Wearing Makeup Does Not Require You to Be a Woman

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Makeup is genderless.

My transgender son likes to wear makeup sometimes and I haven't always been supportive. The difference between gender identity and gender expression has been a difficult lesson for me to learn and understand fully.

It seemed easier for me to understand that my biologically female baby was actually a boy than the idea that my son enjoys expressing himself with makeup and sometimes dresses. I think it stems from being taught all my life that the world exists in a binary regarding gender.

But I've since realized there are more than two genders. And I've learned how genderless makeup, clothing, jewelry, and other items truly are. There can be feminine-looking items and masculine-looking items. But none of them are assigned to one specific gender only.

Considering makeup genderless is not actually new. Ancient Egyptian men wore black eyeliner and Elizabethans wore face powder. Romans also wore a face powder along with a red pigment for rouge and a disgusting concoction that included pig's blood to paint their nails. Frenchmen donned wigs, wore high heels, and drew on beauty marks.

In more modern times, men wearing makeup had been few and far between outside of Hollywood actors, rock stars, and pop culture icons. "Guyliner" was introduced in the early 2000s with celebrities sporting looks that somewhat mimicked those early Egyptian men.

More recently, in 2017 Maybelline named 25-year-old Manny Gutierrez their first male face for their makeup brand. In the same year, Covergirl named their first CoverBoy, 17-year-old James Charles. Both these men's makeup skills are amazing.


All of this is to say, that makeup was never created solely based on the female form so it doesn't always mean femininity. Makeup - like clothing - has no gender. It is simply another way for an individual to express themselves.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to show your individuality to the world - whether that's with makeup, clothing, hairstyles, accessories, or an exuberant personality. Self-expression is necessary and vital for personal growth. It's how each of us defines ourselves and learns where our individual path is leading us.


I sometimes wonder how much easier it could have been for my son - because I wouldn't have been the least bit unsupportive - if I'd been taught from day one that gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality all exist on a spectrum. That thinking of humans as only male or female and gay or straight limits your perspective and ability to see people for who they truly are.

The gender binary is and old-fashioned, limiting myth that has caused too many folks too much unnecessary grief and struggle.

I look forward to seeing how the next few generations will teach their kids about the differences between individuals. I hope the spectrums of gender, gender expression, and sexuality are more accepted, taught, and supported than they are today.

It's important to realize that while our differences define us, they also make us able to share our unique gifts with each other and the rest of the world. And that should be celebrated not ridiculed.

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