Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 589-605

First online:

Transvestism: A Survey of 1032 Cross-Dressers

  • Richard F. DocterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, California State University, Northridge
  • , Virginia PrinceAffiliated withTri Ess: Society for the Second Self

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One thousand and thirty-two male periodic cross-dressers (transvestites) responded to an anonymous survey patterned after Prince and Bentler's (1972) report. With few exceptions, the findings are closely related to the 1972 survey results. Eighty-seven percent described themselves as heterosexual. All except 17% had married and 60% were married at the time of this survey. Topics surveyed included demographic, childhood, and family variables, sexual orientation and sexual behavior, cross-gender identity, cross-gender role behavior, future plans to live entirely as a woman, and utilization of counseling or mental health services. Of the present sample, 45% reported seeking counseling compared to 24% of the 1972 survey, and those reporting strong transsexual inclinations were up by 5%. Today's transvestites strongly prefer both their masculine and feminine selves equally. A second research objective was to identify variables discriminating between so-called Nuclear (stable, periodic cross-dressers) and Marginal transvestites (more transgendered or transsexually inclined); 10 strongly discriminating parameters were found. The most important are (i) cross-gender identity, (ii) commitment to live entirely as a woman, (iii) taking steps toward body feminization, (iv) low sexual arousal to cross-dressing. Neither age nor experience as a cross-dresser were found to be correlates of cross-gender identity. Although the present generation of transvestites describe themselves much as did similar subjects 20 years ago, the percentage migrating toward full-time living as a woman is greater.

cross-dressing cross-gender identity gender dysphoria gender identity secondary transsexualism transvestism transgenderism transsexualism