Written by Ewan
One of my first memories is of messing around in the attic when I was about 5 years old. I put on a pair of my mum’s boots. I liked the feeling. My brother laughed. Since then I have always had these two parts to me; the bit that loves the look and feel of women’s clothing, and the bit that says boys and men shouldn’t have those desires.
For a long time the part of me that loved to dress was more powerful. As a teen, I looked with jealousy at the lads in my year who, as I put it, “got all the girls.” I was shy, awkward, quiet. I thought that I would never be like them. Coupled with my narrow shoulders and lanky frame, I figured that I was never going to lose my virginity. So, I turned to porn. I identified with the women. I didn’t just want to be with them, I wanted to be them. So I started to dress. I wondered, since I felt more free when I dressed and because of my character (both dressed and not dressed), whether I was in fact meant to be a woman. I started finding stories of men who were now living as women. I couldn’t wait until I left home and could live this life out more fully.
But there was one problem. At a Scripture Union camp, I came to realise that all I had done, said and thought many horrible things over my life, and that God had forgiven me of those things. As I realised both the weight of those things (later explained to me as sin) and the power of God’s mercy and grace, I cried. That weight was being lifted. God had won me, and I knew I had to live my life for him.
Where did my dual problems of crossdressing and porn fit into my faith? They didn’t. I knew this instinctively. It felt right and good to dress, and masturbating felt good at the time, but I was never satisfied. Often I felt rotten afterward. But I enjoyed it too much. So the pattern continued.
At university I spent a lot more time and money buying things online and dressing up. Lots of time spent on Ebay searching for good deals. I enjoyed seeing all my clothes in my wardrobe. And hated hiding them when friends came. At points I would get rid of these clothes. But I’d just buy more, use them, and get rid of them. In turn this led to an addiction to creating female profiles on various sites, a pattern begun in my teens when IMVU first came along.
My addiction slowly worsened, even into marriage. I started to realise this when I waited half an hour for someone to come out of an overran lecture to hand over a second hand dress, or when I drove round town collecting second hand clothes. By that time, simply receiving things in the post wasn’t enough; I had to meet the previous owner and pretend to be them. I also used phone sex, scouring the web for sex lines for crossdressers.
The time this all took away from the things I needed to do around the house, or what I felt I could have been doing around my community. The cost was huge. My wife asked me to account for around £400 going out of our account. I thought I had been clever by taking it out in cash in small amounts. I couldn’t admit that it was in clothes and accessories. I knew the harm that this addiction was doing to me and my marriage. My wife found it difficult to trust me with small things. She was also coming home upset and wondering how I’d be within myself. I knew also that it must have been having an impact on my mental health. Every time I gave in to masturbation I felt awful, and living in secrecy was just a daily battle of hoping she wouldn’t find anything. I was leading a double life. There was the male me, who everyone knew to be a Christian. There was also this secret one lurking around in the sins of lust.
So how did I break free from this addictive pattern? I stumbled across this website around 2013/14. Barnabas showed me that I couldn’t do this myself. That crossdressing was an issue I needed to trust God with. That although I was never going to be like the other lads in my year, neither was I actually going to be like the women I wanted to be.
There were and are underlying issues that feed into my crossdressing desires that I need to give to him every day. Today it was the issue of not feeling good enough; I wanted to look up clothing items. But God tells me: by yourself you’re not good enough, but I have given you my Son – why turn to the clothes? This website, along with counselling, sermons and daily bible reading all have taught me who I am, who I am in Christ, who God is, what he’s done for me, what I look for in crossdressing, and how God meets those needs.
Living out my identity in Christ has demonstrated what a friend said many years ago; that many people don’t trust Christ because they enjoy their lifestyle so much they don’t want to give it up. I worried that trusting him with this would mean misery. Ironically, my faithlessness in this area caused a huge amount of pain. And far from a drag (pardon the pun) my life free of this sin has been so full of life and joy. I’ve been able to take part in hobbies and real interests, enjoy time with family, and enjoy my work. But most importantly, it means I can more fully worship the true and living God, whose beauty far exceeds any external beauty we could attempt to create ourselves with wigs, dresses, accessories and makeup.
When I was a teenager and a baby Christian, I didn’t want to give this part of me to the Lord. I didn’t want him to be Lord of this part of my life. But through His grace, I am learning to trust Him with it. I still get tempted. I still have what my 5 year old learnt: the bit of me that likes women’s clothing and the bit that doesn’t. As Paul wrote, I am a new creation, but the old man still wages war with the new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sometimes I give in to the old man. But perhaps this is the point; maybe God has given me this to teach me what it means to trust him each and every day and show me how much I need Him.
As I have thought about my testimony of how God is healing me of crossdressing, I was reminded of one of the most amazing hill-walks I’ve ever done. Wherever we go on holiday, my wife and I love to go hillwalking. To date, Cat Bells, in the Lake District, remains a firm favourite. In parts though, it isn’t so much a hill-walk as it is a scramble. I remember having to dig deep and not be afraid to keep on climbing up these tall rocks. The actual climbing parts were horrible. It was not a climb I especially liked at the time. But there were many moments of joy, discovering that I had survived each step up; the discussions we had with young multi-day trekkers with huge backpacks on their backs, the sight of totally unprepared tourists in their jeans. And, of course, the views, the sun glistening all over Derwantwater, lighting up the other peaks in the area. The walk away from crossdressing is very much like this. Many battles, many doubts as to whether it’s going to be worth it, punctuated with some light moments. But it’s well worth the climb.