Navigating Disability Fashion and Gender Presentation [CC]



In this video, I discuss how my disability (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome); the chronic pain and other symptoms I may experience affect the way I dress and in effect the way I may present my gender expression.

Gender Expression and Disability ft Jessica Kellgren-Fozard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au1svE1bE8A

You’re So Brave Podcast w/ Chase Ross and Aaron Ansuini: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EHvVU4cfJI

GenderQueer Runway Radimo LA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnRNquJDxtU
SHOP: http://www.radimo.la

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Annie Segarra (Annie Elainey) creates mainly first-person videos on introspective topics, social topics, sharing her experiences and thoughts on disability, body image, LGBT topics, gender equality, etc, as well as creative content; a variety of music/artistic media and short films. Annie identifies as a queer disabled (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) Latinx woman and uses she and they pronouns.

37 thoughts on “Navigating Disability Fashion and Gender Presentation [CC]

  1. Tips I've learned:
    * If you want/need to go braless but are self-conscious about your nips, get yourself a pack of reusable adhesive nipple cover pasties.
    * Harem pants/capris and palazzo pants are super comfy and usually have an elastic waistband or drawstring, no buttons or zippers to deal with, and they are nice and roomy. Some palazzo pants are even made to resemble skirts.
    * For those of us with cold feet, stick foot/toe warmers to the bottom of your socks before putting your shoes on. They last for many hours.

  2. Random idea you may have already thought of: on days you want to present more "masculine" but need the comfort of a skirt, what if you try baggy loose basketball shorts? They work more like a skirt 😉

  3. Love this conversation! Since an ankle surgery in high school, my left foot doesn't arch enough to physically fit it into any kind of high heel, so I've felt your frustration with events like weddings! I usually get shit for wearing flats, especially since I'm super short to begin with.

    Also when my IBD flares badly, my stomach is so sensitive I can't have any fabrics touching it – empire waist nightshirts onlyyyy! I've also stopped wearing jeans and inflexible clothes because of how quickly my stomach expands/changes clothing sizes after eating. The pants I do wear, super low waist or high waist all the way, nothing that will have a tight waistband around the most sensitive area.

  4. I can totally relate with you on wearing sunglasses indoors. Migraines are the worst. I've been experiencing them since middle school. I am on the autism spectrum which makes different textures too much. When I was little I would cry every time I got new shoes because I hated how they felt.
    I don't have any experience with chronic pain or EDS, but I have seen how it affects my sister who has CRPS/RSD. She can't wear rings because it causes her pain. She had a cyst on her ankle for years before it was removed and only wore slides because anything else would cause her pain.
    I just want you to know that your identity is valid no matter what you wear. I hope that more companies will strive to make clothes more accessible.

  5. Very interesting video. I don't have EDS. I have spina bifida. As with many with SB, I have, at 42, gained quite a bit of weight between my teen years (when I was a wheelchair racer) util now. I'm 70 lbs overweight and it is all in my belly. I wear XXL shirts, but XL shorts. And I need to wear those woven belts to minimise my pants sagging (which still happens regardless of what I do).

    I'm very fascinated by fashion; I love looking at modeling, both men and women, on insta or in magazines, but my reality is not so simple. Clothes frustrate me when they should be the ultimate fun for a person.

  6. What is interesting, however is that in the UK it's pretty accepted for women to wear suits to weddings as guests not as a mark of gender presentation or sexualities but simply because they do not enjoy dresses and are fed up with fashion inequality I'm terms of the ease of dress code rulings for men!

  7. Is anyone else irritated by the fashion of waterfall cardigans without buttons which are a bugger with flapping when trying to crutch or transfer in and out of cars& chairs?
    I like the 3/4 length tunic/shirt/cardigans' bum cover because it conceals the fact I'm always wearing elasticated, lounge wear/trackie bottoms for all the reasons you state, and loose fit helps conceal when I'm only wearing a vest top and not a crop bra.
    I gave up on 'bra' bras despite 34DD 5-6Years ago for shoulder+thoracic pain reasons too… Needs must.

    But the gender aspect on top must be a minefield mindfuck.
    Thank you for speaking up Annie and doing such valuable work in the community xxxxx

  8. I love skirts and wear them pretty much every day, but I have this pair of plaid leggings that I've designated my "pain pants"–meaning just those and a turtleneck and I'm basically set with a reasonable level of comfort and respectability. A lot of the time I also have to dress warmer than other people because my disability causes muscle spasms, so you'll find me in really thick winter over knee tube socks and sweaters in like 50F weather.

  9. I can relate to not being able to dress the way I want to present (as a nonbinary person) sometimes bc I don’t have the money to buy clothes that would be comfortable and also bc I don’t have a disability but I do have a lower pain tolerance so I often can’t bind being more sensitive, and like no one should bind more than a certain amount so yeah that sucksss. I struggle a lot with not being able to bind sometimes, thankfully I should be able to have surgery thooo and hopefully sooon

  10. The brand MNML (I buy on Dolls Kill) is great for comfortable androgynous clothing (including pants) Otherwise leggings are more comfy for me than pants. Theraspecs (expensive but worth it if you can) has migraine glasses that look more like prescription lenses so I no longer have to wear sunglasses inside 😎

  11. I've been thinking about this topic for so long. I'm genderfluid and I'm autistic and have fibromyalgia. Finding clothing that satisfies my gender presentation desires but also satisfies all of my sensory/pain needs. I really like to dress up really nice for any day that I feel a specific gender intensely but most of the time I end up in the same sweats and a baggy shirt. I used to get really upset about it but I've started to find ways around it. I also recently got a cane and I've found that it can be a great thing to build an outfit around!
    I also had a wedding experience sort of like that. I packed two outfits because I was traveling really far away and I didn't know what presentation I'd be feeling on the day. I started the day in smart suit pants, button up shirt, and a vest but had to take it off between the ceremony and reception because it was too hot, too tight, and could be too difficult to get off by the end of the evening so I switched into the dress I brought.
    This whole video is great and just what I needed

  12. Solidarity! I'm genderqueer and mainly have mental health and digestive issues: Crohn's/GERD (acid reflux) and asthma and definitely relate to gender expression and clothes vs body needs. I wish I was able to wear my binder more but have hardly touched it in years due to prioritizing my comfort overall. Especially in times like summer where it's harder to just layer is when I wish I could use my binder! But, any time I know I'm gonna be eating out/having a physically more "active"/busy day, (so most days I leave my house) I avoid using a binder due to extra nausea, bloating, digestive discomfort and difficulty breathing that already happens due to asthma/anxiety.

    A lil while ago I was also put on steroids to go into remission and it definitely changed my body shape/"weight". With many of my more neutral or femme-y items, they're stretchy, cotton-y (I love cotton leggings! I used to not be able to wear pants and leggings are always my go-to staple) and/or I'm okay with showing more of my curves in them. But, with some of my masc items like cargo pants, there is a lot less flexibility in the fabric (or I want to avoid them being too form-fitting) and I've had to get rid of multiple pairs of more masc pants muuuch faster than my other clothes with body fluctuations. I'm glad I'm able to find them at clothing swaps sometimes though, 'cause otherwise it's so expensive to buy my ideal masc looks and having to keep replacing them with how much my body can fluctuate sometimes. Nevermind gender feels and shopping for bras with bigger boobs… Thankfully, this summer for the first time ever, I've gotten more comfortable with leaving my house without a bra and it definitely has been something I'm still getting used to, but can feel better than wearing a bra with masc clothes sometimes like I used to, or just generally having one more item of clothing that doesn't fit me right and I have to worry about while out and about.

    One of my "hacks" I guess is just allllllways wearing comfy shoes. I have orthotics/back/knee/hip pain and I probs have like one pair of shoes I wear with all my looks no matter how femme or masc, I often choose like a vaguely dressy casual mens shoes when shoe shopping. It is a nice way to genderbend with utili-femme comfort and for fancy things like Pride, I got a rainbow pair of runners and a glittery pair of shoes like Docs, but never anything with heels. The aesthetic is never worth it for me. Another thing I do is even when I'm wearing skirts and dresses is to wear a flannel and baseball cap on top so that my accessories exude this genderbendery/masc vibe and some of my favourite looks have been that sort of mix and match that you were talking about. And my friends totally comment on it to how it's "so me" to mix those things together and that's nice and affirming! ^.^

  13. I've been struggling a lot with these things especially lately as I've been leaving the house a lot more for college (finally getting qualifications to go to university after illness kept me from finishing college 8 years ago)! So this video is so helpful and comforting and as always great to see a different perspective as well as the things we have in common 💜

  14. With no pain or fatigue I would be super femme every day but pain days are leggings and hoodie days and I can't give up the hour of sleep necessary to do hair and makeup on a daily basis.

  15. Dont let the capitalist tell you that fashion is your identity. Where the most comfortable and utilitarian clothing you can find. Formal dress events are bourgeoisie nonsense.

  16. Your talk about weddings makes me so excited for my own 😂 I’m non-binary, in a queer relationship with a cis guy. We’ve talked about everything— I won’t be wearing a dress, there will be no bachelor/bachelorette parties, no Mr. and Mrs., no “I now pronounce you husband and wife”, and no “bridesmaids”, “best man”, etc. We’re starting from scratch, and figuring out what works best for us 🙂 We‘ll use Mxtr. and Mr., instead of Mrs. and Mr., and our vows will end with, “I now pronounce you, spouses for life” instead of “husband and wife” 🌈 Its so stressful, but I’m excited that we’re pioneers in this previously unexplored, traditional, and common celebration, that most people experience at some point in their lives 💙 I haven’t seen anyone like me, in wedding magazines, so I hope that ours gets featured in one. I may be dreaming big, hoping for that, but you never know! I want to show other non-binary trans folks that it’s possible to have a wedding that fits THEM; not what their family or society wants

  17. I also buy Vogmask n95 and Breathe Happy antimicrobial/antidroplet masks bc they're cooler than the scratchy blue ones and I can sanitize them in the laundry. I'm going to try to make masks and pump bags some day and just ship them to #spoonies

  18. THANK YOU!
    I wear a nursing bra bc I can access my port without the ta-tas hanging out, no wire, it's great when I swell up, and I have discharge from cyst networks. Less than $15 at target and the clips don't need nimble fingers bc it's designed for a cisfemale holding an infant and clipping/unclipping w one hand.
    I sewed cool coccyx support and rollator seat covers and next I'm making a new pump bag and zipper access in my shirts to my port.
    I can't wait to figure it out bc my #disabledjoy and #live_on shirts are on point! And I'm tired of cutting my shirts.
    #zebrafashion
    #LGBTQIA #zebrastrong love

  19. Great video as always 💕 I related to this as a blind girl even though I have a very different experience. When I first started losing my eyesight I felt embarrassed wearing sunglasses and baseball hats inside (I’m light sensitive) but now I am am able to embrace it!! I feel like being blind has a beatnik aesthetic lol. I’m glad your videos exist 🙂

  20. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Hypermobility Type myself.

    I was finding it really difficult to look after my shoulder length hair because of my shoulders, so I decided to cut it short.

    I decided that I might as well do some good. So I decided to film myself getting it shaved, put it up on YouTube and donate money to a local cancer charity.

    I personally identify as a female but I hate wearing skirts etc because of my disability, so I tend to wear jeans and hoodies.

    Here's the link to my video.

    https://youtu.be/lXqndaZOvEI

  21. I am in the process of getting diagnosed with EDS and a seizure disorder. I never really thought about it, but I don't dress as androgynous anymore because pants hurt to wear. I've slowly been taking things away like belts because of bad brusing and skin tearing, so I wear suspenders. I also have sensitive skin, so sometimes clothing is extremely itchy. I didn't realize I had started to change how I dress until you pointed it out

  22. My disability has guided my fashion a lot as I have to rest with my legs elevated usually on my sofa, because of that I don't wear any pants that have buttons or zippers as that's really uncomfortable so I only wear leggings cause they are super comfortable for me. Have you tried wearing wide leg pants to help your knee pain?

  23. I relate so much to this. I have 2 pairs of shoes that actually work with my feet. I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and my toe joints are curled and messed up so I need extra room in the toes. So for everyday wear I have to wear crocs (and I dress pretty feminine, so it really cramps my style) and then I have 1 pair of black dress shoes that work for an hour or two before I start really feeling it. And those black shoes took over half an hour searching an entire giant shoe store to find, and it was a miracle to find them.

  24. Wow I didn’t even know I needed this conversation. I feel like there’s such a strong relationship between my disability and my fashion. Since I started using a cane part time I’ve felt this weird pressure to look more put together. Like for some reason wearing sweatpants and using a cane feels like a weird combination for me so on days where I know I’m going to need my cane I feel like I have to wear button ups or at least nicer shirts and pants. Also my pain prevents me from wearing skinny jeans which I love and boots because then I can’t walk right so sometimes I feel so limited in my expression

  25. I would say, wear whatever the heck you feel comfortable in.

    Your video kind of reminds me of a discussion about how people present themselves in Second Life. In a virtual world you can present yourself as pretty much whatever you like. Able-bodied…in a wheelchair… We from Virtual Ability even have a raptor and a sphere among our friends.

  26. So I have the opposite problem with tops. I have spastic cerebral palsy on my left side and struggle with buttoning things. Also shoe laces are a pain but slip ons slip off my left foot. I like wearing things with buttons or zippers open with another top under. Luckily I live in Florida right now and don't have to bundle up. When I lived in Washington, winter clothes were the bane of my existence. Also getting a haircut is hard when you can't hold your head straight. :-/

  27. I identify as a Demigirl, I’m pansexual, and I’m demiromantic. I also have classical Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I wear baggy clothing, which I love. Longer dresses, I wear braces a lot. I wear leggings compression for assumed POTS(i haven’t been testing. I almost always wear sneakers. I don’t care how fancy it is I wear sneakers. I wear jackets a lot and elastic waistband things. I also have that problem with jeans

  28. i thought i was the only one that did the first hack!! i tend to wear a lot of jeans with holes in the knees because it helps my joints hurt less & sitting down doesn’t kill the backs of my knees either

  29. Hi! Let me know in the comments what are some of your disability fashion hacks! Here's what we discussed in the video:

    Skirts/Dresses/Shorts – less constricting for chronic leg pain
    Buttoned-up Tops and Dresses – easy on shoulders
    Holes in Pants – to relieve pressure
    Sunglasses – for light sensitivity, migraines, sensory overload
    Braless – to relieve shoulder pain

  30. OMG, I am first! This is a rare occasion! Woo! This was so insightful, and I have a good friend who is disabled and also genderqueer. I bet they would appreciate this video.

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