Fashionable transsexuals are in the air, floating about on a current of gender smarts and well-fitting blazers and pant hips. Consider the evidence: on Friday, local trans rag Original Plumbing held a runway show at the Elbo Room to celebrate the release of its fashion issue, Justin Vivian Bond just issued a flowering proclamation of pronoun for those looking for a way to describe v (read it already), and now, a transpeople website that promises it will finally provide you with a dress that'll fit right over those shoulders of yours.
“This is a group of people that often need custom clothing and haven't figured out how to get it yet.” Sarah Dopp is a transgender connector. The founder of Genderfork, a warm feeling-inducing collection of photos and stories from folks rejecting the binary model of gender from around the world, Dopp identifies as a “female, androgynous, genderqueer.” When we got the chance to catch up with her via phone last week, she told us that the idea for Genderplayful is one that she holds close to her own zipper.
Take, for example, her trip home for the holidays. Dopp's well-meaning mom drew her aside one day before Christmas to talk presents with her. “She said she wanted to give me mine in advance because she didn't know if I was going to like it and she didn't want us to go through all that stress on Christmas Day,” Dopp says. The gift was a much-needed coat. Dopp, endowed with what she calls “a broad back but big hips,” can't fit into most store bought clothes. “I just burst into tears. It's just such an emotional subject for me, especially since I'm working on this project.”
Clothes that fit right are a common concern for a lot of transsexual individuals who are looking for a good Friday night frock – or even just an outfit to wear to work. Such sartorial endeavors often require a lot of time to search for the perfect fit, or as Dopp puts it, “a lot of money, and you better be comfortable talking with your tailor.” Plus, most stores are totally boring. “Conventional retail stores,” Dopp says, “just don't have the most interesting clothing these days.”
On Genderplayful, she hopes to create a community wherein these kinds of concerns can be a source of empathy and DIY commerce instead of stress. Picture an Etsy stocked chockfull of transgendered buyers and sellers, only minus the limiting rules that all items exchanged be either handmade or over 20 years old to be considered vintage. Buyers will be able to describe their dream garment, and sellers will be able to display their broad shouldered-broad hipped coat designs (or tuxes with room for bosom, or robo-pirate-hipster-gypsy-goth wear -- whatever the case may be) for a worldwide audience of eager fashionista/o/vs.
Genderfork user Courtney submitted this fierce shot of beautiful-handsome hotness
Given the amount of interest already generated by the site, Dopp is hopeful that it will be a revenue-generator, not just a feel-good project. “We're starting with the buyers, which I think is an interesting thing in a recession.” Handmade e-commerce seems to have dodged much of the financial ruin affecting the rest of the online retail industry – Etsy experienced a 65 percent increase in sales in December 2010 over last year's figures at the same time, making it the site's biggest month yet.
But that doesn't mean she doesn't need a little in Genderplayful's coffers to get the online marketplace up and running, which Dopp estimates will take another three to six months. The site is currently fundraising – donors (won't you be one?) can be a part of the magic until Sat/15. Added bonus: if you give money now, you can be a part of the site's soft opening, checking out the transgendered transactions weeks before the regular public is allowed in. “If can we can raise $5,000 we will do it. If we raise $50,000 we will do it really well and awesomely,” Dopp explains.
“The wrong clothes can feel like trying to speak gibberish with conviction,” says a bespectacled dapper who weighs in on the darling video of testimonies by Genderplayful's supporters-potential customer base. One can't help but wish the plucky Dopp and her e-gang of genderqueered dandies well on their way to style glory and accessibility. Because the dressing room is a rough experience for many of us – even leaving aside the question of which one to go into.