Transvestic fetishism is defined as sexual arousal which is derived from fantasizing and wearing clothing designed specifically for the opposite sex. This disorder generally affects only men who prefer women's clothing, undergarments or other items, and this is partly due to the fact that many men's styles are currently appropriate for women, but when a man chooses hosiery, makeup or high heeled shoes, this seems out of place in society. The disorder affects mainly heterosexual or bisexual men who regularly prefer sexual encounters with women, and the disorder is not usually diagnosed unless the fetish is interfering with the patient's normal, everyday life.
Symptoms of Transvestic Fetishism
Symptoms of transvestic fetishism may begin in early childhood when boys prefer to dress in clothing belonging to mothers, sisters, aunts or other female relatives. If the preference progresses, it may lead to choosing garments that are hidden from view, such as underwear. This may subconsciously provide arousal, therefore perpetuating the behavior. As a patient becomes more comfortable with the symptoms, he may begin to dress primarily in women's clothes and begin to wear makeup or develop women's mannerisms. These actions typically begin by producing sexual arousal, but may lead to the provision of relief during stressful or anxious times. At some point, a person with a transvestic fetish may decide he is unhappy with his biological sex and elect for gender reassignment surgery, but this is not always the case.
Causes of Transvestic Fetishism
While the exact cause of transvestic fetishism is not known, theories and studies reveal certain information to be considered helpful when realizing root issues. If a mother dresses her son in clothing designed for a girl from an early age, this may develop into the condition, as a preference for female clothing will likely be learned. Sexual arousal produced by the actual wearing of clothing designed for women by could be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, a strong desire for rebellion against family or society, or for reasons which may always remain unknown.
Diagnosing Transvestic Fetishism
Transvestic fetish must usually be interfering with daily routine in order to be recommended for diagnosis. If a man acts upon his urges regularly, this behavior may interfere with family, work or social obligations by causing humiliation or other undue stress. Stress can lead to many other symptoms spawned by the root of the fetish. A psychiatrist or psychologist can perform an evaluation by asking questions regarding family medical and emotional history and by observing behavior. A person with transvestic fetish may or may not seek help for himself. Generally, wives or girlfriends become distressed by the behavior and urge the man to seek diagnosis. This may make treatment more difficult, as the man is likely conflicted by his feelings and emotions regarding the behavior. If significant distress is caused by the man's inability to dress as he pleases, or if his routine of dressing as a woman creates stressful situations, diagnosis will likely be recommended.
Treatment Options for Transvestic Fetishism
Treatment options for transvestite fetishism have been largely unsuccessful over the years. Because this disorder is not usually harmful to others, nor does it directly lead to criminal activity, therapy is likely the best selection, if treatment is deemed necessary. Behavioral therapy may make use of orgasmic reorientation, which can teach new sexual responses to stimuli which is culturally acceptable. Cognitive-behavioral may also be useful in teaching the patient to become aware of events which may commonly trigger the behavior and advise on new coping skills and activities which could lead to a more productive and healthy response.