Multiple Serial Killers Were Forced To Dress In Drag Growing Up And The Humiliation “Pushed Their Urge To Kill”

What pushes one individual to take the life of another? All of us consumed with a true crime obsession ask ourselves this question at one point or another, but most of us are too fixated on the newest, most grisly case in the news media or Netflix show to take the time to delve into the psyches of cold-blooded killers.

By Gwen Farrell4 min read
Wikimedia Commons

These kinds of macabre motivations can come from pretty much anywhere, but the majority of them stem from some sort of conflict during childhood, a person’s most formative years. We know that Jeffrey Dahmer used to collect bones and animal carcasses as his boyhood hobby, and John Wayne Gacy would torture animals, but many people have traumatic childhoods and don’t become mass murderers. So what specifically sets someone down this path? One internet thread presents an interesting hypothesis: Multiple serial killers were forced to dress in drag growing up, and the humiliation “pushed their urge to kill.”

It Starts at Home

You don’t have to be a licensed expert on parent-child relationships or a credentialed psychologist to know that the first relationships in life, which we build with our parents, basically determine how we relate to everyone else we encounter as we mature. Some of us may have even experienced this first hand – we might have dated a guy with so-called “mommy issues,” or maybe our own insecurities first created by our parents inhibit us from forming healthy attachments to others.

Women who have had traumatic upbringings or have difficult, tenuous relationships with their mother or father or even both parents is one thing, but this kind of unhealthy attachment style is especially destructive in men. A man is motivated to be a specific kind of man based on how his father behaves, and the first woman a man loves (ideally) is his mother. In fact, he’ll probably base his feelings on all other women off this one formative relationship.

Our early relationship with our parents determines how we relate to everyone else in life.

Mommy issues in men can be difficult to unpack, but there are several key factors to look for if you’re dating or friends with a man with these problems. If he has difficulty communicating, is insecure, becomes anxious or jealous easily, is a people-pleaser or approval seeking, disrespectful towards women, or compares romantic partners to his mom, his own mother is likely to blame for these issues. These usually stem from emotional and/or physical abuse or manipulation a man experienced during his youth. He might even have a quasi-incestuous relationship with his mom, which doesn’t even have to be physical to be emotionally damaging. But all of these are really the baseline when it comes to complex mother-son relationships. What about when they become much more problematic?

When Mommy Issues Become Something More

It’s safe to say that in all cases of serial or mass murderers, there’s something deeply wrong with the responsible individual, but in numerous cases, all of their resentment, hatred, anger and even fascination with murder, rape, and sometimes torture started at home. And it originated with the person who was supposed to love and care for them the most.

Charles Manson, of California’s infamous Manson Family, had one such relationship. His mother was a criminal, an alcoholic, and a prostitute who became pregnant with him when she was 16 years old. Manson’s mother so despised her newborn child that she refused to name him until he was a few days old, and even sold him for a pitcher of beer. She also allegedly dressed him in girl’s clothing, and later abandoned him at a boy’s school. When he ran away and found her, she rejected him. Throughout his teen years, Manson was in and out of jail and later amassed a cult-like following of young women, who later brutally murdered a pregnant Sharon Tate and several others in 1969.

Manson might be the most well-known of these illustrations, but he’s not the only one. Known as “the co-ed killer,” Ed Kemper murdered his own mother with a claw hammer after killing six female college students. Kemper’s mother, an alcoholic with mental illness (what many believe to be borderline personality disorder), constantly verbally abused him and denied him physical affection because she thought “it would turn him gay.” She also locked him in a basement so he wouldn’t have any contact with his little sister, and frequently humiliated and belittled him by dressing him as a girl. 

Ed Gein had a different relationship with his mother, but it was just as unhealthy. Gein’s mother was a Lutheran and devoutly religious, bordering on obsessive. Gein’s mother raised him as a daughter instead of a son and made him wear dresses. She was also intensely overprotective of him, and Gein grew to worship his mother. After his mother’s death, he sought out female victims who looked similar to her, which many theorize was a sign of deeply rooted, hidden resentment. Gein was also known to dig up recently deceased women’s graves and remove body parts with the intent of fashioning a “woman suit” from their corpses.

Serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas’ mother was actually his first victim. She forced him to dress as girl when he was younger and was also a prostitute who apparently made her son watch her sexual encounters with various men. Lucas’ half-sister corroborates that his mother’s insistence on dressing him as a girl rather than a boy humiliated him throughout his childhood, and only contributed to his violent nature, misogyny, and resentment and anger aimed at his mother. Lucas eventually teamed up with another serial killer, Ottis Toole, who also had a problematic relationship with his mother. She, too, forced him to dress as a girl and was a religious fanatic. Toole later used this childhood trauma to feed his bloodlust – he dressed in drag to lure male victims in for supposed dates or sex, only to murder them.

These men were so traumatized during their formative years, it pushed them to the furthest recesses a human being can go.

Doil Lane, a child killer, admitted to police that he was dressed as a girl by his mother, motivating him to keep his victims’ underwear as souvenirs he could wear in secret. Charles Albright, the Texas Eyeball Killer, was dressed as a girl by his mother and given dolls to play with, later using these toys as a model for the murdered women he surgically manipulated. What’s evident in all of these case studies, writes forensic psychology professor Kathleen Ramsland, is that for “these offenders, their mothers' decisions to treat them as girls did influence their development into violent predators.”

Gender Confusion Harms Children

Our culture today has been inundated with conversations on gender ideology, and furthermore, the fixed or supposedly non-fixed gender of children. It’s frightening enough that female inmates are raped and impregnated by transgender individuals in their own prisons, but we see how truly depraved we’ve become when we allow vulnerable children to be introduced into the mix.

Children as young as toddlers are paraded out by their parents for the news media, used as props by the activist class and progressive elite for daring to live their truth, and praised for somehow inherently knowing at such young ages that they don’t identify as the gender they were “assigned” at birth.

In almost all these situations there’s a common denominator, just as there was with the men we discussed who were humiliated, belittled, and abused, so much so that it pushed them to kill. In all of these situations, there’s sure to be a mom or even both parents behind the camera, advertising their child’s unique bravery in the face of such an oppressive, binary gender system. Gender disappointment for parents is unfortunately a thing that exists, but that doesn’t make your child transgender.

This is not to say that this kind of abuse – because it is indeed abuse and should be considered so – is fully responsible for their behavior, but let’s think back to what fundamental truths we as a society accept: Our childhood and our treatment therein dictates our character and our personhood for the rest of our lives. And if we’re so unfortunate as to be exploited in a malicious and disturbing way, the future isn’t a bright one.

Closing Thoughts

There’s a saying that’s apropos to all of these scenarios – just as with a dog or a cat who eats a vegan diet, we know who’s really making all of the decisions here. If you need proof that gender confusion harms children, look no further than Manson, Gein, Kemper, Lucas, and the rest. These men were so traumatized during their formative years, so mistreated, abused, and taken advantage of by their parents, that their upbringings pushed them to the furthest recesses a human being can go.

Love Evie? Sign up for our newsletter and get curated content weekly!