Stonewall redefines trans to exclude crossdressers

Are crossdressers no longer trans?

Stonewall has expelled crossdressers from the trans umbrella

Stonewall’s long-standing definition of “trans” changed on 27th June 2024 to drop “crossdresser” from the list. Before then, it said:

“Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois.”

The so-called “trans community” is not a homogenous group but a list of identity options, some of which, like “neutrois”, no one can define. Crossdressers are familiar to many of us, though, and in the past would not have been described as trans. It always seemed odd that Stonewall’s definition included them. It has worked well for crossdressers, though, normalising their behaviour and giving them protection. Calling a man a part-time crossdresser could see you branded transphobic and even cost you your job – even if the man in question did not claim to be a woman.

Maya Forstater
You think? He is a part-time cross dresser who mainly goes by the name of Phillip. I think the FT were wrong to put him on a list of top female executives and wrong for him to accept the award. 
7:41 AM Sep 26, 2018
Many hours were spent discussing this tweet about Mx Pips Bunce (who was called a cross-dressing banker by The Times) in the Forstater case

Why do some men crossdress?

Crossdressing, or transvestism, has long been recognised as a male paraphilia, associated with sexual arousal. In the past, there was shame associated with being a crossdresser or transvestite. In 1989 Dr Ray Blanchard coined the term “autogynephilia” to describe men who are sexually aroused by the thought of themselves as women. It is not a new phenomenon. 

A trans-identifying male, Anne Lawrence, has written extensively about autogynephilia. Lawrence attributes his own crossdressing to this, eventually leading to surgical body modification to enable him to present full-time as a woman. Autogynephilia means that many of the men seeking to access female-only spaces and services are manifesting a paraphilia and the behaviour is part of this sexual fetish. Most have not had surgery, and many may not have had hormone treatment either. Their presentation as women may be part-time. But even those who have progressed to surgery remain males experiencing arousal through presenting as women. Validation as a woman, including accessing women-only spaces and services, adds to the thrill. 

Up until the 1990s the terms in use were transexual and transvestite. They were brought together under the transgender umbrella.

In 2002 when the government was developing the Gender Recognition Bill it was still trying to make a distinction, as it set out in its policy document:

“Transsexualism is not transvestism or cross-dressing for sexual thrill, psychological comfort or compulsion.”

But doctors, lawmakers and service providers have never effectively been able to draw a reliable line between those crossdressing for erotic reasons and those with some other motivation.

Are crossdressers no longer trans?

The Stonewall definition was amended on 27th June 2024 to remove “crossdresser”.

Stonewall claims that trans people have the right to access single-sex spaces, services and sports that match their claimed gender identity rather than their birth sex. While the law does not say this, it is widely promoted and has been built into policies in workplaces, universities, sports, public venues and even schools. 

Including “crossdresser” in the list of trans identities perhaps gave too much away. 

So are men who crossdress part-time no longer considered “trans”? No, they have simply been rebranded as gender-queer, gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, bi-gender. These sound much more sophisticated.

Being transgender is a matter of self-declaration, recognised in Stonewall’s former slogan, “Acceptance without exception”. So while Stonewall has dropped the term crossdressers it does not stop crossdressers from claiming to be trans. Since going where only women can go is part of the pleasure, why wouldn’t they? 

This changes nothing. Organisations that allow some males to use their trans identity to access female-only spaces cannot tell the difference between a crossdresser, someone “gender fluid” or one who identifies as a transgender woman. Women and girls will still lose privacy and peace of mind, and sometimes safety too.