Men have been dressing as women on stage for hundreds of years, dating back to the thirteenth century when the church forbade the appearance of female actors but condoned that of men and boys disguised as the opposite sex. Forms of transvestism can be traced back to the dawn of the theater and are found in all corners of the world, notably in China and Japan.
There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly from professionals who have starred in movies to people who just try it once. Drag queens also vary by class and culture and can vary even within the same city. Although many assume all drag queens are gay men or transgender, there are drag artists of all genders and sexualities who do drag for various reasons. Generally, drag queens dress in a female gender role, often exaggerating certain characteristics for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. Other drag performers include drag kings, who are women who perform in male roles, faux queens, who are women who dress in an exaggerated style to emulate drag queens and faux kings, who are men who dress to impersonate drag kings.
Not all men who dress as women are drag queens. Other categories include transvestites or cross-dressers, generally straight men who wear women's clothing for erotic reasons; preoperative male-to-female transsexuals; and transgender people who display and embrace a gender identity at odds with their biological sex, but who do not intend to undergo surgery to change their sex. Drag queens, in contrast, are gay men who dress and perform.