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Why choose gendered clothing?


awkward-yet-sweet

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I find clothing and fashion to be somewhat of a mystery.  Even in my girl form as I was growing up, I just never liked gendered clothing.  For me, it was always jeans or shorts and a t-shirt. 

 

But I've noticed that some people really prefer gendered clothing.  My GF keeps trying to put female underwear on me, even though I clearly dislike it.  I've noticed that trans girls want to dress in female styles, almost to the point of seeming over-the-top.  I don't really understand it.  If we're trying to make a world where all genders are accepted, gender transition is accepted, and people are equal - why do we persist in using gendered clothing styles?  In my family, gendered clothing is somewhat avoided.  Babies and toddlers wear easily cleaned tunics.  Boys and girls run around in jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, etc.  The older kids and my adult partners frequently wear army-style BDU 4-pocket fatigue shirts.  Simplicity and practicality are highly valued. 

 

If it works for a family, is it possible for a society to envision a future where people dress in a less gendered way?  And if that was possible, would having more androgynous clothing make it easier to transition? 

 

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That is certainly an interesting question.

 I normally dress now much as i did prior to transition.   However when farm work doesn't require kneeling  or climbing i tend to wear a long tough jean skirt.  Oddly they shed hay in ways that pants don't.  It was different early in transition.  Wearing very feminine clothing seemed necessary.  Perhaps that was as much to be perceived by others as i felt myself to be.  I do like feeling pretty but today that seems easier with less reliance on clothing.  Clothing provides the chance to express oneself. 

Funny how the clothing you describe would all have been considered very masculine by my parents.  Fashion has, relatively recently, allowed women to dress as men but except for crazy runway fashion designers it rarely accepts the opposite.  

 I'm happily married so provocative clothing isn't needed as it might be if i was trying to attract a mate.  

 

 

Hugs,

 

Charlize

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1 hour ago, Charlize said:

However when farm work doesn't require kneeling  or climbing i tend to wear a long tough jean skirt.

I find that for most tasks, a skirt or dress works out fine for me.  I do keep a pair of jeans, and some bibs for those times when a dress is impractical.

1 hour ago, Charlize said:

 Clothing provides the chance to express oneself.

This is true.  While I don't dress particularly "girly" I do wear dresses & skirts almost exclusively.  I have grown to dislike the feel of pants.  

I suspect that I was influenced by the women I was around when I was young.  Now in my own 70's I've kinda reverted to the association of woman = dress.  I also have an interest in historical clothing which probably also influences me - for what that's worth.

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I think Trans some individuals dress very feminine as it helps them blend in as cis easier, if that’s a fear. It also could be they want to experience the "girly" styles they missed out on or they just like it.

 

To your point on equality of genders. I don’t see it as much as everyone all wearing neutral clothes, but just being who we are and having people respect that we dress very feminine, very masculine or in other ways. equality isn’t being the same. I do understand your opinion though.

I don't know if this makes sense. If it doesn’t, I can try clarifying my opinion

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One of my earliest and most persistent clues that might have indicated that I was a girl if I had been paying attention was that I prefer bright colours.  Even as a teen-aged (alleged) boy, I couldn't stand the dullness of male clothing.  I had to force myself to tone it down in order not to get bullied, but I always wanted to wear nice colours.  I guess that sounds stereotypical, but it is the true me.

 

Nowadays, being out means that I can wear bright colours and patterns any time I want.  But I also want to wear other gendered clothing.  I love swishy skirts and lovely tactile fabrics just for the joyful esthetics of them.  There is no particular reason why males should not be allowed to wear them if they wish to, but perhaps they don't want to.  And for sure they aren't allowed to.  So my choices remain strongly gendered, whether I choose them for that reason or not.

 

And I have to admit that I do choose them, in part, because they are strongly gendered.  I don't want to wear anything remotely androgynous because I don't want people whispering "Is that a guy or a girl?"  I want their default assumption on first sight to be "woman".  It just makes my life easier and safer if that is their assumption.

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15 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

had been paying attention was that I prefer bright colours.  Even as a teen-aged (alleged) boy, I couldn't stand the dullness of male clothing.  I had to force myself to tone it down in order not to get bullied, but I always wanted to wear nice colours. 

Me as well.  I always enjoyed wearing brightly colored clothing even as an adult.  I wasn't ever bullied for it even though I knew it made me stand out in a crowd.

 

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On 1/24/2023 at 8:40 AM, Charlize said:

Fashion has, relatively recently, allowed women to dress as men but except for crazy runway fashion designers it rarely accepts the opposite.  

 I'm happily married so provocative clothing isn't needed as it might be if i was trying to attract a mate.  

I agree that it shouldn't matter what we wear, however it does. I always wanted to be the barrel racer or rodeo queen, and cowgirl up. My reality, I was expected to man up, so it was Bull Rider fashion for me. Today I wear bright colors, and my jeans are gender neutral, with scroll designs on the pockets. I also have to say the women's fitness wear is more comfortable, and the wide band at the top stays up, without rolling down my tummy.

 

Mindy🐛🏳️‍⚧️🦋

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This POV seems to come more from those who aren't trans femme, and my first thought is one can't ignore the power of Patriarchy in western culture and it's reliance on hierarchy to enforce power structures- that is, it's usually more preferable to be gendered male because of the normalization of privilege, and this translates to more freedom, although masculine standards are actually more restrictive and narrow...the point is, the business suit, the military uniform, is basically a signifier of power.

[End RadFem 101, LOL]

I think we like to believe we can evolve past these politics, but it shows up in even the most subtle ways.

Personally in the beginning, wearing ANYTHING that was feminine was crossing a line and resigning my "manhood". This is important in the context of the traditional passing of a namesake's wealth through the male bloodline: I was possibly forsaking, in effect, my responsibility to my ancestors.

And it follows me to this day, the thinking that it is more acceptable for me to present femme, or crossdress, but the real dealbreaker is burning my male membership card altogether and embracing my womanhood.

It's just different for us binaries I guess. The first year of presenting androgynous because I still had short hair, no wardrobe was tough for me. Any femme item I could wear provided a lot of relief.

Ultimately I think we both can agree on the question of authenticity, and how much of it is personal, but also how much of it is performative. But I don't think we can ignore the underlying politics, even though I am all for the expansion of gender and nonbinary expression, the reality is it's a large step to introduce Non-Duality into a culture steeped in power dynamics, and is often relegated to the esoteric or philosophical. Otherwise, NBs are still referenced to the binary.

I have a lovely, intelligent and strong cis woman friend who is probably more representative of modern feminism in that a balance has been struck where her femininity is not threatened as much and there is more equality, but still has to deal with men who are threatened by her strength and abuse their power when they can. But she may be a distinct case because she prefers combat boots and tshirts even though, suppsedly she is "straight". She reinforces for me that femininity is a personal thing that should feel liberating.

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25 minutes ago, stveee said:

Otherwise, NBs are still referenced to the binary.

 So true!  Which, as a non-binary person, drives me nuts!  The references can come at unexpected intervals.  While I can handle them, each one is like a paper cut -- I'll survive, of course, but it's a drag.  

 

That's one reason I choose to live in Massachusetts -- a decent percentage of the public are more understanding and tolerant here.  I can dress as I wish, and most of the time people don't give me stares.  Yay!

 

Astrid

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@stveee  You have an interesting perspective...especially the RadFem part. 

 

My GF is quite a feminist, and she actually comes at it from an opposite angle.  Her idea is that feminine clothing is weak and robs a woman's power.  Pants have pockets for example, while women's clothing doesn't and they are forced to carry purses that make them vulnerable.  She also says that skirts/dresses make a woman more vulnerable to sexual assault, and female shoes are designed to reduce a woman's combat effectiveness.  I've heard her rant and rave about poor fabric quality, high prices, lecherous fashion designers, etc... 😏  I'm not sure how much of that is true, since in ancient times both sexes wore robes or tunics that were basically a dress. 

 

To me, it is unthinkable to put more work than absolutely necessary into dressing, and female clothes seem like so much more work!  My personal choice would be to go without clothing entirely in warm weather.   While some folks want the freedom to dress as they wish... I want the freedom to NOT dress at all.  Go out with just a wristwatch and a house key. 😆

 

 

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@stveee I think you're making point here that I have seen myself.

27 minutes ago, stveee said:

one can't ignore the power of Patriarchy in western culture and it's reliance on hierarchy to enforce power structures- that is, it's usually more preferable to be gendered male…

28 minutes ago, stveee said:

in the beginning, wearing ANYTHING that was feminine was crossing a line and resigning my "manhood"

 

It was this way for me too.  There was something subversive about this.  I would wear a fem item openly, but it was still so subtle that most observers would completely miss the significance.  But it was not lost in myself.

35 minutes ago, stveee said:

it is more acceptable for me to present femme, or crossdress, but the real dealbreaker is burning my male membership card altogether and embracing my womanhood.

In this town they have an annual social thing for charity, where some more prominent men will put on a "Drag Show" of sorts.  But it is accepted that they are playing a part.  To actually cross that line is something different.

 

The patriarchy is misogynistic at its core.  To be a "tomboy" is alright.  To be a "sissy" is not.

 

 

In Margaret Atwood's book "The Handmaid's Tale" "gender traitors" are executed.  So that's just how it is.

 

@awkward-yet-sweet  No shade on your GF…

No, most "feminine" clothing is not optimum  for combat.  And if that is one's focus they should act accordingly.  

I'm just not in a place where I can live like that anymore.  Perhaps I'm just one of those "sheeple."  I'd rather hide under a fern while the stone passes and try to pick up the pieces that are left.

If life is war, maybe I'm just tired of life.

 

Sorry… I'm up past my bedtime.  'Night y'all.

 

 

 

 

 

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All I know for sure is that feminine clothing styles make me happy in a way male clothing never has.  I have pondered the underlying reason why this is so, but thinking about it makes my hair hurt.  Feeling happy and content is motivation enough for me continue embracing feminine styles.  Ultimately, we should all choose our attire because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

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18 minutes ago, Sally Stone said:

All I know for sure is that feminine clothing styles make me happy in a way male clothing never has.

It's this way for me too.

Overcoming my fear to try it was what cracked my egg.  After that, I quickly realized I was not simply "crossdressing".

Wearing male attire gives me anxiety attacks now.  I do not like it.

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On 1/25/2023 at 9:28 PM, Ivy said:

No shade on your GF…

No, most "feminine" clothing is not optimum  for combat.  And if that is one's focus they should act accordingly. 

I'll be the first to admit, my GF is very different from the norm.  She's incredibly aggressive....which has only increased since having children.  Sometimes I swear that she and I are like night and day different from each other.  But since I got assaulted last year, I definitely think more in terms of, "Can I run dressed like this?" 

 

Wearing male clothes, androgynous clothes, or no clothes...it isn't like I feel better doing it.  It doesn't complete me or anything like others describe.  But feminine clothing just feels abhorrent...and I think a lot of it is that it identifies me as something specific, whereas the other clothes don't 

 

 

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I think a lot of people get affirmation from it. Wanted to dress that way when they were kids but never got to or were too scared. I understand not wanting to wear women's clothes completely - they're uncomfortable and that's why I was never pushed to wear them as a kid either. Not that hard at least. Personally i think women can wear whatever the f they want and pull it off because women are just gorgeous

 

Do be firm with your girlfriend about the underwear thing. Your boundaries are yours and you don't have to do anything you don't want to. I actually know 2  girls who wear men's underwear

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13 minutes ago, rootgrowth said:

I understand not wanting to wear women's clothes completely - they're uncomfortable…

Well, gee, I don't feel that way at all.  I suppose it has a lot to do with where you're coming from.  Personally, wearing guy clothes gives me anxiety attacks.  I really avoid it.

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1 hour ago, rootgrowth said:

Do be firm with your girlfriend about the underwear thing. Your boundaries are yours and you don't have to do anything you don't want to. I actually know 2  girls who wear men's underwear

 

Firm with my GF...haha.  That girl is something else; she doesn't always take me seriously.  

 

Most of the time, I just wear cotton boxer shorts.  In warm weather, I don't even bother wearing a shirt.  

 

 

 

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One size does not fill all, everyone is going to have a different preference on what clothing they like. Trying to suggest what others should wear because you do not like that there are differences of dress styles for male and female is not reality. If you want more gender numeral clothing, that is fine, that is for you, but may not be for others.  When my daughter was once my son, i bought her two outfits for Christmas because I noticed her femininity. They were very cute and very feminine. The rest was history and it helped her transitioned.  She does not lie boys clothes, but there is nothing wrong with boys who do like their clothes. My daughter is now one of the few girls who wears a dress to school instead of jeans. It's what she like and is happy in. So again, one size not not fit all. 

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On 1/24/2023 at 3:49 PM, awkward-yet-sweet said:

I've noticed that trans girls want to dress in female styles, almost to the point of seeming over-the-top.

 

Careful. This is both a generalisation (and demonstrably untrue, as are most generalisations) and a TERFism, usually invoked to claim trans women are sexist, setting back women's liberation, and pandering to the male gaze.

 

On 1/25/2023 at 9:22 AM, KathyLauren said:

And I have to admit that I do choose them, in part, because they are strongly gendered.  I don't want to wear anything remotely androgynous because I don't want people whispering "Is that a guy or a girl?"  I want their default assumption on first sight to be "woman".  It just makes my life easier and safer if that is their assumption.

 

Exactly. Do I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt and be called "sir" all day? No thank you. Maybe if/when I more physically resemble a cisgender woman I'll be able to wear more masculine styles and still be treated as I want to be treated. But I'm not holding my breath.

 

Meantime, I love how skirts and dresses feel. I had no idea they were so comfortable, especially in summer. I love bright colours, and how happy it seems to make some people when they see me looking colourful. I love the message it sends, of fun and self-expression and non-violence. Believe me, I've done my time in olive drab and denim and sneakers, and I still dress like that to go to the gym or ride my bike or go hiking, but I far prefer my current wardrobe.

 

On 1/24/2023 at 3:49 PM, awkward-yet-sweet said:

If we're trying to make a world where all genders are accepted, gender transition is accepted, and people are equal - why do we persist in using gendered clothing styles?

 

I think the point is that ultimately no clothing should be gendered. There is no functional need to gender it, after all. So rather than wish that everyone wore the plain clothes that are currently perceived as gender-neutral, why not wish that everyone could wear whatever they want to, because one day maybe all clothing will be gender-neutral?

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2 hours ago, Betty K said:

So rather than wish that everyone wore the plain clothes that are currently perceived as gender-neutral, why not wish that everyone could wear whatever they want to, because one day maybe all clothing will be gender-neutral?

Perhaps.

Still for my part, dressing gender specific is the point.  I will put on pants if the occasion demands it - like for safety with a chainsaw or something similar.  But otherwise no thanks.

I've changed my name, been on HRT, and alienated some family to be Ivy.

 

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I guess fear is my motivation for dressing as a male whenever I leave the house.  When I'm at home I dress as I like and enjoy doing so.  I'll admit that a lot of my fear is unwarranted paranoia.  There just has been too much violence against trans people for me to dismiss the possibility.  Lately I've been trying to convince myself that once I have fully transformed I will feel safer.  That may not be true but it gives me some hope to hold onto.

 

Lauren

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On 2/8/2023 at 11:27 PM, Ivy said:

Still for my part, dressing gender specific is the point.

 

Hi Ivy. Understood, and I feel that way too to some extent. But I can also see the value in a kind of gender-neutral utopia. I just think the way we get there (if we ever get there) is not by limiting what people can or should wear but by exploding it. 

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2 hours ago, Betty K said:

I just think the way we get there (if we ever get there) is not by limiting what people can or should wear but by exploding it. 

I agree entirely.  For me, gender specific (when possible) is important.  But that's just me.  We should be free to wear whatever we want.  That's just what I chose for myself.

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