Views on Crossdressing

I posted in another thread about my issues with crossdressing, and I’d like to use this thread to be able to discuss views on that.

For me personally, this has been my history with the issue (skip the grey stuff if you don’t wanna read it, it’s not necessary to discuss it):

10 or so years ago (I’m currently 17), there was one day where my siblings and I were playing around and dressing in our parents’ clothes, and I got into my mom’s clothing. A while after that, I started crossdressing behind my parents’ back. I thought that it was wrong, so I made a promise to myself and to God that I wouldn’t dress in women’s clothing again (I know now that Jesus tells us not to make vows at all). A few weeks later, I gave in to temptation and did it again; I again decided it was wrong and reestablished my promise; it hasn’t been broken at all since then. (My parents know now about the issue; I know nothing about their moral stance on it.)
It completely disappeared as part of my life, but last year, something triggered a desire to crossdress again; nothing that would lead me to do it, but it began to occupy my mind. I fell into these times that I’d look up pictures of the clothes that I’d like to wear; as of now, that’s pretty much stopped completely. More recently, the issue has been the temptation to look at people I see around wearing those clothes, but the Lord has helped me to fight my temptation (and actually dressing definitely won’t happen anytime soon).
I’d like for it to not be a sexual desire for me, as I don’t think I have any desire to do anything sexual, but I get aroused a little when the situation comes up. For the record, I’m not homosexual; I’m either heterosexual or asexual, so there’s nothing homosexual in my desire. I also definitely don’t want to change my sex; I’m happy with the body God has given me.
Anyway, as much as I could talk about the personal side of the issue, it’s become such a small thing in terms of how much I’ve had to deal with the problem lately, but it’s the morality of it that’s been wracking my brain for quite a while. My current stance is that I don’t think it’d be immoral if it wasn’t sexual, wasn’t done to pass as the other sex, and didn’t interfere with a person’s relationship with the Lord. This opinion is open to change, and that’s a big part of why I’m posting this thread.

So with that aside, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
*]One Biblical passage references crossdressing-- Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” (NIV) Any other biblical passages on anything like this, especially from the New Testament, would be very helpful.
*]The issue itself has no connection to homosexuality in most cases; most crossdressers are heterosexual.
*]We are called to never let worldly things be above those that are spiritual; if a desire comes between a person and God, it isn’t beneficial.
*]This is taken from post #65 in this thread from a few years ago: “Crossdressing is considered a sin for primarily two reasons. First, it is conducive to public scandal. Secondly, there is often sexual dimension to crossdressing and if this is the case, the Catholic Church has been clear on its sexual morality.”
*]We are not to completely present us as something we’re not; this means trying to pass as the opposite sex is immoral.

On number 1, I’ve heard various things about this verse, but I don’t know for sure which of these apply or are true:
*]Saying that God “detests” something means it is a moral law that still applies in our time.
*]Clothing was drastically different in these times, and there was close to no actual difference in clothing.
*]The passage refers not to crossdressing, but to warriors wearing that of traditional women’s clothing, and vice versa; “man” in the original language referred to warriors every time that specific term was used (I don’t have this source right now, but I can find it if anyone needs it).
*]The passage refers not to crossdressing, but to reversing sex roles (this one is from the Life Application Study Bible for the New Living Testament version of the Bible, I’ll provide a link if asked, but the post’d be too long to go through if I put it in now).
*]These words are from St. Thomas Aquinas, when discussing Joan of Arc’s canonization: “Outward apparel should be consistent with the state of the person according to general custom. Hence it is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice-versa; especially since this may be the cause of sensuous pleasure; and it is expressly forbidden in the Law (Deut 22). Nevertheless this may be done at times on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some other such reason.”
It’s definitely clear that the above ideas don’t all agree, so I’d like to have discussion on that as a particular, but also on the nature of it in general.

The reason I say that is because if a person crossdresses for no sexual pleasure and without wanting to be the other sex, I’m not sure what reason there would be to disallow it as long as it doesn’t interfere with the person’s relationship with the Lord.

In my case, I wouldn’t be able to do it again unless I somehow nullified my promise with God, eliminated the sexual aspect that comes from my experience with this problem, cleared up the morality of it, and made sure it didn’t interfere with my relationship with the Lord. Most likely not happening.

But I’d like to open up the floor on the topic with this information, and hear what others have to say. Thanks in advance!~

God bless,

Cross dressing is another symptom of the disorder that came into creation when mankind, in our pride, disobeyed God. Disorder is never God’s will but a consequence of our own actions. But rather than deal with disorder especially in our sexuality we now try to make everyone deny it’s disordered and even claim and teach our children that disordered behavior is somehow natural.

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Wells said.


The idea that crossdressing in and of itself is sinful always seemed strange to me, since what constitutes “male clothing” and “female clothing” is culturally arbitrary. I can see how it gets problematic if the intent is to “present” as the other sex but, as you said, crossdressing is not the same as transgenderism (though that moral issue is also one that I struggle to wrap my mind around). As for the Deuteronomy passage, I’ve read an article that argues that that particular law was created to distance the Israelites from a common Canannite fertility worship practice, so perhaps there’s more to that one than meets the eye?

Culture and fashion changes. What if at some point in the future those same clothes you’re “crossdressing” in becomes completely normal for men to wear? Would the wardrobe be sinful now but not in that future time? Then the idea that it’s eternally an “abomination to God” doesn’t make sense to me. Then again, I guess we can’t completely separate ourselves from the culture we live in… Even if it’s arbitrary, certain otherwise neutral actions can send messages to those around us, and we’re responsible for those messages we send. But as a person who’s always been a fan of being “weird” and challenging social conventions, I’m a little disheartened by that idea. I wonder where the middle ground is.

I know I’m not contributing very much to the conversation. Just my two cents.

Cultural norms have been established for a reason. Catholics should not recognize crossdressing as a good thing. And who decides fashion? Who puts clothes on the racks? Fashion designers and store buyers. A small elite favors the bold and daring which too often means offensive. The media does not help in most cases.


Yeah, I’ve heard two or three separate interpretations of that passage that can’t possibly all be true. The best thing to do would be to talk to some actual theology experts, especially those with a lot of knowledge on the books of the Law. I’ll be heading to a Catholic college this fall, so I can always talk to some theology professors about it.

The thing is that these culture shifts have happened, but mostly when types of clothing move from men’s fashion to women’s fashion. Historically, heels were originally worn by men (I forget exactly why; there’s a Vsauce video about it), and of course, women wearing pants would’ve been unheard of many years ago. Cultural norms change, so what we do has to go along with whatever movements are happening.
The question is, would pioneering these movements be sinful? I can’t be sure, but my guess would be yes: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25 NIV)
And though it being an “abomination to God” may not make sense, we still should try to understand why this is, and what context has to do with it.

Actually, women in Asian and Native American cultures have been wearing pants for many millennia. That verse in the Bible has nothing to do with women wearing bifurcated pieces of cloth on their lower half (after all, men wore robes and tunics, not pants, in Biblical lands, in Biblical times). More than a few farm wives wore pants while working outdoors in the 1800 and early 1900’s, but certainly changed into a dress before going into town. Let’s not confuse women in pants or men wearing boots or slippers with a heel to justify getting a charge out of wearing clothes that were obviously made for the opposite sex. If you can buy it in the women’s department, whether it’s a pink lacy dress or sturdy pair of denim pants, it’s women’s clothes, that were made to be worn by females. Sometimes you’ll find a woman wearing definite “man” clothes, especially while doing more physical yard or farm work, but she is wearing them for the purpose of safe and appropriate clothes to get the job done, not because she is getting a thrill out of wearing clothes from the men’s department. Those who start claiming that verse from Deuteronomy is the reason women shouldn’t wear pants need to look at when it was written, to whom it was directed, what the people it was directed to were wearing at the time (no pants on either sex), and what was also included in that directive…no mixed fibers. So, I don’t give much credibility to those who insist on women not wearing pants when the same people who insist on this are wearing mixed fiber clothing :smiley:

Let’s be careful not to create sin where there is none.

I believe there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a man wearing clothing typically worn by women, as long as it doesn’t lead him into sin, such as fantasizing about sex, masturbating, looking at porn, or some other sin.

For reasons I won’t go into, I’ve explored this question in depth over the years with seven different priests, all of whom were the most conservative and well-formed priests I could find, including one in the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FSSP), and another who says the Traditional Latin Mass. They’ve all agreed that it is not inherently sinful. It depends on the reason and the context. The more conservative they were, the fewer reservations they had about it, providing it wasn’t leading the person into sexual sin.

So let’s think about it objectively…

Pink is a color worn mostly by women. But normal men wear pink shirts, pink ties, and pink trousers. I have a friend who wears pink tennis shoes. And no one thinks anything weird is going on. It may be a little unusual, but it’s neither abnormal nor sinful for a man to wear pink outerwear. So why would it be abnormal or sinful to wear pink underwear? “It’s creepy” is not an objective reason.

Men wear silky outerwear, too. So why would it be wrong for him to wear silky underwear? Why does it being underwear change it from being normal and morally OK to weird or sinful?

Lace is worn by men, too. It is worn by judges in court in many countries. It was worn in the (distant) past by stylish and high society men for years. It’s even worn by many priests when they say Mass. Men were also the first to wear tights. So men wearing lace, tights, or pantyhose is neither intrinsically abnormal nor sinful.

Fabric, color, cut and style, and lace are all morally neutral. If it is neither abnormal nor sinful for a man to wear pink, silky, and lacy clothing individually, then I can’t think of any reason why any particular combination of them would be wrong for him to wear, either as outerwear or as underwear.

Unusual doesn’t mean abnormal or sinful. And abnormal doesn’t mean sinful, either.

So the act itself of a man wearing women’s clothing is neither intrinsically abnormal nor sinful. Or if it is abnormal, that doesn’t mean it’s so grossly abnormal as to require professional psychological help.

The question then, is “why would a man want to wear clothing that is clearly intended for women?” The answer most people will likely come up with is that “something is wrong” with him. That may or may not be so. But even if there is “something wrong” with him, filling a psychological need isn’t necessarily a sin if it’s being filled by something that is not by its own nature sinful and it helps the person lead an otherwise normal life.

Let’s change the example a little to illustrate. Consider a grown man who finds that wearing superhero underwear helps him relax or gives him confidence. Most of us would agree that this would indicate some sort of psychological immaturity on his part. But what’s the harm? If it’s a crutch he needs to relax, or feel confident, then why shouldn’t he do it? He may need professional psychological help, too, but in the meantime, why not?

Likewise, if he finds that wearing silky, lacy, pink panties helps him relax or gives him confidence, why would that be any different from the superhero underwear? Think objectively here. The fact that you may find it “creepy” doesn’t mean it’s sinful.

Of course, I suspect that it’s frequently, if not overwhelmingly the case that men who want to wear women’s clothing want to do so for some sexual reason. But even then, in the right context, such as while making love to his wife who accepts it, it may not be sinful.

On the other hand, there is also the consideration of the possible scandal to others. It’s true that people have no right to judge the state of another person’s soul, but it’s also true that we should not provoke others into judging us. So a man who crossdresses, especially with outer clothing, has to understand that he’s likely provoking others into judging him. But if he keeps it in his own home and has his wife’s approval, I don’t see the problem. But what if his children find out? What will they think? Will they have the psychological, doctrinal, and spiritual maturity to understand? That is something he and his wife will need to discuss and come to a prudential decision about.

Remember, we’re all psychologically and spiritually broken in many ways. We won’t always understand how others are broken, or even how we ourselves are broken. We all have ways of dealing with the harm done to us by our own sins and the sins of others. A crossdresser typically has suffered some emotional harm during his early life, and his crossdressing helps him deal with it. We may not be able to understand why or how it helps him, but we can at least understand that it is not necessarily a sin.

An examination of our own consciences would be a far better use of our time, rather than examining his conscience. The best advice we can give is to tell them to discuss it in depth with a well formed priest.

I’m sorry for such a long post, but like I said, I’ve thought a lot about this issue for reasons I won’t go into, and I wanted to share these thoughts in case they’re helpful to others.

After my previous post, I realized that I might be giving the impression that I think crossdressing is perfectly fine and normal. And considering the serious nature of the question, and the possibility of leading someone into sin, I want to clear that up.

I think that crossdressing runs in a spectrum from simply wanting to wear women’s underwear without anyone else knowing about it, to full blown in-your-face transvestites in drag in public arenas promoting crossdressing as a sexual lifestyle, and everything in between.

In any case, a man’s desire to wear women’s clothing, specifically because it is women’s clothing–as opposed to a genuine preference for the fabric or color–reflects a damaged soul, usually due to some event(s) or circumstances from childhood. In some cases that damage is self inflicted, but in other cases, such as in sexual child abuse or neglect, it is not the man’s fault at all.

It is also important to realize that the vast majority of crossdressers are heterosexual. And it is not normally a gateway to homosexuality. Most crossdressers, at least of the more mild varieties, say that it helps them relax, or feel good about themselves, or that it gives them confidence. These are not bad things. Some of them know exactly why it has that effect on them, and others don’t.

And finally, the desire to crossdress is notoriously difficult to cure, even after many years of therapy.

So in the case of a man who has the simple desire to wear women’s panties, without any other motivation than the fact that it makes him happy, and without any sexual temptation involved, is it really a sin? I don’t think so, for all the reasons I posted above. Is it really a sin for a man to wear pink underwear, but not a sin for him to wear a pink shirt? That makes no sense, even if it reflects a damaged psyche. It certainly is not a mortal sin. It is not a sin to seek out and use psychological crutches as long as they are not sinful in themselves or likely to lead one to sin. The color or fabric of one’s underwear, or the lack of an opening in the front, cannot reasonably be considered sinful in itself.

On the other hand, a crossdresser who is living “the life” in full drag, and is proud of it… well, I would say that objectively speaking, that is clearly a sinful way of life, even if in someone’s particular case their subjective moral culpability is lessened due to circumstances only God knows.

In between? Well that’s hard to say. Where’s the line where it changes from being a simple, innocent psychological comfort to a sin? I don’t think you can draw such a line. Motivation certainly comes into play, as does the likelihood of it leading to sins such as masturbation, fantasy, pornography, etc.

I also don’t want to give the impression that the priests I consulted were perfectly OK with it. They just said that the simple act of a man wearing women’s clothing is not in itself sinful, but that the crossdresser should look very deeply at his motivations and actions.

So to the original poster, I would say that you should find yourself a very traditional priest and be very open with him about this. Don’t just say it’s OK and then do it. Don’t consult many people. You’ll just get lots of different opinions from lots of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Also, it’s a private matter and should be kept private. You will almost certainly regret talking to many people about this, and it might have the effect of pushing you in that direction. Be very discreet with regard to who you discuss it with.

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