YA author Scott Westerfeld has a great post about Ceara Sturgis, the top student at a Mississippi high school who saw every mention of her purged from her senior yearbook because she is a lesbian. Scott puts the fight to dress how you choose and express your gender identity in your own way into historical context, noting that this year marks the centenary of "Explicit Legalization of Pants in Kansas! (Otherwise known as ELPK Day.)"
Of course, it's easy to laugh at this, and reassuring to think that we no longer live in a world where women have to get legal advice for something so simple as wearing men's clothes, right?
Well, um, wrong.
Because just a few days ago, on almost exactly the 100th anniversary of ELPK Day, a student named Ceara Sturgis has found herself erased from her school yearbook. Why? For wearing a tuxedo in her senior photograph. And when I say erased, it's not just that the school administration wouldn't print the photograph. No, they actually deleted every mentioned of Ceara from the yearbook, even though she's an honor student, the goalie of the soccer team, and plays trumpet in the band.
By the way, she's also a lesbian. So wearing this tuxedo wasn't about flouting some imaginary dress code, but about who she is. That's what clothing means in all these conflicts.
After all, it's the trousers that our nameless widow wore while gardening that said, "Hey, I'm the head of this family. My labor is what keeps us fed. Deal with it." And the uniform that Deryn wears that says, "I'm as good an airman as any boy, so you can all get stuffed." And it's the tuxedo you wear in your yearbook photo that says, "I am who I am, and four years in your school hasn't changed me. So I win."
So, yes, these Explicitly Legal Pants are very important. Because even now, a hundred years after ELPK Day, we still have small-minded people around to tell us what we have to wear, and trying to tell us who we can and cannot be.
I hope she sues the pants off them.