Monday, October 15, 2012

The Gender Queer Clothing Conundrum

I have a clothing conundrum.  I imagine most other gender queer or trans-identified folks who haven't undergone medical transition (and perhaps even some who have) can relate.  I like to wear masculine clothing.  I pretty much only wear men's pants and shirts.  I know that finding clothes that fit is a big issue for many in my boat.  I'm lucky in that I'm pretty flat-chested and reasonably tall, so it's not too hard to find things that fit right in that regard.  I'm unlucky in that I'm ridiculously scrawny and have essentially zero shoulders, making it hard to fill out even a size small men's shirt without having everything look really baggy.  Shoes are also a problem.  I have smallish to average-sized feet for a female, but very small feet for a guy, which means I'm usually limited to women's shoes.  This is fine for things like sneakers or running shoes, since those kinds of shoes often come in styles that are gender neutral.  It's harder for things like dressy shoes or, say, soccer cleats (I was sadly forced to settle for women's cleats with aqua-marine accents because my feet were too small for the black, red and white men's version.  At very least I was able to avoid the pink ones...).  I have yet to find a pair of men's shoes I like well enough to stick with, and that I think make me look like an adult (mostly when I put on the dress shoes I do have I feel like I'm 15).

But the real problem for me is not fit, it's being read as an adult.  Dressing up in general is a frequent issue since no matter what I do, or how sophisticated I think I look, or how I try to exude adult mannerisms, I get mistaken by somebody for a teenage boy.  My "fancy" outfits usually consist of nice pants, a button-down shirt, sometimes a skinny tie, and sometimes a sweater vest or jacket.  Without fail, I end up in a case of mistaken identity.  This past weekend, I went to my cousin's wedding dressed in gray dress pants, a slim-fitted button-down shirt, a gray sweater vest, and a pair of TOMS shoes.  I had a fresh haircut a la trendy metrosexual/urban dyke and was feeling like I was really rocking Ellen DeGeneres, not Justin Bieber.  Still, I was passed over by the wine pourer at dinner who assumed I was too young to drink.  Like totally, completely skipped.  She didn't even ask me if I was old enough.  Just.  Skipped.  Me. We had to get her to come back to pour me a glass.  This, after she poured my younger brother a glass without a word.  Now, my brother is 22, and easily looks it, but he didn't look nearly as put together as I did (no offense Drew - not sure if you read this...) and could just as easily pass for 18 or 19 as he could for his actual age.  Which I suppose says that I'm not even passing for even 18 or 19 - there might be some wiggle room for underage drinking at a wedding - but am being read as much younger.

So what do I do?  How do I confidently wear the clothes I am comfortable in while providing indication to others that I am an adult?  Is this possible, or do people just see what they see and I should just get used to this until I start to (thank god) go gray or get wrinkly?  Dykes, genderqueers, trans guys, please, I await your advice.