Well Suited

Emory law student featured in HBO documentary

Tailor Made: For Emory Law student Everett Arthur, clothes didn't make the man—but the right suit helped him find the confidence to be himself.
Bryan Meltz

Sometimes you just need to dress the part.

When Everett Arthur stepped boldly out as a transgender man during his first year at Emory’s School of Law, there were a lot of boxes to check. He told his family and his girlfriend, rebooted his Facebook identity, and contacted law school staff and faculty. All were supportive. Check.

But then there was the problem of what to wear. Arthur had job interviews to consider, and as an African American transgender man pursuing positions in the relatively conservative legal profession, finding the right suit began to seem impossible. He contacted Bindle & Keep, a New York City fashion design company that specializes in bespoke clothing—without getting hung up on gender.

That’s how Arthur wound up as a principal figure in the HBO documentary Suited, which follows a handful of Bindle & Keep clients through the process of having suits custom made. For many, it’s an emotional experience to don the first suit that truly fits them, inside and out.

Emory Law hosted a special screening of the film in October, along with a panel discussion starring Arthur, Professor Timothy Holbrook, Suited director Jason Benjamin, and Bindle & Keep partner Rea Tutera. Now a third-year law student, Arthur described his gender transition as an uphill climb.

“Emory is working really hard to create a better space for everyone, and in a lot of ways it’s gotten better,” he said. “To watch this movie in here creates a lot of feelings. I think you can see in the film that at first, I seem really sad, but I’m much happier now.”

Arthur was named a 2016 Victory Empowerment Fellow for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and was a legal intern at the Transgender Law Center at Southerners on New Ground. While he is considering a career in civil rights law, he has not ruled out a future in politics.

He also hopes to continue to inspire others like him. Asked what he would say to young people considering gender transition, he said, “You have the right to be handsome, and you have the right to love yourself.”

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