Assuming the gods of rail were kind to me, and the gods of steam and subversion felt willing to let me in, I am at Asylum this weekend. To clarify, not *an* asylum, but Weekend at the Asylum, the UKs biggest Steampunk gathering, in Lincoln.
I fell into Steampunk by accident. I’ve always liked things gothic, subversive, counter cultural, and friendly, and Steampunk, it was rapidly evident, would give me all of that. I like the kind of spaces it creates, where all manner of things become easier and more possible.
As Steampunks go, I’m not a very dramatic dresser. I don’t flaunt my underwear, I don’t have any fantastic contraptions. As I travel by train, my kit has to be worn to the event, so for me it’s a lot about the hat, which is probably going to have a solar panel on it for much of the time, because it would be useful, and I can.
Over years of doing Steampunk events, I’ve noticed that this is the space where I am most likely to see people who appear to me to be biologically male dressed in attire conventionally associated with being biologically female. What I love about this, is that’s really all I can say on the subject. Are they trans folk? Are they clothes fetishists? Do they just find it fun? I can’t tell, it doesn’t matter and it’s none of my business anyway. Excellent! When the man next to you has a giant kraken on his hat and is talking to a woman wearing just her underwear and a pith helmet, a guy in a dress is really a non-issue.
I may have a moustache painted on my face for the event. I may not. Whether I do and why I do, does not matter, and this cheers me enormously. A big part of the point, for me, is that you can present as whoever you want to be – explorer, exotic dancer, inventor, male, female, robot… it’s all ok. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you start from. Age, biology, body shape, skin colour…. not an issue. Be who you want to be. There’s room. I just wish the rest of life was as roomy.