I am a transgender author. I identify outside of the woman-man binary, viewing that paradigm as limiting and unnecessary. Living in Denver, Colorado, I have more opportunities to express my gender than most trans persons do. Safety often has to take precedence for many others because of the rampant discrimination our community faces.
Which is why I was so encouraged by Billy Porter's gender blending gown. Porter expertly used his platform to draw greater attention to the ways in which both cis and trans persons are harmed by rigidly enforced gender roles.
In an interview with Vogue , Billy Porter explained that he often felt limited in his expression while growing up. He disclosed experiencing discrimination when he stepped outside of what was considered 'manly', which consequently lead to a period of distressing silence while Porter tried to appease others' expectations of what he should look like.
In this same interview, Porter disclosed that this discrimination was not past but present. While wearing his gorgeous cape to the Golden Globe Awards, Porter was aware of the shock and stares of those around him. Even in environments that proclaim a commitment to greater inclusivity and diversity, gender expression is still policed.
"When I landed a role in Kinky Boots, the experience really grounded me in a way that was so unexpected. Putting on those heels made me feel the most masculine I’ve ever felt in my life. It was empowering to let that part of myself free."--Billy Porter in an interview with Vogue.
I am grateful a cisgender man stepped outside of the binary box and became empowered enough to shatter expectations. In doing so, Porter encourages other cisgender persons to be more flexible in their notions of 'acceptable' gender. That's a true moment in allyship.
When I as a trans person see cisgender people relaxing into gender fluidity, I am encouraged to keep fanning the flames of my hope that things CAN change. Here's to Billy Porter, the tuxedo gown, and non-binary awesomeness.
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