Over the past 15 years or so I have noticed the decline in the number of crossdresser clubs and or support groups around the country. They don’t go out with a lot of fanfare they just seem to fade away, here one day and gone the next. This at a time when the transgender community seems to be growing with numerous websites and magazines coming online. There are many online groups that are easy to join and have few rules in most cases. The main purpose seems to be chatting or exchanging ideas and sharing photos.
The media has now taken a greater interest in us and transgender characters are being seen in movies and TV. The public in many places is either more tolerant of us or just ambivalent so we are able to go more public places at least in the bigger cities anyway.
If this perception is true and the Tran’s community is growing with many people leaving the safety of their closet and not just dragging the computer in there with them. Then why are the groups dying? One would think that the number of groups would be growing not shrinking.
The question has dogged me for some time now so I thought I would explore some observations with you.
To say that a crossdresser clubs died because people stopped supporting it by attending the meetings and moved on is to state the obvious. The real question is what happened? Why did they stop and where did they go? In some cases the dynamic leadership left first and without it the group withered then faded away. None of the member’s felt the calling to take the helm and steer the way so everything just stopped.
With other groups it seems like the leadership changed the direction of the club which displeased some of the membership who then moved on weakening the club and leading to its eventual demise. Age seems to play a major role also with younger crossdressers preferring other social outlets.
So what are the crossdresser clubs who are still alive doing right and are they too shrinking, growing or just maintaining their numbers. From what I can determine most are not growing and are lucky to maintain their numbers replacing those who leave for various reasons. Most are losing members and not replacing them some say because of the new freedoms we have going out. During the 1990’s the general Los Angeles area had 6 crossdressser clubs two were private and four open to anyone. Today there is 1 which is CHIC a private security conscious group. What are the crossdresser clubs who are growing or maintaining doing right?
The remaining private group of which I am a member is CHIC (Crossdressers Heterosexual Intersocial Club) which started in 1975. It was spun off from Dr. Virginia Prince’s original “Heels & Hose Club” that started some years earlier.
In those days dressing in women’s clothes in public could get you beaten up, murdered or arrested leading to job loss, divorce and in many cases financial ruin. Being labeled as a homosexual was a certainty regardless of if you were doing anything sexual at the time of your arrest. The early founders of CHIC decided that security would play a crucial role in the way the club functioned and how members were brought into the group. The taking of photographs at meetings was forbidden and member’s real names were never used. Guests had to be cleared by board members and the club president in advance of attending a meeting which was typically held in member’s homes.
Fast forward to the present day 43 years later and CHIC is still functioning although the membership has evolved with members coming and going. Security is still paramount even though laws and public opinions have changed so being discovered does not have the same ramifications that it once did. Members just prefer to keep their crossdressing private between them and their wife and in some cases select family members. Just because being a TG is all over television shows and movies does not mean that everyone is accepting and that it could not do damage to your career if your dressing became public knowledge. You may not care but your wife and family usually appreciate your keeping it a closely guarded secret.
One big difference between CHIC and other crossdresser clubs is that although the club has helped many crossdressers over the years it has not really been a support group, but rather a social club. The emphasis is on fun and comradely operating sort of like a sorority of men dressed as women. CHIC is also like a business selling a product which is a quality crossdressing experience. Meetings are social events and don’t really have a structure and no business is discussed. The quality comes from the people that you will be with, where you will be, security, and what you can expect that evening. Applicants are evaluated based on how they will interact with other members and enhance the CHIC experience for everyone.
Over the years as members moved on so did opportunities for party’s held in member’s homes. This led to reserving banquet rooms in restaurants until meeting attendance dropped below the 25 person room guarantee making it too costly. Most meetings now are held in mainstream public restaurants where CHIC is welcomed and encouraged to come back often. They have been researched in advance and meetings held with the management/owners. The details such as security, bathrooms, valet parking etc. have been agreed upon in advance. Members and wives look forward to an evening out with friends at a nice restaurant with great food all while crossdressed. They experience the same ambiance and atmosphere that they would if not crossdressed
Wives are a treasured part of the CHIC experience and their happiness is a important consideration. Without their support the CHIC experience would not be what it is for the members. Members are expected to dress appropriately for meetings and not bring undue attention to themselves and others. Although wives do not have a direct role in the management of the club they have influence and their concerns are always a top priority. If they are supportive of the club and attend often that increases the husband’s opportunity to dress and go out. Although most members are married some wives opt to not attend and single members are welcome.
CHIC members typically are married, over 45 with children and sometimes grandchildren who have left the house. They have more time and money now to devote to crossdressing and are typically secure in their career. They have interests of all kinds and are typically involved in sports like golf, sailing, surfing, travel, theater, archery, hunting, fishing, flying, just to name a few. Some have many of these sports in common but most of all dressing and looking their best. It is not uncommon for members to see each other away from crossdressing to enjoy some of these interests.
For more information on CHIC please go to the website at http://www.chicladies.org.
A year ago, I joined the Vanity Club which has been around almost as long as CHIC but has a bit different membership criterion. It is not strictly heterosexual and sexual preferences are not considered for membership along with religion and politics. It is just not discussed period. I am still 100% hetero married for over 4 decades but, travel often and wanted to find other like minded classy CD’s without trolling bars. The Vanity Club is bucking the trend and growing attracting many younger members. The club has over 200 members worldwide. Membership is by invitation only and the process is extensive to be invited to join.
For more information on Vanity Club please go to the website at http://www.vanityclub.com.
The Rose City T-Girls which is primarily an online group from Portland Oregon of about 180 registered members. They gather at various places in Portland and Salem for dinners.
For more information on rose City T-Girls please go to the website at https://www.rosecitytgirls.com
1ST TIME DILEMMA
So over the years positive changes have made it easier for those of us comfortable going out dressed but done nothing for the first timer. Even though it is easy to find a group online they still don’t know who they will be meeting or if they will even show up. Nobody to hold their hand and introduce them to going out dressed unless they attempt to join one of the crossdresser clubs first.
Looking at the age information available online in addition to my own observations crossdresser clubs seem to be largely made up of Baby Boomers ages 50 to 80 with a few exceptions previously noted. The clubs that evolve with the changes are doing better than others but, still must have something to offer younger members.
Although far fewer in number than they used to be it seems like events like Diva Las Vegas are where CD’s can connect. Diva is loosely organized and billed as a vacation not a convention but they have a Big Sister program for 1st timers. Big Sisters are accomplished crossdressers willing to take less confident dressers under their wing for guidance.
For more information go to Diva Las Vegas https://divalas.vegas/
The Keystone Conference in Harrisburg Pennsylvania is on the east coast and a favorite of many Vanity club girls. It is a conference with speakers, vendors and break out sessions for learning. http://www.keystone-conference.org/
Time will tell but friendship, comradely and the willingness to help others along the journey seems like the right path.
What are you waiting for?