Cross-dressing refers to the act of wearing clothing and/or accoutrements commonly associated with the gender that is not generally associated with the gender of the one wearing those items. People can partake in cross-dressing for a number of reasons, these reasons can be for purposes of disguise, or just for comfort, and as a literary trope in modern times and throughout history.
Most societies throughout history have distinctions made between the traditional male and female clothing, either by the style, or the color, or the type of clothing that each gender is expected to wear, and most societies have built up a set of social norms, views, guidelines, or even laws defining what type of clothing is appropriate for each gender.
It does not, however, necessarily indicate transgender identity since a person who cross-dresses does not always identify as being of a gender other than their chosen gender.
Some people automatically connect cross-dressing behavior to transgender identity or sexual, fetishist, or homosexual behavior, but the term itself does not imply any motives. Cross-dressing is most commonly practiced by heterosexual men. Men that like to crossdress are not necessarily gay.
Cross-dressing has been practiced throughout much of recorded history and in many societies. There are a lot of examples in Greek, Norse, and Hindu mythology.
A reasonable number of historical figures are known to have cross-dressed to varying degrees and for a variety of reasons. There is a rich history of cross-dressing found in folklore, literature, theater, and music.
There are a number of different types and styles of cross-dressing and a number of different reasons why an individual might partake in cross-dressing behavior.
People can partake in cross-dressing for s wide range of reasons, it could be purely for comfort, or for simple style preference, it could be out of personal preference for clothing associated with the opposite sex, in the case of preference, a person's cross-dressing may or may not be apparent to on-lookers. Some others might cross-dress for shock value or to challenge the social norms.
This has been used by women and girls to pass as male in society and by men and boys to pass themselves off as female. Gender disguise is also common in literature, theater, and film.
Historically, some women have cross-dressed to take up male-dominated or male-exclusive professions, such as military service. Conversely, some men have cross-dressed to escape from mandatory military service or as a disguise to assist in political or social protest, as men did in the Rebecca Riots.
This is a specialist form of entertainment based on the art of cross-dressing. A drag queen would usually be a male-bodied person who performs as a feminine character with an "over the top" personality, also with heightened costuming sometimes consisting of a showy dress, high-heeled shoes, obvious makeup, and wig.
Also a drag queen may imitate famous female film or pop-music stars, often along the lines of;- Liza Minnelli, Mae West or Marilyn Monroe. Another style would be a "faux queen", this is a female-bodied person employing the same techniques.
A drag king is a counterpart of the drag queen but usually for much different audiences. A female-bodied person who adopt a masculine persona in performance or imitates a male film or pop-music star. Some female-bodied people undergoing gender reassignment therapy also self-identify as drag kings although this use of "drag king" would generally be considered inaccurate.
This is a person (usually a heterosexual male) who cross-dresses as part of a sexual fetish.
This term is used by male cross-dressers to describe wearing female undergarments under their male clothes. History tells of a famous low-budget filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. who stated he often wore women's underwear under his military uniform during the Second World War.
This is where a male will wear masks that present them as female.
What is or isn't considered cross-dressing is mostly set by social construct, one great example would be;- in Western society, trousers have been adopted for wear by women, and would no longer be regarded as cross-dressing, then in cultures where men have traditionally worn skirt-like garments such as the kilt or sarong these are not seen as female clothing, and wearing them is not seen as cross-dressing for men, in fact the kilt is considered particularly masculine. As societies are becoming more global in nature, both men and women are adopting styles of dress associated with other cultures and also adopting styles of dress associated with other genders.
It was once considered taboo in Western society for women to wear clothing traditionally associated with men, except in certain circumstances such as cases of necessity. For a long time, this clothing prohibition remained in force, this is no longer the case and in Western society women are often seen wearing trousers, ties, and men's hats. Nevertheless, some cultures around the world still prohibit women and men from wearing clothing traditionally associated with the other gender.
Cosplay may also involve cross-dressing, some females may wish to dress as a male super-hero, and vice versa, breast binding (for females) is not uncommon and is most likely needed to Cosplay a male character.
In most parts of the world it still remains socially unacceptable for men to wear clothes traditionally associated with women. Attempts are occasionally made, e.g. by fashion designers, to promote the acceptance of skirts as everyday wear for men. Cross-dressers have complained that society permits women to wear pants or jeans and other masculine clothing, while condemning any man who wants to wear clothing sold for women.
In attempts to create a more feminine style of figure, male cross-dressers will often utilise different types and styles of breast forms, which are silicone prostheses traditionally used by women who have undergone mastectomies to recreate the visual appearance of a breast.
While most male cross-dressers utilize clothing associated with modern women, there are some who are involved in subcultures that involve dressing as little girls or in vintage clothing. Some such men have written that they enjoy dressing as feminine as possible, so they will wear frilly dresses with lace and ribbons, bridal gowns complete with veils, as well as multiple petticoats, corsets, girdles and/or garter belts with nylon stockings. Examples of cross-dressing can also be seen in the Gothic and the Industrial sub cultures, in fact it would be common place within the clubs associated with this music.
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