Sex Roles [sers] pp1156-sers-483673 March 24, 2004 16:9 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 50, Nos. 7/8, April 2004 (
Gender Type and Comfort With Cross-Dressers
Cindi M. Penor Ceglian
and Nancy N. Lyons
The Bem Sex Role Inventory was used to classify university participants into the gender types:
masculine, feminine, and androgynous. Two men who cross-dress were invited to attend and
interact with the participants during regular classroom periods. Pre- and posttests were ad-
ministered to measure the participants’ comfort level with the phenomenon of cross-dressing.
Feminine-gender-typed participants were initially the most comfortable with the concept of
cross-dressing and experienced the least pre- and posttest mean change following the inter-
action. The masculine-gender-typed participants were the least comfortable, but experienced
the greatest pre- and posttest mean change. Androgynous participants’ differences for pre-
and posttest scores were greater than the feminine-gender-typed participants’ differences, but
less than those of the masculine-gender-typed participants.
KEY WORDS: cross-dresser; androgynous; gender type.
When you meet a human being the ﬁrst distinction you
make is “male or female?” and you are accustomed to
making the distinction with unhesitating certainty.
—Freud (1966, p. 577).
Historically and culturally individuals have been
conditioned to assess visually whether a woman
or man looks the way they are expected to look
(Hegland, 1999). Dress is the most visible manifesta-
tion of gender and status because it provides informa-
tion about an individual’s characteristics and expected
role behaviors, opening the door to social communica-
tion (Hegland, 1999; Rubinstein, 1995; Stone, 1965).
The socialization process toward gender-
appropriate dress begins at birth as adults provide
infants with “gender-symbolic dress that encourages
Department of Human Development, Consumer and Family
Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South
Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design,
South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department
of Human Development, Consumer and Family Sciences, South
Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007; e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org or nancy email@example.com.
others to attribute masculine or feminine gender
and to act on the basis of these attributions when
interacting with the child” (Eicher & Roach-Higgins,
1992, p. 17). Gender-associated beliefs appear to be
inextricably linked; that is, people expect others’
gender-associated characteristics to form a coherent
package. Norms that govern gender-appropriate
dress are powerful, and individuals are rewarded or
punished for their clothing choices; these rewards
and punishments contribute powerfully to the de-
velopment of a gender identity (Stone, 1965). Dress
is a means of demonstrating how one measures up
to cultural standards associated with gender roles
(Herek, 2000a). This socialization process also en-
sures that individuals learn attitudes that predispose
them to respond positively or negatively toward the
gender-appropriate dress of others (Schiffman &
Women may adopt “masculine dress” in Western
societies—as long as they “do not attempt to dis-
guise their biological sex,” but men are restricted
from wearing the dress of women (Hegland, 1999,
p. 194). Cross-dressers, a term preferred by men who
wear women’s clothing, risk being labeled “sissy” or
“crazy” when they violate cultural norms as to what
a man or woman “should be” (Bullough & Bullough,
1997) because their behaviors and appearances do not
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation