Oxford University’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Society” recently put forth an initiative before the school requesting the change as it felt that transgender students felt “stressful” about conforming to the code. However, students at the university assert that the initiative did not pertain only to homosexual or transgender students, but to all students.
In an article entitled “A Step Towards Outfit Equality,” the Oxford student newspaper outlined that it believes that “no-one is perfectly ‘male’ or ‘female’; we each exhibit masculine and feminine characteristics to some degree.” Therefore, women should be allowed to dress like men, and men should be allowed to dress like women on the days they desire to do so.
“[W]hy on earth do our chromosomes matter for our choice of clothing, profession or partner?” the article asks. “[N]o individual can fit perfectly into any one gender category at any given time, as these categories bear almost no relationship to our sexual characteristics. .. All individuals possess some male and some female characteristics; trans-gender individuals simply span the middle of the gender spectrum.”
In the former dress code, called the “subfusc,” male students were required to wear trousers and women were to wear a dark skirt or slacks with a blouse. Now, women can wear trousers and suits if they wish, and men may wear skirts or dresses.
University representatives seemed to approve of the move as being beneficial for students.
“The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students,” stated a spokesperson for the popular instiution.
“Removing the need for [students] to arbitrarily conform to a given side of the binary should thus be an incredibly liberating move for them, and should be applauded,” wrote Lachlan McNamee in the school’s publication.
“For a woman to assume masculine characteristics – to be a ‘tomboy’ – is acceptable, but for a man to assume feminine characteristics – to be a ‘sissy’ – is outrageous and embarrassing,” he continued. “[T]he gender binary is harmful to women, as a woman has to ‘be a man’ to command the respect of her colleagues in the workplace, yet women are socialized in such a way that diminishes their desire to assume masculine characteristics.”
Cross-dressing is not only an issue in institutions of higher learning, however. It is also increasingly the topic among young children.
In the article, “What’s so Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?” author Ruth Padawer explained that many parents and psychologists believe that young boys who take interest in feminine items should be allowed to dress like the girls.
“The night before Susan and Rob allowed their son to go to preschool in a dress, they sent an e-mail to parents of his classmates. Alex, they wrote, ‘has been gender-fluid for as long as we can remember, and at the moment he is equally passionate about and identified with soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas (not to mention lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows),'” she tells in the online story. “After consulting their pediatrician, a psychologist and parents of other gender-nonconforming children, they concluded that ‘the important thing was to teach him not to be ashamed of who he feels he is.’ Thus, the purple-pink-and-yellow-striped dress he would be wearing that next morning.”
She outlined that since the turn of the twentieth century, the physical characteristics between men and women have been blurring.
“Women … took to wearing pants, working outside the home and playing a wider array of sports. Domains once exclusively masculine became more neutral territory, especially for prepubescent girls, and the idea of a girl behaving ‘like a boy’ lost its stigma,” Padawer explained. “Boys and men do have more latitude these days to dress and act in less conventionally masculine ways. Among straight men, long hair and (certain) necklaces and (certain) pairs of earrings are almost normative, at least in some communities. Plenty of men wax their eyebrows, get manicures and wear pink.”
However, some are disturbed by this unisex or “outfit equality” agenda.
“There is great confusion these days concerning gender meaning and purposes, and sexual orientation, too,” writes the website CreationOutreach.com. “The ‘genders’ are much more than ‘roles;’ they are creative purposes of, and, according to the will of Almighty God.”
“Manhood and womanhood are differential complementary purposes and lives. If God’s design and instructions are disregarded, things go wrong,” it continues. “To diminish or slight manhood or to confuse it with womanhood is an insult to, and a smear against, God himself.”
The author then points to Deuteronomy 22:5, which states, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
“Unfortunately our public schools … and even many Christian schools through ignorance, have badly erred in rearing boys and girls identically,” he laments. “We should rear boys to manhood, and raise girls by distinctly different customs appropriate to their special calling of womanhood. Satan has laid a trap for us. He knows that if he can make men and woman as identical as possible, he can destroy or damage marriages, homes and churches.”
The Oxford policy has gone into effect immediately. Cambridge University has reportedly passed a similar initiative to be more lax about its regulations regarding the dress code.