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Tell Shelley Anne: Interview with Alice Novic

| Oct 4, 2021
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An interview with Alice Novic

Alice Novic

Alice Novic is a crossdresser, psychiatrist, and author. Alice has been out-on-the-town dressing for about for nearly 30 years and has known and worked with many crossdressers and transsexuals. She is in her 50’s and after one false start, has been happily married to a very special woman for 25 years and has two children in college. Since the very beginning of their marriage, they negotiated an understanding that has let her see three different men over the years. In the 2005, Alice released Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age, one of the first crossdresser life stories to be published. Happily, the book was extremely well received, and after making minor updates to it until 2009, she released an audio book version in 2018.

It took Alice sometime to respond to my questions. As you no doubt will read, she put a lot of thought, feeling, and time into it. All along, she kept me apprised of the interview status. The suspense my friends was killing me. Well, eating at me. We have too much killing and violence. What was Alice going to submit? Would this be a good interview? Well, I hope you agree, this is a great and wonderful interview. After reading it, be sure to send her a consulting fee. Ha, ha. I hope you will enjoy it and have some of your thoughts and feelings about crossdressing answered. 

By Shelley Anne Baker

TGForum: Your book, Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age, still gets rave reviews after publication so many years ago.

Alice: Well, thank you, Shelley Anne, and it seems to hold up even better than you might think, because I released it in 2005, though I made updates and revisions to it until 2009 and later released a Kindle book and an audio book.

TGForum: Have your life’s feelings changed?

Alice: I am very pleased that I can look back on the experiences and opinions I shared in Alice in Genderland without a single cringe of ‘What was I thinking?!’ or ‘There must have been a million ways to say that better!’ Like most trans women my feelings swung wildly during my early years. Fortunately, I didn’t carve my sentiments in stone until I had been out and about for 15 years and my feelings about all this transgender stuff was based on a lot of data and was not about to be overturned by the next person I met or thinker I read. Alice in Genderland was radical and politically incorrect when it came out, and I am truly grateful to feel like I can stand by those words these many years later.

My transgender feelings have changed in gradual and subtle ways. I feel very comfortable and legitimate in a dress in public, from supermarket to football stadium. But at the same time, I miss the old thrills and chills of being so extremely excited and scared the moment I pulled a pair of panties up my leg.

Similarly, I no longer jump on opportunities to dress up. I never dress up just to be alone at home. I have only appeared as my regular male-self at our weekly transgender pandemic Zoom group. And I love getting together with my trans friends whether transvestite or transsexual, but most of the time, I have felt that it isn’t worth getting dolled up for a weekday dinner, only a weekend dinner, ideally with a party, club, or special event to follow.

For many years I used to worry that deep down I did not want to be just a crossdresser but that somehow, I wanted to be a full-on transsexual, as close to be being a regular cisgender woman as I could be. Those fears dropped off as I met more transsexual women and learned what their lives were like. Still, I envied their beauty and their bodies and feared that I would fall in love with an attractive, reliable man who wanted me to transition and was committed to marrying me and making a life with me. Such a man would have tempted me to leave Melissa and settle for a custody arrangement with my kids. With experience, I realized that the chance of me or any of my friends meeting such a man was negligible and not really worth worrying about.

Still, as described in Alice in Genderland, I met a man who was no serious boyfriend but who liked me as a woman and wanted to hang out and have sex with me weekend after weekend for years. I was thrilled about it and rather broken hearted when he broke up with me 12 years later.

By then having fulfilled so many of my fantasies and enjoyed much of my youth, I did not see the point in trying as a 45-year-old to duplicate the glories of my past. While my previous imperative was ‘Enjoy your youth while you still have it,’ my new imperative became ‘Enjoy your kids while you still have them.’ That was especially important to me and my wife as my son and daughter entered high school. My daughter had friends she liked to run around with on weekend nights, but my son had not developed as much of a social life and looked to me for fun things to do on the weekends. So, we went to plenty of soccer, basketball, and baseball games, as well as getting to bed early so we could learn to surf and enjoy the Southern California waves before the crowds came out.

Alice and friend at a Los Angeles Angels baseball game in 2012.

I basically retired from crossdressing–for five years–and only resumed it when my friend Lilly told me about a new club with dancing and mirrors and air conditioning and men who would come up and tell you how pretty you were. When Covid closed that club down, I again went into hibernation, only recently coming out again to enjoy outdoor dinners with friends and rolls in the hay with a special young male friend I had met at the club.

TGForum: According to your website, you are a crossdresser. Do you still consider transitioning?

Alice: No. As I said, I would not consider transitioning unless there was a steady, reliable man who was ready to make me his wife. It would also help if he was big and tall so that I felt like a woman in his arms. Besides he would have to be a spouse who could rival my beloved Melissa. Short of that unlikely scenario, I would not consider transitioning. I know my feelings differ from most of my sisters on this. To me it is not how much of a woman I feel like inside that drives the decision. Nor how much I would enjoy having a woman’s body, even a beautiful and convincing one. It is the life I could put together that decides it.

TGForum: One of your articles is titled ‘What crossdressers want to know’. What do they want to know?

Alice: Shelly Anne, crossdressers want to know different things at different points in their crossdressing careers. When I had my “Go Ask Alice” advice column in GirlTalk magazine, I heard from many early crossdressers, and they asked questions that are particularly deep and interesting to me, so let us focus on them rather than how to find shoes in size 11.

Now keep in mind, folks, that though I am a highly qualified psychiatrist crossdresser, I am Alice Novic, after all, and I am not always going to give you the answers you expect to hear—or want to hear, or what your wife wants to hear, or what your brave transsexual friend wants to hear. Bless their hearts. What I will offer you is compassion and my best attempt at accuracy based on my professional and personal experience and fairly extensive reading. Carefully researched and footnoted answers? I am afraid not. You provide the grant money, and we will talk about it. 

First of all, all the questions I received on “Go Ask Alice” were from people who identified as crossdressers. Which raised the preliminary question of How did these people know they were crossdressers? Most of the time it seemed they knew it because they were naturally born men who liked to put on women’s clothes for whatever reason. I found that men who put on or used to put on or dreamed of putting on lingerie because it was a turn-on were really a different type than men who put on women’s clothes to stage a drag show or to attract other men. To me the word crossdresser really describes the former mainly straight type whereas the word drag queen describes the latter mainly gay type. Please keep in mind, though, that everyone has their own way of defining themselves, and that lately I have met some gay folks that insist on identifying as crossdressers. But the overwhelming majority of the men I heard from were from that first mainly straight, turned-on by the clothes classic sort of crossdresser.

So, when it comes to the most common questions from these ladies of the cloth, the number one was, Why does an otherwise normal, healthy male become a crossdresser? Information from animal research and other sources seems to indicate that something happens as we are developing in the womb that causes the brains of crossdressers and transsexuals to develop along female lines and be inclined to female behaviors later on. For instance, if male rats are exposed to extra estrogen during one particular week during brain development, then later in life they will show a tendency for lordosis, a female mating behavior that involves arching one’s back to draw attention to one’s buttocks—like a bird shaking her tail feathers. Also, Ray Blanchard (an American-Canadian sexologist, best known for his studies on transsexualism and sexual orientation) theorizes that certain men are born with wiring that makes us want to feel like whatever we are most attracted to—and if that is your cute classmate in her short skirt, then that makes you a crossdresser.

Just like the intra-uterine environment, one’s childhood experiences can have nearly as profound an impact on one’s behavior and mental health. However, no particular childhood events or exposures have been consistently coupled with crossdressing, even the experiences that you think might do it. I once worked with a Latin man whose mother used to punish him by making him wear his sister’s skirts. As an adult he had plenty of relationship and self-esteem problems, but no predilection for petticoats.

Other popular questions I heard were When I masturbate or have sex with my wife/girlfriend, I mostly think of myself as a woman, can I get over it? or If I start having sex with some women’s clothing on, will that be the only thing I can do? I think you can get over it as long as you can content yourself with a second place feeling once you have experienced a more intense one. Maybe you can, especially if your second-place feelings are powerful enough to bring you to orgasm.

Another popular and important question was Is crossdressing an addiction? Or can it be acquired like an addiction? Yes, I first feared. No, I later learned. Yes, lingerie can feel like a tempting, euphoric thing. Once you break the ice, and reach into the panty drawer, you may never be able to stop. But would any regular straight man find such pleasure in panties and be vulnerable to such a substance? I am afraid not. Ask a few, and I did, in private, of course, so you can be more confident you are not just getting the usual BS. Most would not even be curious enough to try on women’s underwear. The experimental few who would, might experience a different kind of fabric and feel but not the euphoria that keeps us coming back. So maybe it is not an addiction?

Okay, I say as an M.D., but not everybody is at risk for alcoholism, personal and family history have a lot to do with it. Maybe just we estrogen-tweaked pups or wanna-be sex objects are at risk for such an addiction. After all, once a man “borrows” his first bra, he may bring on a habit that can spiral out of control and jeopardize his marriage, job, and reputation. And that, my fine, feathered friends, is what defines addiction. 

I must add two important caveats, though, that I believe keep crossdressing or transitioning for that matter from sharing the same category as methamphetamine. First, are not our people usually more stable and content after they have developed a crossdressing habit? And second, if not, is it not more due to the harsh reactions wives and others might have to the habit, rather than the activity itself? So not an addiction, but still it is not nothing and boils the whole thing down to a question like If you are an orthodox Jewish person and you have started a family on a religious kibbutz, should sneaking some bacon be considered an addiction? Probably not, though it is no small matter just the same. 

Because we live in a culture in which crossdressing is clearly not kosher, most of us, at least at first, want to know Is there a cure? No, there is not, I must report, not at this time. I am sorry, but there is not a cure for being gay or albino either, at this point in time. To me a cure would involve not wanting to crossdress, rather than gritting your teeth and avoiding it or taking a pill that wipes out all your sex drive.

Other questions I have heard follow along the lines of So if it’s not an addiction, how far should I take it? Unlike other therapists or community spokespeople, I do not think there is only one right answer, you could leave it at the point of being a cross dreamer, i.e., never touching the clothes but using your imagination and enjoying your fantasies discreetly. Willpower and spirituality may help with this option. Others may find it too much like going through life resisting a favorite hobby or sport. They then can become literal crossdressers and have a vast array of choices when it comes to how far to take it, like—Should I wear lingerie as part of my erotic life? On my own, or perhaps even with my partner? Should I keep it secret or meet other crossdressers, on social networking sites like Meetup or Facebook or more specific ones like URNotAlone or Crossdressers Heaven. Should I see this as a kink and stick with the thrill of ladies’ underwear? Or see it as a craft and learn to dress head to toe? Should I keep it within the confines of my home or learn to go out and have fun in public? Should I try hormones or cosmetic procedures to help me look more attractive and convincing? Should I transform myself even further and transition in my life and on my job? Who am I attracted to in this form, and should I experiment with men?

Which leads me to the final big question I hear: Am I Gay? The short answer is NO, you are not, but you are not exactly straight either. 

To me and to most gay men, being gay describes a specific thing. It is more like saying ‘He is French,’ than saying ‘He is definitely not from around here.’ As a crossdresser, you are clearly not gay in the definitive sense of wanting to be a man sexually with a man and all the stuff that so often comes with it, like a head-spinning appreciation for the male form, an Oscar-Wilde-like wit, and a passion for fashion and celebrities. Oh, sure you may be loving all the little nuances of ladies’ clothing, but that is not the same thing as being a man who loves men.

But are you completely straight? Well, hey, to answer that question I first owe you a definition of the term straight. Completely straight, or completely heterosexual describes a man who is only interested in sex as a man with a woman. You, my dear reader, may—despite your crossdressing consider yourself such a man, only for that to change—if you are lucky—as opportunities present themselves. What if you had the chance to make like lipstick lesbians with your wife, some other beautiful woman, a breathtaking transsexual, or another nice-looking crossdresser? Or what about getting to be a sweet, slender girl in the arms of some giant of a man? 

I imagine seeing a lot of hands going up out there—and a few liars. Or, I should more compassionately say, people trying not to think too much. After all, there are enough pills to swallow in everyday life, without having to take on the hypothetical ones. Nonetheless people, we all know that any number of these scenarios sound pretty sizzling and they may not be man-on-man gay but certainly are not straight either, in the sense that non-TG men take no interest in these things. Believe me I know. I work with plenty. 

The truth is that, if you are a crossdresser or even a transsexual reading this article, you may not be gay, but you are not a wholly straight arrow either. Or look at it this way—You may not be chocolate, but you are not pure vanilla either. You are strawberry. You are, no doubt, a started-out-straight, secondary, autogynophilic if you must, MTF transperson. Yes, that describes the, in my view, intersex condition we share, but it also seems to shape our sexuality, sexuality in the sense of the things that turn us on. 

I admit that that is an inconvenient truth and different from what you might hear from most folks in our community. But I am a psychiatrist, after all, not an activist, no matter how righteous our cause may be. I am who you go to when the comforting illusions have fallen flat. I am strawberry, and I am okay with it and hope the same for you, if you suspect that deep down you are a little fruity too.

TGForum: Can you share your thoughts and feelings about intimacy as a crossdresser?

Alice: Well, Shelley Anne, intimacy is one of those funny words that can be used in many different ways. For one intimacy can be used as a euphemism for sex, and it also can be used for closeness, or depth of sharing. I also think that for us crossdressers, sexual and emotional intimacy can be very different depending on whether we are experiencing it with our female partners, male partners, or ourselves.

Emotional intimacy with ourselves consists of discovering and accepting all the awkward and embarrassing things we are, and we desire. This can take years for some people. Sexual intimacy with ourselves is about honestly and fearlessly letting ourselves enjoy the toys, touches, and fantasies that resonate deep down inside us. I am basically talking about masturbating however your heart desires no matter what anybody might think.

Sexual intimacy with a woman consists of mutual pleasuring each other generally with the goal of intercourse and orgasm. In this regard, most crossdressers do just fine because we are powerfully attracted to women. Where the hitch is, is that some people may define the ultimate in sexual intimacy to be for the man to be fully present and focused on the woman he loves—not off in his head imagining some transgender fantasy. We crossdressers cannot always live up to this standard and that is unfortunate. But then again, many other heterosexual men cannot always live up to this standard either. Personally, I think it is a tough standard and that running fantasies discretely in your head while having sex is fine. Emotional intimacy with a woman comes more readily for us crossdressers than regular straight men because women love to share the details of their lives and we have an abiding interest in many, though not quite all, those details. Not everything my wife will bring up about family and decor is fascinating to me, but many other things are.

Sexual intimacy with a man is, as I see it, also about pleasuring each other as you go around the bases on your way to home base marked by intercourse and orgasm. Except this time, as a crossdresser you are in the female role and the intercourse is anal and the orgasm is his. Now, your orgasm as a woman is also a nice touch but I do not see as essential to the experience. Here again we crossdressers can falter a bit. Because we are not the most natural man lovers. We may lose focus on or not even care so much about the man we are with but be more focused on how he makes us feel. Sometimes men, especially big strong ones, feel like the ultimate prop in our I am-a-beautiful-woman fantasies. So again, we need to manage this with sensitivity and not get all sucked up into ourselves. Some trans-admiring men must also be sensitive and not get overly focused on their favorite activity, giving us oral sex unlikely as it may seem.  Emotional intimacy with a man, especially a trans admiring man, can be challenging. Men are not famous for their caring and sharing to begin with, and then a lot of our guys have parts of themselves and their lives that they are protecting so they do not get outed in some way. We have to lead here and proceed with caution.

TGForum: What might dating be like as a crossdresser and what was it like for you?

Alice: Well, Shelly Anne, this is another question that breaks down into the experience of dating women and dating men. Unfortunately, most women will not be into you being a crossdresser, though a significant minority of them will be tolerant of it. So, the dating experience begins with you presenting yourself as a man and seeing if there is any chemistry between you. Then sometime before the two of you grow too attached to each other—certainly before engagement or marriage—I think you have to drop the C bomb. You have to tell her that you are a crossdresser and tell her what that means in terms of your lifestyle, where it is going, and how it may or may not affect your relationship with her. Then you have to sit back and give her the freedom of choice as to whether she wants to continue with you. It is risky. It is tense, but bear in mind she will probably have her private issues that she wants you to be understanding about too.

Similarly, most men, gay or straight, will not be into you if they learn that you are trans. So, you have to make yourself available in person or online as a trans woman and deal with the ones who come to you. These men, unfortunately, are more into having sexual experiences with us than taking us out. It is like cis men with cis women, only worse. So, you flirt with them and let them know things like you being taken out on a date is what really turns you on and helps you feel at ease with a man. Or perhaps you might even have to be more explicit about it if a guy just is not catching on.

Sometimes if a man feels out of our league, he will try to romance you, picking you up at your home or hotel, giving you flowers, and taking you out on the town. And it often works. Sometimes it is men from out of town who do not care about you being read and sometimes it is men who cannot perform sexually anymore and know that this is the only thing they have to offer. And sometimes we just strike it lucky! Sometimes men will even whisk a beautiful full-time trans woman off to romantic destinations, but it is still rather difficult to find one who will put you on the wife part of the family track.

TGForum: What advice can you offer married males or those in a heterosexual relationship, who are considering a crossdressing lifestyle–and the thought of coming out to their partner?

Alice: This question is very close to What should I do about my crossdressing and how far should I take it. I guess my advice is that if you can be content as a cross dreamer, then why not spare your wife and family the trouble and stick with it. If that feels like going through life resisting a favorite pastime, you then can become a literal crossdresser and see how far you need to take it. Would just wearing lingerie as part of masturbation suffice? Can you just see this as a kink, or deeply want to see it as a craft and learn to dress head to toe? Can you keep it private or are you dying to meet other crossdressers, on social networking sites or Meetup groups?

What can you be content with? Can you keep it secret from your wife? Do you really want to? If you want to come out to your wife, what kind of crossdresser are you coming out as, why now, and where might this be going—or not going? Put yourself in her shoes, so to speak, would you not want—need—to know the answers to these questions? Do you want to mix your crossdressing thrills into your love life with her? Do you want more freedom to dress within the confines of your home or outside of it with her blessing?

These are all good reasons to come out to your wife. But be careful. They might progress into you wanting her blessing to try hormones or cosmetic procedures to look more attractive and convincing. That being accomplished, might you want an understanding that helps enjoy the attention of men. Or should you just quietly and safely handle this on your own? And frighteningly our reasons for coming out to our wives can sometimes progress to wanting to transform ourselves to look as much as possible like women and to transition to female lives at work and at home.

TGForum: To paraphrase many, “There’s danger ahead, Cherie.” Do you often have to look over your shoulder as if danger is lurking?

Alice: I have gone out crossdressed on the town here in L.A. for over 20 years, and I am pleased to tell you that almost nothing bad has happened. And I may look very appropriate, but it is not like I pass. I practice situational awareness like crossing the street rather than walking through a rowdy bunch of teenagers. Doing things like that, I do not feel a lurking sense of danger. In fact, I have to think hard to remember the more difficult moments I and others have endured. Once when I was putting condiments on my hot dog at a Dodger game, an obnoxious college kid came up to look at my Dodger dog. Puzzled but friendly, I asked him what he was doing, and he said, “I was just seeing if your wiener was any different than mine!” and snickered off. More alarming was the time when two big guys came up to two friends of mine on a crowded dance floor at a straight club and started to grind on them without their consent. My newbie friends were scared and did not know whether they were being hit on, assaulted, or made fun of.

TGForum: What makes you laugh?

Alice: Seeing how excited new crossdressers get about some of the most basic things like high heels and a new wig—like I was any different! I also chuckle sometimes to myself about the naive things they imagine like passing on their first trip out. I also like sitting down with old-timers like me comparing the crazy experiences we have all had and reminiscing about the people we have known. And I get such satisfaction out of stories in which even women fantasize about being younger and more romantic women, like the television shows Outlander and Younger.

TGForum: Where can TGForum readers purchase your book?

Alice: Potential readers be warned, I did not hold back on any of the gritty truths or seamy adventures of my life. Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age can be found on Amazon.

TGForum: Anything you want to add?

Alice: Being a crossdresser can be hard and it is not going away. So, find your own special way to accept it and love it!

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Category: crossdressing, Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Shelley Anne Baker has been part of the transsexual and transgender community for six years. Wandering about the California BDSM community, she finally found her stride in making the transition to dresses and high heels. Today, her women’s apparel, and shoes outnumbers her male apparel (that she just has to have for certain occasions, but such is life). She has seriously considered HRT, but now feels life has passed her by on that count. She is a professional writer and experienced corporate brand marketing and public relations consultant. For interview consideration and participation email Shelley Anne at

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