Crossdressing: Nature or Nurture? 1


One of the first questions we ask ourselves once we realise that we’re crossdressers/transvestites is “Why am I like this? Why am I a crossdresser?” Usually it’s not from a place of genuine curiosity, but a place of shame, or of misplaced guilt, or of anguish, because we’re suddenly assaulted by this reality of being different from everyone else – not by choice, but by circumstance, as if Fate has dealt us a shitty hand that we have no choice but to play.

Well, ok. That’s one way to look at it.

Another way to look at it is as a gift – we have been given a rare trait – a special prism with which to see the ourselves and the world. Maybe we don’t fit neatly into the mechanism of society, but viewed on our own, we are beautiful snowflakes, floating on a breeze that yearns for a softer, gentler world where we are free to yadda yadda oh my god what a load of bollocks this is as well.

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Personally, I believe that the universe is as cold and arbitrary as it is fascinating. Shit happens, and it’s all of basically zero importance. As such, it’s probably worthwhile to look at the world a bit more dispassionately so as to more clearly understand what’s actually going on, and whether or not it actually matters. So. Nature vs Nurture?

Born This Way: The Lady Gaga perspective

It seems appropriate to address the “Nature” argument first since, well, priority matters – no one who’s anyone says “Nurture vs Nature” (although I didn’t actually check. Maybe someone does. THERE’S NO WAY TO KNOW). We’ve known for a while now that inside most of our cells (not all) we carry around a full instruction set of How To Build a Human – otherwise known as our DNA. The code governs myriad things about us – skin-colour, eye-colour, our disposition to diseases, what certain things taste like, whether or not we can roll our tongue – important things. It’s a blueprint for how we are built. Doesn’t it make sense that the secrets of who we are happen to be buried in there somewhere? Is this destiny wrought by my ancestors? Is this some familial curse? By some evolutionary stroke of chance, did my mum’s and and my dad’s genes combine in some peculiar way such that there’s a more feminine side to my personality that needs to be expressed? CAN I BLAME MY PARENTS FOR THIS?

Never Grow Up: The Taylor Swift perpspective

What are we, if not the sum of our experiences? I still have vivid memories of being frustrated when I was maybe eight years old when a female friend talked about wearing a skirt and how the wind feels really good on your legs. I remember thinking that I would totally try one on, but that it wasn’t allowed. Another memory I have is being at school and having our head teacher read to us from a book, Bill’s New Frock, about a boy who woke up one morning and was a girl, and how everyone treated him completely differently. And it seemed so unfair that I, or anyone else for that matter, be treated differently because of their gender. At that moment in time, I specifically remember that since Bill was a girl now, he was supposed to be more trustworthy. I was livid, or as livid as a well-behaved eight-year-old could be during school assembly. The whole point of the book was to make children think about gender roles, and it absolutely had an effect on me – who knows if anyone else was affected the same way. Could that book have resonated so much with other young boys? Did other things happen that affected me similarly, but that I don’t remember? Was there possibly one particular trigger that cemented in me, or any of us, an intrinsic desire to emulate women? Is this all due to some event, or series of events that happened during our childhoods? CAN I BLAME MY PARENTS FOR THIS?

Why can’t we be friends?: The War/Smash Mouth perspective

These two sides aren’t mutually exclusive, however. I would probably wager that it’s some combination of the two. Whether by random evolutionary variance for a slight predisposition to an interest in more feminine things, maybe some unusual concentration of hormones in the womb, maybe the weight of years of gendered experiences. All of that combined could absolutely throw up some oddity like myself. The theory I hear most frequently is “Oh, you must have been abused as a child”. I wasn’t, but I’ve had at least a few people be absolutely convinced that it must be the only reason. “Oh, you’re probably not thinking hard enough. You’re probably blocking it out”. It’s both funny and frustrating when someone attempts to analyse your life on the basis of a thought they had with zero evidence to back it up. I don’t doubt that there are some people out there for whom crossdressing might conceivably be a way of dealing with a traumatic childhood event. But maybe it’s writ large in our genes: “He whosoever has one of these genes, and three of those ones shall, by Darwinian destiny, like to wear dresses, but not necessarily look good in them!” But then maybe it’s also because skirts are awesome, and high heels and dresses are just gorgeous, or that makeup is magical and fruity shampoo smells better and sometimes I just want to look nice and feel good about myself, OK?!

Nothing Really Matters: The Madonna perspective

I’ve spent a long while trying to figure out why I’m like this. It’s hard to say if it’s nature or nurture, or something in between: Nature is, at least for the moment, a black box which I cannot peer into. Nurture feels more likely as a cause, or at the very least a larger contributory cause then nature, but intellectually analysing the years of things-what-happened-to-me doesn’t yield anything of note, barring some small instances such as those described above. And maybe they were only of note because I was built for those things to resonate more with me? Time and time again, I end up back at square one – I really have no idea from where this urge to dress came from, but I’ve built up a library of bullshit theories about it in the meantime. Overall, I think, while it would be interesting to know, it is largely a pointless endeavour – one which I don’t think particularly matters for the past, present, or future.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The Rolling Stones perspective

So, where are we? Having resolved that it’s all a bit pointless, and even with wanting to know the answer, it may be forever out of our grasp. But I don’t particularly think it’s a bad thing. “Why am I like this?” maybe should turn into “So, I guess I’m like this”. If the analysis of why you became the way you are only results in you discovering that there’s nothing to feel guilty about – that you’ve done nothing wrong, and that who you are is OK – then maybe we figured out something else along the way – something far more important.

Then again, this is only my Opinion, so feel free to take it or leave it.

xx


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One thought on “Crossdressing: Nature or Nurture?

  • Sandra

    Hi Liz, wonderful thought provoking points. You are exactly right when you state that we are who we are and it matters little how we got this way. I struggled for years wondering why I liked to wear girls cloths and if I were the only boy in the world who felt this way.

    I learned early in life that a man had to be manly, anything less was not accepted. Today I accept myself as a cross dresser. I can’t do anything to change, nor do I want to. All I want is to be accepted for who I am.

    Sandra