Slater tells of the first time Sasha wore a skirt in the tenth grade after borrowing one from their friend, Carrie. Maybeck had a gag dress up day and Sasha couldn’t believe how comfortable the skirt was. A year later, despite already identifying as gender nonbinary, Sasha still only had masculine clothes. Carrie again lent them a skirt, this time an entire bag full, and Sasha has been wearing one every day since then.
While Maybeck’s gag dress-up day gives Sasha the opportunity to dress in a way that they are most comfortable, it still implies that Sasha’s preference for skirts is some type of joke or anomaly. Gag dress up days perpetuate cisgender ideals of appropriate dress, and they marginalize those who don’t adhere to those ideals.
Sasha loves skirts, and they love the way they compliment the masculine look of their other clothes. Sasha’s outfits are a “sartorial gender mash-up” of skirts mixed with t-shirts and vests, and while the outfits aren’t exactly “flamboyant,” they still “make Debbie nervous.” The skirts mean that Sasha no longer wears the “cloak of invisibility,” and she worries about how the world will look at them.
Sasha’s choice of clothing reflects their gender confusion. Sasha questions their gender, and by dressing in a way that is both masculine and feminine they project this confusion to the outside world, which makes it difficult for others to assume that they are either a man or a woman.
According to Slater, transgender people become the victims of a disproportionate number of crimes each year. A quarter of all trans people have been the victim of a “bias-driven” assault, and these statistics go up for trans women, those of color, and those who don’t identify as either male or female. A 2008 survey of 860 nonbinary people found that an “astonishing” 32 percent of them had been attacked physically because of their gender.
Sadly, Sasha’s experience on the 57 bus is not an isolated incident, and these statistics reflect this unjust reality. Trans and nonbinary people are forced to live with the reality that they are at an increased risk for violence, and Slater’s book directly addresses and attempts to right this social wrong.
So, Debbie worries about Sasha. “Did anyone give you a hard time?” she asks each day after school. But nobody ever does, except for one opinionated old lady who demands to know why Sasha is wearing a skirt since they are “not a girl!”
Sasha’s experience with the old lady also suggests that most people are accepting of trans and agender individuals. Furthermore, this suggests that these opinions are rooted in ignorance, not hatred or malice.