It all started with a post on All About Lucy then this was picked up by T Central who passed on the challenge about why some people appear to stop going out "dressed" the challenge was then picked up by Joanna Santos on her Blog Musings from my everyday life. Well reading these has made me ponder and consider this question, and how it has affected me over the years. So I now pick up the baton and add my own considerations, very much based on my own experiences of over 50 years of trying to sort out my own gender expression.
I totally understand Joanna's point of view, and indeed will echo much of it, she considers this as a sign of the difference between those who I will call Recreational Cross Dressers and Transgender people, I am not so convinced. For much of my life I considered my self to be a cross dresser, it was nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Like many of us I would have periods of quite intense dressing, when I would not only grab at every opportunity to dress but would actively contrive opportunities. During these times I would also "underdress" braving all the old jokes about "travelling in ladies underwear" risking exposure and ridicule. Typically these periods of intensity would be followed by a time of self revolt and a purge ~ the disposal of all of the clothes and paraphernalia associated with the activity.
This was also always very much a covert operation. I would hide my stash, stay at home or only go out in my car or maybe for a walk somewhere quite and dark (incidentally very much the places that should most be avoided as being the most dangerous places of all). I was very much frightened of being discovered, but also incredibly excited about potentially being visible. Fear and excitement kept in balance, but maybe reality way out of balance. I never went in for communal recreational cross dressing, indeed it was not until I started to come out that I realised that there even was such a thing.
Now I feel that we should also consider the sexual nature of dressing for some people. I have never had, or wanted a relationship where dressing up formed part of the relationship, or sexual explorations; for me that would actually be a turn off, but I fully understand that for some it is and important and essential part of their expression. If this is the case I can see that as people age, the sex drive diminishes or partners change then this could well be a reason for either stopping dressing or at least doing it in public.
Although for me there were large parts of my life when I did not think about my gender every day, or even every week, but it always came back. Looking back I feel that I probably always was trans, but felt that somehow this expression was not available to me. There is a big difference between the "Recreational Cross Dresser" and the Trans person who can only express their gender identity through the clothes they choose to wear, yet often most of us have had periods of self disgust which in turn led to rejection and purges, meaning no "dress up" for some time. Only for the need to return. It is entirely possible that during these periods of not dressing we get into relationships, some partners will embrace this aspect of us, others will tolerate (within boundaries) and others again will totally reject. This is for many the biggest factor in how much they can physically express their gender variance.
This post has already got far to long and rambling, so now I must abandon it all together, wrap it up, or turn it into a thesis, so here goes with trying to get to a conclusion.
Some of us can't give up and end up with a new life ~ often at the cost of the old one.
Some of us are so attached to the old life and family that they will manage control the drive to express their true gender.
Some of us will have changed social situations that will drive their dressing into private.
Some will be able to stop altogether.
In short just as in so many other aspects of life we are all different.