Full disclosure: I met Rose via twitter three days ago. But since social media time is kind of like dog years (and also queer dating), let's call that six months. Partly because -- unbeknownst to me -- I've actually been reading her stuff for much longer. Rose is a tumblr goddess extraordinaire and all-around kickass writer, and when it comes to lingerie, she wields her talents for good as the resident LGBTQ issues columnist for The Lingerie Addict, aka the most popular lingerie blog in the world. (Seriously, go check it out. We'll be here when you get back. You're welcome.)
I'm thrilled to be interviewing Rose for Bluestockings, because she's got some wicked important insights both as a bigender lingerie consumer and as a writer professionally engaged in this world. But this interview also serves the purpose of introducing Rose to the Bluestockings community, because she is going to be lending her talents to us and guest blogging here from time to time. So let's welcome Rose, y'all!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m Rose, and I’m a writer—I do some fiction and some articles and essays. I’ve been very bisexual for as long as I can remember and I recently came to terms with the fact that I’m nonbinary, i.e. I don’t identify consistently as male or female. I’m a feminist and I have a love/hate relationship with fashion.
How did you first get into lingerie and/or underthings?
I always liked the idea of clothing as something that can shape the body. For a long time I was fascinated by corsetry and binding and shaping garments as a way of making the human body more fluid. But I was afraid of actually buying lingerie until I met my girlfriend. She literally walked me into several lingerie stores and stood me in front of the things she knew I would probably like. Even though I’m AFAB, I’d never felt like a woman so I felt really uncomfortable in women’s spaces. Getting over it took a long time, but it’s been worth it to finally have the things that make me feel good in my body. I want that for everyone.
What has your experience been like as a lingerie blogger who often discusses issues specifically facing the LGBTQ community?
Overall it’s been really positive—I responded to Cora Harrington’s request for an LGBTQ columnist, so I was able to be open about the topics I write and think about most. So far, I’ve been trying very hard to do right by the queer and trans and nonbinary communities because they’ve always been good to me. I hope people in those communities will call me out if I say something that they don’t think represents them fairly.
Danae Binder, danae.info
What has surprised you the most in your time writing for The Lingerie Addict?
Probably how upset male-identified crossdressers are about a perceived lack of time and attention given to them and their interests, which is valid, but I have issue with the fact that they seem to think I’m doing something wrong by talking about queer people who aren’t them…? I feel like this is in some ways a queer issue, but it’s hard to know how to treat it because most of these men draw a big distinction between themselves and queer/trans/nonbinary people, and there’s this special vitriol sometimes for trans women in particular. There’s a lot of intersecting privileges and pressures there, and I get where they’re coming from, but they seem to feel this need to insert themselves into queer topics while still insisting that they totally aren’t queer, they are Straight Manly Men With A Hobby. It’s hard to know how to respond. Note from Jeanna: This is especially in reference to a recent article Rose did for TLA entitled "Where is the Lingerie for Trans Women?".
How do you see the lingerie industry responding to the needs of the LGBTQ community?
I’ve seen some pretty amazing stuff for masculine AFAB people, and a lot less for AMAB feminine people. Chrysalis Lingerie is getting a lot of flack right now for not making larger band sizes and being priced inaccessibly. I think the lingerie industry as a whole is uncertain what to make of trans women, and that makes me sad because femininity is already hard enough without feeling like nobody has your size or price point. I also think that non trans-specific brands could make more of an effort to welcome trans women explicitly, because there’s been a history of implicitly excluding trans women through various means, and because being trans shouldn’t limit you to one brand.
Is there an intimate item you think is absolutely missing in lingerie right now, or an item you'd like to see redone in some way? We need better chest binders and top-lingerie for trans men/nonbinary AFABs in general.
Most of them right now are sweaty, really hard to get into and out of, and super medical-looking. I tried a few people’s binders before ultimately deciding to make my own, and this thing I whipped up with my half-baked sewing skills made me happier than what was on the market. There’s sort of this assumption that shaping garments are a holdover until people can medically transition, but not all of us are on that train, some by choice and some because we can’t afford it. So the old medical-style stuff doesn’t necessarily speak to a more fluid relationship with gender and body shape. I want a binder with some kind of distracting MC Escher type pattern that makes my chest look smaller without full compression. Where is textile design when we really need it?
ASOS New Look Crossover Bralet, $13.25
Who are some of your favorite designers and/or brands?
I love Hopeless Lingerie a lot, and Toru and Naoko. I wear a lot of ASOS because they make these strappy bustier-type bralettes that feel good even when I’m not all about my chest. TomboyX has my heart, and Play Out probably will as soon as I try a pair of their briefs--I love their designs and their moves toward gender neutrality. But the winner probably goes to Target because they’re the most accessible brick and mortar store I know of. If you are trans or genderqueer, Target seems pretty safe, and they have a gender neutral fitting area. If I knew a smaller chain or an independent store I could endorse that way, I’d be so happy.
Give us three blogs or websites we should absolutely be reading.
I have to say The Lingerie Addict--it was my favorite even before I started working for them. Next, Arabelle Sicardi’s Tumblr, because her articles are indispensable and she offers amazing givewaways and discount codes for lingerie and fashion. Finally, Autostraddle--they’re consistently trans-inclusive for both AFAB and AMAB people, and their Bra Week included some of the best lingerie advice I’ve ever seen.