Six must-haves for every crossdresser’s bookshelf
A wealth of non-fiction for crossdressers and their loved ones has slowly crept into bookstores since the early ‘90s, providing stories, secrets and academic dissections on what it means to be a crossdressing man in our society. Listed below are six of the most helpful, thought-provoking, and entertaining titles out there. Best of all, you can grab all these books online or in stores like Barnes & Noble… and a few, like Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety by Marjorie Garber, might even be waiting for check-out at your local library. (I know I was pleasantly surprised to see it there!) Better get cracking — you have some catching up to do!
My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser
“My Husband Betty” by Helen Boyd is an honest, tender discussion with readers about her marriage to Betty, her crossdressing husband. She tries to capture a realistic snapshot of the struggles they face together both among each other and as a united front out in the transphobic (and sometimes oddly accepting) world. In a way this is a book for wives and girlfriends, but crossdressers can glean much from anecdotes of their early dates and day-to-day living (like confronting a gay man at a Halloween party who refused to believe her husband in drag was in an exclusive, monogamous and heterosexual relationship with her). Beyond the stories and advice, “My Husband Betty” also offers an appendix of national advocacy groups like GenderPAC, publications such as Transgender Tapestry, and vacations and conferences for the gender-fearless family. Seriously, read it.
Miss Vera’s Cross Dress for Success: A Resource Guide for Boys Who Want to Be Girls (Paperback)
Sex journalist Veronica Vera has reached across the far corners of the Internet to bring you a published how-to guide with tips on everything from make-up and hair-removal to a candid, practically pornographic, comprehensive sex education course. It’s a complete guide not only for the men among us but the ultra-femme bio queens who share the same passion for fashion and gender as performance. She gets points for presentation, writing each chapter as if she were teaching a class at a brick-and-mortar finishing school, but promotes that “ideal” crossdresser that we don’t all strive to be throughout. It’s hard to break a stereotype when you play to one so faithfully, but maybe everyone should try the mold just once before they break it.
My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely (Paperback)
This. Is. My. Favorite. Book. Ever. If I ever taught a class on sex and gender, I would hand every student a copy of Kate Bornstein’s “My Gender Workbook.” This is almost the anti-Vera, presenting quizzes, diagrams, and other interactive strategies to help you find your own unique gender in an endless pool of gender possibilities. Her analysis of the gender binary and her focus on learning to operate outside of gender is absolutely freeing. If this workbook doesn’t ease the tumult of questions, concerns and curiosities that keep you up at night, nothing will. It’s like a good therapist with unlimited sessions for an iota of the price (I got my copy for $25 at Oscar Wilde in NYC. Amazon.com lists used copies for as low as $13).
The Lazy Crossdresser
All accounts of this book praise author Charles Anders’ approach to crossdressing as a way for men to simply enjoy wearing women’s clothing. It’s not about looking like a woman per se, but about looking damn good in women’s apparel. Anders illustrates the power that clothing has both to liberate and oppress us. Like the other books on this list, The Lazy Crossdresser offers practical advice and points to a variety of gender-bending resources. He makes crossdressing comfortable, easy and light-hearted all in a realistic world where the hobby/lifestyle has its dangers. Best-suited to the casual crossdresser.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us
Yes, two Kate Bornstein books on one list! “Gender Outlaw” precedes the workbook by four years and is a more direct and personal field guide to the transgender world, haled by the Washington Blade as “The first book of gender theory written by a transgendered person.” I’m not sure that’s true — I think Leslie Feinberg was probably writing before 1994 — but this is a digestible 250-page romp through the things you probably deal with every day and the things you’ve never even thought about. And, because it’s Kate Bornstein, it’s hilarious! Sleep with this one under your pillow and you’ll ooze gender theory — impressive at parties, trust me.
My Husband Wears My Clothes: Crossdressing from the Perspective of a Wife
This is an excellent book to have on hand for “the conversation” with your wife if you are telling her for the first time about your cross dressing. It is an easy and relatively quick read, and covers the CD and TG issue well. It is an excellent book for discussion, though some criticize it for not being as “in depth” as some of the other books on the topic.
The following books are currently out of print or hard to find, but come highly recommended by John and Scott at The Lavender Inkwell Bookshoppe, my favorite gay and lesbian bookstore in Syracuse, New York. Try asking for these titles at your local gay or used bookstore:
Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age by Richard J. Novic
How To Be A Woman Though Male
The man in the red velvet dress : inside the world of cross… by J. J. Allen
Blending Genders: Social Aspects of Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing by Richard Ekins