“Some people might call this a fantasy, but it’s my deepest truth.” – from “Temporary” by Tulsa Brown
Cleis is famous for their smart, sexy smut, and Rachel Kramer Bussel’s pansexual anthologies are quickly becoming a huge part of not only my personal smut library, but also most smut collections at bookstores – the girl is constantly producing anthologies full of interesting, new, and complicated stories that turn the reader on – sure, of course they do that, and damn, do they do that – but they do more than that: they’re edgy, intellecutal, and affirming.
Crossdressing is one of those anthologies.
It’s no secret that I have a bit of a gender fetish. I find the polarized categories of male-and-female fascinating, and I find it all the more enthralling and interesting to adopt the roles for sexual play.
The stories in this book do just that, in more ways than I could’ve imagined: a gold-star dyke wondering what it’d be like to be with a man, so her girlfriend surprises her in drag with a realistic cock packed underneath slender slacks. A girl who dresses her boyfriend up in drag, shaving his legs and sharing her clothes. A butch in a vintage evening-gown shop, who strikes a deal with the owner for a beautiful Marlene Deitrich tuxedo and eagerly shows it off on the town. A trans woman performer who ends up in the arms of a macho kitchen worker after a night of singing. A man at a business meeting secretly running the show by the power of his silky bra and panties underneath.
If you pick up this book strictly for stories to get you off, it might not quite be what you expect – specifically because of the pansexual array. Most folks I know don’t get turned on by just any depiction of gender or crossdressing, for example, and your particular orientation might get in the way of you enjoying many of these stories – I, for example, am not so turned on by the stories of male crossdressing, girls dressing up their boyfriends in drag, etc. But I loved reading those stories anyway, from a gender perspective.
Reading through these stories makes me think about my own experiences with crossdressing, though I don’t call it that – I call it part of my gender identity. It’s a wide range, of experiences and orentations and gender expression, and it’s interesting to read some other ways that people play with gender, play with costuming and clothing and all sorts of ways of expression.
Gender play is still unusual, and can be deeply empowering, and deeply threatening to those who don’t understand it. Violence against trans folks often comes under the guise of the “deception” of someone’s “real” gender, and violence against queers.
But, at it’s core, gender experimentation and presentation is all about connecting with and displaying aspects of our selves which are deeply personal and very real – it’s about being able to display a more accurate sense of self, a more comfortable way of moving through the world.
And we all want to be able to do that, right?
Maybe it sounds idealistic, but anthologies like Crossdressing actually make us genderqueer folks feel connected, and a little less alone. The complicated gender discussions are clearly part of the smut, of course – but they are also hidden under the guise of simply turning-you-on or getting-you-off, which, I hope, will prompt all the more folks to pick up this book, and perhaps widen their range of understanding about dressing up and playing with gender, in all sorts of ways.