This question makes me think about who I was growing up—how I acted, how I moved. I didn’t know how to present myself through clothing, so I often felt restricted in my expression. Not knowing how to dress made trips to the mall hard. Standing between sections at stores felt like I was literally being asked to decide—to choose who I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to (or want to) handle that. By the time I got to high school, my masc side manifested itself in this like, almost “agro” way of walking and talking.
When I moved away for college and started meeting people and dating, there was kind of this moment when I started really seeking out who I wanted to be, clothing wise, instead of just doing what I thought I was supposed to.
Picking what I wanted to wear became a daily ceremony. “What am I going to put on this body to make myself feel okay?”
As I started to accept that I could present as masculine, my femininity emerged. And that had entirely to do with being more playful through clothing. My friends and I would get together and play dress up, putting on whatever felt right. It showed me that dressing like a boy doesn’t mean you have to act like a fool. I’ve been very lucky to have a community of like, straight and queer people who get that.
The tea is that this world is hard, and we’re all just trying to figure things out. When it comes to gender and dating, it gets even harder. Clothes can be your armor. So, If you’re someone who’s stuck between aisles hoping they don’t get it wrong: embrace play within companionship. Find people who don’t judge you for not knowing who you are yet and ask them to play dress up—literally! For me, dressing up counteracted that toxic masculinity that all butch non-binary, and trans people have to fight against. Besides, isn’t this presentation thing all dress up and drag, anyway.
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