During the 18 months with my therapist (a regular Jungian, not specifically-gender-focused), I processed through a number of general life topics and also a bunch related to gender dysphoria. Like so many friends I’ve talked with, I spent 30 years trying to quit female clothing, yet continually kept being drawn back to it. I’d beat myself up, feel ashamed, repent to God and myself, to my wife and accountability group friends, and then buckle down and try even harder to stop. But, it was never long before the desires crept back in. One time I even downloaded a sobriety app and white-knuckled it through two miserable years.

OK, back to the therapy journey … one of the questions I started asking myself was:

How much of my desire to feel feminine is because of my identity? How much is possibly due to behavioral or chemical addiction?  

When doing actions that society deems to be taboo, we often experience a sort of high. From what I understand, our body shoots endorphins (oxytocin, serotonin, and other such bio-chemicals) through our veins, generating a level of excitement. As with any pleasurable chemical, even biological ones, addictions can be formed. So when I spent time presenting my feminine self, I often described that experience as having felt free and it enjoyable, exciting, and peaceful. I felt the “pink fog” like so many of us have, and I questioned, “Why was I feeling it,” and “What was its source?”

We talked through the signs of addiction and which of them applied to my situation.

  • >You spend a lot of time thinking about it.
  • >You have a hard time giving yourself limits.
  • >You try to quit and are unsuccessful.
  • >You can’t stop yourself, even if you want to.
  • >You need more and more and build up a tolerance to the effects.
  • >You feel strange when the drug wears off…shaky, depressed, confused.
  • >You have a hard time taking care of normal everyday tasks.
  • >You fail to complete your work, home, and school obligations.
  • >You lose interest in things you used to like.
  • >You keep doing it, even when it makes bad things happen in life, conflicts with friends, family, and work.
  • >You have a new set of friends that create a kind of double life.
  • >You look through other people’s belongings for your fix.
  • >You eat a lot more or less than before.

I had to be brutally honest with myself; no under or over exaggerating; No hiding.

After talking through these, my therapist was pretty certain this wasn’t an addiction issue, but I wanted to keep checking it out. I decided on the goal of “making my feminine experiences boring.” That’s the way I worded it. I wanted to make those times so normalized that I wasn’t experiencing those bodily highs anymore. I figured that way, I’d see what kind of peace and freedom was left, so I could learn more about my identity.

I set a schedule. Once a week, I would go spend a day in the city, working, doing normal tasks (not shopping, which is another endorphin-injecting activity). I did this for four months. It became just another day in my week. And through this, I verified what my therapist already told me: this wasn’t addiction-based. That still didn’t mean it was identity-based. There were many more things to sort through. But this helped me to see that my feminine days didn’t harmfully affect my demeanor and my life production, they increased it. I was more productive and focused, more at peace and free, livelier and empowered.

This process didn’t answer everything about my gender dysphoria and behaviors, but it definitely put one important piece into the puzzle.

What have you done to sort through any feelings that could potentially be addictive?

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Hope Clark

Married man trying to figure out how to make sense of his feminine self with a loving wife that doesn't want to mess up our lives. Since I was 8 or 9, I've always felt very solidly like a boy, but there's also been a feminine layer to my soul that I was shamed into hiding. But I've always been some kind of mix of male and female ... I just haven't shown you all the feminine layer. I've done a lot of soul searching on it, reading, learning, diving really deep, and my soul doesn't need to transition to be female like many transgender folks, but for my psyche and soul to feel right, it seems spending a few days a month living as my female self helps a lot. It's like a poison layer builds up inside me when she doesn't get to live, and I am a more vibrant, whole human when she does get to live. I love both gendered expressions of my soul and wouldn't want to lose either one.

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*skippy1965(Cynthia)
Ambassador
Active Member

Hope-love your article. I’m still exploring my own journey and don’t yet know where the final destination is for me. I did write any articles over the last several years -exploring my thoughts and feelings much as you are. One of those was last summers “Sometimes She Screams!” where I realized that no matter where my path leas me ,, Cyn is NOT gonna be silenced completely ever again- for she is a big part of who I am and I won’t abandon her as I almost did years ago.
Cyn

Brie Anne
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Brie Anne

Thanks so much for this post Hope! It’s very thought provoking. I’ve never really considered the addiction angle before. But, I found that I check more boxes on the addiction list than I’m comfortable with. It’s definitely something I need to explore further. Is this an addiction for me? If it is, what, if anything, do I need to do about it? Lots to unwrap there. Thanks again Hope!

-Brie
XOXOXO

Ashley Parker
Ambassador
Member

Hope, I love this article. Thank you so much for writing it! I’ve thought a lot about these issues. As it happens I AM an addict (long-term opiates mostly). I went through rehab a couple years ago and have been completely clean and sober since. I have no desires to use drugs in any form. However, my CDing came back full force and it made me wonder if this was just another addiction. Yes, I think there are addictive qualities to the thrill of it, but something happened to me in rehab that makes me think it is not an… Read more »

Elaine Hamilton
Lady

Dear Hope, I loved reading your article and have experienced the same feelings as you have from the tender age of 8 or 9 and have continued to dress for years and years. My wife used to allow me to dress for role play in the bed room which I loved, but then something changed and and it all stopped (think she felt I was preferring the dressing to the intimacy with her). I have often suggested we try it again with no response, so as the urges of my female layer usually build up and so I would dress… Read more »

Amy Myers
Baroness
Active Member

I too, have wondered if this is an addiction, as in a technical defined way. Certain aspects of this are certainly very pleasurable,so much so that one wants to repeat them to get that high, again, and again. But I too, have decided that there is more to it than that. I still have a strong male side, that I don’t want to give up, but the femme side just cannot be denied any longer. So, I’m not like some others here who have felt that they are trapped in the wrong body, and I find most women very attractive,… Read more »

anne-marie
Lady
Member

Obviously I cannot speak for any body else but I would say I am definitely addicted and self medicating by getting my daily fix of femme style clothing. I do however think that things go way deeper than this. As a young teenager, I would get a big sexual rush from wearing clothes – usually femme clothes but sometimes new male clothes. It wasn’t the feel of the clothing but what was going on in my head. I didn’t at that time think I was either boy or girl or even something in between. I was just me. Biological sex… Read more »

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