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Transvestism: That’s behind it!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 336 views

Transvestism is a tendency to wear the clothing of the opposite sex. Read here what exactly is behind transvestism and how it differs from transsexuality.

What is transvestism?

The term transvestism is derived from Latin: “trans” means something like over, while “vestire” can be translated as disguise.

By definition, transvestism is an inclination to temporarily wear the clothing of the opposite sex and thereby experience belonging to that sex. The term cross-dressing is often used for this. Transvestism is part of gender identity, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation. Often these are men who also feel like men.

Transvestites or cross-dressers are often heterosexually oriented and live in a partnership. Female transvestites are less common. At the same time, however, they are also less noticeable, since it is more common for women to wear male clothes.

Transvestite Fetishism

A special form of transvestism is transvestite fetishism . People feel sexually aroused when wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. It is medically assigned to mental disorders and paraphilias, i.e. a sexual inclination that deviates greatly from the norm.

The diagnosis is very controversial as most transvestites lead normal, structured lives. They often live in a functioning partnership, are not conspicuous in professional life and only dress up in their private free time.

The diagnosis of the mental disorder is therefore only made if those affected suffer from it in a clinically significant way and their everyday life is severely restricted by the addiction.

Distinction from transsexuality

Cross-dressers identify with their gender, which they are born with. Men see themselves as masculine, women as feminine.

Transsexuals, on the other hand, live in the wrong body. You have a strong desire for gender reassignment.

You can read more about the topic in the article on transsexuality .

Distinction to drag

So-called drags or drag queens are mostly male people who portray a woman for artistic or humorous purposes. They emphasize diva-like and glamorous characteristics in appearance and behavior with sweeping wigs and artistic make-up. The transitions to transvestism can be fluid.

Transvestism: These are the characteristics

Three main criteria are used to diagnose transvestism:

  • Cross-dressers temporarily wear opposite-sex clothing to experience belonging to the opposite sex.
  • There is no desire for permanent gender reassignment or surgical gender identity correction.
  • As a rule, changing clothes does not lead to sexual arousal in you. An exception is the special form of transvestite fetishism.

Causes of transvestism

Heterosexual people who wear clothing of the opposite sex usually begin this behavior in late childhood. Curiosity or interest is often what drives them. From a learning theory perspective, transvestism is a consequence of a pattern learned in childhood.

The exact reasons for this are unclear. The phenomenon used to be pathologized, i.e. regarded as a pathological tendency. Today it is understood more as a sociocultural variant of the norm.

transvestism in society

The main problem with transvestism is social tolerance. If the social environment accepts the behavior of the transvestite, it becomes part of his lifestyle and loses its problematic character. Therapeutic help is then usually not necessary.

If the tendency puts a strain on the person’s relationship, couples therapy or a self-help group can be helpful.

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