Gareth is a handsome, bearded 20-year-old, studying and working. He drinks, he smokes, he has a group of guy friends around him and he meets girls on nights out. He’s also been a crossdresser since he was 10 years old.
He doesn’t see this as a big deal, but nevertheless he keeps it private. His name has been changed for the sake of this article which is what we both decided was for the best. Crossdressing is a very misunderstood form of expression, meaning that you won’t find many people who have the strength to be open about it.
Gareth crossdresses as often as he can, usually when he finds himself alone with enough spare time. When he was 10, he started by wearing shoes and he states that it “grew from there.”
He hasn’t told many people. Only his closest friends who he admits have mostly been girls. He says it’s easier to discuss this sort of thing with girls for an unknown reason.
Ideally, he’d like a relationship where he could be honest about it. He states that “it’s a part of me and I’d love to be open and accepted by my partner.” But when he tried to share it once before, it put a quick end to the relationship. “Immediately she thought that I was just gay and didn’t want to be with her. She found it way too weird.”
Weird seems to be a word that’s often associated with crossdressing. But there are people out there who believe that men who crossdress can’t supress that desire anymore than a gay man can suppress his attraction to men, or than a transgender person can suppress their inability to feel comfortable in their born gender.
Interestingly, Gareth believes that he is a part of the LGBT community. He tells me that he longs for “it to be acceptable to talk about. You see so many other movements in the LGBT community looking for equality,” but Gareth doesn’t believe that enough is being done to normalise crossdressing. He hopes that sharing his story in this way may help with that.
He can’t say for certain whether he’ll crossdress for the rest of his life, but he does believe it’s a part of him meaning that he probably will. “For me, it’s not really a sexual experience, it’s more something that feels natural to do. I feel more comfortable in [women’s clothes], it’s really like you can be who you want and express yourself.”
He’d like to be able to go out dressed up, but he’d need a good support network of people around him to help build his confidence. But where does a 20-year-old in Dublin find people like that? He’s hoping he can figure that out.
Knowing that there are people out there who would assume that a crossdresser is just a transgender person in hiding, I asked Gareth would he ever like to live as a woman full time. His response was surprising. “I have debated it and it does sound appealing, but I do like having the choice on what way I want to express myself. At the end of the day isn’t that all we want?”
Who knows where the crossdressing movement will go in the future? In a current climate that seems determined to take away people’s choices, I found speaking to Gareth refreshing. It’s not easy to open yourself up like he did , but opening up is the only way to diminish prejudice. Myself and Gareth are both hopeful for a world where he can leave the house dressed in whatever clothing he chooses, without having to face an immense backlash.