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a person who seeks sexual pleasure from wearing clothes that are normally associated with the opposite sex
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
transvestitea person who derives social, cultural and political affirmation and/or sexual pleasure from assuming the dress and demeanour of the opposite gender. Cross-dressing has a long history and is an important part of ritual performance in both sacred and profane social contexts. It has been an important feature of both western and eastern theatre and continues to be a key aspect of contemporary popular culture, e.g. in pantomime (Britain) and girls’ opera (Japan). Periodically, popular music has been associated with cross-dressing and/or androgyny as a fashionable style. In the tradition of western medicine and psychotherapy, transvestites are deemed to be suffering from an underlying pathology or problem which should be treated and corrected. In contrast, the transvestite community regards transvestism as a sociopolitical identity and lifestyle. Although often conflated with gay and lesbian cultures, cross-dressing is neither restricted to these cultures nor a defining feature of them (M. Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, 1992). Compare TRANSSEXUAL.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000