Many students dislike uniforms because they can be uncomfortable and aren't exactly the most stylish garments. For transgender and gender fluid students, however, a school uniform can be more than just an annoyance — It can be an oppressive reminder of society's pressure to fit into specific gender constructs.
But change is on the horizon.
Eighty schools in the United Kingdom have updated their uniform rules in an effort to make them more gender neutral. The Independent reports that under these new rules, all students are allowed to wear skirts, and many schools have rewritten their dress codes to omit references to "boy" and "girl."
The change is part of a campaign funded by the government that focuses on helping students who are questioning their gender identity. This move is very important as fashion can sometimes be a huge part of a transgender person's journey to self-discovery.
To show just how impactful clothing can be for a person's connection to themselves and their gender, a number of members of the LBGT community have spoken out.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Caitlyn Jenner discussed how she is figuring out womanhood, and how style is just the start of her journey. "It is more than hair, makeup, clothes, all that kind of stuff. There's an element here, that I'm still kind of searching for. And I think that'll take a while. Because I think as far as gender, we're all on a journey. We're all learning and growing about ourselves. And I feel the same way."
Laverne Cox has previously discussed how rigid ideas about fashion impacted her past and how she has grown from them: "My third grade teacher called my mother and said, 'Ms. Cox, your son is going to end up in New Orleans in a dress if we don't get him into therapy.' And wouldn't you know, just last week I spoke at Tulane University, and I wore a LOVELY green and black dress."
Transgender activist Jazz Jennings has talked about how she was always drawn to girly clothing from a very young age, "I didn't just like girly clothing—I felt ashamed and humiliated if I had to wear anything else."
The way we dress ourselves is an integral part of a person's identity, and this is apparent from the quotes. School dress codes may not allow people to fully express their individuality, but the UK's decision to make dress codes more gender fluid is a great moment. Students will be able to select uniforms based on who they are, and the freedom of choice is what the pleasure of getting dressed is all about.
Cover image via Flickr.