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How Style Connects to Gender Identity and Expression

I am queer and trans, and my pronouns are He/They. Realizing that I could be fluid in my expression went hand in hand with realizing the fluidity of my identity, and the labels of queer and trans that I’ve landed on feel so freeing.

Gender Identity is defined as how someone experiences their gender internally, while Gender Expression is how someone expresses their gender, which can be through things such

as their clothes and behaviors.

Growing up, I never saw anyone like me. I didn’t know about queer identities other than gay until middle school, and I didn’t know about trans people at all until high school, and not any that I could relate to until sophomore year. I’ve felt drawn to feminine fashions ever since I was a kid. I grew up on “Project Runway” and had a sketchbook where I would sketch dresses with deep necklines and mini skirts paired with crop tops and chunky boots. I was so excited to be grown up enough to wear outfits like the ones I designed. Everything changed for me in High school; as I became aware of different identities and learned about myself, I struggled a lot with my style. I realized I was queer my sophomore year and then that I was trans by junior year. This was the start of a whole new part of my fashion journey.

Realizing I was queer led me to express myself in more fun ways, wearing things I had always wanted to but had been too insecure to before. I’d never really done that before. However, realizing I was trans really threw me for a loop. I felt like I had to prove myself as being trans because I hadn’t loved masculine things my whole life like the media had taught me I should. I tried to bind and dress hypermasculine for a while and it made me question a lot because I hated it but I felt like I was supposed to enjoy it.

I kind of hit a point where I was like, "why am I doing this?" I realized that I needed to look in the mirror and see all of myself in my presentation. That vulnerability has been so necessary in my self growth and confidence.

These past few months I have felt more me and more confident than I have in my whole life.

I would describe my current style as “morning after core.” Right now I’m really into black, white, and baby pink, loose ties and button downs, smudged makeup, lingerie (always), and heavy layering. I love mixing masculine and feminine, and I see my style as representative of who I am. Just like me, my style is ever-changing, sexy, messy, and queer.

It’s been an ongoing struggle to embrace my femininity because of these stereotypes. I am endlessly grateful for the people in my life that have always supported me and made me feel seen. From those of y’all from high school that supported me all along my journey, to the gorgeous trans people in my life that continue to inspire and amaze me - you mean the world to me. I would not be where I am today without the work I’ve put in and your support and existence.

Photos by Mark Bluemle

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