As it relates to the incarcerated LGBT community, the limits of what men are allowed to do as gender expression is limited to what traditional masculine expectations are. Not societal norms. For instance, flat irons are not allowed in men’s prisons, but they are allowed in women’s prisons despite the fact that men with long hair on the streets use them regularly. Another example would be ankle socks. The women’s prison issues ankle socks whereas in a men’s prison of the same security level considers them contraband.

Why is this an issue? It’s problematic because of the expectation that comes with it, we can’t have those things solely because we are men. Not because they represent legitimate safety risks. If they did present legitimate safety risks to DOC than the women’s prisons would not be allowed to have those things either. No, this is solely about gender definition by non-lgbt people. This presents major psyche problems when someone is trans, gender non-conforming, gender queer, has feminine qualities and likes, androgynous, or is straight but takes pride in their overall appearance (aka “metro”). When these things are denied it limits the individual to a specific gender box. A box that doesn’t apply in the real world. 

When someone finally gets to a mental space where they are willing to let go of aggression and allow softer sides to come forth, sides that have traditionally been assigned to women and homosexuals only, and they see the stifling of other forms of perceived feminine traits, they will more than likely return to aggressive behaviors in fear of social ostracization. Ostracization that, in this instance, is propelled and closely protected by DOC. The idea, a dying theory really, that men act one way and women act another way is limiting ones ability to explore who they really are. An issue that leads many to crime, identity suppression.

This isn’t LGBT specific either. Many straight men in prison would prefer to wear ankle socks instead. If we grow our hair out proper maintenance is restricted because some products (like curling irons, blow dryers, scrunchies, and flat irons) aren’t for men. They are solely feminine. 

When a man doesn’t like being aggressive, bearded, emotionless, and likes ballet (for one of millions of examples) but feels he must like beards, aggressiveness, remain emotionally stoic and ballet isn’t masculine, than that person believes there is something wrong with themselves because they struggle to live up to a standard that was made up.

Where does this leave us? To continuously strive to appease someone else’s idea of who and what we should be so that they feel better about who they’re not. 

I’m sorry you couldn’t play with barbie when you were five, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a Princess in my little weirdo world. Or need a scrunchie, or need to use a blow dryer because I might (and do) need to make my hair more manageable. Hair ties are damaging my hair and the constant ponytail or occasional bun gives me a headache. But I can’t let my hair down because it would require female “only” hair products to manage. 

Just a little food for thought.
Weigh in.

With Love