This dress is dangerous.
That is to say, it can be; for most readers, this dress represents £2.50 at a charity shop and whoever’s face you may have to punch to run it to the till like a caught salmon before they take it from you. Then it’s withstanding the prettiness of it on you without fainting (seriously you look great,) some layabout LEDs, and remembering to turn them off every now and then so that you don’t start a fire. Others, though, will get what I mean when I say it can cost you your happiness, your self-worth, and even your safety.
Some of us are trans, some of us are non-binary, some of us just straight up like pretty dresses. Whoever we are, we’re told from a young age that girls (always with the assumption that these are cis, gender-binary girls) wear dresses, pretty clothes, or just whatever they like— and this is absolutely applaudable for the flexibility of self-clothing it affords them, though often this means that their clothes are poorly made and intractably unfunctional. Boys, by comparison, (again with the cisnormative gender-binary malarkey) are told to wear suits, or leather jackets, or… basically grey, let’s be honest, with an odd colourful shirt thrown in. It’s leather jackets and grey and suits and shirts. Seriously. Where is the manly floof people, I ask you, where is the hecking floof( fluff, that is)?
Floof aside (only temporarily since floof is vitally important as we all know), it can be really quite dangerous for people who aren’t deemed valid of wearing feminine clothing to do so; we’re mocked for how it ill-suits our frames (a lie, since we all look damn fabulous and you know it), we’re excluded from public services (ever walked home from a bus stop in the rain simply because you’re wearing a dress? Care to?), we’re silently judged (we’re talking face-screwed-up-like-a-raisin levels of disgust), and publicly attacked (verbally and physically). Violence against trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people is just understood as something to deal with now.
Considering all that, how much does it cost to put on a dress? To put on heels? To worry that your makeup isn’t quite right, and that you could be hurt, even killed for it?
Say I put this—let’s all admit it, cheap but pretty as hell—dress on, and go outside. Thought like ‘Is it daytime?’ ‘Is my phone charged?’ ‘Do I have friends with me?’ ‘Am I going somewhere public?’ ‘Am I safe?’ are some that run through my mind. These aren’t fun, relaxing questions to think about while having coffee.
Although that dress is almost as pretty as you, it’s not quite enough so that when you come home that you’ll feel entirely content. You might feel happy, because you got to wear something that’s beautiful, but you might also feel tense, because you’ve spent most of the day checking for signs of danger like an anxious meerkat. By comparison, if we choose instead to be safe, it’s a constant litany of ‘ugh I wish I was wearing something nicer with frills.’ And every time your might see your reflection, you think ‘am I even a real woman? Is my gender identity even valid?’
It’s not all that surprising then that we suffer from increased suicidal tendencies; I’ve been there, and it’s never been because of bad grades, or breakups, or even abuse. It happens because, day by day, we’re forced to choose between feeling safe and feeling OK with ourselves.
Help your friends buy dresses. No matter any part of their identity, if they want to, help them wear and use what they like, and compliment them on it. Fail to raise an eyebrow at someone when they enter the ‘wrong’ part of the clothes shop. Smile to yourself when you see someone wearing a dress you wouldn’t expect to, because they probably feel really damn good about themselves, and that’s just fricking nice. Tell a person who you’ve seen wear something ‘feminine’ before that they look really good, even if they’re not wearing it. Go with them into the shop and feel the glares and think ‘Hell no you are not hurting this sweet raisin while they’re getting a god-damned dress.’
If this has failed to convince you, here is a single, unalterable truth of the universe; the day any man, trans, cis, or non-binary, or any woman, trans, cis, or non-binary, or person, or entity, or whoever, can wear whatever they like, everythingwill have so many fucking pockets.