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Drag and Crossdressing: What's the Difference?

Posted on 21 July 2016

I have really been getting into drag queen culture, lately. So much to the point where I constantly wonder if I would have a successful career as a drag queen (which is highly debatable.) However, before I really knew what drag was, I would have just described it very similarly to how one would describe crossdressing. Which, well, is somewhat true, but the two are way more different than they are similar. Though both include the element of a man wearing women’s clothing, the two worlds aren't exactly aligned.

 

The biggest difference between drag and cross dressing is the performance aspect. Drag queens are typically gay men who dress up like women, as well as use makeup to construct a face that looks much more like a woman, which is all put into a show of some sort, whether it’s comedy, singing, lip-syncing, or whatever is in their repertoire. It becomes a job as opposed to a hobby, depending on the level of dedication they have to it. A job they may enjoy, but a job, nonetheless. However, with cross-dressing, it’s way more about the enjoyment of dressing as a woman. Not to say that drag queens don’t enjoy what they do, but it’s quite a process just to get all of that make-up on, learn a style of drag that works for you, branding yourself, creating a persona…it’s a lot to think about! Crossdressing is just about finding the clothes you love and enjoying the feel of feminine clothing on your body. 

 As it was mentioned before, the alternate-persona aspect of becoming a drag queen is another way it differs from crossdressing. When the guys get into drag, they’re usually an exaggerated version of themselves, or have a completely different personality overall. I imagine this is to help gain charisma with their performance bits, since just “being themselves” wouldn’t have the same effect after getting into drag. With crossdressing, I notice that they’re still themselves. People might have a different name for themselves when they crossdress, but their personalities stay the same. Which makes sense to me, because it's about enjoying the women's clothing, as opposed to making an identity out of it.

The last big difference between drag queens and crossdressers is the type of men who partake in these. Drag queens are typically members of the gay community, whereas most crossdressers are straight men/men who are attracted to women (at least from what I've noticed). You tend to see a lot more of drag queens and their culture surrounding LGBT related events, such as Pride festivals and gay bars, whereas most crossdressers seem to be straight (or maybe even bi) men who enjoy wearing women’s clothing, simply for the sake of wearing it and enjoying it. It’s not to say that someone of a different sexual orientation could enjoy it, but from what I’ve noticed among the crossdressing community, this is what seems to be the case.

 However, despite these major differences, the fact that both drag queens and crossdressers are men in women's clothing is what I think could make the biggest impact on society. Though the intentions of each are quite different, the mere presence of both challenges our society’s strict set of gender norms, showing that feminine expression among men is normal, and enjoyable to more than just the drag queen or the crossdresser. I think, in the long run, the presence of both of these communities would challenge gender norms enough to where we can express our gender identity however we want, which, personally, is a world I would like to live in. 

 What other differences do you notice between drag queens and crossdressers? Are there any other similarities? Let us know in the comments! 

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