Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors
Arts & Letters
dress history, trans history, American West, cross-dressing, Harry Allen, Milton Matson
Clothing is communication. How it is perceived reveals a society's values and anxieties. In the post-frontier American west, moralistic laws against cross-dressing combined with fears of societal degeneration, resulting in the formation and enforcement of normative visions of gendered dress. When trans men Harry Allen and Milton Matson were arrested, images of them were published in newspapers across the nation. Allen's working class wear and close criminal contact with racial minorities reflects one perceived source of degeneration while Matson's high class look and British immigrant status reflects the other. This essay will consider how these men's clothing and bodies were perceived as threats to the colonial familial structures of power through their transgressions of contemporary concepts of dress, gender, sexuality, law, class, race, and especially the looming boogy-man of societal degeneration.
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Caughie, Rose, "Sartorial Representations of Trans Men in the Post-Frontier West: A Case Study in Gender, Class, and Concepts of Societal Degeneration" (2023). University Honors Theses. Paper 1344.
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