Crossdresser

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"Whatever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin-draped frame
As it clung to her thigh
How I started to cry
'Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same"
Dr. Frank N. Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

In short, this trope is about "dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex." The long version can get a little more complicated.

Crossdressers may be men dressing as women, or women dressing as men. Contrary to popular belief, crossdressing does not necessarily imply homosexuality. An element of sexual arousal ("transvestic fetishism") may be involved in dressing, but not necessarily. And sometimes the primary purpose for crossdressing is simply disguise. This supertrope covers all the various possibilities and permutations.

Distinguished from Drag Queen, which tends to be strongly associated with gay men and has an inherent aspect of "performance." Also not to be confused with Transsexual, which describes people who self-identify as a different gender from that which they were assigned at birth. There's always potential for overlap, however. A drag queen may also dress as a woman while "offstage", and thus be a crossdresser as well. Some people may start out as "merely" crossdressers, only to eventually discover that they are transsexual.

"Crossdresser" and "transvestite" aren't necessarily synonymous in Real Life. Many different (and often contradictory) definitions for each term can be found. This trope is intended to encompass all of them — at least for purposes of troping. (It's also worth noting that the term "transvestite" is largely considered obsolete and pejorative nowadays.)

Note that, since the 1960s or so in western culture, there tends to be little or no social stigma attached to women wearing "traditionally male" clothing. Once upon a time, however, a woman dressing like a man (e.g., wearing trousers) would be frowned upon, or even illegal in some jurisdictions.

The following are subtropes of Crossdresser:

Tropes about characters and their clothing choices:

Tropes about dressing as disguise:

Tropes about other character's responses:

See Also Ambiguous Gender, Viewer Gender Confusion, Bifauxnen, and Dude Looks Like a Lady, tropes which share some common aspects with the above but generally are not about deliberate crossdressing. Similarly, Unplanned Crossdressing technically involves crossdressing, but it's unintentional on the character's part. Like Drag Queen, Crosscast Role involves crossdressing, but only in the context of "performance" — here, an actor playing a part.

Examples

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Ryou and Osamu from Bokura no Hentai don't fit either Wholesome Crossdresser or Creepy Crossdresser completely. While originally The Bully and disgusted at the other protagonists, Ryousuke is presented quite sympathetically due to his back story and poor home life. Osamu is presented as something of a Wholesome Crossdresser early on but quickly goes down a slippery slope of unsettling behavior and depression.
  • Boss from Hamtaro (yes, that's right, HAMTARO) does this occasionally in the Japanese series. Originally he only did it when acting as the "nurse chief" of the Ham-Ham Nurse Team (though none of the other boys were part of it, so it's unknown why Bijou wouldn't have been the nurse chief), but later on he seems more than eager to cross-dress for other reasons, including: pretending to be a girl to attract Flora's presumed husband so she wouldn't have to marry him (it turned out that the male monkey Pepe was to marry a female monkey, and Flora wasn't getting married, but still), dressing like a girl for Sparkle's show, and dressing as a female ninja in the final Nin-Ham episode (complete with makeup, which is strange since he always dressed as a male ninja previously).
  • Kei Shimura of High School Ninja Girl, Otonashi-san doesn't crossdress out of any desire to be seen as female, nor with any true villainous intent. He only does it because femininity is the only area in which he can surpass his rival, the title character Fuka Otonashi.
  • Nozomu Nozomi is about a late-blooming middle school student who discovers he likes to wear girl's clothing when he's Dragged into Drag to redeem a bet and later suffers an inexplicable Gender Bender when he's nearly caught wearing his sister's clothes. Over the next year he experiences or hangs a lampshade on virtually every other crossdressing subtrope as he gradually morphs from a Wholesome Crossdresser into a Sweet Polly Oliver under the influence of female puberty, nodding at Attractive Bent-Gender. Recursive Crossdressing and Sweet on Polly Oliver along the way until he no longer knows if he's a boy who likes to dress as a girl or a girl who is forced to dress as a boy. This makes him a rare example of an involuntary Gender Bender who actually wants to dress as their new sex but is prevented by their circumstances, with the added irony that for much of the year he's only crossdressing when everyone thinks he isn't.
  • Jessie and James, members of Team Rocket from {{Anime/Pokémon}} were shown to cross dress frequently whenever they go in disguise with Jessie sometimes dressing up as a man and James dressing up as a woman. James in particular has cross dressed way more than Jessie has as he dressed himself up as a schoolgirl, a ballerina, and even went as far as buying fake breasts and entering into a beauty pageant with them, which caused an episode of the series to get banned because of him. He did most of the cross dressing in the original series but has not done it frequently.

     Literature 
  • Nevada: One of the characters in the book is convinced he's just this and not a trans woman.

     Live Action TV 
  • British television has a proud tradition of men dressing as women for comedy. It probably goes back to how men (or boys) played female roles in Shakespeare's day; re-enforced by their tradition of single-sex schools (few plays have all-male or all-female casts, so if a single-sex school has a drama program AT ALL, SOMEBODY will get cross-cast.) Some have gone so far as to say that there is nothing funnier to a British audience than a man dressed up like a woman.
  • Coronation Street, of all programmes, had a particularly bizarre plot-line involving Audrey Roberts and a transvestite boyfriend....
  • In Princess Returning Pearl Xiao Yan Zi and Zi Wei sometimes dress as male when going outside. No one is fooled.
  • Night and Day's Fiona Brake and Dennis Doyle both have forays into cross-dressing; Fiona in a bid to seduce her gay husband, and Dennis because he briefly thinks he might be intersex. Also, in in the final episode, set four years into the future, we learn that Ryan Harper now wears women’s clothes and goes by the name of Beverly.
  • Father Brown: The Victim of the Week in "The Missing Man". His crossdressing actually leads to his demise, as the person who shoots him does not recognise him in drag, and shoots him thinking he is a female intruder.

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 


Alternative Title(s): Transvestite, Crossdressing

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Crossdresser