New College of Florida
Major: Sociology/ Gender Studies
Current City: Sarasota, FL
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Interviewer: Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Jake: I like music, I like punks- I threw a cool party last night with lots of Punk Music. I like puppies a lot, I like kittens, I like cute things and I love Bruce Springsteen. I really love Bruce Springsteen! I’m also White and Jewish.
I: Where do you get your clothes/apparel and why?
J: As a really small dude I have limited options. Basically H&M, American Eagle, and sometimes American Apparel. Those are the only places that you can find extra-small men’s clothing. Also, the children’s section of target.
I: Can you tell me more about the size of clothes that you need?
J: Well I am 5’3 and 100 lbs give or take. It’s really difficult to find clothing that small. Even if you’re shopping in the women’s section it can be hard to find clothing small enough, so shopping in the men’s section is difficult.
I: Do you like the clothes at the stores you mentioned?
J: I like H&M a lot; their clothes fit really well. What I’m wearing, is actually a small [from H&M]. I never fit into smalls, so this it was really exciting because usually I have to get an extra-small. American Eagle is great because their stuff fits, but it kind of makes you look like a 16 year old bro- which is not my thing. But you have to suck it up. American Apparel I don’t like very much at all but again, they have extra smalls.
I: Why don’t you like it?
J: I think the guy who runs it is a creep. It’s kinda hipster-y for my taste, and it’s expensive.
I: What influences your personal style?
J: I have to think about what that is first… I wear a lot of dark colors. Which is probably influenced by growing up in the punk community. So yeah, I’m pretty into dark colors. I’m not very adventurous with clothes, but I don’t think that’s reflective of my personality, I think I’m a fun dude but my clothes aren’t so bright. My stylistic choices are really constrained by size so I don’t have a lot of digression in what I wear.
I: Could you tell me about growing up in the Punk scene?
J: Throughout middle school and high school I just wore band shirts and jeans. So I never really developed any kind of preference when it comes to fashion or style, so I tend to play it safe because of that.
I: And you love Bruce Springsteen?
J: I love the shit out of Bruce Springsteen, he is one of my idols! To me, he is a really positive model of masculinity. He’s really cool but he’s not trying to be cool and he’s not trying to be a tough guy but I wouldn’t mess with him. I would love to be able to dress like Bruce Springsteen. Like, this shirt- the black button up tucked in I think that’s probably as close to him as I’m able to get.
I: Why’s that?
J: Size stuff mostly.
I: If you could wear anything what would be your look?
J: If I were not a vegetarian I would wear leather jackets like Bruce Springsteen. But, that’s not something I can do.
I: Do you identify with any subculture or counterculture movements?
J: I guess queer? I identify with queer youth culture. I used to identify as an anarchist, right now I think I identify with anarchist principles but not necessarily with the label “anarchist”.
I: Why’s that?
J: I’m not entirely sure. I think maybe trying to distance myself from high school ideologies I held which were a little half-baked. I agree with anarchism and anarchist theory but I’m not so much into world events these days.
I: Could you give 2-3 short examples of anarchist principles?
J: To me, anarchism is about equality. It’s about dismantling hierarchies. It’s against patriarchy. It’s against heteronormativity. It’s against capitalism, racism, [and] sexism. All axis of stratification I suppose. And it’s for freedom.
I: What would you say your relationship is to the queer movement?
J: I’m doing a lot of queer studies; most of my friends are queer. I facilitate a Trans* support group on campus… well I co-facilitate it. I founded it and that’s really one of the communities I feel most involved in because that’s what I spend my time on. I spend my time promoting Trans* rights and Trans* awareness. So I guess queer issues are the things that I do most these days.
I: Could you tell me about your Trans* support group?
J: We have closed meetings for gender non-normative people- for people who identify as Trans* essentially. We meet every week and talk about being Trans*. And sometimes we have open meetings. Right now we’re working on putting together a Trans* 101 zine… possibly holding a workshop… mostly educational efforts right now.
I: So you’ve got 2 of the 3 axis of activism: public education, legal activism, and support.
J: Funnily enough I’m planning on going to law school in a few years. So 3 for 3. I’ll probably study anti-discrimination law or something else “do-gooder.”
I: So all of your friends are queer?
I: And what are you?
J: Am I queer???
I: However you wish to identify and answer. I’m not going to lead that question.
J: I identify as queer with regards to sexuality and I’m pretty much binary identified Trans-Male when it comes to gender. I used to indentify as genderqueer, but I’m pretty much just a “normal dude”.
I: How do you want to present your physical body when you dress?
J: I’d be lying if I said part of my dress wasn’t concerned on being gendered correctly. So I have to find something that makes my shoulders look less small, that type of thing in practical concerns. I think that part of the Trans* experience when it comes to fashion is that your choices are largely influenced more by practicality than aesthetic choices. So wearing clothes has a lot to do with how you interact with the world and how the world interacts with you, which I’ve noticed. Like, if I’m wearing a nice-looking black button-up shirt people are going to think I’m older than if I’m wearing what I might otherwise wear. I find that clothes heavily influence how people interact with you.
I: Could you give me an example?
J: Certain clothes that make you look younger and you can tell people interact with you as a child rather than as an adult. Like, if I’m wearing something like this I’m more likely to get “Sir-ed”. If I’m wearing something like a Tony Hawk shirt- because I have to wear those sometimes- it’s more likely that someone will assume I’m 14 and ask me where my mom is.
I: Could you elaborate on “getting Sir-ed?”
J: I don’t get “Sir-ed” very often. I think a mix between proper gendering and proper age perception [contribute to that]. I get read as a 16 year old generally and people don’t really “Sir” a 16 year old boy. Whereas if I get read as older, like if someone’s viewing me as a 21 year old man- how crazy that would be- then it’s more likely to happen. I’m always taken aback when someone does because I’m like, “I’m not a grown up!” But I guess I am.
I: How do you think society views people who wear masculine clothing?
J: With more respect. If someone’s wearing masculine clothing and they’re being read as a butch woman they’re probably not going to get the same respect as someone who’s being read as a cis-male. But I would say generally more respect. People are less likely to talk down to someone wearing masculine clothing.
I: Have you experienced that through starting to wear more masculine clothing?
J: Yeah definitely. I used to present as female and there’s definitely a lot of harassment and condescension that goes along with that. You realize it more when it stops, it’s crazy. Because it’s a norm and then it stops and you’re like, “Wow! Respect!” It’s novel.