Over the last two years a bearded drag queen won and presented the Eurovision Song Contest, Olympic superstar Bruce Jenner became ‘Caitlyn’ and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine, transgender Youtube phenomenon Gigi Lazzarato presented Miley Cyrus on the 2015 VMA stage, &Other Stories launched an advertisement campaign shot by a 100% transgender team starring only trans models, the list goes on and on.
When reading all of this, you could say that the past two years were quite good eventful for the transgender and the Gender Non-conformingcommunity. It seems that everyone has become a lot more accepting when it comes to gender bending, dressing ‘differently’ or being transgender. But have they really? Does a big ‘transgender’ billboard on Times Square mean that all of a sudden everyonein New York is open-minded towards trans people? Are we suddenly all drag queen lovers because we watched Conchita Wurst perform at the Eurovision Song Contest? We became a little more tolerant yes, but unfortunately we’re far from a world full of acceptance. Let’s compare it to our relationship with big hairy spiders. We tolerate their existence, because we can’t kill them all, but we absolutely don’t want them in our house. So yes, everyone gets a little more tolerant towards being transgender, androgynous or simply being ’different’, but this doesn’t mean they will accept these people in their community or their life.
Last week during an afternoon shopping spree in Brussels a guy stopped me and told me he really liked my style. He then asked me where I got the sweater I was wearing that day. Without any shame I told him it was a Maison Martin Margiela sweater, more precisely from their women’s collection. I swear I could see the guy’s face turn purple at that moment. Within seconds his friends all started laughing at him for liking/wanting that woman sweater. The fact that about 60% of my wardrobe consists of women’s clothing has never bothered me, or anyone around me. Most of the time people don’t even realize I’m wearing a garment that was originally designed for women until I tell them myself, and even then it doesn’t seem to bother them. This was the first time someone made such a scene when he realised I was wearing women’s clothing, and it really made me think.
Guy’s think it’s sexy when girls wear their shirts or boxers ‘the morning after’. They would spend almost half of their monthly pay to buy an Acne sweatshirt that says “Please call me girl”, but try dressing them in a women’s Martin Margiela shirt and you’ll get war.
When I wear my black Cheap Monday t-shirtdress over some skinny jeans to a party in Brussels, (drunk) straight guys and girls tend to play with it and think it’s awesome. Wearing this dress-over-a-jeans outfit as a boy in the city centre in the middle of the day inspires a whole other reaction. People stare or sometimes even comment on my ‘outrageous’ outfit.
For a while, I stopped wearing things like this when going shopping with friends or when getting my groceries because of people and their opinions. A few days ago, I was wearing my Cheap Monday t-shirtdress when on my way to go get some drinks with a friend. A little boy came up to me in the streets and told me he liked my dress. The little guy looked about five years old so I didn’t really feel like I could start a whole conversation with him about boys wearing dresses and so on, so I just thanked him and to return the compliment I told him that I really liked his shoes. He then told me that at home he sometimes wears dresses too, and that he believes that if the girls in his class can wear pants, he can wear dresses too.
Could it really be as simple as that? 80 years ago pants were reserved strictly to those who possess the XY chromosomes – aka men. But along came Coco Chanel who started wearing pants because she wanted to feel the same comfort men were able to feel in their breezy pant So what if we all just start wearing whatever we feel like wearing, just like Chanel did? On that moment of toddler wisdom, I decided to never restrict myself or my outfits to other people’s opinions again. I decided that if I want to wear a belted shirt-dress over my jeans, I will.
Long story short, we still have a long way to go before we will accomplish 100% of acceptance. Who knows if we ever will? But if we all just start doing a little more of what we want to do, wearing what we want to wear and forgetting about other people’s opinions on our personal matters, I’m pretty sure the road to success will feel a little less boring and will pass a little faster than it would if we all just keep colouring between the lines.
To celebrate this way of thinking, we decided to team up with the H&M Belgian team to do a photoshoot that questions the gender restrictions in fashion, and the ‘clothing’ rules society teaches us as kids.
Written by Melvin Jonckers — Appeared on Studio Latckers in April ‘16