Reflections on Gender Identity, Masculinity and an ultra-feminine past
I have looked for countless days and months to find something to wear for our wedding. The problem is I won’t be wearing a dress- if only it were that simple, I could have one picked out in 10 minutes. But alas, the last time I wore a dress I was told I looked like a really bad drag queen- and I agree. The last serious time I wore a dress was when I was 18 and graduating from high school- an all girl’s prep school in Connecticut (whose famous alumni include Jackie Kennedy Onassis). It was a finishing school, and let me tell you, I came out of that place definitely as unfinished as a raggedy un-upholstered sofa from the 70s.
Miss Porter’s High School Graduation-2004
So I guess this is more than just finding the right Jones New York pant suit that doesn’t scream 36 year-old breadwinning soccer mom. This is a manifestation of my ongoing struggle with my own body. I am a masculine identified woman, which is a lot for the average Joe to comprehend. People ask me, “So are you the boy in the relationship?”- Well no, we are both girls. But instead of explaining the whole lesbian relationship dynamic of a butch/femme, I just nod my head and reply “Kind of…but I’m totally the little spoon.” Usually I don’t get any follow up questions.
Out for drinks in Boston with friends- 2009
So a few days ago I received my wedding outfit in the mail from J Crew- I ordered a vest and pant set (with the option to order the sports coat if the everything else fit.) I refused to try it on for over a week.
My Outfit from J Crew still in the box and wrapping
And finally Christina made me put it on. She was on the verge of tears- holding them back, she said, “I can’t wait to see you when it’s real.” But I felt empty- I felt like a little child putting on her dad’s shirt and oversized shoes. Awkward. I didn’t get that “wow” factor that Christina had when she found “the dress.” I want my “yes” moment- I constantly hear brides on TV say, “You just know when you’ve found the one.” Well, I guess I haven’t found mine yet. Or maybe I have, I just need to “grow” to love it.
This is what the get-up is supposed to look like, obviously on a male J. Crew model
Image from J. Crew Wedding Shop Website
Or how about this one- the male model sporting the vest and pants
After emailing my parents some photos of my suit, my mother asked, “Why don’t you wear a suit like Ellen Degeneres did?”A few things about my mother:
She came to America when she was 20 years old, with $5 in her pocket and without knowing anyone. She grew up on a farm in Poland where the only diverse person was the deaf guy down the road who was missing a limb. Fast-forward a few decades- it has taken my mother a good 8-10 years to finally be able to have a dialogue with me about sexuality. We usually only skim the surface of the issue, but to me this is far more than I could have ever asked for.
So, my mother’s beacon of gay-ness is Ellen Degeneres. (My mother often asks me if I want to have my own TV show like Ellen- my response, well yes mom that would be nice, if I were actually funny.)
My mom and I- 2008
So, fast forward a few weeks- I decide to order the jacket, so now I’ve got a 3 piece suit. In total I will be spending exponentially more on my outfit than Christina did on her dress.
Jacket: $248, Vest: $98, Pants: $118
Note: This does not include a white shirt, shoes, socks, tie, cuff-links, undergarments, etc.
Nothing like shopping for a wedding outfit to knock you back to financial reality.