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What does the Torah say about cross-dressing?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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Firstly, let's define "cross-dressing," of which there are two types. There's the silly party stuff that guys and gals occasionally indulge in for fun, like donning a wig or other garment that makes them appear like a woman (or a man). That (for the most part) is inconsequential.

Then there’s the serious stuff, where guys go en femme from sporadically to regularly, and from one private piece of apparel to a full public make-over. Or when women go all macho, dressing in a very manly fashion.

G-d doesn't say, "Don't get hungry for pork"--G-d says, "Don't eat pork."... He acknowledges that you may have certain innate desires, but tells you to how to react to them
This latter type of cross-dressing, whichever reason motivating it, is not allowed.

G-d understands that some people have a preference for cross-dressing and acknowledges this reality by mentioning this law in the Torah.

In other words, G-d does not consider one evil or immoral for his or her innate sexual nature or desire, just like He doesn't consider one evil or immoral for wanting to eat non-Kosher. G-d doesn't say, "Don't get hungry for pork"--G-d says, "Don't eat pork." Likewise with sexuality, He acknowledges that you may have certain innate desires, but tells you to how to react to them.

In the case of cross-dressing G-d says "A man's attire shall not be on a woman, nor may a man wear a woman's garment".1

It is important to note that according to Jewish law, the prohibition of cross-dressing is only violated when one puts on something that is exclusively the domain of the opposite sex.

Footnotes

  • 1. Deuteronomy 22:5

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Intimacy » Sexual Issues
Daily Life » Clothing » Modesty

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.