They are just clothes right?

There is a common type of argument in favor of crossdressing that I think is rather unsophisticated and false.   We can boil those arguments down to statements like this –
“They are just clothes, what’s the big deal?”
“Every culture is different, clothing is neutral.”
“Wearing a dress here isn’t really a big deal since in other countries men wear kilts or kimonos or sarongs or robes.”
Or here are a few more from Robyn’s post – “Why People Struggle with Crossdressing.”  (But I should point out that Robyn might not agree with my post here.  I don’t know).
From her post – “If a woman can wear pants, then I should be able to wear a dress.”
“Men should be able to enjoy softer and more colorful fabrics.”
“It is not a sexual thing for me.”

Basically the argument goes, crossdressing is just about wearing different clothes, and it shouldn’t be a big deal.  Clothing doesn’t matter.  So crossdressing should be allowed and not thought of as wrong or strange.  This kind of argument seems very persuasive.  It makes a lot of sense at first glance.  Yeah, what is technically wrong with me wearing fabric cut differently than has been traditionally done?  What reason is there to think that scientifically or morally women can wear high heels but men can’t?  What’s the big deal?   They are just clothes, don’t make them out to be more significant than they are!  There is nothing inherently feminine about a dress or skirt or high heels!    They are not important.  They should be allowed to be worn by men or women.  Again, this line of thinking seems to make a lot of sense.

But if you think about it a little more carefully you realize that the grounds for this argument are not even truly agreed upon by crossdressers themselves.  It’s a false argument, at least coming from the mouths of crossdressers.  The argument states that the clothing is not important, it’s not a big deal.  But if that were true, why are the crossdressers so consumed with crossdressing?  You see, they are NOT “just clothes” to the crossdresser.   They are far more special than that.   It is highly significant that certain clothing is deemed “feminine” or “masculine.”  Crossdressers probably more than all other people recognize the important differences between male and female clothing.  In fact, they are so special that crossdressers are willing to do something that society thinks is utterly disturbing.  They are willing to do something that most of them struggle to keep secret and live in fear of someone finding out.

If it is really true that crossdressers think that the clothes are no big deal, that it is just fabric and materials put together in a different way, then why not just go along with society and not make a big stink?  Why put yourself at such risk?  Why is crossdressing such an important “need” in your life?  Why do it when so many people think it is unnatural and disturbing?  Why do it when if affects so many people in your life and can even ruin relationships with children, cause a divorce, or make you lose your job?  Robyn does a good job in her post, noted above, explaining why crossdressing seems so strange and unnatural to those who aren’t used to it.

Let’s not fool ourselves, even those of you who accept crossdressing as being okay.  If you argue that crossdressing is good, fine, but please don’t throw around silly arguments like this.  Of course they are not “just clothes.”   In every culture there are distinctions between male and female dress, including our own.  To just pretend that isn’t the case is naive.  And of course we can’t ignore that the differences in gendered dress here are different from the differences in other cultures.   And I highly doubt that most crossdressers are wearing traditionally female clothing “just because” they like the color or the feel of a fabric.  Crossdressing whether it is sexually or not, fulfills a very important felt need in a crossdresser’s life, and to say it’s no big deal, that it is just neutral fabric, well that is playing games with the truth.

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10 comments on “They are just clothes right?

  1. Vivienne says:

    This is a great and well thought-out post. Like you I have often come across the “clothing has no intrinsic gender” argument, and superficially agreed with it, while not quite accepting it at the same time.

    In my own experience, I have worn clothing for women which is more or less unisex, for example, jeans. Somehow, that just doesn’t “do it” for me, since the sensation is quite similar to what I would “normally” experience. On the other hand, having shaved legs and wearing a pair of my “normal” jeans (e.g. the next day) _does_ do it for me because the unfamiliar sensation of the jeans brushing against the bare skin is very fulfilling. (Just to clear it up, I have worn a kilt in Scotland as part of full Scottish dress and didn’t feel it was the least bit feminine).

    Make of that what you will! I agree with you that clothing doesn’t have gender, but the way you wear it really matters. However, I still think it deeply unfair that a girl can wear (say) a man’s shirt and be considered attractive, yet a man wearing a woman’s blouse is considered deviant.

    On the other hand, there are some people trying to hit back. Take Gregory Gorgeous. He seems to be a young man who enjoys wearing female clothing, makeup and shoes, but doesn’t seem to adopt the role or persona of a woman. And he is beautiful, and (if his Facebook account is anything to go by) extremely popular with young people of both genders. You can find his many videos on YouTube. (On second thoughts, Thorin, maybe you should just take my word for it!).

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  2. thorin25 says:

    Hi Vivienne, I smiled at your last sentence, haha. I appreciate the comment. I do think in some ways that clothes are “just clothes.” It is technically totally relative that women wear skirts and men don’t, it could have just as easily turned out the other way around. But our culture is the way it is. Of course I’m willing to say it slowly changes over time, and maybe in 100 years skirts for men will be common. But I have trouble with the people trying to change it sometimes. Why are they trying? Just to be rebellious, to be different? Are feminine types of clothing really more comfortable? My wife doesn’t seem to think so, nor most of her friends. I’m rambling a bit. But I think I would be okay with a normal guy pressing on the gender clothing limits of our culture, say trying to make lets say high heels acceptable as mens’ wear. But it would be potentially hard to figure out whether he is a crossdresser like us, or just someone that really has fashion sense and wants to change our culture’s fashions. Maybe that would be that Gregory guy you mentioned.

    It also really bothers me that a woman can wear a man’s shirt and not vice versa. I think it says something about how we view men and women. A man wearing women’s clothing is demeaning himself in people’s eyes, whereas its just cute for women to wear man’s clothing. It seems there is a subtle sexism going on still of thinking men are better than women. But I’m not worried about the fairness, persay. I’d rather men never crossdressed and women never crossdressed. However, I don’t consider women wearing pants crossdressing. Their pants are cut differently, and have often distinctly feminine styles, and its become a gender neutral item. Again, I’m not opposed to societies changing gendered clothing. I guess kind of my thinking in this post is that while clothing is just clothing in one sense, and cultures should be allowed to change gradually over time, crossdressers aren’t really trying to do that (or at least that wasn’t their initial reason for crossdressing). They are rather trying to identify with the “feminine” or look like women. The clothes are not “just clothes” to people like us, true crossdressers.

    Also I’m uncomfortable with people pushing the envelope too much on culture’s gendered clothing. Change should be slow. We shouldn’t be trying to shock people. A lot of people want to do away with all distinctions among how men and women dress. But I find beauty in that men and women wear different things. Our differences are attractive. We don’t all want to look the same. There are very few people in this culture that want things to be like that, so I don’t really fear that happening anyway.

    This comment got way too long 🙂

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  3. Robyn says:

    Excellent post! Don’t forget that there are some men who only wear women’s clothes but without makeup, wig, padding, etc. They clearly are a “man in a dress” and make no attempt to disguise that fact. They have no intention of doing anything else to look like a woman. Maybe they just like the feel of the fabric or maybe it is sexual for them…

    Now many of us crossdressers not only wear women’s clothes but use makeup, wig, padding, jewelry, and whatever else we need to do to look as much like a woman as possible, myself included. Some of us try to perfect the look so much so that we can go out in public and be seen and treated as a woman, not as a man in a dress. I personally do not EVER want to look like a man in a dress.

    I think the gap between “partial” (i.e. man in a dress) and “complete” crossdressing is significant. It is an indicator of the underlying motivation for crossdressing. A man in a dress does nothing to hide his manhood, his masculinity. A crossdresser who desires or succeeds at passing as a woman is doing everything he can to hide his manhood, his masculinity even if it is for a short time. Something to ponder…

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  4. thorin25 says:

    Robyn, that is something good to ponder. My friend Ralph fits your description well. It is something which I don’t quite understand. For me, I would never have been content wearing just one article of female clothing. Perhaps for a day, or if that was all I was allowed, then I would enjoy it. There are definitely some significant differences there between types of crossdressers. However, I do think that the underlying motivations are very similar, if not the same, but maybe they have just manifested in different ways?

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  5. John says:

    I know for me it is certainly more than clothes. I recently went to the gym where many women were wearing workout clothes that weren’t particularly flashy or fashionable. My mind went to looking at the women from a heterosexual man’s standpoint to eventually fantasizing about having a body just like those women, that would be accentuated by the form fitting workout clothes they were wearing. I know for me, I am particularly attracted to fit, athletic women and that body type and it fits right in with my crossdressing/autogynephelic fantasies.

    As has been written about here and in other blogs, I recognize a definite envy of women and my desire to have what they have for myself. It is covetousness for sure and not something God desires us to do because it is not helpful to one’s sense of self and gratitude for what one has, among other reasons. I think it would be helpful to figure out how I can be more happy with, and accepting and grateful for who I am I also know my thoughts can go there due to a lifetime of conditioning myself to go there. Needless to say, I need to be particularly mindful at the gym and try to stay focused on my workout and not on the women there. If I can’t I need to find another place to workout.

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  6. thorin25 says:

    Thank you for the good comment John. Its interesting how we are all drawn to different things, because for me the workout clothes and women working out in general is not where my main attractions desires are. It seems we want to crossdress in the way/style that we find most attractive on real women. And I’m right there with you on the envy situation. Part of healing is learning to be content in life, and thanking God for what we have and who he has made us to be. But that is a super counter-cultural idea. We need to soak in more of 2 Corinthians and Philippians 4, about learning to be content even through suffering, even when not getting everything we want.

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  7. Ralph says:

    I heard my name being taken in vain and had to come out of retirement 🙂 Thorin understands me well enough that I don’t even have to speak up for myself, Robyn. That’s me all over — I feel more comfortable in skirts and soft fabrics, and I don’t really care if the garment in question is “masculine” or “feminine” — if I’m going to wear a shirt and pants, I just wear men’s stuff; there’s no appeal to me just because a shirt happens to come from the women’s side of the aisle. I just don’t care for shirts and pants. If Walmart suddenly started offering satin or velvet dresses in menswear, I’d be only too happy to wear them!

    That said, I also realize I am in a tiny minority. For the most part, Thorin’s analysis is spot-on. I have met a few others like me who are content being hairy men in dresses, but nearly all crossdressers I talk to insist that even when they wear jeans and a t-shirt, those items must be specifically made for women. The vast majority of them go all the way with bras, wigs, and a “femme” name. I think of them as part-time transsexuals. They want to play at being a woman at least part-time even if they never get the surgery to make it official.

    Today I saw one that still managed to surprise me. He went on about how fun it is to pretend to be a woman just for a little while, all the time insisting he’s absolutely not gay even though while dressed as a woman he enjoys sex with other men. But he’s not gay. One of those “there but for the grace of God go I” moments…

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  8. thorin25 says:

    Hey Ralph good to hear from you again! Thanks for chiming in, glad that I didn’t say anything too crazy about you 🙂

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  9. CDWIFE says:

    I was linked here from another blog and as a wife of a CD I found it informative to read that Thorin, you also think men CD as the women they’re attracted to. That’s what I see in my husband and the other men online. So why don’t they see this? Why do they insist they’re expressing some ‘inner self’? I will NEVER believe that and I bet the crossdressers themselves would be surprised how few people DO believe them. Wives sure don’t, lol. We KNOW this is a sexual issue and CD is just another strange outlet for fantasy or a dopamine high or whatever. This is why men do it and women don’t. (and no, we don’t crossdress when we wear a shirt!) Seriously, if this weren’t just another male sex habit we would see CD behaviour (padding, forms and wigs etc) distributed evenly through the genders but we don’t. So why don’t they just admit what this really is? Or is denial the only way they can dress publicly without everyone yelling “pervert!”? Personally I think CD shouldn’t be publicly allowed and I bet most people feel the same way. My two cents 🙂

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  10. thorin25 says:

    It’s so easy to rationalize destructive behaviors (of any kind) and crossdressing is no exception. However I would say that some people crossdress more out of identity issues rather than sexual pleasure, especially those who consider themselves transgendered. That’s a whole other issue, one that I still think is not a good reason to crossdress and healing can be found in other ways. But that would be people trying to express their “inner self” rather than for sexual pleasure. It sounds like your husband is not really one of those however, and is using that as an excuse for the high or the pleasure. But I don’t know him.

    I also would love it if CD was not publicly allowed, not just for my own personal preference, but I actually think it is public deception. But that law will never happen so, we’ll just have to deal with what is.

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