Men: Wear Your Bra With Pride!
Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA
‘I don’t know what set off the metal detector,’ wrote my reader. ‘It might have been the buckle on my trouser belt. It could have been the metal eyelets in my shoes. Or it is possible that it was the wire in my bra.’
‘The customs officer politely asked me to step to one side so that he could search me. He started by patting my jacket pockets and asking me to pull out and display the contents. Notebook. Pencil. Spectacle case. Nothing exciting there. Then he slipped his hands inside my jacket and ran them over my chest and back. Having reached half way up my back he stopped for a moment and paused. He looked at me, rather uncertainly, and hesitated before speaking. I knew what he’d found. I'd felt his fingers pulling at the strap. ‘Are you wearing, er, something, sir?’ he whispered.’
‘I am,’ my reader replied. He’d forgotten about the bra until the man’s fingers had found it.
‘Would you mind waiting here while I consult someone about this, sir?’ the customs official asked, still polite. ‘It’s something I haven’t come across before.’
My reader waited while the official walked across to where his colleagues were standing. The international railway station was very quiet and they didn't have anything to do. My reader looked across at his wife, who had already passed through the security check point and tried to reassure her with a gesture and a smile.
A few moments later, after a certain amount of whispering and a couple of glances in his direction, a female security guard approached my reader. She was clearly the senior operative on duty and when she moved, her subordinates came with her. It could have been an intimidating sight but it wasn't. They were all smiling and relaxed.
‘That’s all right, sir,’ she said quietly. ‘It’s something we come across occasionally.’
‘I'm sorry, sir,’ said the guard whose search had identified my bra. ‘It’s not something I’d come across before.’
My reader smiled, murmured his thanks and moved away to collect his bags.
It had apparently all been handled politely and speedily. There were no sniggers, no rude remarks and no impertinent and irrelevant questions.
For a few moments, my reader felt relieved.
‘We live in strangely intolerant times and I felt grateful that the security guards had behaved with dignity and good sense. I am not in any way ashamed of the fact that I cross-dress but it would have been annoying to have been delayed and possibly inconvenienced, because my preference in underwear is a trifle out of the ordinary. I didn't want to find myself half naked in a cell while one team of detectives tore my bra apart (looking for drugs or weapons) while another team grilled me about the chances of my using the elastic to threaten national security.’
‘My wife knows of my crossdressing and happily and enthusiastically indulges my passion for delicate and feminine underwear. She does my make-up, when I put on a dress.’
‘Cross-dressing, still illegal in many parts of the world, though only when done by men, doesn't hurt anyone. Millions of women wear male clothing every day and no one says anything.’
‘Afterwards I felt a wave of sadness for the many crossdressers for whom such a simple, everyday incident might have induced palpitations and a fear that their world might be about to come crashing down around their ears.’
My reader was right to feel concern.
I have, over the years, received hundreds (probably thousands) of letters from crossdressers. My correspondents have, on the whole, seemed to me to be unusually sensitive, thoughtful, shy human beings; probably kinder and more compassionate than most men and many modern women. But they have almost all suffered from one overriding (and invariably destructive) emotion: guilt.
The average crossdresser is riddled with guilt. If you could isolate it, extract it, purify it, concentrate it and turn it into fake breast tissue he would need to have his bras specially made by a firm of structural engineers. If guilt were breast tissue, the average crossdresser would have a traffic stopping JJ bust.
It is no exaggeration to say that most crossdressers feel ashamed of the fact that they occasionally, frequently or invariably dress partly or wholly in clothing generally regarded as having been designed for members of a different gender.
Most crossdressers feel pitifully grateful when they find a shop assistant who is accepting and non-judgemental. Many hide their dresses, wigs, stockings, bras and other bits and pieces in the garage or the loft. They dress in secret, alone and in fear.
Many of the men who write to me about their crossdressing seem surprised at the idea that they are doing nothing of which they should feel ashamed.
And I know why.
Whenever I write about crossdressing in an uncritical, and even mildly approving, way I receive angry mail from belligerent and malignant wives who claim that their lives have been ruined by the fact that their husbands have broken the unwritten rules about what sort of clothing men can wear.
These women (many of whom probably spend most of their lives wearing trousers - and never see the irony of this) claim that when they discovered their husband's secret (and, invariably, it was a secret) their lives came to a sudden halt.
‘When I discovered my husband wearing a dress I felt sick,’ wrote one woman. ‘It was as though my life had ended.’
‘I came home unexpectedly and found my husband dressed as a woman. It was disgusting. I felt dirty. Our marriage is over. How can you expect a woman to have sympathy with a man who behaves like that?’ wrote another.
It is, I think, fairly safe to assume that this woman has no experience of a husband who is a layabout, a bully, a wastrel or a wife beater.
Her husband has a handful of pastel coloured knickers hidden in a suitcase in the loft. He has two cheap dresses and a treasured lipstick. And that makes him a danger to humanity?
I know of women who have, on discovering that their husbands crossdress, packed their children into the car and disappeared back to mother. With the help of compliant lawyers and courts, they have then banned their husbands from having contact with their children. They clearly think that no father at all is better than a father who shaves his legs.
What the hell are these women on?
Don't they live in the real world – a world where men routinely beat their wives, gamble all their money away on horses or spend their wages on beer and come home reeking on Friday and Saturday nights?
Do these women really think that a man who wears a bra, frilly knickers, a suspender belt and a pair of stockings is worse than a man who beats his children, steals from the neighbours or cheats his customers?
Do these women honestly regard crossdressing as being in the same category as paedophilia, bank robbery, murder, racism or dumping toxic waste in rivers?
I've had letters from men whose bitter and prejudiced wives have grudgingly accepted their fondness for silky underwear but have sternly imposed absurd and unilateral restrictions on their hapless spouses.
And I've had letters from women who have, with pride, told me that they only allow their husbands to dress for an hour once a month and they have to draw the curtains and make sure the house lights are switched off just in case a nosy neighbour peers in through a crack in the curtains.
(For the record, the vast majority of crossdressers are heterosexual. The incidence of homosexuality among crossdressers is lower than the incidence of homosexuality among the rest of the population.)
Women who would stand by their man if he were a thief, murderer, alcoholic or child molester walk (or run) away when they find out that their man has a softer side – and a hobby that he keeps shut in a hidden suitcase.
It is these women who make crossdressers so fearful of exposure and discovery; who create a climate in which crossdressing becomes a furtive activity; a world in which blackmail can thrive.
These petty and small-minded female tyrants have caused unimaginable and unjustifiable amounts of pain and sadness and guilt. Most of them worry more about what the neighbours might think if they saw an extra bra on the washing line than about their husband’s mental or physical health.
The truth is that crossdressing is as about as innocuous a pastime as one can imagine. It costs no more than golf and is no dafter than stamp collecting.
Many women whose husbands are truly bad and evil men would, I suspect, be vastly relieved if all they had to contend with was a partner who looked at the underwear catalogues not for the pictures of the girls but for the pictures of the underwear. And so would many women whose husbands philander or spend too much on cigarettes or booze or gambling.
I recognise there are times when crossdressing can get out of hand and that some crossdressers can be selfish and thoughtless. The man who insists on wearing a frock when his wife’s relatives turn up for tea doesn’t have any right to complain if his wife bursts into tears and starts throwing cucumber sandwiches around the dining room when the visitors have left.
When the customs security guard found my reader’s bra, it wasn’t a big deal for him. And it was no big deal for the security guards either.
But he and I know that he was lucky.
Many crossdressers would have found that experience humiliating, embarrassing and frightening.
And that’s sad.
Crossdressing is a healthy and natural activity which ought to be encouraged and welcomed rather than stigmatised. Crossdressing allows men to elevate the feminine part of themselves and separate the tougher part. We all have a bit of both sexes in us. Crossdressers are simply getting in touch with – and letting out – their feminine side. Men who crossdress are softer, warmer, gentler creatures. Many crossdress because it helps them find spiritual and emotional release. And that’s wrong?
It is now accepted as natural and normal for women to wear trousers – symbols of masculinity. How absurd. The truth is that the world would be a happier, healthier less violent place if more men wore frocks and fewer women wore trousers.
Perhaps those who like to dress in a feminine way should be less tolerant of those who are intolerant.
Crossdressing really is no big deal. What does it matter to anyone if a man chooses to wear a bra under his shirt or a nightie instead of a pair of pyjamas? Is a man a bad person because his underwear is lacy.
I once had an unusually jolly letter from a crossdresser who told me he always wore a matching bra and panties in case he got knocked down while crossing the street.
‘I don't mind people knowing I’m a crossdresser,’ he wrote. ‘But I don’t want them thinking I'm a cheap crossdresser.’
Copyright Vernon Coleman
Vernon Coleman’s book Men in Bras, Panties and Dresses is available on Amazon as an ebook.
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