How often have you seen newspaper reports which place drug addicts, prostitutes and transvestites together in a group as though they were all common criminals? How many TVs do you think cross dress secretly in constant fear of discovery, as though they were committing some sort of sin?
Those of us who have this compulsion to put on make-up, frilly undies, and dresses know that it is not a criminal act, a sin, the result of thinking bad thoughts, reading pornography or sheer perversity. It is something in our brains and, for most of us, has been there for almost as long as we can remember.
To us transvestites it is as natural as being left or right handed and is the result of something that happened before it was even possible for us to be aware of our sexuality.
Of course you may think that I, like many transvestites, would claim that it was not our fault simply to assuage my guilt. But the view of transvestism and transsexualism I wish to put forward is based on considerable research done by many doctors.
I think that it is now common knowledge that all of us start by being female. Our mothers can only produce female eggs and it is the father's sperm that decides whether the baby will be a boy or a girl.
If the baby is to be a boy then at six weeks a massive dose of male hormones will be produced. This will cause the baby to form male organs rather than female ones. All the basic differences betweenmen and women are laid down at this time, many of which do not fully develop until a further surge of hormones is produced at puberty.
Most important of all is the brain. All babies have a female brain and the amount of hormone required to turn the brain into a male one is critical. SHould this fail then the child's brain will naturally develop as female, even though the body may be male, and once developed nothing will alter it.
There are considerable differences between the male and female brain. For instance, when considering a problem a woman will tend to use both sides of her brain while a man will tend to use only one. So what to a man looks simple, a woman will see further complications and different solutions.
The German doctor, Gunter Dorner, discovered that there were a higher than normal number of homosexual men born to women who were in East Germany and pregnant at the end of the last war. It is known that tension in pregnant women reduces the amount of testosterone, the main male hormone, and the knowledge that the Russian army was advancing towards you would create considerable tension.
From these studies and other research Dr Gunter, with others, developed a theory about the development of a baby's brain while it is in the womb. He decided that the sexual characteristics of the brain develop in stages.
First, the sex centre. This controls the development of the physical sexual characteristics.
The second stage he called the mating centre. This controls the sexual behaviour of the person and is located in a part of the brain that we all have, but which is more highly developed in women and homosexuals.
The third stage he called the gender centre, which controls our general sexual behaviour.
A failure in the supply of the male hormone or an extra dose of the female hormone, oestrogen, at any one of these stages will cause the brain to develop in a feminine way for that particular stage.
Since the female does not rely on male hormones to develop, the chances of anything going wrong are far less. This accounts for the lower incidence of transvestism and transsexualism in women. Dorner's theory will explain how you can get feminine men who are rampant heterosexuals or masculine men who are passive homosexuals.
The true transvestite who finds dressing in female clothes a relaxing and satisfying experience would have normal development in the first two parts of the brain's sexual centres, the sex centre and the mating centre, but a hormonal imbalance during the development of the third part, the gender identity centre.
Two things must be made clear at this stage. One is that this is not the only theory. There are others, but most modern ones follow the same general theme. Secondly, we are not talking about fetish transvestism, which like all other fetishes has its roots in the early development of sexuality after birth.
Fetish transvestites can get immediate sexual satisfaction from wearing female clothes. They do not necessarily feel feminine although they may imagine they are women during the actual moment of sexual activity. This is no different to other fetishes such as rubber, shoes, silk, fur, or more commonly, the female breast.
What complicates the situation is that the person who is born as a transvestite, homosexual or transsexual can also be subjected to fetish influences during their sexual development. Particularly in the case of boys who may be dressed or treated as girls just because they exhibit feminine behaviour.
In the 1960s and 70s there was a lot of attention given to the effects of social anvironment on gender identity. It was, and still is, claimed by some practitioners that that girls are feminine in their behaviour because that is how they were brought up, and similarly for boys.
A famous case was reported in Time magazine in 1973. An American couple had twin boys. While circumcision was taking place one of the babies was castrated in error. It was decided that he should be brought up as a girl and given an artificial vagina and female hormones.
The treatment had a significant measure of success and although subsequent evidence is that the subject has some psychological problems, it does have something to tell us about the post-natal development of gender identification. Many feminists hailed this case as proof that women were forced into their roles by training rather than genetic influences.
This was before the Babilonia case came to light. This family from the Dominican Republic inherited a gene along with 23 related families from an ancestor some 130 years ago. The effect of this gene was to suppress the male genitalia and give the baby the appearance of a girl, including a vagina.
The eldest of the ten children to be born to the Babilonias was Prudencio. Being the eldest and clearly a girl she helped her mother with the housework and child rearing, did not mix with the village boys or indulge in any typical male behaviour.
At the age of twelve the clitoris developed into a penis, the testicles descended into what had been the lips of the vagina, and Prudencio changed into a male. Like his younger sister Matilda he is now a brawny, muscular man. He is sexually potent and lives with his wife in the United States.
Technically, what happened was that in the womb, while Prudencio's brain developed normally his body was unable to make the particular hormone that shapes the male genitalia and body shape. So in it's absence, although he was in all other respects male, his body developed as a female until puberty when the surge of testosterone completed the job.
The importance of the Bablionia family for the study of gender identity is that although Prudencio was totally subjected to a female upbringing his male brain was unaffected and he has adjusted to being a man without any problems. His father's evidence was that as soon as he reached puberty he found himself a girlfriend.
We have in England a similar significant case. Mrs Went is a housewife with adopted children. When she failed to menstruate or grow pubic hair she went for a medical examination. It was discovered that she was male and her abdoman contained testes rather than ovaries, but that she was totally insensitive to the male hormone testosterone. Not only did her body develop as a female, but also her brain.
There was also the case of Mr Blackwell, a Malawian. He is one of the hundred or so recorded hermaphrodites but with a male brain. He had both penis and vagina.
When at puberty he developed two large breasts he had them removed and his vagina surgically sewn up so that he could continue his life as a man.
Imbalances of hormones in pregnancy can occur in all sorts of ways, and very often they have no noticeable effect. In the 1950s and 60s injections of hormones were used to alleviate some of the problems of pregnant women. While the treatments were successful in that regard, other complications started to appear.
Some American doctors followed up these cases when the children were teenagers. Jim was typical of the group. His mother was treated with a female hormone while she was pregnant with him. He has no interest in sport and considers himself to be unpopular. His mother says the other boys called him a sissy. He had no heterosexual experiences but says he has had some homosexual ones.
His elder brother, Larry, was brought up in the same environment. He is interested in all sorts of sports and is very assertive. No hormone treatment was used while the mother was pregnant with Larry. The investigation indicated that the hormones had been given at a critical stage in Jim's prenatal development.
The inescable conclusion from this research is that while it may or may not be possible to control or cure the abnormality of a fetish condition, there can be no 'cure' for the true transvestite as his condition is totally normal for him.
Attempts have been made in the past, but not only were they doomed to failure, they could and did do considerable psychological damage.