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Cross-dressing in motion pictures began in the early days of the silent films. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel brought the tradition of female impersonation in the English music halls when they came to America with Fred Karno's comedy troupe in 1910. Both Chaplin and Laurel occasionally dressed as women in their films. Even the beefy American actor Wallace Beery appeared in a series of silent films as a Swedish woman. The Three Stooges, especially Curly (Jerry Howard), sometimes appeared in drag in their short films. The tradition has continued for many years, usually played for laughs. Only in recent years have there been dramatic films in which cross-dressing was included, possibly because of strict censorship of American films until the mid 1960s. One early exception was the murderer, a transvestite who wears particularly frilly dresses and petticoats, in Alfred Hitchcock's British thriller Murder!.

Film and videoEdit

As a central plot elementEdit

Movies that feature cross-dressing as a central plot element:

As a minor plot elementEdit

Movies in which cross-dressing plays a minor but important role:

Comedic element in documentaryEdit

  • In the documentary, Giuliani Time, there are excerpts from Rudy Giuliani's appearance in a video, which was shown for the occasion of an Inner Circle press dinner.

As a non-comedic elementEdit

Most of the above films are comedies. Many other comedy films include instances of humorous cross-dressing, but do not feature it as a central plot element.

Films in which cross-dressing is treated in a more serious manner are relatively rare, although the list does include several dramas and biopics.

  • Yentl (1983) - The title character is a young woman forced to cross-dress in order to fulfil her educational aspirations.
  • The Ballad of Little Jo (1993) - A lone woman in the Old West takes on a male role in order to survive.
  • Ed Wood (1994) - The film about the cult movie maker himself, who often cross-dressed. Directed by Tim Burton, the film stars Johnny Depp as Ed Wood.
  • Just Like a Woman (1992) - Based on the autobiographical book *Gerald/ine by Monica Jay.
  • The King of Masks (1996) - A Chinese girl poses as a boy in order to get adopted by an elderly man.
  • Mulan (1998) - A Chinese woman disguises herself as a soldier to fight in place of her father.
  • Baran (2001) - A young Afghan refugee disguises herself as a boy in order to work on a construction site in Iran.
  • Osama (2003) - A 12-year-old Afghan girl dresses like a boy in order to get a job during the regime of the Taliban.
  • Breakfast on Pluto (2005) - Patrick 'Kitten' Braden is a transvestite escort and cabaret singer.


Milton Berle was one of the most famous early cross-dressing comedians in skits and such on his NBC shows from 1948 to 1956. Harvey Korman played a hefty Jewish mother character on The Carol Burnett Show. Flip Wilson created the memorable recurring character Geraldine Jones on The Flip Wilson Show. Some other comedy sketch shows, such as Monty Python's Flying Circus, Little Britain, The League of Gentlemen, Saturday Night Live and Kids in the Hall routinely feature visual cross-dressing, with men dressing as women and speaking in falsetto. Not to be outdone in this regard, the (female) British team of French and Saunders have produced many sketches in which one or both of the actresses portray men. Rudy Giuliani appeared on Saturday Night Live dressed as a woman.

Kenan Thompson currently plays a range of women on Saturday Night Live.


Notable television programs that have featured recurrent cross-dressingEdit

  • Bosom Buddies - Two men (Tom Hanks & Peter Scolari) regularly disguised themselves as women in order to live in a women-only hotel because of the dirt cheap rent.
  • Are You Being Served? often features John Inman taking on female roles. Some of the other cast members such as Frank Thornton occasionally appear in drag as well.
  • M*A*S*H - Klinger regularly cross-dressed as part of a futile attempt to be dismissed from the military.
  • Golden Girls - Dorothy Zbronak's (Beatrice Arthur) brother Phil Petrillo, who was never seen on air, is a cross-dresser. When he died in the episode Ebbtide's Revenge, Phil's widow Angela had him buried in a teddy, to which Dorothy said to her roommates "it looks like he died in a Benny Hill sketch!".
  • Ranma 1/2 - A Japanese Cartoon about a martial artist called Ranma who can transform into a girl. His gender is easily changed through means not under his control, so a costume which works on one gender often suddenly and comically becomes inappropriate cross-dressing. Also appearing in the anime and manga are Tsubasa Kurenai and Konatsu, who are male crossdressers, and Ukyo Kuonji, a female crossdresser and potential love interest of the gender-changing Ranma.
  • The Drew Carey Show - Drew's brother, Steve Carey, is a cross dresser.
  • Friends - Chandler's father (played by Kathleen Turner) is a cross dresser.
  • Arrested Development - Tobias Fünke (played by David Cross) disguises himself as a British nanny named Mrs. Featherbottom in order to maintain a relationship with his estranged family. (This is a direct reference to the film Mrs. Doubtfire). This development is an outcropping of the fact that, throughout the series, Tobias exhibits signs of being a latent homosexual.
  • Saved by the Bell - Zach and Screech occasionally dress as women either to disguise themselves or for comic effect.
  • Lilo & Stitch - Agent Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald, a Kids in the Hall veteran) dresses in female clothing because he misunderstands human gender roles.[citation needed]
  • Dexter's Laboratory - Many episodes feature Dexter in drag. Examples being Dimwit Dexter, Remember Me?, Tribe Called Girl, and The Big Sister.
  • Sailor Moon - In one episode of the first season, Zoisite (one of the villains) disguises himself as Sailor Moon. In the "Sailor Moon Super S" season, Fish-Eye always dresses like a woman.
  • Megaman NT Warrior (Rockman EXE) - Villain Magnus Gauss (Gauss Magnets) cross-dresses as a woman and is obsessed with Dr. Wily. In one episode (unaired in the dub), three of the main characters cross-dress as idol singer Aki-chan to rescue a group of kidnapped girls.
  • He's a Lady - The 2004 reality television series involves male contestants competing with each other to act as effeminately as possible, including cross-dressing.
  • You Rang, M'Lord? - Cissy is a lesbian cross-dresser, complete with monocle, cravat and short hair.
  • Ouran High School Host Club - Main character Haruhi Fujioka crossdresses regularly and is initially mistaken as male by the members of the Host Club. Also, various Host Club members crossdress on occasion, including manga episodes 10 (Hikaru, Kaoru, and Hunny as part of a plan to keep Haruhi away from Saint Lobelia's Zuka Club, and in the anime adaptation, Tamaki and Kyoya also crossdress for the same reason), 11 (Hikaru and Kaoru take turns dressing as the witch of the central wing), and 15 (Hikaru, Kaoru, Tamaki, and Mori all dress in Alice costumes, and Kyoya portrays an evil queen in this chapter).
  • Pokémon - James from Team Rocket (anime), often appears in a dress or skirt, and in one of the banned episodes, he is even seen in a bikini complete with inflatables. A partial list of characters including Ash Ketchum, and Jessie and Meowth of Team Rocket, have also been known to cross-dress, although not as often as James. A Gastly also once disguised as a beautiful maiden and an old woman at a summer festival.
  • InuYasha - Jekotsu of the Band of seven always wears womans clothes and repeatedly flirts with InuYasha.
  • Boy Meets World - Different Characters cross dress in later episodes.
  • I My Me! Strawberry Eggs-Main character Hibiki Amawa disguises himself as a woman to obtain a job as a teacher at school that will only hire women.
  • El Hazard - Makoto Mizuhara impersonates Princess Fatora of Roshtaria who is kidnapped by the Phantom Tribe because of his uncanny resemblance to the princess.
  • Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru - Mihuzho Miyanokoji crossdresses to attend a girls' school as per his grandfather's wishes.
  • Fushigi Yuugi - Nuriko, one of the Suzaku seven star warriors, dresses as a woman in memory of his dead sister.
  • Gravitation - The main character, Shuichi Shindou, wears his sister's schoolgirl uniform and dons a maid outfit to try to get the attention of Eiri Yuki.
  • Princess Princess - Three students in an all-male school dress as girls to raise the spirits of the other students.
  • Hollyoaks character, Kris Fisher is a cross dresser
  • Former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Dustin Rhodes portrayed "Goldust", a gimmick that involved crossdressing.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - SpongeBob has dressed like a woman in several episodes. His best friend Patrick Star cross dresses in order to protect himself from an assassin in the episode: "That's No Lady".

British stand-up comedian and actor Eddie Izzard, who describes himself as an 'executive' or 'action' transvestite and regularly cross-dresses both on and off stage, has acted in several films (including most recently Ocean's Twelve), as well as releasing his stand-up work on video and DVD (Live at the Ambassadors (1993), Unrepeatable (1994), Definite Article (1996), Glorious (1997), Dress to Kill (1999), Circle (2002), and Sexie (2003).

See also Edit

Wikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Cross-dressing in film and television. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.. As with LGBT Info, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

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