Mere transvestism is not the same as drag and drag is not the same as transitioning. Although there is no clear demarcation between these categories of gender performance, there are differences that impact how individuals that inhabit these spaces relate to each other and to the world around them.
Transvestism/Cross-dressing implies that a male-identified man chooses to wear women’s clothing. Aside from private fetishes, the more developed form of transvestism often expressed through exaggerations of femininity for aesthetic or entertainment value, is drag. Irregardless of the intent of the male who chooses to engage any range of activities from mere transvestism/cross dressing to the art of drag, your performance is encoded with social and cultural meanings, many of which you may or may not be in control of.
To equate the act of mere cross-dressing or its ‘everyday’ nature with a directed or subversive performance of feminine power is to equate the brilliance of drag with (what is inevitably) circumstantial entertainment value.
Although the category trans relates to a range of identities, there is a thoughtlessness and eagerness with which many engage the title as the core (or antithesis) of their identity, and such dismissive and purely discursive acts risks reducing the bodily lives of those of us who bear the weight in-the-flesh of that title. Those of us who exist in a world where, whether on stage or not, our bodies have wounded and inescapable attachments to the word trans, whether we want to or not. Many of our lives, performances, or personas complicate and question the validity of these categories, but such complications shouldn’t forego scrutiny merely by virtue of the fact that they ‘play with gender’ at all. At a time when the visibility of gender variance is increasing under an uninformed and prejudice public eye, I think its imperative that we not forget to think about what the categories we operate in and with mean, not just for ourselves, but to the world around us.