Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Patrick Gray, who also wears skirts. Here he writes about his own journey to wearing gender non-conforming clothing such as skirts and what they mean to him as a person.
The world is challenging traditional gender norms and the significance of gender non-conforming clothing has become something of an ascendant star. As someone who neither identifies as transgender nor cisgender, I have embarked on a bit of a journey to embracing clothing that defies societal expectations. This article explores the empowering experience of wearing what brings me comfort.
Before we continue, I will be using the term “gendern’t” quite a bit. “Gender Non-Conforming” is unpleasantly a mouthful and the portmanteau/contraction of “not gendered” into gendern’t makes me laugh. So, I will use it. I also want to say that these opinions are my own and I have all the respect in the world for people who thrive when suffering for fashion’s sake. Fashionable people are lovely and have earned my respect and admiration. Why, some of my best friends are fashionable.
Defy Authenticity, Embrace Comfort
My journey into gendern’t clothing began with a desire to find comfort in my attire. Society has long imposed rigid expectations on what is considered appropriate for each gender, often neglecting the importance of personal comfort. Are you an uncomfortable boy or an uncomfortable girl? Are you wearing the too-small skinny jeans or the too-short skirt? The first time I asked myself “Do I even like wearing pants?” was a revelation. After walking nine miles through the city in weather not appropriate for shorts but not comfortable in jeans, I was ready to really consider my options. I thought of perhaps buying a kilt at first. Kilts are not super common in Seattle, where I live, but not unheard of either. Then I started asking the question that has undone so many of us. “What exactly is the difference between a skirt and a kilt anyway?” The veil fell, of course, and the moment I stopped seeing gender in clothing I started seeing just how diverse the range of clothing options is. Clothing that could truly resonate with me.
The pursuit of comfort led me to garments traditionally restricted to a different gender. As I donned these clothes, I discovered a newfound sense of comfort and, god help me, a bit of authenticity that went beyond the merely physical. It became about aligning my outward expression with my inner self, embracing a style that truly reflected who I am, and being comfortable in doing so.
Seriously, spend a day in a long cotton skirt and tell me pants are the more sensible or reasonable garment for anything but physical labor.
Challenging Stereotypes and Inspiring Individuality
One of the most fulfilling aspects of embracing gendern’t clothing has been the ability to challenge preconceptions while displaying my individuality. By defying societal expectations, I have introduced the idea to others that “you, yes YOU, are allowed to color outside of the lines!” Maybe seeing me helps you realize you can have a big bushy beard and a long flowing skirt and that’s fine! Maybe seeing me inspires you to carry a purse. Maybe it makes you want to wear a men’s shirt despite having breasts. It isn’t just about challenging stereotypes for men, or just for women, but doing away with the hilarious notion that clothes are for one type of person or another. Unless the garment needs to fit a specific set of genitals, it perhaps doesn’t matter so much who is wearing what.
Through my fashion choices, I seek to casually challenge prevailing norms and biases, encouraging others to question and redefine their own understanding of gender expression. This act of defiance – though incredibly small – is an affirmation of my identity, allowing me to fully embrace who I am and express myself without compromise.
Navigating Misconceptions and Finding Acceptance
While embracing gendern’t clothing has brought me comfort, it is not without its challenges. Society’s general lack of understanding and acceptance often leads to misconceptions and prejudice. Throughout my journey, I have encountered moments of judgment and questioning from others, as societal norms struggle to comprehend expressions that transcend traditional gender boundaries. I’m not a “man in a dress”, I’m a me in a dress. I’m not “a woman with a beard”, I’m a me with a beard.
Despite these hurdles, the comfort I find in being true to myself has given me the strength to navigate through these challenges. Additionally, communities like this one that celebrate diverse expressions of gender identity, connecting with like-minded individuals who understand the significance of personal comfort and authenticity has provided comprehensive solace and support.
A Call for a More Inclusive Future
As we strive for a more inclusive society, it is crucial to recognize that gendern’t clothing extends beyond specific identities. The freedom to wear what brings us comfort should be embraced by all, irrespective of gender or identity. By broadening our understanding of personal expression, we can create a world that values individual comfort and authenticity, challenging the limitations imposed by societal expectations.
My journey (🤢) to embracing gendern’t clothing has been a transformative experience, enabling me to prioritize both comfort and authenticity with defying societal expectations as a fun bonus. As we progress toward a more inclusive future let us acknowledge that personal comfort is essential, and fashion choices should not be restricted by gender norms. Embracing gendern’t clothing allows us to celebrate our uniqueness and find liberation in expressing our most-cozy and relaxed selves.