What is she wearing!?!?
There’s always a lot of chatter in the trans* community related to the internal catfighting so many of us seem prone to over labels and identities and so forth. It certainly seems that we argue so much that we end up arguing about how much we argue. Its no wonder the world at large has a hard time understanding us when we so easily dispute our own understanding of ourselves.
This is not the forum, and obviously I don’t have the time or space, for me to try and chip away at that huge controversy and I’m not about to – but the subject I do want to take a few minutes on can seem like a microcosm of those greater issues, because it’s one that’s a ready source of disputations among crossdressers and transsexuals with finger-pointing, ridicule, and contempt all around. One of the remarks you hear is that many of the big arguments boil down to “I’m more trans than thou” – in this case one might say it’s “I have more fashion sense than thou.”
The subject I speak of is age appropriate clothing.
Travel the internet looking for gatherings of crossdressers and/or M2F transsexuals and you won’t have to look very hard to find a discussion of what constitutes age-appropriate and whether or not we are obliged to conform to expectations in that regard. I always find it very ironic that while the overall TG community prides itself on defending non-conformity, a segment thereof is rather insistent that conformity is necessary. Personally, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I do agree that a wildly non-conformist presentation (say, for instance, a grown man who likes to dress as a child, or a 70 year old woman who dressing not just in a more youthful outfit but a blatantly obvious “hooker-wear” outfit) does, unavoidably, reflect poorly on all of us. Most people are lazy thinkers and they are all too happy to extrapolate the outlier into a representation of the mainstream.
On the other hand, I feel that as a late-life transitioner, I missed out on a lot of things and I did not transition just so I could move smoothly into polyester pantsuits and beehive hairdos. I’m 49 and have been out full time for over 3 years and I readily admit that my wardrobe is more suitable to one who’s 29 and only a few push it past 40 (though those few Are out there). Whatever I may know on an intellectual level about whether or not my shorts are too short, emotionally my reaction is “Screw it! Who are you to tell me my clothing is not age appropriate?” After all, what’s “appropriate” is an ever shifting societal paradigm. What IS considered appropriate for 50, now, wasn’t considered appropriate for 50 or even 40 years of age thirty years ago. This changed partly because of the fashion industry but also partly because women simply decided they were not obliged to suddenly one day wake up and “act old.”
That is to say, WE move the ball. At least once on any given week you might see me in Walmart in a short-shorts and a tube-top, no doubt provoking not a few around me to say i’m dressing too sl**ty. Ultimately, I just can’t bring myself to care. In my circumstances, and my particular situation, they work for me. I’m comfortable like that and honestly, I don’t really even care if I’m called sl**ty. It’s not that I don’t care at all that my clothing might reflect poorly on other trans* people – I do. But I care not in the sense that I’m shamed that I don’t conform, but to be all the more alienated from the social construct which demands conformity.
I’m not sure how others strike that balance between the “hot” outfit you want to wear, and the limits placed on you by the expectations of decorum, and obviously there are context issues (for instance, you dress appropriate for work if you want to keep your job) but for me, I lean towards indulging what makes me feel good about myself, even if some old biddy is shocked by it.
Image by tiny_tear