Ten Frequently Asked Questions

Angus B. Grieve-Smith

Completely rewritten December 22, 2003

This is a list of questions that people have asked me when they find out that I'm a transvestite. Of course, YMMV. There is a wide variety of feeling and behavior in the transgender community, so I don't claim to speak for anyone else. On the other hand, I've met several other transvestites, and seen plenty of other transvestites' web pages, and I definitely get the feeling that we have certain things in common.

  1. You're not, um, gay, are you?

    No, I'm very much attracted to women. I'm married to a wonderful woman, and we have a young son.

    I have sometimes fantasized about having sex with a man while I was dressed as a woman, and sometimes about having sex with another transvestite or transsexual, but those fantasies have all focused on the clothes.

  2. Does your wife know?

    I was cross-dressed the first time I ever spent time with my wife. A mutual friend introduced us at the 1996 Gay Pride Parade. She's not as interested in my cross-dressing as I had expected, but she tolerates it well. And she values her privacy, so this is all I'm going to say about her here.

  3. Are you planning to have a sex change?

    No. I've thought long and hard about it, and I came to the conclusion that I like my life as a man too much to change. I never felt that I was really a woman born into a man's body.

  4. Why do you cross-dress?

    The big question! The short answer is that I can't stop myself. Belive me, I've tried, and I just keep coming back. I eventually figured out that I wasn't hurting anyone by cross-dressing, and I might as well just go with it.

  5. Why don't you just wear fancy men's clothes? You could even wear skirts. Men wear kilts in Scotland, and I read in some fashion magazine that the hot new trend is skirts for men.

    Ah, yes, the annual prediction that next year we'll all be wearing "skirts for men." Okay, now what about makeup and high heels for men? Maybe two hundred years ago, or even back in 1982, but out of style today. Nylons for men?

    I don't want to be a "pretty boy," and I'm not particularly interested in wearing a butch skirt designed for "manly men." I want to look like a woman, and that includes wearing women's styles. If I see a woman wearing a cute outfit, whether on the subway or in a magazine, I want to wear an outfit like that, not some version for men.

  6. What do you do when you cross-dress?

    Maybe once a month I go out shopping or to visit friends. Sometimes I go to CDI, one of the New York-area crossdressers' groups. If I stay home I might practice my femme voice, or walking or dancing in heels. Sometimes I do something boring like eat lunch or feed the cats. But usually (about once a week) I just dress up, masturbate and change back into my guy clothes.

    Oops! I said a taboo word! I know that the word "masturbate" (and the associated concept) makes people uncomfortable, but you asked. And the idea of some guy in a dress masturbating isn't appealing to most people (although YMMV). But too many people pussyfoot around the question. Someone has to come out and say it.

  7. Isn't "transvestite" an offensive term?

    The word "transvestite" implies that the cross-dressing is sexual in nature. There are certain cross-dressers and transsexuals who don't feel that their cross-dressing is sexual, so they resent the implication.

    But for me (and for many other transvestites) cross-dressing is a sexual act. Which isn't to say that it's always highly sexual. Cross-dressing in public isn't like having sex (or masturbating) in public. It's more like a couple kissing or holding hands in public. So the term "transvestite," with its sexual connotations, is appropriate. Just like "husband," which is not offensive even though it implies a sexual relationship.

  8. Why did you decide to come out back in 1995?

    I got tired of having to lie to everyone, and feeling really alone. And I wanted to contribute to online discussions without using anonymous redirectors. Even then I knew that if you put anything out on the internet, it never really goes away. I decided that it would be easier just to mention my cross-dressing when it was relevant.

  9. Do you have a femme name?

    I didn't for a long time, but when I started going to CDI, it felt funny to have a guy's name while talking to people with names like Nancy, Tina and Caprice. (By the way, all the girls at CDI are really sweet and fun to hang out with.) So I picked "Andrea." I wanted something feminine, and not as unusual as "Angus," and I figured I'd keep the same first initial.

    Oh, and it's pronounced AYN-dree-uh. Ahn-DRAY-uh is an Italian man's name.

  10. Are you afraid of being "read," or of someone thinking you look silly?

    I'm afraid of being read by some psycho and then attacked. Unfortunately, this country is not completely safe for cross-dressers, even though we're not hurting anyone. And the only way I can think of to really change that is if more of us come out of the closet. It's a lot harder for bashers to justify their bashing if they know that a friend of theirs could be the next one who gets bashed.

    I'm less afraid of looking silly. Everybody looks silly at times, and cross-dressers more often than most. I know I do sometimes. It's really okay to look silly. And it's important to be able to laugh at yourself.