On Friday, November 13th, 26-year-old singer Harry Styles became the first man to land a solo cover of Vogue, wearing a Gucci gown front-and-center for the December issue. “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing,” Styles told Vogue.
While challenging traditional gender norms and expressing himself through fashion should be celebrated, the fanfare should be examined through an intersectional lens, as author, performer, speaker, and [email protected] Alok V Menon pointed out on Instagram.
“Harry Styles is the first non-woman to appear solo on the cover of American Vogue…let alone wearing a dress! In one of the pics he is outfitted by gender fluid designer @harris_reed !
A lot of people have been asking me what I think about it and I’ll say this: I am holding simultaneity and choosing abundance over scarcity.
Am I happy to see Harry be celebrated for openly flouting gendered fashion norms? Yes. Do trans femmes of color receive praise for doing the same thing every day? No.
Do I think this is a sign of progress of society’s evolution away from binary gender? Yes. Do I think that white men should be upheld as the face of gender neutral fashion? No.
It’s a curious thing this: holding space for joy, while also insisting on a more expansive form of freedom.
We can both acknowledge this unprecedented moment while also remembering that it could only happen because of the resistance of trans femmes of color. We who for decades were imprisoned by cross-dressing legislation.
Make no mistake: trans femmes of color started this and continue to face the backlash from it. Our aesthetics make it to the mainstream, but not our bodies. We are still dismissed as “too much” and “too queer” because we aren’t palatable enough to whiteness and heteronormativity.
Is that Harry’s fault? No. It’s the fault of systems of transmisogyny and racism.
I want a world where everyone — regardless of their gender — can wear whatever they want. He is exercising that and giving permission for other people to do the same and that makes me so happy!! I can both celebrate that and be cautious about the politics of representation.
I truly hope that more trans femmes of color will be given roses, covers, recognition. I hope that people will remember that what is manifest in a magazine does not necessarily materialize on a moving train: when it’s you against transphobia with no one to defend you. I hope I can work with Harry and all people of all genders to #degenderfashion and create a world beyond the gender binary.”
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