LGBT, TV, CD … It’s All an Acronym to Me!

| Aug 26, 2013
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I have recently written a book entitled Men Can Wear Dresses which chronicles my life as a heterosexual transvestite. Don’t panic the subject of this article is not promoting my book! I didn’t want to write just another crossdressing autobiography, but importantly I wanted to incorporate the results of some of the most important surveys relating to crossdressing, carried out over the last century, to dispel some of the negative mythology that surrounds crossdressing. However, as I said that’s not really the point of this article.

In the course of researching the book I was invited to consult with a very influential committee of transgender individuals who advise one of the largest transgender venues in the UK, so you would assume they would be supportive of any work which presents scientific data to challenge the common misconceptions.

DSMI attended the pre-arranged meeting and began my presentation, naturally, introducing myself as a heterosexual transvestite. One of the group, also a transvestite immediately jumped in, vociferously questioning if in fact I was actually a transvestite or perhaps I could be a crossdresser. A transitioning transexual, was keen to correct me, further, stating that perhaps I shouldn’t be using the term, transvestite or crossdresser at all, instead referring to myself as transgendered. The whole two hour presentation became bogged down with argument, not discussing the merits of the book or how we can begin to educate society to remove the prejudices but in what we call ourselves, the ‘labeling.

So here’s my point.

I am a transvestite. I am, by the fact I wear the clothes of the opposite gender, a crossdresser. In the world, today, these two terms effectively represent the same thing or are so close as to be the same. I have heard the argument from some quarters about the attachment of fetish behavior to one or other group but as noted in the recent excellent TGF article Why the Rejection of DSM-5 is a Reason for Crossdressers to (Quietly) Celebrate by Graham Holmes, both transvestism and crossdressing must, by their nature contain an element of fetishist behavior.

Why are we, the transgendered community, and it seems crossdressers specifically, so hung up on labeling, often,masking the true message and to our own detriment? If, we, cannot agree who we are how can we expect to be able to educate the rest of society and gain understanding and acceptance? What is more important to us as crossdressers what we call ourselves or the freedom to be ourselves!

However if we must attach labels to who we are, then why according to the acronym, LGBT which seems to be the accepted way of describing everybody who is not heterosexual, do I, as a transvestite, have to be grouped into the ‘catch all’ section of the transgendered. Surely the very term transgendered must refer to the general collective group of people who suffer from any form of gender dysphoria. Transsexualism, transvestism and, if you must separate crossdressing are all uniquely complex emotional states, deserving and requiring their own recognition.

Until we, as crossdressers get recognition we will always be seen as an under class to the lesbian and gay communities, and society in general. Why does crossdressing still remain so misunderstood, so taboo in the 21st Century when homosexuality is now pretty much widely accepted? Is it, I suggest, that the homosexual and bisexual communities have, for many years, openly fought for recognition and are therefore better understood, accepted? Or is it that transvestism and transsexualism are still, considered so socially misunderstood and unaccepted that it is simpler to sweep these conditions, away, under the general heading of transgendered.

If we, the crossdressing community want recognition, understanding and acceptance we must come out of the proverbial closet, stop bickering amongst ourselves, learn how to work as a group and openly fight for the right to wear what we want, and be labelled, if we must, uniquely who we are.

LGBT, as the acronym covering those who are gender dysphoric seems to individually identify those who are recognized already, lesbian, gay and bisexual communities but actually disguises, perhaps those groups who actually need to have a more open profile; transvestites, transsexuals, crossdressers, etc.

I do not have all the answers, and I’m sure that there are many who read this who are quite happy to be hidden in the transgender grouping but me, personally, I am proud to be a transvestite, a crossdresser and want to be recognised as such.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

Catie Maye

About the Author ()

I am Catie Maye, an heterosexual cross dresser of over forty years, since the age of 9 years. Two years ago I began to write a book that destroys the myths surrounding cross dressing and through that book Men Can Wear Dresses and my company Transgender Doodle Limited intend to raise awareness and dispel the negative mythology surrounding cross dressing. I have been out publicly for two years and active with local transgender clubs and committees. I am a transvestite, and proud of who I am.

Comments (5)

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  1. scalesman scalesman says:

    This was a great article and a fine comment from Graham. We need to get out and be seen and have the civilian population come to accept us as part of the landscape of individuals. The more that we are out and about the less we will be feared and reviled.
    I have also struggled with the concept of labels. While it is nice to be able to package people into clearly defined slots it is not always possible.
    For the most part I am comfortable as a man in a dress. I prefer to refer to what I do than try to say what I am. I ‘cross-dress’. I also eat, sleep, go to work, etc. Some of those activities I do while cross-dressed but some things I can only do en homme.

  2. Graham Graham says:

    “Ladies”, Jessica? Oh yeah, right. Sorry, I forgot where I was for a moment there … 🙂

  3. excellent discourse, ladies. thanks for writing.

  4. j2emily j2emily says:

    & what about the many crossdressers who eventually conclude that they are more and move toward living as a woman,transition etc?

  5. Graham Graham says:


    Nice article … and thank you for the reference!

    I’m a firm believer in calling a spade a spade. Therefore people like you and I – crossdressers – are the REAL transgendered people; as you say, the clue is in the name: cross-dresser. Clothes are to do with gender, not sex – so we’re transgendered. It’s strange, as I’m sure you know, that “transgender” as a label was originally created to describe trans people who had no desire to transition, but the term has recently been hijacked by transsexuals – indeed, with the continuing lack of a political crossdressing presence, “transgendered” has more-or-less replaced “transsexual” even in medical articles. My personal view as to why this has happened is that “transgendered” is a more “friendly” word than “transsexual” … or more generally, “gender” is more friendly than “sex”. If you can remove “s-e-x” from a label, it also takes away a lot of the salacious implications.

    But since transsexualism is well on the road to political, and perhaps even social, acceptance (at least compared with crossdressing), and seems to have acquired – for whatever reason – the incorrect “transgender” label, we crossdressers are just going to have to live with it. Crossdressers only have themselves to blame for not taking a stand on this issue earlier … I’ve been saying for nearly fifteen years that we should be spending less time staring narcissistically at our reflections in our closet mirrors, and more time getting involved in the various human-rights struggles going on in the world outside. As one of that rare breed – a crossdressing activist – I make that comment with more than a hint of bitterness and frustration … but that’s my trademark and my prerogative, and I too am proud of what I am and what I do.

    However … I’m more guilty than most of dwelling on labels, simply because – even in the world of crossdressing – I’m unusual. If I call myself a crossdresser, for instance, it conjures up all sorts of baggage which is irrelevant to the way I dress and behave. And while it’s probably a more accurate description, “genderfuck” isn’t a word that a prospective employer wants to hear coming out of the earpiece of their phone!

    In terms of a crossdressing identity, no-one can deny that we have a lot to thank the LGB community for … but having said that, we can’t hide behind their protection for ever. It’s already a common misconception that all crossdressers are gay, and that association needs to be broken for our own sake. We need to start thinking about getting a voice and an identity of our own. I know it’s tough and difficult and dangerous and all that scary stuff, but every other minority has done it, and I’m damned sure that we can do it too if we put our minds to it. The usual excuse put forward as to why we should continue to do nothing is that some crossdressers will always need the protection of the closet. Fine – the closet can still be there, just as the gay closet continues to exist despite homosexuality gaining public visibility and acceptance. But it’s not fair on the young generation of sassy and streetwise crossdressers to be forced into a lifelong closet existence by us old folk, just because “it’s what we’ve always done”. In fact, I predict that one day in the next few decades, a generation of crossdressers, free-dressers, androgynites and genderqueers who are fed up with misrepresentation and discrimination will take the world by storm, and they won’t care what technical labels people use to describe them. Whether I’ll be around to see it is another matter … but it will happen. It could quite easily emerge as a backlash against the current LGBT clampdown in Russia.

    But despite my bluster, I don’t have all the answers either! Frustrating as it is, I think that people like you and I are ahead of the game, and while the world needs “out and proud”, we may have to just sit back and see how the labelling issue develops. I remember when I was a kid, there were many apparently acceptable descriptions for what we now call “black” people – “coloured” is the obvious one, but “darkie” was also common in working-class London, and both terms are still used without malice by many old people. Both my parents worked alongside African immigrants, and with the exception of outright abusive terminology, no-one seemed to care much about labels. Crossdressing is a long way behind race in terms of public visibility and political power, and while a one-word description would be preferable, we may need for the time being to resort to something more elaborate to describe what we are.