A reader wrote in to raise the issue of “what to wear” for trans folks on the academic job market, and we decided to make a crowdsourcing post. Reader noted that my old “How to Dress for an Interview as a Butch Dyke” post is sorely outdated (I agree). They kindly provided the following text as prompt.
Please share your thoughts, suggestions, perspectives in the comments! Thank you, Karen
Formal and professional clothing typically conforms to binary presentations of gender. This poses a difficulty for job candidates who either do not fit gender binaries or whose bodies don’t easily fit into professional wear. For trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming academics, how have you managed to find attire that meets the expectations of academic interviews and other formal events? What obstacles have you faced? Share your strategies, frustrations, tips, products, and places to shop.
I’ve taken job interviews to be essentially an invitation to a fancy dress party where your options are a) a suit, b) a conservative combination of top and skirt or trousers. I’ve always interviewed in combinations of dark trousers, white shirt/blouse, and jacket, with or without tie, both pre-and post-transitioning (I don’t know what I identify as these days, but in terms of background/looks I’m a trans guy comfortably passing as cis by now), and I’ve always felt this was an incredibly weird thing to be expected of me regardless of gender identity/social expectations because I frequently interviewed for lab-based positions where I felt appropriate attire would be ‘clothes I wouldn’t miss if they got damaged/stained’ plus labcoat as wearing a suit to me implied “doesn’t know what this job entails in practice”. So I’ve mainly worn what seemed to be the standard male attire even though I felt both professionally and in terms of EDI that this was somewhat inappropriate to ask. I’m also really fortunate in being in a place that’s very diverse and welcoming, so I’ve not encountered any problems in this respect. All the best wishes to everyone, and lots of love from Scotland!
I’m nonbinary/transmasc with a very short/round/curvy body and I have had success with Peau de Loup for blazers and short-sleeve button downs.