In a post-Cait­lyn Jen­ner world, male and fe­male iden­ti­ties are get­ting chal­lenged daily. RACHEL GIESE re­ports on the peo­ple be­hind the new pro­nouns.

Fashion (Canada) - - Essay -


the mes­sage em­bla­zoned across Mi­ley Cyrus’s tank top this past July in an In­sta­gram, which went on to garner more than 540,000 likes. In June, the 22-year-old pop star launched a so­cial jus­tice cam­paign called Happy Hip­pie Presents #In­staPride, which aims to ed­u­cate her 23 mil­lion fol­low­ers about peo­ple who do not la­bel them­selves strictly male or fe­male. The pro­ject fea­tures per­sonal sto­ries, along with por­traits shot by Cyrus her­self. “Any­one should be able to ex­press how they feel, with­out ques­tion, and be able to live, and use the f—ing public re­strooms,” Cyrus told the media when she kicked off the cam­paign.

Cyrus’s ally­ship (a com­mu­nity term for sup­port) is a sign that aware­ness of gen­der di­ver­sity—in­clud­ing iden­ti­ties such as trans, gen­der fluid, gen­derqueer, non-gen­dered and other la­bels that go be­yond male and fe­male—has en­tered the main­stream. Teenagers are shar­ing their tran­si­tion ex­pe­ri­ences via YouTube and Vine videos, and celebri­ties like Or­ange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox, model An­dreja Pe­jić, TV host Janet Mock, Olympian-turned-re­al­ity-TVstar Cait­lyn Jen­ner and ac­tivist Chaz Bono are speak­ing up for trans­gen­der rights. Last year, Face­book be­gan of­fer­ing a few dozen op­tions for gen­der in a drop-down menu, but even that proved lim­ited. Since Fe­bru­ary the site has of­fered a free-form field in which users can cus­tom­ize their gen­der. Taken to­gether, it does seem, as Time mag­a­zine said in a 2014 cover story on Cox, that we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing “the trans­gen­der tip­ping point.”

Take Pe­jić—who was on the cover of FASH­ION Mag­a­zine’s Fe­bru­ary 2012 is­sue well be­fore Cait­lyn Jen­ner ar­rived. She first made her mark in fash­ion in 2010 as a wom­enswear model in French Vogue while iden­ti­fy­ing as an an­drog­y­nous male (her Aus­tralian pass­port al­lowed her to have an “X” rather than an “F” or “M” in the gen­der box) but then tran­si­tioned to fe­male in 2014. She has since ap­peared in Vogue and just landed a ma­jor con­tract (along­side ac­tress Jamie Chung) with the pro­fes­sional cos­met­ics line Make Up For Ever, ac­com­pa­nied by the slo­gan “Be Bold. Be Un­ex­pected. Be You.” Pe­jić’s as­cent re­flects a new em­brace of gen­der flu­id­ity in the fash­ion world—an in­dus­try that plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in how gen­der is de­fined and dis­played. This past year, sev­eral la­bels, in­clud­ing Prada, Burberry and Coach, had women model menswear, and Gucci’s cre­ative di­rec­tor, Alessan­dro Michele, show­cased a line for men that fea­tured lace, bows, ruf­fles and flo­ral pat­terns. Mean­while, Lon­don depart­ment store Sel­fridges has de­voted three floors to Agen­der, a pop-up bou­tique of uni­sex clothes.

In Canada, award-win­ning mu­si­cian and au­thor Rae Spoon has long been an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for non­bi­nary gen­der iden­tity. Grow­ing up in a con­ser­va­tive evan­gel­i­cal fam­ily in Cal­gary, Spoon was ex­pected to be an obe­di­ent, re­li­gious wife but in­stead came out first as queer and then as a trans man. Then, a cou­ple of years ago, around the age of 30, Spoon an­nounced a re­tire­ment from gen­der al­to­gether. “At the time, I had been go­ing by the pro­noun ‘he’ for about 10 »




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