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My Husband, The Cross-Dresser

By Matty Silver, Sex Therapist on June 19, 2013 in Other


My job as a sex therapist has its challenges. Take, for instance, the call I received from a woman who lives in a large country town where her husband is a shift worker. One afternoon she arrived home unexpectedly to discover him dressed in women’s clothes, wearing a wig and make-up. She was devastated because they had been married for several years and she was totally unaware of his habit.

When she confronted him he explained he was too scared to tell her for fear of rejection and he thought he should just hide it from her. She could not cope with his explanation and called me in total despair.

It’s my role as a therapist to normalise a situation for each individual, find out what it means to them and why it’s causing difficulties in their lives and relationships. Explaining to this woman what cross-dressing is was a good place to start.

Cross-dressers are usually heterosexual men who like to dress up in women’s clothes. They discover their need to cross-dress during childhood, starting out by dressing up in their sister’s or mother’s clothes. They soon realise it’s not accepted and are told to stop it. They feel ashamed, become secretive and try to suppress their feelings and their desire to cross-dress. Later in life the issue can cause distress because often they are not sure how to cope.

There are many misconceptions about men who cross-dress:

1. They have to be gay – they usually are not!
2. They don’t like women – they do, most cross-dressing men are married.
3. They do it for sexual gratification – although cross-dressing is a sexual fetish for some, the majority of men do not experience any arousal and for some it is an exploration of feminine self-expression.
4. They always wear women’s clothes – not true, most dress up only occasionally. Some men do wear women’s underwear under their clothes.
5. They can be cured – there is no cure as it is not an illness but a ‘state of being’.
6. Cross-dressing should not be confused with being transsexual or transgender.

Some men find that cross-dressing makes them feel relaxed and helps them with stress. However, for both the cross-dresser and his family it is not an easy situation to deal with. A mutual sense of despair is common.

My client loves her husband and does not want to leave him. After some counselling sessions, they have reached a level of compromise. For now, he will cross-dress only occasionally and when she is not home, while she will receive the time she needs to adjust.

I have another client – a tall rugby player – who is married with two young children and who loves his wife. He called me because he hides the fact that he cross-dresses. He does it only about once a month but he believes if he told his wife she would not understand and neither would his family or friends.

He is struggling between wanting to be open and honest in his relationship, but not wanting to ruin his relationship with his wife. It’s a difficult decision, but one that can be made easier with the right help.

It is essential for family members to become informed and educated about such a challenging situation so they can understand and come to terms with it.

There are some support and social groups for cross-dressers and their families. The largest one is The Seahorse Society (, the members of which can share their experiences and offer practical advice.