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Male University Students in Taiwan Wear Skirts to Support Transgender Community

The Gender Equality Workshop at held a one-month event for male students to wear skirts and share their experience. The cover image for the Facebook event. CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Gender Equality Workshop at National Taiwan University held a one-month event for male students to wear skirts and share their experience. The cover image for the Facebook event. CC BY-NC 2.0.

In June 2014, a Facebook user in Taiwan published a photo of a person who appeared to be a man dressed as a woman wearing a skirt at a McDonald's, writing that the person had entered the women's restroom and was dangerous. Local media outlet Apple Daily picked up the story, and widespread online discussion of gender stereotypes and discrimination against transgender people in Taiwan ensued.   

The next month, two students from National Cheng Kung University decided to show their support for the often maligned transgender community by inviting men to wear skirts. Following the example of these two students, the Gender Equality Workshop at National Taiwan University held a similar event throughout the month of December 2014, asking men to take a stand for the transgender community by donning a skirt.

Tutu shared his photo with a skirt. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Tutu shared his photo with a skirt. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Some people posted their photos in their skirts on the event’s Facebook page and shared their thoughts on the eye-opening experience.

Yu-Han and Shao-Hung wrote:

裙子不只是服飾本身,還承載著這個社會所信仰與建構的價值。

Skirts are not just clothes. Skirts also carry with them the value that a society believes and constructs.

Another participant, Tutu, explained that men can also be feminine: 

沒有人說男生不能擁有好臉蛋以及身材
更沒有說男生就算不是同性戀也不能有女人味
我這角度擁有你遐想的範圍
我也喜歡更喜歡分享
所以我也想知道大家看到這角度的我的感覺
更用此方式證明
不是要是男生就一定要M.A.N!

No one says that men cannot have a good-looking face and body, and no one says men who are not gays cannot be feminine.
This aspect of me [this feminine look] allows you to fantasize about me. I like this aspect of me, and I like to share it with you, so I would like to know how people feel when you look at this other side of me.
I also want to prove in this way that men do not have to be M.A.N!

Ryo-Ryo shared his photo with the skirt and make-up. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Ryo-Ryo shared his photo with the skirt and make-up. CC BY-NC 2.0.

When these male students with skirts or even make-up walked on the streets, sometimes they faced challenging situations. Their experiences stirred up thoughts on the discrimination that the transgender community faces every day.

Ryo-Ryo reflected:

雖然穿上了裙子,我的外表仍是社會多數定義下的男性樣貌,也並未挑戰進入一些男/女二元分類下限定進出的公共場所(例如廁所),一週下來我發現到的是,無論是學校或是城市裡外大多數人其實並不會特別在意你今日的裝扮是什麼,投射過來的幾乎都是以年輕人為主的好奇眼光,而年長者的視線雖不那麼友善,但多數人並不會特別刁難什麼。有兩次印象深刻的是,當我在速食店排隊購餐時,一位女性用匪夷所思的表情望著我,令我非常的不舒服;還有一次是,當我漫步走在校園裡,一位男性突然往我身旁靠近,惡狠狠的瞪了我一眼,口中念念有詞,當時我嚇傻了,只得愣在原地看著他離開,雖然沒發生爭執,但仍令我感到害怕。[…]
我不禁感到難過,是什麼樣的意識形態讓我們在面對少數族群時的第一直覺反應充滿了否定與負面感?
在推廣性別友善時,我們為跨性別朋友發聲並給予支持,過程辛苦但開心,因為我們知道那是應做之事!但對於他們真實的情況,我們卻不一定都那麼清楚,很多只能藉由想像與朋友們的訴說來了解
而當我們真正感受跨性別朋友所面對的惡意與困境時,即使只是數天,即使只是稍微體會,那種感覺是截然不同的。

Although I wore a skirt, I still had a male outlook defined by society. I did not try to challenge some public space that is strictly defined by the dual meaning of male/female (such as restrooms). In my one-week experience, I found no matter if I was in the university or in the city, most people do not actually care about what you wear today. Most of the time, what I faced was curious stares coming from young people. Although the stares from some older people were not that friendly, most people did not make me uncomfortable. There were, however, two notable encounters. Once when I lined up at a fast food restaurant, a woman looked at me with an disapproving facial expression and made me very uncomfortable. On another occasion, when I walked around campus, a man walked toward me quickly and stared at me angrily and murmured something. I was shocked and did not know how to react. I just stood there and watched him walk away. Although there was no real conflict, I still felt threatened. […]
I cannot help but feel sad. What makes us be so overcome with negative feelings when we see a minority who is different from us?
When we promote a gender-friendly environment, we speak out for our transgender friends and show our support. It is a difficult endeavor but it also makes us happy because we know that is what should be done! Nevertheless, we don't really feel for them. We can only understand their real situation through their description.
Now that we have the chance to experience a tiny bit of the antagonism and challenges that our transgender friends face, even if only for a few days, the feeling is completely different.

Hao-Cheng gradually felt comfortable with the skirt. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Hao-Cheng gradually felt comfortable with the skirt. CC BY-NC 2.0.

The one month action successfully changed the outlook and understanding of some, especially those who participated.

Hao-Cheng Hsieh found it became easier and easier to wear a skirt and walk on the street:

這大概是我在這個月第三或是第四次穿上裙子了吧!
從第一次拍宣傳照的彆扭,到現在的自適。
我開始明白到突破框架只是需要時間,並不是做不到。

This should be the third or fourth time that I wore a skirt this month.
From the strange feeling I had when I wore a skirt and took a photo in it for the first time to the comfortable feeling I had this time, I start to realize that it may take some time to break the mold, but it is not impossible.

A leading badminton double play wore a skirt to support this event. CC BY-NC 2.0.

A leading badminton double player wore a skirt to support this event. CC BY-NC 2.0.

NTU-Tsuyoshi-Kusanagi asked her friend to wear a badminton skirt to play badminton, and she surprisingly found that male players also look charming in skirts:

裙子事實上是人類最早的下身服飾,通風透氣舒爽,方便行動。裙子不僅是過去漢族男子主要的服飾,也是台灣的原住民族群裡勇士的穿著。但是不知何時開始,裙子成為一種禁錮、禮法的象徵;不知何時開始,裙子退出了男性的服飾圈;不知何時開始,我們給予裙子的意象就是嬌弱和女性化。
我有個傑出的朋友,叫做台大陳冠C,他是台大羽球校隊第一的雙打手,對於穿求裙打球這件事他一點猶豫都沒有,很爽快的答應了。不論他當初答應我時內心有過什麼掙扎,結果是令人驚豔的,我們沒想到他竟然能這麼適合穿球裙、穿起來這麼好看,令人目不暇給!
我仔細想想,一個迷人的人,不需要一定是女生或是男生,不需要必定著褲裝或裙裝;一個迷人的人是因為他勇於接受不同於與別人賦予他的意象,而且擁有美好的內在特質,更重要的是,不論他穿著什麼,他永遠自信。

In fact, skirts are the most common human clothes for our lower bodies. Skirts are airy and comfortable and easy to walk in. Skirts used to be the major men’s clothing in Han’s culture. In addition, skirts are also the brave indigenous men’s clothes in Taiwan. Nevertheless, we do not know when, skirts become locked down as a symbol of etiquette. We do not know when skirts became excluded from men’s clothes. We do not know when we began thinking of skirts as a symbol of weakness and femininity.
I have an outstanding friend, called Chen Kuan-C at National Taiwan University. He is the leading badminton double player in the university. When he was asked about playing badminton with a skirt, he agreed without hesitating for one second. No matter what kind of struggle he had in his mind when he agreed to my proposal, the results are amazing. We did not expect that the badminton skirt would suit him so well, that he would look so dazzling in the skirt, and so breathtaking!
I have reflected (on what I observed) seriously, and I think a charming person does not need to be a woman or a man, in trousers or in skirts. A person is charming because he or she has nice personality and bravely embraces the image that is different from what most people have of him or her. Most importantly, no matter what they wear, they are always confident.

  • LittleMouse

    Way to go guys! It’s really nice that some people can simply accept differences between us. As they say ” when we bleed, we bleed the same”. It’s immature and petty to hate someone because you don’t understand them. I know that some students even study remotely and use personal essay writers because they don’t want to deal with sidelong glances and offensive remarks, well that’s the best case scenario. The fact that these students are showing support matters a lot. It’s more that irrelevance and I’m sure the community is grateful.

  • Mara

    Okay, the last written article is right and true. Skirts are mainly a man clothes and the history shows that women first time using skirts after some women cut their dresses in half, around 250 years ago. Until then it was a male garment only. But women were working on their own style during the women’s movement beginning in 1857. At that time the Industrial Revolution also took place and men startet wearing pants because a skirt could be dangerous when using machinery at that time.

    Today a lot of men try to get back out of the clothes-cage using only one and only pants as a “gender” standard gar,meant for men. Since women using pants also it is time to re-think the way of dressing. The person makes the difference, not the piece of clothes, that is that what people have to learn. I am not talking about health because for the male body there is only one garment really healthy and good: The SKIRT.

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