Transvestite (TV) - broadly speaking, a transvestite is anyone who dresses in clothes appropriate to the opposite gender. In practice, however, it's usually used to refer to a man who enjoys dressing and presenting as a woman.
This is much more common than is usually acknowledged - there has been very little research into transvestism and the exact percentage of men who practise it is unknown, but some estimates put it as high as 10%. However, since many transvestites feel considerable shame about what they do and will not acknowledge it openly, it's impossible to be certain.
Transvestism is not simply a sexual perversion, although it may have a sexual element. Men who dress as women purely for sexual pleasure and for no other reason are known as transvestic fetishists, but most transvestites don't fall into this category. Very little is known about the causes and drivers of genuine transvestism, but there appear to be a number of possibilities.
Transvestites may or may not suffer from some degree of gender dysphoria (many do, but not all), which is not usually as severe as it is in the case of transsexual people, but may nevertheless cause them psychological discomfort which they can relieve by presenting temporarily as women (including clothes, wig, make-up and feminine behaviour) on a regular basis.
Cross-dresser - this term can be used interchangeably with "transvestite", but is used on this site to refer to a TV who does not suffer from gender dysphoria.
You will find more comprehensive information about transvestism, and its implications for you, your partner and your relationship in the other articles in this section of the site, starting with "What is Transvestism?", and also in the "Personal histories" section.
© Transpartners 2008