The Finished Product:
The Visible Binder: Violet-Armour Edition, intends to interrogate the notion of ‘passing’ gendered identities. Acts of ‘gender-bending’, ‘gender-crossing’ and drag, as well as expressions of trans identities, are often measured by the subjects ability to successfully ‘pass’ as one gender identity. ‘Passing’ refers to one’s ability to present, and be accepted as, a male or female.
Binding can be empowering, comforting, sexy, political, necessary, revolutionary, rebellious or exhilarating. However, social pressures to ‘pass’ often result in binder invisibility. The culturally intelligible body, is one that successfully embodies the characteristics of only one of the socially constructed sex/gender categories. Therefore, there are many reasons why one would conceal binding and all of these reasons should be considered valid. For instance, it is not always safe to expose binding due to violence and discrimination. Some individuals do not want to expose their binders because they do not identify with parts of their bodies; in this case binding can be a crucial aid to gender expression. Binding can be used as a tool of resistance against sex/gender categories, however many individuals still feel pressure to conceal binding due to social acceptance and safety.
Many individuals do not identify within a singular sex/gender identity. Some people sit in-between, or far beyond the categories of male/female, mtf/ftm or trans man/ trans woman. These identities should be considered crucial in the writing and reading of sex/gender discourses. For this reason, I made The Visible Binder; it was designed to be exposed. Combining the binder with fashion trends, generates new meanings about binding. The inspiration for design was derived from punk gear, biker fashions and 80’s glam-rock. These trends represent my own fashion interests and hold potential for interrogating culturally acceptable forms of gendered dress. For instance, punk attire has been attached to non-conformity, which can be understood as acts of resistance against government, dress, gender and social expectations.
The Visible Binder enables me to achieve the contouring effects of binding without commitment to conform to a singular gender identity. When I am wearing The Visible Binder, I am refusing to hide my differences, my desires, my expressions and my identities. The Visible Binder is my punk-armour, and I wear it to fight the gender police. The Visible Binder is my political weapon, challenging institutional ideologies of personhood in this society. The Visible Binder is my act of resistance, scribbling lines all over those little boxes, marked F and M. My studded, violet-blue, binder is feminine, masculine and everything in-between and outside the lines.