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Dina’s Digital Diner — Crossdressing An Addictive Behavior?

| Feb 4, 2008
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This month the Digital Diner gets serious. Is crossdressing addictive? Is it possible to give it up? Would you want to give it up? Is it a compulsion? And where can a crossdresser get a good tuna salad sandwich? OK, not the last one but Dina Amberle takes on the rest of these questions in this month’s Digital Diner. 

Sexuality doc Jane VargasJane Vargas, Ph.D. writes a question and answer feature for the website for transgender people and has her own brief website at where she has some Q&A’s on general sexuality issues.

A recent question to Jane at the site asked whether crossdressing was addictive. The questioner said he had “quit dozens of times” only to be drawn back to it. This is a very common theme in crossdressing circles—the quitting and purging of the clothing, inevitably followed by the return of the desire and the rebuilding of the wardrobe.

Digital Diner author Dina AmberleJane Vargas’ answer talks about the compulsive nature of crossdressing (similar to other behaviors such as gambling or shoplifting) that may or may not be addictions in a clinical sense. She mentions the chemical dopamine that is released within the brain of persons engaging in their compulsive behavior of choice. The release of dopamine makes the behavior feel good and the person will desire that good feeling by continually engaging in that triggering behavior.

Jane also mentions that compulsive behaviors that require a lot of planning and preparation (does this sound like anything we are familiar with?) can give the same level of enjoyment simply from the planning and preparation as much as the actual behavior. I don’t know much about dopamine but for crossdressers who mix sexuality with their dresssing (you know who you are) there is the “release” of a different chemical that gives much joy indeed.

But I’ve been thinking about the compulsive nature of crossdressing and just how strong and long-lasting that desire can be. At one time, not too long ago, I was a pretty active crossdresser and looked forward to indulging whenever I made the plan to go out. After awhile, I began to hate the rigmarole associated with getting made up and sneaking out of the house and neighborhood undetected. But I still enjoyed the end result enough to put up with it. I often wished that it was just something you could enjoy on the spur of the moment without an hour or more lead time for the shaving, makeup, etc.

I’m much less active as a crossdresser now but I still identify myself as one and still think that I would like to become more active at some undefined point in the future. The idea of simply giving it up seems impossible. In fact, I just never consider that as an option. So is that an addiction? Since I do not dress as much as I once did, by a large margin, it doesn’t seem to be a compulsion because I often choose to ignore it. But give it up? Nah, I couldn’t commit to that either.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

Comments (2)

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  1. Michelle Michelle says:

    Good to read your column again, Dina – I’ve missed your monthly doses of gossip and insight. Sorry I couldn’t respond to your last column but I had some log in problems. As to whether crossdressing is addictive, maybe I’m out of line speaking on this since I’m not a crossdresser myself, but it seems that addiction usually implies negative results. If someone is overspending on clothes, ignoring their family, friends, or marriage, or otherwise letting it overshadow their life then it’s definitely an addiction. Most probably see it as a compulsion, hopefully in a good way. Speaking of compulsive crossdressing: Part 2 of my Ed Wood saga should be on line Monday and I’ve added a lot of new material since the TCN edition. I’d be interested to hear what you made of his life long crossdressing.

  2. ronnierho ronnierho says:

    Oh, there’s definitely something about the process. IF my getting-ready preparations aren’t the same every time, the whole night feels weird. It’s a ritual. And there’s power in rituals. Look at religion. It’s all about ritual.

    Or maybe I just have latent obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies.

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