An Ounce of Prevention

One of my early career dreams was image consultant. I grew up in a family where clothes was a big deal and dressing well mattered to me for most of my life. I still hope to do something fashion related and I currently run some fashion-related subs on Reddit.

When I met my ex when we were in our teens, he looked like something out of Revenge of the Nerds. So I soon took him for a haircut and took him shopping and helped him dress better. It was good for his self esteem and helped reduce some of his social problems.

On two separate occasions in our twenties, the mothers of two different friends of mine gushed when they met him about what a good looking, well-dressed man he was and how they could see why I had married him. He and I both laughed out loud and he told them "You have that backwards. I'm a good looking, well-dressed man because I married her."

About a decade back, I spent about nine months being supportive of a MtF transsexual whose parents could not accept her. I ultimately helped her escape her abusive parents but in the meantime I listened a lot and kept her company and talked about clothes and such.

One of the issues she had: She kept sending me photos of women she wanted to look like that she had no hope of looking like. I suggested a few beautiful women as role models that she had some hope of looking like so she wouldn't be setting herself up for failure.

The other thing I talked to her about is that being LGBTQ is basically triggering for a lot of people and this likely drives the amount of open hostility so many of us get. It's not necessarily that they hate us per se. It's that they aren't comfortable with themselves and we can make it impossible for them to avoid dealing with some of their internal stuff.

I'm very hetero passing, but I'm not straight. No one seems to hassle me about my failure to be straight, probably because I'm very hetero passing.

Some LGBTQ people are in no position to hide or downplay their status. Most trans individuals are especially hard hit by a situation that not only makes it hard to keep their private business private, it is often occuring in a way that is inherently awkward.

Whatever your age, if you are transitioning, you are kind of like an awkward adolescent with a lot of awkward physical stuff going on. This awkwardness is compounded by trying to navigate from the "culture" of one gender to that of another.

By that I mean that men and women behave differently, dress differently, etc. Most adolscents are plenty awkward and struggle to find a look that works for themselves even when they grew up in the gender "culture" for which they are trying to move from childhood to adulthood within.

The outfits and hairstyles that were adorable on them when they were tots typically no longer work as they approach adulthood even within the same gender. It gets vastly more complicated when switching roles in a world that is often openly hostile to what you are doing.

I've been thinking that one thing that would be helpful is some kind of support group for LGBTQ people that is fashion related. A space to help folks dress better, be more comfortable with themselves and get some help with a thing that is simultaneously relatively trivial and likely one of the biggest sources of friction in their lives: That how they look makes them uncomfortable, undermines their confidence, bothers other people and makes it hard for other people to put their blinders on about their not heteronormative status.

There are some trans fashion subs on Reddit and I've left at least one comment on such a sub. I'm not convinced that's really enough and I'm not sure where to go with this thought, but I think some elements of it are pretty sound.

Why is this idea on this site about community development? Well, because the LGBTQ crowd is at high risk of ending up homeless. So if your community has a homeless problem, you likely need to be thinking about how to proactively provide support for the LGBTQ community.

If you wait until people are homeless, it's much harder to resolve. It's better to help them sort their baggage and find some way to make their lives work before they are out on the street.

Helping LGBTQ folks feel comfortable with themselves and comfortable in their clothes seems like rather low-hanging fruit for helping them make their lives work and reducing their social friction -- assuming you have a background like mine where you feel confident you could be helpful in that regard.

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