What Causes People To Crossdress?

what causes people to crossdressWhat causes people to crossdress? It’s a fascinating subject with many answers. In most societies, women can get away with crossdressing but men are still looked down upon for doing the same.

The term cross-dressing is usually used (but not always) to refer to cisgender, heterosexual men who wear clothing and accessories that are considered feminine or associated with women. They might dress that way full time, occasionally, or only in private. The rationale for cross-dressing isn’t universal and there’s limited research on common characteristics among those who do cross-dress.

Lets look at some of the possible explanations on what causes people to crossdress?

To be exact, there isn’t one specific thing that causes someone to crossdress as far as any research or studies have shown. A person’s reason to want to crossdress may vary from one person to the next. But there are also some common and not so common causes for people to crossdress, some of which are discussed as below.

For some, crossdressing is a very necessary outlet for feminine self-expression, which they might feel is a part of their identity or personality. These people are just expressing themselves and there’s nothing more to it than that.  They crossdress as a form of expression and crossdressing is a great opportunity for them to express themselves in the way they really want to. For some, they might just want to experiment with the feminine side of their otherwise male personalities.

A common cause in case of many crossdressers is because of the fascination for opposite gender clothing. They are very attracted to feminine clothing and enjoy the fabric of women’s clothing or feminine fashion. They like to envision or dress in a single or more piece of clothes generally intended for the opposite sex. These can be a single item, such as a bra, or a set of items, such as a dress, stockings, and heels.  Some of them might also feel men’s clothing to be quite boring or restrictive.

Another common cause for a person to crossdress is that it helps to reduce anxiety, to relax or to relieve tension. A person could be crossdressing as a form of escapism. There are societal expectations to being a man and sometimes they stress them out. Crossdressing is a way to relieve this stress for some people.

For some, it could be because they have a crossdressing fetish. For some, they could find being feminized or  forced to be feminine a strong fetish. This feeling of challenging social norms or doing something you’re quote un quote not supposed to do, may give a person some sort of gratification.

For some, crossdressing is not a sexual issue. It helps them to demolish some of the stereotypes about who women / men are and what their roles should be in society. By presenting themselves in a way that challenges the societal expectations of being a man, may lead them to adopt a feminine persona.

Once again, this doesn’t mean they have split personalities, it means certain conditions have to be present for them to express a side of themselves that they wouldn’t normally express if these conditions weren’t present. They might feel it to be liberating and empowering to be able to acknowledge their inner, forbidden desire.

A  sexual cause that a person might crossdress is that the person may have the tendency to be s*xually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. There is also a term for this, which is called Autogynephilia.

There are also people who crossdress out of curiosity. Wondering what it’s like to be viewed as the opposite gender. How would people treat them if they happen to look very convincing?

Then of course, there are people who crossdress for fun. Perhaps they want to be a sexy nurse or a hot doctor and laugh it off with your friends.

In some cases, crossdressing as a defense mechanism against loss or trauma has also been discovered.

These are some of the reasons and someone else could have a reason for crossdressing that don’t fit these explanations. Also, crossdressing doesn’t mean every crossdresser is gay.

Gender expression and sexual identity don’t always align. There’s plenty of heterosexual people who crossdress and crossdressing doesn’t mean they want to transition it to the opposite gender. They may temporarily identify as opposite gender complete with the mannerisms, a name and pronouns but this still doesn’t necessarily mean they want to transition.

Is it true that once people get the urge to crossdress, it stays constant and strong throughout their life? No, in fact there are crossdressers who experience highs and lows and their desire to crossdress. Ways that people choose to express gender may change over time, so someone may find that over time crossdressing no longer meets those needs or interests, but for others, crossdressing is a lifelong practice.

Let’s us know your opinion on what cause people to crossdress in the comments below.

You may also like to read:

Crossdressers Talk About The Reason Why They Like To Crossdress

Misconceptions about Crossdressers

25 Crossdressers Talk About Their Crossdressing Experience

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  1. For me it is the thrill, the danger involved of suddenly feeling very vulnerable when stepping-out fully dressed-up. The fact of being undulating & clothed with the proper floating skirt and high-heels at emanating perfumes makes you an immediate prey, and a prey, which unlike a fawn cannot run away. It is the fear of being unmasked and becoming as the deer in front of the headlights, while all those silly questions start hammering as the beat of the heart is rising and the throat gets tense & dry; silly questions such as is the wig straight? is the make-up still perfect? because now those masculine eyes are looking close, while I must lower my own eyes as a sign of sweet submission. I know, that he has already evaluated my walking, my posture, my shape, my derriere, my nice legs and my true fragility as to have followed me and approached me as what all male hunters do. So now that he is close, with his wide shoulders, solidly planted on the ground with his big flat-sole shoes, does he like me? Silly sudden doubts that always and always return, even if I may consider having been a lucky femme born under a good star, because the men have mostly been responsive to my timid acts of seductions.
    No! I have never had bad experiences. I’ve had thrilling experiences always in the increase once the first fear has dissipated, as a sort of a truce before the next to come fear which is the step towards closer & riskier acts of teases in that game of seduction. Granted that the years of micro-mini and platform stiletto are behind, but my transformation as ‘bourgeoise mondaine’ has made me forget all nostalgies. I still get men’s attention, and that is what matters, besides they are better men, the ones’ bringing comfort.
    Men roll their shoulders, get serious, tell of their strength. I absolutely love it when a man tries to seduce me as femme. I show polite interests, while having a secret amusement when unsuspecting men are acting macho. It is so flattering to be offered a arm, a compliment, a date! The real women are not as naïve however. They know from start that I am a tranny, but they are nice as the men are, only differently. I cannot explain very well, but I sense curiosity from their part. The only ones’ I have coldness are the other cross-dressers. Rivalry? perhaps. I could not care less, because cross-dressing is all about the adrenaline. It is certainly a sport , but it is also a performing art. As on pointe alone and frail, you are on stage, and the public is present. You have instant responses to each move, each repartee you make. The game is intense at each instant, at each heartbeat. The men & the women around may touch you, caress you, as well as scrutinizing you with the ever present risk of launching slide remarks or simply becoming brutal. They are here, and you can no longer hide, because you are theirs’s; it is both scary & sweet; they have a right to claim you as such, since you approached them and let them approach you as you saw them and hear them from a distance as they were coming up-close. You are in their snare, either for the good or for the bad. There is no turning back, this is it. You are on now placed on center-court, right in the middle at facing the player across, and it is worst than an anonymous cocktail party, because center-court time is always during daylight, even it is appears to be a reassuring dim-light at the moment in that lounge, in that party, it will be bright light for you and your fond-de-teint & mascara in the eyes of all mean and non-indulgent lookers. You are crudely naked and at their mercy at those moments, and it is exiting to the hilt! This is better than riding in a rapid vehicle with the top down while scantily dressed, because they can see you from close, they can touch you, smell you and how so risky it is that they can listen to the terrible give-away of your voice you’ve tried so hard to hide . Go baby! Do not flinch! Be the femme you chose and is to be!

    In fine, crossdressing is mostly about the risk that I take, the uncertainty to please, the warming hope of been so vulnerable that the man will make a show and may be a move as a valiant protector. It is the game of creating an illusion which I play fully to the utmost of my ability, where each step, from the initial ‘hooker’s first approach’ to the possible ‘going all the way’ is taken similarly as a tennis match’s set which once begun has only one single issue: score & win, or lose & go home. Is that not a fun game?

    N.B. Please be indulgent for my emotional prose. Marie-Madeleine is the femme who I am. This ‘nom de femme’ is a giveaway, because in spite of making a show and a scene of defiant prides through those lines, I do cry. I cry a lot from either indescriptible joys or from past naughtiness. I confess having been a bad girl, but hoping making-up in good through the love I burn for my unique lover as I still burn for past lovers, as for all the ones I miss rejoining in that funny theater of illusions and fantaisies of short life on earth which always fade away as the most delicate perfumes.

  2. “What Causes People To Crossdress?” is the type of article which, I admit, has pushed my button. I submitted a comment last night, because it’s diligent generality is inspiring to express views & opinions. I did not sleep well after submitted my sur-edited lines, because of the fear of being rejected for boldness and sincerity, as if I had blown my top into one of those most embarrassing moments after having unleashed the beast and behaved as a female of the side of the wild , but…, upon rising-up, and now genteelly clothed with a bed-room robe only, I feel obligated to go all the way in my coming-out.

    The name ‘Marie Madeleine’ was I think understandably explained last night, but since it is my coming-out, I’ll tell that this nom de femme, which may be my last, is not the first. My first nom de fille (girly name) was ‘Françoise’. I was a deep secret, until I just told it at this very instant through the internet. From now every mockers, devious, do-gooders, enemies and ex’s know that buried secret of my persona and soon even my little sister C*, a in-house reporter for a large magazine, will find that secret garden of mine. That gives me the willies that C* may one day express cruelle sibling’s snipes at confronting me as ‘Françoise’.
    Here is the rational. As a young teen-ager, I had a sweet tooth for Françoise Hardy, a pop-singer, who while being striking as a super-model (when on a tour to London, Mick Jaeger made sure to have a photo-shoot with her) is also a great talented singer/composer who has remained always a classily shy individual of the show business. A French documentary titled ‘La Discrète’ will give you an idea of what has caused that ‘faible’ of mine, for I too may associate with her physical frame, size and physiology. I even have the same color of eyes, of skin, and I blush and become either pink with pleasure or pale with sadness during each successive scene.
    After the period ‘Françoise’, as may confirm this article, came a long period of no fantaisie cross-dressing. In California, Silicone Valley, it was all career intensity, but this still never tamed some ‘demented moments’. It was, and it might be of little interest for the Autogynephilia crowd, but I think it logical to be revealed. It was a period of total nudity. I am not talking of the organized nudist resort, but wild and at time risky nudity. It was not the perv wanking in a bush. No! do not get that idea. It was true nudism in the great outdoor, such as hiding clothes, car-keys and wallet at San Gregorio Beach (between SF and Santa Cruz) and just go miles away; and then continuing miles away onto the next beach once passed a reef. I ended, as the days passed-by having my little crowd of distant spectators all dressed-up on the top of the cliff. It was an excitement that I was soon later to find similar as walking in hot-drag along the Polk Street (SF) trans hot-district. Risky? you bet it is. In fact I had a close call in the nude on a beach towards Santa Cruz. I had just emerged from a hostile passage of reef, which had necessitated several minutes waiting for the ocean swells to let me pass. Once on that new beach, I found myself in the proximity of band having a beach party. Bikers? red-necks? I did not have the time to know. I remember in terror, seeing their black nailed boots and nailed leather fist bracelets, the big belly and the beards of men, while hearing the schreel shouting’s of their women. From a wonderous feelings of liberty and natural saine sensuality, it turned into a shear instant of near horror. The thought of being molested, crushed and pummeled, possibly emasculated and being left bleeding to death with my body rendered exsanged to the cold ocean came to haunt me long after that violent incident, which my good star prevented for I was able to escape the entrapment when the swells let me run and return to safety on the deserted previous beach.
    I was then a long way from being sweet Françoise in that heart-pumping incident.

    When I became to seriously dressing-up was after a painful break-up. It started the methodical process of desire towards irreversible trans-sexuality. The ex-girl-friend was self-naming as a slut. She was open-minded, but tolerant towards permitting what she then could use as a cruel tool of manipulation. She exploited my feminine weakness to the point of mocking and painful acts inside of my own intimacy. Sassy, she was to the point of going commando in public or with friends in order to nag me for what I’d not be able to do. This girl-friend was both cruelty and elixir, at all moments, and even when driving her Targa which stick-shift gear box necessitated a precise movement of her legs & foot against the clutch and the accelerators pedal. Sexy to the hilt, but more about that fetish later. This is under those psychological conditions that I was going all the way towards reassignment surgery. I was going to do it! because I wanted that useless ‘thing’ gone to make place to the calice of my adoration. It was crazy.
    Again my lucky star prevented this gender suicide. This is how it happened: L* (the ex-) and I met. I was dressed-up as a debutante tranny, that is a cheap black nylon wig ‘Vidal Sassoon’ modern style; a red turtle neck top with long sleeves ornated with cheap jewelery bracelets and ear-rings and a tight black mini-skirt covering a pair of black hoses. I felt anxious while waiting for L* in that cocktail lounged that she had told me to be for meeting. I nevertheless felt comfortable waiting in that simple every-day’s girl clothing. For underneath, a pair of silicone breasts glued of the small size ‘A’. I do not like big boobs. ‘Françoise’ has small breasts. I find this elegant and efficient. Naturally I was tucked very tight, and it was uncomfortable. But this discomfort was not going to last much longer once returned from Tailand.
    When L* showed up, she filled the air with a sarcastic laughter. It awakened the semi-dormant cocktail lounge. L* demanded that I untuck, to make sure that she had not lost her ex-lover for the worst, but I was no longer hers, so I got my revenge by flatly refusing. I confronted my ex as a real and irreversible girl to-be, ans soon she was to be a rival.
    It is the cocktail waitress who changed my mind when with a professional and yet touch of irony, she asked what “us girls desired to drink”.

    From ‘Françoise’ I became ‘Domino’ by that moment. It was the flaming phase I guess as it is called. The bad boys’ frequentation did not last long, luckily, and so became ‘Destiny’ into that intermittent period of my life spend at dusk.
    Once returned to San Francisco for what’d be twelve years. It was not always cross-dressing time. I experimented kilt. It was the type of short sport kilt worn during grass-hockey. In San Francisco, you dress how you want, and no-one says anything. It was a fun game with the girls. Once a German student from the pension chased me, and wanted to show me to public places such as the new De Young Museum. She was wild of that plaited skirt and heavy sweater which were the only thing I wore. Naturally, I went to the Power-Exchange many times, but those times dressed as a hooker.
    Curiously my advanced stage of crossdressing came from the nude beaches from where I had returned. I was picked-up by a sugar-daddy there. Visibly fully shaved, while as a strong contrast still playing the ingénue, a man, very gentle and from old East Coast money (think the Philadelphia Story movie starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn) felt for me. He flew me there, and even took me on a tour in his club. A posh place. This is when I started serious cross-dressing. The LBD as the basic wardrobe for all occasions. Why did we became lovers? I was always totally nude when B* went to me for the first time. Unless B* had fallen in love when he saw provocatives accessories which increased the feminine aspect. I occasionally, on this SF nude beach wore just a large lady’s straw hat with a pink ruban with wide lady’s pair of sunglasses which just revealed a cute face and a smile.

    In this coming-out narrative, I told in my best way at what caused my successives and refining steps into crossdressing. I love and next to adore being femme. It is my sweet poison, I confess it. Will it last? My lucky star has not let me down so far. I will keep it in my secret garden as how from ‘Destiny’ of my period of dusk which defines through the nom de garce (bitchy name) I transformed to ‘Marie-Madeleine’ the burning seraphic flame of love as I dream becoming once my latest nom de femme will be of a permanent past.

    As promisse, I explain the ‘fetish’ coming from my ex, for when she drove her Porsche 911S Targa. As a result, Marie-Madeleine has the sequel of an ‘innocent little fetish’ when driving her automobiles. Both are German made. One is a big luxury berline with an automatic transmission, while the other is an SUV (rare color ‘Marakech’) with a six speed manual (transmission). Marie-Madeleine gets her kick out of both cars in two different ways because la ‘bougeoise mondaine’ may admire her expansive escarpins which ends her beautiful God’s created perfect legs. Marie-Madeleine is joyful then at been under the eyes of her loving and omnipresent ‘Daddy’.
    When driving the other car, the stick-shift, it becomes an agressive view, as a reminding of the past full of regrets, because she sees her painted toe-nails and her bare legs only half-covered by a simple blouse and, going up and down in a rhythm at each gear shifting. Marie-Madeleine is then reminded of that wilding periods as ‘Domino’ with the bad boys, as well as once the mauvais garçons and the mauvaises filles been gone, then of the period of dusk as the tragic ‘Destiny’. It becomes a knot in the lower stomach. I guess, the real women have that sensation of cramp too once a month. Marie-Madeleine is then painfully reminded that she’ll remain femme and will never be a fertile woman ever. That choice is not left to her, but Marie-Madeleine still remains faithful in her hope that ‘Daddy’ who knows everything knows how she once was forced inseminated as to make her irremediably a “gurl”.
    Here is the ‘fetish’ of the gear-shifting, explaine and here is the ending word of my ‘coming-out’.

  3. I read your comment and can appreciate with what you have said. When (we) open our hearts and souls and put it in print we are exposing all the hidden truths that we all want so much to reveal. I can identify with what you have said and applaud you for your honesty. Stay safe and have fun, whether it be “naughty” or nice.

  4. Thanks for the article. Since I was little, I was attracted to girl’s clothing and when I wore a dress for the first time, I knew there was no going back.

  5. Thanks for the article. I crossdress because, I’m fascinated with women’s clothing. It helps to relieve stress and tension for me. I’m very relaxed in a dress. I love wearing them and how it feels on my body.

  6. Thank you for this interesting article. Obviously, you put in time to research the question of why cross dressers are motivated to dress en femme. I too have done a lot of research on this fascinating topic, and I think you pretty much hit all the major reasons for cross dressing. For me, it is a way to stay in touch with the feminine side of who I am. I’m heterosexual, married, and my wife is very supportive. Once I started really getting in touch with the inner femme, our marriage began to truly flourish because of the changes it brought about in my personality – more nurturing, patient, giving. Thanks again for a most informative article.

  7. Nobody will ever know the true reason, for me it was curiosity, my mother’s bra knickers just layed there on her bed & I just knew I had to put them on wondering how they would feel, & the next time I did I put a skirt & blouse & eventually after several weeks I was sat her dressing table trying to put makeup on, several years later I am still doing it but with my dresses & my makeup, I ask myself why ? & I come to the same conclusions:- I like been a girl because I feel at ease with myself & happier to say the least when I’m wearing a miniskirt & 4″ stilettos, & YES I’ve been caught several times but that’s another story, but wouldn’t it be a boring old world without 1 or 2 of being different.

  8. I started cross dressing as a teenage boy. Seeing panties and bras hanging on washing lines or on models in mail order catalogues always fascinated me. Yes there was a sexual attraction, but also a curiosity as to how it would feel to wear women’s clothes. Gradually I began acquiring my own, not just underwear but also skirts and blouses, then I began to experiment with makeup. Could I make myself feminine and attractive, or at least passable as a woman? Fortunately although I am very tall, I am slim and have been told, I have nice long legs so stockings and later holdups were also added to my wardrobe. Only my mother knew about this when she came home early one evening and found her makeup on the table. She was extremely disapproving as she was very much “old school” and believed in traditional gender roles. After she passed away I was alone, which offered me the chance to add more clothes, shoes and a long dark wig to my wardrobe. I watched YouTube videos extensively to get ideas and tips on applying eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, blusher, foundation and powder. I also added some very pretty lingerie to my collection and love to dress as often as I can. For me dressing allows me to relax, be at ease and become as feminine and attractive as I can be, I love my feminine identity and have always found femininity to be an awesome concept which i love to follow. I constantly look in the women’s section of stores for tops, skirts, dresses and other clothes that can enhance my image. When I become Antonia I feel a sense of ease, relaxation and femininity which I can only realise when I become a woman. I have gone out dressed a couple of times, but only to drive around late in the evenings, draw money from a cashpoint, and in one occasion nearly went to a local LGBTQ+ friendly bar, but at the last moment I walked past it and went home. Online I do get many admiring comments from men who find me attractive and would like to date me and I must confess to a certain curiosity as to what it would be like to meet a man and be dated by him.

    1. This is similar experience I have had. I believe I am autogynephiliac and love being a female. That does nt mean I m gay but bi curious to being dated as we all like passing and feeling female. It’s complicated x

  9. First I want to thank you for the article, and comment on how I feel reflected in it. At the beginning when I was about seven years old, I felt the curiosity without being able to explain it by touching women’s underwear (my brain told me to) later I was fascinated by putting it on my skin (at the beginning only panties) and it led me to the Autogynefilia. Later, when I felt a lot of work or family tension, I realized that putting on panties with a preformed bra helped me eliminate it and then I felt great. Driving at night alone, with exposed panties hiding my little man and bra things under a tight cropped T-shirt and flip flops was a wonderful experience, thank goodness I didn’t get stopped by the police. I have no interest in the subject of gender change, I feel good with my masculine side. Normally, when I need to, I use women’s underwear hidden in my men’s clothes. Thank you.

  10. Well I put on a skirt felt more comfortable with myself than in my entire childhood and then found this article. I do happen to be gay but many people who cross dress aren’t and are even married in straight relationships.
    I suppose it’s time to come out. Lexi is ready.

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