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gender in a vulnerable fashion writer David Sierra Expression is the larger phenomena which fashion fits into. Each day we express ourselves through hair style, clothing, makeup, scent, and even body language. Expression is important both in the personal and the relational senses because it allows us to present to the world a physical manifestation of how we wish to be perceived and understood by others. However, trouble comes when others judge, categorize, and label us as a result of our expression. Through our expressions of fashion individuals are relegated into categories—in or out, modest or ostentatious, masculine or feminine, etc. These categories, though, are not as stable or consistent as we’d like to think them to be. It is at this site—where we understand categories as static and monolithic—that violence occurs, especially for transgender and gender nonconforming people. For myself fashion is deeply personal because it is integral to my transfemme experience and translates to a certain vulnerability. From my expression people make judgements and project unto to me their own narratives. No article of clothing or hair style or perfume scent or body type is inherently gendered. Rather, society has constructed associations and assignments to these things and the projection of those assignments unto certain bodies makes this world a more dangerous place to live. On runways and shop floors gender neutrality and gender non-conformity are aestheticized for a certain class of people—often financially secure, white, able-bodied, and skinny—while brands and labels make profit. Right now, queer and transgender vulnerability is reduced to aesthetics that are consumed and capitalized on by the fashion industry in a way that, while it may seem like progress, is simply another form of fetishization and marginalization. Fashion is a particular vulnerability for me because it is part of my identity, my art, and my resistance. Fashion is integral to my existence. Going to my closet and looking for an outfit that will simultaneously be truthful to the way I wish to express myself that day and keep me safe isn’t always easy. However, in a world that would rather see me and the people I care for struggling, erased, or dead, fashion allows me to find at least a moment of imagination and inspiration. Through fashion I can find some inspiration for a world that is liberated from the idea that there must be static or monolithic norms surrounding expression and a world in which expression is not judged or categorized, simply appreciated and uplifted.

Hoot Magazine: Fall/Winter 2016  
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