I half-jokingly refer to Halloween as "The Transgender Christmas." I consider it our biggest holiday. It's the one time of year mainstream society gives a free pass to gender-benders. Open and closeted crossdressers, trans and genderqueer people can express themselves as they please. They're even encouraged to do so. While most of society uses Halloween to be someone else, we take advantage of the day to be more true to ourselves. It is sad that our culture needs the excuse of a holiday to accept us as such, but that doesn't mean we can't take full advantage of it.
My love for this magical day was confirmed once again this year. I headed out on the town with a crossdressing friend who dressed as a German beer wench. He was not only a hit, but men and women alike complimented him on his legs and his ability to rock spike heels like a supermodel. If his girlfriend was not on his arm, he would have had no trouble finding some companionship for the night.
This does not happen on Arbor Day.
While I thoroughly enjoy the recent movement for adults to celebrate Halloween (perhaps a little too thoroughly this year, oy), this transformative day can be a refuge for queer and questioning kids as well. If you watch enough of those hour specials on the lives of trans people on Lifetime and Discovery Health, you'll hear Halloween mentioned often. Parents struggling to accept their troubled trans kids always mention the day as a bright spot -- the one time of year they saw a beaming smile return to their child's face as they were finally allowed to dress the way they wanted. Though not all parents allow their kids this experimentation, for some seeing this joy can provide a breakthrough of understanding.
Personally, I was terrified of dressing as a girl on Halloween as a child. I wanted to do it so badly, but I was too confused, conflicted and paranoid. Seeing straight-as-an-arrow friends in dresses made me jealous, but with a tinge of optimism that dressing "en femme" was even allowed. Seeing other boys in girls' clothes and understanding that I had the option myself forced me to deal with my feelings. I didn't have the guts, but it got me thinking about doing it, why I wanted to do it and what that meant. And that was a positive step in the process of figuring out who I was.
I don't need the day for refuge anymore, but seeing all the closeted adult crossdressers and genderbenders come out of the woodwork to claim their day of fun always makes me smile. And it's heart-warming to know there are boys and girls who can express themselves without fear of reprisal during at least one time of year. I can't wait for next year.