The urge to show off

Take a tour of some profiles around Multiply (or any other social site) from some genetic females, or from guys without any interest in crossdressing. What do you see?

Their pictures reflect moments that are important for them: going out with friends, their family, a special event. Or they’re pictures from places they saw. In some rare occasions, you’ll get an amateur photograph who will indeed take pictures of lovely models… but this is art, not photo-blogging, and artists have different ways of looking at the world anyway.

Then you also have the erotic/porn sites. Here you’ll start to see another kind of pictures: the purpose is to “advertise yourself” as a sexual partner. Sites like are full of those — you cut through society’s way of displaying your physical attributes (namely, clothing), and go straight through what matters: your genitalia. Guys and girls display themselves differently — girls tease (but not always display everything), guys simply take the dirtiest pictures they can grab of themselves to drive a point. They’re displaying themselves as sexual objects and exhibiting their wares, like on a porn supermarket. They also forget that girls are not so excited by visuals as guys, so this approach usually doesn’t work well.

What about crossdresser sites? They’re usually very different. First, there are two kinds of crossdressers “on display”. The first kind is very similar to any other fetishist/porn sites: people are selling their “wares” and sexual attributes are on display to find a partner who might be interested in the same thing (assuming a male CD wishes to attract another male, this actually works better — males are wired in their brains to visuals). The difference is mostly the sheer quantity of pictures and movies on these sites. CDs display a lot of themselves (at least on the Web), even closet crossdressers like me. I think I have perhaps 20 or so pictures of my male, undressed counterpart, and just a 5 second movie. I have way over 200 pictures of my crossdressed self, as well as a few hours of video footage.


A second type of crossdressers are not exactly “on display” to attract partners. They just do it because of an urge to display themselves. It’s the act of self-love and narcissism that I’ve alluded on previous posts. A CD shows off firstly to themselves, something they do while dressed. But they also want to show off to others, too. Even if there are no sexual implications attached. This often leads to confusion, like people asking “are you gay? Do you want to have sex with a guy? If not, why do you dress up as a girl and make such sexy poses on revealing underwear?”

We’re used to think of clothing and body language as being indicators of willingness to attract a partner, so this leads to confusion. Or does it? Genetic women, in fact, understand us much better: they also dress for themselves, and to be admired and envied by other women. This is natural for them (and the biggest reason, I would say, why in the past centuries clothing for males and females have become so different). Women enjoy dressing. It’s special for them. They even do it in groups, helping each other, doing each other’s makeup or hairdos. Guys don’t; they just admire girls getting dressed and (most often) undressed. There is no way a guy will allow another guy to “help” him dress up — unless, of course, he’s gay.

So we can see here a bit of the female mind that is in every crossdresser. A straight guy does not “show off”, except to display their genitalia in search of a sexual partner. Women, crossdressers, and homosexual males have a different urge: they wish to look good, first and foremost to themselves, but they also have the urge to “show off” to others. The sexual aspect of dressing is secondary — it’s not being neglected, of course, but it’s not the major reason for “dressing up”.

As a closet crossdresser, and feeling every day the urge to go out and “show off” myself (but knowing very well that this must remain a dream for long), the issue is then: where do I show off? My Significant Other is very tolerant of my crossdressing, but she’s not exactly excited by it. In fact, it turns her off. She just allows me to dress up because she understands how important it is to me. But she’s not an “audience”; she’s mostly indifferent, sometimes a little pissed off that I take so much time in the bathroom, and very occasionally a bit jealous (she doesn’t dare to dress up the way I do, or to use so much makeup). But sadly she’s not really an appreciative audience of one; for that, I had to turn to the web.

Posting pictures and movies is obviously nice — and eagerly waiting for some comments, from the “hugs” from a friend to someone yelling “f**king faggot” on YouTube. But it lacks an important aspect: real-time human interaction. It’s a form of acting (as a friend told me yesterday) but where the audience doesn’t see you in real time: like an actor doing a movie, then reading about the public’s reaction on the newspapers. You act for an audience that doesn’t see you, just the result of your acting (pictures and movies).

My only “real-time” interactions with other CDs have been on Yahoo and similar messenging systems (you can add me there: sandra_m_lopes is my handle there). Being a Mac user, I’m excluded from interacting in the immensely popular MSN (the Mac version does not work with the webcam and the microphone). This means waiting for long — sometimes months — until I get some real-time interaction with some online friends. They’re always very thrilling.

Still, they’re one-to-one interactions. I was looking forward to something different, so I started to search for webcam chatrooms that work with the Mac (these days, anything that uses Flash should work fine). Most are huge and a mess; it takes ages to find them. And of course I was also scared of what I would find: there is the usual prejudice against crossdressers, and many people on those chatrooms are lonely, or have good reasons for not going out with friends and stay at home instead spending their time chatting. A good reason, of course, is that it might simply be too cold to go out!

I was lucky. I found a tiny community of very faithful people at Izicams. There are never many around — perhaps 20, at most 40 on a very busy day — and the regulars are friendly and witty. After some friendly chatting, I turned the webcam on and waited for some reaction.

I had a very positive experience. Although apparently I’m the only CD there, most of the regulars have accepted me, mostly the girls. A few even had some doubts and had to ask to make double sure. Like everywhere else, you need to work from a “first impression” — sure, this person might be a CD, but is she also fun, entertaining, and a good talker? After a few days, I was pretty confident that many of them looked beyond the image, and focused on what I said and what I did, not on how I looked like.

Still, it’s different. You can look ugly on a webcam, and people will not think twice about making any comments, if you’re overall nice and talkative. Being a crossdresser is still a taboo, but it was nice to be so well accepted. Sure, there is always the odd guy yelling at you and calling you names; surprisingly, the rest of the group just kicked them off and made sure that they were not welcome. The community has an adult room too, and they apparently survive (paying for the costs of the site) with some adult private rooms, but… interestingly enough, they seem to be mostly unused. A few of the models even participate on the “regular” rooms and are quite well accepted too.

It was perhaps the closest I could come to “live interaction” with regular people. It was very enjoyable, in spite of some nervousness, since I was unsure on how well I’d be accepted. After some initial misgivings, and the expected IMs of “sorry to ask you, but you’re not really a woman, are you?” repeated every so often, they still accepted me. They exchanged tips. We showed each other what we had bought recently — someone showed her boots, I showed a necklace and new earrings, and so on. Even the guys behaved, and were generally quite nice. A finishing touch was a “girls only” room, where a few guys were invited, but only if they did wear something “sissy” 🙂 It was great fun, and since the regulars all know each other quite well, it was amusing to watch as some of them put flowers in their hair 🙂

All in all, I’m eager to explore this community more. Who knows, it might disappear (since it’s so small) in the future, like so many things on the Internet. But perhaps the group will reassemble elsewhere.

It’s nice to be accepted and be able to “show off”.