Definition of Transvestism:
The practice, especially of men, of wearing clothing usually associated with the opposite sex for psychological gratification.
Definition of Cross Dressing:
To dress in clothing typically worn by members of the opposite sex.
Transvestite and cross-dressing have been put together for simplicity. Transvestites and cross-dressers are typically heterosexual males who wear traditionally feminine clothing.
Transvestite has been labelled in the past to associate cross-dressing with sexual arousal, but that term has changed to ‘transvestic fetishism’.
Cross-dressers do not often associate with the LGBTQ community and don’t see themselves as anything but straight/heterosexual. One common reason that men choose to cross dress, is for sexual and psychological gratification. They may enjoy the sexual excitement that they experience from wearing feminine clothing, and in seeing their feminine image. Another reason for cross dressing, is that men want to feel free to express the feminine side of their personality (https://www.quora.com).
Drag queens and drag kings are not usually labelled as cross-dressers/transvestites. People that dress in drag tend to be gay and cross-dressers tend to be straight.
Adapted from: http://www.askthegay.com
A person who is cross-dressing is any person who, for any reason, wears the clothing of a gender other than that to which they were assigned at birth. Cross-dressers may have no desire or intention of adopting other behaviours or practices common to that gender, and particularly does (currently) not wish to undergo medical procedures to facilitate physical changes. Contrary to common belief, most male-bodied cross-dressers prefer female partners.
Transvestic fetishism is a term used in the medical community to refer to one who has a fetish for wearing the clothing of the opposite gender. Many reject the term “transvestite”, preferring cross-dresser instead. It is often difficult to distinguish between fetishism that happens to have female clothing as an object and transgender behaviour that includes sexual play. Some people feel that transvestic fetishism does not count as cross-dressing.
In summary, each individual will be unique in how they view their cross-dressing activities. Some in both categories will wear the opposite genders clothing for sexual gratification and others for psychological gratification. Like all people who have a gender-diversity (outside of drag queens and kings), cross dressing and transvestism are not usually associated to a person’s sexual-orientation.