An Inclusive Guide to Halloween Costumes for Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Folk

An Inclusive Guide to Halloween Costumes for Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Folk
Photo: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

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If you know me, then you’ll know I love Halloween. Not only is it my favorite holiday, it’s also a part of my identity. Growing up, my home was always known as the “Halloween House,” where in everything was decked out with strobe lights, fog machines, scary music, a graveyard—the works. I loved playing dress up, and the absolute best part of Halloween was knowing I could dress up in public. I always wanted to be a Disney Princess, and as I got older I wanted to show as much skin as possible. The problem for many years, though, was how uncomfortable I felt with my body. And so that made dressing up for Halloween, especially as a trans person, quite difficult.

Today, there are more ways to present yourself without judgement, even if you aren’t ready to tell the world your truth, or haven’t transitioned into your personal version of ‘complete.’

It’s important to be able to express yourself freely, but I understand that not everyone has the ability to do so. If you feel safe and comfortable with the people you’re surrounded by or aren’t worried about the opinions of others—I say, push your boundaries this year. We should be able to dress any way we’d like! Halloween is the night to go for it and see just how comfortable you can be in a “different body,” so to speak. Throughout all my years before, during and after my transition, I wish I had a list of costume ideas to help me get through this time of year. If you can relate, I’ve created a guide to help you choose fun costumes, regardless of where you are (or are not) in your transition.

As someone who unabashedly considers themselves an expert in hot, classic, yet creative costumes, I struggle nowadays to find the perfect costume. The best advice I have is to dress up as something that makes you feel happy and confident. Costumes can be as androgynous, feminine, or masculine as you want!

The main question is how do you want to express yourself?

Do you want to be sexy, silly, scary? Do you want to pay respect to someone? If you like pop culture references, who are your favorite action heroes, reality TV personalities, models, or film characters from childhood and today? Reflect on your favorite iconic singers, actors, or recording artists. Are you a history buff? Consider your favorite historical figures, activists, or politicians. Is there someone in your life who can take a joke if you dressed as them? In the 7th grade, my best friend and I switched gender roles and went as the other. I got to wear a blonde wig, denim skirt, and purse that said “All About Me” – it was the best night ever. If you don’t feel safe being in full female or male form, there are a plethora of androgynous costumes to choose from. If you’re the creative type, give thought to puns, play-on-words, song lyrics, or quotes—you can even simply write the words on your body or on a T-shirt and pants.

Below, I’ve stitched together a guide on navigating Halloween costumes as a trans or gender nonconforming person. Scroll through for Halloween costume ideas, from sexy and fun to classic and meme-inspired.

Solo Costumes:

Going solo? A decade-style costume (like a hippie, disco dancer, or ’80s fitness instructor) are always a great go-to. The ’70s and ’80s were time periods where clothing seemed a bit more fluid, which means you can be, too! Long or big hair, have fun with it! A “Wild Wild West” costume can be super gender neutral as well. Just wear a white tee or tank, blue jeans, boots, a brimmed hat, and a flannel (which you can tie up à la Britney Spears once you feel safe.)

As for super comfortable options, you can wear scrubs and be a doctor, wear gym clothes and be a soccer star, or wear a fuzzy Pokémon onesie (talk about super easy and super comfortable).

If all else fails, just throw some fake blood on an old outfit and call yourself a zombie or the walking dead.

Dynamic Duos:

Got a BFF and want to try playing with gender roles? E-girls and E-boys are taking the world by storm, thanks to apps like TikTok—and I have a feeling this would make for a great costume. Other classic costume ideas are Romy and Michele from ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,’ an angel and a devil, CatDog, SpongeBob and Patrick, Serena and Blair from “Gossip Girl” (one of my personal favorites), Batman and Catwoman, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, black swan and the white swan counterpart, Cosmo and Wanda from “The Fairly Odd Parents,” Cher and Dionne from “Clueless,” a zombie bride and groom, Danny and Sandy from “Grease,” or even Kendall and Kylie Jenner are fun options.

Trios and Groups:

Going out with a group of friends? Some ideas swirling around my mind that I personally want to see are the cast of “Bachelor in Paradise,” the Wild Thornberries, Rugrats, the Scooby Doo gang, the entire SpongeBob crew, Spring Breakers, Mean Girls, the Powerpuff Girls, the Spice Girls, or nearly any ’90s boy band. I don’t see these costumes going out of style anytime soon. And again, the gender binary can be played with here.

Halloween trends I predict to see a lot of this year are the cast of “Euphoria” (most likely the costumes from the Halloween episode) and Britney Spears (a yearly staple). I think people in the LGBTQ+ community may dress up as Kim Petras, and I think we’ll see a lot of Ashley O’s and the Riverdale crew.

Regardless of how the night unfolds, or if my costume goes as planned, I’ve usually learned a lesson or taken away an epic story from the highly anticipated events of the evening. For years now, I’ve written about my struggles of coming to terms with having to choose “gender-appropriate costumes” and the effects it had on me.

In last year’s piece, I urged parents to allow their children to make their own decisions and stressed the importance of a child expressing themselves freely. It’s important to destigmatize gender costumes because the effects it has can clearly last a lifetime, and no child deserves that. All young people can do is be true to themselves and learn from the world around them, so why not support them?

I do see more and more kids dressing more openly for Halloween, and it makes me so happy I can relate to these kids and am so proud of them.

The best thing you can do in life is be true to yourself, and once you’ve discovered you are, in fact, transgender, it may be difficult to try and hide your truth from the world. If I’ve learned anything from my Halloween experiences, it is that you can take advantage of this holiday by going all out on your wildest costume fantasies.

This is your life. Live it as freely as you can, and I hope you’ll be able to follow this guide and have your best Halloween yet.