Question: forcing gender conformity

AlixXx asks…

what do I say when my school tells me I can’t wear makeup?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on February 15th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 25 comments »

25 Responses to “Question: forcing gender conformity”

  1. Mym

    It kind of depends… Tinker v. Des Moines is probably on your side if you’re not disrupting class, but actually acting on that probably depends on whether your parents or a teacher would support you.


  2. ecm

    tell them to explain why you shouldn’t with a reason that isn’t the fact that it doesn’t fit traditional gender norms. chances are they won’t be able to find one and you’ll be able to call them out on their ignorance.


  3. Anonymous

    Ask them why the ‘girls’ can then. Say they’re being sexist.


  4. poy born

    you say “what year is this? are you serious?”


  5. colleen

    Stay respectful and calm but know that if you go to a public school and the girl’s are allowed to wear makeup, it is defintley your right to wear it too.You could sue on the basis of gender discrimination and I’d say you’d have a 99% chance of winning.


  6. Mercury Mars

    look for this in the dresscode. is it even there? is there a written dresscode? ask what harm wearing makeup will cause. if they say you are distracting or bothering others, tell them that you are within your rights to do things that others do not like. if they say “you’ll be laughed at/beaten up/etc” tell them that it’s your prerogative to take laughs and their requirement to prevent violence.


  7. Anonymous

    (or at least threaten to.)

    And definitely keep wearing make-up, ’cause you rock.


  8. Louche

    My teachers often tried to make me say the Pledge of Allegiance, but I always refused. Sometimes they’d demand that I stand up, so I’d stand up and not say anything. Kind of ridiculous, but they never made such a fuss over it that I actually said the pledge or was punished. So just ignore them if they don’t try to punish you, and if they do and you feel like it, you can really make a big deal about it. If you don’t feel like doing that, then going with someone else said, you could say it’s to keep your skin healthy. Well, unless we’re talking about eyeliner and other obviously unhealthy things. Tell them that this is absurd because theatre students wear make-up all the time. (As does everyone on t.v. – otherwise the camera would just catch a horrible glare.)


  9. Nicholas

    I’ve always wanted to say this kind of thing to someone telling me I couldn’t do something or be someone that I wanted to:

    “Yeah, and I could say that women shouldn’t speak unless spoken to. I mean, as long as we’re taking a trip in the time machine, back before anyone had enough sense to mind their own business.”

    Very disrespectful, but you get to feeling that way sometimes when a remark “cuts deep.” (As you can see I’ve had some negative comments from women, and this always comes to mind after the fact. I have nothing against women, it’s just /rage!)


  10. Nicholas

    (I wish there was an edit button!)

    Don’t say what I said! Just think it, and think about how far we’ve come since then. You just have to keep at it and do your best to open minds everyday!


  11. Karen

    I agree with the sexism angle. Challenge them that if any students are allowed to wear make-up, all students are allowed to wear make-up. State it politely, yet firmly. If you are really serious, check with the ACLU, and research precedents. I’m not familiar with the case stated above, but it sounds like a good starting point for your research.

    Good luck!


  12. C

    Check your state’s laws for the magic phrase “gender identity.”
    If you know your state (country, sorry, realizing inter nationality just now.) provides protection for gender expression, let them know that the legally can’t enforce whether or not you wear makeup unless makeup is completely banned in the school.


  13. Tamar

    agree with what colleen wrote above. if females with feminine gender presentations (or any others within the student body) are allowed to wear make-up, all students must be allowed to do so. any gender-based rule is discriminatory. are your parents/guardians resources that you can use? if so, you and they can file a complaint with your school’s head/superintendent/whatev. if they wouldn’t support you on this, find another adult who will.


  14. James

    If female students are permitted to wear make up, then so should you. If its a rule for everyone, then unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do. Great advice here, good luck :)


  15. NG

    Your response should be: “Why?”


  16. Chris

    when I was kid, everyone told me girls can do whatever boys can do. Unfortunatly, they were ONLY referring to occupations. I wasn’t allowed blue shoes or black t-shirts or short hair. It is sexist to deny children (or teens or adults) oportunities to feel COMFORTABLE with their bodies, faces, clothing, etc.

    Now mirror this to your situation: it’s still sexist, it’s still wrong, and adult pressure is just as cruel as peer pressure.


  17. Alex

    I agree with Colleen completely.


  18. XylophoneGender

    While I haven’t found anything pertaining to schools, one thing that HRC does right by the trans community is keeping track of rights and protections in various states in the US:


  19. XylophoneGender

    You may also want to keep an eye on how this progresses:


  20. BamBam

    “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

    And if they tell you to shut up, yell at everyone to “come and see the violence inherent in the system!”


  21. Quince

    @BamBam: That’s great! Made my day.


  22. Anonymous

    What’s happening, there are two nasty comments on this site, I’ve never seen that. Hey volunteers! we need you!

    I wonder if for the trolls it sinks in on any level that they are reading the posts of a group of really very nice and original and creative people. I think my fantasy is that some angry person on the prowl would accidently stumble into a group of really quite nice genderforkers thank you very much and, in being induced to linger and drink a cup of tea, might discover that this whole idea of enforcing gender through humiliation really isn’t that fun of a way to spend an afternoon after all.


  23. Sarah

    Hey thanks for the flag! — just got the trolly comment that was here:

    What’s the other one?



  24. Chase

    I was born male and don’t pass that well, and I wear makeup to school whenever I can, and for three years no teacher has said anything. Prolly because I live in southern california where people are little less strict about this sort of thing.

    There are laws that protect your gender identity. If you bring this up to the school board or school officials they have to protect your decision to present the way you want to, and if they don’t, there are legal actions that can be taken.


  25. Elaine

    Wear as much or as little as the girls do. If your wearing crazy OTT make up, I can see their point, no-one is allowed to wear it. IF its just natural stuff like everyone else then just keep wearing it until they get sick of giving out to you :P good luck :)


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