Derrek Lutz wears dress to prom, wins prom king


This story is a bit old, but too good not to share. Amidst all of the queer and gender non-conforming panic around prom season (remember Constance McMillen?), Derrek Lutz’s story was buried.
Derrek is a high school student in New Jersey who self-identifies as a crossdresser. While some folks have used crossdresser as a derrogatory term to refer to trans or gender non-conforming folks, there is a community of people who self-identify as crossdressers. This might mean they sometimes dress in clothes of the gender they weren’t assigned at birth. It doesn’t mean they are gay or queer necessarily. The most vocal part of the crossdressing community is male-assigned folks who dress as women.
Okay, gender 101 lesson over! Now back to Derrek’s story. When Derrek made it public that he planned to wear a dress to prom, the school administrators tried to claim it was against school policy. After some facebook hubbub, Derrek was allowed to go to prom in his chosen outfit and was even crowned prom king!
It’s sad that there is this kind of reaction to kids and their desires for gendered self-expression, but I think these stories and the attention they garner actually bring about positive change for folks in the gender non-conforming community. Derrek obviously had the support of his classmates, which is awesome.

Via Queerty

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10 Comments

  1. Broggly
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I don’t see it as sad at all, since the student body was supportive and the administrators were willing to listen to what the students had to say and change their minds about policy. Good on ya NJ!

  2. FYouMudFlaps
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Congrats and hugs to him.

  3. TeenMommy
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    This is the sort of thing that reminds me the world isn’t quite as horrible as it would seem based on the nightly news. I love this story, and I love that his classmates are obviously accepting, cool people about this sort of thing.
    Also, he seems to be one of the few people on earth who doesn’t look silly in a tiara. Maybe it’s just because they make me think of beauty pageants that I think that, but still, he looks quite nice.

  4. gwye
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I absolutely endorse Derrek’s right to wear a dress to prom. But to say that he’s “cross-dressing” just sounds wrong to me.
    To call Derrek a cross-dresser implies that there is a contradiction between his sex and his clothing. In reality, there is nothing un-male about a wearing dress. The idea that men do not wear dresses was an arbitrary convention from a more sexist age. When Derrek wears a dress, he is not denying his masculinity, but the dress’s femininity
    When women first started wearing pants, were they cross dressing?

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m very glad to see this.
    I wish I could ask him personally whether he feels like labels of any kind are ultimately restrictive. To some extent they are validating, but it’s been so tough for me in my own life to think beyond them. The more I try to fit in a box, the more confused I am, because none of them work for me.
    We can rightly proclaim that gender is incredibly individualistic, but if you desperately want to belong somewhere, it’s often hollow consolation. That’s where I find myself now, though this may be part of a process.

  6. Shy Mox
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    At they time they probably were considered cross dressers. The notion that men don’t wear dresses aren’t relics from “a more sexist age,” its from THIS sexist age. Hopefully one day we will not have to label it as such, but for clarification for the masses who might be very confused, people still self identify as cross dressers or transvestites.

  7. Surfin3rdWave
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    This is awesome. I’m glad that there are at least a few awesomely progressive schools out there.
    He’s adorable, too!

  8. TabloidScully
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    In doing a little further digging on the story, it would appear Derrek Lutz identifies as female.
    This is a quote from a local news channel about the story:
    “What makes me a woman is inside and it doesn’t really matter what’s on the outside. And everyone should really just be treated equally,” Lutz said.
    If this is the case, I’m thinking a few things.
    1. Should we stop referring to Lutz by male pronouns? I realize the initial Queerty story doesn’t identify Lutz either way, so I don’t think Feministing dropped the ball on this one, but should we go back and edit, for posterity’s sake?
    2. If Lutz openly identifies as female, doesn’t the win of Prom King seem somewhat disingenuous to that identity? Wouldn’t Prom Queen be more appropriate?

  9. Nicole
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I was actually going to comment on that too – not because I know anything about his/her gender identity, but because of the picture. Look at that crown. They don’t give tiara-type crowns like that to prom kings; are we sure s/he DIDN’t win prom queen? I know the article does indeed state that it was “prom king,” even in Lutz’s own words, but I’m genuinely confused by that tiara, unless s/he bought it for themself as a lark.

  10. TabloidScully
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    That’s a really good point. I just wrote up a piece on Lutz and linking her win back to this week’s “Glee” episode for my job, and I wish now I’d caught the part about the crown. Hopefully some eagle-eyed reader will do it and then the discussion about a tiara versus a crown can be had.
    You know what would be REALLY great? If Lutz decided to play with gender further by switching crowns with the person who won Prom Queen. That would be awesome, too.

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