Crossdressing has different facets and perspectives. Last week we talked with Mark Bryan about it and, I personally discovered how much I still have to learn about it!
This week, I have the great honor of having an Italian guest, whose smile and kindness melted my heart when I first approached him on Linkedin. I was amazed by his “tone of writing” and immediate response.
I mean, I was the one who had to be honored that such a brave man, free man, writer and activist who seemed to me is more on screen and magazines than at home, had replied to me with full availability to share his story, his ups and downs, his emotions with me!
Please read carefully and enjoy his story, his perspective and his invitation to never deny who you are. Freedom has a price, most of the time, higher that you could ever imagine, but, if you are brave enough to fight for it, it will always reward you back.
WHO IS STEFANO FERRI?
A father, a husband, a tourism communication expert. In other words, a normal man, characterized by the fact that he dresses abnormally compared to the average guy.
YOU ARE INDEED A FAMOUS CROSSDRESSER: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU AND HOW DID IT START?
A crossdresser is someone who wears clothes that are normally associated to the opposite sex. A trend that has always existed, in every society, and that nevertheless tends to be repressed because it goes against the dictates of monotheisms and therefore considered indecent. This judgment becomes grotesque if you think that, in the Western world, for several decades all women, in fact, have been crossdressers: they wear jackets, trousers, jeans, tennis shoes … garments designed originally for men and rightly “stolen” because obviously more practical than sheath dresses and stiletto heels.
So, honestly, it is not very clear to me why the same range of options is not completely available to men. After all, until Roman times – and even beyond, if we think of the Renaissance – it was men who wore miniskirts, knee-length tunics, ballet flats or gold sandals.
Back to myself…I may say…it all started in the worst way. When I was a kid, I felt like I hated all the girls I liked.
A very serious handicap that I could not explain for decades: something that dug a deep furrow, between me and others.
Only, later, as an adult, through psychotherapy, did I discover the reasons: it was the result of a profound split between my male and female part.
These two parts have never fully merged- as for almost all human beings – leaving one another, autonomous freedom of expression.
So here we have Stefano, the man, who likes women, who is married and is father of a girl; Stefano is a football lover and watches the game on TV, he is a great watcher of action films and avid reader of thriller novels as well. And next to him we have Stefania, the female part, a woman who lives in a very special symbiosis with Stefano, whose body she needs to exist in.
I am aware it might look like a serious psychiatric issue, but in reality this is just the way I have, to express the intergratation of the two sides we all have: so Stefania was jealous of the women I liked, hence the hatred. I was the one rebelling against totally unsuitable constraints for me, and subconsciously pawed for society to recognize my right to wear the things I really liked and that fully represented me.
Only when I turned 29, totally (and understandably) alone and jobless due to my hate, I decided to let myself go: i started to turn my male wardrobe into a more female one until after 14 years it was completed replaced.
These female clothes represent me completely : I don’t exist, I don’t live, I cannot do anything without or away from them. I don’t care about what people say. Each one of us has essential needs, mine are no more serious than others’, they are just more noticeable.
Asking me to wear men’s clothes, is like asking a gay man to date or sleep with a woman – nonsense, nonsense, maybe even a crime!
Stefano is a white man with short reddish-blond hair, sitting smiling with a guitar in his arms. He has his legs crossed, wears a knee-length black dress with short sleeves, open at the shoulders with small studs finishings. The outfit is completed by a pair of middle-height black sandals with ankle straps, with applied studs. His feet are treated with burgundy nail polish. In the background a mirror that reflects some furnishing details of a space similar to an entrance hall.
MALE FASHION STEREOTYPES: YOU ARE CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO IN ITALY AND ABROAD. HAVE YOU EVER HAD SOME "DARK MOMENTS" AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
YouTube Video: Stefano Ferri has decided to tell his story in front of our cameras.He explained us the meaning of the term crossdressing, also through concrete objects in w…
Yes, I’ve had a lot and already gave you a taste of it. Facing the unknown, being not able to explain the reason why, as a straight guy, I was so irresistibly attracted by female clothes. It took me time and psychotherapy to understand, accept and embrace it. I was aggressive, thus triggering a very dangerous vicious circle towards a world that was once an “enemy” and is, now, quite well prepared to accept my novelty. I just didn’t know it.
Things were not smooth with my family either. My wife (our daughter was not born yet) witnessed my transformation in dismay, once we were already married. She needed time to accept it, but I was not willing to give it to her: I have had already lost too many years, in the wrong shoes. I admit, though, she too was right: it took time for me first, how could I expect she could get it in a matter of seconds?
And… society! The ideological problems that I arose, together with my restlessness, have brought to humiliation, discrimination and isolation. I had to resign from a prestigious job (I was a newspaper editor, and I was already 39, objectively too late to recycle) and went public challenging bigotry, envy and pillories.
But I’m alive, active, happy with what I have, and … well, you are now interviewing me and not the racists who mistreated me, whom no one will remember. [I can imagine him smile, when he says this!]
THERE ARE MANY MEN THAT DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THEIR OWN SKIN AND CLOTHES: WHERE DO YOU LIKE SHOPPING AND HOW DO YOU CREATE OUTFITS THAT FULLY REPRESENT WHO YOU ARE?
I am quite monothematic. Like many crossdressers, the moment I find a brand that I like and that has my size, I stick to it. Please note that, it is quite difficult to find suits and blazers in size IT50 or shoes IT42 or IT43: sticking to certain brands is more a necessity rather than a choice.
I generally buy clothes at OVS, while my shoes are almost all by Jimmy Choo, expensive but beautiful and to me, at least for the type of footwear I am most fond of (sandals), unbeatable. If my size is not available in the Milan store, they get it for me through the stores across Europe, where sooner or later a 42 turns up.
Recently I discovered Asos, endless choices at excellent value for money.
I need to add that the concept of “dressing up as a woman” is a bit misleading. I mean, it is true that I dress as a woman, because I wear feminine clothes, but it is also true, that no crossdresser dresses exactely like a woman. We dress as a “crossdresser”, which makes a big difference: a woman remains a woman whatever she wears, while a man needs to “exceed” for the crossdressing to be seen. You will never see a woman literally dressed like me or like any other crossdresser.
We do a great job of emphasizing our strengths. For example, many may focus on makeup, while I always highlight my legs, I never use pants nor wear socks.
YouTube video: Can a woman who dresses shirt, jacket and trousers be defined as a crossdresser?What’s the first female cloth he fell in love with? And the first one he wore…
YOUR WARDROBE IS FULLY FEMALE: HOW DO PEOPLE REACT?
Yes, my wardrobe is 100% feminine. As for people’s reactions, I need to make a distinction. We have those I meet on the street or at the supermarket, I have no relationship with. And then we have those I have a relationship with being it just a “good morning” or handshake.
For the first ones I can only rely on their civil sensitivity: I do not expect anything from them and their reactions can go from disgust, eye-squinting, curiosity or even verbal compliments!
For the latter, on the other hand, what I have learned in many years of psychotherapy comes into play: the manifest serenity of a handshake, a smile, a dialogue with a man who has a dignity of his own. You understand that there is an abyss between an insecure person who puts himself in other people’s hands, (thus fomenting racism where it exists), and a man who goes straight to the goal and has neither insecurities nor weak sides. This is when the tension and distrust dissolve and after a few minutes, you don’t even notice what I’m wearing anymore.
YOU WON PRIZES, PARTICIPATED TO TV PROGRAMS AND SHOWS AND WROTE SUCCESSFUL BOOKS: CAN YOU TELL US MORE AND WHAT YOUR FUTURE PLANS ARE?
Stefano is sitting at the driver seat of his car. The door is open and he is sitting facing the camera with his beautiful legs crossed, wearing flip-flop golden sandals. His toes are always perfectly cured and finished by dark red polish. he is wearing a leather denim-like jacket and a animalier-short dress. Street and some shops in the background.
I won two awards as best Italian journalist for the business tourism and congress tourism field, when I was directing the magazine which I then quit. Many newspapers, later, expressed interest in me as a crossdresser. I must say that for many years I refused to talk about it, because I felt I was not ready yet (as I was still in my aggressive status).
Then, in 2015 something happened, and thanks to Corriere della Sera I ended up opening their home page on October 20 with my story (http://video.corriere.it/storia-stefano-stefania-mi-vesto-donna-ma-resto-uomo/a107acfa-767f-11e5-9086-b57baad6b3f4). I can proudly say, it was the first time that crossdressing was spoken of in Italy: you can just imagine what bailamme came after it.
Their Fb page was attacked by over 4.000 comments, almost all of them insulting and often bordering onto hate speech. They had warned me about it though and… honestly ,I kind of expected it. I knew, though, it was only a matter of time, and in fact, from then on, my media releases started being better received by the public up to my most recent tv interview, at “L’Assedio” by (Italian journalist and writer) Daria Bignardi (https://it.dplay.com/nove/l-assedio/stagione-1-ep-10-stefano-ferri-cosa-significa-essere-un-crossdresser/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=lassedio).
We have a law here, called Cirinnà, that maybe eased this process and cleared sexual diversity, even that, like mine, that does not need civil unions.
And yes, I wrote 3 books: “Bury me in the sky” and “The child who returns from afar”, released in 2013 and 2016 by Robin Edizioni; they have been translated into English and distributed in 14 countries. The third, “The Reward”, was published in two parts and it is my first attempt to measure myself with historical fiction.
My future projects, aware that the pandemic will still negatively affect my main business field (tourism), are focused on a fourth novel I am already working on. So let’s cross fingers.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
I would like to, but I try to put myself in the fashion managers shoes and I am aware that cases like mine are still too few to think of developing a large-scale business. Moreover, my own story shows, that a man like me can find clothes already in stores, which makes me think that, behind this existing offer, there might be already an unconfessable “wink” to crossdressers. Time will tell.
Learn more and read more about Stefano here