February 5, 2010

A survey of crossdressers

Image: Jude Law as crossdresser in Rage.

There is an overlap between this group and the crossdressers. Not all crossdreamers are crossdressers. But a lot of crossdressers get erotically turned by dressing up as a woman.

Knowing more about the crossdressers will help us get a better insight into erotic crossdreaming.

My online friend Colin has set up some tables based on an interesting survey of cross-dressers in 1992 compared to a similar sample from 1972. Some of the questions relate to gender identity. Colin suspects a lot of crossdressers fantasize about having a woman's body.


Demographic, Childhood, and Family Variables: 1992 and 1972 data

Note the large number of married crossdressers, and the fact that most of them believe their fathers provided a good masculine image. They were not raised as crossdressers, if anyone suspects that.

TABLE I(%)(%)
Education past BA19921972
Marital Status19921972
Married now6064
Separated, Divorced, widowed2314
Never married1722
Ever been married8378
Fathered children6974
Raised by both parents7682
Father provided good masculine image7672
Raised just as a boy8683

Sexual and Cross-dressing variables: 1992 and 1972 Data

The fact that most identify as heterosexual, should not come as a surprise. That as many as 29 percent some kind of homosexual experiences probably points to a desire to have sex as a woman.

72 percent report that crossdressing brings sexual excitement and orgasm occasionally to nearly always. It is fair to say that these probably are autogynephiliacs.

66 percent began cross-dressing before the age of 10. If most of these crossdressers truly are crossdreamers, this means that crossdreaming appears before puberty and is not the result of increased testosterone production in puberty.

A large majority of them believe that they express a different part of themselves when crossdressing, i.e. they believe they have an innate feminine side.

71 percent have crossdressed in public, although they do not necessarily do this often. Note that most of the respondents are members of crossdresser clubs. This may influence their tendency towards going out dressed as women.

Their wives are normally aware of their habit. Only a minority was told about it before marriage though, even if the number of crossdressers revealing their condition at an early stage is increasing. Their wives have mixed views about their men's crossdressing.

The authors draw attention to the "purges" of crossdressers:

"There appears to be pervasive guilt associated with transvestism, for we found three quarters of our subjects reported a purge of their feminine attire at some time in their history (75 vs. 69%). This is invariably described as a product of intense feelings of wrongdoing and shame."

TABLE II(%)(%)
Sexual Orientation19921972
Some homosexual experiences2928
Sexual Interest in women19921972
Above average1724
Below average2614
Age began cross-dressing19921972
Before age 106654
Between 10 and 202937
After age 2058
View of self when cross-dressed19921972
Express different part of myself8078
Just myself with different clothes2022
Cross-dressing brings sexual excitement and orgasm19921972
Nearly always21
Enjoy feminine clothes when orgasm is not feasible19921972
Prefer complete cross-dressing9385
Frequency of public cross-dressing19921972
Have appeared cross-dressed in public71
Activities while cross-dressed19921972
Ride on bus, train, etc.10
Eat in restaurants28
Plays, lectures church18
Tried on feminine clothes in stores22
Used ladies' room26
Seen by acquaintances who knew me17
Experienced a "purge" of cross-dressing7569
Wife is aware of cross-dressing8380
Wife's acceptance or antagonism19921972
Completely accepting2823
Mixed view4757
Completely antagonistic1920
Wife knew of your cross-dressing before marriage3227

Cross-gender Identity, Hormones, and Sexual Reassignment

Colin points to the fact that 60% of current cross-dressers prefer their masculine and feminine selves equally. This means that their gender identity is male and female.

The authors add:

"A marked change from 1972 data was seen when our subjects were asked whether they preferred their masculine selves, feminine selves, or both selves equally. Sixty percent of our sample preferred 'both selves equally,' compared to only 12% in 1972. This unusually great change may be a reflection of a theme strongly advocated in transvestite magazines and newsletters--that it is healthy and desirable to have an integration of the masculine and feminine components of one's personality. Personality integration, of course, is also a major objective in many forms of counseling and psychotherapy."

Only a minority consider themselves "women trapped in a man's body", although this percentage increased from 1972 to 1992. It is interesting to note that as many as 43 percent would like to use female hormones, although only 9 percent had done so.

Colin adds: "Also interesting is that 17% want a sex-change if money and partner were not a factor."

As many as 45 percent of the 1992 sample had sought counselling.

I feel myself to be a19921972
Woman trapped in a man's body1712
Man with feminine side7469
Fetishist, favor women's clothing912
Preferred gender identity19921972
Masculine self1129
Feminine self2856
Female Hormones19921972
Not interested in using4841
Would like to use4350
Using hormones now45
Used hormones in the past54
If I were single and financially able at the present time, I would have a sex change operation even now1714
Consulted psychologist or psychiatrist4524
Helped by counseling6747

An important research objective of the project was to identify variables discriminating between so-called "Nuclear" (stable, periodic cross-dressers) and "Marginal transvestites" (more transgendered or transsexually inclined).

The authors say:

"We divided the present sample into two groups using the following question: "I feel myself to be: (a) awoman trapped in a man's body (b) a man who has a feminine side that seeks expression occasionally (c) a man with a sexual fetish for feminine clothing."

"Group 1 was defined as the 747 cross-dressers who selected item (b); Group 2 was defined as the 172 cross-dressers who selected item (a). (...)

"No difference between Groups 1 and 2 were seen for the following variables: married now, ever married, fathered children, parents divorced, separated, or deceased, parents overprotective, parents discouraged rough-and-tumble play, hugged and stroked as child, sexually aroused by specific items of women's clothing, enjoy cross-dressing even when sexual release is not feasible, age of first cross-dressing, prefer complete cross-dressing, experienced a "purge" of cross-dressing, consulted psychologist concerning cross-dressing, and belong to cross-dressing, organization."

10 strongly discriminating parameters were found. The most important were, according to the authors: cross-gender identity, commitment to live entirely as a woman, taking steps toward body feminization, low sexual arousal to cross-dressing.

"Neither age nor experience as a cross-dresser were found to be correlates of cross-gender identity. Although the present generation of transvestites describe themselves much as did similar subjects 20 years ago, the percentage migrating toward full-time living as a woman is greater."

If you do crossdess, please feel free to add a comment on where you stand on this map, and the challenges you are facing!

Richard F. Docter , Virginia Prince: "Transvestism: a survey of 1032 cross-dressers."

The authors says this about the sample:

"Our subjects were 1032 self-defined periodic cross-dressers, all of whom were biological males, ranging in age from 20 to 80. This volunteer nonrandom sample was acquired from throughout the United States by announcements at transvestite club meetings, conventions of cross-dressers, and in magazines and newsletters for cross-dressers. Nearly all subjects received the self-responsive survey form at one of these events; a small percentage were mailed to individuals who volunteered to participate. An unknown number of survey forms were reproduced by support groups and distributed to interested members. Our best estimate of the overall response rate is that roughly 30 to 35% were completed and returned. The data were collected over a 2-year span ending in 1992. All participation was anonymous. ... Eighty percent said they were affiliated with either a cross-dressers' club or national organization."


Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the terms "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" to describe people. The reason for this is that the terms implicitly communicates an explanation for why some people get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex . This explanation, that this is some kind of autoerotic paraphilia,  is both wrong and stigmatizing. Instead I use the neutral term "crossdreamers".

Click here for a discussion of the dark side of the autogynephilia theory.

See also our own Crossdreamer Gender Variance Survey of 2014!


  1. Barb Hudson has started a web page for TS/TV/Any Variation at:



  2. I'm glad you posted the tables ! As a crossdresser / AGP they helped me figure out what was best for me, which was basically find an accepting partner.

  3. Thanks for the link! I have added it to the resource section.


  4. Thank you for doing the job with the tables, Colin. There is much to be said about this study and I will come back to it later on.

  5. Statistics always run the danger of giving the wrong answer. For instance, looking at the figures above one would conclude that, since not even half of the crossdreamers in this research are interested in hormone treatment, the majority of crossdreamers would not wish to have a more feminine appearance permanently. However, that may not be the case. Talking for myself, if asked I would also say that I´m not interested in hormone treatment. But I would be, if this were possible without medical risks and without losing the ability to father children. So my answer would reveal more about my fears for unwanted consequences than the desire for the wanted consequence: having a feminine body, yet at the same time having a fully functioning penis and perfect fertility.

  6. Good point, which only proves how vigilant we have to be when making use of science.

  7. I am a CD and dress up often during the week 5 he's a day and most of the weekend.I own more female clothing than male clothing.

  8. Greetings Jack.

    I know this is an old post you have there. But I must say I did thorougly enjoy your internal dialogue with your inner woman who seem to make more sense than both you and me put together.

    Wonder if I may have the same thing inside of me, trying to get out and make some sense in me as well.


    I was wondering if you have a contact email address. I have questions. And I prefer to get them answered before any publication.

  9. I've longed to be active in some sort of survey that acknowledged cross dressers and the fact that they are completely normal people. I am amazed myself to see so many things that are common to me and my cross dressing behaviors . Growing up I could gave sworn I was the only one in the world with such a desire to dress in woman's clothing. Nearly forty years have passed and every day I dress. And not one time did I not feel completely happy in heels and dress. Though I've been closeted I do wish very.much one day I.could get out and expressly.feminine side. Basically Im enthused to see that others are comitted to understanding what makes us tick. Thank you

  10. The more I learn about this, the more convinced I am that such feelings are not rare at all, regardless of what gender you were assigned at birth. You are definitely not alone!

  11. I am a cross dresser that went from full on heterosexual to full on feminine homosexual. Through cross dressing I found what I enjoy most, playing the passive female role. I dress to relax, escape, and for attention, but mostly mostly because sex as a girl is what turns me on. I no longer am aroused by women and only find male genitalia exciting. The thought of being dressed and adored by men is what drives me sexually. I don't know, but for me, cross dressing did alter who I was sexually to who I am now. There's nothing better.

    1. Hi, be aware though how this might make it seem like you see being female as inherently passive, but that's a social gender role to a big extent.

  12. @Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Do you believe that this sexual orientation had been there all along and that you had repressed it, or do you think your orientation actually changed? If I read you correctly it seems as if you believe crossdressing caused the change.

  13. I recently found out my fiance enjoys crossdressing. Im having a hard time understanding what hes going through. He says he feels ashamed after doing it but it helps him release stress. I need help understanding what hes going through and how to handle it better.

    1. A good description is that it's like an itch you can scratch in no other way. One gets all stressed out (really, unbelievably nervous) and the dressing brings a calmness that you can get in no other way.

  14. You have come to the right place. If you want to get a general feel for the debate on what drives a crossdresser or a crossdreamer, you can explore the resource section of this site.

    I am not a crossdresser myself, but it is pretty clear to me that crossdressing is a way for a person to express a side of his or her psyche. This part of the crossdresser's personality is not "imaginary", "a delusion" or "a mere fetish". It demands an outlet because it is real. If it is denied an outlet he or she suffers from it.

    All crossdressers are "transgender", in the sense of being gender variant, but not all are gender dysphoric or transsexual. Most crossdressers seem to identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Their gender identity is ultimately something they will have to find out for themselves.

    Many partners find that they can integrate this part of their lover's life into their shared life, but I would guess that the most important thing for your fiance right now is that you do not dismiss this part of him or condemn him for it.

    Sympathy and acceptance can do miracles for a transgender persons' self-esteem and quality of life. The shame you are referring to is caused by a culture that is often unforgiving when it comes to any kind of femininity in men. I love the fact that you are trying to understand him. Thank you for doing that!

    Expressing understanding and acceptance does not not mean that you have to make his crossdressing a part of your sex life or that you have to become actively involved in this part of his life. Your needs and your boundaries have to be respected to.

    One more thing: If you suspect that your fiance is severely gender dysphoric, it might help if he gets some kind of professional help. Gender dysphoria can be a heavy burden, indeed, and it will affect both of you.

  15. I learned of my husbands cross dressing yesterday. I'm shaken more from the secretive nature and lies then of the act itself.
    I'm trying to educate myself to better understand. I would love to find a group of supportive spouses to help me. Where do I look?

  16. Take a look at this post, which my wife wrote after she found out about my "other side":

    Resources for Partners of Transgender People

    You may also write her at sally.molay@gmail.com.

  17. Cross-dressing in the privacy of my home did not have any effect on my sexuality but after I started going to clubs and men became interested in me I slowly became bi-curious. Eventually I was able to overcome my inhibitions and experiment with masculine men. Presently I only date men,have absolutely no romantic interest in women and as a submissive transvestite couldn't be happier .

  18. @anonymous:

    So you would say that it is the realization of opportunity that made you realize that you are bi-curious? Or was it caused by overcoming a sense of shame associated with being with men?


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