An essay supporting the right for all gender and sexual identities to wear skirts/dresses
|As I wrote the first draft of this essay in my journal last night, I sat at my desk while wearing an extremely dark grey (almost black) Lands’ End midi skirt and women’s boyshorts panties after shaving my legs during my shower. My genitals were relatively comfortably tucked, and I loved the improved airflow around my legs now that the pants'/shorts' restrictive fabric no longer existed there. When I got up this morning and prepared to commence applying for more jobs after breakfast, I donned an evening gown-length black silk skirt with knee-length slits over a pair of the same panties, a white button-down dress shirt, a brown leather belt, and a black sports jacket. Later on when I went to Walmart to buy some food this afternoon, I added my brown Ariat cowboy boots. I noticed some obvious second glances, but no one said anything. You might ask, Am I transgender or a cross-dresser? The short answer is that I'm probably not but that I also don't consider myself 100% binary male as I explore gender identity, gender expression, self-care, and the like. The details, though, are somewhat long; and I will do my best to make my story and logic coherent.
I grew up in an open-mindedly traditional Christian household. Way back when I was much younger (think very late 1990s or extremely early 2000s), I once wore one of my sister’s dresses and received a talk about the importance of avoiding cross-dressing and the like. Nothing else like this happened for many years until about 2010, when I participated for the first time in my community's Easter pageant. Several more years passed until sometime around 2018. In these late years of college, I shaved or trimmed my pubic hair and a few small areas on my upper thighs several times. Each time, I felt some shame about my actions and decided that I shouldn’t do them again because of cultural expectations. Back on 26 September 2019, I shaved my legs for the first time, from my ankles all the way up over my hips. I loved the way the skin subsequently felt and looked and have continued shaving them ever since. I started because I have problems with irritated hair follicles on my legs and wanted to see if shaving helped—it did. Later, I learned that a type of exfoliation uses blades to scrape off the dead skin, and I now use that as an excuse to shave my legs. Still, though, I felt some shame about exposing my hairless legs and therefore always wore long pants, never rolling them up. Since the weather was finally cool, I had little reason to wear shorts, anyway. I’ve continued the shaving and have been brave enough to roll up my pants now and then, relishing the breeze’s gentle caress across my skin. Because competitive swimmers and bicyclists often shave their legs as well, I feel less shame than I would otherwise. With this personal history in mind, please consider the following three points why anyone should be allowed to wear any kind of practical clothing considering their environment, their work, their and others' preferences, and their activities.
Since I've introduced my general background, now for some older history about skirted men. For some reason that I’ve now forgotten, I randomly wondered several days ago whether men wear skirts. Obviously, kilts are almost identical to skirts and have been quite popular in Scotland to this very day. Additionally, men in many countries wore skirt- and dress-like clothing for centuries until approximately colonial times. The Romans, for example, conquered much of the then-known world in short skirts; but pants were more of a barbarian influence. Even now, men in the Middle East and some other countries still wear dress-like clothing. In North America, war was a major contributor to clothing change. Women began wearing pants as they entered the workforce, and men much more permanently adopted these leg coverings on the front lines. Ever since World War II, the Vietnam War, and the like, we have rightly admired these valiant men and women for their sacrificial contribution to society. Fashion took the associated styles and popularized them as elements of strong, capable men, men worthy of leadership and other high positions. Around the 1960s and later decades, societal undercurrents continued to oppose the pressures to conform by beginning to publicize cross-dressing, support the Civil Rights Movement, and other similar activities. After considering the historical context and the modern movements, I decided to purchase at least one skirt to see what I thought of it. Although finding one inexpensive enough to fit my uncertainty and a size to fit my small frame took a little effort, I found several good ones at a local thrift store earlier this week, thereby leading to what I've already shared int he first paragraph and a few others.
Second, I would like to present evidence from modern society’s feminist and LGBTQIA+ movements. Women’s traditional garb has been skirts and dresses; but in the last seventy-five to one hundred years, this lovely portion of the world’s population has been allowed in the Western world to wear almost any covering they desire for their bodies’ lower sections. Men, however, have been relegated to pants and shirts. Over the past decade or so, the LGBTQIA+ groups have received much attention for their increased equality with the male and female identities; but much stigma remains. If women and people in the LGBTQIA+ community may wear whatever clean, tidy clothing they want, why can't men?
Third, I would like to address religious objections from a Christian perspective. Do I believe based on the Bible's perspective that male and female were God’s original ideals? Yes. Do I think that people who choose to dress differently than normal are living a lifestyle other than that original ideal? Quite likely no. Is living a lifestyle other than God’s ideal sin? Quite likely yes, but it depends a little on the situation. Do I consider people who dress differently to be sinners? Some people might say that this community's members are, but I choose to withhold judgement on that topic for reasons which I will soon explain. Will these people die the second death, go to hell, or whatever else happens after death depending on the inquirer’s perspective? That I can’t answer, because God is the final authority on who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. When He makes that decision, He considers each person’s whole life background and how it influences why the person did what they did: trauma, learning opportunities, cultural influences, and much more that only He knows. Anyway, people's obvious adaptation throughout history to various life changes negates many of the objections that people might raise.
Others may object, " Doesn't the Bible say, 'A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the Lord your God'?" (Deuteronomy 22:5 NLT). I am familiar with that passage and reply, "You have a good point, and I respect God's Word." However, I return to my primary question from earlier: Why can women wear whatever they want in almost any style they want, but men cannot? To me, this makes no sense. If women may wear pants and shorts styled for women and often those very similar to the masculinely styled versions, why can't men wear skirts styled for men and other androgynous versions?
Let us now consider more modern perspectives. Skirts are comfortable, and we in the West don’t take a second look at a woman who wears pants one day, shorts the next, and a skirt or dress the third, unless we think her clothing or body is particularly beautiful. Of course, some people will disagree because they still think that women should be subject to former customs—that’s just the way people view fashion trends; some people like them, but others hate them. If wearing a dress or a skirt does not influence the quality with which someone performs their work and if the person dresses such that they look good, what should keep them from wearing a skirt, a dress, or a pair of pants? It makes no difference. For things like riding a horse or a motorcycle, pants make much more sense than dresses and skirts, although riding sidesaddle addresses the equestrian perspective. However, a person can work a desk job or the like equally well in a skirt, a dress, or pants. What, then, should keep a person from being able to do that? Respecting people’s opinions is important, but what’s more important is taking care of one’s self and dressing to look good and to be able to work well in the environment in which one exists.
A company's corporate image definitely is important to consider, as is being careful to avoid offending people. From the other perspective, though, good things like caring for one’s self and supporting equality rarely result from always conforming to traditionally accepted practices. Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. They and their supporters worked hard for colored people’s rights and suffered much for what they knew to be the proper values. Malala Yousafzai also has done similar work for women's education and has also experienced opposition. Although I don’t put wearing skirts on the same high level as these public figures’ admirable work, I do support people’s freedom to wear what they want within the confines of their work’s physical functions. When I’m sitting at a desk writing computer code or a journal entry, answering the phone, or editing a picture, when I’m carrying a new monitor and a computer to someone’s desk, the clean, well-styled fabric around my legs almost always makes absolutely no difference whether I can finish my tasks efficiently while providing quality customer service. Quite the contrary, having comfortably styled fabric there will allow me to focus better on my work instead of constantly thinking about how that fabric is pinching my genitals. Of course, I might offend someone by wearing a long skirt. However, King, Mandela, and Yousafzai also offended people because these three were addressing significant cultural barriers.
My goal is not to confuse the genders, although I do consider myself somewhat androgynous. You ask, Why do I wear a skirt and women’s panties? Why do I shave my legs? My answer is this: Comfort, exploring my identity, acknowledging my Scottish heritage, and promoting awareness of people groups whose rights have been oppressed. Therefore, I choose to appreciate myself and to care for the feeling, sensitive aspects of my character which I've ignored for far too long. As you think about this essay, please consider what your words and actions portray before you speak those words or act on those impulses. And in case you were wondering, I’m wearing panties for two reasons: First, they’re quite soft and almost feel as if they’re not there, and more importantly, they provide the support necessary to hold my genitals out of the way (important when the wind blows the skirt, since my genitals are more obvious under these conditions than a woman’s). Will I wear skirts frequently? I don't know, but I'm enjoying the freedom to explore and to learn more about who I'll become, about fashion (clothing in particular), and various people groups.