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A Snapshot of the Experiences of Cross-Dressers

Conclusions Because cross-dressers may live as or express a gender different than the one assigned to them at birth only part of the time, they have different experiences of discrimination. Because they can often make choices about when and if to come out to others, they seemed to be shielded from some of the hostile environments reported by our other respondents. Nonetheless, a sizable number reported dealing with bias and violence in their lives. This may well stem from the fact that they offer no visual clues about their gender identity when they are not cross-dressed, but may well be identifiable as gender different when they are dressed. It appears that this group is highly vulnerable part of the time and much less vulnerable at other times. All of these factors deserve further study; statistically we know relatively little about the lives of cross-dressers and additional research would greatly enhance our knowledge.

“20 years in the Army, 2 in Vietnam, 2 Bronze stars, a Purple Heart. I met my wife while serving and told her that I was a transvestite. I dressed at home. After the service, I got a civil service job and stayed in the closet. Now I am retired and I live in a town that is next to a large Marine base. Dressing here would be committing suicide. I dress up at home every day, but never go outside in my feminine attire.”

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Endnotes __________________________________________________________________________

1

We had a small number of cross-dressers in our sample who were female at birth, and, because of the differing levels of social stigma associated with wearing clothes of a different sex for men and women, we felt it was important to focus here on the experiences of those cross-dressers who were born male.

2 Those respondents who did not strongly identify with any of the terms in Question 4 were then classified based on their “somewhat” applies answers, so some of the cross-dressers in the sample only identified “somewhat” as a cross-dresser. If a respondent chose “strongly” crossdresser and “strongly” transsexual (or were both “somewhat”), they were put in the transgender category. 3 This may be in part because many define cross-dresser as a term that only applies to heterosexuals, while the term drag queen or drag king is used more by those who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. 4 Kelly Ann Holder, U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economics Statistics Division, “Comparison of ACS And ASEC Data on Veteran Status and Period of Military Service: 2007” (Washington, DC: GPO, 2007): http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/veterans/comparison_report. pdf.

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