Transvestismalso called cross-dressingpractice of wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. The term transvestism came into use following the publication in of Die Transvestiten The Transvestitesa work by German physician Magnus Hirschfeld.
The term originally was applied to cross-dressing associated Transvestites having sex nonheterosexual behaviour. It also was used to describe cross-dressing with intent to derive sexual pleasure. Later in the 20th century, however, transvestism was distinguished from cross-dressing for sexual excitement, which became known as transvestic disorder, a recognized mental condition. In addition, transvestism often was mistakenly associated with homosexuality.
Individuals who are asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual may engage in cross-dressing. Transvestism is distinguished from transsexualismin which the individual feels that he or she should be a member of the opposite sex.
Most transvestites, in fact, are men who comfortably fill male roles in society and are Transvestites having sex with their biological sex.
By contrast, transsexuals, both male and female, are uncomfortable with their sex and usually cross-dress for an extended period before they undergo surgery. Transvestites may quite early in life express interest in the clothes and manners of the opposite sex. Individuals typically are not distressed by their behaviour.
By comparison, in transvestic disorder, cross-dressing associated with sexual arousal and erotic fantasies causes the affected individual significant distress or disrupts his or her work Transvestites having sex social life.
The disorder is diagnosed when arousal in the context of cross-dressing has occurred repeatedly over a period of six months.
Some persons who practice cross-dressing keep their behaviour a secret because of negative societal connotations. Drag and other forms of cross-dressing are considered performance art when presented to an audience.
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