Cross Dressing has been at the center of debate for many years. There are conflicting opinions concerning the origin of the behavior and individuals that behave in this manner. The purpose of this discussion is to research human sexuality of cross dressing as it relates to psychology. We will investigate the findings published in several books and journals concerning cross dressing. The research will also focus on the treatments that are available for individuals that cross dress and their families. Let’s begin our discussion by defining cross dressing and the psychological factors that can lead to the behavior.
Defining Cross Dressing can be a rather arduous task because it is a complex subject. One of the main topics that come to mind when addressing the subject is gender identity. (Bullough) A book entitled, Cross Dressing, Sex and Gender, explains that gender identity “is the total perception of the individual about his or her own gender. It includes a basic personal identity as a boy or girl, man or woman, as well as personal judgments about the individual's level of conformity to the societal norms of masculinity and femininity.” (Bullough) The author goes on to explain that gender roles or the way that men and women are seen in society, can also contribute to cross dressing behavior. (Bullough) The book asserts that gender identity and gender roles are usually congruent with the manner in which we dress, our mannerisms, and our sexual orientation. (Bullough) In most cases individuals are attracted to the opposite sex and wear clothing that is consistent with their gender. (Bullough) However, in some cases gender identity and gender roles are confused and cross dressing can be the result. (Bullough) This “confusion” is often referred to as cross gendered behavior. People who display this behavior are known as transsexuals. Cross Dressing is a behavior associated with transsexuals in which they wear the apparel of the opposite sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior explains that there are several stages that many transsexuals encounter. The article asserts, “After a first stage of antecedent developmental factors, the second stage concerns fetishistic cross-dressing. Cross-dressing, however, in many transvestites starts before age 10, indicating that its original function is not fetishistic. Doctor proposed that an early onset of cross-dressing "may be predictive of a transvestic career in which fetishism is less important, in the long run, than cross-gender identity." This may be more common in the marginal transvestite group. In the third stage more complete cross-dressing and especially passing in public, together with functioning more independently from parental supervision and control, lead to the gradual formation of cross-gender identity.” (Doorn et al)
The article goes on to state that in the third stage individuals may take on a female name and begin to have sexual experiences with males; these are referred to as subsystems. (Doorn et al) At this time individuals usually have conflicting opinions about themselves. (Doorn et al) During the fourth stage, the author explains that these conflicts are addressed. (Doorn et al) The article asserts, “in the fourth stage, this conflicting relationship in the subsystem and the emerged cognitive dissonances have to be resolved. This can be done by the integration of the cross-gender identity into the self-system, that is, to make it a compatible, ego-syntonic, and highly valued subsystem.” (Doorn et al) An article in the journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, also explains that, “Transsexuals emphasize their cross-gender identity and tend to deny erotic association with cross-dressing.” (Doorn et al) Many have asserted the cross dressing is a form of fetishism but opinions differ concerning this assertion. A book entitled, Sexual Strands: Understanding and Treating Sexual Anomalies in Men, explains these beliefs....