Today, we welcome Rick from Canada to Profiles of Beskirted Men!
What is your name?
Where are you from?
Which types of gender non-conforming clothing do you enjoy wearing?
I enjoy most of the so-called “feminine” clothing. Skirts, blouses, dresses, feminine-designed pants, lingerie, and shoes (boots, stilettos, flats, pumps, mary janes, sandals – I do have a soft spot for shoes, I have to confess).
When did you start wearing gender non-conforming clothing?
I had very small experiences in the past, but really started allowing myself to express my true preferences about two years ago.
How did you start wearing gender non-conforming clothing and why?
I’ve experimented out of curiosity many years ago and it felt right. Society/family pressures and probably my own prejudices stopped me for many many years. More recently, about 2 years ago, I decided to experiment again as I remembered that it was associated with a good feeling and I was in deep need of something that helped me feel good.
Well – it helped. I tried a few very discreet and simple non-conforming clothes and felt good. I felt beautiful. I felt myself. I felt that I was finally being able to express my true colors.
What is your motivation now for putting on gender non-conforming clothing?
After a long soul-searching, I started accepting that I could feel beautiful. I used to hide under gender conforming, quite neutral clothes with the unconscious objective of really hiding my true self. I felt that I was a physically ugly person, and the best way to not attract any attention to myself was to hide behind the grayness of gender conforming clothing.
Once I finally mustered up the courage to experiment again, I found beauty and lightness. I found color and ultimately found a confidence that was probably always within me, but suffocated by the prejudices and fears of really expressing myself.
Today my motivation for putting on gender non-conforming clothes is to really express who I am, to really use the confidence that this expression brings to be a happier, lighter, and more centered person.
What do gender non-conforming clothes mean to you?
They help me translate my personality into a true outward expression.
How often do you wear gender non-conforming clothing?
I use gender non-conforming clothes daily now.
Do you go out in public dressed in gender non-conforming clothes? If not, why not? If so, how often and where do you go? Are there any places you wouldn’t go?
I do go out in gender non-conforming clothes daily. I do all my life activities in gender non-conforming clothes for the last year or so. Shopping, work, relaxing with family, errands… Everything.
I do change quite a bit the fierceness needle. For example, I don’t go to work on pumps, skirts, or dresses, which I use more rarely (couple’s weekends with my wife, for example, or sometimes for errands). For work I use feminine blouses/shirts and feminine pants, with high-heeled boots or flats/moccasins. I always add a few accessories (bracelets, necklaces or chains, rings) that vary in fierceness level too according to my mood and to the activities I am doing. Again, for work I keep the accessories to a more subtle level, but always non-conforming.
I am lucky to live in Canada, a very tolerant/diverse country, so I don’t have particular places that I wouldn’t go dressed in gender non-conforming clothes around here. I do have to travel for work and I envision some places that I wouldn’t go dressed in my usual non-conforming wardrobe (ie certain states in the USA, the Middle East, certain countries in Central/South America, certain Asian countries). Of note, I’ve been to a few countries since starting to use gender non-conforming clothes and used them there with no issues whatsoever (a couple South American countries, and a few USA northeastern states).
Do you find it hard to go out in public in gender non-conforming clothes?
Not today. However there is always a certain degree of apprehension when going to new places, or using newer, fiercer clothes. I believe that there is a component of adrenaline associated with this and it actually probably helps with the experience of being more confident and feeling good.
This is not to say that it was not insanely hard in the beginning. It took me months to find the courage to use a simple, yet obviously non-conforming, blouse to work, for example. Then another long chunk of time to experiment with dresses and skirts for initially short outings…
What is your best and/or worst experience in gender non-conforming clothes?
I am having difficulties finding a best experience. I honestly feel quite good using gender non-conforming clothes, so I would say that all experiences are good.
With regards to “worst” experiences… Well… There are always the looks… The inquisitive/curious looks are usually respectful and innocent in nature, not really bothering me. The disapproval looks are bad and sometimes bother me. They are usually accompanied by very exaggerated facial expressions to make sure that I actually notice the disapproval… These irritate me, and I am still not completely immune to them, as much as I try to ignore. What really bothers me with those is the WHY… WHY would it matter to anyone how I am dressed? I am not naked… I am not in any way directly affecting the person who is taking the time to look at me, judging how I am dressed, checking this against their own prejudices and misconceptions, and then deciding that they disapprove of how I dress… It simply does not make sense… And since I tend to be a very practical and matter of fact person, actions that are devoid of sense irritate me.
My “worst” experience (which was not terrible by any means – and I know of people that had horrible experiences that even included physical aggression) was in a smaller Canadian city during a weekend trip in which I was experimenting with more fierce so-called feminine clothes and was walking with my wife, even handholding, but dressed on a skirt and blouse with lovely pumps. I was verbally attacked by a passerby (seemed to be a homeless person) that was quite offended about how I was dressed. We continued on our way and the guy screamed for a while and finally stopped. Nothing really happened, but I felt vulnerable. That also got me thinking about how difficult it is for non-conforming people in less tolerant places, and how lucky I am to live in a place where I can express myself in any way I want and the “worst” experience I had was with some rude words thrown at me. I can’t complain.
Do your family or friends know about how you dress?
The short answer is yes.
In varying levels, but yes. Not everyone has seen me in a dress or skirt. But all my family and friends have seen me in non-conforming clothes, shoes, accessories and with my nails done. My closer friends and family members know it all, and I got an incredible support from them – significantly stronger than I ever expected.
Are there people you don’t want to know about it?
I just didn’t yet feel the need to share the whole of it with everyone, but I believe that this is a matter of time.
Does your partner accept your clothing choices?
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!
My lovely wife accepts my clothing choices and is my greatest support. She was the first person in the world with whom I ever discussed this, and since the first day she totally supported me and is my rock. She is also a great fashion advisor!
What is your favorite style?
I always joke that there must be a (skinny) teenager girl living inside my brain, as if I could, I would use their clothes… LOL… But in real life (and being a realistic 45 year old, definitely not skinny, bearded man) I tend to gravitate towards business attire for most of the time, and more classic, yet colorful elegant dresses and skirt/top combinations. With skirts and dresses, I prefer pieces with some flare, and on the mid-height range (just above or just below the knee).
Where do you shop for your clothes?
In addition to being an heterosexual cis male, I am a large one. So finding non-conforming clothes that fit me was initially not easy. I’ve tried online, but it proved to be quite complicated.
I do shop a lot at thrift stores (however finding large sizes is definitely a lottery), but after a gentle push from my wife I mustered the courage to shop at regular stores too, and the experiences have been great. Torrid and Pennington’s are both excellent and treat me with respect every single time I go (and I’ve been to several different units of both chains, so it seems to me that they are corporately supportive/respectful). I found nice pieces at The Bay, TJ Max (USA), Nordstrom, and even Old Navy, but for my reality, sizes are frequently a problem.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In fact, yes.
After many many hours of searching and learning about my interest in gender non-conforming clothing through the years, I’ve noticed that there is a part of the crossdressing population that has a very sexualized, fetishistic approach to the clothing. As much as I do sincerely respect any forms of sexual expression and honestly advocate for people to be happy, I feel that it is important to emphasize that this sexualized, fetishistic approach is not the only one in existence. It seems that there is a skewed view of crossdressing in the sense that all people that use gender non-conforming clothes do so from a sexual point of view, as “means to an end” with the end being sex. This is not true. There is a whole group of crossdressers or people that don’t identify as such and simply use gender non-conforming clothes that do so only because they like it.
Like me, many others like the fabric options, the limitless cuts and forms, the way the clothes fit, the colors and patterns… Many of us really simply like the clothes for what they are and what they bring to their own image, without necessarily connecting this to sex or fetish.
Moreover, there seems to be a common misconception that we want to be female, or to trick people into believing we are females. This is very far from the truth for many of us – including myself. We don’t want to be females and we don’t want to “trick” anyone. We use certain clothes because we feel good and beautiful in them.
We also don’t feel that we are females trapped in women’s bodies, as we are not trans. I am sure that some of us will eventually discover that they are indeed trans and crossdressing was a step in the discovery journey…. But this is not a mandatory pathway.
The beauty of all this lies on RESPECTING THE DIVERSITY. I do respect all beings, and make an effort to spread this word whenever I can. Cis, trans, straight, gay, crossdresser, gender-conforming, gender non-conforming, bisexual, demisexual, asexual, drag, person crossdressing only for sex… Whatever group or groups one belongs to deserve full, unwavering respect and support.
In those crazy times we currently live, when diversity is being attacked in so many levels and from so many directions, supporting all diverse expressions is an act of courage and RESPECT.
Thank you for sharing, Rick!