The Boy in a Dress

Let me get this absolutely straight:

a) There is NO deterministic connection between human biological characteristics and the expression of self-identity in social contexts.

b) By this I mean: my biology and my dress are not foundationally connected. My sex organs and chromosomes do NOT determine what I can or cannot wear in terms of clothing.

c) Dress is a communicative channel, used as one aspect of personal identity ‘signalling’ found between individuals and the social-order at large.

d) The meaning of any communicative function (‘signal’) is in the person who encodes/transmits the message, and the persons who decodes/receives it — NOT in the message itself.

e) The normative aspects of dress and fashion are formed from tradition and the exigencies of culture (which in turn derive from the economic mode of society), NOT any biological process.

f) Culture, tradition, and the normative rules that develop within these domains, change as societies evolve.

What this all means, essentially, is that you can wear what the hell you like. You don’t have to wear trousers because you’re a boy, or a dress because you’re a girl. There is no ‘natural law’ that says so. This applies as much to children as to adults, and only the wishes of adults can determine what children are compelled to wear. Since these wishes are part of cultural inheritance, they change as society changes — hence any furore about a child wearing a dress at school is purely concened with the resistance of some adults to social change, and their angst over their OWN sense of identity in a dynamic world.

I hope this contributes to silencing some of the absolute reactionary DRIVEL I’ve seen written on the subject recently.