July 24, 2017

Telling your Girlfriend About Being a Crossdresser or Crossdreamer

Last week I got an email from a male to female crossdreamer and occasional crossdresser who wondered what and how he could tell his girlfriend about his gender variance. 
Illustration: nuravectorgirl

His girlfriend had taken an open approach to his story, but was hesitant about the crossdressing. Now he was looking for ways of explaining his feelings to his girlfriend.

He is using male pronouns.

He also wondered if this crossdreaming would progress into something more, like in wanting to transition and live as a woman. At the moment he expresses no need to transition or dress publicly as a woman.

Here is my reply:

I wish I had a simple answer for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is so much variation among crossdreamers that it is hard to foresee what is going to happen in the future.

There are, as I see it, two main reasons for this:

1. Gender variance is a continuum, and whatever it is that triggers these dreams and desires come in different forms and intensity.

2. Some crossdreamers are on a journey. They gradually find out that they are somewhere else in that landscape than they originally thought. There is -- for obvious reasons -- a lot of repression going on.

There is a lot of variation among crossdressers and crossdreamers

I our survey of crossdreamers we found that 1/3 reported severe gender dysphoria (in the sense that they could be considered transsexual, and transitioning would be one possible solution).

I reckon that another 1/3 lives in what I have called the twilight zone, being some shade of non-binary or gender queer, while the final 1/3 feel comfortable in their assigned gender and their crossdreaming and crossdressing is more like a trait spicing up their life.

I belong to the 1/3 with gender dysphoria. I have not transitioned but I must warn you, my own experience might color the way I look at this.

I recently got a message, though, from an MTF crossdreamer who told me he had found that his thoughts of becoming a woman had practically disappeared an that he had found good ways of living his life a straight male. That happens too.

I guess what you have to do is to really allow yourself to feel what you truly are. One part of you probably already knows the answer to the question you is asking, but other parts are so busy trying to become "normal" that it is hard to hear it.

I spent years not even acknowledging the fact that I was some variant of transgender to myself.

I  recommend that you find some trans-positive therapists that can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings.

Telling your partner about this

Coming out to your girl friend was definitely the right thing to do. I lived with this secret for may years in my marriage. That is so hard to do.

My wife was pretty angry with me when she realized that I had kept such an important part of my life secret for her. This made it impossible for her to help me, and she could not understand my depressions.

When she finally found out she accepted this side of me fully. Not all women do (and I cannot really blame them, as they did not sign up for this), but many see past the gender and sexuality and look at the whole of the person they love.

Most women who find themselves in this situation fear that the one they love will transition, and given that sex is an important part of life, they are unable to think of themselves in a lesbian relationship. Others find that less complicated, but again, I cannot blame them for reacting any way they do.

Sometimes this works out (see the books of Helen Boyd ) and sometimes it does not. The only thing I find completely unacceptable is transphobic rants and harassment. I am glad your girl friend is open to all of this. Kudos to her!

The best would be if you could reassure your girl friend that you are sure you are not going to transition, but if you are not sure, this might come back and bite both you and her later on. This is why a therapist might be helpful.
Illustration: Ekaterina P

From what you tell me, you are not severely gender dysphoric, and you feel no need to transition. If that is the case, you are left with another issue that has to be resolved.

How do you develop a love life where there is room for your desire to -- sometimes -- explore your feminine side, while at the same time making sure that her needs -- whatever they are -- are met?

Many couples of this kind find roleplaying games and ways of being together that allows all these needs to be met.

You may play the strong manly man the one day, and the woman the next, while she may please you in the way your "inner woman" prefers one day and have you please her as the woman she wants to be the next.

What rarely works is a love life where your feminine side is completely suppressed, or where her needs are ignored. I guess I am talking about sensible compromises here.

I am sorry that I cannot be more precise. Ultimately you are the only one that can know what your true self is and what you should do to yourself and the one you love. But talking helps. It truly does.


More about crossdreaming, love and partnerships:


  1. no easy answers for sure and the ones that work hinge on a delicate compromise between both partners which is no simple task. Honesty from the outset is pivotal which can only be rooted in the self understanding of the transgender person themselves.

  2. I have very recently told my girlfriend that I use to dress in my Mothers clothes when I was a teenager. I have a very honest and open relationship with my partner, and we are both very much in love. She straight away said that it all made sense. The fact that I had lots of female friends and they all considered that they had a special connection with me. My gf also said it explained how meticulous I was with my appearance, and took care of my skin, hair and nails. Anyway she has encouraged me to be who I really am, and has helped me choose clothes and taught me how to dress properly. I have no interest in becoming a transsexual, and certainly am not attracted to men. I just love the feel of a hairless body and wearing pretty clothes. I have buried this need in me for years, but thank god i am in a relationship with someone who loves me enough to encourage me to be the absolute true person that I am. I do have pangs of guilt at times, and worry what other people close to me would say if they knew what I truly am, but my darling girlfriend tells me to enjoy it, and not to ever hide anything from her or worry that it will affect her love for me. It is early days but I feel elated, and have butterflies as I right this. I guess I'm very lucky! :)

  3. My apologies, Anonymous. Your comment was caught in the spam filter.

    I am so glad your girlfriend understands. It seems to me you have found a way of expressing "the other side" that makes you happy. Nothing could be better than that.

    Send her our love!

  4. Hi Jack, I replied to your article dd. 18 September 2012 ("My life as a transgender crossdreamer")
    English is not my native language so excuse me if there are some mistakes in my text :) Kind regards.

  5. I take it that was this comment: http://www.crossdreamers.com/2012/09/my-life-as-transgender-crossdreamer.html?showComment=1501710492864#c4563571697608964438

    Don't worry, your English is great.

    (English is my second language too. I have stopped worrying about mistakes. As long as people understand me they will have to accept some grammatical errors.)


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