Thanks for your thoughts, Marti!
I don’t disagree, but I am NOT saying that women who wear men’s clothes are crossdressers. I am defining a “CD” to be “ one who wears clothes typically associated with the opposite sex because they ARE clothes of the opposite sex.” This is a definition posted for many years in Wikipedia, coined by professor Gilbert at York University. I like it because it goes further than just saying one is a crossdresser simply because one wears clothes of the opposite sex. Wikipedia authors went further, by excluding from the definition of “crossdresser” or “transgender” those who have practical reasons for doing so, such as attending a masquerade or giving a theatrical performance. I think drag queens and drag kings or any who dress for performance would fall outside the definition of being a “crossdresser.” Ru Paul, for instance, would not be one I would hold up to be a good example of a crossdresser. I have often attended plays, such as “Designing Women” episodes performed by men. In talking to the actors afterwards they talk about what a difficult job it is to play the part of a woman and to dress like a woman. It is a job, an act, not who they are. In Shakespeare’s day men played female parts. One could say, as do authors Wikipedia cites, that people I have named are “crossdressing” but they are not necessarily or even probably ‘crossdressers.”
One could cite many other examples of men playing female roles, such as castratos, who avoided voice changes via castration and were so common as to have their own vocal parts… the result of actions being forced on them, typically, not their own choices or inclinations.
We could debate what definitions are appropriate, but what I am really trying to get at is the prevalence of women who are motivated to crossdress for reasons similar to those leading most men to crossdress. Whereas most men remain closeted since they fear non-acceptance if their motives were known, a woman would presumably not have such a fear, so could go undetected. I have met women who fall into that category so have to wonder how prevalent that population is.
One example: I gave a presentation once to a class of Citadel cadets. A female cadet was particularly interested in talking to me afterwards. She wanted advice on how she could shop in the men’s department without fear of being detected as a woman who felt a need to wear male clothes. I recall thinking to myself “How could this be an issue? Isn’t it common for women to shop for their husbands while they sit at home watching football and drinking beer?” Yet I realized that her perspective was similar to my trepidation about buying a bra in the lingerie area, claiming it is for my wife, something I once did, so can definitely relate to. Will my true motives be detected? Probably they will, even though I know full well that men who are not CDs have bought bras for their wives with no intention of wearing them themselves. I can relate other stories which have convinced me that there are women who are attracted to wearing men’s clothes BECAUSE THEY ARE MEN’S CLOTHES. But if I did not hear these stories firsthand I would not think twice about any woman buying any item in the men’s department. Be it a jock strap, speedo, or anything else, my first thought would NOT be that they were buying the item for themselves.
As to women buying binders, my first thought there would not be that they are crossdressers, but that they believe they are men and are considering transition. That is certainly much closer to the object of my inquiry. Women who have confided with me in such things have believed that they were misgendered at birth and need to have a sex change. Gender identity is not the same thing as gender presentation. That said, I really don’t have enough experiences with women buying binders to know whether the tales I have heard are representative of the large population. It may in fact be the case that many women buy binders without having any sense of being a man or transitioning. I’d love to know more about things like that. Women who crossdress COULD be a population even more prone to secrecy than men who crossdress… then again… perhaps such women are truly rare. I’m just curious to know more and to be more inclusive in my views and understandings.
One thing for sure: There is a huge population of people of many persuasions who have remained very hidden. Universities now typically provide safe outlets to draw such people out so they will feel included among those who are accepting and understanding, while retaining their anonymity so they can walk about campus without fear of detection by those who might not approve. I have spoken to such groups, invited them to dine with me or meet in classroom settings, and participated in gender films and other activities that have opened my eyes to a whole world of people I never knew existed because they are afraid to be revealed. I have had the good fortune to befriend many. I relish any opportunity to expand my horizons. There is nothing new under the sun. I just have not found all the shadows that seek to enjoy the light of day.