Phoebe has a lot of clothes. Some of them girly. But many of them what I would consider gender-neutral. However, if it’s not girly (pink, purple, princessy and/or with hearts, flowers, butterflies or fairies), it’s apparently considered downright boyish. And we’re not even talking just blue or patterned with footballs or monster trucks. Or even stripes or plaid. We’re talking about animal prints. Teddy bears? Boyish. Doggies? Boyish. (Though kitties seem to be girlish) Hippos? Boyish. Owls? Boyish. (But other birds are girlish.) Frogs, turtles, alligators, lizards? Boyish. Bugs? Boyish. (Except for girly dragonflies, ladybugs and butterflies.) Green, yellow, or orange? Boyish. You’d be amazed at how many people take it as an affront when they discover that Phoebe is a girl when we have her dressed in [gasp] blue or [shudder] hippos.
For example, yesterday, when I took Phoebe to my old Tae Kwon Do school, I saw a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in ages. Some of whom didn’t know about the whole baby business. Phoebe was wearing jeans with a gray hoodie and gray socks, and had her beige jacket with teddy bear motif, and a pair of mary janes. And in two separate incidents, a couple of women asked, more or less, “who’s this guy?” To which I responded, more or less, “she’s Phoebe.” (n.b. They were like “who’s this guy,” and I was like “she’s a girl.”) One woman responded, with a look of shock: “But you have her in blue! I thought she was a boy.” (The bear jacket has blue details. The jeans are blue.) With the other, the jacket was off, so the reaction was “I saw the gray and black.” Each woman was a bit uncomfortable, apparently embarrassed for having made such a gaff. However, I didn’t mind. You see, Phoebe is a baby. And as far as I’m considered, her sexuality is not really an issue at this point.
Another time, when Phoebe was even smaller, there was a similar incident. At the Home Despot (a monstrously large hardware store, for those not in the know). A young woman (or perhaps teenager) who was working there stopped to look at Phoebe, who was wearing a yellowish orange outfit with fishies. And she (the employee, not Phoebe) said something like: “What a cute baby. I can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl.” To which I replied, “Yeah, we tend to dress her gender-neutrally.” And then the young woman suggested that we could get Phoebe’s ears pierced so people could tell she was a girl. Hello? If I felt so strongly that people absolutely must never ever mistake my baby for a boy, why would I dress her gender neutrally? I would be capable of, for example, finding some article of pink clothing with which to label her, or slap a bow on her head. Without actually resorting to poking holes in her.
Anyhow, while Phoebe does have her share of girly clothes (and she does look terribly cute in them), she often dresses a lot like me. (Except for the animal prints. No teddy bears emblazen my coat, or anything else I wear.) I wear a lot of gray. Black. Dark colors. And actually, I like to wear men’s shirts. And men’s sweaters. And fairly recently, I also discovered men’s pants. You see, I can get great deals on clearance pants because my size is not a common size for men. So for instance, I got a couple of pairs of men’s pants at the Gap for $5.00 each from a clearance rack. Which is handy for my transitional pants needs. (When I tried the women’s clearance rack I was displeased both with the size I would need to get, and the styles available. Plus the women’s pants were way more expensive.) I also wear shoes that would not be described as girly. I like to wear Docs, and ones that could be either men’s or womens. So actually, many days, I wear outfits that are basically entirely men’s outfits. (Aside from the undies. Let’s not go there just now.) So, I guess I’m a bit of a cross-dresser myself.
Cross-dressing has quite a lot of representations in theater, film and TV. We have men dressing as women, and women dressing as men. Sometimes, it’s a case of pretending to be the opposite gender, other times it’s wearing oppositely-gendered clothes as a style choice. Or perhaps lifestyle choice. And sometimes there are other reasons. I’m working on a list, with some attempts to categorize. (And perhaps cross-categorize. Which is appropriate for cross-dressing, I suppose.) But as my list is getting quite long, and as I have work I need to do tonight, I’ll have to save the list for another day. (Those damn lists take a long time…)