The literature on cross-dressing men has been primarily limited to self-identified patients at psychiatric clinics who are in distress. To understand the personality trait characteristics and sexual functioning of nonpatient cross-dressers, 188 non-treatment-seeking male cross-dressers completed the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) and the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI). Respondents were classified as transvestites (TV; N = 83), transgenderists (TG; N = 61), or transsexuals (TS; N = 44) based on self-report and the nature of their cross-gender activities (e.g., use of female hormones, desire for sex reassignment, and amount of time spent in female role). These diagnostic groups did not differ on the five broad personality domains of the NEO-PI, but TS men scored higher than TV and TG men on the Aesthetics facet scale of Openness to Experience (O). In terms of the DSFI scales, TS men reported lower sexual drive than TV and TG men, and TS and TG men exhibited greater psychiatric symptoms and feminine gender role, and poorer body image than TV men. Upon exclusion of a group of 49 respondents who previously sought treatment for psychological problems, no significant differences emerged among the three diagnostic groups on the NEO-PI domain and facet scales. Consideration of the DSFI scales showed that TS men experienced less sexual drive, more psychiatric symptoms, and a greater feminine gender role than TV or TG men. This study suggests that cross-dressers not seen for clinical reasons are virtually indistinguishable from non-cross-dressing men using a measure of personality traits, a sexual functioning inventory, and measures of psychological distress. These results emphasize the importance of using clinical significance criteria as required by DSM-IV guidelines before diagnosing men who cross-dress with an axis I disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health