The role of the Father in crossdressing development

I think a lot of people have written about their relationships with their mothers, in regards to our gender confused feelings or desires to crossdress.  But what about our fathers?  I’m interested in your comments below to see what common themes might emerge.   For me three things stand out in my relationship to my father in relation to these issues.

1.  I had an excellent relationship with my father from birth to present.  I experienced love and affection from him, as well as friendship.  He was a very caring father, played with us children, and worked hard to take care of our family.  He taught me many excellent life skills and taught me so much about the Christian faith though his words and example.  At times, he was often home late because of work, but I never resented him for that.


2.  My father did not talk to me about sex at all (nor did my mother).  I grew up very confused about my sexual feelings.  Apparently, I did not feel comfortable asking my parents any questions for some reason.  I knew I was supposed to like girls, but I didn’t really understand physical attraction.  As I went through puberty (later than most other boys), I had no idea what was going on with wet dreams and erections during the day.  I had sex education in school, but for some reason it did not stick, or I did not understand it.  I had some crossdressing dreams and thoughts way back into elementary school, but I wonder what would have happened if my father had talked to me about sexuality, erections, masturbation, etc.  Might I not have developed such a strong crossdressing addiction?  When I was first crossdressing and having an erection, I knew it was pleasurable, but did not know much beyond that.  I did not even understand masturbation in early high school.  Perhaps if I had known more about erections and masturbation I would not have continued to crossdress knowing that that was not the normal or correct way to have sexual pleasure.

Because my parents never talked to me about sex, I was a child that was vehemently against pornography, fornication, and even too much physical touch between boyfriends and girlfriends.  I was not taught at all about the goodness of attraction or sex.  I think perhaps I shunned it so much, that I delved into crossdressing instead.  Crossdressing was the unknown and therefore I didn’t think of it as very sinful, whereas pornography would have been unthinkable.  If I had been taught that it was okay and good to be attracted to girls and what real sexuality was all about, I would hopefully have not felt so bad or weird about being attracted to girls, and felt more uncomfortable with being aroused by crossdressing.  If you grow up thinking sexual feelings towards others are dirty and wrong, then I think that naturally leads to a sexual outlet which is focused on yourself instead of others.  Who knows what would have happened, but I do wonder how much my father not talking about sex played into me developing this addiction.


3.  My father did not seem to take great pride in his appearance.  He dressed up moderately for work.  He definitely was not a slob.  But he didn’t take great care of his body and physical health.  In addition he did not care much about style.  He went shopping for clothes once a year at most, and mostly wore t-shirts when not at work.  I think I copied or developed his disposition in this way.  It’s odd though.  My crossdressing self could enjoy accessorizing, and fashion, and changing outfits, for hours.  My crossdressing self had a great sense of style and eye for beauty.  But as far as my real male self, I just did what my father did, and wore jeans and t-shirts unless I was forced to dress up for something.  I took no pride in my appearance, while at the same time being ashamed of my appearance.

I’m not blaming my father for anything in this regard.  But I wonder if part of the lure of crossdressing is to be able to delve into fashion and enjoy taking pride in our appearance.  If our fathers taught us how to make ourselves look good as men, that would have been one less point in favor of crossdressing.  If men everywhere learned how to take care of their appearance and enjoy making themselves look good as men, this would help as well I think.


Okay thoughts everyone?  Perhaps I’m reading into these situations, so please tell me about your relationship with your fathers, so we can see if there are any parallels.


16 comments on “The role of the Father in crossdressing development

  1. Don says:

    I agree with you about everything. We had some very good reasons for not being interested in girls. My situation was almost exactly the same, except other things were a factor also. My father was a perfectionist, and expected me to be the best. When I was not, he was disappointed so I thought I was not a good enough male. He was violent with me and he had a temper. I decided that if that’s what a man was, I did not want to be one.

    My sisters did not experience the beatings that I did, so I thought it was much safer to be a girl.



  2. thorin25 says:

    Don I forgot to mention that. My father was a very very strong perfectionist. And he passed that on to me. The difference is that my father was never violent with me, nor did he really lose his temper. He was a perfectionist, but did not show great displeasure in me if I was not perfect.

    So sorry to hear about that great pain in your childhood. What a broken world we live in


  3. Ralph says:

    Oh, this is a game I love to play. I’ve been poking around those dark corners of my memory for upwards of 50 years now and I’m no closer to any answers, but I can at least add a few data points to your study.

    My father was the stereotypical strict dad who could never be pleased no matter what I did. He came from traditional, conservative German family and he lived and breathed order, discipline, and perfection. I started out way ahead of my peers academically, but the constant verbal torment just bore down on me until around 9th grade I gave up and went from super-student to barely passing, and never really got out of that rut. Let me stress that (as far as I know) he never abused me physically. I got my share of spankings, but only for legitimate misbehavior.

    My mother was a free spirit, and was bouncing back from a husband who *was* physically abusive to her and my older half-siblings. So not surprisingly her whimsical tomboyish rebellion didn’t really mix well with dad. As far back as I can remember, they fought. Again, nothing physical but lots and lots and LOTS of screaming. They divorced when I was maybe 12, and I stayed with my mother. I had a LOT of anger issues: When dad came over for his share of custody, I’d glare at him and say “What do YOU want?” I was a real jerk in those days 😦

    So… not a lot of positive role modeling on the dad side. Certainly no talk about sex. Meanwhile my mother was working a full time job, leaving me on my own at home (brother moved out before the ink was dry on his 17th birthday cards, and sister was killed in an auto accident when I was little).

    Because of all the grief my dad gave me, my mother could never bring herself to discipline me… instead she sheltered me as much as she could (much as she physically shielded my older brother and sister from the beatings their dad dealt out).

    How little parenting did I get? I remember reading in my Boy Scout manual some vague description that “you may experience strange feelings in your body these days, but don’t worry… they are perfectly normal.” I had NO IDEA what strange feelings they were talking about, and didn’t dare ask for fear of getting laughed at for not knowing. As a result, I was in college before I ever discovered what erections and orgasms were. I thought it was my body trying to tell me I needed to pee real bad, so I suppressed those feelings whenever they popped up at random times for no apparent reason.

    So… yeah, pretty messed up and completely rudderless on the ship of sexual discovery. My peers were no help at all. I spent the first few years of my life in neonatal ICU on the brink of death, and the next… well, pretty much all of my life physically weaker than most men because of that early near-fatal lung disease. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the role of the smallest, weakest boy in class is: Punching bag. I drew closer to the girls in class because they didn’t beat up on me or win every single contest based on athletic prowess. They laughed, they sang, they told stories, they talked about favorite books and TV shows. They taught me to jump rope and I became quite good at it.

    I don’t remember my sister at all. This is important and relevant to the discussion, because I am told she doted on her baby brother (me) like I was the light of her life. She did EVERYTHING for me and with me, they tell me. I can’t even tell you what she looked like, apart from distant memories of seeing her picture on the wall. So I wonder… did she dress me up as her little baby doll plaything? Does wearing dresses take me back to a happier time I don’t remember? That would explain why the dresses that make me happiest are the ultra-feminine, young girl dresses of the 50’s and 60’s. Or perhaps rather than trying to dress like I imagine she dressed me, I’m simply trying to dress like her. If I can’t have her physically present with me, maybe I want to stand in for her. Just call me Norman Bates.

    I remember the first cross-gender clothing I put on. I found a drawer that my mother had filled with some clothes my sister had worn – some elastic stretch ski pants with stirrups, and a fluffy hooded winter coat with satin lining and fur trim all around. As soon as I saw them, I was compelled to put them on and no power on earth was going to stop me. From that day on, any time I had the house to myself I’d sneak off to that drawer and put on my sister’s ski pants and coat. Never mind that it was in Texas in the summer… I’d still wear them and not even notice how hot I was.

    It absolutely was NOT a sexual pleasure; I was at most 10 and many years away from that experience. But the happiness that wearing my sister’s clothes gave me was more than I can describe. Eventually I also found my mother’s girdle, and would wear that under my normal clothes even when I went outside to play. I remember having it on when a friend rode his bike by, and he stopped to talk. All the while I was praying he wouldn’t touch me or get into rough play that would cause my shirt to ride up so he could see what was under it. Somehow without any prior exposure to the subject of crossdressing, I knew that it was not an act that my friends or my parents would tolerate.

    From the moment I started wearing my sister’s things — maybe even before, due to the fun I had playing with girls at school — I became fascinated with dresses. I was enraptured by “Little House On The Prairie” because those long, neck-to-ankle gingham and calico dresses were everything I loved about girls’ clothes… pretty, demure, and perhaps even a little restrictive because you couldn’t really run in long skirts like that. To this day I still want a dress like Laura Ingalls wore on the show, and one of these days I’ll have both the nerve and the money to make that happen.

    Are you still with me? I apologize. You wanted us to tell how our childhood years led to crossdressing, and by asking that you really opened my largest vein. This is everything I have considered over the decades about how I got to where I am.

    I don’t think it’s any one of those factors. The combination of strict father, absent or ineffective mother, physical frailty, doting sister whose loss traumatized me, and turning to female friends because my male peers were all abusive… each of these and perhaps more were “just another brick in the wall” that made me who I am.

    So… how does all that tie in with your theories?


  4. thorin25 says:

    Read it all Ralph, thanks for the comment. Good to hear from you.

    To me your story makes sense as a combination of those factors. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if for you crossdressing is mostly an emotional connection rather than sexual. Sounds like it was and is a way to escape grief and stress. Doing it subconsciously takes you bad to good memories of being with your sister. Who knows. But that seems to make sense.

    Your father was quite different than mine. We may not yet have enough for a serious theory 🙂


  5. Hi Thorin, It is Jonathan from the prayer chain. This is my wordpress blog, and I am no longer afraid to hide my website on wordpress. I want to be brief in a listformat for my comment.
    1. I remember my dad fighting with my mother
    2. the early comfort I had from this fighting was videogames
    3. I discovered crossdressing in Highschool, but i had dreams about having a female body and clothes since I was in kindergarden or some young age. If I remember right, I even asked my mother why I was not a girl or had to wear boy clothes.
    4. mom and dad divorced… all dad talked about was how bad his job was and how he wanted mom back… got worse after mom remarried- it is better now.
    5. played more videogames, but this time tried to crossdress and play videogames (did not know who I was, thought I could define myself through an online avatar)
    6. told nobody about my crossdressing until I became a Christian
    7. I do think if I had a better relationship with dad when I was younger I might have understood sexuality, but I can’t say that for sure.
    8. Honestly, I think the last four years have been the best relationship I have had with my dad.
    9. I wish I had a better relationship with dad when I was younger, perhaps I would have been less confused with gendered sexuality and masculinity.


  6. one more thing. I am an only child. My mother liked to purchase anything for me after the divorce. This included clothes, videogames, legos, more videogames, videogames again, pokemon cards, ect. my point is that my mother liked to give me things; I still like those things. dad essentially bought me plenty of boy items aswell. I guess what I am trying to say is that I felt a lot of love from my mother and a small amount of love from my father. Perhaps the love of my mother made me feel like being a woman and dressing in woman’s clothing was fulfilling. I actually have been asking these questions for a long time– specifically when I first tried on my mother’s clothes. this was a good post.


  7. thorin25 says:

    Jonathan, thank you for the thoughts. I feel like most us are just shooting in the dark trying to figure these things out. We have similarities in our stories but also differences. Perhaps it was different things for each of us that cultivated our particular proclivity towards crossdressing. It’s good to keep exploring these issues though, and to forgive our parents for any mistakes they have made. Parenting has got to be the most tricky and challenging undertaking of anything in the world.


  8. Robyn says:

    I think you are very close to finding one of the main reasons for crossdressing.

    What happens whenever we change our appearance so radically? We look so different that it is difficult for people to recognize us. We may look like our sister (if we have one) or we might look like our mother. But we don’t look like who we are.

    In order to appear as much like a woman as possible, we have to hide as much as possible our maleness, our masculinity, the essence of who we are. We WANT to hide our maleness! We hide our maleness, our masculinity because we do not like it. We are displeased with it. We are ashamed of it. If we LIKED our masculinity, our maleness, if we were proud if it, there would be no desire to hide it, to run away from it. The would be no need or desire to crossdress. We wouldn’t want to! We might even be disgusted by it!

    How do our fathers fit into all of this? As we grow from a boy to a teenager to a man, someone close to us needs to show us what it means to be a man, what masculinity and maleness are all about. Someone needs to show us what it means to be a husband and a father. Someone needs to show us how beautiful and wonderful it is to be a man, a husband, and a father. Someone needs to guide us as we grow and help us to get back on the right track when we stray.

    We might have had an awful, ugly relationship with our dad. We might have had a great relationship with our dad. But if he doesn’t show us how to be a man, our identity will not develop correctly. Our masculinity, our maleness is incomplete. Our crossdressing fills in those missing parts in our identity.

    Alternatively, our dad might have been the worst example of a man. My own father was always angry. Fortunately, he controlled his anger enough that it never became violent, but I grew up very afraid of my father. I did not want to grow up to be an angry man like my dad. However, I had no other good male role models in my life.

    I think this explains why “purging” rarely, if ever, works. Even though a man dumps his feminine wardrobe, how does he wrestle with his need to bury his manhood? The only way a purge can work is if a man no longer desires to hide his masculinity.

    Finally, in my opinion, I think that transsexuals are the ultimate example of how much they hate their masculinity. They hate it so much, they are willing to chemically and surgically remove any and all traces of their maleness. That is a LOT of hatred! They see no joy, no beauty in being a man, a husband, or a father.

    Unfortunately, we don’t want to do the hard work to get past this. We get a lot of pleasure from hiding our masculinity. Why should we “fix” something we don’t think is broken? Our solution is to get our wife, our family, our society to become more understanding and accepting of who we aren’t. What is needed is for us to work on becoming who we really are…


  9. thorin25 says:

    Good thoughts Robyn. Speaking as someone who has done the hard work, I can say that accepting myself for who I really am, and no longer hiding in a dress, this is far more joyful and great way to live life. I am so glad not to be in bondage to crossdressing. I wish the same for you and everyone else who reads here!


  10. Michael26 says:

    Hello, everyone! It’s been a very long time! I decided to take a look-see after all this time last night. I’m very glad I DID look! I’ve forgotten what it means to hear others talking about these same sorts of struggles & distorted thoughts, feelings, behaviours, etc. . .it is truly a tremendous thing to know you (I) belong!! This isn’t my identity, but it’s a battle that we (most of us here ) share in common. ___ I particularly was drawn to this posting of yours, Thorin! What are some of the things we can think of concerning our fathers? It’s a healthy one to ask, it’s something I have still tend to try to avoid like the plague. I can relate to what you posted under number “3”. Concerning that section w / your father, mine was fairly identical : limited care or focus on appearance, wasn’t violent. ANd I too could at one time could be completely entrenched in ideas of appearance & decor & fashion, though little elswhere. __ I’ll try to write back soon – I’m about to lose consciousness…. Nightly!!!


  11. thorin25 says:

    Michael, so good to hear from you. We’ve been wondering how you are doing. Please send an email to the group!


  12. Michael26 says:

    Bless you Ralph for sharing something so personal & filled w/ confusion, pain & filled w/ your own personal insights!!

    Before I continue any further, I wanted to say, reading your reply left me with an empathetic heart fully-ready to give! My eyes wear overflowing w/ tears due to the things you had to endure, but also, to hear about a sister that took on the responsibilities of your mother!

    This brings me to the part I wanted to share w/ you. When I first read your story, I could see the hearache & suffering & limited attention you received. But then looking at what you wrote about your sister!! Wow!! Though she may have been there for you w/o ceasing for reasons related to her own pains & not so much from a heart that took on the maturity & truly Godly feminine approach of taking you in “as her own” & being a woman of beautiful action & giving herself & allowing God to innertwine her heart w/ yours… matter what the case may have been, she was undoubtably a sister that a sibling could only DREAM OF!! She gave her self to you! She loved you & put you above herself!! How beautiful & Christ-like is that!?!? My heart is SO SO SO sturd up every time I try to imagine who she may of been like! I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t dress you up. It sounds like she was the only one you could have relied upon regularly! While your image of your parents were marred, your sister was more precious than gold! Again, she sounds like she was a splendid example of Christ’s tenderly-loving & never-ceasing care for you!___ a and then to tragicly have her life taken from you!!! Your source of what’s loving, nurturing, & safe is suddenly taken from you… That would leave a tremendous ache in the heart! You both obviously had a God-Ordained bond!! What a heartache, but what a blessing beyond blessings that you had such a tenderly-sweet hearted, sister! What an intimate bond you both had!! ___ When you mentioned about wearing her clothes, personally, I see a way of trying to be as close to her as you possibly could! And/or having such an admiration for her, that you longed to “resurrect” her – for the lack of a better term! God had taken what was good & beautiful from your life & now you were left w/ a brokenheart. She would have been likely the most authentic form of Christ for you & so I can she. That to be a woman was the most lovely & selfless example of a person that anyone could be! ____ As for friends that were girls in school, I fully relate to that..they were also kind & empathetic to me. Where as other boys were always in a constant state of trying to out-do the other body to self-justify themselves, their identity, their worth. Girls in school reminded me of my mom’s empathetic heart. The other boys didn’t remind me of father either. My father was never a competitive one; I didn’t mind that part. I think right now we could relate to that in present day.And yes, my father was also a serious perfectionist. …anyway, thanks again, Ralph! I really hope you’re encouraged by this reply! BTW, I also watched little House as well! And I too can really be very stirred up by the pure, simple girliness of the dresses. :):)


  13. JustAnotherWife says:

    There’s so much insight here…far more than other blogs!

    I’m the wife of a man who crossdresses and thought I’d mention his family dynamic. His father was a nice man, but passive and disinterested in family life. He was literally never there, like, ever. So my H’s mother played the role of both parents as best she could, which mostly meant my H followed around his mother and big sister and tried to slot into their world. I imagine he felt like an outsider in many ways. I’m sure he also tried to fit in to their female world as much as he could.

    He tried often as a young child to engage his father but got nowhere. His mother, on the other hand, doted on him. Her interests, I should also add, were very much traditional female ones of fashion and food. She involved her son often in these things. He had no male role model so what else was he to do?

    His dressing is mostly erotic but with the usual emotional well-being thrown in. I can see in him a man who is vastly uncomfortable with his own kind (men) yet isn’t entirely happy on this side either. I wonder of the man he might have been had his father been more present? He was all boy at the beginning, but as he felt more and more rejected by his father, the boy became less and less appealing.

    Of course, as is written here, there are plenty of men who crossdress and are quite content to leave their male selves behind. The femme trappings are just too enticing and safe. My H isn’t one who cares to stop, though I suspect it will ultimately destroy our marriage and he will once again be rejected. Only, as someone said here, I’m not rejecting who he is like he believes of his father, I’m rejecting what he’s not, as this crossdressing life is so obviously a lie and it pains me to see so many men become entangled in it.

    Thanks for writing these interesting thoughts. Clearly it is a fragile thing, the male psyche, and so easily and often it can be derailed. What a shame this isn’t spoken of more often and more future parents aren’t shown how to avoid such a situation.


  14. thorin25 says:

    JustAnotherWife, thank you for your story and your insight. It sounds like this situation with his father could have played very well into his crossdressing development, but I would guess that for him and for all of us, that would only be a small part of the whole, with other causes as well.

    I’m so sorry for the pain you are experiencing in your marriage. You don’t express it fully, but we’ve heard from so many wives, and we know how messed up this makes your marriage. I will pray for your marriage right now, and that God would convict your husband and show him that he can have freedom in Christ and doesn’t have to live in bondage to this anymore.

    If your husband claims to have an open mind, have him come read some of the posts at my site and dialogue with us.


  15. Shane Murray says:

    I did a little cross dressing as a boy. Then dormant until my father died. Afterwards it became a compulsion. I don’t feel any shame I can analyse the urge.
    The search for the absent father.
    In my gay life I never felt such peace as when I sat in a Berlin darkroom doing nothing except partaking in the male to male connection. It was like all the noise finally stopped.
    Or one summer in Turkey on an peninsular where gay cruising took place. Same deal peace at last.


  16. thorin25 says:

    Shane, I’m sure there has been research and studies on this. But I’m confused why that would make you feel at peace? The love of a father is so important, but it’s not supposed to be a sexual love, so why replace the absent father with sexual love towards another man?


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