For a long time there wasn't much available for men looking for feminine style lingerie, but then the Xdress brand was created, understanding that feeling comfortable in your own skin and wearing pretty underwear makes many men feel happier, less stressed and more confident in themselves. However, this is a very challenging market to be in as it's so engraved in our minds that lingerie is just for women and plain boxer briefs are for men, and never the twain shall meet.
Some may think this is a niche product, and indeed when Xdress was first introduced in the 1990's (originally in the UK) it was generally seen as a novelty, and was featured on many day time TV shows with male models wearing Xdress lingerie. The press also leapt on the story but generally ridiculed the concept. But times have changed and now with 25% of young people surveyed saying they do not identify as cisgendered, Xdress is a little more accepted and hopefully filling a real need. Interestingly, Google, FB etc still have not moved with the times and generally reject any advertising that shows men modeling our lingerie, but maybe one day they will catch up!
The percentage of people identifying as non-binary reduces as age increases, but this is not surprising as older generations were brought up to conform in their home and professional life to their birth gender role. In the past, societal pressure enforced these roles and expectations from an early age through family, school life, TV and movies. The idea of a young boy wanting to dress like his sister as a Disney princess is perhaps a cliche, but really why not? If the boy feels the strong desire to wear what he sees as pretty, it is only the societal norms and fear of the boy (and parents) being judged negatively that will more often than not cause parents difficulty and their desire to set him on the straight and narrow masculine role. Perhaps one of the positives of social media is that it has allowed a more open discussion of gender with the result that while those who prefer to dress or present outside of the norm may still face challenges, they realize it is a shared experience and they are not alone. I suspect that if it was not for the sexist societal shame of a biological male exhibiting any feminine tendencies, many of the older generations would have explored activities, lifestyles and clothing that have been considered purely the domain of women.
Research has shown that there really is a gender spectrum for both men (and women), and the understanding of gender continually evolves. We now know that it’s not just the X and Y chromosomes but at least 12 others in the human genome that determine sex differentiation. Many indigenous cultures around the world have long understood the rich diversity of gender, and it is encouraging that at last the social taboo of deviating from gender expectations is waning.
One comment we at Xdress hear repeatedly when people unfamiliar with gender non-conformity first see our web site, is to assume it is targeted exclusively at gay men. As we have been in the Xdress business so long, we have come to expect this reaction, and to be rejected by web companies who have a very rigid stand on what they believe is acceptable, and fear that they or their staff will be embarrassed or uncomfortable working with images of men in lingerie. As mentioned above, we have great difficulty reaching out to our potential audience due to restrictions that social media puts on what is allowable in advertising.
The issue of sexual orientation and gender is often confused. They are distinct facets of a person, and it does not follow that a man who likes to dress in feminine clothing is automatically gay, any more than a man who like to wear ultra-masculine clothing is gay. The gender aspect is how we see ourselves; the sexual orientation is more to do with who we are emotionally or physically attracted to. So just as there is a spectrum on gender, there is a largely unrelated spectrum on sexual orientation.
We are encouraged that the younger generations are embracing the gender spectrum and are comfortable expressing their true inner selves, through clothing, hairstyle, make up and mannerisms, and are not afraid of being seen by others as they see themselves. Readers of the comments on our blogs will know that there are many mainly older men who strongly wish to express their feminine nature, but years of repression holds them back, which is so sad.
It is exciting in the fashion arena to see imaginative styles that are not strictly masculine, nor feminine, and we look forward to new creative designers emerging beyond the lingerie that Xdress offers. We look forward to this brave and open new world!
Please write your comments and thoughts below!
David of Xdress
Autogynephilia i can identify with that
I think this site certainly provides a place for like minded people to share their interests, excitements and desires in relation to the way they like to dress. I think that’s mainly a good thing. We’re not doing any harm.
I also think it’s useful to be reflective about the origin of our interests.
You’ve mentioned a couple of spectra in your article David – gender and sexual orientation. We might add another – a degree of autogynephilia: “…a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female.”
This condition is generally recognised as a reason for some men cross-dressing – it’s something I recognise in myself and can even think of some catalysts for its origins in me when I was a child.
That said, what harm is it unless it seriously impedes me in my daily life or hurts someone else? There are those who will be comfortable wth it and those who won’t. I’m not comfortable dressing unless I’m in accepting company. I’ve no objection to seeing or being in the company of anyone else who is dressed en femme though. More power to them.
David- Great post! I think dressing in lingerie is a confidence thing for me as a straight male (ok, some bi tendencies). We should dress how we want and the social norms of yesterday are certainly changing! Stay sexy, and bring back more satin!
Thank you for this thoughtful post. As one of those aging people you mentioned, I never felt fully comfortable outside of any cis-het “normativity,” but the past four years have forced me to come to terms with some things I was taking for granted. Not too long into the pandemic, the world felt like it was collapsing around me. During a last minute panicked shopping trip before lockdown, I walked into the lingerie section of my local big box store and snatched up a pair of panties. My heart rate increased as I approached the till. My thoughts were “what if someone sees me?” Ultimately everyone was too wrapped up in their own anxiety to notice me and I walked out with my first pair. As we got deeper into lockdown, I, like many others, looked around the web for ways to purchase more. Now, my panties outnumber my underwear. Unfortunately, I still feel the need to be careful dependent on context. But it gives me a thrill to know I’m wearing something lacy or frilly underneath. And you know what? I like feeling pretty, despite my big bushy beard.
I really enjoy talking about being nonbinary. Saying or writing it over and over brings a calm, a stop to the noise that makes me smile without knowing it. I like nothing better than coming home from work and trading my shirt and slacks for a nice camisole and skirt. Going about my evening that way doesn’t arouse me; it grounds me. That’s my nonbinary. I hear it’s different for all of us. I share my gender with those I trust not to judge. Folks can disagree with the existence of the spectrum, but I avoid those who make it a moral discussion. I don’t feel good or bad, guilty or innocent. I just am. I love wearing my pink panties under my man clothes as men’s underwear will never get close to me again. Underwear — what an ugly word. Panties — what a delight. That’s my nonbinary. My proud nonbinary.
Dear David Excellent post I’m interested in the data on the chromosomes can you post? You hit so many points! Gender and sexual orientation are indeed very different and people and preferences are very different. It is a huge mistake to think that the only way you can wear lingerie is if you are a girl or gay! I m perfectly happy being a man being traditionally masculine with all that entails and wear panties bras stocking and toe nail polish I m from that older generation u speak of, I do not wear high heels out in public Or dresses but i wish I could I support live and let live Get ur lingerie on Stevie