North Texas Daily

Makeup workshops create safe environment for trans community

Makeup workshops create safe environment for trans community

September 17
04:18 2015

Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer


For transgender individuals, an overload of gender expectations proves to be one of the hardest parts about transition.

In a society where all women are expected to look the same, transfeminine individuals often struggle with the process of redefining themselves in order to comply with strict social standards.

“Makeup is one of the easiest ways to come across as feminine,” theater sophomore and the UNT Pride Alliance’s graphic designer Christina Bridges said.

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Theatre sophomore Christina Bridges will be participating in the Dallas Pride parade this Sunday, Sept. 20 with other members of TRIAD. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

But for those who didn’t grow up using it, makeup can be a very daunting challenge.

“You have this goal set in your mind that’s like ‘This is how I want to present, and this is how I want to be seen and I want people to view me,’ but you don’t know how to get there,” Bridges said.

While going through the community closet of donated clothes the Pride Alliance and the Transgender and Intersex Alliance of Denton offer to the LGBT community of Denton, Bridges said it became quite clear there were many more resources for transmasculine people than transfeminine.

“It’s so much easier to provide for the transmasculine community because they have a sort of privilege and opportunity is more available,” Bridges said. “We were like ‘OK, we’re providing the [chest] binders, so what is something else we can do that is comparable to that?’”

Bridges said makeup workshops would be the perfect solution.

For students struggling with their identities, they now have a safe space to explore the use of makeup and get comfortable with products, without the fear of judgment from others.

“Many of us are denied access to the purchase or use of makeup,” information science senior Taylor Carlson said. “This is due to the fact that we may be living in environments hostile to trans individuals.”

Carlson said makeup can be a unique experience for everyone.

“Whatever our goals are with makeup – whether to look cute, sexy, just plain feminine, or take on a style all our own – it allows us to see how we relate to femininity,” Carlson said. “It allows us to expand upon it.”

Makeup is not just about passing for a certain gender.

It’s a resource that could make trans women feel better about their self-esteem, Carlson said. This resource could save their life.

As of July 2015, 18 trans women had been murdered since the beginning of the year, according to “The Advocate.”

“Passing [for a gender] is not what solely controls our lives,” Carlson said. “It’s a means to move around safely within a society permeated with transmisogyny.”

9-17-15 Trans2 web

Bridges is the current communications officer for TRIAD, the Transgender and Intersex Alliance of Denton. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Bridges said she wanted to make it clear workshops aren’t only for transfeminine individuals. Everyone interested in learning a little bit about makeup is welcome.
“We wanted to create a safe space where no one felt ridiculed or embarrassed,” Bridges said.

Information technology sophomore Steven Harris said he supports the workshops because they promote unity between students and provide allies and critical resources for trans individuals.

“Many times, those who transition do not feel like they are truly the gender they want to be until they start dressing as a woman or man would,” Harris said. “And this gives people of the community a place of learning instead of having to do it alone.”

For some individuals, this may be an intimate experience between transgender individuals and how they experience their bodies, Carlson said.

“The presence of this workshop is a learning opportunity, but not for learning the nitty-gritty details of how we “alter” ourselves,” she said. “We are being ourselves; we are reclaiming something that some of us have been sorely denied for years, if not decades.”

Featured Image: Christina Bridges plays with her cat at her house in Denton on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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