An Alternative Method – Integration and Contentment

This post is different from my other posts. I have written from a more neutral vantage point rather than specifically out of a Christian worldview, in the hope that this post can help others who may not share my faith. In this post, I synthesize a lot of the things I have written about in other posts, and hopefully this concise article will help not only non-Christians, but Christians as well who have been reading my blog for some time.

In this brief article, I would like to address men1 who feel the need to crossdress, but who find it problematic to do so in their current life situation. This could include:

  • Married men whose wives do not approve of crossdressing.
  • Men who would not be comfortable having it known that they crossdress, and so therefore they crossdress in secret with constant fear of being caught.
  • Men who are prohibited from crossdressing legally because they live in oppressive countries, and would face prison or death if caught.
  • Men who might not view crossdressing as inherently bad, but recognize that crossdressing has become an unhealthy addiction negatively affecting their lives.2

I have tremendous compassion for crossdressers and for gender nonconforming people in general. We have to deal with society caricaturing us, often hating us, and misunderstanding us. We often carry our own feelings of confusion, guilt, and fear. Given this reality, it’s not surprising that the types of men described feel intense pressure to give up crossdressing. Our problem is that most of us do not want to give up what we view as an important part of ourselves. Some call this their “feminine side” or “inner femininity.” Crossdressing for many men makes them feel more like their true selves, and gives them important feelings that they do not get any other way.

In this article, I propose an alternative method to crossdressing that still achieves the same result as crossdressing: being able to embrace one’s inner femininity. I call this method the Integration (or Unified-Self) Method. I hope to show not only that it is possible to stop crossdressing, but also to show how this does not entail losing or suppressing anything essential in one’s identity and personality.

I will begin by telling my own story. Second, I will outline my rationale for the Integration Method. Third, I will explain how to actually pursue this method in real life. Fourth, I will explain why it is possible to stop crossdressing and give a few suggestions about how to stop. Last, I will give some thoughts about pursuing contentment in the difficult situations some of us are in.

My own story drives me to show compassion to others who might share a similar situation. Biologically I was born a male, and for many years I used to be a very active crossdresser. While it primarily seemed to be a sexual issue for me, it was certainly more than that. I had sharp pangs of longing to be female. Even before I started grade school I secretly longed to be a girl, but could not understand why. Almost every night I would imagine being transformed into a girl. Later in life, I felt like I did not fit in with other men. I felt like my personality was much more truly a woman’s personality and so I dreamed about living as a woman full-time. But I was terrified to tell anyone about my feelings. I felt very much alone.

In some ways crossdressing was very satisfying. It not only gave me sexual pleasure but it also seemed to bring out aspects of my personality that I had previously felt uncomfortable expressing as a boy/man. For example, I could dance freely while crossdressed, but could never do so, even when alone, as my male self. However, I felt strong internal pressure to give up crossdressing because it was an addiction that was interfering with my life (and there were also moral and religious reasons I need not discuss here). This led me to half-hearted attempts to quit both crossdressing and my fantasizing about being a woman. I tried hard for years, with occasional success, but I could never quite seem to fully shake my strong desire/need for crossdressing.

My cycle of frustration ended five years ago when I first learned about the Integration Method. Through a great deal of effort and introspection I was able to stop crossdressing. But I also was able to find inner peace and to no longer desire to be a woman. Today I have learned to accept my male body and now I am proud to be the man I am. All of this was only possible because it was not done at the expense of suppressing my “inner femininity.” To be honest, my desire to put on female clothing has not completely left me as on rare days a crossdressing thought might still find purchase in my mind for a time. And I did put on articles of female clothing a few times in the last 5 years, purely for sexual pleasure, episodes which lasted only minutes and were surprisingly unsatisfying. Besides these anomalies, I now feel free from controlling crossdressing desires, free from confusion about my identity, and free from guilt. I am content and happy now.

So what is the method that allowed me to embrace my inner femininity while also giving up crossdressing? I call it the Integration or Unified-self method. To put it simply, this method focuses on integrating both the masculine and feminine aspects of myself into my one true persona, my male self. Let me unpack this a bit to make it clearer.

I think that most of us would agree that both sexes, male and female, can experience a wide spectrum of feelings and personality traits, and no sex owns particular personality traits. For example, it is very possible for men to have the trait of being sensitive, just as there are sensitive women. However, in many societies certain feelings and traits have been labeled as “masculine” or “feminine.” To be fair, this is helpful in some ways. It is true on average that women tend to exhibit certain traits, and that on average men tend to exhibit certain traits. So perhaps we could say that many men are strong, rational, organized, protective, and like to lead. And perhaps we could say that many women are sensitive, nurturing, emotional, gentler, and supportive. We could add many more traits to this list. This is a helpful way to label the general differences between men and women. Many people delight to poke fun at the differences, to analyze them, to see how the differences cause friction in relationships, and also many see beauty and complementarity in the differences between men and women.

The problem is that societies and people tend to absolutize the traits. Instead of thinking, “many men are like this,” people start to think that “men must be like this to be a real man.” Many of us have internalized and believed these absolutist messages growing up, whether consciously or subconsciously. As a result, those of us who do not exhibit a high number of the masculine traits feel like we do not belong. So we either force ourselves to do things we are not comfortable doing in order to fit in with other boys/men, or we abandon the “male project” altogether. Every man experiences the tension of cultural expectations to some degree but for a few of us this becomes painfully frustrating and overwhelming. Men like myself who gravitate towards crossdressing have greater difficulties fitting into such cultural norms because we often have much less of the traditional masculine traits than the average man to begin with. Similarly, we tend to have a lot more of the traditional feminine traits compared to the average man. The unhappy result is that men like us often go through life with our personalities more stifled and more stretched than the average man. We are much more likely to cause injury to our sense of self.

I believe that it is precisely this type of suppression of self which leads many young men (including myself) to begin to crossdress in the first place, as a secret outlet for many of our suppressed feelings. Crossdressers use the act of crossdressing to feel more like their true selves. The act seems to give us permission to feel “feminine” feelings. For example, when crossdressing we feel like we are allowed to be gentle, nurturing, sensitive, drawn to beauty, attractive, etc. The act seems to bring these personality traits and feelings to the surface.

To pursue this integration method, I argue that we must first begin to think about all of these personality traits and feelings as “human traits.” Often a society will recognize that men can be generally like a,b,c,d,e, and women generally like f,g,h,i,j. But pick out a specific man at random and he might be c,d,e,f,i. Pick out a specific woman and she might be a,d,h,i,j. And in reality, men and women have many more personality traits in common than are different. I affirm the common understanding that if we measured society as a whole according to masculine and feminine traits we might get a bell curve like this:3

curveMy opinion is that a chart like this illustrates well the amount of sameness and difference between the two sexes, men and women. We can see that there are real personality differences between males and females.4 But we can also see that most people fall in the middle. Men and women are more the same than they are different. Some elements of society might want to steer men and women towards the extreme ends of the spectrum, but this is not where most people naturally fall. The first principle of the Integration Method is the understanding that our cherished personality traits are not exclusively “female” or “feminine” in their essence but may simply be more towards the feminine side of the spectrum. They are, in fact, human traits.

The Integration Method itself is the difficult process of discovering and understanding all of our human traits, including the ones some might call “feminine.” Then we determine which human trait crossdressing brings to the surface or helps to enhance. Finally, in lieu of crossdressing, we try to free ourselves to exhibit all of those human personality traits and feelings in the course of our regular male lives. We learn to undo the suppression and embrace the so-called “feminine” traits we cherish in ourselves, while still looking like a man and dressing like a man. To put it another way, the goal of this path is to take our two divided personas – the overly-stretched masculine self of our everyday life, and the secret, stifled feminine (crossdressed) self – and integrate them together so that we possess only one self, a unified self. If we successfully pursue this path, this would mean dressing and identifying as a man, but exhibiting the full range of human personality traits and feelings that are important to us and that we view as part of our identity.5 I actually affirm the statement, “be yourself and accept yourself.” But when I say this, I mean that you should accept yourself fully and completely, including your body and all your personal traits and feelings.

But this sounds easy when it is all theoretical. The reality, I admit, is much harder to achieve. What do we actually do in order to achieve this integrated self? I and my fellow bloggers have written much about this, and space does not permit to repeat everything here. But in what follows I will present a few ways to go about doing this. I want to be honest that these steps will not be as immediately fulfilling as crossdressing. Allow me to use an analogy concerning stress and illegal drugs to illustrate what I mean by this (and please remember that it is certainly not meant to be taken as an exact analogy, nor am I at all suggesting crossdressing should be made illegal). Some people use illegal drugs in order to deal with stress and anxiety in their lives. Such a treatment often works, for a time. There are probably some better ways to deal with one’s stress and anxiety, such as vigorous exercise, journaling, and perhaps even therapy. But these are more difficult. Why not take the easiest path to arrive at the same goal – the lessening of stress and anxiety through drugs? Here’s what I mean. I’m not naïve, and I know that for many the Integration Method will be a more difficult path compared to crossdressing in order to reach the end goal – experiencing certain “feminine” cherished feelings about one’s self. But as I mentioned from the outset, many men have the option taken away from them, or seek to distance themselves from crossdressing because it has become something closer to an addiction. I myself found this method (and giving up crossdressing) to be extremely difficult at the beginning. But now that I look back, I do not regret anything and I have found this process far more rewarding than crossdressing in achieving wholeness.

In fact, looking back, I believe that this alternative path brought about wholeness in a way that crossdressing cannot. In a strange paradox, while crossdressing could have been bringing true “feminine” feelings and personality traits to the surface during that moment, I think it was also causing further suppression of those traits in my normal male persona. From the stories I have read of other crossdressers, it certainly seems that regular crossdressing can in some cases cause people to further divide their sense of self into two personas, with two different names and identities, each with some of their personality traits, but with no one persona exhibiting all of that person’s personality traits and feelings as a unified whole. This is the opposite of a unified self. This is the opposite of a self which has embraced both so-called feminine and masculine personality traits in a healthy way. This is yet another reason why I believe the path of integration is the best path to wholeness and internal peace.

Some of the following steps take courage. In certain ways, it’s easier to crossdress in private than it is to be our true atypical male self in public. My personal feeling is that to continue to crossdress is to give in to the unfair gender stereotypes culture tries to impose upon us. I’d rather resist the stereotypes and champion a way forward for all of us men to be able to be ourselves, without thinking we need to put on a dress in order to fit in.

Some ways to pursue integration:

  • Regularly affirm to yourself that masculine and feminine traits are only labeled as such because of cultural generalities. Remember that they are actually “human” traits.
  • Think about all of your personality traits and feelings. Explore how you feel and what you are like when crossdressing. Explore how you feel and what you are like when you are not crossdressing. Write down and journal about the similarities and differences. Try to write down which traits most accurately describe your real natural self, when you feel comfortable and are not stretching yourself to live up to other people’s expectations. Now imagine what it would be like to exhibit all of these traits as your one unified male self.
  • Make a firm decision to be who you are, and accept yourself as you really are, both your body and all of your personality traits and feelings.
  • Every day tell yourself things like, “It is okay that I am a man but want to be beautiful.” “It is okay that I am emotional (or sensual, sensitive, spontaneous, etc.) as a man.”
  • Think about what activities you have tried or been trying to do only in order to fit in and make yourself seem more masculine, rather than out of enjoyment. Consider stopping those activities if they are stressing you out because they do not really fit your temperaments or interests.
  • Think critically about what activities, hobbies, or jobs you might have enjoyed doing but did not because you felt insecure about doing them as your male self. Maybe you pursued these activities only while crossdressed. Be intentional about pursuing some of them now. These could be things like knitting, ballet, cooking, painting, babysitting, or even something as simple as playing a supportive role in a cooperative video game or board game. Some things that I made a choice to do: I put a picture of flowers on my desktop and I let myself enjoy decorations people might think of as feminine. I enjoy shopping together with my wife for clothing for her.
  • Most importantly, every time you get an urge or thought to crossdress, stop and ask yourself what the underlying motivation is. Are you longing to feel beautiful? Are you wanting to let your emotions out? After analyzing the underlying motivation, figure out what you can do instead of crossdressing to meet that need. It doesn’t matter if the stereotypical man would not have that same need. For example:
    • If the need is intimacy, you could look for it in time spent with God, your wife, or a friend.
    • If the need is to feel beautiful, you can think about how God views you as his beautiful creation, or how you are attractive to your wife. Or you can dress up nicely as a man wearing a fancy suit to make yourself feel attractive.
    • If you want to enjoy the curves of the feminine body, remind yourself that this is not the body you have. Practice body appreciation of yourself! An alternative could be showing affection to your wife, or enjoy dressing her up in a beautiful feminine way so that you can enjoy her real bodily femininity.
    • If your desire is sexually motivated, see if you can be intimate with your wife instead, or if that need must wait, try to look forward to the next time of being your wife with patience and excitement. Or, depending on your values, you could consider masturbation as an alternative.
    • If you need to relieve stress, perhaps you can watch a favorite movie or play video games, or take up jogging.
    • If you feel like decorating yourself, you could decorate your house instead or paint a painting. Or you could dress up as a man, but with more stylish clothing. I now wear pink and purple men’s shirts!
    • If you want to feel soft and gentle, you could make a cup of tea and wrap up in a blanket on the couch.

I am not pretending that it is easy to know how to meet our needs in other ways. We have to think critically about these things. This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it gets you started. Find what works for you. Each one of us felt different things while crossdressing, and so what we will each need may be different.

Whether these are truly feminine needs or traits that we cherish does not matter. Some of us grew up with terrible stereotypes of women that we now reject as educated adults. But we may have still suppressed a part of ourselves based on those stereotypes we grew up accepting. In fact, it may be we crossdressers who originally had the most internally absolutized views of masculinity and femininity, male and female, which led us to suppress parts of ourselves in the first place. So even if you now know that a certain trait or activity (like knitting) is not technically feminine in essence, it might be still something you suppressed previously and should now accept in yourself.

In the course of unifying our inner self through the Integration Method we might, on occasion, find that there are some “feminine” needs or feelings that we cannot achieve apart from crossdressing. If this occurs we might try reevaluating whether it really should be a need in our life in the first place. Is it really necessary for our happiness? Or is there a way we can redefine it or look at it in a new way? For example, perhaps I have the feeling of being carefree when crossdressed. I do not see how to get that feeling in any other way. But after careful thought, I can now see that real women actually do not necessarily have innate feelings of being carefree. This may be true in advertisements, but not in real life. In real life women have to take responsibility for their actions, and their lives can be hard and stressful and unfair. Recognizing this allows me to reexamine this desired feeling and come to the conclusion that that is not a feeling I should be trying to achieve anyway. I should instead be trying to be a responsible adult who is not always carefree.

Although this method requires real effort and perseverance, it has the potential to achieve for you much of what crossdressing was doing for you. This will allow you men in these terribly difficult or dangerous situations to give up crossdressing, so that you can keep your lives, your marriages, or your jobs and still keep your “inner femininity.”

But pursuing the long term integration method is only half of the solution. Men in these situations are hard pressed to quit crossdressing right away. How can that be done? Actually, after hearing my story, many crossdressers have wondered with some incredulity: “Is it really possible to stop crossdressing?” But I insist that it is possible to stop crossdressing if you really want to. This is simply logical and I’ve seen many other active crossdressers admit this as well.

We all have free will and we can make choices about what we will do and how we will live. Of course, we do not have the power to choose to instantly remove our longings to be the opposite sex, or to remove the internal impulses to crossdress. But we can indeed choose whether to crossdress or not, and whether to use time in fantasizing about our longings. All of us have thousands of desires and thoughts going on inside of us every day, and they regularly change due to our experiences, cultural expectations, and relationships. And of course, many of our desires are in conflict with each other. For example, we might desire a piece of cake but also desire to lose weight. We not only have competing desires on little issues, but on huge issues as well, such as relationships, which new job to take, and whether to transition or not.

It is impossible to fulfill all of our deepest desires, and that is okay, especially since some of them are harmful to ourselves or others. Every day we choose what we most want to do and act on it, while at the same time we choose not to act in other ways. But none of our desires need control us. If you really desire the path of integration and contentment that I am proposing rather than the path of crossdressing, then you can truly stop.

But it is difficult stop. I know from experience. Here are some basic suggestions that may help you to successfully stop:

  • First, make sure you really believe you can stop. Do enough thinking and study about this so that you come to the point where you really believe it is possible. Otherwise you are unlikely to succeed.
  • Second, make a firm decision to stop. Do not be wishy washy about it. The urge to crossdress will surely come, and you need to be ready to tell yourself you have already made a concrete decision to stop.
  • When an urge comes, do not suppress it. Face it and deal with it. Remind yourself of the decision you made to quit. Consider the RAIN approach. “R – Recognize what craving feels like. A – Allow it to be present without pushing it away, allow it to come up, do its dance and fade away. I – Investigate what craving feels like in my body right now with curiosity. N – Note craving as it comes and goes along with tension, yearning, and tightness in the body.”6
  • Find purposeful things to do in your life that will be fulfilling to keep your mind focused on other things (new job, church ministry, volunteering, travel, etc.). When the urges to come, consider distracting yourself until the urges die down. Hobbies, walks, weight lifting, video games, and even naps have worked for me. My favorite is to find beautiful clothing for my wife to wear for me.
  • Try to decrease the number of triggers in your life that make you think about or want to crossdress. This could mean spending less time alone, less business trips, avoiding certain stores in the mall, avoiding certain websites, etc.
  • Ask your wife to keep her clothes put away nicely so that you are not constantly seeing them over the floor or chairs.
  • Consider finding an accountability partner or support group who will encourage you and help you to quit.
  • When you fail and crossdress, tell someone else. Don’t let the failure paralyze you from continuing to try. Dust yourself off and keep on trying. Change is hard, but possible.
  • Keep reading about crossdressing in books or at websites like mine. The more we understand ourselves and our desires, the easier it is to control those desires. Just be cautioned that thinking about crossdressing often can be a trigger.

But maybe you are thinking: “Quitting crossdressing does not seem any easier than the difficult work of integration! It hardly seems worth it.” I’ll be honest, I did find it hard at first. But I found it to be very worthwhile and I would make the same decision again 100 times over. Is it worth it for you? Well that of course depends a lot on what pressures you are facing to stop crossdressing. In some ways, only you can answer this question. Are you willing to keep living in fear? Are you willing to risk your marriage for the pleasure of crossdressing?

Unfortunately from my perspective, most crossdressing websites and books will tell you that the only way to deal with crossdressing urges is to continue to crossdress, or even to pursue hormonal or medical treatments to go further. And they usually advocate that doing this is so important, that it should be pursued regardless of opposition or consequences such as losing a job, a relationship, or a spouse.

Although these messages are well-intentioned and given out of love to spare others pain, I do not think that suggested path will necessarily heal people from their pain and gender discomfort. Firstly, while pursuing crossdressing might provide some pleasure or fulfillment, the potential loss of spouse or job could be devastating and add a great amount of pain. Secondly, I would say from personal experience that are crossdreaming longings cannot ever be fully satisfied. The more I crossdressed, the more I wanted to crossdress. The more womanly I looked, the more I “needed” to do to try to look even more womanly. I just could not sate those desires. Even in an ideal world where there was no danger and all of our spouses celebrated our crossdressing, if we went the far step of undergoing medical treatments to change our bodies, we still would know we are XY males who were not truly born females. It is a thirst that I believe we can never fully quench. And it is, I think, universal wisdom that when we focus on and spend our time longing for something that we cannot truly obtain, we will be discontent, frustrated, and less happy.

Giving up crossdressing and pursuing the path of integration can actually be more rewarding in some ways. The more we can accept ourselves for who we are, without changing ourselves or our bodies, the happier we can be. The more we can have an integrated and unified identity, with ALL of our personality traits being allowed, the happier we will be. However, I’m not going to make any false promises or guarantees. If you give up crossdressing, but do not do the hard work of integration, then perhaps you might not be as happy as if you were crossdressing. Crossdressing surely gives a temporary rush of endorphins and nice emotional feelings. But for me, after putting in the hard work, I am completely happy without crossdressing and do not miss it at all. It was one of the most important decisions of my life and that decision has given me regular feelings of freedom and joy. And I gave it u while not giving up any of my so called “feminine” traits.

As I conclude, I want to offer a few tips about learning contentment. Contentment is a form of happiness or satisfaction. It is a happiness obtained from accepting our situation, even if it not an ideal situation. If we can learn to accept that there are certain things in our lives that we cannot change, and stop focusing on those things that we cannot change, we can become more satisfied and happy, or in other words, more content.

The men I am writing to are in very difficult situations. There are certain things that they cannot easily change. They cannot make their wives enjoy their crossdressing. They cannot easily change an oppressive country. They cannot crossdress in public for various reasons. They cannot truly become the women they long to be. I propose that if we stop focusing on these things we cannot change, and rather focus on making our lives the best they can be in our current situations, that we will be happier.

Here are some ways we can pursue contentment:

  • Accept the truth that your body is part of who you are and that you truly cannot change it. Let that reality sink in.
  • Think about what is positive about your body and focus on that. Focus on the positive traits about your character and personality. Find joy in being yourself even if you are atypical.
  • Celebrate your maleness by trying to look good and dress in a way that flatters your body.
  • Every day focus on making positive changes in your life, the things that you are in control of changing.
  • Cultivate gratitude, rather than envy. Do not let yourself give in to fantasies and thoughts of envy towards others. Resist thoughts of bitterness, resentment, or anger about your life.
  • Focus on building others up every day instead of focusing on yourself. This is more fulfilling and the way to find a joy filled and happy life.

The serenity prayer is a good summary of these steps:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The path I am advocating is not easy. It not only takes the work of learning self-control, but the hard emotional and intellectual work of understanding yourself and your inner motivations. It takes work to learn to be content with your body, and to integrate all of your personality traits. It can be a long journey until you come to full self-acceptance. But for many of us this may be the best path to freedom and happiness.


FOOTNOTES

1. While this writing may resonate with some women crossdressers, I will refer to men throughout for simplicity and clarity. I have more understanding about men who crossdress, being one myself.

2. This article will not address addictions of a sexual nature, such as the combination of crossdressing and masturbation (which can often be similar to a pornography addiction). Such men also might have reasons to want to give up crossdressing, and they can find many posts, resources, links, and tools on the rest of this site that can help them.

3. Graph taken from the article, “The Masculine-Feminine Continuum,” by Caroline Turner.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caroline-turner/the-masculinefeminine-con_1_b_5560556.html

4. Some argue that these differences are purely due to cultural expectations. Others argue that they are due to the differing biology of the sexes. Most now recognize it’s not nature or nurture, but nature AND nurture. I think there are real biological differences between men and women that play a big role in their personality traits and gender expression, but I also believe culture and environment play a big role as well. It is outside the scope of this article to pursue the current research on these questions. More importantly for this article, however, is that disagreements about the nature/nurture debate does not affect my basic point about accepting all parts of our personality and integrating them together, rather than trying to conform to cultural stereotypes.

5. A couple of friends who also gave up crossdressing give excellent further explanation of this integration process in these blog posts. It would be fair to say that I learned it from them.
https://mycdrecovery.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/underlying-feelings-wants-needs/
https://mycdrecovery.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/in-search-of-unification/
https://cdreflections.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/counter-productive/

6. Judson Brewer, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Adjunct) of Psychiatry; Medical Director, Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic. http://yourbrainonporn.com/simple-and-powerful-tool-yale-professor-judson-brewer-recommends-skilfully-handling-our-urges

Helpful Bible Verses 15

In my struggle with crossdressing over my whole life, many Bible verses have been helpful to me.  I’ve studied them, memorized some of them, and often read them after failures.  In addition to the ones I’ve already written about, I’ll periodically mention and comment on some of them and how they relate to my crossdressing struggle.  For those of you who are still struggling, it would surely help you to write some of these down and read them daily, or in times of temptation, or after a failure when you need to be built back up by God’s Word.

 

Revelation 21:6-8

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
This is another of many strong biblical passages that I’ve posted about before on this site.  On the surface it is such a powerful statement that we might ask, “but who then can be saved?”  We’ve all lied, we’ve all been cowardly, many of us if not most or all of us have sinned sexually.  Does this mean we won’t be saved?

I think we have to be careful to interpret passages like this correctly.  It is indeed a warning of a kind so we shouldn’t take it lightly.  But we should also not think that we are not saved just because we’ve sinned before.  Otherwise no one would be saved.  But that is the good news of the Gospel, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  That there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  That if we sin, we still are assured of forgiveness because we have a Savior and intercessor, our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 1:9).  It doesn’t matter whether we were a murderer of God’s people in the past, we can be forgiven in Christ like the apostle Paul.  And even when we sin now as believers, we are assured that Jesus’ blood still covers those sins as well (1 John 1:5-10).  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, he takes our punishment for our past, present, and future sins.

But the Bible is also very clear that true believers will exhibit transformation and change.  When we accept Jesus into our lives, when we truly do so, we can’t help but be changed by his presence in our lives.  We start living out the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  We become people of love and joy.  We become people who obey Jesus and God’s commands.  This passage in Revelation refers to people whose lives are characterized by such sins.  Liars who keep lying and are not repentant.  Those who are murdering even though claiming to be Christians.  Those who do not persevere in their walk with God when suffering comes and reject him because of their discomfort (they don’t “overcome”).  And those who are living sexually immoral lives even though claiming to be Christians.  There is a large difference between someone living a life of unrepentant continual sin, and a Christian who is struggling and trying to live for God, but still falling short.  The Christian will continually go back to God in confession and rejoicing in God’s grace.  This passage in Revelation gives us a sober truth about the judgment that is coming.  Only those in Christ, whose lives are no longer characterized by these sins, will be saved during that judgment.

So this passage should be a wake up call for those of us whose lives are characterized by sin.  Have we really chosen to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord?  Or are we fooling ourselves and calling ourselves Christians when we are living for sin and not for God?  If this describes you, please take some time to think about the reality of life and death and God’s judgement for our sin.  If you are living in unrepentant sexual immorality, such as crossdressing, you unfortunately sound like one of the people described in this passage.  Accept Jesus into your life and repent of your sin.  Sit down and talk to him right now.  Just speak out loud to him, he will hear; that is what we call prayer.  And then walk in new life in Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to slowly transform you into the person God made you to be.  Please read the passage below to see how much God invites you into his grace and love.

Whenever I’ve stumbled into sexual sin, I like to read this passage to remind myself of what God wants and does not want in my life.  It reminds me that as a Christian my life is not characterized by such sins and shouldn’t be.  It’s a helpful way to get refocused into living a holy life of following Jesus.

 

Revelation 22:12-17

12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
This passage has to be paired with the strong passage of warning above.  While this passage repeats the strong warning about God’s judgment, that people living lives of sin will not be invited into God’s wonderful city of life, this passage is also so hopeful and wonderful.   God’s invitation to his grace is so wonderful.  If you are thirsty, and needing forgiveness and love and eternal life, the Holy Spirit says, “Come!”  “Come to Jesus and have life.”  He will quench your spiritual thirst that cannot be quenched in any other way.  It’s a “free gift” of grace.  You cannot earn it.  You can only accept that Jesus lived and died for you, in your place, and you have to accept it as a free gift.

When it talks about “those who wash their robes” it is referring to those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  The Lamb is Jesus who died as a sacrifice for our sins.  If we know Jesus, have given our lives to him, then we have been washed.  Our sins are no longer hanging over our head.  They have been paid for and we are given Jesus’ righteousness, which are new robes, new clothes to wear.  I hope you understand this symbolism.  It’s powerful and this passage is one of my favorites of the Bible.  It makes me very emotional thinking about how wonderful God’s grace is and how wonderfully inviting God is.

I am also encouraged that Jesus is physically returning to this world someday.  May that day be soon! When he come he will judge the world but also make a new heavens and new earth where we his people will live with him forever.  There will be no more evil, pain, or suffering.  And for our purposes here at this site, when Jesus returns, he will make us new as well.  We will not only not crossdress anymore, but we won’t even desire it anymore.  He will completely make us new, including removing the taint of sin in our hearts.  He will remove our sinful nature completely, and not only will we finally be able to not sin, but we won’t even have the desire to do it anymore.  So many of us have given up crossdressing and have successfully fought that sin in our lives.  But we get so weary of the desires coming.  They are annoying and frustrating and we just want them gone completely.  Well someday soon, when Jesus returns, we will finally be at peace with no more weariness of being tempted to sin.  Of course this goes beyond crossdressing, to any other temptation to sin that we struggle with whether selfishness, greed, pride, lust, or anything else.  Lord Jesus come soon and make us new!

Sexual Addiction Therapist and websites

Here are a couple very helpful websites by a sexual addiction therapist, Dorothy Hayden, LCSW.  She has worked with many people who have had the compulsion to crossdress.  Perhaps some of you would be helped by her therapy.  I can’t speak from experience as I do not know her, but I have read many of her articles and I really have appreciated what I have read!  Her therapy is not done from a Christian perspective, which of course I see as great downside, but I think her techniques could still be helpful to deal with the crossdressing behaviors and compulsion.

Here are two of her websites each with a plethora of great articles to read:

http://sextreatment.com/

http://porn-no-more.com/

 

I really like the approach to therapy that I see here – Sex Addiction Recovery Approach
So many of the steps outlined are things I have discussed on my blog many times, but not in such a logical consistent order as she outlines it.

This quote is interesting and helpful – “Sexual addiction recovery is a life-long process.  It moves you out of a narcissist position where your needs are imperative and only see others as need-supplying objects to where you are capable of true self-love.  Personal authenticity enables you to have empathy and compassion for others and allows you to take genuine pleasure from giving love rather than always being a self-centered taker.

I’ll post some other interesting quotes from her many blog posts and articles.  Reading these quotes and thinking about crossdressing hits really close to home.  Certainly crossdressing is one of the many types of dangerous sexual addiction.

Why do some men like wearing women’s lingerie?

Dorothy, I have to disagree with you on your answer here.  I think that most of us are not struggling with gender dysphoria (though certainly some of us are), but rather we are still attracted to women as men.  It’s just that we have unintentionally found an erotic shortcut, being attracted to a pseudo woman we can manipulate and control rather than a real flesh and blood woman.  Of course other factors are involved with how we developed this – possible trauma, a way to relieve stress or feel comforted, belief in rigid gender stereotypes, etc.   Unfortunately gender dysphoria sometimes comes in later over the years, as the pseudo woman starts to become a more important identity than our identity as a man.  This does lead some crossdressers to eventually get sex reassignment surgery even though their crossdressing started as a sexual addiction.

 

Who is a sex addict?

He is able to “undo” traumatic experiences from childhood, he meets needs for pseudo-connection, he uses sexual fantasy to release pleasure-producing endorphins in his brain, he is able to meet needs for breaking taboos, for novelty, to ward off fear of intimacy, among other functions of the sexual behavior. As you can see,  sex addicts use sex to meet needs that can’t be met by sex.

 

Underlying Dynamics of the Sex Addict

Fantasy is the fodder of a person in the “Erotic Haze”. In many cases, sex addicts perform some form of ritualized behavior. This usually precedes a sexual activity. For example, an addict may cruise in a car for hours looking for just the right sex worker. He gets pleasure from the ritual.
 
When the sex addict is in this mental state, his needs are what matter most of all. He feels no anxiety about responding to the needs of another. There is no fear of closeness, vulnerability or rejection. To him, nothing feels as if it is a compromise. All that exists is the pleasure of the sexual fulfillment. It is the only time in a sex addict’s life that he knows perfect control over the “other,” and this is distinctly unlike what he experienced as a child.

 

Why you must know about the sex addiction cycle

After 15 years of working with sex addicts, I have concluded that it is not sex – per Se – that is the object of the addictive attachment, but rather it is the state of sexual arousal that most addicts find so compelling. Orgasms are rarely the goal. As a matter of fact, people purposely delay orgasm because the aftermath can involve experiences of disillusionment, emptiness and shame.

Once you’ve entered “The Erotic Haze”, your ability to control your behavior becomes nil. Acting out becomes an inevitability.  However, there are a number of stages you go through before you arrive at that state. You don’t get “struck” acting out. It doesn’t come out of the blue, compelling you to take immediate action. The purpose of understanding the sex addiction cycle is, with mindful awareness, to know you’re in one of the beginning phases and to apply newly learned coping skills before you drown in the quicksand.

Rituals are a critical part of any kind of deviant arousal template. The ritual itself becomes a fetish, capable of engendering sexual excitement and release it itself.

The exhibitionist walks through certain spots at certain times, cruising for the same type of woman. The transvestite carefully lays out woman’s clothing and lingerie on the bed, looking at them for a period of time before he dons them. The clinical literature talks about “the masochistic script”. To all appearances, the “domme” is in control. In reality, the masochist calls the shots. The room needs to be arranged just so. The type of clothing the dominatrix wears is dictated by the bottom. Often, even verbal and physical humiliation needs to follow his exact script, or he is disappointed in the scene.

This last part about rituals was really interesting to me.  I have spent hours before doing google searches for crossdressing stuff but not allowing myself to actually go to any of the links.  I was fooling myself at those times that I was not giving in to the addiction.  But I was.  Somehow I was getting pleasure just by doing the beginning stages of the ritual, which would otherwise have been google searching and clicking through to the links.

There are many more articles and blog posts that she wrote that I would like to share here, but I will save some of the better ones for later so you don’t have to try reading so much at once.  She has some very good resources for you at both sites, whether you are struggling with pornography, crossdressing, other sexual addictions, or a combination of many of these.

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!

Link – Accepting a trans identity only makes dysphoria worse

Here is an interesting link at a blog called – “Third Way Trans.”  The author doesn’t have my same standpoint on crossdressing and transgender issues, and he appears to more neutral on the issues.  He is not saying that transitioning to live as the opposite sex is always wrong, but he is also willing to question it and caution people that it might not be the best solution to their gender dysphoria.  I appreciate his insights.

In this blog post he discusses how once a person accepts that they are “transgender” and make it a part of their identity, they become less contented with their life and with the world, not more contented as might be expected.  Their gender dysphoria, hurt, and pain increases, and since there is ultimately no possible way to change our sex/gender, even with our advanced medical technology, the person may end up feeling more pain and dissatisfaction in life, than if they had instead tried to be content living as a man.  Those who are considering such a drastic change in their lives, whether Christian or not, should pay attention to this author’s cautions.

The serenity prayer which he quotes is a great one for all of us, whether we are struggling with gender dysphoria, or a more sexualized crossdressing addiction:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

We would do well to memorize this prayer and focus on contentment rather than fantasizing about things that we cannot actually change.
The Apostle Paul says –

Philippians 4:10-13

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Necessity of a Mirror

There have been so many times in the past that I rationalized my addiction to crossdressing through such simple thoughts like –

But they are just clothes.”
I’m just being myself, allowing the feminine part of my personality out.”
This is not sexual, it’s about my identity.”
This isn’t narcissistic, it’s self-expression.”
It’s just that these clothes are more comfortable.”
I’m only doing this as a hobby, and for relaxation.”

These thoughts are such stupid false rationalizations.  And one reality clearly blows them all out of the water by itself, aside from the tons of other arguments I’ve made that show these statements to be false.  That is the necessity of a mirror.  At least in my own experience the mirror was necessary.  When I crossdressed, I might have told myself such things, but I would still spend all of my time in front of a mirror, or at least just sitting and looking at myself.

When my wife expresses herself through choosing her clothing, she doesn’t spend hours in front of a mirror.  If she did, I would think her very vain. So how could I delude myself to think that those rationalizations were true?

There are two options.  Either A.  I was being very vain and narcissistic.
Or B.  I was using myself as a replacement woman to be lusting after.

Of course for me, crossdressing was sexual,  otherwise why could I only ever enjoy crossdressing when ogling myself or looking at myself in the mirror?

My crossdressing brothers out there,  I plead with you, not out of hate, but out of love for you, please wake up to the reality of what crossdressing is.  If you are going to do it, at least face the reality of it honestly.  Don’t give yourself false rationalizations.  Look at the reality of the mirror in your crossdressing life.  Some may argue that they don’t need the mirror (but then are you getting your thrills instead through people looking at you, as you “pass” as a woman?).  That is still either sexual or focused on self or both.

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.