Summary: A crossdresser and transgender person share some similarities, but are quite a bit different.

There is a lot of confusion about those who crossdress, and those who are transgender. There is a significant difference between the two, so if your family or friends do not understand you, this information may help them differentiate between the two and better understand you.

Female and male figures with symbol of transgender

Those who crossdress are often males who dress in female’s clothing, also known as a drag queen, but can also be a females dressing in male’s clothing, also known as a drag king. Generally drag is a performance art done for entertainment. The men and women in drag are often gay and enjoy the performance of dressing up in the other sex’s clothing. Drag queens and kings are essentially crossdressers, but there are people who dress in the opposite sex’s clothing who do not do it for a performance. These people tend to be crossdressers and transvestites, or a person who dresses in the opposite sex’s clothing.

Surprised trans woman group outdoors

Someone who is transgender, and more specifically a transsexual, is a person who transitions from their birth sex to the opposite sex. A transwoman is a person who was born biologically a male and transitions to a female through a social transition, hormones, and surgery. Likewise, a transman is a person who was born biologically female and transitions to a male through a social transition, hormones, and surgery. A person who does not transition in these ways is not transgender.

Young man looking at his imaginary reflection in mirror.

Both crossdresser and transgender sound quite a bit alike, but there is one major difference. A crossdresser does not transition. They dress in the opposite sex’s clothing, often for a limited time, but generally live their life as the sex they were born as. Since a fair number of crossdressers are gay, that also does not mean they are transgender as sexual orientation is different from one’s gender identity.

Furthermore, it is possible that a crossdresser and drag queen may decide to take low dose hormones and possibly even some minor surgery to enhance their performance or to more efficiently present as the sex they are portraying. However, they do not transition to the sex they are dressing as. This is the key difference since a crossdresser does not identity as the opposite sex, only transsexuals do. A crossdresser also does not necessarily “come out” as the opposite sex, but may come out as gay and then crossdress to express themselves.

A crossdresser also does not experience gender dysphoria, which is the key symptom of those who are transgender. Gender dysphoria essentially is an uncomfortable feeling with oneself about a part of them that is specifically related to their birth sex. An example is the facial structure and genitals not matching what the person feels they are inside – a biologically male person who identifies as female, but has a male facial structure and male anatomy.

Many parents, or even your friends, may not understand these terms and think that you being transgender just means you are a crossdresser. However, being a transgender individual means transitioning full-time to the opposite sex you were born as, and thus living the life of your preferred sex. A crossdresser does not transition and only portrays the opposite sex for a performance or personal satisfaction only. They are quite simple to differentiate, but many people may not understand. So, the information presented here will serve as an easy to follow clarification on the differences between the two. Please share your own experiences.

Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!

Additional Info

This topic for many may be hard to grasp as people who are not knowledgeable in this area often confuse the two or are completely unaware of what these two terms mean. As a transgender woman, who was born a male and transitioned to female, I never felt I was a crossdresser. I just wanted to live my life as a female, and after many years, I did. I knew what I was, and also didn’t feel like a gay person either. Regardless, the information is crucial for parents and friends to understand the person in their life that is a crossdresser or a transgender individual.

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