conventional western frameworks which rely on a sex/gender split have never and will never map onto my experiences. the idea that gender is “cultural” & exterior and sex is “biological” & interior neglects how biological sex is also cultural. the sex/gender split relies on a particularly western historical conception of the body as individually bounded and enclosed by skin, “the body proper.” in this particular worldview clothing is something that we put onto the body, it is not part of the body itself. in many other cosmologies adornment is not supplementary to the body, it is foundational to its constitution. the lines of where animate & inanimate, deadness & aliveness, object & subject are not given, they are produced & maintained. this is not costume, it is my being. i am not dressing up as, i am being myself. i am enmeshed in my surrounding, not isolated from it. there are so many other more ambitious & i think more beautiful understandings of embodiment. gender variant people are punished for our insistence on a different & vibrant embodiment. my being surpasses my body proper. the objects that i adorn myself with become myself. the sex/gender split & the western body proper require policing to work. in the US it used to be illegal to wear articles of clothing different than your assigned “sex.” they would throw gender variant people like me into prison under charges of “cross dressing” and “female impersonation.” sometimes people would even be criminalized for just wearing makeup “female impersonation from the neck up.” but my transcestors they continued to dress as themselves by which i mean their commitment to the look was about a different imagination of the body. they were saying this makeup, this clothing, is integral to my personhood, not separate from it. they were saying my essence does not have to be internal & contained within — it flows outside into the public, or rather the very idea of inside/outside is already the problem to begin with. my spirit cannot & will not be divided into inside/outside, exterior/interior, private/public. when i get dressed i become myself. this is my corporeality.
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