Transgender Americans are under continuous attack for the way they are willing to dress. Across the nation, the Republicans have launched various legislations that bar access to gender-affirmed healthcare.
Along with censorship of ways gender is discussed in schools and prevention of trans persons from having access to public restrooms.
Moreover, trans people are also being restricted from participating in drag and cross-dressing on stage.
In 2023, Tennessee is one state that has criminalized drag races at a term when children are present.
Montana is another state where Republicans have restricted representative Zooey Zephyr from presenting her voice opposing the ban and criminalization of drag races. The bill presenting the idea of criminalizing drag is presented to the governor’s desk.
Attacks toward gender conformity and cross-dressing, in particular, have a long history in the United States. Anti-drag laws in the region have been prevalent for a long period of time.
The recent bill passed in Tennesse regarding criminalization has been long prevalent within municipal codes of 20th century US.
As laws are not new, so is not the fight against such regulation by queer activists. In the 1960s and 1970s, activists were noted for their ability to argue that sartorial censorship negatively impacts anyone who does not conform to traditional gender norms.
Legal attacks on gender conformity in states like Florida, Montana, Tennessee, and Iowa have high similarities with the 20th century.
Regulations criminalizing cross-dressing, female personation, and masquerades are continuously developed for harassing and discrediting trans communities in the US.
Feminists dress like men to protest gender inequality, sex workers signal their availability, and anyone confirmed as transgender is being threatened by these regulations.
Arresting individuals for such acts has major consequences, resulting in losing their employment and families. While many have endured violence from police officers.
Various litigators have stated that cross-dressing bans are unconstitutional. To provide strong evidence, many lawyers began to bring in fashion designers and experts for the gender identification of certain pieces of attire.
For instance, the gender of a pair of shoes cannot be determined, whether it is male or female. One judge quoted: “What distinguishes the male high-heeled shoe from the female? Is it the thickness of the heel or the sole, the design of the toe, the contour of the instep or just what?”
Many litigants have also stated that gender non-conformity deserved constitutional protection.
An instance of two trans women being arrested in Chicago resulted in them successfully defending the constitutional right to dress any way they want.
This argument was defended by stating the Right of Expression as per the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Whether we are transgender or cisgender, we will all be negatively impacted by state-generated gender norms. Because today’s fashion has been noted to crisscross gender in brands that are luxury and athleisure.
Gender plays through fashion, which allows all individuals to try both feminine and masculine styles. And also allows gender-neutral options as well.
So, bans on drag performance and cross-dressing pose a threat to our fundamental freedom to express our gender through personal appearance, regardless of the sex assigned at birth.