Gender expression and equality stand at the forefront of various political issues today. Recently in several southern states such as North Carolina and Texas, bills are in the process of being passed which specify that people are to use bathrooms of their biological sex as assigned at birth.
This is clearly unfair because a transgender woman, originally born male, will have to share a bathroom with males. Hormone and sex-changing procedures have become so advanced and well executed that aside from patients undergoing a transition, in most cases, once a transgender person is done transitioning, it is almost impossible to tell that they were born of a different biological sex. Imagine cis-gendered (that is, not trans) women having to share a bathroom with transgender men who, although born female, are now buff, muscular men sporting bushy beards!
This is only one example of society unfairly enforcing gender roles.
We need to embrace our individuality, and our personal gender identity is one of the many things that make us beautiful, different colors in the crayon box.
Gender identity is not only depicted and expressed through biological sex or the bathroom you use. The way we speak, our mannerisms, sexual orientation, haircut, hobbies and interests, and even the clothes you wear are other ways we express our gender.
In an ideal world, gender would just be a societal complex that would be overlooked and not a basis of discrimination. Unfortunately, all throughout history, gender roles and expectations have been enforced in various capacities.
Some days, I often find myself questioning my masculinity or femininity, and the way I want to express myself. When is it appropriate to defy established social norms and societal expectations?
With last week’s career fair , I could not help but feel some sort of anxiety. As a cis-gendered male, the expected professional form of dress is a neutral colored suit accompanied by dress shoes, a collared dress shirt and a tie.
I do not want to wear a suit, however. It suffocates my feminine side and hides my androgynous self. I want to wear shoes with a little bit of heel and a more form fitting pant. I want to wear a loud, yet elegant pattern that shows my eccentricity and individuality. I want my dress to demonstrate my open mindedness, my gender fluidity, creative energy, and excitement to work on a team of brilliant individuals.
One would think that this would allow me to stand out amongst a sea of fellow college students seeking internships and jobs. However, I am really unsure what companies are looking for. Many are quick to write off failure to conform to expected form of dress as unprofessional. Listen buddy—I can be just as professional rocking a pair of gold metallic boots and navy skinny corduroy pants as your average Joe Schmoe in suit and tie!
Since interning at Viacom, a company that embraces its millennial and diverse culture, I’ve known that I want to work somewhere with a more laid back dress code. This is not because I’m lazy and don’t want to dress up everyday—but because I want to work somewhere that will allow me to openly dress in gender neutral clothing without corporate discrimination of professionalism or “lack thereof”.
To anyone and everyone who reads this: the next time you go shopping, I challenge you to go to your favorite store, and go to the section opposite of the gender of clothes you normally wear. Find something you can see yourself wearing, and try it on. I especially challenge men to try something on from the women’s section. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Many may argue that clothes are designed to belong to a specific section of a clothing store for a reason, but it needs to be reiterated and understood that people can wear and do what they want comfortably, regardless of gender.