I am a 45 year old cross dresser, and my wife and I have been married for 20 years. I have not told her of my dressing, but we are going to be moving soon and I have a feeling that as we pack she may find some of my things. I would like to tell her of my dressing habit but I am worried about how she will take it. How can I softly break this to her?
At a loss for words
Dear At a loss for words,
It's something that is difficult to approach so be prepared in advance for her possible reactions which, at the deep end, may include shock, anger and fear. Those are the worst of it and you may find she is more understanding than you imagine. Without knowing anything about her it's difficult for me to say but I do know that it is usually not something a wife is prepared to hear. You sound like you have decided to tell her and that is courageous. It will be awkward and stressful for both of you, so know that up front and you will not be blindsided, but may be pleasantly surprised if your wife is compassionate. Generally speaking, women respond well to vulnerability and honesty. She will have lots of questions so you should be prepared to help her with those with your affirmation that your love has never wavered. My best advice is to have a good sense of what you are going to say, prepare for the possibility that her reaction might be intense and even unpleasant, but stay calm and let her reaction and questions signal how you respond. An increasing closeness, mutual understanding and shared joys can follow - keep that in mind.
My wife and I are both in our mid 20's and have been married for 5 years. I told her about being a crossdresser while we were dating. She is ok with me dressing at home, but not going out because she feels it is not safe. What might I be able to do to convince her that I can safely get out and about while presenting female?
Dear Unhappy Wallflower,
It's so much safer today than it was in the mid-20th century but it's still a good idea to be cautious by being aware of when and where you dress and with whom you socialize. My CD husband and I go everywhere around town and he is treated very well and local acquaintances in his circle around town are affirming. We are older and do not do the nightclub scene, where safety may be more of a concern. In our CD social group we go everywhere and are known by many local establishments. Take it slow and ask her to consider making a daytime outing for lunch or shopping. Once she sees how accepting most of the public is, (most of whom will not even take notice), her fears will begin to lessen.
Dear Lynn and Meg,
My husband and I have been married for going on 15 years, and have known each other for over 20. A few days ago he sat me down and told me that he enjoys wearing female clothing, and that he has all kinds of stuff to help make him look like a woman. After we talked for a bit I asked him to show me his things and he took me down to the basement and unlocked and opened his old army foot locker. It was full of all of his feminine things. He offered to show me what he looks like when dressed as a female, but I am not ready to see that yet. The entire time I have known him he has been a kind and sensitive man, I just do not understand why he has a desire to look like a woman. Is my husband gay, or is he going to want to transition or what is going to happen?
I am pretty sure he is not gay or wants to transition. But these are questions only he can answer. But for majority of us crossdressers crossdressing is an act of expressing our femininity.
My best advice is to continue with an open dialogue. By all means you need to let him know your feelings and if it makes you feel uncomfortable seeing him dress he should honor that request.
There is no correlation between sexual orientation and gender identity. The number of crossdressers who are gay is minimal and corresponds with the amount of gays in the general population (two percent, plus or minus), so that is a very low possibility. You would have had red flags by now after 20 years. It does become more complicated with transexuals - those who have taken or are taking active steps to more fully transition. Transitioning is also minimal among cross-dressers but should be part of your ongoing communication. These two concerns (gay and/or transitioning) are the first anxieties felt by wives, but also the least likely to actually happen. As far as not being able to understand his need to dress in women's clothing, some of us, perhaps most of us, cannot fully understand these desires and that includes wives and husbands. Your husband has just recently shared this with you which is a huge step for him. He has been keeping this to himself for a long time but feels the need to be authentic with you. You are seeing a part of the whole person and it's a journey. He's the same person, but there is a layer here that, (if not fully explainable), at least deserves exploring and can bring you closer in ways that you may come to appreciate. Take it slow, be willing to hear him and definitely let your needs known to him. Continual communication is the key and perhaps exposure to a group such as Sigma Epsilon where you can discuss your thoughts with other wives. Keep in touch - you are not alone.
Dear Lynn and Meg,
My wife has known about my dressing for years, and her acceptance and support have waxed and waned over the years. There have been times that she was willing to buy me feminine clothing for gift giving occasions, but for the last few years she seems to want me to present as nothing but a rough and rugged man. I try to be understanding of her feelings around my gender expression but sometimes it is rough, and while I am not interested in transitioning I would like to be able to be more free in my gender expression. What can I try to do to get my wife back to the place of being more accepting of the softer side of my personality?
Tired of being rugged
Dear Tired of being rugged,
This is a tough one.
Sometimes we may cross a line without knowing it. Also because of her support and acceptance we crossdressers may also do it to much without realizing it. Your wife seeing this maybe fearful she is losing her husband to the other woman. A struggle of balance that we all deal with and I'm sure the women we love feel the same.
I would discuss with your wife about how you need to do this I would give her example of how often you need to Express your feminine side. Hopefully this will open up discussion of how often is acceptable to both.
Hopefully this helps and Lynn may have a better insight.
Dear Tired of being rugged,
As Meg states, communication is so important. Are you dressing more and she is becoming less tolerant as she sees that happening? You need to find out exactly what she is experiencing by asking her. You may also consider having a few date nights in the month where you dress as a man and go out to dinner and a movie for example. This lets your wife know that you are sensitive to her needs and willing to compromise. From a wife's point of view, it is sometimes difficult to imagine a future where we are 'growing old' next to another woman (in appearance) instead of the man we married. That's an adjustment some of us need to make as we see our spouse wanting to express their feminine side more and more. But that doesn't happen with every cross-dresser. Analyze your needs and be honest with her. Is this a desire you feel is increasing? Also, your wife may feel alone in her fears with no one to talk to from her point of view. The Atlanta chapter of Tri-Ess (our Sigma Epsilon group) serves the SE area and we have a ladies-only group that meets periodically. Our outreach director can give you more information or help you find a local chapter of Tri-Ess in your area.