My wife knows I cross-dress. She went with it for a little while too. That was not nearly as good as I thought it would be. She was uncomfortable being out with me at clubs themed for cross-dressers and T-girls and I felt guilty asking her to go. So I stopped asking, and for the most part, I stopped going except on the rarest of occasions. I moved my wardrobe back into the closet and only dressed in private. I have written before about all the things a wife must feel when she learns that her husband cross-dresses and I know from first hand experience that all of the explaining in the world frequently does little to restore stasis to a relationship after the revelation is made.
For me, I strongly feel that the failures of my explanations is largely due to the fact that I do not understand my urge to cross-dress all that well myself. I also strongly feel that the reason I have trouble understanding myself is because of linguistic limitations. There are many articles here that struggle with those linguistic limitations and many of those articles are constructed around what a cross-dresser ISN’T and I think this makes it very difficult to explain to someone what a cross-dresser IS.
For instance, it seems that most cross-dressers are NOT gay. I have yet to see a cross-dresser use this word in self-reference. A few of us are bisexual. And some of us like men, but only like men AS a woman. But I have yet to see someone admit that they like men exclusively both as a man and as a woman.
It also seems to me that most cross-dressers are NOT transsexuals, and, based on my observations only, that most of us don’t seriously entertain the idea of actually becoming a woman. We all seem to fantasize about it and we all seem to have educated ourselves about it. But very few of us actually seem to go through with actual reassignment. For most of us, I suspect, it is because we recognize ourselves as cross-dressers and differentiate “cross-dresser” from “transsexual”–even though every cross-dresser I have ever met acknowledges an inner woman!
Finally, it seems to me that most Cross-dressers are NOT transvestites. We don’t dress and act like women solely because it gives us a sexual thrill or because sex is only satisfying if we are dressed as our female selves. In other words, most of us aren’t paraphiliacs.
Accordingly, based on my own unscientific sampling I am positing the following affirmative (and admittedly over-generalized) description of what a cross-dresser IS:
Most of the cross-dressers I have come across online and in real life are (a) straight or bisexual men (b) who feel like women on the inside (c) but don’t have an overwhelming compulsion to physically become a woman, and (d) who find peace and happiness on a non-sexual level when looking like and being dressed like a woman.
Notably, by this definition, we don’t fit into any recognized current or former pathology (homosexuality, thank God, is no longer considered a pathology in the DSM, but gender dysphoria and transvestism ARE still considered pathologies as far as I know). Crossdressing, on the other hand, has never been considered a pathology unless associated with 1) Distress, 2) Disability – occupational or otherwise, 3) Dare deviling. In other words, cross-dressers are sexually and mentally…NORMAL.
But try explaining that to your wife while wearing a dress!