11 Feb Exploring Gender Through Cosplay
Finding Euphoria in Your Creative Hobbies
Remember when you were a little kid playing dress up to explore your creativity? No rules, no limits, just your mom’s heels or your dad’s tie, or maybe something an older sibling let you borrow? For me cosplay has always felt a lot like that same return to the creative space I was given as a kid. Except as an adult I have finer motor skills to create, and a wider option of things I enjoy that I can pull from! Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon, it’s all at my fingertips when I can set aside time to sit down at my sewing machine and just let the world melt away for a few hours.
For a lot of people though, myself included, cosplay can be more than just a source of creativity. It can give the ability to explore one’s identity and gender on both a personal and public stage. Before I had the ability to regularly present myself as the person I wanted to be seen as, my friends gave me the ability to attend conventions with them and dress up as the gender I saw myself as, without the fear of judgment from them or the other people attending. Even if it feels a little silly now that I’m older, there was a sense of euphoria I was granted when dressing up as Chuck from Motorcity, but I still cherish that feeling to this day. And the same is true for a lot of others as well.
Maybe you haven’t quite decided where you’ve fallen yet. Maybe you only feel a certain level of fluidity. Maybe you’re secure in the knowledge of yourself, but you want to try something new. Cosplay can present a wide variety of opportunities for people of all levels of comfort and skill. After all, “crossplay” has existed as cosplay’s counterpart as long as the hobby has existed. In the thesis “Cosplaying With Gender: Freedoms and Limitations to Gender Exploration at Canadian Anime Conventions”, author Victoria interviews people who regularly participate in “crossplay” and the boosts its had to their self confidence via the positivity and and community they’ve experienced at conventions, and the space its given the cosplayers to explore gender identity as a result.
In Tlouey Dudenhoeffer’s article “Gender Exploration and Cosplay”, the author interviews several cosplayers about their journeys on the path to discovery, and how freedom in cosplay gave them the freedom and confidence to find themselves. I believe it to be especially powerful when one of the interviewees, Kit, touches on their experience of how “the cosplay community goes hand in hand with 2SLGBTQIA+, and there is a whole sub community of people who are exploring their identities in general”. A strong reminder that no matter where we find ourselves, we can always find our community right alongside us.
It’s important to remember as well, to be safe when playing in this field. If you’re new to chest binding, be it for achieving gender euphoria, or for character accuracy, remember that there’s a safe way to go about it. Take breaks, avoid going over 8 hours, listen to your body when it tells you it needs a day off. For an in depth list of tips to practice safe binding, you can visit our homepage and download our free binder safety guide.
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