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Can queer girls wear dresses? gender expression & femme invisibility

Can queer girls wear dresses? gender expression & femme invisibility


– Hi friends. I talk a lot about myself and my stories on this channel so naturally some of those stories deal with my identity, like being a woman or a
mixed race black person. But an identity that I’ve almost never talked about on this channel is the fact that I’m bisexual and I feel like it’s pride month, maybe it’s time to tip the scales a little bit back in the direction of being an out and vocal queer here on YouTube.com, slash it’s time for radishes. So this whole month I’ll be making videos that deal with different aspects of my queer identity and I hope that’s cool with you because that’s what you’re gonna get. So I wanna tell you a story about how I present myself to the world. When I was very small, I often wore my older
brother’s hand me down clothes. See the orange overalls,
dinosaur t-shirts, stiff, scratchy jeans, and a blue and red winter coat. When I got to preschool I got picked on by some girls that
were all named Megan. Like I’m pretty sure it
was three or four girls and maybe only two of them were actually named Megan, but to me at the time it felt like a cult of the mean girl Megans, like the Ashleys or the Heathers. They told me I couldn’t play with them because I wore boy colors. So on my birthday when the teachers made me a birthday crown
out of construction paper and let me pick the color, I asked for pink with
graceful, rounded edges and glitter swirls, like fuck you Megan, I’m a princess now. But the teasing didn’t end
when I got into kindergarten because I didn’t always fit in with the expected gender presentation of a five year old girl because I had an older
sibling who was a boy and children’s clothing especially is so heavily gendered and all I wanted was to
dress like a girly girl. Like I remember there was another girl in my class, her name was Caitlin, and we’d be friends by middle school but in kindergarten she had this outfit that was like a mini Wisconsin Badgers cheerleading uniform and I wanted so badly to
dress exactly like that. So one weekend my nana came to visit and as nanas do, she wanted to spoil me a little and pick me out a brand new outfit. So she took me to Kohls and in my head I’m thinking like how do I get something even prettier than Caitlin’s cheerleader dress. We found a baby pink thermal with little pointelle
hearts and a denim skirt and the very best part, a shiny, metallic pink belt with a heart shaped belt buckle. And when I wore that
outfit to school on Monday, man, you could not tell me nothing. I was peak feminine and I felt really right that way. And that’s never really changed which got kinda difficult as I learned I was queer. I mean like on one hand I’m a cis girl who likes to be feminine,
sob story, I know. But on the other hand, femininity has always
been kind of complicated because I’ve always been so into the traditional trappings of femininity that I even used it as a justification to myself that I wasn’t queer when I was still questioning. Like I must be straight
because I love to wear dresses, which is like saying
I must be good at math because I don’t like eggs. And sometimes that makes me feel invisible within the community. Like most of my queer female friends went through a button
ups and snap backs phase, but I absolutely cannot wear
a collared button up shirt, which is a thing that I
recognize that like people, of all gender expressions
and orientations wear, but I feel so ridiculous and so uncomfortable in them with the intensity that some of my friends describe feeling
when they wear dresses and whenever I cut my hear any shorter than shoulder length, I loathe looking into the mirror until it grows longer. I once was driving to work and turned around and went back home when I noticed in the rear view mirror that I forgot to put on mascara. So I perform femininity in a way that a lot of people
expect that I’m straight. I go to queer spaces and people assume I’m an ally. I mentioned my girlfriend
around queer people and sometimes they go, so when you say your girlfriend, do you mean like your
friend who’s a girl or. But remember my shiny pink
heart belt buckle outfit that made my heart sing
when I was in kindergarten? I found a different version
of that as I got older. As a teen I started experimenting with adding a little bit of
an edge to my femininity. Not because I was queer,
I didn’t know that yet, but because I was emo. Like I would cut my hair at
odd angles and dye it blue. I would always wear makeup, but with really heavy eyeliner and I’d buy unisex band t-shirts and then cut them up and sew them to show off the shape of my body more. And there are a lot of commonalities with how I played with my style then and traditional markers of queerness. Like taking the presentation
that’s expected of you, but pushing it a little. And my style has grown up since them, but a lot of the same
sensibility is still there. Like I once had a friend describe my style to me as hard femme, which made a lot of sense to me. So that might look like a
dress with combat boots, it might mean lipstick
and a leather jacket. For me, it means dressing
to emphasize my waist but almost never wearing colors. And then walking around like I’m carrying an invisible glitter pink
birthday crown on my head because to the right people, the way I dress does make me visible. And even if it didn’t, this is how I feel the most me. So tell me in the comments, how would you describe your style. If you like this video and you wanna support this queer creator during pride month, you can do one or both
of the following things. One, hit the notification bell so that you don’t miss any of my videos or two, support me on Patreon where you can get exclusive writing, newsletters, playlists, postcards, and also help me make
more of these videos. Alright, I’ll see you soon. Bye. (upbeat music)

47 thoughts on “Can queer girls wear dresses? gender expression & femme invisibility”

  1. Leave a comment to describe your gender presentation and style! OR if you're going to pride this year, tell me what outfit you'll be wearing! I wore this shirt I'm wearing in the video, plus black shorts, glitter eyeshadow, and a button that says "i'm a gay socialist witch and I vote" to Brooklyn Pride last night.

  2. I don't really have a description of my style but I love this so so much and definitely relate to it. I think another weird part of being in queer spaces is also this (wrong assumption) that performing femininity in shaving/wearing lipstick/dangly earrings/wearing any make up is something that you do to be attractive to guys. Maybe it's just my own internalized homophobia trying to invalidate me. Either way ://
    In the end, I just feel the most like myself wearing a fitted jumpsuit, bright lipstick, and some hoops!
    Thank you for sharing!! happy pride <3

  3. "Fuck you Megan, I'm a princess now!" YES.

    I'm still experimenting with my style – and it seems like I'm going through the button-up phase. Although my way of doing that has been long shirt-dresses with a cinched waist or a button-up shirt with a pair of skinny jeans to emphasize my femininity. There was a lot of pressure for me to be feminine in a very specific way when I was younger, and I know I don't quite conform to that – I hardly wear makeup or partake in the mass hair removal that every straight woman around me seems to, but I still love dresses and looking pretty. I think the name for my style is just "Lesbian English professor."

  4. This reminds me of when my college friends told me they thought I was butch when they first saw me. I think they are wonderful, but that annoyed me cause I never considered myself that (and it's insulting to butches who put effort into their wardrobe). It's funny how when I am lazy in t-shirts, sweats, and natural hair that I look "masculine" while a pretty, skinny girl will look hot. I do like a lot of the traditional femininity (dresses, high heels, etc), but I notice it doesn't look the same on me since I am/was big and tall. My idea of changed a bit when I looked more at black women and went natural. Having short kinky hair was tough though. A woman mistook be for a boy (asking my mom "this is your son?") and that affected me. I started wearing earrings continuously after that, as they are my one thing of femininity (I even went back to put them on to workout).

    I'm still finding my style, but I do like the little things make me femme. I'm probably like med-femme. I'll wear dresses with flats and no makeup or have a wig and makeup with boots and jeans. It is important to me because I want to present myself as feminine and seen as a woman.

  5. Omg, loved this video and the bi pun at the end! Bi puns are the best. <3 As a fellow femme cis woman bisexual, I feel you! I've always felt most comfortable dressing feminine in some way, mostly with earrings and colorful clothing. I don't wear skirts and dresses a ton, but I do love femme shorts and cute tops. I would describe my style as colorful femme. Yet, I do still feel like my femme presentation hides my queerness, and it's frustrating. I think it's why I keep as much rainbow pins, stickers, etc around me as possible so at least there's a big hint I'm not straight.

  6. I feel you with being uncomfortable with cloths. I only ever felt right in my graphic tees, button up and pixi cut and a beenie. But it changes, some days I'll be in those cloths . But others I'll be in my cute pastal dinosaurs teacher a bow hair band.

    I've done dresses, prom, adding invites and such. I felt bad and I just don't get it. I had ling hair cut I hated it.

  7. This video is great! Personally I am only really thinking about style for the first time now that I'm a new grad working my first job and a little farther from home now. I have never really gone out of my way to wear anything super masc or super femme, I have reflected on things and I think I've tried to kind of fly under the radar. I'm bi aroace and I kind of wanted to be presentable but unnoticed for a long time bc I was worried about getting romantic or sexual attention from people and I didn't know how to deal. I also didn't want cis straight people to necessarily read me as queer before I was ready to tell them myself. But these days I'm more of the attitude that I should really be dressing for me and I think I lean more towards a comfy femme if that makes sense lol. Like, makeup is too much work so I skip that but I try to accentuate my curves and wear more splashes of color. I just you some gray Vans that I'm obsessed with and I've tried to incorporate more dresses and skirts than I've ever worn before. I'm still trying to work out the details but it's been interesting trying to work this out for myself.

  8. I've gone through so many gender presentations! I usually dress in whatever I have because most of my wardrobe is whatever my friends wanted to get rid of, so quite a bit of "male" clothing. I don't really love femme clothes, but it's the only way i can actually style myself (what is a fashion sense). Dresses are the easiest clothes for me to wear in the summer, but i definitely feel like they erase my gender and sexuality…. so I guess my presentation/style is… whatever my closet spit out that morning that made me feel okay!

  9. I am so here for more queer content! I love!

    What I aim for with my presentation is very androgynous, but not in a skinny-white-person-in-a-button-up kind of way. I like to dress in a way that isn’t so much genderless as it is genderfull. I’m butch. I like everything I’m wearing to be gender nonconforming, all to different genders. I like to pair things that don’t really make sense. I like bright colours and textured fabrics and loud prints, paired in ways that clash according to regular fashion rules. I wear uneven items- oversized shirts with skinny pants or big jackets and loose trousers over fitted tops. I almost always tuck my shirt in. My hair has been 7 different colours in the last year (dark purple, lilac, pink, bright red, my natural dark brown, teal, and currently dark blue). I wear a lot of layers and I love things that sparkle. I love accents- I wear a wristwatch and a black leather wrist cuff, both very traditional pieces, I wear a gorgeous black hat (shaped like a slightly softened Stetson) and I put enamel pins on it. I live in my doc martens. I love a good waistcoat. I love funky socks. I don’t like ties but I do like tying ribbons in bows at my collar- my old boss used to make colonel sanders jokes whenever I did this. I almost never wear makeup, but when I do, I get my mua girlfriend to do some incredible high-colour full-face-but-no-foundation costumey look.

    When I get married, I’m going to wear an emerald green velvet suit, with black lapels, and a suit shirt printed with autumn leaves, and glittery brogues, and captain America cuff links, and penguins on my socks, and glittery gold eyeliner. And it’s going to be awesome.

  10. You are so beautiful!! I always love hearing your thoughts and stories. I'll be honest, I was hyped for your pride month video and you delivered 🙂 I'm glad that you take pride and enjoy being feminine. That's a powerful thing. Especially since you recognise that you do it because you like it and not because society pushes it on you or whatever. I am a trans guy and I have my style mostly figured out now but clothes were so awkward for me at one point. I would wear only sweatshirts and button ups. To hide my chest. To look more masculine. I became kind of obsessed with that. But then, a little more than a year ago, i came out to my mom. I got a binder soon after and I actually started to have that room to figure out my style. I'm proud to say that it consists of way more than sweatshirts and button ups. I'm not sure how I would describe it though. Kinda preppy i guess. I wear suspenders and a button up with dress pants and a drivers cap on days I feel like myself. It's dorky but- it's more me than the way I dressed a year ago. Also I'm questioning my sexuality but I'm fairly sure I'm bi as well! Happy pride month!! 🙂 🌈

  11. As a trans/nb college student my closet consists of jeans and graphic tees, which aren't exactly formal/professional wear, so I borrow my mom's suits that she doesn't wear anymore from the 80's when I teach high school. I aspire to have a Ms. Frizzle style when I'm older.

    I feel like I knew that people perceived me as a straight cis female but even though I still dress the same (never worn make-up, never will), now that my hair's short I have no idea how people perceive me and it really bothers me.

  12. My style is very much encapsulated by my beaten up, red, flowery dr martens.
    I love patterns and colour and texture. I love to wear dresses with big swooshy skirts. I also live in my DMs, top the pretty dress off with a denim jacket and don't like feel myself if my hair isn't short. My favourite t-shirt is black embroidered with daisies and the phrase "fresh out of fucks".
    I'm not sure it falls into hard femme exactly but it's in the same neighbourhood and it's how I feel most comfortable as a queer disabled woman.

  13. The "bi" at the end? Very nicely done! This may be one of my favourite videos of yours and I'm so looking forward what else is to come this month.
    I may not be a hard femme (at most a low femme) but I don't often get clocked as a lesbian so I feel the invisibility. At least sometimes the pins and buttons on my faux-leather or denim jackets make my point for me.

  14. This is such a hard question for me, because I feel like I don't have a style even though I kind of do? Like me at my most me is jeans t shirt and sneakers but it feels like that isn't a style. I've found ways to dress that up a little, like nicer jeans or a cardigan, more fitted shirts so I can look a little more late-20s than college kid, but still be me, but that still doesn't feel like a real style to me. I've never been particularly interested in performing femininity with some aspects of my looks or style, and yet I identify with it pretty strongly? It's kind of strange, but I also feel like I haven't spent a lot of time figuring out what my style really is, so it's hard to say.

  15. I FULLY SUPPORT YOUR PLAN FOR PRIDE MONTH.
    Navigating style through transition (I'm ftm trans) is kinda weird. It's not always just about what your style actually is, but also about how it will shape as what gender other people see me.
    I really never felt really uncomfortable in dresses. I think I wasn't hard femme, but I still put an edge to it. I never wore make-up, but colorful clothing. I liked dresses, but only if they weren't elegant or very feminine in their shape. My style was rather individual and I guess it still is.
    As a child I actually really loved pink up to the age of maybe.. 7. I have photos of myself in a pink plaid skirt and a pink t-shirt and I loved that outfit, I genuinely did!
    Now, I have to find a new style. I don't feel good in dresses anymore. I have learnt, that they do make me feel uncomfortable, they probably always did, but it was just part of the constant uncomfortableness I had, that I don't have anymore to that extend. I don't have it anymore that much, because I socially live as a guy and in most peoples' definitions that doesn't involve wearing dresses and that's okay for me, because I also feel more comfortable exploring my masculinity now than I did before. It's just a little bit challenging, because it is new and I now nothing about it. I knew how to navigate in this world as female, but I'm not quite there yet with openly being a man. It's complicated!

  16. Ah, bi puns never get old! Excited for the rest of this 'series'!

    I had a real moment of resonance when I first saw the term – and images for – tomboy style. I've never gone through a button down phase day-to-day – luckily I can dress casual for my job – but I do love a snapback. I tend to wear graphic tees with overshirts, with which I'm flat chested and short haired enough to get occasionally id'd as a guy – when I'm not wearing bright or bold lipstick, which I also love! (I'm nb and have had my rough moments with wearing lipstick given the associations, but the love has stayed strong and I refuse to lose something I enjoy so much.)

  17. I’m still trying to find my style, but I tend to wear the most masculine clothes I can find in the women’s section with the occasional shirt from the men’s section. I have about seven flannels and some sleeveless collared button downs. Those two things I usually wear unbuttoned with a tank top underneath. I find skirts and dresses really pretty but I never wear them because they make me super uncomfortable. I used to wear mostly black and grey and blue, but I’ve gotten a bit bored with that and have added red, green, and pink to the colours I buy clothes in. I never wear makeup, but I’ve wanted to try eyeliner or unnatural (like blue or green) lipstick to see if I like that because I’m not interested in foundation or mascara. I’m a bit scared try though. I also absolutely love hoodies and sweaters, which sucks since I’m usually too warm.

  18. That outro though… excellent!! I gobble up content that has to do with gender expression because it's always been something that's so difficult to navigate and I think it's so important. People talk so much about supporting free gender expression and playing around with aesthetics but you end up being questioned in whichever space you find yourself in and have your identity questioned as well because of that. People seen as invisible I guess is not only about self presentation but also how straightness is always assumed as the default and in some cases it is assumed as the only way to be. Great video and I can't wait to see what other topics you discuss next in this series.

  19. love this video! thank you for sharing. my style is heavily influenced by both of my grandmothers. something about wearing classic items with stories behind them really makes me feel good. i started to realize this one day in college, when i came back to my dorm and found all of my friends in my closet… it was dress-like-old-people bingo night and apparently i had all the grandma clothes. ^_^ i wasn't even mad.

    especially now since my grandma passed, i wear a lot of her actual clothes. my still-living grandma works at two thrift stores and is always finding gems for me. wearing things from them helps me remember i'm not alone. they found ways to shine and i can too.

  20. Growing up I was always partial to cargo pants and shorts (the pockets! So nice!). My style developed slowly through school as we had uniforms. I had a faux-leather jacket that was my favourite thing, and wore skinny jeans as I like the way it made me look. I didn't really think too hard about my gender presentation until I started questioning my gender. As a nonbinary afab person, my style has shifted a bit to counter dysphoria. I dress more masculine than ever before because I am trying to counteract the inherent femininity I see in my body, so achieve some level of androgyny. Which mainly means wearing looser clothes, unisex band t shirts, and binding whenever I am put in a situation where I need to wear a slim fitting shirt. Also I constantly wear this red Milk Records cap, to the extent that people recognise me for it. The fact that my gender presentation screams queerness is something I find comforting, so it sucks to hear about your struggles with being acknowledged by the queer community as a femme person. I am keen to hear more about your experiences this month. You are so articulate and I love hearing your stories.

  21. Yay! More queer content! Your videos are always so well written and round out really satisfyingly. I'm excited every time I see one in my subscription box!

  22. I'm Non-Binary, but feel more comfortable in women's clothes. I'm still figuring out what I feel the best in. Lately it's been what I call punk clothes (similar to hard femme in the video).
    I'm traveling to NYC for PRIDE and still dont know what I'm going to wear. Only that it'll be a dress.

  23. I'm still figuring out my style, right now (and most Summers tbh) it's yoga pants and a tshirt bc it's comfy. but I've been watching a lot of queer eye and have been pretty inspired to play with my style, maybe starting with my hair? I've been thinking about a really short queer cut for a while, and might go to a barbershop and get it this summer! We shall see….

  24. Happy Pride from a fellow Queer (Asexual)! I've only recently started to have an okay relationship with my body, it used to be very negative, a lot of that had to be worked through before I really got that I was Ace, it wasn't just internalized self loathing or something. Having a specific style is somewhat new to me, I'd describe it as minimalist androgynous goth, all black and very simple, plain tshirts and jeans, no skirts or dresses. And with short hair and rarely wearing makeup, I can have a somewhat masculine vibe, though it doesn't go as far as not identifying as a woman. Last year I really embraced it and got a pair of oxfords instead of heels to wear to my graduation and it felt great.

  25. my style floats between soft butch and tomboy femme. i basically always look like i'm about to go on a hike. this summer i'm living and working with a bunch of other ecologists. we all wear similar clothes and i've never felt more comfortable and seen in my style. gonna road trip to pride with a bunch of other eco queers later this summer, and i'm not really sure what i'm gonna wear, but it'll definitely involve rainbow socks and hiking boots!

  26. I really felt this video. Being a Bi women myself who has a mild obsession with corsets and cropped tops I totally feel you. I did go throw the snap back flannel stage but I never felt like me doing it. More like the clothing made me gay enough to be in the queer spaces. As if there is a dress code for being queer.

  27. For me, feminine is my expression of "you clean up nice!", like when i put in WERK the outcome is always feminine. My relaxed or comfy vibe is decidedly less feminine, which is interesting to think about! Sometimes i feel like my body "betrays" my desired aesthetic cuz what's a button up if you can't button it up over them double Ds lmaooooo but i'll leave the waify stemmes to their waify ways i guessssss

  28. This pride month (which isn't even a thing here in Australia but I'll celebrate anyway) has hit me with a lot of questions, confusions and struggle. I thought I was far more sure and secure in who I was, but I feel like all the questions, including the ones you pose about style, I just cant find answers to yet when I ask myself. But, thanks to this video, it's made me see that maybe this is just part of my path to finding what kind of decorations go on my own crown. Thank you for content like this

  29. For Christopher Street Day (that's what we call Pride in Germany) I wore ballerinas, a high-waisted skirt, a red blouse and my rainbow necklace. I would love it if I could tell everyone I'm bisexual with my clothes but I don't know how to do that and I want to keep wearing skirts most of the time. So my rainbow necklace is my attempt to let people know I'm queer. I'm not sure if it's working but at least I feel like myself wearing it.

    I'm really looking forward to your other Pride Month videos 🙂

  30. Ahhh queerness and style is so interesting to me! I'm still figuring it out- by my partner said I was right in the middle between femme and butch and that made me happy. I like having both elements in my style, at least in subtle ways, or I feel off kilter. Thanks os much for this video!!

  31. some podcast I was listening to talked about the aesthetic of Unicorn Store and how one critique of the film was that Brie Larson's character is a pretty white lady whose central weirdness is basically a version of femininity & this podcaster was talking about how that is super reductive because she's an adult woman whose femininity is, like Lisa Frank femininity and an adult glitter-and-rainbows aesthetic is kind of weird? This is not actually about Unicorn Store and I'm describing this very badly, except that…like… yes that character is my ideal aesthetic. But also I feel a weirdness around… being a 31yo woman and the expectations that this aesthetic is immature? IDK.

    Deciding how to present yourself is very weird. I can HARD RELATE to this conflict surrounding: I am a cis woman who performs femininity, so YES there are worse problems, but ALSO… being a cis woman who performs femininity is not uncomplicated. I fucking LOVE makeup and I wear it because I love it but also I love it for lots of complicated societal reasons.

    idk I'm rambling now but this is a lovely video!

  32. I love this so much! Queerness + femininity is such a complex thing to figure out and it definitely can feel invalidating !

  33. i love this! i recently realized that i'm way more femme in the summer (because i enjoy the ease of dresses), and lately i've been thinking about whether that feels good for me. your example of finding the right sub-section of femme for you is really inspiring 😀

  34. Love this. Also a queer maybe identify as bisexual femme. I would call myself a lazy or casual/natural femme in some ways though as I almost never where makeup when it's not an occassion like night out, and I almost never style my hair (but I have got multiple perms as always wanted naturally curly hair haha). I love the dress and combat boots and leather jacket and lipstick combo so maybe I'm a touch of hard femme too :') lots of labels eh

  35. I'm a queer bi person, and I usually dress pretty femme. I like a lot of masculine styles, especially 1920-1950s, but I'm also very realistic about my body shape. I am a very curvy plus size, and finding non-femme clothes that both fit well and look good are very difficult. I know that my shape is flattered by more traditional femininity. It's a struggle. I like both, I wish I could wear both, but my attempts to adapt men's clothing have been mixed. I think I just need to save my money forever and get a suit made for me. I also struggle with the fact that the "ideal" look for non-binary people is very masculine and very fitted and flat and in muted colors. I have double Ds and a big ass and LOVE COLOR, even if I found things in this category that fit, I'm just not going to look like that idea. So I don't know. I've recently started saying, "These aren't boy or girl clothes, these are MY clothes." and just leave it at that.

  36. I unfortunately missed pride due to injury this year (which massively sucked) but I had planned to wear this white dress with pink flowers on it and this headband with sequins arranged in a lighter variation of a rainbow.

  37. Yay for more queer content, loved this video! This hit on so many things I’ve been thinking about lately in figuring out my style after coming out and growing up. As a kid through the beginning of college I was all about pink and florals but that doesn’t feel me anymore. I’ve never been into makeup, when I was younger people talked about it as something I would grow into but it’s not me and I’m good with that. But I look young (I just finished grad school but probably still get mistaken as a teenager) so I feel like I wear less color as a way of looking older. I’m currently kinda in the I want to be more visibly queer so Imma wear button downs phase (I stole a few from my brother) but am still figuring out how much that’s me. For my graduation I wore a white button down shirt with navy and white pinstriped high waisted pants and grey masculine dress shoes and I loved it. For pride I’ll probably wear my Autostraddle lavender menace shirt and various queer pins.

  38. The Archetypal Megan is so real. :-p Your story really resonates. For a while I didn't think I could be queer or trans, then I didn't think I could be femme, then finally I got to the point of embracing my trans queer femme identity, but it wasn't until I found others like me through community that I could do so, and people are still confused as hell why my pronouns aren't she given how I dress. My own style is sort of "theatre kid who grew up and got an office job," but I love the hard femme look and am often attracted to it in other queers. It just took me a while as a queer to figure out the difference between "that's what I want to be" and "that's who I want to date," lol.

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