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This is exacerbated by homophobia, as the public often equates cross-dressers with homosexuals. Whereas Cho points out that most cross-dressers are heterosexual.

Wayne Wong Wing-tung, a photographer, likes wearing boyish clothing. However, she never labels herself as a cross-dresser.

“If such a minor thing [the choice of clothing] has to be labelled, there will be many meaningless labels,” says Wayne.

To Wong, clothing is not about constructing a new gender identity, it is more about convenience. As Wong’s job involves dealing with consumers and moving heavy audio-visual equipment, adopting a boyish style and wearing “masculine” outfits saves her a lot of time.

Wong believes that with the popularity of the Korean fashion wave, the gender boundaries in fashion and the stigma of male cross-dressers will fade out soon.

Daisy Chow Hoi-sze, a clinical psychologist at the Cheers Psychological Consultancy Services, says that within the mental health community, there is a tendency for cross-dressing to be de-pathologised.

Chow says as society’s culture changes, health professionals are re-considering whether cross-dressing should be considered a “disease” or condition. This is similar to homosexuality which had previously been defined as a mental illness.

The tide may be turning slowly, but for some, this is immaterial. Despite the glares and the hushed murmurings behind their backs, they are proud to just be themselves.

As Bryan Chan, a.k.a. Coco Pop says, “I am not born to meet the expectations projected by society. Even if you don’t like it, you can only accept it or stand aside.”

Edited by Silvia Li