Halloween is a day many people look forward to every year – from picking the perfect pumpkin to carve, to going to haunted houses, to dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating. It’s all fun and games until costumes become displays of mockery and oppression against people’s gender identities or cultures.
A costume expected to be popular this Halloween season is based on Caitlyn Jenner’s photograph in Vanity Fair, where she introduced herself through an interview after her gender transition. This controversial costume is selling quickly, outselling popular costumes of characters from the Disney film “Frozen.”
Gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder, is the experience of a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and biological sex. Jenner has dealt with gender dysphoria since a young age. Turning someone’s gender transition into a Halloween costume is inappropriate and disrespectful, not only to Jenner, but to other people with gender identity disorder as well.
Although some people may dress up as Jenner without realizing the consequences of their actions, Halloween costume manufacturers should not further encourage stereotyping marginalized groups by making the costumes in the first place. Transgender people already deal with unnecessary criticism on a regular basis, and Halloween should not become another chance for people to do so, intentionally or not.
Cultural costumes that stereotype minorities, such as blackface, are also distasteful. In the 19th century, white actors often used blackface in theater to mock black people as inferior. Minorities are often discriminated due to racism, and dressing up as another race is a form of appropriation.
Before you decide on your Halloween costume, make sure it is not mocking other people. Gender identifications and ethnicities are not Halloween costumes.