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A cross-dresser is a person who dresses in clothes typical of the opposite gender to the gender they were born. A male to female cross-dresser is a man who wears dresses, blouses, and other women’s clothes. A female to male cross-dresser is a woman who dresses in clothes typical of men.
The term cross-dresser is sometimes written crossdresser, without the hyphen, or shortened to the acronym CD. The term transvestite is often used interchangeably with cross-dresser. However, others reserve the term transvestite for people who take sexual pleasure from dressing in the other gender’s clothes.
A cross-dresser may dress in clothes associated with the opposite gender full-time or some of the time. It may be something they do on special occasions or behind closed doors. There is no right or wrong way to be a cross-dresser.
As it has become more commonplace for women to wear shirts and pants, as men do, there is some debate about whether women can ever be called cross-dressers or indeed whether all women should be called cross-dressers. Some suggest this term should be reserved for women who are deliberately trying to dress as men, as drag kings do.
While cross-dressers wear clothes associated with the opposite gender, they do not usually identify as the opposite gender, as transsexual people do. In fact, using the term cross-dresser to refer to a transgender person is likely to cause offense. Transgender people are not merely dressing as the opposite gender. They are dressing in ways that represent their true gender identities. In contrast, cross-dressers typically just enjoy the style or fit of the opposite gender’s clothes.
A cross-dresser’s decision to wear clothes atypical of their birth sex is also not necessarily related to sexuality. There are heterosexual cross-dressers, homosexual cross-dressers, bisexual cross-dressers, and cross-dressers who identify with other sexual identities.
Cross-dressers may experience a variety of emotions stemming from the way they dress. They may feel most comfortable and happiest when cross-dressing. It may also bring them shame and make them feel guilty, especially if people around them don’t accept their cross-dressing. Love and acceptance from family and friends can help cross-dressers feel good about themselves, no matter what clothes they wear.
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