1. Cykrus

    Cykrus New Member

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    Crossdressing in the 1990's

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Cykrus, Jan 10, 2017.

    Specifically how students and school faculty would react to or interact with a crossdressing student. The character in my story is a young boy in middle school that has worn primarily girls' clothing for the past two years. I'm trying to better understand the general attitude toward this in the time, and how most people would react given the stigma crossdressing had and has.
    I know this is a touchy subject and I'm trying to approach it with tact, but feel free to let me know if I appear ignorant at any point.

     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Is he identifying as transgender, or just cross dressing?

    Also, this will get a better answer if you're more specific about location.

    Honestly, the clothes I wore to school as a child were essentially unisex - are jeans and a Tshirt boy clothes or girl clothes?

    I'd say the reaction would probably greatly depend on how much attention is called to the clothing, either by the student himself or by others. If he's wearing jeans and Tshirts but the Tshirts are occasionally pink or something, it might not be a big deal. People would probably think he was gay, and depending on his personality he might get bullied for that, but I don't think the school would likely intervene (although depending on the administration, the reaction to the bullying might be different if the student was seen has having "asked for it").

    If he's wearing full on frilly dresses? I'd expect hand-wringing and parent-meetings and suggestions that the parents "force" him to dress according to gender rules. If the reaction to the outfits was disruptive, I'd expect the student to be blamed. Possible calls to social services if the parents didn't follow the school's advice.

    In general? At least where I was living in the '90s, I think it'd be seen as a behavioural/psychological issue and treated as a problem, to some degree or another.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  3. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    My thought would be that this would depend, a great deal, on the region of the country and the type of school. In a more liberal (by that I mean tolerant) location like, say, the Bay Area, it might be handled one way, and in, say, rural NC quite another. It would be handled differently on a large urban campus than in a small town or in a private school. Setting makes a difference.

    But, in general, middle school boys are vying for position and many are very brutal both verbally and physically in bullying those who are different. A cross dressing young teen might be befriended by some girls, but most boys would steer clear for fear of being caught up in being picked on along with him. He'd likely be a lonely kid unless he had one hell of a personality and the strength to stand up for himself. I think that if you talk to many trans adults, you'd find that they kept their true selves hidden thru middle school years. Plenty of conflict/drama material there for a novel, though.
     
  4. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Depends on the age of the students. Even liberal students would tease an 8th grade boy wearing girls clothes. Even now, it'd be very difficult. Acceptance of that kind of behavior is an extremely new thing. Even people who were okay with homosexuality still found it strange. There was a great Seinfeld episode about that very thing where George didn't want to come off as gay but also didn't want to come off as homophobic. The whole concept was that "gay is weird... not that there's anything wrong with that." Kids don't have the tact to add on the last part.

    Then again, Jerry Seinfeld is a New Yorker. Gay acceptance had been established here for a long time, we have had gay prides parades every year for decades.

    My guess is that the school wouldn't allow it. Public schools are perfectly allowed to enforce a dress code based on biological sex. Wearing a girls top is one thing, wearing a dress becomes a distraction to the learning environment which would not be tolerated. Even today, I'm not sure a boy could do that, usually the learning environment of the school overrides the personal rights of the students (who are underage and don't actually have the rights they think they do.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with @BayView's post. And I do want specifics about the boy's clothing and general appearance. And the boy's position on the matter, beyond clothing--does he consider himself a boy, or does she consider herself a girl? Is this just crossdressing, or more?
     
  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To add to all of the above questions...

    Are we talking early 90's, which is essentially still "the 80s", or late 90's where the rave scene had a heavy impact on homogenizing even the trendiest of clothing between boys and girls, and some level of androgyny was a thing that was more club than crossdressing.

    ETA: I was a Gap Inc. RM during the latter half of the 90's and my eye was very much on what young people were wearing. The whole JNCO / 26 Red club look was very much the same for guys as for girls and guys often shopped on the girl's side of my stores for shirts that had a tight fit and a "club look". Where I lived - Florida - as the jeans got bigger (culminating in "mammoths" by JNCO. I had a pair) the shirts got smaller. So, yeah.. exactly when, where, and how far over the line are we talking?
     
  7. Cykrus

    Cykrus New Member

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    Wow! Thanks so much for the quick replies, I was nervous about posting here for a while but it feels good to have so much help.

    To clarify, the character is in his second year of middle school, he is not transgender, and he simply dresses in girls' clothing because he feels most comfortable in it. He's belligerent, so most students avoid him, but he's generally quiet and won't start problems unless someone confronts him.
    He has one friend in the school, a girl that's much like him (aggressive and crass) but she's less passive and usually fights his battles for him.

    For the setting I was thinking some time between '96 and '99. I haven't decided exactly where but it would take place in a more "lower class" public school. I'm trying to think of a location in the U.S. wherein the school's administration would at least try to be accomodating, but if that's not realistic I could rethink that.
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, the character's personality and "outsiderness" is probably going to incite bullying since he's an easy target, no group to protect or shield him, but you still haven't mentioned how over the line with the clothing. It's one thing to have your eye pass over a shirt that maybe didn't come from the guy's side of the store, especially when set against a sea of students in different clothing; it's another thing for him to be in a skirt or a dress, there's no missing that.
     
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  9. Cykrus

    Cykrus New Member

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    Right, I missed that. Most likely he would wear a skirt only occasionally, probably jeans or other pants most days. He has long hair that's usually tied in a ponytail and has feminine features: fair skin, softer cheeks, small jawline
    It would be easy to mistake him for a young girl, as some students do. My intention is that his appearance is very noticable, in contrast to the way he talks and acts, which is more passive or concealing.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'd still like a definition of girls' clothing. Dresses? Ruffles and sequins? Or he just goes to the girls' side when he buys his jeans?

    Edited to add: missed a post. Reading.
     
  11. Cykrus

    Cykrus New Member

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    Well, nothing too flashy. This is one of the outfits I had envisioned him wearing, (maybe minus the stockings and the lace pattern on the blazer) from a quick google search:
    Blouse, blazer, and skirt.jpg
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Girl or boy, someone in a skirt that short might get sent home to change.

    I was an adult in the nineties and in high school in the early eighties. In the eighties, I'm pretty sure that this would be regarded as a big deal. I'm sure that the students would have either relentlessly tormented the student, or pretended that the student just wasn't there. Remember (yes, I'm pointing to fiction, admittedly) that Andie and Duckie in Pretty in Pink are tormented in part for just dressing a little bit quirkily, but still well within gender conventions. (They're also tormented for being poor.) And administration probably would have found some discipline grounds for forbidding this.

    In the nineties, I could imagine better awareness of transgender students would have started to grow, but if the student isn't transgender, the simplification of simply treating the student as their self-identified gender wouldn't be available. In my not very well informed opinion, this wouldn't have been regarded as a psychological issue, but one of self-expression. And self-expression through dress in the schools doesn't really get much legal protection.

    Really, cross-dressing in schools isn't at all reliably accepted right now, based on a few Google searches.
     

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