Most of us probably started out stuck in one; the majority of us are still there. The closet.
You will all no doubt have worked out early on in life that you can’t share everything with everyone, for any number of reasons. This should not mean, however, that the things you keep private are a source of shame, self-hatred or punishment.
I am a firmly “in the closet” and I have not confided my crossdressing to anyone in my immediate family. The only people that I have told are my best friend of nearly 40 years and an ex-girlfriend (and, no, she isn’t “ex” because of the dressing).
From reading various accounts on the numerous forums, blogs and personal websites out there, it seems I’m in a very small minority. You see, I’m actually happy just dressing within my own four walls. I have no great desire to go out dressed and try to pass as a real woman;my need to dress isn’t some all-encompassing thing that I feel the whole world needs to know about.
After all, I’m dressing for myself, not for everyone else’s pleasure (or amusement).
I accepted this side of myself many years ago, so I have no guilty feelings about dressing; neither am I ashamed of it. To some extent there’s no fear either, because I never put myself in a position where I may become uncomfortable. Of course, there’s always a chance of unexpected callers whilst I’m dressed but, hey, it’s my house and if I choose not to answer the door then that’s my prerogative.
I mentioned the forums earlier in this piece. I have been surprised by what I can only describe as “inconsiderate drivel” that is spouted on some of these “so-called” support networks – crossdressers are openly berated because they’re not “out”. Like it’s some kind of disease.
I have no time for the “out” brigade that think they have a God-given right to talk down to people just because they’re out and “doing their thing”. They seem to conveniently forget that they too probably went through the same thing.
Crossdressers taking their first tentative steps onto the web are particularly vulnerable and such negative comments are more likely to turn them against the community that they’re reaching out to. Some may even be driven back, even deeper, into the very closet that it probably took a lot of self-coaxing to come out of in the first place.
So, what are the reasons for being in the closet and staying there? The short answer is that it will depend very much on your particular situation, but it may be due to your social network, your family situation or even financial factors, such as fear of losing your job. The fact is that in many situations there is a deep emotional need to be in the closet.
One ‘biggie’ that is rarely discuss is the fact that there are numerous crossdressers that are compelled to maintain a strong sense of masculine identity when not en-femme. Whether this is self-imposed or forced on them, such a need is very real and is a perfectly viable reason for remaining in the closet.
In most cases, though, one person’s reasons for coming out are equally as valid as those reasons another person will have for staying in the closet. The sooner the minority realise this the better it will be for everyone.
Whether in or out of the closet, everyone in the community needs to understand that we’ve all placed our own importance on how we go about fulfilling our needs and, at the end of the day, no one choice is better than another. So, just because you may be out and active in society doesn’t make you any better than the person confined to their own four walls.
Many who can’t come out, even to their closest family, often have a sense that it is somehow unfaithful or forbidden to have secrets. This potential source of shame is totally unnecessary. Everyone has different interests, and telling is not always a requirement for a healthy relationship.
When trying to come to terms with your need to crossdress it’s really important that you feel good about yourself. Do not allow others to dictate how you should feel about yourself or your needs, so be kind to yourself and enjoy crossdressing for what you get out of it.
If someone criticises your appearance take some time to think about what the person has said before you turn on the defences. Ask yourself if there is anything in what they’ve said that provides any useful suggestions on how to improve your situation.
At the end of the day you are free to take or leave any advice at your discretion – if you feel pressured in any way then it’s probably not the best advice for you to be listening to.
Some individuals will spout the idea coming out is always right, or they will suggest that coming out is the only answer if you want to be truly happy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case – it can easily turn into an extremely complicated exercise.
Being out or in the closet are personal choices and you are the only person that has the right to decide what is right for you.