Some months ago I had a telephone counselling call from a woman in the country. Her husband is a shift worker and when she arrived home unexpectedly one day he was dressed up in women’s clothes, he was wearing a wig and had make-up on. She was devastated because they have been married for three years and she was totally unaware of his habit.

When she confronted him he told her that he was too scared to tell her of fear of rejection and he thought he might just hide it from her. She could not cope and called me in total despair. I was able to explain to her what cross dressing is about.

Cross dressers are usually hetero sexual men who like to dress up in women’s clothes. They discover their need to cross-dress during childhood
starting out by dressing up in their sisters or their mother’s clothes. They soon find out that it is not accepted and are told to stop it. They feel shame become secretive and try to deny and suppress their feelings and need to cross dress.

There are many misconceptions about men who cross dress:

1) They are gay – they are not!
2) They don’t like women – they do, most men are married
3) They do it for sexual gratification – Although cross dressing is a sexual fetish for some, the vast majority of men do not experience any arousal as a result of cross dressing, it is simply the exploration of feminine self expression.
4) Some men find that cross dressing makes them feel relaxed and helps them with stress
5) They always wear women’s clothes – not true, most may only dress up occasionally – some men often wear women’s underwear under their clothes.
6) They can be cured – there is no cure as it is not an illness but a “state of being”.

For both the cross dresser and his family it is not an easy thing to deal with and it is very common to experience a sense of despair to face the reality of the situation.

My client loves her husband and does not want to leave him. After some counselling sessions with both of them they have reached a level of compromise. For now, he will only cross dress occasionally when she is not home and she needs some time to adjust to this newfound knowledge about her husband.

It is essential for a family member to become informed and educated by reading relevant literature to understand and come to terms with such a challenging situation.

Professional counselling is a valid consideration but there are also more cost effective options.

There are several support and social groups for cross dressers and their family. The Seahorse Society has branches in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Their website The Chameleon Society in WA and The Carousel Club in SA.

The members are familiar with the issues that arise and can share their experience and offer practical advice.

Cross dressing should not be mixed up with being Transsexual or Transgender. (A person who is an individual with a gender identity which is not consistent with his or hers assigned gender).

Recently a famous surfer legend Peter Drouyn was in the news as he choose to become a woman, her name is now Westerly Windina. From a very early age she always believed that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

Matty Silver

Matty Silver

Matty Silver is a relationship counsellor and sexual health therapist with a private practice in Sydney, who works with people to identify and overcome a range of physical and mental sexual health problems.

She specialises in telephone counselling all over Australia as another option to access advice or therapy. Telephone counselling provides a safe, supportive and confidential environment. It is anonymous and gives clients the freedom to talk about sexual issues without feeling embarrassed.

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