After a lengthy hiatus due to a medley of work and travel commitments, we’re proud to present our first Test Shoot of 2014. LGW travelled up to Dalston to shoot Morgan at home on a sunny but brisk Saturday morning in February. Morgan is a researcher, academic and vegan who specialises in international security, North East Asian regional politics and trans theory. He also plays classical and lo fi avant pop on the cello.
1. What is the significance of your top choices?These clothes reflect my masculinity, as I experience it right now—I’m going through a lot of changes.The green and cream patterned shirt is the first item of men’s clothing I bought with the intention of presenting as masculine—I found it at a thrift store in Amsterdam. It kind of gives me away as the pattern distorts around my chest, but I don’t care.
The collared shirt and tie outfit is what I wear when I perform with my cello or need to look sharp for things like business dinners. UN Special Envoys have complemented me in this and a friend told me it looks like Kraftwerk. It’s my power outfit.The slacks and navy polo, plus glasses, is comfortable and reminds me of some misunderstood geeky, Californian entrepreneurship. It’s a self-parody of my seriousness.The houndstooth collared shirt and ragged green sweater don’t mean very much—I just like collared shirts. I got the sweater for a song last week on a trip I took up North to find myself.This maroon tank-top is a holdover of my femininity, which is why I paired it with the jewelry. I like how my body, my face look different in the same old clothes and accessories now that I identity as trans/masculine: I like my face without make-up now, and I like how my body has changed since I started working out to gain muscle.The boots are what I wear every day—they’re so worn in my socks get soaked when it rains. The belt is my boyfriend’s (don’t tell him I’ve got it), vegan faux-leather. The jewelry was my grandmother’s.2. How do you define your own transmasculinity?My gender identity and presentation are fluctuating. I’ve felt uncomfortable with clear-cut femininity since I was a child, but it’s difficult to separate being inherently, biologically trans from my childish desire for male privilege. I think the “born this way” idea is problematic, if useful and convenient.
A few years ago I started binding and wearing white undershirts and slicking my hair back when I felt masculine, which was sexy. I started expressing my gender as exclusively transmasculine after Thanksgiving—I came back from America and bought a men’s suit, which makes me feel great.Sometimes I don’t feel “trans enough” because I don’t hate my body and I don’t want hormones or surgery. Being trans isn’t about erasing my femininity or my female anatomy—it’s me giving myself permission to express my masculinity.
3. What do you want to communicate through your choices?I’m experimenting with some pretty safe, standard masculinities, trying to embody all the attributes I felt denied to me as young woman: strength, confidence, rationality, professionalism. Obviously I don’t need to be male to be these things, but it’s nice that I don’t have to fight to be afforded recognition for them.I like the idea of mixing overtly-feminine gender cues with overtly-masculine ones to create a kind of hyper-androgyny—unbound breasts and facial hair, or lipstick and broad shoulders—but I’m a little too shy to pull that off just yet. In the meantime I’m happy with creating a little gender-confusion: “Is that a boy or a girl? I don’t care, s/he’s hot.” That’s the goal.I like recycled clothes. They’re sustainable and more interesting.4. How has your fashion/style evolved?As a kid I was a real (tom)boy: I wore baggy jeans and tight t-shirts. When my friends hit puberty, a few years before I did, I began to perform my gender: I read popular (boring) fashion magazines and wore 4 inch high heels and push-up bras to bolster my A-cup breasts. I wanted to be taller. But I also wore my brother’s collared shirts, oversized on me, with tattered jeans or pleated school-girl skirts.After I graduated from university I moved toward less obviously gendered clothes and started wearing a lot of jewelry. My style has also become more tasteful—I don’t wear clothes with logos or lettering, and I know how to buy clothes that fit me now.
5. How would you describe your relationship to clothes?I find my clothes in charity shops, which is fun but frustrating when it doesn’t work out. In the mornings (or afternoons) when I get dressed I like matching the patterns and colors of the layers of my shirts and sweaters. I like that I notice interesting clothes on other people and I’m not afraid to copy them anymore, regardless of their gender. My underwear is a lot more comfortable now that I wear boxer-briefs.I’d like to get more radical with my mixtures of masculinity and femininity, but it still feels pretty radical to present myself as masculine without having a mastectomy—I’m enjoying taking it slowly.