By Simon Peter:
Like most of those who have struggled with the affliction of crossdressing, my own personal experience began when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It was spurred on by some form or another of playing “dress-up” with my sister, and being affirmed into doing it more than once by my mother. I can only speculate as to why this became a lifelong affliction of mine, but if I had to guess, it would be because of the affirmation I received along with receiving a form of sexual stimulation from the act of dressing up, even at such a young age. To this day, crossdressing has been a lifelong affliction, and I have struggled with it for almost 16 years now. But, I digress.
As I got older, and the concept of crossdressing was no longer deemed “cute” by my mother, it became less acceptable for me to do so publicly. That’s when I started dressing in secret, through borrowing the clothes of both my mother and my sister. These periods of secret would occur when I knew that I was home alone, and would only end after I either got uncomfortable, or if I knew time was running out. Again, the concept of crossdressing has always had a sexual component for me, and it was further reinforced for me the older I got. However, when I started to reach my teenage years, I discovered pornography, and that’s when crossdressing halted in its tracks for at least a little while. It was through pornography that I had discovered a new way to receive sexual stimulation, and I was more preoccupied with the women on my screen than I was the woman I was trying to create in my own life. Yet, that only lasted a short period, as I soon thereafter discovered that I could merge the two different worlds of gratification to receive extreme amounts of it. I was about 17 when I started crossdressing and watching pornography simultaneously and those acts continued for quite some time, up until about 6 months ago, in fact.
As I was battling my own personal demons and afflictions as a teenager, I also started coming back to Jesus through a church that I was going to. I believe that I gave my life back to Christ (or perhaps even gave my life to Christ for the first time) at 17 through a lot of realization of how broken I was. I’d love to say that I was automatically cured from my crossdressing after coming to Christ, and starting to walk more in step with Him, but, in my own experience, God doesn’t magically turn off afflictions simply because you started following Him, and simply because you want the afflictions to end. And no greater do I know that than through my own story, and my own battles that followed after finally coming to Christ.
After I graduated high school, I went to college at one of the local universities, where I had no idea who I was outside of the small town I grew up in. Amazing godly things happened when I left for college, like finding a group of Christ followers and a place I could call “home”, and coming clean with a group of men about my problems with pornography. I’m so grateful for God blessing me with those people. However, with going to college came a more liberal understanding of identity in a lot of college students, and I started to experience thoughts that I was very uncomfortable with. Essentially, I knew that I had crossdressed a lot in my life, namely for sexual gratification, but I didn’t understand why. And given that college is stereotypically known as a place to “find yourself”, I started looking for answers, and in the process, falling down larger and larger rabbit holes.
I was 19 when I first started experiencing thoughts that I absolutely disagreed with. They weren’t extremely strong thoughts, but they were present in the back of my mind. These thoughts were something along the line of “You crossdress, and therefore you must be a transgendered individual” or “You want to be a woman because of your crossdressing tendencies.” And, when they were weak, I easily dismissed them, refuting them with the argument that “God made me this way, and that’s good enough for me. I don’t need to change who I am because I was created to be a man.” However, over time, these intrusive thoughts that were unwelcome in my mind became stronger, and they eventually culminated in the summer of 2020 through an exceptionally bad spiritual low following a spiritual high. This culmination of spiritual lows and bouts of crossdressing started to solidify the fear that I had grappled with in the past year or so: That I was potentially a woman because of my crossdressing tendencies.
That thought, and those that followed it, broke me. I was so anxious, scared, and overcome with fear that it started to be hard for me to eat and eventually sleep due to the overwhelming thoughts in my brain. It was the only thing I could focus on, and it felt like everything I knew came crumbling down in front of me. I kept looking for proof that I was a man, and when I found “proof” that I had latent transgender tendencies, I became more and more frightened. Out of a faux form of “accepting” the thoughts, I almost “came out” to my father one night, where, while he said he’d still love me, he wanted me to still be me (which was the best thing that I needed in that moment, because I realized that I still wanted to be me). And it was really after that moment that I started actively seeking out help shortly after, which is how I found this site, and how I started going to counseling for my crossdressing and intrusive thoughts. And it was through actively seeking help through both this site and counseling that I found a sense of contentment.
Through this site, I found a sense of solidarity. There were other men out there like me, who have grappled with crossdressing for much longer than I, and who came out conquering the problem (and they were even Christian, which was even better!). It is through these men, and joining the email forum, that I was able to calm down after exceptionally bad bouts of intrusive thoughts. The people within the group helped me through these horrible thoughts that plagued my head through their own advice, accountability, and (in some cases) tough-loving when I needed it. I am forever grateful for God allowing me to discover this site, and I don’t plan to leave any time soon, because they’ve truly helped me.
Through counseling, I found a better sense of contentment in myself. My counselor helped me to discover why I may have started crossdressing, and he elaborated that the thoughts I had, while they were specific to me, were a byproduct of a mental health condition known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Essentially, due to the very nature of OCD being an illness that feeds and festers on doubt, my brain had made the connection that I was afraid of uncertainty, and started producing thoughts in my head that I wasn’t actually certain of my gender. And, because of this, I was freaking out mainly due to the alleged uncertainty of the situation, having been told that gender was simply a social construct, and that I could be whatever I wanted to be by my local university. It was through this that my counselor told me outright that he didn’t think I was transgender, and that I was simply struggling with an anxiety disorder that was simply reinforced by my crossdressing tendencies.
Dealing with intrusive thoughts was not an easy feat. I still to this day get intrusive thoughts, although they are not nearly always about my gender or my sex. It took a lot of understanding and researching both on my own and in counseling for me to realize what was best for my intrusive thoughts. And, given that my OCD was based upon intrusive thoughts and uncertainty, the best course of action for me was to take a middle road approach. In this approach, whenever an intrusive thought would crop up in my head, I would say to myself “Maybe I am transgender, and maybe I’m not. Either way, I’m not going to do anything about it, and God will do what is best” which worked extremely well. Again, given that OCD feeds upon my uncertainty of a situation, there are still days where I get intrusive thoughts about my gender, but they don’t nearly impact me as much as they used to because of the aforementioned phrase I used. Which ultimately, that’s what working through OCD has been about for me. I may never be able to eliminate the intrusive thoughts themselves, but if I can sit through a bout of them unbothered, then I have truly overcome them.
The further I got into dealing with my intrusive thoughts, the less I tolerated crossdressing tendencies in my life. I would genuinely be in situations where I struggled with crossdressing, and they’d immediately stop due to a bout of several intrusive thoughts. And, through these, realizing that I did not want to be a woman, I could not continue with my actions. That has only strengthened as time as gone on, and while the casual temptation to engage in crossdressing behavior is still there, I am simply unable to tolerate it any longer because the act of crossdressing or indulging in crossdressing-related pornography or fiction (sometimes) induces intrusive, frightening thoughts about my gender identity. Perhaps that is a blessing in disguise for me, and God used my OCD/intrusive thoughts for that purpose (pardon me if that’s not something scripturally sound, but that’s simply what I’ve come to believe and speculate about).
Regardless, that has been my journey with crossdressing so far. The things that have helped me the most in this journey and struggle have been this group, counseling, and masculine figures in my life. I’m not saying that the problem is immediately going to go away, and perhaps it may never go away. However, I am saying that God will put people and things in your life for a greater purpose than what you may believe, even if you think the things in your life are horrid. For me, the anxieties and intrusive thoughts, while they are horrid, have been a way for me to rid myself of crossdressing habits that I had developed and indulged in for far too long. Likewise, the group and counseling, while stigmatized as being for “the sick” or “unwell” have helped me come to terms with my own masculinity and identity. I may not be hyper-masculine like some of the men I know, but that’s okay. I am still a man because I identify as such and because God created me in His perfect image, and in that image, I am a man. It’s really because of God’s own intervention in my life that I was able to find myself and be more secure in myself, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Written by Simon Peter