Nonbinary Black Tie Event in Hong Kong, How to Avoid Being Gendered, and More!
I'm returning to Qwear after a long hiatus of being badly injured in both hands. I was unable to work for months. It certainly feels good to get back. Here are some 5 answers to 5 recent Qwearies!
"I'm a Swedish (biologically) girl who is non binary. I'm 39 years old and my non binary identity is pretty new for me (about a few years). I'm invited to my partners brother's wedding, and the dresscode is 'black tie optional.' I am really NOT comfortable in a dress (have never been)!! And this dresscode is really fancy? Is it accepted for me to wear a tuxedo or a suit or do you have any suggestions for dresses that I might feel just a little bit comfortable in? I'm scared that, if I wear a tuxedo or suit, I will be stared at and uncomfortable anyway. The wedding is in Hong Kong between my partner's brother and his Chinese girlfriend. They are rich and I guess they have fancy friends. My partner is a man, he's also uncomfortable with this, but my situation is worse, I think :)"
I asked around, and as luck would have it, my queer/ nonbinary Hong Kong based contacts say that you will most likely NOT be stared at for wearing a suit or tux. Overwhelmingly, they all agreed that everyone will enjoy your outfit as long as it is formal and well put together. You can't entirely predict how everyone will react, and it's possible that your in-laws’ family are very conservative or traditional. However, all signs point to: Go for it.
(Thanks to Yuen Ka Lai, Jay Wu, and Dre Lynn Joan for help with this qweary.)
"I'm a librarian who runs a weekly LGBTQ teen group. The teens are in middle and high school, and a lot of them are exploring different options for gender expression. One of their greatest interests is fashion and makeup, but this is definitely NOT my area of expertise.
"We are having a homecoming event on Saturday, October 13, in honor of National Coming Out Day. One of the activities I want to provide is a makeover section. I have an organization who's donating semi-formal formal dresses to try on and take home, but I feel the need for an 'expert' who can advise our trans boys who want guidance on how to be more masculine presenting and to introduce non-binary looks.
I was wondering, do you have any contacts in San Diego who would like to come chat and be a fashion mentor for an evening for these SUPER-awesome teens?"
I don't think I have any San Diego contacts. Hopefully someone reading this will know someone — look out for the comments! One thing I can advise you on though, is to be careful of the expectations you may or may not be bringing to an event like this. A trans boy might *want* to wear feminine make up or a dress. A non binary person might want tips on being more masculine presenting. Identity does not equal presentation. It's a fantastic idea to offer a range of expressions, and just make sure you leave your expectations behind and let the kids choose whichever look they want! (You may already know this, but it never hurts to remind folks!)
"I recently came out as genderfluid and would like some tips on how express both my feminine and masculine side at the same time. The problem is that when I try, one is always overpowered. For example I'll wear a black high-low skirt, a red polo, and doc martins, and you'd think since I have a buzz cut it would be balanced out, but most people will still assume I'm female because of the skirt, if I change into jeans, then people will assume I'm male, I'm not exactly sure what would work best, but if possiblle I would love to have advice on this, thank you!"
Unfortunately, this is bound to happen. Our society is wired in such a way that it's very very difficult to truly throw people off enough that they do not place a gender on you. Before any of us even learned to talk, we were socialized to assign genders to people. A toddler can't even carry around a stuffed animal without an adult asking them what its gender is. Your outfits sound fantastic, and I think you should keep doing exactly what you're doing. People are going to assign a gender to you no matter what, and we unfortunately don't have much control over that. What we do have control over, though, is wearing whatever our hearts desire despite the constant policing of our bodies and identities!
"My friend asked me to be in charge of helping his twin girls choose clothes for their bat mitzvah, since he doesn’t have any idea about clothes. One kid wants a blue dress, easy peasy. We’ll find one that’s just her style! The other daughter prefers more androgynous clothing, and would like a blazer and pants, or perhaps a suit. And not black. She likes green, red, and purple but an entire suit in a bright color is not really her style. She loves space and science. They will be 14, but are super small for their age so are still mostly in children’s clothing. Size 0 of junior’s sizes might fit? She also has sensory issues and can’t handle anything itchy or too tight, and nothing can be made from animals. I want this kid to look and feel like the rockin’ person she is, but other than J.Crew or the boys dept at chain stores, I don’t know where to look! Can you give me some pointers? I feel like there HAS to be a ModCloth-type store for offbeat kids, right?"
The androgynous girl reminds me a lot of Cal, the Qwear kid I did a piece on last year. Cal shops in every section and thrifts constantly. I recommend creating your own outfit from different stores. Find a statement piece, such as a blazer, and work the rest of the outfit around that. There are lots of great space and science themed clothes for kids out there. Since she has a sensitivity to certain fabrics, I would go try things on in a store or order things and then return whatever she doesn't like. Target is very friendly to kids of all genders and they are moving in the gender-neutral direction. This great store Svaha markets gender neutral styles to kids who love science. What about these Chemistry Lab Equipment leggings with dress shoes and a fancy blazer?
"I am currently a single mom of a 5 week old, a lesbian, and have recently come to terms with being androgynous. How can I start transitioning fashionwise, being on a tight budget? Where do I start? What are some good places to shop at that are cost friendly? And what are some easy outfits to throw together?"
Androgynous means something different to everyone, so instead of recommending specific pieces, I'll go right to "where do I start?" First, I would look through your closet and remove anything you know you won't wear again. It's much easier to know what you're working with when it's not cluttered between pieces you no longer like. Then I would build outfits from what you have. I always tell people starting new wardrobes to start with basics. With the right basics, you can wear the same shirt 3 days in one week without anyone batting an eye. Thrift stores and department stores with markdowns should get you what you need without breaking the bank. For androgyny inspiration, check out our androgyny tag, and see where folks are shopping!