Notes on Gender Role Transition
Anne Vitale Ph.D. Editor
A Significant Other View
by Julie Freeman
This article is reprinted with permission from DEVIL WOMAN, the Diablo Valley Girls newsletter. Ms Freeman is the wife of a crossdresser. She can be reached at Julie39@comcast.net
I am sure almost every significant other can relate to the following situation. You are seated at a dinner table with a group of relatives, or perhaps a group of friends, or even a group of colleagues. And someone makes a derogatory remark about crossdressing. It starts innocently enough - discussing movies - which to see and which not to - and then someone mentions Esther Williams and her discovery of Jeff Chandler wearing her red evening gown! From there it progresses to "No wonder she left him after that" And then someone pipes up that Cary Grant also crossdressed! (I have no idea if that is true). Before long, the chatter becomes less innocent and more hostile. Gay bashing, crossdressing bashing - one remark after another. And you, the significant other, are sitting there thinking, "If you only knew. Someone in this room or perhaps in the next room is a crossdresser. Someone you have known for years! Someone you LIKE! Someone you RESPECT!"
So what do you do? Do you try to educate, such as "Well, you know that one out of ten men crossdresses. And most lead successful, happy lives!" Or do you try to change the conversation to "Gee, I saw Aunt Tillie last week. She looks great!"
Do you dare come out and say, "Well, do you know that your nephew crossdresses?" or "Do you know your boss crossdresses?" Only a significant other who is 100% comfortable with her partner's crossdressing and who has discussed this very scenario with him is going to say that! Only those who are prepared for the consequences are going to venture forth on that remarkable path.
Most are caught somewhat unawares. In the back of their minds, since they first heard about their husband or partner's crossdressing, they have known that such awkward situations may and will occur in spite of others in the community telling them otherwise. Their husbands, of course, have tried to reassure them that life with crossdressing can be uneventful and even enjoyable. They probably, not wanting to scare their wives who are already fearful, indicate that such scenarios are extremely rare and not to worry.
But I have to say that the preceding scenario has occurred in my life MANY times! I have been astounded at just how many - with friends, with colleagues, and with relatives! And not just crossdressing bashing. Definitely gay bashing has occurred and racist remarks, antisemetic remarks are not uncommon either. I am truly appalled at the narrowmindedness and bigotry that exists everywhere. Some of these situations have also occurred within the gender community - oh yes, regardless of what you may believe.
It seems that the human animal for whatever reasons has to constantly find some other group to put down. Does it make us feel better to think we are better! Does it help us minimize our own pain and sorrow to witness others' pain and sorrow? Is that why newspapers never print good news on the front page, only bad! Is that why we are attracted to articles that read, "Airliner crashes. 150 killed immediately." Rather then enthusiastically reading an article, such as "Martha Jones wins the lottery!"
But back to awkward situations. They are going to come and go in our lives. They are with us as long as we continue to communicate with others of the human species. We are going to have to decide just how much and if we are going to reveal our own connection to the crossdressing world. This of course means we are going to have to communicate with the crossdresser in our own life and find out their feelings. Just how much do they want revealed? How much do we want revealed?
And what about children or friends who do KNOW of the crossdressing and are present at the same awkward situation. How are they supposed to respond? A lot of food for thought here. No easy answers, just hard questions.