Clothes, THEY Matter

By Ace Murphy

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What is identity? Is it your name? Where you're from? How you talk? How you dress? It's a combination, isn't it? For trans and nonbinary people it's a bit more complicated than our names and pronouns. Clothes are like pronouns to many trans and nonbinary individuals. They matter, as much as pronouns.

The thing that cis people seem to take for granted most is clothing. You almost always exclusively dress like the gender you were assigned at birth. Wear typically “gendered” colors. All that stuff. But for those of us who fall out of the binary, clothes are slightly more complex. Especially if you were assigned female at birth and need to get binders.

Nonbinary people are the same as cis (you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth) people. We both buy what makes us comfortable. A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to put together a look. But I'm trying to put together an identity. In my case, even though I present more masculine, I always need to consider safety. Will this make me a target today? Am I too “gay”? Am I too feminine?  I still vividly remember the night I got homophobic remarks in public for dressing up and throwing on a bowtie. It was the first time in ages I felt good about myself too. I was walking into a gas station and I just froze with fear. I didn't leave for a good 20 to 30 because I was worried about what they would do to me. That's an unfortunate fact faced by many trans and nonbinary people. We get attacked verbally and physically for being ourselves, daily. Just because we're different doesn't mean we're not human.

As someone who's just come to terms with my non binary identity, I've been trying dress more how I want. Find a new look since I'm a “new person”. In my case that's slowly going from more masculine (based on society's standards) to androgynous. I started with my hair. I went from a typical “male” haircut to a mohawk. A hairstyle I've always sort of seen as queer. After that I slowly worked my way down. Glasses, shirts, pants, and shoes. For me, my glasses have always been a big part my style. Usually big bold Ray Ban Wayfarers. I love standing out in a crowd. Now I've got my eye (and piggy bank) set on a pair of John Lennon’s. Round frames, tortoiseshell top, clear bottoms, lightweight. I feel that since they're unisex (according to the store), they are more in tune with the look I’m going for. They're quite the opposite of “Connor”. But that means they're all that much more “Ace”. For shirts, I'm gravitating more and more to floral or printed button downs. Or occasionally just a plain button down. Any excuse for a bowtie, if I’m being honest. Jeans are always my go to, but now instead of relaxed fit and typical Levi blues, I'm going for skinny or slim fit and dark blues and blacks. And for shoes I usually prefer high tops.

That's the great thing about identity. You can always reinvent yourself whenever. It's even more exciting when you come to terms with your identity. It's been refreshing to start to think about a new look for the new year. I'm keeping Connor around until then. Might as well kick off 2018 as Ace. New year. New identity. New look.