Does what we wear outside effect the inside? I don’t think it’s shallow to say that yes, the clothes you choose do play a part in daily life. As a trans woman, wardrobe is an important part of my transition. I talk about how clothing makes me feel in a lot of my posts, and sometimes I’m afraid people will get the idea that transgenderism is just about crossdressing, so I felt this post was necessary. But there really is more to it than that. Transition for me is part body dysphoria, and part social dysphoria. That is, I’m both uncomfortable with my social role as a man, as well as with my physical male body. Clothing helps on both accounts.
The first time I wore a skirt in public I was shaking. But at the same time, I felt like the woman I strive to be. I felt so vulnerable, but I also felt invincible. People could snicker behind my back. And they did. People could avoid looking at me. And they did. But it didn’t matter, because I was floating. I felt wholly like a woman.
Clothing lets you express who you are without saying a word. It’s why schoolchildren hate uniforms, and why prisoners are forced to wear them. Clothes change attitudes. Including our own.
Before I started transitioning, dressing up in private was the closest I could get to contentment. I could shuck off my boring male clothes and finally feel free in the fabric of a skirt for an hour or so at night, when everyone else was sleeping. I would wear leggings and tights to work under my pants because just knowing they were there, feeling the tightness against my skin, made me feel more feminine, and that made my days a little more bearable.
Now clothing gives me an outlet to express my femininity in the way I want. I wear skinny jeans and long sleeve shirts now, mostly, if only because I can’t pull off a dress in public without fear quite yet. But dressing how I like to dress allows me to feel like myself more. If you look good, you’ll feel better. Simple as that.
As a trans person, I have the opportunity to reinvent my appearance. And part of that is the costly, but exciting, process of building a new wardrobe and discovering my style. Gone are the days of just grabbing whatever is in the drawer without looking. Bring on the matching scarves and mismatched socks. The dresses with chucks. The nail polish to match the skirt. And taking an hour to dress before going out.
The old saying is don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want. I think the same applies. So when I talk about trying on skirts early on, it’s not just about clothes. It’s about trying on an identity. When I talk about painting my nails, it’s not just about looking feminine. It’s about feeling feminine whenever I look at my otherwise masculine hands.
Clothing is a form of armor against negativity. You have to put on your battle gear, whether a sparkly dress and heels or combat boots and a pair of comfortable jeans, if you want to fight like a grrrl.
PS – Dear female clothing designers, please make useful pockets.
Update: It took awhile, but everyone at work has been using my name. Most of them try to avoid pronouns now, but my boss finally asked my preference last week, and has been trying to get used to she/her. Hopefully it will rub off on everyone else.
Have a great holiday, and I will see you again the week after Christmas.