Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Politics of Appearance and Personal Expression

Well, as appearance can be such a political topic, as personal expression seems to cause such a stir these days especially when it comes to transgender and people who do not fit the neat binary gender catagories or for that matter when it comes to Goth and related subcultures I suppose
pictures will speak strongly as well as words... so this is me.

So there we go. Eyeliner on the tame side perhaps compared to some days. Passable or not? That is in the eye of the beholder.. I have passed as female when in masculine expression and I have failed to pass and yet received compliments on my appearance at the time when in this style of feminine presentation. Pretty or beautiful or attractive or not? Again the eye of the beholder.. I have my admirers and those who disagree with them.

:) this is my 'uh-uh' pic at a friends suggestion which indeed is their favourite pic of me. Note the fingernails like the hair are real. They are rarely not painted and at the time these pics were taken were uncommonly short. At this time I have only been out in my town with this degree of feminine presentation in small amounts, it is a rural town after all so I'm taking my coming out slowly with an emphasis on safety.

Here are my nails at a little closer to the normal length I tend to keep them at. Note the cute goth nail-art :) The other hand had little skull-and-crossbones with love-heart shaped eyesockets. My nails are not like this for crossdressing. They looked just the same whether I wore pants or a skirt (and these nail-art decals have come down in price recently too!)

And here it is... my 'male' presentation. Masculine enough? Handsome? Again some have said yes, others no. This is generally my ordinary look for a days shopping. Only I might have purple lips or red nails and other colours and often I'll have more eyeliner than the first two pics and in this summer heat the great coat stays home. But here is one of my main points. While I have failed to pass in the presentation of the top pic i have passed for female unintentionally dressed as a male like in this pic, even without any makeup and even on those rare times my nails have been short and unpainted.
For those obsessed with the bathroom nonsense from a binary gender perspective, this is how i look every week when I do my shopping and have to use the mens public toilet.
I am not conforming to others expectations. Many days I fit in even more between these two. Some times I may have a couple days of beard growth when my skin is playing up and I can't shave daily or when i'm too exhausted. I don't just wear black but colour too. I don't dress as a Goth to fit into a crowd as I did it when I was the only out Goth in town. Nor did I do it to rebel either. I go from colour and t-shirts through to picking up pizza in a top hat, brass cane and lace cuffed shirt, satin vest and cloak.
My looking different causes no-one any harm. It infringes no-one's rights. My gender non-conformity is no threat to others lives or rights. How I feel inside, my gender identity certainly doesn't match most stereotypes or assumptions of crossdressers though it's common enough amongst the ones I've spoken to. Same with my style of gender expression, neither mockery or exaggeration nor fetishistic nor an attempt to blend in.
The only threat that comes from my appearance is that of all diversity, of freedom, of someone disobeying unjust rules and not conforming to expectations or neat little boxes or catagories.
That's not a bad thing, it's a good thing!
The notion of required conformity is the enemy of all liberty and all justice. All ethical difference, all variations that respect the rights of others are automatically good no matter how unusual or unpopular and any restrictions or condemnations of ethical difference are unjust unreasonable and a threat to everyones equality and fair treatment.
So there is me. As Man? As Woman?
Most importantly as Human.

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