The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Teens struggling with their sexual identity may seem to have more options than they did in the 1980s—but one important option is increasingly denied to them.

I came across a photo the other day of a fifteen-year-old girl dressed in a tuxedo, complete with red bow tie and tails, standing in front of a Christmas tree. She was heading for her high school’s Christmas dance, and her parents had taken pictures beforehand.

Why the tux? She had recently heard of a “gender bending” prom at a nearby school, one where all the girls had worn tuxes along with their dates. She was immediately drawn to the idea. However, at her school, she was the only one in on the twist. In the photo, she is attempting to look cool and smug, but her eyes betray sadness. The sexual identity struggles and confusion that had been quietly welling up within her since middle school were finally emerging for all to see.

The photo is from many years ago. I know because I am the girl in the picture. As I think back to that night, I can’t help but wonder how that girl’s life—my life—would have been different if the dance had taken place in 2015 instead of 1985.

I can’t help imagining the scenario that teenagers struggling with their sexuality face today . . .

The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity | Public Discourse.