Crossdressing desires because of detachment?

I just finished reading this article – What Our Sexual Fantasies Say About Our Past by Stanley Siegel.  Here is an excerpt that may apply to the origin of some crossdressing desires and fetishes.

When we suffer trauma as children and don’t have the opportunity to process it through the guidance of a loving parent or mentor – whether it’s the result of a parent’s sudden death, daily drama of slammed doors and raised voices, physical abuse, mistreatment, or even extreme over-involvement in our background – we may become emotionally detached or even numb to our feelings and to the feelings of those around us as a means of surviving the pain of the experience.

We feel empty, blank, dead, bored, or numb, as if there is nothing inside us. We learn so thoroughly to cut-off our emotions that we believe we don’t have them at all.

In contrast to internalizing the soothing memory of a loving parent, we experience feelings of emptiness, which is actually a form of repressed grief. When we feel hollow inside, we avoid intimacy with everyone.

Later, when we become sexual, we eroticize that detachment, treating our partners as objects absent of human emotions. We act cold, harsh, or emotionally distant. In our fantasies, we objectify our partners, sometimes dehumanizing the sexual experience entirely, callously using them for our satisfaction without any regard to their needs. We might even fetishize parts of their bodies like breasts, penises, and feet, or even possessions associated with them such as shoes, eyeglasses, or clothing. Effectively, we convert our experience of emotional detachment or emptiness into one of excitement and thrill, while still maintaining no real emotional investment in our partners. We create a sense of pleasure, excitement, and intensity where emptiness existed.


What are your thoughts about this theory as applied to crossdressing?  For me, it does not fit at all.  I was a very shy child who did not talk much.  In that way I guess I had little social contact.  But my relationships with family were strong, loving, and healthy.  I don’t think this theory fits my own story.  But what about for some of the rest of you?


7 comments on “Crossdressing desires because of detachment?

  1. robmilliken says:

    To a certain extant I agree with the article. I was a loner as a child as I remain today, partly because I was taught never to surrender my individuality by my “parents”. Of course what my dysfunctionally substance and mentally abusive parents never did understand. Is that the individuality I applied their anti social teaching too was my cd’ing. Though present physically my father stayed on the AWOL list regarding me until I reached puberty expecting that by that time surely I knew to stand while urinating. Meanwhile family drama nixed relationships with other relatives, aunts, uncles, grand parents, etc.. That left my mother and big sister, both of whom I allowed to tie me ever tighter in their apron strings. I’m not sure I agree with the “emontional detachment” part of the article. I desire nothing more than a complete emotional attachment with relatives, my marriage… All of which have always elluded me…


  2. Ralph says:

    It describes me disturbingly well. I don’t *remember* specific childhood trauma. I’m fairly certain I was not abused, apart from a father who tended to be verbally caustic to the point of my mother divorcing when I was a teenager. But I was deathly ill for my first several years of life, and a sister who was my entire world was killed in a horrible accident when I was young. My father’s emotional coldness and then my mother’s complete withdrawal from life following her daughter’s death meant I spent just about my entire childhood without the warm nurturing necessary for development.

    As a result, expressing emotion — especially “weak” emotions like love and sadness — is extremely difficult for me. I always felt like I was putting on an act, first “necking” with college girlfriends and then even during sexual intimacy with my wife. I emotionally manipulated people to get what I want.

    A lot of that has changed, and I can tie the start of the change directly to when I started taking Jesus seriously. I was “saved” when I was in my early teens, and I use sarcasm quotes there because it was just fire insurance, following the instructions in a tract that told me how to get out of hell free. But I didn’t start caring about others’ needs until my first baby was over a year old and I started to notice that my self-serving actions had an effect on her. It still wasn’t an overnight transformation, and some 25 years later I still have a lot of room for growth from self-centered monster to servant of Christ.

    However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the effect the emotional scarring had on my sex life. From the very start, bondage fantasies appealed to me and I’d probably still be experimenting with them (secretly, since my wife wants no part of it) if not for the fact that arthritis and bondage do not go well together. I still entertain dark fantasies without acting on them, although interestingly they have never been so much about women being objectified as me being punished and humiliated. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a grand time theorizing on the connection between my early childhood and my desire to be bound and humiliated, if these fantasies were debilitating enough for me to be willing to spend the time and money (and exposure) on having them purged.

    And of course whether it’s sexual or not, whether it is and I’m just in denial saying it’s not, there’s always the crossdressing at the center of it all. My completely unsupported theory, based entirely on speculation, is that my beloved sister pampered me so much, perhaps even dressed me in girls’ clothes as a game (hey, I was only a baby… perfectly healthy, right?) that I am trying to recreate the soothing comfort I felt with her — or even BECOME her, by dressing as not a woman my own age or as a prostitute (as many crossdressers enjoy) but as a young girl.

    So… yes, this story fits me all too well.


  3. Don says:

    I read a few more of his articles and his theory of what becomes erotic made me realize why I get turned on by being a woman. When I was around 5 years old I wanted to play with my 1 1/2 year older sister and her girlfriend. She did not want me to bother her so she asked my mother to take care of it.

    My mother then threatened to put a dress on me if I persisted in bothering my sister. I immediately though about how shamed I would be if everyone would see me with a dress on. It was an emasculating experience that happened a few more times.

    Afterward, when I thought about it what had happened, I started getting a tingling feeling in my 5 year old body, just the beginnings of an erotic response. I read in Sieglel’s article that our body tries to repair pain, whether physical or emotional, and I believe it was trying to eliminate the emotional pain by using the erotic abilities I had at that time.

    Then once I discovered this great feeling every time I thought about being a girl, I eventually tried on my sisters clothes and it was the best feeling I ever had, due to the absolutely loveless live I had from my whole family, sister, Mom and Dad.

    I have been trying to figure this out all of my life and now I understand the why of my erotic response to being a woman. I knew that’s when it began but now I know that my body was just doing what it naturally does, healing any way it can, and that was the only way possible given the rest of my life was experiencing emotional pain, and thus I had no other way to feel good. This was BIG for me, so thanks for the source article.



  4. thorin25 says:

    Interesting thoughts guys, lots of deep self exploration going on 🙂

    Don, I wonder if there is an element of that body healing the pain aspect in me too, but I can’t think of an original occurrence of the pain/shame like you can. But perhaps there is some memory buried somewhere.


  5. Erica says:

    What I took away from the article was that the sexual fantasies try to reproduce or resolve harm. A person who is dominated will have fantasies where they dominate or are dominated. What if the harm is the denial of internal gender? It seems logical that fantasies about being that gender could be one outcome. To me, that explains transgender sexual fantasies way better than Blanchard’s autogynphelia. Of course, cross dressing can be caused by a variety of reasons.

    I’m not sure what the re-enacting fantasy for gender denial would be. Possibly behaving in very stereotypical ways? Maybe fantasies about being a “superman” with a “bimbo” partner.


  6. Gerry Bakke says:

    Gerry, I have been a closeted cross dresser for over 30 years. I can identify some with this article about how we close off our emotions. Growing up I had one brother, a dad, and a mom who was paranoid schizophric and in the mental hospital 3 times. I was a wrestler, teacher, and a coach. My dad sort of isolated my brother and I from our mother so that we saw her as a burden instead of our mother. Ironically I loved my dad more than anyone on this earth. I always wanted to really do good in wrestling to make up for how hard my dad’s life because of mom. I sometimes think that by dressing as a woman I am getting to get close to my mom after all these years. I am especially excited by wearing lipstick. My mom always wore very read lipstick. Ironically my brother who is not a cross dresser but a sex addict, is very excited by women who have a lot of make up on. A lot of this also goes back to the 1950’s where Marilyn Monroe became my all time sex object, later replaced, by Lonnie Anderson, Madonna, and now Ga Ga. Ironically all my super desires are for blondes. I think this is due in part to my mom being a brunette. I can go for a couple months without dressing, but afterwards I go back to my lipstick, etc. When I retired 4 years ago I have become a lot more active in needing to sleep in lipstick, panties and some make up on. Gerry


  7. ikthys says:

    In general, my takeaway from this excerpt is the objectification of sex (and thus easy facilitation also of fetishism) and how it may be related to emotional numbness. My young life was certainly full of unprocessed emotions. And I think cd has objectification written all over it. However, I just feel this is too simplistic of a picture. I doubt that any person becomes truly emotionally “numb” or hollow. Overwhelmed sure, but not empty. Perhaps in extreme war-like trauma over prolonged time periods, but not “slammed doors and raised voices”. I had (have?) many very emotional attachments to cd, not just as a chance to get pleasure in an objectified, unobligated way (though I don’t deny that aspect either).


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