The book Arresting Dress by Clare Sears examined the passing of a law in San Francisco in the late 19th century that made it illegal to dress “not belonging to the person’s sex”. This was a way to try to have control over peoples’ lives who wanted to cross-dress and to force the social norms of dressing according to your gender. I don’t understand how a law could be passed where it clearly violates the right’s of its constituents in San Francisco, as well as the fact that the law is in and of itself unconstitutional. This law that was put in place offers us a good way to be able to compare what the stance on cross-dressing was in the 19th century to what it is today. I feel today, with a lot of progressive change, cross-dressing should be completely acceptable. However, there will always be a small group of people who are radical with their thoughts and are against cross-dressing. People are free to dress the way they want. Today, the way people dress is being able to express one’s own creativity and freedom.
I noticed in the book that these laws to enforce cross-dressing wasn’t always enforced and that it was overly enforced in some instances. The author mentions that it is seen as ok to cross-dress for people who are performing in some scenarios like drag-queens and in “freak-shows”, but for the everyday person who is expressing themselves by cross-dressing, could be punished by these ridiculous laws.
Just a couple of years ago, a town in Louisiana banned cross-dressing, as well as appearing in public nude, or partially nude. The Louisiana law was put in place to put a crackdown on people sagging their pants. This made me think of my middle school and high school were kids would get sent home for sagging their pants and showing their boxers. I believe laws like this to prevent sagging your pants are appropriate because of the fact of indecent exposure, while the part of the law banning cross-dressing is insane to me that in the 21st century cross- dressing is still being frowned upon. The idea that people cannot dress how they want as long as its appropriate is beyond insane to me.