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Transvestic Fetishism

Over a period of at least 6 months, in a heterosexual male, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing.

The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    Specify if:

    With Gender Dysphoria: If the person has persistent discomfort with gender role or identity.

      In many or most cases, sexual arousal is produced by the accompanying thought or image of the person as a female. Women's garments are arousing primarily as symbols of the individual's femininity, not as fetishes with specific objective properties (e.g., objects made of rubber).

      This disorder has been described only in heterosexual males. Transvestic Fetishism is not diagnosed when cross-dressing occurs exclusively during the course of Gender Identity Disorder.

      When not cross-dressed, the male with Transvestic Fetishism is usually unremarkably masculine. Although his basic preference is heterosexual, he tends to have few sexual partners and may have engaged in occasional homosexual acts.

      An associated feature may be the presence of Sexual Masochism.


        The disorder typically begins with cross-dressing in childhood or early adolescence. In many cases, the cross-dressing is not done in public until adulthood. The initial experience may involve partial or total cross-dressing; partial cross-dressing often progresses to complete cross-dressing.

        Over time, the cross-dressing becomes an antidote to anxiety or depression or contributes to a sense of peace and calm. In other individuals, gender dysphoria may emerge, especially under situational stress with or without symptoms of depression.

        For a small number of individuals, the gender dysphoria becomes a fixed part of the clinical picture and is accompanied by the desire to dress and live permanently as a female and to seek hormonal or surgical reassignment.

          Diagnostic criteria summarized from:

          American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

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