So, it's Halloween again. All Hallows' Eve. Samhain. Nos Galan Gaeaf. Hop-tu-Naa. What have you. The associated customs and rituals may have been stripped of their significance, but their echo remains in costume and games. Halloween is now a time where play and mischief are allowed, where rules are relaxed, where gender stereotypes are relaxed.
Trans people in stealth (especially those assigned male at birth) have often used Halloween as a time to be themselves (ourselves), where the apparent masque is actually the removal of a mask – if only briefly, as these quotes from an article in BuzzFeed last year make clear:
“For 364 days I wore a costume, but Halloween was the one day a year where it was remotely acceptable to explore my gender expression and identity. (...) I was presenting as myself.” – Sarah McBride.
“[T]hat one Halloween night (...) gave me permission (...) to subvert the identity assigned to me. Being welcomed by my friends, and even hit on by straight male peers, made my identity feel legitimate and accepted, even for one night.” – Benjamin Mintzer.
“For me, Halloween was Plausible Deniability Day. It was the one time I could dress as a girl and it was okay. (...) It was the chance I could wear women’s clothes as a costume, even during the day, when nobody else was wearing their costume yet. In reality, I wasn’t either.” – Hannah Simpson.
It becomes rather more complicated when cis people get involved, when cis men get involved, when cis men I know get involved. Can't you at least make an effort – please?! As Elizabeth Daley writes here: “At its worst, "dressing as a woman" on Halloween entails tossing on an ill-fitting dress and some lipstick to go pick up chicks with your frat brothers.” And: “"woman" is not generally a Halloween costume, even if you are not straight.”
But even when it's done with some care, my feelings are still mixed. Yes, I'm glad that you can play with gender a little. That you can flout the rules of gender presentation – which are TOTALLY STUPID anyway. And yes, your legs look great in those tights. I like the short skirt too. And those shoes are to die for. But...
Can I just say...?
This is not just about the clothes for me. It's about much more than that. Everything about it is so much more loaded.
(Well, okay, maybe it is for you too, I dunno. Do you want to talk about it?)
But then there's C.J., this absolute sweetheart at Raising My Rainbow, who is going to be ‘Bob The Drag Queen’ for Halloween.
Damn, I wish that had been me at age nine. *sighs wistfully*
Which reminds me: I must get round to reading Lori Duron's actual book (subtitled “Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son”) – and Julie Tarney's ‘My Son Wears Heels’ (“One Mom's Journey from Clueless to Kickass”) as well, for that matter.
When children are allowed to be who they are, on Halloween or any other day – and, in particular, out of the reaches of the numerous bellends writing for the Daily Mail – it does seem as if our future, their future, might not be so bad after all.