The power of clothes

Put people into military or police uniforms, and their sense of themselves changes. Even a person’s dressing up, say, in special clothing for a wedding, does the same thing.

Many schools have adopted uniforms for their students—my Indianapolis grandchildren, who attend a public school, must wear blue, red, or white polo shirts, and khaki or black pants or skirts—and studies show that this improves both behavior and attendance, if not grades.

For the person experiencing an incompatibility of biological sex and gender identity, clothes hold great power. When one’s sense of self does not match the attire which must be worn so as to conform to our culture’s sense of male and female, clothes can crush one’s spirit.

When, in the days before I transitioned, several folks asked why wearing women’s clothes was so important to me, I replied with a question for them. To one woman in particular, I said, “What if you were forced to wear your husband’s clothes to work? And you could wear no makeup, or that jewelry I always see on you? And you could not trim your eyebrows as you now have them, or do your hair as you have it? How would you feel?”

When she blurted, “I would hate it,” I quickly returned with, “Because I sense myself to be a female, I hate that I am forced to dress this way,” pointing to my male attire.

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Clothes are on my mind as I recently was clearing out the rest of my closet of my women’s clothes. Last spring, I removed the left half of the closet, which achieved two things. First, I made room for some guy’s shirts that I’d brought from our basement. Second, since the closet doors are regularly closed over the right half, I would barely see the leftover women’s things.

With the change of seasons, I’ve needed to retrieve more clothes: long-sleeved shirts, pullover sweaters, cardigans. I needed more closet space. It also was high time to finish tubbing my women’s things.

I now moved the closet doors from right to left. I looked at the tops and sweaters, skirts and dresses which, this time last year, were the things I wore. I peered at these clothes with fondness.

There was the dark red sweater, which is the nicest sweater—gal’s or guy’s—I’ve ever owned. In cool and cold weather, I often selected an outfit with which I could wear this sweater.

There was the light brown skirt, and the black one in the same style, which both are sharp looking and flattered my body. I often wore these to church. With three inch heels, though I was very tall, in a dressy top and one of these skirts I looked really nice.

There was the royal blue dress (I’m wearing it, below), which fit me perfectly. The way it is cut around the waist and hips, it provided a great boost to my male shape. And the royal blue shade complimented my skin tone.

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In each of the three descriptions, and in many more things I wore as Gina, the clothes were powerful on me. Where men’s clothes had grown to feel completely wrong, these clothes provided a great assist in making me feel right. Feeling right, I felt good about myself. Feeling good about myself, I went into the world with confidence.

Now that my gender dysphoria has disappeared—I’ve taken to thinking of it as being in remission—and experiencing myself as a male, I was able to remove these things from my closet, take them to our basement, and place them into tubs, a completely opposite experience from when I had forced myself to do it, about which I wrote in When I tried to put Gina away. Now, as I folded them, there reverence to the event, an appreciation for what these clothes did for me when I needed them.

I’ve not retrieved all of my men’s clothes; just enough to get by, with some variety. I had a lot of ties, so I’ve only retrieved a few of them. I took my favorites, the ones which look best on me.

Nowadays, when I put on a dress shirt and knot a tie, I have that good feeling of getting dressed up, which I had before 2013’s onset of gender dysphoria turned that into a despised act of dressing.

Once again, a man’s dress shirt and tie feels right. And makes me feel good. And gives me an air of confidence.

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