Dear Dr. Ovlowska,
Help! I just found out that my boyfriend likes to dress up like a woman when I’m out of town, and I don’t know whether to be mortified or excited. Right now I’m just confused. What do I do?
Confused in Krakow
Dear Confused in Krakow,
Your apprehension is understandable but you need be neither mortified nor excited. The moment has come for you to double-check how deep your love is for your boyfriend.
On the surface, transvestites might appear like carnival pranksters and indeed their fascination for women’s clothing can produce some hilarious moments. However, “cross-dressing” is another word used to describe transvestite behaviour, and unless sexual arousal is involved that’s all it is.
Indeed, playing around with, testing and trying the clothes normally associated with the opposite gender has always been part of civilization. At times, it has even been used for political purposes, with Joan of Arc being the most obvious example.
So it is crucial how your boyfriend perceives his special interest, and indeed how you react, now that you have discovered his secret.
For I am pretty sure he has been keeping it secret. Most transvestites do not know how to interpret their urge, and in many countries it is automatically classified as a sexual deviation, condemned and misinterpreted much as homosexuality and sadomasochism are vilified.
This is where your reaction is of great importance. A sensitive person living out cross-dressing urges may be very confused as to how to interpret their own actions. If they are met with apprehension and mortification, maybe even anger from the people they love, they could just drive themselves down into a deep, dark hole of despair and end up taking their own life.
If, however, you eagerly grab his hand and say “Hey handsome, let’s go and look at the shoe shops in Bonarka together,” it might just open the door to an entirely new level of intimacy and understanding. Not because it is sexually arousing to look at shoes, but because you give him proof that you love him precisely as he is.
And in the end, isn’t that the secret of all loving and lasting relationships?
I wish you wisdom, love and a very Happy Christmas to you both.