In this post I want to analyze the similarities between my struggle with crossdressing and the power of the one ring in The Lord of the Rings books. I am not writing this as a logical argument against crossdressing. I’m just writing out of my own experience of what my crossdressing addiction was like for me in the past. If this post does not resonate with your experience, so be it. But what I describe is how I felt and how I perceive crossdressing, and I know from many conversations with other crossdressers, that they often feel this way as well. If you have not read the Lord of the Rings books, this post probably won’t make much sense to you. I did not feel like trying to summarize such an awesome and epic story, so I’m just writing for people familiar with the story.
Disclaimer – I am drawing an analogy between crossdressing and the one ring, but I am not perfectly equating them. All analogies break down somewhere. Obviously crossdressing is not the epitome of evil as the one ring is in the story.
I believe that Sauron’s one ring of power is a good symbol or analogy for any habitual sin of compulsion that we deal with, whether that be drugs, pornography, alcohol, or crossdressing. Choosing to take hold of and bear the one ring seemed good, but it was really the way to destruction. Similarly our sins might seem pleasurable but they lead to destruction not only in our lives, but also in our relationship with God as they are sins.
Some of the similarities between the one ring and crossdressing are obvious. As the one ring weighed Frodo down, so these compulsive sinful addictions weigh us down. They confuse us and corrupt us as the one ring did to Gollum and Frodo. The one ring was very hard to resist, as these sins also are in our lives. Over time the addictions get worse and worse, the more that we give in. In the same way the hold the one ring had on Gollum and Bilbo and Frodo increased over time. Their addiction to the ring became worse and worse so that it was harder and harder for them to be apart from it. They wanted it more and more as we want our compulsive sins more and more. Giving in to the temptation of putting on the one ring only made the bearer want to wear it even longer and more often. Giving in to our sins doesn’t take away the temptations but makes us only want them all the more often. And the longer the bearers had the one ring, the more precious it became to them, so much so that they called it “their precious.” I think the same thing happens with crossdressing, and the crossdresser’s image or alter-ego or clothing become precious to him. The bearers of the one ring became very angry when they did not have possession of it. How many of us crossdressers have become angry and irritated when we aren’t able to give in to our addiction? The bearers of the one ring became very isolated socially. I think this also often happens with crossdressers.
Just analyzing those similarities shows me what crossdressing was really like in my life and reminds me why I had the desire to destroy it once and for all as the fellowship needed to get rid of and finally destroy the one ring. When you wake up and realize that crossdressing has a hold on you similar to how the ring had a hold on gollum, you stop wanting to give in to it so much.
Here are a few lessons I found by comparing crossdressing and the Lord of the Rings story –
1. Everyone is tempted by the ring in the story, but not all of them give in. Some resist the temptation and so they remain uncorrupted, and actually gain strength in a small way over Sauron by resisting his temptation. This is a good reminder to me that we do not have to feel guilty and weighed down just because we have crossdressing desires. Temptations are not sins. Giving in to temptation is sin. Gandalf and Galadriel wanted the ring but did not give in and were not corrupted. If we do not give in to the crossdressing temptations, we will not become corrupted either, and we don’t need to feel guilty.
2. The one ring deceives the characters in the story, much as crossdressing deceives us. The bearers of the ring feel good and powerful while wearing it. But when others see them, they see the corruption and confusion and possessiveness. Sometimes the corruption actually frightens those who look at the bearers. The ringwraiths are the prime example of this ultimate corruption, but even the flashes of anger in Bilbo and Frodo frighten Sam. Much of the time Bilbo and Frodo were deceived and didn’t realize how much the ring was really changing them. Crossdressing is often the same way. It feels so good to us. But it is deception. We see a woman, and other people see a very confused man. People try to get us to stop, but we don’t listen. We create our own reality. When I used to crossdress, I was stuck in a self-delusion about what I was doing, and the activity itself was causing me to have many secrets and lies and attempts to hide things from my family and later wife.
The ring also deceived people in that so many of the characters imagined using the ring for good. Frodo thought of using the ring to rescue his fellow hobbits from the Barrow wights. Boromir wanted to use the ring to save his people. With all the characters, the ring whispered deceitful messages about how they could use it for good. But in reality, the evil that they would do would far outweigh the good. I am the king of rationalization. In the past I rationalized so many times why crossdressing was either harmless or actually good for me. But that doesn’t undo the sinful nature and destructive power of it. I was deceived.
3. The one ring and crossdressing about both about envy. The lure of the one ring was about wanting power that people didn’t have and didn’t deserve. It was a shortcut to becoming powerful and famous. Crossdressing is about envying what women have and what women are.
4. Gollum reminds me of crossdressers who have gone all the way, and been totally corrupted by their desires, destroying their lives, bodies, and marriages. From my perspective they are people who have become utterly lost in their delusions and confusions. But like Frodo learned from Gandalf, these people deserve our pity, not our anger. Many characters in the books wanted to kill Gollum because of how corrupted he had become, but Gandalf seemed to hold out hope for even him to change. At the very least Gandalf and Frodo had pity on Gollum because they knew the power of the ring and that it was the ring who messed him up. Frodo understood this best because of his own experience with the ring and it gave him great compassion and pity for Gollum, knowing that what happened to Gollum was happening to him. I am trying to have this same pity and compassion on crossdressers, knowing that but for God’s grace, I could have been just like them.
5. The one ring might have had special powers, but it was a wearisome burden. This was what crossdressing was like for me. It was like a rock in my life that depressed me and gave me shame and put a cloud over everything. When I finally gave up crossdressing it was like I shed 100 pounds. I felt light and free and on top of the world. And today I still enjoy this same freedom and joy at having this burden out of my life.
6. The bearers of the one ring started to put all their thought to the ring. It became an idol in their lives consuming all their time and energy. This was definitely the case for me with crossdressing. Giving in to the sin consumed all the time I could possibly give to it. The remainder of my time was spent planning how I would dress, and how I could have the most time to give to the activity. It was definitely an idol in my life. The one ring finally became the only reason Gollum continued to exist. It controlled his every action and decision. I’m not sure crossdressing would ever get us quite to that point, but then again I’ve read many stories where it seems like crossdressing took over men clouding out all the other goods in their lives, prioritizing the dressing even over their families or their faith. The bearers of the ring thought they couldn’t live without it, and how many of us crossdressers have felt like we can’t live without crossdressing? Or felt at least we couldn’t live happy lives without crossdressing?
7. The desire for the ring didn’t always make sense to the characters in the story, just as our crossdressing desires don’t always make sense to us. Frodo at times wanted to put on the ring and he didn’t even know why. A voice in his head told him he shouldn’t, but at times he still wanted to resist his conscience, give in, and put on the ring. How many times did I just feel drawn to put on a skirt or dress, like a magical or magnetic pull? How many times did I want to put those things on and I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t put any logical thought to it at times, I just knew I “needed” to do it.
A quote from the books about Frodo’s desire to put on the ring – “Something seemed to be compelling him to disregard all warnings, and he longed to yield. Not with the hope of escape, or doing anything, either good or bad: he simply felt that he must take the Ring and put it on his finger.”
8. Because of the one ring’s influence, Gollum becomes a divided being, speaking to himself as if he was two people. Gollum was with the ring so long that he came to identify himself with it, so much so that he called both the ring, “my precious,” and also himself. This is eerily similar to crossdressers believing that they have both a male and a female persona. A man can crossdress so much that he identifies his very self with the fake female persona he has created. Thankfully my crossdressing never reached that level.
At the end of the story, Sam and Frodo trudge up Mount Doom at the end of their strength. But then Frodo is unable to reject the temptation of the ring, and he decides to keep the ring and not destroy it. Thankfully, God, the hidden character, in his providence, still has a good plan to save Middle Earth. And what happened was that Gollum bit the ring off of Frodo’s finger, fell in the lava and was destroyed with the ring. Finally Frodo was free and the world was saved. From the end of the story, I want to draw out a few more similarities or lessons.
1. The solution of the problem of the ring was not power, but weakness. Relying on power was only folly. Powerful characters would succumb to use the ring instead of getting rid of it. It was only small hobbits that could accomplish the task. But even at the end, Frodo could not do it on his own. It is not our own strength that beats temptation. It is only God and the transformation of our heart. Thankfully, Gollum’s presence made up for Frodo’s failure at the end. But the lesson I think still stands. We cannot expect to beat temptation on our own. Frodo couldn’t and his matter was far more important. By our own strength we fail. We need God’s strength. We need to recognize that we are weak, and rely on him. We need God to empower us and transform our hearts.
1 Corinthians 1 – 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 12 – 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2. We need accountability. We need community. The ring would never have been destroyed if Frodo tried to do it on his own. It took a whole fellowship. The need for help stands out most at the end. There were many times that Frodo was about to give up, stop moving, and just die, but Sam kept him moving. Sam kept Frodo from giving in to the lies of the ring. Sam kept feeding Frodo and giving him energy. Sam kept on reminding Frodo of the goal and the importance of reaching the goal. At times Sam even physically carried Frodo up the mountain! And last, Sam gave Frodo hope. He kept up the hope that they could make it, that things could be okay. Without hope, Frodo could not have kept going. Without Sam, without the fellowship, Frodo would have never made it.
If we try to give up crossdressing on our own, I would venture to say that we will not make it either. We need to have friends who will give us hope that we can indeed actually give up crossdressing for good. We need friends who will keep us moving. We need accountability partners who will help us sort out the lies from the truth. We need partners who will give us encouragement, remind us of God’s forgiveness, and even carry us at times when we feel so weak. We need friends who will remind us of our goals. We need to fight this addiction together, not by ourselves. We need friends who will give us hope.
3. When Frodo was finally free of the ring, he felt free and unburdened. But we find later in the story that he still had some lingering pain from his wounds. He eventually was able to go to the undying lands because life for him was still hard even after the ring was gone. There are some comparisons and contrasts here with my own life. Firstly, I have some residual wounds. The addiction is gone, but sometimes I still have to pay for the consequences of what I have done in the past – the lies, the bad memories, and the wasted time. Secondly, there are still lingering desires that come up every once in a while, especially in dreams. They are reminders of the addiction and reminders that I need to be vigilant. I’d love to be 100% free from these desires, but I will have to be content with being 90-95% free of them.
But unlike Frodo, I do not have wounds that make me unhappy and needing to escape this world. Not at all. I am able to live an abundant joyful worthwhile fulfilling life now that the crossdressing is gone. I hope for the same for you too!
4. We can’t force someone to give up crossdressing just as no one could make another character to give up the ring. A quote of Gandalf speaking to Frodo – “Already you too, Frodo cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it. And I could not ‘make’ you – except by force, which would break your mind.” We need to let people have the freedom to continue to crossdress. We can’t force anyone, only counsel them. It’s ultimately between them and God.
On a last note, let me mention something from The Silmarillion, another book by the same author. In The Silmarillion we see an account of the creation of Middle Earth. Even though it is fiction is a beautiful account of creation, and it makes me praise God for the way he has made our world. God brings creation into existence through a song, and his angels take part in making the music, thus taking part in making the creation. While harmonious music is the author Tolkien’s analogy to creation, discord in the music is his analogy for the Fall into sin. Melkor, an angelic spirit, wants to create his own music theme and creates something that is not harmonious with God’s music. But God, being all powerful and awesome, is able to take Melkor’s discord, and weave it into his music so that the final result is even more beautiful than it was to begin with. Thus God takes even our mistakes and our suffering and weaves it into his plan so that the result is even more beautiful than before.
In this view, Tolkien’s view of sin is that it is always just a perversion of the good, not something created anew. I think that this has ramifications for crossdressing as well. Let me give a quote from “the Gospel according to Tolkien” and then I will explain.
“Tolkien demonstrates, exactly to the contrary, that sin is always a twisting and distortion and perversion of the Good. “Marring” is his favorite metaphor for the work of evil. It cannot destroy or undo goodness, but it can certainly tarnish and blight it. Since evil lives always as a parasite off the Good, the demonic Melkor was unable to produce any original or free creatures. He could manufacture only parodies and counterfeits. In addition to the carnivorous trolls that he bred in scorn for Ents, he has made the hideous orcs in mockery of elves. ‘The Shadow that bred (the orcs) can only mock,’ Frodo observes deep within the interior of Mordor, ‘it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them.”
This quote makes me think of crossdressing. God created male and female, and they were and are beautiful. Humanity in its two forms was the crown of creation. But we as crossdressers, what we do is mock the good creation. We mock the female form that God has made. We try to produce our own counterfeit females. We pervert that which was good. We pervert ourselves, males made in the image of God, and mock females made in the image of God. We end up with a mixed form which is a perversion and fits neither beautiful form that God had made. I want to uphold the beauty of God’s creation. I’m tired of marring it. Instead of trying to compete with God’s song, let us sing harmoniously with God’s melody.