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on cross-dressing

So transvestism has been coming up in my life recently in some different ways. Until recently my notion of transvestism was limited to campy, comic drag and secretive men with women's-underwear fetishes. Growing up with internalized sexism that led me to disdain anything purposefully feminine, I took no interest in transvestism, and I have to admit I still have no interest in drag queen shows or, for example, DC's annual High Heel Drag Queen Race. But what I've come to realize is how limited that view of transvestism is, and there's a lot for me to like about it.*

One dimension of this realization is awareness of women transvestites. Years ago I'd watched Boys Don't Cry, a dramatization of a real-life incident of violence against a transman. Arguably that's off-topic since it was more to do with transsexuality than transvestism, but I'd had little or no exposure to women presenting as men either casually or as deeply-held identity, so that was something. More recently I watched the series Tipping the Velvet, the story of a woman in Victorian England who falls in love with and then herself becomes a male impersonator. She makes a really lovely boy. Prosthetic transvestism is another interesting topic. At the Queer Geeks panel at 28C3, willowbl00 explained (youtube) her practice of soft-packing when traveling by air in order to raise awareness among security officers and anyone just standing around at the security checkpoint. As for myself, I've just started trying out a stand-to-pee device at home, originally with the intent to use it when I'm camping or boating or otherwise somewhere without a toilet. But I can envision using it day-to-day, especially when I'm wearing something like overalls that are time-consuming to remove.

Another dimension of my increased awareness was exposure to feminist examples of male drag. The other day I saw the Iggy Pop quote, "I'm not ashamed to dress 'like a woman' because I don't think it's shameful to be a woman" and realized that male cross-dressing can be a feminist activity. Formerly I'd thought it was vaguely un-feminist because I perceived campy male drag as promoting an oppressive ideal of femininity. Last night's movie night featured a stand-up comedy routine by Eddie Izzard in drag, and I was super impressed. It's so rare for me to like, or even not cringe at, a stand-up comedian anymore.

* And not just because I've got a crush on a cross-dressing fellow of my acquaintance. But maybe a little because of it. :)

This entry was originally posted at http://bokunenjin.dreamwidth.org/33798.html.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2013 12:35 pm (UTC)
One time when I went to First Friday in Denver with a bunch of people, a group of men walked in in drag. They were fairly ordinary looking men wearing the type of floral print gowns that you expect to see on older ladies. They weren't wearing makeup and had not bothered to shave any facial hair. This was very different than drag performers upholding a standard of beauty that normal women cannot achieve.
Jun. 1st, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/05/03/hats-off-but-dresses-on-to-our-kurdish-feminist-brothers/ Kurd men dress in solidarity with man sentenced to wear dress for humiliation. Beautiful and fun constructive creative approach.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )