In the process of creating a roadmap that dapperQ will use to advance the cause of those “transgressing men’s fashion,” I am drafting wide-ranging content that states a collective case, defines options, and advances change. This first piece seeks to identify our top challenges. I am not wed to the order, the language, nor the ideas. I am well aware of the limitations of my perspective as a 47-year old white, butch, Texan, and can only beg your input. It will be revised based on your feedback.
1. Internalized homophobia. The world says girls should act like girls and when we don’t, a lot of folks get angry. Few are those who affirm us. It’s hard to worry about the nuances of your fashion decisions when self-esteem is constantly battered by the masses.
2. Limited options. Fact is, men’s clothes don’t fit our bodies. Fit is one of the most important elements of style and we’ve rarely had the option of buying clothes that do.
3. Psychic discomfort. Whether we experience gender dysphoria or self-loathing because we are too tall/short/big/little, dressing can be a reminder of challenging realities.
4. Unwelcoming marketplace. Fact is, most department stores don’t want our business. Either sales people treat us poorly or they fail to offer to help. Many department stores insist that we go to the women’s department to try on clothes. (Can you send down to floor below for a size 15 ½ x 33 with the taupe pinstripe?)
5. Stilted family tradition. Our fathers and uncles didn’t want to or simply didn’t think to teach us. While taste may be inborn, fashion sense is acquired. Rare are those male elders who have shared the ways that they adapt fashion to richly align with cultural, ethnic and class traditions.
6. Outdated maps. Style guides abound for the man who wants to dress fashionably. They are augmented by gorgeous ads in glossy mags whose websites feature an increasing wealth of resources. We are stranded in what one dapperQ reader called a “sartorial wasteland.”
7. Rare role models. WE ARE LARGELY INVISBLE. The mainstream does not enjoy seeing us. Lesbian magazines predominantly feature woman who wear women’s clothes. None of them are Andre 3000. Even if your sense of style aligns with one of a handful of celesbian dapperQ’s, you would be hard-pressed to know how they do what they do.
8. Bigger fish to fry. Implications for suiting up as a gender rebel can range from job and housing discrimination to street violence to death. Those who escape these fates are often far too busy fighting within the social justice movement or raising good kids to worry about how they dress.
9. Little societal affirmation. What’s the motivation if rare is the glance that rewards?
10. Unwoven community. We are a tribe that was cast to the winds before we met. In the past decade, what I call a “transgenderational” divide has emerged between the elders and those that must follow. It is we who must help each other suit up to fight the good fight.
Feel free to leave comments below or e-mail me ([email protected]) If you would like to start from scratch with your own version (so long as it is written in accessible language and inspires rather than snarks.) I would love to publish alternatives. The next document will be: Top 10 Rewards. I also welcome your suggestions for formats that might more productively incorporate feedback i.e. wikis, forums, teleconference calls. Til soon, I hope…