The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a part-time worker in my 50s. I recently learned that my husband, who is in his 60s, dresses up as a woman.
At the end of last year, I happened to see him taking a picture of himself in makeup and wearing female underwear and a wig. He hides the outfits and other items in his car even now.
Even before that, when I came home one day and tried to open the door to the living room when my husband was in there, he told me to go upstairs for a moment. When I asked what he was doing, he snapped back at me, “Why did you come home now?”
He has a job, but is a person of few words and has no friends. He doesn’t talk much even with his brothers, so I thought he lacked communication skills.
He’s affectionate to our son, who is now a college student, and has helped with child-rearing. If our son learns that his father wears women’s clothes, I’m sure he’ll be shocked.
The other day, I heard that a man who wears women’s clothes was arrested by police. I’m afraid my husband’s activities could escalate in the future.
I need your advice about whether I should tell him that I know about his behavior and discuss it with him, or pretend not to see, thinking that he enjoys it only as a hobby.
Dear Ms. I:
Wearing clothing that is typical of the opposite sex is called cross-dressing. Your husband wears women’s clothing. This act itself does not bother other people and of course is not illegal.
So I wish I could say this is just his hobby, but if you and your son have a strong dislike for it, it could cause domestic strife.
When considering why you dislike his actions, I think you have, first and foremost, an instinctive dislike of the fact that he’s keeping a secret. It also seems that you’re afraid that his cross-dressing will escalate and he’ll eventually commit a crime.
However, cross-dressing is not linked to crime. You wrote about a case involving an arrested cross-dresser, but I presume that person caused an incident that was not related to his dressing as a woman.
I understand the major aspect of your problem is that you have an instinctive dislike of his actions. But personally I think that turning a blind eye to his hobby — as you wrote in your letter — is one good way.
He seems to be a very good husband, and it would be a pity if that was lost by arguing with you about his hobby.
Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist