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Thread: Has Confusion About Gender or Sexual Orientation Been Part of Your Journey?

  1. #1
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    Has Confusion About Gender or Sexual Orientation Been Part of Your Journey?

    Crossdressing over the years has produced a great deal of shame for me. I'm very grateful for this website where I'm encountering people who are learning how to accept themselves while continuing to engage in this behavior. It helps me be kinder to myself. But along the way I've experienced considerable confusion over what this and other behaviors mean. Did I seek out women's lingerie because I really am a woman born in the wrong body? Were encounters I had with men along the way further evidence that either I was gay or a woman who wanted to be with a man?

    I know from the reading I've done over time that most men who engage in crossdressing are heterosexual. But even here, the question is often touched upon... is crossdressing simply a step along the way to admitting we really need to be women and therefore become the impetus for transitioning? I know there is no definitive answer to this question, that we each need to find our own truth. Clearly crossdressing is more than a hobby. There is a driven quality to the need to put on women's clothes that is clear in conversations on the board. Yes, we can take the urge as an occasion to play, either with ourselves or our partners, and playing is wonderful. But I'm wondering how folks sort out these things for themselves. Were you confused? Have you found clarity or do you still struggle? Is crossdressing simply something you do or something whose existence in your life is challenging? Does crossdressing bring you comfort when life delivers stress? I guess the reality that we continue doing it as years unfold means it works for us, even with its many challenges that are regularly discussed in this forum. I guess I'm still sorting these things out for myself. I appreciate what others are experiencing in their journey. Thanks for commenting.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

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    Silver Member Micki_Finn's Avatar
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    Just because we’re passionate about it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more than a hobby. I know people who get home and can’t wait to go work out, or play an instrument to relieve stress, or get anxious if they can’t go golfing. I know a lot of us are always looking for deeper meaning but sometimes it just is what it is.

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    Or as Sigmund Freud said... Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    So you've experienced no confusion over what your crossdressing is about. I wonder if that will be the response of everyone here? Perhaps it is only me who has experienced shame and confusion along the way. I note you've been on this website for four years so perhaps your involvement here has helped to settle any questions you may once have had. I wonder if I'll get to that level of serenity with it all.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

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    Platinum Member kimdl93's Avatar
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    In my case it is about gender identity...sometimes expressing itself as uncertainty, confusion and denial. More recently, its a degree of self acceptance.

    Easy come, easy go;
    Easy left me long ago...

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jean 103's Avatar
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    Yes I was at first. It really hasn't been that long ago.

    It just kinda all came together, or fell apart, depends on how you look at it. I had an opportunity, I went at it hard looking for the answer.

    I learned a lot. Learned to accept myself.

    Was pleasantly surprised by acceptance of others.

    Everyone is different, and on that there is common ground. Basically if you are part of the group you will eventually figure it out, hopefully anyway.

    As everyone is different and on their own path, the end point is different. All I'm saying is not everyone transitions or wants to.

    As Micki said "sometimes it just is what it is"

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    I get from the reading I've done that those who have a more limited relationship with crossdressing aren't quite as vocal about their choices than those who find themselves committed to 24/7 or attempting to pass in public. Perhaps those who have a more limited relationship to the behavior aren't as inclined to join in conversations that don't reflect their interests. It makes sense to me that each person has their own unique journey with this behavior, perhaps borne out the early experiences that led them to crossdressing. I didn't have sisters, for example, so I didn't have easy access to women's clothes or the opportunity to engage with girls about their experience. I get the sense from reading here and elsewhere that sometimes sisters encourage the behavior while some others are quite cruel about it. Those differences probably play out in how we relate to crossdressing. This is no doubt where confusion can enter in, especially for a teenager who has all sorts of hormones raging. For me the early behavior was intensely sexual. Putting together an elevated libido with the sensation of putting on lingerie was intense. At that time I was focused less on securing comfort from the behavior than simply getting off. And, of course, that behavior was very much out of the norm and hence done in secret and with considerable fear of being caught. As I note elsewhere, the fear of being caught can elevate the excitement of the behavior.

    I know that my libido is diminished, so it is probably not surprising that my relationship to crossdressing has changed. I'm also not conflicted or confused about gender or sexual orientation any longer, but sorting that all out has taken time and attention.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

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    Aspiring Member TheHiddenMe's Avatar
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    1. Everyone is different. As a presenter at our TG group meeting said, "When you've met one transgender person, you've met one transgender person".

    You are looking for one answer and there are thousands of different correct answers.

    2. As to your title question, I always knew I was interested in dressing as a woman, not being a woman, and I have always been sexually attracted to women. So for me, the answer is no.

    3. I don't dress to relieve stress. I don't dress to express my "feminine" side. I dress because I like the look and feel of women's clothes, something that has appealed to me for over 50 years. Looking forward to the next time I get to dress is my way of getting my fix.

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    Aspiring Member Joni T's Avatar
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    Been there, done that with the guilt thing. Once I found out I wasn't alone, it became easier to do. Then I discovered going out in the real world.
    I dress for stress relief, and some times I just want to.
    Joni

  9. #9
    Member MonicaPVD's Avatar
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    Crossdressing is a way for me to express my gender identity while still functioning as a male in my daily life. Before I started going out a lot dressed, I had always considered myself heterosexual. I was not attracted to men at all. The more that I went out and, frankly, the better I got at looking attractive, the more attention I received from men. Over time, I began to crave that attention because it was very affirming of my desired gender identity. So, I started down the road of dating and engaging in intimate encounters with men. I have to admit that this does not bring me much physical pleasure as much as it makes me feel very good to be considered attractive and desirable to "straight" or at least straight-acting men. When an attractive man wants to go on a date with you, proudly spend time with you in public situations, and ultimately be intimate with you, well, there's something very powerful and affirming about that.

  10. #10
    Aspiring Member Angela1954's Avatar
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    I began by wearing my mothers tights (now called leggings when I was about 9 or 10). Growing up in a large Italian American family in the 1960's was not the perfect time to address one's gender identity. Now at 66 I have become more comfortable in my female persona. I do admit to years of confusion and yes shame over societal expectations regarding my dressing and feelings. Luckily I have a supportive wife who, while not crazy about my dressing is understanding. I am heterosexual and that has remained a constant; however I do have a strong feminine side to me, which quite frankly I think is stronger than my male side. At 66 years of age I can more readily accept myself at this point. There are ups and downs of course but at this point in my life it's nice to finally be at peace with myself most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    Clearly crossdressing is more than a hobby.
    That is simply an annoying comment. It is comments like this that cause people to message me instead on posting for all to see. It is not very welcoming to many of us here.

    I think many of us here know ourselves better than you know us.

    If you are confused, figure yourself out. But dont assume we are confused just because you are confused.

    It really is pretty simple for some of us.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  12. #12
    Aspiring Member GretchenM's Avatar
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    Excellent questions and thinking, Visitor. And basically the answer to your concerns is "Yes." That is, with respect to people as a whole, the variations include such a vast array of behaviors that "Yes" is about all you can answer with. On the other hand, there are common threads that run through the larger community. But untangling the spaghetti bowl is exceedingly difficult. This is very likely the result of the fact that our behaviors, no matter what they are, seem to be largely a matter of a bit of a foundation in genetics that is subsequently modified by the individualistic aspect of our experiences, and finally how our brains compile all of this information into neural networks that produce behaviors that, ideally, best fit the totality of our experience. Thus we all come out different, but with bits and pieces of commonality.

    First it is best to avoid confusing or associating gender with your sex. There are connections, but they are weak. Sexual behavior derives from the oldest part of the brain and is, to some extent, instinctual. It obviously does connect to the conscious mind, but that is just to generate the behavior in actual action. That is not really needed, but it provides a good rationale for us humans to engage in reproductive behavior. Otherwise, we might be too busy thinking about other things to reproduce which is the 2nd imperative of being alive. (The first imperative is to metabolize.) Thus, sex is a very basic function that is translated into a higher function. That is what we consciously experience, but there is a lot of other things happening that are hidden from our conscious mind. As the neuroscientists say - there is no such thing as a conscious decision. The deciding occurs elsewhere and the conscious mind only enacts the final result memo.

    Gender identity, on the other hand, is almost totally a part of the higher brain functions, but still mostly subconscious. We have a sense of self (called our Theory of Mind) that guides our thinking and subsequent actions. But that sense of self is like Silly Putty - it can take on any shape necessary. And the shape appears to be mostly based on our experiences through life and how new experiences are fitted into the existing neural networks that have been created to that point. Every new experience is a tiny piece of information that is "considered" and, if it is significant it shifts the sense of self a little in some direction. Brain plasticity, its ability to alter its own wiring, plays a big role in this. However, much of the information the brain receives does not have anything to do with our sense of self and that is used elsewhere. It may be that the thalamus, which is kind of the master switchboard of incoming information and outgoing data, is able to recognize patterns and thus usually sends information to the correct department where it is most useful. It is sort of like the receptionist who receives phone calls and based on what is said connects the call to the right person in the company.

    So our identity and its associated behavior which is mostly learned by observing, is a kind of a very flexible adaptation of our experiences into a meaningful action that fits the perception of the environment. At the root though is genetics. In 2017 it was discovered that there are 3,534 genes involved in some way or other with generating our gender behaviors. That is about 1/7 of our total genome. So identity is a big deal in humans. But with that many genes and each one having, at the basic level, 4 different states the amount of combinations possible is larger than the number of atoms in the Universe. And that doesn't even count the impact of mutations and the large array of very common micromutations and the effects of epigenetics, which are temporary modifications created by past experiences of our ancestors, but is not usually inheritable.

    We are all different, but rationally we have summarized all of this into a set of expectations in behavior that forms the fabric of our gender social environment. We try to fit that as best we can, but that sometimes creates unusual combinations. And because sex and gender have so little functional connection, combinations are created that diverge from the expectation that a person's sex determines their gender. The result is various degrees of what we socially call gender reversal. It is not a reversal at all; it is who you are in terms of identity and that generates certain behaviors unique to you that very likely mixes up what is expected and thus creates the reality of you.

    So, in a nutshell, that is one explanation as to why the answer to your questions and concerns, in terms of the total population, is "Yes" to all of your suppositions and suspicions. But as individuals, we all have slightly different genetics, we all have widely different experiences, and the plasticity of our brain puts it all together into a "story" that forms the foundation of the behaviors we engage in that makes us unique. Some of us come out as crossdressers, in terms of the population expectations, but we are not crossdressers within our own sense of self. Sometimes that is normal for us because of the way all of that history has "magically" configured our neural networks.

    Well, at least that is the theory and some of the facts, but the bottom line is that although science has certainly achieved a lot of understanding of what causes us to do what we do, the answer to it all still escapes us. Updates come at times with each new discovery. Will we ever know for sure? Probably not but each day the explanation gets closer and clearer. That's life and life is mostly experience. Enjoy the journey.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Tracy Irving's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    Did I seek out women's lingerie because I really am a woman born in the wrong body?
    Perhaps you did, but I know genetic women that don't seek out lingerie, my wife included.


    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    is crossdressing simply a step along the way to admitting we really need to be women
    Absolutely not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    Clearly crossdressing is more than a hobby
    Maybe for you but there are some here who might feel different about that blanket statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    Is crossdressing simply something you do or something whose existence in your life is challenging?
    I crossdress when I have the time and desire, my job and family come before that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visitor View Post
    Does crossdressing bring you comfort when life delivers stress?
    I do what I can to avoid life delivered stress so crossdressing is not needed for that aspect.

  14. #14
    Member Star01's Avatar
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    Yes. I should know all of that at 69 but here I am not understanding my gender or sexuality. Most people have those things nailed by the time they're fourteen and here I sit over half a century later still wondering where I fit in.

    They tell me on here that I'm special because I'm a crossdresser but some days it doesn't feel very special. Most days it feels more like a confusing messy secret burden that threatens to keep me six steps short if contentment and true happiness until I take my last breath.

    I might feel better if I had a closet full of beautiful clothes to sooth my angst.

  15. #15
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    When I was 10-12 there was some gender confusion, but by the time I was 16 there was no confusion, I knew I was TG. (they didn't even call it that yet)

    I spent most of my adult life in as a CD in denial. "it's just a hobby", "I just do it for fun", "It's just a fetish", "It's just sexy kink", "It's AGP", "I am just in to forced feminization", I just like the clothes, fabrics, styles, etc., I could go on all day with the lies I told myself and I see so many people telling themselves the same lies over and over as they try to deal with their shame and guilt everyday on this forum.

    I was not happy until I stopped lying to myself and started my transition journey.

    BTW: Throughout life my sexual orientation only added to my confusion, as I am not and have never been sexually attracted to GM's
    Last edited by Robertacd; 09-28-2020 at 10:20 AM.

  16. #16
    Platinum Blonde member Ressie's Avatar
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    Why have I been curious about TG things all my life? And also curious about sex with men? Out of curiosity I've either been afraid to pursue thoughts and feelings or gone ahead and gave them a try. At that point there may be confusion, there certainly was in my case. Is the behavior repeated or does fear/guilt put it on hold on those thoughts/feelings for a while?

    Yes, we are all unique. Unique in too many ways to cover that topic here. At any rate, we all react differently to all of these things (sex, gender etc).
    "You're the only one to see the changes you take yourself through", Stevie Wonder

  17. #17
    Exploring NEPA now Cheryl T's Avatar
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    I began all this at a very young age, long before I had any awareness of sex and sexuality, or any distinct differentiation between male and female.
    I too went through all the years of shame because I was "different". My male friends never, ever said anything about wanting to dress as a girl and any idea in that direction was derided as being a "faggot". In my youth there was no transgender until Christine Jorgensen went to Sweden a man and returned a woman.
    Well it took decades of hiding and sneaking about before I finally came to terms with this aspect of myself, before I accepted myself for who I am.

    As for the question is this all there is, do I love the clothes or is it more ? Well that is something yet to be answered. I am dressed either fully or partially every day. I prefer to be the me you see here. Do I want to transition? Yes, some days. Some days no. I'm still trying to figure all that out. Does it have anything to do with sex, no, not really. It never really was related to sex except in puberty. At that time the forbidden aspect of dressing was thrilling and exciting and sex became part of that. That dissipated years ago. The question of am I a woman inside and should I realign my outside with my inside is still unanswered. It's a day to day thing.
    Wear what makes you feel Confident !

  18. #18
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    Thanks everyone who has posted a response. Clearly the question and how I muse about it resonates with some but is off-putting to others. There is definitely push-back to my observations that crossdressing is more than a hobby. I read the thread where that question was asked recently and know folks have strong opinions on the topic. Honestly, given what I read on this and other forums, I find it hard to believe anyone would consider crossdressing no more than a hobby. I'd be curious to know what other hobby there is that continues through a man's life even in the face of judgments by others and fear of being exposed and judged for the behavior. Does DADT sound like the hallmark of a hobby? Does underdressing at work with care given so co-workers won't notice a bra strap sound like a hobby or something more. Again, I know this is a subject with strongly held opinions and I've no wish to argue the case here. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes thou dost protest too much.

    I know from participation in a couple of 12 Step groups that there is great relief in being with people who understand a life challenge or life interest. I'm an amateur photographer and have spent ten years hanging out online with a group of photographers from around the world. I've also been spending time online with a large group of men who were sexually abused as boys. I understand finding our people is a great relief. I certainly felt that when I found this website. No, I didn't jump in with a username that is female nor have I joined in conversations about clothes and makeup. Those things will likely never pique my interest. But I definitely belong here. I've probably been crossdressing longer than some members here have been alive. I'm really happy to have the opportunity to find a healthier relationship with this behavior and this seems a wonderful place to do that. But it seems I need to do that by asking questions and joining conversations exploring the challenges associated with crossdressing. Like Gretchen I have a rather scientific bent, so my exploration of this topic has included extensive reading in attachment theory and brain development associated with trauma, as well a years of psychotherapy, not with a gender therapist simply because this experience is far beyond a simple question of gender.

    I have great respect for how each of us finds a relationship with this behavior in our lives. It isn't easy to find and sustain intimate relationships, meaningful work, enriching friendships. Doing so while sustaining crossdressing is even more challenging. It is wonderful we have support as we make the effort to live a satisfying and meaningful life.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

  19. #19
    Member Joyce Swindell's Avatar
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    In relationship to your title question my answer is yes. Confusion in my sexual orientation for me had to be resolved and I'm glad that I did resolve it. More specifically I needed to know if some part of me was telling me that I was gay. Once I placed myself in a gay situation I realized that it was not enjoyable and not for me.
    Had I enjoyed it I'm sure there would have been significant changes in my life.
    Rest assured, like children grow and learn, we too as crossdressers grow and learn. With every experience we educate ourselves.
    Whatever happens is an education that often changes our directions or opinions.
    All good and all part of life.

  20. #20
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    Reflecting on the posts added to this thread I recall when wearing women's undergarments made me a transvestite. There was no such thing as transgender nor was the phrase crossdressing generally used. Transvestism was deemed a pathology, not a cause for celebration. Yes, there were drag queens who threw society's judgments back at them but that certainly wasn't a world toward which I was drawn. So I hid the behavior and lived with confusion and shame, pretty much what I said at the beginning of this thread. I was never able to tell my partners about it and it often went underground when I was in relationship... coming out only at moments of great stress. I would do other things to manage stress as well. There was nothing about crossdressing that was celebratory... it felt like a compulsion more than anything else.

    I appreciate the comment that when you've met one transgender person you've met one transgender person. We all come to this through our own life experience and all have a relationship to it that doubtless emerges from our development. Yes, since we began when we were young there was likely a strong sexual component to it, but that changed as we got older. Then we had to navigate the "tell/don't tell" experience as we formed intimate partnerships. Again, we each found our own way and as a number of you have said, this unfolding process doesn't come to an end. We learn about ourselves, our behaviors, our loved ones as we simply live life. Deep respect to everyone here.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

  21. #21
    Silver Member Micki_Finn's Avatar
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    Wow, seriously Visitor? You’re going to make this whole post about how you don’t understand even yourself, but when people come out and say “no really, it’s just a hobby” you double down and tell us that we just don’t know ourselves? Maybe if you spent more time listening instead of trying to make everyone fit into your predetermined world view you’d actually learn something about yourself.

  22. #22
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    I don't think there's been any confusion for me. I am a guy and have never thought that I was a woman in the wrong body.
    That's not to say that I haven't wished I was a woman though. Part of my CDing is about wishing I was female, and part is sexual gratification.

    I've never really felt shame or guilt about being a CD. Only the fear of getting caught, especially when I was young and still lived with my parents.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micki_Finn View Post
    Wow, seriously Visitor? You?re going to make this whole post about how you don?t understand even yourself, but when people come out and say ?no really, it?s just a hobby? you double down and tell us that we just don?t know ourselves? Maybe if you spent more time listening instead of trying to make everyone fit into your predetermined world view you?d actually learn something about yourself.
    Wow. I really pushed your buttons didn't I Micki? Let me quote you on the thread Do You Consider It To Be a Hobby?...

    I don?t do it ?professionally? or ?full time?, but it?s still a defining part of who I am.
    Sounds like more than a hobby to me. Photography is one of my hobbies but I certainly wouldn't say it is a defining part of who I am. But if you need it to be such, so be it. The vast majority of folks responding to that question went more deeply into their motivation. Not too many hobbyists in the crowd. And this isn't all about me. I asked a serious question with this thread and folks have been responding seriously. I'm adding my thoughts as it moves along. This seems to be the way conversations happen here... a give and take. I appreciate that.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

  24. #24
    Member Christina89's Avatar
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    I was confused at the beginning of my journey. But now I realized that I am happy as myself. I am happy being a crossdresser.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christina89 View Post
    I was confused at the beginning of my journey. But now I realized that I am happy as myself. I am happy being a crossdresser.
    I note Christina that you've been here for 11 years. I imagine engaging in conversations here has helped you move beyond the confusion. I've only been here a short while so the support that is on offer here, while wonderful, is quite new for me. I'm happy you've come to peace with being a crossdresser. You do mention in your profile that you're bi-sexual so it seems you've come to peace with your sexual orientation as well. There was much for you to unpack along the way... but then mental health workers are inclined to tackling challenges like that. It seems to come with the territory.
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time...
    T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

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