This Is What Non-Binary Fashion Looks Like

Advertisement

Most people might complain about how hard it is to get dressed in the morning — but, honestly? It is not that hard. For cis folk, it's a matter of making a couple decisions about cuteness, comfort, and creativity — and then getting on with your day. But for Alok Vaid-Menon, a non-binary transfemme performance artist, writer, and activist from New York City, it's an act of survival. For many in the trans community, choosing an outfit isn't just about communicating who a person is and how they feel on the inside; it's also about demanding that the people they encounter accept their identity in the face of trans violence and harassment.

"There is a material consequence to me presenting feminine, and there's not a material consequence to me presenting masculine," Vaid-Menon explains. "The minute I wear lipstick, or the minute I put on earrings, or the minute I’m wearing a skirt, my entire reality shifts." For those who don't identify with the gender they were assigned to at birth, their method of clothing themselves turns fashion into much more than just a form of expression. It is a declaration of self that asks others to confront their own prejudices.

And how peculiar a world is it where what we wear has such politics that it could mean that you could be killed for what you’re wearing, right?

In a panel on gender-fluidity in fashion, Vaid-Menon describes the dangerous questions they and others in the trans community face when they defy categorization: "I get told a lot of times that I’m brave for dressing the way that I am. A lot of people are like, ‘How are you so brave? How do you have the confidence to wear what you’re wearing? That’s a logic that kills trans women, and transfeminine people, because it makes the onus of being brave on us, and not on society to redefine your gender norms. So we have to continue to be brave and confident for doing something as simple as getting dressed in the morning, which is absolutely absurd, because there are so many things I do in my life that I would like to think are more brave than getting dressed. And how peculiar a world is it where what we wear has such politics that it could mean that you could be killed for what you’re wearing, right?"

In our video above, Vaid-Menon discusses what it means to challenge the gender binary with fashion. Also, and more visibly, what it means to be born a certain gender, but clothe oneself in a wardrobe assigned — arbitrarily, by society — to the opposite.
Advertisement

More from Fashion

Some trends are easy to dive into head-first: Give us all the athleisure in the world, and we're definitely not complaining. Because no matter how many ...
Carlton Banks, your moment as a fashion icon has come. On Wednesday, Miuccia Prada showed a collection that, at first glance, might not immediately remind ...
Sometimes it can feel like life is just a constant rotation between large plastic bins of clothing — as soon as you're finally getting settled into your ...
Laura Delarato and plus-size TRX trainer and pole dancer Roz Mays try on workout tops and talk about what makes a good plus-size workout top
We first heard about Nike's plans to really, truly make the self-lacing sneakers from Back to the Future Part II a reality back in March, after the ...
This story was originally published on October 8, 2015. You can expect to see a certain set of characters at every Halloween party. Cher Horowitz is in ...
The cast of Stranger Things is continuing its world tour of stealing your heart. First, Millie Bobby Brown took over the front row of New York Fashion ...
(Paid Content) Dressing for your age is a game that's rigged: Try as you may, the outcome is fixed and not often in your favor. One moment women are told ...
Kendall Jenner recently admitted that she's always either braless or in a bralette, and she's not the only one. Tons of women (regardless of chest size) ...
With close to 4 million followers on Instagram, Aimee Song (a.k.a. Song of Style) knows how to take a pretty decent photo. The Los Angeles-based interior ...
Sometimes, looking a certain height is all about perspective
For the past few months, we’ve been hearing the term “see now, buy now” ad nauseam. It's all about offering customers instant gratification — the ability ...
You can switch out your clothes all you want, but you can’t really replicate the way glasses can completely transform you. It’s like presenting an ...
Last year, the lingerie line Frederick's of Hollywood closed all its stores after going bankrupt. But now, it's making a resurgence with a little help ...