Pages Navigation Menu

Heteropocrisy: The Myth of the Heterosexual Crossdresser (1996)

Heteropocrisy: The Myth of the Heterosexual Crossdresser (1996)

©1996 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, D. (1996, May). Heteropocrisy: The myth of the heterosexual crossdresser. Chrysalis: The Journal of Transgressive Gender Issues, 2(3), pp. 23-30. Reprinted in The Flip Side, July, 1996, 3(7), pp. 7-12, and The ConncecticuTView, September, 1996, pp. 3-8.



Thumbnail Illustration: Virginia Prince and Dr. Harry Benjamin as the dour farmer and his wife, from Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic. My thanks to the late JoAnn Roberts for her help with the image.


Q: What’s the difference between a heterosexual crossdresser and a gay crossdresser?
A: About two beers.

—Transgender Community Joke


View Chrysalis Pages, Heteropocrisy (PDF)


I published the Transgender Gothic issue of Chrysalis after long and unfruitful discussions with Jane Ellen Fairfax of the national office of Tri-Ess, The Society for the Second Self, and then only after I was repeatedly shined on and was said to be a supporter of Tri-Ess’ exclusionary membership policy. It was a policy that kept me away from the transgender community for ten years (1979-1988). I hated it.

I took some heat for using the venerable late Dr. Harry Benjamin on the cover in such a way, and I of course offended Tri-Ess, the heterosexual-only Society for the Second Self. I no doubt also offended some transsexuals by calling into question the “man trapped inside the body of a woman / woman trapped inside the body of a man” justification which so many of us had (and which some of still do) used to justify our transitions.



The Myth of the Heterosexual Crossdresser

By Dallas Denny

I would like to point out that I have no animosity towards groups for heterosexual crossdressers, and most especially, to the Society for the Second Self, which provided love, support, and encouragement to me as I followed a path which eventually excluded me from full membership. I do not wish to bite the hand that has fed me. I realize however, that a disproportionate amount of the nonsense in our community originates from such groups, and from the members of such groups, and have watched the agony of members of heterosexual-only groups as they have struggled to define themselves within the constraints the groups have placed and continue to place on their behavior and identity. I have slowly come to realize a group which exists to serve heterosexual crossdressers is quite different from a group which demands its members be heterosexual crossdressers. The latter places artificial boundaries on sexual behavior and gender expression, which is in fact quite fluid and capable of change over time.

I would especially like to acknowledge Virginia Prince, with whom I have had many animated yet always good-tempered discussions. Her reply to a letter I wrote to her in 1979 meant more than she will ever know. She is unlikely to agree with the analysis which follows. Others will disagree as well. It is bitter medicine, but bitter medicine is often good for us.

The organized crossdressing movement dates from the 1950’s, when Virginia Prince began networking with heterosexual crossdressers throughout the United States. Before long, she had formed the Hose and Heels Club in Los Angeles, to which men would bring—you guessed it—hose and heels in a paper bag, and, at a signal, put them on. Before they left, they would take them off and put them back in the bag and go home.

From such an inauspicious beginning, Virginia founded a national organization for crossdressers (The Foundation for Personality Expression, or FPE), launched a magazine (Transvestia) and a publishing house (Chevalier Press), wrote a number of books (including Understanding Crossdressing, The Transvestite and His Wife, and How to Be a Woman Though Male), and did surveys of the characteristics of crossdressers which led to papers which were published in prestigious scientific journals including The Archives of General Psychiatry, The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, The Journal of Clinical Psychology, Psychological Reports, The American Journal of Psychotherapy, Sexology, The Journal of Sex Research, and The Archives of Sexual Behavior. She also wrote for Transvestia, and reprints of her old articles and occasional new articles find their way into print nearly every month in the various publications of the transgender community, an informal consortium of support groups, publishers, and information services which consists of and services primarily white males and those who used to be white males.

But even more than writing and publishing, Virginia, who is sometimes referred to jokingly by some (and devoutly by others) as The Godmother of Crossdressing, formulated a philosophy which has been carried to the four corners of the world by FPE and its successors, which include The Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess) in the United States, the Seahorse Clubs of Australia, and the Beaumont Societies in Europe. Virginia’s message was that most crossdressers are heterosexual and crossdress not as a function of their sexuality, but to express feminine aspects of their personality they do not otherwise feel comfortable expressing because of societal disapproval of feminine behaviors in males. Virginia postulated that the crossdresser has a “woman within” who must be released from time to time. In a society which insists on rigidly defined gender roles, crossdressing provides a safe release.

This theory acknowledges the sexual arousal which usually accompanies crossdressing in heterosexual men, but relegates it to an early developmental stage; masturbation is the route into the crossdressing experience, but becomes unimportant or disappears altogether once the crossdresser gets in touch with his feminine side.

The world has listened well to Virginia’s theories. As a matter of course, the newsletters of the transgender community, the mainstream press, and even the gay press proclaim that most crossdressers are heterosexual. It is taken as gospel. Except for the occasional behind-the-times psychoanalyst who refuses to believe it is possible that someone who crossdresses could be anything but homosexual, practically everyone, from Geraldo to Dan Rather to Ru-Paul, has heard and come to believe the majority of crossdressers are heterosexual, just your ordinary straight guy from the corner tavern who likes to put on a frock to express his inner femininity and cavort about town, but who never gets chubbies while doing so, has never had sex with another man and would never, ever even fantasize about doing so, or ever think about having sex reassignment.

This is an overly simplistic, and quite frankly, inaccurate view. The fact is that while many crossdressers are indeed heterosexual, many other crossdressers have lifelong issues with sexuality which go unacknowledged by “feelgood” support groups and transgender community publications. Not only is the autoerotic nature of the crossdressing experience trivialized by the “inner woman” mythos, but homosexual fantasies and acts are kept private from other crossdressers due to legitimate fear that acknowledging them would lead to disapproval and possible expulsion from heterosexual-only “support” groups.

One need not spend much time with a group of “heterosexual” crossdressers to learn there is something seriously wrong with the inner woman picture. First, a considerable percentage of male crossdressers in fact identify as women and have transsexual inclinations which they keep hidden from the group (and often, with amazing feats of mental gymnastics, even from themselves); and second, once they are in a dress, many of these crossdressers do not act very heterosexual. After a few drinks, they begin to talk in roundabout ways about their sexual urges, and after a few more rounds, they are entirely receptive to advances by other males, if in a setting in which their crossdressing peers are not present—and sometimes when they are. Once sober, they deny such feelings and behavior, and often mask them behind homophobic behaviors and statements.

This is not to say the majority of the members of such groups are not in fact completely heterosexual or that a majority want to be women. But those with serious transsexual issues and those who fantasize about having sex with other men are significant minorities in even the most austerely “heterosexual” group. Unfortunately, because of peer pressure, such persons usually feel it important to keep their issues secret, or at least low-key. Their heterosexual-only social groups are not set up to meet their needs, and consequently, those needs often go unmet.

Also, a large number of transgendered persons do not participate in what we call the transgender community, but function wholly outside it. It is only because we have built a “club” which excludes and devalues such persons that we do not “see” them. We call this club the “transgender community,” but in actuality, it is a transgender community. There are other transgender communities which we often ignore or belittle. I suspect their membership is at least as great as that of “our” community.

The evidence that many crossdressers are not exactly heterosexual does not lie in surveys like Virginia’s from the 1960’s (which after all, surveyed the readers of her magazine, Transvestia during a time at which those with philosophies which differed significantly from Virginia’s were banished to the hinterlands (see Darrell Raynor’s A Year Among the Girls for a historical record of this). No, the evidence is less direct. It lies not so much in the fact that there is a huge problem with illicit use of female hormones in groups for heterosexual crossdressers as in the fact that there is a huge population of gay crossdressers which is largely unacknowledged by the transgender community. It lies in the fact that there is a large population of bisexual crossdressers who are served primarily by transvestite contact magazines which are sold in adult bookstores. It lies in the fact that transvestite phone-sex numbers and escort services do a booming business, and in the fact that there is a strong bisexual theme in a great deal of TV literature. Just as the transgender community is largely invisible to those outside it, these other transgender communities are largely invisible to it.

Virginia’s late-1960’s survey of readers of her magazines was a great service, for she made it known to the world that all crossdressers were not gay—that, in fact, a considerable percentage of crossdressers were heterosexual. It was important for the world to realize that. Her study was solid, and just one part of a life work that has ensured her place in history. Her work facilitated communication among a large population of heterosexual crossdressers, and led directly to the transgender community as we know it today. However, her survey, which drew upon readers of a magazine which was of little interest or utility to gay or bisexual crossdressers, came to define the transgender community. But because it has rigid boundaries, it is a community which excludes many, and into which many fit only by hiding or denying their true selves—and isn’t being and expressing one’s true self the very thing the support groups in the transgender community try to facilitate? The simple fact is the majority of crossdressers are not heterosexual. They are gay or bisexual.

This doesn’t mean the majority of people in the transgender community are gay or bisexual (but some are, and deny it, and others are, and feel it necessary to hide it). But I submit that there are entire communities of transgendered persons which the transgender community does not recognize, or chooses not to recognize, and that it represses them by ignoring them and denying them. Every time someone in the community claims most crossdressers are heterosexual, every time it is claimed gay men dress only to attract other men, every time someone laments the fact that someone they have considered a crossdresser has begun to identify as transsexual, every time someone feels uncomfortable expressing their bisexuality or transsexualism at a support group meeting, they are in fact being repressed in the same manner that the transgender community is repressed by the mainstream community.

Where are these alternative communities? They are all around us. What form do they take? That depends upon which of the communities you are talking about.

Collapsing Categories: Mandy

What is a heterosexual crossdresser? Several years ago, perhaps that question would have been answerable. But now…




Mandy is an officer in a heterosexual-only crossdressing group which aggressively enforces its policy of “no gays, no transsexuals.” She is one of the more vocal supporters of the policy.

Although she doesn’t identify as transsexual, but as a heterosexual crossdresser, Mandy struggles with her desire to be a woman. She is a member of a fundamentalist religious sect and experiences intense guilt feelings about crossdressing which have resulted in long periods of severe depression.

A little more than a year ago, Mandy began a rigorous course of electrolysis and had surgery to feminize her face, with the result that most people began to view her as female, regardless of how she was dressed. Six months ago she decided that taking hormones could be justified under her system of religious beliefs and asked her therapist for a referral letter for hormones. She carried the letter around for months before visiting an endocrinologist.

Mandy has slowly slipped across the line into full-time crossliving. She recently became depressed when she and her wife were mistaken for lesbians in public; she claims she finds lesbians and gay men “disgusting.”

Lately, Mandy has experienced a recurrent desire to have sex reassignment surgery, which has resulted in more depression, as it is something which she cannot allow herself. Recently, she brought the matter up with her therapist, who told her he would consider giving her a referral letter ifs he would work through some of her issues. She has heard of a surgeon in Mexico who requires no letters or evidence of real-life test. She has even wondered if it would be possible to have the surgery and conceal it from the members of her support group, and even her wife.

Despite all this, Mandy continues to consider herself a heterosexual crossdresser. Recently she led a drive to expel a group member who had told another group member she thought she might be transsexual.


* The name has been changed to protect the insolent. “Mandy” is based on a heterosexual crossdresser the author has known. You know who you are, dahlink!


Gay Crossdressers

Atlanta, like other major cities, has a large and active gay community. A primary form of entertainment in this community is and always has been female impersonation. More than a dozen of Atlanta’s gay bars have regular or occasional drag shows. But for every gay male who wears women’s clothing for money or to attract men, there are many others who dress for pleasure. On any Friday or Saturday night at BackStreet Atlanta, an all-night bar, it is possible to count more gay crossdressers than have ever attended a meeting of the Sigma Epsilon chapter of Tri-Ess, Atlanta’s support group for heterosexual crossdressers, which draws members from throughout the Southeast.

The transgender community tends to devalue gay crossdressers by calling them “drag queens” and by claiming they dress only for money or to attract men. Ignoring the homophobia inherent in such a statement, it is incredibly naive, like saying heterosexual crossdressers dress only to facilitate masturbation. The fact is many gay crossdressers are significantly transgendered. Proof they are transgendered is easy to come by: just talk to some of them. They’ll tell you they don’t dress just to attract men; they dress because it pleases them, or because they feel a need to express an inner femininity.

Sound familiar?

Feminine expression, while certainly not universal among gay men, is common. Most of the subjects in Richard Green’s longitudinal study of extremely feminine boys (he thought they were pre-transsexual) grew up to be gay. Researchers hotly debate the theory that all gay males are feminine in their youth. The need of some gay men to express their feminine side often surfaces as crossdressing. Drag shows constitute a socially sanctioned reason to crossdress—and certainly sometimes crossdressing can lead to romance or at least a sexual liaison, or a salary and tips as a female impersonator—but the real reasons most gay men crossdress are often—and I would submit usually—private. Many, I would imagine, dress only in private.

The transgender community often laments the absence of gay crossdressers at its events, but the fact is there is nothing there to particularly attract them. Rigidly enforced dress codes, homophobia, class issues (many gay crossdressers cannot afford to travel hundreds of miles and stay in an expensive hotel) and the matronly appearance of many of the attendees are of little interest to gay crossdressers, many of whom have a flamboyance that makes the more stolid in the transgender community cringe. They want to do the things they want to do; most of all, they want to feel comfortable about expressing themselves in a feminine manner, and about being gay—and this is not possible in the transgender community as it now exists.

Gay crossdressers have a community of their own; it just takes a different form. The bar scene is certainly one facet of that community. Another is the popularity of large meetings to which gay crossdressers travel from all over the country in order to dress up. There are scores of gay beauty pageants, the winning of which results in money, fame, a crown, and a title. Most are extravagant affairs, with dozens of beautifully gowned and coiffed, and often stunningly beautiful contestants. In the fall of 1994, for instance, Atlanta hosted a national pageant to elect Miss Gay-USA-at-Large. The event was held in one of the city’s most prestigious hotels (in fact, the success of such pageants, which have been held in four-star hotels since the 1970’s, doubtless paved the way for the conventions of the transgender community). There are many contestants and a large audience, and there are organizers, stage hands, lighting and sound technicians, and a master of ceremonies. Many of these people correspond and socialize throughout the year. There is also a national Imperial Court, with chapters in many cities, which consists of gay crossdressers who stage benefits to raise money for AIDS organizations and charities. Is this community? Certainly it is. And although it is different in form from what those in the transgender community usually think about, it is just as valid as the transgender community we usually think about.

Collapsing Categories: Aleisha

What is a heterosexual crossdresser? Several years ago, perhaps that question would have been answerable. But now…




Alesha is the prototypical heterosexual crossdresser, but for one thing. In her femme mode, Alesha is as aggressively “heterosexual” as is her male counterpart, Alex. She likes men. Alex is swaggering and macho, and more than a bit homophobic, to the point he once called another crossdresser a faggot when he attempted to greet him with a hug. Alesha frequently tells those she encounters when out with other group members, “We’re heterosexual. We’re not gay or anything like that.” After a few drinks, however, Alesha will flounce into the room and ask “Where are the men?” She is a habitueé of the bars, where she meets men with whom she has unprotected sex. Group members recently had a good laugh when they discovered a photo of Alesha in a sexual contact magazine for TVs. When an officer mentioned it to her, she claimed a relationship with another crossdresser would qualify as a heterosexual relationship if she thought of the other crossdresser as a woman.

At a recent steering committee meeting, Alesha poo-pooed the suggestion that AIDS be the topic at a monthly meeting. “That’s a gay disease,” she said. “We’re not gay.”

Whatever Mandy’s self-identification, her needs for counseling, peer support, and medical supervision are no different than those of any transsexual person. And however heterosexual Alesha believes she is, her need to understand and practice safe sex techniques is the same as that of any gay man. Mandy and Alesha have nothing to gain and everything to lose by hiding behind a face of heterosexuality in their support group. In fact, their group encourages such heteropocricy. The officers smile knowingly at Alesha’s late-night shenanigans, and ignore Mandy’s increasing feminization, while purging those who honest about their issues.

It’s time for the transgender community to begin to care more about the real human needs of its members than it does about protective labels like heterosexuality!


* The name has been changed to protect the insolent. “Alesha” is based on a heterosexual crossdresser the author has known. You know who you are, dahlink!


Bisexual Crossdressers

The nature of the transgender experience is that, when dressed, one feels like a woman. Many men who otherwise would never consider having sex with another man find their thoughts turning to the possibility once they are in skirts. Some never act upon their fantasies, but others do. Bisexual crossdressers to whom I have spoken report attraction to men is a significant part of their feminine experience. Many, in fact, have sex with other men only when crossdressed. The fiction of the transgender community is rampant with such themes, both hidden and overt.

The magazines of the transgender community are printed in small runs of several hundred, or at best several thousand copies. The tabloid crossdressing magazines, on the other hand, which feature pictures of scantily clad and sometimes unclad crossdressers in suggestive postures and explicit descriptions of what they want from other men and where they want to put it, have circulations in the tens of thousands. The late Alicia Lichy, publisher of Alicia’s TV Girl Talk, boasted in print about a circulation of 40,000 copies—and that only a year or so after starting her business from scratch. There are certainly as many of these magazines (which are often in tabloid format) as there are nationally circulated non-sexual transgender publications. There is no way to determine their actual readership, but it is apparently quite large. One of the co-owners of Brushstrokes, an alternative bookstore in Atlanta, told me that the store typically moves between 50 and 100 copies of a new issue of one of these tabloids in a week.

Even IFGE’s TV-TS Tapestry, the largest-circulation publication in the transgender community, prints only about 10,000 copies. And this large circulation is due in large part to Tapestry’s contact ads, which enable the magazine to be placed in fetish boutiques and adult bookstores around the world (in other words, Tapestry’s large circulation results from its attraction to the hidden bisexual community).

Of course, not everybody buying sexual contact magazines is doing so because they desire to have sexual contact with another man. Some are no doubt grasping for any legitimate source of information they can find. But if this is the case, if a significant percentage of the purchasers are in search of information rather than phone numbers and addresses, then why do they pass up Tapestry, with its restrained personal ads and Chrysalis (a journal which contains a great deal of factual transgender information, but no contact information) for the tabloids, which feature bare asses and exposed private parts? The reason is simple: the magazines are being purchased by bisexual men because of the personal ads.

Is this community? Perhaps not yet, but I believe it is the beginning of community. The bisexual community is only starting to emerge on a national level. Many bisexuals are closeted in the same way as transgendered males. The portion of that community interested in crossdressing is in the same place as Virginia’s readership was back in the 1960’s. They do not yet have national meetings, but they correspond with each other and meet on an informal basis. They have not even reached the bisexual equivalent of the Hose and Heels Club. But make no mistake about it: bisexual crossdressers (and their aficionados) are there in large numbers, and one of these days will manifest themselves in an organization which will let them stand proudly in public.


Transgendered and Transsexual Crossdressers

A certain percentage of any support group for heterosexual crossdressers is likely to have transgender issues—that is, maleness and manhood are not valued, but are traits which are to be done away with, if circumstances permit, and endured, if circumstances do not. Some closed heterosexual crossdressing groups do a more thorough job of genderpolicing (i.e., excluding) such individuals than others, but every heterosexual crossdressing group of any size, I dare to say, has people with such feelings, even if, for obvious reasons, they keep them private.

Gender euphoria is a term used to describe the ecstatic state of many crossdressers when they finally come “out.” Oftentimes, they become so preoccupied with crossdressing their judgment lapses, and they make decisions which they come to regret. The problem with “gender euphoric” crossdressers has been acknowledged in The Femme Forum, the official magazine of Tri-Ess, In Boulton & Park Society’s Gender Euphoria, and in other crossdressing magazines, but gender euphoria is often a sign of a gender identity as a woman. Once the excitement of entry into the transgender community dies, such individuals may be better able to control these feelings (and it may in fact be in the best interest of the individual to control them), but it would be foolish to assume they would suddenly become happy to be men. Many transgendered persons transition into the new role, but many others do not, and for any number of reasons besides not really wanting to—out of a sense of duty or obligation to employers, wives, children, parents, and friends; because of physical factors which would make crossliving difficult; because of fear; because of financial problems; because of the difficulties of overcoming the inertia of life as a male. Many others transition partially, using electrolysis, hormonal therapy, facial plastic surgery, breast implants, and other medical techniques to make them more viable in the female role, but retaining some semblance of their lives as men. Some of these slip over the line into full-time crossliving. Virginia herself did. But are such people heterosexual crossdressers?

I would argue they are not. When a person is living full time, or even part time in a new gender role, when a person is living in the original role, but has altered his body with hormones, and even when a person is desperately unhappy with being a man but has not taken action on it, and especially, when an individual is living full-time as a woman, it seems beyond reason to refer to him as a crossdresser. A crossdresser is someone who bottom line, may enjoy dressing as a woman on occasion, but who enjoys being a man. If the second part of the equation is missing, if the person reverts to being a man because he must, or feels he must, or if he feels he is somewhere between the two genders commonly acknowledged by our society, he is not a crossdresser, at least not by my definition. He much better fits the emerging category of transgenderist (transgenderists blend the characteristics of both sexes). Nevertheless, most groups define anyone with an exclusive erotic interest in women as a crossdresser, unless and until that individual has genital surgery, or starts questioning his/her identity as a crossdresser.


What is a Heterosexual Crossdresser?

What is a heterosexual crossdresser? For that matter, what constitutes heterosexuality? And when is a crossdresser a crossdresser? When does he become a transgenderist? A transsexual? Bisexual? Homosexual? In fact, are these terms, which are used to establish identity, and which are seriously challenged by the transgender experience, of use in assigning transgendered people into categories? These are issues the transgender community needs to confront, but which it has heretofore cleverly avoided. Support organizations for heterosexual crossdressers attempt to escape culpability by not strictly defining their membership criteria, relying instead upon peer pressure to police their membership roster. Consequently, their membership includes men who would rather be women, men who are on female hormones, men who sometimes have sex with other men, and men who fantasize about having sex with other men. In fact, many organizations of heterosexual crossdressers may be composed primarily of transgenderists who are sexually attracted to women, rather than crossdressers, who are happy and proud to be men. And of course, with a change in the social milieu, as happens with new leadership, those once considered acceptable may find themselves no longer so. But these things are not usually acknowledged.

Members of groups for heterosexual crossdressers, and sometimes the groups themselves, are often subtly, and sometimes blatantly, homophobic. Those with sexual interest in men quickly learn to keep their sexuality to themselves, and openly gay crossdressers become the subjects of rude, homophobic remarks. At one recent meeting of a support group for heterosexual crossdressers, a gay man who had sent many heterosexual crossdressers to the group, attended, crossdressed. One of the members asked him, “Don’t you feel uncomfortable here?” I’ll guarantee you he did after that! Homophobic statements appear with alarming regularity in the various newsletters of the transgender community, and crossdressers are quick with statements like “Sure, we dress like this, but we’re not gay or anything,” (implying it’s just fine to have erotic feelings toward a pair of panties, but really fucked up to be attracted to another sentient being who happens to be of the same sex). Of course, members of these groups strongly disavow their homophobia, and in fact for the most part don’t believe they are homophobic, but others have no little problem seeing the heterosexism with which their organizations are steeped.

There is also a great deal of transphobia in these groups. Members who acknowledge their transsexualism are often taken aside in private by other members and told they are making a big mistake with their lives. Sometimes, though, it’s not so private. Several people have been publicly put through the wringer on a local gender-based bulletin board (by other callers, and not necessarily because of any antitranssexual policy of the board). Recently, one heterosexual-only support group instituted a “no transsexual talk” rule at their meetings, ostensibly to protect the tender sensibilities of their wives.

Unfortunately, although it has not been officially defined, the dividing line between crossdresser and transsexual seems to be considered by many to be genital surgery, and the dividing line between crossdresser and homosexual seems to be an open and honest acknowledgement of one’s feelings toward other men rather than by the frequency with which one actually acts upon those feelings. Those who live as women but haven’t had surgery are in the club, and those who live as women and have had surgery are out of it. Those who pick up men and blow them in parking lots of bars—but deny it—are in the club, and those in monogamous gay relationships are out of the club. This is, quite frankly, a sign of the insanity of our community. I don’t understand why a three-hour surgical procedure, the results of which does not show in public, results in loss of full membership eligibility in an organization like Tri-Ess, while living as a woman—as the founder, some of the board members, and many of the members do—is not. Nor do I understand why acknowledging one’s sexual attraction for men excludes one from full membership, while denying it (but having sex with men, with everyone knowing you are doing it) does not. And most of all, I don’t understand why someone who is homosexual or bisexual or transsexual cannot staunchly support a group’s focus on heterosexual crossdressers and their female partners, while not being heterosexual or a crossdresser themselves. The National Organization of Women and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have managed to retain their respective focuses on women and Blacks while accepting men and whites as members; there’s no reason heterosexual crossdressing groups can’t open their ranks to homosexuals and transsexuals.

I have another observation. and that is that unfortunately, the female partners of crossdressers are often used to justify homophobia and transphobia. The reasoning is wives, who are often unknowledgeable about crossdressing and may suspect their husband is bisexual, gay, or transsexual, will have their worst fears confirmed if bi, gay, or transsexual persons are part of the community. This is based on sexist assumptions that women must be protected. It is at bottom misogynistic. If women are homophobic, if women are transphobic, then they, just like their men, have problems with their perceptions which they need to overcome. If their husbands were not homophobic, were not transphobic, and more importantly, were secure in their identity as heterosexuals and as crossdressers, they would not have a problem freely interacting with gay and bisexual males and transsexual people, for the differences would be for the most part apparent, and would serve to assuage the fears of their female partners. On the other hand, if there is something to hide (like a consensual denial of reality) in such groups, then it makes perfect sense to keep the wives in the dark about what is really going on. Of course, the wives are interacting with such persons in the support groups anyway, even if the prevailing climate keeps them undercover.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of some groups of heterosexual crossdressers is due to local and national leaders who aren’t willing to face the fact that some of their members are having sex with other men, that some are fantasizing about having sex with other men, and that others will eventually wind up living full-time as women and may eventually find themselves in Brussels or Neenah, Wisconsin for sex reassignment surgery. Because of their steadfast denial of the true nature of their members, many organizations for heterosexual crossdressers are at bottom hypocritical organizations—heteropocritical organizations, I would say. Their mission statements are at considerable variance with the actual nature and needs of their members. They exist to serve heterosexual crossdressers, but many of their members identify as something other than heterosexual males. They serve only by turning a blind eye to the actual needs of their members, and by excluding many who would help them to serve their focus population of heterosexual crossdressers.

Support groups for heterosexual crossdressers have been an important part of our history, but their very success has made them anachronisms. They are bastions of old-fashioned sensibility in an age of pan-gender and pan-sexual sensibilities. As we come as a community to realize that heterosexuality and homosexuality are artificial distinctions placed on sexuality and that manhood and womanhood are artificial distinctions placed on our gender expression, heterosexual-only support groups seem more and more like fortresses which exist primarily to protect their members from the winds of change.

I believe it is time for organizations for heterosexual crossdressers to face the changing reality of the transgender community, and acknowledge in their mission statements the fact that many of their members are exploring full-time living in women’s roles, experimenting with electrolysis, hormones, and plastic surgery, and experimenting with their sexuality—that some of their members are not in fact heterosexual, are not in fact crossdressers, are not in fact, even men. It is time for them to stop their heteropocracy and offer full membership to anyone interested in serving their target population, which is heterosexual crossdressers and their partners. In this way, they will nurture those who are entering the community, yet also give them room to grow. So long as they turn a blind eye to the actual nature of their membership, so long as they profess to serve heterosexual crossdressers only rather than their actual membership, they will, despite their best efforts to help their members and to contribute positively to social change, be responsible for stifling their growth and artificially dividing the community.




Green, R. (1985). Gender identity in childhood and later sexual orientation: Follow-up of 78 males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142(3), 339-341.

Prince, V. (1962). The transvestite and his wife. Los Angeles: Chevalier Publications.

Prince, V. (1971). How to be a woman though male. Los Angeles. Chevalier Publications.

Prince, V. (1976). Understanding crossdressing. Los Angeles: Chevalier Publications.

Raynor, D. (1966). A year among the girls. New York: Lyle Stuart.


Related Posts

When Heteropocrisy Comes Home to Roost

From A to Zeta