Despite the rise of gender neutral fashion (brands refusing to accept male / female binary vision, editor’s note), the shelves of our favourite boutiques remain differentiated according to the supposed gender of the wearer.

Nevertheless, some men fundamentally want to be able to buy at women’s. It is therefore no longer a question of wearing a “ungendered” dress, thought for everyone, but the will to appropriate a female piece. We then speak of cross dressing.

A phenomenon as old as history, it always remains surrounded by taboo — especially when the “strong sex” is the one taking attributes of the opposite gender. Where does this desire come from? How does it materialize itself? How to manage it on a daily basis? Should we systematically assimilate transvestism and transidentity?

Thomas*, aka Claudia, enlightens us…

(Credits : Collection Sébastien Lifshitz)
Before I make any mistake, would you rather I call you Thomas or Claudia?

Thomas. When I’m dressed like a man — so most of the time — it’s Thomas.

All right, Thomas. Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

I’m 42 years old. I am a computer scientist, single and I live in Paris.

Can you tell us a little more about Claudia?

Of course… (laughs) Claudia is my female alter ego, the one I become when I wear women’s clothes. She makes me feel freer, more confident.

What do you mean by that?

I don’t really know, actually. She just doesn’t care, lives for herself without thinking too much.

How did you find out she existed?

She didn’t show up all of a sudden. I think she has always been there, but I discovered her gradually.

In that case, when did you know you liked to cross-dress?

Oh, I was a kid… Seven years, maybe eight…

My mother was a very elegant woman, never without her pearl necklace. I could have spent hours in his closet! I don’t know why, he fascinated me. One day when I was home alone, I went to his room and put on his clothes. I added some of those jewels, and I ended up with her lipstick. I never felt so handsome before.

Sometimes I think I loved her so much, I wanted to be like her.

How did you handle it growing up?

It was complicated! Besides, you know, we weren’t talking about homosexuality back then. So transvestism, much less! I was really able to blossom when I arrived in Paris, when I took my first apartment alone.

Did your parents ever surprise you?

No, there are things parents are never supposed to know! I understand.

So when do you let Claudia take over?

When I’m home. As soon as I get home from work, I take off my sneakers and put on my heels. Sometimes in clubs, too, at the most open parties.

Why computer scientist, for that matter?

At the time, everyone was saying that technology was the future. That we’d always have a job. I didn’t know what to do, so I got into it. Besides, I like not having to meet people. I stay in my corner, quiet…

Anyway, besides becoming a drag queen or prostitute, I don’t see what I could do in Claudia. So frankly, I don’t care as long as I make a good living. Computer guy’s fine with me.

Don’t you feel frustration?

No. I really figured that my job was just about the money. I’m not looking for fulfillment. I do what I have to do, and I take what I have to take.

I see. Have you ever considered sexual reassignment surgery?

I’ve already thought about it, but it’s not my thing. I don’t want permanent change, I like being Thomas and Claudia. Most of the time I prefer Claudia, but I’m happy to have Thomas now and then.

Do you change anything when you’re in a relationship?

Depending on the guy, I can be more or less man or woman. In any case, it’s something they know from the start, so there’s no real surprise.

Can you tell us about your sex life?

You must have a little idea (laughs). Claudia has a sex life, Thomas has none. You’d be surprised how many men fantasize about transvestites… •

* At the request of the person concerned, the first name has been changed.

Hugh Hefner's and Donatella Versace's lovechild, I am the visible half of the duo behind ZACKARIUM. In love with fashion since I was in short pants, my mission is to guide you smoothly through the jungle of brands and catwalks.