Monday, May 17, 2010
Remember the first day of your Intro to Women's Studies course where the gender neutral professor told you that the distinction between the categories of "male" and "female" was blurrier than you thought? Well, it seems that that textbook lesson is becoming more and more of a case study in the City (and elsewhere across the country).
New York Magazine (The Approval Matrix=the bestest) confirms my trans hunch with a great new mini-article about the FTM (female to male)/transman scene. The article spends some time with a few biological women who have transitioned into more masculine physiques by altering their physical appearances with hormones rather than surgery. Of course, as a fashion dork, my fascination lay less in their anatomical changes and more in their aesthetics. The idea of passing as a man is an interesting issue of dress. It usually involves markers of men that women don't naturally sport--like facial hair, biceps, sailor tattoos, and A-shirts with flannels.
Know that the movement is about much more than clothes, it's about living comfortably in a human body. But, I think a lot of fashion is about this same struggle of identity. Strip us down and we all have about the same stuff, but give us a closet to rifle through and we will start showing you who we think we are and how we want you to treat us.
So many people say they don't think about what they wear or about how they dress, yet it defines so much of who we are and where we belong and what we are saying about ourselves. The trans community is probably the most radically dressed population of all--they take even more risks than the heavily pierced, studded, goth kids people point at and call freaks. The trans community is playing with your sense of common categorization, of what we've all learned and taken for granted about being a man 0r a woman and therefore about being human in a culture that only recognizes the two. They call into question peoples' indoctrinated knowledge and open up new possibilities. New is scary to most. It takes bravery to do new.
And then sometimes brave takes a backseat to fun, fabulousness, and other things that start with an F. There's a lot of anti-labeling sentiment in the queer community. It's a move towards less politics and more living, less protesting and more...pageants. Yep, you heard me.
The Mr. Transman 2010 pageant was held the tail end of April and crowned the scene's new monarch.
Mr. Kit, who showed up for the eveningwear competition in footie pajamas, took the crown and the latex, um, "scepter". He beat out PBR swigging beatboxers, wrestlers, band leaders, and a few figurative baton twirlers. The competition was stiff, but ultimately the pageant was more about flirty fun for an emerging scene just looking to get some and live life. If that's not the human condition, I don't know what is.
All photos by Maro Hagopian for The Village Voice.