Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength.James E. Faust
Over the entirety of my relationship with Judy over the last seven years, one of her major concerns and topics of frustration has always been one of the dichotomy of my seemingly blasé attitude toward my male appearance set against my want for pretty dresses and satiny underwear for Savannah. From the very beginnings—when I was so excited to show her my Savannah side and revealed to her a closet full of dresses and shoes—Judy struggled with the idea that the uneven balance of the closets and drawers toward the feminine was not, in fact, a reflection of my want to be more feminine more of the time.
Recently, Judy reiterated her concerns over my attraction to certain fashions over others—the fact that I revel in satiny and lacy feminine clothing while being ambivalent to guy clothes unless needing to replace worn out things (even then, sometimes reluctantly). To her, my seemingly lack of interest in my male presentation reflected my lack of care and love for my male side as a whole. This assumption was only magnified when held up in contrast to Savannah’s love of dresses, leggings, heels, skirts and blouses. Some of Judy’s predisposition to her opinion of and worry for me was based on a lifetime of understanding why she put such an effort in to her own personal style. In her eyes, a lack of interest in how one looked was a lack of self-love. While there is a truth to that idea (dressed slovenly or wearing dirty clothes), I didn’t see any notion of that as how I see myself in my male presentation as Chuck.
But, Judy’s words resonated in me a search for my own answers to what, on the surface, seemed like a possible truth. It was a valid and deep question needing answers from my viewpoint. Why didn’t I have a stronger interest in adorning my male presentation at the same intensity as I focused on Savannah’s presentation? Was I, in fact, uncaring of who Chuck was because of how I dressed him? I found several reasons why my focus on Savannah eclipsed my focus on Chuck, including the concepts of time, comfort, safety, and personal choice.
You may ask yourself what the passage of time has to do with fashion. I am a genetic and biological male since birth. Therefore, I’ve spent nearly a half-century being clothed as Chuck. For Savannah’s life—after finally being able to openly pursue her developing style—it can be measured in mere months. She is younger and more inexperienced in understanding her still-developing personal fashion style, not having a childhood or adolescence to experiment with different looks. Savannah is attracted to shiny things, too-short things, heels too-high, and fabrics too-constrictive and loud. Luckily, she is getting much better in her personal choices, especially with the support of Judy and others interested in helping Savannah look her best.
So, my entire male life has been dictated by what was considered proper adornments for a boy and young male. In school, jeans and plain shirts were the norm. In the business world, khakis and Polos were part of the dress code (before business casual became the norm). At special engagements, a suit and tie were expected. In recent years, though, I found my male style to be one of comfort and wearing the things that brought me joy—namely, jeans, sneakers, and socks and graphic tees emblazoned with my favorite pop culture entertainment. A low-key, simple and comfortable look. A joyful male expression sometimes coupled with fleece pullovers and scarves. Savannah has also moved to a style based on the feel and fit of fabrics, still with an eye to an inferred sensuality and elevated feminine appearance. While Savannah loves comfy yoga pants and jeggings at home, she also loves to be dressy-dressed when out for #SavannahStarbucksSundays to embody an overtly feminine expression. This is what brings her joy in her feminine presentation. Both Chuck and Savannah’s current styles are a result of the influence of Judy, so she has only herself to blame. LOL
What may be less understood is the focus on feminine fashion based on the need of security and safety. What does this even mean? Well… Chuck doesn’t have any worries of being thought of as threatening or of being a target when walking out the door. Why would I? I am inconspicuous and blend into the fabric of public society, not extraordinary in any specific or meaningful way when seen from a distance or in a crowd. My maleness is just seen as part of normal life. There is nothing about me that screams, foreign. Savannah, on the other hand, worries about being considered strange, out of place, and undesirable when spotted out in the world. If clocked, I could be targeted by people who don’t understand what it means to be dual gender. These people may not approach me to get to know me better. So, while Savannah loves to be an attention-grabbing woman when in Starbucks, she also loves to feminine enough to blend into the crowd in order to mitigate such possible situations.
So, did these reasons help to better understand why I have more of an affinity toward feminine clothes over masculine clothes? The ultimate search for comfort, age, the search for style and safety? Maybe. What I didn’t illustrate well enough is the fact I am thrifty in both guises. I don’t shop for dresses or heels every weekend. I find pretty dresses at weekend thrifts if they catch my eye. I wear my heels until I feel they are too scuffed to be appropriate for public use. I purge older outfits when they become ill-fitting, torn, or holey—replacing them when I get a chance (usually once every four or five months when we hear of clearance deals at Ross Dress for Less or Dillards).
In both gender identities, I buy for utility and joy. The only difference is the clothes that spark Savannah’s joys are usually prettier and more formfitting. And, ironically, while Chuck enjoys comfort, Savannah is still a slave to creating a curvy feminine shape which will produce indentations in her skin when all the corsetry and shapewear is removed at the end of the day. Savannah’s heels have lost a couple of inches over the years as she finds a level of still in line with her perception of femininity. So, while outside observations may lead one to believe that I only care about enhancing Savannah’s life, appearance, and wardrobe, it really is only a matter of finding my true balance of self between my masculinity and femininity.
Savannah’s wardrobe takes up 75% of her closet and drawer space.
Savannah makes appearance on Sundays (unless an event calls for more).
But, in reality, Savannah is an equal half of the whole… making me the full person I am.