Lacey Leigh’s “Out & About: The Emancipated Crossdresser”

I’ve been re-reading Lacey Leigh’s “Out & About: The Emancipated Crossdresser,” and can really relate to a lot of what she says about being more out and visible. Her main argument is that to be happier we need to dump the guilt and shame over crossdressing and let people out there see us and know about us, and that if we carry ourselves with an air of self-worth and self-love that people will generally respond in a tolerant manner most of the time, although there are always going to be some who will disapprove regardless of what we do. It’s very common sense but something that’s worth being reminded of, as I still often grapple with that ol’ fear and self doubt when I go out.

Overall I think the book is very good and has lots of good practical advice for things like shopping and dealing with difficult people, or even with the police – it’s always good to remember that there’s nothing illegal about going out crossdressed. I have to admit, though, that I don’t agree with everything she says. For example, she makes it pretty clear that she doesn’t really approve of BDSM, and I certainly get her point about not going to the mall wearing a dog collar or a tiny miniskirt with fishnets. I would never do that anyway – heck, I love business suits as much as she does! There is, though, a certain dismissive tone to the book about certain kinds of crossdressers – and again I do get what she means about presenting oneself in a dignified manner in public. But at the same time it’s probably fairly likely that if she ever saw my website she’d probably regard me as one of “those crossdressers.”

I also question some other statements, such as that crossdressing is all about gender and not about sex. Really? I certainly understand the distinction, but also know from my own experiences and from the many crossdressers I’ve met over the years that quite often there’s a big sexual component to it, and quite often it’s some of both. Part of the reason we do it is because it’s sexy. I know in Tri-Ess they often argue the same thing – it’s all about gender, not sex – and yes, as we get older and the sex drive decreases, it often does become much less of a sexual thing, but completely denying the sexual angle feels a bit like propaganda and an attempt to make us seem more acceptable and “normal.” I understand the desire to do that, but I sometimes wonder if there’s a certain amount of shading of the truth when I hear that argument.

So with some quibbles, I do want to emphasize that I like Lacey Leigh’s book quite a lot and would definitely recommend it. I first read it almost ten years ago and have been enjoying it again. We certainly benefit from being seen and from being more out there, and we can take a cue from gays and lesbians who have done so much for themselves by just being visible. Of course no one should be forced to be out if they aren’t ready for it but the more of us who are – and I consider myself mostly out but not always – the better it will be for everyone.

One short chapter that I really enjoyed was the discussion on Deuteronomy 22:5, which is the standard passage for arguing that we’d better stop our sinful ways of wearing women’s clothes (“A man shall not put on a woman’s garment…”) She points out the other strange passages in that same chapter about not mixing wool and linen, the requirements to wear a garment with four tassels on the corners, and of course the cheery admonition to stone to death any bride who isn’t a virgin. And she has a great comeback for those who just can’t get beyond the scripture – to paraphrase, “As a practicing Christian I assume you’ll continue to love me as your neighbor and leave the judging to God.” My own feeling about the Bible quotes has always been that unless you’re an Orthodox Jew, which is whom those rules were written for, it really doesn’t make any difference.

So all in all, I’m really enjoying Lacey Leigh’s book again. It’s a quick read and full of encouragement about getting out there and enjoying one’s life without guilt and shame. Definitely worth checking out.

2 thoughts on “Lacey Leigh’s “Out & About: The Emancipated Crossdresser””

  1. Thanks for sharing, I like your essays and contemplations on crossdressing.

    I have not read the book, but crossdressing has a definite sexual component for me. And like sexual desire, the urge to dress is not constant, but tidal. My sexual energy is different from the average male’s, whether I wear pants and a tie or a dress and heels, and women pick that up, subconsciously, and feel either repelled, indifferent, safe, or turned on.

    Which, incidentally, seems to mirror the cycle of feelings we (cd’s) have towards ourselves.

    How can the desire to play a woman’s role, even temporarily, not affect your sense of sexual identity, role, and fantasies?

  2. Thanks so much, Pauline. I agree about sex and gender – although separate things they do seem so closely intertwined that I can’t imagine the one not affecting the other…Sandra

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