This article was originally published October 4th.
This story is a follow up to a photo essay we did earlier this year about the role clothes play in the gender diverse experience.
When navigating your gender identity, clothing can play a crucial role in expressing your true self.
Three gender diverse people talked to Re: about their three favourite clothing items and why these clothes are important to them.
Pronouns: any pronouns
Identifies as: trans/non-binary
How would you describe your style?
“It’s cunt, it’s extra, and it’s unique.
“I'm a firm believer that your style is a reflection of who you are. And if you don't know who you are, that tends to reflect in your fashion. It took me such a long time to figure out who I was. But as I started becoming more confident with myself, I think I started to get a little bit more bold with my choices.”
How has your relationship with clothes changed over time?
“For the longest time, my mum would dress me, especially growing up. So I kind of wore whatever she wore, which was a lot of traditional African clothing … I don’t wear any of that anymore. I’m proud of who I am but I feel very disconnected from that at the moment.
“In African culture, it’s very traditional. There’s no room for [gender] fluidity, just because of colonisation and everything like that. So I don’t really know how to express that through clothing at this point in time.”
Item 1: Jacket
“I love this item so much. I love the pearls. I love how dramatic it is. I love how open it is. It really is a statement piece.”
How does this item reflect who you are?
“It’s extra, it’s cunt and that’s it. It’s still got that masculine vibe with the denim and the raw edges. But the pearls around the neck are giving it that little bit of oompf!
“And I think that’s me, you know? Very masculine around the edges, but once you get to know me, I’m a little more ?✨.”
Item 2: Dickies jumpsuit
“My femininity is an expression of my queerness and not my womanhood.
“Wearing skirts, wearing dresses just felt so uncomfortable because I didn't want to be perceived as a woman. But now that I am being perceived as more masculine, it's made me more comfortable to express that feminine side.
“I got this when I was still in my very masculine era, I didn’t really know who I was. So I was gravitating to more oversized clothing and things that wouldn't really show my figure too much, because I was trying to hide who I was.
“If I really wanted to, I could pass [as male], people would call me sir all the time. And I was craving for those little moments because it was gender affirming for me. So for me to put on something like this, it almost felt like armour … It felt like the outside was finally being reflected on what I felt on the inside.”
Item 3: Leather skirt
“I had been looking for a long skirt because it's become a huge trend on social media over the last eight months. More masculine-presenting guys are starting to embrace their femininity and wearing skirts and stuff like that.
“It's dark, and it's leather, which is more masculine, but it's still a skirt at the same time. And it's got so much flow in it. Like when I wear it I can twirl and it just blows up. It feels like my two worlds are finally being able to collide in a single piece of garment, which I think is super, super iconic.”
Shax H Ngāpuhi
Identifies as: trans man
How would you describe your style?
“Masculine, very aloof, and just very lazy.”
When was the first time you felt like your style reflected your true self?
“I think I was quite young, actually. I just got into my poppa's closet at about maybe five or six and then I threw everything and anything on and just liked the way I looked.
“[Poppa] was a huge influence when it came to style. He always wore whatever he wanted and didn't care.”
Item 1: Drunk Santa shirt
“It's just drunk Santas, but it's very important to me. Around the time I had purchased this I was going through a bad rap with gender identity.
“I learned that wearing wacky clothes made me feel better, because people look at the stuff on the shirt, not what's underneath. So it just kind of takes the attention away from my insecurities and puts out a confident self.
“When I wear this shirt, people look and I don't mind it because people are laughing at the shirt. They're not trying to inspect me. They're looking at what I'm wearing, and it's making them happier, I suppose.
“My mates are always asking me ‘why don't you get a new shirt? Why don't you wear a different shirt?’. My answer was always the same: It's just the one I feel more comfortable in.”
Item 2: Mushroom pants
“I got these pants with my partner at Hallensteins, we have matching pairs.
“Hallenstiens is a trans man’s best friend, they make a lot of baggy clothing. The outlet store in Manukau is probably my best mate at the moment, it’s really cheap.
“These pants mean a lot to me because my partner and I have matching pairs. We’re both currently on a journey to learn more about our gender identities. It just feels good to be able to go through something like that with someone else. I’m not going through this journey alone and these pants kind of symbolise that.”
Item 3: Boots
“These shoes are very worn out and they're not exactly the most comfortable anymore. I’ve had them since the beginning of my trans journey, they’ve been with me through the whole way.
“These were actually work shoes. But I just love the look of them. The more they kind of decompose, the more personality they get.
“I feel like they express my more masculine slide. When I put them on they make me feel more masculine.”
Pronouns: any pronouns “as long as it’s with respect” ?
Identifies as: non-binary / agender
How would you describe your style?
“Off-duty 90s supermodel.
“A lot of people grew up with Disney or Tom and Jerry, but I grew up with 90s supermodels. And I think because of them, I discovered my queerness.
“I would watch model documentaries where I would see the supermodel wearing an outfit from a different gender role. That showed me that the clothing you wear and the way you present [your gender] to the world doesn't necessarily reflect how you feel inside. As I grew up, I kind of built upon that.”
Item 1: Slip dress
“I wore this to my birthday when I turned 25. At that time, my parents moved in with me and that’s when they started to witness how I wear clothes daily. I think that was a bit of an adjustment for them and because of that, I started to doubt myself a lot.
“But on my 25th birthday, I made the decision that it was my birthday and I want to be who I am and spend time for myself. So that moment, when I wore this dress for my birthday, it made me feel a lot more assured about myself and who I am.
“My gender identity is a bit difficult for the world to see but that doesn't mean that I can't be happy with my identity.”
Item 2: Coat
“When I started to experiment [with my gender expression], I presented myself with clothing that made me look a lot more feminine. That went on for about three, four years. And then after that, I started to gear more towards big coats, big jackets, suits. I would wear a suit of some sort every day. Now I’m at the point in my life where what I wear is a combination of both styles.
“In this outfit, the coat represents the time when I explored my masculine side and what I wear underneath shows the feminine side. And I like the idea of them hugging each other in this outfit. It a good visualisation of how I feel about my queerness.”
In this outfit, the coat represents my masculine side and what I wear underneath shows the feminine side. I like the idea of them hugging each other in this outfit. It a good visualisation of how I feel about my queerness.”
Item 3: Rings
“I’ve been collecting rings for the past 10 years. A lot of my rings take inspiration from the 15th, 16th century ring.
“A lot of them look like they’ve been cracked, broken, been through fire [and] they don’t really fit together well. I feel like my rings are a physical and visual visualisation of how I feel inside as a person, which is a mixed bag of different gender things coming together. They don’t really make sense, but it makes sense to me.”
"As soon as I put it on, I realised I am trans."
"I’ve always known who I am.”
“I vogue because it makes me feel safe and makes me feel like I have purpose.”