Helping Wives of Crossdressers to Understand and Cope
copyright 1996 by Phi Epsilon Mu chapter of Tri Ess
as an attachment to their Internet Home Page
May be reproduced by any non-profit gender organization.
Please retain this header.
by Sandra with a little input from her friends
So, your husband/signifcant other is a crossdresser (CD).
Welcome to the club! In your quest for information, you have arrived here.
Let me reassure you, there are many, many women in your shoes.
(You might also say that there are many husbands in their wive’s shoes!)
It has been estimated that as many as eight and a half million adult males in the
U.S. alone crossdress. It may be a secret that society has forced us to keep, but
it’s more common than anyone realizes and it is within the range of human normal
activity. It occurs in all societies and in all periods of history. It is not a problem
because your husband has a problem, but it is a problem because at this point in
our history our society has a problem dealing with it.
Our group is about helping you and your crossdressing husband or husband-to-be
deal with a society that refuses to allow men to experience the full range of their
personality. As women, we have made great strides in increasing the range of
gender choices available to us in clothing, hair, jobs, and personal demeanor.
Men are still not only limited, but also punished, for doing anything that society
perceives as being feminine. Men are even limited (or feel they are limited) in color
choices, skin care, and even in the way they relate to their children.
Your husband truly admires and loves women, especially their clothes! By dressing
in women’s clothing, he may express those feminine feelings which society deems
unacceptable for men to feel or to display. He probably doesn’t want to become a
woman in the literal sense, through surgery. In most instances he is happy with his
masculine and feminine sides. If he is a crossdresser (as opposed to a transsexual),
he is not willing to give up all of his male needs and desires.
Despite his “expanded” wardrobe, you cannot judge a book by its cover. It is the
person inside with whom you fell in love, and in all probability, he has had these
feelings all his life. He is the same person you fell in love with. Only your understanding
of his full situation has changed. Despite the shock, hopefully you will stay in the
relationship. This is not an easy decision. Crossdressing is not something that society
has yet to fully accept. There are lots of women who are unable to stay in such a relationship.
As you may have discovered, your husband is not like most other men. He has a warm,
caring, sensitive and nurturing side. This is a result of the feminine side of his personality
being so strong and playing such an influence on him. He is probably more understanding
of you than most men. You may, in fact, not have observed this. Crossdressing can be
complex condition. Men who are crossdressers usually begin to feel the “need” to
crossdress at an early age, often about five or six years, and as they mature, society
pressures them to suppress their need and keep it as a deep secret. When the stress
of middle age, increased financial responsibility of a growing family, and increasing
job responsibilities add to their normal stress of hiding their secret inner-femininity,
some crossdressers begin to have difficulties in handling their lives. This can lead to
conflicts that mask the inner feminine personality and prevent you from experiencing the
good side of his crossdressing—the loving, caring, nurturing and understanding part.
Wives and partners of crossdressers often report that when a husband or partner is
able to finally “come out” to the wife, and the wife begins to accept and understand, the
crossdresser often undergoes a major life change that permits the “good” side to
develop and be expressed. Acceptance by the wife or partner often leads to a whole new
outlook on life by the crossdresser that carries over into the relationship.
Discovering that your husband or partner is a crossdresser is not the end of the world.
Crossdressing does not hurt anyone and it need not shake the foundation of your
marriage. In fact, he is a lot less likely to be unfaithful in your marriage than
non-crossdressing spouses. In some couples, crossdressing has served to
strengthen their relationships. Many wives fear that their husband is homosexual or
bi-sexual because of his desire to crossdress, or to fear that he is “changing” into a
homosexual, but this is not necessarily the case.
The incidence of homosexuality or bi-sexuality among crossdressers is the same as
in the population in general, meaning that it is not likely that he has hidden, or is just
discovering, his sexual orientation. He probably is what he says he is—straight and in
love with you. It is important to remember that one’s sex (one’s physical identity as
“man” or “woman” based on one’s reproductive organs, chromosomes, and secondary
sex characteristics), one’s gender (one’s mental perception of one’s
self as “masculine” or “feminine”), and one’s sexual orientation (who one wants to mate with) are totally
independent of one another. It is entirely possible for a person to think of himself as
being feminine but still want to mate with women exclusively. Don’t jump to false conclusions
in this regard.
You are probably deciding whether or not to accept this “colorful” part of his personality.
Believe me when I say that there are many crossdressers whose wives know about the
crossdressing but will not accept it in any form. This is a truly sorrowful situation.
Your relationship with your husband can be enhanced because he is a crossdresser.
You have more things in common with him and can enjoy a wider variety of activities
than most couples. You can benefit from his developing “softer side” and your acceptance
and support will improve the quality of his life. Some crossdressers report that they are
certain that they would not be alive today due to the stress of hiding their “secret” were
it not for the support of their spouse or partner.
A successful relationship with a crossdresser can be stressful to you. I know. You have
many fears. Will he be discovered? Will our families find out? Will this effect his job and
our financial security? Will the neighbors learn the secret? Will he be arrested for
crossdressing, bringing public embarrassment? Will it hurt the kids? Will he turn gay?
Will he have a sex change? What will become of me?
A relationship with a crossdresser is about love and trust. You feel betrayed because
you shared your deepest secrets and trust with him, but he hid this secret from you.
A relationship with a crossdresser is about setting limits and about regaining trust and
His crossdressing can effect you and your security so you have a right
to negotiate limits with him. If he wants to go out in public, perhaps this can be arranged
on business trips to distant cities or on weekend field trips once a month to a local or
nearby support group meeting. Or maybe he can attend one of the regional annual
crossdresser conventions. His outings do not have to be to your local mall where discovery
is more likely, although some crossdressers pass so well that this is simply not an issue.
Set limits on who is to know. Some crossdressers feel the need to tell someone or to come
out to the world completely. You have a right to help decide these major decisions.
Crossdressing per se is not illegal but you have a right to discuss your concerns about this
with him and insist that he not put himself in any situation that might lead to an arrest.
A trip to the mall is one thing, but a trip to the Ladies’ Room is something entirely different.
Being caught in either restroom crossdressed is not the time to argue Constitutional
law with a minimum wage security guard who holds your future in his hands and needs to
impress his superiors with his efficiency in clearing “perverts” out of the restrooms.
Set rules in advance that are “safe,” and stick to them.
Agree on whether to tell the kids, and if you are the slightest bit concerned of this,
don’t tell. Confront the issue of a sex change. He may be confused at first and he may
feel pressure to explore this possibility, but the vast majority of crossdressers who have
supportive wives resolve their confusion and accept themselves for what they are—
crossdressers, not transsexuals. Help him find himself. Above all, be flexible.
Both the crossdresser and his wife must honor the limits they set, but there is room for
compromise as you both grow.
The issue of the “secret” he kept from you for decades is difficult to resolve. Many wives
feel life long hurt about this. But when we discuss this issue in our support groups,
the crossdressers almost universally say that they love their spouse so dearly that they
could not bring themselves to discuss crossdressing with them before the stress and pain
forced them to, or until they were accidentally discovered by the wife or partner.
Think about it. He endured great personal pain, suffering alone in his “closet” his entire
life. His greatest fear was of losing your love and companionship. He endured to assure
the continuation of the marriage. Yes, he betrayed your trust. But there are far worse
betrayals. Most women should be so fortunate.
If you chose to accept, you can have fun with his crossdressing. This is a great attitude
to have. Crossdressing can be fun if you want it to be. Think of the things you can do
together that you might not be able to do with a “normal” husband! Laughter is the best way
to go through life and to deal with crossdressing. Experience has shown that those couples
who laugh together are among the happiest and most successful in their relationship.
You laugh together about many things, why not about this?
Phi Epsilon Mu is a support group for wives, not just for the crossdresser. We are committed
to giving women the support and information they need to cope with a crossdressing husband.
It is an opportunity for wives to meet others with a similar “interest.” Most wives who
attend the meetings have become close friends and can discuss and offer support on most
anything. Our meetings are very informal. There is plenty of socializing with wives and
crossdressers, a pot luck dinner, desserts to die for, a discussion group for both wives and
CDs, and a separate meeting for the wives and partners (yes, we have some unmarried
crossdressers who bring their future spouse). The separate meeting is very important as
it allows the expression of personal concerns and experiences between women who
can understand what each one of us is going through. Everyone benefits from the exchange
of ideas and feelings. It is a positive event for wives who are new or experienced in dealing
with a CD husband. Please come join us. See the Home Page for instructions on how to how to participate.
Some great references:
Coping With Crossdressing by JoAnn Roberts
Tools and strategies for partners in committed partnerships $15.00 plus $1.50 s/h from IFGE Bookstore
or CDS Publications http://www.cdspub.com/Pubs.html
My Husband Wears My Clothes by Dr. Peggy Rudd
“Wonderful book. Dr. Rudd should be nominated for sainthood for saving our
marriage.”—a Phi Epsilon Mu spouse
$10.00 plus $5 s/h from the IFGE bookstore orCDS Publications http://www.cdspub.com/Pubs.html
IFGE Bookstore P. O. Box 367 Wayland, MA 01778
“The Crossdresser and His Wife—Strategies for Coping” ( 90 minute Video) Horizon Institute
P.O. Box 5757 Deltona, FL 32725 Horizon Institute http://www.horizon-usa.com/misc/gender.htm
Produced by a local producer with the assistance of Phi Epsilon Mu members.
Produced as a not for profit endeavor. A copy is in our chapter library for use by
members free of charge or you can buy a copy from Horizon Institute.
$39.95 plus $5 s/h
Send mail to The Gender Tree with
questions or comments about this web site.