Earlier this year I tried to do some informal research through a survey with ex-crossdressers in this community, both Christian and non-Christian. My sample size is very small, so I realize the results are not able to hold up to scientific scrutiny. Nevertheless, the results are interesting to me and I wanted to share some of them. 16 men participated in answering 74 questions. For many of the questions, there was great diversity in the responses. For other questions, there was near perfect unanimity or similarity. I thought it would be helpful to share some of the more interesting results. Please comment and share what you think as well. Perhaps these findings will prompt us to do further reflection, or cause others, who are more capable, to do further real academic study.
Approximate age of first crossdressing fantasy – All 16 participants had their fantasy between the age of 5 and 18. I think we can agree that these feelings and desires usually start early.
Age of first crossdressing experience – All answered between the ages of 3 and 18.
Age of first crossdressing alone in secret and Age of first masturbation with crossdressing – Most, but not all, of the participants had their first masturbation episode years after beginning to crossdress in secret. I don’t think this necessarily means that crossdressing began for non-sexual reasons. It’s very possible to have sexual pleasure, without even being able to define it at the time as sexual pleasure. And it’s of course possible to have sexual pleasure without it culminating in masturbation.
Have you ever been caught dressed or caught engaging crossdressing websites by anyone? – Be warned. Just about half of the participants had been caught before.
Is your wife okay with crossdressing now if you wanted to do it? – Not surprisingly, all but one participant said no.
Do you struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to some degree? – Half of the participants said yes. There are real research studies you can read connecting OCD to crossdressing. This is an area I definitely want to explore and study further. I have one preliminary post on it – OCD connection to crossdressing. I just need to get time to read the research that’s been done.
Do you have a beard? – All but a couple participants said yes. This seems to be an important part of reclaiming our masculine identity as well as a way to diminish the power of crossdressing temptations.
How many people have you told about your crossdressing (not anonymously online) over the course of your life? – This one surprised me. The average number of people in the responses was about 5. This is encouraging. People are willing to share their burdens and trust others with this secret. Telling others was something I have never regretted. It is one step towards more freedom from this addiction.
Did crossdressing become an escalating and difficult addiction to stop for you, similar to pornography addiction? – All but one participant said yes. See my post – Crossdressing is like Pornography.
Did your crossdressing addiction escalate to other types of pornography, fiction, or fetishes that you initially you never had interest in? – All but 3 participants said yes. This is disturbing. Be warned. Be aware of where sexual addictions can lead. Some guys have gone on to struggle with homosexual fantasies, or they have engaged in real life adultery with prostitutes. See my post – My Addiction to Crossdressing Fiction – which talks more about this escalation.
Do you feel more relaxed or more tension (like sexual excitement) when crossdressing? – This was interesting in the diversity of responses. About 1/3 said more tense, 1/3 more relaxed, and 1/3 mixed. Perhaps this affirms the diversity of motivations of crossdressing, or perhaps affirms that there is an evolution in the life of a crossdresser over time? I’m not sure.
Did your crossdressing addiction start with only underwear? – Almost half of the participants said yes. Does that affirm that crossdressing is usually about sex? I’m not sure.
Are you sexually turned on by looking at photos or videos of men who are crossdressed? – 2/3 of the participants said yes. I still wonder if this is due to the fact that looking at crossdressers arouses the fantasies and lusts of crossdressing, or if it is attraction to the unique people, the unique images – men that are dressed as women. I know there are also many men who have no desire to crossdress but are particularly attracted to crossdressers, and those who identify as shemales. Is there overlap between them and those who desire to crossdress and also find crossdressed men arousing? I tend to think not. To get really into the weeds on this one, one thing I’ve noticed is that for many of us we are not aroused by looking at a man who is crossdressed if he doesn’t look beautiful. And it is also not as stimulating to see a man so well crossdressed and beautiful that he actually looks like a real woman. Then he is attractive only in the same way as a real woman. What is particularly arousing to most of us is the man who you can still tell is a man in the photo but still looks “almost” like a real beautiful woman. But this still does not answer the former question. Are we attracted to such a unique person, like the men who seek out crossdressers? I think not. Since most of us are exclusively heterosexual in attraction, I would wager a guess that it is more about the whole idea, fantasy, and allure of crossdressing, and the disguise, the passing, along with the image of female beauty on what we can tell is a man, that is arousing. There are crossdressers who play dress up with other crossdressers and engage in sexual activities together, but even in such cases, I would guess that it is more about autogynephilia (imagining oneself as a woman having sex), rather than having a particular attraction to that person. But the world is full of diverse people. Who knows? In the end, all of this doesn’t matter. Whether we experience some sort of same-sex attraction or not, either way it doesn’t make us better or worse than gay people. We need to pursue holiness out of reverence for Christ and seek for transformation, the same as our brothers who experience same-sex attraction. We should not get too hung up with labels and classifying ourselves.
Do you use an internet filter on your computer and phone? – Only 2 participants said yes! This floored me. Guys, if we want to recover, we need to get serious. Getting a filter is ridiculously easy, not expensive, and not a big inconvenience, but it can do a tremendous amount of good. See my post – Enjoy Freedom: Get an Internet Filter Now! Let me use this opportunity to make a point. It is extremely common for guys to say they tried to give up crossdressing, but couldn’t. But the reality is that most guys try to give up crossdressing without actually doing anything, without actually making any changes. Imagine a drug addict trying to give up drug addiction just by saying they wanted to give it up? I think the reality is that crossdressing is possible to stop, and a lot easier to stop than a drug addiction. Most people who say they tried to quit crossdressing probably haven’t made any steps to do so. My tentative proof for this statement is that out of these 16 guys who have given up crossdressing, only two of them actually got a filter. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything else, but it tells us that many people try to stop without doing the basic suggested steps. So many guys I’ve come across online over the years who have said “I tried to stop crossdressing and I couldn’t manage it” are unable to state anything that they actually did to try to stop except perhaps purging of clothes (which is an important step), but real change requires some real action steps. Some guys try to quit without even purging, telling themselves that they want to know they really want to quit by having the clothes available and not giving in to wearing them. This makes them feel strong, but then of course many will fail. The reality is this – if you want to quit, be prepared to make a few life changes, and then quitting is very possible.
Do you have an accountability partner you talk to regularly? – About half of the participants have one. See above. We need to get serious about our recovery.
If you didn’t complete the survey, you can still comment below on at least the questions I’ve shared here. We can do other polls or surveys or discussions in the future. Let me know what you’d like me to try to research in more detail.