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Jaden Smith isn't threatening transgender territory - in fact, he's a non-binary icon

Even in the notoriously heteronormative media, Jaden Smith is joined by people like Seann Miley Moore, Conchita and Ruby Rose in challenging traditional gender norms. This should be celebrated

Daren Pritchard
Wednesday 06 January 2016 17:19 GMT
Jaden Smith performs at Wireless 2015
Jaden Smith performs at Wireless 2015 (Getty Images)

Over the past year or so, Jaden Smith has gained significant media attention for wearing women’s clothing. He spoke out about it, claiming that his clothes aren’t ‘girl clothes’, and that they’re just 'clothes’. And then, lo and behold, it was announced this week that he's the new face of Louis Vuitton womenswear.

By defying conventional gender stereotypes, Smith has become a representation for those who identify as a non-binary gender (one that is not exclusively male or female). But some have disagreed with his appointment as womenswear rep – notably Katie Glover, who wrote in the Independent yesterday that Smith was encroaching on transgender turf.

Glover’s article states that gender stereotypes in clothing exist as a uniform to clarify which gender a person is. She implies we should stick to the stereotypical norm of men wearing trousers, and women wearing skirts or dresses to reinforce this. But claiming that women should have to declare their femininity to show that they’re woman is outrageous – not to mention incredibly old-fashioned.

This dated notion of ‘boys do this, and girls do that’ is responsible for so much gender prejudice, not to mention endless aisles of pink toy hoovers and blue toy spaceships. We have moved hard to move away from such entrenched traditions. The progress in acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community over the past years has been incredible, so let’s not reverse that by exclude those – such as non-binary people - who don’t fit into specific categories.

Feeling comfortable and confident in your attire is the most important thing, and not being forced into a stereotype, or into a wardrobe of clothes that society tells you to wear because of your perceived gender. I don’t dress to show that I am male; I wear clothes that make me feel good.

The rise in people speaking out as genderqueer, fluid, or having multiple genders or no gender is undeniable. Even in the notoriously heteronormative media, Jaden Smith is joined by people like Seann Miley Moore, Conchita and Ruby Rose in challenging traditional gender norms. Members of the LGBT community who may have faced prejudice before shouldn’t be narrow-minded when it comes to these alternative forms of gender expression. I grew up being told that men don’t wear heels or make-up - but if doing so made me feel comfortable, why shouldn’t I?

To imply that genderfluidity, or gender-neutral clothing is ‘wearing the trans uniform’ is totally wrong-headed. I would assume a trans woman wears clothing intended for females because they identify as female. Surely a non-binary person wearing clothing that may be associated with either gender is no different; their changing wardrobe is merely a continuation of their fluidity.

Jaden Smith isn’t wearing a dress because he wants to identify as female; he’s wearing a dress because he rejects strict gender norms. And if someone identifies as something other than ‘male’ or ‘female’, and they feel comfortable and happy in doing so, then I struggle to see why we should support that sort of expression being stifled.

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