Introduction: Crossing Boundaries and Bending Genders
Crossdressing spans such a wide range of possibilities, erotic and otherwise, that the only thing we can safely say brings the mélange of its practitioners under one umbrella is that they dress (sometimes or all the time) in the clothing of another gender. In an age when gender is becoming increasingly fluid, deconstructed, questioned, and sometimes abandoned, we can begin to see the idea and reality of crossdressing in a new light.
This book focuses on the erotic pleasures of crossdressing, while also touching on the life-changing, mind-melting, earth-shifting experiences that can come from actively playing with one’s gender. For some characters, crossdressing means transgressing, transforming, subverting the rules to enter another body in order to enter another world, literally or figuratively. Sometimes it gives them permission to go where they’d be unwanted otherwise. For other characters, playing with their attire lets their minds create the fantasy creature they’ve always longed to be. It means acting, homecoming, freedom. Sometimes, it’s a fun, risqué adventure, a break from the ordinary, a chance to see what might happen if you slipped into a dress or suited up. Would you be the same person? Would you feel the same? Would you get turned on in the same way? These questions and more get tackled in Crossdressing, though the answers are as varied as we are.
When these characters don the clothes of another gender, or another gender role, they find not just their bodies but their minds altered in powerful ways. What was once forbidden is now acceptable?or maybe it’s still taboo but even hotter because of it. When they literally step into someone else’s shoes, their bodies, minds, and libidos can explore passions they might not dare voice otherwise. Whether it’s the bra, panties, and garter tucked away under the charcoal-gray business suit or the bound breasts flattened under a drag king’s snazzy attire, clothes, as more than one character here can attest, do make the man”?or woman, though the person inside those clothes creates his or her power from within as well.
In Stephen Albrow’s More Than Meets the Eye,” his businessman protagonist has a secret under his suit that’s his private treasure, until he chooses to share it: My Brooks Brothers shirt is thick enough to cover up my white satin bra and garter belt, but not so thick that I can’t feel the garter belt’s lace trim as I run my fingertip over my abs. Just knowing this little bit of Suzy is there is enough to calm my nerves.” Part of his narrator’s delight is in fooling those around him. Yet revealing Suzy to her special lover is a bold thrill that yields untold rewards, and it’s this push-pull of discovery and secrecy, of flaunting and hiding, of male and female that makes the story come alive.
These stories are not just about crossing genders but about living with the duality of one within the other, mixed together, minglingthe experience of living as one changing how a person lives as the other. Ashley Laine, the sensual, seductive drag queen narrator of Tulsa Brown’s exquisitely rendered Temporary,” reveals the fear that haunts her at being found out: When his thick fingers began to creep under my panties, I edged away, afraid to ripple the surface of his fantasy.” Yet she proceeds, risking rejection for the joy of bringing that duality together into her erotic life. You can feel the shivers Rory delivers to her with the words Oh, girl”two simple but powerful words that encapsulate the crux of both Brown’s story and this collection as a whole. When these characters?men, women, and those in between or neither at all?are finally able to be recognized for their chosen selves, the thrill goes far beyond the sexual.
Yet sex, desire, lust, and longing are front and center throughout, even as more complex gender dynamics come into play. In Debra Hyde’s Just Like a Boy,” we learn that simply turning oneself into a boy” is not enough for her narrator. She longs to be the boy of her childhood dreams, not an androgyne in boy’s clothes.” Yet her venture into male territory isn’t only for her but for her lover, Matthias, as well. Hyde draws out the tension in this dominant/submissive relationship, where power gets exerted in twisted, yet intriguing, ways.
The power of uniform gets invoked in Lisabet Sarai’s humorous Beefeater,” in which a young British woman mocks family?and tradition?to dress in the garb of the Yeoman Warders guarding the Tower of London. The secrecy of her mission, combined with the defiant naughtiness of their endeavor, had me rooting for them with all the fervor of anyone who’s deliberately disobeyed, half-hoping to get punished.
Crossdressers themselves aren’t the only ones here with a tale to tell. In T. Hitman’s Higher and Higher,” Pete pretends to be his naughty alter ego, Nate, when he hires Roni, a dudette” who shows Pete a few tricks as she turns one, worshipping him in ways nobody else ever has. His internal dilemma, caught between sheer arousal and propriety, between who he thinks he should desire and who he actually does, gives us a peek into how those who lust after crossdressers of any variety also struggle to embrace their wants.
In Crossdressing, you’ll find men in panties, butches in dresses, girls looking like boys, drag queens, drag kings, and those who can’t be tidily summed up by their outer appearance. You’ll find men who want to be men, only prettier, and women who don’t have penis envy per se, but don’t always want to be the little lady. In short, you’ll find people across the sexual-orientation spectrum fucking with gender and gender roles?and simply fucking.
At one point, looking at herself in the mirror, Brown’s drag queen says, Some people might call this a fantasy, but it was my deepest truth.” Here you get hot fantasy, fiction, and the kind of truth that really matters, the kind that gets under our skin, under our clothes, under our disguises to a place that speaks to us deep in our erotic souls. Whatever you’re wearing right now (or not), I hope you’ll join me on this tour across stages real and imagined, where the limits of gender-bending are in the eyes of the beholder.
Rachel Kramer Bussel
New York City