302.3 (F65.1) Transvestic Disorder® (702)
The diagnosis of transvestic disorder does not apply to all individuals who dress as the opposite sex, even those who do so habitually. It applies to individuals whose cross-dressing or thoughts of cross-dressing are always or often accompanied by sexual excitement (Criterion A) and who are emotionally distressed by this pattern or feel it impairs social or interpersonal functioning (Criterion B). The cross-dressing may involve only one or two articles of clothing (e.g., for men, it may pertain only to women’s undergarments), or it may involve dressing completely in the inner and outer garments of the other sex and (in men) may include the use of women’s wigs and make-up.
Transvestic disorder is nearly exclusively reported in males. Sexual arousal, in its most obvious form of penile erection, may co-occur with cross-dressing in various ways. In younger males, cross-dressing often leads to masturbation, following which any female clothing is removed. Older males often learn to avoid masturbating or doing anything to stimulate the penis so that the avoidance of ejaculation allows them to prolong their cross-dressing session. Males with female partners sometimes complete a cross-dressing session by having intercourse with their partners, and some have difficulty maintaining a sufficient erection for intercourse without cross-dressing (or private fantasies of cross-dressing).
Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report. The pattern of behavior “purging and acquisition” often signifies the presence of distress in individuals with transvestic disorder. During this behavioral pattern, an individual (usually a man) who has spent a great deal of money on women’s clothes and other apparel (e.g., shoes, wigs) discards the items (i.e., purges them) in an effort to overcome urges to cross-dress, and then begins acquiring a woman’s wardrobe all over again.