Gender conundrum: are crossdressers gender fluid?

Let me start with a well-worn cliché: there are more variations in gender than colors in a rainbow!

To my mind, this statement most certainly rings true—and always has done! Yet, sadly, throughout history, people who are different in some ways from the so-called norm have also been ostracized, persecuted and, to some extent, feared by society.

There have always been crossdressers, trans people, gay people and non-binary people; there have always been bisexuals, intersex people and others not fitting neatly into rigid gender boxes. However, for many years, the overly conservative, highly rigid societal rules and regulations which humans have self-imposed upon themselves served to effectively suppress all sorts of minorities—whether these were, amongst other things, gender or sexual preference based.

The internet and social media, with the relatively free flow of vast quantities of information and communication changed society’s outlook forever.

And, with greater awareness and knowledge, people who are different came to realize that they are not alone; indeed, the cross dresser in New York can connect with a similar person in Switzerland, or the gender fluid person in Singapore can reach out to a contemporary in London.

Partially as a consequence of this new-found freedom of expression and information flow, new words and expressions to describe gender non-conforming people have come into vogue, with one of the more recent being gender fluid. This term can be paraphrased as:

The need or desire and ability to be/present as one gender or the other at any given point in time depending on mood and other factors

It’s interesting to see how this expression relates to crossdressers and transgender people.

As a starter, let’s look at crossdressers: it is often said (in jest, but with a degree of seriousness) that the difference between a crossdresser and a transgender person is only a matter of a few years.

This probably doesn’t hold true for many heterosexual, married crossdressers who have no aspirations to become a female on a full-time basis and are content to dress in their En Femme finery once or twice a week or whenever they have the time.

Sure, they may dress in women’s underwear, skirts and tops or dresses, make-up, wigs and accessories and everything necessary to appear as a complete woman but, after a period of time, they will change back to male mode. On the other hand, the general perception is that trans people, usually, wish to stay as their true gender forever!

But do crossdressers and transgender people qualify as being gender fluid? After all, as every crossdresser knows, the urges, the desperate, all-encompassing need to dress as a woman, can be overpoweringly strong for 1 or 2 days, then fade away for a while… maybe a few days a week or, in more extreme cases, months.

Why this is so, no one is sure—maybe it’s stress or environment related or just the cycle of need associated with being a cross dresser. So, it is not unusual for some crossdressers on one day to long to appear as a woman, then go for a week or so without the need to cross dress and live as an apparently normal male.

Do the gender aspirations of crossdressers change during such times, as with those who maintain they are gender fluid?

Similarly, with some people who identify as transgender, for example, those who may have some minor cosmetic treatments such as laser hair removal on faces, arms legs or, nose or eyebrow or other facial adaptions to look more feminine but who do not have the major surgeries such as breast implants or genital surgery. They do not, necessarily, wish to have such surgeries.

Is it, therefore, that their gender may be considered fluid when they revert (however reluctantly) to male mode for work or to attend certain meetings or to go back to see their parents or families?

And what about those people who use gender fluid as their primary designation when looking for a label for themselves? You can see scores of them in videos on You Tube or other social media. Are such people really, in fact, crossdressers or, maybe, simply what we might also typically consider as transgender people?

Confusing, yes—even to those within our own community.

But the positive side of new buzz words and expressions and the higher visibility of more gender non-conforming people is that all this brings much more openness about gender diversity and helps change entrenched societal attitudes towards people who do express their gender differently.

As a result, there is still hope that, one day, the true crossdresser, in her gorgeous En Femme outfit, can sooner rather than later go out and about without the fear of prejudice, without receiving negative comments or fears for their safety.

Now that would be something worth celebrating and shouting about, wouldn’t it?


  • Barbara

    Like Samantha, I have been dressing since the age of 4. Whether innocent or intentional, my mother introduced me to crossdressing. Then , as now, I found it innocent and fun wearing female clothing and make-up. The fun, of course, has not been without struggle. As a mature Crossdresser, I grew-up and for years unaware that there were others like me. I have always identified as straight male, and fought my female side. But if there is a fluid gender, it is when I am Barbara. I am passable and now when I go out, I am all in female. Before wonderful sites like this one, I struggled with being a "normal" day to day male, and BOOM, wanting to be Barbara. Yes part of the fluid gender has transformed me over the years. As others have mentioned, when I was younger, it was inclusive of a sexual urge. But it is far more complex and exciting than anything I have ever experienced. I do not get to be Barbara as often as I would like, but whatever you want to call it, I am glad I have it! Have Fun Dressing! Barbara

  • gail

    Good article.
    i've cross dressed off and on for over 50 years.
    During this period I've experienced gender, that is the outward expression of sexuality, in many guises.
    from a gay bottom trying to seduce a top, to a cross dressed diva doing his best to not only pass but to elicit wolf whistles while passing, to an aspiring MTF transgender honestly convinced my true self was as a woman, and last but not last as a married man seeking to balance all my divergent urges with societal expectations.Not sure there are an infinite number of genders, and whatever the number they all to a more or less extent orbit around the Sun that is man/woman.
    So whether or gender is fluid it pays to be fluid when it comes to gender.

  • Samantha

    I've been a CD since the age of 4 (soon 31), from the first time I was wearing female items I loved it, back then if you mentioned that you're a CD they automatically think it's gay or has something to do with being gay. In my 20's I started to feel the need to CD, so I dress up as a young lady as best as I know how to and never ended the fun of CD, through the years I was going through the process of wearing women's clothing and shoes. Just recently I started to wear makeup, nail polish, lingerie and I felt good. Now I wear tight dresses and skirts, high heel stilettos and (I don't think it's a lingerie piece) thongs with fishnet pantyhose. My favorite color is lady form is Pink and purple. I wear women's jewelry, perfume and I shaved my legs, armpits and other areas. The only major risk I took was having sex with another guy. That's when I realized that I'm a CD bisexual, the minor risk is to dress as a female and letting people talk stupid about how gay it is, it doesn't bother me cause I know what I am and it's my life and nobody can't guess what I am (because I'm not gonna sit there and hear your B.S.), I have the love of a female and my female friends loves me even more, I help to make sure that they look just as sexy as myself and we do use each other shoes, clothing, and makeup. We go out together and we have fun dancing and drinking with each other.

  • Johnnie

    Iam 66 years old is that to old for crossdressing and getting Fem side of me

  • Carrie

    Kathy, you bring up some interesting points. I have identified as genderfluid for about three years after my wife and I found a couples counselor who helped us understand that my need to be Carrie was more than a sexual release. I now spend about 20% of my year living as a woman and then my male self is screaming "HEY, MY TURN!!!" It is rare that I only present as Carrie for a day or two, it is usually a week to ten days. I am very lucky to have a partner who says I am her BFF and she actually enjoys Carrie, but still is in love with my boy-mode self.

    For me, using "crossdresser" just did not seem to fit and genderfluid feels better. I am now not even sure I fit under the LGBTQ "T" umbrella. I think maybe the "Q" tent, as in gender queer, might be a better fit. All I know is it is tiresome getting comments from those in the T (those who have hijacked T to mean TRANSITIONING) community like, "When are you going to tell your wife you are going to transition?" or "When are you going to choose a side?" Well, guess what? I am NOT going to do either. At 62 I like myself, my wife likes me and my son and daughter in law like me better than before I came to grips with who I really am, as do most of our cisgender friends we have come out to. Believe me, I know how lucky I am!!!

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