THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
The New York Times had a couple of articles about the new gender fluidity being adopted by young people. In the article headlined “Blurring the Gender Lines in Japan,” the Times reported on another angle on gender presentation by young males in Tokyo on January 6, 2017. Our TWIT feature covered this as an item in the January 9, 2017 edition. In the Times’ Science section on January 24, 2017, they featured short profiles of seven young transgender individuals representing typical cross-gender identities and some non-binary views of gender as well.
In the latter article, the youths ranged in age from 12 to 20. I was impressed — and in honesty a little skeptical — of the articulateness of some of the young subjects. Maybe these kids mature more quickly because of their personal struggle with identity but the quotes did not sound like 12, 13 or even 17-year-olds to me. The 13 year old who identifies as a transgender boy (that is a F-t-M for us old-fashioned types) says that the transformation process takes too long, continuing, “I hate the body I have, I want it to transform and it is wrong that I have to wait until I am an adult.” I understand and sympathize but I always wonder about these things when most adults have a vastly different mind than they had as 13-year-olds.
Meanwhile, in Japan, some young guys are using makeup and feminine fashion styles to create a kind of alternate gender presentation that doesn’t indicate sexuality or any deeply held gender feelings. Although it’s being reported as a new variant of the gender landscape, it seems very akin to the androgyny of 1970s rockers or the neutrality of male models who popped up in the 2000s. Except for the use of cosmetics, their fashions are more “street” than typically feminine or drag-ish.
Toman Sasaki a star of this so-called “genderless danshi” or “genderless kei” movement told an interviewer, “At heart, I am a man. People should be able to choose whatever style suits them.” An 18-year-old who goes by the name Takubo agreed with some very traditional ideas about gender roles although he has adopted the genderless fashion for himself. “It’s just that you use makeup and dress how you want,” he said by way of explaining his own appearance.
The genderless danshi attract almost exclusively female followers at their musical presentations or other appearances. One of the audience at Toman’s rock shows said, “He looks like a girl but when you put that together with his maleness, I see him as a new kind of man.”
WHO IS SHE WEARING?
The Yahoo.com Style page had an interesting article about the recently completed Miss Universe contest. The article, headlined “Miss Universe Contestants Shattered the Pageant Dress Stereotype,” appeared on January 30, 2017.
The article pointed to the change in formal gown selections as the most notable evolution of the competition. “Contestants shifting away from wearing typical “pageant” looks (think voluminous tulle skirts with jewel-encrusted bodices in bright colors) and opting for more typical red carpet ready stunners. Marquis Bias (a pageant stylist), who is a fan of the trend, says that the change is being brought on by the participants themselves and that IMG, which bought the organization in late 2015, has also been a proponent of the shift.” I checked some of the contestants through the links on the original article and some gowns did appear to more closely resemble the daring, sleek designs of show biz awards shows than typical pageant gowns — as beautiful as they can be.
It certainly seems like the pageant thing is a dying holdover from a specific 20th century outlook. The Miss Universe pageant may hang on a for a time since some countries actually seem to care about their showings in the event. I don’t even know if the Miss America pageant still exists or is televised if it does still exist. It seems like as many people are interested in seeing the Drag Race contestants in gowns as the parade of interchangeable domestic or international female beauties that populate pageants. There have been numerous reports about inappropriately over-sexed prom gowns for high school girls which is influenced by daring celebrity fashions. How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen all we can see nowadays?
The ever-multiplying number of red carpet events and ubiquitous photos of outrageously exposed women at the events has eclipsed the idea of beauty pageants. We’d rather see some actress’ side-boob gown or a singer’s no-underwear see-through dress than wait once a year for unknown pageant queens to strut their stuff. As crossdressers, we may have even dreamed of one day wearing a beautiful confection like a Miss Something or Other gown. Well, forget about that, honey. Now you gotta be able to squeeze into some strapless, nude, cutout, high slit, see-through, push up, deep plunge thing in size 00. Tucking will be the least of your worries.
NOW THAT’S A DRESS!
In my mind, the topic of red carpet dresses begins and ends with Rose McGowan’s gown at an MTV awards show. Can you believe that was back in 1998 — almost twenty years ago? The fishnet and beaded (and not much else) gown was way ahead of its time. Other red carpet ladies have worn very revealing dresses since then but for straight out nudity, no one has been as brazen as Rose was on that fateful night while she was dating rocker Marilyn Manson. That dress is old enough now to enroll in college. It should get a full-ride scholarship.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IS COMING
I was browsing around the internet and came across a RocketNews24.com site celebrating International Women’s Day for 2015. The page featured photos of several young guys in female makeup and hair-do’s.
The website explained it all this way: “International Women’s Day is held every year on March 8. Around the globe, people celebrate women with reverence, admiration and love and give praise to women’s economic, political and social achievements. While it’s not an official holiday in Japan, it is often celebrated by people in their own way. For example, some organizations wear the color purple in support of ending violence against women. Others participate in “Walk In Her Shoes,” a charity event where both men and women wear heels and walk eight kilometers. ACQUA, a hair salon in Tokyo, is adding its own event to show support for women. The salon’s talented men want to show their thanks and support to the multitude of women who come to their shop by getting made up like one.”
I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember ever hearing of International Women’s Day before. Having poked around to learn more, I discovered that the governing body for the event includes transgender women in their celebration of all things woman — and have done so for several years. They also featured James Bond actor Daniel Craig in drag back in 2011 to get attention for its celebration. I saw an announcement for a drag show in Canada that was being held to raise awareness also.
If you’re going out crossdressed on March 8 and your mother-in-law, boss or neighbor spots you, just tell them you’re celebrating International Women’s Day.
MONK SEE, MONK DO
The “This Week in Transgenderism” feature here on TGForum.com had a short item about Kodo Nishimura in the January 29, 2017 edition. The linked story from the NewNowNext.com website begins like this: “Drag queen, makeup artist, Buddhist monk. One of these things may not sound like it belongs with the others, but Kodo Nishimura is here to prove us wrong. The 26-year-old lives in Tokyo as both a Buddhist monk and a makeup artist, who has recently painted the faces of Miss Universe contestants.” (There’s that pageant again!)
I wonder if the old-time male makeup artists who worked in Hollywood back in the day were closet queens, also. So many of the new breed seem to enjoy dolling themselves up as much as their clients. The newsworthy angle with Kodo is the Buddhist monk component. I don’t know anything about Buddhism so maybe it’s cool to perform as a drag queen when you’re not performing your monk-ly duties. The NewNowNext article said that “[Kodo’s] mentor eased his fears by letting him know that “it isn’t wrong if it helps you deliver your message to people.” The world might be a better place if some of our homegrown preachers delivered their message by simply lip-syncing soundlessly in the tradition of all great drag queens.
The interesting thing about Kodo’s transformation is that he definitely goes for the glamour. You might think a spiritual person would try to channel a sedate, ethereal femininity that expresses its one-ness with the universe through a minimalist presentation. Hell, no, sweetheart. Like the Miss Universe contestants Kodo cosmetizes, he’s dolled up loud and proud, bless his heart.
It occurs to me that few men who dress as women adopt a homespun look like normal working or homemaking women, equal rights crusaders from the ’70s, or today’s healthy outdoorsy flannel shirt and jeans casualness. So why should a Buddhist monk be any different?
THEIR LIPS TO GOD’S EAR
Kodo Nishimura’s Buddhist monk drag queen reminded me of another “religious” order in the drag world — The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters were (and still are) a San Francisco based band of drag/gender-bending performance artists founded in 1979. According to their website, “The Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”
The Sisters often wear facial hair with their makeup and drag, spearheading a long-forgotten look recently revived by Eurovision contest winner Conchita Wurst and some of the new breed of male makeup queens. The Sisters are definitely not out to look glamorous, I think it’s safe to say. But being fabulous in the pursuit of progressive causes is a very common tradition in the drag community. Flame on, Sisters.
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