Crossdressing Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 5 September 2016

Crossdressing

Society plays a role in prescribe appropriate and inappropriate behavior. How a man and a woman are supposed to dress are unwritten codes of behavior that most people tend to follow. Cross-dressers represent a group that is defiant of established norms as they opt to dress in ways contrary to their gender assignment. Further controversy surrounds the issue of cross-dressing particularly because there is little consensus on its definition. There is also debate on the distinction, if any, that exists between transvestism and other similar behaviors performed by men.

There are similarities in some of the behaviors performed by these separate groups and there are also similarities. Research has yet to determine the causes of cross-dressing linking it to home, parental, behavioral and genetic factors, none of which has been established. Similarly the heterosexual non-cross-dressing male attitude, reflective of society’s overall attitude, towards cross-dressers is not positive. Introduction In societies throughout the world there are certain unwritten codes of behavior that individuals within the society adhere to and often unconsciously so.

Ingrained in these behaviors are certain unquestioned principles that just seem to make sense. One of the most potently engrained societal norms that pervades in almost all societies worldwide is the concept of dress and its intimate connection with sex, gender and sexual orientation. It is taken as a given in society that women, not men wear dresses. Dress comes to represent one’s sex which in turn connotes ones gender and that in turn denotes one’s sexual orientation.

This automatic connection that is made between sex and dress does not develop as a result of investigative scholarship but rather it is a socially constructed, unwritten principle. From within the wombs this societal principle is already being transferred to the child. In preparation for the arrival of the baby specified colors of clothing and other baby related paraphernalia are purchased that have a distinct orientation towards a particular sex. The ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’ phenomenon is familiar to most.

As the child is birthed this societal principle is emphasized in the choice and style of clothing – frilly dresses for girls, sober designs for boys. It is therefore no wonder that as a child develops he unconsciously associates styles and types of dress with particular genders, maintaining these beliefs into adulthood. Cross-dressing has arisen as a phenomenon that is causing some people to question these principles. However the dress equals sex principle is a socially constructed phenomenon and therefore says very little about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender association.

Cross-dressing as a phenomenon, though it goes against prescribed societal norms, is simply a person’s way of expressing individuality without all the schisms of gender and sexual orientation that are attached so intimately with what and how someone dresses. Definitions Providing a comprehensive definition of cross-dressers proves problematic given the varying views on exactly what characteristics are featured among cross-dressers and how far these characteristics differ from similar, often confused behaviors.

First some authors use the terms cross-dressing and transvestism interchangeably (See Docter & Prince, 1997; Bullough & Bullough, 1997), while others see the terms as encompassing distinctly different behaviors (See Blanchard, 2004; Arcelus & Bouman, 2000). Doctor and Fleming (2001) go far as to suggest that definitions of transvestism are oversimplified. Of course based on which perspective is taken different definitions will be given for cross-dressing and different ideas will be highlighted on how it is manifested.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in the fourth edition of their popular Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-IV, use the term transvestic fetishism to connote a behavior present among heterosexual males that lasts for a minimum of six months, and which is associated with “sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing. ” Furthermore fantasies, urges and behaviors may be associated with dysphoria if the individual feels uncomfortable in his assigned gender role (pp.

530-531). This definition by the APA reveals a number of contentions. First of all, the DSM-IV is characterized as a source describing Mental Disorders therefore the fact that transvestite fetishism is listed in the manual suggests that it is a mental disorder. Despite the warning including in the manual that inclusion does not indicate that the condition qualifies as a mental disorder, disease or disability its presence in the Manual still represents some amount of discomfort for those who participate in cross-dressing.

That said there is still the impression being given that transvestitism and cross-dressing are illnesses and matters of personal choice. Similar to the position taken by the APA, Abdo, Hounie, Scanavino & Miguel (2001) function under the assumption of transvestite fetishism as a mental disorder in their examination of a research that attempted to determine if certain behavioral disorders, particularly obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were determinants of an individual becoming a transvestite.

One of the premises under which the researchers operated was that OCD could be a symptom of cross-dressing or more aptly that they both shared a symbiotic relationship since sexual obsessions are an important element of OCD and given that transvestic behavior has compulsive qualities (p. 472). Barring this relationship the researchers alternatively postulate that OCD and transvestitism belong to the same spectrum of mental disorders. This research however had a few limitations the first of which is the sample size that was investigated.

Only two cases are examined and in both cases there was a large amount of time between the initial onset of either OCD or cross-dressing. Furthermore both conditions did not onset simultaneously or in the same order for both patients. This suggests that it is not definitive if one actually causes the other and therefore it is difficult to determine if both conditions are related. Furthermore an association between the two phenomena does not mean that both influence each other or that they belong to a similar category of disorders.

A further issue with the definition as rendered by the APA is that it clearly specifies that cross-dressing is exclusively a male, heterosexual phenomenon. Arcelus and Bouman (2000) also function on a similar premise describing a fetishistic transvestite as a man who chooses to dress in what society determines as female attire. However, while it is true that this behavior is mostly prevalent among heterosexual men, research has shown that other males participate in cross-dressing. In a survey of 372 male cross-dressers Bullough and Bullough (1997) noted that 67. 4% were heterosexual but a significant 10.

6% were bisexuals and a further 2. 4% were homosexuals. Still others said they had no particular orientation. In a similar study Langstrom and Zucker (2005) also noted that only 87% of cross-dressing male respondents are heterosexual with the others being homosexuals (13%) being otherwise. These data reveal that cross-dressing is not exclusive to heterosexuals but a significant number of homosexuals and bisexuals are also involved in this behavior. Furthermore among the respondents to the questionnaires geared at cross-dressers in the Bullough and Bullough study there was one female respondent and five in the Langstrom and Zucker study.

Given this reality Bullough and Bullough (1997) suggest that the definition, as rendered by the APA in the DSM-IV, should be adjusted and reconstructed since individuals of various sexual orientations participate in this activity. As pertains a distinction between cross-dressing and transvestism, the history of the development of definitions to explain the phenomenon of individuals adopting alternate gender behaviors reveals that the term transvestism was the originally designated term to encapsulate all such tendencies. The term is noted to have been coined in 1910 by a German physician named Magnus Hirschfeld.

In his research he noted a distinction between homosexual practices and other cross-gender behaviors that were not homosexually related. The term has two components – trans, which means across, and vestitus, which means clothed (as cited in Blanchard, p. 441). This signifies that a transvestite in its simplest definition is someone who dresses in apparel not destined for his or her gender. Arcelus & Bouman (2000) introduce the element of fetishism to transvestism when they define the wearing of female clothing to be due to a fetish obsession with the opposite sex.

They add that men obtain a certain amount of pleasure leading to sexual arousal as a result of this act. Cross-dressing is therefore viewed as a sexual act in such instances. A search of a website (<http://www. tri-ess. org/cd01. html>) designated to the interest of transvestites further points to the debate over definitions. There is a clear distinction made between all the various manifestations of cross-dressing. The site indicates that: “Drag queens are usually gay or bisexual males who don women’s clothes either to mock femininity and society’s stereotypes of gays, or to find sex partners. Female impersonators dress to entertain.

Transsexuals believe they are entrapped in the body of the opposite sex, and seek sexual reassignment surgery. ” Cross-dressing, in its simplest definition connotes the act of dressing in clothing socially assigned to the opposite gender. Ceglian and Lyons (2004) observe that this is the term that men who dress like women prefer to use in reference to their activities (Ceglian & Lyons, 2004, p. 539). Types of cross-dressing What is evident from these various standpoints is that the distinction is made between cross-dressing and transvestism in so far as the reasons for participating in these activities are concerned.

There is therefore the suggestion that cross-dressing in its pure sense is representative of men who wear female clothing without the corresponding sexual arousal and masturbating associated with transvestism. In this case it would be understandable why cross-dressing is not often referred to or equated with transvestism. Docter and Prince (1997) attempted to classify cross-dressing behaviors into two groups. The first demonstrate high levels of sexual arousal, are more heterosexually oriented and prefer to remain as a man.

In the second group cross-dressers are less easily aroused by simply dressing in female apparel and have the tendency to seek out relationships with males as well as have propensity towards gender reassignment. These two groups he further identifies as periodic and marginal cross-dressers respectively (Docter & Prince, 1997, 590-591). Bullough and Bullough (1997) offers a useful distinction when they identify homosexuals who wear feminine clothing for seduction as drag queens while cross-dressers are heterosexuals who do so because of the joy of dressing like women (Bullough & Bullough, 1997, p.

3). Cross-dressing therefore, according to Blanchard (2005) is the most obvious external manifestation of other psychological, internalized issues (p. 441). What this debate also highlights is the presence of similar behavior characteristics between heterosexual men who engage in cross-dressing and those men who are involved in other homosexual behaviors. Doctor and Fleming (2001) conducted a research among a sample of 455 transvestites and compared them to 61 male-to-female transsexuals.

The authors observe that even though transvestites and transsexuals have very contrary lifestyles, there are certain similarities in their motives and tendencies. Data reveal a small number of transsexuals who are aroused by expressions of femininity and equally some transvestites feel a sexual preference towards a male partner (6%). Additionally individuals in both groups (30%) indicate that they participate in masturbation. For transvestites (69%) had a preference for a female partner and a similarly large percentage of transsexuals (47%) also said the same.

Prevalence and Cause Arcelus and Bouman (2000) believe that cross-dressing is not as rare as some may believe. It is, however, not known how prevalent cross-dressing is since there are not adequate procedures available to assess the phenomenon and, moreover, many individuals cross-dress in secret. In one research Langstrom and Zucker (2005) report that 2450 individuals were surveyed in Sweden to determine the prevalence of the behavior. Data reveal that 2. 8% of the 1279 male respondents report having been sexually aroused from participating in cross-dressing behavior.

This percentage might seem insignificant but it says a lot about the practice of cross-dressing. Given than the majority of individuals cross-dress in secret and are unwilling to discuss it openly a 2. 8% representing the proportion that are willing to speak about it is a considerable amount. Studies so far have failed to predict a cause or causes of cross-dressing tendencies. Some researchers suggest that cross-dressing activity could be associated with genetics. In a case study of a thirteen year old boy diagnosed as having gender identity disorder, it was discovered that two of his maternal uncles were secret cross-dressers.

The researchers therefore questioned if the occurrence of the gender identity disorder could have arisen as a result of abnormal genes related to gender identity and transvestitism being passed on through the maternal lineage (Arcelus & Bouman, 2000). However, even if this is a possibility there is no current scientific research that has examined potential genetic correlates with cross-dressing behavior. It must also be noted that the study focused on a single individual and thus any associations found is descriptive and not prescriptive.

Some research has established certain characteristics in the development of cross-dressing behavior, the most furtive of which is that cross-dressing tendencies usually develop prior to puberty, gradually intensifying throughout adolescence (Langstrom & Zucker, 2005, p. 88; Abdo et al, 2001). Arcelus and Bouman (2000), while supporting the veracity of this claim, argue that childhood involvement in cross-dressing does not predict or predispose individuals to participate in the behavior when they get older (p. 410).

Admittedly many of the individuals who cross-dress report having done so during their childhood. However research has failed to establish that there is a direct link between the childhood and the adult phenomenon. Arcelus and Bouman (2000) suggest alternative perspectives of the development of cross-dressing. They propose that cross-dressing is a learned behavior. Alternative they posit that a close mother-son relationship along with the absence of a father could make certain individuals more prone to be involved in cross-dressing.

This position is in congruence with psychological theories which intimate that gender identity and other related disorders or behaviors often develop in circumstances where a male child is very close to his mother and where the father is either absent or distant from the home. In their study of transsexuals and transvestites Langstrom and Zucker (2005) note several variables that seem to be significantly correlated with cross-dressing. Of the nine variables discovered separation from parents during childhood was noted to be one of the most significant correlates (p.

92). However, because significant research has not been conducted to specifically explore this relationship the data is, at best, simply informative and begs for future research in the area. One area that requires serious consideration is the attitude of persons towards transvestites and this refers particularly to the way men view cross-dressers. Moulton & Adams-Price (1997) note that the social roles that have been traditionally assigned to men are factors which constrain the way view each other and themselves (p. 442).

Comparing the attitudes of homosexual and heterosexual men towards transvestites it was revealed that homosexuals have a more positive and tolerant attitude. Conclusion Evidently cross-dressing is an increasingly popular phenomenon and, though its prevalence is still focused on heterosexual males, males of other sexual orientation as well as women are participating in cross-dressing behaviors. The debate over the exact definition of cross-dressing and how it differs from other sexually deviant behavior is reflective of the different perspectives on what exactly constitutes cross-dressing.

What is clear is that there are distinct similarities between cross-dressing individuals and males who carry out related behaviors such as transsexuals. The attitude of society towards individuals who do not measure up to pre-established societal norms and standards, does not seem to be changing in the short run. Nevertheless what is clear is that cross-dressing is a matter of individual choice whether or not society is accepts or tolerates it. References Abdo, C. H. , Hounie, A, Scanavino, M de T, Miguel E. C. (2001). OCD and transvestism: Is there a relationship? Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 103, 471–473.

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. , APA, Washington, DC, pp. 530-531. Arcelus, J. & Bouman, W. P. (2000). Gender identity disorder in a child with a family history of cross-dressing. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 15(4), 407-411. Blanchard, R. (2005, Aug). Early History of the Concept of Autogynephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34(4), 439-446. Bullough, B. & Bullough, V. (1997, Feb). Are transvestites necessarily heterosexual? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(1), 1-12. Ceglian, C. M. & Lyons, N. N. (2004, Apr). Gender type and comfort with cross-dressers.

Sex Roles, 50(7/8), 539-546. Docter, R. F. & Fleming, J. S. (2001, Jun). Measures of transgender behavior. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30(3), 255-271. Docter, R. F. & Prince, V. (1997, Dec). Transvestism: A survey of 1032 cross-dressers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(6), 589-605. Langstrom, N. & Zucker, K. J. (2005). Transvestic fetishism in the general population: Prevalence and correlates. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 31, 87-95. Moulton, J. L. III and Adams-Price, C. E. (1997, Sept). Homosexuality, heterosexuality, and cross-dressing: Perceptions of gender discordant behavior. Sex Roles, 37(5/6), 441-450.

Introduction

In societies throughout the world there are certain unwritten codes of behavior that individuals within the society adhere to and often unconsciously so. Ingrained in these behaviors are certain unquestioned principles that just seem to make sense. One of the most potently engrained societal norms that pervades in almost all societies worldwide is the concept of dress and its intimate connection with sex, gender and sexual orientation. It is taken as a given in society that women, not men wear dresses. Dress comes to represent one’s sex which in turn connotes ones gender and that in turn denotes one’s sexual orientation.

This automatic connection that is made between sex and dress does not develop as a result of investigative scholarship but rather it is a socially constructed, unwritten principle. From within the wombs this societal principle is already being transferred to the child. In preparation for the arrival of the baby specified colors of clothing and other baby related paraphernalia are purchased that have a distinct orientation towards a particular sex. The ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’ phenomenon is familiar to most. As the child is birthed this societal principle is emphasized in the choice and style of clothing – frilly dresses for girls, sober designs for boys. It is therefore no wonder that as a child develops he unconsciously associates styles and types of dress with particular genders, maintaining these beliefs into adulthood. Cross-dressing has arisen as a phenomenon that is causing some people to question these principles.

However the dress equals sex principle is a socially constructed phenomenon and therefore says very little about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender association. Cross-dressing as a phenomenon, though it goes against prescribed societal norms, is simply a person’s way of expressing individuality without all the schisms of gender and sexual orientation that are attached so intimately with what and how someone dresses.

Definitions

Providing a comprehensive definition of cross-dressers proves problematic given the varying views on exactly what characteristics are featured among cross-dressers and how far these characteristics differ from similar, often confused behaviors. First some authors use the terms cross-dressing and transvestism interchangeably (See Docter & Prince, 1997; Bullough & Bullough, 1997), while others see the terms as encompassing distinctly different behaviors (See Blanchard, 2004; Arcelus & Bouman, 2000). Doctor and Fleming (2001) go far as to suggest that definitions of transvestism are oversimplified. Of course based on which perspective is taken different definitions will be given for cross-dressing and different ideas will be highlighted on how it is manifested.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in the fourth edition of their popular Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-IV, use the term transvestic fetishism to connote a behavior present among heterosexual males that lasts for a minimum of six months, and which is associated with “sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing.” Furthermore fantasies, urges and behaviors may be associated with dysphoria if the individual feels uncomfortable in his assigned gender role (pp. 530-531).

This definition by the APA reveals a number of contentions. First of all, the DSM-IV is characterized as a source describing Mental Disorders therefore the fact that transvestite fetishism is listed in the manual suggests that it is a mental disorder. Despite the warning including in the manual that inclusion does not indicate that the condition qualifies as a mental disorder, disease or disability its presence in the Manual still represents some amount of discomfort for those who participate in cross-dressing. That said there is still the impression being given that transvestitism and cross-dressing are illnesses and matters of personal choice.

Similar to the position taken by the APA, Abdo, Hounie, Scanavino & Miguel (2001) function under the assumption of transvestite fetishism as a mental disorder in their examination of a research that attempted to determine if certain behavioral disorders, particularly obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were determinants of an individual becoming a transvestite. One of the premises under which the researchers operated was that OCD could be a symptom of cross-dressing or more aptly that they both shared a symbiotic relationship since sexual obsessions are an important element of OCD and given that transvestic behavior has compulsive qualities (p. 472). Barring this relationship the researchers alternatively postulate that OCD and transvestitism belong to the same spectrum of mental disorders.

This research however had a few limitations the first of which is the sample size that was investigated. Only two cases are examined and in both cases there was a large amount of time between the initial onset of either OCD or cross-dressing. Furthermore both conditions did not onset simultaneously or in the same order for both patients. This suggests that it is not definitive if one actually causes the other and therefore it is difficult to determine if both conditions are related. Furthermore an association between the two phenomena does not mean that both influence each other or that they belong to a similar category of disorders.

A further issue with the definition as rendered by the APA is that it clearly specifies that cross-dressing is exclusively a male, heterosexual phenomenon. Arcelus and Bouman (2000) also function on a similar premise describing a fetishistic transvestite as a man who chooses to dress in what society determines as female attire. However, while it is true that this behavior is mostly prevalent among heterosexual men, research has shown that other males participate in cross-dressing.

In a survey of 372 male cross-dressers Bullough and Bullough (1997) noted that 67.4% were heterosexual but a significant 10.6% were bisexuals and a further 2.4% were homosexuals. Still others said they had no particular orientation. In a similar study Langström and Zucker (2005) also noted that only 87% of cross-dressing male respondents are heterosexual with the others being homosexuals (13%) being otherwise. These data reveal that cross-dressing is not exclusive to heterosexuals but a significant number of homosexuals and bisexuals are also involved in this behavior.

Furthermore among the respondents to the questionnaires geared at cross-dressers in the Bullough and Bullough study there was one female respondent and five in the Langström and Zucker study. Given this reality Bullough and Bullough (1997) suggest that the definition, as rendered by the APA in the DSM-IV, should be adjusted and reconstructed since individuals of various sexual orientations participate in this activity.

As pertains a distinction between cross-dressing and transvestism, the history of the development of definitions to explain the phenomenon of individuals adopting alternate gender behaviors reveals that the term transvestism was the originally designated term to encapsulate all such tendencies. The term is noted to have been coined in 1910 by a German physician named Magnus Hirschfeld. In his research he noted a distinction between homosexual practices and other cross-gender behaviors that were not homosexually related. The term has two components – trans, which means across, and vestitus, which means clothed (as cited in Blanchard, p. 441). This signifies that a transvestite in its simplest definition is someone who dresses in apparel not destined for his or her gender.

Arcelus & Bouman (2000) introduce the element of fetishism to transvestism when they define the wearing of female clothing to be due to a fetish obsession with the opposite sex. They add that men obtain a certain amount of pleasure leading to sexual arousal as a result of this act. Cross-dressing is therefore viewed as a sexual act in such instances.

A search of a website (<http://www.tri-ess.org/cd01.html>) designated to the interest of transvestites further points to the debate over definitions. There is a clear distinction made between all the various manifestations of cross-dressing. The site indicates that:

 “Drag queens are usually gay or bisexual males who don women’s clothes either to mock femininity and society’s stereotypes of gays, or to find sex partners.  Female impersonators dress to entertain.  Transsexuals believe they are entrapped in the body of the opposite sex, and seek sexual reassignment surgery.”

Cross-dressing, in its simplest definition connotes the act of dressing in clothing socially assigned to the opposite gender. Ceglian and Lyons (2004) observe that this is the term that men who dress like women prefer to use in reference to their activities (Ceglian & Lyons, 2004, p. 539).

Types of cross-dressing

What is evident from these various standpoints is that the distinction is made between cross-dressing and transvestism in so far as the reasons for participating in these activities are concerned. There is therefore the suggestion that cross-dressing in its pure sense is representative of men who wear female clothing without the corresponding sexual arousal and masturbating associated with transvestism. In this case it would be understandable why cross-dressing is not often referred to or equated with transvestism.

Docter and Prince (1997) attempted to classify cross-dressing behaviors into two groups. The first demonstrate high levels of sexual arousal, are more heterosexually oriented and prefer to remain as a man. In the second group cross-dressers are less easily aroused by simply dressing in female apparel and have the tendency to seek out relationships with males as well as have propensity towards gender reassignment. These two groups he further identifies as periodic and marginal cross-dressers respectively (Docter & Prince, 1997, 590-591).

Bullough and Bullough (1997) offers a useful distinction when they identify homosexuals who wear feminine clothing for seduction as drag queens while cross-dressers are heterosexuals who do so because of the joy of dressing like women (Bullough & Bullough, 1997, p. 3). Cross-dressing therefore, according to Blanchard (2005) is the most obvious external manifestation of other psychological, internalized issues (p. 441).

What this debate also highlights is the presence of similar behavior characteristics between heterosexual men who engage in cross-dressing and those men who are involved in other homosexual behaviors. Doctor and Fleming (2001) conducted a research among a sample of 455 transvestites and compared them to 61 male-to-female transsexuals. The authors observe that even though transvestites and transsexuals have very contrary lifestyles, there are certain similarities in their motives and tendencies. Data reveal a small number of transsexuals who are aroused by expressions of femininity and equally some transvestites feel a sexual preference towards a male partner (6%). Additionally individuals in both groups (30%) indicate that they participate in masturbation. For transvestites (69%) had a preference for a female partner and a similarly large percentage of transsexuals (47%) also said the same.

Prevalence and Cause

Arcelus and Bouman (2000) believe that cross-dressing is not as rare as some may believe. It is, however, not known how prevalent cross-dressing is since there are not adequate procedures available to assess the phenomenon and, moreover, many individuals cross-dress in secret. In one research Langström and Zucker (2005) report that 2450 individuals were surveyed in Sweden to determine the prevalence of the behavior. Data reveal that 2.8% of the 1279 male respondents report having been sexually aroused from participating in cross-dressing behavior. This percentage might seem insignificant but it says a lot about the practice of cross-dressing. Given than the majority of individuals cross-dress in secret and are unwilling to discuss it openly a 2.8% representing the proportion that are willing to speak about it is a considerable amount.

Studies so far have failed to predict a cause or causes of cross-dressing tendencies. Some researchers suggest that cross-dressing activity could be associated with genetics. In a case study of a thirteen year old boy diagnosed as having gender identity disorder, it was discovered that two of his maternal uncles were secret cross-dressers. The researchers therefore questioned if the occurrence of the gender identity disorder could have arisen as a result of abnormal genes related to gender identity and transvestitism being passed on through the maternal lineage (Arcelus & Bouman, 2000). However, even if this is a possibility there is no current scientific research that has examined potential genetic correlates with cross-dressing behavior. It must also be noted that the study focused on a single individual and thus any associations found is descriptive and not prescriptive.

Some research has established certain characteristics in the development of cross-dressing behavior, the most furtive of which is that cross-dressing tendencies usually develop prior to puberty, gradually intensifying throughout adolescence (Langström & Zucker, 2005, p. 88; Abdo et al, 2001). Arcelus and Bouman (2000), while supporting the veracity of this claim, argue that childhood involvement in cross-dressing does not predict or predispose individuals to participate in the behavior when they get older (p. 410). Admittedly many of the individuals who cross-dress report having done so during their childhood. However research has failed to establish that there is a direct link between the childhood and the adult phenomenon.

Arcelus and Bouman (2000) suggest alternative perspectives of the development of cross-dressing. They propose that cross-dressing is a learned behavior. Alternative they posit that a close mother-son relationship along with the absence of a father could make certain individuals more prone to be involved in cross-dressing. This position is in congruence with psychological theories which intimate that gender identity and other related disorders or behaviors often develop in circumstances where a male child is very close to his mother and where the father is either absent or distant from the home.

In their study of transsexuals and transvestites Langström and Zucker (2005) note several variables that seem to be significantly correlated with cross-dressing. Of the nine variables discovered separation from parents during childhood was noted to be one of the most significant correlates (p. 92). However, because significant research has not been conducted to specifically explore this relationship the data is, at best, simply informative and begs for future research in the area.

One area that requires serious consideration is the attitude of persons towards transvestites and this refers particularly to the way men view cross-dressers. Moulton & Adams-Price (1997) note that the social roles that have been traditionally assigned to men are factors which constrain the way view each other and themselves (p. 442). Comparing the attitudes of homosexual and heterosexual men towards transvestites it was revealed that homosexuals have a more positive and tolerant attitude.

Conclusion

Evidently cross-dressing is an increasingly popular phenomenon and, though its prevalence is still focused on heterosexual males, males of other sexual orientation as well as women are participating in cross-dressing behaviors. The debate over the exact definition of cross-dressing and how it differs from other sexually deviant behavior is reflective of the different perspectives on what exactly constitutes cross-dressing. What is clear is that there are distinct similarities between cross-dressing individuals and males who carry out related behaviors such as transsexuals. The attitude of society towards individuals who do not measure up to pre-established societal norms and standards, does not seem to be changing in the short run. Nevertheless what is clear is that cross-dressing is a matter of individual choice whether or not society is accepts or tolerates it.

References

Abdo, C. H., Hounie, A, Scanavino, M de T, Miguel E. C. (2001). OCD and transvestism: Is there a relationship? Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 103, 471–473.

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., APA, Washington, DC, pp. 530-531.

Arcelus, J. & Bouman, W. P. (2000). Gender identity disorder in a child with a family history of cross-dressing. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 15(4),  407-411.

Blanchard, R. (2005, Aug). Early History of the Concept of Autogynephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34(4), 439-446.

Bullough, B. & Bullough, V. (1997, Feb). Are transvestites necessarily heterosexual? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(1), 1-12.

Ceglian, C. M. & Lyons, N. N. (2004, Apr). Gender type and comfort with cross-dressers. Sex Roles, 50(7/8), 539-546.

Docter, R. F. & Fleming, J. S. (2001, Jun). Measures of transgender behavior. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30(3), 255-271.

 Docter, R. F. & Prince, V. (1997, Dec). Transvestism: A survey of 1032 cross-dressers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(6), 589-605.

Langström, N. & Zucker, K. J. (2005). Transvestic fetishism in the general population: Prevalence and correlates. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 31, 87-95.

Moulton, J. L. III and Adams-Price, C. E.  (1997, Sept). Homosexuality, heterosexuality, and cross-dressing: Perceptions of gender discordant behavior. Sex Roles, 37(5/6), 441-450.

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