Cross-dress Day, known as Drag Day or Gender Bender Day or Clothing Swap Day, depending on site (and, in fact, not known as "Cross-dress Day" at any site), is a set day that occurs once per session on which it is traditional for students (and sometimes RAs) to cross-dress. It occurs on different days at different sites, and is often associated with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Normally, students exchange clothes with a friend of the opposite gender, although some bring their own clothing.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there is general not a great deal of parental complaint about this tradition. Recently, however, some sites have been trying to put an end to Cross-dress Day, usually resulting in protests.
At Lancaster, Cross-dress Day is always on Second Saturday. It is usually referred to as "drag day", and is celebrated before lunch, before all the guys realize how annoying girls clothing can get. Many also attend the Saturday carnival in drag.
Second Saturday is also Rocky Horror Picture Show Night, when nomores act out "The Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite." In 2012.1, "Sweet Transvestite" was replaced by "Over at the Frankenstein Place". 2012.2 acted out "Science Fiction/Double Feature" in place of "Sweet Transvestite." As of 2013.1, the second song is "Hot Patootie", due to admin complaints about the sexuality of Sweet Transvestite.
At Carlisle, this day is only referred to as Clothing Swap Day and in past years as Drag Day, and occurs on Second Tuesday.
Generally, Clothing Swap Day is the most-participated in day of all dress-up or theme days. Often, the night before, during Meet Market, a pair of about the same size exchange clothing. The next day, they put on the clothing of a gender different than that which they present as and strut their stuff. The ballerinas are incredulous at the sight of the swaps, much to the amusement of CTY campers. The ballerinas have been known to take photos of CTY campers with or without their permission. As of 16.1, RAs dictated that one was not allowed to make fun of or imitate physical traits of others, i.e. drawing on stubble, stuffing, lowering/highering your voice, etc. People who do not typically wear bras often do, which can alter the way one's chest looks. Clothing and makeup are traditionally the only things that change on each person. The dress code still applies on Clothing Swap Day. Many people shed their apparel by activities, if they wish to participate in a physical activity.
In 2018, Carlisle adopted the name Clothing Swap Day, replacing Drag Day. Although this change was initially met with pushback from returning campers, once students learned of the tradition's origins as a protest, they, for the most part, were respectful of the change and of the history of the tradition, outlined below. Now, students may still take part in the traditional manner to their own level of comfort, but the definition has extended to mean 'wearing clothes that you wouldn't normally wear'. Some students dress up as abstract concepts like galaxies or don't participate altogether. No matter the level or manner of participation, Carlislians are generally supportive of each other and each others' boundaries.
Origins of Clothing Swap Day
The origins of Clothing Swap Day actually have nothing to do with Sound of America; in fact, there were several years where Clothing Swap Day and SoA overlapped. According to the Traditions activity of 18.2, in 97.2, Pierre(?) only brought jeans to the site, which can get very hot and humid. He then borrowed skirts and/or dresses from one of his classmates to try to beat the heat. The administration promptly cracked down, forcing him to change, on the grounds that they had heard angry complaints from parents via the Baltimore office about cross-dressing at CTY. Allegedly, this was actually an excuse fabricated by the Dean of Residential Life.
After this incident, a mass protest was held by the students, with many wearing signs throughout the day that said 'I AM NOT OFFENDED' as well as swapped clothing. In subsequent years, the theme spread, and Clothing Swap Day was born. During the few years when their time on campus overlapped, the Washington Redskins found Clothing Swap Day particularly amusing.
Saratoga Springs (Skidmore)
At Skidmore, Cross-dress day is referred to as Drag Day/Gender Bender Day, and occurs on Second Wednesday. As Saratoga is known for its extremely intense Tradition Days, the majority of the campus participates in Drag Day. People can be seen exchanging clothing two days before Drag Day, and Quad time during the night before Drag Day is often filled with people running back to their dorms and back to the Quad for last minute clothing exchanges. Due to the camp sharing it's cafeteria with a ballet camp and summer college students, the Rinas and Rinos and college students all are greatly amused and occasionally horrified when they realize that the person they're flirting with isn't actually a boy/girl during Drag Day.
During 13.1, SRA Kenny acknowledged Drag Day the preceding Tuesday after a movie. His announcement "Tomorrow is Drag Day." to the camp was met with applause and cheering from the students. He used the moment to remind campers that all round curves must be covered, whether it be booty or breast. The RA's also were told to remind "gurlz" and girls to dress "appropriately", though it that can somewhat ironic considering a teenage boy wearing yoga pants, a V-neck and cardigan along with lipstick and mascara is probably not appropriate in most social situations. According to the Dining Hall staff of 13.1, their favorite tradition day is Drag Day and find it to be completely hilarious and occasionally ask each other whether a patron is male or female. One cook that worked at The Diner said this CTYer's hot pink nails were "lovely" and "expertly done". One female janitor also taught the proper way to sit while wearing a dress and how to cross one's leg or ankles to prevent any "goods" from being accidently revealed.
As of 15.1, what used to be known as "Drag Day" is now "Wacky Wednesday" due to the transphobic implications of drag shows. It still consists of exchanging clothes with the opposite gender, only now it is regarded as a more inclusive term to genderqueer people, and those who don't fit within the gender binary.
As of 16.1, we thought "Wacky Wednesday" wasn't quite right (it was created very, very last minute). We changed the name to "Clothing Swap Day" so it has no implications of gender but is still an accurate description of the day. Future generations, feel free to change it again, because nothing will have the same ring to it as "Drag Day" did, but this is the best we could think of.
Los Angeles (LMU)
Cross-dress day is called Drag Day at LMU. It occurs on the second Tuesday. Boys often swap clothes with girls during Social Time the night before. As other summer camps are usually going on at the time, students at the site have the pleasure of telling the Kobe kids or other sports camps the various reasons why they've decided to cross dress. Many girl CTYers are approached by Kobe campers asking "Is that person standing next to you a boy or a girl, the one in the dress?"
In 11.1, Drag Day occurred on the last day of the Korean Church Convention. The Koreans were dazzled by the sight of LMU-ers in their full glory. Many guys had painted their nails and decided to wear revealing clothing, like off-shoulder tops, halter-neck dresses and short skirts, complete with hair accessories and make-up. Unlike at other sites, some RAs' acknowledged this event and one brave RA even used this event as a discussion during that night's hall meeting, promoting awareness and tolerance.
At Siena, Cross-Dress day is separated into two distinct events: Fairy Princess Day and Macho Man Day. The first occurs on Second Tuesday, and is when guys cross dress, while the second is on Second Wendsday, for girls.
During 08.1, Siena College held its orientation at the beginning of July, resulting in large groups of Christian college freshmen being present for Fairy Princess Day. Needless to say, the cross-dressing teenagers attracted significant notice, mostly in the form of mostly blank, slightly horrified stares.
During 07.1, Drag Day was virtually nonexistent. Only five or six kids participated (one of them on the wrong day).
Baltimore's Drag Day in 08.1 was impromptu and organized wholly by the students because JHU administration wanted nothing to do with it and RAs were forbidden from cross-dressing. But in the end, Drag Day came through and many students participated in this spectacular event. Fake 'marriages' happened throughout the day and many hearts were broken as "boys" dumped "girls" and other confusions happened.
08.2 also held a smaller Drag Day.
In 09.1, Drag Day was pointedly held on Second Wednesday, although RAs were still forbidden to "encourage OR discourage it". This came through although only about 1 in every 10 kids dragged. Paul's hall was forbidden from participating "because it might be insulting" although most other halls were not expressly forbidden. Many sights including too-tight skirts could be seen.
In 10.2 however, Drag Day was a huge hit, it occurred on the second Wednesday and many minidresses, miniskirts, girls so G they were almost H, and hot "gurlz" could be seen. The RAs were strictly prohibited to encourage OR discourage it, again.
During 11.1, Drag Day was held on the second Monday. Students spread the word almost a week in advance, and the exchange of clothing happened up until that Monday. RAs pretended not to know about the event, and neither endorsed nor discouraged it, again. Boys were seen in skirts and dresses, some in heels and a bra, though the exchange of underclothes has been forbidden in the past years. Many more girls participated than boys and some were mistaken for actual boys (which they were delighted about). This was the birthday of "swag walks" and "bro food".
Drag Day in 11.2 occurred on the second Tuesday. RAs' again pretended to know nothing about it, whereas the instructional staff did say some things about it, especially the LAWP class, as they were about the discuss gay rights. There was a lot more participation this year, compared to 10.2. We did freak a couple lax bros' out with the sight of nevermore Jaime in a halter-neck, Mexican dress, nevermore Kyle in jeggings and tight T-shirt, and the jaw-dropping looks created by many other courageous men.
Drag Day in 18.2 was on the second Wednesday. It was called Cross-Dress Day, even though the Princess of the Blood had said very clearly that she didn't want it to be called that as it had negative connotations and implied a gender-binary system. Many other students and RAs shared this opinion. However, the administration still called it Cross-Dress Day and used the phrase "opposite gender" many times. Despite this, there were still quite a few participants once the spirit day came around.
At Easton, Cross-dress Day is on the last Wednesday.
Notable Cross-dress Days
- 08.1 a couple of the girls and boys halls had their own unoffical cross dress day on the second weds instead of the last.
- 08.2 On this cross-dress day, legendary Easton CAAmpers Brian Herrera and Toni Braxton were reprimanded for their dress. Toni Braxton was forced to change into normal male's attire because they were "disrespecting Lafayette property". Apparently, sexually pleasing a Lafayette golfcart (while nevermore girls Nadya Spice and Steph Dunn take advantage of the photo-op) is inappropriate, and results in the removal of the privilege to dress like the opposite gender. Brian Herrera, however, was punished for being just too sexy. Apparently, his outfit was too revealing. He was forced to change just like Toni and Octavio. Brian, in fact, did not comply. He instead wore his cross-dress day clothes underneath men's clothing and took off the cover-up during Rob Lovering's most amazing Bioethics class. BIOETHICS ''B.A.M.Fs''
- 09.2 Cross-dress has been cancelled, being replaced with a "T-Shirt Signing Wednesday." Cross-Day day was apparently "offensive", because apparently there were cross-dressers on campus. Though some returning students dressed up for these days, many people did not, and just wore their CTY shirts instead. However, some returning female CAAmpers, such as Carolyn Byington and Leila Kurman, still decided to celebrate cross-dress day by wearing dresses and drawing crosses on their hands. Also, male camper Nikhil Varma dressed up in a dress for much of the day. The administration had no problem with their choice of how to celebrate this day! Easton CAAmpers of the future are encouraged to explore new and exciting ways to participate in SPIRIT WEEK!
- 10.2 Cross Dress day is still not allowed, however no-mores and nevermores Sam Lawyer, Tony Satryan, Nikhil Varma, and a few others still dressed up for this event. During mid-morning after breakfast, they were escorted out of the quad by SRA's Kelly and Seth, with everyone clapping and applauding them for this event. They were not punished, but they had to change. Though it was more common than the previous year and still not permitted, we still encourage students to keep the original traditions going.
- 15.1 By this point, Cross-Dress Day was allowed again. Aja Saldana was forced to change for wearing a strapless dress.
- 16.1 Oscar Moreno swapped with his girlfriend Vanessa Aguiar, and wore a crop top and short shorts, to the amusement of his hall. Vanessa wore khaki shorts and a Vineyard Vines buttondown. The day was officially called Wacky Wednesday, and admin forbid RAs from endorsing cross-dressing.
- 16.2 Wes Kim and Trinity Liang switched. Wes wore short shorts that were shorter than his underwear, and Trinity looked like a street basketball player with baggy Nike shorts, an Adidas t-shirt and a backwards Nike "Just Do It" hat. The day was officially named Wardrobe Wednesday, because "wacky Wednesday," came off as a microaggression to some. RAs promoted cross-dressing, unlike 16.1.
- 18.1 Many RAs participated in drag day. It is the first time in recent memory that RAs are allowed to participate.