Articles tagged with "Cross Dressing"
Jharna Pariani writes for Fashion Psychology (@fashionispsychology) website to explore how fashion's influence can be used to dismantle gender stereotypes.
From the article:
"Before the 20th century, women were shamed for cross-dressing in men’s outfits. It wasn’t until the 1920s that women’s clothing finally gained liberation and did away with tightly laced corsets, bustled skirts and puffy sleeves. Women began embracing the androgynous look, also known as ‘La garçonne’, revolutionised by Coco Chanel who paved the way for women’s trousers through her masculine-feminine aesthetic. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent furthered the cause by introducing ‘Le Smoking’, a tuxedo look for women that became an embodiment of sexual empowerment."
"Women are now revered as ‘power dressers’ for donning sharp suits and enjoy the freedom of easily switching between both masculine and feminine styles. However, men haven’t enjoyed the same level of acceptance and freedom for embracing femininity."
"Gender is no longer just limited to male and female — or pink and blue — but is now a spectrum of non-conforming identities and fashion is beginning to reflect that."
Posted: 4 March 2023
Often times in history our clothing has been used as a subtle means of communication. This entry from Encyclopedia.com uncovers the facts around fashion and homosexuality and how gay men and lesbians have used what they wear to not only give themselves a self-identity but to let others know their sexuality in times that were otherwise severely oppressive for them.
It's interesting to see that now, as men, we're borrowing from the same playbook as women used to protest the roles assigned to them by patriarchal societies. We're starting to realise that those same systems of oppression also negatively affect us too.
From the article:
"Male homosexuals continued to cross-dress in both public and private spaces throughout the nineteenth century. In the 1920s, the Harlem drag balls offered a safe space for gay men (and lesbians) to cross-dress. Similarly the Arts Balls of the 1950s in London offered an opportunity denied in everyday life. Cross-dressing performers, commonly known as drag queens, used women's clothes to parody straight society and create a gay humor."
"In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the adoption of male dress was a means for many women, including many lesbians, to protest the status of women and the roles assigned them by patriarchal societies."
"Popular figures, such as soccer player David Beckham, are avid consumers of clothes and even acknowledge their debt to gay men's influence on fashion."
Posted: 3 February 2023
Is the term ‘Cross-dresser’ out-dated in today’s society?
Before we can answer that question, some definitions may be useful.
Cross-dressing: is the act of wearing items of clothing not commonly associated with one's sex. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, comedy, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history.
Almost every human society throughout history has had expected norms for each gender relating to style, colour, or type of clothing they are expected to wear, and likewise most societies have had a set of guidelines, views or even laws defining what type of clothing is appropriate for each gender.
The term "cross-dressing" refers to an action or a behaviour, without attributing or implying any specific causes or motives for that behaviour. Cross-dressing is not synonymous with being transgender.
Another term for cross-dressing is Transvestitism. Someone who engages in Cross-dressing/Transvestitism is called a Cross-dresser(CD)/Transvestite(TV), although the term Transvestite is now commonly considered outdated and disrespectful. The term Transvestite (often shortened to the slang term "Tranny") was historically used as a slur against people who wore clothes of the opposite sex. Cross-dresser is now a much more accepted term. Cross-dresser was coined by the transgender community.
MtF and FtM Cross-dresser: A man who dresses in women's clothing is a male to female (MtF) cross-dresser. a woman who dressing in men's clothing is a female to male (FtM) cross-dresser. For women, the term is seldom used and the wearing of trousers/pants/men's shirts is often discounted as cross-dressing. This is because in our current society, male clothing is often considered gender-neutral. Therefore when someone uses the term "cross-dresser", the focus shifts mainly towards a MtF cross-dresser.
With those definitions made, two additional points are important to recognise:
a). Cross-dressing as it relates to Transgender: Wearing clothes intended for the opposite sex does not mean that the person identifies as the opposite sex. It is different from being Transgender or Transsexual. When transgender people dress according to their gender identity it is not necessarily the same as cross-dressing.
It is important to know that a cross-dresser does not necessarily have body or gender dysphoria (gender dysphoria means feeling uncomfortable with their body and gender they were born with), they are perfectly happy with their gender assigned at birth and have no desire to change their sex, but simply enjoy being able to cross-dress from time to time. However, Transgender describes people who feel that their gender identity is different from their biological sex.
Most transgender people do not appreciate being called cross-dressers, and for good reason. As they are wearing clothes of their own gender identity they consider themselves, and should be considered by others as the gender they are dressing in. A Transgender woman wearing women's clothes is not a cross-dresser, nor is she a drag queen. She is just a woman. Similarly, a Transgender man, wearing men's clothes is not a cross-dresser, nor is he a drag king. He is just a man.
b). Cross-dressing as it relates to Drag: A cross-dresser should not be confused with drag queens/kings. Drag is a special form of performance art based on the act of cross-dressing. Drag queens are usually male performance artists who dress in female character. Drag Kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in male character.
Now, to get down to answering the question...
As gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people we can deconstruct that concept. While the term Cross-dresser works well for some people, as it has for years, for many others they do not feel that it works well for them. For non-binary or agender people (who don't identify with the gender binary of male & female) who want to wear certain clothes as part of their gender expression, feel that the term is obstructive and often offensive towards them. With the realisation that clothes have no gender, a skirt or a pair of trousers are essentially just coloured and textured fabric cut and sewn into a garment. The clothes know nothing of gender other than that assigned to them by their creator. The same, of course applies to shoes - high heels are not women's shoes... they are just high heels.
A growing number of people believe that today's socially constructed gender stereotypes don't serve us well in enabling fully inclusive gender expression that recognises our diversity. With the central fact that gender is a social construct, gender labelling of clothing is also a therefore also social construct and can equally be challenged and deconstructed. Gender labelling of clothing perpetuates the construct, but in more recent years this is slowly changing with manufacturers and retailers removing, or neutralising gender labelling on clothes and on signage in stores.
Manufacturers and retailers, now too numerous to mention, are also making items of clothing more traditionally intended for a single sex for both sexes, while recognising that the key differentiator is not actually our biological sex, but our body shape. Does the term cross-dresser still stand up when the clothes have no gender labels? Maybe not.
All clothing, of whatever shape, colour, texture or style has been worn by both sexes as normal daily wear at some point in history, so why do we have gendered clothing now? Visual communication is one of the many reasons we dress the way we do. Our gender identity is expressed visually through what we wear, as can be our social status or rank within an organisation. Sometimes our visual appearance, what we wear, make-up, hairstyle, skin colour, whether rightly or wrongly, can trigger others around us through our learned and often habituated social conditioning to make a judgement on how they should interact with us. Aside from organisational ranking, we should not treat people differently because of their appearance. Everyone is born equal and should be treated as such. Does what they wear really matter more than their actions and achievements as a person?
In conclusion, the term Cross-dresser is fine for a socially constructed world in which there is a gender binary, but it does not work well in a non-binary world where gender is expressed on a spectrum and where many believe that clothing has no gender to start with. When it comes to the use of the term today, if the logic used to describe a man in "women's" clothes as a crossdresser does not hold when applied to a woman wearing "men's" clothes - it's not logic, it's sexism.
When clothing has no gender there are no lines to "cross", hence no cross-dressing and why we therefore believe that the term cross-dresser is out-dated and should decline in use.
Posted: 27 July 2022
This article from Medium suggests that maybe it's time to enable people to not feel limited in their fashion expression to the clothing sections that match the gender they were assigned at birth. It's a thought provoking read and certainly offers a step in the right direction.
Posted: 10 May 2022
Why do men want to wear high heels?
It's a good question and not as stereotypical an answer as you might expect...
There may be a number of reasons why men would want to wear high heels. To many women who regularly wear high heels and endure pain and discomfort from wearing heels, the idea may seem absurd, until you also consider the many women who still endure that pain and discomfort for the obvious attractions that heels bring. Many men have similar reasons for wanting to wear heels as women do.
A growing number of people believe that clothes and shoes should not dictate a persons sexual orientation or gender and for that reason alone they will wear whatever they want, regardless of which (usually binary) gender label has been attached to the clothing or shoes. It's a refreshing idea if you've always stuck to social norms around gender stereotypes. It ultimately means, if you like it, wear it and for many men, dressing like this is liberating and provides an outlet for self expression. More recently this idea has been expressed by high profile stars such as Harry Styles and Justin Bieber, though it has been the case for many years with stars such as Prince and David Bowie wearing clothes labelled for different genders.
For some men an extra height boost is one reason. This can bring additional confidence and especially when your partner is also wearing heels it can restore the height differential which male and female partners often desire.
For more fashion conscious men, the reason may be to be just be different from the crowd, more fashion forward, and they will often be more adventurous with the rest of their clothing choices, seeking more distinctive fabrics, colours, textures and patterns. Many men are simply bored with the same old re-cycled options on offer in the mens section and want something different. With this dissatisfaction often comes a desire to change the aesthetic of their outfits by mixing and matching from all the options on offer and higher heels can instantly change the look of an outfit.
Some men want to express outwardly how they feel about their gender. More recent publicity of gender and how it's expressed in almost limitless terms when you consider gender as non-binary, can help some men feel like they have way of explaining why they want to wear heels.
Sometimes men are simply just curious about what it's like to walk in heels and may capitalise on any suitable opportunity to try it out. We've often heard the expression "to walk a mile in someone else's shoes" as a metaphor for understanding someone's experience, however in literal terms, men can also fully experience a flavour of what it's like for a woman to wear heels.
Diversion is another reason why men wear heels. Some men enjoy playing with that taboo that comes with gender boundaries and the experience can either be a form of mockery or great reverence for women or social constructs around gender standards.
A more stereotypical view of a man in heels is the practice of cross-dressing. Where a man, typically heterosexual, will dress entirely in women's clothing. The same term also applies to women who dress in men's clothes, though the term is seldom used when women cross-dress. Cross-dressers may derive a sense of peace or euphoria from dressing entirely in women's clothing, some may also derive sexual pleasure from it. Synonymous with "cross-dresser" is the term "Transvestite" although this is outdated and often viewed as offensive, as is the "Tranny" slang version.
Transgender people may wear high heels for any of the reasons above, though more usually to help affirm their gender identity. Most transgender people seek to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. This is called transition. Some men realise that their biological sex and gender are fundamentally misaligned and for them, this is a way for them to express their true gender. Like all people, many transgender women will want to wear high heels, though this is not always the case. Their gender is every bit as valid as everyone else's and is often reflected in how they express themselves.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why a man would want to wear high heels, or anything else for that matter. All are valid reasons and are perfectly fine. As awareness of this trend increases, you're likely to see more men expressing themselves in this way. For men's fashion, breaking these long-standing gender stereotypes is perhaps long over-due!
Comments from our readers
We had some great comments on this question posted on our Instagram page for previous posts of this Q&A issue, from both men and women...
"Totally agree with this! I think shoes and heels should be for anyone and everyone! Same with all types of clothing. On a basic level, it's just material that covers your body, on a complex level it's how you want to feel and for me wearing heels feels amazing!! And it's not necessarily about attraction... But I have to say a liberated confident man in heels is very sexy to me 😉 xox"
"Because they look so sexy"
"I like to wear high heels just because I love how they look, and I love how I look in them, so why not wear them. Besides fighting with toxic masculinity, I might say that I also find somehow challenging to find everything I like in my size (women's size 13). Things are much better than ten years ago, there are many brands that offer these sizes, but most common and commercial brands still have to realize that there is a growing demand they could serve. Hopefully soon."
"About 40 years ago Marks & Spencer actually sold riding boots for men, I bought a pair, the main part were ox-blood in colour with a black ridge at the top and a small wedge heel, sadly I sold them a few years later, I'm also at an age when platform boots were on trend, mine were red and yellow with a beautiful chunky heel, and also of course I had the multi coloured flowered shirt with same matching tie, and thin brown leather pants, oh to have that 28 inch waist again"
"In the animal world , especially birds, it is the male that has the brightest plumage, so why do guys have to be in dark and boring clothing, I always love to wear ladies coloured gloves, at first I was not confident, I always imagined that everyone would be staring at me, In most cases people just don't care what you wear"
"Why are we doing this? Because we do not only like to see high-heeled shoes on women, but also like to wear them ourselves. We feel good in high heels! They give us and our gait quite grace, but also strength. There is also a sense of self-confidence when we walk in high heels. As a man, in particular, you need more courage and skill, but also the strength and charisma to express this in a positive way."
"Hi, I just came across your page and I absolutely love that there are guys who enjoy wearing heels, flats, boots, etc... Me personally for some time have a strong belief that clothes/shoes have no gender and that it's for everyone! I am a 21 year old gay male who enjoys wearing heels and flats as well as makeup and accessories because I want to express my personality and be my own person that is different from everyone else."
"I have legs, feet and thighs that I would truly find hot in any woman but I am a man. Therefore I look better with nylons, skirts and heels. That’s just body and I accept it. Why can’t I show myself at my best without being labelled with a gender or sexual orientation that is really not correct?"
"I wear women’s boots because they make me feel complete"
"Because we can 🤷🏻♂️"
"When I go into a department store for men's gloves, the gloves are functional but lack any style or fit, so always head for the ladies gloves, so many colours and really a nice tight fit"
"I wear high heels 👠 and women’s clothes despite being 6’2” for a few reasons. One is because men’s clothes are (for the most part) boring and pedestrian. I’m a little different from a lot of Xdressers in that I don’t desire to be or impersonate a woman. I have no desire to appear female. I’m a straight man who is into fashion, and I look hot as hell in a miniskirt and heels. And lastly, there’s some internal drive, be it a past life remnant or a genetic punctuation, or anything, that gifts me the super power to live life outside the box. I exercise this super power to help other men learn that they too can grow this super power. As I say on my page, the first time a “Dude Bro” sees a man in heels and a skirt, he sees a gay alien 👽 who has come to abduct and convert him. By the third time he sees this, he sees a human being. That’s why I do it. It only takes three times to normalize it."
"You're absolutely right!! Men's everyday wear is so pedestrian and dull. I always bitch about how women's clothing has more color, style and design. I hate when I see a great shirt and its a women's small and they don't have it in men's sizes. And the shoes... I'm crazy about stiletto's and boots."
"It's very simple, have you seen them? They are just beautiful! 😁 My only reason haha."
"I would love to wear heels all the time I just feel more comfortable wearing them. Men’s shoes suck and I don’t own any"
"Never judge a book by it's cover, the same could equally be said when it comes to meeting other people, whatever their gender is"
"Wear what you want!"
"Because a pair of heels changes an average outfit to a much nicer one. So as not so many women still wear heels, then I do it myself."
Posted: 4 May 2022