Today, artist Sophie Labelle, the author of Assigned Male who I featured in my International Women’s Day round-up, posted a link to a Manic Pixie Nightmare Girls comic which perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with so-called gender-neutral fashion. In short, gender-neutrality and androgyny are typically associated with female-assigned people wearing conventionally masculine clothing. Some formalwear shops have launched that cater to transmasculine people, but non-binary femmes are pretty much invisible.
As for me being agender has nothing to do with fashion, the discussion on Labelle’s page got me thinking about what kind of clothing or department store would make me feel welcome. As I’ve mentioned I absolutely hate going shopping, especially now that I’m faced with exclusion and erasure everywhere I go, so a truly gender-neutral shopping environment would be a welcoming space for people like me.
Such a store might feature:
- Clothing separated into categories, not genders. i.e., pants, skirts, dresses, shoes, underwear, casual/formal, kids/adults
- Handy size conversion charts (i.e., U.S. women’s shoe size 8 = men’s size 6.5 = European size 39)
- Model photos and mannequins representing diverse body shapes and races
- Gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms and dressing rooms
- Staff trained to say “May I help you?” and “Thank you, have a good day” without adding “Ma’am,” “Miss,” or “Sir” to these sentences
- Staff trained not to read a customer’s name out loud off of their credit card or ID at checkout (important to respect privacy and avoid outing stealth trans people)
- Bulletin board or table spotlighting local resources for trans people
You get the general idea. It would be so nice to walk into a clothing store that didn’t segregate merchandise into Men’s and Women’s, with no acknowledgement that non-binary people also exist.