Beyond Androgyny: Nonbinary Teenage Fashion – The New York Times

By on August 15, 2019

Expressing themselves through fashion is something new for Mx. Nixon-Reid. It wasn’t always easy. Their mother is hyper-feminine, so most of their childhood clothes had been traditionally female.

“These days, sort of at the end of 2018, I’ve been able to explore gender through fashion and it’s helped me understand my own gender through clothes,” they said.

The moment now is that mall fixtures like H & M carry unisex lines, but gender nonconforming youth are still at high risk for bullying and suicide, in both in cosmopolitan areas and, especially, outside of them. In other words, a goth androgynous person may appear, as the kids say, dope, in Brooklyn, but could easily be a target somewhere else.

Deborah Tolman, a psychology professor at the City University of New York whose work focuses on teenage sexuality, thinks this wider-spread fashion movement is, for many teenagers, about playing with masculinity and femininity “while maintaining it at the same time.” True androgyny, she said, would suggest that the binary goes away. That there is no binary.

Dr. Tolman called what is happening now “queering” fashion, because when you “queer” something — fashion, whatever — you’re getting out of those boxes. “And the point of queering things is not to be in those boxes,” she said. “Because if you keep your head in the boxes, you can’t actually think about this.”

Many Gen X parents, raised on “Free to Be You and Me,” were determined to break gender stereotypes. They dressed their baby daughters in black. They rejected pink. They read books like “My Princess Boy” and “Jacob’s New Dress.”

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