Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This IS Who I Am, and This IS Okay

So at this point, I think we've all seen the "We're a Culture, Not a Costume" series of pictures, since they've been around since 2011. That's old news, but because it's Halloween the usual, tired, predictable onslaught of nagging lectures by mirthless harridans about what we aren't allowed to wear has raised its ugly head again.

Only this time, the harridans have managed to top themselves, because this year it has been screechily decreed that little white girls cannot dress as Moana, because that's culural appropriation, but neither can they dress as Elsa from Frozen, because that promotes "white beauty".

No, I'm not making that up, although I wish I were. I wonder if said screeching harridan happens to practice yoga, drinks tea or coffee, or enjoys Asian food? If so, someone really ought to tell her what a shitlady she is. But while that article was the impetus behind this post, it isn't why I'm writing. I just want to tell you one thing:
If you want to experiment with crossdressing this Halloween, go ahead. It is not offensive. 
No, really. I truly mean this. I'm transgender, so I am technically a crossdresser, which means I'm allowed to tell you that this is who I am, and that this is okay. Not only do I not think you're mocking women, crossdressers or transwomen, I think it's great that you'd do this! Hell, the first time I went out in public in women's clothing was on Halloween, and for "deniability" -- i.e. because I was afraid people would take it the wrong way -- I wore a full beard with my witch's costume and told people "The spell must have gone wrong."

Needless to say, that night went really well for me, and I received lots of lovely compliments on my costume (and my bravery), and it turned into an Oleg Volk photoshoot which ultimately led to me believing that I could indeed pass as female if I just put in the work -- a belief which has since been vindicated.

So if you think you might be transgender, or just have a crossdressing fetish, go ahead and crossdress for Halloween. It's the one time of the year where you can get away with it safely, so indulge. Find out if this is the life for you. If it's not, you can laugh it off by saying it was a silly Halloween thing that you got talked into/ you lost a bet/ you were drunk and thought it was a good idea at the time.

If you aren't transgender or have an urge to crossdress in public, and are just wearing a woman's costume for laughs, guess what? That's okay too. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun or funny or silly, and a lot of people get a laugh out of seeing men in drag. So if you want to pour your macho bearded self into a sassy, sexy little outfit, more power to you and I can almost promise that at least one woman will sincerely compliment you on how you look. Maybe they'll say you have nice legs, or a cute ass (I'm not kidding here, women go crazy over men in kilts, and my kilt-wearing friends get these compliments all the damn time), or maybe they'll tell you that you make a really attractive woman.

That last one, by the way, is NOT the emasculating insult you might feel it to be; it's actually a very large, very honest compliment. Interpret it as "I know you're a dude and you STILL look pretty (and possibly even prettier than me)! That's amazing and kind of not fair."

I must confess, however, that I posses an ulterior motive for encouraging people to crossdress this Halloween, and it's this: The more people do it, the more it's normalized by society. It used to be scandalous for women to wear trousers, because those were men's clothes; now they do it all the time, and no one thinks twice about it. I think it's terribly unfair that women can dress like men and no one blinks an eye, but the moment a man puts on a skirt and heels he's mocked and his sexuality and gender are called into question.

It helps me in the same way that wearing a bindi helps Neetu Chandak. As she says in her "Cultural Appreciation, Not Appropriation" article:
Growing up in a small, predominantly white town where my culture was not well known, I encouraged others to wear Indian inspired accessories, including the bindi, and to try Indian food. It helped build awareness about my culture and created a sense of unity.

I’ve seen first-hand on my campus that many people who are actively against cultural appropriation are not of the cultures that they claim are being appropriated. In doing so, they advocate for restrictions on the behavior of people like me — who actively encourage others to be involved in my culture.

How ironic considering they claim to be promoting the rights of minorities and immigrants through this “crusade” while also domineering them and telling them what opinions they can and can’t have.
So go ahead, get your drag on. Have a good time, laugh, strike ridiculous poses while throwing the duckface for selfies. The only words of caution I give you are these: You might discover that you like how it feels, and want to do it again.

And if you do? Welcome to the community. 

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