Friday, October 16, 2009

High School Yearbooks and Gender Performativity

Ceara Sturgis is a lesbian student at Wesson Attendance Center in Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to being gay, she chooses to express her gender in a traditionally masculine way. One example? She wears boys' clothing.

At Wesson Attendance Center, students take yearbook pictures in formal attire- tuxes for boys, drapes for girls. Clearly, the high school imposes a strict gender dichotomy upon students; females are to present as women, and males are to present as men.

Ceara Sturgis refuses to follow this tradition- she wants to wear a tux. Why can't she blur the gender lines a bit? School authorities won't allow her to appear in the yearbook unless she wears a dress.

Ridiculous. If Sturgis wants to wear a tux for her yearbook picture, her decision should be respected. Likewise, if a male felt more comfortable wearing a drape for his senior picture, his choice should be honored. In a world where gender exists in a continuum, Wesson Attendance Center's rules are simply too limiting.

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