Dressing for No Gender

Identifying as a genderqueer person when your gender actually appears to be pretty clear-cut means living in a world where you may never feel 100% comfortable in your own skin. My body says to the world that I am very much female but inside I feel something like a mix of both genders, or maybe neither gender, or maybe some days I feel like a bit more of one or the other? It is hard to explain.

I have been this way my whole life and the hardest part has been finding a way to express this through the clothing I wear so that I can walk around feeling confident and comfortable. Unfortunately, the world we live in still has some outdated ideas about the way women should look and dress and that leaves me wishing every day for things to change. It leaves me…

Wishing my body was shaped for the clothes I want to wear. I wish I was shaped like all those good-looking boyish yet feminine model types. That’s the way I picture myself in my head, both handsome and beautiful. I want my outsides to match the way I feel inside. Alas, that will never be, because I am stuck with wider hips than I want and a butt and bust too big to be considered boyish. Nothing fits me right and I am often forced to settle for clothes that are not quite what I wanted but close, which somehow feels worse.

Wishing that the men’s and women’s clothing departments were right next to each other, or better yet, just one fucking department. This way I could mix and match better. Sometimes I like a shirt in the women’s department but I need to match it with some jeans in the men’s, or vice versa. Why must I walk all the way across the entire store, and sometimes traverse to a whole different floor, to buy what is essentially the same thing, clothing? Why does there even have to be men’s or women’s clothing departments, seems silly to me.

Wishing men’s jeans, shoes, and shirts were regularly sold in smaller sizes. I have met men that are just as short as me and I have no idea where they must get their clothing. It is a struggle for me to find shirts in a size small, jeans in the 32×32 range, and shoes in a size 6. I cannot tell you how many times I have found the perfect item of clothing only to be told: “They don’t make that in a size smaller than *insert size just above the one I am asking about*”. It’s heartbreaking.

Wishing the women’s clothes were made to be more practical, the way men’s are. What’s with the tiny, sometimes nonexistent, pockets? Why do all the coats stop at waist level? Why aren’t jean’s sold with a waist and an inseam size? Do people think women vary in size less than men do? Why don’t women have options like a slim or regular fit? Do people think women all want their clothing to fit in the same way? The women’s clothing section reeks of oppression and standards no one can achieve.

Wishing that it were easier to express to companies what it means to want to wear both men’s and women’s clothing. It’s like no one has told them that sometimes people are a little different and might not fit into this or that category as nicely as they want to believe. For example, for a while, I was receiving a monthly subscription box that sent cool gadgets, accessories, and clothing. I wanted nail polish but I also wanted men’s shirts. I wanted men’s jewelry but I also wanted the girly phone cases. There was no way to specify any of this when I initially signed up and I eventually had to cancel it. I was really bummed but I was getting a bunch of stuff I didn’t want or couldn’t wear. If they would have just added more options to the damn sign up form…

Wishing that the companies that made gender-neutral clothing were not charging an arm and a leg for it. I mean, yeah, I’m grateful that you have seen a need and intend to provide a product for people like me but don’t you know that poverty is more prevalent in the LGBT community than it is in the heterosexual/cisgender community? Why are you dangling a solution in front of my face and keeping it just out of reach? Maybe it is because the “androgynous look” has always been a part of “high fashion” and, therefore, a sin to provide to the lower classes.

Wishing everybody didn’t feel the need to tell me what I should wear or what they want me to wear. What people don’t understand is that telling me they think I would look really good if I wore women’s clothes is actually pretty insulting. When people (it’s always a group discussion held around me) start talking about what I should wear, usually dresses and skirts, or leggings, I feel like they are telling me that I look bad. Why else would they want me to wear something else? I don’t hear them telling the guys in the room to wear dresses or the women to wear a tuxedo, why do it to me?

Wishing more people understood what it means to be genderqueer. I rarely talk about the way I feel about my gender identity or expression. Most people I know either think I am making it more complicated than it needs to be or they just don’t get it, sometimes they think something is wrong with me. It’s easier to use female pronouns and use terms like “tomboy”, that’s as far as most people’s knowledge and comfort level can stretch.

When someone does get it, when they understand that for me gender almost means nothing at all, that I am perfectly fine having the parts I do but that they aren’t a part of who I am, it can be a great relief. It makes me feel like I am being really seen.

For most people their gender is a part of who they are, for other people being of no gender, or a mix of gender is very much a part of who they are too. Clothing manufacturers and retail stores need to understand that and make it easier for people like me to find what they need to dress in a way that makes them feel good. It is no small matter I assure you. It is not a matter of fashion, it is a matter of looking in the mirror and seeing someone you recognize. It is a matter of not seeing a version of yourself that feels so unlike you in every way.

It is a matter of being able to walk this earth feeling comfortable, confident, and complete.

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Published by

Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

8 thoughts on “Dressing for No Gender”

  1. “Wishing more people understood what it means to be genderqueer” – I think that’s the big problem. The majority of us do identify with one gender or another, and most with the gender that fits our parts. Since I was a kid people have grown to understand and accept sexual preference a lot more than they did. It’s still not there, but it’s happening. The same needs to happen with gender identities, people need to understand and accept it.

    All of that being said, the last time I bought jeans I decided to try both a size smaller, since I was thinner (31W, 32 L), and a slim cut, which I wore when I was a teen, instead of regular. Uhm, I think I found the pants you’re looking for – they were called “Mens”, but there was no room at all in them for the male anatomy. As I grumbled and tried on the 32X32 regulars I wondered who those pants were made for. I guess now I know ;)

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  2. Great thought provoking post. I hate to say it but I don’t believe these wishes could come true completely in our lifetime. Yes, it’s through that the fight for equality and understanding is way ahead now but there will always be people who refuse to accept that YOU are not your private parts. And sadly, they are the ones who make the rules. I’m also tired of hearing that men are men and women are women because it’s like saying there’s black and there is white and that’s it… Which is not true because the world had always had all the colors of the rainbow.

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  3. I wish the Creator didn’t have a gender, and then the Creator wouldn’t have a son, and so much gender politics could be dismissed with. I am firmly a male in body and mind, but I am a feminist, too, believing that patriarchal methods and ideals so often overwhelm common HUMAN feelings with “power issues” and male supremacy. I think some women long for a better way to be able to express THEIR power, without being labelled “Number Two.” Maybe “queer consciousness” is really a longing to get past gender stereotypes and like, maybe, be primarily a human being not identified with gender.

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  4. Yes to genderless clothing! And, being vertically challenged here in the USA, every pair of pants is 8 inches too long… I get “women’s” socks — not just because they’re more fun and colorful than boring “men’s” socks, but because they fit my tiny rodent feet. :-)

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    1. Nothing in this country is made for short people, I think they don’t want us to exist :/

      I buy “boys” socks because they fit and have superheroes on them :)

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