Guest Post: Non-Binary Femme Fashion for the Male-Bodied

We are thrilled to extend the conversation about the intersection of gender, sexuality and fashion by sharing our QueerCut space with guest bloggers. Their words and ideas provide the basis for engagement, reflection and action.

…Still Hard to Come By

While it’s true that the line between the traditional male and female binary is becoming increasingly blurred, and more designers are choosing to create gender neutral lines, there’s still a ways to go! Even among the most gender fluid fashion items, that persistent menswear/womenswear binary often lives on. For many female-bodied, male identified people, a rejection of the male-female fashion dichotomy means heading straight to the menswear section. But ‘gender neutral’ hoodies, sweatshirts, and t-shirts though they may offer, there is a long way to go toward clothing that actually fits well, and markedly even more room for growth when it comes to femme fashion designed specifically with the male-bodied in mind.

It’s a Hard Femme Life

If you really think about it, it’s no surprise that femmey/feminine anything continues to get consistently deprioritized in the face of arguably “easier” to create butchy/masculine wear—regardless of whose body it’s actually intended for. This, of course, extends far beyond fashion…to life. A gender advocacy centre I worked at for the better part of six years (which had, like many such centres, once been a women’s centre), had a clearly biased focus. Controversial though this may be, positions of influence appeared reserved for f to m trans people, who largely exuded a very masculine energy, perhaps at least in part as a reaction to the centre’s former identification as “for women.” The result, however, was a problematic environment in which m to f people were scarcely if ever welcomed, and cis women’s still-very-valid issues were often overlooked.

Parallels with the fashion world are no coincidence: non-binary though a designer may identify, the fact remains that we live in a world where girls who dress like boys are usually referred to as tomboys rather fondly, while boys who dress like girls are generally subject to significantly more stigma, perhaps because we as a society still believe masculinity to be a show of strength and femininity to be a show of vulnerability or weakness. Womenswear, as an unfortunate rule, tends to be more showy, flattering, flamboyant, colorful, soft, sexy, and revealing, while men’s clothing tends to be made up of bland, muted colours, and give off a rather shapeless, utilitarian, emotionally unavailable vibe. Coincidence? I think not. Male-bodied non-binary people should not have to shop exclusively in the womenswear or menswear sections, and neither should anyone else who doesn’t love up the false binary power still at play in the world as we know it.

Can you imagine living in a world where clothing for the male bodied (the kind that shows off curves)—or really any flattering clothing for non-cis bodies more generally—was easy to come by? I like to think we’re getting there, at our snail-like human pace. One thing’s for sure: WickedMmm is an exciting place to start.

-Maya Khamala

"Non-Binary Femme Fashion for the Male-Bodied: Still Hard to Come By" was written for the WickedMmm blog by author Maya Khamala and originally posted on December 11, 2018.  

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Maya Khamala, author

I’m a Montreal-based freelance writer: journalist, poet, storyteller, erotica-writer, blogger, copywriter, and lover of clear communication. Words are my favourite thing in the universe. Nothing gets me hotter than the right choice of words. Nothing. I did my BA and MA in Creative Writing and English Lit at Concordia University. I was a full-time community organizer at Montreal's Centre for Gender Advocacy for 6 years, and did a lot of popular education and solidarity work around violence against Native communities, reproductive and sexual health, sexual assault awareness, intersections of race and gender, and even co-founded a Men and Feminism collective while there. What else? I’m a lover of men and give a lot of thought to what makes one (a man). Need writing or editing services?

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