Cross-dressing is the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Almost every human society throughout history has had expected norms for each gender relating to style, color, or type of clothing they are expected to wear, and likewise most societies have had a set of guidelines, views or even laws defining what type of clothing is appropriate for each gender. The term cross-dressing refers to an action or a behavior, without attributing or implying any specific causes or motives for that behavior.
Page is far from the first gay woman to discover new-found sartorial freedom after coming out. Though I realised I was into girls at around four, it took until 14 to come out, and then 17 to tell my mum. And now I wonder, like Page, how many women — straight or not — would benefit from never having to consider what a man — real or imagined — thought of their clothes.
Those words were casually tossed at me by a pretty girl I was trying — and failing — to flirt with at a college party. I looked down at my outfit: a floral backless dress, red high heels, and my long brown hair worn down. My journey to my bisexual identity was a quiet one, filled with introspection and fanfiction.
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Last month, when the rapper Young Thug released his latest mixtape, JEFFERYit wasn't his singsong "post-verbal" hooks that got all the attention, nor its celebrity-studded track list, in which each song is named after his idols. Instead, it was the ruffled, periwinkle Alessandro Trincone gown and cocktail parasol hat he modeled for the cover that went viral. It wasn't the first time Thug donned women's clothing for catwalk-inspired style.
Actual females are not. They feel invaded—and cockblocked—though, as drag historian Linda Simpson notedthey were certainly thrilled to see Adele and Jennifer Lawrence at the New York bar Pieces in March! Hypocritical much?
Drag queens are performance artists, almost always male, who dress in women's clothing and often act with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles with a primarily entertaining purpose. They often exaggerate make-up such as eyelashes for dramatic, comedic or satirical effect. Drag queens are closely associated with gay men and gay culturebut can be of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, it is only relatively recently that developmental scientists have conducted controlled studies with one clear aim in mind, which is to go beyond mere stereotypes and accurately identity the most reliable signs of later homosexuality. In looking carefully at the childhoods of now-gay adults, researchers are finding an intriguing set of early behavioral indicators that homosexuals seem to have in common. And, curiously enough, the age-old homophobic fears of parents seem to have some genuine predictive currency. But it is, at least, probably fairly accurate.
For many gay men, using these words with their friends is a way of embracing femininity and showing vulnerability or affection to others who share their identities. Creating a shared culture — including language — around femininity can be a way of reclaiming the bases for oppression many gay men have experienced, as well as disrupting the harmful gender binary. But few if any linguistic practices are all one thing, all the time.