clothes

Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 26

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender

Honestly, thinking about writing my way through this issue again just seems exhausting right now. Clothes are important, and they are a big aspect of gender presentation for lots of people. But they don’t define a person’s gender. There’s a weird tension with clothes, because they feel so important to so many people, because wearing clothes that “match” your gender can feel so freeing and validating, because it is a major tactic for dealing with dysphoria, etc. But at the same time, many of the same people who find clothes personally important really do just wish that society didn’t insist on gendering clothes so damn much. Anyone should feel comfortable wearing a skirt if they want, and anyone should feel ok wearing a three-piece suit or whatever, too.

The question of whether my clothes match my gender almost doesn’t make any sense to me any more. I know what it means, obviously, but I don’t know what it would mean for my clothes to match my gender, given the amorphous character of my gender.

I gotta get me some amorphous clothes, I guess?

But really, though, I touched on this issue a bit in an earlier genderqueer challenge post. What I’ve been focusing on when I shop for clothes or put together outfits these days is whether or not they seem to reflect me back to myself. I’ve been working on reclaiming the aspects of my aesthetic and style that don’t fit into the norms of white genderqueer androgyny (more on that here and here. Setting gender aside (if that’s even possible) is the only way I can deal with dressing myself without constantly second-guessing whether people will think my presentation ‘matches’ whatever they think my gender is or means.

Ugh. I dunno. I’d love to hear other enbies’ persepectives on this one though!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

The Pressure to Conform/Compulsory Femininity

For some reason lately I’ve been getting a bunch of (gentle) pressure/encouragement to present more femininely than I generally. It’s not something I’m used to dealing with, to be honest (my mother has gone on occasional “oh, you should wear make-up/do things with your hair/etc” riff, but she’s never particularly pushed it) and it’s been weird, and I have thoughts about it so!

A lot of it has been coming from work, where I am still not out about being non-binary – everyone there calls me ‘she’ and ‘her’. And it’s not as if they are explicitly judging me on my more masc/androgynous presenting days, it’s just that I’ve been getting a weird amount of positive reinforcement on whenever I tip into femme at all (in this case, this mostly means “whenever I wear a skirt or dress”).

And like, obviously I like to be complimented on the clothes I choose to wear. And if the comments were just “Oh, I like your dress!” then I wouldn’t be writing about it at all. But that’s not what they are. The comments I’ve been getting are more like “Oh, you’re wearing a skirt today! You look so nice! You should do that more often!”

And like???? I really just wish they wouldn’t.

It doesn’t come across as a compliment, because it’s clearly not about the particular skirt or dress I happen to be wearing, so much as it is about them, for some reason, wanting me to wear skirts and dresses in general (and I guess any skirts or dresses will do). It is, in fact, mildly insulting instead, since it suggests that I don’t really normally look nice, and makes it pretty clear that they don’t like my style generally.

It is clear that for whatever reason (it would make them more comfortable somehow? Or maybe they are worried about my ability to catch a man (LOL!)? I don’t even know) some of my co-workers are invested in my gender presentation.

And I wonder whether that will go away or just get worse when I do come out as non-binary – I know my mom has repeatedly asked about the change in my presentation over the last 3-4 years or whatever, and that she seems more invested in me presenting as feminine since I came out to her than she was before (though she has told me she noticed the change before I came out, she never pressured me about it until afterwards). If these folks are already taking my presentation somewhat personally, they may very well take my “decision” not to identify as a woman personally (er, see my non-woman-hood as me abandoning their team, I guess?) as well.

I also may just be way over-thinking this all, to be honest :P

We’ll have to wait and see.

How do you deal with gendered things? Clothes shopping, bathrooms, forms, etc.: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 15

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Also, this is week 15, y’all, which means I’m halfway there! This has been a productive journey for me so far, and I hope it is being interesting for you as well!

Today’s prompt: How do you deal with gendered things? Clothes shopping, bathrooms, forms, etc.

As with a few of the previous weeks, this is something I have written about some aspects of before:

  • A few years back, I wrote about navigating binary-gendered spaces as a non-binary person. I will add here that I am less willing to consider myself welcome in any women-only spaces than I used to, for a variety of reasons including the transmisogyny that is often present in spaces that would include me as an afab person.
  • More recently, I wrote about the evolution of my gender presentation as a non-binary person.
  • These days my wardrobe is an eclectic mix of “men’s” and “women’s” clothes (of course, being mine, they are really all non-binary clothes), and my presentation changes more based on the weather than anything else – I like dresses and skirts for hot weather, and love bulky sweaters layered with flannels and button-downs when it’s colder. I am more likely to bind my chest (which usually involves a simple sports bra these days) when presenting more femme, though that it is really something that is only for my own internal comfort rather than because it has any impact on the fact that everyone reads me a woman on those days.

    When I am clothes shopping, I really just look at everything and pick the things I like, without concern for their genderedness.

    I use all-gender or gender-neutral washrooms wherever possible, and pretty much exclusively use the women’s when I have to choose.

    For official forms, I am way more comfortable choosing a binary option when the form explicitly asks for my sex rather than my gender. Since I don’t have dysphoria around my genitals, it is unproblematic for me to identify which of the binary forms I have (though I would prefer for there to be more options). When the form is asking for “gender”, but pretty much actually means sex (because it is a medical form and I know they actually mean to ask a biological question but don’t know how to word it or whatever), I suck it up and pick the most useful answer to the people who need the form filled out.

    When an online form requires me to indicate a binary gender in order to sign up for an account, I almost always decide I don’t want an account on that site any more. Sometimes I send an email to them about it, letting them know they’ve made it impossible for me to sign up, but usually I don’t bother.

    I mostly make all of these sorts of calls without thinking super hard about them anymore. Navigating these things has become habitual for me, so I’m sure I’m forgetting about other places where I make judgment calls around binary gendered things that I have to participate in in various ways, but I can’t think of them right now.

    If there’s something obvious I’ve missed that you’re curious about, feel free to ask in the comments! Or, y’know, let me know how you navigate these things. Maybe you have better methods than me!


    Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!