What's the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual?

It’s an old joke in the transgender community that goes like this:
Q: “What’s the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual?”
A: “Two years”

This provides some humorous levity while astutely implying a truth about transsexuals – many of them started out as crossdressers. Unfortunately, while it makes for a fun observation it doesn’t really provide any useful insights for those who are struggling with their gender identity, or for others who hear that someone they love is a crossdresser.

It’s also easy to describe the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual by sharing the definition of each word and describing transgender terminology.

It’s more difficult to help those struggling with their gender identity determine whether they are a crossdresser or transsexual, though I’ve made such an attempt a few times.

Visit Transgender Heaven

Five days ago I had sex reassignment surgery. As someone who once considered themselves a crossdresser, and now considers herself a transsexual woman without question of doubt I feel I’m in a position to provide some valuable insight for those struggling with a similar question. It goes without saying that each person is different, and this question is best explored together with a qualified therapist, after all you’ll make life altering decisions based on what you discover.

How Do I Know if I’m a Transsexual?

    • You consider yourself a woman: Crossdressers enjoy being woman for a time, but still consider themselves to be a man. Many are even happy being a man, and indulging their feminine persona a few times a week or month is all they need. Even if they fantasize about being transformed into a woman, crossdressers never seriously consider this to be a long term way of life.
      Transsexuals feel an intense cognitive dissonance between the genders of their mind and body. For me this manifested itself in a constant ‘mind static’ that pervaded every moment. I couldn’t enjoy the fullness of life because of a birth defect that placed me in the wrong body. For some it gets so serious that they seriously consider suicide as the only solution.
    • It’s about who you are, not the clothes: For many crossdressers the infatuation with the feminine revolves around their appearance. The clothes, the makeup, the impossibly high heels. Even for crossdressers who strive to blend in, it’s about being feminine. Being feminine feels good and exciting.
      For transsexuals the entire experience doesn’t revolve around the accessories of gender expression. Another common refrain is, “How do you tell the transsexuals at a transgender conference?”, “They’re the ones wearing jeans”. It’s about who you are, not who you appear to be.
    • You take the good with the bad: Transsexuals realize that there is no escaping being a woman. No time off for good behavior. We can’t decide to be a man for a certain circumstance just because it would be easier. While we may lament the discrimination we face as women it doesn’t factor in to whether we are a woman.
    • Womanhood is messy reality, not an idealized fantasy: If your sole experience of womanhood is as a fantasy, then you don’t have enough information to say that you’re a transsexual. Many crossdressers only experience what they consider the ‘highlights’ of womanhood (It’s another post as to why I don’t believe these are the actual highlights). Nights out feeling sensual, or safe gatherings dressed in their finest feminine attire. The truth is that womanhood isn’t quite as clean or elegant. Many transsexual woman experienced and embraced the messy reality of womanhood before transitioning. If you’re wondering, seek out every day experiences as a woman.

Embrace Who You Are

Gender Identity isn’t a game that you win by being more feminine. The only way to win is to discover where you are on the spectrum, and accept yourself unconditionally. If you’re not a transsexual, that’s okay. If you are, that’s okay too.

I’ve shared my thoughts on how to determine whether you’re a crossdresser or transsexual. What insights have I missed? If you’re a crossdresser and firm in that knowledge, how did you come to this realization?

En Femme Style

More Articles by Vanessa Law

View all articles by Vanessa LawTags:
5 3 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
70 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Zoba
Zoba
5 years ago

My bf is a cross dresser . I love him and I’m trying to accept this fact it’s very hard I didn’t see it coming at all. We broke up before he informed me and when we decided to meet up and talk he told me he dresses like a woman twice a week. I was shocked he’s very manly no one would ever expect such thing from him. He told me he had slept with men before and he didn’t feel comfortable . He likes woman and he wants a normal relationship with a woman who would accept the… Read more »

Shanna gurl
Member
Shanna gurl
5 years ago
Reply to  Zoba

Hello I am Shanna a CD and was in that same thing my fiancé didn’t kno about my fem side when we lived together I put that part of me away but it always comes back she didn’t want a bi cross dresser for a hubby so we broke up it was better for both of us and good for me to not have to hide it now we are great friends she tells me about the guys she dates and so do I since I’ve decided not to hide my CD ways I’ve found so many great close friends… Read more »

Zoba
Zoba
5 years ago
Reply to  Shanna gurl

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about this! I don’t mind my bf crossdressing and he doesn’t want it public but what I need to know if he would in the feature be gay or transsexual or bi. He said he wants a normal relationship with a woman but wants to dress when no ones around I told him I’ll help him dress I’m supporting him but my biggest fear is him finding out later in life that he’s not straight he’s gay or bi

Johnnie
Duchess
Member
5 years ago
Reply to  Zoba

Zoba, most male crossdressers are not gay. Mostly they are married and have a families. It is estimated that 4 out 10 men engage in crossdressing.

Erich
Erich
5 years ago

Never has someone cleared up in a few paragraphs more than I have in 10 years. Thank you and thank you for your eloquent words and kind full thoughts.

Johnnie
Duchess
Member
5 years ago

Thank you for the post about the differences between crossdressers and transgender woman. I had underlying feminine feelings and behaviors most of my life but I never Identity myself as being transgender or a crossdresser. Later in life I felt an overwhelming urge to crossdress as a woman. I never crossdressed but my urge felt familiar.I gave in to my urge and purchased some lingerie. My first time wearing a full set lingerie corset, panties, garter belt and nylons felt awesome and very sexually pleasing. Over short period of time dressing up in women clothes including wearing dresses, make up… Read more »

HARRYFRANCESWALKER
HARRYFRANCESWALKER
5 years ago

Hi everyone nice evening I hope everyone is happy tonight I think that i will go out for a while and come home and play girl

Lindi
Member
5 years ago

This is very informative, and helped to partially clear up where I am on that colorful spectrum. Since I started CD, I find myself happier, open to expressing my thoughts, full of life, and yes, even more emotional. At first when I dressed it was for short periods of time, and when I went back to my man clothes I started to revert to my old unhappy self. I am now dressing as a lady more all of the time, resulting in a happier person. I am now partly of fully cross dressed 1/2 of the week. Unfortunately, that is… Read more »

Veronica Raines
Member
5 years ago

I started wearing my mother’s clothes, when I was 13. I dressed as a woman, when I was 15, and went to a party at my high school. (It only had 52 kids, in the entire school). When I was 16, I left home, and even though I still had a lot of female feelings, I never cross dressed again. That was mostly, due to the Vietnam war, and being a private investigator for 35 years. In other words, I was too busy doing dangerous work, to allow myself to act on the female feelings, I still had. When I… Read more »

mel
mel
5 years ago

Very interesting what you wrote and i would love to interview you on my podcast and also assist you. Get back to me please

Johnnie
Duchess
Member
5 years ago

Many of once struggle with the question, “I’m I a cross dresser or I’m I transgender?”. There is no medical test available to objectively determine if a person is transgender. The current scientific studies indicate that your gender identity is form in the womb and gender identity cannot be changed after birth. It’s likely that a person is borne being transgender. And it’s unlikely that a person choose to be transgender. Scientist also speculate that there are degrees of transgenderism. Some people may experience strong overwhelming dysphoria and others may experience mild or no dysphoria. Based on the scientific studies… Read more »

Celeste Able
Celeste Able
5 years ago

I’ve been dressing since I was in my teens. As with most cross dressers I would buy cloths then after awhile throw them away but would always get the urge to dress again and start the cycle all over again. After a very long time I couldn’t hold back anymore. I came out to my wife finally. Over the years she had found stuff and thought I was having an affair. Now that she knows she is very supportive. We go shopping together and she picks out outfits for me. Life has never been better

colleen
colleen
5 years ago

thank you for all these stories, they are so familiar and sweet to read, ide love to spend some time and post my cross dressing history for all the silk loving ladies who read this.

Elise Michelle
Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much for these articles. I know this is an old one, but I’m new to the site and it is still so relevant. It reinforces my belief that I am a CD and not transexual. For the most part, I’m comfortable in my male body, but there are times I prefer to be “en femme”. But its not all the time, and i don’t feel uncomfortable or “wrong” as a male. It’s weird, cause I kind of feel like I’m two people in one body. Maybe I’m just crazy. Anyway, thanks for your insights.
Hugs,
Elise!

70
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Crossdresser Heaven.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account

If you don't see the captcha above please disable ad and tracking blockers and reload the page.