Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender
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Why are transvestites in the West so often seen as deviant or perverse, while they are accepted in other societies? What are the implications for the categories of male and female when considering transvestism? Transvestism, and its cultural practice, is a useful lens through which we can view and thus debate models of sex, gender and sexuality. Drawing on primary fieldwork, Unzipping Gender offers a cross-cultural study of transvestism through an examination of transvestites in Britain and the Hijras of India. The author tackles the critical question of whether or not transvestism is motivated primarily by sex or gender, and she challenges the straightforward binary divide that dominates Western theories of gender.
Homosexuality, Heterosexuality, and Cross-Dressing: Perceptions of Gender Discordant Behavior
Taking into account the importance of material culture, she also pays close attention to the detail of dress and considers the artefactual nature of the construction of the self through clothing. Highlighting the differences between the two groups and drawing on further cross-cultural perspectives, Suthrell illustrates the social construction of sex and gender. She considers the roles that emotion, mythology, imagery and belief systems play in influencing ideas about sex and gender in different cultures. Since sex and gender must inevitably be intertwined, Suthrell argues for a more sophisticated response to the complex practice of transvestism.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of sex and gender issues, it is imperative to examine the underlying social and symbolic structures. Drag is a special form of performance art based on the act of cross-dressing. A drag queen is usually a male-assigned person who performs as an exaggeratedly feminine character, in heightened costuming sometimes consisting of a showy dress, high-heeled shoes, obvious make-up, and wig. A drag queen may imitate famous female film or pop-music stars. A faux queen is a female-assigned person employing the same techniques. A drag king is a counterpart of the drag queen - a female-assigned person who adopts a masculine persona in performance or imitates a male film or pop-music star.
Some female-assigned people undergoing gender reassignment therapy also self-identify as drag kings although this use of "drag king" would generally be considered inaccurate. The modern activity of battle reenactments has raised the question of women passing as male soldiers. In , Lauren Burgess dressed as a male soldier in a U. National Park Service reenactment of the Battle of Antietam , and was ejected after she was discovered to be a woman.
Burgess sued the Park Service for sexual discrimination. In , a federal judge ruled in Burgess's favor. A transvestic fetishist is a person who cross-dresses as part of a sexual fetish.
According to the fourth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , this fetishism was limited to heterosexual men; however, DSM-5 does not have this restriction, and opens it to women and men, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The term underdressing is used by male cross-dressers to describe wearing female undergarments such as panties under their male clothes. The famous low-budget film-maker Edward D. Wood, Jr. Sometimes either member of a heterosexual couple will cross-dress in order to arouse the other. See also forced feminization. Some people who cross-dress may endeavor to project a complete impression of belonging to another gender, including mannerisms, speech patterns, and emulation of sexual characteristics.
This is referred to as passing or "trying to pass" depending how successful the person is. An observer who sees through the cross-dresser's attempt to pass is said to have read or clocked them. There are videos, books, and magazines on how a man may look more like a woman. Others may choose to take a mixed approach, adopting some feminine traits and some masculine traits in their appearance. For instance, a man might wear both a dress and a beard. This is sometimes known as genderfuck. In a broader context, cross-dressing may also refer to other actions undertaken to pass as a particular sex, such as packing accentuating the male crotch bulge or, the opposite, tucking concealing the male crotch bulge.
The actual determination of cross-dressing is largely socially constructed. For example, in Western society, trousers have long been adopted for usage by women, and it is no longer regarded as cross-dressing. In cultures where men have traditionally worn skirt-like garments such as the kilt or sarong , these are not seen as women's clothing, and wearing them is not seen as cross-dressing for men. As societies are becoming more global in nature, both men's and women's clothing are adopting styles of dress associated with other cultures. Cosplaying may also involve cross-dressing, for some females may wish to dress as a male, and vice versa see Crossplay.
Breast binding for females is not uncommon and is one of the things likely needed to cosplay a male character. In most parts of the world it remains socially disapproved for men to wear clothes traditionally associated with women. Attempts are occasionally made, e. Cross-dressers have complained that society permits women to wear pants or jeans and other masculine clothing, while condemning any man who wants to wear clothing sold for women. While creating a more feminine figure, male cross-dressers will often utilize different types and styles of breast forms , which are silicone prostheses traditionally used by women who have undergone mastectomies to recreate the visual appearance of a breast.
While most male cross-dressers utilize clothing associated with modern women, some are involved in subcultures that involve dressing as little girls or in vintage clothing. Cross-dressers may begin wearing clothing associated with the opposite sex in childhood, using the clothes of a sibling, parent, or friend.
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Some parents have said they allowed their children to cross-dress and, in many cases, the child stopped when they became older. The same pattern often continues into adulthood, where there may be confrontations with a spouse, partner, family member or friend. Married cross-dressers can experience considerable anxiety and guilt if their spouse objects to their behavior. Sometimes because of guilt or other reasons cross-dressers dispose of all their clothing, a practice called "purging", only to start collecting other gender's clothing again.
Celebrations of cross-dressing occur in widespread cultures. The historical associations of maleness with power and femaleness with submission and frivolity mean that in the present time a woman dressing in men's clothing and a man dressing in women's clothing evoke very different responses.
Sex and Gender | Introduction to Sociology
A woman dressing in men's clothing is considered to be a more acceptable activity. Advocacy for social change has done much to relax the constrictions of gender roles on men and women, but they are still subject to prejudice from some people.
The reason it is so hard to have statistics for female-assigned cross-dressers is that the line where cross-dressing stops and cross-dressing begins has become blurred, whereas the same line for men is as well defined as ever. This is one of the many issues being addressed by third wave feminism as well as the modern-day masculist movement. The general culture has very mixed views about cross-dressing. A woman who wears her husband's shirt to bed is considered attractive while a man who wears his wife's nightgown to bed may be considered transgressive.
Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo was considered very erotic; Jack Lemmon in a dress was considered ridiculous. Thus when a male cross-dresser puts on his clothes, he transforms into the quasi-female and thereby becomes an embodiment of the conflicted gender dynamic. Following the work of Butler , gender proceeds along through ritualized performances, but in male cross-dressing it becomes a performative "breaking" of the masculine and a "subversive repetition" of the feminine. Psychoanalysts today do not regard cross-dressing by itself as a psychological problem, unless it interferes with a person's life.
I'm a cross-dresser and I don't want to keep it confined to my circle of friends, or my party circle, and I want to take that to my wife and I don't understand why she doesn't accept it, or I take it to my office and I don't understand why they don't accept it, then it's become a problem because it's interfering with my relationships and environment. Cross-dressing is a traditional popular trope in British comedy. The Monty Python comedy troupe donned frocks and makeup, playing female roles themselves while speaking in falsetto.
Women dressed as men, and less often men dressed as women, is a common trope in fiction  and folklore.
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For example, in Norse myth , Thor disguised himself as Freya. In science fiction , fantasy and women's literature , this literary motif is occasionally taken further, with literal transformation of a character from male to female or vice versa. Other popular examples of gender disguise include Madame Doubtfire published as Alias Madame Doubtfire in the United States and its movie adaptation Mrs. Doubtfire , featuring a man disguised as a woman.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex. History of cross-dressing. Key elements. Passing Transvestism. Modern drag culture.
Ball culture Drag king Drag pageantry Drag queen Faux queen. Sexual aspects. Autoandrophilia Autogynephilia Feminization Petticoating Transvestic fetishism. Sexual attraction to cross-dressers. Andromimetophilia Gynemimetophilia. Other aspects. Albanian sworn virgins Bacha bazi Bacha posh Crossplay En femme. Passing as male. Breast binding Female urination device Packing. Passing as female. Breast forms Cleavage enhancement Hip and buttock padding Tucking Gaff. Main article: History of cross-dressing.
Main article: Passing gender.
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