From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Cross-dressing refers to the act of wearing clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and self-expression in many contexts and cultures throughout history. The reasons behind cross-dressing are as varied as the individuals who engage in it, ranging from artistic or theatrical expression, personal comfort, gender identity exploration, and social or political protest, to name a few.

History[edit | edit source]

The history of cross-dressing is long and varied, with instances recorded in ancient texts, mythology, and historical accounts. In many cultures, cross-dressing has been a feature of religious or ceremonial practices. For example, in ancient Greece, men played the roles of women in theatrical productions, a practice that was also common in Shakespearean England. Ancient Rome had festivals like the Saturnalia, where gender roles were temporarily reversed. In some Native American cultures, Two-Spirit individuals, who might today be recognized under the broad umbrella of transgender or non-binary, traditionally performed roles and wore clothing associated with both men and women.

Social and Cultural Aspects[edit | edit source]

The social and cultural implications of cross-dressing are complex and vary widely between different societies and historical periods. In some cultures, cross-dressing is accepted and even celebrated, while in others, it may be met with disdain or punishment. The perception of cross-dressing is often tied to societal norms regarding gender, sexuality, and conformity.

In contemporary times, cross-dressing is often associated with the LGBTQ+ community, particularly with transgender individuals and drag performers. However, not all people who cross-dress identify as LGBTQ+, nor do all transgender individuals engage in cross-dressing. The distinction between cross-dressing for performance or entertainment (such as drag) and cross-dressing as a reflection of one's gender identity is significant, with the latter being a deeply personal and sometimes private matter.

Legal and Political Issues[edit | edit source]

Cross-dressing has also been a focal point in legal and political debates, particularly concerning the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Laws and policies regarding dress codes, public decency, and gender identity can significantly impact the lives of those who cross-dress. In some jurisdictions, anti-cross-dressing laws have been used to target and discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, leading to calls for legal reform and greater protections under the law.

Psychology[edit | edit source]

From a psychological perspective, cross-dressing is not considered a mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Association removed "transvestism" from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in its fifth edition (DSM-5), reflecting a broader understanding of gender diversity and the distinction between cross-dressing behavior and gender dysphoria.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD