It’s amazing how many words are available for girls like us. But it can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing how to identify. Some crossdressers may feel that all of THIS is more about clothes, but they may not feel ready to identify as transgender… yet. What is the difference between non-binary and being gender fluid? Does any of this matter?
I am thankful that some words are slowly making their way out of our lexicon. Words like transvestite and transsexual have been outdated for a while and we are thankfully seeing them less often. Words and their meanings change and evolve over time and I think the term ‘transgender’ has expanded to become more inclusive than it was perceived twenty years ago. It used to predominately mean transitioning but identifying as such no longer necessarily means that. I think many of us have our own personal definition of this word, I mean, I certainly do. Some of us are scared of the word, some of us might not feel “trans enough”. I mean, I get that, I was there at one point, too.
As words such as non-binary and gender non-conforming (and the increase of people using them/they pronouns) become more familiar to those outside of our community, more people are becoming more accustomed to them. Ten years ago identifying as non-binary would have resulted in confused stares, but today? Well, probably still confused stares but at least it’s likely someone has at least heard the term before.
I like non-binary. I like gender fluid. I think they are more inclusive and help break down a lot of the barriers and expectations (and limits) of BOY and GIRL. I think more people would identify as non-binary if they had a better understanding of what the word actually means. I’m non-binary (of course) but I feel bi-gender is a more accurate way to identify (as I am presenting as boy OR girl).
The very first word I identified with was ‘crossdresser’. The way my friend in middle school offhandedly described this word to me was a man who wore women’s clothes. And goodness if that didn’t describe me when I was younger. I loved the word, mainly because I was comforted by the fact that there were so many others like myself that we had a word to call ourselves. I carried this word in my heart for years.
When I was in college the internet was a new thing. On my very first day of my freshman year I went to the library, plugged in the modem and searched the word ‘crossdresser’. I wanted to see what I could find. I wanted to get to know (but not meet) other crossdressers and read about their experiences and their lives. I was… surprised and taken aback by how… well, sexual the results were.
Most of the search results came back portraying crossdressing as a fetish. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a fetish or a kink, but this is who I was, not something I did to arouse myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the word ‘crossdresser’ became forever linked in my mind to something sexual.
As I got older I realized that the term was associated with fetishism more than I thought. Crossdressers were often portrayed as deviants and perverts in movies and books. It was always, always, always about sex. Of course this would shape how others outside of our community would think of the word ‘crossdresser’. It was frustrating, to say the least. What I wore had nothing to do with sex, and eventually I started to wonder if this WAS a fetish since everyone else seemed to think it was. But I knew in my heart that it wasn’t. It was intimate, absolutely, but not a kink.
We are forever cycling through thoughts of who we are and why we are. Am I a crossdresser? Am I transgender? Am I non-binary? For me, it’s yes to all of it. I wore and wear “girl clothes” because I am non-binary. I don’t think clothes are for boys OR girls OR any other gender. They are just clothes and I love wearing clothes that are “for girls”. I don’t feel limited to what I can wear, or what I do wear. There are no men’s or women’s departments in stores. I shop wherever I need or want to. It’s true certain clothes make me feel a certain way. Let’s face it, it’s more fun to wear a dress than it is to wear a shirt and tie, but I’ll wear what I want. I mean, not really. I want to wear a dress to the office but I know I won’t, but it would be fun, wouldn’t it?
Our collective thinking in society is evolving (slowly and kicking and screaming along the way) in the way we think about gender. However the word ‘crossdresser’ still seems to be associated with sex. Given that there are so many ways to identify these days, is it time to “retire” the word? I don’t see the stigma of the word going away anytime soon and I think it will be a loooooooong time until people stop thinking of the word as a fetish, so perhaps it’s time to move on.
What do you think?
(thanks to my friend Marci for inspiring this post)