Something In-between: A GG Perspective on Partial Dressing

MM is the wife of a CD and a moderator of the forums. Someone directed me to this short piece she wrote – because she quoted me (thank you, M!) – and I thought it deserved reprinting.
Something In-between: A GG Perspective on Partial Dressing
“My husband is beautiful as a man or a woman, but unbelievably beautiful when he’s something in-between.” –Helen Boyd, My Husband Betty
I have heard many crossdressers say that being fully en femme is the only experience that truly satisfies them. Their desire is to appear as a woman – with a wig, makeup, breast forms, and perhaps even a corset and padding to complete the feminine image. Some feel so strongly about this that they prefer to dress completely or not all; they find no comfort in wearing a pair of panties and a bra under their male clothing, or adding a few girly details to their masculine appearance for an androgynous look, or simply being a man in a dress. When they look in the mirror, they want to see the illusion of a woman looking back at them, not a man in women’s clothes. When they dress, they want to become someone feminine, someone beautiful–in short, someone else.
Well, each to his – or her – own. There is no call for the antagonism that seems to exist within our community between partial dressers and the “all or nothing” crowd. I understand that some are disturbed by images of crossdressers who make no effort to look female, but I don’t personally share their distaste – and neither do most of the wives and girlfriends I know. In fact, the majority of SOs find it easier to relate to their partner as a guy in girls’ clothes than as a “complete” woman. Very few women genuinely perceive their crossdressed partners as female anyway, even when they are fully dressed and made up. For us, the illusion of femininity that crossdressers see when they look at themselves is invariably undermined by the familiar features and gestures of the man we know so well underneath the clothes. In other words, as far as your wife is concerned, you don’t pass and never will. Does that make you less appealing to her? Probably not. It is your male self she is attracted to, after all, and the more of “him” that shows through, the better.
I do understand that there is a special thrill in “going all the way.”  My husband Angel loves the experience of being fully en femme, and I love to help him achieve a womanly appearance. Assisting him with clothing, jewelry, accessories, and makeup is something I take great pleasure in. Spending time with Angel en femme, whether we go out or have a “girl’s night in,” is very special and rewarding for me. But both of us agree on one point: no matter what Angel is wearing, he – or she – is always the same person. True, when fully dressed, Angel’s feminine characteristics are more obvious and exaggerated. But Angel’s femininity is always present, even without the clothes. It is simply expressed in different ways and to different degrees depending on the circumstances. When Angel is en femme, she is still Angel. There is no “third person” in our marriage.
Perhaps it is because we don’t see Angel as having two distinct identities that we both enjoy seeing him dressed in a way that blurs traditional gender lines. You can call it partial crossdressing, androgyny, gender blending, or any other name you like, but it amounts to being an obvious genetic male dressed in women’s clothes. For example, it is common for Angel to wear women’s jeans, tennis shoes with pink accents, satin-trimmed t-shirts, and women’s cardigans as his normal, everyday clothes. He wears a bra and panties every day, as well as various other undergarments such as camisoles and pantyhose. He may also wear a necklace and earrings, a ladies’ watch, perfume, subtle makeup, and pale nail polish. However, there is no way he could be mistaken for a woman when wearing these outfits. He appears as what he is: a feminized male, or as I affectionately call him, a girly boy. At home he often wears a blouse and skirt without making any attempt at a complete transformation, and I don’t think it looks silly at all. It may not be what most of us are used to seeing, but if the clothes look attractive on a woman, why can’t they look attractive on a man? Granted there are limits on what a man can wear in public without creating a stir, but that has very little to do with what looks inherently good or bad. It is, rather, a reflection of Western society’s insistence on a rigidly bi-gendered world.
There are some crossdressers who wouldn’t dream of displaying their femininity without simultaneously hiding their maleness, and I respect their preference. But I see it as a wonderful thing that Angel can show on the outside what he is on the inside, even when in male mode. I have always encouraged him to integrate his femininity into his male persona, and the mixed-gender style of dressing is an obvious way to do that. Nearly all of Angel’s clothes are women’s, but some are conspicuously feminine while others–including the ones he wears to work–are more gender neutral. This gives him a lot of freedom regarding his day-to-day appearance, which spans the entire continuum from drab to drag. The only thing he never looks like is a manly man. Ask him and he will tell you that he would rather die than wear a plaid flannel shirt.
How do I feel about all of this? Honestly? Well, I’d like to think that my acceptance has helped Angel to feel more comfortable with mixing masculine and feminine signals. Besides the fact that it seems psychologically healthy to strive for the integration of both genders into one’s identity, I also happen to find it attractive. Very attractive. Okay, downright irresistible. Ever since I can remember, I have been drawn to effeminate men. In my teenage years, those 80’s New Wave icons with their arched eyebrows, ruffled blouses and lipstick used to make me weak in the knees. I have an aversion to rugged masculinity and actually feel disgusted by body hair, big muscles, and tough guy attitudes. On the other hand, I am not a lesbian and don’t feel attracted to members of my own sex. What I like is being able to see, simultaneously, the man within the woman and the woman within the man. It reminds me that I am married to a guy who is delightfully different. I hope Angel knows that I love him whether he looks male or female”¦..but I’m glad he also feels free to be something in-between.
© MM 2005