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The difinition of transvestic fetishism

Transvestic fetishism

DSM-IV-TR defined transvestic fetishism as:

recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours involving crossdressing over a period of at least six months in a heterosexual male these fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours cause clinically signifi cant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Boys who grow up to engage in transvestite behaviour do not engage in ‘feminine’ behaviours before puberty, nor do they cross-dress. Similarly, men who are transvestites are unremarkably masculine in their adult hobbies and career choices. Transvestites usually begin cross-dressing at puberty, and rarely later than mid-adolescence. This typically results in sexual excitement, although many people report that they dress in this way because they like the feel of the clothes and that there is no sexual motivation to their behaviour. Some adolescents wear female clothes occasionally; others compulsively wear them under their masculine clothes. Attempts at passing off as a woman are rare in adolescence. However, cross-dressing is frequently accompanied by fantasies of being female, and these fantasies may form the nucleus of sexual fantasies. The prevalence of transvestism within the general population is rarely measured. However, Langstrom and Zucker  found a prevalence rate of 3 per cent among men in a Swedish population sample. There is little evidence of an analogous form of the disorder in women. In a survey of over 1000 adult transvestite men, Docter and Prince reported that 40 per cent of their sample experienced sexual excitement and orgasm ‘always’ or ‘often’ when they crossdressed. Only 9 per cent of the sample said they never experienced this. Cross-dressing frequently elicits less and less sexual excitement as the individual grows older and may eventually have no discernible sexual association. However, the desire to cross-dress may remain the same or even grow stronger, and may be accompanied by feelings of comfort and well-being. Lack of opportunity to cross-dress can result in a lowering of mood and marked irritability. As a result, many transvestites continue to wear women’s undergarments beneath their normal male clothes. Among Docter and Prince’s  respondents, 87 per cent reported being exclusively heterosexual; 83 per cent were either married at the time of the survey or had been married; 32 per cent of their wives knew they cross-dressed before marriage; 28 per cent were completely accepting of the behaviour once they became aware of it, while 19 per cent were ‘completely antagonistic’. It is common for transvestite men to stop cross-dressing in the early months or years of relationships with a new partner, although many revert to cross-dressing in time. Many enjoy ‘normal’ heterosexual intercourse. Others need props such as wearing feminine attire to achieve sexual pleasure. As social reaction can be very negative to transvestic behaviour, cross-dressing usually takes place in arenas where such behaviour is acceptable, including the home and transvestite clubs or organizations. Nevertheless, Docter and Prince reported that 71 per cent of their sample had cross-dressed in public: 10 per cent had ridden on a bus or train while cross-dressed, 28 per cent had eaten in restaurants, 26 per cent used the ladies’ toilet and 22 per cent had tried on feminine clothing in stores. When asked their preferred gender identity, 11 per cent preferred their masculine self, 28 per cent preferred their feminine self and 60 per cent preferred each equally. Some people experience guilt and shame as a result of their feelings and behaviour. Such individuals may make repeated, frequently unsuccessful, efforts to overcome their perceived anomaly. They may rid their wardrobe of feminine clothes, before acquiring new ones in the following weeks and months. This cycle may occur repeatedly in younger people who later become more accepting of their feelings. In Docter and Prince’s sample, 70 per cent reported having purged their wardrobe on at least one occasion, and 45 per cent reported seeking counselling as a result of their feelings.

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