I recently read Amy Bloom’s book Normal, as well as Helen Boyd’s book My Husband Betty. (find my crossdressing book reviews here). Apart from all the other great information in these books, one theme was quite evident. A general disdain for the policies and principles of Tri-ESS.
Do all transgendered know about Tri-ESS?
For those of you who don’t know, Tri-ESS describes themselves on their website as:
“An educational, social and support group for heterosexual crossdressers, their partners, the spouses of married crossdressers and their families. We believe that we are blessed with an additional facet to our personalities. If we accept our crossgendered side, and explore it, we will find a broadening of the entire personality, which can be very fulfilling. We dress in emulation, rather than in mockery, of femininity.”
The Tri-Ess philosophy can be expressed in the acronym FIBER:
- F – Full personality expression in both its masculine and its feminine aspects. We do not wish to destroy our masculinity, but to soften its harsher aspects, and be all we can be.
- I – Integration of masculinity and femininity to create a happier whole person.
- B – Balance between masculinity and femininity.
- E – Education or crossdressers and their families toward self-acceptance; education of society toward accepting crossdressing people.
- R – Relationship-building in the context of crossdressing.
So what’s the problem with Tri-ESS?
Helen seems taken aback by the exclusivity and intolerance of Tri-ESS. Pointing in particular to their narrow charter of catering to heterosexual crossdressers. Tri-ESS excludes homosexuals and bisexuals. They also discourage participation by others in the transgendered community, in particular transsexuals, who aren’t granted full membership rights.
I think more than the exclusivity, Helen sees the principles of Tri-ESS as containing half-truths. In particular the vehement denial that cross-dressing has a sexual component. As you’ve seen me share in recent posts on why men crossdress, and the feedback you provided in the follow up to why men cross-dress, cross-dressing cannot be described as a “non-sexual” interest for many men. Helen draws interesting conclusions about why Tri-ESS shys away from the sexual nature of cross-dressing. It could be the desire for crossdressing men to be perceived as otherwise normal, and that the taboo of a sexual fetish is abhorrent to your typical “Christian, Republican family man who happens to wear dresses on the weekend”.
I find the notion of a conservative cross-dresser somewhat amusing though – if anything my transgendered nature has forced me to become more tolerant and accepting of the differences in others.
Many of these thoughts are echo’d by Amy in her book Normal.
Tri-ESS has helped thousands of cross-dressers
For all it’s failings, Tri-ESS has helped tens of thousands of cross dressers find peace and acceptance. It has given men a framework for talking about their transgendered nature with their wives and wives to be and shone a light of understanding where before there was only the darkness of prejudice.
While I am no longer a member of Tri-ESS, it has helped me immensely in my self esteem, self discovery and relationship with my wife. The people I’ve met at Tri-ESS have been among the most loving, caring and supportive. As an anecdote, one of the founders of our local chapter drove 200 miles to meet with me over lunch to discuss cross-dressing and introduce me to Tri-ESS. This is in sharp contrast to my pastor at that time, who told me “crossdressing is a sin”, pointed me at this web page, told me he “loved me” and then never contacted me again. I still occasionally hear from my sisters in Tri-ESS, yet when I ran into my former pastor a few months ago he didn’t even know who I was.
Tri-ESS gave me the tools and information to communicate with my wife. The advice to tell my wife before we got married is a blessing I am eternally thankful for. While the environment is very narrowly focused, I am sure my wife would have felt a great deal of discomfort attending meetings where sex reassignment surgery was openly discussed as an option. By limiting the meetings to deal with “one social taboo” at a time,Tri-ESS prevented my wife from being totally and completely overwhelmed. (She was still overwhelmed – as any spouse would be – just not totally and completely 🙂 )
Transgendered or Cross-dresser?
Personally I don’t think I fit into the narrow category defined by Tri-ESS. I think I’m more to the middle of the transgender spectrum. I am very grateful to them. Anyone who is lonely, uncertain and tormented by their crossdressing – I strongly encourage you to join Tri-ESS. You’ll find acceptance, love and support. If you find there’s more for you than just wearing a dress or makeup, find other transgendered sisters to share your experience with as well.
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