Drew Cordes

Halloween: The Transgender Christmas

Filed By Drew Cordes | November 01, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: crossdressing, Halloween, transgender, transgender children

I half-jokingly refer to Halloween as "The Transgender Christmas." I consider halloween.jpgit 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.

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While I certainly find nothing wrong with people trying to test drive the other gender and thereby finding they are living a lie. I do however have a problem with those who remain in the closet and support those who would keep Trangendered people in the closet.

I never cross-dressed for halloween, but then i usually don't dress up all that much at all. But I've heard a lot from trans people about halloween.

Lord, I have. Three times. Once I won the prize for best costume even. It was hell typing with those long nails though!

Pictures! We need pictures, Bil! :)

Maybe I could do a post on "Have you done drag?" and include the pics. Good idea, Drew. :)

As a woman who's trans, while I totally get that Halloween is about being able to live out wishes and fantasies... for me the holiday is about costumes and make believe and I never considered my gender identity a costume or a fantasy nor did I ever cross-dress on Halloween. I think it felt way too painful to 'pretend' to be a woman and then stop it the next day.

But, hey, it's all a spectrum... so they say. We need more excuses to do fun dress up in this country.

Halloweeen can be a very revealing time. Y'know, when 'that' guy turns up at the party cross dressed, and looking rather TOO convincing, for it to be a one off attempt!

I never cross-dressed for Halloween for that very reason. I might not only be too good to appear to be doing it for the first time, but it also come a little too close to exposing a side of who I was that I was desperately trying to keep hidden. Now if I do go out for Halloween I just tend to try to dress like I wished I could when I was in my teens.

ShipofFools | November 2, 2010 6:22 AM

Where I live we didn't have Halloween but a similar holiday with dressing up. Growing up as a fledgling trans guy in a rural area in the early 70s, it was my one reason to survive the year. I started months before the holiday building elaborate male costumes that would allow me to walk around the village as fully male for three days.

My experiences with Halloween metamorphosized a little over the years. Growing up in a radical Fundie household, there were only a few years where the thought that it was "too satanic" lapsed enough to be able to indulge in costume festivities. Even in those exception years, there was only one where I dared take on a female costume, and faced grilling on it endlessly though the ordeal and afterward.

After I broke ranks with religion and left home, it was definitely an opportunity to finally present as female, but also a source of depression whenever the costumes had to be put away.

Today, it's no longer a chance to be closer to myself, so it's not as enchanting as it was before. However, it's evolved into an excuse to do something adventurous, and break from who I am, rather than assume who I am. It's strange.

I still use it as a metaphor in Trans 101 talks: that prior to transition, it was actually every other day that was Halloween; every other day that I put on a costume and pretended to be someone else. Because that's how it felt, to the point of distraction, 24/7... but definitely a whole lot less exciting.

While I get that for some people, Hallowe'en is about getting engaged with their freaky side, I've always been really disconcerted on Hallowe'en, particularly because of all the folks cross-dressing.

When you walk around every single day feeling like people think you look like some kind of peculiar, costume-y joke; it's a little unnerving to see a bunch of people wearing peculiar joke-y costumes.

I am in the same boat as the poster who commented that her gender is not a costume; it's real life and I don't feel related to the cross-dressers on Hallowe'en in the same way.

From speaking with friends, it can sometimes feel this way for people with disabilities as well. Hallowe'en is deeply rooted in the concept of the Freakshow; a phenomenon that, while engaged with, has never been kind to the disabled or the transsexual.


Angela Brightfeather | November 3, 2010 12:45 PM

We have to kep a bit quiet about what Halloween means to Trans people as an opportunity to come out. If the right finds out about it, they will try and pass a law in this congress that limits the celebration of Halloween and the donning of costumes to only those under the age of 12 years old and to those attending "private" parties.