have an email prayer list I’ve created for those of us who are fighting and struggling together or have a heart to pray for those who are struggling. It’s a great way to receive prayer and help from others who are also fighting crossdressing – Email Prayer Chain.
9. Find a valuable purpose in life and positive ways to use your energy
I think a lot of us can’t seem to give up our struggle with crossdressing we don’t take life very seriously. We don’t get much fulfillment out of other things in life. We are just ticking the time away, not working hard at our jobs, not finding ways to contribute to the world and help other people. We have no ultimate purpose in life, such as the purpose of loving God, living for him, and loving other people because of God’s love for us. If life is pretty meaningless for you, and nothing really stretches you, or gives you joy and fulfillment, then of course you’d keep turning back to crossdressing or pornography for fleeting pleasures. So my first piece of advice here again is to find your ultimate purpose and meaning in life in God. And then figure out what his specific purpose is for you in your life. What has he created you to do? How can he use you to impact the world and make it a better place in some small but meaningful ways? Consider reading “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Besides just finding a purpose in life, we need positive ways to use our energy. Volunteering, helping people out, fun hobbies, and getting involved in church are just a few ways to learn how to spend our time differently. Instead of spending all of our free time hiding in closets in our wives’ clothes, we can do things that have value, and things that help others. Try something new. Read some good books. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. Find some adventure in life beyond crossdressing.
I also include in this step rediscovering who we are as men. Start letting your male traits out. Enjoy being a man. Have your wife affirm your manhood. Upgrade your male wardrobe. Enjoy taking care of your appearance as a man. Enjoy looking good as a man. Randall Wayne has wrote some on this. Our perspectives might be slightly different, but he’s got a lot of good stuff to say in his testimony – here.
Find out what the Bible says about true manhood and personhood. Many of the stereotypes about masculinity and femininity in our culture are at best stifling, and at worst destructive, and may even have contributed to our developing desires for crossdressing. Learn to integrate the contrasting aspects of your personality that were divided into your male self and crossdressing self. Be a whole complete human being. Those aspects of your personality that you stifled in order to be a man of our culture, and which came out in your crossdressing times, integrate them into your real self. My friends have some helpful thoughtful posts along these lines.
Underlying feelings wants needs
In search of unification
Last, a little tidbit. Take your desire for female beauty and interest in fashion and point it towards your girlfriend or wife. Talk to her about fashion and what you find beautiful. Go shopping with her and help her find things that look good on her. You can enjoy the female clothes in the way they were supposed to be enjoyed by you, that is, on your wife or girlfriend. This way you can utilize your healthy attention to female beauty in a healthy non-deceitful way. A friend has a helpful post on this.
Insights from Outlets
10. Make peace with the reality that the temptations might never go away.
Like most temptations to sin, the reality is that the temptations might never completely go away. This is just the reality and should not make us depressed. Treat crossdressing like an addiction. An alcoholic might always have certain small desires to drink, but they continue to resist the rest of their life. Similarly, we might desire it at times for the rest of our lives, but we can still resist. And we can still lead a healthy fulfilling life. To read more about this, please read my post – Healing doesn’t mean no more temptations.
But don’t focus so much on the future, just to take things one day at a time. The day’s problems and temptations are enough to worry about.
I would like to encourage you though that it is of course possible for your crossdressing desires to completely go away. Each person is different and there are some who seem to have no more temptations. For me, my crossdressing desires are largely nonexistent these days. Once in a while, rarely, I’ll have some crossdressing temptations, but they’ve become easy to resist. I think that for any of us who stop crossdressing, after the first really hard withdrawal period, the crossdressing temptations slowly start to lessen in strength. For more about my experience with lessening temptations, you can read my “progress reports.”
11. Deal with failure in a healthy way.
If you fail, spend time confessing to God and enjoying his forgiveness, and then get going again in your fight against crossdressing. Don’t let Satan use your failure for evil. Satan hits us hard in our failures. He loves to make us wallow in condemnation, thinking we aren’t good enough to be forgiven by God. It’s true we aren’t good enough, but God forgives us because of his merciful and loving nature, not because we deserve forgiveness. And Satan also likes to use failure to make us think we have no power over sin and so we might as well give up. But God promises us that he has given us the power to resist any temptation that comes our way. See my post – Healing doesn’t mean no more temptations.
Satan also likes to encourage us to conquer sin using our own strength. This only leads to failure or pride. The true way to fight sin, is to find joy in God’s forgiveness, and be transformed by that forgiveness and grace. Then we fight sin, not for our own pride, not using our own strength, but we do it with God’s strength. We fight sin out of thanksgiving for God’s grace, not in order to earn God’s grace. Keep going back to God’s forgiveness and grace. It should be the motivation for all the good that we do. We aren’t trying to earn anything.
See how I dealt with a depressing failure here – Progress Report 1-30-13 – How I successfully fought temptation…but then failed.
12. Try to understand yourself more deeply.
I’m convinced that an important part of the healing process from crossdressing, is trying to understand ourselves more deeply. Rather than just stopping crossdressing and leaving it in the past, we should spend some time researching, studying, and thinking about what caused us to develop the crossdressing desires we have. But be careful about doing this. Wait until you’ve successfully stopped crossdressing for a while, otherwise studying it and thinking about it could cause you to stumble.
When you are in a safe place in your journey of giving up crossdressing ask yourself these questions. What emotions and thoughts were going on behind the actions and behind the temptations? Think about how crossdressing has shaped your personality both positively and negatively. How did God use this part of your past for good, or how will he use it for good? Think through gender issues. Think through personality issues. Think through the ways crossdressing has affected your life. You could also consider seeing a counselor to help you work through these issues, but realize you may know far more about crossdressing and its effects than your counselor. It’s a subject that hasn’t been studied enough. Further, many counselors seem to think its harmless and don’t realize how destructive it can be.
On my site and the sites of my fellow fighters, there are plenty of thoughtful posts that think through these types of questions. I won’t link to all of them because I could link to dozens from each site. But here is a friend’s post about this process itself of discovery and understanding ourselves.
A narrow way
Conclusion – I hope these steps have been helpful to you. There’s obviously much more that could be said. But this is a beginning. Feel free to contact me. Let me know if you would like prayer. Friendly criticisms and disagreements are accepted as well. If I’ve overlooked a post on your website that would be helpful to link to, please don’t take offense. I linked to these ones because they are ones I remembered. If you have others to suggest please tell me and I can always add them if I find them helpful. Thank you for reading.