We collaborated with some of our favourite designers who do not merely challenge, but dismantle the gender binary with their rebellious, honest, audacious looks.
Cheng Huai Chuang, Hardeman Wardements, Laurence & Chico Luar, Vasilis Loizides Maison the Faux, Private Policy
I’m not sure when or how it started. sometimes it’s like a slow ache in your neck or the prick of a needle into your skin. Before i had language for it, the pain was an anonymous symptom of everyday life. it’s there when you wake up and go to bed, it follows you down the street, it hovers by mirrors and closets. dysphoria is a tricky bastard that way.
At age nineteen I had a panic attack because I was wearing a skirt and had long hair. Something had clicked in my brain—this is all wrong. I didn’t know why. It just was. So I cut off the hair. Wore “men’s” clothing. Bought a binder. My transformation may not have altered the dysphoria, but it was dramatic enough to ease the discomfort. It let me breathe.
I like to imagine that my body is a flesh suit, one that doesn’t always fit. The artist Polly Nor has a series of illustrations depicting devils putting on skin suits, washing their skin suits, picking out a different body from their closet. When I saw them I thought, Yes, someone gets it. I am a trans-mutation and I am overwhelmed by the lack of body suits I have to choose from.
On Alika—Vasilis Loizides Double Green Dress, SYRO Golfo Plaid Boots, Laruicci Crystal with Gold Hoop Earring, On Cheeky—Vasilis Loizides Green Chaps, Green Chandelier Top and Chest Harness, SYRO Golfo Black Patent Boots
Presentation, then, is the next best thing. If fashion is an expression of the queer self, a signifier to others that I am here in a network of like-minded twinks and butches and zaddies, for non-binary and trans people it is that and a retaliation against dysphoria, a “fuck you” to everyone who says “I do not see you. You do not exist.” Passing or not, incognito or loud ‘n’ proud, trans people use clothing and style as a tool to survive, as a punctuation to their gender, and whatever a trans person wears, I guarantee you it is radical. People lose their lives for presenting as themselves.
I am the curator of my gender, the architect of my body, and the seamstress of this flesh suit. Fashion becomes not only an expression of the self, but the very skin we live and breathe in.
‘Dysphoria’— Max Van Cooper