A letter to my cross-dressing pen-pal

Dear B,
I’m actually quite torn about which of your alternates I like best. I think Brianna, maybe, but Brandy is cool since it’s closer to your male name, female, and also an alcohol. Hmm.

I actually decided to go with all three names (Elle/El/L) dependent on my gender at a given moment. Today it’s El. Usually it’s Elle, sometimes, if I’m in-between, it’s L. I like the versatility, and the simultaneous unity of pronunciation. It’s a metaphor. I’m in my guy mode again today. Upon reflection, I think I need to look in the boys dress clothing section, and also for jeans/trousers. Men’s small is still a bit too large. *Sighs* this clothing thing is a pain in the ass.

Seriously, I think we should all be able to shape-shift back and forth and between sexes. Or at least have timeshare options…

Regarding existing in a comfortable box: I think the most valuable thing I have learned so far in life is when to cut my losses and move on to something I really need. As described harshly, but gorgeously here. I can’t get enough of this stupid comic… it’s so good. Going to a therapist can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to find a different one if this one is not helpful.

Regarding your concern about being a “pervert” or “sexual deviant” I had a few thoughts:

First- what does that mean to you? What is a pervert? Why is it bad to be one? Just think about your own understanding of the word, and why it is something to be concerned about. Same with “sexual deviant.”

Then consider: is your behavior harmful to you or anyone else? Genuinely? How so? Does your behavior go against your values in some serious way? What values? Where did you learn these values? Are they still relevant to your life? Should they be?

Please feel free to send me your thoughts on these questions, I’d be very curious to hear them.

Perhaps a more useful question is “Why don’t more people wear exactly what they want?” The term “cross-dressing” itself assumes that there is actually a valid line to be crossed. As I think I mentioned before, it’s generally OK for women to wear more masculine clothing (though presenting as men, binding our breasts and cutting our hair is still not as acceptable) largely because it supports the male-powered status-quo. Yes, female and male bodies are different, and clothing serves to accommodate and emphasize those differences, but what does it matter if ‘boys’ want to be pretty and ‘girls’ want to be handsome?

A well-known gender scholar presented at the University the other day and made a really interesting comment. She looked around the room and said “I don’t see two people here of the same gender.” And I think she had a point. Rejecting our tidy male/female man/woman binaries can go beyond creating more segments. What if gender is the intersection of thoughts, experiences, presentation, emotion, and relationships? She also asked “are you the same gender with your peers as you are with your parents?” Which I found fascinating.

We are all social chameleons, fitting into situations and relationships, often without thinking about it. Even when identifying as a “woman” I wear different clothing to the auto-shop than I wear to school, different clothing to the ranch than to a club. My behavior, and likely my gender presentation, is distinctly different in each of those scenarios. Being feminine is not a one-dimensional experience, nor is being masculine. What if those who identify as genderqueer, trans, genderfluid, crossdressers, all simply have a more nuanced sensitivity (and acceptance) to their own capacity to be fully human, and not be held completely by the socially acceptable gender constructs?

Before they learn the “rules” of gender, kids wear things because they feel right, because they feel most comfortable, because they are authentic to who the kid is at that moment. Adults seem to trip over themselves when their desires clash with what is expected. Yes, society and it’s developed ‘norms’ has many functions and uses, and it is important to navigate it, to know the rules. However, as Picasso supposedly said:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Alright, that’s enough food for thought I suppose. I should go work instead of creating the gender-creative manifesto.

El (for the moment)