Miley Cyrus Is Not Only Talking Gender, But Making Genderqueer Identities More Visible Through Her Style
As usual, Miley Cyrus has been making headlines. But this time, it's because Miley Cyrus is discussing gender, and making waves when it comes to conversations around gender and sexuality. Her support of the queer community has always been evident, especially after she broke away from The Disney Channel scene entirely, beginning with "We Can't Stop." Between Happy Hippie Foundation (Miley's nonprofit organization for LGBTQ and homeless youth) and her style choices, Miley seems to be working very hard to increase visibility of the queer/trans community.
Of course, the goal for all communities within the queer sphere is to gain visibility and recognition. It is in that spirit that Miley opens up about her sexuality to the Associated Press. Although she was vague with the details of her sexual identity, she did say that not all of her past relationships were "straight." And good for her! Admitting these things and shedding light on the queer community is highly important.
Miley also spoke out about her gender identity, which is an even huger deal. This is because trans communities within the queer sphere have a much harder time gaining mainstream acceptance. Identities that don't fit the gender binary or deviate from cisnormative culture, like those of genderqueer and trans people, either get criticized or ignored entirely. So Miley speaking out about this is crucial to turning around the way society and young people think about gender and the trans community. She talked with Out Magazine about gender, saying:
"I didn’t want to be a boy. I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into."
Miley, who hasn't explicitly talked labels or pronouns at this time, is referring to genderqueer identities and expressing that she is against the idea of binaries and the social construction of gender. With violence against trans individuals at an all time high (according to the TDOR 2014 update, 226 trans individuals were murdered last year alone), it is essential that we take Miley's lead, and start talking about what we can do to help.
The best thing we can do, and what Miley exemplifies, is to get educated and be accepting of all identities within the queer and trans spectrum. And as always, visibility, visibility, visibility.
I've always been a big believer in fashion and beauty being agents of change and even activism. The most literal way to increase visibility is by that which is expressed in one's style choices. And Miley does this very well. As a queer person, she embraces her identity and increases her visibility by cutting her hair short, getting tattoos, and not shying away from her sexuality or gender fluidity.
Most recently, Miley bleached and dyed her armpits, which was probably one of the biggest style statements she has made to date. To be able to dye one's armpits implies the need for armpit hair, which is generally frowned upon for feminine people to have in our society. So for her to proudly dye and display her pit hair is major. She's challenging gender and patriarchal norms, and doing so by bringing attention to a look and philosophy that almost exclusively involves the feminist and queer populations. She shows off her pink pits on her Instagram for the world to see, so young people are reminded that it's OK to be unconventional. It's OK to favor looks that are not traditional and are tied to identities that are not necessarily widely accepted or recognized.
Embrace your queerness and don't shy away from making your true self visible! And if for nothing else, do it because Queen Miley is doing it.