So here’s an interesting artistic/literary take on crossdressing that is definitely not the standard narrative and yet shares some commonalities with it:
In the book’s introduction, Mr. Vollmann explains that his interest in cross-dressing is more an exploration of femininity than an expression of some complicated gender identity. “Not only am I physically and emotionally attracted to women,” he writes, “I also wonder what being a woman would be like.”
But his hobby has cost him friends, and he said he has “a certain amount of fear and dread” about the book’s publication. “A lot of friends who could always handle the prostitutes and the drugs felt that I had somehow degraded myself,” he said. “The idea of stepping down from the dominant male class really disgusts a lot of people, including women.”
Still, Mr. Vollmann is not one to let other people’s opinions sway his interests. He found being a woman, or attempting to appear as one, endlessly fascinating, even when it was unpleasant. (“Mascara is an incredible hassle,” he said.)
I have to say, however, that I’m always a little suspicious of narratives like this one, especially because of how decidedly “masculine” he is otherwise. The Times article begins
As far as writers go, William T. Vollmann is a man’s man. In pursuit of a story, he has roughed it with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and survived a land mine explosion in Bosnia. He singed his eyebrows off and nearly froze to death exploring the magnetic North Pole. In Thailand, he rescued a teenage girl from sex slavery by kidnapping her from a pimp.
… which may be the mark of a man’s man, but in my experience, it sounds more like the overcompensation of a closeted CD, except, of course, that he’s not closeted – not anymore, at least.