Queer / Trans -visibility (flannel + mullet)

When I first started coming out as a lesbian(?) at age 17, I was paranoid that people would be able to tell my sexual orientation just by looking at me.  I suppose it didn’t concern me enough, though, to change my appearance.  I had tried that in 9th and 10th grade (grew my hair out long, actually went to the mall with people and looked in the womens’ sections), and I couldn’t keep it up.  I wore a lot of hoodies, a lot of flannel, saggy pants.  I wore this one down vest that my mom had made when she was in college, all the time.  My hair was dyed bright orange at that time; it was really short.  The first person I came out to was my childhood best friend.  I was totally freaked out to be talking about this out loud; I managed to ask her somewhere in there if it was obvious.  This was really important to me.  She probably could sense my discomfort and stretched the truth to tell me what I needed to hear.  She told me no.

Later on in college, my hair styles and fashion sense got even more bold.  I had fluorescent sneakers before florescent sneakers were a thing.  (They were classic style Sauconys.  I had one pair that had a color gradient from hot pink to yellow, and one pair that did the same thing between bright blue and purple.  I sometimes wore one of each.)  I started bleaching and cutting my own hair, usually into a mohawk.  I only shopped at thrift stores:  if the article of clothing was in the boy’s / men’s section, and it popped out on the rack, it’d probably appeal to me.  I knew I enjoyed standing out, but I didn’t think of it as a queer look, specifically.  So when I got a note slipped under the door of my dorm, from someone who had a crush on me (a girl!), I really questioned how she knew how I was gay.  I deduced it was the teeny tiny rainbow ribbon I wore on my backpack.  Because, that’s what it was there for!

When I told her about this much later, she just laughed, and I think it suddenly clicked at that point:  I looked queer, and I was glad about that.  And I probably always looked queer.  In retrospect, that was a good thing.  I was no longer mortified by the idea of that.

Trans and queer people fall everywhere within visibility spectrums, and that either does or does not match where they would ideally like to be.  It is possible to control it somewhat, to experiment with clothing, mannerisms, etc., but sometimes you just are who you are, and it’s often preferable (in my mind at least) to get comfortable with that.  Of course it’s not always, in the world we live in, preferable:  there are issues of safety to take into consideration.  But in an ideal world, it’s great to really just  be able to settle back into how you naturally tend to present, whatever that looks like.

I wear a lot of flannel, and I have a mullet.  Lesbian stereotypes.  (Even if they are outdated), I’m not a lesbian.  I just happen to like plaids and this hair style.  The reason for the mullet:  I don’t want to have long hair, but I do want my thin, slender, feminine neck to be framed by hair, to obscure it.  It works in making me less self-conscious – I’ve had this hair style for probably over 10 years now (It morphs into a sort of mull-hawk in the summer months)…  I think mullets have shifted from lesbian / 80s rocker into queer hairdo territory.  OK, actually I don’t know of other people sporting mullets, but if I did, I’d see them as queer!  As for flannels, those are versatile and timeless.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m visible as a trans-person.  I would like to be, but I’m not sure what to do to increase visibility, other than wearing a teeny tiny pin on my bag (haha.)  I like the idea of being visibly queer, but cringe at the thought of being seen as a lesbian.  I think I’ll get to where I want to be, slowly, eventually.  For now, I’ll just continue to rock this mullet and collect those flannels.

flannel, mullet

flannel, mullet

 

flannel, mullet

flannel, mullet

1.5 years on testosterone

flannel, mullet


20 Comments on “Queer / Trans -visibility (flannel + mullet)”

  1. I super don’t read as any kind of queer, being your stereotypical average-weight white girl who more or less dresses in a feminine manner (you could call me a “lazy femme”, if that’s a thing). One reason I wanted to get a pretty drastic sidecut was exactly so that people would read me as queer. I don’t know if it worked, but it makes me feel like I stand out at least a little bit. You’re right, it’s hard to use your clothing to code yourself when you have a style you prefer and don’t really feel comfortable deviating from that. I think people forget that, and then assume however you dress is purposeful and not just whatever you pulled from the rack. I think I’m babbling now, though. Anyway, flannel rocks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janitorqueer says:

      Yeah, I think you said that really well, that it’s just what you’re comfortable with, and isn’t always purposeful… My partner read this with me and she says she totally relates to the “lazy femme” and the getting of a haircut to help with being read as queer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • witlessX says:

      Yeah I try real hard to be purposeful in how I dress, however, i dont wear makeup – yet – or dresses and I wear jeans, cords, plain shorts, and straight forward T shirts. Even though I only wear women’s clothes, they are generally gender neutral. So, basically, I offer no clues through clothing. However, my vocal mannerisms have folks thinking I’m female over the phone, even in my regular – essentially – guy voice!!! I am also finally free to speak whatever body language I wish. And, the hormones, they were the real focus for me: will they make enough changes to my body to make the world view me as female, say, in a photo.

      I want my body to tell people I’m, female/trans. Finally pretty mush there too, woohoo! lol, right now I’m wearing my last men’s shirt, flannel from the Gap – soft – and the only kind of men’s undies that are comfy for me – Russell SoftSomething.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. witlessX says:

    I will find it very hard to tease about mullets ever again, wonderful post! One of my standard questions to people that know me from before transitioning is, “Did you think I was gay or anything?” I don’t remember anyone saying yes…

    Like

    • janitorqueer says:

      Thanks for refraining from mullet teasing! And it’s interesting that how you were read before seems different from what you were expecting… would you say that’s true?

      Liked by 1 person

      • witlessX says:

        Yeah, it’s kind of a standard question I ask anyone I like who new me pretransition. Here are the responses I’ve gotten, actual quotes:

        Question: Did you know? Did you think I was gay or something?
        Answers: Overwhelmingly most common answer, “nope, no clue!” One sister said, “The best kept secret ever.” Once a friend said: “I knew there was something.” Two different gender queer students said the following, “Yes, because last year in your class I could see your pain and it seemed the pain I feel.” She’s trans. Another students said, “I told my friend last year that I think you are transgender. He said, ‘No fuckin way. He’s like the most manly man…” Wow, that one is nuts!

        So my friends and family have always thought of me as a hetero sexual man, however, strangers and acquaintances have often – often enough to create a theme, anyway – assumed I was gay for my entire life, whether an ally, homophobe, or angry homo.

        Like

  3. eliotquad says:

    I totally feel this. I get read as a butch lesbian probably 85-90% of the time. And it’s sort of like, what else could I even wear, you know? What could be more masculine than plaid button-downs and men’s jeans? I’ve got an undercut too so I’m totally in the “queerdo” hair category as well. And somehow, it still doesn’t communicate what I want to.

    Similarly, even though what I wear DOESN’T communicate what I want, I can’t ever wear more feminine stuff now because then that 90% goes up to 100% and god, I at least want a CHANCE people won’t think I’m a girl, you know?

    but to end on a positive note: yeah, flannel is the best.

    Like

    • janitorqueer says:

      yeah, I’ve toyed with the idea of dressing more formally to be seen as more masculine… that’s totally a thing! – being all dapper… but I’m just not comfortable in vests and bowties. It’s fun to dress up, but that hardly constitutes a style – I couldn’t keep that up!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. saloys says:

    Thanks for the post. This kind of reminds me of me. I was always surprised that my friends would mention me being gay in passing–like everybody knew about it. So, I realize now that I was coming across as a lesbian–something I really did not want to be seen as since I do not ID as female. I consider myself a straight trans male and I’m working on making myself appear more that way, including hopefully top surgery this summer. Thanks for your posts. I don’t always comment, but I do enjoy reading them. I really hate that flannel shirts are labeled lesbian. I love flannel shirts. Wearing one now.

    Like

    • janitorqueer says:

      I know flannel shirts are great, right?! I’m also hoping that top surgery will help with being read more how I’d like to be read – I am looking forward to wearing t-shirts and tops that fit a little more snugly. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  5. Fredrication says:

    I’ve tried to be more feminine/masculine/anyone else in periods most my life, but I could never keep it up. Now, in my transition, I’m very conscious about not trying to adapt someone else’s style, but to cultivate my own. I’d rather be quirky but true too myself than tying to be something I think others would want me to be.

    Like

  6. Jamie Ray says:

    You can almost divide the transgender community into those who want to go stealth and/or assimilate into cis-normative culture and those of us who want to be out/visible in our queer-trans-spectrum labeled lives.
    Coming from the lesbian/gay community I can’t imagine being closeted about anything including being trans – I don’t want to hide who I am. So wear your plaid flannel and mullet proudly, even if it isn’t always read properly.

    Like

    • janitorqueer says:

      Well put! I think people can be trans in so many different ways – there’s no “right” or “wrong” way, of course; but it’d be great if peoples’ different decisions or ways of going about things could be respected more because everyone has reasons for choosing to live the way they do, and all those reasons are valid.

      Like

  7. micah says:

    Being queer is so much about STYLE and finding your own!

    Unfortunately my style is preppy teen boy, so sometimes I feel like an outsider in with the queers, but I compensate with bright clothing. In high school I had an all-orange outfit, which included orange sneakers. Oh the 90s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • janitorqueer says:

      That’s awesome! Any pictures of you in your orange outfit? My spouse says that sounds totally cool and she loves monochromatic outfits.

      Once in high school, 3 friends and I went grocery “shopping for colors” – we each wore a color and filled our carts with items of that color. (then we put it all back.) I was purple. I also had a buzzed head at that point. That was a brief thing!

      You are so right that being queer is a lot about style!

      Like

  8. Emily Gritz says:

    Yessss to the mullhawk! My hair stylist got really excited about an idea he had in mind yesterday (stripes on one side, some military looking undercut on the other side), but I told him we are doing something else next time–I told him a shaggy faux hawk. Now I know to say mullhawk 😀 Great post, Kameron.

    Like

  9. stan says:

    “I like the idea of being visibly queer, but cringe at the thought of being seen as a lesbian”

    omg do I FEEL you. This is the molten core of nearly all of my social insecurities. “If I wear this button down will I be read as a masc female instead of a trans***person?” (yep), “Does this haircut scream suave dyke instead of qt andro transboy?” (yep). Knowing that people see me as a masculine presenting female 100% of the time rather than as an androgynous gender ~ambiguous~ person is deeply unsettling to me. It’s not even that I want to ‘pass’ per se, more like I want people to get flustered not knowing what pronoun to bestow upon me and stop being so damn sure of themselves when they call me ‘miss’. Oof if only I could try on some testosterone for a while and decide whether or not the permanent changes are ones that make me more comfortable in myself or not.

    ╮( ̄ω ̄;)╭

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey, Tegan and Sara both rocked mullets back in ~2007 and they were hot AF. While I personally could not pull one off, I have respect for those who can.

    Liked by 1 person


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