Drag queens are a form of cross-dressing as performance art. Cross-dressing has been practiced throughout much of recorded history and in many societies. There are many 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. Examples include Kabuki and Korean shamanism.
It was once considered taboo in Western society for women to wear clothing traditionally associated with men, except when done in certain circumstances such as cases of necessity as per St. Other people in the Middle Ages occasionally disputed its applicability; for instance, the 15th-century French poet Martin le Franc , wrote: Don't you see that it was forbidden That anyone should eat of an animal Unless it had a cleft foot And chewed its cud? To eat of a hare no one dared Neither of sow nor of piglet, Yet should you now be offered any, You would take many a morsel.
For example, Margaret King cross-dressed in the early nineteenth century to attend medical school, as none would accept female students. While this prohibition remained in force in general throughout the Middle Ages and early modern era, this is no longer the case and Western women are often seen wearing trousers, ties, and men's hats.
Nevertheless, many cultures around the world still prohibit women from wearing trousers or other traditionally male clothing. Cross dressing in early modern Spain was prevalent among theaters and was the most popular form of entertainment. In this case, a person's cross-dressing may or may not be apparent to other people.
Some people cross-dress to shock others or challenge social norms. Gender disguise 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 has also been used as a plot device in storytelling and is a recurring motif in literature, theater, and film. It is a common plot device in narrative ballads.
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. Single-sex theatrical troupes often have some performers who cross-dress to play roles written for members of the opposite sex travesti.
Cross-dressing, particularly the depiction of males wearing dresses , is often used for comic effect onstage and on-screen. Drag is a special form of performance art based on the act of cross-dressing. A drag queen is usually a male-assigned person who performs as an exaggeratedly feminine character, in heightened costuming sometimes consisting of a showy dress, high-heeled shoes, obvious make-up, and wig.
A drag queen may imitate famous female film or pop-music stars. A faux queen is a female-assigned person employing the same techniques. A drag king is a counterpart of the drag queen but usually for much different audiences, and is defined as a female-assigned person who adopts a masculine persona in performance or imitates a male film or pop-music star.
Some female-assigned people undergoing gender reassignment therapy also self-identify as drag kings although this use of "drag king" would generally be considered inaccurate. A transvestic fetishist wearing latex clothes A transvestic fetishist is a person typically a heterosexual male who cross-dresses as part of a sexual fetish.
The term underdressing is used by male cross-dressers to describe wearing female undergarments under their male clothes. The famous low-budget film-maker Edward D. Some people who cross-dress may endeavor to project a complete impression of belonging to another gender, including mannerisms, speech patterns, and emulation of sexual characteristics. This is referred to as passing or "trying to pass" depending how successful the person is.
An observer who sees through the cross-dresser's attempt to pass is said to have read or clocked them. There are videos, books, and magazines on how a man may look more like a woman. See also forced feminization Others may choose to take a mixed approach, adopting some feminine traits and some masculine traits in their appearance. For instance, a man might wear both a dress and a beard.
This is sometimes known as genderfuck. In a broader context, crossdressing may also refer to other actions undertaken to pass as a particular sex, such as packing accentuating the male crotch bulge or, the opposite, tucking concealing the male crotch bulge.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message The actual determination of cross-dressing is largely socially constructed. For example, in Western society, trousers have long been adopted for usage by women, and it is no longer regarded as cross-dressing.
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. As societies are becoming more global in nature, both men's and women's clothing are adopting styles of dress associated with other cultures.
Some male crossdressers seek a more subtle feminine image. Cosplaying may also involve cross-dressing, for some females may wish to dress as a male, and vice versa see Crossplay. Breast binding for females is not uncommon and is one of the things likely needed to cosplay a male character. In most parts of the world it remains socially disapproved for men to wear clothes traditionally associated with women.
Attempts are occasionally made, e. 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.
While creating a more feminine figure, male cross-dressers will often utilize 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, some are involved in subcultures that involve dressing as little girls or in vintage clothing. Social issues[ edit ] Cross-dressers may begin wearing clothing associated with the opposite sex in childhood, using the clothes of a sibling, parent, or friend.
Some parents have said they allowed their children to cross-dress and, in many cases, the child stopped when they became older. The same pattern often continues into adulthood, where there may be confrontations with a spouse. Married cross-dressers experience considerable anxiety and guilt if their spouse objects to their behavior.
Sometimes cross-dressers have periodically disposed of all their clothing, a practice called "purging", only to start collecting other gender's clothing again. A woman dressing in men's clothing is considered to be a more acceptable activity. Advocacy for social change has done much to relax the constrictions of gender roles on men and women, but they are still subject to prejudice from some people. This is one of the many issues being addressed by third wave feminism as well as the modern-day masculist movement.
The general culture has very mixed views about cross-dressing. A woman who wears her husband's shirt to bed is considered attractive while a man who wears his wife's nightgown to bed may be considered transgressive. Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo was considered very erotic; Jack Lemmon in a dress was considered ridiculous.
Thus when a male cross-dresser puts on his clothes, he transforms into the quasi-female and thereby becomes an embodiment of the conflicted gender dynamic. Following the work of Butler , gender proceeds along through ritualized performances, but in male cross-dressing it becomes a performative "breaking" of the masculine and a "subversive repetition" of the feminine.
Joseph Merlino, senior editor of Freud at I'm a cross-dresser and I don't want to keep it confined to my circle of friends, or my party circle, and I want to take that to my wife and I don't understand why she doesn't accept it, or I take it to my office and I don't understand why they don't accept it, then it's become a problem because it's interfering with my relationships and environment.