How do I tell my wife, a friend, or a pastor about my crossdressing?

I have told quite a number of people in my life about my crossdressing addiction, both professionals, and also close family and friends.  So I’d like to share what I hope is some wisdom about how to best do this, and some general tips.

Throughout my life, I have told about this issue to my wife, a family member, two psychologists, one pastor, and three close friends.  Of course I’ve talked to plenty of other people online through this blog and email group, but I’m not counting those.  In every case of telling one of these people, things went smoothly and I did not have any regret about sharing this secret with them.  I know that this may not be the case for all of us, so I count myself fortunate and am very grateful for such good people in my life.

 

First we should look at the question, “should I really risk telling anyone at all?  Why take the risk?  What benefit is there?

This is a great question and it deserves a thoughtful answer.  I think for sure that this is not something a man should just tell anyone about.  We have to take care to guard ourselves from those who would malign our names or spread gossip or misinterpret our behavior.  But it is helpful to tell some few people.

One good reason to tell someone about your crossdressing past or present, is that it brings it into the light. Bringing sin into the light makes it lose power.  I have found that whenever I’ve told someone, it makes crossdressing seem so much more foolish, dumb, and unexciting to me.  Just speaking about what I actually do to another person takes away all the false rationalizations that I had built up in my head.  It makes crossdressing less powerful and enticing even before the other person speaks in response to your revelation.  When I tell someone, and for many weeks/months after telling someone, crossdressing no longer seems like something I can’t control.  I feel in control of my life and it seems easy to resist crossdressing temptations.  To dwell on this biblical theme of bringing sins into the light by confessing to one another, read 1 John 1 and Ephesians 5:1-20.

 

There are other reasons we should tell someone.  Firstly, let’s think about our spouses.  I cannot imagine having such a big secret kept from my wife.  My only regret is that I did not tell my wife before we got married, but rather I told her a few months into marriage.  Different people have different views about marriage.  But I want to be “fully known” by the one who loves me and has committed to share her life with me.  To be loved without being truly known is still good and still truly love, but it’s more superficial.  To be known, flaws and virtues together, and still loved, that is a treasure.  That is what God’s love for us is like to a profound more awesome degree.  I have committed to share my life with my wife, come what may, in sickness and in health, in all things, in happiness or unhappiness.  We make our decisions together.  We let nothing break our marriage.  It is inconceivable to me to imagine being married to someone who didn’t know everything about me.

Do I need to tell her every twisted thought that enters my head?  No, of course not.  But to hide this huge aspect of my identity, my personality, would be dishonest and even a betrayal.  She deserves to know about this.  Yes, it is largely just a sin of the past, but there are still temptations in the present.  Yes I am forgiven by God for all that I have done, but that past history still shapes so much of my personality, behavior, and perspectives.  The proof that she should know about your crossdressing is a quick mental imagination.  Take a second and imagine how angry she would be if she found out about your crossdressing from somebody else besides you.  She would be angry that you hid it from her.  She wants to know you fully just as you want to know her fully.  Imagine how you would feel if she had a secret addiction to pornography that she didn’t tell you about.  Husbands and wives deserve to know these things about each other, so that they can help each other, forgive each other, and love each other in spite of faults and failures.  You are not to hide parts of yourself from someone who is “one flesh” with you.

In addition, I would need to tell her for one reason alone, though not the most important reason, and that is that she needs to be aware of her actions so that she doesn’t inadvertently tempt me to sin through kinky games in the bedroom or leaving clothes lying about.  So I think it is a necessity to tell our spouses, and I think the best thing to do is to tell them during the engagement period, or before, so that they can fully know who they are committing to spend their life with.  If their love falls apart at such a revelation, than that is not the kind of person you would want to marry anyway.  And if you are reading this and you have not told your wife yet, well, better late than never.  It may be harder for her to forgive you, and she may feel deeply betrayed, but it’s better you tell her now so that you can have a real honest relationship now.  It will greatly help though that you are telling her yourself rather than her finding out through catching you in the act or hearing from somebody else.  Such a vulnerable act in marriage might very well strengthen a hurting or bored marriage.  When I told my wife about my struggle, she shared her own deep secrets and struggles.  In doing so, the marriage was strengthened as we both felt truly known and truly loved and realized that we really meant to act on life-long commitment.  Each person giving and receiving confession, grace, and forgiveness is a very powerful moment in a marriage.  For both you and her, I suggest you read this post – Giving Pastoral care to a crossdresser or transgendered person.

When I shared with my wife, she also became vulnerable and shared with me about her struggles.  She listened to me for a long time, without speaking much.  She gave me no condemnation and did not show any less love to me after the revelation.  She was not repulsed by me, though she found the behavior itself disgusting and strange.  She forgave me for past mistakes.  She gave me much grace.  She made it clear that she would not be okay with me purposely giving in to crossdressing, which I was in full agreement with.  The first conversation lasted 2-3 hours, and there were many subsequent short conversations after that.  She did her own personal research on crossdressing afterwards, and finally it was just a normal thing to acknowledge it and talk about it openly.  However, I found that generally she did not enjoy talking about it, so we don’t talk about it very much.  When I have had failures and told her in past years, she has always responded with some disappointment, but also with understanding since she is aware of her own sins and struggles as well.  She always forgave me after each time I confessed.  I have asked her directly then and recently if my revelation contributed to the difficulties in our marriage, and in our sexuality together, and the answer is a very clear “no.”  We both know the marriage issues we deal with very specifically, and this crossdressing past is not the issue.

 

Secondly, it can be helpful to tell professional counselors, psychologists, or pastors about your secret.  These people will likely be able to give you some good support, encouragement, listening ears, and perhaps help you to recover, change, quit the addiction, and heal.  However, I have some reservations about this though too.   Many of these counselors and pastors have very little understanding about crossdressing and gender dysphoria, and even if they are loving and compassionate, you may find yourself spending all the time teaching them rather than getting much help from them.  Also, in some cases, psychologists will tell you to “be yourself” meaning to give in to whatever desires you find inside you, whether helpful or not, whether sinful or not.  They may help you to destroy your life out of their own ignorance.  They may make it more difficult for you to quit the addiction that you know is tearing your soul and mind and life apart.  So be wary in finding a counselor.  Seek out counselors that are knowledgeable about the issue, and are willing to help you heal in your identity as a man, rather than exacerbating your problem.  Seek out Christian counselors that have a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Pastors are more likely to be quite ignorant about your feelings and condition, and yet as you teach them and as they listen, I think they can be quite helpful.  If you get a good pastor who is teachable and doesn’t condemn you out of his fear of the strangeness of your behavior, he might be very helpful to you.  If you read the post above about giving pastoral care, there are many many issues that a pastor can help you work through even if he doesn’t know as much about crossdressing as you do.  Please see that post for a longer description about this and consider sharing the post with your pastor.  But he can help you work out what crossdressing is doing to your relationship with God, he can help you grow in prayer and Bible study, he can help you learn how to fight and resist temptation, he can help you to forgive, to grow in your identity in Christ, to help you appreciate God’s grace, to help you learn what it means to be a man according to God’s word, and so on.

When I shared with counselors and a pastor, my biggest surprise was by how insignificant they seemed to think crossdressing was.  They focused on other areas of spiritual and marital growth with me instead.  I think this is largely due to their ignorance about what a pervasive and destructive force crossdressing can really be.  I did work through crossdressing more in-depth with one counselor.  Mostly I was educating him, but it was helpful to speak out loud and process out loud about it.  In the end, it probably wasn’t worth the money.  But it was definitely not a negative experience.  He helped me to deal with temptations, looking at strategies he himself had used to give up smoking.  All in all it was not bad.  If one of you really needed a counselor though, I would try to help you find a biblical counselor who has some experience dealing with these sexual and gender issues.

 

Thirdly, it can very helpful to tell friends.  They are the easiest of any of these to tell, because if they are a close friend, you already have trust built up.  And since you aren’t in a sexual relationship, as with your wife, they won’t feel betrayed by your revelation, they won’t worry about how your condition will affect the marriage, etc.  It will be quite easy for them to listen, and probably still appreciate the friendship just as much after your revelation, if not more so.  There are so many advantages to telling a friend.  Besides bringing the sin into the light and having it lose power over you, telling a friend can also give you someone who you can vent to, to share your fears, frustrations, lamentations, and hopes and even jokes about this condition.  Telling a friend will give you someone who can help to hold you accountable.  We grow together in community when we are “real” with each other.  And telling a friend can deepen the friendship, bonding you together for life as close and loyal friends who will always be there for each other, friends who know the deepest darkest crap about each other, but are still together.

When I first told friends, I was in high school.  Telling them took a great deal of courage, and I couldn’t look them in the face, and I believe I was crying through most of it.  But like my wife, they gave me grace and understanding.  When I told them and made myself so vulnerable, they shared with me about their pornography addictions, in detail, including frank talks about masturbation.  Our friendships went to a new deeper level.  If you’ve never experienced such a close friendship, where you share those details about your life that you find most shameful, you are missing out.  Such friendships cannot be bought.  My friends and I were able to give each other help and accountability, so that even in high school and then later in college we could truly help and challenge one another to grow in Christ rather than spending all of our time playing football and Xbox and looking for girls.  These are friendships that last to this day, even though we don’t see each other much.  We will forever have that trust and loyalty.  Telling friends was one of the best things I’ve ever did.  I felt accepted even though fully known.  I felt secure.  Years of fear and isolation and loneliness melted away.

 

Some general tips as you think about telling someone

  1. Begin by telling a friend who has known you for a while, and who you trust, someone who is mature and living for Christ.  The first time you tell someone is the most difficult, and you don’t want to tell someone you don’t fully trust for this first time.  It will be hard enough that you don’t want to have to worry about risk of others finding out.
  2. Start by seeing if the friend is willing to be vulnerable.  Be vulnerable about another area of your life, maybe how you spend your money, what kind of woman you want to marry, how you treat your wife, pornography, etc, and see if your friend will hold you accountable in that area of your life, and if he will be reciprocal opening up about that area of his life as well.  For me, this subject is too personal to tell someone about it if they will not also open up to me.  I have told people about my crossdressing who were not reciprocal and it went fine.  But those conversations were much less satisfying and much less helpful.  It is truly helpful to tell someone when they will also open up to you.
  3. You can test the waters by bringing up homosexuality.  When you talk to a Christian about homosexuality, they may have many different responses, but let me generalize down to three.  1.  They could talk about how people should be themselves and we shouldn’t say it’s wrong to give in to homosexuality.  2.  They could be scathing and judgmental against gays, and want nothing to do with them.  3.  They could have a more balanced biblical approach, that they love homosexuals and want to be friends with them, but also they say that giving in to homosexual behavior itself is sinful and wrong.  So being “gay,” (meaning having those desires), is not our fault, but we do control whether we give in or not.   If you want to stay on the safe side, you might only tell about your crossdressing to someone who fits #3.  That way they can help you to resist crossdressing while also giving you grace and compassion.  Someone in #1 might try to convince you just to accept your crossdressing, or worse, they might be offended if you don’t embrace your crossdressing.  Someone in #2 might end the friendship with you when they find out about this strange sin you deal with.  Think about these various responses but in the end use your own judgment.  For me, I might still tell someone regardless of what number they fall into in regards to homosexuality.  In my experience, some friends who may have started in #1 or #2, have actually changed to more of the position of #3 after hearing my testimony.  So I appreciate God using me in that way.
  4. Pray about it first.  Pray for the person you will tell.  Take time to prepare.  Write down what you want to say if you have to.  Don’t rush into it.
  5. If telling your wife for the first time, make sure you include a deep heartfelt apology for not telling her sooner, and explain why you did not do so, without excusing yourself.  Also, point her to this post for wives.  Apologize and repent for any crossdressing you have done while married, including things done online, but don’t go into great detail as that will only disturb her and in my opinion is not necessary.  Help her to understand that even though you hid this from her for so long, that your marriage is still a real marriage, you still love her greatly, the memories of good times in the past are true and real memories, she doesn’t need to doubt your love and loyalty, etc.  Pray together afterwards.  Thank her for the grace she gives you.  Pledge to her that you will get the help you need to fight this addiction so that you stop giving in and heal from it.
  6. When I told people, I always began by saying I had something important to tell them, and that they should just let me speak without interrupting until I get most of my speech out.
  7. Take time to tell them.  Make sure you tell them when you have a few hours set aside.  Make sure there won’t be interruptions or phone calls.  Make sure you have time and energy to answer any and all of their many questions that they will surely have.
  8. If tears come, let them come.  Be vulnerable.  The tears will help to show your repentance and deep feeling.
  9. Make sure that they understand you didn’t choose to be like this, that you wished and prayed for the desires to go away.  Help them to understand that these desires don’t define who you are, they are just a tiny part of you, just a part of the sinful nature that everyone has.
  10. Tell them as much information as you can so that they don’t go away with bad misconceptions.  And perhaps give them some followup resources to read if they want more information, such as good books and articles that you can find on my links page, or my blog itself.
  11. When they open up and are vulnerable with you, give them the same grace that they gave you.  Pray together afterwards.

If you have other good tips and suggestions, please comment below to share with all of us.

Guest Post – Survived a Battle

Enjoy this helpful post written by “TemptedSinner” about his recent trials against temptation and how he dealt with it.

 

Tuesday 1/28/2016

Ok, so what does this mean? With the assistance of a spiritual director I am working my way through the 19th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is a 32-week program where I spend time every day in prayer, reflection and journaling.

The Spiritual Exercises

Those of you who know me, know that I am a fetishistic cross dresser. So yesterday (Monday) Ignatius has me once again go back to the times of my teenage and young adult life. A time where I began to break away from the rules of my parents, family and home. A time when my friends and what I wanted to do, were more important than family, church and God. In the beginning a time of experimentation with partying and puberty. Little did I know where these things would lead me at that time.

Quickly my mind went to some of the early days of going through my older sister’s dresser drawers and finding all of the pretty, soft colors and feel of her underwear drawer. As I was recalling these times of what I thought was innocent curiosity I didn’t necessarily feel shame or remorse as much as I began once again to feel arousal and excitement. Even to the point of touching myself almost unconsciously. I wanted to “get dressed” or put on some feminine fineries. Having burnt all of the items that I used for self-gratification back in April, I began to think about what my wife has that I could try on once again, as I used to in previous times after purging and starting up again. Trying to fight these thoughts and feelings I figure that I had better get ready for work and leave the house. As I am grabbing my shirt and pants from the closet I reach to the back of one of my wife’s shelves in the closet and pull out a pair of my panties. I couldn’t believe it! This is the second time that I have run across something since the great purge of 2015. I swear I thought I had gotten rid of everything at that time, in fact I had spent months gathering and consolidating all of my stuff before I lit that fire on a beautiful spring day in which I almost ceremoniously made sure that everything was set ablaze. A day where I declared my freedom from my sexual depravities. To say that I was overwhelmed with a combination of anxiety, excitement and fear would be an understatement. I continued to dig around and found six more pairs of underwear which my wife no longer fits into but I do and three pair of pantyhose / tights that I am pretty sure were mine. I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t believe it. Why? How? What the hell?

All the voices inside my head, what is God trying to tell me? What could it hurt to wear panties or nylons just for a day? It’s only clothing! Why is there even any distinction between what men and women wear particularly when it is underwear? (insert Casting Crowns East to West) All those voices in my head are in reality only three. There is me and then there is good and evil. Looking at it honestly, I am the powerless one, almost standing on the sidelines while God and Satan declare battle within my mind. I am swearing out loud, questioning what is going on? As I take these items of my fetish and lay them out on the floor of our bedroom in front of my dresser, the devil or devils are almost yelling and screaming. “Go ahead, indulge yourself” It is times like this that make me feel insane. I also feel called to pray, a much much quieter voice. It is hard to say if I actually heard it or just felt it. I don’t know….. Did I say insane??? This was nuts. I was sweating, literally dripping perspiration, (gross) my hands were shaking, I didn’t know what to do or what I was going to do. I almost reached out to a friend who knows about this stuff in me, but I didn’t.

On top of my dresser is a picture of The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and almost every day as I am getting ready to begin my day I kneel and pray for my kids, family, others that need prayer. I also pray for help and guidance for my day. I knelt, I prayed, I bitched, I complained. I survived at least that battle. I ended up folding these items together, wrapping a rubber band around them and putting them back where they came from and left for work as quickly as possible.

As I type this I am in my basement, and I can hear (really I must be crazy, clothing cannot speak) I can hear this stuff calling to me from the bedroom. I am not going to respond to these relatively mild urgings today. (compared to yesterday) They will be discarded in some form or fashion soon.
I still ask WHAT THE HELL? This was not some freak coincidence! I don’t believe in coincidences, so what am I supposed to learn from this? Sure, God won out on this battle, Thank You Lord! Where is the next one going to be? I’m getting tired. The first year of trying to holy and pleasing to God was kind of easy compared to the last few months. I am well aware that because I am only five weeks away from having to give a witness at a men’s renewal at our parish, that I will continue to be tempted, to be attacked until and after the renewal weekend. I also know that by doing the Spiritual Exercises, by trying to get closer to God and following His will for my life, I am pissing off the dark side. These things I know and it all just really sucks.

I have tried to write this in order to send it out in multiple directions, because each of you are a part of my support system and I am in need of your prayers. And so that when those “voices” or temptations start talking in a confusing manner to you, try to listen for the quiet one.
I guess that is all I have for now. Through the love of Christ, I have confidence in today and I look forward to tomorrow in Faith, Hope and Love!

Peace
Temptedsinner

Sunday 2/1/2016
So, now the rest of the story: Common wisdom would have had me immediately discard these items of temptation. I felt that I needed to “face it” , to shine the light of Christ on to this situation in order to declare that this sin has no power over me. Sunday was a nice 50 degree day, so I began gathering up sticks to start a fire. I built the fire, got it going pretty good then proceeded into the house. While in the house I grabbed the bundle of underwear and talked to Wifey Dearest and invited her out to the fire. When she came out I told her that the fire had a purpose, that I needed to get rid of some stuff. I proceeded to tell her the story that you have just read. One by one each item went into the fire and melted away. My wife listened with a concerned heart, which I am grateful for.

Victory feels good, even when it is not my own. Christ won this battle for me, I truly believe that. How I was able to hear his voice and feel his presence, in the midst of this epic battle, I don’t know. All I know is that he was there for me and he is there for you too, whatever battles you face.

Your brother in Christ

Tempted

New Year – You Can Get Crossdressing Out Of Your Life!

It’s that time of the year, the time for New Year’s Resolutions.  Why not make a resolution once and for all to remove crossdressing from your life?  To be finally be healed from this confusion and addiction?  Sure, I grant you that it isn’t easy.  It won’t be instantaneous.  It might even take years for the desires to go away.

But do you really want crossdressing still in your life?  Do you really want to keep making yourself more confused about who you are?  Do you really want the shame and guilt?  Do you really want to keep risking your marriage, your job, and your friendships?  Aren’t you tired of feeling out of control?  Aren’t you tired of all the time wasted?  If you are a Christian, aren’t you tired of how crossdressing draws you away from a healthy relationship with God?

You CAN stop.  You DO have a choice.  You do have FREEWILL.  You are ABLE to make a change.  You CAN exhibit self control.  You CAN experience change in your desires.  It will be difficult, for sure!  But it will be worth it.

If you want some good reminders about why crossdressing is good to get out of your life – Summary of why crossdressing is sinful/harmful

If you want to read about how happy it made me to get crossdressing out of my life – I Quit Crossdressing and I am Happy!

If you want some good advice to get started in breaking out of this addiction – 12 Steps to Stop Crossdressing

 

Make a New Year’s Resolution.  And I and the rest of this blog community are here to support you!

 

The Suppression of Crossdressing Guilt

I periodically peruse the forums at Crossdressers.com and a number of other sites, as well as reading crossdressing blogs and the discussions/comments on interesting posts.

One thing that has impressed me is that the guilt and shame do not go away.  Men feel guilty about their crossdressing and it is a constant battle to suppress that guilt.  Sometimes the guilt explodes in a purge of the female clothing.  Sometimes the guilt causes the crossdresser to post a new forum comment or a new blog post in which he talks about his guilt and how he feels like quitting.  (From my amateur and perhaps faulty observations, it seems there are a few people doing this in an average week on Crossdressers.com as well as other places).

The answers given by crossdressers are always the same – “You shouldn’t feel guilt and you shouldn’t feel shame.”  “You just feel that way because of how people in society look down on us and don’t understand us.”  Basically the advice given is that the urge will never go away, and so the best thing to do is to plow through the feelings of guilt and shame, accept who you are as a crossdresser, and continue crossdressing.

Shouldn’t these repeated posts tell us something?  Can you really suppress all this guilt and shame?  If you are doing something that continues to cause you such pain, anguish, guilt, and shame in your heart, might the better solution be to work hard at no longer doing this activity, to heal from the guilt and shame so that you no longer have to feel it?

I used to feel guilty about something that I shouldn’t have felt guilty about.  Growing up I thought it was sinful to drink alcohol and that it always leads to drunkenness.  But someone corrected my view of Scripture on this issue, gave me a brief education out alcohol, and then I tried drinking.  And I felt fine about it right away.  The guilt has never come back even though I drink.  So my conclusion is that since Scripture and my conscience both do not give me guilt about this issue, it is not morally wrong and I should continue to drink.

But crossdressing is not like this, not for me, and clearly not for most crossdressers out there.  They keep trying to persevere in crossdressing through the guilt and shame, but no matter how much they try to suppress the guilt and shame, it just keeps coming back.  If the crossdressers were right that crossdressing should not produce guilt and shame, then why do the people keep coming back even 40 years into crossdressing, still feeling the same feelings of guilt and shame?!

I say in love to the crossdressing community, please stop trying to suppress the guilt, but rather deal with it in a healthy way.   Maybe your guilt is telling you that you are doing something that is wrong and not good for you, even if it feels good in the moment.  Once I gave up crossdressing, the guilt and shame in my life over that issue disappeared and I’ve been living in peace and happiness ever since, never once regretting the decision I made.

Please also read this other post I wrote about guilt which gives several other related ideas – Guilt is an Achievement!

Sexual Addiction Explanation and Resources

For most of us, crossdressing was (or still is) a sexual addiction.  It’s good to understand what it is, why it is a problem, and how to get help.  This resource at Psych Central is brief but helpful.  Here is a link to the first page – “What is Sexual Addiction?”  But please don’t overlook that at the bottom of the first article are about 7 more articles connected to the first one, such as about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of sexual addiction.  There is even a quiz you can take to see if you have an addiction.  Sometimes we delude ourselves and don’t think we have a problem.  Give these pages a quick read, they might be helpful for some of you.

Giving Pastoral care to a crossdresser or transgendered person

I know many pastors and Christian counselors and wives of crossdressers are finding my blog, probably in hopes of finding help in ministering to crossdressers, transsexuals, or people struggling with gender dysphoria.  I can tell this by looking at the search terms people use when they find my blog.  I know that I’ve written a lot on my blog and it can be daunting trying to figure out where to start.  So I thought I’d make a one stop shop, one big post for those pastors or wives or caring friends, people who don’t struggle with crossdressing themselves, but are trying to help someone else with one or both of these conditions.  Feel free to comment below with suggestions, comments, or questions in case you are still confused or unsure about something after reading this post.

 

First, what is crossdressing?  What is transgenderism?  What does “transsexual” mean?  What is gender dysphoria?

Definition of Terms

I’ll let this great link from Parakeleo answer these basic questions for me:  FAQ’s.  Their FAQ page is extremely helpful and will give you all the main facts that you need to know.  The only thing I would add to the definitions is that in many people there is great overlap between the many issues involved: sexual orientation, sexual/gender identity and dysphoria, transgenderism, and crossdressing as sexual addiction.  Most people don’t fit cleanly into the categories.  It takes many crossdressers years just to figure themselves out, and for many of us, we have both the sexual aspect of crossdressing as well as some gender dysphoria.  In others still, it could begin as a sexual fetish (being attracted to the fake woman in the mirror), but over time become less sexual and turn into desire for a complete sex reassignment surgery.

We don’t really know what causes these addictions or cases of gender confusion.  Part of my work on this blog has been to wrestle with others trying to figure out what caused us to be the way we are.  We have a lot of interesting ideas and theories, but little certainty.  Some of the triggers could be biological, some could be the environment and family setting, some could be the person not fitting into gender stereotypes of the culture, some could be personality, and some could be certain key experiences of crossdressing during puberty which misplaced our sexual desires for girls onto ourselves instead.  We really don’t know.  But even if we knew the cause, this would not necessarily change our response and form of treatment.

The rest of this post will talk about your response and about types of “treatment.”  If you are looking for an academic treatise about treatment for crossdressers, you could begin with a site like – this.  While I believe certain types of psychological conditioning or medication could be helpful to some crossdressers, I don’t see them as a necessity for someone to quit crossdressing and find healing in his heart and mind.  In addition, oftentimes medication only helps to reduce temptations and symptoms, but doesn’t get to the root psychological and spiritual causes of the problem.  I am not an expert, not in the least, about the medications involved to treat a crossdressing addiction or gender dysphoria.  So the rest of this post will focus on the other aspects of your response.  In my case, I did not find healing from my addiction through secular therapies or techniques, nor through medication.  In the rest of this post, I will focus on what I believe are the most important ways for you to help crossdressers or transgendered individuals.  The power of the truth of God’s Word, the grace we receive in Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, together are more than enough to deal with this painful issue.

 

Scary Strange Topic?

Hopefully some of your feelings of fear or strangeness about this issue has worn off now that you have read all that good information from Parakeleo.  Please remember that the man (or in less frequent cases, the woman) you are trying to help likely did not choose to have these feelings in any way.  Remember that Jesus responded to sexual sinners with love and compassion and forgiveness.  Remember also your own sins that you don’t feel like telling anyone about, and think of the great courage it took for this man to share his struggle with you.  Or if his secret was accidentally found out, imagine the shame and fear he must be feeling.  Try to put yourself in his place.  Be a good listener.  As with other issues like homosexuality, the Church needs to be careful in its response to this issue.  See this post next to get yourself in the right frame of mind – Church’s Response to homosexuality, crossdressing, transsexualism.  If we don’t respond well, we can contribute to the shame, isolation, and persecution of crossdressers and transsexuals.  This is a serious issue given the high suicide rate of transsexuals – Suicide prevalence among transsexuals and crossdressers.

For wives, if you are feeling betrayed and no longer trust your husband, or are feeling like the marriage is at an end, please hold on.  Keep up your hope.  Keep trusting in the Lord.  I will address wives directly and the difficult of such feelings in a special section for you at the end of this post.

Now that you’re ready to listen well and give empathy, also be firm to stand on the truth of God’s Word.  Don’t judge the morality of this complicated issue of crossdressing based on your own feelings or the culture’s view.  Look at it objectively.  See the destruction this addiction or confusion has caused in the man’s life before you.  Crossdressing may have always seemed harmless to you, but now you know it isn’t that simple.  See this post to understand why crossdressing is far from harmless – Summary of why crossdressing is sinful/harmful.

 

How can you help?

Be a good listener and be patient.  It might take some good time for the crossdresser to figure out his own feelings, and his own beliefs on the subject.  He has to want to get help, he has to want to stop, and he has to want healing from this condition.  You cannot force him.  So be patient, keep listening, and point him to good resources.

First of all, you can point him to my blog’s page of all my blog posts – Full Blog Post List. He will have hours and hours to read about this topic if he wants to.  And you can point him to my blog’s page of helpful links of many different organizations, recovery tools, articles, and other blogs – Links, Resources, and Testimonies.  And you can invite him to join our prayer and accountability group, of about 50 other men (though some have come and gone as they beat their addiction), who are together quitting crossdressing, resisting transgenderism, and trying to be content with who we are, and recover from our brokenness caused by these addictions and confusions.  Email Prayer Group

It is good for you on the one hand to think of crossdressing as an addiction like alcoholism.  So the way you would help an alcoholic as a pastor might be very similar to how you could help someone struggling with crossdressing. You should expect several failures before abstinence.  You should expect a family intervention might be necessary in some cases.   You should understand the need for accountability, prayer, and encouragement.  You should understand how important it is for you and the family members to repeatedly give encouragement and forgiveness, as the man goes through the process of quitting.  You should realize that getting out of crossdressing and masturbatory addiction is as tough as getting out of a drug addiction in many ways.

Set goals with him that are achievable.  If he can go cold turkey, great.  This is certainly possible and probably the best approach.  Otherwise set increasingly better goals until he quits completely.  Celebrate the successes.  When failures come, help him deal with failure in a healthy way so that he doesn’t wallow in despair and shame, but finds new motivation to have self control because of God’s grace and forgiveness in his life.  Encourage him to work hard to quit.  Perhaps he can memorize Scripture that will help him during times of temptation, or journal when tempted so he can write down and describe his feelings.  See this post for more practical things he can do – No more half measures.

Much of your ministry will actually be focused on caring and supporting and listening to the pain of the spouse.  In addition, you will be in a position to help them work through the complications this causes in their marriage.  Here are some of the most important issues you will be in a position to help with as a pastor: forgiveness, confession, repentance, rebuilding trust, going to God in our pain and suffering, setting boundaries, accountability, understanding the crossdressing or gender dysphoria from a theological perspective, help for reducing temptations, help in fighting temptations, etc.

However, when gender dysphoria is put into the picture, the treatment and the way you can help such a person gets a bit more complicated.  You will have to help him sort out identity issues, what it means to be a man or woman, the biblical importance of our bodies, and learning how to be content with being a man.  Remember that some people may struggle with both crossdressing as sexual addiction and gender dysphoria, or they might not even be sure how to describe their struggle until they read more.  As I list helpful resources, blog posts, and articles below, I divided them into two categories.  Some of the articles talk about both issues, but I’ve only put them under one of the headings.  You may want to look through both lists for this reason.

Here are some of the posts and articles I recommend you and he both read if he struggles with crossdressing as a sexual addiction.

12 Steps to stop crossdressing

Can God deliver me from crossdressing?

How sexual addictions destroy our lives

Healing doesn’t mean no more temptations

Progress Report 1-30-13 – How I successfully fought temptation, but then failed.

Crossdressing is like pornography

I quit crossdressing and I am happy!

Becoming the woman my wife is not

Guilt is an achievement!

How do we know what is true? Is crossdressing sinful?

They are just clothes right?

Deeper reasons for crossdressing

You have a choice

Your Brain on Porn

 

Other articles not written by me:

The Transvestic Career Path – Interesting article about how one develops into a transvestite or crossdresser.  Talks a lot about the internal marriage that is created where the crossdresser functions as both husband and wife.  Very helpful for understanding what crossdressing and transvestism are really all about.

Randall Wayne’s testimony  about overcoming crossdressing

My Un-ordinary life – Blog written by a wife of a crossdresser sharing her painful experiences

RAIN approach – Simple and effective tool to resist urges and temptations when they come.

 

Here are some of the posts and articles I recommend you and he both read if he struggles with gender dysphoria and transgenderism.

But I was born with these desires

Gender Sameness and Difference

The myth of “Choosing to be yourself”

Transabled and Transgender

Race and Transgender Issues

Don’t follow your heart

Good Resource – “In Search of Unification”

Crossdressing without sexual component

The Inconsistency of Transsexuals

Intersexual Conditions – There is still a binary

Our bodies Matter – Good article

No such thing as transgender

Detransitioning and Regret

Helpful link explaining transsexual types

 

Articles not written by me:

The Transgender Triumph – Long informative article about transgenderism’s history in the US.

Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon – Analyzing transgenderism from a Christian perspective.

Bruce or Caitlyn? He or She? Should Christians accomodate transgender naming?

The Psychpathology of “sex reassignment” surgery – Assessing Its Medical, Psychological, and Ethical Appropriateness.  By Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., Philip M. Sutton, and Dale O’Leary. This is a interesting and convincing academic article about why doing such surgeries is unethical and is actually mutilation.

The Transgender Con?  Many “Transgender” People Regret Switch – Helpful article talking about people who have detransitioned and why, and it dismantles some transgender ideology.

 

For many more articles, testimonies, organizations, and resources see this page – Links, Resources, and Testimonies.

 

 

Helpful Bible Verses

One of the best and main things you can do as a pastor is to focus on the Word of God together.  And you can do this even if you are still struggling to understand crossdressing and transgenderism!  God’s Word can bring wonderful transformation to anyone regardless of what kind of psychological or spiritual issue they face.  The man you are helping will likely find a lot of resources on the internet and from counselors about crossdressing and transgenderism.  Likely he knows more than you already and if not, will certainly know more than you soon.  Honestly, he will probably learn so much about the science, sociology, and ramifications of crossdressing and transgenderism that soon he will be talking about stuff that is over your head and out of your expertise.  So stick to what you know, that is God’s Word, and help him to see and understand the theological side of the issues.  Here are blog posts of mine that reflect on how God’s Word relates to these issues.  You could meditate together on several of them each time you meet.  And pray pray pray, when together, and pray for him regularly on your own.  I cannot emphasize the importance of regular prayer and Scripture reading enough.

Deuteronomy 22:5

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Prohibits Crossdressing

Psalm 119 – God’s Commands Bring Freedom

Put the “cross” into “crossdressing”

Living in our Resurrection Hope

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Crossdressing can become idolatry

How Satan tempts us to crossdress

Helpful Bible verses 1

Helpful Bible verses 2

Helpful Bible verses 3

Helpful Bible verses 4

Helpful Bible verses 5

Helpful Bible verses 6

Helpful Bible verses 7

Helpful Bible verses 8

Helpful Bible verses 9

Helpful Bible verses 10

Helpful Bible verses 11

Helpful Bible verses 12

Helpful Bible verses 13

Helpful Bible verses 14

 

Other articles not written by Me:

Body Modification – Article/sermon about body modification in general and how Christians should view their bodies.  Connects various issues together under one theme – transgenderism, crossdressing, tatooing, transableism, anorexia, etc.

Spiritual Warfare – Sermon by Tim Keller, helpful ideas for resisting Satan’s schemes to accuse us and tempt us to sin.

 

Consequences:  Divorce and Church discipline

I do believe that crossdressing or trying to change our bodies to appear as the opposite sex are both sinful activities.  That means that if someone persists in these activities there will be consequences.

While I believe divorce should be a last ditch effort after all other possible solutions have been tried, I do think divorce is permissible in these cases.  If a woman is married to a man who is persisting in trying to become a woman, this is marital unfaithfulness to a very perverted and distorted degree.  It is abandonment of the marriage.  The woman did not agree to marry another woman.  And if the man is persisting in crossdressing as sexual sin, this is sexual sin no less than adultery or pornography.  He is lusting after the false woman he made of himself.  It is marital unfaithfulness.  If a husband regularly failed from time to time, but always repented and always kept working on quitting, I would not consider this grounds for divorce.  Divorce should be avoided at all costs, and it is important to do all possible to counsel the wife and help her to forgive the husband and rebuild trust.  There is sin and brokenness in every marriage.  A wife’s first gut impulse might be fear, rage, disgust, and so she may start thinking about divorce immediately.  Help her to be patient, to forgive, and to do all that is possible to work on the marriage and help the husband repent and change, before even thinking about a divorce.  If a divorce becomes necessary because the husband persists in sin, with no repentance, for example if he starts living full-time as a woman, then the wife should be counseled that she is not doing wrong in getting a divorce and should not be mired down in guilt.  But even in these cases, continue to work with the couple and pray for change, for the husband may come to senses after being apart from his wife for a brief time, and there may be a possibility for reconciliation.

Besides the issue of divorce, there is the issue of church discipline.  This is something that most churches in the US have simply stopped doing in general, although many churches around the world still continue to do loving, gentle, and effective church discipline.  I’m not going to give a whole treatise on how to do church discipline.  But church discipline is a long process of calling people to repent and step out of sin.  Excommunication is only the very last ditch step after all other efforts of discipline and discipleship have failed.   And church discipline is not to be undertaken when someone sins, but only for the sin of unrepentance.  If someone repeatedly sins but they do not repent and do not try to stop, even after repeated confrontations by church members and church leadership, then this can and should lead to church discipline and even excommunication.  Just as I would put someone under church discipline who refused to repent of adultery or pornography addiction, I would put someone under church discipline who refused to repent and quit crossdressing.  But even if this last terrible step happens, the idea is still for the person to realize their sin, come back to the church, receive assurance of grace, and the whole church can celebrate together that they’ve been restored.

 

For you wives

You are in a terribly difficult position if you are a wife of a crossdresser.  All people are sinful, all people are broken, and so therefore all marriages have some degree of brokenness.  But I feel more pity for you than for the average spouse in painful marriages.  The reason is that this issue is so little understood, so strange, and yet our culture is so accepting of it.  Instead of celebrating husbands who repent of their crossdressing and reconcile with their wives, our culture celebrates those husbands who get sex-changes and then remain married to their wives as “women.”  It is a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

But please, don’t despair, don’t give up hope.  There are resources out there to help you.  First of all, you may feel free to vent, to get advice, and to ask for prayer on this page – Wives of crossdressers chat.

You have a difficult road ahead of you.  Jesus promised that if we followed him as his disciples that we would suffer.  That is the reality of our lives, and often the more Christ-like we are, the more we will suffer.  Sticking with your husband and continuing to love will cost you.  But the good news is that Jesus is with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit!  He comforts us with his Word.  He gives us strength and power to persevere.  He gives us his love and compassion and mercy!  And we know that we have a sure and wonderful hope of eternal life with our Lord God, forever and ever, with no more pain, tears, or suffering.  And we know that our God is powerful enough to even use suffering to achieve something good in his plan! (Romans 8:28).  So we continue to do what is right, even when it is hard, knowing that God is shaping our character, and accomplishing good things in our lives and in this world in his sovereign plan.

You will also need to struggle to identify and repent of your own sins.  As you hate the sin in your husband, be sure to look at the sins in your own life (Matthew 7:1-6).  He didn’t choose what he would struggle with, and neither did you.  And don’t forget pride is a sin God hates just as much if not more than sexual sin.  God is quick to forgive, but those with proud hearts are far from God.  The Pharisees lived rightly but were far from God in their hearts and were slow to forgive sexual sinners.  Jesus warned them of judgment.

Yet in the end, it is true that what your husbands are doing is sinful and they chose to do it, even if they did not choose to have the original desire to do it.  They have hurt you.  They have betrayed you.  They have broken your trust.  They have disgusted you.  They have caused you great pain.  They have sinned.  Remember that even more than sinning against you, they have sinned against God (Psalm 51:4).  They have rebelled against the design of their Creator which is far more serious than what they did against you.  They are guilty, and you don’t need to beat about the bush when talking to them.  They did wrong.  Although you must avoid a prideful attitude, and must avoid judgment without mercy as I talked about in the above paragraph, you still must be able to state clearly that what your husband did was wrong.

If he argues with you and says that it is not wrong to crossdress or live as a woman, then there is little you can do besides pray and point him to resources and books like my blog.  Have him read my arguments for why crossdressing is sinful and harmful.  And express to him that even if crossdressing is not essentially wrong (which I believe it clearly is), it is still hurting the marriage and therefore still a betrayal of trust and harm to you.

Whether or not your husband repents, your main job is to work on your own heart.  Whether or not your husband repents, God calls us to forgive.  And it is no light matter. I will be blunt.  Jesus says if you don’t forgive others, like your husband, for their sins, God won’t forgive you.  This is something repeated over and over by Jesus in many statements and different parables.  Someone that has truly experienced God’s forgiveness for their own sins will be someone who forgives others for their sins.  The debt we have to God is infinitely bigger than any debt people owe to us.  If we are not willing to forgive, than we are not people who have been transformed by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we are not people who will be forgiven.  What is forgiveness?  It is not making excuses for your husband, it is not making yourself forget what your husband did, and it is not pretending that your husband didn’t do wrong.  Forgiveness means moving forward, continuing to love your husband, wishing well for him, and leaving the judgment for his sin up to God.  Forgiveness is about your heart giving up your bitterness.  It is still possible to forgive but have consequences remain in a marriage.  It can take a while to rebuild trust even when there is forgiveness.  (Another example of a consequence: A wife who was abused by a husband can truly forgive but still not go back to living with her husband in danger).  Forgiveness is not always instantaneous, sometimes it’s a process, but your first priority with God is to work on forgiving your husband.

I think you will need a support system.  You probably don’t want to go around telling everyone about your husband’s secret struggle, and I’m sure your husband doesn’t want you to either.  But get permission from your husband to tell one friend, and your  pastor (or counselor).  You have to have people you can talk about this openly to, people who can give you advice, walk through this suffering with you, and pray for you.  Many wives that have talked to me told me that their husbands did not want them telling even a pastor or friend, and in some cases threatened them angrily.  Each situation is different, but I really think you need the support.  In cases where the husband is continuing in sin and not repenting, I think the wife should talk to someone even against the husband’s wishes.  Use your wisdom.  You could do this in secret, or you could say to your husband, “you are continuing in sin, and being unfaithful in our marriage, I cannot live like this and I need to get counsel and support and wisdom from other people, so you should know I am going to tell the pastor.”  I say use your wisdom because you don’t want to put yourself in danger, but if possible you should give your husband a chance to hear that you are planning to tell someone and maybe he will change his mind and talk to the pastor together with you.

You will have to have an honest and clear discussion with your husband about the breach of trust and betrayal that you feel.  You will have to discuss how that trust can be rebuilt, and give him hope that it can be rebuilt.  Discuss together how you are going to move forward, both in marriage, and also how your husband will move forward in fighting the addiction, getting help, and healing from this struggle.  You’ll have to set some standards of improvement that you want to see.  Discuss these together.  Don’t give him ultimatums.  That is not a healthy process for recovery.  Together discuss your action plan of how you will move forward in faith and hope.  Together discuss boundaries, ideas, how the sexual relationship might change, accountability issues, how you will spend time in prayer and Scripture reading together to rebuild the marriage, etc.   Have hope.  Have optimism.  Although it’s hard to find such stories on the internet, lots of men have recovered from crossdressing addiction and marriages restored.  In fact, going through such a struggle like this together can actually build up your marriage so that it is stronger than most other marriages around.  I speak from experience that mutual suffering in marriage, being real to each other about our darkest secrets and struggles, and moving forward in faith trusting in God, can do a lot to build a firm foundation in a marriage.

You CAN recover from this.  Your heart CAN heal.  Keep going to God.  Rely on him for strength.  Keep reading his Word.  Keep praying.  Keep spending time with Jesus.  Keep loving your husband and encouraging him.  You can heal.  The marriage can heal.  Transformation can come.  At the end, you’ll be thankful you stuck it out and you’ll see the power of God’s amazing grace and love in your marriage and your own life and your husband’s life.

What can you do or not do to help your husband recover from this addiction and confusion?
I will give my ideas, but they are only my opinions.  It’s good for you to talk to your friends, your pastor, and talk to God and read his Word yourself, in order to have good guidance for what is best for you to do.

Here is a post I wrote about an article that talks about a wife’s role in her husband’s recovery from sexual addiction – Article – The Role of a wife in your recovery.  It’s important to figure out how much you need to know the details about his struggle and what details are best left unshared.  See the post for a fuller explanation.

  • Pray together with your husband regularly that God would help him overcome this addiction.  But pray about other regular life stuff too.
  • Read God’s Word together with your husband.  Grow together in faith and knowledge of God.  Be transformed by God’s Word together.
  • Especially in the beginning of your husbands attempt to quit this addiction, help him to reduce the amount of time he spends alone.  This will greatly reduce the amount of temptation he will experience until he gets through his sort of “detox” stage.  Once his body is used to going without crossdressing for a while, it may start to become easier and he might have more self control during alone times.
  • Affirm your husband’s manhood verbally.  Be creative in how you do this.  Make him feel good about being a man.  Help him remember that he is a man.
  • Affirm your attraction to your husband as a man, including your sexual attraction to him.  If necessary, remind him that you are totally turned off and disgusted at the thought of him crossdressed, just like he would be if you crossdressed.
  • Encourage him to be a good father and to set a good example for your children.
  • Encourage him to grow a beard.  It’s very hard to convincingly crossdress with a beard.  And it will help your husband to feel more manly especially if he knows that it is attractive to you.
  • Buy nice clothes for your husband or with your husband to help him enjoy looking good as a man.
  • Be a good listener as your husband reads this blog and comes to understand himself better.
  • Encourage him regularly.
  • Do not constantly ask him if he has been crossdressing.  Limit yourself to once a week at most.  It helps to have one time set aside regularly every week where you both know you will pray for the marriage and talk about any issues in the marriage.  This way you don’t talk about hard things every day which can destroy all the peace and happiness in a marriage.
  • Be conscious of your clothing.  Don’t leave it lying around.  When the clothing is on you, he will not focus so much on the clothing but be attracted to you.  But when he sees your clothing by itself he may turn to crossdressing thoughts.  Don’t leave underwear or skirts lying around.  Have a good plan together about the laundry bin.  Keep your drawers and closet closed.
  • Be mindful about things that specifically trigger your husband to temptation.  It’s different for each man, and some of the things might make no sense to you, but try to be helpful anyway.  For me when my wife wants me to wear an apron when cooking, that is something that can lead me down a path to sin in my mind, and crossdressing in real life the next day.  But to her she cannot understand why this would be an issue.  For some men it might be you being playful with him putting hair ties in his hair, or other feminine things.  To other men, it might be you as a wife wearing high heeled shoes that are a trigger.  Do you care about your husband enough to alter your wardrobe?  You should.
  • Avoid movies and television shows that have even 5 seconds of crossdressing in them.  If you have some movies, like comedies about crossdressing, even if they are your favorites, get rid of them immediately.
  • Assure your husband regularly that he is forgiven in Christ.  Assure him regularly of your forgiveness and continued love as well.
  • Don’t become your husband’s accountability partner.  This is a dirty task.  Your husband needs someone he can give all the detailed shit to, and this should not be you as the knowledge would only harm you and the marriage.  If you told your husband every nasty sinful thought you’ve ever had would it help him?  No.  You each need an accountability and support partner who is not the other person.  An outside person can tell your husband, “you need to love your wife in this way and this way” which is more powerful than you being the only one to tell him.
  • Challenge your husband to grow in holiness.  If we are true Christians, we must be growing in our sanctification.  It is the evidence that we have been truly saved.  If your husband has been stuck in a cycle of crossdressing, repentance, abstinence, crossdressing, repentance, abstinence for a long time, challenge him to take some new steps to get out of the rut and get rid of crossdressing for good.  He can read my blog for new ideas.
  • Encourage your husband to read my blog.  Encourage your husband to join our email prayer group through this blog.
  • You don’t want your husband to foolishly think that he is the only sinful person.  You as a wife are messed up too.  It’s easy for your husband to wallow in shame and guilt thinking he is the worst person in the world.  It helps him to remember that you are sinful and saved by grace too.  Confess your sins to him too even if they are not sexual sins.
  • Continue to have sex with your husband.  It helps to realize that rejection of him can fuel his desire to go to the other woman (himself).  Furthermore, having sex with you is the best way for him to recondition his body to desire a real woman instead of the fake woman of himself.  This suggestion might seem like a lot to ask of you in your painful situation, but if you are going to try to save the marriage, this is one of the most helpful things you can do to help him change.
  • Help him to see that he is not really a woman, no matter how he might look.  Help him to recognize the self-delusion.   Help him to realize that there is more to being a woman than wearing make up and a dress.  How dare he think that is what it means to be a woman.  He doesn’t have the body of a woman.  He did not grow up being treated like a woman.  He doesn’t know the pressures a woman faces.  He doesn’t know the pains and joys of menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Focus not on the crossdressing but on the good things in your lives.  The more you spend all your time focusing on the problems, the more miserable you will be.
  • Find good ways for you both to spend your time, so you are thinking about other good things, and so your husband has good purposeful things to do with his time.  Then he can focus on those things instead of desiring crossdressing.  He can have good meaning in his life and less time to waste on sin.  Get new hobbies, have fun together.  Volunteer together to help the poor.  Minister in church together.  Join Bible studies together.  Join community groups.
  • Have hope.  Encourage.  Be optimistic.  Celebrate changes.  Be thankful for small graces that God gives.  Be thankful for every good change you see.  Rejoice in the hope of the New Creation, of eternal life when God will COMPLETELY HEAL our brokenness and remove every stain of our sin.  Be patient.  Jesus will come again.  Persevere as you wait.

 

That is the end of this long post.  Please feel free to comment with suggestions, criticisms, comments, or questions.  May God help you and use you as you minister to his children.

Book Recommendation – The Man Who Would Be Queen

I just finished reading, “The Man Who Would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism,” by J. Michael Bailey.  I thought it was an excellent read and is definitely one of the more helpful books/articles I’ve ever read for understanding myself and my crossdressing more fully.  My main disclaimer is that the author’s perspective on homosexuality, crossdressing, and transsexualism is far more morally neutral than my own.  He has a different worldview.  But I want to recommend it to you so that you can understand these issues and yourselves better.  He tackles them from a social perspective and a scientific perspective, explaining many things that I had not realized before or talked about on this blog.  My second disclaimer is that I definitely do not agree with all that he wrote, and I don’t necessarily wish to defend his research methods, nor do I wish to defend all of his theories or statements.  I’ll explain more as we go.

Some of you may know, some of you may not know, that Bailey is a super controversial figure when it comes to these topics, and his book is extremely controversial.  Some people love it, some people hate it, some people view it as a mixed bag.  Some people claim that Bailey and his science have been completely discredited, and that his research methods were unprofessional.  Others say he did a good job and regardless of any faults, his theories were correct.  Others say that all the accusations against him were false and concocted.  One thing is for sure, if you agree with his theories (or Ray Blanchard’s theories which he draws on), you will receive a hate-storm from many transsexuals.  Just do an internet search and you can find countless articles and debates about these figures and their books that will keep you reading for hours.

You would think that in a country that prizes free speech, we could discuss theories like this peacefully and with curiosity and tolerance.  But any talking about these theories usually meets with stiff resistance.  Yet I venture in anyway.  I already have had people threatening to try to get my blog shut down because of talking about these theories before, so why not continue?  I think most of what is in his book holds true, is convincing to me, and helpful for understanding myself and my friends.  Does he make things a bit simplistic at times?  Yes.  Does he say some things that might come across as insulting to some people?  Yes.  But in general, I found it a really helpful book.

Bailey’s book does not only deal with crossdressing and transsexualism but also with homosexuality.  I learned a lot about homosexuals, what they are often like, and what struggles they face.  I thought I already knew a lot about that issue, but I learned even more.   Let me tell you a couple things I learned about homosexuality.  One is that homosexuals really do tend to be more feminine, which puts them in a really difficult position because they are attracted to what is masculine.  This leads to femmephobia among homosexuals.  They do not like what is feminine in themselves or in one another, even though that is what they are naturally born like.  I learned that many of the stereotypes people have about gay men hold true, they do “tend” to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and act more feminine.  But like all stereotypes, these are stereotypes and don’t ring true for every individual.  Bailey’s view is quite interesting.  He observes that many transsexuals are actually gay men who are naturally feminine, but feel like they could better attract a masculine heterosexual man as a woman, than a masculine gay man as a feminine man.  Some may argue with this, but it was really interesting and thought provoking.

Let’s move on to some of his theories about crossdressers.  Here is Bailey’s contentious view in summary – “Those who love women become the women they love.”  He affirms Ray Blanchard’s theory that there are two types of transsexuals.  There are those who are homosexual like the type of person I spoke of in the above paragraph.  They are naturally feminine, usually start living as girls at a younger age, they are able to pass well, and they are attracted to men.  And then there are those that are autogynephilic.  Some of you probably know this term already if you read other websites about crossdressers.  The term itself is quite loaded and leads to feisty debates.  I have usually avoided such technical language in most of my blog posts to be able to communicate to a general audience of people who are struggling.  But it’s a good term and theory to be familiar with – autogynephilia.  From wikipedia – “Autogynephilia (/ˌɔːtˌɡnəˈfɪliə/; from Greek αὐτό- (“self”), γυνή (“woman”) and φιλία (“love”) — “love of oneself as a woman”) is a term coined in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, to refer to “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”

In other words, autogynephilic men are sexually aroused by the image or idea of themselves as women.  This could be through fantasy or actual crossdressing.  I would fall into this camp.  Most of us are not naturally feminine (though of course I would say there are exceptions).  Most of us didn’t truly want to become girls when we were just young boys (though if you are like me, your fantasies about crossdressing started at a very young age).  We are attracted to women and most of us are married.  For many of us this tendency to crossdress remains a sexual addiction but doesn’t go further.  For others of us, we continue down this path to the point of living as women, getting surgery, and becoming the women we love so much and want to be.  The claim is that if a man becomes a woman later in life, or after being married already, he is probably one of these autogynephilic crossdressers.

In general I think Bailey and Blanchard are right on when describing these two types of transsexuals.  Before I started to become familiar with the theories and these researchers a few years ago, this was the idea I had just from reading the stories about crossdressers and transsexuals online.  It seems pretty obvious just from my personal experience alone that most of us fall into one of these two camps.  Now, where I differ from them perhaps, is that I would never say that ALL of us fit neatly into one of these camps.  We are all complex and messed up people.  We are broken and confused in a myriad of ways because of our sin, because of our genetics, because of our upbringing, and because of our environment and different experiences.  So no, I do not believe that all of us fit neatly into one of these two categories.  There are going to be exceptions and people with other combinations of feelings, sexuality, and gender manifestations that won’t neatly fit these categories.  But broadly speaking, I find these theories to be convincing and true to my experience and what I’ve read about others’ experiences.

Bailey talks about two sub-types of men with autogynephilia.  There are those, like me, who are aroused by the idea of crossdressing as a woman, that is, to look like a woman with clothes on.  Then there are those where their fantasies are more focused on the body.  They have fantasies of being nude women.  He says it is those with the nude fantasies who usually are not content until they get a sex reassignment surgery.  They can’t just crossdress to disguise themselves.  They are obsessed with the idea of actually having breasts or a vagina.  This seems to make sense, but as I’ve counseled so many men on these issues and read so many blogs and stories, it seems that it is more than just these people who are getting the surgeries and living as women full-time.  I think there are many who only had the crossdressed clothed fantasies, and spent so much time rationalizing their behavior and their “inner woman” that they fell in love with the new identity and continued in it.   They want “her” to be real so badly that they become “her”.  That reminds me of this article.

Bailey says that these autogynephiles who try to live as women and think they are attracted to men, are not actually attracted to men, but just the idea of having a man attracted to them as a “woman.”  That is, the arousal is focused on them thinking about themselves not someone else.  I imagine some people find this really offensive, and maybe it’s not really true, but it makes sense to me, as I’ve had similar fantasies while reading crossdressing fiction.

Bailey isn’t sure what causes us to become autogynephiles.   I am glad he admits this.  He thinks it is innate but doesn’t have a good argument for this and admits it.  He mentioned a story of a crossdresser with a father who also crossdressed.  He says we are not at all close to identifying the real causes.

One interesting thing he talked about was that crossdressers on average have more paraphilias, especially masochism.  This was disturbing to read about, but again it rang true in myself.  If our sexuality has been diverted, and misplaced, so that we are attracted to self, it’s not difficult to imagine our sexuality has been warped and broken in other ways as well.  This would also explain why crossdressing fiction sites are some of the most disturbing places on the internet to go, filled with stories of masochism, sadism, infantile fantasies, incest, exhibitionism, and other strange fetishes.

Bailey claims that most crossdressers deny this sexual component, and that they are lying to themselves and others.  They want to portray themselves as multi-faceted, courageous, and empathic to their wives especially, to show that they are having courage enough to portray their inner femininity, which sounds a lot better than saying your sexual attraction is misplaced from others and instead to yourself.  A lot of people have taken issue with Blanchard and Bailey for accusing crossdressers of lacking such integrity and accusing them of lying.  I want to be slow in accusing crossdressers of lying, and yet at the same time, I know how much I allowed myself to be deceived while in the throes of crossdressing, and how much I even purposely deceived myself in order to rationalize my behavior.  I have seen such self-deception many times.  So I don’t think what he is saying is a stretch.  When we are faced with looking at ourselves truly and deeply, of course we would not want to admit that such an important part of ourselves is just a misplaced broken sexuality.  That would force us to deal with it and try to get help.  But if we claim it’s a part of our soul that needs to be brought out, then we and others can’t tell us to stop.

Bailey is a researcher and as such he doesn’t make many moral claims or many suggestions about what the various types of people he’s discussed should do and how they should live.  He personally doesn’t hold out much hope for change or happiness for people with gender dysphoria except for them to get surgery and live as women.

This is where I differ the most.  I have been resisting my crossdressing desires, and over time those desires lose their power and my attraction to real women grows.  It’s a process of healing, but it’s very possible.  I have experienced tremendous change, and you only have to read some of the comments on my blog, or join our prayer group, to find out how many men there are who have also experienced great change and healing (both of Blanchard’s types have found help).  The situation is far from hopeless.  Bailey, as far as I can tell, is not a Christian, so I’m not surprised that he sees no hope for change.  Without a Christian worldview, it would be hard to believe there is much hope for any of us in our brokenness, whether it’s selfishness, greed, sexual problems, marriage problems, etc.  But we know that in Christ, we are not left alone in our brokenness.  But I would also go so far as to say that even without a relationship with God, you can still overcome and heal from crossdressing.  It’s not so terribly difficult as people would have us imagine it to be.

So in conclusion, if you want to understand yourself more, please read this book.