When I was young, I was a free spirited child, always being my non-apologetic self. From dressing up as a princess for local festivities to my barbies being my friends; from asking my auntie to paint my nails to finally trying on my mom's wedding dress the minute I was “big” enough; from taking dance classes to carrying myself and my posture in a effeminate manner: in hindsight it seems like I was always exploring my gender identity.

I often think about what it was that made me bold enough to do these things. It could be the total freedom of my childhood, the child-like outbursts of creativity or growing up in a supporting family. When I was young however, I never truly realized that I was different or that I was pushing boundaries. Later in life, the realization that indeed I was “different” did arise. I didn't fit in the mold society had created for me: the pressure to follow certain ideals of masculinity kicked in. Boys are taught how to be masculine at a very young age, and girls are told how to behave like a “girly girl” all the time. We assign characteristics and visual traits to people according to societal ideas on gender. A man should be tough and strong; women poised, sweet and sensitive.

I am still struggling with my relationship to posture, movement and clothing. In a way I’m jealous of how I used to be and how I used to carry myself when I was between two and six years of age. The innocence, playfulness and the total freedom of mind so inherent to this stage of life is something to strive towards as a young adult. Thus, I want to find a way to reconnect with my younger self. Would trying on a dress fuel some new sense of freedom? Or some sense of playfulness?I decided to play dress up and try on a dress. At first it was freeing but it also brought with it a heightened consciousness of my body. The dresses enforced a change in my posture, attitude and movement. My posture changed from vertical and horizontal lines into diagonal and crooked lines. I placed my hands in my waist and tilted my shoulders. You could say, those dresses unconsciously asked for an effeminate posture and manner.

Every garment has a binary code: a description manual stating how it should be worn and who should be wearing it. Through experimenting with placing my own body and consciousness in a garment that, according to its binary code, my body shouldn’t be wearing, I unraveled parts of said code.


I have a vivid memory of trying my mother’s wedding dress when I was young. I remember trying it on, my mother taking pictures and me absolutely falling in love with wearing such a beautiful gown. As far as I can remember, this is one of the moments I felt the most feminine and pretty as a young boy.

When I think about getting married, my thoughts immediately lean towards a woman in a gown and a man in a tailored suit. Therefore, as a homosexual man, I feel as I could never get married because I can’t live up to that picture, painted by a society based on heterosexuality. In her book Gender Trouble (1990), Judith Butler quotes Michel Foucault saying that the category of sex, prior to any categorization of sexual difference, is itself constructed through a historically specific mode of sexuality. Butler states that the differentiation in gender is constructed through heterosexual experience, behavior and desire. Thus femininity is constructed and defined by what the (heterosexual) male states are attractive attributes to a woman and therefore masculinity by the opposite.

“Both masculine and feminine positions are thus instituted through prohibitive laws that produce culturally intelligible genders, but only through the production of an unconscious sexuality that reemerges in the domain of the imaginary.”

By realizing that gender itself is constructed through a long history of heterosexual relations between humans, it only feels natural to me to question the constitution that has shaped heterosexuality throughout history and withholds me for thinking that I, as a gay man, could not partake in its ceremony because of its binary code. Within my research method Male To Female Dress, I decided to step in performative matrimony by trying on the garments that my parents wore when they were married. By doing this I try to challenge the binary aspect of marriage.

For now, that has only made more questions emerge: What could it  mean if a man was wearing the gown instead the woman? What happens when those gendered garments converge? Is there a way to reshape marriage to fit all kinds of love?


To further unravel the rules of the dress I developed an embodied research method where the male participator is invited to re-dress into an archetypical garment associated with female dress. Would the dress have the same influence on men that don’t have my connotation with dressing up? Would those men experience the same changes in posture, attitude and movement? But most importantly, by pushing those men outside of their comfort zone, I’m pushing them to explore outside their own gender identity. I am trying to push boundaries. Maybe when those boundaries will blur, I and many others would feel comfortable again to get in touch with the innocence, playfulness and total freedom of mind that our younger selves used to carry.