I just found out 2 days ago that my boyfriend & man I plan to marry enjoys wearing female clothing. He wears panties, bra, shoes and makeup. He says that he only does it when he is lonely & once he finishes masterbating, he takes it all off. He also said he’s been doing it for a number of years, but there will be periods of months that go by where he doesn’t even think of it. I love him very much & I am fine with this if he wants to do it. However, I am concerned. I’ve been doing some research, but i don’t know exactly what I am looking for. I found a few websites that say this behavior is considered Transvestic Fetishism. Is it? I want to talk to him about it & we have, but I don’t really know what to ask. He tells me that he does not want to become a women & that is just a fetish. Can this be true? Do I have anything to be concerned about? Please help. Thank you.
- Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
This behavior of his is very likely to be an instance of Transvestic Fetisism, one of a group of sexual diagnoses known as the paraphilias, which includes exhibitionism (arousal attached to shocking people with public displays), regular fetishism (say, a fetish for leather – difficulty achieving arousal without the fetish item present), frotteurism (arousal is tied to rubbing against people in public), pedophilia (arousal is tied to sexually immature partners), sexual masochism (arousal tied to being punished), sexual sadism (arousal tied to punishing), and voyeurism (arousal tied to spying on other’s sexual activities in peeping tom fashion). If it isn’t clear already, the basic idea is that when you have a fetish, your ability to become sexually aroused becomes linked to a particular thing and it becomes difficult to get aroused properly without that thing being present.
While some of the paraphilias are disturbing, abusive and criminal (e.g., pedophilia), not all of them are bad things. Transvestic Fetishism (arousal tied to cross-dressing) is benign for all intents and purposes. It is largely practiced by heterosexual men in private settings. As your boyfriend suggests, the act of cross-dressing is often comforting to the men who practice it. Cross-dressing doesn’t hurt anyone. It has little to do with homosexuality. While some transvestic men do occasionally engage in homosexual acts, their main impulse is towards heterosexual sexuality. Keep in mind that some minority of “regular” dominantly heterosexual men without cross-dress fetishes also will have ocassion to experiment with homosexual activities at various points during their lives – when it occurs, such behavior is not limited to cross-dressers by any means.
A minority of transvestic men do end up feeling that they should have been born a woman and go on to develop a gender identity disorder, but this is the exception to the rule. As your boyfriend has denied that he wants to become a woman, I think you should take his word on this matter.
You are understandably alarmed by what you have found out. No one really talks about this practice of cross dressing, and it is poorly understood by the general public. However, I don’t think there is really any necessary cause for your alarm beyond the shock of learning something intimate and transgressive. Whether you can adapt to the idea that the man you marry will periodically want to cross dress, I don’t know, but as I have suggested, the urge to cross dress is benign in of itself and not necessarily harmful to your marriage prospects.