Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cross-dressing

We live in a strange old world. A world with flashing traffic lights and glass windows and ticking clocks and simple light-switches and extended noun phrases. All these inventions, bizarre when viewed objectively, but that help us get by in day to day life. Not everything is so useful, though. Traffic lights control transport, windows regulate heat, clocks keep the time, light-switches make it easier to see what you're doing. But is there any real need for make-up, for art, for puzzles and posters? Well, art and posters are for enjoyment and viewing, and make-up to make you look "nice", and puzzles to challenge your mind, but there's no inherent need for them. We could survive without them for sure.

But that doesn't mean people won't still play the necessity card when they hear about someone cross-dressing.

A month or two ago now, my wonderful friend and I walked into Fareham, and with her assistance, I bought two very girly tops, and a bra. I then took these home and started wearing them now and again. Just yesterday, I went out in public for the first time in the lovely pink top.

My mother is a very, very open-minded person, and would never reject me for what I do or who I am, but she really, visibly struggled to understand this. She said she'd accept me no matter what, and I believe her, but she just doesn't get why I do it. And a lot of other people don't either, only they're less tactful about it. Truth is, I don't know why, really. I partly want to embrace femininity, I partly wanted to try it, and I partly wanted to challenge conventions, but I can't say which is more dominant.

But the very fact that people say anything at all is an object of curiosity, to be placed on a glass podium and viewed from every angle. Just why is cross-dressing so heavily discriminated against, anyway?

We may live in the 21st century, but that doesn't mean people don't still expect you to conform to your gender roles, because they do. It's not such a big deal for women, who can get away with wearing guy's clothes, holding hands with women and even kissing women and not attract any labels or slander. But guys? Oh boy. Just last Thursday I was actually reduced to tears by my Karate instructor when he criticised, of all things, the way I stand (one leg crossed over the other in a somewhat feminine stance.) He's from a time when it was essential that men preserve their masculinity, which we still see today.

It seems that people fear the very essence of masculinity being corrupted, and so try to stop it wherever they see it. Or possibly, they're just like my mother and don't understand it. That's reasonable enough. But the way people are acting is not. We are allowed our freedom of expression, and that holds true in our choice of clothing. In an ideal world, nobody would be persecuted for exploring their gender identity. I don't consider myself a transvestite, I don't see any need for the label, but if I did and even if not I still have the right to be.

The taboo on men is really quite a powerful one. It's why you don't see men holding hands that much, why some guys swagger and grow body hair and other "manly" things, and certainly why you don't see that many male cross-dressers. It's a sad thing, that people are so scared of what they don't understand that other peoples freedom of expression is sacrified as a consequence.

I just hope that one day gender conformity, like male chauvinism, peters out into oblivion.

1 comment:

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